Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Happy Lippy Book Club: Heathen Vol. 1 - Natasha Alterici & Rachel Deering

Publication Date: 8th August 2017

Heathen is not only the first breath-taking leap into a Nordic fantasy world, but also a story of acceptance, courage and passion. The art is stunning and reckless. I love how free and unique both the art style and the story are. Aydis is a strong and fearless warrior, cast out of her village for kissing another girl.

Throughout her journey she seeks to not only end the suffering of a Valkyrie, who is cursed by the tyrannical God-King Odin, but also to abolish the subjugation of women like her. On her way she must fight tricksters, jump through flames, and even overcome the temptation of fickle love.

The Nordic lore and the immortal talking animals (especially her horse, Saga!) just wove another layer into the fabric of this story that I couldn’t resist.

I thoroughly enjoyed this volume and can’t wait for the next one. The ending is very much leading up to something big (though I can’t give too much away) and I would love to see where this series goes. Both Aydis and Brynhild are powerfully intense characters, whose mind-set and emotions are laid completely bare to you as the reader. You don’t read graphic novels like this. You experience them.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

The Essex Serpent - Sarah Perry

It's been a long time coming but here is my review of The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. I picked up this book to try something different to my usual fare but in the end I'm pleased to say that it's not that different at all. While The Essex Serpent is historical fiction, it is written in a very modern tone without much thought given to the typical drone of a history lesson. It follows the story of Cora, a magnetic, impulsive young widow finally free from her abusive husband. I loved that Cora, while attracting new friends like moths to a flame, is human enough to make mistakes and drive those people away at times too. It is very much an ebb-and-flow book that rises and recedes with the tides.

The Gothic, and in some places shocking experiences that surround the mystery of the Essex Serpent really bind together the thoughts and feelings of the characters, allowing Perry to fully explore the delirious mind of Stella and the emotions of Naomi who experiences losing a friend. It brings you closer to them and really makes them shine. All in all a phenomenal read!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

After The Crash - Michel Bussi

Image result for after the crashI'm not normally known for being a thriller kind of girl but After The Crash is magnetic. The plot is wonderfully convoluted and strange. There is even a fake-your-own-death trope emerging within its pages. The story leads you one way and then another. It is completely phenomenal. The sole survivor of a devastating car crash is a baby girl, but in a time when DNA testing was both experimental and costly, officials are mystified as to which of the two families vying for the child are actually blood relatives. After an arduous investigation, nothing is concluded but she is placed with the family which the authorities think is the best environment for her, but at 18 the soul searching question of who she really is comes back with a bite. An enthralling and enigmatic tale that will leave you breathless with a conclusion that is more brilliantly thought up than any other thriller I've read.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Five Unique Poetry Anthologies

The best part of reading poetry is being able to experience something completely new and remarkable, unlike anything you've felt before, all in the space of a few stanzas. These are my top five unique poetry anthologies that twisted and pulled at my emotions in a very short space of time.

The World's Wife - Carol Ann Duffy

Carol Ann Duffy is an incredibly talented writer and was appointed Britain's Poet Laureate in May 2009. This particular anthology is focused on the under appreciated women in literacy. The most intense storms are named after women and so are the intense and devastating poems in this anthology. They are filled with personality, imagination and the witty voice of their author. Among my favorites are Salome and Medusa.
Behind every great man there's a great woman!

Listener - Lemn Sissay 

Another really phenomenal anthology. Lemn Sissay's work is dynamic, rhythmic and made to be spoken allowed. His really flowing, fast paced poems, such as The Actor's Voice and Some Things I Like, have a really great beat and roll off the tongue. They are offset with creatively laid out poems such as Rain and even Gambian Holiday Maker, which are both succinct and formed of only a few words and letters yet have a lot to say.

Sissay brilliantly communicates thoughts and feelings in a way that not many other people can.

Six Poets Hardy to Larkin - Alan Bennett

Contains poems by Thomas Hardy, A. E. Housman, John Betjeman, W. H. Auden, Louis MacNeice and Philip Larkin.

Throughout this anthology are little snippets of information about the people behind the lyrical words. Bennett comments on the motivation behind the writing of the piece and, at one point, about Thomas Hardy's slightly worrying obsession with graves! These little snippets really made this anthology special to me and I enjoyed the poems even more with the context behind them.

Milk and Honey - Rupi Kaur

I've got a complex relationship with this anthology. Kaur tackles some painful and potentially triggering experiences, especially those regarding child abuse and domestic violence. Overall I found it excruciatingly beautiful. It is topped off with her down to earth views on respect and body image.

Kaur writes with a forward thinking attitude and a simplicity that drives me wild. Other's have tried to recreate this exceptionally honest style, for example in The Princess Saves Herself In This One, but none have succeeded. One of a kind.

Il Giardino - Vita Sackville West

This anthology I am very fond of, and not just because I bought it after a tour of West's stunning walled garden at Sissinghurst Castle. There is a particular section that calls me in Winter, where she talks about being alone and the difference between abandonment and a blissful solitude. The entirety of this vivid anthology is written in floral metaphors and the imagery is so sharp and clear. By the end you feel like you've sat in a serene garden, alone with your thoughts, for an entire year. It's a breath of fresh air and great at clearing your mind of trivial everyday worries.

Milkyway Hitchhiking Vol 1 - Sirial

There is some very striking artwork in this beautiful edition by Yen Press. The colors are soft and pretty and it feels very light and watercolor, missing almost any harsh lines at all. If good art is what you're looking for, this is your book. You can see that Sirial has worked tirelessly on every single panel of this book and I love it. The stories don't really scratch the surface of what I think she's capable of but they are light, fluffy and positively feel-good. The only thing I would say is that the cat uses waaaay too many meow puns. Perfect for a little boost between deeper, darker reading material!

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood: Part 1, Vol. 1 - Horihiko Araki

Famed for its wild humor and fight frenzies, I was really looking forward to reading JoJo's Bizarre Adventure for the first time. True to it's reputation, it has a considerable amount of fight scenes, almost obscene muscles and verges on the side of very gorey. The art style is detailed and iconic, just not my cup of tea. I love JoJo as a character. I grew to love his true gentleman nature and the very easy to empathize with underdog aspect of his character, however he has very few flaws besides his near constant losses to Dio. The way the information about the Aztec mask was revealed was very clever, both in the beginning few pages and when Dio steals the mask. One thing I vehemently dislike about this manga was the animal cruelty. First with JoJo's past attitude towards his dog, throwing stones at it and mistreating it because it bit him. Then again when Dio first meets the dog and punches it in the face, throwing it forcefully backwards. Then finally when the dog has its muzzle wired shut and is thrown in a box to be set on fire. What on Earth was Araki thinking? I don't think I'll ever understand why that was necessary to the story. I can see why people love it. Everything is bold and more than a little over the top. I can't say I liked it as much as I was expecting to. I'd give volume 2 a go if I stumbled upon it, but I'm unlikely to search out the rest of this story.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Borne - Jeff Vandermeer

Image result for borne jeff vandermeer
Borne is such an imaginative labor of love. Only Vandermeer could hope to capture the intricacies of this strange post-apocalyptic biotech-bear ruled world. Every nuance and feature of Borne's development is painstakingly explained and laid out for the reader's attention. Every shift in relationship between Rachael and Wick and Borne is felt as real as day. You as the reader, watch Rachael's transformation, which is, in a way, even more startling than Borne. You become used to watching this strange organism bend and wiggle its tentacles but the feelings and emotions in this novel will never fail to surprise you. I loved the three way war dynamic, with Rachael and Wick fighting both the Magician's influence as well as Mord and his Proxies. The incredible journey from Balcony Cliffs at the ending was fantastically done! Five stars!

The Girl with all the Gifts (Collaborative Post) - M.R. Carey

The Girl with All the Gifts.jpg
Penny : What did you think of girl with all the gifts?

Joel : I thought it was quite pretty in the way it was told. In the sense of the girl [Melanie] has such an innocent way of looking at life. Even though she's not really human, she's blissful. She learns so much but shes never really scared other than of loosing her friends (as far as I can remember).

Penny : Did you like the characters?

Joel : Justineau is an incredible mother figure but Parks tends to turn her into a bit of a sex object. She puts her life at risk rather than Melanie's and in some parts she was blinded by wanting to help Melanie out more than to survive and she'd put the group at risk for that because of her guilt over her past.

I didn't know what to think about the ending.

Penny : I thought it was a bit of a kick in the teeth for Justineau in that she now has no-one her own age to talk to and the solitude will probably really hurt her in the future but at the same time she can't end it like parks did because she now has this duty to be the template for the humanity in the Hungry children.

Joel : There were times when I really didn't like parks. I could tell he was trying to be defensive and keeping people in line to make sure they were safe but the way he did it was wrong. He was talking to civilians, not soldiers. The opinion that he's the only one that can be right caused the other characters to deviate and put themselves in danger in order to be heard. His attitude changed and his style of leading changes. He considers other peoples opinions and feelings more throughout the novel.

Caldwell was a hardhearted but hard working scientist that was looking for the cure to the pathogen.

Penny : She felt she was the hero of the story even if the people in the group detested her. As a character I thought she was the most complex and well written.

Joel : That still doesn't make the things she did good. She would hurt other people just to give her an edge to discovering the cure and treated Melanie and the other Hungry children as just another slab of meat ready to be dissected.

Penny : At the same time Caldwell played an important role in helping Melanie reach her own conclusion that the era of the humans had ended and that there would be no cure. Melanie grew Doctor Caldwell's ideas and flipped them on their head.

Joel : Overall it was well written and the character development is definitely worth talking about but the ending leaves you wanting more in that it's quite abrupt.

Penny : I agree about the character development but the abrupt ending I thought was a good shock tactic and completely unexpected!