The Crumrin Chronicles Vol. 1 by Ted Naifeh

The Crumrin Chronicles Vol. 1 by Ted Naifeh

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC. I zipped through this. The art is utterly gorgeous. It is has a creepy look using eirie purples and blacks to sublime effect on many pages. The colouring does much of the tone-setting and there is an elegant use of shading that adds heft to both the action and emotional scenes. The comic is gracefully laid out, and I especially liked the thickly inked panels that added to the horror tone.

The characters are well written. Flawed yet likeable in the way the best young protagonists are. I found both Will and Tucker to be charming. Their relationship is well observed. The small and not so small sleights that strain a friendship seem natural despite the supernatural circumstances that the pair find themselves in. The dialogue is flowing and works harmoniously with the images on the page. There was a great balance between the two.

A very well written supernatural teen mystery with pleasing artwork.

Cecily by Annie Garthwaite

Cecily by Annie Garthwaite

Garthwaite’s depiction of her as an intelligent and fierce woman who passionately loves her husband, the Duke of York, is compelling. The book is at its best when the two of them verbally spar, Cecily, urging York to be more ambitious and ruthless in order to protect their family while York feels that this is best accomplished by being loyal almost to a fault.

That said the novel features significant time jumps which I felt a bit jarring. As a result, it drifted a bit in the middle until the final conflict is set up. Despite being told in the 3rd person, the narrative focuses on Celcily’s experiences and as result, I occasionally felt a bit lost as to the context in which certain things happen. I also took issue with the depiction of King Henry VI. While not a great king he did lay the foundations of institutions that the UK still benefits from today. For a novel looking to challenge traditional narratives, I felt more could have been done around this.

For the most part, Garthwaite writing is engaging. Cecily is a complex and formidable character that hooks you in. However, the book suffers from uneven pacing. I was tempted to give this four stars. A really good debut novel.

Buy the book here and they kick me some money!

How to Make the World Add Up: Ten Rules for Thinking Differently About Numbers by Tim Harford

How to Make the World Add Up: Ten Rules for Thinking Differently About Numbers by Tim Harford

As a huge fan of More or Less, I was very excited to be given an ARC from Netgalley.


How to Make the World Add Up is a deeply aspirational book. It convincing advocates that numbers and statistics have world-altering powers. Harford wants a world where we all better understand what these numbers mean, how they are calculated and collected, and what if anything we should do about them.


Harford’s writing is full of humanity. He knows for laypeople these are complex and often messy topics but he tackles them with such good nature and humour you can’t help feel enthused. The rules themselves are straightforward enough to follow and the examples Harford uses throughout to illuminate his points are thought-provoking.


Harford like the best communicators makes you feel smart for understanding the concepts he is explaining. How to Make the World Add Up features some of the best storytelling he has ever done and I think he a must-read for everyone unsure about what numbers mentioned to prove a point actually mean.

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On Tyranny Graphic Edition by Timothy Snyder & Nora Krug

On Tyranny Graphic Edition by Timothy Snyder & Nora Krug

This is a sobering polemic on political apathy and a visually stunning reminder of the genuine threat that democracies face.

It cleverly uses historical examples to validate the points about the actions one should take to safeguard their democratic freedoms.

By mixing photographs, collages, and illustrations, Krug expertly amplifies Snyder’s message. The graphic edition is eloquent and impassioned in its call for all of us to make every effort we can to avoid tyranny. It can be rage-inducing to read but at its heart is the significance of being kind, being active and, as the book itself puts it, not accepting the traps of inevitability.

Along with Save It for Later by Nate Powell, On Tyranny is another excellent example of how persuasive graphic novels can be when exploring themes as complex and as perplexing as what we can do as individuals to make our communities and counties better places to live and prosper. Highly recommended.

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Facing The Mountain by Daniel James Brown

Facing The Mountain by Daniel James Brown

One of the best history books I have read this year. Brown has a cinematic style of writing that is highly engaging. There is a rich cast of real-life heroes including soldiers Rudy Tokiwa, Fred Shiosaki and Kats Miho, and conscientious objector Gordon Hirabayashi. Brown’s has a knack for making you very fond of Nisei we meet meaning that every indignity that is placed upon them by a deeply racist American nation is also felt by anyone reading their accounts.

I got a real feel for the complex emotions and motivations that caused these men to serve a country that had treated them and their families so abominably. Even Hirabayashi who refused to enlist did so out of a sense of duty to America. In fact, Hirabayashi’s story might be my favourite, the bravery he needed was just as great as any of those serving in the 442nd.

It is wonderful that this book shines a light on the overlooked contributions Japanese Americans made in WW2. Despite all the awful things they endured I found the book uplifting. A must-read read for ww2 buffs.

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BOOK Review: If You Were There by Francisco Garcia

BOOK Review: If You Were There by Francisco Garcia

Part biography and part reportage If You Were There is an affecting look at missing people in the UK. The best non-fiction changes your perception by making you aware of things.

The difficulty of defining what a missing person is, for example. It was not something I had previously considered, but once Garcia explains why it is troublesome to characterized who is and isn’t missing, it is hard to believe I overlooked it.

Garcia explores the emotional fallout from his father walking out on him when he was a child and mixes this with interviews of professionals who work to find missing people and people whose family members have gone missing.

While reading the book, I picked up a lingering scent about the futility of looking for someone who either doesn’t want to be found or, for one reason or another, can’t be found. The sad emptiness of those left behind. Garcia talks to these people with understanding and empathy. Reading how they fill the void either with misplaced hope or the indignant desire to change things or something else was heartbreaking.

Garcia writes with clarity and does a superb job of weaving his personal accounts with those to whom he talks. It is a striking book that packs a punch both emotionally and intellectually. One of the things that Garcia eloquently illustrates is how rarely there is a clear resolution to these cases, even in those where the missing are found. It is powerful stuff.

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. You can buy the book using this affiliate link.

Assholes by Bram Algoed & Micah Stahl

Assholes by Bram Algoed & Micah Stahl

There is something wonderfully freeing about watching awful people behaving badly. Both Simon Kennedy and Chuck Atkins are hilarious and deplorable in equal measure.

The appalling things they say about each other and the people in their lives and the ludicrous levels of ego on display captivated me all the way through all 18 chapters of the book.

For those that like their comedy unfiltered, their protagonists disgraceful and unrepentant, and their golf strewed with discussions about sex and money, this is a must-read.

One of the best compliments I can give is that Simon and Chuck’s snipping at each reminded of Bottom’s Eddie Hitler and Richard “Richie” Richard exchanging barbs. It’s one of the funniest things I have read this year.

The Delicacy by James Albon

The Delicacy by James Albon

There is gaudy quality to the palette that Albon’s employs that signposts that there is something more sinister about the book than would first appear.
As a character study on the corrupting influence that avarice can have on someone, The Delicacy is perceptive and subtle. Raised by an eccentric mother far from the mainland, brothers Rowan and Tulip have differing takes on their agricultural lives. From the off, Rowan is far more at ease farming, while Tulip is itching for more. Using an unexpected inheritance, the brothers set out to create a new life on the mainland. Rowan taking responsibility for farming their late aunties land and Tulip cooking the produce in a restaurant.
After a difficult start to their new life on the mainland, the discovery of a rare mushroom turns their fortunes around.
Much like Breaking Bad, one of the book’s central questions is: How much is enough?
The way the stakes are slowly ratcheted up makes Tulip’s actions throughout understandable if despicable. From the way he starts treating employees to the dismissive way he deals with his brother’s concerns, Tulip becomes someone for whom the appearance of success is as important as success itself.
If there is a flaw with the book is that it is somewhat predictable. How the rare mushrooms that are cultivated aren’t the shocking twist that Albon may have intended. However, some surprising revelations keep the suspense alive.
Albon’s is a perfect fit for the story. Seeing the brush strokes is a joy, and the thick lines of both the lettering and characters add heft to the page. It really is a cheerfully pretty book to look at. Everything seems so pleasant.
For me, though, the writing and dialogue are the stars. In many ways, The Delicacy reminded me of the film How To Get Ahead In Advertising. The same seam of black humour and satirical criticism is present in Albon’s graphic novel.
This is an elegantly told story with well-written characters and sumptuous art. A superb achievement.

Please buy it with this affliate link

Onion Skin by Edgar Camacho

Onion Skin by Edgar Camacho

There is something of the Coen’s Brothers about Camacho’s Onion Skin. What starts as a tale of two 20-somethings chasing the dream of escaping a life of office monotony turns into a story that is far more surprising.

The chemistry between Rolando and Nera is what drives the story. Their contrasting personalities creates some great moments of heartfelt earnestness and oddball humour. The sequence after the two, first properly meet and proceed to get drunk is one of my favourites in the book. It captures the possibility of going out with friends and not knowing what is going to happen next.

There is also a flavour of Edgar Wright’s movies in the way the panels are composed and the raw pencil work on display. Camacho takes bold decisions on what angles he uses creating a dynamic momentum that propels the reader forward. Equally adept at illustrating thrilling motorway chase scenes as they are with more intimate moments of introspection Camacho should be applauded for the range he shows.

The book is very funny mixing amusing observations about the tribulations of being a 20-something with laugh out loud slapstick action sequences.

It is the sort of comic you want to see adapted into a movie or TV series. It is the sort of comic you want to have a sequel to. It is the sort of comic where you worry about both these things being done right.

For those looking quirky crime caper with electrifying action and big earnest heart this should be your jam.

Use this link to buy the book. They give me money which I need for pizza.

BOOK Review: A Strange and Brilliant Light by Eli Lee

BOOK Review: A Strange and Brilliant Light by Eli Lee

I don’t want to damn A Strange and Brilliant Light with faint praise. I enjoying reading the book and Lee make many thought-provoking points about the potential impact of AI. Like the best Sci-fi, it uses speculative technological developments to explore the way people and society respond to change.


The world-building for the most part is well done, a sort of near-future where robots (or Auts) are slowly taking jobs away from regular folk. Lee has a good ear for dialogue and writes some cracking exchanges between the characters. Lee also captures perfectly the creeping sense of worthlessness that people out of work feel and why having a purpose is so important. The best sequences in the book depict how people working for large corporations work long hours and are asked to complete tasks at an inhuman speed. Lee does a great job of bottling the fear of not wanting to stand out, of not being seen as lazy, of being sacked from a job you hate.
That said it is let down by a clumsy structure. Three separate prologues and the three POV characters occasionally made it hard to follow the narrative. None of the protagonists really got their hooks into me. I felt it could have been streamlined a bit. Part of me wonders if it would have worked better as a TV show where the change of perspective would have been smoother.


Lee writes about relationships very well. The way the characters allow small slights to add up, how difficult they find it to turn to those they love when they feel like they have wronged is something Lee captures well.
It never really soars as a character drama though. The solutions proposed by the characters to the problems they face are nowhere near a clever as Lee seems to think they are. It is the kind of book that ambles along and is entertaining enough. I had a pleasant enough time reading it but was hoping for something a bit more impactful given the themes to book explores.

Buy the book here and me some money.