Nice enough as a whole

The Night Marchers and Other Oceanian Stories
by Kel McDonald (Goodreads Author) (Editor),  Sloane Leong (Goodreads Author) (Editor),  Kate Ashwin (Editor),  Jonah Cabudol-Chalker (Contributor),  Rob Cham (Contributor),  Yiling Changues (Contributor),  Paolo Chikiamco (Goodreads Author) (Contributor),  Diigii Daguna (Contributor),  Brady Evans (Contributor),  Mark Gould (Contributor),  Gen H. (Contributor)

Middle Grade is not something I read a lot, I am pretty set on adult fiction. But this anthology looked interesting. There are some nice stories here and some that I liked less. The artwork spans various types, some of it is very simple, some very nice. The usual mixed bag. The individual stories are generally fairly short, they often also feel unfinished. 

I am disappointed in the choice of settings. Mostly the stories originate from the Philippines, there are a few from Hawaii and one story from Fiji — I had hoped for more variety. Do the Philippines even count a belonging to Oceania? And why is New Zealand mentioned in the blurb? There is no story from New Zealand.

I liked The Legend of Apolaki and Mayari by Kim Miranda. What a pretty story with nice sketches! Brother and sister end up fighting each other, a Filipino folkloric story.

Also pretty good was Nanuae the Sharkboy by Gen H. Set in Hawaii. There is shapeshifting (yay!), sharks (yay!) and the story is told a lot through images instead of text, which was done well. The ending was a bit abrupt.

The Legend of the Coconut Tree by Yiling Changues was that singular story from Fiji. Beautiful artwork. I would call it illustrated poetry? Very pretty, although I am not sure if I understood the ending correctly.

Nice enough as a whole. I would probably recommend this to friends.

I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

Fiji and Norderney

The Night Marchers and Other Oceanian Stories by Kel McDonald (Editor) 

Last night I read The Legend of the Coconut Tree by Yiling Changues. Finally something from a different place, Fiji! Beautiful artwork. I would call this illustrated poetry? Very pretty, although I am not sure if I understood the ending correctly.

In other news you probably won‘t hear from me every day for the next few days, as I am on holiday. Not on Fiji, sadly, but on one of the Friesian islands off the German coast…

Birthright?

Birthright #1
by Joshua Williamson,  Andrei Bressan (Illustrator),  Adriano Lucas (Illustrator) 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The first issue of this series came for free. There are 50 (!) single issues as of June 2021. That seems to be the end of it though. 

Magical journey of a boy disappearing from the park, where he was playing catch with his dad. 

Portal fantasy with a bit of a World of Warcraft look. Turns out he is The Chosen One. Beings from a mystical realm are trying to save the world, potentially with the help of a small boy. Naturally, there is an unexpected twist at the end. On the other end of the story is the boy‘s family and what his loss is doing to them.

Solid start to a very long-looking series. Nothing outstanding or truly surprising in the first issue, with the exception of that small cliffhanger at the end. The artwork is ok. I took some peeks at later issues and I am pretty sure the story develops nicely. 

Will I continue with this series? Not right now. 
Would I buy it for a friend or recommend it? Yes, quite likely, it was nice enough.

More cautionary tales…

The Night Marchers and Other Oceanian Stories
by Kel McDonald

More cautionary tales…

The Night Marchers by Jonah Cabudol-Chalker (illustrator, Hawaii) & Kate Ashwin (writer, UK) ★★★☆☆

A positive ghost story. Nice page layouts. Very short.

The Legend of Apolaki and Mayari by Kim Miranda ★★★★☆

What a pretty story with nice sketches! Brother and sister end up fighting each other… Philippines again. Very simple, but I really liked the artwork.

Nanuae the Sharkboy by Gen H. ★★★★☆

And Hawaii… good story! There is shapeshifting (yay!), sharks (yay!) and the story is told a lot through images instead of text, which was done well. The ending was a bit abrupt.

Thousand Eyes by Paolo Chikiamco & Tintin Pantoja ★★★★☆

And the Philippines again… about a girl that seems to be lazy and gives her mother some trouble. Of the stories included here, this looks the most like a comic. Another good one, with a sci-fi twist this time.

I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

First Line Friday in German

First Line Friday is a meme created by Hoarding Books. Feel free to head over there, have a look around, grab your nearest book and post its first line in the comments there and in your blog.

I have a few books in German lingering on my TBR- and currently-reading shelf. One of them I have been taking along to the communal pool… it‘s a fun read, actually, so it will come along on my holiday as my summer read…

No, that photo does not show my communal pool….. 😜

Tietjen auf Tour: Warum Camping mich glücklich macht (Tietjen on tour: Why camping makes me happy) by Bettina Tietjen

Translation of the German book blurb:

I am a guest in a hotel, I am at home in my camper

Whether on Corsica or in the Swedish forests, Bettina Tietjen has happily parked her motorhome forwards, backwards and sideways for many years. She and her family enjoy life without a dress code or a fixed destination – and if the weather is bad, you simply drive to another place. Her declaration of love for camping is about freedom under the starry sky, the search for the best place for a van and a hammock, it’s about hot tent neighbors, animal visitors and other strange encounters. For example, when someone exclaims enthusiastically while emptying the smelly chemical toilet: “Ms. Tietjen, is it really you? I know you from TV! ”- these are camping moments that you will never forget.

Yes, we camp!

The sympathetic presenter and bestselling author lets us look behind the curtains of her camper

From the German book blurb

And the first sentence, translated from the original German:

„Could you just take off your sun glasses?“ The man stands so closely to me, that his belly almost touches me.

„It‘s really me“, 1st line of the 1st chapter

Where IS Shakespeare?

Kill Shakespeare Volume 1 by Conor McCreery,  Anthony Del ColAndy Belanger

Rating: 2 out of 5.

What Fables does for fairy tales, Kill Shakespeare does with the greatest writer of all time. This dark take on the Bard pits his greatest heroes (Hamlet, Juliet, Othello Falstaff) against his most menacing villains (Richard III, Lady Macbeth, Iago) in an epic adventure to find and kill a reclusive wizard named William Shakespeare.

Book blurb

I have been eyeing Fables for a while. This blurb has me worried about it.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are not quite dead yet… I expected this to be a ploy about killing Shakespeare. Instead, we delve into Hamlet…

And then—surprise!—we switch to a different play. And several others after that. 

And that ploy materialized after all. However, at the end of Chapter One I was not terribly interested in the story. I put it aside and felt no urge to pick it up again, then read a bit more and skimmed myself through most of Chapter Two. Nope. Not for me. Boring. DNF at 40%.

The artwork is nothing special, just ok. I was not enamored with the way many of the female characters were drawn.

From Rosewater to Watchmen…

Rosewater (The Wormwood Trilogy, #1) by Tade Thompson

“She pours two black coffees into identical mugs that sport yellow smiley faces with a linear red smudge at the eleven o’clock position.“

page 42  14.09% 

I know that one! Read the comic and saw the movie…

Watchmen by Alan Moore,  Dave Gibbons

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Full review of that one is here… Not really a winner for me. I might have liked the movie a little better.

I came past other things that hinted at something. Some of them I recognized, others I didn‘t. Thompson added quite a few goodies like that…

What are you willing to do for love?

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1)
by Ann Leckie,  Adjoa Andoh (Narrator)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A re-read. This is not a love story, it’s a story of revenge.

“If that’s what you’re willing to do for someone you hate, what would you do for someone you love?” 

Breq is willing to do quite a lot. A lot of subtle tones that I missed the first time around and almost missed again during my second read. A many layered narrative, where you have to peel off layers to get to the heart of it all. My favourite part is still the evolving relationship between Breq and Seivarden. And the parts of the story set on Ors. Good stuff and worth the awards this book won.

“Choose my aim, take one step and then the next. It had never been anything else.” 


Review from my first read in March 2017:

The beginning was a little confusing. Might be due to it being an audiobook, it’s a fairly new medium for me. Here are my slightly spoilerish thoughts.

Breq’s voice in the audibook works well for the character. I didn’t find her too neutral or emotionless. In the beginning she almost felt childlike, exploring and getting to know her world. As the book went on, she gained more emotions and more of a personality.

I found some of the dialects of the other characters a bit weird. Some of the voices in the audiobook also sounded a bit “too much” and not natural to me. But they all grew on me eventually.

It’s interesting that Breq used a female pronoun for all other characters, until she could figure out if they were male or female. And even then she often stuck to the female version. It made for an unusual reading experience. Ultimately it made no difference, if a character was male or female. Which was perhaps the point of the whole idea.

What I did find a bit difficult with the audiobook: Telling the other characters apart. And it was slightly annoying that I couldn’t see the spelling of the various names and places.

I liked the timeline alternating from chapter to chapter. The story only really took off for me with the convergence of both plotlines. I liked the story before that, too. But the pace was a bit too leisurely. The last 30% of the book finally picked up speed.

My personal highlight was the development of the relationship between Breq and Seivarden. The conclusion of the book’s underlieing conflict in contrast to that was just ok. Smart, but nothing earth shattering. Nice ending. And I am fairly certain that I will pick up the next book.

Sorry for my fairly lame review, literary mastermind I am not. Bottom line, I liked the book. A bit slow at times. Good plot. Good world building. Interesting characters. Loved Ors, loved Seivarden and the relationship of her and Breq. The last few chapters were fun. One gripping moment full of sadness. Good stuff.