June Wrap Up – A Collection of Mini Reviews

 

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June was a fruitful month for me. After literal months of a reading slump, I immensely enjoyed most of what I read this month. Yay me.

N O V E L S

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green | ★★★★☆ | I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would, honestly. I’ve learned since I’ve started reading again that I’m not a huge fan of YA that takes place in high school, but I took a chance on this one since it’s John Green. See my full review here.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne | ★★★★☆ | “It’s a corporate truth universally acknowledged that workers would rather eat rat skeletons than participate in group activities.” This is an adorable hate to love romance story about two office workers and their slow burn romance. I definitely had the flu while reading this and barely remember it, so maybe one day I’ll re-read it and see if I feel differently. However, I do remember the moments of the fetishization of classic masculinity. For example, the protagonist compares her ex who couldn’t lift her, to her current love, who can pick her up and carry her places. It just rubbed me the wrong way as someone who doesn’t like hyper-masculinity, hence the 4 stars instead of 5.

The Diviners by Libba Bray | ★★★★★ | I listened to this as an audiobook and highly recommend it in this form. I had tried reading it ages ago in book form, but couldn’t pay long enough attention. The audiobook, though? Oof. Yas. The narrator does an absolutely fantastic job of representing each character uniquely. I will definitely be listening to the next book in audiobook form.

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett | ★★★★★ | “They think all writing is magic. Words worry them. See their swords? They glow blue in the presence of lawyers.” I fucking loved this series as a kid. This is Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching sub-series within the Witches series within the Discworld universe. One of my personal goals is to continue reading all the Pratchett I can get my hands on because it’s pure genius. For anyone that is unfamiliar, the Discworld novels are kind of a huge fantasy version of the Hitchhiker’s Guide in terms of comedy and snark. There are many reading guides, since there are just so many books and I recommend reading them thematically, starting with whichever series snags your interest.

Wild Beauty by Anne-Marie McLemore | ★★★★★ | “The woman who insisted Fel call her Abuela Lila told him that, between the flower beds, the blossoming trees, and the sunken garden, there were more petals in La Pradera than souls in the world. Everything here bloomed. The clouds of hydrangeas and lilacs. The arbors and trellises. The beds of lilies and hyacinths.” This book and author 100%. I have read all of her published works and they have all impressed me. Full review incoming. Wild Beauty definitely leaned more towards fantasy than her other magical realism books. I adored the garden imagery and her dreamy writing style. It’s a fantastic story of love and loss and family and fitting in.

P O E T R Y

Falling Up by Shel Silverstein | ★★★☆☆ | Don’t hate me for giving a Shel Silverstein book 3 stars. I got this at a library book sale for like 50 cents, remembering it as pure genius when I read it at 6 years old. It’s definitely a book for 6-year-olds.

Pansy by Andrea Gibson | ★★★★☆ |Andrea Gibson is lovely. I love that she can combine poems about love and sexuality with humor and light-hearted jokes. The video below is her performance of one of my favorite poems in this collection.

Envelope Poems by Emily Dickinson | ★★★★☆ | This poetry collection was visually very cool. It’s not really a book you read though. I kept expecting a summary or some bit of history, but no. It’s literally just a collection of photographs of bits of paper she wrote poems on and then a digital representation of the piece with words that are easier to read. Very cool though, it definitely humanizes Dickinson.

G R A P H I C   N O V E L S

Explorer: The Mystery Boxes | ★★★★☆ | I’m not sure what I expected from this collection, but it was very cool. My favorites were Emily Carroll’s (of course) and Kazu Kibuishi’s.

T R A S H   R E A D S

Cum For Bigfoot by Virginia Wade | ★★☆☆☆ | Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Chuck’s Unicorn Tinglers Vol 1 and Lonely Author Pounded By Dinosaur Social Media Followers by Chuck Tingle | ★★☆☆☆ | “‘All of you?’ I shout, throwing my hands up in the air. ‘Each and every one of you is just a gay dinosaur?’ The crowd of reptilian beasts nods. ‘And I’m just a character in a book? Even though I wrote a book about that very idea?’ I continue, exasperated. The dinosaurs nod again. ‘Then who is writing this book?’ I ask. Bunter steps forward. ‘Chuck Tingle.’ He says.” I don’t–I don’t know what this is. I got these ebooks from a Humble Bundle and then watched this video where Cam from Wolfshot Publishing (jokingly) calls him the best author ever and… I was intrigued. It’s weird, though.

 

Review: Turtles All the Way Down

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“I realized in the silence that followed that I hadn’t spoken since answering Davis’s compliment about my shirt. Davis, Daisy, and Mychal eventually went back to talking about Star Wars and the size of the universe and traveling faster than light. ‘Star Wars is the American religion,’ Davis said at one point, and Mychal said, ‘I think religion is the American religion,’ and even though I laughed with them, it felt like I was watching the whole thing from somewhere else, like I was watching a movie about my life instead of living it.”

S U M M A R Y

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green is a novel that on the surface is about a girl named Aza who, with her friend Daisy, is searching for clues on the disappearance of Indianapolis billionaire Russel Pickett to claim the $100,000 reward. In actuality, this story is a character dive into an OCD sixteen-year-old and the intricacies of her relationships.

R E V I E W

★★★★☆

I was pretty conflicted about what to rate this book. To be fair, I’m not the target audience and I’m not a huge fan of books set in high school. However, I read many reviews that rated this book poorly due to the fantastical and unrealistic plot elements and in my opinion, Green set the story up like this on purpose. Aza’s mental disability causes her to experience life in third person. She seems to stumble through life and these spectacular events she experiences contrast against her preoccupied and uninterested behavior. That’s why this book isn’t really about the missing person investigation. It’s about living with OCD while trying to maintain relationships and handle the stress of daily life.

This is why I enjoyed Turtles. Aza felt so real and her anxieties hit way too close to home sometimes. The book normalizes therapy and emphasizes the importance of friendships over romantic relationships. It’s a character-driven story that I would definitely encourage young people to pick up. Just stay away from An Abundance of Katherines

The one major thing that irked me, though, was Green’s disdain for Indianapolis. Yeah, Indiana isn’t great, but Indy is this little liberal oasis in a sea of red. I can understand a teenager feeling disdain for anywhere they grow up, I just like my city and John Green got it all wrong, dang it! (Also it’s the Indy Star, not The Indianapolis Star; plus other details that probably make sense for readers from other places but annoy me).

All in all, I enjoyed this book far more than I expected to. Good job, Green. I may even pick up your next one whenever that happens.