Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Shaun-Tan
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-03-05 03:03
Suspend your disbelief for this wild novel about a girl with healing powers who kickstarts the apocalypse; also takes on topics like suicide and bullying
The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza - Shaun David Hutchinson

I wanted to read this crazy book from the moment I read the synopsis, and a kind soul surprised me with a pre-order of it.
It’s the sort of book that you’ll either be stoked, like me, when you get your hands on it, or one that you will steer clear of because it’s way too outlandish. And that’s because if you fully intend to immerse yourself in a book where a young girl called Elena Mendoza exists because she is the product of a virgin birth (parthenogenesis), it means suspending your disbelief (a lot), but not reading if you are prone to seeing that very premise alone as blasphemous.

The concept of the book becomes even more interesting after Elena realizes she has the gift of healing people, but she discovers this only after her crush, Freddie, is shot outside the Starbucks she works at. Big problem with this though: innocent people are ‘raptured’ every time Elena heals someone, and the number grows the longer she does it, and she has inanimate objects telling her she must do these healings. Not to mention that this all kicked off the apocalypse.
There’s so much else in here other than this wild story though, that will have the reader thinking all the way through. Having the main character as a bisexual girl of Cuban descent (kudos to Hutchinson) struggling with the ‘voices’, dealing with bullies, and her feelings toward her crush (who honestly isn’t very nice to her), there are a whole host of teenage issues even without the impending apocalypse and feeling like an outcast because she’s a product of a virgin birth. There are also lots of other things brought up such as grief, suicide, gun use, and ultimately the fate of the world becomes the final big conversation.

It’s hard not to read this and not have yourself thinking about how Elena is ‘playing God’ and also about how the world might end. So you can read this and think about how silly it is that Elena is hearing a voice coming from the siren on the Starbucks cup, but you can also appreciate that there are some big questions and topics that Hutchinson is tackling within this wonderful, thought-provoking novel. Sometimes you have to tackle the big subjects within these parameters because otherwise they’re even more overwhelming!
My only major issues with the book were with some passages that seemed to drag that made pacing odd, and a little bit of preachiness at the end. Overall though, this is a wonderfully-written, decidedly different and fun YA novel. A unique read!

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-03-01 17:03
The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza
The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza - Shaun David Hutchinson
This was an interesting novel, one that I couldn’t put down once I started it. I needed to know what happened in the end and what was that path that the characters walked on to get there? As the main character was fixated on one central aspect of the equation, I was looking for all the other key components to see how everything else fit together.
Elena has always known that she was a bit special. It began with her virgin birth and continued on when the sirens began talking to her when she was little. One day while working at Starbucks a girl is shot. Luckily Elena is on break and witnesses the shooting. A siren, the mermaid Starbuck logo, summons for Elena to heal the girl. Confused, Elena doesn’t know anything about healing and confronts the siren. The siren explains to Elena how to touch the girl. Apprehensively, Elena lays her hands on the dying girl and Elena feels something within her as the dying girl slowly begins to awaken. Elena speaks to the victim and she explains how the shooter has vanished. Elena has now created a new name for herself, one she cannot explain and one that she is not sure she wants. Each life that she saves, must come with a price and these prices are ones that she has no control over.
This novel fascinated me yet it also made me think about life and the options that we have. Elena had individuals approaching her constantly asking her to heal a sick loved one and Elena had to consider the price for that one life. It becomes overwhelming at times for her while the sirens are yelling at her to do her part for humanity. I thought the conversation that Freddie and Elena have over an individual’s existence speaks volumes. I felt sorry for Freddie but I am glad that Elena became a part of her life. Not a novel that everyone will enjoy but one that put a spark in me.


Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-02-27 22:44
Entertaining, funny, full of memorable quotes, and an irresistible insider’s view of the Hollywood of the studio era.
Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud - Shaun Considine

The original version of this book was published in 1989, but a newly revised version was published in 2017. It contains a couple of new chapters (including a fascinating one about the new cover picture and its story), and a number of pictures from a photo shoot that took place during the filming of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? I had never read the original but I am familiar with both actresses and have watched some of their movies (although I didn’t know either of their stories in detail).

This is a fascinating book. It contains information about the lives and the careers of both actresses (including detailed references to the original sources, when the quotes or events narrated where not directly conveyed to the writer but came from other books or interviews), and it uses as sources conversations with the actresses, with co-workers, family members, employees, and also their own autobiographies, and those written about them by others. These two women, from very different origins and whose childhoods were miles apart but who somehow ended up working in the same industry, reached the pinnacle of their careers and became rivals, in the business and in their personal lives. Although I would not say that the book solves the mystery (the two women would at times deny that there was any rivalry between them, and even when they admitted it existed, they never gave a rational explanation for it), it does offer an interesting picture of both of these women, working in a very competitive industry, trying to ensure they got their due and maintained their status. If Joan Crawford was more focused on being a film star (and cultivated that image with her dresses, jewellery, glamour, and self-promotion), Bette Davis always claimed to being the more talented and professional actress of the two (even if the book shares moments when Davis acknowledged her admiration for her rival’s acting skills, although never to her face). Joan Crawford was a consummate self-promoter and public relations (it’s impossible not to think how well she would have fared in today’s Social Media-dominated environment), and created her own persona (perhaps because she did not have a strong sense of identity due to her unhappy childhood), while Davis seemed more sure of herself, and did not always take herself so seriously (although she could be vicious and was not a good sport when she felt threatened). They both managed to do well in an industry dominated by men, and that must have taken a very special kind of person (and personality).

Apart from the captivating lives of the actresses (and there is a bit of everything: promiscuity, terrible family relationships [the daughters of both actresses wrote less-than-complimentary books about their mothers], suspicious deaths, scandals, heavy alcohol use, loneliness, desperation, lost opportunities, adultery, abandonment, bitching…), the book creates an absorbing picture of Hollywood and how the industry changed over the years. The two actresses, who were there from almost the very beginning, reached the height of their careers when the big studios ruled over American cinema, and the book illustrates this well, as both actresses were on long-term contracts with one of the big studios of the era (Crawford with M.G.M and Davis with Warner Bros). We learn, first-hand, what the system was like, both for beginners and for established stars, and experience the changes that came with the end of the studios monopoly, that caught them at a difficult age (good parts for actresses of a certain age have always been scarce), and what those changes meant for them and for the industry at large.

There are plenty of anecdotes, and we read a lot about other people in the industry, about the movies they acted on, and their interaction with others. The book is easy to read, alternates chapters about the two stars, it is full of quotes and lets the stars (and those around them) speak for themselves, with little interference from the author. Although Considine talks about the process of creating the book and he clarifies facts when he thinks he has to (always using his research), the book is not heavy on analysis, it is very amusing and entertaining, and despite the odd repetition of some material (mostly, I imagine, in the additional chapters) if flows well and it feels shorter than it is.

The book might not contain lots of brand-new information for dedicated fans of both stars (although, as mentioned, the author does include his own research and his conversations with the actresses), but it is a treasure trove for those of us who have watched some of their movies but don’t know a lot about them. It is also a very entertaining way of getting an insider’s view of the Hollywood of their time, far easier and lighter than reading historical or business accounts. Furthermore, it is impossible to read this book and not think about recent events and issues of gender-politics that are much more openly discussed these days.

The book is full of memorable quotes and I laughed out loud many times. Although Davis is the sharpest wit, Crawford can hold her own…

‘Sex was God’s joke on human beings,’ said Bette Davis in her memoirs, which led Joan Crawford to suggest, ‘I think the joke’s on her.’

‘Joan always cries a lot,’ said Davis. ‘Her tear ducts must be very close to her bladder.’

‘Guilty? Bette Davis? Don’t be foolish,’ said George Cukor. ‘She is a star, and all stars learn how to cultivate one very important asset early in their career: a very short memory. They remember only what they want to remember.’

I recommend this book to Hollywood aficionados, to fans of both stars, and in general, to people interested in stardom, the movies, and the old Hollywood. Full of juicy gossip, great quotes, newly recovered photographs, and movie anecdotes, there isn’t a dull moment in this book.

(I know there is a recent TV series called Feuds, and the first season is based on this book, with Susan Sarandon playing Bette Davis and Jessica Lange playing Joan Crawford. I have not watched it but I’m very curious about it).

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-02-01 05:11
January is over already! Reading summary.
The Diary of a Bookseller - Shaun Bythell
The Pursuit of Love - Nancy Mitford
The Peach Keeper - Sarah Addison Allen
The Mayor's Wife - Anna Katharine Green
A Short History of Drunkenness - Mark Forsyth
Pomfret Towers - Angela Thirkell
The One-Cent Magenta - James Barron
The Bee Friendly Garden: Easy Ways to Help the Bees and Make Your Garden Grow - Doug Purdie
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - E.L. Konigsburg

I don't want to go back to work!


I read 33 books in January.  It's always by far my biggest reading month.  I work in schools, which means I get the summer holidays off.  December is crazy with holidays and MT being off work, but January I'm on my own all day and can read and read and read.


Of the 33 books, only 1 wasn't on my TBR pile when the month started.  I had 2 five-star reads, and 7 four-and-a-half star reads, so on average an excellent month.  My least favourite was a 2 star read; a collection of essays about libraries that I found repetitive.


Since the woman-author reading challenge is taking place this year, here are my "gender" stats:

Women authors:  15

Male authors: 17

Mixed: 1


A whopping 23 were non-fiction, compared to 10 fiction.


As for my TBR Challenge of only allowing myself to buy half as many books as I've read, I actually did o.k.  I did have a small cheat, because on New Year's Day, my neighbour came over and offered me 6 boxes of books she was getting rid of.  Karma was rigging the system for failure!!  After going through the boxes I chose 6, but didn't count them against my book budget; I categorised them as 'gifts' and I'd said from the start gifts didn't count.



January's book buying budget: 12 books.

Bought:  9

Balance: 3 

Total TBR: 322


For February, my book budget is 16 books (January's 33 rounded down and divided by 2).


Go me!  ;)

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-01-23 06:45
The Diary of a Bookseller
The Diary of a Bookseller - Shaun Bythell

I saw this in my local just before Christmas and snatched it up, as my not-so-secret fantasy is to own a bookshop (me, not the bank, which is why it remains a fantasy), and I never get tired of reading first hand accounts from the front. But this one was even better than I was hoping for; it was informative, succinct (it's truly a diary, so entries are rarely more than a page) and best of all, it's hilarious.


Each day begins with a tally of books sold online, and how many of those books he is able to actually locate in his stock (100,000 books; I can't even find a book I'm looking for in my paltry 1200 or so).  From there it's a short narrative about what happened that day.  Usually something his employee Nicky does, doesn't do, or says, or an anecdote about one or more customers doing something inane, rude, or more often, both.  (This is not the book to read if you're looking for affirmation on humanity.)  


Less often, but my favorites, were his field trips abroad to buy books.  And strewn throughout is the very real, and very serious, consequences Amazon has on booksellers.  It's one thing to know that Amazon is taking away independent booksellers' business by out pricing them on everything, but it's another thing altogether to understand how much control they have over small booksellers across the globe.  Even if you don't buy your book from Amazon, Amazon likely controls or influences how you purchase it.  


Each entry ends with the daily earnings; a number so fluid as to range anywhere from 5 Pounds to 1,000, and - spoiler alert - the days where he took in more than 700 Pounds was less than 3.


If bookshops and the eccentric people who visit them aren't your cup of tea, this book probably isn't going to delight you the way it did me, but if you secretly wish you could own, work, or live in a bookshop and have an appreciation for the irreverent humor of a man worn down by humanity at its most dubious, then definitely check out this book.  As I said at the start, it's informative (in spite of the hard facts, I still want to own a bookshop), it's easy to read (although once I started I was disinclined to stop) and it's laugh out loud hilarious.  I almost snorted.  And I'm following the author on Facebook; I never follow authors (well, ok, Amy Stewart, but honestly, as much as I love her books, I follow her for her art - she's disgustingly talented).


In fact, check him out on facebook first; if you like his posts, you'll love this book!

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?