Book Review: Taproot

Disclaimer: I received an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Taproot by Keezy Young is a short and sweet story about Hamal and Blue, a gardener and a ghost in love. Life for the two of them is relatively peaceful until they discover that Hamal may inadvertently be disrupting the balance between life and death, causing danger to them all.

I loved the art style of this comic. The colours were so soft and desaturated and there were so many subtle shades of green in all the plants and flowers. The art and the story were a perfect mix of cute and creepy/supernatural (my favourite!), and I really enjoyed the Reaper’s character, both in design and personality. I usually have a low tolerance for cheesy romances in general, but this gay love story was quite pleasant and beautifully told.

Rating: 4/5

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Short reviews and update

I’ve been reading a variety of books lately, but keep forgetting to write reviews about them here. So for now, just to keep it up-to-date, here’s what I’ve been reading and a few of my thoughts about them.

Monstress Vol 2: The Blood by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda: I’m really loving this series. The art style is probably the best I’ve seen in a comic, and the world is so unique – a kind of steampunk, alternate version of a feminist Asia with all types of fantastical creatures and ideas. It’s a little dark, perhaps a bit gory for some readers, but the worldbuilding and story are worth it. Where the first volume was a bit confusing, with readers essentially dropped into the middle of this strange complex world, the second volume really picks up the pace with the plot and was a page-turning read. 5/5

Fray by Joss Whedon: I confess I haven’t watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or read any of the other works by Joss Whedon, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when reading Fray. However, I had read some good reviews and decided to pick this graphic novel up. There were some good elements here that drew me in – the futuristic city-slum setting, the skilled thief protagonist, the monster slaying…ultimately however I was a bit disappointed. I felt like there wasn’t too much character development and the main villain’s motive and the reason for the whole “uprising” just seemed so insubstantial. It all ended up feeling very shallow for me. 2.5/5

Giant Days Vols 1, 2 and 3 by John Allison: This was a totally different direction for what I usually read. Giant Days is about the adventures of 3 friends going through their first semester of university in the UK and is a more light-hearted, slice-of-life story with a bright, humorous art style. I love the characters – they’re all so distinct with their own quirks and it’s a delight to follow their ups and downs in their university days. After 3 volumes (a total of 12 issues) though, I’m not sure if I want to continue reading any further. We’ll see. In any case, this was a nice break from some of the more serious stuff I usually read. 3/5

B.P.R.D: The Hollow Earth and other stories by Mike Mignola: I’ve been meaning to read more in the world of Hellboy, so this was a good start. There isn’t actually any of Hellboy’s character at all in this series about the B.P.R.D (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense), but more about his friends Abe Sapien, Liz Sherman, and Roger (and newcomer Johan Kraus) and what they get up to after he quits the Bureau. I’m familiar with the world through watching the movies and watching some of the recent animations, and I’ve always loved the fairy-tale like quality of the world. The main story “The Hollow Earth” was okay, though not great. The opposition/antagonists in this story were not that impressive, and I never really understood why they needed Liz. But I found some of the “other stories” in the book quite interesting, in that they provided little snippets about the characters and how they met each other and Hellboy. 3/5

Hellboy: The Midnight Circus by Mike Mignola: A short-ish story about Hellboy when he was a child, when he stumbled upon a circus that might literally be from hell. Some interesting parallels in the story with Pinnochio, but I felt like I was missing some of the story because I wasn’t familiar with some of the characters. 3/5

 

Young Avengers Vol 1: Sidekicks by Allan Heinberg. This was the 2005 version of Young Avengers, and though I wasn’t familiar with these characters at all, I thought I’d give it a try. It’s basically about some kids who have similar powers to the Avengers and form their own group to fight against Kang the Conqueror for reasons which will become clear halfway into the book. I didn’t find any of the characters too memorable or the plot that exciting. I don’t think I’m going to continue this series. 2.5/5

Well that’s it for now. I’m still reading some fiction and non-fiction books which I will get to asap. Graphic novels and comics are just so fast and tempting to read though! Another update: I just signed up for NetGalley to read and review “galleys” or advance-reader-copies so hopefully that should mean that I’ll have some more reviews up on this blog soon!

Book Review: The Lies of Locke Lamora

9780575079755Title: The Lies of Locke Lamora Author: Scott Lynch  Series: Book 1 of The Gentleman Bastard sequence Genre: Fantasy, thieves Rating: 5/5

Oh. My. God. This book was a BLAST to read. In general, I love stories about thieves and rogues, but The Lies of Locke Lamora is a huge step above all the rest, so much so that I’m giving it 5 stars and a place among my favourites.

The Lies of Locke Lamora is set in a kind of fantastical Venice-like city called Camorr, full of canals and floating markets, barges and bridges. There’s a distinct Italian vibe to it all, in both setting and language. But there’s also an almost science-fiction element to it too – Camorr itself is built upon the massive, glass-like structures of an alien culture now long dead and forgotten. The entirety of this book revolves around Locke Lamora and his fellow thieves and friends – The Gentleman Bastards. Their thievery isn’t the usual shadowy affair of breaking into houses in the dead of night, or light-fingered tricks on a busy street (though there is some of that), but the more elaborate, ostentatious schemes of con-artists. The Gentleman Bastards don’t steal because they’re starving or because they need the money. They steal because for them, it’s just too much fun. Their delight and camaraderie is simply contagious throughout the book. And yet what I like about most books about rogues and of this book too is that despite being outside the law, they have their own commendable code of honour and the underworld, (known as the Right People of Camorr, with its own ruler, the Capa Barsavi), has its own laws that must be obeyed.

What I loved most about this book was its structure and its pacing. Throughout the book, the focus alternates between the main story (itself divided into 4 main parts: I: Ambition, II: Complication, III: Revelation, IV: Desperate Improvisation) and several interludes which act as little side stories about Locke and the Gentleman Bastards from their younger days and the city of Camorr in general. What’s great is that the interludes and main story weave together oh so perfectly. Each one foreshadows the other, making you actually eager to read the interludes. It’s inevitable that I would draw comparison to Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind here, which also used a similar “back and forth in time” interlude structure to tell the tale of his respective main character and how they came to be a legend (with Kvothe being the Kingkiller and Locke being the Thorn of Camorr, or simply a Gentleman Bastard). Still, I find that the two authors used the same structure differently, and I think I prefer Scott Lynch’s version slightly more, just because it allowed him to weave all his plotlines and connect everything in such a satisfying way.

There were so many “aha” moments in this book where I laughed and realised that I too, like some of the characters, had been duped by the Gentleman Bastards in their clever schemes. And while this book was definitely a fun and exhilarating read, it was by no means all light-hearted fun and games. There were a few moments that were just heart-wrenching to read and as the story moves along, you see a much larger, more serious plot looming over the Gentleman Bastards.

While I enjoyed this book immensely, there was one thing I was initially wary of in the first few chapters. When I first started reading the book, I found that there were simply too many Capitalised Fancy Names for places and concepts. You know what I mean. The Teeth Show. The Quiet. The Duke’s Wind. The Black Bridge. The Shifting Market. The Floating Grave. etc. etc.  As a relatively veteran fantasy reader, I don’t mind made up words and a few capitalised fancy names here and there, but when it’s used excessively for everything, even little things that will be introduced once then never mentioned again, I find it mildly annoying. It’s a feature that’s unfortunately rife in a lot of generic and regurgitated fantasy literature. (It’s one of the reasons, along with the excessive apostrophe’d names, that I didn’t get past the first chapter of the famous Wheel of Time series, (sorry any fans reading) though that’s something to talk about in another post). But all in all, the great storytelling in The Lies of Locke Lamora compelled me to continue reading, and by the second half, a lot of the important Capitalised Names (like Falselight and Gentled creatures) were properly integrated into the world and didn’t bother me half so much anymore. Oh and if it’s a deterrent to anyone, there is a substantial amount of swearing in this book, though I found it to be fitting with the respective characters. (And did I mention that the dialogue in this book was superb? Because it was – each character’s voice was just so distinctive and cleverly written. And all the vivid imagery and the worldbuilding too- the writing in general was just so satisfying to read).

I read this book in ebook format on my iPad but I’m so keen to get the sequels in physical paperback as soon as I can. What a blast. I know I’m reading this more than 10 years after it was published and quite late in the game, but I highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t yet read it!

// For #TheReadingQuest challenge: this was 742 pages (+ 74.2 HP) and completes the main quest “The first book of a series” (+10XP). That means as of today, my current status is:  Level 1 | XP: 30  | HP: 124.2  //

Book Review: Hollow City

815MZsz5y0LTitle: Hollow City Author: Ransom Riggs  Series: Book 2 of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Genre: Dark fantasy, supernatural Rating: 3/5

So I know I said I would start #TheReadingQuest challenge with reading the Lies of Locke Lamora (which for the record, I’m about 3/4ish a way through and am really enjoying –  I’ll write a proper review for that when I’m done with it) but I got sidetracked when I found this book in the library and speedread it within a few hours. A disclaimer: I haven’t actually read the first book of this series – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. My only experience with this series is watching the movie adaptation of that first book in 2016, and reading the graphic novel adaptation also based on that first book. Oh and I’ve also read the spin-off book Tales of the Peculiar, the fairytales that feature in Hollow City.

This series has a neat premise. It’s set in a world where “peculiars”, people with strange abilities (like being so light that they float in the air, having a hive of bees living in their stomach or being completely invisible), live in time loops protected from the outside world. In Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, these time loops were raided by wights and hollowghasts, horrific creatures that hunted peculiar children for their eyes, ultimately to increase their own power and chance at immortality.  Hollow City continues from the aftermath of the first book, and follows the adventures of the peculiar children from Miss Peregrine’s timeloop. With their timeloop destroyed, they are back in England 1940, the start of WWII, searching desperately for a cure for their ward Miss Peregrine, who is trapped in the form of a peregrine falcon. Their task is made ever more difficult by the wights who hunt them, and the destruction of other timeloops around the world, leaving them with few allies in their quest amid the chaos of wartime England.

I don’t have particularly strong feelings about this book. Hollow City, like the first book that preceded it was unique with its use of vintage photographs interspersed within its pages and its unusual premise of peculiar children. I honestly read it mostly for the storyline. I was curious to know what would happen next, and was relatively engrossed throughout. The pacing was perhaps a little slow and the book is written in first person which isn’t really a bad thing, but something I thought I should mention. The protagonist almost blended into the background for me, so the first person narration wasn’t too intrusive or memorable. I quite enjoyed reading about the children’s peculiarities and the way the plot turned out at the end, and the whole feel of the book was, as I said before, very unique. I’d definitely read the sequel (Library of Souls) if I ever came across it in my local library, but it’s not a book that I would seek out and buy. I suppose that this series is aimed towards an audience a bit younger than me, so it’s completely understandable that it doesn’t have as much substance or complexity as the books I’m used to reading. But I would recommend this to anyone who’s interested in the concept of unusual powers, time travel and strange, slightly creepy vintage things.

// For #TheReadingQuest challenge: this was 400 pages (+ 40 HP) and completes the side quest “Time Warp: a book set in either the past or the future” (+10XP). That means as of today, my current status is:  Level 1 | XP: 20  | HP: 71 //

#TheReadingQuest

Okay, I know I just wrote a post about all the non-fiction books I need to finish, but I came across #TheReadingQuest challenge hosted by Read at Midnight and I’m so keen to join! I’ve never participated in a reading challenge before (partly because I’m new to this book blogging scene) and I’d really like to finish a few fiction books that have been lying around in my TBR pile, so I’m pretty excited.

I’ll be taking the mage path, with the following books:

  • The first book of a series: The Lies of Locke Lamora (Scott Lynch)
  • A book set in a different world: Goldenhand  (Garth Nix)
  • A book based on mythology: American Gods (Neil Gaiman)
  • A book that contains magic: The Hero of the Ages (Brandon Sanderson)
  • A book with a one word title: Haven (Joel Shepherd)

The last two books are quite hefty and I’ve got about a month to get through them all (the challenge runs from the 13th August to the 10th September!), so I probably won’t get around to doing another class path. But just in case, here are some of the sidequests I might be doing:

  • Mini-Game (Read a graphic novel, novella or poem collection): Monstresss Vol 2: The Blood (Marjorie Lu)
  • Respawn (Read a book you previously DNF): The Blue Sword (Robin McKinley)

And I’ll probably be going through my non-fiction TBRs (as listed in the previous post) as well, though I’m pretty sure they can’t count for this challenge.

Oh and there is a point system too, so I’ll keep track at the end of each post. So now at the start I am at:  Level 1 | 10EXP | 10HP

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The Reading Quest Character Card Creator

Climbing a mountain of books

Welcome to my blog! As the name of the blog says, I will be climbing a mountain of books, more specifically the mountain of books that I’ve been meaning to read but haven’t gotten around to, simply due to procrastination. I’m hoping that keeping a record of these books might motivate me to actually finish them in the near future. I also might do some short reviews of books I’ve read and enjoyed, or just little ramblings on books in general. So let’s begin!

These are the books I currently am in the middle of reading and want to finish (and yes, I realise I am reading way too many books at the same time, which explains why I haven’t finished any of them!). I suppose it’s a strange mix of books, and mostly non-fiction at the moment but it seems to be representative of my interests (at least for the non-fiction stuff). I’ve ordered a few new fiction books that I’m excited for, so stay tuned for updates on those too 🙂

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