Books · Reviews

Manga Thoughts: The Promised Neverland, Vol 1 (Kaiu Shirai/Posuka Demizu)

Shirai, Kaiu - The Promised Neverland 1

★★★★★☆☆

Title: The Promised Neverland, Vol 1
Author: Kaiu Shirai (story) / Posuka Demizu (art)
Genre: Manga   Pages: 189
First published: 2016
Edition: Paperback, published by Viz Media in 2017

Emma, Norman and Ray are the brightest kids at the Grace Field House orphanage. And under the care of the woman they refer to as “Mom,” all the kids have enjoyed a comfortable life. Good food, clean clothes and the perfect environment to learn—what more could an orphan ask for? One day, though, Emma and Norman uncover the dark truth of the outside world they are forbidden from seeing.

This is only my second manga, but I am already much more used to the art style and method of story telling. This one had me gripped from the start.

The story itself made me feel anxious in the best possible. I soon came to feel for our main characters and I cared about what happened to them and their ‘siblings’ The story became dark pretty quickly and the rest of this volume is centered around trying to find a way out.

This was a strong start to a series and I will definitely be ordering the second volume. I really enjoyed the art style and the panels were clear and well thought out.

Apparently there is also an anime of this series, so I would like to check that out if I can!

5 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

(Audio) Book Thoughts: Face It (Debbie Harry)

Harry, Debbie - Face It

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: Face It
Author/narrator: Debbie Harry
Genre: Non-Fiction/Autobiography/Memoir
First published: 2019
Edition: Audio book

Musician, actor, activist, and the iconic face of New York City cool, Debbie Harry is the frontwoman of Blondie, a band that forged a new sound that brought together the worlds of rock, punk, disco, reggae and hip-hop to create some of the most beloved pop songs of all time. As a muse, she collaborated with some of the boldest artists of the past four decades. The scope of Debbie Harry’s impact on our culture has been matched only by her reticence to reveal her rich inner life—until now.

*

Debbie Harry of Blondie is someone I consider an icon and when I heard she had an autobiography out I was keen to read it and the audio book narrated by herself seemed the perfect choice.

As a book it does not flow incredibly well and the way she tells her story feels strangely dispassionate, but I guess Harry is not a natural writer and I should not hold her to the same standard as someone who is an author by profession. It does make it feel more authentic to be fair. I don’t know whether she used a ghostwriter, but it certainly does not feel like she did. I do respect that.

Neither is she a natural audio book narrator. Her delivery is quite stilted and sometimes lacks dynamics, but I still prefer it than if it had been narrated by someone else.

So, overall I am conflicted on this one. There are really interesting bits to her story, but in parts it struggled to keep my attention. It could have done with a bit more sprucing up, I guess. The way she tells her story feels slightly repetitive, even if she is talking about different events. It’s hard to explain.

Is this the best memoir I have ever read or listened to? No. Did I enjoy the ride? Yes, I guess I did. It paints an interesting picture of a particular time in New York City and I appreciate her frank way of talking. I just wished it was a bit more dynamic in its delivery, both in the writing itself and the audio book narration.

4 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Sweet Thing (Renée Carlino)

Carlino, Renee - Sweet Thing

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: Sweet Thing
Author: Renée Carlino
Genre: Fiction/Romance
First published: 2013
Edition: Kindle e-book

Mia Kelly thinks she has it all figured out. She’s an Ivy League graduate, a classically trained pianist, and the beloved daughter of a sensible mother and offbeat father. Yet Mia has been stalling since graduation, torn between putting her business degree to use and exploring music, her true love.

When her father unexpectedly dies, she decides to pick up the threads of his life while she figures out her own. Uprooting herself from Ann Arbor to New York City, Mia takes over her father’s cafe, a treasured neighborhood institution that plays host to undiscovered musicians and artists. She’s denied herself the thrilling and unpredictable life of a musician, but a chance encounter with Will, a sweet, gorgeous, and charming guitarist, offers her a glimpse of what could be. When Will becomes her friend and then her roommate, she does everything in her power to suppress her passions—for him, for music—but her father’s legacy slowly opens her heart to the possibility of something more.

*

This romance book kind of worked for me, but there were things that irked me a great deal as well. I liked the idea of a musical element in this love story, as music is a big part of my own life.

I was a bit conflicted on Mia, the main character. She was really relatable in some ways and a complete idiot in others. I could appreciate that she had some emotional issues she needed to work through, but I am not sure that was enough of an excuse to be a complete asshat a lot of the time (on of her words!)

I did like Will, the love interest. He was definitely likeable, though the repetitive way he was described sometimes got a bit much. I think the editor simply could have done a better job here.

The musical element worked well enough for me. It was a little cringe-worthy in a few places, but  to be fair I pessimistically expected that to be far worse (as is usual).

I did like this novel overall, but it just could have been a much tighter story in my opinion.

I would like to read more from this author.

4 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: A Memory of Light (Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson)

Jordan, Robert - A Wheel of Time 14 A Memory of Light (w Brandon Sanderson)

★★★★★★☆

Title: A Memory of Light (The Wheel of Time #14)
Author:  Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fiction/Epic fantasy
First published: 2013
Edition: Massmarket Paperback, published by Orbit in 2014

All humanity is in peril – and the outcome will be decided in Shayol Ghul itself. The Wheel is turning, and the Age is coming to its end. The Last Battle will determine the fate of the world …

As far as conclusions to series go, this is the most epic of epic closers. I felt that the first time I read it and I feel exactly the same way this time around.

It took me quite long to read, but that had more to do with my attention span (bad) than the book itself. Because although this is an amazing book, it takes some reading, especially the begining. This is probably because the writing still goes into unnecessary detail, but man, it is grand. In this book The Last Battle is fought and the scale and course of that battle is so well described you could practically draw it out. There are so many blazes of glory and epic fails, that once The Last Battle rages, it is hard to stop.

We get to spend time with all of our favourite characters and none are safe. They all fight for what they are worth. Will they all survive this final battle?

Just as a side note, there is a chapter called ‘The Last Battle’, which is over 200 pages long!

This series is worth it for this last book alone. The journey is hard, just like it is for our characters, but the pay-off is everything.

I will write up an overall review for the whole 14-book series at the beginning of May, because it deserves it.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

(Audio) Book Thoughts: The Return of the Native (Thomas Hardy)

Hardy, Thomas - The Return of the Native

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: The Return of the Native
Author: Thomas Hardy
Audio book narrator: Alan Rickman
Genre: Fiction/Classic
First published: 1878
Edition: Audible audio book & paperback, published in 1974 by Macmillan

Tempestuous Eustacia Vye passes her days dreaming of passionate love and the escape it may bring from the small community of Egdon Heath. Hearing that Clym Yeobright is to return from Paris, she sets her heart on marrying him, believing that through him she can leave rural life and find fulfilment elsewhere. But she is to be disappointed, for Clym has dreams of his own, and they have little in common with Eustacia’s. 

This is one of those classics I had tried to read the paperback of several times and never got very far. When I noticed there was an audio book narrated by the inimitable Alan Rickman, I knew that was the one for me.

As to this narrative, it is not really for me. I did not like any of the characters. I just felt if any of these characters had stopped to think just for a minute, their world would have made a much better place. Instead, we have a bunch of characters feeling sorry for themselves in a beautifully described landscape. So yes, the descriptions of the heathland were masterful and the portrayal of Eustacia’s depression and Clym’s guilt very human, but the story itself did little for me.

This is not a happy tale. It is filled with sadness, depression and bad choices and although I am glad I finally read it, this is not the kind of book I would return to. I would like to try something else by Thomas Hardy in the future though, because in places his writing was absolutely beautiful.

A note on Alan Rickman’s narration: overall I really liked it and it helped me get through to the book, but he made every woman in the book sound like a whimpering soul. However, if not for his narration I would have given up on this book again before the halfway point.

4 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: All The Crooked Saints (Maggie Stiefvater)

001a Stiefvater, Maggie - All The Crooked Saints

★★★★★★☆

Title: All The Crooked Saints
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Fiction/Magical Realism
First published: 2017
Edition: Paperback, published by Scholastic in 2017

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado, is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future.

I was not sure what to expect from this book. I had heard such mixed things! I enjoyed The Raven Cycle quite a bit, but maybe did not quite fall in love with it the way other people had done. Hence I was a bit hesitant to pick this up. I have to say, I should not have been. I really loved it.

This book is so strange, so whimsical and fantastical that it took me a little while to get to grips with it, but in the end I loved what it did. I really enjoyed the characters, even if you never quite get that close to them. The writing was too whimsical for that. I loved the premise and the execution very much overall, even if I wish it had pulled on my heartstrings just that tiny bit more.

I think this is one of those books that you will either love or you may be scratching your head the whole way through. Luckily I loved it. I loved the sheer bizarreness of it and I do wonder whether the author was high the whole time she wrote it! 😂

6 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Final Girls (Riley Sager)

Sager, Riley - Final Girls

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: Final Girls
Author: Riley Sager
Genre: Fiction/Thriller
First published: 2017
Edition: Kindle e-book

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet. That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. 

I am not sure what I expected going into this. I guess I expected to be thrilled and to be drawn into the story. It was a bit frustrating that this did not quite happen for me.

Although there was nothing wrong per se with the writing at all. In fact, it was easy to read and felt considered enough, which made it all the more disappointed that the plot did not quite work for me.

For a start, I did not really feel much emotion towards any of the characers, which made me care less about the story unfolding. And once the story started unfolding there were so many unnecessary suspicions and twists that I started getting a bit bored.

All in all, although it was a decent enough read, I guess this just did not quite work for me. I would read another book by this author though.

4 out of 7 stars