Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes

30 Oct

 

Anatomy of a Misfit

author : andrea portes

pages : [hardcover] 336

memorable quote It’s one of those dumb days where nothing’s really wrong but nothing’s really right either and the sky can’t even choose to be white or gray.

summary :

This emotional, hilarious, devastating, and ultimately triumphant YA debut, based on actual events, recounts one girl’s rejection of her high school’s hierarchy—and her discovery of her true self in the face of tragedy.

Fall’s buzzed-about, in-house favorite.

Outside, Anika Dragomir is all lip gloss and blond hair—the third most popular girl in school. Inside, she’s a freak: a mix of dark thoughts, diabolical plots, and, if local chatter is to be believed, vampire DNA (after all, her father is Romanian). But she keeps it under wraps to maintain her social position. One step out of line and Becky Vilhauer, first most popular girl in school, will make her life hell. So when former loner Logan McDonough shows up one September hotter, smarter, and more mysterious than ever, Anika knows she can’t get involved. It would be insane to throw away her social safety for a nerd. So what if that nerd is now a black-leather-jacket-wearing dreamboat, and his loner status is clearly the result of his troubled home life? Who cares if the right girl could help him with all that, maybe even save him from it? Who needs him when Jared Kline, the bad boy every girl dreams of, is asking her on dates? Who?

Anatomy of a Misfit is Mean Girls meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Anika’s hilariously deadpan delivery will appeal to readers for its honesty and depth. The so-sad-it’s-funny high school setting will pull readers in, but when the story’s dark foreboding gradually takes over, the devastating penultimate tragedy hits like a punch to the gut. Readers will ride the highs and lows alongside funny, flawed Anika — from laughter to tears, and everything in between.

review :

I’d heard mixed reviews about this novel when I started it. While I was reading, it seemed like people either absolutely loved or hated this book. Maybe I’m one of the rare few who fall in between the options. I really liked some aspects of the book: Even though Anika is a little harsh at times, I did come to appreciate and like her outgoing personality. Yet the novel feels a little disjointed, as if the events don’t necessarily lend themselves to the outcome of this book.

I did think that parts of it were funny. Others, not so much. Maybe it’s because I (as well as most people) have had it shoved into our minds from both real-life experiences and the media that popular people are terrible, can’t be trusted, and possibly deserve to have terrible things happen to them because, essentially, they’re terrible people. Obviously this isn’t always the case–people can be popular just because they’re good people. A wild idea. But Anika admits herself that she can’t be a good person if she wants to maintain her popularity and keep herself from being bullied. Which frustrated me. How can an entire student body revolve around the whims of one person? In reality, there is a social hierarchy in school, but there’s no one particular figure to bash. Not that I’ve ever seen. So these hundreds of students can’t see for themselves that they’d be better off without listening to an individual?

Another thing that frustrated me was how indifferent Anika seemed to everything, up until the last minute. It wasn’t an example of a gradual character change. I feel like if a little more development went into this, if I could have really seen how this was affecting and altering Anika, it would have been a more powerful story. As it is, it simply seemed so abrupt that looks like a convenient way to wrap up the book so it can end.

There were some scenes in this book that I found funny and think that others would enjoy. If the characters were a little more fleshed out so the plot didn’t seem to abruptly change them, I would have found this book a lot better.

3.5/5 stars

 

The Belly of the Atlantic by Fatou Diome

30 Oct

 

The Belly of the Atlantic

author : fatou diome

pages : [paperback] 192

summary :

“This charming, vivid and poetic book captures the poignancy of immigrant life and all the unresolved pain of Africa’s relationship with its former colonial powers.”—Michela Wrong

Salie lives in Paris. Back home on the Senegalese island of Niodior, her football-crazy brother Madické counts on her to get him to France, the promised land where foreign footballers become world famous. The story of Salie and Madické highlights the painful situation of those who emigrate. It is a moving account of one of the great tragedies of our time.

review :

I ended up wanting to like this book a lot more than I actually did. It was a good cultural study of a country that I know next to nothing about. Simply reading this gives a hint of the lives of the people there; of course I had to do more research to understand the relationship between France and Senegal that’s so talked about throughout the novel. Some of the important themes include colonization and the aftereffects of separating from the overpowering country. These are things that I know people around me don’t think affect countries today. We’re so absorbed in our little bubble that we barely think about how other cultures continue to experience oppression every day simply because they grow up believing that another culture is so much better than them.

Salie was a good character but I feel like most of the people in this narrative were flat. This felt less like a story that had a beginning and end than a snapshot of their lives. While that is not necessarily bad, because I feel like it was well-written, it began to lose my interest. This may have also been because I have no real interest in reading about football or football matches, even if I might enjoy seeing them in real life.

I did like how wonderfully the village life was described, contrasting the lives of immigrants who live in France. I also liked hearing about the different perspectives each character had on France or Senegal’s place within the world.

While I’d recommend this book to people who are looking to expand their reading or learn about other countries, I think that there might be better novels out there. I haven’t experienced them for myself yet and obviously no book like that has entered the mainstream.

2/5 stars

Scarlet: Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis

25 Oct

 

Scarlet

Volume One

by : Brian Michael Bendis, illustrations by Alex Maleeve

pages [hardcover] 176

favorite character : scarlet

summary :

THE AWARD WINNING, BEST SELLING POWERHOUSE CREATIVE TEAM BEHIND DAREDEVIL, HALO, AND THE AVENGERS UNLEASH THEIR BOLDEST PROJECT YET! SCARLET! This is the comic experience of the year! The first creator-owned series by one of the most successful teams in all of modern comics. Scarlet is the story of a woman pushed to the edge by all that is wrong with the world…A woman who will not back down…A woman who discovers within herself the power to start a modern American revolution!!

review :

I recently read this along with a lot of other graphic novels and out of the stack this was one of my favorites. I was looking for an awesome female character and got more than I could have hoped for. I loved everything about Scarlet, especially the fact that she directly addresses the reader. I also liked the flaws that she had. Maybe one thing that I didn’t like about this volume was how desperate it made me to get my hands on another.

I hadn’t heard of this book before I spotted it in the library and wish that more people knew about it. I don’t typically reach for comics or graphic novels but I feel like this in particular would be a great bridge between novel and comic. You get the great story you’re looking for paired with visuals that wouldn’t have heightened the impact if the writers had decided on a different form to publish. I really loved being able to see Scarlet and her different expresses: While she was ready to kick ass, while she was vulnerable, while she was indecisive.

She’s a girl who’s had a terrible, unjustified thing done to her that changes her life forever. Honestly, I feel like this generalization of her experience is something that most people can relate to. What makes Scarlet different is her push for justice. She isn’t going to get beaten down and silenced simply because things get tough. That’s simply when she starts fighting harder.

I really think she’s an awesome character and the others supporting her are great as well. I can’t wait to read more and this is one that I’ll be recommending to people for a while!

4/5 stars

 

Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

18 Oct

 

Friends with Boys

author : faith erin hicks

pages : [paperback] 220

favorite character : maggie

summary :

After years of homeschooling, Maggie is starting high school. It’s pretty terrifying.

Maggie’s big brothers are there to watch her back, but ever since Mom left it just hasn’t been the same.

Besides her brothers, Maggie’s never had any real friends before. Lucy and Alistair don’t have lots of friends either. But they eat lunch with her at school and bring her along on their small-town adventures.

Missing mothers…distant brothers…high school…new friends… It’s a lot to deal with. But there’s just one more thing.

MAGGIE IS HAUNTED.

review :

This book was so much fun to read! There was a lot going on with it and none of it seemed to be directly connected but I’m hoping that there’ll be another book that explains all of the elements in this one a little further!

Maggie is such a fun character to read. She’s always been homeschooled so she has anxiety about leaving home and trying to meet new people for the first time in her life. Because I struggle with social anxiety myself, it was interesting to see how Maggie handled this new situation and gradually became more comfortable in her school.

Her brothers were so fun! I only have one brother myself but I can imagine how much worse things would be if I had to have three of them . . . and how wonderful if could be to have all of those siblings, too. Their family dynamic was beautiful and I want to see more of it! They act like a normal, realistic family, which grounds some of the more fantastical parts of the book. Like the fact that Maggie can see ghosts. More specifically one ghost who likes to hang around the graveyard and never says anything. I think that the only thing really lacking about this book is that there’s no progress with the mystery about the book. It’s the only supernatural thing in the novel . . . Will there be more? Hopefully we’ll find out.

I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for a new read or who really enjoys graphic novels! The style of art in this is right up my alley and my library has another book by this author that I’m going to pick up ASAP so I can enjoy more of this!

4/5 stars

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

15 Oct

 

The Mark of Athena

The Heroes of Olympus #3
Book 1: The Lost Hero
Book 2: The Son of Neptune

author : rick riordan

pages : [hardcover] 608

favorite characters : percy & annabeth

memorable quote “We’re staying together,” he promised. “You’re not getting away from me. Never again.”

IF YOU HAVE NOT READ BOOKS ONE AND TWO, THIS SUMMARY AND REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS! But it will definitely not spoil The Mark of Athena.

summary :

Annabeth is terrified. Just when she’s about to be reunited with Percy—after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera—it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon masthead, Leo’s fantastical creation doesn’t appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.

And that’s only one of her worries. In her pocket Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving demand: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find—and close—the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?

Annabeth’s biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he’s now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader, but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.

Narrated by four different demigods, The Mark of Athena is an unforgettable journey across land and sea to Rome, where important discoveries, surprising sacrifices, and unspeakable horrors await. Climb aboard the Argo II, if you dare….

review :

Ahhhhhhh! Rick Riordan is amazing! I seriously cannot get enough of these books!

It took me a while to get to the third book in this series. Why? I had the ending spoiled for me, so that devastated me for a while. But now that the entire series is out, I’m terrified that the fourth and fifth books will be spoiled, so I decided to finally press on with these great books. I know that this will be something that, like the original Percy Jackson books, I’ll come back to read again and again. These awesome adventures are just so much fun and are filled with great characters that I’ve come to know and love.

I really like the way that the characters new to this series have been interacting with old favorites like Annabeth and Percy. Not to mention that Percy and Annabeth are FINALLY getting to unite!!! This is the moment that fans have been waiting for! And it’s just done so perfectly. I laughed, I maybe cried a little . . . and most of all I remembered why I love these heroes so much!

Riordan loves to take old myths and do a modern spin with them and I can’t say that I complain. I love learning about new portions of mythology that I either never heard of or had forgotten about! I think that this is a great series to spark anyone’s imagination and get them interested in myth and legend. Because while everyone has heard of fantastical figures like Hercules, they may not be familiar with all of the characters thrown into this book.

I’d recommend this book for everyone. Seriously. I can’t get enough of these books! I really need to get to the next book because like the rest of this series The Mark of Athena leaves you needing to know what’s going to happen next. I have no idea what could happen in these adventures but can’t wait to find out!

5/5 stars

The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks

13 Oct

The Adventures of Superhero Girl

author : Faith Erin Hicks

pages : [hardcover] 212

summary :

What if you can leap tall buildings and defeat alien monsters with your bare hands, but you buy your capes at secondhand stores, and have a weakness for kittens, and a snarky comment from Skeptical Guy can ruin a whole afternoon? Cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks brings her skills in character design and sharp, charming humor to the trials and tribulations of a young, superhero battling monsters both supernatural and mundane in an all-too-ordinary world.

review :

This book was a really fun collection of comics about Superhero Girl that pokes fun at the idea of superheroes while also making us readers believe in how completely awesome Superhero Girl is. Despite the fact that, as she says, she can leap over tall buildings but can’t fly, something that most people think makes her a lame hero!

I loved the humor in these adventures. Her quest for an arch-nemesis, problems with her completely ordinary roommate, family drama . . . As soon as I finished, I wanted more from her, and I’m tempted to read this again because I feel like I went through it too quickly! It was too addictive to put down and because it’s in comic format, it’s easy to flip through it quickly. I think that originally portions were published online in a serialized form. Most of the pages tell little stories within themselves, that build into a bigger understanding of Superhero Girl and the world she lives in.

This is a collection that I think could be enjoyed by men and women, boys and girls. Not only is it great to have another female superhero to look up to, it pokes fun at the conventional superhero stories, thus making fun of itself as it goes along. How many comics do you think do that?

I’d recommend this book to anyone! I think that there’s something enjoyable in it for everybody and that it’ll be a quick favorite to those who take an hour to read through it.

5/5 stars

Wandering Son Volume 1 by Shimura Takako

12 Oct

Wandering Son

Volume One

author : shimura takako

pages : [hardcover] 208

summary :

The fifth grade. The threshold to puberty, and the beginning of the end of childhood innocence. Shuichi Nitori and his new friend Yoshino Takatsuki have happy homes, loving families, and are well-liked by their classmates. But they share a secret that further complicates a time of life that is awkward for anyone: Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy.
Written and drawn by one of today’s most critically acclaimed creators of manga, Shimura portrays Shuishi and Yoshino’s very private journey with affection, sensitivity, gentle humor, and unmistakable flair and grace. Book One introduces our two protagonists and the friends and family whose lives intersect with their own. Yoshino is rudely reminded of her sex by immature boys whose budding interest in girls takes clumsily cruel forms. Shuichi’s secret is discovered by Saori, a perceptive and eccentric classmate. And it is Saori who suggests that the fifth graders put on a production of The Rose of Versailles for the farewell ceremony for the sixth graders, with boys playing the roles of women, and girls playing the roles of men. Wandering Son is a sophisticated work of literary manga translated with rare skill and sensitivity by veteran translator and comics scholar Matt Thorn.

review :

I recently read a whole stack of graphic novels to try to get me into the genre. While I feel like Wandering Son had some interesting concepts, it certainly wasn’t the best book for me.

I liked the characters but felt like they were a little unrealistic. I feel like they were always pushing for these situations that kids would typically treat in a cruel way, not how they’re dealt with in this manga. While I know that there’s still a lot more of this story to go, I’m not sure that much actually progressed in this book, even with those situations present. I do think that I’ll pick up the next installment because I’ve seen that it’s considered one of the best of the series.

I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m new to this genre that the characters felt flat to me. No one was fully fleshed out and I couldn’t predict how anyone would react to anything because they had dull personalities. I was interested to see where the plot was going to go with this, though, so that kept me pushing through. Perhaps future volumes take the bare bones laid out here and capitalize on them in a way that’s even better than I could imagine.

I’d recommend this book as an unconventional read. The style was interesting and while the art wasn’t something that I’d rave about, it was cute and fit with the narrative. I think there are others out there who’ll enjoy this more than I did!

3/5 stars

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