Reviews included so far:
The Handmaid's Tale
The Graphic Novel
Art Adaptation by Renee Nault
Review by Kayla Cordero
The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian fiction novel written by Margaret Atwood in which women are child-bearing machines and are only around to serve men and bear children. This extremist government is set in the Republic of Gilead, a country that has stripped women from their rights. A woman’s fertility is the most valued attribute of a woman in order to save the population of Gilead from extinction. This graphic novel follows the same storyline and plot that the novel laid out in 1985. The novel has won numerous awards and critical praise. Nault does a fantastic job illustrating the story on each page. Each page uses clever use of color to set the scene and emotion. Color is a big characteristic to this story because the handmaids wear all red, the wives wear all blue, and the Martha’s wear green. Handmaid’s are forced to have a ritual with their commander. During this ritual, the wife cradles the handmaid while her husband, the commander, rapes her. The handmaid’s only job is to get pregnant and bear children. There are a lot of scenes from the novel that obviously did not fit into this version, but I believe it does a great job incorporating the big moments. This book is not for young readers as there are graphic scenes which include rape and violence. The book revolves around the main character Offred who reminisces on the past and jumps back into the present. She thinks about her life before Gilead and being a handmaid. The graphic novel does a great job bringing visuals to the story and it is definitely thought-provoking. This novel is a powerful and disturbing world to step into. It makes you think deeply about what our near future could be. It is a little disturbing to know the timelessness of this story and the meaning behind it. Women are still fighting against women’s autonomy and patriarchy that has been set into our society. We must view our privileges and acknowledge them. A lot of women still do not have basic rights and we must continue to fight for that. The Handmaid’s Tale feels like a warning. The graphic novel does a good job telling the story in a shortened version while including beautiful visuals. If you’re looking for a more detailed version, the novel is the best option for you. I personally love seeing the story come to life through the series. Although it is a haunting and scary story, you are constantly hooked to the screen. All adaptations of this story are great and there is something for everyone to enjoy whether you want to binge the show or enjoy the novel.
Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory
Review by Chris Taylor
There were two books that I read back to back, and they both really made me feel things. I was debating between both of them for this review. They both quickly became personal favorites.
When I went on fall break, my mother wanted to do something with me. So, she booked us a trip down the Virginia Creeper Trail on bikes, beautiful experience, highly recommended it.
The point being: on that gorgeous, gorgeous day, high in the mountains from which my family descends, I had no phone signal, and I desperately needed to pick an audiobook to read.
I was on the last ten minutes of the other book I mentioned: Our Hideous Progeny which I will take a brief second to recommend: “Ahem.” Slow-burn, sapphic, historical fiction, Frankenstein spiritual sequel about a badass lady paleontologist.
But, I was on the last ten minutes of Our Hideous Progeny, scrolling through my phone, trying not to get carsick on the bus ride up the mountain, with my service flickering in and out.
When at random, from my Audible wish-list, I clicked on Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory. And I thought: “Boy, with a title as ‘too much’ as that, you better deliver.”
It’s a short story collection written by a guy you may know for show-running an adult cartoon about a horse.
I won’t give you every single one, but I’ll run through some of the high-lights.
The book slaps you in the face, right off the bat, with exactly what it will be with the first story:
“Salted Circus Cashews.” The story follows a girl going back to a guy she kinda likes’ place, and him offering her a can of cashews. The story is mostly what lies on the label of those cashews. And surely, it’s cashews, and not a fake snake.
“A Most Blessed and Auspicious Occasion” is the point where I truly fell in love with this book. It follows an ordinary couple as they try to get married, pressured from all sides by their community, friends and family on what their wedding needs to look like. Just…Trust me on this one, LOL.
“We Men of Science” is another personal favorite. It follows a university professor who feels unsatisfied with his present and unsure of his future. One day, a colleague of his calls him up to tell him that they’ve been approved for funding for a project they came up with together: the door to the alternate. The alternate is a world the opposite of our own.
And after several others:
It was about at that point that after several hours of coasting, the trail suddenly leveled out, and the rain started. I left my mother sitting in a gazebo on the side of the road, all biked out, and peddled the last seven miles by myself in the cold and pouring rain to fetch the car.
This beautiful scenery, and this book alone made this instead of a miserable experience, a very special, memorable one.
“Rufus” may just be my favorite. I'm super biased because my dog’s name is Roofus (like Roof, get it, haha? I was ten, don’t judge me). It follows the day to day life of a dog named Rufus and his man monster, told entirely from Rufus’s perspective. Rufus reminds a great deal of Doug from UP, if that gives you any clue. There’s this one bit where he sees a “Large Brown Creature” (a deer), in the distance that almost made me crash my bike. I was laughing so hard.
“Rules for Taboo” is where we get the name drop of the title.
“Up-and-Comers” follows a band of friends, and a band made up entirely of friends, as one day they get struck by lightning while wearing very special necklaces and hanging out near an old government testing facility. They all get super powers, the only catch is they have to get drunk to use them. It did, in fact, also make me cry on re-read. So I’m lying later in the review.
“You Want to Know What Plays Are Like” gives a rundown of a very typical night at a play. I know it's nearly an hour long in audiobook form, there's a good reason for that.
“More of the You that You Already Are” is another favorite of mine, and I think is the only story that made me actually, properly cry. It follows the guy who performs at “President Land,” a theme park about presidents, as Chester A. Arthur to support his family. His position is threatened as genetic cloning gets introduced into the mix.
“We will be Close on Friday 18 July” is the story that closes out the book, it opens with a short little message from the author about how the misspelled sign that inspired it. It follows two people who meet and fall in love, briefly, on Friday 18 July.
Face flushed all pink, wet hair clinging to my cheeks, and rain dripping down my nose to further pool in the collar of my shirt, I reached the car and very nearly reached the end of this book.
I highly recommend it, it’s right up my weird, overly earnest, irreverent comedy alley.
Maybe you’ll hate it, maybe I just read it at the right time, but nah, I loved this. I loved it enough that I bought a physical copy, which I’m working on re-reading now.
I would recommend the audiobook, though! The narrators bring it to life!
May you find someone who will love you in all your damaged glory, or, at the very least, enjoy this book.
My Orc-y Breaky Heart
Review by Rachel Blue
This novel is book eight in the wonderfully wild Monsterville USA series by Ava Ross and while it is really not the most outrageous book in the series I have a soft spot for this book in particular. Between the silly title and the stupid choices that the two characters follow, it makes for a fun read and definitely a lot of hilarious highlights. I found this series after reading Ava Ross’ Fairhaven Falls books, another really good series if you are into the genre of beefy monsters. She has a multitude of books really, and they are definitely not the best (granted she pumps them out crazy fast, so I didn’t expect much) but I quickly fell in love with her writing style and references to popular media, her books are attention-grabbing and giggle-worthy.
The book takes place in the same small town by the name of Monsterville as the rest of the series and follows Vrok, an orc scarred by love, the woman who he thought was the love of his life, left him to sulk in his feelings barely leaving his house and only finding comfort in his pet dragon thing (to be honest, I have no idea what exactly Merith is. He breathes fire but it’s harmless and apparently he looks like a tiny little dragon but there are big humanoid dragons in this world? Who knows.) His new next door neighbor, a human author named Seyla, has the biggest crush on him, something he cannot figure out. (She also has a cat named Sriracha and if that isn’t the cutest thing.)
When Merith flies over the fence separating their backyards, he ends up as a helping hand for her newest novel. While he is hesitant at first, the two eventually hit it off and wow, shocker, they are fated mates (a popular trend in Ava’s books, most of her monsters have a mating bond that draws them to a destined person). So after denying her feelings and getting all huffy he begins to avoid her. They both come to the conclusion that they need to break the bond magically and enlist the help of the elf and ogre in town. Generally everyone around them tells them they are being stupid but they still spend the rest of the book trying to break this bond. The plot is a common and overused one in my opinion, but it can still be fun to read different takes on it. They spend some time together to decide if breaking the bond is really what they want, and get frisky on a roller coaster (I literally laughed so hard, I sent the highlight to my mom and surprisingly she hadn’t read this series, we laughed about it for way too long and she promptly started and I am waiting for updates).
Even though they had a good time at the monster sized theme park, they still decided to go through with what is called an Orc Divorce, with all of their friends being big mad (which, fair enough, but also mind your business?), they head out of town and complete the ceremony. They go their separate ways after, or well, as separate as next door neighbors can go and both nurse their broken hearts, thinking that they each did what the other wanted. This is why communication is important. I am usually not a huge fan of books where communication is an afterthought or just not included at all, but after I started this book, I was addicted and needed to see their happy ending. After all that, they do have a happy ending but it's unsatisfying. Like after all that I kinda wanted the book to end with them not getting together just because the journey was stupid and pointless. Then they moved in together and turned her house into an AirBnB (capitalism y’all, can’t even escape it in the book world).
Overall, this book was cute but that’s about it. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking but it was a fun little journey. I do adore the little town she created for this series though, with the elf who owns a potions shop and his wife who runs the bakery, the demon sheriff and his flying cop car and the gargoyle who owns the bed and breakfast. They each get their own story in the series and it ties together really seamlessly, power to Ava who could keep track of so many names and monster types it makes for a really immersive storyline. If you are a fan of fantasy, monsters or silly little stories about silly little towns, this might be right up your alley.
The Midnight Library
Review by Angel Skeen
Just yesterday, I finished reading The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. The Midnight Library is relatively popular on BookTok. It is also a Good Morning America book club pick. Considering the hype, I had high expectations for this book. I’d say these expectations were met. The Midnight Library is creative, meaningful and entertaining.
The book follows the life of the main character, Nora. However, Nora’s life is almost cut short when she decides to kill herself. After overdosing, Nora is surprised to wake up in a library. In this library our main character is reunited with her childhood librarian who informs her she is in between life and death, specifically she is in the midnight library The midnight library holds books regarding Nora. One of the books is called “The Book of Regrets” . This book is pretty self explanatory, as it is filled with every regret Nora has ever had. The rest of the books, which are infinite, are possible lives Nora could be living in other universes.
While in the midnight library time remains midnight and Nora gets the opportunity to try living the lives she has in other universes. The librarian, Mrs. Elm tells Nora if she likes an alternate life enough, she can remain there, but if she is disappointed she will return to the midnight library. Nora lives any kind of life imaginable from olympic swimmer, to glaciologist, to mother, to rockstar, but returns to the library each time.
Throughout trying other lives, the reader sees the main character growing more and more as Nora grows appreciative for life. Nora finally decides perhaps she does not want to die at all. She recognizes that even her seemingly flawless lives have flaws and her actual life or “root life” although it may seem mundane, has made positive impacts on others. For example in her root life she provides piano lessons to a young boy, in another universe where she does not, the boy is frequently in trouble at school and with the law. Mrs. Elm helps to guide Nora to return to her root life, seeing as it is the best life for her. Nora returns to her root life and receives treatment for her overdose. She has a newfound appreciation of life. The book ends with Nora joyous, knowing that her life is full of potential.
I loved that the book was so creative, allowing the reader to experience many different worlds. The most interesting life Nora lived was definitely when she was almost eaten by a polar bear. Nora also meets someone else like her in the polar bear life, his name is Hugo and he refers to people like themselves as “sliders”. Hugo discusses the logistics behind sliders with Nora going into the theory of the multiverse and quantum mechanics. I found this part to be really interesting and helped the book seem more realistic.
Overall, this is a phenomenal read with an empowering message. It shows the reader that all lives have value and regrets only hold us back. The book says, a couple of times, “You don’t have to understand life. You just have to live.” I love this quote because it's both simple and true, as well as a great take away. We will never understand life, but how great it is that we get to experience it.