Review: Lady Mechanika: La Dama de la Muerte – Joe Benitez

Lady Mechanika: La Dama de la Muerte – Joe Benitez – 4 stars

Lady Mechanika

This edition of Lady Mechanika is due to be released on 26th September (thank you Diamond Book Distributors for letting me have a copy!), and it includes all the comics pertaining to Lady Mechanika’s adventures as ‘La Dama de la Muerte’.

This was my first time meeting Lady Mechanika, and although she does seem to have a lot of backstory, this snapshot of her life – as a stand-alone – did a pretty good job of introducing her. There are a few major gaps that I definitely need to know more about (EYES??), but on the whole our protagonist seems like an altruistic – if troubled – badass.

The illustrations in this book are beautiful. I always think you need a certain standard of visual representation if you’re going to deal with El Dia de los Muertes in your story, and ‘La Dama de la Muerte’ nails it. The colour and vibrancy of the art is enchanting, dragging the reader into the more mystical elements of Mexican culture.

The story is interesting and hard to put down, if a little…quick. I suppose it might be different for readers who are already familiar with the characters, but I felt a bit like it was all over before it had started. There’s something to be said for compact story-telling, but this is a little extreme.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my first introduction to this comic franchise, and although I feel like I’m missing out on a lot of back-story elements, I guess that’s probably the point! I gave this collection a four stars, and although I’m not sure I would pay $10 for something this length, I have to admit that this is a pretty fantastic work of storytelling.

If you’ve read this too, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

The Huntsman: Winter’s War

The Huntsman Winter's War

I saw The Huntsman: Winter’s War! I’m counting it as a loose book to film adaptation, as the concept was originally a retelling of the story of Snow White.

While the film has come under a lot of criticism, and there are some – shall we say shaky? – elements to it, I want to start by saying that I did definitely enjoy a lot of it.

There were some things in particular I thought this film did fantastically, and the first was the casting. Charlize Theron as Queen Ravenna is utterly terrifying, and although Chris Hemsworth’s face now has a lot of Marvel baggage to it, he did a great job as the Huntsman – to the extent that you could almost brush away the image of Thor. For me, though, the real star of the show was Emily Blunt. She brought a really thoughtful and nuanced ‘villain’ to life, and the way she portrayed the character as both damaged and powerful, vulnerable and untouchable, was a huge part of what made this film not-intolerable.

I also loved the British-isms in the language of the dwarves: they were humorous without being mocking, and I thought they were a nice – if not completely original – interpretation of the dwarf trope. My only confusion was about the accents of Eric and Sara: was that meant to be Scottish?

So the film was promising. It was also painfully derivative from the very start. Images from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe; The Golden Compass; and The Lord of the Rings were generously scattered throughout, and one of the main characters was a white-haired, blue-dressed girl with emotional baggage and ice powers, who ran away from her sister to build a ‘kingdom of isolation’…out of ice. Really, Universal Studios? Did you actually think anyone was over Frozen?

One critic for the Guardian wrote:

Now Snow White is awol, this dreary and incoherent CGI mashup of plots from Frozen, Narnia and The Incredibles really cannot justify its existence.

I wouldn’t have been so harsh; I personally didn’t pick up on The Incredibles vibes at all.

The last major thing that tainted this sequel for me was the complete absence of Snow White. Surely they should have found a replacement actress? Or…not made the movie at all? The subplot about the mirror causing problems for Snow White was fascinating, and could really have been developed.

Honestly, the mirror is one of my favourite things about these films. I think the design is stunning, and I love the dark – if completely unexplained – powers that surround it.

So to conclude: there’s a lot about The Huntsman that could have been wonderful. Unfortunately, it did end up a little bit like a messy and extravagant tour of high fantasy tropes.

To end on a positive note, did you know that one of the writers was called Evan Spliotopoulos? Now that’s a surname.

 

If you’ve seen the film too, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

~Dani

Month in Books: August 2015

And we’re just about caught up! Here’s my reading wrap-up for August.

75 Uplifting Poems for Christians – AJ Barlow – 5 stars I loved this! It’s an accessible, thoughtful collection of lovely poetry. I wrote a review here!

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back – Todd Burpo – 5 stars This is an autobiographical account of a father whose three year old son nearly dies, and then returns to consciousness with wild tales of heaven that are spookily accurate to Biblical prophecies. It’s a quick read, but a moving one. Fab book!

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself – Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert – 5 stars This is such a great resource, and it does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s really challenging, but also very practical and hopeful. It’s quite heavy on allegories, which I found very helpful!

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain – 4 stars It took me a while to get into this, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down! This book is sweet and funny and action-packed and all the things I could want from it.

Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy – Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis and Brooke A. Allen – 4 stars I bought this because I loved Noelle Stevenson’s ‘Nimona’, and I was hoping this would be a similar thing. It is a very good comic, and I enjoyed the whole six pages that I bought for 99p. Not impressed. I can buy the whole of Sense and Sensibility for half that price.

Paper Towns – John Green – 4 stars I think I would have enjoyed this more if it was my first John Green book. I had to read it in order to go and see the new movie though – I wrote a post about that here!

The Wrath and the Dawn – Renee Ahdieh – 5 stars I am SO in love with this book, and it physically hurts me that the sequel is so far away. It’s a YA romance, beautifully written, and in a gorgeous Arabian setting. I wrote a review here!

Sabriel – Garth Nix – 5 stars This is another YA book, although this one was written a bit longer ago! It’s a crazy fantasy adventure that is just so much fun to read – it’s creative and scary and wonderful. It’s the first book in the Abhorsen trilogy, and – I know this sounds weird – I don’t think I’ll be reading any of the other books. It feels a bit like Philip Pullmans Dark Materials books – I loved the first one, but I’m sensing the later books will be a lot darker and will spoil the series for me.

The Heir – Kiera Cass – 4 stars Oh look, more YA. This one is the fourth book in The Selection series which is a full-on Princess romance sort of deal. I kind of liked it. Here’s my review!

Selp Helf – Miranda Sings – 5 stars I received this book as a gift from an aunt who knows how much I love Miranda Sings. For those of you don’t know, she’s a comedy character on YouTube, and I think she’s brilliant. This book was, of course, a masterpiece, and I read the whole thing in one sitting.

Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter – Stacy King – 5 stars This is a manga adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel, and I thought it was fantastic! It was my first time reading actual manga, but I wrote a review anyway.

Manga Messiah – Hidenori Kumai – 5 stars This is a slightly more amateur-friendly manga book, but I still loved it! It’s the story of Jesus….but manga. I thought it was clever, creative, and just great in general.

God’s Eagles, Athletes and Pilgrims – Haide Sanchez – 5 stars This is a book of weekly devotions, and I loved it! My review is here.

Modern Romance – Aziz Ansari – 5 stars Written by the famous comedian, this book is a non-fiction book that explores…well, modern romance. It focuses on USA, France, Japan and Argentina, and just studies the way romance has changed. It was actually really interesting, and I loved the chatty way all the research was presented. There are a lot of anecdotes that make the whole book more interesting. I really enjoyed it!

Apologies for the slightly longer post – some months you just have to keep reading, you know?

If you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

~Dani

Month in Books: January 2015

It’s my first monthly wrap-up this year! Yey!

Death on the Nile – Agatha Christie – 5 stars I’ve had a little Agatha Christies spree, and am loving these stories about Hercule Poirot. I think this little moustached Belgian is my favourite detective ever – I love that he’s calculating and crazily intelligent, but still very much in tune with his compassionate and human side. This story is – surprise, surprise – set in Egypt, and I loved being transported into the close world of a planned holiday. It’s the perfect (if that’s the right word?) setting for a murder mystery.

The Horse and His Boy – C.S. Lewis – 5 stars My favourite book from my favourite series! I’m sure most of you are familiar with the children’s fantasy work of genius that is the Chronicles of Narnia, so just take this as a recommendation to get re-reading. I wrote a post about my love for this book here!

Hamlet – William Shakespeare – 4 stars I had to read this for my Literature course, and while I did enjoy it, it’s not my favourite Shakespeare play. An over-quoted and somewhat depressing historical tale, Hamlet is a hugely ambiguous and thought-provoking work of literature that we could probably all argue about until the end of time.

P.S. I Love You – Cecelia Ahern – 4 stars I’d heard so much about this book! I started watching the movie, but didn’t get very far – thankfully I liked the book a lot more! It’s cute and surprising, teary and really heart-warming. I’m glad I found the time to read this!

The Thief of Always – Clive Barker – 2 stars I don’t know why I picked this up. The cover’s ugly and the premise isn’t exactly inspiring, so I guess it was more of a procrastination read. It was okay – just very obscure and kind of emotionally detached.

Losing It All – Marsha Cornelius – 4 stars Find my review here! An adult fiction novel dealing with family, poverty, homelessness, and – as cheesey as it may sound – redemption. I loved this story so much!

The Rosie Effect – Graeme Simsion – 4 stars I reviewed this here! The sequel to ‘The Rosie Project’, this book is a strong continuation of a sweet and slightly awkward story. I had mixed feelings about it, but the ending was lovely.

Murder in the Mews – Agatha Christie – 3 stars Another Poirot novel! This is a particularly clever mystery, so I’m not quite sure why I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did the other Poirot books I read. Maybe it was the lack of exotic location?

The Magician’s Nephew – C.S. Lewis – 5 stars After having a fantastic time re-reading The Horse and His Boy, I just needed more Narnia! The first book in the series, The Magician’s Nephew is just fantastic and you should all read it.

If I Stay – Gayle Forman – 5 stars I’d heard so many good things about this book, and about Gayle Forman, so I was a little worried about over-hype. The book was pretty much what I expected, but I did enjoy it and it did get me emotionally involved. I really don’t think it needs the sequel though!

You Are Special – Max Lucado – 5 stars This is one of my childhood reads! It’s a beautifully illustrated allegorical children’s story, about individual worth and how the opinions of others are pretty inconsequential. It’s a great book for people of all ages, and I loved re-living the experience.

That’s all for this month! What were your favourite reads for January? Have you read any of the books I mentioned?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Genre Discrimination

“What’s your favourite book?”

Does anyone else get asked that on a regular basis? It is a bit like asking a mother to choose her favourite child, but I guess the question is reasonable. I’m a literature student, so I can understand that ‘books’ is the obvious direction for people to take the conversation, and trust me – I’m not complaining.

What gets me is the part when I answer “The Chronicles of Narnia”, and they respond with: “Oh, so you read fantasy then. I didn’t have you pegged as that kind of reader.”

Excuse me? Firstly, I have actually read very little fantasy. And secondly – what’s wrong with fantasy?

Don’t tell me it’s too trashy or too crazy or too long, because I have read some of your contemporaries and romances and historical novels and I can tell you that those traits are not limited to fantasy. There’s good and bad in every genre, so if we could keep the discriminatory comments to the minimum, that would be great. Just because I read J.R.R. Tolkein doesn’t mean I parade around town dressed as an elf, shooting arrows into the horizon and swinging from lampposts (although if you do that’s ok. You do you, just don’t hurt yourself.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is: don’t put me in a box. Don’t put books in boxes – they belong in straight-edged, open-sided quadrilateral…

Wait.

Things I Learned From The Hobbit

I’ve been reading The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein (finally!), and HUGELY enjoying it. I think it’s so much more than a brilliant fantasy novel (although it is that too), so I decided to put together a little list of things I learnt from The Hobbit.

  • If you don’t like the idea of adventure, it’s probably time you went on one.
  • Don’t be afraid to make new friends – and invite them for tea!
  • A spontaneous decision can change your life.
  • Some things are more important than your own comfort.
  • Life starts outside of your comfort zone! (that’s a Neale Donald Walsch quote)
  • A well-read adventurer is a creative adventurer.
  • Take the time to make good friends; you’ll be glad of them when times are tough!
  • Face your dragons with your wits about you and the support of your friends.
  • Sometimes paths are there for your own good!
  • Every individual counts and can make a huge difference.

If you’ve read The Hobbit too, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the book, and what you learned from it. Is there anything you’d add to my list?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Month in Books: July 2014

July’s wrap-up is here! And it’s kind of on time!

The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd – 5 stars Set in the USA, 1964, we follow a young girl who is exposed to racism and her own troubled past as she runs away from home. It’s really quite magical.

The Road to Yesterday – Randy Mixter – 4 stars I reviewed this here! When a horrible tragedy strikes, our protagonist struggles to live with the guilt of surviving. Surely there’s nothing he can do to change the past? Fantastic little novella.

First Love – Ivan Turgenev – 4 stars This is also a short story; set in Russia, this is the story of a young man living through his first love.

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen – 3 stars The classic everyone’s heard of! It took me a while to get through, but it’s a great story with some lovely characters.

Twilight’s Indian Princess:Book 1 – Margaret Jean Langstaff – 4 stars I reviewed this here. The first novel installment from Ms. Langstaff, this is a contemporary story full of psychological tricks and scarily relateable characters.

The Twits – Roald Dahl – 4 stars I reviewed this here! A children’s illustrated book that follows two elderly people in their ‘prank warfare’.

Never Fade – Alexandra Bracken – 4 stars I reviewed this too! The second book in Bracken’s The Darkest Minds trilogy, this action-packed dystopian doesn’t disappoint. A great balance between relational and action development – it’s fun and exciting.

Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher – 4 stars Oh look, another review. This is a YA contemporary novel that deals with a girl who has committed suicide and left a series of tapes behind, on which she has recorded her story.

Moon Whispers – G. Michael Vasey – 4 stars Find my review here. An anthology of poetry that is modern and very very relevant.

The Unicorn Girl – M.L. LeGette – 4 stars Yep – I reviewed this too! YA Fantasy, this is a romp of a story and is pure magic.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han – 5 stars To be honest, the title made me think this wasn’t going to be my kind of book. The premise, however, is pretty much a novelisation of my childhood fears: a girl writes secret goodbye letters to the boys she has crushed on in order to purge her heart of the forbidden affections…and then the letters get sent out. It’s a bit cliché and cutsie and I loved every second of it.

Social Networks Book Tag

Just in case you’re not aware, BookTube is the little corner of YouTube where people create videos and channels completely related to books. A popular feature of these videos is ‘tags’, so I thought I’d translate a few onto my blog, as a fun way to share some different books.

Today’s tag was originally created by faultydevices, and is made up of questions based around a few social networking sites.

Twitter: A book you want to share with the world

My choice for this one has to be one of Markus Zusak’s lesser known novels: I am the Messenger. It’s a contemporary and is – in a way – maturer than the Book Thief, but it’s just as fantastic (and a little shorter!).

I Am the Messenger

Facebook: A book you really enjoyed that was recommended to you by someone else

Christopher Paolini’s Eragon! I’d already seen the movie, but was a little put off by the size of the book. It wasn’t until my friend literally pressed her copy of the book into my hands that I got down to reading it – and it was completely worth it! A juicy fantasy series that is both thoughtful and action-packed.

Eragon

Tumblr: A book you haven’t raved much about on your [blog]

I really enjoyed The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, although I’m pretty sure I’ve yet to mention it here. It’s a YA post-apocalyptic novel that is mind-blowingly creative and incredibly powerful.

The Knife of Never Letting Go

MySpace: A book you don’t plan on re-reading

Hmm…there are quite a few! I read The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho and really didn’t enjoy it. I found the story a little lame, and wasn’t feeling the philosophy. That’s not to say it’s a bad book; just that it definitely wasn’t for me.

The Alchemist

Instagram: A book with a gorgeous, picture-worthy cover

I love my copy of Breakfast with the Nikolides by Rumer Godden – just look at those colours! This one’s about a European family moving to India, and how they adapt.

Breakfast with the Nikolides

YouTube: A book you wish could be made into a movie

Again, there are a few! I’m going to go with Obsessed by Ted Dekker, just because I think it’s so original and has the potential to be really screen-friendly. It’s the story of an American Jew who is called back to Europe to re-discover his past. (I realise that synopsis doesn’t make it sound very original – you’ll just have to trust me on this one!)

Obsessed (TD)

Skype: A book with characters you wish you could talk to instead of just read about

My pick is going to be The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. This is historical fiction mixed with urban fantasy, but for me it was the characters that made these books shine.

Clockwork Angel

And that’s my first tag! If you’ve read any of the books I mentioned, let me know your thoughts! f you fancy doing the tag too (or have already done it) feel free to link your post, I’d love to read it.

Would you have chosen similar books to answer these questions, or do you disagree completely?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Review: The Unicorn Girl – M.L. LeGette

I received this book as part of Rosie Amber‘s Book Review Team.

The Unicorn Girl – M.L. LeGette – 4 stars

The Unicorn Girl

This YA fantasy novel follows the story of Leah, who is marked by the very magic that everyone fears. It saves her life, but sparks a series of events that are far out of her control and even further out of her comfort zone.

It’s got such a fantastic plot; the book is exciting and relentless in its pacing. The visual story-telling just begs for a film adaptation (which I would be the first in line to go and see, by the way.) The simplicity and action orientation means that this book is perfect for a young person just getting into reading; I’ll definitely be recommending it to any friends that have yet to fully experience the magic of books.

My only complaints about the book were requests for more; some huge decisions were perhaps a little rushed, and left with gaps in the explanations; there was a lack of non-action-based conversation (I’d have loved to see Lavena and Leah bond more); and I’d have really liked to see more of the unicorns.

That said, I loved pretty much everything that was put in – Ms LeGette creates some adorable characters (yes you, Ian), and she injects the story with flashes of humour and wisdom. Leah is a great protagonist: relateable, well-developed and a real pleasure to read about.

The plot was at times cliche and a little predictable, but I felt that these things were forgivable because it gave the story the feel of a fairy-tale.

In all, this book was fast-paced, clean and magical with a genuinely enjoyable story-line and the perfect premise to appeal to young readers (myself included).

If you’ve read this too, I’d love to know your thoughts!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

~Dani