I have no idea what to expect for these characters and that's absolutely wonderful. The fact that I'm still feeling the sam...moreNo more to read for now. :(
I have no idea what to expect for these characters and that's absolutely wonderful. The fact that I'm still feeling the same level of excitement as I did when I first started the series really speaks to the creativity of this series. I wasn't sure how things would going to hold up once the parties converged, but the paths of these characters are still very much moving forward.
Hazel's narration leaves my heart aching. I'm almost dreading what's coming up in her future because everything feels like foreshadowing for immense heartbreak. For a character that I actually worry about the least - because of the narration, not because I hate babies but okay maybe fear them - she really does pack the hardest emotional punch for me. Everything feels like it's in jeopardy. Happy moments are worrisome.
Marko's parents are thrown into the mix as him and Alana are on the run with baby Hazel, and seeing the family dynami...moreNo less compelling than volume 1!
Marko's parents are thrown into the mix as him and Alana are on the run with baby Hazel, and seeing the family dynamics play out was my favourite thing about this sequel. There's so much history here. Speaking of history, there's backstory in this one (!) so the circumstances of Marko and Alana initial relationship (not ideal) and how that developed into, well, Hazel. I love backstory. Godfather II immediately comes to mind.
I don't think I'll ever not be in awe of Fiona Staples' artwork. It's so lush and wonderful to look at no matter what it is that I'm looking at. I'm having such a blast reading this series that I purposely delayed starting volume 3, just because I didn't want to not have more to read. :((less)
I've been meaning to read this one for a while. The cover was attractive and from the synopsis I figured it would be some good inspiration for my dad,...moreI've been meaning to read this one for a while. The cover was attractive and from the synopsis I figured it would be some good inspiration for my dad, who enjoys his cooking books. The premise is slightly different from your usual chef/food memoir, in that it's a blend of the author's own experience in the industry but written in a way so that you, the reader, is the one going through the 24 hours as the [sous] chef.
Sounds a tad gimmicky, yes?
It did start off being a distraction to read it in the 2nd person POV but eventually I forgot about it. It really isn't noticeable anymore once the rest of the staff comes in and you learn the other characters that you're going to be working alongside for the day. Michael Gibney does a decent job keeping these people distinct, especially when you note the length of the book. It's a quick read. Concise and structured but not dry, carrying you from one part of the day to the next. The pace continues to pick up and really does justice to how hectic dinner rushes can be. The most I've been in this industry was a waitress and I had some of those nerve-racking emotions back. I just wasn't cut out for it, ha.
I think I was a bit overwhelmed by the terminology in some specific parts - Gibney does explain everything - but most of the book isn't challenging enough to slow the pace down. There's also a glossary at the back too, for extra help. Some points could be knocked off for the personal stuff if readers expect a more technical book with less narrative, but I didn't mind that at all. I did notice some odd formatting regarding the spacing after a chapter or two (sometimes it was single space or maybe not spaced at all after a period) and that distracted me more than the 2nd person POV. Once I saw it, I couldn't stop seeing it.
Minor critiques overall though. For what I expected, this book delivered. Solid read.(less)
**spoiler alert** I think seeing this book everywhere made me hesitant to start it. There's a sense of overexposure and heightened expectations when t...more**spoiler alert** I think seeing this book everywhere made me hesitant to start it. There's a sense of overexposure and heightened expectations when this happens. I can't help it. This one, in particular, I expected to be more on the charming side thanks to the cover. Hooray to judging books by its covers!
Don's voice is more distant than your everyday male protagonist in a romantic story but it works. The chemistry between the two leads was what I was banking on when I picked this up and it didn't exactly deliver. I think of myself as pretty easygoing with romantic reads but I guess I'm pickier than I thought. I'm not sure I can see Don and Rosie together far into the future, which is what I can't help thinking about when I read romantic stories. Okay, there isn't a 'happily ever after' clause to the contract with the reader, yes, but I'd like to hope that it lasts for a while at least. The stability's nice.
Some scenes were pretty fun to read (the bartending and the lecture he gave to the kids in particular were highlights) and I'd say the story moves along at a decent clip most of the time, so I'd give this an average 3 rating. It's good enough, but not as great to warrant all the attention it has. (less)
So I read this out of order. I still have some of the previous issues remaining to read.
Just as good as ever. I adore pub food and love the izakaya ex...moreSo I read this out of order. I still have some of the previous issues remaining to read.
Just as good as ever. I adore pub food and love the izakaya experience so this was going to be perfect for me. I came out of this wanting to eat pub food all day until I had tried everything on these menus. Sadly, being this far away from Japan puts me at a major disadvantage for variety.
The characters are fantastic. The designs are either adorable or scrumptious, there really is no in-between. No one tones down their emotions at all. And the food? They take their food super seriously, which, why shouldn't you? The illustrations look good enough to eat. Actually, they look better than a lot of food you'd encounter in real life. I may or may not be slightly jealous of these fictional characters for having it be their job to eat everything that I see on the page.
There's a small downside to these compilations: the character development might be a bit confusing since we jump around a lot and organize via 'food groups' rather than in a chronological sense, but it isn't hard to figure out. It's just a bit disorienting when you're trying to figure out where the relationship is headed between the two main characters.
If you love food and drawings of food, this series is for you. I wish there was a way for me to read every single strip of this so I didn't miss anything. IF ONLY.(less)
I'm so happy with this volume and I'm beyond excited to read the other ones. Basically reading them out of order in a whim but it doesn...moreWHAT A FIND! :)
I'm so happy with this volume and I'm beyond excited to read the other ones. Basically reading them out of order in a whim but it doesn't matter much because they're selections from the original issues into volumes that focus on an aspect of Japanese cuisine. Even without the characters and the story, I'd be delighted to read these. Food! And recipes included at the front and notes for further explanation (definitions, geography, etc.) at the back. You can eat what you're reading about. How awesome is that?
The premise of this is a project called the "Ultimate Menu," which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Tozai News. This leads our main character, Yamaoka, to go on taste tests at restaurants and competitions and other food expeditions to try and create a menu that includes the best of Japanese cuisine. As you can already tell, this project can go on forever as a manga and leave nothing untouched. I love it. This particular volume deals with fish and the various chapters (or 'courses') explores topics like: sweetfish, salmon, live fish, etc. The drawings are pretty mouth-watering on top of everything else.
Because the chapters are cut and not in chronological order, the character development does suffer a bit - I was quite confused about the wedding banquet at first - but in time you do get a sense of the characters. Sure, they're pretty dramatic but it's all part of the fun. There's a lot of passion surrounding food in this series, it's refreshing. I don't think it's going to change but Kurita is my favourite thus far, though Yamaoka does have his charms. I enjoy their banter!
I'm so going to devour the rest of the series.(less)
Boy, am I ever excited for this series. As of now, there are three volumes to this so I could be worse off in terms of wait time but I want more.
You'r...moreBoy, am I ever excited for this series. As of now, there are three volumes to this so I could be worse off in terms of wait time but I want more.
You're plunged right in the middle of this war between Landfall and Wreath that's been going on forever through the story of these two former soldiers on opposing sides who are trying to outrun assassins and raise a newborn. Everything collides and revolves around this one family and it's messy and fascinating.
It's a gorgeous piece of work. Fiona Staples creates all these characters that are so lush and vivid yet possibly a bit terrifying, and scenes that are endearing in one page and then explodes into action on the next. Brian K. Vaughan wastes no time with his words. They're snappy, sometimes heartfelt, at times humourous. The partnership is brilliant.
It doesn't really matter if this is your first or #234098 comic, because chances are, you'll appreciate it. What's not to love, seriously?(less)
Darn, I thought I was going to be witty (for once!) and give this book the alternate title of Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story with Russia,...moreDarn, I thought I was going to be witty (for once!) and give this book the alternate title of Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story with Russia, his parents, with life, etc. but I flipped to the back of the book just now and Zadie Smith already beat me to it [on her blurb]. This is why I'm not a writer.
Anyhow, I actually have never read any of Gary Shteyngart's (I have to keep checking the spelling of the name because I keep getting it wrong) novels - heard of SSTLS but satire can be hit or miss with me so it wasn't on my radar - but the reason I even knew about this book was because of the radio. He just so happened to be the guest on one of the few shows I listen to, Q on CBC radio, and I tuned in right in the middle of him talking about his complicated relationship with Russia. After about 30 seconds or so he went right into singing a propaganda song (I think? I need to listen to this interview again in full now) from his childhood that he never forgot, living just those seven short years in the Soviet Union. I only heard him for a few minutes but the way he spoke about his family and his homeland really drew me in and made me chuckle even though I knew nothing about him beforehand.
So that's how I had this book in mind and got it on a whim. I trusted it to have that same voice that I was inexplicably drawn to, and it did. Shteyngart writes about his childhood in both Soviet Russia and the US as such an outsider that inevitably a lot of humour comes through, but above all that humour is a desire to belong. I didn't have nearly the same childhood as he did but I could definitely relate to struggling with the English language and not being on the same wavelength as other kids. Most of all, his relationships with his grandmothers in particular made me think of mine. Our family works in very much the same way - grandparents play a huge role in raising the kids - and I was very touched by the tender moments he had with his. The spoiling, the overfeeding, the utter paranoia that something will happen from the distance between school and home, all that rang true.
On the other hand, I really can't relate to having parents like his but I could've read another full-length memoir on them alone. On the surface, there are a lot of struggles and the relationships he has with them as a pair and as individuals are difficult, but underneath all that is a lot of affection. I understood all of it completely. There's a heavy burden of hope for an only child to carry but at the same time, a lot of fear for the parents too because they've only got the one. The love isn't shown in the typical sense but it doesn't make it any less real. 'Little son' may have broken my heart a bit each and every time his father said it, by the way.
And all this is just me talking about him talking about his family! There's still his memories about Russia, and oh, there are plenty of his memories about Russia. The influence this homeland has on him is a strong one. I loved all the stories he made up as a kid - frighteningly sharp - and seeing his imagination run wild. It can be hit or miss when I read about writers writing about writing (whether about them struggling or being successful or whatever), but this was nearly as interesting for me as when he wrote about his family, which were the best parts of the book. Shteyngart has this knack of making everything funny or sad or tender or a combination of all three, which I really gravitated to.
A horrifying account of one Solomon Northup, a free man kidnapped and forced into slavery. For historical purposes, this should be mandatory reading....moreA horrifying account of one Solomon Northup, a free man kidnapped and forced into slavery. For historical purposes, this should be mandatory reading.
In 1841, Solomon is tricked with the premise to earn money playing his violin and travels to Washington, D.C.. From there, he is drugged and robbed of his papers [proclaiming his status as a free man], then beaten into submission to be sold into slavery, taking the name of Platt. As the years pass, he loses hope in ever seeing his family and freedom again, not daring to risk placing trust in any man with his true story and desire to escape.
The level of detail in this book is incredible. From the point of capture to his reunion with his family, Solomon describes everything he can: physical locations, naming names of all that he met, work conditions, emotional turmoil, and so on. There is surely no more that one can express in words, as one that has been in Solomon's shoes. He writes with such a genuine voice to try to give justice to the slaves he's met, no matter how brief an encounter, whether in passing en route to another location or people he toiled with for years on end. The urgency is evident in his writing. In the time of it, he's telling not just his story but speaking for all those that will likely never have the chance to. He longs for the reader to understand how horrific the situation is and that even a so-called "free man" in these "free states" does not deem him safe from the clutches of slavery.
This is an immense effort on Solomon's part to be as accurate as possible to render this a proven account. As mentioned in the notes, the details in this record could have been and were verified to be true to bring more credence to his story. The way he writes shows a skill in storytelling, as threads are woven together, backwards and forwards at times, but it's all very organized. This is not to say that it's merely any historical account. Nothing feels clinical. There's so much despair in this that is hard to ignore, not just for Solomon even though he can be considered to be the most fortunate in his tale, as the reader can imagine the countless number of slaves who will never have the chance to escape.
I never would've known about this book if it wasn't for Steve McQueen's film adaptation of it. A devastating must-read.(less)
I knew right then, things were about to change. We were headed into Space Mountain now, into a dark place where the ground might give way, and you wou...moreI knew right then, things were about to change. We were headed into Space Mountain now, into a dark place where the ground might give way, and you wouldn't even be able to tell anymore where this car was taking you. We might come back. We might not.
If this had occurred to my mother, she didn't let on. She just held the wheel and stared straight ahead same as before, all the way home.
I only decided to pick up the book because I saw the film adaptation at an advanced screening and it pleasantly surprised me, how much I ended up enjoying it. You know those people who read books first and then see films and can't help but notice differences and changes and pick apart at them to the annoyance of everyone else? I confess. I'm one of those people. I am trying hard not to be. I think the Harry Potter adaptations have scarred me a bit on this front.
But anyway - when a chance comes up to read the book after a film I enjoyed? I will take it. And I'm glad I did because the film and the book complement each other beautifully. That undercurrent of unease and tension is present as you're reading the book and heightened in the film - it really works. It's not some perfect romance, and yet, I can't help but find myself rooting for things to work out for Adele, Frank and Henry because heck, like the house they're living in, they're at the end of the road and have nowhere else to turn.
I suppose the plot of this is on the less believable side, but really, I'm letting it go. There's a brief interview with Joyce Maynard at the back of my version where she explains why Adele decided to let this sketchy character into her life and possibly endanger not just her but her son as well, and I can understand it. When everyday life has wrought so much pain, what's taking another chance at something unlikely?
Henry's narration was tinged with adolescent frustration - the sexual kind, mostly - for a teenager who never felt like he belonged anywhere and shouldered the well-being and happiness of his mother. For how he grew up, I found the observant point-of-view plausible. This was someone who had to try to best understand every little action and inaction of his mother on a day-to-day basis, so the details that he picked up on as Frank moved into their lives didn't take me out of the story.
For such a quick read, the novel builds rather sturdy characters that you can imagine going about their own lives. The past, present and possible future wove surprisingly intricately. Granted, some of my feelings about the book may be mixed with the film - I can never separate the two with a clear head - but I'd recommend both. It's hard to categorize this story into one box, really, and I think that's what I liked most about it.
By the way, I'm not saying that Frank is my ideal man, but after this and the movie I'm gonna have to at least date a Josh Brolin look-alike who can make me a damn good peach pie. That's all I'm saying.(less)
For a book that has been around for so long and written by a man that has had such an impact in South Africa a...moreA classic autobiography, and rightly so.
For a book that has been around for so long and written by a man that has had such an impact in South Africa and around the world, it is quite difficult to have anything new to say about this book! Nelson Mandela writes with loving detail about the very beginnings of his life, from his birth in the village of Mvezo to his childhood in Qunu, his education and subsequent start of a career in Johannesburg, to him gradually getting involved politically and joining the ANC, then his rising influence and imprisonment along with other prominent ANC members as political prisoners, and finally, his release and election win to be the leader of his country.
I think I was slightly intimidated by the prospect and size of this book because of the stature of the man who had written it, when in fact I was being silly. This book is so wonderfully accessible. Of course, with the life he's led, there are a lot of names and dates to keep track of - I don't read enough biographies and these details can be a bit much at times - but Mandela writes with such a great deal of warmth and spirit and even humour that I can't imagine not enjoying and getting the most out of this book. That's the surprising part, for me anyway, where I found him being so approachable in the way he talked about his life and his immense struggle in all those years of fighting for the rights of his people. It's like an ongoing conversation as you continue to read and I was struck by his ability to keep his hand out for that handshake and not strike in anger instead. The humour can appear out of nowhere and it genuinely made me laugh despite the harrowing conditions. To be able to find little pieces of joy everywhere he went, no matter how difficult, spoke so much of his character.
I'm touched by so much of what he's done, but also saddened with how much of his [family] time he gave up to serve his people - yes, he was a driven leader but I'd feel the wistfulness the most whenever he described his family during his time in prison. It is so much to ask of any one person to do, no matter how dire the need, and the underlying conflict between family and country wasn't always touched upon but never forgotten. Those long hard years he spent locked away are ones he never got back. Physically and emotionally, he dedicated himself to the cause and proved his conviction with his brilliant words and actions.
Above all, his words are inspiring. As someone who was barely old enough to remember much of anything about Mandela's release, his speeches are still powerful and relevant today. Unless remarkable changes and progress are made, these same words as the years pass are still needed to strive for equality. As mandatory an autobiography as you will ever read. 5/5.(less)
**spoiler alert** Speaking from Among the Bones was actually my least favourite of the series and I was getting worried that the mysteries would becom...more**spoiler alert** Speaking from Among the Bones was actually my least favourite of the series and I was getting worried that the mysteries would become stale without further emotional advancement for Flavia and the other characters. I generally don't read many mysteries so having followed this one from the beginning is something special. I didn't want to lose interest.
It turns out I was worrying for nothing. I wasn't as excited about this one as the previous releases, but The Dead in the Their Vaulted Arches, the sixth in the series, reinvigorated everything. It packed a walloping emotional punch from the very start - a cumulation of all that we've learned about Harriet and how much her disappearance has affected the family - and never slow its pace. The grief of all the mourners hang heavy throughout the novel and changes the atmosphere completely. It isn't like the series that we're familiar with, but it works. Flavia's inner voice is as sharp as ever, but instead of providing poisonous tidbits, she offers tender insights about death and loss, more specifically, how the living must now deal with it all.
The usual formula worked well for the other books but I was feeling a bit of staleness. Flavia's humour never tires but full credit for Alan Bradley for making me want to find out more about the constant characters, so when I wasn't getting much development there and just the mysteries, I got bored. So to have Harriet as the centre of the novel not just in the sense of character development but the actual mystery? Wonderful. There's so much more at stake and seeing how the concrete fact of Harriet's death affect everyone in the house is heartbreaking. Especially Haviland. Oh god. All along, as seen through the eyes of Flavia, he comes off as this standoffish character that show much of a personality, and every little detail about his mourning here had my heart aching. There are only bits and pieces but now I can piece together a past for him, a story that existed before Flavia. A story that consisted of him and Harriet, being happy together.
With the twists and turns in this one and further adventures for Flavia at her new school, I'm now excitedly awaiting the next book! Bradley's done it. Aside from the first book which introduced me to this series, my favourite one out of the series has got to be A Red Herring Without Mustard because there was more emotional development with Flavia, mostly to do with Harriet. I wanted more after reading it and that was one of the reasons why I was disappointed with the next two. Now that there's this whole other backstory for Flavia to uncover, the possiblities are endless! And we will get to see her interact more with other children! Okay, Undine was not my idea of fun (and quite grating) but I think Flavia having some friends would be nice. Bike rides, picnics and chemistry experiments need not be lonesome activities, afterall.
I was hoping for more improved relationships with Daffy and Feely (I think I'm more like Daffy myself out of the three sisters) but ALAS. It was not to be! And now it looks like they're going to be driven even further apart. I know it wasn't important to the overall story but I was looking forward to Dieter and Feely's wedding, and more truces between the sisters. Perhaps distance may heal some wounds instead of letting them fester. I really hope it's the former. Maybe someday there can be a reunion or sorts and the family can be together again. (less)