Kill Shakespeare, Vol 1: A Sea of Troubles

During an off day, my boyfriend and I went to The Strand in NYC and I didn’t pick anything up–which is definitely odd for me as an avid book lover and writer of this blog, but I just wasn’t feeling commotion. After The Strand, we walked next door to Forbidden Planet, a huge comic book store right next door to The Strand. Normally, I’m not a comic book person–no particular reason, just that it isn’t my favorite way of reading, but my boyfriend loves comic books so we stopped in. Once again, nothing wasn’t striking my fancy, but right when we were about to leave, he pulled this comic out and I knew I had to buy this.

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Kill Shakespeare Book 1 by Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col, illustrated by Andy Belanger
Published by IDW Publishing; 59143rd edition on November 9th, 2010
Genres: Shakespeare, Comic Book, Historical Fiction, Literature
Pages: 148
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Noble

Final Review: 4 out of 5 ★★★★☆


So there isn’t much to say about this book in a literary sense, other than it being fun, which is pretty much enough for me. To start, I’ll just preface that the storyline is definitely incorrect in Shakespearean terms, but, once again, that doesn’t matter at all to have a fun story. Imagine if all of Shakespeare’s plays were within the same realm, and had happened at the same time (which is impossible since all the kings couldn’t have been king at the same time). We begin with Hamlet whose story begins at the end of his play, meaning his father is dead and he has killed Polonius but still does not know who murdered his father. He leaves Denmark upset and brooding–much the Hamlet way–and when he arrives in England, he is intercepted by King Richard III who calls Hamlet The Shadow King. Richard has proposed that he will resurrect Hamlet’s father from the dead (with the help of the three witches we see in the beginning of Macbeth), if Hamlet succeeds over the supposed wizard, William Shakespeare, whose power lies in his magical quill that Hamlet must steal so Richard can wield that power. Yes, the actual Will Shakespeare is a character in this story and there are two sets of people: those who believe he is their god and claim his name is holy, and those who want his power.

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So far, in Book 1, our heroes are Juliet, who lead the revolution against Richard and his men with the help of Othello, and Hamlet alongside Falstaff. The villains are obviously Richard III as well as Lady Macbeth and Iago. These characters are pitted against each other in the battle of control. The story is not set in modern day, which I prefer because then the style of speech is more accurate, such as how Juliet is suspicious of Hamlet truly being the Shadow King, she says: “He will cut a finer figure than what you have brought to us,” which is obviously a fancier way of saying, this can not possibly be the true Shadow King of myths. Furthermore, even though the timeline is impossible, the creators do try to stay true to each character’s strengths and weakness–in a traditional sense that is. For example, when Richard III and Lady Macbeth are conspiring, Richard’s man warns: “I hope thou doth not trust that one too closely. Her teeth are sharp in her mouth.” I would perhaps read Lady Macbeth slightly different, but as a standard reading, she is pretty spot on. Falstaff is a womanizer and plumpy drunk, Juliet is strong-willed and headstrong, Iago is cunning, and Richard III is crippled and an egomaniac.

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The art style, an obvious component of any comic book, is pretty standard. I would have liked to see some more whimsical illustrations, which is much more my cup of tea when it comes to comics, but the classic style allows for the focus to be on everything happening–words included–not just the art. There are also odd instances when instead of reading frame-by-frame down the page and then onto the next, you read across both pages and then down, across both pages, and down again. This threw me off multiple times and I found myself reading information that wasn’t chronological. Maybe this is a more common thing than I thought, but every comic I’ve read previous hasn’t done that, so be prepared. Regardless of the sometimes confusing layout, my next point is on the hilarious puns, which totally make up for it. For some people, the Shakespeare imagery might be lost, but for me, someone who has been reading and studying the Bard’s works for over five years now, this stuff kills. The characters say things like “Then be true to thine own self” (originally said in Hamlet by Polonius) and “Call it what you will” (the extended part of Twelfth Night‘s title). I’m not going to list every instance, but you get the idea.

Overall, this comic is a good time. The first volume is a lot of setting up so I’m not really sure what happens or is going to happen in the volumes to come, but I can update this post once I read more. If you’re a literary nerd like me and enjoy seeing Shakespeare’s characters outside of their original works, then definitely give this work a go.

Shakespeare the myth? Or Shakespeare the false hope?

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The Afterlife of Holly Chase

Naturally, I had to pick this up and read it over Christmas and the same friend who recommended This is Not the End had also read this, so I made sure to not ask her anything about it before reading!

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The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
Published by HarperTeen on October 24th, 2017
Genres: Coming of Age, Family, Friendship, Romance, Humor, Holiday
Pages: 400
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Noble

Final Review: 4 out of 5 ★★★★☆


Whenever someone asked me what I was reading, which undoubtedly happened every time I opened the book around family, I promptly told them “It’s a modern retelling of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.” Now, this isn’t incorrect, but it’s not really the whole story. Even though it’s January, Cynthia Hand’s, The Afterlife of Holly Chase, is only more relevant. If you’ve noticed the other most recent post I’ve made, it discusses some bookish New Year’s resolutions. These are goals I’ve set for myself to desperately try to keep in order to stay mind happy and healthy. And even though Hand’s tale is a Christmas one, it’s really about changing one’s self into our best version.

But I didn’t know I was a Scrooge (12).

Holly Chase is two things: a bitch, and dead. At seventeen, Holly died a humiliating death and wound up working for  Project Scrooge as a “zombie”–she’s technically still alive? But isn’t aging and constantly resets at midnight every night to stay as the seventeen-year-old girl she died as. At Project Scrooge, an appropriately located in New York City–the Scroogiest cities in the world probably–the crew pick a “Scrooge” each year and using the characters Dickens set forth over 150 years ago, try to save the Scrooge from their own horrible ways. Holly is what’s considered a “failed Scrooge” seeing as she was greeted with three ghosts of Christmas–Past, Present, and Future–and laughed it off, denying their existence, and ended up dying anyway.

Being the classic, rich bitch, Holly is stuck up, annoying, materialistic, and self-centered–all the good qualities of the cliched high school prom queen, but she is surprisingly in a position of power at Project Scrooge. She’s the Ghost of Christmas Past! The first Christmas ghost any Scrooge sees! She definitely plays an important role, so it’s interesting that she’s so annoying, but really that makes her almost more real. She’s not perfect and strangely, after death, Holly has accepted it.

Of course, there are more twists and turns I was only a little bit expecting, but Hand plays it all off brilliantly. And perhaps it was because of the timing–I did begin reading it on December 23rd and finished on the 26th–I definitely give Hand’s story a four out of five. I was actually surprised I liked it more than This is Not the End. While I was waiting for the sappiness, and sure it was there, The Afterlife of Holly Chase was refreshingly upbeat. I probably would not pick this book up in the middle of July and I’m generally not the person who only reads certain books during certain seasons, but this one really is a good, winter tale–especially right now with the year changing.

If you’re looking for something sweet and refreshing, a snuggly cold day read that also makes you want to take up every hobby you ever let pass and call your mother, then The Afterlife of Holly Chase is a perfect book for you.

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Refocus: 2018 Book List

From the wise words of Lily and Val (a crafting, calligraphy, all things pretty website and store; which is where this awesome “refocus” design is from!), 2018 is the time to refocus. At the perfect existential age of 23, a current Master’s seeking grad student, a kinda-sorta New York resident, it might appear that I have things together–but we all know me, and I don’t. For starters, why do I let things I love (i.e. reading and reviewing) fall by the wayside? Let’s stop that, future Shelby. Some goals for this new year include some of the cliche things (like eat better! Note, Z and I got Dominos delivered yesterday–what a great way to start the new year, eh?), but more importantly, they include book-related things.

 

 

 

This year, I want to read one book a week (total 52 books in 2018) that are non-academic, meaning they are not required reading for classes. I also want to post to my bookstagram three or so times a week, as well as posting one review (at least!) a week here.

I want to include my list of 52 books here so you guys can see what I’m up to and give me more suggestions on what to read. Currently, my list is at 40 something. I’m planning on leaving the last 10 or so open instead of planning those away this early in the year.

*A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Pendragon #9 by DJ McHale
Pendragon #10 by DJ McHale
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas
Assassins Blade by Sarah J Maas
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
WinterSong by S. Jae-Jones
Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang
Before She Ignites by  Jodi Meadows
Without Merit by Colleen Hoover
The Breathless by Tara Goedjen 
Select by Marit Weisenberg
The Witches of New York by Ami McKay
Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra
The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell 
*The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
*Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
*Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Starborn by Lucy Hounsom
*Everless by Sara Holland
The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy
A Million Junes by Emily Henry
*Women of Will by Tina Packer
Private Lives of the Tudors by Tracy Borman
Elizabeth by John Guy
Furyborn by Claire Legrand
*A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas
Wicked like Wildfire by Lana Popovic
School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin
The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
Starflight by Melissa Landers
It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco
The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis
*Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick
Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom
One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Hot Cop by Laurelin Paige
RoomHate by Penelope Ward

If you made it this far down, congrats! The books marked with an asterisk are the ones I’m most excited about and will probably be reading first–this list isn’t in any particular order and as you can see, there’s a healthy mixing of genres and authors. Naturally, there are many YA (my favorite) but there is a sprinkling of non-fiction as well as classics and, of course, some erotica at the end (which will probably be read in the summertime).

Some other book things I’m looking forward to sticking to are: the MLA 2018 New York Convention happening this weekend; BookCon in NY in the summer; finishing my novel by December 31st (fingers crossed, people); reading for my upcoming six Master’s courses this year–as well as picking a mentor and applying to PhD programs come summertime.

So let’s all pray to the book gods that I am capable of keeping up with this resolution–it is, after all, time to refocus.

PS I Still Love You Review

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I’m finally getting around to reading the sequels to some books alongside reading some comics in between, such as Jenny Han’s P.S. I Still Love You and A Court of Mist and Fury is next!

I LOVED Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Seriously. Loved it. Cried my eyes out and needed to know more, obsessed over Lara Jean and Peter forever. So here are my thoughts on their continued love story.

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P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 26th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Friendship, Young Adult, Family
Pages: 352
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Nobles

Final Review: 4 out of 5

★★★★☆


Lara Jean is back at it again. Picking up right where we left off in book 1, Lara Jean’s love life is still as crazy as it was in Han’s first book. When Peter and her go back to dating, as cute as they were before, they both acknowledge that it’s far different from when they were just pretending. Lara Jean still has hesitation herself, and rightfully so. What is a girl to think when she sees her boyfriend consoling and hugging his ex-girlfriend? An ex-girlfriend who totally hates Lara Jean, by the way.

Of course Lara Jean has some concerns about her relationship with Peter, and like any young girl, she turns to another, attractive boy to help her out. One of her letters, the ones Kitty sent out? ends up getting a response. John Ambrose McClaren and Lara Jean become pen pals, friends even after years of radio silence between the two.

What happens with Lara Jean finds herself in love with two boys at once? One she knows is going to break her heart, and the other she doesn’t know if she can give her heart to.


Okay. Did I love this book? Yes. Did I love it as much as the first one? No. For some reason, I wasn’t as captivated by P.S. I Still Love You compared to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Perhaps this is because the characters and story aren’t all that new to me anymore since I just read To All the Boys I Loved Before not too long ago, so the story isn’t as gut-wrenching as it was before.

Like snow globes, you shake them up, and for a moment everything is upside down and glitter everywhere and it’s just like magic–but then it all settles and goes back to where it’s supposed to be. Things have a way of settling back. I can’t go back (page 12).

I did, however, have intense anxiety pains whenever Lara Jean got anywhere near John Ambrose McClaren. Secretly, I wanted them to be together. How realistic? Of course Peter wouldn’t be able to get over his ex-girlfriend, Genevieve. That is some hard shit to do! Trust me. And even though this means breaking Lara Jean’s heart, I can see it happening. She would be able to explore a new life, a new not-so-naive life with John Ambrose. Maybe this could have happened if they were older, as in going off to college soon. This would prepare Lara Jean of the heartbreak but love again that could, and will, happen to her. Perhaps I’m too jaded and old to read these!

On a critical analysis standpoint, and watch out for spoilers here, I knew that Lara Jean and John Ambrose McClaren would not end up together simply by Han’s description of the two. When Lara Jean and Peter kiss, Han is extravagant in her writing, detailing every thought, touch, and experience that happens in that short second: “I kiss him before he can finish. Properly. Like I mean it. He kisses back like he means it too. Like it’s been four hundred years. And then I’m not thinking anymore and I’m just lost in the kissing” (page 21). Compare this to: “and then he kisses me. His lips are warm and firm against mine, and my eyelids flutter shut” (page 305). There is a clear difference between Lara Jean’s reaction to each kiss here and in a way, it foreshadows the outcome of her relationship with each.

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I do adore how Han seemed to get even more intimate with Lara Jean’s family. I liked that the story took a turn away from Margot and Josh (no offense, but they weren’t my favorite plot line). I loved how Kitty and Lara Jean tried, unsuccessfully, to get their father to start dating again–this is so real. How many children are raised by a single parent these days? I know it, even with two lovely parents that are divorced, that seeing them alone is sad and you want anything in the world to make them happy. And their dad just seems like the sweetest guy–I want him to be my dad! They are so sweet to him.

My dad said Peter isn’t the only boy in the world. I know this is true, of course it’s true. But look at Daddy. My mom was the only girl in the world for him. If she wasn’t, he’d have found somebody new by now. Maybe he’s been trying to protect himself from heartbreak too. Maybe we’re more alike than I ever realized (page 265).

Overall, P.S. I Still Love You is an adorable, must-read in order to complete Lara Jean’s story. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before leaves readers wanting more. Is she going to drop that letter off at Peter’s? Are they going to fall back in love–for real this time? Not only does it answer these pressing questions, but the sequel raises a few more. Is Lara Jean and Kitty’s dad ever going to find love again? What happened with the other letters Lara Jean wrote? And ultimately, are Peter and Lara Jean supposed to be together forever? All I know is that Han has amazingly insightful advice, hidden in Lara Jean and Peter, for us readers to take away:

I can see now that it’s the little things, the small efforts, that keep a relationship going. And I know now too that in some small measure I have the power ot hurt him and also the power to make it better (page 197).

Thank you, Jenny Han, for another whirlwind of emotion in P.S. I Still Love You.

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My First Comic Books! (I know, right?)

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So I was never into comic books–I’m a bad nerd. Sure I love superheroes, male and female, but the extensive canon for each? Not so much. I had my stint with Manga in middle school–like most girls do–but that didn’t last long. Although, I do still love Fruits Basket and always will.

But suddenly, my Barnes and Noble set up a table with a crudely photoshopped sign reading: College Con above a full table of new, trade comic books. There were many (okay all) that I didn’t know about, and only a handful of employees and costumers were showing interest. In fact, if it weren’t for my boyfriend, I would have continued walking past that table every day, unseeing.

However, my boyfriend mentioned that he was grabbing the trade copy of Black Panther and a few others, just to try out since the sale price was Buy 2, get 1 Free! Plus my discount? Why not?

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Here is the haul that I picked up (four books) plus one I snagged in Philly. If anyone is interested, my boyfriend is totally obsessed with Saga and The Wicked and the Divine. Those are his top two and has started his own mini collection of those. But those don’t interest me too much, so here are the ones that I thought looks good:

  • How To Talk to Girls at Parties — Neil Gaiman, Fabio Moon, Gabriel Ba // A man recalls his first party as a fifteen-year-old and the strange world of women that he walks in on.
  • Paper Girls — Brian Vaughan, Cliff Chian, Matt Wilson, Jared Fletcher // Four young paper delivery girls stumble upon a shocking, headline-worthy story.
  • DC Comics Bombshells — Marguerite Bennett, Marguerite Sauvage // Written by women, drawn by women, for women; female superheroes from around the world are recruited to fight in WWII.
  • Fables: Legends in Exile — Bill Willingham, Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha, Craig Hamilton // [I actually have no idea what this one is about so here’s a brief description] When a savage creature known only as the Adversary conquered the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, all of the infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile
  • ApocalyptiGirl — Andrew MacLean // Aria searches for an ancient relic at the end of the world along with her cat, Jelly Bean, and hopes to return home.

I’ve already finished Paper Girls and How to Talk to Girls at Parties; they both have me seriously intrigued but I’m not 100% sold on loving them. I’m certainly going to buy the next trade copy of Paper Girls so I can see what happens. From what I am to understand, How to Talk to Girls at Parties is a stand alone comic but the back of the hardcover book says it should be turned into a film adaptation by 2017!

I’ve also started Bombshells, but this one is the one I’m struggling with the most. An all female cast, written by women and designed by women? It sounds amazing! However, I have a few gripes with it. First, once Book 1 ends and Book 2 begins, the art style changes. I am to understand that they have gotten several artists to design the different books and, while this is awesome, I was totally in love with the first Book 1 style and the Book 2 style is so different that I’m thrown off. Second, it’s taking me so long to get into it! All of the characters get a long introduction and backstory, so long that all of Book 1 and most of Book 2 are just background information, preparing the reader for the true story–which I don’t even know what that is! I haven’t gotten to that part yet!

So while I’m looking forward to finishing my collection, and of course complete the series that I end up enjoying, I don’t think I’m going to change my entire book collection into comics. It is fun to have a story with pictures (that makes it sound so childish, but I can’t think of another way to describe it!) but they’re too short for me. It took me less than ten minutes to read How to Talk to Girls at Parties! I can read a novel pretty quickly, but still at least two hours. I enjoy more in-depth stories, long plot lines, difficult characters to grasp, etc. But like I said, I am enjoying the ones I have picked out and I think they will be a little guilty pleasure.

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Welcome to my Museum of Heartbreak

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leder’s book has inspired me to create my own mini museum of heartbreak for this review. you can see different pieces of me, scattered across a handful of years, countries, and cities. this gifts came from friends, relatives, mentors, and exes have given me, as well as gifts to myself.

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The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder
Published by Simon Pulse  on June 7th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Teen Read
Pages: 288
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Noble

Final Review 5 out of 5

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penelope marx thinks she knows about love thanks to the many romantic stories she’s read. she knows what loving best friends are like, as seen in her two best friends ephraim and audrey, and what loving the new, mega-cool boy at school must be like. she comes to realize, though, that those ideals of love are simply that: ideal and not reality. when she actually gets the chance to date the new boy, his lips are chapped and he is actually kind of rude to her. audrey starts picking the mean girl over penelope and eph is always out dating a different girl.

she begins to realize that heartbreak is in her future, but not just from the new boy. there will be fights on subway platforms of new york, in the hallways of their school, in the natural history museum where her father works, and other scattered places around new york city; fights that involve her parents, her friends, her boyfriend, and everyone in between.

follow penelope as she learns to overcome one of the hardest obstacles we must all face at some point or another: heartbreak.

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once again, i am pretty speechless about a book, same as i was with han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. i’m speechless for different reasons, of course, but speechless nonetheless.

first and foremost, leder’s writing is utterly and completely captivating. i, and i’m sure many other creative writers, have been told countless times to “show and not tell” when it comes to our writing. there is something so lame and pointless in simply saying “the rain fell” when you could be saying something more beautiful, more poetic such as “the sky gave way to thousands of dancing droplets that heated up my skin in their tiny splotches” or something to that affect. well now times that by ten and you have leder’s voice. there are endlessly highlighted sentences and dog-eared cornered pages of this book that i keep turning back because why can’t i write like this?

Keats invited me to his party.

I wanted to hug the acne-ridden freshman passing by; I wanted to dance with the football dude laughing at a dirty joke across the hall. I wanted to burst into a full musical number, complete with a choir of singing unicorns and my cat, Ford, tap-dancing across the hall with a top hat and cane. I wanted to kiss a baby on the cheek, draw chalk tulips on the sidewalk, and buy grape popsicles for everyone in the city of New York.

Keats invited me to his party (page 68).

the story is ever so slightly cliched, but you know what, who cares? i still give it my whole five out of five stars because of leder’s writing style, characters, and storyline, though cliched yes, still captivates. truly captivates. i found myself loving each character in a different way: whether i was loving to hate the new love-interest keats (i mean come on, who doesn’t use chapstick these days? and seriously your shit with cherisse??) but also love to hate and pity and love eph because ugh eph. in a way i didn’t want the book to end how it did, but also cherished the ending as well. siiigh. i want a dreamboat, skateboarder, with beanies and long hair, and smooth lips, but also a coy smile cause he know’s–i don’t know what, but he know’s it.

He kissed me, and I thought of tearing mint leaves, of licking salt water off my lips, of the mornings you wake up heart alive, no alarm (page 140).

i found myself relating more and more to penelope as the book continued. we’re both literary nerds, we both fall in love with the wrong people at the wrong times, we put our trust into the wrong people as well, but still have close-knit group of friends that no matter who or what happens, we’re still friends. leder creates penelope to be a little like all of us–so we can see ourselves through her and her journey. we’ve all had to deal with heartbreak before, it’s one of the worst pains in the world by far, and somewhere deep we know that our heartbreak, at the ripe age of 22, is only just beginning. there’s going to be rejection letters from schools, boys or girls that decide they don’t like us anymore, a death, a disappointing parent or friend or mentor, even the inevitable end to a fantastic, noteworthy time in our lives: these are all cases of heartbreak we all encounter on a daily basis. leder simply broke it down into tender, charming little pieces for us to swallow and take with us as we curate our own museums of heartbreak.

It was Sunday, and I had never felt so pretty, so noticed, so delirious, like every part of me was light and perfumed and lovely (page 160).

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