Friday, 8 November 2013

Hyperbole and a Half

Title: Hyperbole and a Half
Author: Allie Brosh
Pages: 369 (paperback)
Published: October 29th 2013
Published by: Touchstone

In a four-color, illustrated collection of stories and essays, Allie Brosh’s debut Hyperbole and a Half chronicles the many “learning experiences” Brosh has endured as a result of her own character flaws, and the horrible experiences that other people have had to endure because she was such a terrible child. Possibly the worst child. For example, one time she ate an entire cake just to spite her mother.

Brosh’s website receives millions of unique visitors a month and hundreds of thousands of visitors a day. This amalgamation of new material and reader favorites from Brosh's blog includes stories about her rambunctious childhood; the highs and mostly lows of owning a smart, neurotic dog and a mentally challenged one; and moving, honest, and darkly comic essays tackling her struggles with depression and anxiety, among other anecdotes from Brosh's life. Artful, poignant, and uproarious, Brosh’s self-reflections have already captured the hearts of countless readers and her book is one that fans and newcomers alike will treasure.

So just take a moment to scroll down this page a little bit. On the left, you'll find a list of blogs I read. Most of them belong to authors I love, but there is one that stands out as truly different. It's called Hyperbole and a Half and it is truly and honestly the most hilarious blog I have ever read. And quite possibly on the entire internet in general. Go and have a look at it. There are a plethora of posts to read. Spaghatta Nadle and its follow-ups are particular favourites of mine. Why? I have no idea. They just are.

This is the book of the blog, by the rib-achingly funny Allie Brosh, chronicling some of the many mis-adventures of her life, a tutorial for dogs and an amusing/heartbreaking account of her experience with depression. This full title is in fact Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened, which sums up everything it contains pretty well.

Some of the stories in this book are new, and some have been taken from the blog. I thoroughly enjoyed all of them and look forward to many re-reads in the future. Even the one's I read before often had me laughing out load. Actually laughing out loud. Not like when you're like 'lol' and it maybe made you smirk a little bit.

Read this book. And the blog. Because they're amazing, and pretty much speak for themselves on this front. Seriously, what are you still doing here? Go!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Days of Blood and Starlight

Title: Days of Blood and Starlight
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2
Author: Laini Taylor
Pages: 528 (paperback)
Published: August 15th 2013
Published by: Hodder Paperbacks

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

Karou has rediscovered her lost life, but it has cast a terrible shadow over the life she was living. Now, she finds herself stuck between worlds, and without either of the families she had grown to love and rely on. Feeling guilty for the part she played in the downfall of her people, she allies herself with a man she despises and takes on the role of her old mentor in an attempt to help them make things right. But how long can she live with the things she's doing, and how long will her new-found 'friends' allow her to live?

I absolutely adored The Daughter of Smoke and Bone. The story and characters were gripping and engaging, with a truly original idea at its centre. And this carries over well - the story and the magic behind it are both ones I've never come across before, and with Karou's new role in this book you get to see more of both. And the characters are just as wonderful as last time, but with more viewpoints and greater depth.

Rather than just following Karou, this time we also follow Akiva (her angel ex-lover), Zuzana (her human best friend) and...a chimaera whose name I cannot remember off the top of my head. But through these, Taylor allows us to develop a much fuller sense of the world she has created. We get to see more of the chimaera in their natural environment, and learn more of the different species and their strengths and weaknesses. Through Akiva, we see more of the angel world - and the storyline which this opens up for the next book is one which I am thoroughly looking forward to. Though in all honesty, I am indeed looking forward to seeing all the resolutions.

While I really like Karou and think she's a great leading lady, Zuzana is one of my favourite characters. She was more secondary in the first book, but she comes to the fore more this time around and I love her voice. I would totally be friends with her! If she'd let me. She's pretty hard-core and awesome. She gets a few of her own chapters towards the start of the book, and they always entertained me. And her appearances in the chapters told from others' POV are often just as entertaining.

The descriptions of the land of Chimaera and angels are truly wonderful in places. As I've probably said before, I'm not a particularly visual person, but I could definitely picture some of the places as they were described, even if I didn't really manage this quite so well with the descriptions of chimaera this time around. But they are vastly different than in the first book - necessitated by the change of circumstances - and probably less easily put together in my mind at least.

But for all this, I didn't find the story as captivating. I think with the mystery gone of who Karou is, some of the tension which kept me reading in the first book was missing. And there was nothing taking its place. I sat and read Daughter of Smoke and Bone without really noticing, but this one didn't grip me in the same way.

There are lots of great developments by the characters, and slightly heart-breaking ending, and a whole glot of potential opened up. I am very much looking forward to Dreams of Gods and Monsters.