Romance

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Open Earth

This is only a short book, and my review is also only going to be short.

Basically, this focuses on members of a human colony who have left Earth. The teens in this colony are the first generation of Earthlings not born on Earth. The main character – who’s name was rarely mentioned – strongly wants to create new customs and culture, as she believes the Earth culture is what led to the planet’s ultimate demise. Her parents are more interested in preserving old cultures, though, and find her ideas of ‘normal’ to be quite extraordinary.

There wasn’t much of an overarcing plot really, only the story of the girl and her many lovers. Basically, her and her whole friendship group are all in a polyamorous relationship. There are a lot (and I really do mean a lot) of sexual scenes, but they are written in a way that normalises the behaviour.

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

The girl realises she has a different connection to one boy in particular, and wants to move into his home after his sister moves out. But this makes the others fear that they’re going to ‘couple off’ and cut them out of their lives.

It was a pretty strange book, honestly. It’s good to be normalising different relationships such as this, but I didn’t see any other plots really going on. 3 stars.

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Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Twisted Romance Volume #1

I would like to thank Edelweiss+ again for providing me with this book.

This is actually a collection of short stories as well as comics, all of which are separate from one another. I won’t go through every story, but I will talk about a few.

The art of each comic is very different from the last, as is each plot. As the title suggests, every story is a romance of sorts – but not the conventional, boy-meets-girl kind. A majority of the relationships in this are same-sex, and there is even a polyamorous relationship in one. Bondage is discussed – and described – and my favourite story involved a young princess being held prisoner by a dragon, only to be freed by a spider.

Most of the stories had some sort of fantasy or paranormal element, but not all. There were tragic stories, happy stories; all sorts. As can be expected, there were some I liked more than others. Because of this, it is hard to review the book as a whole. For the most part the writing was really good, and most graphics were lovely. (There were a few I wasn’t so partial to, but that’s just personal preference.) Romances are generally not my favourite genre of stories so I wasn’t that enthralled by this, but I do appreciate the uniqueness of this collection and the quality of the stories. Some were really fantastic, and I really enjoyed having so many different things included. 3.5 stars.

Book Review: Carry On

Rainbow Rowell is a fantastic author, and when I heard she would be writing Carry On I was really pleased. Fangirl was a great book, and actually writing the novel frequently mentioned in that book sounded like such a unique idea to me. It is a romance, so it’s not my favourite book ever, but I still loved it.

Carry On is pretty much the Harry Potter of Rowell’s Fangirl universe. This did make this novel a bit of a rip off, honestly, but that was bound to happen. It actually kind of embraced it.

The plot was really interesting, and I really did find myself excited to see what happened next. I wanted to understand the Humdrum and discover how he would be defeated. It was also rather interesting to see how the Mage played a part in everything. And the use of magic was fantastic; I really liked how Rowell explained the basis of spells and how they got their power.

The writing – as always – was fantastic. So easy to read, but very hard to put down! Even though it was cheesy (I mean, the hero falls in love with his best enemy. Who’s a vampire. Seriously.) I just enjoyed reading it so much. I even kind of shipped Baz and Simon.

The ending was… not disappointing, but I wasn’t overly pleased with it. I thought it was a bit too simple of a solution – surely they would’ve considered something along those lines? It’s not like it was particularly hard to see the connection. (I’d go into more detail, but I don’t want to include any spoilers.) I did like the bittersweetness of it, though. I liked how realistic it was, despite being a fantasy novel.

It was definitely a bit of a cheesy novel, but I kind of loved it. Rowell writes so well. It was a long novel, but I could’ve just sat down and read it from cover to cover without even realising. A strong 4 stars.

 

Book Review: A Song for Ella Grey

Sorry I waited so long before writing this. My life is a bit hectic at the moment.

I found this book really quite strange – but then everything I’ve read by David Almond has been a bit different. It really teeters on the line between the real world and fantasy, and I honestly couldn’t be sure whether some of the story was metaphorical or actually literal. It was a really interesting read.

Claire is the narrator of this book, telling us the events of the past. The story isn’t told entirely chronologically but more like a person would speak, with tangents and relevant contextual events thrown in.

Ella Grey is Claire’s best friend and possibly the protagonist of this book. Claire tells the story of how she met a strange boy called Orpheus on a beach one day, and how he turned up outside their school for Ella. The couple had a marriage ceremony soon after, but the day ends in tragedy.

Claire’s affections for Ella seem to blur the line between friendship and romance, which was definitely an interesting aspect. Her opinions of Orpheus seem a little mixed, and she is clearly looking out for her friend’s welfare.

Orpheus’s ‘journey’ at the end of the novel was especially strange; as was the way it was told through Claire. The entire book – especially when describing Orpheus and Ella – was extremely lyrical. The language was all very romantic and poetic, which I guess was to emphasise the musical quality that surrounds Orpheus’s character. It also really added to the sense of fantasy and mystery, giving the whole tale a strong ethereal quality.

This book was fantastically written, and definitely unique. I must say it was a little too romantic and poetic for my personal tastes, so I’m giving it 3 stars out of 5. I can definitely appreciate the beauty of Almond’s writing, though.

Book Review: Billy and Me

This is a very, very different genre than I usually read. It was romantic and contemporary and kind of cliche and gross. But I will admit that it was written well.

Despite the gooey topics, this book was easy to sit and read through. The writing was good, though some of the speech didn’t feel particularly authentic. My main problem was how cliche this was. A young woman who loves classic literature andworks in a tea shop meets a movie star without realising who he is and falls in love… Yeah, it’s kind of a stereotypical romance. I hate this sort of thing. It’s tacky and just ugh. But there was more to it than just the romance, which was very good. Sophie had her own issues to deal with, stemming from childhood grief and caring for her mother. It even had a really tragic moment toward the end, that didn’t involve the actor – Billy – much at all.

As I mentioned above, the language wasn’t always particularly fluid. It sometimes felt like Fletcher was trying too hard to make it more romantic and emotional. Billy was pretty much ‘perfect’ and extremely romantic, probably extremely unrealistically so. He was likeable, still, just not very realistic.

Sophie herself was a bit… not annoying, but she’s not my favourite protagonist ever. She was trying too hard to be unique and strong and independent and it just irritated me. I get what Fletcher was going for (I think) but I just didn’t love Sophie that much at all.

Like most other contemporary novels (not that I’ve actually read many of them), Sophie’s life comes together perfectly at the end. Well, not quite perfectly, but the ending was sickly sweet. But I’m a bit of a cynic. You might like this more than me.

Despite the genre and gross cutesy lovey stuff, I think this deserves 3.5 stars. The writing was good and I did actually enjoy reading it.

Book Review: Eden Summer

I keep falling behind on writing my reviews, sorry! I really need to get back on track. I finished this on Tuesday I think? I really enjoyed it, although it isn’t quite worthy of five stars.

I’m going to put in a trigger warning as there are mentions of substance abuse, physical abuse, death, adoption and suicide.

Jess’s best friend has gone missing. Through interviews with the police and Jess’s personal recollections, we begin to build up a picture of Eden’s life before her disappearance. Her sister had recently been killed in a car accident, and her seemingly perfect relationship with Liam was more complicated than anyone realised. Bit by bit, Jess – and we – begin to piece things together and discover where Eden has gone.

The girls are only young – 15 I think? – and very much have the all-consuming passion that young teens feel. As in, every little issue feels huge, and things feel far more serious than they might to an older person. I remember feeling this way. I think it was portrayed so accurately, the way fighting with your best friend feels like the end of the world and a family argument overwhelms you with guilt. It was a bit annoying in some ways, though; no fault of the author, of course, I just get a bit annoyed at kids taking things too seriously. I look back at myself and think how stupid it was to get so caught up in such little issues. So the things that Jess gets so worked up over just seemed a bit trivial to me, like she was exaggerating too much. But as I said, this creates the teenage voice really well in my opinion.

The things that both these girls have gone through are massive, though – Jess was attacked and Eden’s sister killed. That’s pretty hard for a young girl to deal with, and these are not the problems I’m saying are trivial. These are hugely important and emotional issues and I think it’s great to talk about. I love books with these real, albeit sad, events. I think it is so good to discuss all the feelings and situations that follow, and also emphasise how it is not the end of the world if something bad happens. life will continue. Eden says how she feels her sister’s death becoming more distant, more bearable, and how she doesn’t want that to happen. She feels guilty, as if she’s forgetting her and moving on. This is so important. She also thinks about killing herself due to guilt – which I won’t ruin too much – but then realises how she shouldn’t take life for granted. Her sister would’ve given anything to be alive still, and she shouldn’t be throwing that away.

It was a really good read and I found myself wondering what was going to be revealed next. It was well written and perfectly captured the young voice of Jess. If I read this when I was younger, I think I would’ve adored it. I would’ve understood it and connected to Jess more than I did now I’m older. 4 stars, definitely worth a read.

Book Review: History Is All You Left Me

Wow. Just… wow.

Okay so the main/underlying theme in this is the death of Griffin’s closest friend and first love, Theo. We’re given alternating excerpts from different moments in the past (such as when Theo and Griffin first got together, fun memories they made, sad moments etc) and excerpts from “now” (after Theo’s death). While this alone is a huge topic that is so important to address, this book manages to discuss several other issues at the same time.

The most important part of this book (to me) was Griffin learning how to move on without feeling guilty for betraying Theo. My boyfriend lost someone a few years ago and sometime’s I get scared I’m “competing with a ghost” (which is a fantastic quote from in this book, but I won’t tell you who said it because that’s a pretty big spoiler). I can only imagine how awful it must feel to lose someone you love, and how crap you’d feel for ‘forgetting’ them. But Griffin tackles this, not quickly or easily, but through mistakes and heartache and small realisations. It’s a very realistic portrayal of the journey, I think, and offers hope at the same time.

Other themes include homozexuality – which is explored through four different characters, as opposed to just one or two – and even OCD. Griffin’s OCD isn’t by any means the “main” plot, but it impacts everything in his life – which is, of course, very true for anyone with a mental illness like that. It reveals itself in tiny ways throughout his life, and is even seen as a sort of “quirk” by Theo. I especiay liked how Griffin’s new love interest at the end of the book tackles his compulsions so differently to Theo – he encourages him to move on and fight them, rather than just accepting them and letting them rule both Griffin’s and his behaviour.

I’m not sure if this counts as a theme, but there’s also the big issue of Griffin actually meeting the boy Theo was dating when he died. (Theo moved away to go to college, and his relationship with Griffin came to a weird end-but-not-quite. Theo found a new boyfriend, Jackson.) Jackson and Griffin had spent months hating each other, and refusing to even try to get on. But after Theo’s death, Griffin realises that this is the only other person who understands exactly what he’s going through. Although he hates that they had their own history together he knows that it means Jackson is grieving in the same way as Griffin. They eventually decide to help each other through the first month following his death, but when Jackson reveals how Theo told him some very personal information from Griffin’s childhood, Griffin begins to see Jackson as a weapon. Since his death, Griffin has been talking to Theo in his head. Now he wants him to watch as he has sex with his boyfriend.

Like I said, Griffin makes a lot of mistakes. He knows that. He made mistakes while Theo was alive, too – there are references to the “taboo” issue between him and Theo and the betrayal Griffin felt he committed that we are later informed about. But Wade, their closest friend since childhood, becomes the rock that Griffin had never expected. He helps Griffin see that Theo is in the wrong by asking him to wait for them to get back together when he has clearly moved on himself. Wade later helps Griffin see that Theo would be happy to see him move on, too, and that despite being his first love, Theo doesn’t have to be his only love.

So yeah, a pretty emotional book with a hell of a lot of twists. I loved it. I have another book by Adam Silvera on my shelf to read (I bought it back before I’d found this) and I am seriously looking forward to it now. Amazing book: 5 stars.

Book Review: Everybody Hurts

I don’t usually read cheesy YA romance novels, and very rarely do I enjoy them much. This was kind of an impulse read, and I probably wouldn’t have read it usually. But I’m glad I did.

It is pretty cheesy, and the voices of the characters are maybe over-exaggerated and trging-too-hard. But something about the writing was just really good, and I often found myself not wanting to put it down. Even though it was about love and sex and brain tumours. 

Jango is an interesting character, who seems like a plain old bully/idiot at first but actually turns out to be pretty good. His home life is complicated, and his friendship with Matt is more valuable than he lets on. But near-death experiences bring out the truth – and Jango’s affectionate, kind side.

Like I said before, it does all feel a bit too artificial – the “teenage” lingo is just not right, and the events are maybe played out to be more dramatic than they needed to be. I’m not actually sure how much I liked either of the main characters, but the telling of the story was great and made up for any dislikes I had.

It is a bit of a feel-good, cheesy romance in the end, which is nice to read sometimes. It’s got a lot of twists – bad luck, bad tempers – that make it a bit more unique than similar YA romances. 4 stars.

Book Review: The Heir

The Heir

The Heir (The Selection #4) by Kiera Cass – Paperback, 342 pages – Published May 6th 2015 by HarperCollins Children’s Books (first published May 5th 2015)

This is the fourth novel in The Selection series by Kiera Cass. Twenty years after the Selection which led to the marriage of America and Prince Maxon, this book follows their eldest daughter, Eadlyn. As the older twin, she is destined to inherit the throne instead of her brother. She’s been preparing herself for the role since birth, and had every intention of doing so alone. But when the removal of the caste system fails to satisfy the public, it’s clear that a distraction is required. Reluctantly, Eadlyn agrees to take part in a Selection herself – but she’s certain she will not end up with a husband.

Much like her mother, Eadlyn’s attempt to avoid affection towards the candidates is futile; she actually finds herself feeling friendship (or more) to several of the boys she meets. Still, she tries to remain distant – romance was always her brother Ahren’s thing.

The twins are as close as is possible, but Eadlyn finds herself fearing the loss of him. He’s been deeply in love with the French heir for a while, and Eadlyn’s attempt to separate them backfires drastically. And then, on top of everything, their mother falls ill suddenly. Finally, Eadlyn begins to realise the importance of this Selection.

The reluctance to actually engage in the Selection was very similar to America in the first book. Too similar, maybe. And the change of heart followed the same pattern, too. But maybe it won’t end in love this time. (I’ll have to read the next book and find out!)

Eadlyn’s quite a “typical” feminist sort of figure – believing she will be the best queen without any husband around. But Ahren makes a fantastic point, saying she’s able to fall in love and have a beautiful wedding and love fashion and flowers while still being the strong, brave queen she is inside. To me, that’s what feminism is truly about. It was nice to see this view – from a boy, nonetheless – challenging the original view of Eadlyn.

Also, Eadlyn is a very strong, blunt girl most of the time – her way of being strong is, often, being rather rude. And eventually, she actually sees that in herself and realises that maybe she doesn’t have to be that way to be powerful and successful. Her admiration (and jealousy) of Ahren’s girlfriend also confirms this; she’s a petite, gentle girl, but is taken seriously by everyone around her. She is not harsh like Eadlyn, yet she is not taken for granted by anyone. A girl can be beautiful and feminine, yet still be a powerful authoritative figure.

Although it was pretty similar to the first book, I still did enjoy it. And Eadlyn’s attraction to so many suitors means that this could go any way, so I do look forward to finding out who she will end up with – if anyone. This series has always been really enjoyable and easy to read. 4 stars for The Heir.

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Manga/Graphic Novel Review: MANGA CLASSICS Emma

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

After reading a couple of the books in this Manga Classics collection, I decided to take a look at the other titles available on NetGalley. I’ve never read the original novel by Jane Austen, but I hadn’t read Great Expectations either before reading the manga adaptation.

Emma

Manga Classics: Emma by Stacy King (originally by Jane Austen) – eBook, 377 pages – Published June 17th 2015 by UDON Entertainment

As usual with these adaptations, I’m not going to focus too much on the story as that was down to the original author, not the author of this particular adaptation. Here’s a quick synopsis though, in case you’re not familiar with the novel:

Emma Woodhouse is a single young lady living with her father. She prides herself for her ability to see into the hearts and minds of others, and her matchmaking capabilities. Her governess has just recently married a man Emma set her up with, after all. When she acquires the friendship of Harriet, she believes herself capable of matching her with a suitable gentleman. But it turns out to be a lot more difficult than she anticipated.

And her own mind – once set on remaining single and unmarried forever – is suddenly rather confused…

It is, clearly, a romance novel. But it’s not just a boy-meets-girl kinda thing. It’s a typical Austen novel, I think, with all the misguided affections and complicated love stories all tangled up.

This adaptation is wonderful; I’m a big fan of this collection. As I’ve said before, it helps you understand the story and characters a lot better, and is really useful for people who aren’t that fond of classic literature. The author manages to keep the original tone and language (mostly) intact, while still making it a lot easier to understand and relate to. The art is fantastic, too; it really expresses the different moods and scenes, and the feelings of each character.

I’d easily give this 4 stars out of 5. I really think this collection is worth looking at, whether you’re interested in classic novels or not.

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