Mini-reviews: Chronicles of the Infected, Swallowtail, and the Life Changing Manga of Tidying Up

Hello my fellow bookaholics ✨

Sorry about my abrupt December hiatus – I had a busy beginning of the month which turned into a travel-full holiday season. But I’m back at it and I can’t wait to write a whole bunch of fun end of year posts!

Today I have some mini-reviews of books that I have been extremely lucky to get from publishers and/or authors. These recent reads include dark dystopian, heart-wrenching poetry and mood-lifting manga 😊

I received a free copy of all of these books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, the publisher and Netgalley! Receiving a free review copy has in no way influenced my opinions.

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Chronicles of the Infected: Those They Betrayed by Q. J. Martin

263 pages

Goodreads link

Dystopia, Scifi, Horror

Received an audiobook for review 🎧

Those They Betrayed begins a new zombie horror series from Q.J Martin that has deep relationships, action and multiple twists. The story begins with Logan, a newly divorced dad of two, who has to reschedule a much awaited afternoon with his kids because of a very important work bodyguard gig, to protect an inventor in the release event of a new mod that promises to cure death. But when he promises to dedicate all of his time to his children next time – he couldn’t have expected the new mod to lead to a full-on zombie apocalypse. Logan fights along with his best friend to find his way to his children in the middle of the mayhem.

Those They Betrayed is an engaging book, it is well narrated and it kept me intrigued throughout. The action is well sprinkled in the book so that it never gets unbearably gory although many of the events are violent. I was a big fan of Q.J Martin’s writing style as well – it was easy to get immersed into the story and while I was listening to the book in the gym I felt like I wanted to run for my life (in other words I got a great workout in 😅 ). The story is partly told in flashbacks which really helps the reader to understand Logan’s relationship with his best friend and his ex-wife.

Although I liked the character depth of Logan and his best friend, I wasn’t very keen on the side characters. They were slightly stereotypical – I could imagine the villain to have a proper ‘muahaha’ – style belly laugh, and many of the side characters motives remained a mystery to me. Those They Betrayed also includes a romance side-plot that I was not on board for. I felt that it was unnecessary and the characters didn’t have any chemistry at all. Many of the plot twists were surprising to me, but the overall progression of the story was predictable because of the romance and the stereotypical side characters. I feel like a longer, more fleshed out story could have held in store more surprises.

3 stars out of a maximum of 5 stars

Swallowtail by Brenna Twohy

96 pages

Goodreads link

Poetry collection

Received an ebook for review 📱

Swallowtail is a poetry collection filled to bursting with feeling – heartbreak, abuse, trauma and grief, all transformed into words and breathed on the pages. The writing is unlike anything I have ever encountered in previous poetry collections – Brenna Twohy starts telling the story in the form of a short story, like a memory written in prose, until suddenly the style changes into contemporary short-form poetry. The stories seem happy and precious until – bang! – with one line a beautiful memory shatters like a snow globe by hurt. So much hurt.

The collection has loads of substance to it but after having reached the mid-point, some of the poems started to ring as repetitive. The painful events were inspected with a different air, but still from the same perspective with very similar thoughts and ideas. I wish that the emotions were shown from multiple perspectives or over a long period of time; I wanted to see more, feel more, understand these heartbreaking emotions in that deeply abstract way that poems make you understand things. Instead, I feel like I received a sorrowful but short message on repeat.

It feels impossible to review a poetry collection without giving you a quote, so here is one of my favourite parts (but take into account that I received an e-arc and the contents might have been changed in the final copy).

The Fisherman Takes the Fish Home & Tells her he Loves her: IV

This is the hardest part:
That boy is not made of fists.
That boy learned to braid my hair.
These things do not untruth themselves
when the first door slams.
I did not stop loving him
all the months I was holding my breath.

This is the hardest part:
The way a fish is still a fist
even after she’s been gutted.
Even after her lip’s slip clean in half
from the hook
and the hook
and the hook.
Do you think the fish blames herself?
And her own stupid, open mouth?
Do you think the fisherman apologized?
Said all he wanted was to hold her? Said,
I’ve touched that hook for years and it never once
pierced me,
darling, how could I have known?

Do you think the fish forgave him? Said,
I’m sorry, too.
I promise I’ll try harder
to breath outside the water. 

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The Life-changing Manga of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, illustrated by Yuko Uramoto

192 pages

Goodreads link

Nonfiction, self-help, manga

Received an ebook for review 📱

Marie Kondo’s bestselling book, the Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, has been beautifully transformed into a manga that entertains and educates. We follow the story of Chiaki who has a bad habit of avoiding all kinds of cleaning because she doesn’t know how to get started. On top of this, she has accumulated huge amounts of stuff by trying and then abandoning a gazillion hobbies. She contacts Marie Kondo, who flutters into her house to teach her to set things right.

I love how positive and kind this manga is – it is filled with the sentiment that also comes across in the Marie Kondo Netflix TV-show that Kondo is a lovely, non-judgmental person who respects everyone. Similarly, Chiaki doesn’t need to be embarrassed by her situation in this manga, she can just strive to do better! The tidying techniques are communicated with clarity, and it was easy to understand all of them. Having not read the original book myself, I definitely felt like I could easily rely on this manga to Konmari my own apartment.

The manga also has a weak sub-plot between Chiaki and her neighbour which was slightly cringey. I wish the book had focused more on other aspects of Chiaki’s life becoming better and I would have loved to see her passion to cook instead. Also, my second problem with this manga were the short written passages at the end of every paragraph. They gave the reader more information on tidying, but I found them unnecessary. The manga plot communicated everything clearly enough. However, this is a lighthearted and mood-lifting read that is well illustrated throughout!

These three quick reads have definitely been helpful to hit my 2019 Goodreads reading goal of 85 books! I still need to finish one before the end of tomorrow so I better get reading 😅 How are you doing with your end of the year challenges?

Thank you so much for reading!

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