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Book Review: The Sisters of the Winter Wood

I’m going to avoid discussing the plot too much so I don’t spoil any potential readers (and I do recommend you read this!).

This book is set in Dubossary, narrated alternately by Liba and Laya. Liba is the older of the two, the only children in their family. They are Jews, and while this book was hugely about their faith and discrimination against them, it is not only about that. This book was like a new fairytale. It had magic in every page, and was genuinely exciting to read. There were tragic elements, tons of romance, and even a sense of suspense.

The girls are left in their home alone when their parents rush off to Kupel in a family emergency. But just as they plan to leave, the girls’ Mami decides it’s time to tell her daughters who they really are: a bear and a swan.

As I said, I will not delve into the story too much. But I really loved the story involving Laya and the Hovlin brothers, as well as Liba’s own internal struggles. Laya’s romance at the end of the book was, in my opinion, a little rushed and unexpected, but that’s the only real downside I have.

The writing was lovely – it included Yiddish and Hebrew dialect, which was translated in the Author’s Note at the end. (A quick side note; I actually read the entire Note, which is

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really quite rare for me.) And Laya’s account, in particular, felt so poetic. She was definitely my favourite character, as much as I love Liba, too. And the relationship between the girls is so, so lovely. No matter how much they try to push each other away, they are always there for each other in the end.

As I enjoyed this book so much, I tried to talk about it with my boyfriend. However, I soon discovered that describing this story is really quite a feat. It was full of little details and twists that just made the story.

I really liked this book. As I only received an ARC and not a final edition, I didn’t have the official layout, which I can imagine may add to it also. Even so, I’m easily giving this 4.5 to 5 stars.

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Book Review: Rosewater

After I signed up to review this book, I started seeing it everywhere. But sadly I did not really understand the hype.

This book takes a whole new perspective on ‘sensitives’ and mind-reading abilities, with the cause being an alien fungus. I liked this – I especially liked the amount of detail included, the scientific terms and explanations.

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But as far as the actual plot is concerned… I was completely lost. I was bored, and I had no idea who was who by the end of it. I just got too confused by it all. There were emotional moments, but I never really connected with the characters. This may all just be my own personal preference – I’m sure other people will enjoy it far more than I did. But I did not particularly enjoy it, sadly, and am giving it 2.5 – 3 stars.

Manga/Graphic Review: Seto Utsumi, Volume #1

This manga was comprised of seven chapters, each containing a separate story. Well, story is not quite accurate… Each chapter is really a new conversation between the two teens as they sit by the river after school. They talk about anything and everything, from girls to bullies to ghosts. It’s sweet at times, when the boys’ affection for one another is made apparent, even without them actually voicing it. They tease each other endlessly, argue and taunt each other, but all in good humour.

Some of the things they talk about did seem rather shallow to me, and the way they spoke was a little strange to me. I get the feeling that this is aimed more at readers who understand the culture a bit more and can relate to the characters.

Personally, I found the book a little boring overall. There was no real plot, which can be nice sometimes, but just felt a little… lost here. Sometimes the boys spoke about interesting topics, but I would have liked to hear more about their personal lives, their emotions and fears.

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This was a strange read, honestly. I didn’t particularly like it, though I didn’t dislike it either. I just didn’t really connect with the characters or enjoy it that much. 2.5 stars.

Manga Review: Sota’s Knife

This manga is about a young man called Sota who is working as a kitchen hand in a restaurant in Japan. He dreams of reviving his own family restaurant, and stays late most nights to practice his own cooking.

In this, Sota meets several challenges, mostly cooking-based. They all have some sort of sweet, positive answer or conclusion, and Sota uses his passion for cooking and his father’s and friends’ advice to find the answers without any external help.

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The grammar wasn’t perfect, which I believe may be due to translation errors. I also didn’t find it that easy to follow at times, and some of the speech bubbles weren’t placed particularly clearly. The writing itself was a little hard to go along with too, honestly, and it wasn’t the most exciting manga. But there weren’t really any overwhelming faults, so I’m giving this 3 stars.

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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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.

Book Review: Ghost Boy

Another young adult novel, following an 11-year-old boy. His name is Ben, and he sees ghosts. Well, spirits, and only a few. Mainly, he sees Abby, a girl of his own age. His mother views his ability as a ‘gift’, but his father thinks he’s crazy. He gets angry when Ben talks about Abby as if she’s real, and tries several methods to rid Ben of his spirits.

Ben goes through a lot in this novel, from his cousin losing his foot, his father sending him to a shrink, being caught graffiti-ing, and being beaten up for standing up to a bully. And more! These things are mostly nothing to do with Abby or Ben’s ability to see the dead, but there are some connections. In one case, Ben actually exorcises a ‘dybbuk‘ from a stranger on a beach.

It is clear that Ben is desperate for his father’s approval. He attempts daring and foolish stunts designed to impress him, and he ends up lying about taking anti-psychotic medication just to please him. His mother often stands up for Ben, but this causes h er to fight with his father. Ben’s sister is rarely mentioned, and does not seem to make any comments on Ben’s ability – if she even knows about it.

A lot of this book felt like it was completely disconnected to the main plot; it felt a bit like a generic YA fiction novel at times. The plot revolving around Abby seemed to disappear for a while, before being re-introduced.

The plot with Abby was actually very interesting. I had my hunches from relatively early on, but it wasn’t overly obvious or predictable. I did find it a bit strange how Ben believed he had a romantic interest in her at one point, and the ‘solution’ she suggests is also a bit strange… But it was unique and innovative, that’s for sure. I’m intrigued to know where Abby got her name from, as it is later revealed that her mother referred to her as Eliza.

Ben’s exorcising ability was not explained or developed upon at all, and there was no other mention of/reference to dybbuks or similar demons. This was a bit of a shame, as that was an interesting aspect.

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As Ben was quite a young protagonist, I do believe I am a bit too old to actually really appreciate this. The writing definitely seemed more suited to a slightly younger audience, but wasn’t overly immature. I’d definitely recommend this for slightly younger readers. I noticed a few mistakes, but only generic typos. 3.5 stars.

Book Review: Friendship Fails of Emma Nash

I’m back from Croatia now, so here is the updated review with links and images.

This is the second book in the Emma Nash series, but I read it as a standalone without reading the first. There are several moments where I’m sure I would’ve benefitted from having read the first book, but there is enough information in this book alone to understand what’s happened and follow the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and am now considering reading the series ‘properly’.

So as the title suggests, this is a book about Emma’s friendship mishaps. The entire book is comprised of Emma’s personal blog posts, which I really liked. It gave a very interesting narration, and allowed Seager to really develop the voice of Emma.

The ‘plot’ is a bit hard to explain, as it’s pretty much a collection of lots of little problems and events. The book starts with Emma outlining her new ‘resolutions’ which involve working on herself and her hobbies, and developing new friendships. She also focuses on not stalking her ex-boyfriend online, and strengthening her existing relationships. It sounds like the last book was a lot more romantically focused, and Emma emphasises how she is not looking for romantic relationships this time.

The friendships Emma attempts to form are… Disastrous. And in attempting to strengthen her existing friendships, she manages to have a major fall-out with her best friend, Steph. She does make some unexpected friends, though, and there is an interesting romantic plot throughout the book, too.

Her friendship with Gracie sounds like it went through some tough patches in the past, and the couple work on their relationship. Another close friend of Emma’s, Faith, has some big happenings regarding her own relationship with her girlfriend, too. I really liked how Seager included the same-sex relationship, and how she talks about the issues faced by the couple.

There are some fantastic moments in this, from a feminist POV. The girls openly discuss things such as sex and masturbation, and Emma even brings up the use of the word “slag” as a sexist term. I really appreciated how casually things are mentioned. There is even a moment where Steph’s boyfriend reacts to her period blood in a bad way, and the girls discuss how awful it is of him to do so.

I did find this a little bit immature at times, like Emma was acting quite young. Sometimes the grammar/punctuation was a little off, but then that fits the teenage voice of Emma, who is ‘writing’ the book through her blog. Usually I find books about friendships and romances, especially at this age, super cheesy and boring. But I actually really liked this! It was so easy to read, and such a feel-good book. Emma really emphasises the importance on working on you, and not letting external factors ruin your happiness. She even faces cyber bullying at one point, which is another extremely important topic.

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Overall, I really liked this. It was fun and happy and tackled some really important issues. 3.5 to 4 stars.

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. #3: Quest for Hope

Last year I was actually up to date with this series as it came out weekly, so I’ve read this story arc already. I reread it again quickly today in order to review it.

I’m quite a big fan of the Lanterns, and I really enjoy the banter between Hal and Kyle. This arc was particularly good. The ending – the revelation about Sarko, the ‘enemy’ – was fantastic. I know what happens in the next issues from this volume and I can tell you it’s pretty great.

I’ll try not to talk too much about the next issues, but this volume is definitely a superb setup for some really interesting stories. The Green Lantern Corps and Sinestro’s Corps are finally united as one force, though some members aren’t so happy about it. Guy Gardner goes about it in his own way, as is expected – nearly getting himself killed, but eventually becoming friends with Arkillo. We also see into Guy’s childhood, which was interesting.

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The Corps’ are attacked by forgein constructs, that Kyle believes to be his own creation from when he was wearing Krona’s Gauntlet. This is where Sarko, the villain of the story, comes in.

I think this is a great arc, and I just love the chemistry amongst the characters. 4/5 stars.

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Harley’s Little Black Book

I love Harley Quinn as a character, so I happily agreed to review this novel. It definitely wasn’t as great as I hoped, or as good as Harley as a character in Suicide , but it still had some strengths.

So in this book, Harley basically just collects together a load of tales from her adventures with various characters. It contains a hell of a lot of innuendoes and sex jokes, and a makeout scene with Lobo that I really was not interested in seeing.

I did feel like Harley was just made out to be a bit of a sex-crazed idiot at times, when there’s actually a lot more of her character to be shown. There was a flashback to her childhood experience of being bullied, which I thought was fantastic. 

There was still the loveable, crazy character being written, and the whole stories/general writing had that kind of fun tone that I love about Harley. Again, it was maybe too light and fun, but it was a nice little read. 

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I maybe wouldn’t have liked this half as much if it was any other character, but I just love Harley Quinn. It wasn’t her strongest appearance, though, despite it being her own book. I’m going to give it 3 stars out of 5. 🌟🌟🌟

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Shade, the Changing Girl Volume #1: Earth Girl Made Easy

Shade, the Changing Girl Volume #1: Earth Girl Made Easy

Shade, the Changing Girl Volume #1: Earth Girl Made Easy by Cecil Castellucci – eBook, 151 pages – Published July 18th 2017 by DC Entertainment (first published July 4th 2017)

I haven’t read Shade, the Changing Man and didn’t know anything at all about this comic when I read it. I had no clue what to expect, but it was definitely rather interesting.

The first thing I noticed was definitely the colour. The art was amazing, so quirky and expressive. Immediately, I was hooked on this book. The art alone drew me in, and I loved looking at every page.

The plot was also pretty wild. Loma Shade, a strange alien creature, steals the “madness vest” and takes control of the comatose body of Megan Boyer – leaving her ex-boyfriend behind as she ventures to Earth. Everyone believes her to still be Megan, and Shade struggles to fit in and right Megan’s wrongs. But it was only meant to be a bit of fun – not a permanent situation.

Shade eventually confides in a new-found friend about her true identity, but everyone else still thinks she’s just Megan. But Shade is nothing like Megan, and no one has missed the sudden change. But the change is welcome, for the most part – it turns out that Megan wasn’t the nicest girl around.

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There were also some mini stories included at the end, which were really interesting, about some new characters.

It is a very, very strange comic, and I loved the art. But I didn’t really connect with Shade that much, or feel any emotion for or from her. I’ll probably read more at some point, and perhaps then I’ll begin to enjoy it even more. For now, I’m giving it 3.5 stars. I loved the art, and the plot was good, too. I just hope to feel more emotion from Shade.

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