Monday, 4 August 2014

Goodbye, July: Bee's Mini Book Reviews | Books

July was all about books, graphic novels, poetry and comics written by women. I mentioned in my July Goals post that I wanted to read 3 books written by women but I just decided to dedicate the whole month to women authors instead because I'm wild like that. It proved to be a pretty successful reading month. I know that you shouldn't have to dedicate time to reading books by women but I found that, in the past six months at least, my reading had been white male-centric so I decided to do something about it. I've still got lots of books on my shelf that were written by women and I'm hoping to dedicate lots of time to them for the remaining months of this year. Let me know if you've read any of these books in the comments below and don't forget to leave some recommendations for books written by women below too.


the encyclopedia of early earth isobel greenberg graphic novel book review lifestyle book blog uk vivatramp

the encyclopedia of early earth by isabel greenberg (2013)
FINISHED: 06/O7/14 | ISBN: 0385678150 | PAGES: 176
Before our history began, another now forgotten civillization thrived. The people who roamed Early Earth were much like us: curious, emotional, funny, ambitious and vulnerable. In this series of illustrated and linked tales, Greenberg chronicles the explorations of a young man as he paddles from his home in the North Pole to the South Pole.

Quite possibly a new classic in this ever-thriving genre.



I'd seen The Encyclopedia... all over booktube and I just knew that I needed to jump on the bandwagon at some point. Luckily enough, Luke gifted it to me for my birthday. I really loved this graphic novel! It was funny and witty and hugely endearing. The art style alone was something to behold but, thankfully, it wasn't lacking in plot. 

There was a lot of intertextuality and biblical references throughout but it was still entirely accessible and I actually really liked the religiosity. I also thought it was respectful of the subjects it was discussing too, but take that with a pinch of salt because I'm a white woman who is pretty uneducated when it comes to certain cultures and religions. I would definitely recommend this to those of you that are interested in myths and folklore because it's all about that lifeIt was a super quick read but it was worth every penny 'cause I can see it being one of those tomes that I delve in and out of whenever I fancy it. I'd recommend it to everyone, from graphic novel veterans and n00bs alike. Greenberg is seriously talented and definitely one to watch!

rating: 5/5

FINISHED: 08/O7/14 | ISBN: 1471402177 | PAGES: 288
Our cynical protagonist, Vivian Apple, is awaiting the fated 'Rapture' - or rather the lack of it. Her evangelical parents have been in the Church's thrall for too long, and she's looking forward to getting them back. Except when Vivian arrives home...her parents are gone. Viv is determined to carry on as normal, but when she starts to suspect that her parents might still be alive, she realises she must uncover the truth....(and so)...they embark on a road trip across America.

A perfect summer read. 


I'd seen this book all over the Hot Key Books twitter page and as I'm writing a bit of post-apocalyptic fiction at the moment, I decided to just go for it and put it on my birthday wishlist. Thankfully, Luke was kind enough to buy it for me! This book won the 2012 Young Writers Prize so I had high hopes. I wasn't disappointed.  

I love post-apocalyptic fiction, coming of age tales and road trips so this was like my ideal pleasure read. It was full of adventure with a few twists along the way and I genuinely really enjoyed it. It had great pacing and relateable characters. I particularly liked Vivian and Harp and their tumultuous friendship. It was nice to read such 3D female leads. Although, I would've forgone the romance aspect if I had written it ;) If you liked the uncertainty in Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now or the adventure in Patrick Ness' The Knife Of Never Letting Go, you'll probably enjoy this. I don't tend to read a lot of YA but there are some really great titles out there at the moment and I would say that this is one of them.  Some aspects of the story were a little predictable, sure, but it didn't spoil my enjoyment and I ended up devouring this book within two days. I'm looking forward to finding out where the story goes in the second book which is to be released within the next few months. I can see them making this into a film with a shit ton of lens flare some time in the future so read it before that happens!

rATING: 4/5

pretty deadly graphic novel graphic novels by women lifestyle book blog uk
FINISHED: 08/O7/14 | PAGES: 32
Death's daughter rides the wind on a horse made of smoke and her face bears the skull marks of her father. 

Beautifully savage and fantastical tale of justice and retribution. 

I heard Mercedes talking about this a little while ago and I was super intrigued by it because it was written, illustrated and produced by women. The art style, whilst not my typical go-to style, was absolutely stunning and it made for an incredible read visually. Pretty Deadly was an intense story that read like a majestic western, of sorts. I found the female characters particularly interesting because the comic was jam packed with female anti-heroes that I haven't really read or come across before. Some were likeable, others really weren't but it was nice to have that balance. 

I liked this comic. It was quite different to other graphic novels and comics that I've read in that it was quite graphic. However, it was seriously action packed so that made up for it. I'm not going to rush out and buy the next volume but I'm glad I checked it out, regardless. 

RATING: 3/5


eleanor and park rainbow rowell book review lifestyle book blog vivatramp uk young adult

eleanor & park by rainbow rowell (2012) 
FINISHED: 09/O7/14 | isbn: 1409120546 |  PAGES: 325
Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life...she couldn't stick out more if she tried. Park is the boy at the back of the bus...he thinks he's made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor...They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you're young, and you feel as if you have nothing and everything to lose. 

I think I kinda get why this book was so popular with certain readers but it just really wasn't for me.  I'm not really a fan of romance in books so it was a bit silly of me to pick this up but I found it for 50p in a charity shop and everyone had been harping on about it so I just went for it. It wasn't particularly bad or anything, it just wasn't my sort of read. I didn't particularly relate to the characters and I found the whole romance thing a bit cringeworthy. I did, however, enjoy the references to The Cure and I did quite like the easy going writing style. It made for a quick and easy read and, as a result, I ended up reading it in one sitting. 

I just can't find anything to get excited about with this book. It was the literary equivalent of a lazy Sunday movie, for me, and I don't mean that to be as rude and judgmental as it sounds. I just have a feeling that I will be forgetting about this book within a couple of months...I would recommend it if you're a fan of YA romances because you will be all over this but if you were, and still are, a cynical little emo child like myself I'd steer clear and read something else. 

RATING: 3/5


sylvia plath ariel book review bees mini book reviews vivatramp uk lifestyle book blog
FINISHED: 27/O7/14 | ISBN: 0571259316 |  PAGES: 81

I have always loved Sylvia Plath and I'm more than okay with saying that. 

I feel like Plath's works have been the victim of their own cult following, with many readers severely underestimating her talent as a result. Plath wrote with blinding honesty and she captured images and sentiments in a way that myself and a lot of other writers can only dream of doing. 

Even when the poems are dealing with dark and visceral subjects like death and decay, they're full of life and driven by an instinctive mania. Plath's poetry isn't going to be for everyone and that's perfectly fine. It's not written for everyone. It's definitely going to take me a few more reads to fully appreciate the collection as a whole but I still really enjoyed the poems featured. Whilst I probably do prefer her journals over her poetry, Ariel is an anthology that I will be referring back to on many occasions. I particularly like Daddy, Lady Lazarus, Morning Song and The Bee Meeting. This would make a great gift.

RATING: 4/5


oryx and crake margaret atwood book review bees mini book reviews uk lifestyle book blogger
FINISHED: 30/O7/14 | ISBN: 1844080285 |  PAGES: 436
Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey - with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake - through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. 

Poignant and compelling work of speculative fiction. 

I wanted to read some more post-apocalyptic fiction and seeing as this had so many awesome reviews from my friends on Goodreads, I decided to give it a go. You have to be an incredibly skilled and ambitious writer to take on a project as cinematic in scope but, in my opinion, Atwood pulled it off quite well! Oryx and Crake was wonderfully imagined and the world building was simply phenomenal. Although, admittedly, I think the book needed to be twice the length to properly cover everything in the right amount of detail. I had a little bit of an issue with the pacing of this book because the beginning was so incredibly slow and you didn't really meet many important characters til hundreds of pages in. I kind of felt cheated out of some character development because of that. However, the other half flew by. Admittedly, the latter half probably felt a lot quicker because I was on a hunt for the answers to multiple questions! Atwood's writing style was thankfully engaging and distinctive enough to keep me reading. Despite the annoying pacing, I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of tales throughout and I really appreciated the amount of insight we got into Snowman's past. Whilst I haven't read many of Atwood's works, it's clear that she's a great writer. No matter how big the project or how harrowing the subject matter, she manages to translate it to the page perfectly balancing devastating images with digestable prose. That's not to say that there weren't times when I felt really uncomfortable though, because I did feel really awful about the sources of mental stimulation present in that world. I'd suggest you approach this book with caution because it does cover issues such as child abuse on a few separate occasions. 

Oryx and Crake offered a terrifying cautionary tale with regards to future technological, biological and medical advances, asking How much is too much, how far is too far? (242).  It's safe to say I'm now a little shit scared about how far we really will go in the future! I didn't warm to many of the characters, because they were either pretty loathsome or not explored in enough detail; however, that didn't spoil my enjoyment. You don't need to like characters to appreciate a book, I don't think. It was an absolutely fascinating read that I would definitely recommend to anyone who is interested in the genre. O and C was a sobering study of human arrogance and ignorant innovation and you should probably go and read it. I can already tell that it's going to be one of those reads that sticks with me for a long time because of how terrifyingly plausible the content is. 

p.s If you'd like to explore the book in further detail post-read, check out Jason and Jessica's videos because they look at the novel in its Canadian context and approach it in far greater detail. They're also 100x more eloquent than myself...and ridiculously beautiful. 

RATING: 4/5

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Let me know what you read in July and leave recommendations for one another below because that's just a nice thing to do, eh?!  

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The vast majority of my book collection has been bought with my own money. Sorry, bank balance! However, sometimes I'm sent books to review. These books are marked with *. Handy, eh?! This page also contains affiliate links. If you buy the books through the links I've so lovingly provided, I'll earn a tiny commission to put towards books in the future. If you've used my link to buy books, thank you! You're a good egg.

11 comments:

  1. I definitely 'get' having to make an effort to read books by women and people from different backgrounds .I've made a real effort to read books by women and Welsh women recently. I love Rowell's 'Fangirl' but can see why a lot of people would find her a little blah. I used to write fanfic so she appeals to me. I've really not read enough Atwood but there's a module here at Cardiff Uni about her so I've got no excuse, rows of her books upstairs in work x

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  2. I'm studying an entire module dedicated to Atwood next term at Uni so I'm literally drowning in her work at the moment and my god the woman is Queen. I'm about halfway through O&C and have just finished Cat's Eye and The Handmaid's Tale (both amazing in very different ways.)

    I love that Graphic Novels are cropping up on the blogosphere at the moment, I've never ventured much outside the standard manga and superhero stuff but the two you mention here sound like things I'd enjoy, I really need to branch out!

    Bella . BELLAETC

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  3. I think it's great that you've only read books written by women this month :) I haven't read any of the books you've reviewed, but Margaret Atwood is an author that's been on my to-read list for a long time but I still haven't managed to get round to yet! Oryx and Crake sounds fascinating.

    Gemma

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  4. always loved Margaret Atwood since discovering her during a levels!

    http://wiltedxfaded.blogspot.co.uk/

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  5. Loved your review of Eleanor & Park and definitely agree with you that it's a bit cringeworthy. For me it just reminded me of other YA books I've read.

    Masha

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  6. ever since booksandquills reviewed vivian vs the apocalypse i've wanted to read it. after reading your review, i can't wait to get my hands on it!
    as for eleanor and park, i'm a sucker for romance in fiction but i just don't find rowell's stories interesting they're more like 'blah' in my opinion.
    amelia from wonder reads

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  7. I've heard such great things about the Encyclopedia of Early Earth, and now I want to check it out even more! Loved this post x

    holljc.blogspot.co.uk

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  8. I've been dipping in and out of Ariel on my Kindle, but I'm desperate to get my hands on a really decent (and pretty :P) physical copy. Totally agree with you that I don't think many people appreciate just how skilled a writer and poet she was, her use of words can be so beautiful.

    I've been seeing Vivian vs the Apocalypse everywhere! All the reviews I've seen have been really positive, so I think I may have to cave in a buy it soon Xx
    Xx

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  9. I really wasn't in to Eleanor and Park as well, totally didn't understand all the hype.

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  10. You've read a lot of books lately! I like the format of your book reviews :) I used to love holding books, and the smell of them, but now that I have my kindle, the convenience of all my books in one place has taken over! x

    Lola and Behold || Beauty & Lifestyle Blog

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  11. I adore this post! Definitely interested in the Encyclopedia of Early Earth :) the cover is so sweet, I don't know how I haven't heard of it before! xx

    Megan / pixiecrop.com

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