Mini-Reviews: The Kitchen, Paper Girls Vol. 6, and Emily the Strange

The Kitchen by Ollie Masters
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 1, 2015
Source: Borrowed

New York City, late 1970s. Times Square is a haven for sex and drugs. The city teeters on the verge of bankruptcy, while blackouts can strike at any moment. This is the world of THE KITCHEN.

The Irish gangs of Hell’s Kitchen rule the neighborhood, bringing terror to the streets and doing the dirty work for the Italian Mafia. Jimmy Brennan and his crew were the hardest bastards in the Kitchen, but after they’re all put in prison, their wives—Kath, Raven and Angie—decide to keep running their rackets. And once they get a taste of the fast life and easy money, it won’t be easy to stop.

THE KITCHEN takes one of the most popular genres in entertainment and, like The Sopranos, reimagines it for a new generation to present a classic gangster story told from a fresh point of view.

Written by talented newcomer Ollie Masters with stunning art by Ming Doyle (Mara) and killer covers by Becky Cloonan (GOTHAM ACADEMY, Killjoys, DEMO), THE KITCHEN is not to be missed.

Collects THE KITCHEN #1-8.

I hadn’t heard of The Kitchen before searching for books that I hadn’t already read that were becoming movies, but it was available on Hoopla and it sounded interesting enough. This graphic novel takes a very simple concept — what if a bunch of mobsters went to prison and their wives took over — and attempts to turn it into a story about gender roles.

I can’t really say that it succeeds, because there’s little difference between the husbands and wives. The women, understandably, want to be taken seriously, but their way of being taken seriously is basically just being very, very violent. Mob stories in general aren’t my favorite, and this one just didn’t have enough outside of the standard grisly murder scenes to keep my interest.

I can see how this could be expanded into a decent movie, but as a graphic novel, it left me disappointed.

#ps19: a book becoming a movie in 2019


Paper Girls, Vol. 6 by Brian K. Vaughan
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Source: Borrowed

THE END IS HERE!

After surviving adventures in their past, present and future, the Paper Girls of 1988 embark on one last journey, a five-part epic that includes the emotional double-sized series finale. Featuring a new wraparound cover from Eisner Award-winning co-creator CLIFF CHIANG, which can be combined with the covers of all five previous volumes to form one complete mega-image!

Collects PAPER GIRLS #26-30

Paper Girls has been kind of hit or miss for me, wavering between “um, it’s fine” and “wow, that was actually pretty good,” depending on the volume. I was pretty excited when I saw that the final volume was out. I’d definitely been missing Vaughan’s work.

The final volume definitely falls into the “um, it’s fine” category. A lot happens and, honestly, it’s a little confusing. But as usual, the characters are great and the art is amazing. This isn’t my favorite of Vaughan’s work, but I’m glad I read it.


Emily the Strange by Rob Reger
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: November 19, 2002
Source: Borrowed
Emily the Strange is not your ordinary thirteen-year-old girl — she’s got a razor-sharp wit as dark as her jet-black hair, a posse of moody black cats and famous friends in very odd places! She’s got a broodingly unique way of experiencing the world, and you’re invited along for the ride. Legions of fans worldwide have joined forces to make Emily a pop-culture phenomenon.

I’ve seen Emily the Strange stuff for years without really knowing what it was all about. I needed a book that someone was reading in a movie or on a TV show, and this was on the Gilmore Girls book list, so I went for it.

I am confused.

Because there’s no story.

That can be okay depending on how it’s done. I mean, graphic novels can just be a collection of short stories. But I want it to at least tell me something, not just show me an edgy teenage girl doing edgy things. I guess the title is accurate because I was lost, the story was dark, and it was incredibly boring.

#ps19: a book you see someone reading on TV or in a movie


Have you read any of these books? What’s the best graphic novel you’ve read recently?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Source: Borrowed

Caden Bosch is on a ship that’s headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.

Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behaviour.

Caden Bosch is designated the ship’s artist in residence to document the journey with images.

Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.

Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.

Caden Bosch is torn.

I have a complicated relationship with Neal Shusterman. I really enjoyed Scythe but I didn’t much enjoy Unwind. I never really planned to read this book because it just didn’t sound like something I’d be interested in — I try to avoid sad books whenever I can — but I needed a book with the word “challenge” in the title for my Popsugar Reading Challenge, and, well… here we are.

First things first, this book is sad. It’s about a teenage boy deep in the throes of mental illness, and it’s just heartbreaking. I want to mention here that there are some books about mental illness that I’ve really appreciated. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine comes to mind right away, and so does Turtles All the Way Down. There are also some books about mental illness that I have despised, like All the Bright Places. Because, the thing is, mental illness isn’t something to glamorize. It’s not a cute quirk. It’s not something to be flippant about in a book. Luckily, Shusterman treats Caden’s story with the respect that it deserves.

I’m not going to say that I enjoyed reading this book, because I didn’t. It was hard to listen to. It’s confusing at the beginning, but it’s supposed to be confusing. Caden has trouble distinguishing between reality and his delusions, so we’ll be in his real life for a minute before we abruptly transition to him being on a ship in the middle of the ocean. It’s disconcerting, but again, it’s supposed to be. The book is very, very well-written, but it’s confusing and difficult to read.

There is a bright spot in all of this though, and that’s how supportive Caden’s family is of him. His little sister in particular handled everything so well.

It’s hard for me to say whether or not I’d recommend this book. I think if you’re interested in a really character-driven story about a teenager with schizophrenia, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. If you like your stories with a bit more action and with more of a clear plot, maybe skip it.

#ps19: a book with “pop,” “sugar,” or “challenge” in the title
#mm19: seasons, elements, and weather


Have you read Challenger Deep? Can you recommend any YA about mental illness?
Let’s talk in the comments!

Find me all over the internet: Goodreads | Twitter | Bloglovin’

Reading Challenge Update

I really buckled down on my challenges in November, so I’m excited to take a look at my progress.

Monthly Motif is a reading challenge hosted by girlxoxo.

November’s theme was seasons, elements, and weather. Specifically, the instruction was to “embrace a winter wonderland setting, pick a beach read, or read about a natural disaster. As long as a season, element, or the weather plays a key role in the story or is part of the title, it counts.” I really had no idea where I was going with this one, but it turned out that the first book I read in November was set on the water! I also ended up reading a couple more books that I think should count.

December’s theme is last chance. I’ve been meaning to read The Bride Test ever since it was announced and my library hold finally came in, so I’m currently working my way through that one.

I finished a total of 26 books in November, bringing me to a total of 158 books this year.

Popsugar hosts a reading challenge every year. You can find out more information on their website.

I crossed off a ton of prompts in November. I think I only have two left!

Romanceopoly is a reading challenge hosted by Under the Covers and Peace Love Books.

Hoopla really came in handy for me in November. I might not have enjoyed a lot of what I read (or, probably better said, attempted), but I crossed off a bunch of prompts.

This challenge is still on hold, probably indefinitely. But I did finish Roommates, which I got over a year ago, and We’ll Fly Away, which I had DNFed over the summer.


How are you doing on your reading challenges? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let’s talk in the comments!

Reading Challenge Update

Well, here we are again. Time to take a look at my reading challenge progress!

Monthly Motif is a reading challenge hosted by girlxoxo.

October’s theme was tricks and trades. Specifically, the instruction was to “read a book set in a theater, an amusement park, a circus, or a book involving magic, illusions, or characters with special powers.” For a book set in an amusement park, I was going to go with Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan, and for a book featuring characters with special powers, I was finally going to read Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t completely derail my own plans, so instead, I ended up reading two totally different books!

November’s theme is seasons, elements, and weather. I’m not even going to make a tentative TBR for this one. We’ll just see what ends up happening.

I finished a total of 19 books in September, bringing me to a total of 132 books this year.

Popsugar hosts a reading challenge every year. You can find out more information on their website.

Okay, I finally did it. I crossed off some more Popsugar prompts! I think I may have a chance at finishing this thing! In October, I crossed off:

Romanceopoly is a reading challenge hosted by Under the Covers and Peace Love Books.

I actually crossed off two prompts for Romanceopoly too! I’m not sure that I’ll finish this challenge, but if I can find some good romance audiobooks to listen to while I’m at work, I might get close. I crossed off:

This challenge is still on hold. I did finally finish Permanent Record, though, which I feel should count for something.


How are you doing on your reading challenges? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let’s talk in the comments!

Reading Challenge Update

Well, here we are again. Time to take a look at my reading challenge progress!

Monthly Motif is a reading challenge hosted by girlxoxo.

September’s theme was animal, number, color, name. I really had no idea what to do with this one (it’s so broad!) but I ended up reading MCMLXXV by Joe Casey for this prompt.

October’s theme is tricks and trades. I’m trying to decide between finally reading Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray and Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan.

I finished a total of 8 books in September, bringing me to a total of 113 books this year.

Popsugar hosts a reading challenge every year. You can find out more information on their website.

I had hoped that September would turn out better than August for this challenge, but nope. Another month with zero prompts checked off. (Oh well.)

Romanceopoly is a reading challenge hosted by Under the Covers and Peace Love Books.

Same with Romanceopoly! And for the second month in a row, I read no romance novels. Maybe that’s why I’m in a slump. Maybe I just need something cute and fluffy to bring me out of it.

This challenge is still on hold. I did, however, read a couple ARCs that needed to be finished:


How are you doing on your reading challenges? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let’s talk in the comments!

Reading Challenge Update

Well, here we are again. Time to take a look at my reading challenge progress!

Monthly Motif is a reading challenge hosted by girlxoxo.

August’s theme was mode of transportation, and to expand on that, its official description is “a book where the mode of transportation plays a role in the story.” I went with The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett for this prompt, mostly because I had started it in July, but also because it takes place over the course of a trek through Europe and how the characters get around ends up being a big part of the story.

September’s theme is animal, number, color, name and I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to read, but I am 100% sure that I have some book in some box somewhere that will fit this prompt!

I read a total of 9 books in August and finished my reading challenge! I’m at 105 books read now.

Popsugar hosts a reading challenge every year. You can find out more information on their website.

I read literally nothing that counted for this reading challenge in August! Next month will be better.

Romanceopoly is a reading challenge hosted by Under the Covers and Peace Love Books.

Surprisingly, I did not read even one single romance novel in August! Who even am I?

This challenge is still on hold for now. I’ll probably pick it back up at some point this fall. I did, however, read two ARCs that have been hanging around for a bit:


How are you doing on your reading challenges? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let’s talk in the comments!

Reading Challenge Update

Well, here we are again. Time to take a look at my reading challenge progress!

Monthly Motif is a reading challenge hosted by girlxoxo.

July’s theme was through the years. I didn’t do as well as I would have liked with this theme, but I did read two books that I think should qualify.

I also read the first fifty pages of The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett before I realized that I wasn’t really in a historical fiction mood.

August’s theme is mode of transportation, so we’ll see what ends up happening there.

I read a total of 11 books in June, which puts me 38 books ahead of my goal.

Popsugar hosts a reading challenge every year. You can find out more information on their website.

I read one book that counted for a Popsugar prompt in July:

Romanceopoly is a reading challenge hosted by Under the Covers and Peace Love Books.

I didn’t read any books toward this challenge in July!

This challenge is still on hold for now. I’ll probably pick it back up at some point this fall.


How are you doing on your reading challenges? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let’s talk in the comments!