Month: October 2017

Book Review: Release

I’ve been meaning to read more of Ness’s novels, and this new release (hah!) looked really interesting. It definitely lived up to that reputation.
It’s kind of split in two, alternating between Adam’s story and the story of the Queen and the the faun – spirits, one of which is lost and accidentally bound to the spirit of a young girl who has been murdered, jeopardising the safety of the entire world. I don’t actually know how or why these two stories are connected. There seems to be a link here and there, and they even meet at one point, but I don’t actually see why these two sets of characters are of any real importance to each other. Each story was very interesting, but I just didn’t feel like they were relevant to each other.

The story following Adam was really good, and the banter between Adam and Angela especially was fantastic. He is a gay boy living in an incredibly religious family – his father is a preacher at the nearby church. He’s getting over a relationship, while simultaneously dating another boy who seems to love him very much. But Adam doesn’t feel like he deserves the love, and when his father suggests he deserved the sexual harassment from his boss he completely loses it. This interaction was really interesting, and I think Ness did a pretty good job of creating a dramatic and accurate scene. A religious father faced with news such as this would likely have reacted in a similar way to Big Brian Thorn.

Although I did enjoy this and Ness’s writing is superb, I don’t quite understand this book. I saw a few links and enjoyed Adam’s story, but really didn’t understand the Queen’s significance. 3 stars.

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Book Review: Alice in The Looking Glass – A Mother and Daughter’s Experience of Anorexia

I’m probably more obsessed with ED books than is healthy, but it’s so reassuring to read other people’s experiences that are similar to my own. This book was absolutely fantastic – not only did it help me see that I’m not alone or abnormal, but I was also able to read a mother’s point of view on the experience. I understand now how awful it must have been for my own mother during my inpatient hospital stay and the initial battle of getting a diagnosis.
I found it interesting that they gave Jo (the mother)’s perspective first, instead of Alice herself. We learn about what she witnesses before we find out exactly what Alice was actually thinking and feeling.

They don’t include weights or numbers in this, which is tremendously helpful. Like Jo says, this is a competitive illness, and even parents seem to want to compete in having the “most poorly” child. But it’s so triggering for other people to read about how much weight someone lost, and it’s not really relevant. Weight loss is just a side affect of the illness, and not the main issue itself.

The reality is addressed so honestly in this book, all the feelings and experiences that we may be ashamed to admit are written in black and white. It made me feel a lot less guilty about things that I’ve felt, knowing other people have felt the same way, too. And the recovery aspect was not unrealistically easy or happy; Alice is not completely recovered even at the end of the book, but is managing her illness. That is how most of us will live for a long time, if not for the rest of our lives. But Alice expresses how she is so much happier “managing” her anorexia than she was when she was suffering years ago. It gives hope – even if you don’t fully recover, life can be good. 

I really loved this book. I’d urge anyone with a loved one who is suffering from an eating disorder (or has one themselves) to read this, as it would really help seeing both perspectives on the journey. 5 stars.

Book Review: Othello

Like The Great Gatsby, I am studying this for part of my A Level course and have this particular edition which includes notes and definitions. 

And like with my last review, this is only going to be short. (Mostly because I’m so tired of studying this book that I don’t want to spend extra time on it now.)

In classic Shakespearean style, there’s a hell of a lot of misunderstanding and, of course, death. There’s even a love-driven suicide at the end, which Shakespeare was rather fond of including it seems.

This play is renowned for addressing a number of topics such as race, class differences, love and jealousy. Mostly, it is about the latter.

It’s always hard to get into these plays, but other than that it’s pretty good. Iago is possibly one of Shakespeare’s best villains, has he is so cunning and clever with his acts. 3 stars.

Book Review: The Great Gatsby

I’m studying this book as part of my A Level course, so I’ll avoid going into too much detail on here. The edition we were told to buy includes an introduction and notes on the book, including notes on certain names and terminology included. If you are studying this book at all, an edition like this is really useful.

The story is renowned for its representation of the ‘Jazz Age’ – the 1920s. Fitzgerald captures that time wonderfully, while showing the true colours of the “American Dream” (similar to Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men in that aspect).

Nick, the narrator, moves to Long Island. His cousin Daisy lives nearby, and he lives next to a mysterious man who has recently come into a lot of money. This man turns out to be Jay Gatsby – a regular party host and past lover of Nick’s cousin.

Daisy’s husband, Tom, is seeing another woman. Most people know about it – it’s pretty much an “open secret” by now. But her husband starts to catch on, just as a terrible accident pushes him right over the edge…

At first, this was pretty boring to read. Especially since I had no choice but to read it. But as I read on, it got more and more enjoyable. I began to appreciate the writing more, and actually got a little emotional with the final death. I can understand why this book has been so popular, such a symbolic piece of literature from the Jazz Age.

It’s not that old (compared to.other classic novels) so isn’t too hard to follow. The style is a bit old fashioned, obviously, but I personally still enjoyed it. 4.5 stars.

Graphic Novel/Picture Book Review: The Little Red Wolf

35905318This is only a very short book, so the review will be short too. It’s based on the fairytale Little Red Riding Hood (as you may have guessed from the title). It’s a beautifully illustrated novel, with a really sweet message about love and friendship between humans and animals.

It follows a similar story to the original fairytale, but where the child captures the little wolf while he is delivering a rabbit to his hungry old grandmother. The child sings a song, which is gorgeously illustrated by Fl├ęchais, which tells the tale of a woman and man falling in love, but the man then losing his wife to wolves. This, she says, is why her and her father hunt and kill wolves – because they are evil beasts that bring nothing but pain.

The little red wolf’s father comes to the rescue – without killing the girl or her father – and tells his son about the version of the song he knows – where the woman is friends with the wolves, weaving them capes (like the one the little red wolf wears) and the man accidentally shoots her himself. I found this to be really quite touching, and I really did like this interpretation of the fairytale.

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

I don’t think the chapters were necessary for such a short book – they didn’t mark the end of a “chapter” in any way for me, but just felt like they’d been randomly placed throughout the story.

Overall, this is definitely a lovely story for children to read, even if it is a little sad. The art was really lovely, and it told the story beautifully. 4 stars.

P.S. Sorry about the awful quality of the pictures. My laptop has a red light filter on and just doesn’t do the art justice at all.

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Book Review: Inkspell

This is the second book of the trilogy, even longer than the first. The characters find themselves in another dilemma thanks to the book, Inkheart, and many of them are transported to the Inkworld itself. Fenoglio’s writing proves to be both a curse and a blessing, and Mo’s bookbinding skills save his life.

This book wasn’t quite as easy to read as the first one, though there were more emotional scenes in this. It felt like quite a slow read, but thanks to the events toward the end of the book I am still planning to read the final book.

I never really connected with any of the characters emotionally, but I still found certain deaths to be pretty upsetting. The Inkworld was nice to see, too, but maybe not as impressive as it could have been made out to be.

I can’t say I was particularly thrilled by this book, but it wasn’t bad. 3 stars.

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Batman and Robin Volume #3: Death of the Family

I only want to do a short summary of this book, as it’s pretty similar to the other two in terms of style and everything.

First, Damian sends Bruce across the world following “clues” he’s set out, based on the Wayne family. He has a hidden agenda that Bruce soon discovers, though, which tests Bruce’s trust for his son.

And then following the “zombie” attack in the last volume, Batman and Robin find themselves facing another army of the Joker’s creation. This time, however, they’re against each other.

I love the Joker, and the way the ordeal with him and the whole Bat family took place was great. Plotting them against each other was probably the mode evil thing he could have done.

Finally we see the dreams had by Alfred, Bruce and Damian, reflecting their inner fears. I thought this a nice issue, especially since it included Alfred’s dream. I love the relationship between Alfred and Bruce, and seeing how he cares for Bruce is always lovely.

3.5 to 4 stars for this volume.

Manga Review: Bleach 3-in-1 Volume #1

<span style="text-I haven't seen the anime of this yet, and I'm not sure which was released first. I'm definitely interested in seeing the show now though, and am certainly going to read the rest of the manga volumes (if I can find/afford them all!).

As usual, I will try not to ruin the plot for anyone who wants to read it. I’ll just say that Ichigo can see ghosts, and one day comes across a soul reaper – who accidentally gives her powers away and is stuck in a temporary human body. Together, they work as soul reapers to rid the world of “evil” hollows – which takes them through some pretty sad memories.

The writing is great – I found this so so comedic, and just enjoyable to read all the way through. I read all 500+ pages in one afternoon!

There’s also some.seriously sad stuff in there – dead family members make guest appearances, and I actually found some of the scenes so touching and painful. The entire volume was just written so fantastically.

The art is amazing, too – I especially liked the odd blank page with just a small illustration that peppered the book. It was artistic, yet still presented the story well.

This is probably gonna be a favourite of mine for a long time. I cannot wait to read on – the end of the third volume in this collection is very intriguing! 5/5 stars.

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Batman and Robin Vol. #2: Pearl

This is the second volume of Batman and Robin comics in the New 52 universe in DC. It starts with a little flashback to Damian’s early childhood, and his growing up to overpower his mother. We’re then thrown back into the “present” – full of sibling rivalry, father-son moments, and a hell of a lot of fighting.

The relationship between Bruce and Damian will always be great to read. I loved how Damian was so headstrong in this book, but then the ending was so sweet. And I actually really liked him fighting with the other “Robins” – Red Hood, Nightwing and Red Robin – in order to prove himself better than them. Nightwing’s response was definitely my favourite.

There are a good deal of villains in here – Terminus and his army of “scarred” victims of Batman, and a zombie uprising courtesy of Batman’s favourite clown. The action is good, and the “zombie” plot was great. 

And of course, the art was as fantastic as ever. 

4 stars.