Year-a-thon TBR

The beginning of the April Year-a-thon is here and that means we start reading the Highest and Lowest rated books on your Goodreads TBR. So these are the two books I’ll be picking up this week.

‘Empress of A Thousand Skies’ by Rhoda Belleza is the lowest rated book on my Goodreads TBR so I will be picking that up, along with ‘Heartstopper: Volume 3’ by Alice Oseman which is my highest rated book.

I’m really looking forward to reading both and I’m a little glad that this challenge is making me prioratise books that may not of been on the forefront of my TBR.

The Odyssey: Graphic Novel by Gareth Hinds

The Odyssey
By Gareth Hinds

Publisher: Candlewick
Date: 2010
Pages: 256
Fiction/Non-Fiction: Fiction
Genre:  Classic
Days to Read: 2
Purchase Locations: Amazon and Kindle Book Depository Booktopia Dymocks QBD

With bold imagery and an ear tuned to the music of Homer’s epic poem, Gareth Hinds reinterprets the ancient classic as it’s never been told before.

“Gareth Hinds brings THE ODYSSEY to life in a masterful blend of art and storytelling. Vivid and exciting, this graphic novel is a worthy new interpretation of Homer’s epic.”
—Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series

Fresh from his triumphs in the Trojan War, Odysseus, King of Ithaca, wants nothing more than to return home to his family. Instead, he offends the sea god, Poseidon, who dooms him to years of shipwreck and wandering. Battling man-eating monsters, violent storms, and the supernatural seductions of sirens and sorceresses, Odysseus will need all his strength and cunning—and a little help from Mount Olympus—to make his way home and seize his kingdom from the schemers who seek to wed his queen and usurp his throne. Award-winning graphic artist Gareth Hinds masterfully reinterprets a story of heroism, adventure, and high action that has been told and retold for more than 2,500 years—though never quite like this.

Gareth Hinds adaptation of The Odyssey is one the brings colour, vibrance and richness to a classic Homer tale. Both the Illiad and The Odyssey are stories I have expereienced in their ‘classic’ form and both are rich stories that had such an impact on my love of Greek history, culture and mythology.

In the Odyssey we follow Odysseus’ son ________, as he attempts to protect his mother from the hoard of men who wish to marry her after Odysseus is thought dead after the Trojian war. _____ is informed by the gods that his father is traped and that is why he is yet to return. Armed with this knowledge he attempts to find his father and bring him home.

The graphic novel reimagining of this story was one that provided vibrance to a story that can get bogged down in the homeric language that is used. I definitely found the story more entertaining in this format. The colors were muted which added to the story even more, with an art style that impacted me as a reader.

I enjoyed the combination of authors adaptation in dialogue form with the artwork for each character and scene. It felt very transportive and engaging, I found myself eager to continue reading the text.

At some moments through out the story I did find myself confusing some characters and forgetting their relation or importance to the story. The sheer magnitute of The Odyssy really can be overwhelming at times.

This adaptation of a classic Greek story is one that fits Gareth Hinds adaptation and art style. They complement eachother in a way that enriches historical and classical liturature and makes it accessible to all readers.

Plot: 7/10
Ease of reading: 6/10
Character Development: 7/10
World Building: 6/10
Quality of Writing: 8/10
Overall: 4/5

January Book Haul 2020

So I have definitely stuck to buying less books in January than what I read in December… Yay! Here are the books I grabbed!

Angel Mage
by Garth Nix

Hardcover

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding.

Liliath knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighboring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendants. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will turn to ash. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.

But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic. They are the key to her quest.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else.

Aphrodite Made Me Do It
by Trista Mateer

Paperback

Bestselling and award-winning author Trista Mateer takes an imaginative approach to self-care in this new poetry and prose collection, Aphrodite Made Me Do It. In this empowering retelling, she uses the mythology of the goddess to weave a common thread through the past and present. By the end of this book, Aphrodite make you believe in the possibility of your own healing.

Children of Virtue and Vengeance
by Tomi Adeyemi

Hardcover

After battling the impossible, Zélie and Amari have finally succeeded in bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha. But the ritual was more powerful than they could’ve imagined, reigniting the powers of not only the maji, but of nobles with magic ancestry, too.

Now, Zélie struggles to unite the maji in an Orïsha where the enemy is just as powerful as they are. But when the monarchy and military unite to keep control of Orïsha, Zélie must fight to secure Amari’s right to the throne and protect the new maji from the monarchy’s wrath.

With civil war looming on the horizon, Zélie finds herself at a breaking point: she must discover a way to bring the kingdom together or watch as Orïsha tears itself apart.

Come Tumbling Down
by Seanan McGuire

Hardcover

When Jack left Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children she was carrying the body of her deliciously deranged sister–whom she had recently murdered in a fit of righteous justice–back to their home on the Moors.

But death in their adopted world isn’t always as permanent as it is here, and when Jack is herself carried back into the school, it becomes clear that something has happened to her. Something terrible. Something of which only the maddest of scientists could conceive. Something only her friends are equipped to help her overcome.

Eleanor West’s “No Quests” rule is about to be broken.

Again.

Macbeth
Adapted by Gareth Hinds

Paperback

Shakespeare’s classic story of dark ambition, madness, and murder springs to life in a masterful new graphic novel by Gareth Hinds.

Set against the moody backdrop of eleventh-century Scotland, Gareth Hinds’s captivating, richly illustrated interpretation takes readers into the claustrophobic mind of a man driven mad by ambition.An evil seed takes root in the mind of Macbeth, a general in the king’s army, when three witches tell him he will one day be king. At the urging of his wife, he resolves to take the throne by the most direct path: a dagger in the heart of King Duncan. But “blood will have blood,” and when others grow suspicious of his sudden rise to power, is Macbeth prepared to commit more murders to keep the crown?

The Bad Boy of Athens: Classics from the Greeks to Game of Thrones
by Daniel Mendelsohn

Hardcover

Mendelsohn takes the classical costumes off figures like Virgil and Sappho, Homer and Horace … He writes about things so clearly they come to feel like some of the most important things you have ever been told.’ Sebastian Barry

Over the past three decades, Daniel Mendelsohn’s essays and reviews have earned him a reputation as ‘our most irresistible literary critic’ (New York Times). This striking new collection exemplifies the way in which Mendelsohn – a classicist by training – uses the classics as a lens to think about urgent contemporary debates.

There is much to surprise here. Mendelsohn invokes the automatons featured in Homer’s epics to help explain the AI films Ex Machina and Her, and perceives how Ted Hughes sought redemption by translating a play of Euripides (the ‘bad boy of Athens’) about a wayward husband whose wife returns from the dead. There are essays on Sappho’s sexuality and the feminism of Game of Thrones; on how Virgil’s Aeneid prefigures post-World War II history and why we are still obsessed with the Titanic; on Patrick Leigh Fermor’s final journey, Karl Ove Knausgaard’s autofiction and the plays of Tom Stoppard, Tennessee Williams, and Noël Coward. The collection ends with a poignant account of the author’s boyhood correspondence with the historical novelist Mary Renault, which inspired his ambition to become a writer.

In The Bad Boy of Athens, Mendelsohn provokes and dazzles with erudition, emotion and tart wit while his essays dance across eras, cultures and genres. This is a provocative collection which sees today’s master of popular criticism using the ancient past to reach into the very heart of modern culture.

The Secret History
by Donna Tartt

Paperback

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil.

When We Were Vikings
by Andrew David Macdonald

Paperback

A heart-swelling debut for fans of The Silver Linings Playbook and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Sometimes life isn’t as simple as heroes and villains.

For Zelda, a twenty-one-year-old Viking enthusiast who lives with her older brother, Gert, life is best lived with some basic rules:

1. A smile means “thank you for doing something small that I liked.”
2. Fist bumps and dabs = respect.
3. Strange people are not appreciated in her home.
4. Tomatoes must go in the middle of the sandwich and not get the bread wet.
5. Sometimes the most important things don’t fit on lists.

But when Zelda finds out that Gert has resorted to some questionable—and dangerous—methods to make enough money to keep them afloat, Zelda decides to launch her own quest. Her mission: to be legendary. It isn’t long before Zelda finds herself in a battle that tests the reach of her heroism, her love for her brother, and the depth of her Viking strength.

When We Were Vikings is an uplifting debut about an unlikely heroine whose journey will leave you wanting to embark on a quest of your own, because after all…

We are all legends of our own making.

We Used to be Friends
by Amy Spalding

Hardcover

Two best friends grow up—and grow apart—in this innovative contemporary YA novel
 
Told in dual timelines—half of the chapters moving forward in time and half moving backward—We Used to Be Friends explores the most traumatic breakup of all: that of childhood besties. At the start of their senior year in high school, James (a girl with a boy’s name) and Kat are inseparable, but by graduation, they’re no longer friends. James prepares to head off to college as she reflects on the dissolution of her friendship with Kat while, in alternating chapters, Kat thinks about being newly in love with her first girlfriend and having a future that feels wide open. Over the course of senior year, Kat wants nothing more than James to continue to be her steady rock, as James worries that everything she believes about love and her future is a lie when her high-school sweetheart parents announce they’re getting a divorce. Funny, honest, and full of heart, We Used to Be Friends tells of the pains of growing up and growing apart.

Thor Rewatch

As the son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), king of the Norse gods, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) will soon inherit the throne of Asgard from his aging father. However, on the day that he is to be crowned, Thor reacts with brutality when the gods’ enemies, the Frost Giants, enter the palace in violation of their treaty. As punishment, Odin banishes Thor to Earth. While Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thor’s brother, plots mischief in Asgard, Thor, now stripped of his powers, faces his greatest threat.

Favourite Quotes

Darcy: I’m not dying for 6 collage credits

Thor: Another *smashes mug*

Darcy: Mewmew… What’s mewmew?

Thor: *walks into Pet Palace* I need a horse

Thor: Your big, fought bigger

SHIELD Agent: Is that one of Starks?
Coulson: I don’t know, that guy doesn’t tell me anything.

Thoughts

At the beginning of the movie I really enjoyed the explanation into Norse myth. I didn’t love that it didn’t really align with the myth of how Odin lost his eye.

It kind of makes sense that Loki went of his rocker

Absolutely loved the introduction of Hawkeye. I really need a Hawkeye movie.

Straight up, Heimdall is a badass.

I actually laughed so hard when Thor’s friends arrived and knocked on the glass.

The Tea Dragon Society and The Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O’Neill

The Tea Dragon Society and The Tea Dragon Festival
by Katie O’Neill

Publisher: Oni Press
Date: 2017 & 2019
Pages: 208
Fiction/Non-Fiction: Fiction
Genre:  Fantasy
Days to Read: 1
Purchase Locations: Amazon & Kindle Book Depository Booktopia Dymocks

The Tea Dragon Society

From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever After comes The Tea Dragon Society, a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.

After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.

The Tea Dragon Festival

Rinn has grown up with the Tea Dragons that inhabit their village, but stumbling across a real dragon turns out to be a different matter entirely! Aedhan is a young dragon who was appointed to protect the village but fell asleep in the forest eighty years ago. With the aid of Rinn’s adventuring uncle Erik and his partner Hesekiel, they investigate the mystery of his enchanted sleep, but Rinn’s real challenge is to help Aedhan come to terms with feeling that he cannot get back the time he has lost.

This has to be one of the cutest graphic novel ‘duologies’ that I’ve read. Tea Dragons are the most adorable characters ever and I want one of all of them because I cannot decide which is the cutest.

In these companion stories we explore a world where Tea Dragons exist. These are small dragons that grow flowers on their bodies which can be used to brew different teas. In the first one we are introduced to the whole concept of tea dragons and learn some of the history of them.

in ‘The Tea Dragon Festival’ we follow different characters within the same universe who awake a long slumber dragon who is celebrated within the village. We also have a deaf character in the story and I absolutely love how the character is represented in the story and how the format of a graphic novel is used to emphasis this.

The art style in both books used a lot of colour that is slightly muted through out. Its definitely a vibe I can get behind and really added to my enjoyment of the stories.

The dialogue is lyrical and magical and makes the story so sweet and enjoyable.

Both books are quick reads, they are definitely meant for a younger audience and I am so excited to share this with magical story with my children in the future – and maybe take it into work to share with my class!

Plot: 6/10
Ease of reading: 10/10
Character Development: 7/10
World Building: 8/10
Quality of Writing: 8/10
Overall:4/5

December Book Haul: Last Book Haul of the Decade

December was a month where I picked up a few more books then I should of but here we are and I am so excited about a lot of these books.

‘The Queen of Nothing’
by Holly Black

Hardcover

He will be destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…

‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’
by Hayao Miyazaki

3 Volumes
Paperback

Kiki, a young witch-in-training, has reached the age of 13. According to tradition, all witches of that age must leave home for one year, so that they can learn how to live on their own. Kiki, along with her talking cat Jiji, fly away to live in the seaside town of Korico. After starting her own delivery service (using her broom as the delivery vehicle), Kiki must learn how to deal with her new life, especially after she loses the power to fly.

’10 Blind Dates’
by Ashley Elston

Hardcover

Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship. Cue devastation.

Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents’ house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That’s when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby.

When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she’s started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available.

This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever… or is it?

‘Unpregnant’
by Jenni Hendricks & Ted Caplan

Hardcover

Seventeen-year-old Veronica Clarke never thought she would wish she’d failed a test until she finds herself holding a thick piece of plastic in her hands and staring at two solid pink lines. Even the most consistent use of condoms won’t prevent pregnancy when your boyfriend secretly pokes holes in them to keep you from going out-of-state for college.

Veronica needs an abortion, but the closest place she can legally get one is over nine hundred miles away—and Veronica doesn’t have a car. Too ashamed to ask her friends or family for help, Veronica turns to the one person she believes won’t judge her: Bailey Butler, Jefferson High’s own little black cloud of anger and snark—and Veronica’s ex-best friend. Once on the road, Veronica quickly remembers nothing with Bailey is ever simple and that means two days of stolen cars, shotguns, crazed ex-boyfriends, truck stop strippers with pro-life agendas, and a limo driver named Bob. But the pain and betrayal of their broken friendship can’t be outrun. When their fighting leads to a brutal moment of truth, Bailey abandons Veronica. Now Veronica must risk everything in order to repair the hurt she’s caused.

‘Always Never Yours’
by Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Hardcover

Seventeen-year-old Megan Harper is about due for her next sweeping romance. It’s inevitable—each of her relationships starts with the perfect guy and ends with him falling in love . . . with someone else. But instead of feeling sorry for herself, Megan focuses on pursuing her next fling, directing theater, and fulfilling her dream college’s acting requirement in the smallest role possible.

So when she’s cast as Juliet (yes, that Juliet) in her high school’s production, it’s a complete nightmare. Megan’s not an actress, and she’s used to being upstaged—both in and out of the theater. In fact, with her mom off in Texas and her dad remarried and on to baby #2 with his new wife, Megan worries that, just like her exes, her family is moving on without her.

Then she meets Owen Okita, an aspiring playwright inspired by Rosaline from Shakespeare’s R+J. A character who, like Megan, knows a thing or two about short-lived relationships. Megan agrees to help Owen with his play in exchange for help catching the eye of a sexy stagehand/potential new boyfriend. Yet Megan finds herself growing closer to Owen, and wonders if he could be the Romeo she never expected.

In their fresh and funny debut, Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka break down the high school drama to find there’s always room for familial love, romantic love, and—most importantly—self-love.

‘I Hope you Get This Message’
by Farah Naz Rishi

Hardcover

Seven days. Seven days. The Earth might end in seven days.

When news stations start reporting that Earth has been contacted by a planet named Alma, the world is abuzz with rumors that the alien entity is giving mankind only few days to live before they hit the kill switch on civilization.

For high school truant Jesse Hewitt, though, nothing has ever felt permanent. Not the guys he hooks up with. Not the jobs his underpaid mom works so hard to hold down. Life has dealt him one bad blow after another — so what does it matter if it all ends now? Cate Collins, on the other hand, is desperate to use this time to find the father she’s never met, the man she grew up hearing wild stories about, most of which she didn’t believe. And then there’s Adeem Khan. While coding and computer programming have always come easily to him, forgiveness doesn’t. He can’t seem to forgive his sister for leaving, even though it’s his last chance.

With only seven days to face their truths and right their wrongs, Jesse, Cate, and Adeem’s paths collide even as their worlds are pulled apart.

‘The Forest Feast: Simple Vegetarian Recipes from my Cabin in the Woods’
by Erin Gleeson

Hardcover

Erin Gleeson made her dream a reality when she left New York City and moved into a tiny cabin in a California forest in order to be closer to nature. The natural beauty of her surroundings and the abundance of local produce serve as the inspiration for The Forest Feast, based on her popular blog. Most of the book’s 100 wholly vegetarian recipes call for only three or four ingredients and require very few steps, resulting in dishes that are fresh, wholesome, delicious, and stunning. Among the delightful recipes are eggplant tacos with brie and cilantro, rosemary shortbread, and blackberry negroni. Vibrant photographs, complemented by Erin’s own fanciful watercolor illustrations and hand lettering, showcase the rustic simplicity of the dishes. Part cookbook, part art book, The Forest Feast will be as comfortable in the kitchen as on the coffee table.

‘More: More recipes with more veg for more Joy’
by Matt Preston
Paperback

‘Of Gods and Men: 100 Stories From Ancient Greece and Rome’
Edited by Daisy Dunn

Hardcover

Daisy Dunn offers a deeply researched collection of stories reflecting the eclectic richness and depth of the classical literary canon.

Striking a balance between the ‘classic classic’ (such as Dryden’s translation of the Aeneid) and the less familiar or expected, Of Gods and Men ranges from the epic poetry of Homer to the histories of Arrian and Diodorus Siculus and the sprawling Theogony of Hesiod; from the tragedies of Aeschylus and Euripides to the biographies of Suetonius and Plutarch and the pen portraits of Theophrastus; and from the comedies of Plautus to the the fictions of Petronius and Apuleius.

Of Gods and Men is embellished by translations from writers as diverse as Queen Elizabeth I (Boethius), Percy Bysshe Shelley (Plato), Walter Pater (Apuleius’s Golden Ass), Lawrence of Arabia (Homer’s Odyssey), Louis MacNeice (Aeschylus’s Agamemnon) and Ted Hughes (Ovid’s Pygmalion), as well as a number of accomplished translations by Daisy herself.

‘The Iliad’
by Gareth Hinds

Paperback

In a companion volume to his award-winning adaptation of The Odyssey, the incomparable graphic novelist Gareth Hinds masterfully adapts Homer’s classic wartime epic.

More than three thousand years ago, two armies faced each other in an epic battle that rewrote history and came to be known as the Trojan War. The Iliad, Homer’s legendary account of this nine-year ordeal, is considered the greatest war story of all time and one of the most important works of Western literature. In this stunning graphic novel adaptation — a thoroughly researched and artfully rendered masterwork — renowned illustrator Gareth Hinds captures all the grim glory of Homer’s epic. Dynamic illustrations take readers directly to the plains of Troy, into the battle itself, and lay bare the complex emotions of the men, women, and gods whose struggles fueled the war and determined its outcome. This companion volume to Hinds’s award-winning adaptation of The Odyssey features notes, maps, a cast of characters, and other tools to help readers understand all the action and drama of Homer’s epic.

‘Darkdawn’
by Jay Kristoff

Hardcover

A ruthless young assassin’s journey for revenge comes to a stunning end in the conclusion of this acclaimed epic fantasy trilogy.

The Republic of Itreya is in chaos. Mia Corvere has assassinated Cardinal Duomo and rumors of Consul Scaeva’s death ripple through the street of Godsgrave like wildfire. But buried beneath those same streets, deep in the ancient city’s bones, lies a secret that will change the Republic forever.

Mia and her brother Jonnen must journey through the depths of the ancient metropolis. Their quest will take them through the Godsgrave underdark, across the Sea of Swords, back to the library of the Quiet Mountain and the poisoned blades of Mia’s old mentors, and at last the fabled Crown of the Moon. There, Mia will at last discover the origins of the darkin, and learn the destiny that lies in store for her and her world. But with the three suns now in descent, and Truedark on the horizon, will she survive?

‘Starsight’
by Brandon Sanderson

Hardcover

All her life, Spensa has dreamed of becoming a pilot. Of proving she’s a hero like her father. She made it to the sky, but the truths she learned about her father were crushing.

Spensa is sure there’s more to the story. And she’s sure that whatever happened to her father in his starship could happen to her. When she made it outside the protective shell of her planet, she heard the stars–and it was terrifying. Everything Spensa has been taught about her world is a lie.

But Spensa also discovered a few other things about herself–and she’ll travel to the end of the galaxy to save humankind if she needs too.

‘The Hunger Games’
by Suzanne Collins

Paperback

Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning?

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before – and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Collins delivers equal parts suspense and philosophy, adventure and romance, in this searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present.

‘The Pretenders’
by Rebecca Hanover

Hardcover

In this conclusion to The Similars duology, Emma must figure out who she really is, decide between two boys with the same face, and stop a dangerous plan based on revenge.

Emma is still reeling from the events of her junior year at Darkwood. Not only is her best friend, Oliver, shockingly alive, but the boy she loves—his Similar, Levi—is still on the island where he grew up, stranded with his deranged creator.

More importantly, she is grappling with who she really is. Emma can’t accept the hard truths she learned last year and refuses to share her secrets with anyone, isolating herself from her friends and Ollie.

But when more of the Similars’ creator’s plot is revealed, Emma and her friends will have to try to stop him from putting a plan into motion that could destroy everyone she loves. 

‘The Inflammation Spectrum: Find Your Food Triggers and Reset Your System’
by Dr. Will Cole

hardcover

In Dr. Will Cole’s game-changing new book, readers will discover how inflammation is at the core of most common health woes. What’s more, it exists on a continuum: from mild symptoms such as weight gain and fatigue on one end, to hormone imbalance and autoimmune conditions on the other. How you feel is being influenced by every meal. Every food you eat is either feeding inflammation or fighting it. Because no one else is you, the foods that work well for someone else may not be right for your body. At heart, The Inflammation Spectrum is about learning to love your body enough to nourish it with delicious, healing foods. You’ll find insightful quizzes and empowering advice to put you on a path toward food freedom and overall healing, once and for all. 

‘The Poppy War’
by R.F. Kuang

Hardcover

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late. 

‘The Dragon Republic’
by R.F. Kuang

Hardcover

The searing follow-up to 2018’s most celebrated fantasy debut – THE POPPY WAR.

In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, shaman and warrior Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. Her only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold out Nikan to their enemies.

With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.

But the Empress is a more powerful foe than she appears, and the Dragon Warlord’s motivations are not as democratic as they seem. The more Rin learns, the more she fears her love for Nikan will drive her away from every ally and lead her to rely more and more on the Phoenix’s deadly power. Because there is nothing she won’t sacrifice for her country and her vengeance.

The sequel to R.F. Kuang’s acclaimed debut THE POPPY WAR, THE DRAGON REPUBLIC combines the history of 20th-century China with a gripping world of gods and monsters, to devastating effect.

‘Chi’s Sweet Home’
by Kanata Konami

4 Volumes
Paperback

Chi is a mischievous newborn kitten who, while on a leisurely stroll with her family, finds herself lost. Separated from the warmth and protection of her mother, feels distraught. Overcome with loneliness she breaks into tears in a large urban park meadow., when she is suddenly rescued by a young boy named Yohei and his mother. The kitty is then quickly and quietly whisked away into the warm and inviting Yamada family apartment…where pets are strictly not permitted.

‘Slay’
by Brittney Morris

Paperback

By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY. No one knows Kiera is the game developer, not her friends, her family, not even her boyfriend, Malcolm, who believes video games are partially responsible for the “downfall of the Black man.”

But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, and SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals. Even worse, an anonymous troll infiltrates the game, threatening to sue Kiera for “anti-white discrimination.”

Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?

‘Eclipse’
by Stephenie Meyer

Hardcover

As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob – knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow

In Real Life
By Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang

Publisher: First Second
Date: 2014
Pages: 175
Fiction/Non-Fiction: Fiction
Genre:  Contemporary
Days to Read: 1
Purchase Locations: Amazon and Kindle Book Depository Booktopia Dymocks QBD

Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role-playing game where she spends most of her free time. It’s a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It’s a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends.

But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer–a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person’s real livelihood is at stake.

From acclaimed teen author (Little Brother, For the Win) and Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow and Koko Be Good creator Jen Wang, In Real Life is a perceptive and high-stakes look at adolescence, gaming, poverty, and culture clash.

In Real Life follows Anda as she begins to experience an online game. She is instantly in love with the world and wants to be a part of a guild more than anything. However Guild life may not be everything its cracked up to be as the desire to belong and the desire to do the right thing clash and it begins to get more difficult for Anda within and out of the game.

Anda as a character seemed to embody many of the gamer teens, in that she is expierencing a desire to try somthing new online but has parents that do not quite understand the world of the online game. I liked how she was represented as well as her interactions with her mother who was a bit more clueless about online games but at the heart of it wanted to keep her daughter safe.

I really enjoyed the art style between the game and the real world and how the characters were more vivid in the game.

The overall message of the story was one that I feel is important, especially when the online platform is one that more and more teens and tweens are exposed to.

Plot: 6/10
Ease of reading: 10/10
Character Development: 7/10
World Building: 7/10
Quality of Writing: 7/10
Overall:2/5

Waiting for Spring Volume 2 by Anashin

Waiting for Spring
Volume 2
by Anashin

Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Date: 2017
Pages: 192
Fiction/Non-Fiction: Fiction
Genre:  Romance
Days to Read: 1
Purchase Locations:  Amazon & Kindle Book Depository Booktopia

Unexpected Turns

After hanging out with the four popular members of the basketball team, Mitsuki finds herself surrounded by many new friends. One of the boys from the team, Towa, is in the same class as her, and she can’t help but be stunned by how close they’re becoming. Meanwhile, Mitsuki’s childhood best friend, Aya, has finally returned from America, and she has a confession shocking enough to make Mitsuki blush!

A sweet shojo story of a soft-spoken high school freshman and her quest to make friends, Waiting for Spring will delight fans of earnest, fun, and dramatic shojo like Kimi ni Todoke and Say I Love You.

Books and Basketball are just two of the many things that I enjoy, so bring basketball into a graphic novel and I am going to be all over it.

Although I am only 2 volumes in I am really enjoying ‘Waiting for Spring’, this second volume has really added some unexpected turns but I am loving the development in the story!

The characters have such a broad range of attributes allowing every reader to find a character they connect with.

Overall I would definitely recommend this Manga series, its a fun and quick read that hasn’t yet failed to make me laugh.

Plot: 6/10
Ease of reading: 8/10
Character Development: 7/10
World Building: 6/10
Quality of Writing: 7/10
Overall: 3/5

Do you know of any Manga that are similar? Let me know!