Friday Face-Off: Words & Letters

Friday Face-Off: Comparing the book covers of Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger, featuring words and letters

It’s been a while since I took part in a Face-off Friday, but i’m back! Time to compare some book covers and pick a favourite. This was originally created by Books by Proxy, and Lynn’s Books has since taken up the torch!

This week’s theme is covers made up only of letters and words. I had a few contenders for this, but in the end plumped for Franny and Zooey by J D Salinger, because a lot of the covers for this are text-only, but still vary a lot. And (spoiler) I sort of love them all.

The first is the cover I own, and it’s fine, but it’s a bit too simple, for my taste. The swooping Y is the only thing it’s really got going for it.

The second is the style I own The Catcher in the Rye and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters in, and is the style I have a huge soft spot for, but unfortunately I couldn’t find Franny and Zooey in the same style.

The third is nice and simple, but with a little accent of colour in the corner. I like it more than the first. It’s classic and classy.

The fourth is a Serbian cover, and I like the bold blocks of colour, but after the understated theme of the first few, it feels a bit much.

The fifth is a Dutch cover, and i’m a little bit in love. It’s classy, a gorgeous light purple cover, simple font choice, and the subtle strips above and below. I adore this cover.

The sixth is a Finnish cover, and i’m into it. The sali-alinge-inger is a bit weird if you stop and think about it, but I do like the look of the thing.

The seventh is a Thai cover, and is another super gorgeous one. I think the font and the language–the curves and smoothness–is so pretty, with the rounded border to match. I also like the colour choices.

The eighth is a Hungardian cover, and I love the stark simplicity, the modern font, and the domination of the words in the space. A really striking cover.

But which one’s my my favourite? Definitely the Dutch cover. When I first saw it it took my breath away a little bit—i think it’s absolutely lovely! Which cover do you prefer, and why? And if it’s not the Dutch cover then what’s wrong with you?

Advertisements

Horrorstör

Book Review: Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix 4/5 StarsTitle: Horrorstör

Author: Grady Hendrix, Michael Rogalski (Illustrator)

Summary: Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.

To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.

A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstör comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk’s labyrinthine showroom.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5

Review: This book caught my eye immediately when i first came across it. A novel idea, and the cover and design were brilliantly done. I knew I wanted to read it. But more than that, I wanted to buy a copy for my sister–she’s in Ikea as often as her credit card allows her to be. Buying a copy for her meant i could borrow it, so it was a win-win.

Although i’m a big fan of the horror genre, i really didn’t expect this book to be scary or creepy at all. I expected humour and a goofy, slapstick kind of horror. I was kind of right, but also so, so wrong.

Hendrix wastes no time in getting the story going, with the whole thing taking place over just 24 hours. The first third of the book is pretty light reading, with some odd things going on and the main characters seeming fairly two dimensional. It was good and kept my interest, but wasn’t outstanding.

The last two thirds of the book were brilliant. At a particular point the horror aspect stopped being just weird and quirky stuff in a furniture superstore and actually began getting scary. Genuinely scary. So much so that one night i had to stop reading early and scroll through instagram and pinterest for a while before i went to sleep. I loved it.

Although the creep factor got pretty high, the humour didn’t suffer for it. My favourite has to be the furniture names, and a chair called a arsle had me grinning for a while. The book walks a fine line between genuine horror and poking fun at horror clichés, and it walks it perfectly. It allows the fun poking to compliment the contemporary setting.

If you’re paying enough attention there’s a lot of commentary on consumerism, retail work, and the soul-sucking nature of it all. But never so much that it bogs down the book, nor make too much light of it.

The characters follow form. They are an interesting two-dimensional, never quite reaching three, but i think that fits with the overall vibe of the book. Our main character Amy was annoyingly likable, and i was rooting for her as soon as shit starts to get real. She becomes a worthy hero of the story… and the wardrobe scene, while predictable, was an excellent example of the horror/humour line and is definitely my favourite part of the entire book.

If you couldn’t tell already, i loved it. I can already see this being a strong contender for the book i most urge people to read this year. If i had the money i’d buy a load of copies and hide them amongst Ikea’s avalanche of catalogues!

Fifty Shades of Blackout Poetry

I remember when I first came across blackout poetry. I thought it was a wonderful idea. Writing a poem from scratch had always felt quiet intimidating to me. Sitting with a blank piece of paper and my own mind, conjuring meaningful words, placing them in a rhythmic order, and having the whole thing tie up and make some sort of abstract sense… I’m better with prose. But having a page full of words, and pulling from that certain words to create short poems or single poetic lines… maybe even I could manage that!

My foray into blackout poetry started when I picked up an old Point Horror book for 50p. It wasn’t easy, and took me at least 15 minutes, but i’m quite pleased with what I managed…

Belinda thought she could turn out differently
She hated the world, the people
The stupid was too much
If only. If only. If only,

Along with having a go myself, I did like to search for, read, re-blog, and pin other people’s blackout poems. It was this way that I discovered the tumblr blogs Fifty Shade of Black and 50 Shades of REGRET, both of which focus of creating blackout poetry for the notorious book Fifty Shades of Grey.

From here, an idea began to form.

My sister is, for some reason I have still to fathom, a fan of Fifty Shades of Grey. She loves the books, has been to see the film (films? I can’t bring myself to google if and when the sequels were released), and, most astonishing of all, is not ashamed of this.

So, a year or two ago I make a decision. I had the fabulous idea to take a copy of Fifty Shades, and create blackout poetry with the whole thing. I would wrap this up and present it to my sister for her birthday. I am a genius.

I only hit a few snags.

First of all, I couldn’t bring myself to pull the book from a charity shop bookshelf and take it to the counter. I just… couldn’t. In the end, my mum picked up a copy for me. Phew! Secondly, I underestimated the amount of time it would take me to compose the damn poems. I wasn’t going to just cobble it half-arsed by throwing random words together—they had to make some sort of sense. And if the writing took ages, so did the blacking out of the words I didn’t want. In my infinite wisdom I decided to forgo plain old blackout, and broke out my colourful sharpie collection to turn these little poems into literal works of art. Thirdly—and really, this is the one that did me in—actually having to read the book was just an exhausting, cringe-worthy experience. I ended up giving up after 50 pages.

On the plus side, my sister got an already started blackout poetry art project for her birthday! She loved it, and has composed a few more since her birthday. However she’s a busy working mother with a multitude of hobbies, so she hasn’t yet finished the entire book.

The project was a lot of fun, though. I’d enjoy doing it again without the time pressures, and with a book I’d actually enjoy reading! I’ve picked out a few of my favourite of the blackout poems below. Of course, with it being Fifty Shades, a few of them are a bit… risqué. Let me know what you think of my efforts, and let me know if you’ve done any blackout poetry.

I scowl with frustration at
my wayward semi
I can’t blow this

I take him in
Oh!
I swallow and try to look professional
But he looks vaguely disappointed

I’m free
No man can limit me

I frown, I huff
He doesn’t talk
I check my watch
“I’ll see you later”
I leave

He’s fascinated by a sandwich
I scowl at him
A sandwich?

I watch him disappear
I’m glad he’s leaving me
It’s a lost cause

I flash a brief dazzling, unguarded, natural, all-teeth-showing, glorious smile.
But I don’t trust him

You make me weak
You push and pull me
I’m suffocating

His eyes are large
He’s watching me
He does not see me

The Princess Diarist

Book Review: The Princess DiaristTitle: The Princess Diarist

Author: Carrie Fisher

Summary: When Carrie Fisher discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized.

Including excerpts from these handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty.

Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candour and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Review: I’m not a Star Wars fan. Wait–that came out wrong. I enjoy the films, i go to see them at the cinema, i quote them on occasion. I don’t know what all the spaceships are called, i don’t watch the cartoon series, and i don’t play X-Wing (don’t even really know what it is). You know, i’m not a fan. But i enjoy Star Wars, and i like Carrie Fisher, and the idea of this book appealed to me. So, i bought it.

I actually read it as a read along with a friend when we discovered we’d each bought a copy. We were texting each other over the few days we were reading it, comparing notes and exchanging thoughts. It was a fun, interactive way to read the book and brought a lot to the experience.

Fisher is a great writer. I mean, she’s a great actor too, but i feel like she has the soul of a writer. Or maybe i just really connected with her voice and style so it struck a particular chord with me. Whatever, i think her writing’s great. It’s light and funny, but also astute and perceptive–often in the same breath. The diaries from when she was 19 are incredible; it’s hard to imagine a 19 year old writing such insightful, clever, and beautiful things. She’s so eloquent, and it makes this book an effortless read.

Despite her amazing writing, the book isn’t flawless. And i think a large part of its flaws lie in Fisher’s insecurities. She laughs and jokes about them, and about herself, frequently enough that it starts to wear. And ultimately it does nothing but shine a brighter light on them. She wears her humour and self-deprecation like armour, but it’s herself who’s inflicting a lot of the damage. It’s clear from what she writes about being a 19 year old thrown unceremoniously into the celebrity limelight (despite her familiarity with fame and her mother) and how since then she has simple been Princess Leia, that Star Wars has screwed her up a little bit.

Another thing that i thing deeply affected her was the less-than-romantic tryst with Harrison Ford. I’ll skip the details, but suffice it to say in my eyes Ford has no excuses here. He took advantage, plain and simple. Fisher’s diary entries are all about him, wanting him, knowing she can’t have him, and still wanting him anyway. There are some things she says at the end of the book that make me think, somehow, she actually still wanted him–was still punishing herself with that fact.

As much as i enjoyed her writing, for a book pegged as Fisher’s diaries while filming Star Wars, there really wasn’t enough Star Wars. Half the book is about “Carrison” (as she so nauseatingly calls it), the first few chapters about her early life and previous career… really, there is very little Star Wars in here. Despite that, i did enjoy the book. In future i would be tempted to read more of Fisher’s books–with the hope they are less insecurity-filled–but i won’t be rushing out to buy them.

Save

The Twelve

Book Review: The Twelve. 5/5 Stars.Title: The Twelve

Author: Justin Cronin

Summary: Death row prisoners with nightmare pasts no future. Until they were selected for a secret experiment. To create something more than human. Now they are the future–unless a handful of survivors can destroy them.

Rating: ★★★★★ 5/5

Review: I read The Passage, the first book in this trilogy, over the new year in 2016/17. I (somehow) saved The Twelve for the 2017/18 new year period. I’ve loved both books so much, i’m not sure i’ll be able to wait a year to read the third and final.

I hadn’t expected to love this book at much as the first, honestly. I’d heard from a lot of people who were disappointed with the sequels, and i’d prepared myself for the worst. I told myself i’d be happy if it was at least 3 out of 5 stars. I think not assuming it would be as good as the first helped me love this one for its own merits, and not compare it to the first. It also definitely helped that i had no thoughts or ideas on how the story would progress. Just like when reading the first book, I wasn’t wondering what was going to happen or letting myself assume anything–i just let myself get swept up in the story.

But okay, where to start? Where the first book had me sobbing at the very start, and then again at the very end… this book had me welling up and blinking back the tears at the end of every other chapter. For the first half of the book Cronin spends time in several new narratives, in varying time lines, introducing new sets of characters. They all have depth and history and they are very quick to warm to, to root for. We follow their journeys and their stories for a spell, we get invested. But a narrative in the past of an apocalyptic novel has can only end in one way. Even knowing what has to be coming, i was on the edge of my seat for these characters i’d quickly come to love, hoping–futilely–things would turn out okay for them.

Despite the sombre end to these narratives, they hold the key to a lot of the story. It is in their characters and their stories that the main plot’s details are focused. Nothing is superfluous in this book. No character, no action, no back story’s back story. It all means something, it all leads somewhere. The details that went into plotting and completing that must have been immense, and just like the writing of The Passage, Cronin makes it seem effortless.

Talking of the writing, have some of the quotes i made a note of:

And yet the world went on. The sun still shone. To the west, the mountains shrugged their indifferent rocky bulk at man’s departure.

The only thing worse than the burps were the farts that came after, room-clearing jets of oniony gas that even the farter himself could not enjoy.

It’s so sad. But beautiful, too. So many stories are like that.

There were more–plenty more–but it was so hard to stop reading in order to write them down.

The characters I think i liked even more in this book. Here they were each given their own room to develop and reflect, and after the events in The Passage, and the several years since, they are all scarred and changed in their own ways. It was the women i was drawn to most. The old characters–Amy and Sara–and the new–Lore and Lila. The one closest to my heart, though, is Alicia. She was awesome from the start in The Passage, and what she went through and became by the end of that book was incredible. Here she is only even more so. I’ve read some reviews abhorring what she went through in this book, and I wholeheartedly understand that. It didn’t sit right with me either for a time. But ultimately it didn’t define her, it didn’t weaken or cower her–it gave her more to fight for. And fuck, but do i love her when she’s fighting. In the end it’s all only made me love her more.

I can admit that the book is not perfect. There are a couple of wrinkles that give me pause. Mostly centred on an age difference between two sets of characters. One brief in its occurrence, and one i think could have been easily dealt with with a touch more build up and foreshadowing and/or a slight reduction in the age gap. The other is much more complex, in that Amy has the body of a young girl and the life experience of over one hundred years. For a man in his 20s to want either aspect of her is… troubling. I do fear how that will play out in the final book.

Despite the minor troubles, i don’t hesitate in giving this book 5 out of 5 stars. It’s a book in which i got lost, barely noticed time passing, and knew whatever was going to happen was going to be brilliant. I loved it, and i can only hope i at least enjoy the final book in the series half as much.

2017 End of Year Book Survey

2017 End of Year Book SurveyJanuary 1st marks the anniversary of my starting this silly little blog, and every year since, on the first day of the new year, i complete and post this survey. I’ve done 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 – this is year five. Other than the 12 year relationship i’m in, this is the most committed i’ve ever been to something, i think. A scary, but warm-feeling inducing thing to realise. Here’s to year six, i guess!

As always, this surgery is put together and hosted by The Perpetual Page-Turner, and as with previous years, i’ve simply omitted any questions that don’t work for me and my own style of reading, writing, and blogging. Feel free to leave any comments, if you’ve read or want to read any of these books, and point me towards your own completed survey, if you’ve done one! Happy 2018!

2017 Reading Stats

Number of books read: 22.5
Number of re-reads: 1
Genre most read: Graphic novels – more than twice any other!

Best In Books

Best Book You Read In 2017?
It’s seriously hard to choose this year! There are three very strong five-star books fighting for this position. I think, being fair, it has to go to IT, as that’s one of my favourite books ever

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Sad to say, The Power. It was a good book, but from things i’d heard m expectations had been pretty astronomical. It was a real shame.

Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?
As a random little impulse buy at the till, The Practical Implications of Immortality was surprisingly wonderful.

Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
I pushed Nimona so hard I actually bought a copy for someone for their birthday. Everyone, read it!!

Best series you started in 2017? Best Sequel of 2017? Best Series Ender of 2017?
I try not to be reading too many series at once, but I did start the Dr Power series with The Darkening Sky which was great. Best sequel by far was A Closed and Common Orbit (which was one of my favourite books this year generally). And I didn’t finish a series!

Favourite new author you discovered in 2017?
I read my first book by Patrick Ness this year, despite having several on my shelves. I look forward to reading them!

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Poetry is really not my thing for some reason, but I keep trying, and this year I really loved Graffiti (and other poems).

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Bird Box was pretty unputdownable; it was an easy read, but certainly tense in a what’s-going-to-happen way.

Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
With so many books to read, I don’t often re-read, but I might be tempted to pick up and flick through Internal Wilderness.

Favourite cover of a book you read in 2017?
Minimal, art, negative space, and crying out for a frame, it has to be Seasons:

Most memorable character of 2017?
For all it’s imperfections, The Power had a lot of great characters, and Roxy is far and away my favourite.

Most beautifully written book read in 2017?
No doubt – The Wendy Project. The art and narrative, and the use of colour was just breath taking and meaningful in so many ways.

Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017?
For thought-provoking definitely A Closed and Common Orbit – it took already stimulating and often controversial concepts and put new and interesting spins on them. I loved it!

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read?
The Road Through the Wall, but then i’m pacing myself with authors I adore who I know won’t be writing any more books.

Favourite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?
This quote, oh gosh. I start crying just thinking about this quote.

“And if, one day,” she said, really crying now, “you look back and you feel bad for being so angry, if you feel bad for being so angry at me that you couldn’t even speak to me, then you have to know, Conor, you have to know that it was okay. It was okay. That I knew. I know, okay? I know everything you need to tell me without you having to say it out loud. All right?”

– Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls

Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?
Shortest: Seasons is 24 pages
Longest: IT is 1376 pages

Book That Shocked You The Most?
I’ll say In the Flesh, because I disliked the last Clive Barker I read so much I wasn’t ever planning on reading him again. This one was great though; he’s a much better short story teller!

OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)?
Philippa Rice and her partner, as illustrated in all her wonderful comics in Soppy

Favourite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year?
The one between all the kids in IT. I hadn’t realised until re-reading it this year how much all those kids have influenced me since I read the book a dozen times when I was their age. I love them.

Favourite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously?
Definitely A Closed and Common Orbit. I’m sighing with happiness just thinking about that book/series.

Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure?
I don’t think I read any books that were recommended to me this year… oops?

Best 2017 debut you read?
For debuts I have to say Mystery Circus because I need the next instalment already!!

Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Oh, so many! I’ll say The Road Through the Wall, for how well it captured the world and lives of the people living on Pepper Street.

Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Nimona, without a shadow of a doubt. So much joy!

Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?
I sobbed my heart out reading A Monster Calls.

Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Dockwood was a delightful hidden gem of a book. So peaceful and quite and unassuming, but stand out for that.

Book That Crushed Your Soul?
I’m not sure I get what “crushed my soul” is supposed to mean, but Ariel was so bad my soul was crushed with confusion and disappointment, so…

Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?
The Popshot magazines are awesomely unique in the way they combine short stories, poetry, and art. The Hope Issue, which I read this year, was no exception.

Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
As much as I enjoyed it overall, I was pretty mad with Black Widow, as it was far, far too reminiscent of Gone Girl for my liking. I know Brookmyre is better and more original than that.

Your Blogging/Bookish Life

New favourite book blog you discovered in 2017?
I won’t lie, I have not improved on the whole reading other blogs and interacting with folk thing. But S. J. Higbee over at Brainfluff is a lovely person with a wonderful blog!

Favourite review that you wrote in 2017?
Reivews of books I didn’t really like are often my favourite, and Ariel is no exception. My interpretation and evaluation of the poems still makes me laugh.

Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
It was nice to know I wasn’t alone in regards to Why I Skip Straight to the Negative Reviews.

Best event that you participated in?
In May I took part in a read along for IT, which was pretty fun. Some photos I posted on my instagram can be found here: [X] [X] [X] [X] [X] [X] [X] [X]

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?
Finally loosening up a bit with this blog and posting some other things, like meta and discussion posts, and memes, and highlights. I haven’t done as many as I’d wanted, but I’ve definitely made a start!

Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
Getting stuff done—writing the posts and reading the books. I branched out a little this year, but I want to do more!

Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
By views: Graffiti (and other poems), by comments: IT.

Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
Any of my meta and discussion posts, but especially Horror vs Sci-Fi, as they are my two favourite genres and it would have been great to talk about them more with people.

Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
I’m going to say Passion Planner, because i’ve been using one for all of 2017 for the first time and I love it. It’s not specifically reading related, but it is technically a book, and it’s helped me be more organised and motivated in terms of reading, blogging, and life-ing this year.

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I met my goodreads reading goal—matching last year’s total. Not very high, but does include a couple of rather long ones!

Looking Ahead

One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018?
As soon as I finish my current book, i’ll be reading The Princess Diarist as a read along with a friend!

Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2018?
Patrick deWitt’s next book, French Exit, comes out in 2018!

One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018?
Same as it was last year: Post more things, more often.

Save

Seasons

Title: Seasons

Author: Mike Medaglia

Summary: Seasons is a collection of 4 short stories based on the different seasons in a year and how they correspond to the different seasons of a life.

Rating: ★★★★★ 5/5

Review: This book has one of the most gorgeous covers i have ever laid eyes on. Obviously, that’s the reason i picked it up. So simple, yet so affective. I love the minimalism, the bold colours, the leaves. It’s perfect and I want to frame it.

There are four short and equally as simple stories inside. Each named after the season it is set in, and each capturing a different time in life; childhood, adolescence, middle age, and old age. None is really a happy story–all showcase a sadness to humanity in their own way. Patterns children are drawn to repeat, pressures of society telling us what we should be, the shallow insecurities of adulthood, and the fear of not having learnt enough as our time runs out.

Each story–each season–is prefaced with a quote and large splashing of art and colour, illustrating the changing of the seasons and allowing space to pause and absorb between each story. It is a lovely touch.

Four stories, catching just a brief, but all too telling glimpse into people’s lives. They are beautifully told. The art is bold and clear, often at odds with the message being delivered. The colour choices match the season the stories are in–pastel green, pink, and blue for spring, bright primaries for summer, deep orange and browns for autumn, and cool blues for winter. They set a mood that makes the reading easy and the tone light, despite the sombre narratives.

A wonderful little book, worth picking up and pondering over for a spell. Simple, and meaningful. I loved every page.

Save

Popshot Magazine: The Hope Issue

Title: Popshot Magazine: The Hope Issue

Author: Various

Summary: Popshot is an illustrated literary magazine that publishes short stories, flash fiction, and poetry from the literary new blood.

Our sixteenth issue, featuring a timeless collection of poems and short stories that explore hope in all its weird and wonderful ways. Nestled within its pages, we’ll find a daughter extracting memories from her mother’s mind, a couple feasting on slices of rainbow, refugees spreading roots in friendlier lands, a woman who begins to disappear from sight and someone with a small, bright bird inhabiting their chest

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Review: After reading and reviewing The Adventure Issue, I have a few Popshot magazines on my bookshelf to read. I’m glad I finally managed to pick one up to read!

The illustrations are, as previously, outstanding. They set the tone for the individual stories and poems, as well as the magazine itself. They are mellow, lulling the reading into the words at a sedate pace, making you really consider and appreciate every sentence. The detail, the colours, the space… although they are different artists, they fit and compliment each other, pulling the entire magazine together.

My favourite story was The Disappearance, a quiet tale about people fading away. It surprised me how quickly and completely i became immersed in the story, invested in the one character we meet, and how quickly the tale flew by. I Hope This Email Finds You Well and Bird Girl are other stand outs, for the writing, the way the stories are told, and the concepts they are exploring. I found them fascinating. The other few stories were fine, but none quite grabbed me enough to leave a lasting impression.

There were a few notable poems this issue, as well. I’m not a huge poem lover and I freely admit a lot manages to go over my head, but here i found several to love. Small Animals, the last in the magazine, is a clear winner (always saving the best till last). It talks of bad days and good, and sharing your sadness and embracing the happiness… except it’s so much more than that and so, so beautifully written. The Cavern, about the good things we hold within us, afraid to let them out for fear of failure. Ash, about someone helping your burned heart grow something new. Rainbow, Refugee, This World No Deeper Than The Eye… the poems stood out in this issue, far and away.

As much as I loved a lot of the stories and poems, overall this issue didn’t pull me in as much or as strongly as the previous issue. Maybe because i’m too much of a cynical person, and adventure speaks to me more than hope. Either way, i still very much enjoyed it, and look forward to grabbing the next issue soon.

Ash by Kieran Cottrell

I had a heart like an upturned ashtray.

I spoke smoke. People held their breath.
When I found you, ash was all
I had to pile at your feet.

I did not know what you would do
with my dire, dirtying heart
crumbled there, burning.

Would you brush it off, blow it out,
heap it, beating, in your palm
offend the wind with it?

No, you found soil, seeded it.
You poured my heart in, stirred
what I had wasted. And we waited.

Now here’s a sapling. Soon, an ash tree.

Illustration by Leib Chigrin

The Wendy Project

Title: The Wendy Project

Author: Melissa Jane Osborne (Writer), Veronica Fish (Illustrator)

Summary: What forces us to finally grow up?

16-year-old Wendy Davis crashes her car into a lake on a late summer night in New England with her two younger brothers, John and Michael, in the backseat. With Michael missing, Wendy struggles to negotiate fantasy and reality as students and adults around her resemble characters from Neverland. Given a sketchbook by her therapist, Wendy starts to draw “The Wendy Project.”

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5

Review: I was drawn to this book both because of my own name in the title, and because of that gorgeous cover. The beauty continued on the inside, both in terms of the art and the story.

Following a car accident and a missing, presumed dead bother, Wendy begins to draw and write. She chronicles her life, emotions, and ways of coping. People in her life become characters–good, bad, mischievous–her trauma and loss becomes a story, a fantasy, a mystery to be solved. She tries to make things easier by fitting feelings and events into a narrative she can control, but she can’t control her characters.

The art is wonderful, whirling and fading between a grim reality and a bright make-believe. The use of colour is magnificent–it emanates from her journal and seeps into the life around her, into the people and places and objects. The colour is both what her life is missing and her escape from life. It’s just… really amazingly done, okay?

Wendy deals with so much, so beautifully in this book. Loss, love, depression, guilt, teenage romance, teenage angst, loneliness… and it’s all dealt with and portrayed in heartbreaking simplicity with a thread of hope throughout. I felt the depth of Wendy’s emotions, but not so much that i became upset myself. And i’m happy with that.

I devoured this book. It flowed so easily, i couldn’t help but keep reading. The story, the art, the colour… I couldn’t look away.

Save