{Book Review} Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen

9781449479619_frontcover

Thank you to Andrews McMeel Publishing for sending my this ARC of Sarah Andersen’s new collection of “scribbles” in exchange for my honest review. This review will be slightly different from my usual reviews, in terms of structure, i.e. there is no real structure.

Some Background:

Sarah’s Scribbles is a webcomic by cartoonist, Sarah Andersen. It generally revolves around the protagonist, bug-eyed and messy-haired Sarah, as she struggles with social anxiety, laziness, body-image issues, and adulthood.

My Thoughts:

Sarah’s comics are not only adorable to look at, but they are also hilariously written. Her way of expressing her thoughts on certain events or daily interactions are both funny and endearing. She brings up issues regarding mental health, anxiety, lethargy, and makes the reader feel like they are not alone in facing similar feelings. I read this collection in one sitting, after a long and rough day, and it instantly cheered me up and had me laughing all through the night. Every little story is so relatable and makes you think about your own ways of dealing with the same things. Have you ever tripped over your words while ordering a coffee or a danish? Have you ever been trapped in an awkward conversation with someone you didn’t really like? Have you ever been caught stealing your boyfriend’s (or girlfriend’s) sweaters? With every turn of the page, I found myself thinking, “Oh, I remember when I did that,” and laughing like a lunatic. The “on the bag” bit just killed me, honestly. But it’s not all just jokes and giggles; Sarah also speaks about her social anxiety and how hard it is to break out of your own self-built shell, something I found highly relatable and refreshingly honest.

Verdict:

I give this book a hearty 4★s! I can’t wait to see more comics by Ms. Andersen and I hope that she writes a book about Comicbook Sarah’s adventures and misadventures one day, because I would order that in a split second. If you would like to check out Sarah’s comics, you can find her on Facebook, WebToons, TapasticInstagram, and her website. So, if you like giggles and cute comics and honest, hilarious accounts of what it’s like to be a not-so-adult adult, then I highly recommend this collection and urge you to check out her collection from last year, called Adulthood is a Myth, which is equally wonderful.

 

{Book Review} Set for Murder by Jolie Beaumont

set-for-murder_2

Firstly, I would like to thank Aster Press for sending me this book for review. That in no way influences my review, as I liked some aspects and disliked others, and what follows is an honest review of this novel.

Spoiler-free Summary:

This charming and suspenseful crime novel revolves around a diverse set of guests aboard a luxury cruise liner at the height of the Great Depression and the events that unfold aboard the ship. A young and glamorous duchess is found murdered halfway through the voyage and everyone is a suspect. Anyone, from the young Broadway duo to the sour, old dowager, from an old Vaudeville partner to a resentful young step-daughter, or from a flamboyant French designer to a former jewelry thief, Guy Travers, a Scotland Yard inspector, is forced to find the killer among the ship’s elite before he or she strikes again. The story is filled with suspense and suspicion as both character and reader try to figure out who the killer is in this mystery.

What I Liked:

  • Character Building: The characters were very well-developed and portrayed in a convincing way. They were each unique and layered with their own issues and nuances, making it a very diverse cast for the story.
  • Writing Style: Beaumont’s writing style was very atmospheric and helped create the mood throughout the story. Every scene had a purpose with regards to showing a certain aspect of the characters and propelling the story forward. It also built up the suspense and mystery surrounding the main event in the story (i.e. the duchess’s murder) and kept the story interesting.
  • Place & Time: I loved the fact that the story was set aboard a cruise ship, rather than your typical “it was the butler with the candlestick in the library” sort of setting for a mystery. I also liked the fact that it was very immersive with regards to the era it was set in, i.e. The Great Depression, and the characters fit in very well with the setting.

What I Disliked:

  • Lack of Setting Description: One thing I disliked was the lack of description with regards to the setting. There was a bit of description in passing, but if it weren’t for the dialogue, we wouldn’t really know what the ship looked like. The characters were described with great detail, but the environment itself wasn’t and the fact that the story unfurled aboard a ship in the middle of the ocean was one of the most appealing aspects for me, personally, so I would have loved to get a better mental picture of the setting itself.
  • Pace: The pace of the story was rather slow and although many little things happen throughout the first part of the story, leading up to the murder, I found myself waiting and waiting for it to happen, so that I could get to the actual mystery part of the story.
  • Switching Between Characters: Although the story was written from the perspective of a third person omniscient narrator, the abrupt switches between who the narrator was talking about were very confusing. I had to go back and check who was doing or saying what at which point several times and it made it difficult to keep up with the narrative.

Verdict:

I give this book a hearty 3s, as there are some aspects that I really liked and some that I didn’t. However, the story was interesting and different, and the suspense made me want to keep reading to unravel the mystery of the murder aboard the SS Good Ship Diamond Lollipops (I love that name, by the way).

 

 

{3-in-1 Book Review} Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows, & Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

As you well know by now, I am obsessed with the Throne of Glass series, so I thought I would do a triple book review for the last three books, because I pretty much binge-read them consecutively. If you haven’t yet experienced the thrilling, magical, and witty world of Throne of Glass, then you have some serious life choices to reconsider. I was never really that interested in young adult fiction, especially not of the fantasy variety, but Maas manages to create such an intricate web of characters, backstories, and twists that you simply can’t help but become engrossed in this saga of secrets, powers, and sheer badassedry. If you are a fan of fantasy, mythology, Celtic lore, and feisty female heroines, then I would strongly recommend this series.

Spoiler-free Summary:

In Heir of Fire, the third installment, Celaena is struggling with her identity and the savage death of her dear friend, Nehemia. She travels to Wendlyn to find answers and is forced to remain and train with a dreamy yet challenging Fae warrior prince, Rowan Whitethorn, whom she grows closer to as she comes to grips with her grief and her lost identity.

In Queen of Shadows, the fourth installment, Celaena, now known by her true name, Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, vows to exact revenge against the tyrants and villains who stole her kingdom and everyone she loves. She fights for her own soul, her friends who are tortured and imprisoned by the dark evils of Erilea, and for her throne.

In Empire of Storms, the fifth and latest installment, Aelin learns more about her heritage and hones her growing powers, while traveling and attempting to raise an army to fight for her kingdom. Faced with unexpected obstacles at every turn, Aelin and her cadre of Fae warriors and loyal friends must fight to protect the assassin-turned-queen and continue working towards their shared goals of a peaceful and prosperous Erilea, free of evil ad tyranny.

What I liked:

  • The new characters: Rowan Whitethorn is possibly one of my favorite male characters of all time. He is brought in as a character who is meant to train and guide Celaena, and at first, he comes off as a very standoffish and stern character, but his tough exterior chips away to reveal a brave, honorable, and heart-melting sweetheart. Also, can we all just agree that Manon Blackbeak and Asterin are total badasses? There were many new characters introduced throughout all three books, and as always, Maas does a wonderful job of describing and developing each and every one of them.
  • The plot: I love books that keep me riveted with every turn of a page. This series is chockful of exciting and thrilling developments and surprises. You hardly have time to process one event, when another one pops up in the very next page. However, despite being overwhelming at times, this is done in such a way that it fits perfectly into the overall story and within the context of each section. I can honestly say that I was never bored while reading any of these books.
  • Maas’s writing style: Maas has an especially immersive way of writing these novels that makes the reader feel as if they were more than a third party observer. I love books that include a lot of description, especially when it comes to world creation, and Maas makes all the magical characters and kingdoms feel real enough that you want to jump into the pages and visit them all. You might want steer clear of the ridderaks, though.

What I didn’t like:

  • I can’t really think of anything that I didn’t particularly like, since I pretty much ravaged the books. Perhaps the only thing that I felt slightly 50/50 about was the aforementioned overwhelming amount of consecutive events. Sometimes, it was hard to keep track of what was happening and to whom it was happening, but in reality, it actually kept the story captivating and the pace steady.

Verdict:

  • Heir of Fire: This book deserved all 5 ★s, because it showed Celaena/Aelin’s struggle with grief and loss in a way that was raw and Her gradual recovery and development throughout the story was also very well portrayed.
  • Queen of Shadows: I’m giving this book 4 ★s, because I felt as if it was a complete detour from the expected sequence of events. Having read the next book in the installment since reading this one, I know that the plan remains on track, but it was strange reading this book and having no idea when or how Celaena/Aelin would finally get around to reclaiming her throne, and frankly, it made me rather impatient. Granted, there were many loose ends to tie up before she could go about doing that, which I know now, but I didn’t know then, and it bothered me slightly throughout this read.
  • Empire of Storms: ALL THE STARS. 5 s! A million stars! This book was an emotional rollercoaster if I ever saw one. I was rapt and obsessed and just thinking about how long I will have to wait for the next one makes me hyperventilate. This was the long-awaited crescendo to an unpredictable and enthralling symphony, packed with drama, love, loss, ass-kicking, and snarky comebacks. It also left me completely bereft. So, please hurry with that sixth book, S.J., my heart cannot bear the suspense.