reading

WWW Wednesdays

It’s been a long time since I posted one of these. I could blame my school work, but honestly I know I’ve just been slacking off. Sorry.

What am I currently reading?

At the moment I’m reading Belle’s Tale (Beauty and the Beast Volume #1)My Heart and Other Black Holes and American Vampire Volume #1.

What have I finished recently?

It’s been a long time since my last WWW Wednesday update, so this list is going to be pretty long…

Nain Rouge: The Crimson ThreeZenn DiagramThe Stereotypical FreaksAdventure Time Volume #5The Best We Could DoBatman: Detective Comics Volume 1 – Rise of the BatmenHal Jordan & the Green Lantern Corps Volume 1: Sinestro’s LawSuicide Squad Volume 1: The Black VaultSuperman, Action Comics Volume 1: The Path of DoomThe Jungle Book (Booktrack)MANGA CLASSICS Pride and PrejudiceCity of Heavenly FireThe OutsFrankensteinMANGA CLASSICS Great ExpectationsBatman: Night of the Monster MenNothing Tastes as GoodAdventure Time Volume #6Ensnared and Whisper to Me.

What am I reading next?

Next up is The Beast’s Tale, Evil Rises and The Jigsaw Man.

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Book Review: Nothing Tastes as Good

Nothing Tastes as Good

Nothing Tastes as Good by Claire Hennessy – Papberback, 336 pages – Published July 14th 2016 by Hot Key Books

I happened to see this book by chance, in my local library. I was drawn to it because of it’s cover, it’s title – I’m anorexic, and I happen to be drawn to things relating to mental health. It doesn’t expressly say on it that it’s about anorexia, but the cover made it pretty obvious to me. A warning to anyone that wants to read it: it’s hard. If you suffer from something like this, like me, then you will probably have difficulty reading something so close to home. Especially if you’re recovering. But it gets better. (I mean the book; I’m not using that “life gets better” crap.)

So Annabel is dead. I’m studying The Lovely Bones at school so the whole beyond-death narration isn’t that special to me now. But Hennessy does it pretty differently to Sebold.

We don’t know much about Annabel, not at first. But we begin to learn about her while she helps her assigned “soul-in-need” – The Boss (definitely not God) has promised her a final communication with her family if she helps Julia. And this looks easy, at first – Julia is from Annabel’s old school, with a loving family and good grades. Everything is fine, except she’s fat. Annabel thinks this should be easy – after all, she’s an expert in weight loss. She lost weight until she died.

But Annabel soon finds out that Julia’s issues are a whole lot more complex than her weight. At first, losing weight helps. But then her old scars come back to haunt her, and Annabel realises that maybe losing weight isn’t going to fix all her problems.

Aside from the obvious issue, this book does talk about a lot of important topics. It covers friendships and relationships, like most YA novels do, but it also combats ideas on feminism, affairs with older men, and people all having their own hidden demons.

At first, I wasn’t keen on Annabel. I wanted to like her – I felt I should, because I could relate to her story so much. But she was a bitch. She wanted other people to be like her, and rather than encouraging recovery and health and happiness, she shared tipped on weight loss. It really did hurt to read. Her ideas on “perfection” and being weak for eating just really hit a nerve for me. Not because it was wrong (though I’d never encourage an eating disorder in someone else), but because it’s exactly how I’d think about myself. Her behaviours, her worries, her anger – they were so real.

But Annabel, despite being dead, grows alongside Julia. Yes, she tells Julia to starve herself and run on an empty stomach and hate herself, but eventually she starts to feel for her. She wants Julia to combat her issues, to actually be happy. And she realises, despite having been so upset with her old friends for recovering, that maybe she wasted her life. Maybe she could have been something more, rather than striving to be less.

I found this really emotional. Annabel’s love for her sister, the sister she neglected for years while she was focused on her goals, and the future she cut short. The way Julia’s life changed when her passion for writing and journalism was overtaken by her obsession with food, calories, exercise. It’s so real and so sad. And the ending isn’t “happily ever after” – Annabel’s still dead, Julia’s in counselling – but it’s real. It gives hope that things can change, that Julia can really achieve happiness.

At first, I didn’t like this that much. I know Annabel is just a character, but I just didn’t like her. She was one of those girls that makes anorexia sound like a choice, a lifestyle, and I hated that. But later she realises she is sick, and I actually felt sorry for her. I was sorry that she had been brainwashed by her illness into believing she was doing what was right.

The only reason I’m giving just 4.5 stars to this book is because Annabel was a bitch. Yes, she is a character, and yes, she grows considerably throughout the novel, but her encouragement of EDs just drove me insane. Personal pet peeve, I guess.

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Graphic Novel Review: MANGA CLASSICS Great Expectations

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

I discovered these Manga Classics via NetGalley, and am so glad I did! I’m definitely intent on reading a lot of the collection.

Manga Classics Great Expectations

Manga Classics: Great Expectations by Stacy King and Crystal S. Chan (Originally by Charles Dickens) – eBook (Review Copy), 312 pages – Published May 20th 2015 by UDON Entertainment

I’ve only seen the film of this story, and not even read the original novel. But I am planning to do so, and I really feel like this has given me a better understanding of the plot and the characters.

The story itself, written by Charles Dickens, is pretty good – not my favourite, but not bad. It tells the story of Pip, a little boy who wants nothing more than to be a gentleman. But his humble lifestyle is not particularly accommodating of that wish, until an anonymous benefactor sends him to London…

I think the characters and emotions are portrayed really well through the artwork in this, helping to understand the developments in the plot and relationships that are taking place. The language makes it easier to follow and understand, too, which a lot of people have problems with when reading older novels. For example with Miss Havisham, who’s emotions are somewhat exaggerated to show her grief and frustrations.

If you like classic novels but are maybe uncomfortable with the language or length, then I’d definitely recommend this line of graphic novels. Even as an accompaniment to the original books, just to give that extra insight and understanding.

Simply because this isn’t a favourite story, I’m going to give 4 stars. But the adaptation itself is fantastic.

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Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: The Stereotypical Freaks

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

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The Stereotypical Freaks by Howard Shapiro – eBook (Review Copy), 154 pages – Published November 14th 2012 by Animal Media Group

This is a relatively short book, though it’s long for a single comic/graphic novel. It’s pretty different to the other comics I’ve read – there is no epic fight scene, no caped vigilante. But there is a hero, and there is one epic battle.

The general plot involves four teenagers coming together to compete in a “Battle of the Bands” competition. Danny and Tom are good friends already, often jamming out together in Tom’s garage. But they can’t win a competition as just a duo – it’s time to recruit new musicians.

The kids they find end up being Tom’s childhood friend, Mark, and the strange new kid, Jacoby. They start forming a strong bond, until Danny voices his concerns about Mark and his different crew of friends.

Jacoby eventually opens up to the band about his personal problems, too. They never would have guessed what incredible war he’s been fighting in secret. But he’s their friend, and they’re more motivated than ever to practice hard and win the competition.

The art is pretty simplistic, without any colour. Each chapter features “Recommended Listening” which is a great touch for music fans. And I really like both the conflict between Mark’s new ‘popular’ friends and the band, and the huge weight that Jacoby is carrying. The ending is bittersweet, realistic. But I did notice that the issue with Mark and his mates is not resolved, which is kind of annoying.

This is a really refreshing story, confronting an issue that is all too real for many young people. It doesn’t sugarcoat it, but it doesn’t make it sound like hell, either. It’s just honest, and I think that’s really good.

It does provoke some emotion which is fantastic, but I didn’t feel much connection with the individual characters on the whole. And the plot is… meh. I like that it’s about Jacoby’s illness and him wanting to carry on despite it, but I also feel like it dominates the story a bit too much. Like, the illness has become his identity, taken over the whole story. It’s good to focus on it, of course, but I’m not sure it should’ve been the only plot.

I think about 3.5 stars is appropriate for this. It’s different, honest, and great for any music fans.

If you wanna check it out, it’s available on Amazon here.

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WWW Wednesdays

What am I currently reading?

Ah, um… I’m still reading all the same books as last time, apart from Nain Rouge: The Crimson Three and The Outs.

 

What have I finished reading recently?

26123233Just Lost Girls.

What am I reading next?

I’ve still got My Heart and Other Black Holes and The Earthsea Quartet to go, as well as Zenn Diagram.

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WWW Wednesdays

What am I currently reading?

Still reading The Jungle Book (Booktrack), City of Heavenly Fire, Ensnared, Lost Girls and Frankenstein.

What have I finished reading recently?

Adventures of Superman Volume One and Adventure Time Volume #4.

What am I reading next?

I’m still to start My Heart and Other Black Holes and The Earthsea Quartet.

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WWW Wednesdays

I know I haven’t posted one of these for ages, which means this one is going to be really long. (Sorry.)

What am I currently reading?

The Jungle Book (Booktrack), Ensnared, Lost Girls, City of Heavenly Fire and Frankenstein.

What have I finished reading recently?

Okay this is going to be a long list… (Remember, it’s been months since my last WWW Wednesdays post.)

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, 07-Ghost, Adventure Time, Fire Study, 07-Ghost Volume #2, Adventure Time Volume #2, Beautiful Broken Things, Red Queen, Adventure Time Volume #3 and The Legacy.

What am I reading next?

I’ll be reading Adventure Time Volume #4, Adventures of Superman Volume #1 and My Heart and Other Black Holes next.

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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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Goodbye 2016… Hello 2017!

Happy New Year everyone! I’m going to keep this as book-based as I can, but I apologise for any random, personal tangents I may go off on.

First of all, a quick summary of my past year. I aimed for 100 books, but only managed to read 66. (Disappointing, I know.)

I can’t seem to link them to their reviews, but you can find a list of every book I’ve reviewed on this blog, in alphabetical order of author, here.

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At the end of last year, I added a poll to the sidebar of my blog. The question was what you guys thought was the best book published in 2015. The winner, with 33% of voters on their side, was Dan and Phil’s The Amazing Book is Not on Fire.

I’ve put up a new poll for this year, which I will also paste below. What do you think was the best book of last year?

That’s it for now! I may post a little something about my favourite books of the year later on, but for now I shall leave you in peace. Happy New Year!

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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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