May 31, 2015

Cover Characteristic: Green Covers

Sunday book meme Cover Characteristic

This meme is hosted by Sugar & Snark.

Each week we will post a characteristic and choose 5 of our favourite covers with that characteristic.

This week's characteristic is Green Covers, so in this list there are some of my favourite covers with this colour.

My Picks


5. The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness


Green Cover of The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

The third instalment of the All Souls trilogy has this amazing cover. Even if I wasn't aware of the previous two books, I would still want to pick it up and read it. 

4. Arabella by Georgette Heyer


Green Cover of Arabella by Georgette Heyer

This cover reminds me of a painting and I love this thing about it. It also suits this novel perfectly. All Jane Austen fans out there don't hesitate to read it, this is Regency Romance at its best!

3. Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi


Green Cover of Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

This cover is gorgeous! I love everything about it, the snake, the roses, this particular shade of green. Plus, it's another take on Snow White and I have a thing for folklore and retellings.

2. A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro


Green Cover of A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro

This is a touching novel and it has a beautiful cover too. The green of the background is combined with great balance with the yellow and red of the kimono.

1. The Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer 


Green Cover of The Time Paradox, the third book in Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer

My top pick couldn't be other than the third book in Artemis Fowl series! These books are hilarious, have great action and I love most of the characters in them. I would reread them anytime!



Which are your favourite green covers? Have you read any of the books in the list above? What did you think? 

May 30, 2015

ARC Review: The Snow Kimono by Mark Henshaw

Review of the novel The Snow Kimono by Mark Henshaw


Title: The Snow Kimono

Author: Mark Henshaw

Publisher: Text Publishing

Expected Date of Publication: June 9th, 2015

Number of Pages: 416

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


Summary

Paris, 1989. Recently retired police inspector Auguste Jovert receives a letter from a woman who claims to be his daughter. Two days later, a stranger knocks on his door. His name is Tadashi Omura, and he is a former law professor. He tells Jovert stories about his life, and about a man named Katsuo Ikeda, whom he met when they were both children and who later became a successful writer.

Set in France, Japan, and Algeria, The Snow Kimono is a jigsaw puzzle of a novel. The stories that Jovert and Omura tell each other fit together in unpredictable ways. Each new story changes the possibilities of what might happen next. Little by little we glimpse how these men have lied to themselves and to each other. These lies are about to catch up with them.

A quarter of a century after the best-selling, multi-award-winning Out of the Line of Fire, Mark Henshaw returns with a novel that is both a psychological thriller and an unforgettable meditation on love and loss, memory and it's deceptions, and the things that bind us to others. 

Review

Lately, it seems like no matter what book I pick up will have to do with Japan. Even though I'm not doing it on purpose it will be either by a Japanse writer or the story will take place in Japan. The Snow Kimono falls into the second category, at least a part of the story occurs there. Of course, the word kimono at the title should be enough to indicate it, but the summary of this novel is intriguing, so I couldn't really resist reading it. 

After the shock of learning that he has a daughter in Algeria, inspector Jovert gets to know his neighbour Tadashi Omura. The Japanese man has to share an interesting story with the inspector, although he never explains the reason he feels the urge to do so. As Omura's life unravels we learn more about his childhood friend, Katsuo Ikeda, who has played a major part in the story that has brought the elderly man into the present. In the meantime, Omura's complicated story forces Jovert to face his own, buried memories. 

The story of The Snow Kimono is filled with love and loss. Great emotions, as well as relationships that feel strong, lead to isolation. Secrets well-hidden eventually come to light and drive the lives of the protagonists into unexpected paths. Memory is a savage editor. It cut's time's throat. In the end, the lives of the people involved seem staged by this strange fate. It's like all of this happened in order to make Jovert and Omura do what they should long ago. But the story is not just emotional. At times, it's shocking and disturbing, making the crimes committed even more painful. 

Jovert and Omura are both very likeable characters. The Japanese man at the beginning seems a little weird because he acts like a stalker. He waits for Jovert outside of his apartment, he invites himself in it and even makes an appointment for dinner without asking the inspector beforehand. But as we learn more about his life, we see that he is a man of principle. The French man, on the other hand, is someone that hasn't come to terms that he's retired. This is the reason why he feels that he's missing something from his life. He's offered, though, another explanation for this emptiness and this is the existence of his daughter. At first, he is sceptical towards Omura, but who wouldn't be? Lastly, Katsuo is a self-centered character. He has a way of looking down on everyone else and plays with their feelings. He is the reason for many of Omura's misfortunes. 

The Snow Kimono is well-written. The narrative is poetic and this makes it a heartfelt read. Sometimes I lost myself between the stories because the author jumped from one character to another without an introduction or a transitional passage. At other times, I got the feeling that I was reading more Katsuo's story than that of Omura or Jovert. Indeed, most of the narrative concerned incidents from Katsuo's life that Omura was present. Nevertheless, the end was rewarding and I forgot most of my objections.

After reading this novel, I want to search the rest of Mark Henshaw's books. The writing impressed me and the story made me feel a variety of emotions. So, I would say that The Snow Kimono is a novel worth reading. I would recommend it to everyone, especially those who like deep, emotional reads.  

So, my advice is...

Take a walk on the snow! 


May 29, 2015

Mini Reviews: The Beautiful Cassandra, The Old Nurse's Story and The Eve of St Agnes

Recently I've come across to the Little Black Classics by Penguin. Among the available titles are some written by my favourite authors, like Jane Austen and D.H. Lawrence. When I first saw them I knew I had to read them, so here is what I thought on three of those books.

The Beautiful Cassandra by Jane Austen


Mini review of The Beautiful Cassandra by Jane Austen
The Little Black Classic #33 was the first of the titles in the series that I had to find, no matter what. As you already know, I am a big Jane Austen fan and the prospect of reading some of her earlier works was appealing to me. In this edition, six of her juvenile short stories are included, all selected from Love and Friendship and Other Youthful Writings

It was exciting to read these stories because they are pure joy. They were written by young Jane for the sole purpose to entertain herself and her family. Indeed, they were all joyful and pleasant. To those familiar with Austen's novels, her wit and her humour will be apparent. The quality of the writing is not the same as in her later works, but one can clearly distinguish the potential she had and the evolution she went throughout the years. For this reason, The Beautiful Cassandra is a must-read, especially for the fans of the celebrated author.

The stories I liked the best were Jack and Alice and Henry and Eliza.

The Old Nurse's Story by Elizabeth Gaskell


Mini Review of The Old Nurse's Story by Elizabeth Gaskell
Another Little Black Classic I was eager to read was #39. Elizabeth Gaskell, with novels such as North and South and Cranford, became quickly one of my favourite authors of all time. But, until now, I hadn't read any of her gothic tales before. This edition includes two of them, The Old Nurse's Story and Curious, if True. The first was published in Charles Dickens' magazine, Household Worlds, in 1852 and the second one was published in William Thackeray's Cornhill Magazine in 1860.

In both of those stories, Gaskell proves of how nicely she can write. The Old Nurse's Story is a ghost tale. The atmosphere it builds is magnificent. You come to care about little Miss Rosamond and until the end you are anxious to find out if the nurse was able to protect her from the ghostly child. Curious, if True is an equally eerie story. A man comes upon a strange party while lost in the woods, where fairy tale characters have gathered. But this isn't obvious from the beginning and as the hints become more frequent, the amazement is great. I would say that it did have an Alice's Adventures in Wonderland feel to it.

The Eve of St Agnes by John Keats


Mini Review of The Eve of St Agnes by John Keats
The Little Black Classic #13 is a title full of poetry. In this book, five poems by John Keats are to found. The two larger poems are The Eve of St Agnes and Lamia while the three short ones are La Belle Dame san Merci, Ode to Psyche and Ode to a Grecian Urn. Keats' poetry is more visual and narrative and these poems are great examples of this.

The Eve of St Agnes is based on the superstition that a virgin will see in her dream her future husband if she follows some ritual that specific night. La Belle Dame sans Merci is a ballad that talks about love and death. Lamia is a narrative poem, that has its roots to some ancient Greek myths. The two odes that close this edition are Keats' experimentation in the ode genre. The first ode deals with Psyche's and Cupid's myth while the second one has as a theme the art and the art audience. 

The poems I enjoyed the most were The Eve of St Agnes and La Belle Dame san Merci.   

May 28, 2015

Thursday Quotables: The Snow Kimono


Welcome to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies. Every week we highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week. This is my first time participating, but I like the idea so much, that I'll make it regular! 


This week's quote is from The Snow Kimono by Mark Henshaw (To be published June 9th, 2015) 


In this novel, two men rediscover their lives through the eyes of one another.


In the beginning, he loved only her laugh. Then found he loved her. This smart, lean-limbed girl, with her green eyes and dark skin. Her tripping laugh as sharp as swallows. He loved her name - Madeleine. Sweet-sounding. Unforgettable. She wasn't Caroline, whose ghost had come back to him. But it didn't matter. Not now. After the pieces had fallen into place.


But the quote that really resumes the theme of the novel is this one:

We can only see our lives through the eyes of another

This was Thursday Quotables for this week.  Have you read this book? What did you think of the quotes?

Review: The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli and Morim Kang

Review of the graphic novel adaptation of The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli and Morim Kang

Title: The Prince

Author: Niccolò Machiavelli

Illustrator: Morim Kang

Publisher: NETCOMICS

Date of Publication: January 27th, 2015

Number of Pages: 366

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Summary

Experience Niccolò Machiavelli's complete masterpiece The Prince in this unique blending of European and Korean sensibilities. Created by celebrated writer Morim Kang, this volume features over 200 pages of beautifully illustrated comics alongside Machiavelli's masterful blueprint to destroy one's enemies. After the Medici dynasty of Florence forced Niccolò Machiavelli from office, the impoverished man sought to win back their favour by writing for them the perfect instruction manual to seize and hold political power. Together, Machiavelli and Morim Kang have written a volume for you! Never before has learning to be ruthless been fun and easy!

Review

The Prince by Machiavelli is a classic non-fiction book, a political discourse about how a prince should rule, what traits he should possess and how to eliminate his enemies. It's only natural that when I saw this edition I couldn't wait to find out how a book without an actual story would turn into a comic. The result proved to be quite interesting.

First of all, I have to admit that I hadn't read The Prince before. I was aware though, about its theme and Machiavelli's ideas and suggestions. I wasn't also interested in reading a book on political science, at least for the time being. If I did, I think I would prefer to read The Art of War, which is more about war and less about ruling. But, eventually I'm very glad that I read Machiavelli's work, I found it enlightening.

To say that Machiavelli's opinions are cruel would be an understatement. Phrases like, Of course, no animal is easier to manipulate than a human being desperate to protect his own interests and If necessary, you must crush a conquered people, so they won't even dream of exacting revenge are just mere examples as to what the author suggests that a prince should follow in order to establish his authority. It's essential, in order to maintain the position in power, to use every available mean. But he condemns those who rise with unnecessary violence and wickedness, giving the example of Agathocles the Sicilian, stating that the subjects of such obtained principality will not follow the prince.

This edition wasn't a pure graphic novel, as I was expecting. It consists of The Prince, the actual text, and every chapter is followed by some pages with comics, which illustrate mostly the examples given by Machiavelli in each chapter. In this way, I had a very thorough history lesson, learning everything about the Medici family, France's and Aragon's claims on various Italian cities at the time. The illustrations helped me understand better the examples, but sometimes I felt that it was unnecessary and I was anxious to read more of the text. The art style seemed a little odd to me. Each figure was recognisable, which was a very nice thing, but in general it wasn't what I would prefer.

I enjoyed this edition of The Prince more than I expected. Machiavelli's ideas, although they were fierce, were very intriguing. I would call this more an educational read than anything else and I would recommend it to those who don't mind something more challenging, like a discourse on politics.

So, my advice is...

Establish your principality!  

May 25, 2015

The Reading Book Post, May 25th

The Reading Book Post with all the literary news of the previous week

Hello, everyone! Roland Garros has started, and as a tennis fan, I'm looking forward to watching some great matches. This week I also begin the funny books themed read and I really hope it goes as good as the last one did. But, as every Monday, I'll let you know what happened in the literary world the previous week.

  • The Man Booker Internation Prize 2015 goes to László Krasznahorkai. This Prize is awarded once every two years to a living author and honours the body of work published either originally in English or available in translation. Also, the Orwell Prize announced its winner, who is James Meek for his book Private Island: Why Britain Now Belongs to Someone Else.



  • Jane Austen's Emma is 200 years old! John Mullan, Professor at University College London and author of Whan Matters in Jane Austen? gave a speech at the Hay Festival on this particular novel. He explained what we learnt about Jane Austen from her works. In this speech, he also argues about a hidden kiss in Emma. Interesting, right?



  • Do you want to feel inspired? Then give a listen to Ian McEwan's commencement speech at Dickinson College, which he gave last week. In this speech, he talks about the free speech and expression of ideas.

  • Agatha Christie, apart from her crime novels, had written a memoir of her archeological trips to Syria and Iraq with her husband. Come, Tell Me How You Live will be republished this August, along with 40 photographs, many of which were taken by Christie herself.

  • Archivist from the University of Michigan has discovered extensive fragments and notes for a Welles autobiography. The papers were scattered in eight boxes of new material purchased from Oja Kodar, who was Welles' companion in the years before he died in 1985.

  • The house where F. Scott Fitzgerlad wrote The Great Gatsby is for sale, for just over $3.8 million. It was built in 1918 and the famous author wrote three chapters of his novel while staying there.

  • Is the face of Shakespeare different from the one we all know? Botanist and historian Mark Griffiths is quite certain that he has uncovered the only authentic portrait of Shakespeare made during his lifetime. All the other well-known portraits of the playwright were made after his death. Griffiths has a great amount of evidence and this is indeed a big discovery.

  • Do you want a pet? Take this quiz to find out which animal from literature would be your ideal pet. I got Snowy from Tintin! Also, if you want a different kind of quiz, take this one to find out which lesser known Charles Dickens novel you are. In this one, I got Dombey and Son, which I haven't read and now I want to. Let me know your results in the comments below!

ARC Review: You Don't Say by Nate Powell

ARC Review of the Graphic Novel You Don't Say by Nate Powell


Title: You Don't Say

Author: Nate Powell

Publisher: Top Shelf Productions

Expected Date of Publication: May 26th, 2015

Number of Pages: 177

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


Summary

A celebrity glares. A community burns. A recipe summons a ghost. A dying woman makes her peace. An art form sustains the spirit. in You Don't Say award-winning graphic novelist Nate Powell -- of the #1 New York Times Bestseller March: Book One, and the Eisner Award-Winning "Graphic Novel of the Year" Swallow Me Whole -- collects a decade of powerful short works. Autobiography, fiction, essay comics, collaborations, and more fill these thoughtful, pitch-black pages, comprising rare and previously unreleased material from 2004-2013.

Review

You Don't Say is a collection of short stories, which show us the evolution of Nate Powell as an artist. First of all, I have to confess that this is the first time I read something by Powell, but after this one I will definitely search and read some of his previously released work. 

The stories didn't have a common theme. Some were deeply personal, others were surreal sequences, one was a scene that didn't make it to Swallow Me Whole, and some were collaborations of the artist with other writers. From those the more personal stories, sometimes felt almost too personal. It was as if I was reading the diary of Nate Powell, without his permission. These particular stories, which are the first ones in the collection, didn't interest me enough, probably because I couldn't connect with them. I feel that this wouldn't be the case if they were a little more lengthy. My most favourite stories were the last five, which are the most recent ones. These stories were more intriguing to me because they were either the result of Powell's collaboration with another writer or were just created by him. More precisely, the stories Conjurers and Havens Have Not, were the ones I preferred from the entire collection.

The art style of You Don't Say was impressive. The designs were all unique and memorable. If I happened to pick up a comic, I would recognise it as the work of Nate Powell, without even looking at the cover. The whole collection is in black and white and I'd very much love to see some coloured piece of the artist's work. 

All in all, I would say that You Don't Say was a fairly enjoyable read. If you are a fan of Nate Powell, then you should definitely pick it up. If you are, like me, unaware of his other graphic novels, you could either read this as a guide to the artist's evolution through the years or start with his other graphic novels. In any case, I believe that this collection is worth a try.

So, my advice is...

Pick up a graphic novel!

May 24, 2015

Play(list) by the Book: You Don't Say

Literary Playlist Play(list) by the Book created by The Reading Armchair


I'm so happy that yet another book offers me the chance to create and share with you a playlist. This is short, but the songs are all great. I hope you'll enjoy it!




As usual, I included all the songs that are mentioned in the graphic novel You Don't Say by Nate Powell. The only case where only an artist was mentioned, was Captain Beefheart and so I just chose a song that I like. In the graphic novel is also mentioned the song Say H, by the author's "one-piece band" Wait. There is also a mention to a band named Smut, which I haven't heard of and I didn't find anything on my research, so if you guys know something please let me know.

Enjoy!

Cover Characteristic: Swords

Weekly Book meme Cover Characteristic Swords

This meme is hosted by Sugar & Snark.

Each week we will post a characteristic and choose 5 of our favourite covers with that characteristic.


My Picks

5. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley



This is so beautiful and eerie. It's what it should be for this novel!


4. Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence



This cover is so epic and puts in the mood for some action!


3. The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner



This cover is just so beautiful that I can't stop looking at it!


2. Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff



This is actually a katana, but the cover is impressive. I love the red colour as well.


1. Puella Magi Madoka Magica Vol.2 by Magica Quartet and Hanokage



I love everything about this cover! Sayaka and Kyouko, both with their weapons. I won't lie that this is my #1 because I love the story so much as well. You can also read my recent review of it.





May 23, 2015

Review: Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Crystal S. Chan and SunNeko Lee

Manga Review of the Manga Classics The Scarlett Letter
Title: Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter

Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne

Illustrator: SunNeko Lee

Adaptation: Crystal S. Chan

Publisher: UDON Entertainment

Date of Publication: March 18th, 2015

Number of Pages: 312

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Summary

Nathaniel Hawthorne's powerful tale of forbidden love, shame and revenge comes to life in Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter. When Hester Prynne bears an illegitimate child she is introduced to the ugliness, complexity, and ultimately the strength of the human spirit. Though set in a Puritan community during Colonial American period, the moral dilemmas of personal responsibility and consuming emotions of guilt, anger, loyalty and revenge are timeless.

This manga retelling of Hawthorne's classic American novel is faithfully adapted by Crystal S. Chan and features stunning artwork by SunNeko Lee which will give old and new readers alike a fresh insight into this tragic saga of Puritan America.

Review

Another Manga Classics of another amazing classic novel! After reading Pride and Prejudice, I just needed to read other adaptations that this series included. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a tragic novel and I was curious to see how it would work out. As it turned out, there wasn't any reason for me to worry, as the manga did justice to this touching story.

Hester Prynne is disgraced publicly after having an affair and an illegitimate child with a man that she refuses to reveal his name. For this reason, she's put in prison and is forced to wear the scarlet letter A, to mark her as a sinner. In the meantime, Hester's husband comes to town and upon learning what his wife has done, he hides his identity and wants to seek vengeance from the mysterious man. Many years pass, the child grows up, Hester lives a life more virtuous than the most respectable of her neighbours, her husband finds the man responsible and makes his life a living hell. The story is well-known and really sad. One of the most touching scenes is when Pearl asks her mother what the letter A means and how she got it. Hester at this points lives quietly and even the town's counselor is thinking about letting her put the letter away, but she has to lie to her daughter, she can't let her know that this marks her as a sinner.

The adaptation of this novel was as good as the one in Pride and Prejudice. Every important scene was included, giving us the chance to witness not only the progression of the story, but the changes in the characters as well. Sometimes the dialogues felt less heavy than in the actual novel, but this fact made it easier to get through, so I wouldn't say that it bothered me. I also thought that some of the dialogues was transformed in a way that would be easier for the modern reader to digest. So, even if someone hasn't read the original novel would be drawn to the story. Of course, if you are a purist you may find this disturbing.

Judging only from the cover I suspected that the illustration would be beautiful. And I was absolutely right! The faces of the protagonists were so expressive that even without reading the dialogue I could guess what they were thinking. The expression Hester had on her face when she was holding baby Pearl, during her public shaming, was astounding. The angry and defensive face transformed into a tender one, just by looking at her baby. The change on Arthur's face, the husband of Hesther, from the beginning of the novel, also showed what he felt and how his need for vengeance transformed him into a different and malicious man, a fiend as he called himself. Baby Pearl was just so cute, and even a little older she was cute as well, with those big innocent eyes and the bright smile. Another aspect that I really loved about the illustration was the letter A. Most of the manga are black and white, but in this one the A was always painted red. This not only underlined the letter that gave its name to the novel, but also stood as a constant reminder of the significance it had on the lives of the protagonists.

The Scarlet Letter confirmed what I thought about Manga Classics and now I seriously need to find and read any other adaptations there are in the series. If you are an old fan of the classic novel or a new reader, I believe you will enjoy greatly this version. It's a different take on the story, but without losing its essence.

So, my advice is...

Read the classics!

May 22, 2015

ARC Review: Flash Gordon Omnibus

review of the comics of Flash Gordon
Title: Flash Gordon Omnibus

Author: Jeff Parker

Illustration: Evan Shaner

Colour: Jordie Bellaire

Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment

Expected Date of Publication: July 16th, 2015

Number of Pages: 133

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Summary

Flash Gordon never fit on Earth. But on the bizarre planet Mongo, Flash's thirst for thrills and daring dangers makes him the perfect weapon against the iron-fisted tyrant Ming the Merciless and his awful inter-planetary swarms of terror! Can the cocksure Man From Earth funnel his overconfidence into saving whole worlds? Will his less-rambunctious allies, Dale Arden and Dr. Zarkov, force a lasting peace with such savage races as the Beast-Men of Arboria and Hawkmen of Sky City? Or will the universe fall to Ming? The full-throttle, complete Flash Gordon saga is collected here, featuring epic space action from the wildly talented creative team of Jeff Parker (Batman '66, Aquaman) and Evan Shaner (Adventures of Superman). This out-of-sight Omnibus edition also includes bonus stories from faraway Mongo, as well as a comprehensive cover gallery! Collects the complete 8-issue Flash Gordon comic book series, plus the Flash Gordon 2014 Holiday Special and Flash Gordon 2014 Annual.

Review

When I was younger, I watched Flash Gordon. It was probably one of the first sci-fi movies I've ever watched. Later, I found out that it was a comic, but I never got to read it. So, when I found this Omnibus, I thought that the time has come to finally read the story of Flash Gordon. 

The story of the comic is rather ordinary. Earth is threatened by the Mongori. Flash, Dale and Dr. Zarkov, who have what Ming wants, run through some portals, closing the one that leads to Earth, to different planets in order to save the planet. But they find all the other planets enslaved by the tyrant Ming the Merciless, who has cut off all of their technology and takes advantage of them. Flash, who cannot stand all of this, tries to help them while Dr. Zarkov tries to find a way for them to return to Earth. I would say that this story is rather an old-school, but it works nicely. The comic is fast-paced and it's pumped with action. It's what you would expect when you pick up an edition like this one!

Flash Gordon doesn't have a superpower. He is spontaneous and most of the times he acts without really thinking beforehand. But he is athletic, an excellent pilot and an equally excellent fighter. With his passionate views, he can inspire the enslaved races to try to revolt against Ming. Dale Arden is the most rational one out of the three companions. She always tries to hold Flash back, before he puts them to danger. She is also more diplomatic, which helps them survive numerous times. Dr. Zarkov is the genius. He is the scientist that always finds the solution or has a card in his sleeve, which helps them survive.

The illustration and the general visual design is rather old-fashioned as well. But since it's the original comic book series, this is to be expected. I would actually be disappointed if it looked any different. The action scenes are very well illustrated and all the different planets feel unique. I found the design of Skyworld really impressive.

Flash Gordon Omnibus is a good, action-filled comic book. The nostalgia is also apparent, so I would recommend it to all the sci-fi fans, who want to read something that reminds them of older decades.

So, my advice is...

May 21, 2015

Next Themed Read or List of Funny Books If You're In For A Laugh

As I've already told you the next themed read will  be funny books. I've given it a lot of thought and I finally came up with the books that best suit it. So, here is the complete list of the books I'll be reading from next week and on:

1. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (1990) by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Funny Book for next themed read Good Omens

I'm excited to finally read this book! As a fan of Neil Gaiman, it was unforgivable of me to not have read it already. But I'm going to make it right. Plus, it's about time to read a little more Terry Pratchett.

2. Napalm & Silly Putty (2001) by George Carlin

Funny Book for next themed read Napalm and Silly Putty

If you are a fan of stand-up comedy, you certainly know who George Carlin is and the style of his comedy. I expect that this book will have me crying the whole time. If it's from the laughter or despair I'm not sure, but most probably from both of them. 

3. A Confederacy of Dunces (1980) by John Kennedy Toole

Funny Book for next themed read  A Confederacy of Dunces

Is this the funniest book ever written? It most definitely has the reputation and I can't wait to find out if it's true. This novel was published after the suicide of the author and won a Pulitzer Prize. I'm really intrigued.

4. The Diary of a Provincial Lady (1930) by E.M. Delafield

Funny Book for next themed read  The Diary of a Provincial Lady

This is an autobiographical novel that since its publication in 1930 has been very popular. It's considered one of the funniest books ever written and to be honest I like the whole theme it has.

5. Dear Luke, We Need To Talk, Darth: And Other Pop Culture Correspondences (2014) by John Moe

Funny Book for next themed read Dear Luke, We Need to Talk

I don't need anything more than the title to read this book. Star Wars and other pop culture references are enough to guarantee that at least I'll dig in it with great interest. 

6. Funny Girl (2014) by Nick Hornby

Funny Book for next themed read Funny Girl

Nick Hornby can be really funny. I mean really, really funny. I'm hoping that this novel as well will not disappoint me. But then again I've enjoyed every single book by Nick Hornby, so my expectations are high.

7. Tales Designed to Thrizzle (2009) by Michael Kupperman

Funny Book for next themed read Tales Designed to Thrizzle

A two-volume graphic novel. It's funny and it's quirky, what more is there to ask? Plus the cover is really intriguing.


Honourable mentions


The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979) by Douglas Adams

Funny Book for next themed read  Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

What can I say about this series? You've probably read it and if you haven't just do it! This is for the time being the funniest book I've ever read. I won't read it though for the themed read because I've already had. Numerous times.

The Princess Bride (1973) by William Goldman

Funny Book for next themed read The Princess Bride

This book has everything. I know that the movie is well-known and it's really good, but I'm surprised that a lot of people haven't read the novel. It's probably one of the most underrated books and I recommend it wholeheartedly!

Bridget Jone's Diary (1996) by Helen Fielding

Funny Book for next themed read  Bidget Jone's Diary

This is actually very, very funny. Yes, it's a romance. It's definitely something different from the rest of the books on this list, but it's very enjoyable.


So, this is it! Have you read any of those books?What did you think? Would you add any others?

May 20, 2015

Review: A Glance Backward by Tony Sandoval and Pierre Paquet

Review of the graphic novel A Glance Backward

Title: A Glance Backward

Author: Pierre Paquet

Illustrator: Tony Sandoval 

Publisher: Magnetic Press

Date of Publication: May 12th, 2015

Number of Pages: 90

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Summary

Eleven-year-old Joey's world turns inside-out when he finds himself pulled inside the walls of his own home, seemingly trapped in a strange and surreal place. As he searches for a way out, he discovers a myriad of strange, intriguing, and frightening characters, who ultimately lead him to complete the greatest journey of them all: growing up.

A fantastical trip through a strange landscape that explores the changing perspective of a young boy facing adulthood. As surreal as Alice in Wonderland, with a powerful truth underneath it all. This beautifully illustrated, watercoloured tale will make readers long for the simplicity of youth while embracing the wonderful complexities of adulthood: RESPONSIBILITY, LOVE, CONSEQUENCE, and ultimately the shocking, inevitable realities of LIFE and DEATH. Written by Pierre Paquet, this honest portrayal of a moment from his own life will take readers to a land of contemplation and adventure. 

Review

A Glance Backward is a bizarre mixture of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and some twisted nightmare. Looking at the summary I never expected it to be this dark and violent, as it turned out to be. It's really short, so it's easy to read it in one sitting, but it's disturbing enough to think about it for quite some time after you've finished it.

Joseph, or Joel as is his nickname, is an 11-year-old child with a great imagination. One day he gets sucked into a world, inside the walls of his home, from where he cannot escape. He tries to smash the bricks in order to get out of there, but each broken brick lead him to a totally different and surreal world. This journey makes Joel realise what it is to be an adult. Until the end of his adventures the young boy, who he is in the very first page, has taken his first steps towards adulthood.

The story is intriguing. I've always liked adventures like that, where the young protagonist learns what is life, sometimes the hard way. When at first Joel was taken into this mysterious world, everything seemed really weird, without any indication as to what purpose they served, or even if there was a way out. I was drawn to this bizarreness and I was curious to see how many different realities there were and where Joel would end up. In most of the worlds, he met various people, from which nobody seemed willing to help him find a way back into his home. Towards the end though I felt that the story had turned into a lot of violence, which was unnecessary. I also didn't really understand how Joel managed to return into his place. I felt that the end of the journey was a little rushed. The ending tried to make up for it and give an explanation for why his imagination had imprisoned him in that weird world, but it was also rushed. The story would have worked better if it was a little longer.

Joel was a likeable child. I liked the fact that he tried to overcome every new obstacle that came his way and he was really fixed on his goal, to return to his home. It's only natural that he had times when his fear and despair overcame him, but there was always something that made him even more determined than before. I can't really talk about the other characters that appear on the graphic novel. We never really get to know them, since Joel only meets them for a while and then he goes to the next world. What I can say is that each one of them depicts a different aspect of an adult's life, the responsibility, the love, the consequence, the way to survive.

The illustration of A Glance Backward is amazing! I love watercolour and it really gives something out of the ordinary to the graphic novel. The colours are mostly dark and cool, which adds to the surreal effect of the story.

A Glance Backward is a graphic novel that is weird and dark. It didn't take long to read it, but it disturbed me, especially the images towards the end. I can understand why many who will read it, won't enjoy much, that's why I recommend it with caution.

So my advice is...

Get lost between reality and fantasy!     

May 19, 2015

Review: Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Po Tse, Stacy King

Review of the manga adaptation of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Title: Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice

Author: Jane Austen

Illustrator: Po Tse

Adaptation: Stacy King

Publisher: UDON Entertainment

Date of Publication: September 17th, 2014

Number of Pages: 377

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Summary

Beloved by millions all over the world, Pride and Prejudice is delightfully transformed in this bold, new manga adaptation. All of the joy, heartache, and romance of Jane Austen's original work, perfectly illuminated by the sumptuous art of that manga-ka Po Tse, and faithfully adapted by Stacy E. King.

Review

I was so excited to review Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice! I'm basically a Janeite, Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite books and I've read over the years many of its adaptations and retellings. So when I first learnt that a manga adaptation had been published I couldn't be happier. Some years earlier Marvel had released a graphic novel version of the story, but I was curious to see how this would work in the Japanese style. The result left me totally content.

Do you guys need me to say anything about the story and the characters? This classic love story, which turns out to be a study of the human behaviour as well, is so well known and so much loved, that I couldn't really say anything more. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy have many obstacles to overcome before they can finally be together. But those obstacles come from themselves, like the pride of Mr. Darcy and the prejudice of Elizabeth.

But what's really important here is the adaptation, from which I was impressed. The story remained the same, everything was included, which was a fact that made me really happy. Even though I knew the story, the dialogue was witty and funny and I giggled and laughed almost all of the time. The illustration was also great and it suited all of the characters. It was amazing to see Mrs. Bennet's expression with sparkling background and hearts when she talks about a possible marriage for her daughters, or Mr. Darcy's awkward expression when he sees Whickham for the first time, or his blushing every time he talks to Elizabeth. 

Sometimes though I got the feeling that Mr. Darcy's and Elizabeth's way of talking was more intimate than it would be expected, especially at the beginning when Elizabeth stays at Netherfield Park. There were also some anachronisms, when for example Mr. Bingley entered Jane's bedroom when she was ill, but I can forgive those because it made the story easier to understand for those who are not familiar with the ways of that society. What I really missed though is the complete lack of titles, like Mr, Mrs and Miss. During the whole novel, everyone called the others either by their given name or their surname and this is something that sounded wrong to me. These are all minor things that really don't take much out of the enjoyment this manga has to offer. 

Manga Classics is a very interesting series and I'd like to read the rest of them too. If the adaptation is that good as it is in Pride and Prejudice then I believe that I'll enjoy them a lot. If you are a fan of Jane Austen or want to read a different take on this classic novel, this manga is for you. Don't hesitate to pick it up, you won't be disappointed!   

So my advice is...

Fall in love with Mr. Darcy...again!
  

Would You Rather Book Tag

Would You Rather Book Tag

I came across this tag recently and I really loved it, so I decided to do it myself. The tag was created by RayKayBooks, so be sure to check them out!

1. Read only trilogies or stand-alones?

This is quite an easy question for me. I prefer stand-alones. Although I've read my fair share of trilogies, I find myself more and more reluctant to begin new ones.

2. Read only female or male authors?

I would go with male authors, only because many of my favourite authors, in general, are men.

3. Shop at bookshops or Amazon?

Bookshops. There can never be any kind of comparison between browsing actual shelves of books to find the one you want and browsing a web page.

4. All books become movies or TV shows?

I like movie adaptations. Even though movies normally don't include everything from the book (and it's impossible to do so), I like to see the director's view on it. Luckily, many of my favourite classics are turned into tv movies and I enjoy them immensely. I don't have a problem with mini-series, but when the tv show tends to be too long, I  get tired of it.

5. Read 5 pages per day or 5 books per week?

Some books are easy to read, so the answer would be 5 books per week. But some books need you to relax and think about them and so in that case it would be 5 pages per day. Weighing those two option, I think I'm inclined to answer 5 books per week because I cannot possibly imagine how I could manage with only 5 pages per day.

6. Be a professional reviewer or author?

The truth is that I used to write short stories and poems and I have begun writing a novel, but I can't seem to finish it. So, I would rather be a professional reviewer. 

7. Only read your Top 20 favourite books over and over or always read new ones that you haven't read?

Only read new ones, that way I will create a new Top 20 list! Although I'll miss my favourite books so much!

8. Be a librarian or a bookseller?

Both of those options sound very attractive to me. I like to talk about books and recommend new ones, so I'll think I'd choose to be a librarian.

9. Only read your favourite genre or every other genre except your favourite?

The problem with this question is that I don't have just one favourite genre. When I read only one genre for some time I tend to want to read something entirely different next. But I would only rather read my favourite genre since I can't imagine my life without fantasy. 

10. Only read physical books or ebooks?

Ebooks have offered me practicality, my kindle never leaves my bag (and the last year I've been moving a lot), but I would rather read only physical books. 


So, this was the Would You Rather Book Tag. Feel free to tag yourselves, I'd be interested in reading your answers!

May 18, 2015

The Reading Book Post, May 18th

The Reading Book Post with all the literary news of the previous week

A new week has just begun and now I can really say that summer is indeed here. There's nothing better than reading in the park and that's what I like to do all day long. The list for the funny books theme is almost ready, but if you have any recommendation please tell me in the comments. Meanwhile, let's see what happened in the literary world the previous week.

  • The Miles Franklin Literary Award announced the shortlist for the prize in 2015. Among the nominees, there is Christine Piper with her debut novel After Darkness. The winner will be made public on June 23rd.


  • A rare first edition of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens will go on sale in this year's London International Antiquarian Book Fair. What makes the edition so rare is the short dedication by its author, J.M. Barrie, to the nanny of Llewellyn Davies boys, who inspired the character.


  • The last week was a sad one for the literary world. The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Franz Wright died at the age of 62. Read some of his poems, such as Alcohol and Wheeling Motel. Also, the historian Peter Gay died at the age of 91. He was known for his books on the Enlightenment, the Victorian middle-classes and the cultural situation of Jews in Germany. Finally, the literary world mourns the loss of the author Willian Zinsser at the age of 92. His books On Writing Well sold more than 1.5 million copies.

  • The lives of the Brontë sisters will be dramatised for the BBC One. The drama will follow the relationships of Charlotte, Emily and Anne with each other. It will be written and directed by Sally Wainwright, the author of the script of Last Tango in Halifax.

  • Fans of An Ember in the Ashes rejoice! A sequel is on its way and is to be expected in 2016. Even though the author Sabaa Tahir claimed that it would be a stand-alone novel, the great success of her debut novel has led to a second book. Isn't this great news?

  • An image of musician Thom Yorke has been spotted on the cover of an Iranian sex manual, along with the author John Updike and another unidentified man. The book is called Marital and Sexual Problems in Men and was recently shared on Twitter by the Iranian journalist Sobhan Hassanvand. 

  • This week's quiz is one of my favourites. Two pictures are given to you and you must guess the title of the book (it's always a two-word title, without the or a at the beginning). I hope you'll enjoy it :)  


May 17, 2015

Review: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Review of the classic horror novel Dracula
Dracula was my lucky choice from the Classics Club Spin, in which I decided to take part for the very first time last April. I won't hide from you that I wanted to read Dracula for a very long time, and I had a copy just sitting on my self. For some reason, all of this time I was reluctant and this spin just gave me the right opportunity to open it and actually read it. It took me, though, an awfully long time to finish it, but I finally did it!

Jonathan Harker, a young solicitor, travels to Transylvania, in order to meet the respectable Count Dracula. The Count has decided to purchase an estate in London, so Jonathan will help him with all of his legal dealings. The trip though is turned into a nightmare for Jonathan when he discovers the true nature of the Count, and from a guest he finds himself a prisoner. When he manages to escape and at last returns to England, he finds out that Dracula is already there and there have already been observed several weird incidents. When Doctor Van Helsing reveals with certainty the identity of the creature they are dealing with, a group of men, who suffer a great loss from the vampire, decide to hunt Dracula and kill him.

What can I say about the story? It's one of the most well-known stories, that basically put the foundation on the vampire's modern image in later literature. What made this novel really difficult to get through was the narrative. The whole book is written as diary entries, memoranda, or newspaper clippings. This would be great if it helped the story go forward, but the greatest part of these entries was taken by the descriptions of the locations, or repetitions as to what has already been said. I would like to read a scene when the Count take action, to know how he lures his victims, not just the result of him feeding on them. Another problem I had while reading this book is how some things didn't really match. For example, when Mina started to get paler each day why wouldn't any of the two doctors in the house examine her throat for possible bite marks? This has already happened with Lucy and they were both witnesses to her mysterious illness, death and her becoming undead, so I believe that it would at least be prudent to examine this possibility first. The last thing that disappointed me was that in the end the story was a little anticlimactic. The group travels to Transylvania finds the Count and it doesn't take long to kill him. I felt that it was a little rushed, especially for a book that was very descriptive up to that point.

Apart from these problems the Count is a character you were afraid of. He was menacing, manipulative, and you never were sure as to what his next actions would be. He was the right image a vampire should have. Even Lucy, when she became one, her characteristics changed and it was great to actually see a difference between the living person and the undead. From the rest of the group Van Helsing was the one I liked the best. He was not afraid to acknowledge the existence of that creature that logic dictated otherwise, he didn't reveal it though very early to the others because he was aware of how they would react. Also, Renfield was a complex character, because he acted mad, although in the end he was as sane as any man could be. The rest of the group, Jonathan Harker, doctor John Seward, Arthur Holmwood and Quincey Morris, were likable enough characters, but I didn't really cared for them that much. Mina proved to be a key character to the story, although I believe that she was depicted much too perfect a woman to be realistic.

Dracula was a major disappointment for me because I was looking forward to reading this novel. I expected to feel the horror since it's one of the classics of this genre. I have to admit that when something actually happened it did build an atmosphere equal to my expectations, but unluckily this wasn't for long. I would recommend it only if you'd be interested in reading the classics, but it might turn out to be a slow and a quite dull read.

So, my advice is...

Sharpen your teeth and fly like a bat!          

May 15, 2015

Review: MPH by Mark Millar and Duncan Fegredo

Review of the graphic novel MPH by Mark Millar
Title: MPH

Author: Mark Millar

Illustrator: Duncan Fegredo 

Publisher: Image Comics

Date of Publication: May 5th, 2015

Number of Pages: 136

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


Summary

Growing up in Detroit, Roscoe and his friends know all about hard luck. But their fates take a different turn when they stumble upon a street drug called MPH - little pills that give them the power of super speed, and the opportunity of a lifetime. Now holding the perfect Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free Card, Roscoe leads Rosa, Chevy and Baseball on a lightning-fast crime spree across the nation. But as a good guy dealt a tough hand, that's not enough for Roscoe. Before long, he and his friends are taking the fat cats for all they're worth, and sharing their take with the masses. But zooming through their riches at super-speed has a downside. The pills are running out, the Feds are cracking down, and a mysterious figure named Mr. Springfield is teaming up with the authorities, claiming to know more about the speedsters than they know about themselves. When time is your only asset, what happens when the clock runs out?

Review

When I first picked up MPH I didn't really know what expect, apart from the fact that it had an amazing cover and an interesting premise. Luckily, I wasn't disappointed at all. This comic is a must-read! You shouldn't be surprised though when you think what Mark Millar has already written, like Kick-Ass, Superman: Red Son and Kingsman: The Secret Service.

This is basically a superhero comic, but it has a realistic twist. Roscoe is a man that grew up in Detroit, is poor and works for a drug dealer. When he ends up in prison someone gives him a pill, called the MPH (does it have to do anything with miles per hour?), which makes him move really fast. The first time he took it, the scene reminded me a little of the scene with Quicksilver in X-men: Days of Future Past. The pill helps him escape the prison  and shows him a way towards a brighter future with his girlfriend Rosa, his best friend Chevy and Rosa's younger brother Baseball. They move in California and they rob banks, knowing that they only have a limited amount of pills available. Roscoe, having it hard all of his life, decides to share the money they had stolen with all the poor people across USA. It's sort of like Robin Hood with a superhuman power.

What makes this graphic novel so interesting is the fact that it feels so real. Roscoe is a man that has always been poor and is struggling to make his life better. Rosa tries to look after her brother, but it's difficult for him to stay away from the gangsters if he wants to survive. The pill offers them an opportunity and they grab it. They would do what every normal person would: they try to make enough money until they run out of drugs. The end of MPH is thrilling. It's one of the best twists and it really made this comic a must-read for me. I won't spoil it though, not even the slightest hint because it's best to be unaware of it, in order to enjoy it as much as I did.

MPH is a graphic novel worth reading. It's fast paced, has a lot of action, and likeable characters. You see the struggle Roscoe makes to be with Rosa, even though he has to go to prison and after that when they do get money and she tells him that this is wrong. Then you wonder if his decision to give all of the money to the poor is genuine or driven only from his desire to satisfy Rosa.

I would recommend MPH to anyone who is interested in comics, I believe that you will enjoy it as much as I did. It's not perfect, by any means, but its good qualities are more than enough to make it a delightful read.

So, my advice is...

Take the pill! 

May 14, 2015

ARC Review: Powerpuff Girls: Super Smash-Up!

Review of the comics The Powerpuff Girls Super Smash-up!


Title: Powerpuff Girls: Super Smash-Up!

Author: Various 

Publisher: IDW Publishing

Expected Date of Publication: August 18th, 2015

Number of Pages: 99

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


Summary

After their victory in the Super Secret Crisis War, the Powerpuff Girls take it easy with a rave VIP tour of Dexter's Laboratory! But when tag-along Dee Dee accidentally activates Dexter's newest invention, the fate of the entire multiverse is suddenly at stake! A dimensions-spanning epic into the worlds of Courage the Cowardly Dog, Cow and Chicken, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, and Dexter's Laboratory

Review

Powerpuff Girls: Super Smash-Up! is a graphic novel that is sure to transfer you back in time. I was so happy to find out that it includes so many characters from many of the most beloved Cartoon Network series, like Dexter, Courage, and Cow and Chicken. Between the main story there were a few short stories with Courage the Cowardly Dog, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, a well as a very special Mojo Jojo story and one with Dexter and Dee Dee. Finally, there is also a small cameo from The Justice Friends. The result is this crazy and totally hilarious graphic novel!

The story isn't the most original one, but it's never dull. The Powerpuff Girls visit Dexter's laboratory, in order to get a tour in exchange for a sample of the famous Chemical X. But Dexter's sister as usual creates a small accident and the Chemical X falls on her. As a result, she turns into a monster and runs into another universe. So, Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup follow Dee Dee, in order to save the multiverse from the upcoming chaos. The fact that all those characters don't exist on the same universe, and that Dexter is trying to create a multiverse transporter in order for them to communicate, really was something that fascinated me. It was exciting to try to guess in which universe they were heading next.

Dexter and Powerpuff Girls is a great combination. Adorable superhero girls, along with a boy genius. What could possibly go wrong? Along with Professor Utonium, Dee Dee and Mojo Jojo as the villain the result could never be boring. But why do all the evil ones have the self-destruction button placed in such an obvious place? 

       
To summarise, Powerpuff Girls: Super Smash-Up! is a hilarious graphic novel, with a lot of popular characters. The designs are nice and colourful and it's a book filled with action. I had a great time reading it and I would recommend it to anyone, especially if you are familiar with all those characters.

So, my advice is...

Join Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup! 

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