The Drowning Girl by: Caitlin Kiernan

The drowning girl

Quick Summary: Imp is a young woman who suffers from schizophrenia, as well as being an amazing artist. A bit of a loner, she has trouble shifting which memories appear in what order, as well as which are set in reality. This is a memoir of an important turning even in her life, of two loves, of two different versions of the same line of her life. Her words as she rights them contradict her own thoughts, argue back, and make her think of times and love past. Which memories are real, and in the end, how will she feel about herself?

I would put this book under an ‘artistic and indie feel’. At times it feels like it tries a little too hard to be original and angst, too convoluted in the different memories and thoughts of Imp. As a character Imp is a little hard to wrap around. She’s a functioning schizophrenic who loves artwork and tea, not much into electronics, and falls prey to her own mind. You want to feel sympathy for her, or empathy at least, as she is tossed about by trying to sort what memories are real and happened in the right order, and which are the ones her mind created for her. Yet at times she can come off as a bit too whiny and winded, a little too full of herself and the angst she brings out. Perhaps it is because she draws everything out just a little too long to be interesting where it fall over to annoying.

(Warning: Some possible minor spoilers ahead)

Her first love in the story Abalyn is a bit more interesting off the bat. Though it comes of a little cliché how she is nearly opposite of Imp. Abalyn plays video games, drinks coffee, is a bit more brash and ‘loud’ than Imp is. Honestly through a lot of this I feel worse for her than our main character. She is most understanding and patient with Imp, as anyone who is in a relationship with someone who has a mental illness has to be.

The second love Eva is just…I’m not sure how to explain her. Very enigmatic. Through a good chunk of the first part of the book you don’t really get to know who she is, or what she is, just the briefest descriptions from Imp who draws about her and thinks about her in a romantic, nearly obsessive way, while with Abalyn. Due to the nature of Imp’s mind you don’t know if she’s supernatural, or a strange human individual who is there to make Imp’s life more difficult.

As for the writing style, I can see how it is meant to be very artsy, fantasy like. It is written from the POV of Imp, and her being her, the story often drifts from one topic to another, backtracking on itself, changing what it states, etc. This makes sense when someone who is schizophrenic writes, sometimes the truth and “the truth” are different things. However, at times it veers so far from topic, or talks circles on itself, that I as a reader became bored at the overly confusing or ebb and flow of the story. Straying from topic here and there is fine, but when it is all over the place for most of the book, it comes off more as choppy and difficult then mysterious and dark. It tries to go a lot of places such as Imp’s past and the events that affected her life so much. Sometimes it reminded me of a moody teenager writing about how awful life is and no one understands her. Again, it wasn’t exactly bad…but it didn’t fully draw me in. I had to put the book down a good number of times because my own mind began to drift and I had to re-read some sections.

If you like this style of book, poetic with plenty of questions left in its wake, moody characters who talk about love and loss a lot, and narrative styles that don’t go a straight line, then this may be for you. Sadly, this could not hook me long enough to want to re-read it again.

Rating: 3.5/5

 

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The Little Giant of Aberdeen by: Tiffany Baker

[credit: Goodreads.com]

       [credit: Goodreads.com]

Quick Summary: Truly is a big fish in a small pond, a woman of enormous proportions in her tiny hometown of Aberdeen. Since birth she has been of unusual size, a polar opposite of her petite pretty perfect older sister. A curiosity and mostly ignored person, Truly spends her time with what very few friends she has and managing her dismal life with her unwanted housemate, a doctor who pricks and prods at Truly’s body and self esteem for his own amusement . Her few solaces of his torment go to her eight year old nephew and a strange quilt made by a gifted medicine woman years ago, its twisted herbs and patterns fascinating it lies over her large body. Truly tries to figure out the reason for her abnormal size as well as the mysteries of the family quilt left just as forgotten by the town as she is.

I’m still not sure about how I feel about this novel. It was an easy read, with a lot of interesting quirk to it. Overall I actually a really like it. It was strange, and I couldn’t quite figure out where it was going with it’s sub-story. It had a main story of course, but there was about a sub and a half story as well beneath all that. Quirky is really the best I can use to describe this book. Truly was a sad character, picked on and ostracized her entire life main because of her appearance, though her financial state was also a bit of a play as well.

Alas the character development is not as in depth as I would have hoped for, but there is enough there to get a sense of who these people are and what they want, or don’t want, at least. Perhaps it was just because of the location (and maybe time period) and the novel, but certain aspects of the story are glazed over more than I anticipated. Events and emotional moments don’t go into depth or have as much as an impact as I a reader would have liked. I as a read felt like they should have gone further, but per the story maybe they really didn’t have to. It is true it wouldn’t have made a deep impact on the story itself, but I feel that it could have added more to the characters. Alas I cannot say too much what these events are without giving away larger chunks of the story.

There is a lot to this book about accepting ones self, how society view each other on appearance and beauty, and the prescription medication vs the natural medication. Due to the fact that I’m still not sure if how I feel about this book, the review won’t be as long as I would like. Perhaps I am just a little rusty as well. I do love how Truly tries to stay true to herself, how a few see her for more than just her massive size, how her perfect beautiful sister had deep trouble of her own as well. It’s quite the mix of society, personal acceptance, and a bit of mysticism as well. I wouldn’t call it a quick or simple read, but it wades you in gently so that you don’t even realize that you’re halfway through the book and set it down for a moment in realization that a couple hours have gone by. It’s a sneaker novel, not totally enveloping you, but holding you long enough to see where this is exactly going to keep your fingers turning pages.

Rating: 4/5

Blog Update & Explanation~

Hello fellow Bloggers, Readers, and everyone else. I know it’s been quite a while since I have last posted anything of real substance. I feel bad about that since I really do enjoy this blog and doing what I do. However, things go crazy really, really fast. I have been without a job for sometime now because I had left a previous one that had been slowly sucking out my soul and any sort of humanity left within me. Recently, I have acquired a new job (finally) and though it is not my ideal job I am happy to be bringing in the green. This new job however requires a lot of physical demands with lifting, pushing, and what not of 55 lbs or more. Thus, my general routine has been: Wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, pass out, rinse & repeat. On my days off I sleep and clean my house. However: I am FINALLY getting used to the physical demands of my job! I’m not so exhausted and sore everyday now, it just took some time to get used to. This means that I finally am getting the mental energy back to do some blog posts. I have a whole list of things I have wanted to post about, I just would rather get sleep than post so that I don’t accidentally hurt someone at work, harhar.

Anyways, I know a few of my more recent posts have been apologetic and full of excuses, but I assure you I haven’t vanished or forgotten this wonderful blog of mine! Like a lot of times, real life outside of my gaming, watching, and reading time takes over and this has to be put on hold.

To those who I owe book reviews too, I assure you those will get posted either on here and/or my Goodreads.com account!

For some last words, again apologies, I hope you haven’t given up on me or forgotten this Jabberwocky Lady. Like the Phoenix I shall return from the fiery ashes of my laborious job and being posting anew! Though my posting schedule will be different since my time is now much more limited. More on that to come! As well as film, game, and book reviews!

Till then (which shall be soon), please keep your patience with this little blogger~

Don’t Breathe a Word by: Jennifer McMahon

[credit: Goodreads]

[credit: Goodreads]

Firstly, I apologize for missing my scheduled post yesterday, I was attacked by the migraine monster. Were I to look at the screen and try and type my head would have exploded and with my eyes shooting out of my head in pain. So, onto the slightly late post!

Quick Summary: Twelve year old imaginative Lisa went missing in the woods that lie beyond her home. The last thing she said to anyone before vanishing was her younger brother Sam whom she told that there was a magickal door that lead to the land of Faeries in those woods. There she would meet the Faerie King. 

Fifteen years have passed since little Lisa disappeared, Phoebe is traveling with her sensible, reliable boyfriend Sam, run into strange and frightening events that make Sam and Phoebe question the world around them and the events related to Lisa going missing that day.

This novel was highly recommended by reading lists and people alike. A mix of mystery, faery lore, and the age old ‘is the fantasy all real or is something else going on?’ bit which I am drawn to. So I went in with high expectations. Sadly this is another book that I really liked until maybe halfway or a little after when the things that made it fun and interesting became annoying and confusing. Not to mention the ending, but we will get to that later. Forewarning, I try to write without spoilers, but there is one particular section that irked enough that I am going to write about it specifically. Don’t worry though, I’ll make sure to make it clear so not to ruin it for those who wish to read the book. 

So the book bounces back from present day with Sam and Phoebe to back when Lisa was alive and twelve. Through these time bounces we learn about her, her family, the history of the woods, and much more. In the present POV we learn more about Phoebe’s past and family as well as her take on what is going on. I’m going to write a bit about the main players here in the story, since there are a lot of secondary characters I shall leave them for you to read about in the book.

Lisa is an imaginative, adventurous, fun loving girl who lives in a small town with her family. Her father has been in the hospital and had medical problems, which makes it difficult for Lisa to cope with since they were so close before his incident. She uses her imagination to entertain her close cousin, to come up with games for her brother and friends, and to keep herself from feeling too many sad emotions through what she is going through with her family. Like many young people she wishes with her whole heart to go somewhere else magickal and wonderful. In this case Faerie Land. I found Lisa to be the best written character, showing ranges of emotions and actions fitting for a twelve year old and many times making me feel sympathetic towards her. 

Sam in the past comes off as precocious who doesn’t wholly believe in magick or fantasy but feels safer in the world of facts. He still gets pulled into his older sisters stories and goes with her many times on her little quests to meet the Fairy King, telling her all the way it isn’t real. You get the feeling he believes this, except way deep down there is a part of him that wonders if it could be true. Future Sam is still much in the same way, hard facts, reliability, etc. Though due to survivors guilt he isn’t as open and jovial as young Sam was. I liked young Sam better because his personality and actions seemed to fit well. Future Sam sometimes comes off as a sudden huge jerk or changes his personality during certain situations which I found a little distracting.

Evie is the cousin of Sam and Lisa, about the same age as Lisa she is opposite in many ways. She loves to hear the stories Lisa tells and often seems to admire her cousin if not almost idolize her in some ways. Evie has a troubled childhood with an unknown father and an alcoholic mother, her personality is brash and aggressive at times because she is often made fun of by the local kids. It seems she only hangs out with her cousins and no one else in town (with the exception of her Aunt and Uncle too). She wants to believe in Faeries too, but worries for Lisa if she actually leaves for the Faery Realm. Fiercely protective, she insists on accompanying Lisa on her ventures into the woods. Adult Evie is the probably the most interesting adult version of the kids. She as agoraphobia, still feels guilt about Lisa’s vanishing, and genuinely shows her emotions when dealing with Phoebe and Sam. As a child and adult she choosing extreme options or opposites in certain situations.

Phoebe is someone we see primarily as an adult, with a few exceptions of her early twenties  and some flashback thoughts of her childhood. She also came from a troubled family with a mother who saw things that weren’t there and said strange tales about shadow people. Phoebe herself suffered from a delusional anxiety about trapdoors under her bed and shadows crawling out from them. Yet even as an adult she can’t quite shake that maybe they weren’t delusions after all. Her personality is different from Sams, she is more impulsive, her reasoning can be swayed by belief, and she tends to question things more. She is older then Sam but often her emotions, thoughts, and actions are similar to a teenager who sulks and pouts, or childlike in her fears and doubts. It comes off as that her fears growing up about the shadow figure never left her and somehow stunted her emotional maturity growth. She is my least favorite character because her childlike thinking distracts from the story and her positive personality aspects. It may help her believe in Faery stories more or sympathize with Evie, but it also makes her appear a bit dumb or unreliable at points.

Whew! Okay, now that that is out of the way, going a little deeper. Throughout the story the reader is tossed back and forth not only in time but also in belief. Is the Fairy King real or just in the imaginations of kids? Is there a magickal dark force or is it maybe just a sinister person? This kind of thing keeps the reader guessing, causing them to think about the possibilities just as the characters in the books are. I really like this sort of thing, that fine line between reality and fantasy, and never leaning too much into one side or the other. It helps keep an air of mystery and suspense as the story goes on and events unfold. 

Through the first 3/4’s of the book it is a nice pace with surprises, strange characters, and events that are hard to pin down as fact or fiction. Sam and Phoebe’s relationship is tested as the two open up more about each others past, their reactions to situation, etc, which makes sense when a couple is put in a highly stressful situation. There is someone pulling strings behind the curtains, but is it man or myth-one that can be dealt with while the other seems overly powerful.

It was enjoyable learning about the little town Reliance which used to live in the possibly haunted woods, about the lore of the Faery King, about the sweet innocence of a child’s imagination. There are very much so darker tones in this story, some things enjoyable so while others may make you feel uncomfortable. I have mixed feelings about some of these stronger tones, but I won’t give anything away here. I do feel that as a reader there should have been a little more warning because they were pretty shocking, but perhaps I am being too sensitive, I just felt like a little warning to those who wish to read it, because I did not see it coming. 

So we go through ups and downs, trying to see if it is magick or not, learning dark secrets and complicated relationships, and then the last quarter of the book comes in. The pace shifts into a faster one, which makes sense because you really hit the final climaxes here in the book. Here some answers are finally given, though where one is received about three more questions pop up. One theme in this book is twists in the plot, which I am all for when used correctly, yet in the end here there are so many twists I’m surprised a tornado didn’t jump out of the pages. It came off as the author trying to be too clever or too mysterious, though in the end it made things a bit of a confusing and frustrating mess. Giving multiple options for what really happened in the story is fine, yet there are so many ‘but wait there’s more!’ that it gets overwhelming and completely derails from the rest of the story. There doesn’t need to be a definitive answer, too many possible answers with too many still lingering questions made me feel like the ending was stolen from me and not really given at all. That’s just me though, some people really like vastly open ended books like this. 

So, this is where I give a bit of a SPOILER to show some of the finer points I had an issue with. If you like to skip this part, just look for the ‘end spoiler’ bolded text below.

Alright down to brass tax of this spoiler section. So we find out Telio is really Sam and Lisa’s family member of incestuous beginnings. He has kidnapped not only Lisa, but at least two other girls (if not more) to impregnate them in what I think is for a son. They kept having girls and it is eluded that some of their bodies are buried in the yard. The hidden room was found, etc, etc. Though some of the characters are still pushing that their disturbed relative was conceived by the real Fairy King, who is the real Teilo. I’m guessing this is to keep the theme of man vs myth going till the end. What irks me is that there is a large amount of evidence that none of this is myth or at least the kidnappings, hidden room, etc. So how in the world did all of that change, go missing, etc in the short amount of time Sam and Phoebe got the police? Are we to believe it was the magick of the real Telio? Not a whole lot was eluded to that at all. In reality (I know it is just a story but bear with me) I wouldn’t have left the house at all. I would have made everyone sit in the living room and called the police, fear be damned. Yet if this were to happen then the author would have been forced to pick a side. Either the police would have found it all or it all would have vanished. Secondly, Phoebe is still grappling with her shadow man issue, with one of the oldies but goodies of ‘is it real only if you believe it is real’ much like the movie The Skeleton Key. So Sam and Phoebe have to go into hiding because of his family and the maybe real Telio. Again, if all this happened, and they were so concerned, why did Sam leave the delivery room? Is it to make us wonder if he is in on the possible baby swap? That would be pretty out of character after everything that’s happened. Also, is it all in Phoebe’s head with her paranoia of her own shadow man whom she still can’t decide if they are real or not? The fake nurse-seriously it is hard to get in the pediatric ward as a fake nurse, they make it so you can’t steal babies (again magick or in her head I guess)? So many questions, and none of it feels like it flows right. Why the strange ending with yet more plot twists? It seemed like overkill and overloaded with the already twist filled last quarter of the book. It just left me feeling frustrated and as if I wasted all that curiosity building during the rest of the book. 

Also, as a side note, the sudden reveal of the multiple child raping that went on was really shocking and I felt so unneeded. Was it really crucial to the story that this happened, it could not have gone another way? It if was needed for the book, then I feel like some sort of more obvious hinting should have been given. This type of stuff doesn’t typically bother me in fiction, but it was not at all what I would have expected to be in this book. It makes me wonder if it was just for the shock factor? For me, it left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth because it was so vastly different then the rest of the tone, mood, theme of the book. 

End Spoiler.

I will say this though in a finishing statement. As much issue as I had with the last bit of the book, I couldn’t put it down. I really enjoyed reading it, it kept pulling me along, all the way through the muddled end. I can’t even exactly explain why, but there was something there that did keep me interested enough to keep on reading. There are some really good parts that were creepy or made me uncomfortable, that made me think. It took turns that really shocked me because I totally did not pick up on the fact that they would be there. Pick it up and give it a go, just don’t expect too much from the ending from the opinion of this reviewer. So it wasn’t all bad, it just wasn’t all good either. A lot of people either seem to totally love it 5 star rating, or they fall where I landed with a lower score. Love it or ‘eh it was okay’ seem to be the two sides. 

Rating: 2.5-3/5

The Ocean at the End of the Lane By: Neil Gaiman

[credit: Amazon.com]

[credit: Amazon.com]

First off, love that cover. Just screams awesome fantasy no? Moving along, I’ve heard about this novel for AGES, and finally decided to pick it up. It was smaller then I was expecting, but that doesn’t mean it was lacking in content. I really enjoyed this quick read. It was face paced, curious, and made the reader think-which is always good.

Quick Summary: Returning to his hometown for a funeral, our protagonist (whose name is never mentioned, only a childhood nickname is in reference to him), finds himself travelling down a road to an old farmhouse. This is where he met a most unusual girl named Lettie who lived with her mother and grandmother. Lettie was not like other girls sounding and acting much more grown up then her eleven years, and our solitary protagonist is drawn into a strange friendship. Upon walking to the pond, forgotten memories bubble up and his time with Lettie is once again remember-the good and the bad.

In the beginning of the story we are introduced the the main protagonist as an adult, where he goes to visit his childhood friend’s home after attending a funeral, avoiding the reception for a moment. The rest of the book is pretty much of the memories he had of his childhood during the time he met the strange older girl who said her pond was an ocean. I didn’t even notice till halfway through the book that the protagonists name had yet to be mentioned. I think it is a cool concept, since it is from his memory he recalls it without his own name-how often do we refer to our name when thinking of ourselves? Through this story you wonder if he is a little boy with an overactive imagination, as well as Lettie, or if the strange things that occur really is fantasy come to life.

Many times the choices and thoughts of the boy truly come off as something a seven year old would think. For example: Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences. (The Ocean at the End of the Lane)

If you stop and think about it, how often is this true. Adults stick to the easy and direct path while walking through a wood or field. Such things don’t always occur to children who find the short route, the shortcuts not caring if it is between dirty bushes or long grass. I love phrases like this that are all through the book. Lettie has some good ones too, though hers are adult and mysterious wisdom, of things strange and larger then the protagonist normally thinks about. Sometimes it made me nostalgic after a certain passage remembering my own childhood and missing parts of it.

The most developed characters are the protag., Lettie, her family, and Ursula who you meet later and I won’t spoil. His parents and sisters have some personality and character, but they are not the focus of the story, more like extras or background characters that add to the story but don’t fully make it.  You learn of the protags hopes, dreams, fears, and how he grew after his friendship with Lettie.

The ending was well wrapped up too, not leaving too many loose ends but definitely a few questions. It flows back into the present of his adulthood and how he feels about the memories he had forgotten for so long. It leaves you with a bit of magick and mystery, feeling sad and hopeful for the protag. Overall a good book for a nice quick read, at times feeling more YA then adult fiction, but I’m not so picky to complain about that.

5/5 rating.

Karneval (An Anime & Manga Review)

[credit: Crunchyroll.com]

[credit: Crunchyroll.com]

I adore, love, squee about this anime and manga. I first discovered is as a manga and was pretty caught up with the series as of five months ago. Then I discovered that they had turned it into an anime. Of course, it is slightly different then the manga just like any book to film adaptation, but I feel they still keep the mood and the important parts of it. So, onto a summary and then my adoration of it all.

Quick Summary: Nai is a sensitive young boy who is looking for the owner of the special bracelet, it belongs to someone very important to him. During his search he is kidnapped and almost killed when suddenly saved by Gareki-a teenager with a knack for explosives. There for unrelated reasons he ends up saving Nai and getting caught up into something much bigger then himself-Circus. Who just happen to be the most powerful government organization in the world.  Now the pair become twisted up in a search for strange altered humans, the owner of Nai’s bracelet, and the secrets Nai holds himself-though he is unaware at just how special he is.

I love Karneval for many reasons. Each character has a unique and fully developed personality. Nai is horribly naive and trusting, his attachment to Gareki like he is an older brother is just so heart warming. Yogi is by far my favorite character. *minor spoiler alert* When you join Circus you generally do so at a young age, where you pretty much never get to see your family again. You belong to Circus and they become your new family. Yogi has obvious separation issues from his family so tries to act like the big brother to everyone on his crew. He is overly protective of everyone, tries to make everybody happy, and always has a smile on his face. I feel a lot of sympathy for him. *End minor spoiler* 

The mysteries of Nai, Circus, and his important person are revealed slowly and just when you think you have it something changes the game. The characters change over time as well, which makes for a good series. When characters develop and change because of events, it makes them more interesting and more able to relate to. Even some of the bad guys you feel a little bit of sympathy or just anger because they’re such jerks, haha! Also, one reason that Circus-the super villain catching government group, has their name is because after they catch and often cause a ruckus in a town they apologize-by throwing a huge circus. The crew performs in various ways and it makes the populace happy and more at ease with what Circus does.

Now admittedly there are a few scenes that are probably done as a bit of female fan service, but I don’t think it is too overplayed (at least not in the sense of pantie-shot fan service). There is a lot of slash out there between some of the characters, but in the show there is actually very little romance. Some of the romance is between one female protagonist and her mentor, you can easily see she has some feelings for him but you can’t quite tell if it is requited or not. I appreciate this, that romance is a part of the show and not the whole show.

Overall the manga is better then the anime, for the reason that there are so many more subplots that are played out and information is delivered either earlier or at a better time. Now when reading/watching Karneval it can be a bit disjointed or confusing because a lot is happening at once or sometimes they are trying to be too elusive. Yet this doesn’t detract from it too much (or maybe I’m just biased because I’m in love with it.) If I had to choose, read the manga first then watch the show. Sadly I haven’t hear anything about a second season yet of Karneval, but no worries, the manga goes way beyond the first season. It’s colorful, good music, and adorable chibis at times.

5/5 for me!