Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Books I read in May!: Bullet Catcher, Sea Lovers, Animal, The Girl From Everywhere, The Girl of Ink and Stars, The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, Wolf Hollow

May has come and gone and I read a whole stack o' books, you'll be pleased to hear. So for your reading pleasure here are my thoughts and feeling and stuff on them! I finished reading Joaquin Lowe's Bullet Catcher on my holidays up at our highland cottage by the sea, where I also took Sea Lovers: Selected Stories by Valerie Martin, which turned out to mostly not be stories about the sea despite the very overt sea themed cover, sigh. I apparently had a brief 'The Girl' season and read both Heidi Heilig's The Girl From Everywhere, and Kiran Millwood Hargrave's The Girl of Ink and Stars. I did not continue this season with The Girl on the Train, but I have read The Girl With All The Gifts so I feel fairly on top of the whole 'The Girl' thing. Oh apart from I haven't read any of the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and stuff, so really I'm quite behind on The Girl. ANYWAY, I also listened to Sara Pascoe's audiobook of Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body, which was so great and insightful and I may have to listen to again because it was a lot to take in. Graphic novel wise I know I recommend it a lot, but I've never actually read through the whole of The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isobel Greeneberg, so that was well worth doing this month. And I rounded of the month by reading Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk, the full review of which you can read by clicking here! Phew! 

Bullet Catcher
Bullet Catcher by Joaquin Lowe follows the story of Imma, who lives in a desert land populated by gunslingers and once great, but now died out bullet catchers, and who leaves the small town of Sand on the tail of a stranger she saw catch a bullet, in search for her possibly dead and definitely long lost brother, Nikko. Gungslingers and bullet catchers representing either good or evil, hero or monster, Imma has to work out which is which and therefore which path to take. I thought this was a great read, I really engaged with Imma and found the plot to be driven by plenty of action and momentum. I was put off slightly by the cover at first, which is a bit naff, and doesn't really capture the hard working, grimy sandy desert dwelling, fiercely loyal Imma. The type design is really nice, just a different girl or maybe an illustration if it's reprinted please! However if you don't judge a book by its cover, there is a great story of morals and loyalty with a very compelling lead character within.

Sea Lovers: Selected Stories
This short story collection definitely conned me into believing it would be about the sea. It's called Sea Lovers, there are waves and a fish/mermaid tail on the front in greeny blue. The cover of another edition that pops up when you google similarly has the seaside and a mermaid tail on it. It was a gift from my best friend, who knows I love the sea, and I brought it with me to the seaside to read... So it was much to my surprise that only in the last section one of the stories involves the sea and a mermaid. However I did enjoy the stories, as a short story fan I really enjoyed the lives the author drops you into. Mostly city dwelling, artists or writers, dealing with relationships past and present. I think I'll have a look out for more writing by Valerie Martin as I felt a great connect to many of the characters and with her story telling style. I'm blaming this one on her publishers!

Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body
This fascinating book is by comedian Sara Pascoe, who felt there was a gap in the market for an evolutionary biology book that focussed on female bodies, and so decided to write one herself. Autobiography and biology are combined in what is such an interesting, funny and engaging read. I listened to Sara talking, amongst other things, about hits book on Adam Buxton's podcast recently and felt compelled to read it. I'm a big sucker for audiobooks read by their authors, especially when it comes to comedians, and so I greatly enjoyed listening to this on my walks to work at the beginning of May. The book just covers so much, from mating and child rearing, to pubes and dieting, to abortions and consent. It really is fascinating and I will definitely have to listen again because there was just so much to take in. I guess read this if you enjoy mixing evolutionary biology with stand up comedy. Win win!

The Girl From Everywhere
I was very excited to receive this book from Hot Key Books as it just sounded amazing and right up my street. Nix Song (cool name points) lives on a pirate ship with her father and their crew, spending their days using historical maps to time travel to those places and times collecting fantastical creatures and mythical objects from all around the world. Nix is sixteen, and is particularly good at finding the perfect maps for time travelling, as each map can only be used once. The story begins in India in 1774, travel to present day New York, and then to Honolulu 1883. Most of the story plays out in Hawaii, where Nix's late mother once lived, her father desperate to find a map to take him back to the time before her death. The story was exciting and compelling, although I think I maybe would've liked a little more time travel just because it was fun each time it happened. I don't think I'm quite on top of exactly what the rules of their time travel are, but I really like Nix and found her soul searching and life planning very relatable, even if her concerns were time travel based! Definitely recommended reading for anyone who loves Pippi Longstocking, Lyra of Northern Lights fame, and pirates!

The Girl of Ink and Stars
Similarly to Nix Song, Isabella Riosse lives with just her father- her mother and brother having died previously- on an island called Joya steeped with mythical histories of a warrior girl, Arinta and a fire demon, Yote. Her father is a cartographer, although under the regime of the governor, no one has even left the costal town by land or sea for many years. After a murder of a young girl, Isabella's best friend Lupe, daughter of the governor, goes missing, Isabella joins the search party to the rest of the now deserted parts of the island. I found stories and myth flowing together effortlessly as the lines between history and mythology blur, with Isabella getting guidance from her mother's old map of the island, spurred on by the strong character of Arinta the warrior to be brave and strong and most of all to commit to her map-making goals! Lupe and Isabella's friendship across class boundaries was beautifully portrayed, although the scenes in the tunnels did nothing but give me the heeby-jeebies! I wasn't super convinced about the re-naming of the continents, like Afrik, and they're not immediately coming to mind just now but India had a same but different name and North America too. The island of Joyo felt so apart from our own world that it could easily have add completely made up neighbouring continent names and still have been convincing. The book itself is a beautiful object, with each page adorned with illustrations of mappy and islandy imagery. A lovely MG fantasy read, whose world I would love to see expanded.

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth
I have recommended this graphic novel many times on this blog, so you'd be forgiven for thinking I had in fact read it all the way through, which I most certainly had not until this month. I used to just get it out ot flick through its beautiful pages, which is daft because I've read Isabel Greenberg's other comics and greatly enjoyed her storytelling style. I think the big hardback, coffee table size of this book just scared me off a bit! Having now committing to reading it through cover to cover, I can confirm that this is an enchanting and witty, beautiful and elegant piece of storytelling from a clearly wonderful imagination. I still highly recommend it! The Encyclopedia of Early Earth collects stories from all over the fictional Early Earth and from its Gods too, to create a myths and folk tales compendium of sorts, with at its heart an impossible love story. I believe Isabel Greenberg is currently working on her next book so I will most definitely be looking out for that!

Wolf Hollow
Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk begins with the words "The year I turned twelve, I learned how to lie", setting us up for the recounting of the story from the point of view of young Annabelle...

You can read my full review by clicking here! It'll be a good time, I promise! Clicky!

I received copies of Bullet Catcher and The Girl From Everywhere from Hot Key Books, and Wolf Hollow for Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected the my views of these books. Promise!

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