Sunday, 19 July 2015

Book Reviews feat. Alice Walker

My miniature (and lets face it somewhat vague) book reviews are back!  


Book reviews are usually monthly over here at Vivatramp. However, due to a pretty hectic year full of responsibilities and university commitments, my updates and reading in general both fell by the wayside. Fortunately, university is now over and I have more time on my hands to devote to books so I thought it was about time that I gave you a little round up of the reads I've experienced so far this year. I've split these reviews into two posts to make it less obvious that I have lost the ability to write decent book reviews for public consumption. If you've read any of these books, let me know in the comments because I'd love to discuss them further. 


vivatramp book blog once alice walker book review

1. once by alice walker (1976) 

FINISHED: 03/1/15 | ISBN: 0704340305 PAGES: 96

I thought The Color Purple was an absolutely incredible novel so I guess it was only a matter of time before I branched out and read other things by Walker. Interestingly, I had no idea that  she also wrote poetry until I stumbled across this collection, which is kind of worrying because I wrote a paper on her a few years ago. Eek...


I sailed through this collection in an afternoon, and I really enjoyed my reading experience. Walker writes with conviction and each poem takes you to another corner of her world, whether that's an afternoon in East Africa or in the college halls during her senior year. I had great fun performing this poetry aloud and that's a testament to her craft. Read it if you're a fan of Walker.


RATING: 



raymond carver would you please be quiet please book review uk book lifestyle blog

2. will you please be quiet, please? by raymond carver (1976) 

FINISHED: 29/1/15 | ISBN: 0679735690 PAGES: 251

I have a soft spot for Carver, which is weird because he's not exactly the sort of person that I'd expect myself to endure let alone take a shine to. 


This was his first collection of short stories and, whilst it is not as accomplished as his later works, I really enjoyed reading it. Carver writes ordinary people, often in very ordinary situations, but he does so in a way that just absolutely fascinates me. His writing is so sparse despite him tackling subjects that are so dense and I really enjoy that juxtaposition as a reader. Carver's ability to write short stories is a billion times better than my ability to review him, you'll be glad to know. 


I wouldn't really recommend Carver n00bs starting with this collection, simply because he has written better stories, but I would definitely recommend reading it post-What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, because there are still some highlights. I'm going to read everything he has written and I am probably going to enjoy it. 


RATING: 



uk lifestyle blog book blog vivatramp just kids patti smith book review

3. just kids by patti smith (2010)  

FINISHED: 26/2/15 | ISBN: 0060936223 PAGES: 320
The legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies. 


This is one of my favourite books of all time and I know that I am going to struggle to finds words good enough to do this memoir justice so I'm just going to brain fart a paragraph out. You have been warned! 

My copy is littered with pencil scratches underlining words and phrases that I desperately want to commit to memory, even though I know that is impossible and this book is going to warrant a million re-readings before I can truly capture it in its entirety. Smith writes with ease, seamlessly weaving musings on art and literature with numerous anecdotes of trauma and hardship and she does so with a delicacy that weirdly made me feel comforted throughout. I always wondered whether readers were ever really 'captivated', always thinking that it felt a little overstated a word to use. Bullshit. Patti captivated me from the first page to the last. Just Kids was an incredible read that I had difficulty leaving simply because I didn't feel ready to leave her world just yet, however grimey or unsafe or upsetting it was at times. 


Read this a billion times over and then read it a billion times more. 


RATING: 


saga brian k vaughan book haul graphic novel book review vivatramp bee uk lifestyle book blog

4. saga volume 1 by brian k. vaughan & fiona staples (2012)  

FINISHED: 06/03/15 | ISBN: 1607066017  PAGES: 160
When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. 

And now to gush over my second favourite discovery of the year: Saga. 



Everyone had been discussing Saga for years but I put the blinkers on and chose to ignore it thinking it was something that wouldn't interest me, maybe, or perhaps be a bit too fantastical for my taste. I was a huge idiot. I loved everything about this volume, from the beautiful artwork to the fact that it felt like I was being welcomed with open arms into a world that was so enormous and so corrupt and so strange that I had to rush out and buy the next volume as soon as I had closed the final page of this one. I enjoyed getting to know Alana and Marko, the two main characters, and I was totally rooting for them from the first page (which, interestingly, involves childbirth). 

If you like graphic novels but you haven't read Saga, read it. If you don't like graphic novels, read it. If you have no opinion on graphic novels, read it. 

RATING: 


outcast robert kirkman graphic novel book reviews blog book lifestyle blog vivatramp bee uk book haul

5. outcast by kirkman & azceta  (2015)

FINISHED: 06/03/15 | ISBN: 1632150530 PAGES: 152
Kyle Barnes has been plagued by demonic possession all his life and now he needs answers. Unfortunately, what he uncovers along the way could bring about the end of life on Earth as we know it. 


I stumbled across this graphic novel knowing very little about the story but was instantly swayed by Kirkman's (of The Walking Dead series fame) name on the front and the beautiful cover design.

The Outcast is true to its genre in that the dark and unsettling plot is complemented by equally brooding artwork. As is typical of Kirkman's work, or at least the very little that I have read of it, this was an incredibly fast paced introduction to the characters and, as such, it covers a hell of a lot in a short space of time. Of course, this can be either a pro or a con depending on the reader. I think he just got away with it. 

This volume was evocative and left me with lots of questions that I want answers to; however, I will admit to the fact that I can't really remember much of what went on in it as I sit here 4 months down the line. That is an issue that I have with a lot of things though, so it's probably not a reflection on the plot! Give it a go if it piques your interest! 

RATING: 

saga book graphic novel review book blog vivatramp uk

6. SAGA VOLUME 2 BY BRIAN K. VAUGHAN & FIONA STAPLES 

FINISHED: 06/03/15 | ISBN: 1632150190 PAGES: 144

This is where I start to wish that I had written down some coherent notes about each of the Saga volumes instead of just scrawling 'OMG THIS SERIES IS JUST SO GREAT!!!' in my notebook. What I do remember liking about this volume, however, is the development of characters both familiar and new. 


 It's very rare that I give a book 5 stars. It's very rare that I then give its follow up 5 stars. Read this series, guys.  


RATING: ★★
vivatramp book blogs uk the wicked and the divine review graphic novels lifestyle blogs

7. THE WICKED + THE DIVINE BY JAMIE MCKELVIE & KIERON GILLEN  (2014)

FINISHED: 07/03/15 | ISBN: 1632150190 PAGES: 144
Everyone 90 years or so, twelve gods incarnate in the bodies of the young. They are charismatic and brilliant. They stand before crowds, speak in tongues, and send them into rapture. They're rumored to perform secretive miracles. They saw people's lives, either metaphorically or literally. They are loved. They are hated. They are brilliant. Within two years, they're dead. 

Uhhh. Oh dear. 


The artwork was so promising. So so promising! There were panels that I would quite happily wallpaper my walls with and the portraits...oh, the portraits! I also liked the bi and trans visibility present in this volume. Unfortunately, the story, for me, was really really weak and if I'm honest a little confusing! I didn't warm to any of the characters and, as such, I didn't enjoy my reading experience. I could sort of see what they were going for tone-wise but it just wasn't my bag. 


Save your money. Buy Saga.


RATING: 

vivatramp uk lifestyle blog

8. REASONS TO STAY ALIVE BY MATT HAIG 

FINISHED: 14/03/15 | ISBN: 1782115080 PAGES: 266
In the western world the suicide rate is highest amongst men under the age of 35. Matt Haig could've added to that statistic when, aged 24, he found himself starting at a cliff edge about to jump off. This is the story of why he didn't, how he recovered and learned to live with anxiety and depression. It's also an upbeat, joyous and very funny exploration of how to live better, love better, read better and feel more. 

As someone with depression and anxiety, I was intrigued by this book and I ordered it as soon as I could (especially once it had been noted that I make a brief and typo-full cameo in it!). 


If you struggle with mental health issues, you'll know how sometimes it can take all of your words from you, making it impossible to share your experience even if you wanted to. I guess that is the one thing I admired about this book: the way Haig managed to share his experience following a breakdown aged 24. This book may be quite interesting to those that struggle to comprehend depression and anxiety, and I'm sure it'll go some way to comfort sufferers particularly as it's told through short manageable chapters. However, I just left it feeling a bit meh. I don't know. I guess we all have our own individual experiences and our own ways of approaching and dealing with things. I just felt that some of the pages were a little too twee and, dare I say it, a little too tacky inspirational sign for me. Eek. That's just my personal opinion. 



Anyway, I respect people for sharing their stories and experiences in ways that they feel comfortable so I respect him for writing this book. I also respect it for the conversations that I'm sure it has started between loved ones. However, I guess it just wasn't for me at this stage of my life and my illness.

RATING: 

If you'd like to scroll through all of my book blog posts then you can. Or, alternatively, you could just flick through my book reviews instead.

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5 comments

  1. I love Just Kids and need to re-read it soon!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Really love reading your reviews!

    http://wiltedxfaded.blogspot.co.uk/

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  3. I love your reviews and all of these books look really good. Just Kids was such a favorite. I didn't know Alice Walker wrote poetry but now I am curious!

    Claire
    www.augustlikethemonth.blogspot.com

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  4. Just Kids is so utterly wonderful <3

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  5. These are ridiculously helpful reviews and I can add them to my never ending must read list

    A Little bit Unique // Instagram //
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