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Hi everyone,

 

I thought a blog would be a great way to exchange book recommendations as I love reading and writing reviews. I've also started putting pen to paper, and have recently completed a creative writing course. Maybe you'll be reading one of my books down the line!?

 

If you want to share about what you're reading, or anything at all for that matter, let loose and go for it!

Saga: Volume One by Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples

Saga, Volume 1 - Fiona Staples, Brian K. Vaughan

Saga was mentioned a lot in round-ups of the best books of 2016 and I loved the sound of this graphic novel about a young family fighting to save their place in the worlds. It was described as a sexy, subversive read for adults and a wedding between sci-fi and fantasy.

 

Right from the beginning this seemed pretty bizarre; one of the protagonists has horns so basically looks like a ram. He’s called Marko. Marko and his wife, Alana, are from waring worlds and are being hunted so as to break them apart. The guy who’s orchestrating this hunt has a T.V. for a head (?)  so again, pretty bizarre.

 

The first scene is of Marko’s wife Alana giving birth to her daughter, Hazel, who narrates some of the events from the future. It’s spliced through with humour which helped me connect with it. It’s such a human story that we can all understand and empathise with, lovers fighting to stay together.

 

Another thing to mention is the artwork, which I was very impressed with. I loved how detailed it was and the colouring really set it off.

 

I enjoyed how a sci-fi/fantasy narrative was made so human by the edition of the two protagonists and I liked how it progressed, but it was so strange that I don’t know if I’d necessarily read more. It was definitely very good though and a great book to unwind with

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Books...

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The Grapes Of Wrath (Macmillan Readers) - Margaret Tarner, John Steinbeck

I’ve struggled with the thought of putting my ideas about The Grapes of Wrath down on paper because, what on earth can I say about such a great book? And what insights could I possibly give that haven’t already been said? I doubt I can excel in either regard, but I’ll relate some of my thoughts.

 

I’ve wanted to read something by John Steinbeck for a while now. I was planning to try Of Mice and Men, but my friend recommended this. I didn’t know much about it and went in more-or-less completely blind which enhanced its effect.

 

For anyone who doesn’t know, Grapes of Wrath concerns the Joads, a family who have been run off their farm and are forced to go to California in search of work. They have a flier advertising work fruit picking and believe securing this job will provide for them exponentially. The whole family then begins the journey south. Most of the novel charts this journey with a portion at the end depicting their time in California.

 

Even though I didn’t feel a great bond with any of the Joads, I felt intimately acquainted with their struggles. Their story charted the changing climate towards greed that we are all familiar with. Grapes of Wrath shows how that pendant to greed strips away humanity. It depicts how one set of men’s desires have devastating consequences on anothers needs.

 

The Joads were at once insightful and naïve. When any outsider tried to tell them about the conditions in California they would meet, they refused to believe it. Of course these claims did have a mounting effect on the Joad’s and a main reason they wouldn’t accept what they were being told is that this future was inescapable for them regardless.

When discussing naivety I can’t fail to mention Rose of Sharon. She really got to me when she believed that stupid hag at the government camp, but then that heart-breaking ending hit and she completely redeemed herself.

 

As I said, the Joad’s were also very insightful in regards to human behaviour. For example this piece of wisdom from Ma Joad was something I really connected with.

 

If you’re in trouble or hurt or need-go to poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help-the only ones.

 

This book will always stay with me, not as a warning to what humanity can become, because they’ve already reached it, but as an example of the devastating effects greed can have.

Reading progress update: I've read 224 out of 224 pages.

Essex County Vol. 2: Ghost Stories - Jeff Lemire

Volume 2 of the graphic novel, Essex County, followed the life of two brothers. It was really sad but very good, even better than the first. Full review to follow.

Reading...

Essex County Vol one: Tales From the Farm by Jeff Lemire

Essex County Vol. 1: Tales from the Farm - Jeff Lemire

I finished this graphic novel a week or more ago and I’ve been thinking about it a lot since. It had so much heart and each element, be it characters or story, had such depth that it’s stayed with me.

 

The story is about Lester, a young boy who loves superheroes and comics. He always wears a mask and cape even though he gets bullied for it. I really liked the fact he always wore this as I really sympathised with the idea he had that clothing shielded him and gave him strength.

 

When we meet Lester he’s living with his uncle and during a series of flash backs we find out this is because his mother recently died. Lester’s having a hard time adjusting to living with his uncle and escapes into comics in an effort to create some distance from it. When his uncle takes him out to the gas station he meets Jim, a guy who once played hockey briefly for a well-known team and someone the locals think is a bit strange, including Lester’s uncle. He befriends Lester and the two of them get to know each other while Lester scouts the area for an alien invasion.

 

The artwork was black and white which really suited the style of story. The lack of colour lent the novel gravity. The artwork itself was a bit strange and hard to get used to at first, but the simplicity made it feel more raw and somehow more real. Some pages were just artwork and no dialogue.

 

What I really loved was the relationships between Lester and these two men. Themes such as loneliness and grief were explored in this context and the characters grew as a subsequence of their relationship with Lester.

 

A satisfying read that I’ll always remember. I’m starting volume two now.

Reading progress update: I've read 25%.

A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman

I'm reading this for my book club and I'm glad they picked it as I may have not read it otherwise. It's really sweet and I can see why people loved it so much.

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Reading progress update: I've read 77 out of 160 pages.

Saga, Volume 1 - Fiona Staples, Brian K. Vaughan

I've been seeing this everywhere recently, so decided to give it a go. It's the story of a man and women who shouldn't have gotten together because they were on opposings side of an interstellar war, but did. They even had a child together and are now being hunted. So far the story and artwork are very good.

Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

Down and Out in Paris and London - George Orwell

I recently decided that I’m going to read all of George Orwell’s works this year. I’ve already read 1984 and Animal Farm (which I loved) and decided this would be the first book of his I tackled this year.

 

Down and Out in Paris and London is semi-autobiographical. It’s about the time Orwell spent in Paris and London out of work. Apparently the events described happened, but not in the order they’re related.

 

Firstly it tracks his time in Paris in the early 1900’s when he’s out of work and struggling to survive. He not only captures the harshness of poverty, but tells some very personal tales about the people he meets, making the book more human. During the latter section of this first part he secures work in a restaurant and describes the workings of such an establishment. He also relates the harshness of work as a plongeur (as he was) and the hierarchical structure.

 

At roughly halfway through he travels to London, his home, under the promise of a job. However, this job is delayed by a month and he subsequently has to survive thirty days in poverty.

 

The degradation and harshness of poverty was fully explored, but related in sparse prose meaning that it was always readable, even though it was emotionally charged. This sparse style is what made it so readable, but also its downfall as I felt removed at times.

 

I loved how vile circumstances were made more palatable by the addition of human stories. These stories were at times hilarious and heartfelt.

 

Orwell, being known for his political views, advocated his own solution to part of the poverty problem, informed by what he witnessed in London. It was nice to see how he would tackle societal problems as it gave more of an indication of Orwell the man.

Reading progress update: I've read 64%.

The Grapes Of Wrath (Macmillan Readers) - Margaret Tarner, John Steinbeck

So depressing, but so good.

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Currently reading

Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Essex County Vol. 2: Ghost Stories by Jeff Lemire
Progress: 224/224pages
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Progress: 10%
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Progress: 100%
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle
Progress: 124/236pages