Tag Archives: Fiction

September in Review: What I Read

The month of September has been a slower month for me. Having lowered my reading goal from one hundred and fifty-six to one hundred and fifty, it gave me time to breathe and not feel like I was falling far behind. That said, I am making progress and am on track.

For the month of September, I have read four books, four comics, and one manga. Totaling out to nine books this month. These are those books and my general thoughts on them.

Epic Tales: Celtic Myths and Tales/Celtic Myths and Tales: Epic Tales by Various

This collection of Celtic tales has been sitting in my Currently Reading shelf since March. It was originally going to be the “bigger/more in depth book” that I would read in March as well as fitting into the Ireland theme I had planned for the month (Note: I will sometimes dedicate a month for a specific topic, theme, or what have you for a particular month. For instance June, I read mostly LGBTQ+ centered books in honor of Pride Month. It’s a way for me to expand my reading and maybe find a book I like that I might not have thought of previously). The only reason it took me this long was because of other books I had to read, the fact I wanted to take my time with this book, and my motivation to read it being hit or miss.

So for the month of September, I decided to sit my butt down and finish it. Overall, I would say that I enjoyed it. All of the tales were really neat and were divided into sections. It’s also a really nice collection of tales, and a number of which, if any, might not appear in the Irish Fairy and Folk Tales leather bound book I own. This book is also apart of a series of “epic tales” which include other tales from other mythologies, Mary Shelley, Black Sci-Fi stories, and more. A number of these are included on my to read list, including the Black Sci-Fi stories, Epic Tales: Norse Myths and tales, Epic Tales: Persian Myths and Tales, African Myths and Tales, and Epic Tales: Japanese Myths and Tales.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Essential X-Men Volume 11 by Chris CLaremont

I’ve been making my way through the Classic X-Men comics via the Epic Collection and their respected Omnibuses. This is the last of the Essential X-Men Collection that I needed to read before hopping into the run starting in the 90’s (Either through regular paper backs or their respected Epic Collection). I’ve been enjoying this run of the X-Men, some issues and volumes a little more, but this has been a fun run. This one was one that I enjoyed, but maybe not as much as others. However, I do think it was still worth a read.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Death: At Death’s Door by Jill Thompson

The Sandman has been on my to read list since at least the beginning of 2022. I managed to get through the first two volumes before the release of the Netflix adaptation and read the Deluxe Edition of Death last month. I also ended up reading the two Little Endless Storybooks (The Little Endless Storybook and Delirium’s Party). I checked this out on a whim as well as for a quick read since I was a little behind on my reading total.

I’m kind of mixed on the story as a whole, however, it was a fun read. The art and the story did remind me of some early 2000’s manga tie ins like Kingdom Hearts 1, 2, and Chain of Memories, which were all fun and whimsical reads. If you are looking for a fun and slightly different story within the Sandman universe, I would give it a shot.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity by Devon Price, PhD

One topic I have an on and off interest with are nonfiction books on Autism. As someone who has been diagnosed with Autism (Asperger’s when it was used a little more frequently), I’ve had an interest in reading upon it over the last few years. Mostly because, like a number of people who fall on the spectrum, I had a hard time coming to terms with it due to some perceptions out there and feeling disheartened by it. These days, I am more comfortable with it, but I want to better understand Autism where I previously didn’t.

Reading Unmasking Autism has helped me. In fact, it is set up in a way that I connect with. A lot of what this book covers touches on things that I had felt when I was younger, the conflicting emotions and having to mask that side of myself in order to appear normal. This is probably the first book on Autism that resonated with me on a personal level. And for that, I appreciate it and am glad that I bought it.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Ziggy, Stardust, and Me by James Brandon

This one I picked up on a whim on one of my Barnes and Noble trips. It was one I was considering, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to get the hardcover or wait until the paperback was released the following Tuesday (Sundays are my Barnes and Noble days since it’s a day I don’t work on and is the one day out of the weekend that right for me). Towards the end of this trip, I was looking at the LGBTQ+ section in the YA area, looking for Loveless by Alice Oseman, when I spotted it. And as luck would have it, there was one copy of the paperback copy available before it was even supposed to hit shelves (Goodreads said the paperback was set to release that Tuesday, September 13th). Which coincidentally, was the second time that has happened to me, with the first being the Essential Legends Collection release of Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, which I got my hands on the Sunday before it’s release date that Tuesday (August 2nd). And had this been on my radar in June, I might have read it along with the other LGBTQ+ books I read that month (I do wish I read one or two more fiction books that month honestly, but I digress).

Taking place in the 1970’s and right around the time the events at Waterloo broke, it focuses on a young man trying to find his place in the world, when he meets Web, a Lakota teen, who in some ways is his total opposite. This is a coming of age story that deals with how people perceived the LGBTQ+ at the time and two young men whose lives are changed forever. Note: This book does cover some sensitive topics like racism towards Native Americans and how being gay was seen as a mental disorder.

Rating: 4.4 out of 5 Stars

Wolverine Vol 2 (1980’s) Issues 45-47 by Larry Hama

These are here since I needed to read them before hoping into Essential Wolverine Vol 3. On Goodreads, I counted these issues towards the Essential Wolverine Vol 2 since, due to me not being able to get my hands on volume 2 through my library. Plus, I would rather have these issues act as one entry, so lumping it in with Essential Wolverine volume 2, I felt made sense since technically, I already read most of it with the second and third Epic Collection volumes. Which I noted when I finished.

Overall, I though these were solid enough issues. Not sure if I would go back to them, but it was neat to see Logan and Jubilee teaming up.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

X-Men Red (2018) Vol. 1 by Tom Taylor

I wanted to read this series before I inevitably get into the 2022 X-Men run. From my understanding this, X-Men Gold, and X-Men Blue, were a sort of trio run with each one focusing on the Scott/Jean/Logan trinity. Scott is Blue, Jean is Red, and Logan is Gold. I read Gold, which had Nightcrawler as a mainstay and was a reason why I picked it up. And I enjoyed it. I don’t know if I will jump on Blue, at least at this time, but I may eventually.

As for the first volume of 2019’s X-Men Red, it was alright. The story itself made sense with the direction they wanted with Jean (focusing on her being a sort of spokesperson for the X-Men, the brief discussion on the Phoenix Force, and Jean seeking out alliances with Namor and T’Challa). I just wasn’t as invested/interested in this one compared to X-Men Gold. I’ll still read the second volume though. It was just kind of average for me personally.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Almost There by Farrah Rochon

Disney’s Twisted Tales are some really neat books. Acting as what if for the movies there based on, they generally have one question in mind. What if a different choice or event happened in the story? For instance, in Go the Distance, it asks, “What if Meg Had to Become a God?”

This one focuses on Tiana and Princess and the Frog. And personally, this is one of my favorites. Reflection is my favorite thus far, but Almost There is right up there with it. It was a good spin on the Princess and the Frog and it was interesting to see what direction it took. my only critiques, which I go over in my review, were one or two little things, but other than that, I thought this was a good read.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Trial of Magneto by Leah Williams

I finished off September with Trials of Magneto. I was looking for a quick read and I kind of wanted to check this one out. Mostly because of the mixed reception and it no longer being a comic on my to buy list. So I checked it out through my library and gave it a read.

Now, I don’t now if it’s because I am slowly inching my way into the Krakoa Age, or if this is something others believe too, but this story kind of felt all over the place. One minute it’s about Magneto going on trial for possible killing Wanda, the next she’s not dead and interacting with her past, present, and future selves. And there is some kind of resolution at the end.

That said, I wouldn’t say it’s terrible enough for one star. And if I can give it anything positive, it would be that the art was nice and that there was potential for a good/interesting story. Other than that though, I just didn’t enjoy it.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

Conclusion

Nine books for the month of September. Some good. Some bad. Some average. What were some books you read in September? Thoughts?

Shadow Sister: A Review

Back to reviewing this series by Lucinda Riley. Took a little break from reviewing the series since I had a few other projects in the works and I didn’t have the motivation to pick it back up. But now that I do, I’m here to discuss Shadow Sister, one of two books I would consider somewhere in the middle in terms of enjoyment, but one that I did enjoy aspects of.

General Disclaimer

While this series does involve each character finding their birth family, I do not believe that it was the author’s intent to diminish adopted families. Having read the series, I interpreted it as each daughter being given the choice to find their birth families if they so choose. With each daughter choosing to investigate their history.

Synopsis

The Shadow Sister is book three of the series and focuses on Asterope “Star” D’Aplièse, the third sister of Pa Salts (adopted) children. After the death of Pa Salt, Star and CeCe end up in England. As she investigates Flora and meets new people who will have a connection to her and her birth family, she opens herself to love and distances herself from CeCe.

Meanwhile, Flora MacNichol’s story of independence, schemes, and finding out what it means to love. Things take an unusual turn when Flora starts working as a hostess for Alice Keppel and she finds herself pulled into more than she bargained for in regards to love and her family. Including meeting a man she finds herself intrigued by.

Positives

What I enjoyed about it was it’s focus on more book and writer themes/backdrops. I am a bit of a reader and writer myself, so that was a nice touch of personality. The setting was nice too since it felt quaint and comfortable. I also liked Orlando and how he owned a book shop. Though I might not have liked certain reactions later on in the book, I did like Orlando’s character. And on a personal note, as someone who has a history of seizures, I related to him in that regard. Mouse was also an interesting character once readers got to know his story.

Flora’s story was pretty nice to. While maybe a little formulaic, I did like her character and story. I also enjoyed how she looked up to Beatrice Potter (well known children’s author and illustrator) and I believe the two did end up meeting.

Critiques

I think my biggest critique with this book was with how Star and CeCe’s personal connection becomes distant. While I was fine with them growing apart, with both characters needing to grow into their own people, I felt like there wasn’t as much communication before that point.

For me, it felt like Star wasn’t as attentive to CeCe’s feelings at times. She left CeCe to do her own thing, which was understandable in some ways, but I did feel like there wasn’t much communication between the two once Star got going with her investigating. And while CeCe was looking into some art related schooling, from what I recall, we dodn’t get to see much of her perspective on the situation. At least not until she leaves the letter for Star explaining why she left.

While I would want their relationship not to evolve and grow, it just felt like there wasn’t much communication between the two to the point where I felt bad when CeCe left Star the way she did.

Conclusion

Overall, I would give this story a six and a half out of ten. I enjoyed the setting, Flora’s story, and the side characters introduced. However, I wasn’t the biggest fan of how Star and CeCe had a falling out, and that hindered that for me a little bit.

Storm Sister: A Review

Since I have reviewed the first book in Lucinda Riley’s Seven Sisters series, I thought it was time I jumped into reviewing the second book, Storm Sister. This one is one that was in the middle for me. I enjoyed it, but there were elements I was critical of.

The Notion of Finding (Blood) Relatives being Problematic

I know I have already brought up this point in my review for Seven Sisters, but in the event you have not read it (in which I will have this in each review going forward), I will reiterate this here. That being a criticism that some readers may find. Essentially, it has to do with the fact that it has these adopted sisters, who spent their entire lives together, going out and looking into their blood family. It may come off as unnecessary as well as it may seem disingenuous for adopted siblings, and by extent adopted families, in general to do so. While I do see where that critique comes from, and wouldn’t dismiss it, I doubt that was the author’s intent. Having read all but the last book (which as of this post is unreleased), I personally never got that feeling. I could be wrong, which I am willing to accept, but I just didn’t read into it that way.

The Review

In this story, we get to learn more about Ally (Alcyone), the second eldest sister. After losing her fiancé, Theo, in a storm while sailing and the death of Pa Salt, to say she was in a bad place emotionally sounds accurate. She was also the only sister to see Pa Salt’s ship when he was buried at sea.

Ally’s story brings her to Norway in an attempt to learn more about Anna Landvik, a renowned singer. As she does, Ally learns more about her self and her family, and wonders about the missing seventh sister. She also discovers that, despite being dead, Theo left her with one last gift. Along the way she will encounter Tom and Felix, who she may or may not have a connection with (I’m not spoiling).

Positives

I would say that Ally’s story was a nice one to read. Getting to know Ally and how she’s different from Maia is great, as well as helping to make each sister feel different. I thought it was also neat to learn that Ally was nearby when Pa Salt was being buried at sea. Since it was something she and Pa Salt bonded over, it does give her some background into the relationship they had. And though maybe not as developed as it could have been, the connection she and her captain turned fiancé was built well enough despite her fiancé’s short time in the story

Anna’s story was pretty good as well. Having a character who had an affinity for music was a neat step away from the art studies that Izabelle went for.

Negatives

My main grip is with an element in Anna’s story. To me, Anna’s story felt kind of similar to Izabelle’s. Not in the sense of the set up (1st person for the present day character and 3rd for the person in the past), but because of Anna’s love life. While I do love the musical approach with Anna’s story, how she approached her love and marriage felt oddly similar to Izabelle’s in execution, where she had an affair with another man. It might not be that big of a deal for some readers, but it was what I had issue with.

Conclusion

I would give this story a seven point five out of ten. I thought it was a well written story with main characters that were well explored, and the Norwegian setting was a nice touch. However, the slight familiarity in Izabelle and Anna’s love life is what I feel made it suffer a little a bit. Regardless, I would certainly recommend this book whether you’ve read any of the others or not.

Seven Sisters: A Review

As the old saying goes, Never Judge a Book by It’s Cover. Covers have a way of drawing people in, and while that may not always mean the book is good, it was what got me into Lucinda Riley’s Seven Sisters series.

Working at a library, I get to see what comes through on a pretty regular basis. A few years ago, someone had returned the large type copy of Moon Sister, the fifth book in the series. I picked it up, not knowing it was the fifth book at the time and was curious. So when I found out that Moon Sister was the fifth book in the series, I decided to give the whole series a try. While some people may argue that you can read them separately (in theory) since each story is about a different sister, I do feel it’s best enjoyed reading it in order. Plus, one book may reference back to a previous one, so reading the entire series certainly doesn’t hurt.

And that’s what I did. I mostly stuck with the large type versions when I could. Because while my sight doesn’t need larger print, I had a preference for reading it in Large Type. The only acceptations were with Shadow Sister (Book 3) since my library did not have a large type copy, Sun Sister (Book 6) since I checked it out when it first came out, and The Missing Sister (Book 7), which I purchased around it’s release date.

Series Synopsis

After the sudden death of Pa Salt, six sisters are reunited. All of them were adopted and each sister is named after a part of the Seven Sisters constellation, with the seventh remaining unfound. Each sister is given some information into their past, including a name and a location.

The Notion of Finding (Blood) Relatives being Problematic

Before I hop into the review, I would like to address. That criticism is one that I have seen with this series as a whole. Essentially, it has to do with the fact that it has these adopted sisters, who spent their entire lives together, going out and looking into their blood family. It may come off as unnecessary as well as it may seem disingenuous for adopted siblings, and by extent adopted families, in general to do so. While I do see where that critique comes from, and wouldn’t dismiss it, I doubt that was the author’s intent. Having read all but the last book (which as of this post is unreleased), I personally never got that feeling. I could be wrong, which I am willing to accept, but I just didn’t read into it that way.

Personally, I saw it as each character looking into where they came from while still being very close to the adopted family they grew up and bonded with. They already knew they were all adopted, with each sister comes from a different race and ethnicity, and loved their family through and through. I read it as each character looking into their family, based on the individual (who for the most part is deceased with living relatives) that Pa Salt wrote down for each sister.

The Review

In The Seven Sisters, our focus is on Maia, the eldest. She is a known translator and is the closest with Aly (Alycone). Her search brings her to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which leads her to finding an elderly lady living in the home Pa Salt gave Maia coordinates to. Along the way, Maia meets up Floriano, a man she has been translating a book for, and they both try to find out more about Izabela. During this time, Maia finds out more about her heritage, family, and love.

Positives

Overall, I feel like this book was a great way to set up what we would expect from the series going forward. It introduces the revelation of Pa Salt’s death, introduces the siblings, and sets up the journey each will be going on when they decide to look into their family history. It also introduces the set up of getting a look into the lives of the person each sister is looking into.

With how it’s split, I do feel like the change in point of view (first for the sister and third for the person they’re researching) is a good set up. While it might always not have to do that when dealing with this kind of set up, it doesn’t hurt the book. I think it is a creative way to separate the two characters.

Out of all the sisters, Maia is certainly one of my favorites. She didn’t seem overly spoiled and was curious. She also seemed to have a close bond with Pa Salt, which given that she is the eldest, it would make sense that she felt particularly closer to him than some of the others.

Izabela’s story was also a pretty interesting read. I enjoyed how she wanted to find love and learn. However, due to her family’s social status, she found it hard to find love that didn’t feel arranged. I also like how her story tied to the house and the elderly lady that lived in it.

Negatives

One critique I do see with these stories is how the dialogue doesn’t always feel good or how the sisters interact with each other. While I personally see where they are coming from, I would say that it was less of an issue for me when reading it. That’s not to say it couldn’t use work, just that other things bothered me more.

While I do get why the elderly lady doesn’t want to be bothered with Maia’s inquiry, I do feel like she was a little harsh/stubborn. It does work itself out eventually, but this was a character who wasn’t that likeable initially when I first read it.

And I can kind of agree with the critique with how Izabela treats the man she married. Because while I know she loved the gentleman who was working on Christ the Redeemer, but I do feel like they could have handled the husband and the constructor situation a little differently. Because, again, while I get the reason for it, it does feel a bit unfair for Izabela’s husband, who genuinely loved her.

Conclusion

Overall, I would give The Seven Sisters an eight out of ten. I enjoyed the concept and some of the characters, but there were areas that I feel it could have done better. This book is one of my favorites, with the Moon Sister being the other. So if you’re looking to check out something a little different, I would recommend giving it a try.