Month: December 2016

Book Review: Beautiful Broken Things

pro_readerI would like to give a massive thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this novel. In return, I am writing a review with my honest opinions on the book.

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Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard – eBook, 337 pages – Published February 11th 2016 by Macmillan Children’s Books

Wow. The title was perfect to me – I personally suffer from mental health issues and have known lots of other people who do, too. There are loads of books about this issue now, but I like how this isn’t about her suffering, but instead her friend.

If you’re struggling with any mental illness, you’ll understand how “broken” is such a perfect word for describing your state. Using “beautiful” alongside this is nice, making you feel that maybe being broken isn’t always such a bad thing.

Caddy is ordinary, boring, plain – until her best friend introduces her to Suzanne. At first, she just seems like a fun, reckless kind of girl. But it soon becomes apparent that she has some serious issues beneath the surface.

Barnard creates Suzanne as a character before introducing her issues. She does hint at something going on, but she doesn’t make it her only identity. This is so important in books. We are not just our mental illnesses! I wish more people could see that.

The relationships are very realistic, too. I can’t say I know much about abuse, but I can say that the friendship issues caused by Suzanne’s depression are portrayed very realistically. And when she is admitted to treatment, she realises that maybe she has dragged her friends down without intending to do so – something that is incredibly common.

Suzanne is very relatable, but that may just be personal. The way she talks about her issues and emotions, and the way she copes with things, are very similar to my own. And again, her being a “bad influence” is something I have experienced to some extent. But even if you don’t personally fit in her shoes by any measure, I think anyone can appreciate Suzanne’s struggles and her relationship and impact on Caddy.

As for Caddy, who is the protagonist of the novel, I think she is a greatly accurate representation of many teenage girls. She wants something impressive to happen – she’s never had a boyfriend, she still has her virginity, she’s never even been in any serious situations. Everyone has that phase of wanting something that sets them apart, that makes them unique and interesting. Of course, Caddy never could have anticipated what would happen when she befriended Suzanne…

And Rosie, Caddy’s original bestie, is sort of the other kind of typical teen. She has more of a social life but is still loyal to her old friend, and although she may not be entirely “boring” she also isn’t incredibly special, either.

This may possibly be a slightly romanticised portrayal of depression and suicide, but not like many others. Honestly, the reckless and thrilling adventures Suzanne takes Caddy on aren’t all that out-there. When you’re in that dark place, you do crazy things sometimes. And although Caddy had fun and loved Suzanne, it was still part of the issue. Caddy’s parents take the events as Suzanne being a bad influence, though, which (as I said before) is something I have experienced. Caddy doesn’t see it that way, and although Suzanne isn’t intending to influence Caddy in any way, she isn’t a great help either. What’s that phrase about cutting yourself when trying to fix someone who’s broken?

I do admit that I’m maybe emotionally attached to this for personal reasons, but I can honestly say that this is a fantastic book anyway. The character development is superb, the writing is easy to follow and the plot is realistic yet interesting. I can’t say I’d change it at all. 5 stars.

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Graphic Novel Review: Adventure Time Volume #2

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Adventure Time Volume #2 by Ryan North – Paperback, 218 pages – Published May 10th 2013 by Titan Comics

The second volume of Adventure Time comics! I loved it even more than the first!

So in these episodes, Finn and Jake go on a crazy time adventure, thanks to Princess Bubblegum’s amazing invention. At first, it’s all just a bit of fun – until PB decides the time machine is too dangerous and must be destroyed. Of course, Jake already had plans to use it and attempts to repair the machine. This leads to some strange outcomes…

The main characters in this volume are BMO and PB (other than Finn and Jake, of course). There are also mentions of several other characters, including a strange Finn-Jake hybrid named Tim. Oh, and there are a ton of robots. (Thanks, BMO.)

As usual, the graphics are superb. One of my favourite parts is still the “cover gallery” at the end, with alternate covers for each issue. I also like the little side-notes included at the bottom of some pages, often breaking the fourth wall and referring to the TV show. I do, however, sometimes feel like they’re trying a bit too hard to be funny. Eh, I might just be a picky reader.

I really do love these comics – they’re fun and enjoyable and relaxing to read. The art is lovely and the stories are just a bit of fun, really. Of course, there are some pretty meaningful morals hidden under all the jokes, too.

Easily 4.5 stars for this volume. Colourful and funny and unique!

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Graphic Novel Review: 07-Ghost Volume #2

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07-Ghost Volume #2 by Yuki Amemiya and Yukino Ichihara – Paperback, 200 pages – Published January 8th 2013 by VIZ Media LLC

This is the second installation in the 07-Ghost series. Teito-Klein is still at the Barsburg Church with the Bishops, learning about the battle between light and dark. His best friend, Mikage, was possessed by evil, his soul taken from him. Teito swears revenge, but the Bishops try to reason with him.

I don’t want to include spoilers, but the little dragon that’s introduced in this is the cutest thing ever. My boyfriend probably got fed up of me going on about it so much. I just found the whole idea of it coming along after Mikage’s death so damn adorable.

Again, I got pretty lost at times. This volume maybe wasn’t quite as confusing as the first, but it was still pretty all over the place (in my opinion). I think the art could be clearer and easier to follow – though I do love the art style. And it was easy enough to at least get the general gist of, so that’s good.

I’m hoping the next volumes will become even easier to follow. I like the idea and everything though so I think 3 stars is reasonable.

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Book Review: Fire Study

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Fire Study (Chronicles of Ixia #3) by Maria V. Snyder – Paperback, 441 pages – Published June 7th 2013 by Mira Ink

This is the third novel in the Chronicles of Ixia series by Maria V. Snyder. There are more books – I’m not quite sure how many – but I am definitely done with this series.

Again, we follow Yelena – our 20-something protagonist with magical powers. She’s discovered that her powers make her a Soulfinder, and people fear her because of it. But she uses her powers for good, even if the Fire Warper tries to get her on his side.

Even though Yelena is a bit older than the usual YA protagonist, the way this book is written just feels immature to me. It’s almost entirely composed of simple, declarative sentences with little emotion. I can’t connect with Yelena, even when she suffers the loss of a loved one or comes near to death herself.

I said this about the first book, and I’ll say it again; Snyder doesn’t seem to portray the passing of time. At all. There is a section of this book that was meant to have been over several weeks, but I just didn’t feel it. There’s no character development. Even the relationships don’t seem to have any feeling. Basically, I just can’t connect with anyone or anything in these books.

Though there is nothing bad about the writing, I just didn’t like this book. I found it hard to read and didn’t really enjoy it. The plot sounded decent – escorting souls to the sky, defeating evil magicians – but I was so disappointed. 2 stars.

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Graphic Novel Review: Adventure Time Volume #1

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Adventure Time Vol. 1 (Issues 1-4) by Ryan North – Paperback, 113 pages – Published February 1st 2013 by Titan Publishing Company

I love the show and just had to read this. Now I’m possibly in love with it.

The story is simple yet great; The Lich is sucking up the world into his bag and Finn and Jake must save everyone. They are accompanied by some fabulous characters – Princess Bubblegum, Marceline, Lumpy Space Princess, Desert Princess, The Ice King – and there are some hilarious pieces of dialogue. All the characters have funny, well-developed personalities that you can’t help but fall in love with.

I also like how the fourth wall is often broken – Marceline moans at the readers, and fake “The End” pages are included for humour. It gives the novel a unique feel that I really enjoyed.

The artwork is amazing. Like, absolutely awesome. So much colour! And it’s all so clear and beautiful. The only problem with the appearance in this novel is that the text at the bottom of some pages is a strange, pale green that is pretty hard to read against the white background of the pages.

Toward the back of the book, there are also tons of different cover images, all in different art styles. I loved them all! They were a great touch to the novel.

 

I was very tempted to give this 5 stars, but I don’t think it’s quite there. But 4.5 stars for sure!866A98B32CBD639D32E20CEBF70E4491

Manga/Graphic Novel Review: 07-Ghost

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07-Ghost Volume #1 by Yuki Amemiya and Yukino Ichihara – Paperback, 200 pages – Published December 6th 2012 by VIZ Media

Honestly, this is the first graphic novel I’ve properly read so I don’t have anything to compare it to. So this review may not be that helpful, and I’m just going to keep it quite short.

I’m not going to lie, I found this pretty confusing. It was a bit all over the place – but I’ve heard it gets better. It starts at the military academy with Teito Klein and Mikage, who are best friends. But then Teito’s repressed memories are jogged when he overhears a secret conversation, forcing him to flee the district. From there, he finds himself in a strange church. The bishops there begin to help him understand the war between two empires, the legend of seven ghosts, and the battle between good and evil.

The art in this is fantastic! I loved the style so much. (It was what really drew me in.) Sometimes it does perhaps seem a little busy and hard to follow, but maybe that’s just because I’m new to it.

The dialogue is great – the jokes and everything really make this a good novel. And the premise is good, too – I intend to read on and hopefully make sense of it all!

I did like it, but I also got lost a fair bit. It was a lot better toward to end, with Mikage’s surprise appearance and all, but I think I can only give this 3 stars.

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Book Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – Paperback, 303 pages – Published April 7th 2015 by Penguin

This was really a wild ride. I think this book managed to get me out of a mini reading slump (yay!).

The book starts off with Simon’s private email being read by some guy in his drama club. This may not seem like a huge deal, except Simon’s secretly been emailing this guy who he’s maybe in love with. But they don’t know each other’s real identity, and neither of them have come out yet.

So Simon has to help the guy – Martin – get with one of his best friends. Only she isn’t interested (at all). At the same time, Simon is falling for Blue more and more with each email, and is becoming desperate to find him in real life. He starts to decode the clues in an attempt to figure out his identity – only for Blue to beat him to it.

Simon’s also struggling with tons of friendship issues, a big play coming up, and his family (and the entire school, for that matter) finding out about him being gay. He doesn’t want any of it to be a big deal. But it is.

He’s a great character, portrayed to be a normal human being. His relationships all seem pretty realistic (though I’m sceptical about the situation with Blue. Would anyone really be that lucky?). I really felt for him throughout the novel, and I was so unbelievably pleased for him at the end. I’m so not used to such great, adorable endings.

My biggest issues are that sometimes the teen voice was being pushed a bit too hard – we don’t always say “freaking” or whatever. And the scenarios seemed a little too far-fetched sometimes. (Seriously, has anyone ever experienced people dancing in the crowd at a school talent show?) But generally this was a good representation of life, and I really enjoyed reading it.

very nearly marked this as a favourite, but decided on just 4.5 stars in the end. I loved the book, but there were a few minor details that put me off just a little bit. It is most definitely a fantastic book, though! I’d definitely recommend this book for the YA audience.

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