Book Love by Debbie Tung

★★★★★IMG_20190223_153806_671

Goodreads | Bookdepository* 

I’ve loved Tung’s diary comics for years, ever since I stumbled upon Quiet Girl in a Noisy World, which is about her life as an introvert in an extraverted world, and was really excited about this new comic collection which is solely about her love for books! I love her drawings, they’re so simple but they express so much, and I love how relatable it all is. There are so many things in this little book that I believe many book lover will recognize themselves in, from sniffing books to not being able to pass a bookshop without at least looking at the window display! A really enjoyable and funny comic collection, that would make a perfect gift for any book lover.

 

 

 

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Retrograde Orbit by Kristyna Baczynski

★★★★★ IMG_20190223_155153_495

Goodreads | Bookdepository*

Flint lives with her mother on the mining planet Tesla, where her family in het grandmother’s day was forced to evacuate after a nuclear disaster on their home planet. Flint has already dreamed of going back to her family’s roots and obsesses over it throughout her life. In the book we get to see her grow up from childhood to adulthood and see her obsession change and grow with her, as she struggles for recognition and a way to make contact with her past. A really cool tale about finding your own home and your own place in life, with absolutely beautiful illustrations (what I liked most were the colors, and how every color signified a certain episode of Flint’s life) against a background of an entirely planet so different from ours where ‘planet hopping’ is a form of travel, but full of oh so human and relatable people and their relationships (male/female friendship that does not turn romantic!). A rare and beautiful treat!

 

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Anticipated Book Releases | April – June

We’re already three months into this year and I really just can’t believe it. It shouldn’t already be almost April. It really shouldn’t. But it is anyway! It’s ridiculous. 24 years on this planet and I still cannot grasp the concept of time. Anyway, enough existential contemplation, it’s also time for another anticipated book releases post, for the second quarter of the year.

 

  • You’d be Mine by Erin Hahn by (April 2nd)
    YA contemporary about country music? Count me IN!
  • Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett (April 16th)
    YA contemporary about a mysterious, reclusive author? Count me IN! 😛
  • Again, but Better by Christine Riccio (May 7th)
    It’s about a girl who worked too hard in school and now realized she doesn’t have much of a life beyond it, so she decides to turn her life around and do it all differently. Very excited about this New Adult book 🙂
  • Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki & Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (May 7th)
    This is a graphic novel about a girl who has a girlfriend who is not great at being a girlfriend. I really loved That Summer and I’m really excited to see more of this author.
  • The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen (June 4th)
    Hey I’m BIG Sarah Dessen fan and I will pre-order whatever she releases and I’m so, so excited for this new novel!!
  • When I Arrived At The Castle by Emily Carroll (June 19th)
    I’m a great fan of Emily Carroll, even though I’m usually not such a horror fan, but her graphic novel stories are just the right amount of horror and ghost story and just plain weird. I love them and they give be the shivers like nothing else does and I’m very excited about her new book.

 

All right that’s it for now 🙂 Are you excited about any of these books? Let me know in the comments!

Some Books You May Not Have Heard of That Definitely Deserve More Hype

Sometimes we encounter books and read them and love them then draw a deep breath to shout about them into the void that is the internet only to realize that.. no one has heard of these books. Or at least they don’t seem to be talking about them because they’re now backlisted or never got much hype to begin with. (Disclaimer, maybe some of these books are well-known, but I just haven’t seen them be talked about since I got involved in the book community).

I know a bunch of these books, so today I’m talking about some of them 🙂 Here are some books from my book shelf that I haven’t seen anyone talk about recently and I think need a little more hype.

  • The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
    I’ve mentioned this book now in multiple lists and I STILL have yet to review it! It has multiple points of view, and tells stories that I haven’t often seen told before, all against the 1970s Alaska. It very delicately shows how life is in that place and time, and it’s really cool to read and really well-written. Full review here.IMG_20190223_155832_401
  • The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff
    I first read this when I was a young teenager, when I borrowed it from my school library and it stuck in my head for ten years. Ten years. I kept thinking about it from time to time so in 2017 I bought an English copy and reread it and it’s just so good, quiet and lyrical but also full of morning dew and freedom and grass beneath your feet. In the reviews I’ve read about it most people write that they were disappointed because it’s so different from Rosoff’s other work, so keep that in mind. I tried to read How I Live Now but I couldn’t get through it, but I absolutely loved The Bride’s Farewell, so don’t expect that. Full review here.
  • Supergirl Mixtapes by Maegan Brothers
    Okay, so I read this years ago, but I thought it was a pretty unique YA contemporary that features a useless mom and a struggling music-obsessed teen in New York City. But it’s also pretty dark at times, and I think it features (I think off-page) self-harm and suicide is maybe mentioned. I’d need to reread it again for more details, but I remember really loving it and thinking it was so.. different (at least at the time) from most YA, and I have NEVER seen anyone mention it!IMG_20190223_160227_785
  • Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider
    All right, this one has quite a lot of ratings on Goodreads and it was published only four years ago but… it’s really good and I haven’t really seen anyone talk about it lately. It’s about a group of kids who are ill, who are sent to a boarding school to be all sick together. I think it’s because of contagion, or something, but I don’t remember the details, but I do remember how this boarding school life was described and the friendships and the characters, and I remember really loving it.
  • The Princess and the Fool by Paul Neafcy
    This is a really cool, self-published fantasy novel that takes fairytale tropes and uses them in a novel form, full of dare-devilry and adventure and dark things and very funny jokes. (Read my full review here).

 

All right that’s enough for this post 🙂 Soon I’ll be posting a part two with more cool books! Hope you enjoyed it!

Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills

“I just don’t want you ever to think that I’m not going to find you.”

Sophie has always loved her small town life, her four best friends, her marching band. But when her marching band is chosen to march in the Rose Parade in LA, she has to find a way to fund this trip. In the middle of the night, she sends an e-mail to Megan Pleasant, asking if this local and super famous country singer will come back to her home town to sing a charity concert to fundraise the trip – even though she has sworn never to return.  But there’s also a new guy in town, who seems to have just as many secrets as Megan Pleasant.

★★★★★IMG_20190223_154148_326

Goodreads | Bookdepository*

I’ve been a fan of Emma Mills books ever since I got hold of This Adventure Ends almost a year ago, and I was reeeeally looking forward to Famous in a Small Town! And it was definitely as great as I’d hoped it’d be!

First of all I need to mention how funny this book is – like laugh out loud funny. And also the way in which it’s funny that it feels so recognizable for my generation. It’s a specific kind of humor that I can’t really explain but I don’t often see in books and I love it when I do.

There’s less action in Famous in a Small Town than in Mills’ other books, so if that’s something that’s going to bother you maybe this isn’t the one for you, but I loved how it gave more spotlight to the characters and their relationships with each other. Because I do think these characters are the best from all her books, they’re so sparkly and life like and all of them so unique with their own voices and quirks. It becomes such a beautiful portrait of these people and their lives, and especially their relationships.

I especially loved how these five people (plus the new guy) have known each other for almost their entire lives and it’s so visible in the way they fight and make up and have long standing inside jokes. Often books center around new friendships, and I love to see longterm friend squads. I especially loved that while there was a distinctive group dynamic, all of these friends also had special relationships with each other, certain habits and tradition only two of them shared and such. Like they were a tight group, but they also had their individual relationships with each other and those were shown in such a subtle way. It’s so realistic, because no friendships are the same and especially groups are so complex, and Emma Mills writes this really well.

I also really loved the story, too, it’s quiet, yes, but it feels so powerful. There were two moments I totally did not see coming and I was completely surprised with the ‘revelations’ (as they’re not really plot twists in the traditional sense). The story lulls you to sleep  and then comes the INFORMATION (by lack of other word)! It was really surprising, but I won’t say anything else on it!

It’s a bit of a quiet book, but it’s so full of these people and their daily lives, their histories and their emotions, their super funny inside jokes that make you want to be part of their circle. A really lovely and comforting book that I’ll love rereading again and again.

 

 

Content warnings (may contain spoilers): a shitty suicide joke by a shitty character (but it’s made clear it’s shitty), death

 

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Film & Fiction | Chocolat by Joanne Harris vs Chocolat (2000)

Welcome to Film & Fiction, where we compare books to the movie adaptations even though we really shouldn’t! This time I’m going to talk about the book Chocolat by Joanne Harris (you can read my book review here) and the movie Chocolat (2000) directed by Lasse Hallström. This post may contain spoilers, for both the movie and the book! Be warned! (By the way, this is not really a review post, but more my rambling thoughts on the adaptation.)

First of all, I need to mention that Chocolat is one of my favorite movies. I’ve seen it and endless amount of times because it’s such a sweet and nice thing to watch when you’re feeling under the weather (which I am, quite often). But I had never read the book, so I thought it high time to do so and I was really, really surprised with how different it was from the movie. Not just because it was a different medium, but the entire tone and setting had changed!IMG_20190109_185029_393

The thing that surprised me most was that in adapting the story to a movie, they placed the plot in an entirely different decade. The book is set in the 90s (I guess, because they talk about VHS tapes), but the movie is set in 1959. Now I have to admit, I do get why they would make a choice like that, because that sense of stifling oppression from the church (which is a very present theme in the book) makes more sense (to a 2000s audience) if it’s set in the 50s than when it’s set in the 90s. At least that’s my theory.

Something that was also strangely different, were the two main characters, Vianne (the chocolat shop keeper) and Reynaud (the priest). Vianne is a much more realistic and much less romantic character in the book. She’s definitely less sure of herself, has more difficult emotions and struggles much more with her fears. In the movie, she gets a romantic background, rather than the troubled past she has to struggle with in the book. It makes for a less complex character, but it also makes the tone of the story much less dark. A lot of the dark undertone of the book comes from Vianne’s struggle with her past, and that’s completely gone in the movie, that actual depth of human darkness and twistedness.

Besides that, all of the magical realism (her ability to get an idea of people’s thoughts, is diminished to her uncanny ability to guess people’s favorite chocolat, which I thought was a bit of a shame. However, the type of magic used in the book would be really difficult to convey in film because it’s basically just another sense and she never talks about it with other characters.

Another way in which the movie is a lot less dark than the book is through the character of Reynaud. In the book, Reynaud also gets a POV for some chapters and we hear his thoughts and musings as he talks to his comatose father. He struggles with his own dark thoughts and traumas and we get to see how twisted he is in many ways. It really lays bare how strange and dark humans can be, and how they can get twisted under pressures. IMG_20190223_154705_809In the movie, all of this is smoothed out, till all there’s left of the troubled and dangerous priest is a middle-aged man who misses his wife. He isn’t even a priest anymore, but a mayor (I think) which I find a very interesting choice. They wrote in a new character to play the priest, who is a very kind and a little naive young man, perhaps not to offend people and to avoid setting the Church in a bad light. It changes the whole idea of where the pressure put on this village comes from. Rather than from a tradition of centuries of religion used to oppress people, it stems from a misguided man who tries to distract himself from the fact that his wife has left him. It makes all he does so much more forgivable.

I just remembered that another character is written completely differently, which is Armande Voizin’s daughter. In the movie Caroline keeps her son away from her mother because she is overly cautious after her husband’s death, and is angry at her mother for not treating her diabetes properly. She’s just a worried and scared woman who is trying to protect herself, even if it means shutting everything and everyone out. It’s a little heartbreaking. But in the book, she’s only interested in how her mother’s ‘scandalous’ behavior reflects upon her and if she will ever get her inheritance. It’s a much darker and much colder character, and there’s nothing redeemable about her.

The conclusion is that in the movie most of the characters’ evil completely stripped away and what is needed for the plot is changed just so it is redeemable, because they are just sad or afraid and actually do really mean well – rather than the dark and selfish people they are in the book. It results in a much less dark story, more in a bitter-sweet kind of feel-good movie. But also the characters have less depth and less realism and are just less interesting because of all that.

Honestly, I enjoyed the book as well, and they’re both amazing in their own way, but they are very, very different in tone and mood.

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

“Happiness. Simple as a glass of chocolate or tortuous as the heart. Bitter. Sweet. Alive.”

In Lansquenet, nothing much has changed for decades and decades. That is, until Vianne Rocher comes to settle and begin a chocolate shop and outrages the local priest to begin such a shop in temptation and sin – and at the beginning of Lent, too! But slowly and surely, the town gives in, despite the preaching and the threats of damnation, but evil still lurks in the corners. But sometimes the only way to cast out true evil, is to expose it to the light..

★★★★☆ IMG_20190109_185029_393

Goodreads | Bookdepository*

I decided to finally pick up this book because I’d watched the movie so, so many times and wanted to see what the source material was like. I was surprised, slightly confused but pleased nonetheless, as the book is in essence very different.

Chocolat was so much more complex than I’d expected. Not necessarily in terms of plot, that is largely the same, but it’s definitely more emotionally complex than the movie. We get to live with these really complex and morally grey characters (like the priest). All of the characters are so three-dimensional, complex and human, it’s very impressive. I feel a lot of the book is about those complex emotions and how displaces loyalty and obsessions really can ruin people’s lives, and even end them. But it’s also about loss and letting go of that loss. It’s about the bad things people do, but also about the good things people are capable of. It’s about facing fears and seeing they’re more terrifying in your own mind than in reality. It’s really full of all of that and more.

This book is often marketed as a feel-good read, but honestly it’s actually quite dark. There’s darkness in Vianne’s past, there’s darkness in the village, darkness everywhere. It does not leave you cozy and buttery, like a feel-good novel is supposed to do. But actually I really enjoyed it because of that, this hint of rawness, so it was a pleasant surprise for me, just mentioning that it doesn’t exactly do what it says on the tin.

What I thought could be better is some of the writing. often things are told instead of shown in places where it would really feel more lively and airy if they were shown. Like parts of dialogue told instead of actually ‘spoken’. In fact, there is a lot told that should have been shown, but perhaps that’s just the style. The narrative switches between two characters, which is interesting and sometimes confusing, because there are no headers signaling the change. It gives a sense of connection between the characters but I’m not sure if it works here.

A lovely and interesting book and not at all what I expected.

 

Content warnings:  domestic violence, violence in general, religion (negatively used), discrimination

 

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