Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Written by: JK Rowling

First line: The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close and a drowsy silence lay over the large, square houses of Privet Drive.

Why you should read this book: Although Harry Potter knows that the Dark Lord has arisen, most of the wizarding world refuses to accept the imminent danger, with many groups actively trying to discredit Harry's account. With the sadistic Dolores Umbridge infiltrating and gradually gaining influence at Hogwart's, school is no fun anymore and Harry is increasingly plagued by bad dreams that, at least on some occasions, are real. This book is notable for the return of a number of beloved characters from past books, as well as the introduction of some memorable new ones.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Wow, is it overwritten. Could easily have been a hundred pages shorter without losing any of the story.

Intro to Alien Invasion

Written by: Owen King, Mark Jude Poirier, and Nancy Ahn

First line: What is that you have.

Why you should read this book: A deeply tongue in cheek graphic novel that really puts the comic in comic book, this is the story of a socially awkward college student and the spring break of terror that results when her gross, inappropriate astrobiology professor illegally smuggles alien-infested soil samples from Russia back to America, resulting in a bunch of kids getting impregnated by extra-terrestrials. Stranded on campus during a hurricane, Stacey and her rapidly dwindling peer group must avoid being infected by tiny blue ladybugs who turn humans into enormous jelly-filled bags before erupting from their bodies to eat and infect more students. It's both silly in its depiction of B-movie horror tropes and touching in its depiction of young adult relationships.

Why you shouldn't read this book: People's bodies swell up and then explode, coating survivors in itchy alien goo, so if that's not your thing, you're going to have a bad time with this book.

Fragments of Horror

Written by: Junji Ito

First line: The man I eloped with and currently live with is terrifies of something and he won't come out from under the futon.

Why you should read this book: This is one of the strangest horror anthologies I've ever read, with the scary element of almost every story somehow revolving around some type of sexually creepy woman. "Dissection-chan," about a girl who is obsessed with being dissected and harasses medical students to cut her open, was one of my favorites, but other sexually creepy women feed men raw meat, have inappropriate relationships with historical buildings, and try to remove men's heads.There's also some time travel, some cross dressing, some justice, some injustice, some ghosts, some Lovecraftian terrors, and a decent body count.

Why you shouldn't read this book: If you're looking for any type of conventional slasher tale, you won't find it here; it's not even conventional within its supernatural genre; it's really far out.

The Answer

Written by: Rebecca Sugar and Elle Michalka and Tiffany Ford

First line: This is the story of Ruby and Sapphire's time on the planet Earth.

Why you should read this book: For fans of Steven Universe, the world's only children's television program about gay space rocks, the love story of Ruby and Sapphire is central to an understanding of the show's larger thesis about love. This book recreates the episode of the same name, illustrating and lingering in the  moments of the characters' first association and the beginning of their relationship, with some additional commentary by the characters themselves regarding the way people on earth can change perspective, take control of their own destinies, and express powerful emotions that may also be forbidden. A sweet little love story (and New York Times bestseller), which has been compared to a fairy tale, but with gay space rocks.

Why you shouldn't read this book: It probably doesn't make any sense if you're not familiar with the first two seasons of the show. Or, I suppose, if you're a raging homophobe.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Painting Their Portraits in Winter

Written by: Myrian Gurba

First line: It was December and it was just girls—Mom, my sister Ixchel, and I—staying in the damp house where Mom grew up in Guadalajara.

Why you should read this book: It calls itself a collection of short fiction but it reads like an alluring composite: memoir of growing up Mexican-American and lesbian, mixed with a collection of traditional and modern ghost stories, woven into a love letter to a beloved, departed grandmother. The voice rings with all the authenticity of an adolescent fumbling their way to adulthood as well as the wisdom of the adult looking back on the journey. Heartily enjoyable, creepy, funny, and rife with love and the little details that love summons.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Lots of death and creepiness.

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Water Cure

Written by: Sophie Mackintosh

First line: Once we had a father, but our father dies without us noticing.

Why you should read this book: Three sisters live with their mother and father on an isolated island, where, their parents promise them, they will be protected from the toxic influence of men that pervades the mainland, provided they participate in numerous healing rituals that read like old-school torture. When their father disappears without warning and three strangers—two men and a boy—appear on their shore their belief in their own beloved mythology is sorely tested. A dreamy, mythic story with multiple narrators who are unreliable not because they seek to deceive the reader or themselves, but because they have only a limited database from which to draw their understanding of reality.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Not the kind of story where everything is explained in the end.