“Every Falling Star” Review

Every Falling Star
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General

Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee & Susan McClelland

Pages: 336 (Hardcover)

Published: September 13th 2016 by Harry N. Abrams

Genre: Nonfiction, YA, Children’s, Memoir

 

Links: Goodreads/Amazon

Overall rating: 4/5

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley, but that does not have a sway in my reviews. I am a human being with thoughts of her own, and I am not obligated to automatically give this book five stars.

 

The Review

“Gods don’t die!”

The young narrator yelled these words to his parents after properly mourning the death of Kim Il-Sung. These three words resonated with me throughout my read. From the beginning of this memoir, we are told of a fearless leader who braved battles, turned sand into rice, and pinecones into grenades. The death of Kim Il-Sung was the downfall of so many. The takeover of Kim Jong-Il was the turning point for this northern country and for this young narrator; it was the catalyst that made Sungju realize his country wasn’t the most amazing country in the world, that it was merely a lie.

As Lee weaves the tale of his life, he educates the reader about the different life lived in North Korea. For example, he explains that North Korea wasn’t always so bad. In Pyongnam, he lived a fairly good life. He ate good food every day, played with toys and watch government regulated TV, and he even had a pet dog. To him, he was the happiest boy. As a reader, this was necessary to me because I always thought North Korea was an impoverished country due to the communist regime, but it was really impoverished because Kim Jong-Il was a greedy egotistical leader who didn’t know how to care for a country.

In the end, those three words, “Gods don’t die,” comes back around in a way that reveals to the narrator that there are no such thing as gods. It’s a loss of faith, but a regaining of hope. The narrator lost faith in the gods of North Korea but regained hope in life outside of the northern borders. The history of his country may be painful, yet he carried it with him and was able to write and share it with the world. This to me is true power. Not war. But the act of surviving and sharing your survival.

With the current state of the US and North Korea, whether you’re political or not, I feel that this story is very relevant. It may be meant for younger readers, but I believe the content will interest people of all ages. It goes over race, poverty, war, xenophobia, etc.  and it is real.

This story needs to be read and now seems pretty timely, don’t you think?

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“Trinity Vol. 1” Graphic Novel Review

Trinity v 1
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General

Trinity Vol. 1: Better Together by Francis Manapul

Pages: 144 (paperback)

Published: DC Comics (Release date June 13, 2017)

Genre: Superhero, Graphic Novel, Comic Book

 

Links: Goodreads/Amazon

Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley, but that does not have a sway in my reviews. I am a human being with thoughts of her own, and I am not obligated to automatically give this book five stars.

 

The Review

In the latest Rebirth series, Francis Manapul brings together the Dark Knight, the Man of Steel, and the Amazon Warrior Princess in an epic revival of the New 52 Trinity series that launched in June of 2008. Unlike its predecessor, I as a fan of the DC Big Three enjoyed this Rebirth. It was cohesive and heartwarming, blending the elements of humanity into these seemingly godlike heroes.

While most DC comics are narrated from the perspective of the main protagonist such as Batman or Wonderwoman, Manapul decided to narrate the story from Lois Lane’s point of view. The outsider’s look into the world of the superhero was refreshing because it didn’t give off a “woe is me” storyline or a  black and white, good vs evil narrative. Instead, it played into Lois’ reporter narrative and how there are multiple parts to every story. There are many emotions that factor into creating a person’s identity, and there are people with extraordinary abilities who need to break down their walls to let friends and family in.

These concepts are what makes this Rebirth genuine. It doesn’t need the gimmicks of fighting one super villain after the next; all it needed was the sheer emotion in characterizing people who are able to enjoy life and family, to remain loyal to their friends, and to stay strong and endure through the good and the bad.

If you’re thinking about following the DC Comic Universe, I recommend reading the Trinity Rebirth series. It’s beautifully created and it’s a refreshing take on the adventures and friendship of the DC Big Three.

 

 

“We Are Still Tornadoes” Book Review

We Are Still
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General

We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun & Susan Mullen

Pages: 304 (Hardcover)

Published: by St. Martin’s Griffin November 1st 2016

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

 

Links: Goodreads/Amazon

Overall rating: 4/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley, but that does not have a sway in my reviews. I am a human being with thoughts of her own, and I am not obligated to automatically give this book five stars.

 

The Review

This story told in epistolary form seemed to be a story of revelation. It is about the exchanges between two best friends, Scott and Cath, and the unveilings of abstract concepts such as love, hurt, grief, etc. told through breakups, family deaths, and divorce.

From start to finish, each letter uncovered or pieced together main plot points that would usually be told through scene. For example, instead of seeing the actual events unfold as Scott visits Cath in North Carolina, Cath writes something along the lines of “Why did you have to make out with my roommate and why did you have to start a fight with Walter?” As the reader, I may not see the physical elements involved with the particular moment, but the epistolary format is one that opened my imagination. I was able to visualize a rocker boy who wears jeans and t-shirts arguing with a pompous frat boy. Maybe my idea of Scott and Walter is different from how the authors visualize them, but the way they chose to write this story makes it seem as if they want the reader to take more from the situations and the emotions rather than the physicality of the characters.

The story isn’t about race nor is it about gender. It is a story that delves into human emotions and anyone can be Scott and Cath. That is the true beauty of this novel. People will experience hurt and love. People will experience joy and sorrow, and We Are Still Tornadoes captures those feelings.

As a young adult and as a human being, I believe that this book was able to delve into human nature. It isn’t profound like a Sylvia Plath novel, but it has a depth to it that people would connect to. And isn’t that a reason why we read? To feel and to connect to something deeper than ourselves?

 

 

“Mer” Graphic Novel Review

Mer
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General

Mer by Joelle Sellner

Pages: 128 (paperback)

Published: Diamond Book Distributors (April 19th 2017)

Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Mermaids

 

Links: Goodreads/Amazon

Overall rating: 2.5/5

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley, but that does not have a sway in my reviews. I am a human being with thoughts of her own, and I am not obligated to automatically give this book five stars.

 

The Review

Mer is Twilight meets Atlantis/Mermaid fantasy. The story follows an awkward and troubled girl named Aryn and her family’s move to a new town in Connecticut for a fresh start. Like Twilight, this story is filled with teenage angst, shirtless leading men, and female rivalry.

There is so much and so little to say about this graphic novel. The fact that it is marketed as a Twilight-esqe novel seems a bit odd. Why not market it for what it is: A young adult romance between a merman and human. Why does it need to be qualified with Stephanie Meyer’s vampire fantasy? The artwork is lovely and the story is fair, so why compare it to someone else’s work? Let this work stand for itself.

Overall, it has a good premise, but the execution fell flat. It could be because the white, damsel in distress protagonist saved by the fantasmal beast narrative has been overdone, but it can also be due to the fact that this story was treated like a Twilight fanfic. Either way, Mer was a visually appealing novel, but it isn’t the kind of graphic novel I would read again.

 

 

“How To Party With an Infant” Book Review

How To Party
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General

How to Party with an Infant by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Pages: 240 (Hardcover)

Published: by Simon & Schuster August 9th, 2016

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Parenting

 

Links: Goodreads/Amazon

Overall Rating: 3/5

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley, but that does not have a sway in my reviews. I am a human being with thoughts of her own, and I am not obligated to automatically give this book five stars.

 

The Review

“Don’t judge me,” Annie says, but Mele says something that makes her feel better. “Why not?” Mele says. “It’s what moms do. And it’s okay.”

When I began my journey with this book, I wondered, ‘What is this story about?’ Is it about Mele and her daughter? Is it about Mele and the cookbook she’s making? Is it about relationships and Mele’s growth as a mother? All of these scenarios somehow make it into the book, but the point that stood out was the idea that there are several methodologies in parenting; it seems regardless, parents will judge other parents if they don’t follow the same methods in child rearing.

The story, while entertaining, overused the ‘me versus them’ narrative. Mele, the single, unemployed, mother who is receiving help from her parents back in Hawaii uses her cookbook/blog platform and her San Francisco Mommy Club as a means to observe and criticize the upper-class citizens living in the Bay Side Area. This is all Mele contributes. She plays a victim in her story. Mele doesn’t mind handing out criticism, but she doesn’t favor receiving it.

It is disappointing to read a text that is flat but humorous. Hemmings is a witty author and the words she writes on the page are brilliant, but what didn’t work was the lack of characterization in her leading characters. Though they were intellectual and their banter was hilarious, these characters such as Mele and Annie stayed static. Ending this review, I have to ask, should main characters be dynamic in the sense that they experience change?

“Emily” Book Review

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General

Emily  by Novala Takemoto, Misa Dikengil Lindberg (Translator)

Pages: N/A

Published: Shueisha English Edition

Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Lolita, Japanese

 

Link(s): Goodreads

Overall Rating: 1/5

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley, but that does not have a sway in my reviews. I am a human being with thoughts of her own, and I am not obligated to automatically give this book five stars.

The Review

The collection of stories Takemoto shares is both tragic and disappointing in the sense that they lack empathy. As a reader, I found this book difficult to read due to the harshness in tone and the little care placed on the page.

Words hold meaning.

I think if she had died from an illness or an accident, I might have become a little sentimental. But she committed suicide. She was the one who wanted to die, who chose death. Just as someone who wants to travel to Bali boards a plane and goes there, and just as someone who wants to eat Korean barbecue beef steps into a Korean barbecue restaurant, Kimiko died as she wanted.

The author compared suicide to choosing to eat barbecue. That is sick and twisted. As an artist, Takemoto has free reign to do whatever he wants to do with his art, but because his art is public, I as a reader have every right to find it distasteful and unsatisfying.

Due to the content, I cannot recommend reading this piece. It is triggering in the sense that it makes suicide acceptable. It may not be the main focus of the book but as a reader, I can’t stop thinking about that one section and that is deeply problematic.