May-July Haul

My book-buying ban has somewhat derailed, I’m afraid, but at the end of last month it was still going strong, and so I only have seven books to show you in this post, several of which were gifts, and all but one of which I have already read (incredibly. I’ve never known myself to read things so promptly after buying/receiving them!). In any case, here they are:

1) Geekerella by Ashley Poston. A super-cute love story between die-hard fans of Starfield, a fictional Star Trek-esque TV show, which jumped straight to the top of my to-buy list almost as soon as I discovered that it existed. 💕 I’ve already read this book, and you can find my review of it here.

2) We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. An essay about why feminism is (or should be) important to everyone. This book was a gift from my friend Grace, who just so happened to have a spare copy lying around, and kindly offered it to me when I off-handedly mentioned that I’d been meaning to read it for a while… 😁 I didn’t write a full review for this one, but you can find my thoughts on it in my June wrap-up.

3) Bee & Puppycat, Volume 1 by Natasha Allegri & Garrett Jackson. A cute comic book about a girl and her alien/cat/puppy flatmate, doing bizarre temp jobs. I bought this on a whim when it appeared at the second-hand bookshop where I work, entirely due to the cuteness of the art and Natasha Allegri’s name on the cover… And although I liked the book, it’s not a series that I think I’ll be continuing with. ☹️ Not pictured because I re-donated it a few days ago; my review is here.

4) The Legend of Zelda: Art & Artifacts. A beautiful and amazing book of art from the Legend of Zelda series, which was a birthday present from my best friend Chloë (who also gave me Hyrule Historia – which Art & Artifacts accompanies – for Christmas last year!). As it’s an art book, it’s not really the kind of thing to be read cover-to-cover, but I have spent a significant amount of time staring at it, and can confirm that it is a thing of wonder. 😍

5) Now I Rise by Kiersten White. The sequel to And I Darken, which is about a young Vlad the Impaler, had he been born a woman. This is the only book on this list that I haven’t finished reading yet (I’m currently about a quarter of the way through it, but I keep getting distracted by life – and readathons), but I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read so far, & I hope to get round to continuing it soon. I really can’t recommend this series enough. 😊

6) Once & for All by Sarah Dessen. The latest of Dessen’s teen romances, which I bought – along with Now I Rise, as they were both on buy-one-get-one-half-price at Waterstones – right before going on holiday to Skye. I was actually intending to finish this book before I left, but didn’t quite make it, and so it came with me on my trip, and was very much enjoyed. 😋 Not my favourite of Dessen’s books, but an amazing read nonetheless… you can find my review here.

7) Calum’s Road by Roger Hutchinson. The last book I acquired in July was a birthday present from my sister Helen, the biography of a man called Calum MacLeod, who build a two-mile road between Brochel Castle and South Arnish in Raasay, with only a wheelbarrow, shovel, pickaxe, and his own two hands. Biographies are not usually my thing, but this was an incredible story – which I’ve reviewed here. (Also not in the picture, because I lent it back to Heli to read almost as soon as I’d finished it myself, but this is definitely a book I’ll be keeping. 👍)

July Wrap-Up

Happy August, everyone! In a stunning turn of events, I wrote a full review for almost everything I read last month – which totals at six manga volumes, two graphic novels, one biography, and four novels – so instead of my usual summary-mini-review-link, I thought it might be time to try out a new format for my wrap-ups… Let me know what you think!😁

Ghost Hunt, Volumes 10-12 by Fuyumi Ono & Shiho Inada. The final three volumes in the Ghost Hunt series, which is based on the Akuryou series of novels by Fuyumi Ono… I decided to re-read these after re-watching the entire anime, as they were the only part of the storyline that sadly never got adapted… 😢 (And I will confess that as they’re also the only volumes I don’t own, I ended up reading fan-translations online – volume 12 never came out in English, and 10 & 11 were released around the time the publisher went out of business, and are therefore super-rare, so my hunt for decently-priced second-hand copies must go on). Of course, it was just as amazing as the first time I read it! Definitely one of my all-time favourite manga series!Ghost Hunt: The Nightmare Dwelling by Fuyumi Ono & Shiho Inada. The three-volume manga version of the sequel to the original Ghost HuntAkuryou series. I had no idea this even existed until I randomly decided to re-read the end of the original series, and accidentally clicked on Mangafox’s entry for this series instead. Naturally, I was overjoyed! The series is set a few months after Ghost Hunt‘s ending, and plot-wise, it wasn’t my favourite Ghost Hunt storyline (that prize goes to The Bloodstained Labyrinth), but it was still fantastic, and the art seems to be even better than in the old books… Plus, it was just really lovely to be spending more time with this wonderful set of characters… ☺️

  

  

Logicomix by Apostolos Doxiadis & Christos H. Papadimitriou. A biography in graphic novel form, which is partly the story of its own making, partly the life of Bertrand Russell, and partly a debate over the philosophical nature of logic (or something). The way this book was structured was very interesting, the art (by Alecos Papadatos) was excellent and evocative, and I really enjoyed the early chapters about Russell’s childhood, but as the book went on, every aspect of it became more and more concerned with the question of logic, and philosophical arguments that I either found so obvious that they were hardly worth saying, or else completely incomprehensible. This book would probably be of more interest to somebody who is more thoroughly versed in either philosophy or mathematics (or both, ideally), but I found that its stronger points were just not strong enough to make me care about the rest…

Review: Once & for All by Sarah Dessen (Spoiler-Free)

Louna may work in the wedding industry – helping out her mother, who’s Lakeview’s top wedding planner – but she’s not so certain about true love, especially since her own first love was so fleeting, and ended so disastrously. Enter Ambrose, the handsome and maddening brother of one of a client, with whom Louna seems to be constantly forced into company, and who can’t take anything seriously… except perhaps Louna?

Another great Sarah Dessen book! 🎊 The story was a wonderful blend of sweet and bittersweet, with a real dash of humour that showed up whenever the book began to get a bit too heavy. Louna made for a great protagonist: cynical, but understandably so, and not so much so that it made her annoying, and watching her grow and overcome her problems was incredible. Ambrose, on the other hand, was a rather unusual love interest; when he first made his appearance, I – like Louna – found him more irritating than charming… but he grew on me a lot as the story progressed, and the kindness and compassion behind his seemingly self-centred actions became more evident.

As a plot device, I wasn’t a huge fan of Louna and Ambrose’s bet, but it did keep the story moving quite effectively, and I felt that it progressed (and eventually derailed) in a way that was true to both characters. I would, however, have liked to have seen a bit more of Ambrose’s side of the story…

The side characters were all great, too: Louna’s family (her mother and her mother’s best friend William) played a huge role in the book, and I found it kind of refreshing to be reading a Sarah Dessen book with a protagonist who had such a great relationship with her family. Her best friend Jilly was a lot of fun, too, though her role seemed to mostly be limited to instigator-of-Louna’s-dates… And then there was Ethan. 💕 I loved Ethan – Louna’s first love – so much; he was my favourite thing about this book, and although he played a huge role, and his influence was felt even in his absence, I wanted more of him. During the flashback chapters, where Louna remembered their short but incredibly cute romance, I kept catching myself thinking, “Oh, I wish this whole book were about Louna and Ethan”, or “I hope Dessen writes a book about Ethan next” (all her books are connected in small ways), and then remembering why it wasn’t, and she probably wouldn’t… 😭

For all their cuteness, Sarah Dessen’s books always seem to have a tinge of something sad to them, and Once & for All is sadder than most, but I’d still recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind that fact – it’s a wonderful book, and a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Cameos I spotted: It’s been a while since I last read anything by Dessen, so I probably missed a lot of the more subtle connections between this book and her others, but the big one – in the form of Eli and Auden from Along for the Ride at the pie place where Louna and Ethan stop on their date – was obvious even to me, and made me ridiculously happy; Along for the Ride is probably my second-favourite of Dessen’s books (after Just Listen). 😊