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DamienLovecraft

theguywhoreads

When I pick a book up, I am travelling to a distant place and some times I become one of the characters in a book. My love for stories are the ones that begin and end where fiction is more honest than reality.

Currently reading

Naked at Lunch: The Adventures of a Reluctant Nudist
Mark Haskell Smith
Progress: 170/310 pages

When A Man Called Ove Isn't What You Thought It Would Be

A Man Called Ove: A Novel - Fredrik Backman

When I first heard about A Man Called Ove (pronounce as 'O-vi'), it was because of word-of-mouth. Praises keeps pouring in, good reviews keeps filling up and of course, it was inevitable that I came across the book and my curiosity get the best of me. After a year of purchase, I finally sat down and read it. It has been a while since I read some thing good in some months and while many readers have read it way earlier than I do, I am glad I took my time to read it.

 

A Man Called Ove is a story of a man called Ove (I just like saying it). At first glance, he appears to be one of the grumpiest middle-age man that is so bitter about every thing, you just want to avoid him. He cusses, he's rude and he's the type that does not care about people. He has a set of principles, he follow regulations and rules that he obeyed. He hates white collar men. He despise cats. And more importantly, he doesn't want to be disturb. When a new neighbor moves in next door to his house and accidentally drives up their trailer and destroy Ove's mailbox, it begins a journey of acceptance and unlikely friendships in unexpected ways. Typical formulated story you might say, right? For plot lines, yes. For execution and development of the story, its better than I expected.

 

What I enjoy most are the characters - to each of their own it was outline nicely. There is consistency to each of them including Ove and I love each and every one of them. Characters written well is once again, a rarity and given a nice explained background to each is a good way to show how Fredrik Backman care about his characters. And then of course, what was true is Ove is not what it seems, and I like how there are layers that some times, it may not be what it seems on first impression that tells us we need to reassessment people in depth. There is so much love and charm in the characters that you just have to love them a lot, especially Ove. I like how the flow of each chapter is given care and the history behind them. For Ove, I truly understand a person like him that many people miss out in reality and this is written with truth.

 

The execution and delivery is an enjoyable one but some how, its formulated. While the characters aren't stereotypical type, the flow of the story is like one I had seen before. Would it be better if its not followed like a guideline of any books about how to write a story I can say no, but this is as good as it gets because even though its formulated, its meant to be written that way. While the depth of the story isn't deep, I enjoy the slice of life theme in it. There is positive and inspiring values very much in real life happening and not those kind of positive quotes we tend to read a lot to try to inspire us. Its just that with reality of what is happening, it keeps it real in characters and what will happen to us if thrown into a situation and A Man Called Ove is just it.

 

I can't say its the best ever book I have ever read but its near. I was warm all over when I read towards the end and it was the kind of ending I expected. I did enjoy the dialogue exchange between Ove and the characters he came across. I can say that it is a recommended read if you have not come across this book. Its a must for any book readers or lovers that for once in life, you should read it.

Myths, Supernatural and Japanese Monsters

The Monster on the Road Is Me - JP Romney

I love Japanese culture and myths. Especially when it comes to the supernatural. Adding weirdness and you have a whole lot of interesting story about demonic monsters and trolls that haunts a small town. The Monster on the Road Is Me is a story of a fifteen year old boy name Koda Okita, a son of a shiitake (mushroom) farmer who happens to be a narcoleptic that he needs to wear a big helmet to protect himself whenever he gets an attack. It begins with the crows and slowly, his classmates starts to die mysteriously as a suicide. When he meets a girl name Moya, he had stumble upon century old war between monsters and humans. What he never expect is that he is an unwilling protagonist that has a power as well - stealing memories by a single touch. With the town in trouble of supernatural force, Koda (without a choice) must do what he can to understand who he is in order to save Kusaka Town.

 

While I was reading this, I felt there is a little bit of Satoshi Kons' weirdness involve. Its like Paranoia Agent that comes along with many weird acceptance of lunacy that can be some thing new. Its Japanese culture that is a norm to do who understands it, especially when it comes to myths and legends. Surprisingly, it is also written well with so many reference to Japanese that anyone who understands the culture can relate. Its not exactly original but then its an enjoyable and fun read. I just love how the weirdness can be a norm to all the characters and this is one that intrigues me from beginning to the end. Its a fast read too might I add.

 

The title has its interesting meaning (which I will not review) but I do recommend people should read this. Yes, there is some Japanese dialogue spoken in romaji but its not exactly that hard not to understand. Its just a beauty of making this a really Japanese custom and written by someone whom used to stayed and taught in Japan, I am surprise J.P. Romney had done a great job of being politically correct when it comes to writing. If you love Nihongo culture, pick this book up. If you love mythology, beliefs and supernatural + weirdness, read it. I had great fun enjoying this book.

 

When An Outcast Became a Hero At The Beginning of a Zombie Outbreak!

I am a Hero Omnibus Volume 1 - Kengo Hanzawa

There are so many 'zombie' related novels, comics and even mangas, its unsure which one is really good to pick up. Yes, The Walking Dead is a much favorite comic book series so far with other numerous other zombies that many felt pale to its comparison. Mangas are only a handful of titles that either work or fair well to some readers. It was then I stumble upon a movie trailer of 2016's I Am A Hero that got me curious to pick up this manga title... and boy, Kengo Hanazawa has shown true potential what a storyteller and artist he can be with this title.

 

Let's start off with what makes this different than most zombie titles - Hideo Suzuki is a lowly assistant manga artist for a long time. He's an outcast thirty-five years old and still has no hit on any of his proposal that he was popular to be made into serial in Japan. Daydreamer occasionally that he is not able to see reality of life, he talks to himself most of the time. His girlfriend, on the other hand, used to be a fan of his but he isn't if she still loves him. Slowly as days passes by and always on a deadline, some thing is happening around Hideo that he never notices and thinks its one of his hallucinations... until when some thing freshly dead became a reality in Japan.

 

How much different is this compare to other 'zombie' related theme novels, comics or mangas is this - told in a sequence of a day to day happening, Kengo Hanazawa took realism into manga form using panel by panel story telling. Its not a fast-reading material, I give you that but the artwork gives any reader a step-by-step eye movement following sequence that really works into your pleasure of reading. I was totally into the manga and I am glad that he took his time building up the suspense in a slow-pacing manner. In truth - the real fun begins after 1/2 of the omnibus (which is after the first collected volume one) and where the attack begins. But won't this affect the fun in reading the manga? No. He has his own reasoning why the build up is slow. That build up introduce the characters of who they are, what they are to the protagonist and how this affects his reality issues of life that he can't comprehend. Namely, the wonders of daydreamers depict really well as a character being told almost accurately how shut-ins live their lives. Throw them into a zombie apocalypse and see what they will do. And that's a fun read.

 

The artwork itself is the ugly reality of how Japanese life is. And the details given so meticulous in art-form is a beautiful piece you can feel that Kengo Hanazawa paid a lot of good attention to details needed. Yes, blurred lines are used but the splash pages are some thing to behold here. My following eye-movement is one that dictates which will go first and which is important for the intensity of the action and this works really well. Its an acceptable manga to give what manga readers want to enjoy reading and to admire the artwork as well. Nominated and won with some awards and its still ongoing since its first debut its series in Japan in 2009, I am glad I pick up this title on a whim because of the movie trailer. I am hoping that it does not disappoint as the series continue and since the English language version was released last-year, I can wait a little longer to enjoy reading this at a slow-pacing while I work it up with my other readings. This is one zombie related manga that should be read if you want some thing that build's its suspense at the right timing.

The Return of Oliver Queen by Kevin Smith

Green Arrow by Kevin Smith - Kevin Smith

In 2000, Kevin Smith, Phil Hester and Ande Parks revived Green Arrow into a 3rd series, where it follows the aftermath of a crossover entitled The Final Night where Hal Jordan's Green Lantern sacrifice himself to a Sun Eater to reignite the sun. He brought back Oliver Queen, the original Green Arrow from the dead after he died in a tragically witness by Superman. Collected from issues #1 to 15, Kevin Smith had spun not just a good introduction of bringing back Oliver Queen but had given this title a revival that became one of the most readable comics in the year 2000.

 

I read this because of one person - Kevin Smith. He has been an awesome writer to me that not only direct but write good stories that really knows how. He is a natural when it comes to words and with Phil Hester's artwork and Ande Parks inking, this is a team that really bring the best part of how Green Arrow would be. Words a side, I was never a fan of Green Arrow and I did for one time think he is a lame character but reading this tradepaperback really brings a good sense that he is cool and flawed, just like how Wally West is as The Flash. With the now current Arrow TV series and running a good four seasons with a current 5th season airing, if you have ever wonder which Green Arrow comic book to read, this might be one of them you should pick it up.

A Poignant Simplicity of a Fable of Found and Lost

The Light Between Oceans: A Novel - M.L. Stedman

You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things.

 

It took a while to complete The Light Between Oceans. For one, there is much to read about in this book that drives a very poignant story that definitely guarantee tissue papers to be readied towards the end of the book. Another would be the words written that are simple and yet beautiful that I find almost every single character in this book are well taken-care of and meticulous... but where do I begin?

 

Let's start with what this is about - Tom Sherbourne returns from a four year war (World War I to be exact) on the Western Front to take a post as a lighthouse on Janus Island. Isolated from the nearest land, Tom's life was a lonely one until he met Isabel Graysmark, a young girl that brings life into him. Married and living on the island, life was simple... until two miscarriages and one stillbirth, Isabel had reached to the edge of depression. It was the arrival of a boat washed up ashore that carried a dead man and a living baby that Isabel thought it is a sign from God. Happiness begins with the Sherbourne family... until a few years later, when on land that Tom and Isabel have finally came across Hannah Roennfeldt, the birth mother of Lucy. There are hard decisions to be made... and one that could change their lives forever.

 

I love how it was written - simple and yet easy to follow. Every single description is carefully word out and lyrical. As I read, it was one that I felt being drawn into each character and how each and every single character plays a role that affects the decision of others. The description is pretty much short and simple and yet written in ways that given some of these characters meaning, with a simple brief history on each and every one. As to who they are and what they are, I can truly understand how Tom is as a role of a person that is self-pitied and yet sacrifice his life as a gentlemen. Isabel was written with changes from someone that never experience lost until someone that is selfish and possessive words well on the consequences taken by her. What was more is the sense of lost and giving up works deeply of its own that I became cried towards the end in the epilogue (the last chapter that is). Although I do felt there should not be any reason writing that last chapter, it does felt like it ended an extra more just for the tears.

 

The supporting characters were given attention and memorable. What I like about that is how each were given a short background and relation to each other in Partageuce, a small town where everyone knows what everyone is doing, easy and simple to relate. Of course, the dialogue which I enjoy most in 1920s how older and God is the utmost importance. Every detail is written well.

 

I can say that M.L. Stedman is a romantic that proven herself as a debut author in 2012 that won some awards. Although she has yet written any other books besides this one, I do hope she will as The Light Between Oceans is truly a book that should be read by understanding the culture of its own of that particular decade, which I truly enjoy. And to find some thing this good, its almost a classic of its own, which I can say it deserves a 4.5 out of 5 star.

A Redefine Wonder Woman That Done Right!

Wonder Woman By George Perez Vol. 1 - George Perez

In 1985, George Perez, Len Wein and Bruce Patterson redefine Wonder Woman with a new beginning after Crisis on Infinite Earths, a crossover where DC heroes in one too many alternate universe converge into one. Origins were rewritten and in the case of Wonder Woman, it was some thing unexpected that takes you on an epic journey that re-imagine a truer superhero with a proper story line and a better plot.

 

Collecting issues #1 to 14 series 2, a new origin of how Princess Diana (a.k.a. Wonder Woman) was born with a back story of how her mother, Hippolyte, an Amazon warrior whom worship the Greek Gods betrayed by a demigod man named Heracles (son of Zeus), whom abused Amazonian women to men's desire until broke free and escape to Paradise Island. There, Hippolyte had Princess Diana, born out of clay and soon were given a mission to man's world (or the only travel to man's world is Boston) as ambassador to spread peace and teach equality among mankind. Along the way, Princess Diana battles God of War Ares, live among mortals and learn about mankind ways and been given the challenge of the Gods by Zeus himself to prove she is worthy as a warrior.

 

Yes, you must have wondered - Wonder Woman is a feminist. And that is true because the idea behind the redefining this character was meant to be as one.

 

What I read here is truly an amazing read. For one - the flow of the story never miss a beat. It has this steady flow of characterization that I find romantic in telling, more importantly how these characters were introduced so smoothly, it became an epic journey of well-told origins of a superhero. Secondly, there are some chapters in the story that, unlike most comic book series, explained well of the mysteries that was a plot filler complete with significant situations that completes the empty gap in the story that is strong and acceptable. For instance - Wonder Woman's costume. Have you ever wonder why she wore those skimpy outfit? You will be surprise to see its origin that does not offend any female readers. And of course - lastly the reading experience. Its such words written in each panel, it really does take a long time to complete at least a chapter of 32 pages. I mean - its filled with so much words, some times you might missed out some of them in other panels. For the price I paid for, that's worth every single money I spend on!

 

The artwork, of course, done by George Perez is one of the best. I always love George Perez for its sheer detail artwork and its beauty and patience of penciling. There is no laziness nor any computerized digitized artwork done in every single page ever. For me, its a bonus reason why I bought this book mainly because of him. Included in this volume is also a biodata of four significant characters plus a few pages of gallery collected tradepaperback covers worth looking into.

 

With a summer release 2017 of the live-action film version of Wonder Woman, if you never read a single Wonder Woman comic book, pick this one up. It will surprise you and change your view what you thought comic books were, this definitely on the same ranks of any well-written books without artwork should be appreciated. I can safely say, this is a series I will pick up with volume 2 arrives later this year.

A Dark Cyberpunk Science Fiction Manga in Master Edition!

BLAME! (Master Edition) Vol.1 - Tsutomu Nihei

 

Blame! is a cyberpunk H.R. Giger that is dark and violent. What begins is a mystery and ends with still more to go for in this science fiction manga written and drawn by Tsutomu Nihei. In this master edition, its a large format for fans whom missed out the late Tokyopop edition that closed down some years back and finally we get to see in print once again.

 

While I do have to say that I wasn't quite fond of the artwork, there is some thing dark I like about the manga. For one, there is a mystery of a young man named Kryii on a dark quest to look for a gene terminal in a world filled with mutants and bio-mechanical grotesque beings out of a nightmare. As humans are the last of its kind in this universe, the quest that Kryii is looking for remains unknown. There are more characters that were introduced killed faster than they can survive in the next chapter. Still, this dark post-apocalyptic manga is a fast read with less words to read. The artwork on the other hand, is not really to my standard like how I enjoyed admiring Kishiro Yukito's Battle Angel Alita, another great cyberpunk science fiction. Still, Blame! has its perks and I do not mind reading the next chapter once I get my hands on it.

 

 

The Elegance of an Immortal Samurai

Blade of the Immortal Omnibus Volume 1 - Hiroaki Samura

I love the romance of the samurai edo era, especially when it comes to Lone Wolf and Cub, where to me to this day is the best ever written and drawn samurai manga ever published. What is an epic tale of revenge and honor in Lone Wolf and Cub and what is romantic meiji swordsman story in Rurouni Kenshin, Blade of the Immortal makes up what little essence of those two into an elegant beautifully drawn manga by Hiroaki Samura. The first time I read it, I did not really enjoy it but some how after more than a decade over, I am drawn by its beauty. Finally - an omnibus edition was recently released and it collects the first three volumes published by Dark Horse. It was the second time around rereading that now, I do appreciate it.

 

Enter Manji, an immortal samurai that just can't die. Literally he can't. He wanted too (either by poison or decapitate his head) and and so he vowed to kill a thousand men. So he is immortal for years unknown how many and his only sister were killed and he has nothing much left to do. When a sixteen year old girl name Rin hired him to be his bodyguard on a quest of revenge to kill Kagehisa Anotsu and his Itto-Ryu clan, Manji might reached his goal.

 

Blade of the Immortal has a slow introduction start. We are introduced by the characters in the first volume Blood of a Thousand that followed with second volume Cry of the Worm and finally ends in the third volume of the omnibus Dreamsong, which pretty much sums up a lot about why it has been a popular cult hit among manga readers. For one thing - I am mesmerize by the artwork. The fine lines and tones and speed lines just makes it right for the atmosphere and the following eye movement while reading just makes me comfortable. What was even a beaut is the splash-page kill shot that Samura had take the effort to draw it that can be a good poster pin-up on a wall. With such art, its not wonder manga readers like it.

 

The story on the other hand isn't much, which there's plenty of dialogue to go through that at times, it can be a hassle. There are moments that it is ambiguous that you need to figure out what it means. Don't expect an all out action or some thing epic from it, but I do understand it is a fitting reasoning why its meant to be told that way and slowly too. While the layers of characters are unfold slowly as the story progress, I can't help but to wonder whether there are side-stories that might just turn up and progressively kills the story mid-way.

 

Blade of the Immortal is not a bad read and certainly eye-candy when it comes to art. I do not mind now to follow the series until the end (it completed its run) and with an already released anime and now this year's upcoming live action adaptation movie to be release with Takuya Kimura as Manji, Blade of the Immortal will appeal who love elegance and beauty with a slow pace of a good afternoon tea.

A Done It Before Tale of Infidelity and What Happens If One Cheats...

Seeing Other People - Gayle Mike

It took longer and it was meant to be finished last year but the struggle I went through was one I regret buying this book. I have three words after I read it.

 

Plain. Dull. Predictable.

 

Firstly, the title isn't much of any connection that for the whole universe searching I can barely understand its meaning of it. Secondly, this has been done before many times that even any films that dealt with the subject of infidelity is a passing off of uninteresting story that even real life is happening to many people. The characters, as it turn out to be, are just predictable responses of every day norm what people will do when one cheats. Sure - there is a page I like where it talks about conviction and what was said is very true, but the rest has left me any thing to be desired about.

 

I truly try to like the story, I truly do. I even try to find other angles of acceptance but it was tolerance that takes over and that sense of realization that I know where this story is going - Tom is an idiot that only had cheated one time and only through his honesty, shit happens and every thing just go downhill. His wife, behaves like any other wives, cheat once and let's divorce. Nothing to compromise but a fixated mind that I can't handle this and so I find my ex-boyfriend who is much better and give the kids a better life. Then of course, there is that 'their kid's running away' routine and find that and its a sign. Throw in the ghost/hallucination of an ex-girlfriend of Tom to torture him and 90% of the novel was all a dream.

 

I didn't read this book to have all that but I guess when it comes to writing such stories, I thought maybe there would be some thing that is thoughtful or witty. Nothing comes to that and only escapism of Tom's character that it was all a dream, save his arse the next time he knew what to do when he was tempted again.

 

Seeing Other People is a book I tolerate and at times, I do find it a bore. I had a lot of such normal realities in my experience but reading this on each chapter, its expected such consequences do happened when a guy makes a single mistake. It shows men are dumb when it comes to the opposite sex and women are not strong when they can't handle such situations. I won't recommend it to anyone that live through such an experience before... whether even a ghost 'appear' in front of them for any book readers.

An Essay That Should Be Read By Everyone.

We Should All Be Feminists -  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Earlier this month, I attended a book discussion 'Purple Hibiscus' where I did not read the book. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie had written 3 novels and a collection of short stories. I wasn't into the books she had written despite the praises from other book readers. I was more interested on her essay 'We Should All Be Feminists' and when I read the reviews and the praises and how it changed the view of a reader to become a feminist, I am curious and went ahead, read it at one go on my way home riding a light rail train.


Here's my honest opinion - this is probably one of the best essay I have ever read. Her words got me thinking but also some of her questions was what I question before some years back. She brought up some strong points, questions that should be laid out in the minds of today's gender equality. I do agree - human rights isn't the right word that equals to gender equality. We are living in a world, given the perception and the norm that the world should be given to men because he is a man, not women because we were raise to believe women should be stay-homed moms and take care of men's needs. I do agree it is wrong and in fact, I did see the change happening around us but we still have this inequality happening because of gender even though when a female has the same highest learned education but given low pay. What Chimamanda pointed out is right - even today in the 21st century we are still living such inequality.


What I like in her essay is how true she had said. She pointed out that the way we raise our children our beliefs that boys should grow into masculine men and girls should learn to cook for their husbands, bound by marriages because our parents belief is to be true and a fact. She pointed out that culture does not make people but people make culture. She pointed out that we should raise daughters differently as much as we should raise our sons differently too. What she had written is the truth. What she had said in TEDx talk is an awareness to all. And this is what we should be - the true meaning of feminist we all (male and female) should be a feminist.


Although what she had pointed out I do agree, I felt there is some thing missing. Some thing that, although her questions had been the ones she laid out, I didn't find it as a realization. I had asked these questions before to myself. I had asked these questions to people I am acquainted and yet they have no answer. It is true - this book really will change the view of the norm. I am living surrounded by the norm of people whom are too comfortable in the way they grew up. As an Asian, its how we were taught to believe. I am glad it was different for me. Still, I can't for the help of any thing felt there is some thing still missing in her words. Maybe her views on equality was her experience, which she mention a plenty, is the way of life Nigeria for men and women always have been. But it was some thing I felt missing that did not give me that kind of impact that I would give a 5 star rating instead.


Nevertheless, We Should All Be Feminists is a well said book. We all should be a feminist (point taken as how the definition is in dictionary) and not the hearsay or assumption many people thought feminist is. Not to mention, the ones that abuses the meaning of it. Everyone should read this book so that everyone (male and female) truly know the true definition of it.

A Mediocre Psychological Thriller

The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins

NOTE: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS


There are times when I read a book, I must not be bias based on my personal ideals and self opinions about a subject. There are times... I had to because it does get to my nerves. Whether it is a story, characters or the flow of the story. The Girl on the Train is one of those that really hits hard on me to a point I had to dumb myself down to try to appreciate the story.


This is a story about a divorcee named Rachel, who commutes a train every single day to London and always passes by a house of one couple. Every day, Rachel will have her little fantasy of this couple, naming them and envy their lives... until the day Megan Hipwell disappeared and some thing happened to Rachel on the day Megan disappeared. Rachel can't remember what happened that night because she was drunk. She would try any thing to remember if only she doesn't blackout each time she drinks.


The set of the premise wasn't an interesting one. I read lots of reviews about how good The Girl on a Train is but as it turns out, it was quite a mess. Firstly - the characters. I would let you know there are no protagonist here. No heroes or heroines. All the main characters are either victims of their own mistakes or a mess in their own past. Mostly - they are flawed. Very flawed in such a way that they are pathetic. Rachel is an alcoholic, Megan is a cheater, Anna (Rachel's ex-husband's wife) is in denial and the rest is as messy as it is. Put them all together in a mystery suspense story and what you read is a soap-drama of a murder you had seen before in any TV series. Predictable, irritable and annoyingly horrible. And then there is paranoia involve of the guessing game but based on dialogue exchange between characters, its so easy to figure out who the real murderer before the end of the book.


I had to dumb myself to finish the book. I have to make myself understand about the characters and the setting of the story to try to appreciate the story. Towards the end, when my bias view is higher than giving a review with pros and cons... I find that the truth in my own opinion that gives this book a rating of 3 out of 5 star. The best rating I can give. But seriously - it only deserves only two stars if not for how Paul Hawkins did a nice job in developing and throwing pathetic characters into one story and how it really stays in character for being pathetic. Predictable, not exactly suspenseful thriller, I do find this mediocre and only readable when there is nothing to read.

 

80's Teenage Romance of Unexpected Match

Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell

Reading Eleanor & Park really brings back the memories of my youth of young love. The dialogue, the setting, the relationship woes, the insecurities and dreams. Young love was some thing that we forever hope its... forever. Every thing that is captured in Eleanor & Park is almost real.

 

Meet Eleanor - starting over in a new place when her mother remarried and already there are problems involved - her stepdad and bullies. Enter Park - a half Asian boy who wants to be left alone. These two unlikely have nothing in common. It was never love at first sight. It was a choice made by Parl that forever bring them together and in the end, some thing happened between them. Some thing unexpected and wonderful. But not every thing do last...

 

This is my first Rainbow Rowell novel that I heard so much about and was one of the reasons I bought it last year and finally read it. How do I feel about it? Like I said in the first paragraph - it really does bring back memories of young love. Rowell captures realism of teenagers through dialogue of male and female thinking and the life as one. I love how the interaction was well executed. What was good is how the writing of two perceptions was written so that we can understand Eleanor and Park's thoughts about each other. The reassuring, the common unspoken love the two exchange and how Park would do any thing for Eleanor if she is in trouble and the worries he has for her. That's just how it is when it comes to teenage love and that is real.

 

Some of the elements involve is AMWF relationships in an young adult book is explored here. I am quite surprise as to how the most rare relationships even today's generation is found and I find that is rare even in the 1980s (even though now it has increase but rarely over the years). The characters of both Eleanor and Park is taken into consideration of recognition that is surreal but workable. It is pretty unique for a young adult book.

 

There is another thing that I love about Eleanor & Park - that Rainbow Rowell is a geek 80s. Yes, there is lots of other good memories of cassettes, songs of the 80s, the TV Shows like Mike Hammer, the comics like Watchmen and more that really adds value of how 1986 is like then. I find myself loving a lot and to know that it is well exposed to newer readers of how cool the 80s is then.

 

Although some parts of the book are not explored (like other characters involved that feel rather thin and given a paragraph description background), there is a lot of assumptions that needed made as a reader like me need to assume. Pretty much every thing is right and guessed too. And the ending... yes, it leaves to anyone's interpretation (but I am pretty sure what interpretation for anyone who reads it). Yes - that last line is ambiguous. It does work well for this book. The last few chapters do feel a little rushed but I believe if any longer, it would drag it longer and became an unpleasant read.

 

Eleanor & Park really is a good book but rather, it appeals more towards teenagers that readers like me. I do appreciate it since it does show how true life is like as teenagers in love. As for me, its the mindset I need to set to understand how good this book is, but its just good in an appreciative sense. I doubt I will be ready to read any other Rainbow Rowell books just yet unless some thing caught my attention comes along from her. So until then, Eleanor & Park is my only stop for now.

A Garden of Butterflies of a Serial Kidnapper

The Butterfly Garden - Dot Hutchison

 

It's 20 minutes past 3 in the morning and I had just finished The Butterfly Garden and I had to because it is really a page-turner. I can't help myself but to finish the book because what was done to make me find out more, it is thanks to Dot Hutchison for doing a fine job in making a reader out of me to continue reading towards such a morning... but where do I start with this book?

 

The Butterfly Garden is a mystery crime suspense thriller that draws the reader into a world of serial criminals. Firstly, the good stuff.

 

The book is divided into three roman numeral parts, which I felt I would like to call it The Before, The Garden and The After. Why would this book voted as the second best choice for Goodreads under the category 'Horror' (which I felt, the book isn't really under 'Horror' if you ask me but rather what I said in the second paragraph), it manages to bring that suspenseful feeling of knowing more about a victim, that could be the suspect - Maya, one of the girls that had been held captive in a place called 'The Garden'. Before, she has another name and a life that describes what sort of horrible life she went through until she was kidnapped by 'The Gardener'. She wakes up in a cave that is designed like a garden, with twenty other women, whom were also being held captive as well not their own will by 'The Gardener'. He tattoos Maya a butterfly wings, rapes her as he sees fit but took care of her. So were the other girls that are there. She gets to know each of the girls and know that by the age of 21, once a beauty reaches its maturity, no one ever lives through that age... and like a Butterfly encased on resin, beauty preserves. Do you understand where I am heading with this summary?

 

So even though the book is divided into three Roman Numerals, the story is told in two scenes - Maya being question by two FBI investigators after being rescued with some other girls and Maya's story before her rescued and what her experience was in the Garden and her life before. This does feels like a method being used and told like Bryan Singer's The Usual Suspects. You see, Agent Victor Hanoverian isn't sure if Maya is a victim at all and he needs to know the truth. Interesting enough, the way that the author deliver each page was quite ingenious and had me hook for quite some time. I would have read it in one sitting but there is so much to absorb and to like - especially the description of each character, the Garden, the intentions and goals involved, the sickness of it and to a point the understanding is pretty well-done. To sum it up, I really enjoy it and it has been quite a while I found a book that I enjoy it because it does not really beat around the bush. I mean, yes - Maya did beat around the bush with Victor during interrogation but it was pretty straightforward kind and the exchange of dialogue is challenging. The sick philosophy about Butterflies from the perspective of a serial rapist is well explained of its intentions and why he tattoos them is all cleared and made of. And to read it overall as a book - its a book I held my hands wanting to know more and finally, I just read past my bedtime and now typing out this review means this book is a worthy read.

 

There are some problems along the way as I read it. For one - the realism of the premise is just unbelievable. I mean - twenty over kidnapped girls in one big cavern garden controlled by The Gardener and one sick older son... any of these kidnap victims can overwhelm them. Maybe the logic behind is that they are very young and afraid but in today's modern world, I do wonder how victims are chosen... especially when one of the victims sort of out on her own loop on the head side. I had to suspend disbelief in order to accept it because it is rather unrealistic. One victim I can truly understand but 20 girls its high maintenance. Secondly, the The Gardener background story, even though it is well explained of its intentions I felt it is rather quite think. The why is explained... its just that the basis of it just don't hold too strong of it. And then... the ending. Well, yes - there is a twist in the ending but rather, I felt the twist is rather weak. I mean, okay I can understand all of that but that twist is just not able to make it deliciously tasty. It just feels like when I ordered my coffee to be hot, it just taste lukewarm. Not that I complained much but that twist wasn't necessary even though it does explain certain parts as its meant to be part of but rather, its not and I would not want to reveal more of it because I do not want to spoil it.

 

In overall sense, I suspend the realism and get to enjoy the book. Thoroughly it has been a while since I read some thing very good even though there are some parts I do not agree upon. There is no struggle in giving it a four star rating (and not even a 3.5) because its worth that much of a rating. What manages that is how the delivery and flow of the story was written well by Dot Hutchison and since this is the first of the trilogy of The Collector series (not connected to one another), I can say I am looking forward her next book. If she can come up with some thing this good of a suspense mystery, I do not mind waiting for the next one and reads it.

An Unexpected Fantasy of Darkness and Light...

Knights of the Borrowed Dark - Dave Rudden

What I hold is the first of the trilogy of Knights of the Borrowed Dark, a fantasy middle-grade book about knights and the court of order holding the balance of the universe. What I never expect was the fantasy I had longed for for a long time since the good old days of the 1980s I loved so much (like Ron Howard's Willow and 1981's Clash of the Titans). Those were the days where fantasy really meant some thing of good versus evil. Knights of the Borrowed Dark has that fire that burns deep into the hearts of any reader who long for such fantasy books... and to my surprise, it does not even read like a middle-grade book at all.

 

Plot summary: Denizen Hardwick lived almost his whole life in an orphanage at Crosscaper. When a man named Grey appeared to pick him up as the sun sets, Denizen did not know that he was part of a lineage of Knights of the Borrowed Dark that secretly protects mankind from unknown creatures of the dark after he and Grey encounter one. As it comes, there were much bigger plotted evil that is arising as the Knights will have to faced old foes that will once and for all, bring destruction to mankind. But Denizen's first problem would be the turn of his 13th birthday that will, without a choice, putting his life on the line of death and misery.

 

Just reading this small summary of mine or even from what was provided on the blurb doesn't sound that awesome but after a few chapters, I am beginning to think how far this book can truly go. It has so much potential to be made into a movie. Heck, it is so much more than that as it is well written with poetic sentences and words that is truly rich of learning. Words like:

 

The whole scene had the glassy, unmoving perfection of a postcard.

 

... or even...

 

Simon whispered as they picked their way through a graveyard of candles, the carpet of sea of crushed tallow, the air darkened by a thousand snake tongues of smoke.

 

I am floored by how well describe each chapter has that not only it is meant to, but it has been a long time since anyone wrote any of that way much better than any middle-grade book I have read. The fantasy element is quite original, but it has been seen before. The execution of the story is pretty much a fantasy adventure kind, that is both exciting and thrilling for me and although one part of the plot is predictable, I felt its forgivable because the delivery is just as exciting as I enjoy it the second 1/2 of the book. Yes, the first 1/2 of the book can be a little draggy as introductions of the characters are well weaved but the excitement begins later. Well, rounded as the characters are memorable and although this is a trilogy, Knights of the Borrowed Dark was only recently released earlier this year and so, some parts of the book have questions to readers that I hope, will be fulfilled in the later sequels.

 

I have long for a good fantasy novel for quite some time, but a modern fantasy novel that has the standards of what most other would appeal to fans of Rick Riordan and Derek Landy, anyone that hasn't read Percy Jackson would be happy to read this book if they give this a shot. I am glad that I did, satisfied with it and can't wait for the sequel to be released next year.

A Beautiful Tale of Counting by 7s

Counting by 7s - Holly Goldberg Sloan

There is so much to talk about Counting by 7s that for a middle-grade book, there is philosophy that can't be ignored. This is a story of a gifted girl named Willow Chance that has a significant character of 7s and has a way about herself that nobody understood her. Adopted by foster parents - tragedy strikes and she was left alone in a world that devastated her to a world of uncertainty and not knowing what to do. Along the way, she met flawed characters - her guidance counselor Dell Duke, a teenager girl name Mai, her brother Quang-Ha and mother Pattie and a Mexican taxi driver name Jairo. The loss of her foster parents changed her but the people she meet along the way make her a better person. It's a story that is witty, quirky and funny. There is drama, adventure and a little bit of suspense. Its the slice of life about... well, life and how we deal with personal loss and foster care. About the unknown certainty and the fear of moving forward...

 

... and what we never expect happen and what we expected, never do.

 

I truly enjoy the details and the specific grooming of each character that is significant on its own. The development is so individualistic, Holly Goldberg Sloan did a good job in creating unique flawed characters of acceptance and the important lessons of accepting people. Even a cat named Cheddar that only appear 10% of the book memorable. What I enjoy is how it brings out certain emotions when I read. Its not easy to laugh just by reading and I did mention before in previous reviews of books I read, its not easy to make me laugh and it did. There is so much that I do agree in what was said there. The book is almost perfect but there were a few chapters I felt it does drag a little, otherwise it would have been a good rating of five star. What was, to me, a let down was the closure that does not seem realistic. It does falter a little in the ending but overall, its the kind of story that I like about and its pretty well-done in the character department.

 

I am surprise middle-grade books these days are so well-written and its meant for those age group. For me, as an adult I find the appeal can also be read to older readers because its relaxing and fun to read. The chapters are well divided and given attention to and for me, I like how its done. Books like this should not be ignored, its meant to be read in any age.

When Science and Fantasy Combines = A Weird and Interesting Story

All the Birds in the Sky - Charlie Jane Anders

Well, it took a while. I mean, almost a month to complete. Now why is that, you must wonder? Let me laid it out and why this book deserves a four star rating from me.

 

All the Birds in the Sky is an original, unique story unlike any other with a blend of science fiction and magic. Its a story that spans a few decades where an unforeseen future takes place and an inevitable fate where two unlikely people (Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead) cross path that would shape the future of mankind. To top it off - its also a very weird story.

 

At first, I do find that each part (which are called Books) does not seem to connect too well with one another. It took me a while to figure out where this is going as I felt every single chapter is a filler. It was to a point of part 4 that every thing was laid out and how each of these chapter connects in a weird sense. As the story progress, there are some back stories (fillers) which was kind of important that leads to the main plot but weak on supporting characters, which at times are forgettable and unmemorable. Still, part of its science and fantasy blend was so different, I never expect it to connected well that I even accept it. Its the sort of weird that I like and never read before but the kind of fun weird that I enjoy most.

 

To me, the book may not be anyone's normal kind of reading where even reading, reader's had a set of rules of acceptance that can not be broken. All the Birds in the Sky breaks all that belief and in a way, I like it a lot. Its fresh, its new and simply put - its just some thing I like surprisingly. It did took me a while to finish it because I did had a hard time to accept but in the end, the realization of how good this book is finally dawn on me and it is good. Its just I need to suspend what I know and accept what this book is meant to be told.