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)

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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

Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops — Jen Campbell

 

Hello there,

If you knew me at all, you would know that whenever I step into a library, I have a hard time coming back out with nothing. And so, this was one of my spoils from my 30 minute pop-in on Tuesday. I was about to rush off for tuition when I spotted this on one of the lower shelves. I recognised the title but couldn’t place where. It didn’t take me long though, to figure out that I had watched the author’s youtube channel! (Only on occasion….I doubt I’m anywhere near her reading standard)

This book doesn’t pretend to be what it’s not. As you can gather from the title, this is a lightning fast read, and great for a chuckle. Some of the quotes do require prior knowledge of famous books, but I faced little difficulty with most of them. Though I confess it took me an entire day to figure out what was so funny about the cover. Clearly I don’t know classics well enough. Oh bother. Still, even if you’ve never read a book in your life, you’d be able to laugh at some of the ridiculous situations that booksellers have encountered. Bon appétit.

If you would like to find out about the author, here are some links:

  1. Youtube channel — https://www.youtube.com/user/jenvcampbell
  2. Blog — http://jen-campbell.blogspot.sg/

 

Happy reading

Winnie-The-Pooh — A.A Milne

Hello there,

Preamble: This book is a classic and is still very popular. A fond childhood memory of mine was playing a computer game on my family’s chunky desktop. The game was something to do with Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends. I remember thistles and haycorns but not much else. Recently, I realised that I had never read the original book in my life. I decided it was about time.

The stories were adorable and I got to meet the original characters for the first time. It was very exciting to see the origins of the famous Bear of Very Little Brain. The colour illustrations were also very lovely. I didn’t feel much nostalgia reading this book as I was not brought up on this series. Unfortunately, nostalgia might be what makes reading this book that much more special for a majority of older readers.

Despite that, I now understand why Pooh-bear and his friends of the Hundred Acre Wood became so famous worldwide. I would definitely read this book to my future children. 😀

Happy reading