January Reading Roundup

Following on from my post about comic books here at the start of the month, I read a lot more throughout the month, so do forgive the absolute overload of comics in this post! 😉 I’m absolutely loving the variety of genres that I’ve been trying lately and the artwork is always so different, which is enchanting. It’s hard to tell what my favourite art style is yet, but I definitely have some styles that I’m loving.

40 Seconds is really cool. Reminds me a bit of Stargate, and I’m curious to see how the storyline wraps up. Field Tripping is like crazy Magic School Bus, only it gets darker, fast. Goliath Girls reminds me of Pacific Rim, only with an Adventure Time-esque twist. My Boyfriend is a Monster is an anthology series, each following a different romance that centres on the paranormal. I read the first two; one follows a couple in the zombie apocalypse, the other follows a girl who finds out her boyfriend is reanimated.

Let all the Children Boogie is a new short story from Tor. I really enjoyed it! Tor has such a plethora of short stories to choose from and they always make a great break from long, winding sci-fi.

In the Flood was super trippy. Is trippy a genre? If so, this is definitely that genre. Perhaps more accurately it’s surrealism, but trippy works too. This graphic novel was visually gorgeous, but I admit I felt a bit confused by the storyline and I’m still not wholly sure I get how it played out. I think it would’ve helped if I’d read the synopsis beforehand. Oop. Definitely worth a read, though! (Review cross-posted to Goodreads.)

The Weirdies was bloody fantastic. When the main location in the book is Our Lady of the Perpetual Side-eye, you know the book is going to be good. AND WHAT A GREAT READ À LA A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS. A bit like The Gashlycrumb Tinies and Addams Family, too. Kate Winslet’s narration just made it *chef’s kiss* Barnacle, Garlic and Melancholy are just delightful. And Ms Emily is the best! The descriptions and one-liners had me giggling and shaking my head the whole time. Some of them were incredibly profound, too:

‘Being very strange kept people away.
And if people stayed away, you could never disappoint them.’

This is dark, funny, a bit gothic, wicked and just wonderful. ‘I want you to be weird! As gloriously, outrageously weird as you can be! I like it – no, I love it!’  (Review cross-posted to Goodreads.)

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother) was wonderful. It’s hard for me to really express how much I sank into this tale and how much I wish the ending was different!

If the book is good enough, you feel like everything is true.

I honestly, truly enjoyed this. It’s a very good twist on kid goes off to fantasy world. This story focuses on the family he leaves behind, the brother who wants to know the truth of where he went. My heart broke for Aidan throughout this story and I do wish it had a slightly different ending, but overall I thought the take was interesting and Aidan and Lucas had a great brotherhood. It kind of reminds me of Last Bus to Everland.

➵ thank you netgalley for the free arc in exchange for an honest review ♡ (Review cross-posted to Goodreads.)

Sadie Sprocket Builds a Rocket IS SO CUTE! A little girl builds a ship to Mars, aiming to be the first one there. It’s told in rhymes and it reads like a song almost, which I adored. This is such a great book for kids!! There are facts on female scientists and Mars at the end, too. (Review cross-posted to Goodreads.)

Fearscrape was so unexpected! I loved the sarcastic, quippy, fourth-wall breaking narrative of this comic. Seriously, I was not expecting it to be so amusing, haha. So many good one liners! This first comic follows Henry Henry, a translator/writer after he steals a manuscript from another author. He’s subsequently mistaken for the author by a being who appears before him, the Muse. Henry Henry’s consequently brought into the ‘Fearscape’, a place where writers selected by the Muse battle fears in order to make them less frightening. That’s, like, such a cool idea? Very intrigued to see where it’ll go! (Review cross-posted to Goodreads.)

Apparently this was originally written in French as Mécanique Céleste, which I didn’t know until I finished it. Very cool! I love reading translated work.

‘The envoys are supposed to represent the planets … but that girl’s a star.’

I didn’t realise this was a sport-themed graphic novel, oops. Not a genre I’d normally pick up, but I enjoyed this one! The art is really cool and the colour are very … calming, almost? The colour scheme reminded me of Peanuts, although the genres aren’t in the same realm at all. It was very retro! The plot is fairly straight forward: the fate of everyone’s future lies with who wins the match. So, in essence it’s a very relaxed, sporty version of The Hunger Games.

Worth a read, especially for those who like dystopian, sports or graphic novels!

➵ thank you netgalley for the free arc in exchange for an honest review ♡ (Review cross-posted to Goodreads.)

Review Round Up

New year, new reads, new shows.

I started off the new year by reading a few comic books and finishing Sylvester by Georgette Heyer, narrated by Richard Armitage. I’ve been having a hard time focusing on longer reads at the minute, simply because I have so much to do, so short reads and audibooks are very helpful right now.

I really enjoyed Oddly Normal, which has adorable illustrations and a fairly sad storyline; Die!Die!Die! was intriguing. It’s by the same author as The Walking Dead and has gruesome opener, but looks to be really interesting. I’m curious to see where it goes! Has anyone read any of these?

I also started two new TV series: Young Wallander and The Alienist. I adored them both and cannot recommend The Alienist enough. Dakota Fanning, Luke Evans and Daniel Brühl make a fantastic trio! The mystery is intense and fairly un-guessable, which is something I’ve been waiting for. The costumes are gorgeous as well. Everything about the show is well done, honestly. If you enjoy dark mysteries, this one is enthralling.

Young Wallander is based a Swedish book series and was brilliantly done. I love the whole cast and thought it ended well. It has a second series coming, I believe, so the few things that weren’t wrapped up I’m assuming will be addressed in the coming season.

Audiobook Recommendations

I have listened to some lovely audiobooks over the break and thought I’d share a few recommendations for those who enjoy listening to stories as much as reading them! (These reviews are also cross-posted to Goodreads*).

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (1922), narrated by Richard Armitage. So utterly lovely! Cannot recommend enough.

The Collectors by Philip Pullman (2015), narrated by Bill Nighy. Bill Nighy could narrate dry socks and they would be interesting – thankfully, Philip Pullman is also a brilliant storyteller, and thus we have a perfect match. ♡

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (1911), narrated by Lily Collins. I haven’t ever read this one before, despite seeing a few of the adaptations, but Lily Collins is a superb narrator. Nana and Peter remain my favourites.

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel (1989), narrated by Gildart Jackson. What a great Hanukkah tale! ♡

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843), narrated by Hugh Grant. I’ve never actually sat down to read this one, but listening to Hugh Grant do the audiobook was a great first way to hear it! He’s an excellent narrator, the story is quite good, and I’m definitely keen to get to more Dickens now. 

Billy and the Minpins by Roald Dahl (1991), narrated by Bill Bailey. I hadn’t come across this one as a kid, which is odd because Matilda and The Witches and The Twits are some of my most memorable childhood books/films, but this one is super cute.

The Truth About Owls by Amal El-Mohtar (2015), recorded on the Strange Horizons podcast. I’ve heard so much about This Is How You Lose the Time War, but alas I haven’t had the chance to read it yet. This novella really made me want to bump it up my reading list, though! If you want to read/listen to this book, go here

3 Mini Audiobook Reviews: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1820), Nick and Charlie (2015), Serpentine (2020)

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

It is remarkable that the visionary propensity I have mentioned is not confined to the native inhabitants of the valley, but is unconsciously imbibed by every one who resides there for a time. However wide awake they may have been before they entered that sleepy region, they are sure, in a little time, to inhale the witching influence of the air, and begin to grow imaginative, to dream dreams, and see apparitions.

Oooooh, at last! What a perfect October read. I’ve seen the film, of course, but I haven’t ever got around to the book. So glad I finally did. I also recommend the audiobook. The narrator’s absolutely class and it’s a great hour-long Gothic horror bit of escapism. 

Nick and Charlie by Alice Oseman

This was my first Alice Oseman read and now I’m going to have to start all of her others asap! ♡

Serpentine by Philip Pullman

I read the original His Dark Materials so long ago that I don’t remember as much as I’d like, so getting back into the world of Lyra with this short story was really nice. I definitely want to reread the whole series again, as well as finally getting to La Belle Sauvage. The note at the end by Philip Pullman is really nice, too. ♡

Currently Listening: an audiobook post

I found a bunch of great audiobooks and audibles this week. A lot of them are free, too, which makes me happy! If you have an Audible account, definitely take advantage of the free offers because I somehow overlooked them until recently and there’s actually some pretty good stuff on offer.

I’m currently listening to The Folding Star (literary fiction, lgbt+), which has been on my list for a bit, and The Rise of the Iron Men With Misha Glenny (politics, free!). The narrator of The Folding Star is so good (Samuel West!), I definitely recommend this one for easy listening and beautiful prose. The Rise of the Iron Men is a series by Misha Glenny, looking at the rise of populist leaders around the world. Also looks at how Covid-19 affected their power. Very interesting stuff and it provides a detailed overview of six current leaders. I’ve listened to 2/6 so far.

I’m also really looking forward to these ones (all free!): In Search of Black History with Bonnie Greer, Romeo and Jude, Six Degrees of Assassination, Nicholas Nickleby: The Dickens Collection, We Need to Talk About the British Empire, A Grown-Up Guide to Dinosaurs, A Grown-Up Guide to Oceans, and Stephen Fry’s Victorian Secrets.

Anyone else listening to good audiobooks? Do share!

Slam Poetry Mini Review: Something Else In My Veins (2020)

if you haven’t fallen in love with an addict
don’t talk to me about love
your husband’s friends may be a handful, it’s true
but I sometimes have to wonder if my man will make it home in a single piece, or maybe in two

This is a very raw, gritty book of poetry that deals with addictions and love. I definitely recommend giving it a go. ‘Don’t Talk to Me About Love’ and ‘Superman’ were my favourites.

Goodreads

Mini Review Roundup [07/06]

I am playing let’s-read-all-the-books-at-once, apparently, and keep picking up and putting down really great books that I’m just not in the right mood for, but one that I devoured this week is The Poet X. I wholeheartedly recommend it! The story follows Xiomara Batista, a budding poet stifled by her super religious family and is told in verse.

‘This is where the poems are,’ I say, thumping a fist against my chest. ‘Will you burn me? Will you burn me, too? You would burn me, wouldn’t you, if you could?’

It’s very poetic and poignant, and if you listen to the audiobook version, the author herself reads it. 🙂 I’m definitely going to be picking up Clap When You Land and With the Fire on High.

I also watched 13th, which is Ava DuVernay’s documentary on the history of the prison system and slavery in the United States. If you haven’t seen it, make sure you watch it! Very harrowing, but very important stuff.

Currently reading;

(Audio)Book Review: Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry, narrated by Aidan Kelly [lgbt+, historical fiction]

that strange love between us. Like when you fumblin’ about in the darkness and you light a lamp, and the light comes up and rescues things. Objects in a room and the face of the man who seem a dug-up treasure to you. John Cole seems a food; bread of Earth. The lamplight touching his eyes and another light answering.

5 HEARTS-IN-MY-EYES STARS for Thomas McNulty, Handsome John Cole, little Winona, and an epic historical fiction novel whose central cast is a gay couple and their adopted daughter.

A man’s memory might have only a hundred clear days in it and he has lived thousands. Can’t do much about that. We have our store of days and we spend them like forgetful drunkards. I ain’t got no argument with it, just saying it is so.

*faints from prose fangirling*

We knew what to do with nothing. We were at home there.

READ IT. READ IT. READ IT.

(Audio)Book Review: The Last Romeo [2018]

The Last Romeo by Justin Myers, narrated by Joe Jameson [lgbt+, contemporary, comedy]

‘If only men knew how charming, how attractive it is to admit fault. To say they fudged it, to confess they don’t know something, to be willing to learn. It’s hot. Refreshing. […] It is all powerful. But men must come to this conclusion themselves. They can’t be told. They don’t like to be told.’

The Last Romeo is an utterly charming novel! It follows James on his quest to find love and the problems that come from being too open on the internet. After his breakup with his long term beau Adam, he begins documenting his attempts at navigating the dating world on a blog, vaguely keeping things anonymous but not quite as anonymous as he probably should have been. Along the way, he meets numerous kinds of men. The dates range from the utterly awkward, to the gross and uncomfortable (the description of one man’s bathroom will stay with me for ETERNITY), to the heart-fluttery and love-struck.

James, or ‘Jim’, makes a lot of mistakes in his quest for the perfect man. He gets bitter, even mean in his blog posts, but the other characters are quick to point out his bitchy moments and don’t shy away from telling him when he’s in the wrong. I quite liked the background characters as well, which is hugely important for a story. His friends Bella, Richie and Nicole, and little Hayden are all awesome; Nate, the (closeted) sports star, was adorable and totally stole my heart; then there’s Finn, the writer, and Luca, the blog fan who James gets to know over months of posts. They’re all very well rounded. You get more characters on the dates, but those really stick out in my mind. There’s also James’ rival at work and his dealings with his boss, both of which come up quite often throughout the novel.

I adored Nate especially. PROTECT NATE AT ALL COSTS. But James does spend a good bit of time thinking about his actions and reflecting; he admits his faults and tries to change. There’s good character growth. He acknowledges enjoying the fame his blog eventually brings him and how it negatively impacted his own view of things. He also gets some very sage advice: ‘If you don’t give your critics any meat, they can’t tear it from your bones.

My prediction of the ending changed a few times and I kept wanting him to end up with different characters at different points. Ultimately, I quite liked the ending! If you’re looking for a fun rom-com novel, I totally recommend this one. And I’m definitely adding the author’s new novel The Magnificent Sons to my list.

Mini Review Roundup [30/05]

I’ve been having trouble with longer fiction novels of late. Being elbow deep in study definitely affects that, as I went through quite a bit non-fiction this week. I do really love reading old newspapers and archives, but I am missing fiction! I combed through two memoirs, this week, though. Both are from the Korean War.

I am really enjoying Days Without End on Audiobook. And Humankind, which is so darn optimistic and upbeat. I totally recommend it given what I’ve listened to so far. Bregman reframes so many moments and shows a different take on the narrative that makes headlines. It’s very hopeful.

mini reviews;

Little Free Library by Naomi Kritzer

If you can bring me more such books, I will leave you every scrap of gold I can find.

Oh my goodness, I really liked this one. A little free library becomes a way to correspond with a mysterious, grateful seeker of books. J’adore!

3 a.m. Blues by Joseph Fulkerson

doing the backstroke in the ocean of other’s opinions, navigating the minefield of could’ve and should’ve

This was quite a good collection of poetry, I only wish it were longer!

When Two Swordsmen Meet by Ellen Kushner

It’s a beautiful fight. They each want the other to win. Not so much duel as duet.

Ooooh, this was goooood. Something very lyrical and fanciful about this one. I definitely recommend it. Available here

What’s everyone reading this week? 🙂