Adult, Books, Comics

Tokyo Ghost: Vol. 1. Atomic Garden by Rick Remender Review

Pop Sugar Reading Challenge Update: 13/40
A Graphic Novel

You do not understand how nice it is to write a post.  With Gretchen on her way back I don’t have to make a million videos any more.  I AM FREE!  It isn’t that I don’t put the same amount of effort into both, its simply that making videos takes so much more time.

It is wednesday and I have a trade review for you guys.  Next week I’m going to talk about the comic shop that I chose because I have been shopping around for one that I trust and maybe I’ll do a weekly pull… who knows?  For now, let’s talk technologypocalypse.

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Comic Title: Tokyo Ghost
Volume Title: Vol. 1: The Atomic Garden
Collected Issues: #1-5
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Sean Murphy
Publisher: Image
Page #: 136
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: M for Mature

If you have been following my comic reviews you probably saw this one coming.  I am a huge fan of Remender, I think with each comic of his that I have read I have seen him develop and really build on himself.  This is no exception, but I do want to talk about the few little issues I had with it.

If you don’t know, this series takes place in a particular future where technology has advanced so far that it has become and actual addiction for people.  They don’t have to think about the real world, they can escape into so many shows that are hovering right before their eyes.  Too weak, get enhanced, take shots or pills with particular tech in them to improve yourself.  Masturbating too hard?  There’s some tech for that.

Our protagonists are lovers who are on opposite sides of this technological spectrum.  A spunky little lady who has never taken part in any of this tech stuff and her best friend and lover who was so embarrassed by his weak nature that he enlisted into a sort of back alley police force in order to gain the tech necessary to make him large and strong and powerful.

At first I had a little bit of trouble with this comic because it seemed like such a cliche plot.  A story telling of the woes of technology (a theme that I honestly am bothered by most of the time) however it quickly turned into something else.  This is a story about guilt, addiction, and sacrifice.  This isn’t a story about love conquering all, at least so far it isn’t.  It did end on a bit of a cliff hanger, and I picked it up in the trade so I have no idea what happens next.  I appreciate it for that.  Remender is moving it somewhere unique and I think he is exploring interesting themes.  He is able to create so many interesting and unique worlds with issues stemming from so many places and I honestly applaud that ability.

How about the art?  I always like talking about the art when it is relevant.  I honestly found the way this comic was illustrated incredibly beautiful.  There are large spaces of black filled with pops of really vibrant color and fast moving actions.  There were panels that actually hit me really hard either in how incredibly poignant they were, or in how disturbing they were underneath all of that color.  It was an interesting experience.

My only problem was that I felt the female lead was a little bit too scantily clad.  Now, I have nothing against ladies wearing what they want and what they are comfortable with, I do however have a problem with designs being meant for the male audience to lust after or ogle those females.  Did it bother me enough to put down the book, no.  She isn’t often in risque poses or anything so I will forgive it that.  She looks cool, and that’s importan, I just wish she could be cool, with a little bit more clothes.  Personal taste probably.

All in all I really enjoyed this comic.  I still think Low is a better story, but I have been invested in it longer.  I will be picking up the next trade of this one when it comes out because I am still interested which is not something I could say about Black Science.  We shall see where the story goes.

I hope you guys are having a good week and I will talk to you again Friday!  I will be doing a bit of a weird one then because I haven’t been able to do a chatty Monday Musing wherein I talk about what it is like to work in a library after my first week.  I hope you guys are excited!

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Adult, Books

When We Were Alive by C. J. Fisher ARC Review

I was lucky enough to receive this beautiful thing from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Pop Sugar Reading Challenge Update: 17/40
A Book Published in 2016

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Title: When We Were Alive
Author: C. J. Fisher
Publisher: Legend Press
Page #: 272
Genre: Fiction, Literary Fiction

This book came out March 1st so you can go pick up a copy today!

I’m not going to be talking about the plot of this novel because I feel like it is important to experience it yourself, I will however link to Chelsea’s video wherein she talks about the book and that will give you an idea about what goes on in this book.

I have been watching Chelsea on YouTube for years and some of you may take this review as a fans review of the book. To which I have to say, you shouldn’t. This isn’t a book pitched at a YouTube audience. This isn’t a book meant for Teens to get their parents to shill out as much money as possible to make a quick buck on an already existing audience. I was ecstatic to receive this book, but I waited before starting in order to calm down and read it with a level head because I knew this was A BOOK, and not a piece of propaganda. I was petrified I would have to bash it online because I wanted to like it so much. Luckily, Chelsea came through and did what I knew she could, write a fucking awesome book.

Now, the reason I know this book is awesome? It almost made me cry. Now you might be wondering why I say its awesome when it didn’t succeed at making me cry. I cry any time someone says something remotely sad in movies. It is much harder to make me cry while reading. There is a level of intimacy at watching someone say something extremely heart breaking and vulnerable versus reading it in a detached third person perspective. The distance from the people and their problems usually helps me to keep a level head. Yet I was moved to tearing up while reading this book.

If you thought a book titled when we were alive featuring three empty chairs on the cover would be a happy book, I’m sorry to inform you that you may want to work on your understanding of imagery. I knew it was going to be sad but I wasn’t prepared to feel so much for these characters. We get to see all of them go through so much and then have even more go to shit. Usually when I read a book like this I feel upset by the end, like I was unfulfilled but she was able to write this in such a way that I was forlorn but not left wanting. It seemed real. However tragic and outlandish, it wasn’t beyond the scope of reality and that is what was truly scary about it.

The book has a cyclical nature spiraling in and out, returning to certain themes like love, magic, and death even to the point of repeating certain lines throughout. Different characters in different time lines all seem to ruminate on similar ideas. It is really easy to make a structure like this seem repetitive or heavy handed but I don’t think that this was. For me, I felt like this was another sign of the beauty in this books writing. While things repeat and show up time and time again it seems inevitable. It seems like a mixture of fate or perhaps a curse put upon them years ago. The things these characters ruminate on, I think, are truly at the root of the human experience. You can’t be alive without having spent time wondering about all of these things.

The last thing I wanted to mention is that there was one particular tragedy that I did not see coming. During most of the scenes where something horrible was going to happen you can feel it. She was able to build anxiety in you without it being too much. You are waiting for something bad to happen, and then it doesn’t or it does and you nod and move along. There was one particular tragedy that was alluded to throughout the book that completely blindsided me despite happening to the only character we hear from in the first person and there being little hints and clues along the way. This is brilliant writing. Not only do I think this relates completely to the tragedy I am speaking of but also to the fact that even after the entire book I was still hoping for something better for these characters.

All in all, I am so glad that I loved this book but also really want to implore you to pick it up. This isn’t a happy book but it is a really great book. This is a book that will have you hooked from the very beginning. This is a book about the strengths and weaknesses of living and loving. This is a book about how to keep going when everything goes tits up. I am going to buying myself a physical edition of this book for my shelves because it was so poignant for me. Don’t take this as a fan of the author telling you how great the author is, take this as a fan of the book telling you how worth while the book is, because its worth all the time in the world.

Adult, Books

Monday Musings: The Favorite Author Spotlight Edition with reviews for Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman (Reviews from the Dregs)

This week instead of an update I am doing another duel review.  The first being a review from the dregs followed by the review for Beth Hoffman’s more recent novel.

This is one of my all time favorite books.  If I remember correctly this review isn’t terrible.  Possibly because I cared about its contents more than usual.

Title: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
Author: Beth Hoffman
Publisher: Viking (Penguin Group)
Page #: 306
Genre: Historical Fiction

Now I don’t know if you have read my other book reviews, but this seems quite outside of my common reading list and it is.  I am an avid fantasy and paranormal reader so why was I moved to buy a historical fiction book.  I can’t say what it is exactly.  I was looking through a bunch of books and saw it.  I figured I’d buy it and when I read the excerpt I realized what may have been the moving factor.  A majority of the novel takes place in Savannah, Georgia during 1967 which was the home of my grandparents up until the year prior to that.

Now with the strange choice in book aside, I should probably start talking about what I thought of it.  Equally as surprising I loved it! It was such a heartwarming story.  With historical fiction I am often bored but the plot kept moving.  It wasn’t particularly exciting but the characters were fantastic.  When the characters are moving and inspiring I will always continue reading.

Our cute young female lead has felt alienated her entire life.  Her mother’s mind slowly deteriorated to an incoherent mess and her dad works a job which requires him to travel all the time.  She is embarrassed by her mother and forced to take care of her starting at a young age.  When her mother tragically dies (not a spoiler the flap tells you this so if the author concedes it ahead of time it is not something that you should be bothered by) her father packs her up and ships her to her great aunts house in the south.

CeeCee’s new world is surrounded by women role models.  They all seem to be single either widowed, divorced or never married.  This creates a sort of inspiring thing where woman can be quirky and inspirational without men.  There is hardly ever a man mentioned and if you actually meet a man he is not shed in the best of lights.  Some of the men are remembered fondly but there are very few throughout the book.

The characters and the story are extremely heartwarming and I would really recommend reading it.  Like I said this book is outside my comfort zone and I still loved it.

Obviously my taste in books has changed.  Actual that was made clear to me recently.  I think time has changed my palette quite a bit, or I’m just more honest with myself about what I enjoy and what I don’t, or I still like the books I used to like, I just can’t read them nonstop like I used to.  I need more variety now.  That includes what Goodreads categorizes as Chic Lit.

Now for the more recent review.  A lot of you remember my mentioning that I had finished and enjoyed Looking for Me, well here are my thoughts on the novel in depth.

Title: Looking for Me
Author: Beth Hoffman
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Page #: 354
Genre: Historical Fiction

I am somehow nostalgic over a place and time that I never experienced.  I really enjoy going back to southern fiction set in the middle of the last century.  I have no idea why.  Beth Hoffman writes novels that make me feel like I have gone home.

Unlike her last novel, the main character is for the majority of the text an adult in her thirties.  I am not an adult in my thirties, I barely qualify as an adult as it is, and yet I was still able to identify with her.  Teddi is the type of woman that I hope to grow up to be.  All of the characters in this novel in fact had aspects that I would gladly take in. The conflicts within the characters are all very raw and real.  I felt the way they dealt with them were realistic and in line with what I expected from them.

I think that the plot of this novel bring together perfectly feelings of family, loss, and love.  This text almost had me in tears at various points.  Beth Hoffman knows how to perfectly capture an emotion whether through memories or in the moment.  I felt for all of these characters no matter how quirky they were.  I felt like the conflicts were resolved in a way that was both timely and respectful.  The only complaint I had here was that while I was reading I felt like the romance was a bit forced.  I saw that it was being set up throughout the text but I didn’t think it was necessary.  I understand why it was there, and I’m glad that it was a background element but I don’t think it would have made a world of difference to me if it wasn’t there at all.

The novel takes place in two places, Teddi’s family farm at various points throughout her life and then the city of Charleston.  I visited Charleston last summer and the text brought me back to the sights and smells of the city.  I honestly feel like I could navigate both of the locations with my eyes closed.  The descriptions of the houses and natural surroundings were outstanding.  It is obvious that Beth Hoffman has a passion for preserving history.  Her last book focused on the restoration of old houses, this text focuses more on the restoration of furniture.

All in all I loved it.  Beth Hoffman has a way of warming my heart with her books and I really appreciate it.  I would recommend giving it a try, even if you don’t usually read “chic lit”.  I think “chic lit” gives books like these a bad name.  They describe a persons life and thoughts just like any other, just because it follows a woman and not a man seems to make it unworthy of male readership.  I think anyone who values family and has even a fiber of empathy in them would be able to enjoy this book.  Really, give it a try.

Adult, Books

Book Review! Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

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So they said that zombies, ghouls, and ghosts would be the next big thing after vampires, werewolves, and demons if this book has any say I would call them omniscient.  Who are they? you ask.  I have no clue, literary analysts?  You tell me.  I read it somewhere I’m sure.

Some of you may have seen the preview for the soon to theaters movie based on this book:

This is what had originally drawn me to the book in the first place.  While I am not an avid book before movie person I do try to read before I watch when I can.  I am never against reading the book after.  I guess you would say I am the kind of person who promotes reading at all.  You will never hear me say oh you saw the movie, its fine then you don’t really need to read the book they are basically the same thing.  Never.

This is a perfect example of that statement being utterly false.  Even from the trailer I can tell they changed a few things that proved to be key components to several plot points in the novel.

I might update this post after viewing the movie and tell you about the differences and which I thought was a better medium for the story but for now I will leave it at this.

Let me get into the nitty gritty of the book.

As far as plot goes, I thought this book had a good arc but the flow was a little to my disliking.  For instance, I would say 85% of the novel was exposition and rising action.  It really held you until the end before getting to the meat of everything.  You would get snippets here and there, and you definitely had moments of action but the moment you were waiting for the big reveal the epiphany so to speak had to happen within the last fifty pages if not the last twenty.  Now the book was by no means slow.  I read it in one sitting.  Start to finish.

Part of what made it so likeable was our main character and narrator R.  This cute little zombie had quite the eloquent brain but the tongue of a toddler.  It was quaint.  He was valiant and daring for a supposed mindless corpse.  That was the point wasn’t it?

Our heroine Julie was slightly less endearing for me.  While I sympathized with her I couldn’t say that I liked her very much.  Even while looking through R’s rose colored glasses at her I didn’t find her very strong.  She had admirable qualities but there was something about her that bothered me.  Perhaps it was her nonchalance at the knowledge that her current dead boyfriend ate the brain and acquired the memories of her previous dead boyfriend.

I would have to say that my favorite characters in the whole novel by far though were the two best friends.  M, R’s best friend was sarcastic as hell and I loved him for it, even if he was a zombie.  How a zombie retains such a great quality I have no idea but the bruiser who can make me laugh will win my heart any day.  My second favorite being Nora a much more strong female.  When women are living in a zombie infested world I expected most if not all the women to be more like her.  She was brazen and hardened and I liked that about her.  While Julie seemed apathetic to some things she should have been emotional over and completely emotional over other things and was inconsistent in her fear and sadness Nora held a brave front.  I admired her as a character and the stock piles of gumption she administered throughout the final pages.

I would like to add that my copy has these great anatomical drawings at the beginning of each section and while they didn’t add anything to the story they were super cool to look at and I enjoyed them as an aesthetic addition.

I gave this novel a total of four out of five stars.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story and most of the characters while it had some little things that bugged me with the construction and unfolding of the story and definitely left me wanting to know what happened to the world overall I did get enough to satisfy myself as it is.  I would recommend this to anybody who enjoys romance novels because it is completely ridiculous idea.  It has some great social implications and I could consider it commentary on our society today as well as on the society within the novel.  Ever so slightly thought provoking.

I’m going to have another book review up soon.  I’ve been eating them up like candies it would seem.

For now, the pied piper is calling me.