Friday, March 20, 2015

Book Haul!

Helloooo everyone!


I really shouldn't have a book haul today. I just have no willpower. Anyway, I actually went to the store thinking that I would pick up Anna Karenina but ended up putting that off for now... It's such a big book, and I'm not sure whether I'll like it or not, so I decided that I'll borrow it or get it from Project Gutenberg.

That said, I have three books today! And two that caught my eye...

So anyone who has read previous posts of mine will know that I recently picked up Hollow City by Ransom Riggs... And given how beautiful the second one was, I had to pick up the first, Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children! Now I'll have a matched set, which makes me super happy.

Then I have this lovely copy of Little Women. Now, I actually need to check at home to see if my grandmother still has her copy of this book, because it was quite old... But I wanted my own, and the cover of this one is quite gorgeous. Little Women is one of my favourite books, and I adore the movie with Winona Ryder... Only thing I disagree with is how things went for Jo and Amy, but that's for another post. :P

The third book here may surprise some of you, because I have not read it...

Yes, that is One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey. Idk, somehow I just didn't end up reading this one! I guess I'm working on that list of 'classics everyone should read'. :P I hope to read this soon and post a review for you guys to check out.

Lastly, I have the two books I caught sight of in the store:

My foray into bookstores recently has reminded me of just how beautiful some books are. I mean... Look at this beauty! This is a collection of some of Austen's earliest works, and from what I can tell the book is meant to be a replica of an actual book out there, down to the cover and the pages inside. Seriously gorgeous, it has her handwriting and everything. If you know any Austen fanatics this would be a great choice, imo.

This is a book that I may pick up at some point in the future, but my goal was to not spend too much today. Dreamwalker is a book about dragons - if you couldn't tell by the cover - and not only did the cover catch my eye, but it sounded pretty interesting, too! Man, if I bought half the books in the bookstore that I wanted... Well. I wouldn't have any room in my apartment. :P

So that's all for today! I hope to have some reviews to post shortly. :)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Review: The Sculptor by Scott McCloud

Title: The Sculptor
Author: Scott McCloud
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: February 3rd, 2015
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: Four Stars

Summary: David Smith is giving his life for his art—literally. Thanks to a deal with Death, the young sculptor gets his childhood wish: to sculpt anything he can imagine with his bare hands. But now that he only has 200 days to live, deciding  what  to create is harder than he thought, and discovering the love of his life at the 11th hour isn't making it any easier!

This is a story of desire taken to the edge of reason and beyond; of the frantic, clumsy dance steps of young love; and a gorgeous, street-level portrait of the world's greatest city. It's about the small, warm, human moments of everyday life…and the great surging forces that lie just under the surface. Scott McCloud wrote the book on how comics work; now he vaults into great fiction with a breathtaking, funny, and unforgettable new work.

Review:  This book just so happens to be the first graphic novel I have ever read, and I must say that it was the perfect place to start :)

Let's get into it, shall we?

I loved this book, honestly. First of all, I love the artwork. The shades of blue, the facial expressions, the artistry... It's fantastic and really worked for me. Maybe that's something that's just taken for granted in the graphic novel world, I really don't know - like I said, first one! But the style here just really worked for me, all in blue-black tones that convey so much - the surreal qualities of the world we're reading about, the depths of David's emotions. 

I've included a picture of the front and back covers, here, just to give you an idea... The cover really doesn't do it justice, imo. I know some people don't like the monotone artwork but I loved it. 

Some very good criticisms have been leveled at this book, and many of them are accurate. Is this book a bit predictable in ways? Yup. Does it fall prey to the usual tropes of the tortured artist and the manic pixie dream-girl? Yup.

Here's the thing, though - a very important thing that I think some people forget - acknowledging the flaws in a work of art doesn't necessarily mean that it's unlikeable. Now, do tropes and flaws ever mean that we find it impossible to read a book or enjoy the story? Of course. That happens all the time. However, that's not always the case, and that was the situation with me, here.

David is absolutely the epitome of the tortured artist. He gives up what remains of his life to have a chance at attaining the level of artistry he's always dreamed of, only to struggle when he doesn't find instant satisfaction and completion the way that he expects to. He's had a rough childhood and a rougher adulthood, and on top of that, the course of love never did run smooth...

Then we have Meg. Meg is another artist, she sleeps through her friends like that's totally normal (hey, in some circles it is), she pushes people away but doesn't want them to ~leave her~, she's got mental health issues and in spite of all of this everyone loves her.

In spite of it all, though, I loved this book. It moved me. I rooted for David, I cared about his friendships, I wanted things to go right for him, both in art and elsewhere. I knew what was coming but held my breath against the inevitability of it all, because it didn't seem fair. The book touches on family and life and love and art and what it means to be alive, the decisions and the choices we make and how they shape us as people. It's a journey of growth and birth and death.

And when I closed the last page the first thing I thought was that I wanted to read it again.

This book definitely has its flaws, and some people may rightfully find it difficult to get past them and enjoy the story. For me it worked, though, and for some other people out there it may work as well. I'd recommend giving it a chance, at least!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Review: Painless by S. A. Harazin

Title: Painless
Author: S. A. Harazin
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Publication Date: March 1st, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: Three Stars
Summary: A first kiss. Falling in love. Going to prom. These are all normal things that most teenagers experience. Except for 17-year-old David Hart. His life is anything but normal and more difficult than most. Because of the disease that wracks his body, David is unable to feel pain. He has congenital insensitivity to pain with anhydrosis--or CIPA for short. 
One of only a handful of people in the world who suffer from CIPA, David can't do the things every teenager does. He might accidentally break a limb and not know it. If he stands too close to a campfire, he could burn his skin and never feel it. He can't tell if he has a fever and his temperature is rising. 
Abandoned by his parents, David now lives with his elderly grandmother who is dying. When David's legal guardian tells him that he needs to move into an assisted living facility as he cannot live alone, David is determined to prove him wrong. He creates a bucket list, meets a girl with her own wish list, and then sets out to find his parents. All David wants to do is grow old, beat the odds, find love, travel the world, and see something spectacular. And he still wants to find his parents. While he still can.
What an odd, melancholy book this was.

David is a teenager with CIPA, a genetic condition that means that he doesn't feel pain, and he also doesn't sweat. His whole life has been a journey of having to be careful, worrying about hurting himself, and knowing that he puts those around him through difficulties due to his condition.

The book takes us on an exploration of what life is like for David - the way his social skills have suffered, his tenuous relationships with his guardian and friends, his reliance on his grandmother, who just might be the one person in the world who doesn't look at him and just see his condition.

With the threat of being put in assisted living looming over his head, David wants to live his life and accomplish all the things that normal teenagers dream - meet a girl, live on his own, swim in the ocean. The sort of bucket list that's pretty average, except that David's condition makes it anything but average.

The story is a mixture of romance, growing up, angsty road trip and self discovery, and surprisingly enough, it worked okay for me. I'm generally not a fan of road-trip books - I don't know why, but just hearing that a book has a road trip is enough to turn me off a bit. This story worked for me, though, maybe because I can identify with the kid who doesn't know why their parents didn't want them.

There were parts of the book that didn't go over so well, though. It honestly dragged in spots, and I found himself wondering where it was going, and what the point was, and when we were going to get there. The ebook copy I have is 300 pages and I feel like a good 50 should have been shaved off, or more content should have been added. It meanders and I wasn't really sure what the point was, even though I think that the author was aiming for a general story of growing up and self discovery. I shouldn't wonder that, though, the book should make it clear to me.

The ending also just left me kind of cold, to be honest... On one level, I get that it's a moment of self discovery for David, and it's about independence and self-reliance. The climax of the book actually worked for me, in that way. But then I got to the last few pages and I was just sort of left wondering what I'd just read, and was that really the ending? I don't know. It's the sort of non-ending that can be executed well, and I can see the attempt here, but it just didn't work for me.

Overall, I'd say that it was 'okay', but not really a book I would consider rereading. The meandering and the weak ending will push it down many people's lists, I think.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Tiny book haul!

So I was very proud of myself the other day - I went into Chapters looking for A Darker Shade Of Magic, which was out of stock - and I actually did not buy anything else!

However I cracked today when I was in Shoppers Drugmart, of all places... They had some books on for 25% off! And I couldn't resist.

As a sidenote, do you know what's dumb? Well, first of all, buying books when you have over 1k on your TBR list on Goodreads (hey, that's every book that I've ever encountered on there that I might be interested in reading) and at least fourteen physical books waiting for your attention.

So there's that.

Then there's buying a book that is actually the second in a series when you haven't read the first... But we'll get to that in a minute.

So here we have Hollow City - The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and The Book Of Negroes by Lawrence Hill.

I'll be honest, I wasn't intending on buying The Book Of Negroes. It was a book that I intended on reading, of course! But it wasn't high up there. Still, something about it appealed to me in the store, and it has good reviews from people I trust on GR, so I picked it up. How could I resist $12.99? :)

Now, let's talk about this second book... I'll be honest, I bought this book because it's beautiful.

I mean, look at this image. That dark background, the white, jagged writing, the tunnel in the background... Ugh, it's so gothic and awesome.

And look at these illustrations! I love books that have this sort of stuff in them. I somehow missed the fact that they are also present in the first book, otherwise I wouldn't have put off reading it for so long.

So, as you may be able to guess, I just couldn't resist how utterly gorgeous this second book is. I've been meaning to read Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children for quite awhile, but somehow never got around to it - that's about to change :) And then I'll be able to move on to this gorgeous copy of the second one!

So those are my two purchases for today, so hopefully this will break the slump that I've been in :) I have quite a pile of ARCs that I need to get to so they are next on my list.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Reading Slump :(

I am going through a bit of a reading slump :( The last book I finished was Flowers For Algernon. It's odd, this happened around the same time last year, too!

Anyway, I'm hoping that this week if I focus when I get home from work I'll be able to work on some books - it's not that I don't have anything interesting to read, it's just that other things keep distracting me in the first place!

On a side note, I ordered a new camera which should be arriving in the next few weeks... Maybe I'll take the plunge and do a video! We'll see.

At any rate, I'm still around! I think the next book I read will either be Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake, Unhinged by A. G. Howard, or Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Wish me luck!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Book Haul!

I have a tiny book haul today! Actually, I have a couple of books to mention from my last haul, too... Let's do those first!

As you can see, this is the trip where I bought Flowers For Algernon. Complete impulse buy but totally worth it! And I also picked up Forge Of Darkness by Steven Erikson... I don't know whether you can see in the image, but he's the guy who wrote the Malazan series. Epic fantasy, basically. We'll see how I like it! I think this is also the trip where I bought Written In Red by Anne Bishop, but I don't seem to have taken a picture. Anyway, if you want to know more you should check it out over here! She just so happens to be the author of one of my favourite series ever - The Black Jewels books - and I hope this one lives up to my expectations.

Now, moving on to today, the first book I got for a very specific purpose, and I'm going to be using it in a month... :D
Yes, I am going to London!!! I am going in April and I am so excited! I'll be travelling with a good friend of mine are we are starting (after some unavoidable delays) to make plans and things. I love history and I'm really looking forward to having a week to spend in this city!

Of course, it wouldn't be a trip to a bookstore without an unintentional purchase... But I just couldn't help it! There was a display in Chapters of 'fairy-tale' books, and this one just popped out at me! It's Little, Big by John Rowley. And it's gorgeous inside, too: 

I mean, I'm a sucker for things like that :D It's just so pretty.

And finally, this lovely:

American Dervish, by Ayad Akhtar. I'm going to be honest, I picked this up because it was $5.99. :P It looks interesting, though - seems to be a mixture of romance and religion, which should be interesting.

Hmm. It just occurred to me that I didn't check out Goodreads for either of these! They both could have horrible reviews, haha. But then, I used to pick out books based on my own thoughts all the time... :) Just covers and blurbs and that's it! No harm in seeing how my tastes lead me.

And that's what I picked up today! I do have some pictures to post for some books that caught my eye, though... I will post those later tonight or tomorrow :)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

February Wrap-Up!

Wow, February just flew by! I feel like I could have done better on the reading front in February, but March is a whole new month... :) Hopefully I don't have the slump from April to September that I did last year, that was no fun at all.

So here's what I read this month!

First up is Peter And The Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. This was the book that I started off February with, and it was a fun, light-hearted read! I gave it four stars, and you can find my review over here on Goodreads. This is the first book in a series and I plan to check out the others at some point.

Next was Riding The Odds by Lynda K Scott. Science fiction/fantasy with romance, always something I keep an eye out for! I gave this one three stars and you can find it here on my blog. This was a fun read - when all else fells, romance usually pulls me in!

Next was... To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee! Yes, I know. Somehow I escaped reading this as I was growing up - maybe because I'm in Canada? Anyway, I have a confession to make - I actually tried to read this last year and completely failed. With the announcement that there's a new book coming out this July, though, I decided that it was time that I finished it. I enjoyed it, and gave it 3.5 stars (mostly because the ending felt a bit abrupt). So that's one classic down!

From there I went on to something entirely different...

Arguably my favourite book this month!! I had had my eye on this for awhile, drawn by the cover and the synopsis. See, once upon a time - before the show dragged on about six years too long - I used to be a huge fan of Supernatural. This book reminds me a lot of that, and I wouldn't be surprised if the author was inspired by the show. It's entirely unique, though, and I really loved it. My review is here and I gave it five stars!

One book that I have rather deliberately ignored this year is All The Bright Places, mostly because I don't think the world needs another The Fault In Our Stars, if I'm honest. I was curious about My Heart & Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga, though, because I don't think depression is explored often enough in young adult books, at least not in a thorough enough fashion. There were things I liked about this book but also things that I really disagreed with. I gave it three stars and my review is over here.

<3 this book. The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey is one of those books that manages to be poignant and yet still make you laugh. It was rather insightful and I think I'd say that it's my second favourite out of the books I read in February. My review is here on my blog.

Of Metal And Wishes is a Phantom Of The Opera retelling, and I had high hopes for it... I ended up giving it three stars, though. I didn't actually write a review of it, if you want an idea what I would do is read this review and this one, both written by two reviewers I respect quite a bit. Mash the two of them together and you'll find me in the middle. :P

From there I moved to another solid three star book:

This one was a case of definite cover lust for me... Has been since I first spotted this book a couple of years ago! I enjoyed this but it wasn't quite as good as I had hoped - I'm crossing my fingers that I'll find the other two to be an improvement. My review is over here.

Okay... Only two more, I promise!

Yes, this is the cover of the one that I got in the set that I posted about earlier this month <3 I love them so much, they are so easy to carry around and read. Do I really need to say more about the book itself? Five stars, I quite enjoyed it. I'm currently working on The Fellowship and hope to post a review when I'm done that one.

And last but not least...

Okay, I'm sorry but I lied earlier, because this is my favourite out of the books I read in February. I'm sure that many of you read Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes when you were in elementary or highschool, either as the short story or as the book. I loved it, to be quite honest. It was moving, thought provoking, and made me cry. If you haven't read it, please do... And in the meantime, you can find my review here. This is a book that has made its way on to my 'to reread' list, which is rare.

So there you go! That's what I read in February - not too bad, if not as good as January - and I'm looking forward to March!