2020 Reads: May

1. The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

An interracial queer couple plus NASA… talk about topical. Phil Stamper is a self-professed space nerd. His passion and knowledge of NASA's missions in the 60s and 70s shines in this original story. He also explores social media, mental health and first love in this smashing debut. Cal is a popular social media journalist. He has an impressive audience of half a million followers. Not bad for a seventeen-year-old. His meticulously planned future is thrown into chaos when his father is chosen for NASA’s latest mission to Mars. His life in New York is uprooted as his family relocates to Houston. To complicate things further, the entire thing is being filmed for a reality show called Shooting Stars. He’s worried his family will crumble when put under a microscope. The producers want the astronauts to live in a 1960s bubble, paying homage to the previous space race to the Moon. They’ve manufactured a retro suburbia for their shiny nuclear families. It isn’t long before this old-fashioned facade clashes with modern family values. Cal thanks his lucky stars for the charismatic and handsome Leon. But can he stay true to himself and thrive as an honest journalist while juggling a relationship in this strange new world he's been thrust into?

2. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

This is my top recommendation for aspiring writers. Through some form of wizardry, he manages to educate, entertain, and empower, without ever coming across as preachy. Part memoir, part invaluable writing advice, this is a gift for readers and writers alike. I didn't want it to end, which is rare when reading about writing. Usually, I'd much rather be reading fiction or actually writing. But King's down to earth narration and witty recollections make learning feel like leisure. "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut." - Stephen King

3. Heartstopper Volume 3 by Alice Oseman

As soon as lock-down ended and I was released back into the wild, I grabbed a copy of Heartstopper Volume 3! In my opinion, it's the best one yet. Nick and Charlie are adorable as ever as they head to Paris for a school trip. But honestly, any character in this series could hold their own comic strip. Elle, Tao, Darcy, Tara and Alled, have all burrowed their way into my heart. I also loved the cute teacher romance between Mr. Ajayi and Mr. Farouk. Cuteness aside, this volume delves into some heavy mental health issues, such as eating disorders and self-harm. I wasn’t expecting this from the series, but Alice Oseman handles these topics with the knowledgeable delicacy they deserve. Roll on Volume 4!

4. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B White

This is my new bible. Stephen King referenced this book several times in his memoir, and I made a note to study it. I'd read parts of it over the years, but decided it was high time I had my own copy. I'm glad I held out for this superb edition. Maira Kalman's beautiful illustrations breathe new life into this beloved classic. It's no surprise this is the only style manual to ever appear on bestseller lists, it has helped millions to grasp the basic principles of the English language. I will undoubtedly refer to it again and again, when in need of guidance or inspiration.

5. Wonder Woman: Paradise Lost by Phil Jimenez

In 2001, this epic tale gave Gotham's rogues gallery a Greek makeover. The three children of Ares: Discord, Fear and Terror, are reborn in the bodies of Poison Ivy, Scarecrow and Joker. Batman and Wonder Woman team up to stop the God of War's children from spreading madness and war across the globe. In Themyscira, two rival tribes of Amazons are heading towards a war of their own. Can Queen Hippolyta, Donna Troy, and Princess Diana turn things around and restore peace on Paradise Island? This was a fun graphic novel. I definitely preferred the latter arc on Themyscira, the Gotham stuff was cool and made for some wicked art, but the story felt a little one note. (This Volume collects Wonder Woman 164-170, Wonder Woman Secret Files 2 and New Teen Titans 38)

6. Burn by Patrick Ness

How does the world end? It ends in fire. It sure feels that way right now. Patrick Ness plus talking dragons...Yes please! Add to that, a poignant tale exploring race, sexuality, and religious fanaticism in America's deep south in the 1950s, and you have one hell of a story! A twisty rollercoaster of darkness and whimsy. Highly recommend. “I'm just a girl." "It is tragic how well you have been taught to say that with sadness rather than triumph.” – Patrick Ness

7. Wonder Woman: Eyes of the Gorgon by Greg Rucka

Wonder Woman vs Medusa! Hell Yeah! The Eyes of the Gorgon aka Stoned was published in 2005. How do you defeat an enemy you can't look at? Diana Prince will show you how it's done. However, her battle with the infamous Gorgon is not without some hefty consequences. This epic clash of the Titan's is not to be missed. As if all that wasn't dramatic enough, a blinded Diana also goes head to head with the giant Briareos when she's entered into a battle of champions between Zeus and Athena. This is the best Wonder Woman story I've read since Gods and Mortals, a must for fans. (This volume collects Wonder Woman 206-213 & 92)

Pick of the Month: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King