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Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Supergirl Volume #1: Reign of the Cyborg Supermen

Reign of the Cyborg Supermen

Supergirl (DC Universe Rebirth) Volume #1: Reign of the Cyborg Supermen by Steve Orlando – eBook, 166 pages – Published April 4th 2017 by DC Entertainment

I went on a little comic spree yesterday and this is my favourite of the three I read. It was my first introduction to the Supergirl series, and I really enjoyed it. I look forward to reading more!

Kara Zor-El, the cousin to Superman, is sent to Earth while her home city is dying. She;s given a secret identity, a human life to lead under the name of Kara Danvers. Her human parents try to help her settle in and live like a normal human, going to school with other teens and even learning to drive a car. But then her father – who she thought was dead – returns, with some strange new (and very modern) changes.

I love Kara as a character. She’s a sassy teen, but she also has so much more going on. She’s from a whole different planet, she lost her parents (twice, now) and has to make decisions that no teenager could ever dream of.

And the art style in this is a bit different to other comics – more sketchy, kind of sharper. I liked it.

The overall plot was really good – Kara’s dad, Zor-El, is trying to rebuild Argon for her. But his visions are twisted, and he’s causing harm to Kara’s new family while trying to bring back her old one.

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

This was easily one of my favourite comics I’ve read. 5 stars. It was so interesting and exciting and I just love Kara’s character so much.

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Book Review: Whisper to Me

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Whisper to Me by Nick Lake – Paperback, 530 pages – Published May 5th 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

This book is fantastic. I know it sounds cheesy, but I literally could not put it down.

The plot isn’t just one simple story line; it’s twists and turns and ups and downs all over the place. Cass is writing to someone – who is never named, actually – recapping events. The style means that she can switch from talking about the past to describing her current situation and feelings, in the present. She’s able to reflect on the past, add a whole new level to the story. I loved it. And when “you” are in the story, she describes you but also skips the mundane details that you would already know, keeping the story really interesting. It really sounded like she was writing to someone.

Cass’s letter/email is an apology, an explanation, for hurting someone. She acknowledges this right from the start, but it takes a long, long time to get into what really happened. Not in a boring, dragged-out way, but in a suspenseful way. Constantly, I wanted to know what she was referring to, what had happened to require the writing of this email.

So the plot is, as I said, not a straight line at all. But some important things are:

  1. Cass starts to hear a voice. A voice that’s not there, not really.
  2. Cass meets “you” and the voice is quiet and everything is great. But things go wrong. Things go so, so wrong.
  3. Cass’s dad has issues – untreated PTSD from serving as a MARINE.
  4. Cass has some, uh, unacknowledged issues caused by the death of her mother.
  5. Cass meets Paris. Paris is sunshine and love and happiness.
  6. There’s a serial killer on the loose.

As you can see, there is a lot going on in this book. I won’t tell you how all the things link together, but it’s so clever. And oh, so heartbreaking.

Let’s just say that you know it’s coming – you can tell by Cass’s choice of language that something is going to happen – but you still hope for some miracle.

Leading on from that last point, the characters are fantastic. Paris is honestly just amazing; I really fell in love with her. Probably more than Cass’s actual love interest. Oops. And Cass’s dad is so complex, clearly struggling with some stuff, and although he does wrong and he gets angry and he scares Cass sometimes you don’t hate him, not really, and neither does Cass. He’s her dad and she loves him, and he’s trying his best and I could really feel that.

Some books really do just click with you, and this was one of those for me. I made excuses to read for longer than planned, stayed up later. It was lovely to have that excitement back when reading, even if I do feel kind of sad and empty now it’s finished.

Part of me wants some kind of follow-up, but I also know that that would kind of ruin the whole mysterious, imaginative element that the ending leaves. I don’t know.

I would completely definitely certainly recommend it. It covers so much – mental illnesses and single parents and love and death and sex workers and just so many different aspects of life that you maybe wouldn’t expect to find thrown together into one book. But Cass doesn’t seem crazy, isn’t made out to be some kind of mental patient. And no single theme dominates the story – this isn’t just about love, or just about murder. It’s about life.

Definitely 5 stars. I adored this book.

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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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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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Book Review: Red Queen

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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – Paperback, 383 pages – Published July 2nd 2015 by Orion

This first appeared to be just another YA fantasy novel, with similarities to The Selection series. But I was pleasantly surprised by Aveyard’s  novel, and may actually have another favourite book.

Mare Barrow is a Red, a servant and a worker to the Silvers. She helps her family eat and survive, dreading the day of conscription. Her brothers already risk their lives in the war daily, and now her best friend is doomed to go to the front lines…

But then Mare meets someone different, someone with friends in high places. Soon, she finds herself working in a palace, a servant to the royal family. And then she’s serving at the Queenstrial, where young Silver girls compete to become the next heiress.

What nobody expects from this trial is for a Red-blooded girl to take the stage and survive the electric shield above the stadium. Mare definitely doesn’t expect to be thrown into the world of the Silvers – but that’s exactly what happens.

So Mare is betrothed to the younger prince, having to pretend she’s actually Silver. Meanwhile, a huge Red rebellion is developing and targeting different Silver areas – will the palace be next?

I must admit, the love triangle between Mare and the royal brothers was a bit of a typical YA romance plot, but the way it’s “resolved” is so exciting. I found myself sympathising with every character to some extent, which I greatly regretted regarding certain people…

This whole novel was full of action and surprises, and I really was gripped. The Red Guard situation was exciting from start to end, and the giant twist toward the end was totally unexpected. I can’t wait to read the next book!

While some parts are, in hindsight, a little predictable and typical for this genre, I did love this book. It was so enjoyable and clever, and I’m really excited about where the next book will go. There are many tragedies, romantic scenes, and some heart-warming family moments. And action! A great combination. 5 whole stars!

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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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Book Review: Unbearable Lightness

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Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi – Paperback, 309 pages – Published July 2011 by Simon & Schuster UK

Oh. My. God.

This was such an amazing book. I may have to buy myself a copy to read over and over and over again.

I’ve never really known much about Portia de Rossi. I knew she was the wife of Ellen DeGeneres, who I absolutely love, but that’s about it. Never would I have known how much I could relate with her and her life struggles.

This book is so truthful, and so inspirational. Portia tells us the details of her childhood issues with weight and eating, and how her habits developed into bulimia and a serious case of anorexia. She talks about every little thought and habit, her reaction to everything that was said to her. For anyone dealing with similar issues, it is wonderful to read someone else’s experience and know that you are not alone. I’ve always felt ashamed about certain details of my eating disorder, but I now know that Portia seems to have had very similar thoughts, emotions and habits.

Portia is also struggling to accept her homosexuality, and to feel accepted by those around her. She feels like she has to fit into everything – the sample sizes of clothing on set, society’s idea of beauty, even a certain category of lesbianism. But eventually she realises that it isn’t important to be what others expect you to be. It’s only important to be happy and healthy and just enjoy life.

The epilogue of this novel nearly brought me to tears. Portia knows things are not perfect – they probably never will be. But things have certainly changed for the better. She’s married Ellen and she’s come to terms with how to eat normally and maintain a healthy weight without obsessing over her appearance. She’s managed to find links between her childhood, her sexuality and her desires to be thin. She knows why she binged, she knows why she starved herself. And she knows why she wants to get rid of anorexia once and for all and live her life properly.

This is most definitely one of my favourite books ever. It made me rethink my life – I’m going through a tough patch with my anorexia right now, and Portia’s story has made me think twice about the road I’m going down. She doesn’t hide the ugly truth, she embraces it and brings attention to every detail. She is truly an inspirational woman. 5 stars for certain.

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Book Review: The Complete Alice

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The Complete Alice (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland / Through the Looking-Glass / What Alice Found There) by Lewis Carroll – Hardback, 466 pages – Published July 4th 2015 by Macmillan Children’s Books

Alice in Wonderland has got to be my favourite story. I just love everything about it! Hence why I got this book for Christmas; it’s a really gorgeous book.

I don’t think I need to go into much detail regarding the story; everyone knows Alice in Wonderland! What I will say is that the extra bits are lovely; there are letters from Carroll himself, details about how the story was written and printed, and other notes.

As for the illustrations… I love them! The original Tenniel illustrations are all in full colour, displayed wonderfully throughout the book. It just all looks so gorgeous!

So as I said, I won’t want to go into too much detail. The story is obviously fantastic, and it’s nice to see it all together – even with the “deleted scene” from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. The poems and songs and riddles… Fantastic!

Everything about this book is lovely. The cover, the layout, the red shine around the edge of the pages. Love it! A huge favourite of mine. 5 stars for definite.

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Book Review: An Inspector Calls

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An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley – Hardback, 81 pages Published January 12th 1992 by Heinemann Educational Books

My GCSEs are coming up soon, and I was told that this play may be included. I remember a few people saying how much they loved this book and my school had a spare copy so I thought I may as well give it a read.

Wow. I didn’t really look into the synopsis of this before I read it, and I’m kind of glad I didn’t. The story unfolded so beautifully, and the Inspector’s questions kept me gripped throughout the whole play. I was just desperate to know what had happened!

This is a pretty unique book in the way that they all talk about what happened in the past. Basically, a police inspector arrives and begins asking the group about a girl who has apparently committed suicide. None of them know her at first, until the inspector reminds them of the nasty things that they had each done to her. Slowly, we learn of the girl’s life and put together all the pieces from each person’s story.

This really is a great book! Honestly, I’m not much interested in plays and scripts, but this was just such a great read. It really makes you think about how your actions and words may affect someone in the long-run, and how much of an impact you can have on a stranger’s life.

I sped through most of this in one evening. It is a short book, but the main reason I read it so fast is just because it was so very gripping and interesting. This is definitely a new favourite of mine; 5 stars!

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Book Review:Am I Normal Yet?

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Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne (Normal #1) – Paperback, 434 pages – Published August 1st 2015 by Usborne

Holly Bourne writes about two of my absolute favourite topics: feminism and mental health.

So Evie is a teenage girl, who desperately wants to be “normal”. She’s been diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and OCD, and is trying so, so hard to prevent them from ruling her life anymore.

Evie combats a number of issues in this book, such as the stigma around mental health, and the misuse of diagnoses (eg. “I like things neat, I’m so OCD”). She’s such a real character, who makes mistakes and upsets people and keeps secrets. She shares her bad thoughts, her rituals and her worries with us, which makes this book so fantastically relatable for people with similar thoughts.

Like everyone else suffering with mental illnesses, Evie has a ton on her plate. Recovery, boy problems, friendship problems… And her desperation to just be normal for once, which leads her into a teenage guys bedroom and triggers a horrific relapse.

This doesn’t have a typical happy ending. Yes, things do get better at the end, but Evie doesn’t magically beat her illnesses or avoid a relapse altogether – because that’s just unrealistic. Mental health doesn’t work like that. Recovering from a mental illness is a rollercoaster, with about a thousand loops.

The girls – the Spinsters as they decide to call themselves – are all fabulous too. They talk about all the things that people don’t talk about enough, including periods and the difference between mental health care for males versus females. I think these are all such important topics, and are covered fantastically in this novel from a teenage girl’s viewpoint.

Overall, I think this is just such a wonderful, important book. For those of us who are struggling with mental health issues, it helps us to feel less alone, and lets us know that our problems are not uncommon. For other people, the more “normal” people, Am I Normal Yet? provides an accurate insight into the mind of someone who’s not having such a great time mentally. I really loved this book and all the topics it includes. A new favourite of mine, with 5 stars.

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