Tag: Mini-Reviews


Books Recently Read – Post-Apocalypse Edition

Posted 5 August, 2016 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 15 Comments

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Books I've Recently Read

 

We all have our preferred reading topics and post-apocalyptic is definitely not one that I gravitate towards. Except surprisingly almost a quarter of the books I’ve read this year are set after an apocalypse. What strikes me about all of these books, is how different they are from one another (The Fireman and I Am Legend are two no included in this post). They’ve also all been optioned for movies, so I guess post-apocalyptic books are here to stay. Well, I Am Legend was published in 1954 so it was ahead of the game.

Even if you’re not a fan of post-apocalyptic books, the three below are ones that I think would be widely enjoyed. Especially Station Eleven, though your next best bet is The Girl With All the Gifts. Annihilation is a thrill-ride and a lot of fun.

 

Girl With All the GiftsTitle: The Girl With All the Gifts | Author: M.R. Carey
Published: 2014 | Pages: 460 | Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: Unputdownable!

On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads  | On Audible

In Short: Melanie goes to school like many other children her age, but they probably don’t enter the classroom the way that she does–strapped to a wheelchair with a gun pointed at the back of her head. She doesn’t realize exactly what makes her different from normal children, but little does she know that outside of the confines of her boarding school, the world has been ravaged by Hungries.

Bottom Line and Recommendation: You know how much I hate spoilers, but we all know what makes Melanie different, right? Do NOT let this put you off from the book. Melanie is a character you will want to root for every step of the suspenseful journey through this post-apocalyptic story. I was constantly amazed by how I was drawn into the narrative and enjoyed the writing. I was sad when the book was over. Read it! Even if you think it’s not up your alley.

“Because the air is warm, and it’s breathing; moving against Melanie’s skin like something that’s alive. And the light is so intense it’s like someone dipped the world into a barrel of oil and set it alight.”

 

 

AnnihilationTitle: AnnihilationAuthor: Jeff VanderMeer
Published: 2014 | Pages: 208 | Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: Mind-freaking-trip

On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads  | On Audible

In Short: Area X is a mostly uncharted but bounded territory that has been overtaken by the wild. Several expeditions have gone and failed to map the area, and in Annihilation we follow Expedition Twelve through the narration of the biologist. The biologist is accompanied by three other women (the psychologist, the surveyor, and the anthropologist), and it’s clear from the beginning that their expedition will likely not end any more successfully than those before it.

Bottom Line and Recommendation: Annihilation is an incredible mind trip–my brain was spinning from the first page (in fact I had to start and stop it a few times until I was ready to concentrate) and the whirlwind continued until the end. Of course this is the first in a trilogy so many more questions are raised throughout the book than answers are provided for. It was a fast-paced read and I enjoyed every moment of it–even if my dreams were a bit vivid. However, I tried to continue with the trilogy and the book couldn’t hold my interest. At 40% I gave it up. This seems to be a pretty common sentiment with other readers. So, pick up at your own risk! Annihilation will not leave you with any satisfying answers.

“Area X broke minds, I felt, even though it hadn’t yet broken mine. A line from a song kept coming back to me: All this useless knowledge.”

 

 

station elevenTitle: Station Eleven | Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Published: 2014 | Pages: 336 | Genre: Fiction
Rating: A refreshing spin on post-apoc

On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads  | On Audible

In Short: Civilization as we know it has ended but a troupe of actors and musicians travels from village to village bringing a bit of humanity with them. The current storyline alternates with the apocalypse as it happens and the reader follows a variety of characters throughout the book–their relationships are sometimes tenuous but one of the strengths of Station Eleven is watching the puzzle pieces fit together.

Bottom Line and Recommendation: Station Eleven is a book that I pleasure delayed reading for a long time. Everyone loves the book and I knew that I would likely love it too but then it would be over and I wouldn’t have the anticipation of reading it anymore. I know you understand. I so enjoyed this book and while it was a bit tough for me to get into, I quickly became intrigued by the characters and the storyline. What I loved most about Station Eleven is that it shows the apocalypse happening. Most times the reader only sees the aftermath and is left to wonder just how the world crumbled. I loved actually seeing some of the more logistical pieces among the human stories.

“No more Internet. No more social media, no more scrolling through litanies of dreams and nervous hopes and photographs of lunches, cries for help and expressions of contentment and relationship-status updates with heart icons whole or broken, plans to meet up later, pleas, complaints, desires, pictures of babies dressed as bears or peppers for Halloween. No more reading and commenting on the lives of others, and in so doing, feeling slightly less alone in the room. No more avatars.”

 

Are you a fan of post-apocalyptic books? I’d love to hear what your favorites are!

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Books I’ve Recently Read | Magic Edition

Posted 26 May, 2016 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 19 Comments

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Books I've Recently Read

Way back in March (I swear that was like a week ago), Kristen from We Be Reading hosted a little party called March Magics. Every year she dedicates March to Diana Wynne Jones, and with Terry Pratchett’s passing she decided to add him to the month.

I’ve had Mort on my shelf for years, and I heard quite a bit about Fire and Hemlock from other bloggers during Book Blogger Appreciation Week, so I knew I needed to participate. Both books were good fun and I enjoyed them both–though they were very different from each other. If you’re a fantasy fan and haven’t read these yet or you’re looking to expand your reading horizon a bit, go ahead and add both to your list to read (but if you’re going to choose one, I’d vote for Mort).

 

Fire and Hemlock

TitleFire and HemlockAuthor: Diana Wynne Jones
Published: 1984 | Pages: 341 | Genre: Fiction/Fantasy/Young Adult
Rating: Curious and Curiouser (in a good way)

On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads

In Short: As a child, Polly wanders into a a funeral in an old mansion near her grandmother’s house. Although it is clear she does not belong, she befriends a young man, Thomas Lynn, with whom she forms a strange friendship. As Polly looks back on her childhood, she is not always sure how true some of her hidden fantastical memories really are. Could it really be that she and Thomas Lynn had the ability to imagine something and have it become part of reality?

Bottom Line and Recommendation: I read Fire and Hemlock for Kristen’s March Magics after seeing it mentioned several times during Book Blogger Appreciation Week. I’ve only read one other DWJ book (Howl’s Moving Castle), so I assumed this book would be about witches and warlocks and all kinds of different hocus pocus magic. What I received instead was an intriguing little story for which I didn’t quite understand what was going on but I was compelled to continue.

Fire and Hemlock was a curious and fun ride, and one that made me think and ponder quite a bit. I was especially struck by two thoughts as I read: the fascinating way in which a child’s mind works to make connections between fantasy and reality and the way that we remember our past in tandem with how our past actually occurred. Memory is an amazing thing–even if it isn’t always reliable. Recommendation? I’m not sure that I can recommend Fire and Hemlock widely–it is often a very strange read, but it’s a great way to dip your toes into fantasyland.

 

Mort by Terry Pratchett

Title: Mort | Author: Terry Pratchett
Published: 1987 | Pages: 316 | Genre: Fiction/Fantasy
Rating: Death is always good fun!

On Amazon | On Goodreads | On Audible

In Short: Young Mort is offered an apprenticeship with Death–yes, the grim reaper who ushers individuals into their next life after they die. While Mort is given more and more responsibility, Death decides to take a little vacation from his duties to see what this “living” thing is all about. Meanwhile Mort decides to play with the fates when he decides a certain princess might not be quite ready for the next world. Pandemonium ensues. Because of course!

Bottom Line and Recommendation: Are you like me and find the Discworld series to be a bit overwhelming? So many books! So many threads! This is my third Discworld book (after having read and enjoyed the first two in the series), and even though a few years have passed since I read those I was able to dive into this one without any problems. Well, except that I find Pratchett sometimes difficult to read. He doesn’t use chapter breaks, his writing is sometimes colloquial, and the paragraphs are metaphor rich that sometimes make my head spin.

But but but, Pratchett is also a delight to read (despite the head spinning) and I find myself chuckling quite a bit at the nonsense or astuteness of his social commentary. Mort was an enjoyable read, even if I have trouble wrapping my brain around fantasy plots sometimes–there was a lot of talk about alternate time and space and woooooo my brain is tired from newborning and a lot of the book went over my head. If you’re a fan of fantasy, satire, or just general fun, Mort is definitely a book to pick up.

A (nonspoilery) taste:

History unravels gently, like an old sweater. It has been patched and darned many times, reknitted to suit different people, shoved into a box under the sink of censorship to be cut up for the dusters of propaganda, yet it always – eventually – manages to spring back into its old familiar shape. History has a habit of changing the people who think they are changing it. History always has a few tricks up its frayed sleeve. It’s been around a long time (150).

There should be a word for the microscopic spark of hope that you dare not entertain in case the mere act of acknowledging it will cause it to vanish, like trying to look at a photon. You can only sidle up to it, looking past it, walking past it, waiting for it to get big enough to face the world (280).

*Amazon and Indiebound links are affiliate. If you purchase anything through those links, I will receive a small commission which will help support this blog. Thank you!

Have you read either of these books? What did you think? Are you a fantasy fan? Any go to authors I should add to my list?

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Graphic Novel Reviewlettes 2

Posted 10 March, 2016 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 9 Comments

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ComicsFebruary

 

By the way, have I mentioned how glad I am that it’s March? I’m not thrilled that we didn’t have a single hard freeze this year (zomg the bugs we’ll have this summer!), but the trees are in bloom and budding and the weather is getting warmer and we’ve even had our first round of spring storms. Bring on spring!!

Below you’ll find snippets for the second half of my Comics in February month. Read about Saga, I Remember Beirut, The Shadow Hero, and The Sculptor here. Feel free to click on the panel pictures to enlarge. All links for Amazon are affiliate and I’ll get a tiny commission if you purchase anything using my link (and thank you if you do!)

 

This One Summer

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

Published: 2014 | Pages: 318 | Genre: Young Adult

Find it on Goodreads | Amazon

Quick Take: Every year since they were little, Rose and Windy reunite as summer friends at their cottages in the lake country. Rose is a little older than Windy and she starts to feel their age difference as Rose is going through changes of her own. While this is very much a coming of age story, there is also a side story with Rose’s parents and their failure to have another baby that colors much of the book.

this one summer sample

Bottom Line: A lot of This One Summer felt familiar to me–the curiosity about boys and wanting to be noticed but wanting to remain invisible, the awkwardness of growing older while others still seem to be more innocent, the pain of your parents fighting but not really understanding the whole of it (my parents divorced when I was 14). I wish the story would have focused more on Rose and Windy rather than bringing the parents into the mix, but I suppose that’s all part of life! I really liked the illustrations in This One Summer–there were a few full page spreads that were just gorgeous–but the depiction of the skinny blonde and the rounder brunette bothered me for some reason. In the end, this read was just OK for me.

 

Nimona

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Published: 2015 | Pages: 266| Genre: Young Adult

Find it on Goodreads | Amazon

Quick Take: Nimona, a young and precocious shapeshifter, offers her services to villain Lord Ballister Blackheart. As she starts to unfold her plan for widespread mayhem, she and Blackheart uncover a potential conspiracy within the kingdom.

Nimona Sample

Bottom Line: While I found Nimona the character to be a little pesky, I loved the way that this book subverts the notions of good and evil–of the villain and hero. The book was full of surprises and fun, but also a lot of heart where it wasn’t expected. By the end of the book I wanted more of the backstory between Blackheart and his nemesis Goldenloin. Stevenson hints at some of their relationship in the endnotes of the book and I hope that we’ll be seeing more of them in the future. My biggest complain is how small the lettering is–I had a tough time reading it! Otherwise, lots of giggles and a thoroughly enjoyable read!

 

Habibi

Habibi by Craig Thompson

Published: 2011 | Pages: 660 | Genre: Fiction

Find it on Goodreads | Amazon

Quick Take: Dodola, a young escaped slave girl, takes a child Zam under her wing as they fight to survive in the desert of the Middle East. Alone together, she consoles him at night with stories from the Qu’ran (which we also see as parallels in the Biblical stories) until Dodola is taken as a concubine of the Sultan and Zam meets his own fate. Above all, this is a story of sacrifice and love.

Habibi Sample

Bottom Line: Wow! Habibi is both ambitious and impressive. Apparently it took Thompson six years to write Habibi and it shows in every one of his illustrations–from the intricate scrolls to the puzzle pieces that fit together in each drawing. I was constantly in awe at each turn of the page (all 660 of them!). While the story didn’t capture my heart like Blankets did, I was mesmerized while reading the tale. There is a lot of religious background within the book and it made me want to learn more about the stories of Islam and the Old Testament. Some of them were familiar to me, but I honestly had no idea that there were so many similarities between the different faiths. While the other two books featured on this post are young adult, this one is decidedly not. There is quite a bit of nudity and mature adult subjects. Not without faults, it was still a captivating read.

 

Want the super short version? Read Nimona for the fun, This One Summer for the nostalgia, and Habibi for the gorgeous art. Enjoy!

So dear reader, which graphic novel MUST I read next?? What have you read lately?

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Graphic Novel Reviewlettes

Posted 28 February, 2016 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 14 Comments

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ComicsFebruary

Well, Comics February is almost to an end–we have a bonus day this year with leap day and I might try to squeeze in one more read. I always love this month and this month was an especially good one with some great comics. I tried to keep my thoughts on each as brief as possible, but since that was impossible I’m splitting up this post into two. Y’all keep me on track to actually post about This One Summer, Habibi, and Nimona as well!

The books featured in this post are all so different–Saga is a fantasy/science fiction read that was a wild and crazy ride. The Shadow Hero is a superhero origin story that will have you rooting for the good guys and occasionally uttering some chuckles. I Remember Beirut is great for younger readers or anyone wanting a look at what the Lebanon Civil War appeared through the eyes of a young girl. All three are worth your time!

I’ve kept the images of the panels large so that you can click to enlarge if you’d like a closer look.

 

Saga Volume One

Saga by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Published: 2012-14 | Pages: 504

GoodreadsAmazon

Quick Take: Everything you’ve heard about Saga is true. You haven’t heard of Saga yet? Volume 1 introduces us to Alana and Marco, star-crossed lovers from battling planets. Although they met as soldiers, they have both given up the fight and are fleeing fugitives along with their newborn daughter. It’s tough to talk about Volume 2 and 3 without giving away spoilers, so I’ll just note that Alana and Marco’s search for a peaceful place to raise their daughter continues. The cast of characters broadens and we get to see glimpses of Alana and Marco’s pasts. Volume 2 and 3 were every single bit as good as Volume 1.

Saga Sample

Bottom Line: Saga is sharply funny, racy and sexy, and intriguing in every way. And…it’s way out of my comfort zone. I’m not a science fiction reader, I’m not a fan of Star Wars, but I zipped through the pages. I love the strong female characters, I love the narrative provided by Alana and Marco’s daughter Hazel sometime in the future, I love the way that Fiona Staples captures the emotions on her characters’ faces. Saga is truly a visual feast. I do have to note that this is not the comic that you want to share with your younger kids. There is quite a bit of graphic content, including explicit sexual scenes. Reader be warned!

 

Shadow Hero

The Shadow Hero – Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew

Published: 2014 | Pages: 158

Goodreads | Amazon

Quick Take: The Shadow Hero is the origin story for The Green Turtle superhero. The story starts with four spirits in China after the fall of the Ch’ing Dynasty. While the country is in chaos, the turtle spirit leaves the country and travels to America. He attaches himself to a man and latter attaches himself to his son, Hank. In the time of superheroes, Hank’s mother desperately wants him to be a superhero. Without any true powers, he does the best that he can to take down the crime rings in Chinatown.

The Shadow Hero Sample

Bottom Line: I really enjoyed The Shadow Hero and this might be my favorite of Yang’s books that I’ve read so far. What really made the story for me, though, was the history Yang provided in the back of the book about the Green Turtle superhero that appeared in the Golden Age of comics in the 1940s. The author of the comics was one of the first Asian American comics writers of the time and it is believed that The Green Turtle was the first Asian American superhero–even if the cartoonist Chu Hing never showed his hero’s face.

Knowing this background made me appreciate The Shadow Hero even more, but there was a lot to enjoy about the book on its own. Hank doesn’t have any superpowers and is trying to find his place within the Asian community. His mother plays a role of comedic relief and had me laughing out loud. I enjoyed the relationship between Hank and the mysterious Red lady who plays a strong female roll. I don’t know if we’ll be seeing more of The Shadow Hero but I would love if we did!

 

 

The Sculptor

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud

Published: 2015 | Pages: 488

Goodreads | Amazon

Quick Take: When failing artist David Smith is asked what he would give to have incredible sculpting abilities, he says that he would give his life. He has 200 days to create whatever he would like–all with his bare hands, but during this time he meets Meg who makes him realize that 200 days of life simply isn’t enough. Although the story felt predictable and familiar, the artwork makes this book a breathtaking read. I laughed and cried and marveled and I was sad when the book ended.

The Sculptor Sample

Bottom Line: Scott McCloud is best known for his nonfiction works such as Understanding Comics–and it is evident in The Sculptor that he does indeed understand comics. His panels are filled with emotion and power and movement. I love how he shows noise in a crowded room and other distractions around his main characters that make the scenes feel real. While some parts of the book’s overall message left me a little cold, the story and illustrations still grabbed me and didn’t let go until I had closed the last page.

 

I Remember Beirut

I Remember Beirut by Zeina Abirached

Published: 2008 | Pages: 95

Goodreads | Amazon

Quick Take: Zeina Abirached grew up in Beirut in the middle of the Lebanon Civil War. In this memoir, she remembers various things from her childhood in the 80s and 90s. Some are as simple as remembering cassette tapes and the sounds that they make and others are tied to the war–her little brother collecting shrapnel for his collection, the sounds of the bombs and sirens, having to spend the night at the school after the roads were blocked off. I loved Abirached’s A Game for Swallows when I read it two years ago, and while this is a simpler look at her childhood, it also struck me as I was born the same year as Abirached and remember many of the same things she does, but without the heartache and fear of war.

I Remember Beirut Sample

Bottom Line: Aimed at younger readers, I Remember Beirut is an excellent introduction to the Lebanon Civil War and can provide many different discussion points. It is reminder that war affects so many more than just those in the midst of the fighting. Abirached’s drawings are all in black and white and are reminiscent of Satrapi’s illustrations (Persepolis, etc). She uses whimsical details–the curlicues for her hair or small details in one panel which zoom out to a larger frame in subsequent panels. The drawings lack the emotion that other comic might have but they’re very eye-catching.

Have you read any great comics/graphics lately??

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Books I’ve Recently Read | February Edition

Books I’ve Recently Read | February Edition

Hi! I was able to knock three books out of the park last month–mostly thanks to being able to read on my phone as I nurse the babe in the wee hours of the night. Now that I have a little more energy than I did a month ago, my time is being split in different directions, but I’m still keeping a book close by at all times! Do you ever read on your phone? […]

Posted 10 February, 2016 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 22 Comments
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Books I’ve Recently Read | Nonfiction November

Books I’ve Recently Read | Nonfiction November

  Oh hi! Look at that! A book post! I’m not going to go into the whole “Ugh I’m so tired this pregnancy is kicking my butt” song and dance, but if I disappear for a few days (or more) that’s likely why. Because OMG I’m so tired and this pregnancy is kicking my butt. I keep meaning to get some posts drafted up, but then hours pass and I look at the clock and wonder […]

Posted 25 November, 2015 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 27 Comments
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Books I’ve Recently Read | October Edition

Books I’ve Recently Read | October Edition

      Title: Packing for Mars | Author: Mary Roach Audio Narrator: Sandra Burr | Audio Duration: 10 hr, 28 min Published: 2010 | Pages: 334 | Genre: Non-Fiction Rating: Fascinating and…not so fascinating On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads | On Audible In Short: Everything you wanted to know (or didn’t) about what it takes to head up into the great space frontier. Roach discusses everything from what it takes to be a […]

Posted 6 October, 2015 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 19 Comments
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Books I’ve Recently Read | September 2015

Books I’ve Recently Read | September 2015

  Welcome to another edition of minis! Though I need to increase my reading/listening speed if I want to do one of these posts a month. This almost catches me up with my backlog of books to chat about. Curious about the shorter version of this post? In the Woods is perfect for your fall reading list, Tibetan Peach Pie is more delightful if you’ve already read Tom Robbins’ fiction, Armada was a huge let-down, […]

Posted 9 September, 2015 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 26 Comments
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Books I’ve Recently Read

Books I’ve Recently Read

    Writing about books was once a huge priority for me. Years ago I would actually start drafting what I wanted to say while I was still reading the book! As soon as I finished a book, I’d write up a post to share my thoughts. These days…not so much. Some of you might say “just let it go!” but I like being able to look back on old book posts and see what […]

Posted 20 August, 2015 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 19 Comments
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