Saturday, August 29, 2020

Book Haul: August 2020

Welcome to Stacking the Shelves and Mailbox Monday, where I get to show off the books I’ve gotten recently. I’ve already read two of them, so *pats self on back.* I’ll give tiny reviews of those.

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August 2020 Book Haul

Strange Planet by Nathan W. Pyle

Comic Strip Series

Straight from the mind of bestselling author Nathan W. Pyle comes an adorable and profound universe in pink, blue, green, and purple. Based on the phenomenally popular Instagram of the same name, Strange Planet covers a full life cycle of the planet’s inhabitants.

With dozens of never-before-seen illustrations in addition to old favorites, this book offers a sweet and hilarious look at a distant world not all that unlike our own.

My review: You may have seen the Strange Planet comic series around the Internet. I first stumbled across it on Instagram and fell in love. It’s about colorful aliens who enthusiastically participate in baffling human activities. This book is a bind-up of comics from Instagram and brand new ones that were created for the book. A few of the comics fell flat for me, but mostly I loved this book. It’s an instant mood booster. I smiled the whole time I was reading it. I think it would make a great holiday or birthday gift. If you’ve somehow managed to avoid Strange Planet on social media, here’s a sample of the comics:

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Adult literary fiction

Newlyweds, Celestial and Roy, are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. They are settling into the routine of their life together, when they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

My Review: This book has been longlisted for pretty much every book award ever, and I completely understand why. It’s stunning! Unless something drastic happens, it will make an appearance on my “Best Books of 2020” list in December. It’s beautifully written, and every character feels like a real person. It’s about a husband and wife who are both kind of awful. They have affairs and make other questionable choices. Then, the husband is sent to prison, and the wife starts wondering if she really wants to stay married to him. The husband and wife’s families get overly involved in their marriage. There’s so much drama. This is a novel where you hate everybody, but you feel bad for them at the same time. If you like books about family issues, please read it!

Moonrise by Sarah Crossan

Young adult contemporary novel-in-verse

Seventeen-year-old Joe hasn't seen his brother in ten years. Ed didn't walk out on the family, not exactly. It's something more brutal.

Ed's locked up—on death row.

Now his execution date has been set, and the clock is ticking. Joe is determined to spend those last weeks with his brother, no matter what other people think . . . and no matter whether Ed committed the crime. But did he? And does it matter, in the end?

Why I’m excited to read it: This book has vibes of An American Marriage, doesn’t it? But with teenagers. It’s been a long time since I read a novel-in-verse. I usually love them because they strip all the frilly stuff out of books and get right to the point. They’re also really quick to read. Sarah Crossan’s work tends to get amazing reviews, so I’m interested to find out what I think.

Clover Blue by Eldonna Edwards

Adult historical fiction

There are many things twelve-year-old Clover Blue isn't sure of: his exact date of birth, his name before he was adopted into the Saffron Freedom Community, or who his first parents were. What he does know with certainty is that among this close-knit, nature-loving group, he is happy. Here, everyone is family, regardless of their disparate backgrounds—surfer, midwife, Grateful Dead groupie, Vietnam deserter. But despite his loyalty to the commune and its guru-like founder Goji, Blue grapples with invisible ties toward another family—the one he doesn't remember.

With the urging of his fearless and funny best friend, Harmony, Clover Blue begins to ask questions. For the first time, Goji's answers fail to satisfy. The passing months bring upheaval to their little clan and another member arrives, a beautiful runaway teen named Rain, sparking new tensions. As secrets slowly unfurl, Blue's beliefs—about Goji, the guidelines that govern their seemingly idyllic lives, and the nature of family itself—begin to shift. With each revelation about a heartbreaking past he never imagined, Blue faces a choice between those he's always trusted, and an uncertain future where he must risk everything in his quest for the truth.

Why I’m excited to read it: It’s a book set in a commune in the 1970s. Of course I need to read it! By the end of my life, I’ll probably have read every commune book ever written. I’m not sure how/why I keep attracting commune books to me, but this one is a welcome addition to my collection.

In The Days Of Rain: A Daughter, A Father, A Cult by Rebecca Stott

Adult memoir

Rebecca Stott was born a fourth-generation Brethren and she grew up in England, in the Brighton branch of the Exclusive Brethren cult in the early 1960s. Her family dated back to the group's origins in the first half of the nineteenth century, and her father was a high-ranking minister. However, as an intelligent, inquiring child, Stott was always asking dangerous questions and so, it turns out, was her father, who was also full of doubt. When a sex scandal tore the Exclusive Brethren apart in 1970, her father pulled the family out of the cult. But its impact on their lives shaped everything before and all that was to come.

Why I’m excited to read it: Can I just say “see above”? This is basically the real-life version of Clover Blue. I’m always interested in books written by people who had unusual childhoods. The strained father/daughter relationship reminds me of Educated by Tara Westover. That was a fascinating memoir. I hope this one is just as thought-provoking.

Everything Is Teeth by Evie Wyld

Adult memoir / graphic novel

Evie Wyld was a girl obsessed with sharks. Spending summers in the brutal heat of coastal New South Wales, she fell for the creatures. Their teeth, their skin, their eyes; their hunters and their victims.

Everything is Teeth is a delicate and intimate collection of the memories she brought home to England, a book about family, love and the irresistible forces that pass through life unseen, under the surface, ready to emerge at any point.

Why I’m excited to read it: I loved Evie Wyld’s novel, All The Birds, Singing. She’s excellent at writing description and crafting books with unique narrative structures. If you like literary fiction, nature writing, or Australian stuff, you have to read All The Birds, Singing. I’m curious to see what she can do with a graphic novel. (Graphic memoir? Graphic nonfiction? Illustrated memoir? I’m not exactly sure what this genre is called, and all the options sound incorrect or naughty.) I looked through the book when it came, and I really like the art style. It’s a mix of cartoonish humans and ultra-realistic sharks. Definitely unusual.

The Unwanted: Stories Of The Syrian Refugees by Don Brown

Young adult nonfiction / graphic novel

The Unwanted is an important, timely, and eye-opening exploration of the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis, exposing the harsh realities of living in, and trying to escape, a war zone.

Starting in 2011, refugees flood out of war-torn Syria in Exodus-like proportions. The surprising flood of victims overwhelms neighboring countries, and chaos follows. Resentment in host nations heightens as disruption and the cost of aid grows. By 2017, many want to turn their backs on the victims. The refugees are the unwanted.

Don Brown depicts moments of both heartbreaking horror and hope in the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis. Shining a light on the stories of the survivors, The Unwanted is a testament to the courage and resilience of the refugees and a call to action for all those who read.

Why I’m excited to read it: This graphic novel got some award buzz when it first came out, and it was recommended to me by teacher friends who use it in their classrooms. I want to know more about the refugee crisis that’s currently happening in the world. I’ve read newspaper articles about it but no books. I hope this is a good place to start.

Little Heaven by Nick Cutter

Adult horror / mystery / thriller

A trio of mismatched mercenaries is hired by a young woman for a deceptively simple task: check in on her nephew, who may have been taken against his will to a remote New Mexico backwoods settlement called Little Heaven. Shortly after they arrive, things begin to turn ominous. Stirrings in the woods and over the treetops—the brooding shape of a monolith known as the Black Rock casts its terrible pall. Paranoia and distrust grips the settlement. The escape routes are gradually cut off as events spiral towards madness. Hell—or the closest thing to it—invades Little Heaven. The remaining occupants are forced to take a stand and fight back, but whatever has cast its dark eye on Little Heaven is now marshaling its powers . . . and it wants them all.

Why I’m excited to read it: I’m already gathering spooky Halloween books. Halloween is my favorite holiday. All of October is Halloween to me, so I need enough scary stuff (and candy) to keep me going during my marathon celebration. This book has been recommended to fans of Stephen King’s IT. I want to see how they compare.

Have you read any of these? What did you think?


  1. Strange Planets is one I wouldn't mind owning! Nathan Pyle's cartoons are SO funny. I love them. :)

  2. I read Moonrise as an ACR and I remember it being heartbreaking. The way Crossen explored the family dynamic was really well done and touching. My daughter actually bought one of the alien dolls (of course). She loves those comics.

  3. An interesting bunch of books. Among several of the books, I want to read An American Marriage. In the Days of Rain also like old like it is worth the read. Cults and what they do to people, never cease to fascinate.

  4. That's a great haul! I never have got on with verse novels, but I really want to find one that works for me so I keep trying, heh.

    My STS/weekly roundup post.

  5. Moonrise and Unwanted both sound interesting. I'll look forward to your review.

  6. I feel like I'm the only person who hasn't read An American Marriage!

  7. I haven't read any of these, sadly! Moonrise sounds brutal, frankly. I have really enjoyed the author's stuff, but Idk if my tear ducts can handle that one at the moment! I love all the cult stuff, of course! Hope you enjoy these!

  8. So many tempting books! I enjoyed An American Marriage, and I am curious about In the Days of Rain. Thanks for sharing, and for visiting my blog.

  9. AAAAH, you've got awesome books on here! Quite diverse as well, so they will keep you entertained!

    I've seen that Strange Planet comics around!!! Sooo cool!! The one with the cat is AWESOME!! I am so going to use it somewhere.

    Hope you will have a good week and have lots of time for reading. Here's my The Sunday Post #9

  10. Yeah that you got so many books that you're interested in! I hope you enjoy them! Thanks for stopping by! Happy reading!

  11. Strange Planet seems fun. I've seen some of the comics around. I have An American Marriage that I still need to read. I have read Moonrise though and I loved it.


  12. I have received such a diverse lot of books. Strange Planet sounds cute, just the book we need to make us smile.

  13. I can identify with a shark obsession. I've had one since Jaws scared me as a young child!

  14. What an interesting and varied book haul. Strange Planet looks fun.
    So interesting that you have fiction, Blue Clover, and memoir, In The Days Of Rain, with similar theme. So glad you shared with MM.
    Happy Reading!

  15. Clover Blue was one of my favorites.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Stay safe..

  16. The Strange Planet books look fun.

    ENJOY, and nice to see you on the Mailbox Monday list. :)