Review: Manga Classics: Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, Stacy King, and Po Tse

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Published: 19 August 2014

Publisher: Udon Entertainment

Category: Sequential Art/Manga/Classics

Beloved by millions the world over, Pride & Prejudice is delightfully transformed in this bold new manga adaptation. All of the joy, heartache, and romance of Jane Austen’s original, perfectly illuminated by the sumptuous art of manga-ka Po Tse, and faithfully adapted by Stacy E. King.

Rating: 4 Stars

Pride & Prejudice is probably Jane Austen’s most well-known book and as I like both that story and the art form of manga, I thought the opportunity to read a manga adaptation of such a classic story would be a good time.

Stacy King did a very good job in adapting the novel into a manga. Since there is limited space in which to describe things, her working with the artist Po Tse needed to be flawless so that action, dialogue, and environment could come together in picture form rather than words. For the most part I think that they succeeded. There were moments when I think that characters were plumped up a bit in the adaptation, though that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Lydia, for example, the errant younger sister of Elizabeth Bennett, has many annoying and selfish qualities which were intensified in certain scenes, particularly after the militia men removed themselves from Meryton.

Art

Po Tse, the manga-ka that tackled the project of bringing Jane Austen’s classic to life, did a fabulous job in many ways. The details, such as hairstyles and clothing, were very well done and intricate. Buildings were streamlined in the correct places and in others had the angles that gave them the grandeur that one envisions when picturing Netherfield or Pemberley. Breaking this up were some panels where characters like Mrs. Bennett became chibis (smaller caricatures of themselves) that added some levity that was funny.

What I did not like after a bit, because it became a tiresome wear on the eyes, was the overuse of a glamour style on the primary female characters Elizabeth and Jane. I know we’re meant to understand that they’re beautiful enough to outshine the others in their towns and attract the attention of Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley, but the style of their eyes in particular felt overly heavy handed after a few pages.

Summary

This adaptation had all of the classic scenes that one might expect to see: the proposals, the scene between Darcy and Elizabeth in the rain, the balls, and more. It was easy to see that the people working on this book, from script adapter King to artist Po Tse, were dedicated to making sure that Austen’s work made the transition to this art form successfully.

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Waiting on Wednesday: A Semi-Definitive List of Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we highlight a title we’re looking forward to reading. You can find their website here.

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From the author of Our Chemical Hearts comes the hilarious, reality-bending tale of two outsiders facing their greatest fears about life and love one debilitating phobia at a time.

Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather was cursed by Death, everyone in her family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime. Esther’s father is agoraphobic and hasn’t left the basement in six years, her twin brother can t be in the dark without a light on, and her mother is terrified of bad luck.

The Solars are consumed by their fears and, according to the legend of the curse, destined to die from them.

Esther doesn’t know what her great fear is yet (nor does she want to), a feat achieved by avoiding pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces, and crowds are all off-limits. So are haircuts, spiders, dolls, mirrors and three dozen other phobias she keeps a record of in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.

Then Esther is pickpocketed by Jonah Smallwood, an old elementary school classmate. Along with her phone, money and a fruit roll-up she d been saving, Jonah also steals her list of fears. Despite the theft, Esther and Jonah become friends, and he sets a challenge for them: in an effort to break the curse that has crippled her family, they will meet every Sunday of senior year to work their way through the list, facing one terrifying fear at a time, including one that Esther hadn’t counted on: love.

Reasons I want to read this:
1. There’s a black cat on the cover. I love these little buggers and never bought into the whole bad luck thing, but I assume since they’re traditional viewed as bad omens there will be an appearance. Maybe Esther will luck out and it will be kittens? Maybe she’ll adopt one from a shelter? Who knows…
2. Cursed by Death? That’s interesting enough, but then each member of the family feels the effect of the curse in their own terrifying way. That’s interesting. What would mind be? Does Esther have one? Will she break the curse? Is it breakable?
3. This could easily be some kind of horror movie or mystery thriller and I’m curious to see how it’s going to work as a contemporary young adult book. Esther and Jonah, experimenting to conquer the list of nightmares…will they be successful? What kind of crazy adventures will this entail? Will there be roller coasters for a fear of heights? Boating for a fear of water? There are so many interpretations to the possible fears on this list of Esther’s that I have no idea where it’s going to go!
I’m really curious how in-depth this is going to go, how the fears will be treated, and how the curse itself will be “defeated”, if it in fact can be. The idea feels like it’ll go one way, but the genre feels like it would go another. This book comes out in September and I sure as heck already have it preordered so I’ll find out ASAP upon release!

 

 

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: Gone by Min Kym

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Published: 25 April 2017

Publisher: Crown Publishing Group

Category: Autobiography/Non-fiction/Music

The spellbinding memoir of a violin virtuoso who loses the instrument that had defined her both on stage and off — and who discovers, beyond the violin, the music of her own voice

Her first violin was tiny, harsh, factory-made; her first piece was “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star.” But from the very beginning, Min Kym knew that music was the element in which she could swim and dive and soar. At seven years old, she was a prodigy, the youngest ever student at the famed Purcell School. At eleven, she won her first international prize; at eighteen, violinist great Ruggiero Ricci called her “the most talented violinist I’ve ever taught.” And at twenty-one, she found “the one,” the violin she would play as a soloist: a rare 1696 Stradivarius. Her career took off. She recorded the Brahms concerto and a world tour was planned. Then, in a London cafe, her violin was stolen. She felt as though she had lost her soulmate, and with it her sense of who she was. Overnight she became unable to play or function, stunned into silence.

In this lucid and transfixing memoir, Kym reckons with the space left by her violin’s absence. She sees with new eyes her past as a child prodigy, with its isolation and crushing expectations; her combustible relationships with teachers and with a domineering boyfriend; and her navigation of two very different worlds, her traditional Korean family and her music. And in the stark yet clarifying light of her loss, she rediscovers her voice and herself.

Rating: 5 Stars

If ever there is a book that so concisely tells the story of someone’s passion and does so while embracing that passion, entrusting and passing it on to the reader, then it is Gone by Min Kym. A woman who was a child prodigy of violin music, we hear the story of her learning what it was to pick up the instrument and see her future in wood and string, to journey from being a little girl to a young woman whose music was so profound.

The emotion carried on in this book is only part of the work. The writing, authentic and never pretentious, that enabled me to feel it was a blessing, as I wasn’t sure whether the depth of Kym’s feeling for the violin, both before and after the tragic loss of her prized Stradivarius, would translate well to the page. I needn’t have worried, though, because we not only got a glimpse into that emotional range, but also into what it looked like in her life beyond the musical world. It is difficult at any age to be amazing at something, but to learn about her talent and skill so early added a stress to Kym’s life that I don’t think everyone would be able to bear.

Another thing that I enjoyed about the book was there were links to some of Min Kym’s works that are mentioned within the story. The accompanying album, Gone, is available on Spotify here. Classical music is one of my favorites because, in my opinion, it has the fluidity to speak to a person more so than a song with words. The feeling is there and that feeling can change with the person, with the listening. If you’re reading the novel Gone, I cannot stress how much listening to Min Kym’s album will add to the experience.

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Audiobook Review: The Book of Dragons by E. Nesbit, Narrated by Karen Krause

Author: E. Nesbit

Narrator: Karen Krause

Length: 4h 53m

Publisher: Listen2aBook.com

Series: The Book of Dragons, Books 1-8

Genre: Classic Fantasy

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Edith (E.) Nesbit was a master at weaving imagination and real life into timeless fairy tales, with fantastic mythical creatures, princes and princesses, magic, and just the right touch of silliness. This is a collection of nine of her fairy tales with a common theme – Dragons! For children from five to 95, these stories are not to be taken seriously. Let your imagination run wild!

Rating: 2.5 Stars

I like dragons a lot. I cannot remember my very first book about them, but I have a feeling it was Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede in which a princess becomes a dragon’s servant willingly. Quite the scandal!

When I saw this collection offered as a tour for Audiobookwork Promotions I thought that it sounded like it would be a good way to get back to dragon literature because, sadly, my books recently have been lacking in dragon characters. Unfortunately it did not turn out as well as I had hoped and I’ll be taking my review right from my Audible account, broken down into guided categories so I can explain just why this book didn’t work out for me.

As an aside, Karen Krause was a pretty good narrator. While the book started wearing on me and her by default, I think I’d be up for listening to another of her performances because maybe that story would turn out better and thus her work wouldn’t be diminished.

What did you like best about The Book of Dragons? What did you like least?

The narrator was a good match for fairy tales. She had the perfect read aloud, librarian-esque type voice that made the stories at least some what enjoyable.

The least enjoyable thing was the fact that most of the dragons were monsters that had to be destroyed and their motivations were next to nil.

What could E. Nesbit have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

I think a variation in her dragons would’ve made the collection more interesting. They came across very one note to me. Different settings didn’t mean different dragons beneath the surface.

What does Karen Krause bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I probably would’ve put the book down a lot sooner if I had been reading this as a physical copy. Karen Krause’s performance reminded me of being read to as a child and the experience was a pleasant, nostalgic one.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

As much as I love dragons, I don’t think so. Even if the dragons were better villains, I don’t think the collection as a whole was cohesive enough to make a film.

 

Are there any dragon books that you’re especially fond of? Do you prefer good, evil, or neutral dragons? Have you read The Book of Dragons by E. Nesbit? Let me know in the comment section below.

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the Audiobookwork Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: If Not For You by Debbie Macomber

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Published: 21 March 2017

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Category: Romance/Fiction/Women’s Fiction

If not for her loving but controlling parents, Beth Prudhomme might never have taken charge of her life and moved from her native Chicago to Portland, Oregon, where she s reconnected with her spirited Aunt Sunshine and found a job as a high school music teacher. If not for her friend Nichole, Beth would never have met Sam Carney, although first impressions have left Beth with serious doubts. Sam is everything Beth is not and her parents worst nightmare: a tattooed auto mechanic who s rough around the edges. Reserved and smart as a whip, Beth isn t exactly Sam s usual beer-drinking, pool-playing type of woman, either.

But if not for an awkward setup one evening, Beth might never have left early and been involved in a car crash. And if not for Sam who witnessed the terrifying ordeal, rushed to her aid, and stayed with her until help arrived Beth might have been all alone, or worse. Yet as events play out, Sam feels compelled to check on Beth almost daily at the hospital even bringing his guitar to play songs to lift her spirits. Soon their unlikely friendship evolves into an intense attraction that surprises them both.

Before long, Beth’s strong-willed mother, Ellie, blows into town spouting harsh opinions, especially about Sam, and reopening old wounds with Sunshine. When shocking secrets from Sam s past are revealed, Beth struggles to reconcile her feelings. But when Beth goes a step too far, she risks losing the man and the life she s come to love.

Rating: 2 Stars

I’m a fan of most of Debbie Macomber’s books, especially her Blossom Street series because of the central knitting theme it has. However, while I was reading this book, it really hit me how incredibly formulaic some of her character’s love stories were. It wasn’t just a genre or trope, either, but specifically for her novels: the two polar opposites who are extremely judgmental of each other for many very many, if any, concrete reasons, one of which is from a well off background, the other from a rougher or working class background, but who will obviously end up together in the end.

The main characters in this book, Sam and Beth, were harder to connect to than previous Macomber couples. Their attraction, after being set up on a blind date that neither wanted and being thrown together, quite literally, by an accident on the way home, seemed to happen really quickly with next to no foundation. I’ve seen instalove in young adult novels, but this really took it to another level.

Beth annoyed me at some points because on the one hand she kept “telling” the reader that she knew what her mother was like, the typical overbearing mother who thinks she knows what is good for her daughter no matter what the daughter says, but on the other hand she ignored classic warning signs like when Ellie, her mother, said “she was afraid this would happen” and upon being pressed for meaning says “never mind.” That should have been a huge red flag because, not long after, a mother provided road block pops up. This was one of those moments like when you’re watching a horror movie and shouting at the stupid person checking out the noise in the dark backyard, knowing only doom awaits.

Beth’s aunt, Sunshine, was a cool character at first. She lived in Portland, the new town that Beth had moved to and was giving her as much support as she could while allowing her to be her own person. However, when Beth started meddling in her past and that became Sunshine’s main story, I started to dislike where it was going. The painful memory of her past, an intense love with a man named Peter, was something that I wouldn’t have minded being reconciled, but not to the extent that it went. Peter begs Sunshine to give up a once in a lifetime art trip to Italy because he doesn’t have the funds to go, she goes anyway, and while she’s gone he cheats on her with her sister.

When Sunshine comes back, Peter and Sunshine’s sister say they’re in love. That was bad enough, but to have the author write a story where Sunshine forgave him because she loved him so much and accepted him back as her love interest felt wrong for two reasons: 1) No. He cheated once and you can’t trust him, especially since it was with someone so near to you. 2) The reconciliation/new relationship with the cheater is quite contradictory to almost all of Macomber’s other books where the women leave cheating husbands/boyfriends who “swear they’ll never do it again”. This twist felt like a betrayal.

When the story began to end, Beth also came back with something that annoyed me and that was taking Sam to a piano recital. At the recital they saw Lucinda play, Lucinda being the daughter that Sam has never met and has no parental rights to due some thorny issues thirteen years ago. Beth should have known how painful this would be, but it never once occurred to her and that made her seem incredibly selfish to me, which is how Sam starts out when he gets mad at her for bringing him there. Of course by the end of the book he forgives her, so she never really suffers for her actions and I doubt she’ll really learn, so what was the point? The whole Lucinda story felt cruel because there was no resolution,  one way or the other, by the end and Beth dredging it up when she knew Sam wouldn’t want that felt horrid.

Overall the book lacked a lot of content. Most of it went by with nothing really happening and that, while at times relaxing and interesting if the story is character driven, was not the case here. If Not For You is one of the most disappointing Macomber books I’ve read yet.

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Make Me Read It Readathon 2017

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I used to be big into readathons, but to be honest I don’t think I’ve ever finished one. Usually because I choose really big TBRs and that can be a setback in this kind of situation. That, and I also get caught up in just what to read. I have literally thousands of choices in my home library alone, how can I be expected to choose from among all of that?

That’s why, when I saw Val @ The Innocent Smiley  announce on Twitter that she and Ely @ Tea & Titles were hosting the Make Me Read It Readathon again this year, I thought that it would be the perfect opportunity for some pressure to be alleviated in the choosing of a TBR and some accountability. If you say I have to read it, well, I’m going to try a bit harder than if it was just me then, won’t I?

The readathon is going to run from August 6th to August 13th. If you’d like to see Val’s post explaining all details, you can check it out here. The long and short of it is, I will be posting a few titles that have been on my TBR for awhile now and I want you to choose which ones I will read for the readathon. As it is only a week long event, I think I’ll aim to read whatever three books get the most votes, with an option for a fourth if time permits.

Now, on to the fun part! What books to choose from! Remember, to cast your vote, leave a comment down below letting me know your pick. Whichever book gets the most votes will be read first; second place will be read second, etc. Your voting choices are:

So, what do you think? Which book do I have to read first? 😉

 

 

 

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: The Stereotypical Freaks (Forever Friends, #1) by Howard Shapiro

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Published: 4 November 2012

Publisher: Animal Media Group

Category: Young Adult/Graphic Novel/Music

Four disparate high school seniors come together to compete in their school’s battle of the bands. Sharing a love for playing rock and roll, the members name the band “The Stereotypical Freaks” because they feel stereotyped by their classmates – smart kid, geek, star athlete and quiet weirdo… when in fact they know they are much more than those labels that have been placed on them.

When one member reveals life altering news, winning the competition takes on more of a meaning to each member. Scared and angry, upset and yet still with a lot of resolve they set out to win one for the good guys… will they?

Rating: 2 Stars

I remember, when I requested The Stereotypical Freaks, thinking that it sounded really cool. Music has been essential to some tough time in my life, in a lot of people’s lives I’m sure, and it brings the characters in this story together.

There was just a lot lacking in the book that the music theme couldn’t bring back up from down low, little things that added up to one big thing: I didn’t care for the book as much as I thought I would.

The Bad

  • The scene breaks that happened between chapters were jarring and didn’t make sense, like two mini-chapters got jammed together accidentally.
  • The characters didn’t flesh out more than their, well, stereotypes. Granted we were given insight into what their characters ought to have been, like the “quiet weirdo” who just wants to experience as much life as possible before the end, but that’s all these moments were: glimpses, brief interludes into what might have been.
  • The band’s music was difficult to suss out. There were recommendations at the beginning of each chapter, but it wasn’t clear in the text that these were songs that the kids were either playing or inspired by.

The Good

  • At the beginning of each chapter there were musical recommendations that were fun to search out on Spotify. It gave a little life to the book.
  • The art was a clean style that I liked, not too much fussiness.
  • It was a fast, easy read.

Summary

There was a lot of potential for this to be fun, but I didn’t get that sense from reading it. There are two more books in the series, but I don’t think I’ll be continuing on. As dull as I found it, I both don’t really want to continue and I also felt like this story was done, so I’m fine with where I left things.

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.