Like No Other — Una LaMarche

Hello there,

Like No Other tells the age-old story of forbidden love. Devorah is a Hasidic girl and Jaxon is black. Fate brings them together and the story is about them trying to navigate their relationship and overcome the obstacles that are keeping them apart.

I was drawn to the story because these two characters come from cultures and backgrounds that are vastly different from myself and the people I know. The author did a pretty good job of weaving in and explaining cultural elements into Devorah’s story. I did have to look up certain words and do some basic research on the context of why there is old “bad blood” between their separate groups.

Even though the book does the job of providing alternating perspectives, the story is still more focused on Devorah’s personal growth. While we do see Jaxon’s POV, I feel like his character is used as a plot device to spur the growth of Devorah’s character. Jaxon is just the hopeless romantic, while Deborah has a deeper story to tell.

The story was very sweet overall. It left me interested to know how the characters will progress beyond the ending of the book.

Happy reading

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Two Roads From Here — Teddy Steinkellner

 

Hello there,

“Two roads from here” is a story about 5 teenagers who are about to graduate high school. They each face a unique situation that requires them to make a decision. There are two choices, choose road A or road B. So which will they choose?

I was intrigued by the premise of this story. I decided to pick it up as I was in a similar age bracket as the characters. On the inside flap, it listed the names and dilemmas of each of the 5 characters. Going over them, I thought that they were all very relatable dilemmas. One was about whether he should cheat on the SAT to get into his dream school. Another one was about whether he should confess his feelings for his best friend at the risk of ruining their friendship. I was expecting more thought and discussion about the decisions made. I wanted to know the motivations behind the characters and why they chose to make a certain decision. Unfortunately, the story focused more on the consequences of their individual decisions on themselves and the people around them instead.

The concept of the book itself presented another problem I had with this book: the writer had to present both scenarios for every character. This is a gargantuan task for any writer. Understandably(I hope), I found the format of the story very difficult to follow. There are 5 characters. Each character has 2 roads to choose from. So already we are following 10 different storylines. We follow them in chronological order. So Fall, road A: person 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; then Fall, road B: person 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; then Winter, road A: person 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; then Winter, road B: person 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on and so forth. I think there are 5 time periods in total: Fall, Winter, Prom, Graduation, Afterwards(?). All in all that is 5x2x5 which is 50 different smaller sections that meld into 2 different timelines for 5 different characters. It was definitely too much of a brain workout for me.

It didn’t help that I felt like the characters always made terrible decisions. No matter which decision they chose, I found either their reasoning or their subsequent reactions to be incredibly strange. Contrary to my initial impression, the characters were completely unrelatable, so they were unable to make up for any of their shortcomings.

As the story was written in the first person and alternating between five characters, there were distinctive voices for different characters. At the beginning, for instance, the athlete spoke and thought in stereotypical “jock speak” which was painful to read. As the story went on however, the voices seemed to get more and more similar. It was hard to tell who was who.

The whole read was unenjoyable and I couldn’t remember which path was which and who was who and where each one was going. Eventually I gave up and stopped with a few small sections left. I just couldn’t bring myself to read any further. I can’t say how the author could have structured the story better though, so maybe the book was just overly ambitious. On the other hand, maybe this was just a personal preference. Overall, my opinion is that the book had an interesting premise, but wasn’t what I had hoped for. This book seems to be the divisive kind, so perhaps someone else who reads this post will enjoy the book. I sure hope so!

Happy reading

Ms Marvel, Vol.1: No Normal

 

Writer: G. Willow Wilson

Artist: Adrian Alphona

Colour Artist: Ian Herring

Letterer:  VC’S Joe Caramagna

 

Hello there,

To preface this post, I’m not a huge fan of superhero comics, so my thoughts on this subject are limited. I have read only a few other superhero comics in the past but only on a whim. Unsurprisingly, this means that I did not know the backstory of the character Ms. Marvel. I did not even know what powers she had and if she even had any.

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I don’t really enjoy this type of art as much, which put me off superhero comics.

This is the newest iteration of the Ms Marvel series. Kamala Khan is the sixteen year old in the main role. In the first volume, we see her gain her powers, watch her learn to control them and see what she decides to do with those powers. We also see how the acquisition of those powers affect the way she views her relationship with her family, friends, people who are not her friends, and herself.

I liked seeing how a Muslim Pakistani-American family might go about their day to day. We can see snippets of their culture through what kind of food they eat or don’t eat, their places of worship, their family dynamics and other traditions. All this still in the context of an immigrant family in America. While I don’t get the context of the location as much as most Americans will, such as the appeal of teenage parties involving alcohol, young people and young people drinking alcohol, I still appreciate the story and I do not think it diminishes my enjoyment in any way.

I’m excited to continue on with this story because it is about a girl who is around my age and who has been thrust into a weird situation. She does not really know what she’s doing or what she wants to do and that’s okay.

The character, as I understand from one small scene, is also an artist, which is cool. I just find it quite funny that lots of fictional characters enjoy reading, writing, drawing and other creative things. 🙂

Moving on to the art of the comic. TLDR: I love it!

I’m a big fan of the art, line and colour of the whole volume. The lines were not too heavy and stylised like some comic books. I personally don’t enjoy that type of style as it’s too dramatic for my eyes. The colour is also muted, taking on different hues at different times for different purposes. While there are instances of bright colours, it’s used more selectively so it does not become “too much”. This is just my opinion because I’m not an “art expert”, it’s just what I like.

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Here is a page sample, you can see the slightly more muted colours that I mentioned.

Also, a big thumbs up for all the funny details in the background and all the detail on clothing, walls, store facades. It really makes the story that much more immersive.

Happy reading,

 

To find out more about the series:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ms._Marvel_(Kamala_Khan)

Rodent — Lisa J. Lawrence

Hello there,

This book follows the story of Isabelle, who has an alcoholic mother and is thus unable to lead a “normal teenage life”. For instance, in addition to school, she works a part time job and takes care of her two younger siblings in a run down apartment. We follow her as she tries to juggle all the responsibilities that a girl her age should not have to bear.

The story was uplifting but predictable. While it did not sugar coat the truth of real-life situations that are still happening today, the ending was hopeful, if perhaps naively so. Still, the portrayal was realistic enough to be believable.

My thoughts on this book are pretty neutral as it did not invoke any strong feelings, positive or negative. To start off, I enjoyed the interactions between Isabelle and her two younger siblings, Maisie and Evan. It was interesting to see how a young person steps up to act as a surrogate mother when their own mother is unavailable.

Another interesting point to note (I say “interesting” because it’s not exactly an aspect people typically “enjoy”) was that I found Isabelle’s character flawed and believable. While I did not like her at times, I could also understand why she thought or did the things she did.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the supporting characters. I understand that it may be easier to see all sides of Isabelle because the story is written in the first person. However, all the other supporting characters like her mother, siblings and her schoolmates seemed weirdly one dimensional in comparison. This could be attributed to the sheer number of characters in the story. Counting off the top of my head, there were around 24 characters including Isabelle who were mentioned at least twice in this book. Some of these characters who had a recurring role did not play into the major plot line of the story. As such, their inclusion seemed almost unnecessary.

However, perhaps that was a reflection of real life. There are people in your life who come and go. Even when a big situation happens that does not involve them, they are still around and have their own stories to live out. Their inclusion could be a way to show that the world of the story is even richer than what we can see through Isabelle’s eyes.

I know this review has unexpectedly gone into a super deep discussion about writing and intent, but I just think it’s interesting to think about the different sides to an issue. In this case, while I did not enjoy the way something was done in the book, I can still appreciate the possible intention. Moving on.

Overall, the book was okay but the pacing was just a little off for me. There were either too many characters or too few pages. I would have enjoyed getting to know the characters better but that might just be my personal preference. Maybe you will enjoy this story more than I did. 😀

Happy reading

 

 

 

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend — Katarina Bivald

Hello there,

After almost a year of not really reading anything, I finally found the time to complete a novel. I really enjoyed this book which sits squarely in the genre of “a book about books”. So far, I’ve had mixed luck in this genre, but with this book, things are looking up. I enjoyed The Collected Works of AJ Fikry but not Mr Penumbra’s 24 hour Bookstore.

While this book has lengthy discussions about the power of books, there are plenty of human interactions as well. This is partly due to the large number of characters, which then made it difficult sometimes to remember who was who. I did not personally encounter this problem, but some others on Goodreads did seem to take an issue with this. I was personally intrigued by the human relationships portrayed in the story. Another plus was that I really enjoyed the scenes set in and around the bookshop.

Even though it was an enjoyable read for me, there are points which may be a turn off for some. A possible deal breaker was the fact that the story weaved in spoilers for real-life classics. The spoilers were not central to the story which made some readers even more frustrated. I found this to be a good thing though, as those token mentions did not hinder my enjoyment of the book. While I retained none of that “spoilery” information, there were some readers online who wished they had been given a warning as they had not yet read those classics. If you are one of them, I would recommend not picking up this book. (Spoilers to at least the following books: Bridget Jones’s Diaries, Jane Eyre and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

One negative point that I have is that the ending was super weird and abrupt. I don’t think I’ve read an ending quite like that before. It reminded me somewhat of the ending in Alienated by Melissa landers. However in this case, TROBWR is forgiven as the story was more about the journey anyway.

That’s all I have to say about this book. While looking around for other people’s reviews of this book, I came across a negative review which had an update where she changes her mind somewhat after her interview with the author. Feel free to pop over for a look if you’re interested. 🙂

Happy reading

 

Credits:

For reminding me of some of the spoilers in the book: https://bookdustmagic.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/book-review-the-readers-of-broken-wheel-recommend-by-katarina-bivald/

One — Sarah Crossan

Hello there,

Another one from Sarah Crossan. If you missed my earlier post about her other book, The Weight Of Water, check it out here.

One sentence synopsis: This story chronicles a brief but tumultuous period of time for a pair of conjoined twin girls, Grace and Tippi.

This is the second book I’ve read in verse, and I am still not very sure how the story is told better in verse than in prose. Someone enlighten me? I’m not complaining though. It was compulsively readable, partly due to the format, but also because the story sucked me in. Strangely, I think I would like it better on a second reading (The reason is a spoiler so I won’t be sharing that here). I initially thought the story was written in a dual-perspective format, but we actually only hear from one twin. There was an almost insta-love going on, but since it developed over the course of a month or so, I decided it wasn’t unwarranted. (I’m starting to get a feeling that I’m too sensitive HAHA) It might also have just seemed quick because of the pace of my reading. Speaking of which, the book flew by a bit too fast for my liking (In my opinion, it’s a consequence of the format). It was a pity because the characters were all really interesting! Shame I couldn’t get to know them better before the story came to an end. Despite that, would recommend if you’re looking for a fairly quick and unique read.

As an additional note, the story did an understated job of showing us how we can be really judgemental and apathetic towards others sometimes. We fail to see how our actions can have an impact on other people’s feelings. This book mirrored how ugly the real world can be, but also showed how there are ways we can be better.

Happy reading

 

Lorali — Laura Dockrill

Hello there,

Well. I didn’t really enjoy myself while reading this book. The only way I can summarise this story is that it is about mermaids. If you’re into that kind of jazz then maybe this book will be right up your alley. I thought I was interested enough in mermaids so I thought, “Why not give it a shot?”.

After I finished the book, I still didn’t really know what the whole point of the story was. I didn’t feel anything for any of the characters. The concept of the underwater world felt incredibly murky ( 😉 ) due to a lack of descriptions and explanations. There was also nothing that made me want to turn the page to find out what was going to happen next. Pity because I feel like the story had so much potential. 😦

One interesting point about the book though, is that it is written with 3 perspectives, like The Serpent King. In it, we follow Rory, Lorali and The Sea. Yes, The Sea. It’s actually pretty interesting the way she used it. In the beginning I thought it was pretty pretentious, but after I finished the book, I saw that there was a good reason why.

If you’re interested in reading this book, please don’t let me dissuade you, there are plenty of people who have really liked it, I’m just not one of them. Oh well, time for my spoilery rant.

Here are some links to the author’s website if you’d like to find out more about her or her work: http://www.lauradockrill.co.uk/

Happy reading


SPOILER DISCUSSION ALERT – PROCEED WITH CAUTION

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Rory to Lorali after knowing her for 5 hours. (Heyyyy what an appropriate gif, what with her being sopping wet and all)

Sooooo, hello again. You might not know this, but I have recently been hyper-aware of the insta-love thing going on in all these books I’m reading. I kid you not, it’s kind of driving me nuts.

This was the biggest most glaring thing that stuck out to me in Lorali. The story takes place over the course of, I think, 1-2 days? And by the first night Rory and Lorali are already enamoured with each other. For instance, they are constantly staring at each other, “while the other isn’t looking”. That typical lovey-dovey new couple stuff… you know what I mean. Slowly though, these gazes turn into internal monologue declarations of undying devotion to each other. I mean really? They’ve only just met and they’ve decided that they’re NUMERO UNO in each others’ hearts. “My Rory!” “My Lorali!” Ok I might be making this up at this point, but you get my drift. It’s just a little hard to believe, that you could fall so hard so fast. In a few hours. Seriously. Now I’m just ranting but I feel like there were so many other things that deserved more attention. Everytime it got exciting, I would be rudely reminded that “they would die for each other” and “whoever hurts the other will pay sorely.”

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Ahem, but that may be just me being an overly sensitive piece of unicorn poopoo. Moving beyond that, I previously mentioned the 3 POVs in the story. Although the use of the sea’s perspective was interesting, sometimes the switching was jarring. For instance when we find out ermm… [the friend who isn’t Elvis’s grandpa] knows about Lorali, we have a minor “wut” moment. O.o Immediately after that the chapter ends and we switch over to the sea’s perspective. So, we only find out what happens after the perspective cycles back to that of the humans. I just find it a little weird pacing-wise.

The plot wasn’t introduced very well. (Disclaimer: Not an expert, just my thoughts) As I’ve said before, even after I finished reading the book I still wasn’t sure what the whole point of it was. Maybe it was because I was skimming it a little. But at the beginning, when I wasn’t as frustruated with it, I couldn’t find any reason why I should continue reading. There was no visible tension or “push” for the plot. Lorali is washed up on the beach as a human. So what? We see the mer people underwater in flashbacks. So what? What’s the problem with her becoming human? (Answer: Her mum is worried and is threatening to wreck the place to find her. Meh.) Is this a normal thing? (Answer: No it isn’t. Ok on hindsight that was me being dense.) But the question that was constantly on my mind was: “Why should I care? They are in no immediate danger.” Okay, I suppose Rory’s mum could have caught him with a naked girl and he’d be grounded. Fine but who cares. I don’t. And maybe that is the crux of the problem. Maybe I couldn’t connect with the characters, maybe the introduction wasn’t done too well.

Carrying on with the theme of questions: What is a tapestry? (Answer: Their tail.) This was revealed later but it sure made me super confused for a while because it seemed like a curtain sometimes and a tail at other times. I’m being a little petty here, but this lack of description was frustrating.

[Sorry it ends so abruptly here because I actually left this post in the drafts for too long and now I’ve forgotten most of the book. I’m still going to post this because the first part is complete and I’d love to look back on this in future. Thanks so much for reading!]

The Weight of Water — Sarah Crossan

 

Hello there,

Long time no see! 🙂 Just wanted to have a “record” of my jumbled thoughts on this book. If I’m not mistaken, this is the first book I’ve ever read which is written completely in verse. I’m not quite sure what advantage it has over prose, though, after reading it, I’m starting to question the whole point of writing in prose at all… at least for books in the contemporary genre. As for the story itself, it was interesting and compelling. I can’t point out anything in particular which stuck out to me, but I remember being struck by how perceptive young children (i.e. Kasienka) can be, much more than we give them credit for. Would recommend if you are looking for something easy to read, but with some substance. (Also a quick reading update: I reread Glitter and Glue and enjoyed my time reading it. I’ve only now realised I do not have a review on this blog for it, so watch out for it soon!)

Happy reading

 

 

Book post-mortem — Did not finish (Part 1)

Hello there,

Today I’ll be doing something a little different. I usually review books here that I have read, but today I’d like to talk about books that I didn’t read.

??!!? WHAT?!? How could I possibly talk about something I didn’t read??? Well, to be specific, I just didn’t finish them. Here’s the breakdown of the structure of this post.

[Book title] — [Author]

  1. Short synopsis
  2. Why I picked it up
  3. Why I didn’t like it/ Why I didn’t finish it

~ ONE ~

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The Invasion Of The Tearling — Erika Johansen

  1. Second book in a trilogy about a young queen in power. Slow-moving and gripping political drama. Adult themes.
  2. I really really enjoyed the first book
  3. I was so disappointed. This book is dual-perspective unlike the first book. I didn’t like the the new perspective and got pretty impatient because I only wanted to hear Kelsea’s side. Sure this book also jumps to side characters when the plot calls for it but this new perspective was unravelling really slowly. So I really didn’t know the point to this new character. I guess I just gave up. And I didn’t like this new character, which didn’t help. Can someone please tell me it gets better later so I can give this book a second chance? I want to know how it ends but I need some motivation to get through this one.

~ TWO ~

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Cinder — Marissa Meyer

  1. Cinderella retelling with a cyborg and a sci-fi/steampunk setting
  2. It was really popular on Goodreads
  3. This is a very unpopular opinion (I think? Correct me if I’m wrong) but I just didn’t like this book. The thing that I found absolutely ridiculous was the insta-love. I don’t know if it was me being too sensitive but ARGH ~Ain’t nobody got time for that~. She was “strong” but she’d still fall for someone she doesn’t even know? I don’t understand.

~ THREE ~

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This Is What Happy Looks Like — Jennifer E. Smith

I actually did an entire post on not finishing this book.

Link here: https://shessolovelybutshedoesntknow.wordpress.com/2015/11/24/something-different-books-i-didnt-finish/

~ FOUR ~

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Hungry — H.A.Swain

  1. I don’t know.
  2. Saw it in a bookshop and it had a cool premise I guess. So I went to the library to check it out.
  3. I didn’t like it. Not sure why anymore. Oops.

 

~ FIVE ~

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Ghosts of Bergen County — Dana Cann

  1. Errrrr……
  2. Aesthetic cover
  3. Just not to my preferences. Oops

 

And that brings me to the end of this post-mortem. I know it wasn’t very comprehensive but I “read” these books a long time ago. In any case, maybe you found some books you might be interested in!

Happy reading

More weird things customers say in bookshops — Jen Campbell

 

Hello there,

Here’s the second installment of the chuckle machine I reviewed last time. It’s much shorter than the first book but the content is just as mind-boggling. 😀 There were some repeats that I noticed but plenty of new ones to keep you entertained. A fast read, and a great conversation topic for friends.

Happy reading