Books · Reviews

Comic Book Thoughts: Adulthood is a Myth (Sarah Anderson)

Andersen, Sarah - Adulthood is a Myth

★★★★★★☆

Title: Adulthood is a Myth
Author: Sarah Andersen
Genre: Graphic Novel /Comic  Pages: 108
First published: 2016
Edition: Paperback, published by Andrews McMeel Publishing in 2016

This collection of comics is so much fun and not to mention familiar!

I am not a classic introvert (anymore), but I do tend to be on that side of the fence. There were just so many of these 1-page comics that I went “Yup”, nodding my head quite furiously. I turned 40 recently and no, I still don’t feel like a ‘proper’ adult. I still behave like an idiot in awkward social situations. The only difference is that I am pretty good blagging it these days. And I have a daughter I have to pretend to be responsible for…

The art style is simple, but supercute!

I think most of us adulting folk will enjoy this, especially if you are on the introvert side. So many of these anecdotes will be familiar to you. It is the kind of comic that you will want to gift to all your friends (if you choose to have any!).

Simply a joy!

6 out of 7 stars

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Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Dutch Girl (Robert Matzen)

Matzen, Robert - Dutch Girl

★★★★★★☆

Title: Dutch Girl
Author: Robert Matzen
Genre: Non-Fiction / Biography / History  Pages: 400
First published: 15 April 2019 by GoodKnight Books
Edition: ARC e-book, courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher

According to her son, Luca Dotti, “The war made my mother who she was.” Audrey Hepburn’s war included participation in the Dutch Resistance, working as a doctor’s assistant during the “Bridge Too Far” battle of Arnhem, the brutal execution of her uncle, and the ordeal of the Hunger Winter of 1944. She also had to contend with the fact that her father was a Nazi agent and her mother was pro-Nazi for the first two years of the occupation.  

I started out wanting to read this book because an interest in Audrey Hepburn and her connection to The Netherlands, where I was born and now live again, but this book was so much more than a biography.

Besides finding out more about an icon, this book tells the story of a war, of a small area, in a country I grew up in. Of course much time was spent on WWII in school. I remember being moved and touched by documentaries about the war shown during history lessons, the images of stacks of dead people, the horrors of concentration camps are still burnt into my heart, as they should be. In a way, this was a different kind of WWII story. It still brought the horrors of war home, but from the perspective of a small area and the people that lived there.

Through Audrey’s story and the story of her family, we find out what life was life for everyone living through the war; the suffering, the uncertainty, the fear, the hunger.

It all paints a picture of the girl Audrey was and the woman she was to become. Robert Matzen did a great job piecing the facts together with a bit of artistic licence here and there. I think this book is very well written and very coherently tells of a complicated time in history and the effects it had on people. I particularly found Audrey’s mother Ella fascinating character.

This book reiterates the fact that although I do not like reading WWII based fiction, I do really appreciate a well written non-fiction book on the subject and this one showed a different perspective from any other book I have read on WWII. This is not so much a biography as a historical portrait of Arnhem and Velp during the war.

Highly recommended if you are interested in either Audrey Hepburn or WWII.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Maggie Stiefvater)

Stiefvater, Maggie - The Raven Cycle 3 Blue Lily, Lily Blue

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Fiction / YA / Paranormal    Pages: 389
First published: 2014
Edition: Paperback, published by Scholastic in 2014

Certainties can unravel.
Visions can mislead.
And friends can betray.
The trick with found things is how easily they can be lost …

It took me a surprising amount of time to get into this third book in Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle. The first half of the book felt slow and a little rudderless in my unpopular opinion. The second half did make up for that, but I did not enjoy it quite as much as the previous two books for some reason..

What did not change was Maggie’s writing style, which is a joy to read. I like the dry wit it tilts towards every now and then. Those are the bits that made me smile throughout this novel. I also still love the strength of the bonds that tie our four (or five) friends together, as well as Blue and her 300 Fox Way family. I also really liked the way our villains in this instalment were written.

The plot advancement felt a bit stilted in places and did not flow as well for me.

Overall, I just enjoyed it a bit less than I had hoped. However, as a series so far I would thoroughly recommend it.

5 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Trick (Natalia Jaster)

Jaster, Natalia - Foolish Kingdoms 1 Trick

★★★★★★

Title: Trick (Foolish Kingdoms #1)
Author: Natalia Jaster
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy/Romance/New Adult   Pages: 300
First published: 2015
Edition: Paperback, self-published in 2018

It’s only the most cunning, most manipulative soul who can play the fool. Poet guards a secret. one the Crown would shackle him for. One that he’ll risk everything to protect.
Alas, it will take more than clever words to deceive Princess Briar.

Fantasy Romance is not a genre I read that much of. As with paranormal romance I very rarely love these books. But, I also like being surprised and this one had been on my radar for a while. A princess and a jester? Yes, please! For some reason, I felt in the mood for it, so I picked it up on a whim. I am glad I did.

Despite the fact that the writing started out a little shaky, I pretty soon knew I was going to enjoy this one. As the book progressed I liked where the author took the story. Yes, it is pretty light on the fantasy, but neither is it not too heavy handed on the romance side. The characters have backstories that are interesting enough and I felt the dynamic between them was really good.

The few love scenes were well enough written that they did not make me cringe, as they too often do. The romance was not just about sex and I much prefer it that way. I don’t think I did an eyeroll once, which is a bonus.

Although a bit limited in this book, I liked the world Natalia Jaster has created and I hope to find out more about it in the rest of the series, which I hope to pick up soon. There are definitely some issues with the world building, but it was a decent enough start.

I feel my rating is a little bit on the high side, as there were areas where the writing let me down a little bit, but overall I did really enjoy it and therefore I feel this rating is fair.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Wakenhyrst (Michelle Paver)

Paver, Michelle - Wakenhyrst

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Wakenhyrst
Author: Michelle Paver
Genre: Historical Fiction /Gothic   Pages: 304
First published: to be published on 4 April 2019 by Head of Zeus
Edition: e-ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher

1906: A large manor house, Wake’s End, sits on the edge of a bleak Fen, just outside the town of Wakenhyrst. It is the home of Edmund Stearn and his family – a historian, scholar and land-owner, he’s an upstanding member of the local community. But all is not well at Wake’s End. Edmund dominates his family tyrannically, in particular daughter Maud. When Maud’s mother dies in childbirth and she’s left alone with her strict, disciplinarian father, Maud’s isolation drives her to her father’s study, where she happens upon his diary.

Let me start of by saying my rating is a combination of my enjoyment of the book versus the quality of the writing.

The writing is pretty solid. The main character Maud is interesting. With her restricted upbringing and her father’s disinterest, I found myself both rooting for her and pitying her. And yet the plot of the book did not engage me enough to keep my attention. I found myself being distracted from it too easily.

Whether I was not in the mood for a gothic tale or simply because this book was not quite for me, I am not sure, but I simply did not enjoy it as much as I felt I should have done.

I did like the writing style overall, but I found Maud’s father’s journal entries were a bit much at times and I wish the story and plot had unfolded in a different manner.

Having said that, I think there will be plenty of people out there who will really enjoy this novel and if the synopsis sounds up your street, I would recommend giving this one a go.

5 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Dress Codes for Small Towns (Courtney Stevens)

Stevens, Courtney - Dress Codes for Small Towns

★★★★★★☆

Title: Dress Codes for Small Towns
Author: Courtney Stevens
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary / YA     Pages: 337
First published: 2018
Edition: Paperback

This novel was such a pleasant surprise. I picked it up on a whim and I am so glad I did. This is the kind of contemporary YA I love. Very well written and without a romance being the main plot point.

I love the relationship dynamics in this book. Essentially this book is about six friends growing up and trying to figure out how they fit together. The friendships are wonderful, the small moments of romance are tentative and feel honest. Beside that, I liked the way main character Billie’s relationship with her parents was woven into the story.

I think the main thing to take away from this novel is that the world is not always black or white, things are not always clear and lines are often blurrier than you wish them to be, especially as a teenager. There are themes of gender  and sexuality here and they are very well handled.

I enjoyed reading this novel a lot.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Bird King (G Willow Wilson)

Wilson, G Willow - The Bird King

★★★☆☆☆☆

Title: The Bird King
Author: G Willow Wilson
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Fantasy     Pages: 440
First published: 12 March 2019 by Grove Press
Edition: E-book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher

Hassan has a secret–he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls?

I think some people will love this book, but I just did not get on with it. I like both historical fiction and fantasy, so the fact that those two genres collided in this novel was a compelling reasong for me to read it. That the novel was set in Moorish Spain was a definite bonus.

For the first 50 pages or so I considered DNFing it, but then it picked up and I felt I was going to really like it and then it simply sort of fizzled out for me.

I did like the setting and I liked aspects of our main character Fatima, who starts out as the Sultan’s concubine. I feel her character could have been explored a bit more, as could Hassan’s, who is a really interesting character and I feel he is so underused in the narrative.

As I read the latter half of the book I just found I did not care as much I wish I did and it lost its shine for me. The events that unfolded just did not hit me in the right places.

If the premise interests you, do pick it up and try it out.

3 out of 7 stars