* The Tsar of Love and Techno – Anthony Marra
* Step Aside, Pops – Kate Beaton
* Saga Volume 5 – Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
* The Blackthorn Key – Kevin Sands
* Did You Ever Have a Family – Bill Clegg
I’m not even sure where to start with this month. August has felt like the longest month in ages. About halfway through the month, an old friend of mine passed away. I spent a lot of time with friends who knew and loved him and my month was filled with tears, hugs and reminders to cherish every moment you have with the people you love. The first 4 books I read this month were from before that news, and the one I read after was perfect to go along with everything that was happening. Sometimes books give hugs too.
I squealed like a kid on Christmas when Anthony Marra’s new book arrived. The Tsar of Love and Techno is technically a collection of short stories but it follows the same cast of characters making it more of a linked novel. Though this was signature Marra — beautifully written, heart-wrenching and packed with cultural and historical references — I still stand behind A Constellation of Vital Phenomena as my favourite. If you loved Constellation, pick this one up as well, and if you love a well-crafted short story and can handle some emotional turmoil, give it a go!
Next, I sped through Kate Beaton’s newest collection of comics, Step Aside, Pops. A friend of mine calls Beaton “Canada’s up and coming national treasure” and I can totally see why. Her comics are smart, sassy and hilarious. Her previous collection Hark, A Vagrant is beloved by many and this one is no doubt destined for the same fate. Lots of fun feminist themes in this one too which is very much in the zeitgeist. Sadly for me, I didn’t know enough about some of the topics Beaton wrote about to fully appreciated some of the comics, but you can test out your own knowledge by reading her comics online here!
Next, I devoured the 5 issues that will make it into Saga Volume 5! Like Volume 4, I was disappointed that The Will didn’t make much of an appearance, but like all Saga volumes, this was fascinating. This series has a special place in my heart and once again, I was impressed.
On a mini vacation up north with Jay and friends, I read The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands which comes out tomorrow! This is being pitched as Harry Potter meets The Da Vinci Code for kids and I couldn’t say it any better myself. This was a hugely fun 9-12 book that transcends its age group. It was fast-paced and smart. The dialogue was perfection. Lots of fun!
Lastly, I read Bill Clegg’s Did You Ever Have a Family which has been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize this year. Clegg has two previously published books, both biographies about his time as a drug addict. You can see just how tortured Clegg was during those times reflected in this novel. It tells the story of a woman named June, who loses her entire family in an explosion the morning of her daughter’s wedding. Her story unfolds slowly through the perceptions of many people who live in the small town, and who have known and loved her and those around her. Somehow, this book found me at the perfect time, and I loved every second. My only complaint was that there wasn’t more. I wanted more. More understanding, more time with the characters, more beautiful words. It was a rather short book that I wished had gone on for much longer. It is melancholic and gorgeous and worth every bit of praise it has been getting.
And that’s a wrap for me this month. I’m in the middle of three books right now, all of which I am enjoying and today we are on the cusp of September; one of my favourite months of the year. I’m really, really ready for it.