Sunday, 2 August 2015

Book Reviews feat. J. California Cooper

I am well and truly back in my little reading bubble and I couldn't be happier. 

I am also currently on a self-imposed book buying ban, well...I say 'self-imposed'. Is it still 'self-imposed' when it's basically my bank balance telling me that I physically can't buy books rather than me taking some sort of high ground and telling myself to chill out a bit?! Anyway. I'm really enjoying picking out unread books from my shelves to read at my leisure, which is a good thing because according to my Goodreads there are over 100 books for me to get through. Eek! I haven't bought books for a couple of months now but due to my birthday last month and a bounty of bookish blogger mail I'll have a belated June / July book haul up for you when I can be arsed to take all the photographs for it so look out for that!  #problogger 

Now that  I've caught up with all of my book reviews for the year so far, I'm hoping to return to posting them monthly again so you can get some more frequent bookish inspiration and that way we can all discuss books even more often! How does that sound? Read part one of my 2015 miniature book reviews if you haven't already done so and be sure to start a conversation in the comments because I'm still in recovery and I talk to the same four people within the same four walls day in day out. Hai, family! 


saga volume three

9. SAGA VOLUME 3BY BRIAN K. VAUGHAN & FIONA STAPLES 

FINISHED: 08/04/15 | ISBN: 1607069318 PAGES: 144

Things got a lot more intense with this volume but in the best way. 


I enjoyed this volume just as much as the two previous ones, if not moreso. There's something incredibly empowering in reading about women and girls who are strong willed and powerful and protective, particularly after years of having to read women on the sidelines! 


I love how unafraid this series is of covering big topics such as race and sexuality and how it does so in what I consider to be such honest and authentic ways. It's funny, fast paced and full of incredible world building. Give Saga a go, guys!  


RATING: ★★★★ 


saga volume four

10. SAGA VOLUME 4 BY BRIAN K. VAUGHAN & FIONA STAPLES 

FINISHED: 08/04/15 | ISBN:1632150778  PAGES: 152

Saga is brave, bold and ridiculously addictive, and its fourth volume exemplifies all of these qualities. I find it astounding, really, that I have so far given every volume five stars. That doesn't happen often. It's just that good. 


I loved how unpredictable this volume was, with stories seamlessly interweaving before colliding in the most catastrophic of ways. It felt less comfortable than the other volumes, like we are building up to real tension and conflict in the installments to come, and I loved that. The writing is ballsy, fast paced but never complacent, and the art work is some of the best that I have seen in the vast graphic novel universe. 


I have no idea where Vaughan and Staples will take this story, but I cannot wait to find out. Roll on September so I can get my paws on volume five, please! 


RATING: ★★★★ 


the divingbell and the butterfly book review

11. THE DIVING-BELL & THE BUTTERFLY BY JEAN-DOMINIQUE BAUBY 

FINISHED: 11/05/15 | ISBN: 0375701214 PAGES: 132
Bauby was the editor-in-chief of French Elle [...] By the end of the year he was also the victim of a rare kind of stroke to the brainstem [...] Bauby awoke into a body which had all but stopped working: only his left eye functioned, allowing him to see [...] he was soon able to express himself in the richest detail: dictating a word at a time [...] In the same way, he was able eventually to compose this book. 

Beautifully written memoir that left me in awe of the power and strength of the human spirit, and the worlds that we can create for ourselves in times of hardship. 


I doubt Bauby and I would've got on but it was a fascinating memoir nonetheless and worth the 75p that I paid for it.  


RATING:
 ★★



rat queens uk lifestyle book blog

12. RAT QUEENS volume 1 BY KURTIS J. WIEBE & ROC UPCHURCH  

FINISHED: 30/05/15 | ISBN: 1607069458 PAGES: 128 
Who are the Rat Queens? A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they're in the business of killing all god's creatures for profit. 

Rat Queens took Booktube by storm this year so I was pleasantly surprised when Luke gifted it to me out of the blue. 


This graphic novel offers lots of fun fantastical adventure with kickass women at the helm. It was, again, awesome to see women, really funny and diverse and often reckless women, at the forefront of a mainstream comic. They drink, they love all things recreational, they curse and they quest. It was just brilliant fun and even though the story kind of lulled in parts the characters and the art style pulled it through. 


There was a panel in a party scene that I particularly enjoyed and related to so I shall share it with you now. Dee, sat in the corner reading a book visibly uncomfortable at the whole party ~situation~, is approached by a man. She tells him to go away and when he doesn't understand why she might not necessarily want his company she says the following: 'This is my party. This book. The book is good. It asks no questions. The book lets me engage it on my terms'. I read that panel and laughed aloud, a lot. Anything that calls out male entitlement is a winner in my book.  


It was a ridiculously fun read and I'm glad I got to pick up the next volume later in the month. 


RATING: ★★


chew vivatramp book blog

13. chew volume 1 by john layman and rob guillory 

FINISHED: 07/07/15 | ISBN: 1607061597 PAGES: 128
Tony Chu is a detective with a secret. A weird secret. Tony Chu is Cibopathic, which means he gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats. It also means he's a hell of a detective, as long as he doesn't mind nibbling on the corpse of a murder victim to figure out whodunit, and why. He's been brought on by the Special Crimes Division of the FDA, the most powerful law enforcement agency on the planet, to investigate their strangest, sickest, and most bizarre cases. 

Every time I researched graphic novels, Chew popped up. It sounded gross, a little bit vile actually, so naturally it ended up on my birthday wishlist!


Set in a world that I have more questions than answers about just yet, and where chicken is highly illegal, Chew is a graphic novel that I am quite taken by. The art style is pleasing and wonderfully gruesome. The characters are endearing and really quite funny. As I've said, I feel like this introductory volume did well to introduce ideas but now I need to find out more in order to help build the world further and get some clearer idea as to where this is all going. Marketing. Luckily there are a billion volumes of this series out so I've got lots to catch up on! I'm sure things will seem a little clearer once I've read the second volume.  


If cannibalism isn't your thing, this probably won't be for you. However, I'd recommend it otherwise!  


RATING: 



alex and ada book review blog uk

14. alex + ada volume 1 by jonathan luna and sarah vaughan 

FINISHED: 07/07/15 | ISBN:1632150069 PAGES: 128
The last thing in the world Alex wanted was an x5, the latest in realistic androids. But after Ada is dropped into his life, he discovers she is more than just a robot. 

I must admit I approached this series with trepidation because it sounded very Her-esque and I wasn't sure whether or not it was going to bring new ideas to the table. Thankfully, it did! 


Alex + Ada asks a lot of love and technology and how we as humans like to define and categorise things that perhaps need to be free of such constraints. The art style and the dialogue were both quite simple but it works well here. This volume, much like Chew, has left me with a billion unanswered questions but luckily I'm invested enough to want to pick up the next volume.  If you liked Her, or like reading things that look at love and relationships more complexly, then pick this up. 


RATING: 



a coney island of the mind by lawrence ferlinghetti book review

15. A CONEY ISLAND OF THE MIND BY LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI

FINISHED: 11/07/15 | ISBN: 0811200418 PAGES: 96
The title of this book is taken from Henry Miller's 'Into the Night Life' and expresses the way Lawrence Ferlinghetti felt about these poems when he wrote them during a short period in the 1950's - as if they were, taken together, a kind of Coney Island of the mind, a kind of circus of the soul. 


A strong collection from an influential writer very much concerned with identity, the periphery and the role of the poet.

There's a dark humour to Ferlinghetti's work that I really enjoyed and this shone through particularly well in his 'oral messages'; However, whilst I liked his style in parts in others it felt too steeped in social commentary and excessive description to be clear enough for me as a reader. I am, however, really glad that I read this collection aloud and got to experience the works of a new-to-me poet. 


Check this collection out if you like your modernist poets.  


RATING: 


uk lifestyle book blog reviews
FINISHED: 13/07/15 | ISBN: 0983247188 PAGES: 192 
How To Get Into The Twin Palms is the story of Anya, a young woman living in a Russian neighbourhood in LA, who struggles between retaining her parents' Polish culture and trying to assimilate into her adopted community. She lusts after Lev, a Russian man who frequents the Twin Palms nightclub down the block from Anya's apartment. It is Anya's wish to gain entrance to this seemingly exclusive club. 

Moment of silence for the beautiful production of this book. Those deckled edges. Those illustrations. Hngh!

Waclawiak explored a world and an experience so far from my own and yet the core thematic idea of a woman finding an identity and a safe space for herself to live authentically felt so familiar. It's clich├ęd, sure, but you experience this book rather than read it. You smell the heady mix of sweat and cheap cologne from Lev's armpits and the sour strench of pickled food. You sit in the quiet loneliness of Anya's bedroom watching the sliding doors and you observe as the ash coats the swimming pool under the looming darkness. There were so many quiet moments in which Waclawiak revealed the loudest of things and it made me stop and realise just how talented a writer she is. I was seriously surprised at how much I enjoyed the reading experience. 

This novel offered an intimate character study that stifled me with its honesty and fragility, and I'm probably be going to be thinking about this for a while yet. 

RATING: 

FINISHED: 15/07/15 | ISBN: 1632150409  PAGES: 128

I think my favourite thing about this graphic novel series is, as I have said, the experience of reading about women being really bloody powerful. Not because they're on some sort of romantic quest. Not because they're given the strength by men. Because women are powerful. However, for me, the story again felt a little weak in this volume. There were a lot of action scenes, sure, but I just kind of came away from it feeling like I expected more from it?! The artwork changed half way through, which was a little off putting, but I enjoyed both art styles nonetheless. I'm definitely going to carry on with this series because I do enjoy the premise but I'm hoping the next volume will be stronger in terms of plot. 


This series has potential and it's still in its infancy, therefore, I'm willing to carry on with it. 


RATING: 


the remains of the day kazuo ishiguro book review

18. THE REMAINS OF THE DAY BY KAZUO ISHIGURO  

FINISHED: 21/07/15 | ISBN: 0679731725  PAGES: 245
In 1956, Stevens, a long-serving butler at Darlington Hall, decides to take a motoring trip through the West Country. The six-day excursion becomes a journey into the past of Stevens and England, a past that takes in fascism, two world wars, and an unrealised love between the butler and his housekeeper. 

This book had sat unread on my shelf for far too long so I picked it up and gave it the attention that the billions of amazing reviews would suggest it deserved. And, do you know what, I think it deserved the majority of its hype...and I'm not just being biased because it's set in my homeland. 


I feel like this novel would seriously divide people because the plot is incredibly slight and there are lengthy passages about butler politics, performing witticisms and polishing silverware. Ishiguro, in spite of this, manages to create a novel that to me  feels instantly recognisable because the ideas at its heart are universal ones. Those ideas being love, loyalty and requirement amongst others. I think my favourite thing about this novel was the character of Stevens...even though he can be a complete arsehole at times. Stevens' memories drive the novel and, whilst they're subjective, they allude to a consciousness that he can't fully engage with for the majority of the novel and it makes for quite a devastatingly emotional read towards the end. 


Whilst this novel was different to Never Let Me Go, a book I also enjoyed, it shared the same pit-of-your-stomach fragility that for me has come to define Ishiguro's works. The Remains of the Day was a quietly emotional read that somehow left me feeling strangely comforted. Pick it up.


RATING: ★★



homemade love j california cooper book review



19. homemade love by j. california cooper   
FINISHED: 29/07/15 | ISBN: 0704340399 PAGES: 175
In one of the best-loved volumes of her work, J. California Cooper tells exuberant tales full of wonder at the mystery of life and the hardness of fate. Awed, bedeviled, bemused, all of Cooper's characters are borne up by the sheer power of life itself. 

trigger warning: whorephobia 


J. California Cooper, everybody! As soon as I heard Didi (go subscribe to her!) singing her praises I knew I had to read some of her short stories and luckily I found this collection in my local secondhand book shop for £1. I feel so incredibly lucky to have found another writer that I instinctively love with all my being. 


This was a wonderful collection with stories, both wickedly funny and desperately sad, covering love in all its guises. Cooper writes characters that are often striving to better themselves, often learning, but also sometimes stubbornly ignoring, simple truths through the medium of homemade love. I feel like I came away from this collection having thought about love in much greater detail than I have ever done, and it was a strangely cathartic experience because of that. It deserves a re-read, for sure.


I now need to read everything else she has ever written. Yep. 


RATING: 

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3 comments

  1. Saga and Rat Queens are incredibly popular in the bookish community! Which series do you prefer as I reall want to pick one up :)

    Georgia x | GeorgiaNicolaou Blog

    ReplyDelete
  2. Rat Queens and Saga are two of my absolute favourites! I'm so excited to read Rat Queens volume 2, as I haven't got to it yet as I'm saving it for the Booktube-A-Thon! x

    holljc.blogspot.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have yet to read Saga 3 and I can't wait! Such a good and unusual series! Oh and I think the reason Rat Queens artwork changed half way through was because the artist Upchurch was arrested on charges of domestic violence so they switched to a new artist. I actually think that guy then got ill so they might have a different one again now! But it was out of their control anyhow.
    Just added you on Goodreads! I love that site :)

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