The Umbrella Academy vs The Umbrella Academy – Book and TV Review

The Umbrella Academy – TV Review

A series of mysterious births happen simultaneously across the globe. Mysterious because the mothers were not pregnant, and then suddenly are, and are in labor. A strange man, Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) adopts seven of them and raise them as the Umbrella Academy, a group of crime fighting children. See, they have powers. Skip to current day, the group have divided and are brought back because Hargreeves is dead. However one of them died years ago, another disappeared and the others are estranged from each other. When the disappeared time traveller appears and tells them that the world is about to end, they need to work together to stop the destruction. But can they?

I loved this series. I loved the strange characters, I loved the way the story was put together, I loved the second series, taking the characters that were now established and dropping them into the sixties. And there’s another coming, and that’s terribly exciting. As often is the case with me, watching has made me curious about the source material, so I got my hands on the graphic novels.

The Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way- Book Review

I’ve not read a lot of graphic novels, and I really wasn’t sure on what to expect. I was surprised about just how different the actual plot was from the books to the series, but the spirit was there, and the characters were pretty close. I consumed the books quickly and look forward to going back over them a few more times, as I know that I’ve missed crucial stuff. I have to say, I have an appreciation for what people love about graphic novels and comics, though I don’t think they’ll ever be 100% my cup of tea.

Your Own Kind of Girl by Clare Bowditch – Book Review

I’ve loved Clare Bowditch’s music for quite some time, and I’ve enjoyed the live shows that she and Jamilla Rizvi have done, so during this pandemic, Quarantine with Jam and Clare was a delightful community supporting each other during lockdowns and general pandemic awfulness. And while I’d been meaning to get this memoir for a while, I finally grabbed it.

From the early loss of her sister through a challenging time discovering her place in the world, both her and overseas, through physical and mental health issues, body image issues and eventually through all of this (in a manner of speaking), Clare is quite frank and honest with her reader. It’s hard, but definitely worth it, and quite inspiring at times.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (Book Review)

I remember not loving the film based on this book, so when it was selected as the next book for my book club, I wasn’t overly excited. But I know a lot of people have found this book super inspirational – I believe that the number of women who went on to hike the Pacific Crest Trail increased considerably after the book was published.

Essentially, it’s the story of a woman who, in the years after her mother died, her once close family found themselves apart, her marriage had broken down, she was sleeping around and doing drugs and needed to find herself. She’d grown up camping and doing outdoorsy things, and so taking a long walk across California and Oregon didn’t seem too much of a stretch.

I can see how it is inspirational – she finds herself in all manners of dilemma, some caused by herself and her unpreparedness, and some just plain bad luck – and she pushes on.  For me, I know I would have quit much sooner. I also think that some of the things I would have done better – like testing all the equipment beforehand and measuring the weight of what I was carrying… but I also think that the moment I realised that I was in great pain, or had faulty or the wrong equipment, I’d be done. I didn’t mind it as a read – Strayed writes beautifully, and I like her a lot. I enjoyed Sugar Calling, the podcast she made in 2020 talking to a variety of writers about writing and the pandemic. I’m glad others find this inspiring, but it’s not really my cup of tea.

What Doesn’t Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength by Scott Carney – Book Review

Scott Carney looks at Wim Hof his method which involves a specific breathing technique combined with cold exposure and is reputed to have huge health benefits.

It was an interesting read, not really my thing but came highly recommended. For me, it read like most diet/health movement books that  make connections between a particular diet/activity and better health. There appears to be science in it, but some of the connections made seemed tenuous and the concept itself has no appeal to me, so I am not prepared to investigate further.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green – Book Review

A billionaire has gone missing and there is a huge reward for information about him. Aza, a teenager with OCD which takes the form of a fear of germs and illness, recalls to her best friend Daisy that she was best friends with the billionaire’s son, Davis, and they investigate. However, one thing leads to another and Aza and Davis rekindle their friendship, moving into a romantic relationship.

John Green explores relationships so well… the challenges and joys of them. His depiction of OCD appears to be very compassionate and believable. My key issue with the book was that, for some reason, I read Aza as a male character, and I kept being drawn out of the world when I realised that Aza was female. However, even looking back, I can’t see why this was an issue for me; perhaps I’ve been reading a lot of queer fiction and it my brain just expects it?

Trace by Patricia Cornwell – Book Review

Scarpetta is called back to Richmond to assist the new chief medical examiner in a case. However, he’s a dodgy bloke who isn’t as cooperative as would be ideal… and meantime, the victim’s mother is withholding, Marino’s getting himself into trouble, Lucy’s girlfriend is holed up with Benton after a mysterious attack and things are just not great.

I enjoyed this more than the more recent Scarpetta books, it feels closer to being on track to the original books which were so great. I guess it’s the curse of writing a hugely successful series… fans want more of the same, but also want new and exciting. Personally, I prefer more of the big stories and less of the personal stories. But with Cornwell, both are important.

Tiger Daughter by Rebecca Lim (Book Review)

Wen lives with her parents but dreams of a different future. Chinese immigrants to Australia, Wen’s father was unable to transfer his career in medicine to Australia and works in a restaurant, ruling his small family with an iron fist. Her mother tries to live up to her father’s expectations, and desperately wants her daughter to fall into line to make their lives easier. Wen and her friend Henry, who is an immigrant along with his family, are working toward a scholarship to a select-entry school that will give them greater academic possibilities than the one they currently attend. But it is a delicate balancing act between the life they live and the future they may have.

This is a wonderful book that made me laugh and cry. Actually, I cried quite a lot. It’s an excellent YA novel showing that change may indeed be possible. With work. And that life is hard, but sometimes you’re not as alone as you may think.

The Yield by Tara June Winch – Book Review

A man whose live is nearing its end who wants to record the language and stories of his people for future generations. A woman returning home to to mourn him, her grandfather, and discovers that her town is about to be taken over by a mining company. The letters of a settler bringing his religion to the town and coming across unexpected challenges.

The Yield tells these three stories, stories which are separate but connected. It’s a beautiful book and a wonderfully told tale.

The Yield won the 2020 Stella Prize.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet (Book Review)

Mallard is a small town where the African American residents value light skin over just about everything else. After sneaking out of town with her twin sister, Stella, years earlier, Desiree returns with a child with dark skin. In their life in New Orleans, Stella left and Desiree longs for her, but works hard to raise her child.

The book tells of the sisters and of the town. Of how they lived, of what happened to Stella, and of what happens to the next generation. It’s a book which covers bigotry and secrets and the value and worth placed on human life. It’s beautiful and moving and very much deserves the heaps of praise that it has received.

The Vanishing Half was long-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, was awarded the Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction amongst other accolations.

The Shining by Stephen King – Audio Book Review

Writer Jack Torrence takes his wife, Wendy, and young son, Danny, to the Overlook Hotel during the winter season to be the caretaker and to write his novel. However, Danny has a strange ‘gift’, seeing and hearing things which are not there, and being able to see into the minds of those around him. Jack is haunted by his past behaviour, his alcoholism and violence and failures. Alone, with unreliable transport plus roads cut off by poor weather, the hotel starts to take over their lives.

I went through a brief period of obsession with reading Stephen King novels in my teen years, but hadn’t read The Shining. I saw the Kubrick film, but barely remember it. I was surprised at how much of the book is set prior to arriving at the hotel, setting up the characters in a troubled family situation with huge issues. For Jack, this opportunity may be his last. King raises the stakes in such clever ways that the reader can almost agree with Jack’s decision to stay at the hotel despite the horrors that they are all experiencing. So good. So very, very good.