Bookish Reviewish~ In Which Things Could Get Pretty Graphic (In A Manner Of Speaking) And We Will Encounter Brilliant Idiots

Good morrow, my goodly folk!

I hope you are all doing well- physically, emotionally and spiritually. Whether or not you are, though, I hope you have a good stack of books to make your life at least somewhat better.

Life goes on, I keep reading. It’s just how it works.

Anyway…not sure what else to say before getting to the reviewish things, so let’s just jump right in.

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (reread??)

This collection of origin stories is 100% historically accurate and accounts for such things as how the elephant got his trunk, the beginning of armadillos, and how the alphabet was made. It is quite the informative read.

I know that I read at least some of these when I was a small child, and had some of them read aloud to me. So this book was very familiar, even though I barely remembered any of it.

YEA:

  • the prose, man (such masterful whimsy. It almost comes off like music. EXCELLENT read aloud)
  • the poetry (because that was also in there)
  • the sheer imagination of the thing (this little volume is bursting with it)
  • the evident joy of storytelling (I LOVE THIS)
  • the humor (’tis a very good kind)
  • the charm (hm, yes)
  • clever, sassy characters

NAY:

  • I’m not the biggest fan of using biblical characters in stories like this, I guess?
  • None of the characters were as endearing as, say, the characters in Winnie-the-Pooh

Verdict: Quite the delightful collection. Would recommend to all who are scientifically, historically or linguistically inclined.

Estranged by Ethan M. Aldridge

This Middle Grade graphic novel is an urban fantasy revolving around changelings.

Edmund is a fay who has grown up in the human world (and been very angsty about it because his family doesn’t know what he really is), but his life takes a turn when the human child that he replaced appears and tells him that it’s up to him to save the fay world.

YEA:

  • the delicious angst potential (both of these kids have SO MUCH OF IT)
  • the changeling concept (mostly due to the aforementioned angst potential, to be frank)
  • siblings (Edmund has an older sister, and hugs are involved)
  • the artwork (Lovely watercolors! For the most part ’tis quite pleasing)
  • the fay world (very magical and messed up)
  • the characters being low-key lovable (especially my son/the human child)

NAY:

  • full angst potential failing to be met (tragedy)
  • the story turning into a mediocre action/adventure by the end
  • Artemis and Isaac (just…no)
  • the “getting back at the bullies” thing (it just feels SO Middle Grade)
  • there is actually a sequel that my sister read and I only read parts of it but it’s so aggravating because My Boy is the BEST and everything else about it is the WORST (slight exaggeration, but shh)

Verdict: Though I greatly enjoyed the setup and certain character things, overall I found it pretty disappointing.

City of Secrets by Victoria Ying

This is the one that comes before City of Illusion, so it was kind of like reading a prequel.

Hannah becomes very much intrigued by the mysterious boy that lives in the switchboard building. Madame Alexander very much wants to get rid of the mysterious boy that lives in the switchboard building. Lisa very much wants to feed the mysterious boy that lives in the switchboard building. The mysterious boy that lives in the switchboard building very much wants to be left alone.

YEA:

  • the world/aesthetic (basically feels like Ghibli/The Invention of Hugo Cabret)
  • Ever’s angst (he has a tragic backstory and everything)
  • the secret society vibes
  • the city levels
  • Lisa (she’s just kind of great)
  • the artwork
  • the peril (I’m always here for peril)

NAY:

  • mostly the same issues I had with the second one:
  • (awkward artwork at times)
  • (awkward dialogue)
  • (rushed storytelling)
  • (not enough angst or peril- though this one did a little bit better with that)
  • Hannah somehow transporting an unconscious Ever places?? (sorry, but this makes not the sense)

Verdict: Overall, I still enjoyed it, despite it feeling juvenile and awkward in places. It was very similar to the sequel in tone and style.

Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

(WARING: the following review contains SPOILERS for Dune and Dune Messiah)

So, yeah. I read this (but WHY, though??).

Paul’s children are as about as disturbing as you might imagine. Alia is possessed by a garbage human we’ve already seen far too much of. There is a mysterious man from the desert called the Preacher who is blaspheming against Maud’dib and Alia’s temple. The politics are…happening. There are ecological concerns. Oh, and more assassination attempts.

YEA:

  • Duncan Idaho (son…the fact that a reanimated corpse is one of the best things about this book is probably a bad sign)
  • the Preacher (um…yes. But also very, very depressing, man)
  • Farad’n (was strangely likable despite the fact that I didn’t really like him?)
  • that one scene where the Preacher grabs Alia’s arm (I kind of loved that scene for some reason)
  • the fact that by the end of this book all the characters that I really care about are totally out of the picture so I don’t even have to worry about being tempted to read any further books in the series?? (that’s a plus, I guess?)

NAY:

  • the accursed breeding program (WiLL yOu PLEASE GiVe it a BrEaK??)
  • the fact that Paul’s kids were born like Alia (it’s just too awful)
  • the prescient sex scene (SO disturbing on multiple levels, not to mention just totally unnecessary and GROSS. Never mind that it doesn’t technically happen)
  • the fish suit (yup, I’m going to call it that)
  • Jessica making her grandkid do drugs (really, now)
  • Gurney doing whatever Jessica wants (I liked Gurney much better when he was in the Duke’s service, not gonna lie)
  • the excessively rambling nature of the whole thing (the plot was drowning in a sea of anti-religion essays and commentaries on ecology and politics)
  • all the essays/commentaries, basically (Frank Herbert’s view on religion sucks, guys)
  • Baron Harkonnen (I THOUGHT WE WERE DONE WITH THIS MONSTER)
  • Pretty much anything Leto decided to do (particularly at the END, ugh, I hate it so much)
  • the way everything just feels so depressing and pointless and awful

Verdict: Um, so, I kind of hated it? There were a few interesting things, but Frank just wants to destroy my kids in the most depressing ways possible, and I’m not here for that (I mean…I guess I am, but I regret it now).

The Dam Keeper and The Dam Keeper: World Without Darkness by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi

(Guys, I am starting to realize that reading graphic novels has become a habit? Who even am I??)

Pig has been working to hold back the darkness ever since his father left him to take on the responsibilities of a dam keeper all on his own. And I do mean that quite literally, since the dam is there to protect Pig’s town from a thick black fog.

YEA:

  • THE ARTWORK (IT IS SO GORGEOUS)
  • Pig (we love this dear boy. And yes, he is an actual pig)
  • Pig’s angst (It’s so beautiful)
  • the flashback scenes (YAY TRAUMA)
  • Van (so Van is this crazy lizard that I relate to for some reason and my sister told me that he reminded her of me before I even told her that, so. He must truly be my spirit animal)
  • the world-building (’tis intriguing and aesthetically appealing; I particularly like the dam)

NAY:

  • aside from Pig, the characters are a tad flat?
  • some of it is rushed
  • my library does not have the third volume (rude)

Verdict: It’s a compelling concept brought to life with lovely artwork. And there is also enough angst to keep me happy.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (reread)

Victor Frankenstein decides it’s a good idea to cobble together a bunch of body parts and then bring the cobbled human to life, and he’s able to pull this off. He is what one might call a brilliant idiot.

YEA:

  • Victor (the guy is SO AGGRAVATING and he kind of gets less and less likable as the story progresses…but I like him anyway? I just wish he was capable of apologizing, I mean good grief)
  • the Creature (is very sad and heartbreaking…also a murderer)
  • the connection between Victor and the Creature (SO MUCH TO EXPLORE HERE)
  • the format (the whole thing is letters from Captain Robert Walton to his sister, so at a certain point we’ve got Robert telling us what Victor is telling us that the Creature is telling us. The layered communication, though. Also it’s a CHIASM, so yay)
  • unreliable? narrator??
  • the DRAMA (it gets so extreme sometimes that I have to laugh, but it’s pretty great- do you know how many times they just break down crying?? It’s a lot)
  • Henry Clerval (WHAT a fantastic human being, bless him)
  • Robert Walton (I find this man to be hilarious for whatever reason, but in the best way…I just cannot take him seriously)

NAY:

  • it’s…well…a bit on the depressing side?
  • some of the fate/destiny emphasis (COULD Y’ALL STOP VICTIMIZING YOURSELVES FOR JUST TWO SECONDS)
  • (No wonder everything ends up so horribly)
  • the vanishing brother (um, what happened to Ernest?? Hm??)
  • Elizabeth being too perfect (I mean, I guess I’m not counting her unfortunate judgement of Victor…)

Verdict: Despite its almost melodramatic flair, this book manages to strike a deep chord and raise thought-provoking questions. It’s certainly sensational in its horrific scenarios, but the story has real meat on its bones, as it were.

The Silver Donkey by Sonya Hartnett

In France during the Great War, sisters Marcelle and Coco come across a blind soldier in the woods near their home, and they want to do everything in their power to help him. The soldier tells them stories, and all of them are donkey related.

YEA:

  • there was charm
  • most of the soldier’s stories were soft and sad
  • the soldier’s backstory
  • Pascal, Marcelle and Coco being siblings

NAY:

  • um…I kind of didn’t care?
  • not much for character development
  • I don’t know, I guess I wanted more to happen
  • …why does this feel like nihilism…??

Verdict: It was charming and celebrated storytelling, which I am all about, but somehow it was just kind of…eh?

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (reread)

Sophie knows that as the oldest of three, she has no chance of success, and she is resigned to the fact. She is perfectly content to sit and make hats. But when she is maliciously cursed, she decides to seek her fortune after all, despite the odds.

YEA:

  • the wit and charm (this book is brimming with it)
  • Sophie (what a gem this girl is)
  • Howl (he is completely ridiculous and rather a prime specimen of the brilliant idiot variety, but we love him anyway)
  • Michael (a dear, dear boy)
  • Calcifer (my favorite fire demon)
  • all the other characters (so quirky and entertaining)
  • the castle (I love the magic door)
  • Wales (also rugby)
  • Sophie being the best old lady
  • Sophie talking to hats (and to everything else)
  • Howl’s cold (the drama)
  • Alas, poor Yorick
  • the castle family
  • the nagging/banter (so much golden dialogue)

NAY:

  • sometimes the magic gets a little…hm
  • it ends a bit too quickly

Verdict: It’s very clever and very magical and it’s got the most ridiculously lovable characters. I love it so much.

Epilogue

I’m still staggered by how much graphic novel I have consumed of late? How things have changed. But, eh. I guess it’s okay.

What have you been reading lately? Have you revisited any old favorites this year? Have you ever read the next book in a series even though you knew it was a bad idea? Would you read a book with a pig protagonist? Is Gothic literature a jam, or what? Tell me all the bookish news!

3 thoughts on “Bookish Reviewish~ In Which Things Could Get Pretty Graphic (In A Manner Of Speaking) And We Will Encounter Brilliant Idiots

  1. Just So Stories is such a fun book to read. The prose is perfect for the stories, and as a kid, I ESPECIALLY loved the stories of the invention of the alphabet, &c, all the ones with the little primeval girl and her dad.

    Children of Dune sounds Awful, and I am not sorry that I didn’t read it or any of the other of the sequels. XD

    “He is what one might call a brilliant idiot”. YES and also that phrase seems like it would have many other uses/people to whom it could be applied. I will need to keep it in mind.

    I’m honestly very curious about the trend towards reading more and more graphic novels that I’ve seen in the blogosphere of late. I don’t think it’s something that I’d ever get into myself, but I’m becoming more and more curious, since people have been raving so much about them. Does the format itself appeal to you, or is it more the stories told in the format? Can you read graphic novels faster than just plain prose?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is indeed. I really enjoyed the alphabet stories too. Their thought process for coming up with the letters is quite humorous. And the one where the girl draws the picture that is horrendously misinterpreted made me laugh.

      You are wise to avoid the Dune sequels, my friend. I am glad that you have not made the same mistakes as I. Cling to your innocence!

      Haha, yeah, I find the phrase “brilliant idiot” applies to quite a number of characters. It is most useful.

      Is there a trend?? Hm…. It certainly is a mystery to me. I NEVER imagined I would get into graphic novels (I thought they were all about ugly muscly people, actually), but what happened originally was that I got into a particular anime (something else I NEVER thought would happen to me) and I wanted to know what happened next, so I started reading the manga that the show was based on. At that point I was solely story motivated (both when it came to anime and manga/graphic novel format). The format perturbed me and took some time to get used to. I actually grew to love the format itself through reading it, but story came first for sure. I find now that I can really appreciate the artwork in graphic novels. I geek out about it a little bit and how the artist uses visuals to tell the story (like cool cinematography, kind of). I’ve actually been geeking out about all the creative ways that people tell stories and how each format serves stories in different ways and different stories work best in different formats. It’s just SO COOL. I don’t think that I could read a graphic novel if I didn’t really like the artwork. And yes, reading graphic novels is much faster than plain prose because so much of the page is taken up by pictures. They’re basically long picture books. It’s like halfway between reading a book and watching a movie. So, yeah. That is my conversion to graphic novels in a nutshell.

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  2. JUST SO STORIES. IT IS MY FAVORITE THING. You know, I use it as a resource for my scientific, historical, and linguistic studies just all the time. So useful. Other sources’ accuracy pales in comparison.
    I read them aloud to my little sister years ago, I think my very favorite thing I read her (even better than Peter Pan), because Kipling and his WORDS. It is so brilliantly evident that he loves storytelling (and whimsy). You’re right that it’s almost like poetry. I’m really glad you liked revisiting them, because they are just some of the best literature in the world, I think. Oddly enough, because it is true that the characters aren’t on the same level as, like, Winnie-the-Pooh. I never thought of that before, though.
    I love the poems, too. I used to quote the one that ends “and seven million whys” at my little sister all the time, because she was the person small. Also the second Taffy one (at the end of the alphabet story) always felt so sad to me, even before I found out that Kipling told the stories to his daughter who died when she was six and then he published the books afterward and Taffy and Tegumai are based on her and him??? So now it’s even more sad.
    I always thought having Solomon in there was weird, too, actually, even though I enjoy that story. Huh.

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