Mini Review: Soppy by Philippa Rice

Soppy by Philippa Rice
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: December 2, 2014
Source: Borrowed

True love isn’t always about the big romantic gestures. 

Sometimes it’s about sympathizing with someone whose tea has gone cold or reading together and sharing a quilt. When two people move in together, it soon becomes apparent that the little things mean an awful lot. The throwaway moments in life become meaningful when you spend them in the company of someone you love. 

SOPPY is Philippa Rice’s collection of comics and illustrations based on real-life moments with her boyfriend. From grocery shopping to silly arguments and snuggling in front of the television, SOPPY captures the universal experience of sharing a life together, and celebrates the beauty of finding romance all around us.

So fun, fact, I actually didn’t check this graphic novel out from the library, my boyfriend did! And it was just sitting there, so, because I’m me, I just went ahead and read it. I think it took all of maybe thirty minutes to finish and it was absolutely adorable.

I guess the first thing to mention is that this isn’t so much a book as it is a collection of moments from the author’s life with her boyfriend. It’s the little things in life that she illustrates here — napping on the couch, doing the dishes together, deciding whether to cook or go out to eat — and it made me smile so much. But that’s not all! Rice also illustrates the little arguments (and subsequent apologies) that are so common in relationships.

If you need a graphic novel to cheer you up and give you faith in love, this is it. If you’re already happily in a relationship, it’ll probably put a big smile on your face. But if you’re not into romance, you should probably avoid it, because all the couple-y happiness will probably make you roll your eyes.


Have you read Soppy? Can you recommend any cute graphic novels?
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Book Review: The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg

The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: February 26, 2019
Source: Borrowed

Max: Chill. Sports. Video games. Gay and not a big deal, not to him, not to his mom, not to his buddies. And a secret: An encounter with an older kid that makes it hard to breathe, one that he doesn’t want to think about, ever.

Jordan: The opposite of chill. Poetry. His “wives” and the Chandler Mall. Never been kissed and searching for Mr. Right, who probably won’t like him anyway. And a secret: A spiraling out of control mother, and the knowledge that he’s the only one who can keep the family from falling apart.

Throw in a rickety, 1980s-era food truck called Coq Au Vinny. Add in prickly pears, cloud eggs, and a murky idea of what’s considered locally sourced and organic. Place it all in Mesa, Arizona, in June, where the temp regularly hits 114. And top it off with a touch of undeniable chemistry between utter opposites.

Over the course of one summer, two boys will have to face their biggest fears and decide what they’re willing to risk — to get the thing they want the most.

Sometimes I come across a book that I just need to read, and The Music of What Happens was one of those books. I mean… two teenage boys running a food truck by themselves during the middle of an Arizona summer? Complete opposites with a ton of chemistry? Contemporary YA touching on serious issues without being over-the-top about it? SIGN ME UP.

I’ll start off by saying that I loved everything about the food truck. I mean, as it is, I love food trucks. But the idea of two teenage boys with absolutely no idea of how to run a food truck actually doing it — and doing well at it, at that — was a lot of fun. I’m not entirely sold on their food menu, but the drinks? Goodness. Can I have a frozen mango habanero lemonade right now?

And let me just say that I loved Max and Jordan. Or maybe I should say that I finished this book loving both Max and Jordan, because while I liked Max from the beginning, it took a while for Jordan to grow on me. Because Jordan is, above all else, extremely dramatic. One of those people that responds to a tiny criticism by screaming and crying and thinking that everybody on the entire planet must hate him. But as the book goes on, he mellows a lot and we also come to understand why he acts the way he does. And Jordan’s not the only character with good development. As the book goes on, Max learns to open up and talk about his feelings and not keep everything bottled up inside.

Now, this book does touch on several really heavy issues. This can be hit or miss for me in a book, but I think Konigsberg handled it really well. The issues are there. They’re almost always present, at least in the background, but they’re not present to the point that they feel suffocating. I guess this is the point in the review where I mention the content warnings for rape, racism, parental neglect, and addiction.

I was really torn between giving this book four and five stars. In the end, I had a little bit of a problem with the ending so I went with four. The problem, for me, was that Konigsberg brought up all of these big issues and, although some of them were dealt with, one of them was really just sort of left hanging. It’s so hard to talk about this without spoiling the ending, but I just felt that one of the issues wasn’t really given the attention it deserved at the end.

All in all, though, I really enjoyed this book and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

#mm19: diversify your reading


Have you read The Music of What Happens? Is it on your TBR?
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Book Review: Slam, Vol. 1 by Pamela Ribon

Slam, Vol. 1 by Pamela Ribon
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Source: Borrowed

When life starts coming at you like a freight train, you have two options: run away screaming or lean into the hit. 

From the first day of Fresh Meat Orientation for the Eastside Roller Girls, Jennifer and Maisie knew they’d be fast friends. But when they’re drafted to different teams, the pull of competition — and their increasingly messy personal lives — threaten to drive them apart. In roller derby you take your hits, get back up, and learn how to be a better jammer, a better blocker, a better lover, and a better friend. Derby can heal your heart…but it might break a bone or two in the process. 

Bestselling novelist, screenwriter, and retired Los Angeles Derby Doll Pamela Ribon (Going In Circles, Why Girls Are Weird) joins artist Veronica Fish (Archie, Silk) for a tale of friendship, heartbreak, and truly epic jams.

Every time I go to the library, I tell myself that I need to just return books and not check anything else out. Every time I go to the library, I leave with books. What can I do. On this last trip, I was tempted by Slam. I have to say, I went in with zero expectations. I have no particular interest in roller derby, so I wasn’t sure if I’d relate to this one.

I was so pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it! I read it all in one sitting and, despite some minor problems with it, I thought it was really well-written.

I’ll start with those problems, which really were pretty minor:

First of all, the pacing is a little off. Things happen very quickly, which isn’t necessarily a problem in a graphic novel (better than nothing happening, after all), but I felt like the resolution at the end kind of came out of nowhere.

My other problem is probably related to the very fast pacing — the fact that even after finishing this volume, I didn’t felt like I really knew any of the characters. We’ve been introduced, I recognize their faces, I know their names, I know little things about them… but I feel like we’ve just met, and by the end of the first volume, I like to feel more than just vaguely familiar with a character.

Those minor problems aside, here are some things that I really liked about this graphic novel:

First of all, the art. I really enjoyed the art style. It’s eye-catching and fun without being over-the-top. The characters are all really different from each other and easy to differentiate, which is something I haven’t found in a lot of graphic novels I’ve recently read.

Second of all, the friendships and the backstories. Here I want to say that this was shelved as YA at my library and while there’s nothing inappropriate in here, I don’t think that teenagers would necessarily relate to a lot of the problems that the characters face. We have one woman who joins roller derby because she finds out that her fiance had been cheating on her. I can relate at my current age. When I was fourteen years old? Probably not. We also have a friendship that really struggles because of school and work and other commitments. Also something I can relate to at my current age. As a teenager, I probably would have rolled my eyes and made some kind of comment about how if you really wanted the friendship to survive, you’d find the time to hang out. I thought this was really well-done because it wasn’t shoved in your face, but it was kind of a running theme through the volume.

I’m really excited to read the next volume of Slam. (Honestly, I’m probably going to do it a couple minutes after I finish writing this review.)


Have you read Slam? What was your most recent book-related surprise (positive or negative)?
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Mini Review: Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: August 30, 2018
Source: Borrowed

A short, powerful, illustrated book written by Khaled Hosseini in response to the current refugee crisis, Sea Prayer is composed in the form of a letter, from a father to his son, on the eve of their journey. Watching over his sleeping son, the father reflects on the dangerous sea-crossing that lies before them. It is also a vivid portrait of their life in Homs, Syria, before the war, and of that city’s swift transformation from a home into a deadly war zone. 

Impelled to write this story by the haunting image of young Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed upon the beach in Turkey in September 2015, Hosseini hopes to pay tribute to the millions of families, like Kurdi’s, who have been splintered and forced from home by war and persecution, and he will donate author proceeds from this book to the UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) and The Khaled Hosseini Foundation to help fund lifesaving relief efforts to help refugees around the globe. Hosseini is also a Goodwill Envoy to the UNHCR, and the founder of The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a nonprofit that provides humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.

I have heard it said we are the uninvited.
We are the unwelcome.
We should take our misfortune elsewhere. 
But I hear your mother’s voice,
over the tide.
and she whispers in my ear,
“Oh, but if they saw, my darling.
Even half of what you have.
If only they saw.
They would say kinder things, surely.”

This is going to be a very short review because this is a very short book. I read it in just a few minutes, but it left an impression. This little book is a prayer from a father for his son and, oh my, it really made me feel things. It’s only 48 pages long, but by the time I finished, I wanted to cry.

This is the first work I’ve read by Hosseini and now I can’t even imagine why. If he was able to break my heart in 48 pages, I can’t imagine what he can do with a full-length novel.

#mm19: diversify your reading
#ps19: a book written by an author from Asia, Africa, or South America


Have you read Sea Prayer? Is it on your TBR?
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Book Review: Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh

Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: April 1, 2010
Source: Borrowed

Blue is the Warmest Color is a graphic novel about growing up, falling in love, and coming out. Clementine is a junior in high school who seems average enough: she has friends, family, and the romantic attention of the boys in her school. When her openly gay best friend takes her out on the town, she wanders into a lesbian bar where she encounters Emma: a punkish, confident girl with blue hair. Their attraction is instant and electric, and Clementine find herself in a relationship that will test her friends, parents, and her own ideas about herself and her identity.

Way back when I blogged over on Tumblr, a movie called Blue is the Warmest Color came out. Everyone talked about it. You couldn’t escape it. I always planned to watch it and never did, but when I saw the graphic novel that the movie is based on at my library, I decided I had to read it.

It was heartbreaking.

This is the story of a teenage girl discovering and coming to terms with her sexuality. It’s the story of the ups and downs of her relationship with a somewhat older artist. It’s incredibly emotional and very well-written. The illustrations complement the writing perfectly.

The only criticism I have, and the only thing keeping it from a full five stars, is that the ending felt very rushed in comparison with the rest of the story. We got this really detailed history of a relationship and then a surprise plot twist and it was done. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it just made the ending feel a little off.

The only other thing I want to mention is that this graphic novel is definitely not YA. It includes both nudity and sex scenes, and although they’re not particularly explicit, they’re definitely something to be aware of.

#mm19: diversify your reading
#mmd19: a book in translation
#romanceopoly: freedom friars


Have you read Blue is the Warmest Color? Is it on your TBR?
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Book Review: The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 29, 2013
Source: Borrowed

Before our history began, another now forgotten civilization thrived. The people who roamed Early Earth were much like us: curious, emotional, funny, ambitious, and vulnerable. In this series of illustrated and linked tales, Isabel Greenberg chronicles the explorations of a young man as he paddles from his home in the North Pole to the South Pole. There, he meets his true love, but their romance is ill-fated. Early Earth’s unusual and finicky polarity means the lovers can never touch.

As intricate and richly imagined as the work of Chris Ware, and leavened with a dry wit that rivals Kate Beaton’s in Hark! A Vagrant, Isabel Greenberg’s debut will be a welcome addition to the thriving graphic novel genre.

I had never heard of The Encyclopedia of Early Earth until Alex @ The Paperback Piano recommended it to me. I requested that my library add it to their collection, and surprisingly, I got an email only a few days later that it was ready for me! I really enjoyed this graphic novel.

Although it’s based on Bible stories and traditional folklore and mythology, The Encyclopedia of Early Earth is an incredibly creative and original story! It follows a Storyteller from the land of Nord who searches the world for the missing piece of his soul, featuring a god named BirdMan and his two children, Kid and Kiddo. I loved the stories, the characters (especially Kiddo!), and the touch of humor in the writing.

This is what a graphic novel should be — the artwork and the writing complemented each other, creating a really cohesive book that was just plain fun to read. The slightly fantastical spin on well-known stories (Noah and the whale and the Tower of Babel, for example) made it even more enjoyable. The only thing I could have wished for was a little bit deeper exploration of the overall premise. I loved the individual stories, but the actual “search for his soul” seemed to get lost in everything else that was happening.

I saw The One Hundred Nights of Hero in a local bookstore before I read this and I’m hoping it’s still there! I’d love to read more from this author.


Have you read The Encyclopedia of Early Earth? Is it on your TBR?
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ARC review: Midnight Radio by Iolanda Zanfardino

Midnight Radio by Iolanda Zanfardino
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Source: ARC via Edelweiss

An intriguingly interwoven tale of four lives changed by a mysterious late-night radio broadcast that wakes them up from their mundane existences. Each tale speaks to different social issues without pandering to a political agenda: LGBT+ rights, racism, social network addiction, and the difficult decision between settling down versus following your dreams. Each tale is told in a vivid, polychromatic illustration style that flows from one character to another and back again in a uniquely identifiable fashion.

I downloaded Midnight Radio from Edelweiss on a whim. Not having read anything from this author or publisher before, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I figured that a 160-page graphic novel was pretty much risk-free.

The first thing I want to say is that I’ve never read a graphic novel with this kind of art before, but I really enjoyed it! I also really enjoyed how each of the four stories was illustrated in a different color. It really helped me keep track of what was going on in which story and it clearly differentiated scene changes, both definite pluses.

Of the four stories, I think Stephen’s was my favorite. Stephen is Insta-famous, with hundreds of thousands of followers that dote on his every word (or, I guess, photo). Behind the scenes, Stephen is dealing with family and friendship issues and, for reasons we never quite find out, never speaks. I would have loved to read an entire graphic novel just about Stephen. (Not that the other three stories weren’t also good.)

What kept me from rating this five stars was two things. First, the stories do come together at the end, but I wanted more from it. Second, I would have liked to have gone a little more in depth with these characters. I feel like we only scratched the surface of their lives and could have gone so much further.

All in all, I really enjoyed this one! I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it if you’re looking for a good graphic novel.


Have you read Midnight Radio? Is it on your TBR?
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