Book Review: The Outs

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

Well, this was… an interesting read…

Just gonna quickly put a little trigger warning in here, as there are graphic and emotional descriptions of depression and suicide. But the story isn’t about these things, and they aren’t properly talked about until far later in the novel.

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The Outs by E.S. Wesley – eBook, 365 pages – Published January 24th 2017 by Curiosity Quills Press

You’re thrown right into the deep end from page one, having to put the pieces together as the plot progresses. We meet one of our protagonists, Caleb, in an unfamiliar room with mysterious men and a random little girl. He ends up taking her with him as he runs, trying to figure out what he did during the Outs.

The Outs are kinda confusing. They’re moments in time where electrical appliances all fail, and anything that happens is forgotten as soon as the Outs end. Oh, and anyone killed during the Outs is resurrected from the dead.

I’m really not sure how to describe this book. The plot is super confusing – Caleb and his aphasic friend, Kitzi, take this weird little girl (Amanda) who somehow has powers over everyone and everything, in an attempt to stop Deeds and his army of Deadheaders. Caleb has a psychopathic voice in his head called Crimes, Amanda’s dreams come true, Kitzi’s suicide happens to have taken place at the same time the Outs started, she can smell the truth – and somehow they’re all connected to the Outs? These three individuals – and many others along the way – each have a big part in what is happening. But how?

Honestly, I cannot explain it. There are so many little ties and strings throughout this book that all add up, and I couldn’t possibly include them all.

It definitely is a unique book. The idea is pretty good, too – the whole “nightmares becoming real” and all. But I just didn’t connect; I don’t know if it was the pacing or what, but I just didn’t feel involved in it.

I feel like I should’ve been able to sympathise with the characters more – they had good backstories, emotional and family issues that different people should be able to relate to. And the narration following Kitzi often makes references to comic books which I personally really appreciated. But I just didn’t quite feel them. Maybe it’s just me – there’s nothing wrong with the writing in particular, so maybe it’s just personal preference. I don’t know.

I had a few typos in my copy but I received an ARC, not a final copy, so that shouldn’t affect anyone buying the book. I loved the cover, and the art at each chapter start was great. Also, the inclusion of “Notes From Last Night” (a site where people recorded notes during the outs for after they forget) was awesome, too. It added a whole other dimension to the world, an extra little bit of interest.

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I wanted to like this, I really did. And I didn’t dislike it – but it didn’t feel like anything special to me. 3 stars for The Outs.

If you’re interested, you can check it out on Amazon.

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Book Review: City of Heavenly Fire

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City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments #6) – Paperback, 638 pages – Published February 1st 2015 by Walker

Wow. I cannot believe the series is over.

I started this series thinking it was just another paranormal YA series, which it was in some ways, but I ended up falling in love with it as the series progressed. Now I’m gonna have to go and buy the gorgeous box set and read them a dozen times over.

If you’re not familiar with these books, you can check out my reviews of the first five books (starting with number one). I may actually be re-reviewing these in a while though, as I’ve come to appreciate them a whole lot more now.

So, where to start… The plot? Complicated but great. Action, tons of heartache, and a sprinkle of love. The ending is super sweet, too. Maybe a bit too neat and happy, but I’m a cynic. Honestly, it was nice to see them all find happiness at last.

The characters. Oh, the characters! I love them all. The use of the relationships in the plot is fantastic (and super sad), and the character development is pretty strong, too. The relationship between Clary and Jace becomes more *ahem* intimate, while Magnus and Alec finally get to talk about what happened between them. As for Isabelle and Simon… you’ll have to read it yourself to see what happens to them.

I find that Clare’s writing in these novels has a really distinct, iconic feel. From the first page, I was immersed in the Shadowhunting world, despite it having been a while since I read the previous novel. And although the book is long – over 600 pages – it didn’t feel tedious or boring. It took me a while to read it due to school work, but I did find myself having to force myself to put the book down and go to sleep.

Like I said, I have grown fonder of this series with each passing book. I’m going to start the series over again soon to see if I still feel the same way as before, but for now I’m going to give this finale a 4.5-star rating. Not quite in my favourites, but after a re-read it may be!

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Graphic Novel Review: MANGA CLASSICS Pride and Prejudice

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

 

We all know of the classic novel, but have you ever read Austen’s work in the form of a manga?

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Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice by Stacy King (originally by Jane Austen) – eBook, 377 pages – Published September 17th 2014 by UDON Entertainment

 

I won’t talk about the plot much – I’m sure you know enough about it already – but I will definitely mention the art and the portrayal of the different characters and their relationships with one another.

So, just in case you don’t know the story of Pride and Prejudice – my review of which is here – I will give you a quick summary. Originally published in 1813, the story features common themes from the era such as wealth, social standing, and marriage. A family with five daughters are desperate to get them married into wealth, into comfortable homes with handsome young men. But Elizabeth is not so keen on marrying just anyone, and her eldest sister soon finds herself falling for a particular young man.

The original novel is fantastic, but some people don’t particularly enjoy reading classics – which is understandable, as a lot of the language is rather hard for us to understand in the modern day and age. So this adaptation makes the story a whole lot more enjoyable and easy to follow, while still keeping the importance of the plot intact. Not to mention how well the characters are all portrayed – especially Mrs Bennet, the comedic mother in the book. The artwork emphasises how exaggerated she is, as well as showing her husband’s reaction to her.

At important times – such as weddings or the introduction of a certain character to another – the illustrations are particularly beautiful and romantic, with lots of floral designs. I thought the illustrations reflected the mood of the plot/characters really well. And the language is a lot easier to understand than Austen’s original writing, yet still somewhat classic and formal.

I really did enjoy this, and am definitely going to consider other books from the range. 5 stars for this wonderful retelling of Pride and Prejudice.

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BOOKTRACK Book Review: The Jungle Book

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The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling – eBook/Booktrack – Originally published in 1894

I’m not going to say too much about the plot – you’re probably already pretty familiar with the story. I am, however, going to comment on the soundtrack provided by Booktrack. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s basically a site where you can buy, write and read books with coinciding music and sound effects. (I’ve always used sites like MyNoise to create soundscapes and things to help immerse me in the fictional worlds I’m reading, so the discovery of Booktrack was heaven-sent.)

So yeah, obviously this is the story of Mowgli, the man-cub, raised by wolves and Baloo and Bagheera. He lives in the jungle, until finding a human village to take him in. But he does not belong – he may be man by blood, but he is of the Jungle People now.

The soundtrack with this book really helps you feel as though you are in the forest, hearing the life all around you. There’s music to accompany the little songs and poems included throughout, and dramatic music to portray the intensity of the plot and action. The only problem I really have with the track is how it sometimes jumped or cut off when I turned a page, but that may just be due to me reading faster than it is expecting.

Altogether, the story and Booktrack has earned 3.5 stars from me. It’s a nice read, and the soundtrack is a great accompaniment to the story.

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Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Superman, Action Comics Volume 1: The Path of Doom

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

I’ve not read that much about Superman, but my boyfriend has kept me updated on the plot. That background knowledge really helped when reading this volume, as it was pretty confusing.

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Superman Action Comics Volume 1: Path of Doom (Action Comics Vol. III, #1) – 128 pages – Published February 17th 2017 by DC Comics

The start took me by surprise; Lex Luthor as Superman, following the death of Clark. What’s he doing as Superman, though? What are his true motives?

One thing to remember with this is that DC have several universes, meaning there are different Clarks/Supermans on different worlds. And this issue involves a Superman who is not on his home planet, and an extra Clark that nobody was expecting…

I love Clark’s little family, and the way it’s affected by his being Superman and everything. There wasn’t much in this volume of the family together, though, as it is mainly based on the fight between Superman, Lex, Wonder Woman and Doomsday.

I would’ve liked more explanation in here on the whole situation with all the different Supermans, but I haven’t read any previous issues so I suppose they might explain it. (Maybe I’ll ask my boyfriend about it.)

One thing I haven’t yet mentioned is the mysterious figure commentating on the battle, even intervening and stealing Doomsday away. I’m really interested to see where that’s going.

As usual, the art is awesome. It’s not my favourite comic, but I still enjoyed it. 3.5 stars.

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Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Suicide Squad Volume 1: The Black Vault

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

I actually read (and own) one of the issues in this volume already, but reading them all together like this was a lot better.

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Suicide Squad Volume 1: The Black Vault (Rebirth) – 161 pages – Published 7th March 2017 by DC Entertainment

So this is obviously following the Suicide Squad, a group of villains and criminals pulled together by Amanda Waller. Their mission, under the code name Task Force X, is to remove some galactic matter from within Russian grounds.

When introducing the members, Waller adds some humorous details on them. I really liked the little details thrown in throughout. And the relationships between the different characters are pretty good, too.

On this misson, they acquire Hack and end up running into General Zod and tons of other evil dudes. Not to mention the huge army of Russian dudes attacking them from the outside…

I absolutely love Harley in this. She’s a great character! But I like how several characters have their backgrounds pulled forward, too, including Harley. I always really enjoy finding out about their pasts, and what made them who they are now. This volume includes the backstory of Katana, Harley, Deadshot, and Captain Boomerang.

I think this is one of my favourite volumes of comics. The characters are awesome, the fight scenes are great – and the art is amazing. I think it deserves 5 stars.

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Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Hal Jordan & the Green Lantern Corps Volume 1: Sinestro’s Law

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

This was my first proper insight into the world of the Green Lantern Corps, which maybe meant I wasn’t prepared/up to date with the background information but oh well. (Thankfully my boyfriend is a major comic book nerd and has briefed me on most things.)

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Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 1: Sinestro’s Law (Hal Jordan & the Green Lantern Corps #1) – eBook (Review Copy) – Published February 14th 2017 by DC Entertainment

After the disappearance of the Green Lantern Corps, leaving just Hal Jordan behind, the universe has been taken under Sinestro’s Corps. Everyone is convinced they’re doing good… But then Sinestro is revived at near-death point and takes over control completely.

Hal is Sinestro’s target, but the rest of the Green Lanterns come back and get in his way. With the power harvested from both the Parallax and fear, Sinestro’s battle with Hal and the Lanterns is brutal.

I wasn’t quite as interested in this one as I was with Batman, even though I love the Green Lanterns. I’m not quite sure why – maybe it’s because I’m not as familiar with the previous events as I’d like to be. Either way, I just didn’t follow the story all that well.

The ending, however… DC do a great job of leaving you in the dark. Hal?! He can’t be dead… right? Cliffhangers!

And as usual, the art is great. Clear colour schemes for the battles of green v. yellow, and tons of action. Not quite as much in terms of character relationships, but some of the characters were so sassy and funny.

I’m only going to give this 3.5 stars though, as it didn’t intrigue me quite as much as the Batman Detective Comics.

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Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Batman: Detective Comics Volume 1 – Rise of the Batmen

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

I finished this last night but was too tired to write the review then. (Sorry.)

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Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 1: Rise of the Batmen (Detective Comics Vol. III #1 – eBook (Review Copy), 158 pages – Published February 7th 2017 by DC Comics

I actually had an issue with my copy of the file that I received (via NetGalley) which left me with a chunk missing from the start. Obviously, this was quite annoying and prevented me from being able to really enjoy the full story. I liked it nonetheless, and will still be reviewing what I was able to read.

I’m not going to tell you the whole plot and spoil it for anyone, but the basic gist of this is Batman and his recruits putting up a fight against “The Colony”. There’s action and shock and relationships – everything you could want in a volume of comics.

The ending was just… damn. Tim?!?!?!?! I loved the ending. And hated it.

The art is great, too, and I really like all the covers in the gallery at the end. And the relationships between all the different characters are really good. (I especially like Steph and Tim.)

I’m going to give 4 stars to this edition of comics, mostly because I can’t give any higher without having read the start. The ending is definitely what got me.

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Graphic Novel Review: The Best We Could Do

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

This isn’t really a graphic novel, but kind of an illustrated memoir. It is not a fictional story with magic or monsters; instead, it discusses so many different aspects of life, growing up in different places during different times, and being a family.

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The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui – eBook (Review Copy), 330 pages – Published March 7th 2017 by Abrams

The events are not recollected chronologically, jumping from the birth of the author’s child back to the childhood of each of her parents, and then all the way back through to the present. There are dates and locations noted throughout, but I did get a tiny bit lost on occasion. (If I’m honest, though, I didn’t actually read the date on half the pages so it’s kinda my own fault.)

 

There are several key themes and events in this novel. One huge factor is war; how it affected the family and their life together. There’s also a lot about what it means to be family, what motherhood is and what childhood is, and also the loss of a loved one. Another massively important theme is immigration; Bui describes being a refugee, illegally sailing away from Vietnam after they surrendered, and trying to build a life as a family in a whole new country. So many people are ignorant of these issues and hardships, not realising how much some families go through just to taste happiness.

The colour scheme is rather clear – oranges and blues, mostly. It has a very watercolour-y effect, giving a sense of remembrance and recollection of the past. The art is really lovely in this – I feel it portrays the story fantastically, and is just beautiful to look at on its own.

I found it really interesting how Thi Bui focused so much on the lives of her parents before they met, emphasising how even parents are people with their own lives and pasts and problems. As she becomes a parent herself, she realises how her mother must have felt for all these years.

As someone with a pretty “boring” life, I was also really intrigued by the journey everyone in this book made. The migration to America, trying to build a life and earn money and keep safe – it was a pretty emotional journey! But Bui never dwells on these negatives, never moans or wishes for change. She just says everything as it is, which I really admire.

This is a really interesting read for anyone who likes history, learning about different cultures, or just wants to appreciate their family more. It discusses some huge issues – miscarriage, infant fatalities, immigration, war – that a lot of people could benefit from reading about. And the art is wonderful! 4 stars for this novel.

If you’re interested in this book, it’s available now on Amazon.

 

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Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Adventure Time Volume #5

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Adventure Time Volume #5 by Ryan North – Paperback, 128 pages – Published June 2014 by Titan Comics

Just a quick review of this, as it’s pretty similar to all the previous volumes.

Familiar characters dominate the stories as usual, including Jake, Finn, BMO, Princess Bubblegum, Ice King, Marceline and even Lemongrab. The relationships between the characters are nice in this, especially regarding PB and Marceline.

The stories are funny, weird and super enjoyable, full of humour and colour and adventure (duh). The fourth wall is, of course, practically nonexistent, as the commentary along the bottom of the pages addresses the audience directly. It really immerses you in the world of Finn and Jake, as well as adding another layer of humour. The commentary makes these comics unique from most others.

The art is awesome. I still love looking through the gallery of covers at the end. The colours are so vivid and the styles are all so wonderful. It’s one of the nicest comics to just look at.

Of course, it is kinda childish. But it’s an easy and relaxing read, and there are some very subtle jokes and comments that only older readers will understand.

4 stars. It’s a really fun read, and I love all the characters so much!

Go and grab a copy here.

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