Book Review: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: April 17, 2012
Source: Borrowed

For fans of Tina Fey and David Sedaris—Internet star Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, makes her literary debut.

Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives—the ones we’d like to pretend never happened—are in fact the ones that define us. In the #1 New York Times bestseller, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor. Chapters include: “Stanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel”; “A Series of Angry Post-It Notes to My Husband”; “My Vagina Is Fine. Thanks for Asking”; “And Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane.” Pictures with captions (no one would believe these things without proof) accompany the text.

It might be odd that I’ve now read not just one, but two, books by a blogger whose website I’ve never even visited. And yet here I am reviewing a second book by Jenny Lawson. In addition to never having read her blog, I also read her memoirs in the wrong order. But that’s not really a problem. Jenny’s life — or at least the way she tells it — is funny, and that’s all that matters.

The thing about Jenny Lawson’s memoirs is that they’re funny. Like, laugh out loud at your desk even when you’re trying to be discreet about the fact that you’re listening to a hilarious audiobook while you work. There are many stories in this book that I enjoyed, but the one that’s stuck in my memory the most is Jenny recounting her days working in HR. I’d like to say that the kinds of conversations she had to have surprised me… but they didn’t.

I enjoyed this book very much. I don’t know if Jenny Lawson is planning to publish any more books, but if she is, I’ll be over here waiting to read them.


Have you read Let’s Pretend This Never Happened? Do you follow Jenny’s blog?
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Book Review: Lumberjanes, Vol. 2 by Noelle Stevenson

Lumberjanes, Vol. 2 by Noelle Stevenson
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 13, 2015
Source: Borrowed

What a mystery!

Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are not your average campers and Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady-Types is not your average summer camp. Between the river monsters, magic, and the art of friendship bracelets, this summer is only just beginning. Join the Lumberjanes as they take on raptors and a sibling rivalry that only myths are made of.

This New York Times bestseller and Eisner Award-nominated series is written by awesome all-star Noelle Stevenson and brilliant newcomer Grace Ellis, and illustrated by the tremendously talented Brooke Allen.

Lumberjanes, Vol. 2: Friendship to the Max includes issues 5-8 and the first fourteen pages of Giant Days, Vol. 1 by John Allison.

The second volume in the Lumberjanes series is just as fun as the first one! This series is so, so cute and this volume had so much action! I love the characters, I love their friendships, and I love all of their adventures and antics. The feminist touches (the characters like to yell the names of famous women from history when they get exasperated or excited) were also nice.

Quite honestly, I don’t have a ton to say about this one. I really liked it, I read it in one setting, and I’d definitely recommend it. Also, “I wish everyone had a kitten” is definitely me with superpowers.


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Book Review: Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Source: Borrowed

Ivy Gamble has never wanted to be magic. She is perfectly happy with her life—she has an almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, and an empty apartment, and a slight drinking problem. It’s a great life and she doesn’t wish she was like her estranged sister, the magically gifted professor Tabitha.

But when Ivy is hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Tabitha’s private academy, the stalwart detective starts to lose herself in the case, the life she could have had, and the answer to the mystery that seems just out of her reach.

I’ve been intrigued by Magic for Liars since I saw it on display in Barnes & Noble over the summer. The cover alone really drew me in, so I checked out the audiobook from my library without knowing much about it other than, of course, the magic.

I’m not going to lie — it took me a little while to get into this one. I had to listen to the first ten or so minutes three times because I kept zoning out. But then I got really into it. This book was a wild ride, and it was so much fun.

I think that the first thing I loved about this book was the setting. The Osthorne Academy for Young Mages is really your typical private school, filled with obnoxious teenagers, petty drama, and classes that just happen to teach magic. Ivy is aware that schools like this exist — after all, her twin sister attended one, and now teaches at one — but she herself has never been able to wield magic.

The second thing I loved was the mystery. I had a little inkling of who the murderer might be at the beginning of the book, but then as more and more clues were revealed, I changed my mind at least five times. The murderer makes sense and I was definitely satisfied with how the book played out, but I did not see the circumstances of that murder coming.

The third thing I loved, surprisingly, was Ivy. I say “surprisingly” because she’s a pretty unlikable character. She’s negative, she’s self-destructive, and she almost always does the last thing that she should be doing, but I could get behind it. I could understand her motives. Ivy has been through a lot in her life, and it’s understandable that she struggles with her personal relationships. In fact, one of my favorite things about this book was the way Ivy and her sister, Tabitha, interact with each other.

There were a few things keeping me from giving it five stars, though. First of all, as I already mentioned, it took me some time to actually care about what was happening in the book. Second, although the way the magic system works is kind of irrelevant to the story, it would have been nice to have at least a little more information about it. All in all, though, this was a great book and I really enjoyed it a lot.

A word of warning: cancer and abortion are fairly big themes in this book, although I think both are handled very well.

#mm19: tricks and trades
#romanceopoly: cozy corner


Have you read Magic for Liars? Is it on your TBR?
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Book Review: The Backstagers, Vol. 2 by James Tynion IV

The Backstagers, Vol. 2 by James Tynion IV
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: February 13, 2018
Source: Borrowed

All the world’s a stage . . . but what happens behind the curtain is pure magic—literally!

Jory and the rest of the Backstagers have one goal this semester: to put on the best show their town’s ever seen. But best laid plans aren’t easy to achieve when there’s an entire magical world that lives beyond the curtain! When one of the actors suddenly goes missing, the Backstagers must band together to save their comrade and maintain the natural balance of . . . theater. 

James Tynion IV (Detective Comics, The Woods) and artist Rian Sygh (Munchkin, Stolen Forest) explore what it means to be an outcast looking to find one’s place in an earnest story of friendship and self-expression.

Okay, I think I’m officially on board with The Backstagers. This series is so cute, so positive, and so magical. In this installment, we learn a lot more about the magical underground theater world and the mysterious tech kids that disappeared all those years ago. The world goes a lot deeper than anyone previously thought, and it was so much fun!

The LGBT aspects that were sort of hinted at in the first volume become a lot clearer in this one, with two of the main characters getting into a relationship and one character casually referencing the fact that he transferred from an all-girls school to an all-boys school, thus implying that he’s transgender. The representation is done so subtly and I absolutely loved it! It’s never a thing, it just exists.

The only thing that I didn’t enjoy about this volume was that a lot of the action seems to happen off-page. Sure, I can make connections between events and figure out on my own what happened, but it’s a lot more fun to see these dramatic moments (such as, like I mentioned above, two of the main characters getting together) play out right in front of you.

Now I’m just sitting here waiting for my Hoopla borrows to reset so that I can check out the third volume of this series.


Have you read The Backstagers? Can you recommend any similar books?
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Book Review: The Backstagers, Vol. 1 by James Tynion IV

The Backstagers, Vol. 1 by James Tynion IV
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Source: Borrowed

All the world’s a stage . . . but what happens behind the curtain is pure magic literally! 

When Jory transfers to an all-boys private high school, he’s taken in by the only ones who don’t treat him like a new kid, the lowly stage crew known as the Backstagers. Not only does he gain great, lifetime friends, Jory is also introduced to an entire magical world that lives beyond the curtain. With the unpredictable twists and turns of the underground world, the Backstagers venture into the unknown, determined to put together the best play their high school has ever seen. 

James Tynion IV (Detective Comics, The Woods) teams up with artist Rian Sygh (Munchkin, Stolen Forest) for an incredibly earnest story that explores what it means to find a place to fit in when you’re kinda an outcast.

I first saw this graphic novel advertised in the back of something else I’d read and added it to my list to read eventually. I ended up remembering it while scrolling through Hoopla after all of my books were packed into boxes.

When I first started reading it, I wasn’t entirely sure what I thought. I mean, the idea of it is super fun! There’s this whole magical world (literally!!) behind the scenes at a school play. I hadn’t really expected the whole magical realism plot, but that didn’t mean that I disliked it. In fact, as the story went on, I think that made me enjoy this little graphic novel even more.

The characters are great and really easy to relate to. Even though they’re moving through this mystical world filled with magical creatures and moving hallways and just… the strangest things you’ve ever seen, they’re your typical, everyday teenagers and they just want to make sure that the school musical goes off without a hitch.

The story does move along pretty quickly without a ton of character development or worldbuilding, but it is only the first volume. I’m hoping that we’ll see more of that in the next volume, which I’m excited to dive into soon!


Have you read The Backstagers? Can you recommend any similar books?
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Book Review: Revival, Vol. 2 by Tim Seeley

Revival, Vol. 2 by Tim Seeley
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: July 17, 2013
Source: Borrowed
For one day in rural central Wisconsin, the dead came back to life. Now, the living and the recently-returned struggle to maintain a sense of normalcy, amidst political and religious conflicts.


Collects REVIVAL #6-11.
 

After finishing the first volume of Revival, I was both excited and a little apprehensive to read the second. I’ve read more than one graphic novel that got dramatically worse after a good first volume, but not to worry! That’s not the case with Revival.

I found volume two to be just as intriguing as the first. This kind of gory horror graphic novel wouldn’t normally be my thing, but I’m glad I gave it a chance. There’s a lot going on in this volume, with new characters and new plot lines introduced, but I have a feeling that it’ll be worth it. I think one of the things I appreciate most about this series, at least so far, is that the characters’ real life drama doesn’t disappear in the face of what’s basically the zombie apocalypse.

I also appreciated that the setting — Wausau, Wisconsin — still plays a big role in the story. I mentioned in my review of the first volume that it’s like I’m actually there when I’m reading, and this volume is no different. I mean, Seeley even mentions the smell of the paper mills! It’s little things like that that have really made this series for me so far.

I’m excited to check out some more volumes of this and see where it goes.


Have you read Revival? Have you read any books set in your hometown?
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Book Review: Lumberjanes, Vol. 1 by Noelle Stevenson

Lumberjanes, Vol. 1 by Noelle Stevenson
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Source: Borrowed

FRIENDSHIP TO THE MAX!

At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together… And they’re not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here.

Collects Lumberjanes No. 1-4.

I think that Lumberjanes is one of those series that’s hard to miss when you’re in the book blogging world, but I never really had any intention of reading it. Or, I guess I should say, I never really had any intention of reading it until I was reading The Backstagers and saw that it was listed as a similar title. For once, I think that’s a really valid comparison!

There are a lot of things to love about Lumberjanes. It was cute. It was fun. It’s full of friendship and puns and strange creatures. There are cats. Anagrams play a pretty big role. It’s a super quick read. Things I liked a little less were some of the dialogue (it felt a little forced at times) and the fact that this seems to be written for a younger audience than I’m used to, even compared with some of the other YA graphic novels I’ve read. Those are kind of me problems and not overall problems, though.

All in all, this was a really fun graphic novel! It wasn’t really what I expected, but in a really good way. I’ll have to check out Noelle Stevenson’s other work.


Have you read Lumberjanes? Is it on your TBR?
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