Found in Translation — Nataly Kelly & Jost Zetzsche

Hey there,

I was in a bit of a language phase during the school holidays so I borrowed quite a number of language-related books. This was one of them. (The last one I’m still currently reading on the 7th Feb 2019, not sure if I’ll finish it.)

I found this book to be similar to A Little Book of Language, in that it was relatively simple and didn’t go into too much technical detail. It shared a similar format, with interesting anecdotes in the boxes after each section. It even has a foreword by the author David Crystal.

The problem I had was that the chapters themselves were also anecdotes. The book ended up reading like a collection of stories depicting translators and interpreters and their experiences. It felt a bit shallow because, as some other reviews have already noted, the main message of the book is that “Translation is important”, which many who read the book already know.

While I found the anecdotes very interesting, they all went by so fast that few of them stuck with me. I would have preferred going more in depth into each story, or hearing more from the authors themselves, since they would be best equipped with sharing their journey as translators. But perhaps that is a story for another book.

I would not recommend this if you’re looking for a “Memoir of a Translator” type of book. However, you can give it a try if you enjoy reading short anecdotes and if you don’t want to commit to a long non-fiction which requires you to retain a lot of information.

Happy reading

The Unexpected Everything — Morgan Matson

Hey there,

This book had been on my TBR shelf for years. I’d seen it in the library and had thought about loaning it out a few times. I was never really in the mood for such a long contemporary and the book looked like a brick! Well, I finally got around to it recently and while I sort of get why people raved about this book, I personally didn’t love it.

Firstly, it was a bit too long for my tastes at a full 519 pages. It read like a mini-soap opera, as described by my friend A when I asked for his opinion on one of the dramatic moments of the book. I will admit though, that the length allowed the story and characters to be well developed and well-rounded, which is something that other contemporary books often fail to achieve.

For example, the main character Andie is flawed and the people around her know that but still love her anyway. Same goes for the supporting cast, except maybe Clark and Palmer? Somehow these two seem pretty flawless in comparison. Apart from that, the characters were well-written. At the beginning though, I had trouble telling the characters apart. It could be because of their unique names, like Bri, Palmer and Toby. The names brought to mind cheese, palm trees and Thomas the Tank Engine respectively.

The romance was ok. I can’t tell you if it was good or not because I’m never really satisfied with romances unless they’re friend to couple ones anyway. You’re going to have to be your own judge on this count.

Overall, it was a job well done and the level of enjoyment would depend on your personal preferences. I enjoyed the family and small town aspects of it the most. Meeting with friends at the diner and the Summer Scavenger Hunt were my favourite parts.

If I were to list some keywords for this book, they would be:

  • Friendship
  • Family
  • Personal growth
  • Romance
  • Summer

Happy reading

 

P.S. Link to Morgan Matson’s website: https://www.morganmatson.com/

P.P.S. I wanted to show you the different cover versions of this book. (I apologise for the inconsistent fonts in the table. I was trying to convert a table into a picture but it somehow messed up the font. Anyone have any tips for that?)

So here I’ve put the 10 different covers I found using the Goodreads “other editions” feature. The top three are the English editions while the rest are foreign language editions. For each cover, I’ve indicated the publisher and for the foreign language versions, I’ve added the language it was translated into and then the back translation of the titles.

final test

I think my favourite covers are 6 and 8. I like 6 because of the softer colour palette and the countryside/ small town vibe. I also think the title is an interesting choice! I like 8 because it’s the only one that is an illustration and I have a soft spot for those types of covers. 🙂

The cover that seems the most inappropriate is cover 9. The clothes don’t match the atmosphere of the book as Andie doesn’t come off as a diva. I’m not too well-versed in the architecture of the USA but the background looks more like a street in NYC than a small town neighbourhood suburb.

Actually, I think the original Simon & Schuster cover of Andie in front of an ice cream truck has little relevance to the book because they went to the ice cream parlour and not an ice cream truck in the book.

Which cover do you like best?


!SPOILER AHEAD!

 

 

 

There’s nothing much that I want to discuss but something I noticed was that at the beginning, Toby and Bri felt like the same person. I had originally thought that it was about bad writing, but nearing the end I could almost see them pulling apart to become 2 distinct people.

I felt the drama between Toby and Bri was quite immature. I get why Toby would be upset but I also don’t know if I get why the fallout was so bad. Oh well.

The Handmaid’s Tale — Margaret Atwood

Hey there,

I have no idea what just happened and I don’t think I can form any coherent thoughts about this book.

Character-wise, I found Offred to be very mild to the point that she seems to suffer from a lack of personality, or as I like to call it, Twilight syndrome. This is accentuated by the stark contrast between her and other characters such as the hot headed Moira. However, after watching the video commentary by Crash Course Literature, I can accept the explanation that Offred’s portrayal is gentler because she is the closest embodiment of humanity and empathy that we meet in this dystopian future.

The world of The Handmaid’s Tale was incredibly startling. While people seem to have drawn similarities between the world in the book our world today, I’m relieved that fiction hasn’t yet completely become reality. It was just a pity that this crazy world she dreamt up stayed mostly in her head as Atwood left a lot of her world building to speculation. Sure, it’s a speculative novel but I thought the author was supposed to do the speculating. (I Googled “What is Speculative Fiction” and came up with this… It’s almost the length of a book so … I didn’t read it. 😛 ) Again, after reading some reviews about the book, I can see that perhaps the way it was written was purposeful, but not in the way that would have enhanced my personal reading experience.

Overall, the story was weird and I felt almost sadistic reading it. The extremist religious views that guided the totalitarian regime were h*lla scary so I can see why many people have been taking the novel as a foreboding warning of possible futures amidst the current global climate. But, even after reading it, I couldn’t understand why the book is so widely acclaimed and has such a lasting impact in the realm of classical literature. So I decided to dig around the interwebs for more info and analysis.

During my search, I was happy that I could watch video essays or discussions about the book. As mentioned previously, I watched the Crash Course videos about it (Part 1 here & Part 2 here) and there are plenty of other video essays and many more written discussions about it. I’m glad that I now know the story so I can participate in discussions if I wanted to. The kicker is that I’m not that interested to do so. 😛

I read a discourse in a 1 star Goodreads review which criticised the choice of location of the story, the time frame in which it happened and the possibility of the dystopian world coming to life. There were other reviewers who disagreed and proceeded to debate. While I understood very little of what they said, I think the discourse managed to touch on history, law, human psychology and of course literature. I suppose some people may find these books stimulate them to think more deeply about the human condition and the world while some others (like me) mostly take these books at their face value.

I had been pondering about this book for almost a good 5 days when Cindy Pham from readwithcindy posted her review on Goodreads. What a coincidence! I was intrigued to see this review and I added my own comment because I felt like she did articulate some of my thoughts about the book.

I then followed the comment thread and I saw some other comments from people who actually enjoyed the mysterious tone of the book, where the world wasn’t fully spelled out for the reader. They compared the style to The Diary of Anne Frank, raw and unedited, which was purportedly the point.

Perhaps my trouble stems from the fact that I can’t appreciate “literary” books?

Overall, I’m just glad that I’ve already read one classic this year and can get all the references in pop culture that I’ve been missing. The Hulu series looks interesting as well though I’m sure it’s a very liberal adaptation. I’m not sure if I could or should sit through the show though, as some scenes in the book were already enough to disturb me.

Let me know if you’ve read the book or watched the series and what you think!

Happy reading

P.S. Margaret Atwood’s website: http://margaretatwood.ca/

Crooked Kingdom — Leigh Bardugo

Hey there,

I managed to finish this mammoth book right before school started and I’m glad I did because it was great!

The story started off pretty slow but I could tell that it was building up to something. (Disclaimer! It seems like the slow pacing of the book put off some readers so take note.) True enough, the second half of the book was insane! I enjoyed the characters more in this sequel as I feel like I’ve watched them grow individually and together as a team. While the twists and turns still caught me by surprise, I was glad that my investment in the characters was what got me through the entire book.

All in all, 5 stars, would definitely read again in future. Would recommend to everyone, even if your taste usually doesn’t usually include fantasy. I’d say give it a shot, I did.

Happy reading

 

P.S.

Click here to read my review of Six of Crows

Link to Leigh Bardugo’s website: https://www.leighbardugo.com/

(I took the Six of Crows character quiz and DUNDUNDUN I got Kaz! Ok that’s ridiculous because I thought I would get Wylan honestly, the rest are far too bad-ass for me.)


!SPOILERS AHEAD!

 

 

 

So now that I’m done reading the Six of Crows duology, what do I even do now. I was tempted to try reading the original Shadow and Bone trilogy but on the advice of my fellow Crooked Kingdom lover A, decided against it. He said it was fine but nowhere near as good as the Six of Crows duology.

Strangely enough, the duology seems set to become a not-duology (?) because Goodreads notified me saying that there might be a third instalment to this series? Honestly, I’d rather the series stopped at 2 books because I think the story was more or less wrapped up. Maybe I’m just worried that new books might ruin the first two books, or just reduce the quality of the whole series because we all know that has happened before.

Apart from that strange development, a confirmed new release from Bardugo is her new novel King of Scars, which follows King Nikolai. Ok, this brings me back to the fact that I haven’t read the original trilogy. The problem I’m facing is that I have no idea what is going on in the Grisha universe. The Six of Crows’ storyline stands on its own but I think it would be more difficult to go into King of Scars with no background knowledge about the war, the Grisha abilities, history and mythology. Does anyone know if this is true? Feel free to let me know, because I would very much like to read more from Bardugo and the Grisha verse, I’m just not sure if there are any prerequisites.

Regarding Crooked Kingdom, after finishing the book, I went to look up Cindy Pham’s video “review” and found it absolutely hilarious and also somewhat relatable. You can view that here:

 

 

I’ve linked her video because it’s been a while since I’ve finished the book and I think her video touched on a lot of points that I agreed with. You can check out her video and other videos on her channel. She created a Six of Crows Netflix trailer, meme video and she’s pretty entertaining so I’ve binged watched some of her videos.

Also I ship Kaz and Inej.

That’s all.

Shenzhen: A Travelogue From China — Guy Delisle

Hey there,

I’ve read Guy Delisle’s other book, about his trip to Pyongyang, twice before. I knew he had other travelogues out but I hadn’t gotten to any of them until recently.

The style of this book is consistent with that of the one on Pyongyang. Delisle accurately captures the reality of the daily grind as an expatriate in a foreign country. It showcases the dull moments that we rarely see in social media posts nowadays.

While Delisle was honest about his perceptions and feelings towards Shenzhen and its people, the book was ironically impersonal, as I don’t know any more about Delisle than I did before I started. It’s a strange feeling, especially being a fan of “over-sharers” like Lucy Knisley. However, I guess the style of story should be up to author to decide, just as much as the style of art should be up to the illustrator.

Overall, Delisle deftly captures everything good, bad and funny in Shenzhen. He manages to be brutally honest and sometimes critical about the city while maintaining a good sense of humour.

Happy reading

 

P.S. Link to Delisle’s website: http://www.guydelisle.com/english/index_en.html

Lucky Penny — Ananth Hirsh, Yuko Ota

Hey there,

This book has been on my TBR pile for quite a while but after reading it, it was kind of *eh* for me. The story was strange and more slice-of-life than I expected from a regular graphic novel. It follows the life of a girl who has “bad luck” and her daily life in a storage unit and working at a laundromat run by a 12 year old. One thing I loved about the book was how well the storage unit was portrayed in the art. It almost felt cosy, even while showing that it wasn’t the best place for someone to live. Kudos to the artist! However, I didn’t really connect with any of the characters, the story was kind of bonkers and it was overall quite forgettable.

After doing a bit of searching online, I found that this book was originally a free web comic which was posted online. You can check it out here! In 2015, the creators started a Kickstarter campaign to bundle the web comic together into a proper book. The book was touted to have illustrations which were a lot more refined than in the free web version. The campaign was subsequently a huge success and got almost 4 times more funding than they originally needed. Clearly, there was and probably still a huge fan base who is interested in this graphic novel but I’m just not one of them. Despite that, feel free to give this book a go if you think you enjoy the slice-of-life genre and quirky characters.

Happy reading

Johnny Wander’s website: http://www.johnnywander.com/

For anyone interested in web comics, Johnny wander’s website is still being updated with comics from the duo’s real life and from their fictional character’s worlds. Give it a whirl! It’s always nice to see these creators’ passion for their craft.

Duo’s bio: http://www.johnnywander.com/about

A Little Book of Language — David Crystal

Hey there,

It’s been a while back now, but I think I first picked up this book from the ‘return to shelf’ trolley at my local library. I scanned the other linguistics books on the shelves at first, but settled on this volume in the end and I’m so glad I did.

After looking at some of the comments made by reviewers on Goodreads, I think it’s important to address one huge issue that people had with this book. Many of them felt insulted that the author seemed to be speaking in a condescending manner, as if the readers were young children. However, I also noticed that many of these reviewers were already quite familiar with linguistics and were thus unimpressed with the content of the book. So while I think that their critique is based in truth, it is also generally misplaced.

This book is only one volume in a whole series of Little History books, published by Yale University Press, which cover a variety of topics which you can browse here. These books were intended to be an introduction to the topic for all ages. While I think this book’s approach was more suited for a younger audience, and in many instances did so explicitly, it is not something the writer should be faulted for.

I admit, I can see that perhaps readers were misled by the professional looking cover, or even how the book was marketed to “young and old” and were hoping to learn something new from Crystal but were instead disappointed. If so, Crystal has written about 100 other books on the subject of linguistics which should be plenty to satisfy these more advanced readers.

As for myself, I rather enjoyed his style of writing as I found it engaging and I felt like I was being whisked off on a tour of the world of linguistics. By the end of the book, I got a broad sense of what linguists do, why linguistics is important and how it can be fun and accessible to people like me. It made me want to find out more about the subject so I think it’s the perfect “gateway book”.

The part that I really loved about this book were the chapters that focused on the variety of languages in the world. I have some interest in foreign languages which is probably the reason why. I found the other topics less interesting but still engaging. I especially liked the short stories at the end of each chapter.

Overall, while the book didn’t go deep, it went wide. I must say I don’t remember much from what I read apart from the chapters I had a particular interest in. However, I think the spark of interest in languages is still burning bright and I hope to be able to read more books like this in future. (I know, I know. If you’ve been following this blog and all my posts, that’s what I say about all the books I like HAHAHA. Too many books, too little time.)

Happy reading

 

David Crystal’s website: http://www.davidcrystal.com/

Gotham Academy Vol.1-3

gothamacademy0151jwByjnFSL._SX319_BO1204203200_9781401264789

 

Hey there,

So I recently binge read the Gotham Academy series. There are only 3 volumes currently published and the creators are on an indefinite hiatus after releasing the follow-up of these 3 volumes, called “Second Semester”.

The three volumes are…

Vol. 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy

Vol. 2: Calamity

Vol. 3: Yearbook

Overall, this is one comic book series that I would actually like to continue with. I really enjoy the characters and I’m intrigued by the mysterious school, the creatures and Olive’s character arc. I hope I’ll be able to find the last part of this series, which was discontinued or put on an indefinite hiatus, just so that I can find out what happened to these characters.

I enjoyed most of the art in these 2 volumes but I particularly loved Minjue Helen Chen’s contributions and would love to see more of her work in future. Here is the link to her website and here is the link to her Instagram.

Next, I would like to address the disappointed reviewers on Vol.3’s Goodreads page. Many of them were disgruntled by the mix of art styles and the short story format which failed to move the main story arc ahead. On the contrary, I appreciated the mix of art styles as it was a way for many different artists to showcase their style using the same characters. Each style was also somewhat suited to each little story so it helped convey the right atmosphere better. I was ok with not really knowing how the main story was getting on because I loved the characters anyway and wouldn’t mind learning more about them and their relationships.

In fact, I liked this series precisely because it wasn’t like most comic books. But perhaps this fact isolated a fanbase who is more used to the comic book formula. I for one, think there are plenty of formulaic comic book stories out there for the picking already. The strength of this series is how relatable the characters are and the joy of being in a strong knit group of oddballs. Of course, perhaps I just haven’t found a superhero I relate to or care about yet. So far, I’ve tried Ms Marvel and Moongirl. Feel free to leave your suggestions below.

Would recommend but I think the Goodreads comments section would be a good place to figure out if this series would be for you.

Happy reading

Floored — Barnard Et Al.

Hey there,

I saw this book being reviewed by a couple of bookish people I follow and I found it interesting that the work was made by seven different authors. The story follows seven people who meet in a lift and show how one of them will bring them together again every year on the same day.

I flew through this book in 2 days as I found the story fast and engaging. While I had an enjoyable time reading it, parts of it are already getting lost in my memory, so perhaps it is a little forgettable.

I found it hard to keep track of so many characters at first and all the girl were very similar. At the end of the novel, I could tell the guys apart but all the girls were still very similar to each other. Just a bit of dialogue wouldn’t be enough to help me identify who was talking, so sometimes I got them confused. Each character’s backstory was unique but somehow their personalities were quite indistinguishable, which does happen in real life, not to mention in a quick novel.

I found the ending to be somewhat abrupt and unexpected. I’m not sure if that would’ve been the best ending or what the ending meant so maybe I’m missing something here…

However, I must emphasise that I was happy to finally find a book with relatable characters. In my review of Giant Days, I mentioned that the characters’ perspectives were very different from mine and while it’s good to see how there are people who think differently from me, I still wonder why there is so much partying, drugs and alcohol in young adult stories nowadays without any mention of the serious repercussions of overuse. So I’m glad this book provided a change of scenery in the YA novels that I’ve been reading recently.

The authors were also good at portraying the way teenagers think at different stages of their teenage life and we can see that coming into play as the novel spans a couple of years. I liked the way they portrayed how teenagers text in chat groups as well and reminds me of my own chat groups with my friends. Kudos to them!

Lastly, this isn’t related to the story itself but I really liked the way the book was made. I liked the feel of the paper and the design of the cover. It was bright and loud but I liked it very much. The illustrations at the top of each chapter were a nice touch too. I also liked how they displayed the text messages in the group and other unique additions that weren’t part of the main text body. Kudos to the illustrator and the text designer!

Overall, I would recommend this as a quick read for anyone in a slump and for those who are looking for characters who are more mellow and less of the party type.

Happy reading

 

Some links to connect with or find out more about these incredibly accomplished authors…

Sara Barnard’s website: http://sarabarnardofficial.tumblr.com/

Holly Bourne’s website: http://hollybourneauthor.tumblr.com/TheSpinsterClubHub

Tanya Byrne’s website: https://www.tanyabyrne.com/

Non Pratt’s website: https://nonpratt.wordpress.com/

Melinda Salisbury’s website: https://www.melindasalisbury.com/

Lisa Williamson’s website: https://www.lisawilliamsonauthor.com/

Eleanor Wood’s website: https://eleanorwood.net/

Featured face: BooksandLala

Booksandlala

Online name: BooksandLala

Real name: Lala

Book genre specialty: Thriller, mystery, adult fiction

Social Media:

Youtube — https://www.youtube.com/c/booksandlala

Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/booksandlala/

Twitter — https://twitter.com/booksandlala?lang=en

Goodreads — https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31027440-lala-booksandlala

Store Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/thebookcharmshop/

Store — https://www.etsy.com/shop/thebookcharmshop

Hey there,

I found Booksandlala from YouTube’s recommendation function though she is currently active on multiple social media platforms.

 

Starting off with her other platforms first, her Instagram is pretty normal with aesthetic photos of books. However, this is where I found out that she is currently running a bookmark business! She and her mum create these wire bookmarks with crystals and beads at the end. Check out their store to find out more about it. I don’t have a Twitter account so I’m not sure what goes on there, so now I’ll move on to talk about her YouTube channel, which I am the most excited to share with you.

 

What I love about her YouTube channel is the interesting content that she puts out. Initially, I was drawn to how systematic her monthly wrap-ups were, where she showed the breakdown of the number of books she had read that month and how many were physical or digital copies, whether the authors were male or female, and other interesting sorting criteria. This is despite the fact that I was and still am not the biggest fan of her favourite genres.

 

Later on, her content became more unique as she came up with different challenges and series for herself. Booksandlala closet unhaulThe one I remember following the most closely was her Closet Unhaul. This is where she goes through Book Hauls from when she first started her channel to find books she had yet to read and try to knock them off her list. She did this series in 2017, but has since discontinued the series, to the displeasure of some of her viewers HAHA! (It’s all friendly of course)

 

She also had a series Bookmark’d, where she shared exciting book-related things. I haven’t seen many of these videos but they’re something that I haven’t Booksandlala bookmark'dseen anywhere else. It includes a round-up on book-related news and is just a place to get excited about books with someone else. I might check out more of these videos when I have some spare time, even if they would be outdated by the time I watch them.

 

Most recently, in 2018, I have seen an explosion of cool videos on her channel. Booksandlala InstagramThis is in addition to the regular Booktube content she puts out like Book Hauls, TBRs and Monthly Wrap-ups. One of these cool videos is “Instagram controls my reading weekend“, where she left her everyday decisions to her followers on Instagram.

 

The one recent video I would like to highlight is “Reading the 10 best thrillers of the year“, where she attempts to read the 10 thrillers which were on the Goodreads shortlist in order to give a fair judgement on which one she thinks should actually win. She makes some good points in that video about how meaningless the Goodreads awards are. I agree with her stand which explains why I too didn’t vote in the awards even though I really want to participate. I encourage you to take a look at her video and see if you think the same way or not. Even if you don’t really care about the problem with the awards, the video is still a super fun way to get recommendations for which books to read in the Booksandlala thrillersThriller shortlist on Goodreads. Perhaps this will motivate some of us to try out every single book in a category’s shortlist and decide which one we would have voted for. Overall, I was amazed that I actually sat through a nearly 50 minute video about a person reading books.

 

Speaking of long videos, in 2018, she also participated and hosted a number of Readathons and vlogged each one. Vlogs are normally more than 20 minutes long and can even go up to 40 minutes long. While I’m not the biggest fan of reading vlogs, perhaps some of you might be interested in this content. I am just amazed that she manages to do so much reading and vlog at the same time.

 

Leading from that, she recently posted her 2018 Goals update and shared some of her thoughts about her year on YouTube and in reading. Booksandlala 2018She makes an observation which I agree with, which is that I prefer watching longer videos than I used to because I watch, not just for the content of the videos but also because I enjoy “hanging out” with some of my favourite creators.

 

I hope that I have convinced you to check out her channel and give her some of your support. I’m wowed by her effort and passion which translate into the creation of interesting videos which seem like they are fun for herself as well. I hope that in the new year she will be able to continue sharing her passion for reading and creating videos and inspire others to find new ways of approaching reading. Her videos take the cake from all the BookTubers that I currently follow so I’m happy to share some of the excitement that I’ve felt watching her videos.

Thanks for reading!

P.S. If anyone is reading this post on the day it comes out, Happy New Year! May you find 2019 to be full of laughter and joy.