Beren and Luthien by J.R.R. Tolkien (Review)

32708664 Beren and Luthien
By: J.R.R. Tolkien (Edited by Christopher Tolkien)
Release Date: June 1, 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins
Series: Middle Earth Universe
Rating:


Every time I see that a new Tolkien book is being published I get unbelievably excited. I can’t help it. Tolkien’s works were one of the first adult fantasy series I’d ever read, and has remained a life-long love. Beren and Luthien by J.R.R. Tolkien and edited by Christopher Tolkien is the last in a long line of posthumously published works focusing on Middle Earth. This one tells the story of Beren and Luthien, one of the tales found within the Silmarillion.

Review: Afar by Leila del Duca

30796084 Afar
By: Leila del Duca
Release Date: March 29, 2017
Publisher: Image Comics
Received From: Publisher
(All reviews are our own, honest opinions.)
Rating:


I’ve been on a quest this year to read more graphic novels. I was initially attracted to Afar by Leila del Duca by the cover art, then equally intrigued by the synopsis. When I had the opportunity to receive a copy from the publisher, I jumped on it.

And then it took me months to get through.

But first, a quick synopsis.

Afar is about two siblings Boetema and her younger brother Inotu. Their parents have recently left the city looking for work, leaving the two siblings at home with some cash to see them through until they can send more. But Boetema has bigger problems. Every night when she goes to sleep she finds herself trapped in someone else’s body. Inotu, who has a knack for getting into trouble, overhears more than he should and finds himself with enemies he really doesn’t want. The two siblings are forced to work together to solve their problems.

Anyway, on to the rest.

The art was, from what I could tell, quite nice. I can’t necessarily speak to it to a great degree, or at least don’t feel comfortable doing so, and for one important reason. I downloaded this to my kindle, a colorless version, for some unknown reason. Probably because I’m just that used to reading black and white manga. Therefore, I was missing elements of this art wise.

Oops.

I have conflicting feelings on this graphic novel. On the one hand, the concept is interesting, the characters are interesting, and I quite like the fantasy setting. On the other hand, I’m not sure the concept really paid off, the world wasn’t as fleshed out as it could have been, and the ending was abrupt and unsatisfactory.

The story is set in a nonwestern society. The world itself seems to be set somewhere between a fantasy far past and a science fictional futuristic world, but one where most of the tech was lost or forgotten for some reason. This hints at an interesting past, a world that has a lot of potential. However, this was never really explored in depth. There simply wasn’t any time to, but it is something I would love to see in future installments.

On that note, I’m not positive there are going to be any future installments. I haven’t heard anything about a volume two despite the story being set up rather well for another volume. This graphic novel ends with Inotu writing in his diary and saying that he’ll start again tomorrow in a new notebook since that one is full. I thought this was a very cute and clever way to end volume one and go on to volume two. The only problem is that it looks like there is no volume two, or else there won’t be for quite some time.

If this is a standalone graphic novel there are some issues that can’t be ignored. The plot about Boetema’s parents going off to find work is left hanging. The children have moved on out of necessity, their parents are far away trying to eek out a living and set up a better life for them. Nothing here is resolved. The plotline about the man who, at the start of the novel, threatens Inotu is left off equally unsatisfactory.

I felt much the same way about Boetema’s abilities. The concept is still interesting. When she sleeps, Beotema finds herself in someone else’s body, living their life. The first few times this occurred, I quite liked it. The sections were shorter, featuring all manner of interesting peoples, creatures, and places. However, I began to enjoy these sections less as the story went on. I wasn’t very invested in the ongoing plotline involving the one young woman whose consciousness Boetema continually inhabits. I’m not sure why, but every time one of those sections occurred I found myself wishing that we’d just go back to the plot. Maybe it was because the two parts felt so disconnected. No matter what happened, I just felt that the occurrences in her dreams had no real effect on the majority of the plot line.

What I did like was the way in which the two siblings were portrayed. Their relationship was both wonderful and believable. Despite loving one another, both keep their secrets. These secrets have clear effects on one another. Unlike some other stories I’m not going to mention, they both actually talk about these and clear the air between them. I really liked this. I liked how they relied on one another and clearly cared for each other.

Despite having an interesting concept and some elements I greatly enjoyed, I had to give Afar only three stars. Too many plot lines were left unfinished. Too many questions were never answered. This is quite a shame, because I still think that the potential is there. If a sequel or second volume comes along at some point my opinion and rating may change. But, as this seems to be only a single volume graphic novel, I simply can’t overlook or forgive these issues. If you like stories set in non-European societies or realistic examples of sibling relationships then you should pick up a copy of this graphic novel. If you don’t like plot lines that are left lose this may not be the book for you.

Bookworm Problems: No Time To Read

Second to reading slumps and something I am struggling with greatly currently is one of my biggest frustrations as a bookworm; having no time to read!

Working full time (along with spending roughly two and a half hours commuting) severely limits my time to read during the work week. I come home and am exhausted from both the commute and the work day which leads me following the same pattern every night: eat dinner, shower, lay out clothes for tomorrow and fall asleep. Sure, some nights I manage to watch a little television or get a little reading in but most of the time I’m worn out from the second I walk in the door and the only solution is to sleep.

While my commute is on public transportation (aka I’m not driving the whole way) it’s not always so easy to pull out a book and read comfortably. Cramped seats, people with huge bags in your face and then there are the inevitable days where it is pouring rain and I refuse to risk bringing a precious book anywhere near water.

SO, what is a bookworm to do? Find ways around the struggle of course.

Using both my Kindle and Nook apps on my phone I manage to get some reading in, more comfortably, on my commute and without risking damage to my books. I give myself at least fifteen minutes of reading time at night (with an alarm) so that I don’t stay up all night reading. And, yes, there are days that I do carry a book along with me on my commute.

Weekends are often spent with my books, forgoing social plans (sorry to all my friends) so that I can actually enjoy some me time, some down time and more importantly some reading time. Mental health days/ sick days/ vacation days are often spent with a book in my hands. At the end of the day, or the start of my first day back to work,  I relive my time spent with characters and other lands and it is the only thing that gets me through my day.

How do all of you fit in your reading time? Let us know in the comments below!

Tome Topple and Our Reading Goals

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Happy first day of Tome Topple, everyone. For the next two weeks we will be reading books that are long. Very long. The books that have sat on our shelves and to be read piles for weeks or months or an embarrassingly longer amount of time than that.

For those who may not know, Tome Topple is a readathon originally created by @thoughtsontomes. The goal of this particular readathon is to read books that are 500 pages or longer. It begins today, August 4th, and ends August 17th.

There are several challenges for anyone who likes some stretch goals. Because who doesn’t like some extra challenge in their readathons?

Here are the challenges:

1. Read more than one book.
2. Read a graphic novel.
3. Read a book in a series.
4. Buddy read a book.
5. Read an adult novel.

I can’t help but feel that 500+ pages books are particularly rampant in sci-fi and fantasy. I mean, two of the books in my Tome Topple TBR are over seven hundred pages long. Or maybe I’m just naturally drawn to unnaturally long books.

And here is my Tome Topple TBR list:

The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan (592 pages)
The Forgetting Moon by Brian Lee Durfee (777 pages)
Trigun Omnibus by Yasuhiro Nightow (696 pages)
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (532 pages)
The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland (752 pages)

I’m not sure how many of these books I’ll actually finish. This is a grand total of 3,349 pages, after all. Even for me that’s pretty excessive. As for the challenges, I do have a graphic novel on my list as well as a couple of book in a series.

But, the attempt will be made! At the very least I expect to finish Strange the Dreamer as that’s a library book and needs to be returned, ironically enough, on August 17th.

Are you participating in Tome Topple? What books will you be reading? Let us know in the comments below!

Throwback Thursday: The Ghost of Sairaag by Hajime Kanzaka

20495340 The Ghost of Sairaag
By: Hajime Kanzaka
Release Date: (Original Japanese 1991); (English Translation) March 8, 2005
Publisher: TokyoPop
Series: Slayers #3
Rating:


I really wish these books were still being translated. The series is a lot of fun, and the books don’t disappoint. This is actually the second time I’ve read The Ghost of Sairaag by Hajime Kanzaka in only a few months. I’d originally started it less than a week before moving, so of course the book got packed away in a box I couldn’t find upon move in, the last chapter still unread. At this point I figured I may as well read the whole thing over again, something I’m never against when it’s one of my favorite series.