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Book Review: Wintergirls

22310019Another book based on eating disorders, which I’d definitely not recommend for anyone recovering or struggling with these issues. It also includes a lot of self harm and suicidal references, so just be warned.

This was another amazing book. I personally suffer with both anorexia and self harm, so this was so incredibly relatable to me. One major difference is Lia’s relationship with Cassie – her best friend who suffers with bulimia. The two of them encourage each other through their weight loss journeys, giving tips and even challenging each other to become the thinnest. I could not imagine having a relationship like this. I know several other eating disordered people, one of whom is a good friend, and we would never dream of acting like this. It was quite sick, honestly – I hate all the pro-ana stuff. But I suppose some people do it.

A quick observation: they never actually use the terms “anorexia” or “bulimia” which is interesting. There’s often a sort of rivalry portrayed between the two disorders, and the diagnosis of anorexia is held as some sort of accomplishment. It was refreshing to read a book that doesn’t mention that, and even sees them ‘working together’.

At the very start of the book, Cassie dies. Lia eventually learns how exactly that happens, but refuses to let it affect her because her and Cassie had fallen out a while ago. Lia’s eating habits seem to be getting worse (again) and her family think it’s Cassie’s death that’s triggered her, but Lia denies it. But when Cassie’s ghost starts haunting her and begging her to join her, Lia realises how out of hand it’s become.

The little details of the eating disorder were fantastic. The way Lia always quotes calories whenever talking/thinking of food, her estimating every other woman’s BMI against her own, even her initial “I want/need food” that she denies. It all felt so much like my own experience.

The ending was definitely one of those “inspiring” types; who ever would’ve thought Lia would actually work with the unit she’d been admitted to so many times and actually try to recover? I liked how honest this was, though. It wasn’t just a simple, clean recovery. There were fears and bad days and also the realisation that she had been avoiding real life, afraid of it. It’s hard to confront the underlying issues of a disorder like this.

I really loved this. It was just so accurate and inspiring and actually made me cry a bit. It did trigger me at times, but that’s probably just because I’m in a bit of a wobbly place right now. The ending has definitely provided me with hope, though. (Usually these books are focused on younger girls, but Lia is my age. It makes me feel like maybe I still have time to find my motive to recover.) 5 stars.Bookmarked Signature Logo

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Book Review: The Bane Chronicles

9781406360585-usThere are a few companion novels to Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices, but as this one is centred around my favourite character, I just had to read it.

The first thing I noticed was how well the changing time periods were reflected in the language and writing. As a warlock, Magnus has lived through hundreds of years and in dozens of different countries. I felt like, as the reader, I was really transported to all those different eras and places along with Magnus. But he still had that charm and humour that I adore so much about him, and the eccentricity we all love.

Most of this book is filled with tales from before the characters of The Mortal Instruments are even alive. If you’ve read the series you’ll notice how the events tie into references from those books. I really enjoyed reading more details on things that are casually mentioned in the main series, especially as Magnus is such an interesting character with so many stories to tell. Some of the main events include his relationship with Camille, his helping Raphael when turned into a vampire, and (of course) his relationship with Alec. We also hear a lot about what really happened in Peru…

This is definitely one of my favourite companion books – a lot of authors seem to go too far with their franchise and try too hard to write extra books. This felt more natural and was thoroughly enjoyable. 5 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.

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: The Killing Joke

Batman: The Killing Joke

Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland – Hardcover, Deluxe Edition, 64 pages – Published March 19th 2008 by DC Comics (first published 1988)

I went to London Super Comic Con on Friday and bought a few image books/graphic novels (I can’t wait to read them!) and decided to start taking advantage of my boyfriend’s extensive comic/graphic novel collection. As I’ve been intending to read The Killing Joke for ages now, I decided to start with that.

The edition I read included an introduction by Tim Sales, an afterword by Brian Bolland, and a final scene written and illustrated by Bolland.

This is one of the most famous and successful novels – and I can see why. The story is just fantastic – the Joker tries to prove that anyone can go insane after just one bad day, using Jim Gordon as his example. The colour palettes are so cleverly thought out, giving an eerie, creepy tone to most scenes, while the Joker’s (possible) origin story is mostly black and white with just small details in red.

Batman is obviously included, but is not a massive character in this story. The focus is on the Gordons and the Joker.

I really loved this. The origin story for the Joker that’s included can be taken as true or false – the Joker makes a comment about not actually remembering his past, and liking it to be “multiple choice”. This gives the reader the choice of believing it or not. And the Joker’s ways of putting Jim Gordon through hell are definitely in line with his character.

The Joker always fascinates me, and I would love to read all his stories. But whether you’re a “fan” of his or not, this book is definitely worth the read. 5 stars; an fantastic novel.

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Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Gotham Academy Second Semester Volume #1: Welcome Back

Gotham Academy Second Semester, Volume #1: Welcome Back

Gotham Academy Second Semester, Volume #1: Welcome Back by Brenden Fletcher – eBook, 162 pages – Published by DC Entertainment (first published July 25th 2017)

I absolutely love this comic series! My boyfriend introduced me to the first semester and I just adored it right away. The writing is fantastic – the dialogue between characters is so funny. And the art is always great and easy to follow. It’s just so well written overall, I think. So much action and mysteries everywhere; nothing is ever what it seems at Gotham Academy.

The characters are so well written, and I absolutely adore Olive, Pom and Colton. I’m not so keen on some of the others, but that was probably the intended reaction. Not all characters are made to be loved.

This comic ties into others in the Rebirth universe – such as We Are Robin – and features famous characters like Batman, Damian, Clayface and Killer Croc (not all in this particular volume, though). So whether you’re a big superhero comic fan or not, I think everyone can appreciate and enjoy this comic.

The Detective Club is on their way to discovering the true past of Gotham – and Olive’s real heritage. Unexpected allies and foes are found along the way, including Batman himself – Olive’s least favourite hero of all.

Another good aspect in this is the inclusion of homosexuality – which is brilliantly weaved in without defining the character or affecting the plot. I’m not going to give away who the character is, but I so think they could’ve chosen a better “crush”. (Let’s just say it’s one of my favourite characters falling for one of my not-so-favourites.)

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

This has definitely encouraged my new-found love of comics to grow, and I’m going to read on right away. 5 stars. A fantastic comic.

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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

Whisper to Me

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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