Hello all! My wrap-ups are always so late… I must endeavour to write my mini-reviews as I go along! January was a fairly good reading month for me. I got through 2 novels, 4 graphic novels, 1 non-fiction book and 1 children’s picture book.
1. The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith
This was my first book of the year and what a wonderful one to begin with. It follows a fox whose only friend is a star. The star disappears one day and the fox goes on a journey to find its friend. It’s an incredible book; the story is lovely, the illustrations are divine and look at that cover! The bookseller in Waterstones informed us (Fran and I) that it was their “Book of the Year” and the first children’s book to be awarded that title. I can truly say that it deserves that accolade. 5/5
2. Extreme Ironing by Paul Shaw
This book details the sport of extreme ironing which is exactly what it sounds like. People iron in extreme locations and conditions, for instance, underwater, on a mountain or up in a tree. This book was interesting, albeit a little dated, so I am unsure of whether this sport is still gathering interest to this day. But it is always good to read something different and this was perfect to read for my bus journey. 3/5
3. Fables, Vol. 2: Animal Farm by Bill Willingham
This volume of Fables delves deeper into the goings-on at The Farm in upstate New York, where the Fables who can’t pass as human have to live. However, some of them are unhappy with this set-up, branding The Farm a prison and a revolt is soon under way. Bill Willingham provides an interesting take on our favourite characters from fairy-tales and folklore with a dark and gritty twist. I really enjoyed this volume and liked it more than the first one. The allusions to Animal Farm by George Orwell (confession time: I have not read Orwell’s Animal Farm, but I have seen the film…) are done extremely well and despite exploring very serious subject matters, Willingham allows for some great humour along the way. I found this story arc to be a particular strong one, and despite not loving the artwork, the story more than made up for that. 5/5
4. The Walking Dead, Vol 3. Safety Behind Bars by Robert Kirkman
Rick and the gang investigate the prison they stumbled upon at the end of Vol.2 and find four prisoners there living it large (in an “OMG! IT’S THE ZOMBIE APOCALYSE AND YOU HAVE CANNED GOODS” kind of way). There are still zombies in some parts of the prison, so Rick and the gang (as I am wont to call them) begin clearing it out, thinking the place could be a safe haven for them once it’s all nice and shiny and zombie-free. But of course, it’s only Vol. 3 so it can’t be all sunshine and rainbows. In fact, I found this volume to be the darkest yet. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I like these comics because of the social commentary; there are a lot of ethical dilemmas in this volume that I really enjoyed reading about. It makes you think; if I were in this situation, what would I do? I found the pacing of this volume a bit too slow, but the story was solid and thought-provoking, with many shocking moments. 4/5
5. The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett
I read this book as part of a readalong with Fran from Jar of Books. The first two-thirds of this book were incredible; the world-building was excellent, the character development was engaging and the plot was intriguing. I was so ready to give this book five stars until the last third of the book when:
- the female lead character Leesha, who up to that point was characterised really well, seemingly undergoes a character transplant.
- the romance in this book happened WAY too quickly and at an utterly unbelievable time (I can’t say any more than that because spoilers… but seriously believe me, I was shocked at this part of the book)
- there is a big gap in Arlen’s storyline which I would have loved to have seen and I’m holding out for this to appear in the second book.
I was teetering between giving this book 3 and 4 stars, because of the above. Seeing as I really enjoyed the first two thirds of the book, and the fact that I think the idea behind The Demon Cycle is truly epic, I’m hopeful for the next two books. 4/5
6. Fables, Vol. 3: Storybook Love by Bill Willingham
This volume explores the messiness of relationships between several of the Fables as the aftermath of the revolt from the last volume is playing out. A lot happens in this volume and it includes two short stories before the main plot line continues which were also enjoyable. The story is interesting and I liked the character development, especially the dramatic irony involving Prince Charming but story skipped around a bit too much for me to maintain my enjoyment as much as Animal Farm did. That said, there are some particularly interesting plot developments and I’m interested to see where they lead. 3/5
7. The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins
Dave is a hairless man (apart from his eyebrows and one hair above his lip) who lives on the island of Here. Here is surrounded by ‘The Sea’ and beyond The Sea is ‘There’. There is bad. There is evil. There represents everything that Here is not. Dave then sprouts a beard, but this is no ordinary beard. This beard grows at an unbelievable rate and cannot be cut. The consequences of this gigantic beard on Here are played out and the ideas of alienation and xenophobia explored. Unfortunately, I didn’t care much for the plot of this graphic novel. There wasn’t much in the way of characterisation and Dave seemed like a characterless vessel for the artist to get across his idea. I thought the artwork was quirky and really well done and the graphic novel is rather poetic, but overall, just not my cup of tea. 3/5
8. The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White
I read this as my Library Scavenger Hunt book which was to read a book with an arrow on it. This book has the world’s tiniest arrow on it, (it’s a golden arrow near the bottom left. I’ve enlarged the image so you can see it…) but it counts, so yay! T.H. White explores Arthur’s childhood in this witty novel with anachronistic tendencies. I enjoyed this overall, though I found it a bit challenging. I had to stop several times to look up the meaning of words which made my reading of this book rather disjointed. If you are not familiar with the terms of falconry, hunting, jousting and medieval England, then keep a dictionary handy when reading this. That said, this novel was worth it. It provided some great laugh out loud moments and the overall story was delightful. I think I will get even more enjoyment out of this with a second read now that I understand some of the vocabulary and I think that I may even understand that a lot more of the references are actually funnier than I previously thought! I can’t say I’m in a hurry to read the other books of The Once and Future King though. 3/5
And that’s 8 books in total – GO ME! I’ll be travelling a lot in the next couple of months which makes it harder to read as I’ll be driving a lot, but I have got my very first audiobook ready for my drives so I’ll let you know how I get on with that.
The Kindle TBR Jar is complete! (What do you think?!)
I have picked the book I am going to read in the month of February…
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan.
I have read a few of Green’s books but I’ve never read anything by Levithan before, so I’m hoping this will be interesting!
That’s all from me. Thanks for reading!
SSJ Time Lord