September Mini Book Reviews

Labor Day weekend was awesome for reading books!  I read eight books!  Ok, to be fair, there were really five books, two graphic novels, and a kids book, but it’s still a ridiculous amount of reading.  Here are short reviews of 7/8 books.  The book that was left out was How to Make White People Laugh.  It was my favorite and will have a larger review about it.

Rat Queens Volume 2:
Rat Queens is a graphic novel that is primarily based around a D&D-like group of adventurers.  This particular group has a crew of badass women with unique personalities.  In Volume 2, you get to see different events that shaped their lives for better or worse, and get a glimpse into understanding what motivates them and holds them back in life.  Overall, I liked Volume 2, but I couldn’t keep track of the dozens of characters and who was or wasn’t alive.  I would definitely recommend the series to anyone who enjoys D&D!
Rating: 4/5

This graphic novel is based around the idea that these “Trees” aka large metal structures fell from the sky in a variety of places around the world.  We are introduced to the world nearly a decade after this occurrence, and other than the “trees” falling, nothing of note has happened because of the “trees” and they’re still very mysterious.  My favorite part of volume 1 was a conversation between two individuals about meeting your first trans person and working through it mentally.  I thought the conversation provided a great framework for people in real life to talk to their friends in a safe, comfortable way.  Volume 1 is a very fast and engaging read, but the ending is super WTF.  Mark read it before me, and gasped in incredulity.  I think he was rather amused that I had the same reaction and had to reread the pages a couple of times to really believe what happened happened.  Because of this crazy ending, I’m not entirely sure I’d recommend it other than the trans conversation.
Rating 3/5

Bossypants by Tina Fey:
I’ll be honest — I haven’t seen that many Tina Fey things other than her being Sarah Palin on SNL.  I really liked the book cover so I wanted to read the book.  I’m glad I did!  The book is hilarious.  She made me laugh out loud so many times.   From the title, I expected the book to be more about her being “bossy” than having so much good advice about being a good boss.  One of my favorite parts of the book was her talking about how she walked out of the office, and her boss called her and asked her what she wanted for dinner when she came back to work.  He didn’t address chastise her for leaving or shame her, he just talked to her like normal and made it easy to stop feeling awkward and just move on with life.  A lot of the anecdotes she provided were things that I could relate to and see myself getting in situations that were similar but probably not as funny.  Overall, Bossypants is a great memoir for an awesome person who does what she loves.  Every single chapter is as enlightening as it is funny and that’s saying something because I nearly fell out of bed from laughing so much.
Rating: 5/5

The Art of War for Women:
I really wanted to like this book, but ended up kind of hating it.  I picked it up after seeing a friend at work reading it.  The premise of the book is that you can take The Art of War and then apply it to being a woman in the workforce.  The beginning was super slow to me because it described why the Art of War was how it was and the history of why it’s famous.  I did like hearing the proverb about how the mostly deeply rooted tree will crack in the face of strong winds while a seemingly fragile glad of grass will simply bend and survive.  I didn’t realize that there would be a lot of proverbs like this but applied to examples that didn’t speak to me at all.  Somehow, the majority of these situations talked about a woman not fitting in somehow in their current position and then quitting and making millions of dollars.  Overall, I thought the book had too many mixed metaphors and blanket statements that didn’t feel authentic to me.  I thought there was a weird focus on looks, including becoming the person you want to be via plastic surgery.  There were a couple of good reminders for me like if you want to be a leader, you shouldn’t wait for someone to tell you to lead, you should just lead.  Also, a reminder that I needed to work on confidence, body language, and clarity in communication to get my points across effectively.  I would *not* recommend this book to others, but I’m starting to think more and more that I’m not the target audience.
Rating 2/5

Behind the Throne:
Anya gave me this book for my birthday!  The cover of the book is very dark, and I wasn’t sure that I would like it which sounds stupid, but it reminded me of the style of futuristic war books that I’m not a big fan of.  The book starts with the main character Hail picking herself up off the floor after a vicious attack on her ship.  You quickly find out that she’s a gunrunner who’s the heir to an empire she left behind (this isn’t a spoiler!  It’s literally on the front cover!).  I devoured this book in one sitting.  I made Mark stay up with me till 3AM so I could finish this book.  The pace of the book never really slows down from that first page where she’s fighting to stay alive.  Hail is smart, funny, and strong, but is very stubborn at times and suitably vulnerable.  I think the author did a great job of making her awesome but not unbelievably so as you see her many realistic weaknesses.  The world reminds me a lot of the world from the TV show Firefly, but the government is run by a council of women and it’s passed down by heredity to daughters and other related females.  Hail actually reminds me a lot of Mal from Firefly which is probably another reason why I loved this book.  The characters were diverse and had realistic motivations behind their actions.  When Hail has to take over military command, there isn’t a long winded section about how hard it is for her to keep up or whatever because she’s a woman and hasn’t been exposed to it or whatever — her world just doesn’t have that expectation of women, so the author just can cut straight to the universal struggle of finding your place in a new position.  I’m also super used to this new trend that a badass woman in a book falls in love with someone and realizes it at the end or whatever so I was expecting more romance in this book than there was (I also expected that in the Lies of Lock Lamora), but I was surprisingly happy at the role of romance in the book.  If you like SciFi, I’d highly recommend this book.
Rating: 5/5

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child:
I came in with wanting to like this book.  I won’t spoil it for anyone, but I will say that I did like this screenplay and I would watch it if it every came to St. Louis, but I didn’t love it.  The plot was a little hard to follow at times and some of the characters fell very, very flat.  I did like the focus on family and how parenthood can get tangled into setting expectations for your kids based on your personality instead of what they need as a person.  There were some parts that made me tear up.  I felt like the end should have made me tear up, but I felt like it was emotionally manipulative so it kind of ruined the effect for me.  I read the book much faster than I expected.  Again, I liked the story, but definitely not as much as I wanted to.  I’m hoping that the fact that it’s a screenplay and not an actual novel is the reasoning behind this though!
Rating: 3.5/5

Mark got me this children’s book when we were in Boulder because he had read it as a child.  He started to read me the first chapter out loud.  The premise is that a dog wrote this book about his home life, and there’s a bunny that gets introduced to the family.  He and the family cat are trying to figure out if it’s a vampire or not.  I won’t spoil it for you, ha, but it’s definitely a cute kid’s book.
Rating: 3/5

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