Review | The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel by Margaret Atwood, illustrated by Renée Nault


40654428._sy475_In case you were wondering: grade 11 is way too young to read The Handmaid’s Tale.

Way too young.

I haven’t touched this book since then. It was … disturbing. Too much for my 16-year-old brain to properly compute. The only thing I clearly remembered was the line: “He is fucking me.”

… but, you see, I developed a funny little itch after reading Vox this past July …

Cue: the graphic novel. All the joys of the original novel, condensed to 200 amazing, colour-filled pages.

If you haven’t read the book before: The Handmaid’s Tale is a speculative fiction that takes place in a not-so-distant future, in which religious fundamentalists have taken over the United States. The result is a dystopian world, with a heavily-stratified society and which women have no rights. The story focuses on Offred, a handmaiden — AKA, a walking womb — as she navigates this new society.

What struck me with the reading was just how passive Offred is: like, moss-growing-on-a-rock passive. She spent the entire book subjected to the will of others … and, as easy as it is to sneer at, I’m not sure I would respond any differently if placed in the same situation. I really like being alive.

Disturbing … but thought-provoking. I might just pick up the novel during my next Friday book haul.

What I liked:

The Illustrations. The Illustrations. The Illustrations. Nault’s composition and use of colour brings the story to the next level. The book is simultaneously gorgeous and chilling and brutal. If you read the novel, you need (!!!) to read this graphic novel.

What I didn’t like:

The Editing. Obviously, a graphic novel isn’t a comprehensive retelling. While the book captures all the major events and themes, the brilliance of The Handmaid’s Tale is in many of the minor details.

Favourite panel:

The Details:

  • The Book: The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel
  • Published: 2019, Nan A. Talese/Doubleday
  • My Copy: Personal copy
  • Read date: September 14, 2019
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • You should read to this if you … want to discuss The Handmaid’s Tale but don’t want to read 344 of classic literature
  • Avoid this if you dislike triggers! triggers everywhere!



TBR | Friday Reads #2

Friday! Friday! Gotta get down on Friday!

Welcome to Friday Reads! My book today is Exhalation by Ted Chiang: a collection of nine science fiction stories, with a focus on historic and emerging human issues.

Bookish Beginnings:

O MIGHTY CALIPH AND COMMANDER OF THE FAITHFUL, I am humbled to be in the splendor of your presence; a man can hope for no greater blessing as long as he lives. From “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate”.

The Friday 56:

Your fellow explorers will have found and read the other books that we left behind, and through the collaborative action of your imagination, my entire civilization lives again. As you walk through our silent districts, imagine them as they were: with the turret clocks striking the hours, the filling stations crowded with gossiping neighbours, criers reciting verse in the public squares, and anatomists giving lectures in the classrooms. Visualize all of these the next time you look at the frozen world around you, and it will become, in your minds, animated and vital again. From “Exhalation”.

What are you reading this Friday?

TBR | Down the Hole #11


Book #56: The Man Who Watched the World End

17800628Synopsis: The end of man was not signaled by marauding gangs or explosions, but with silence. People simply grew older knowing a younger generation would not be there to replace them. The final two residents in the neighborhood of Camelot, an old man and his invalid brother, are trapped in their house by forests full of cats and dogs battling with the bears and wolves to eat anything they can find. As the man struggles to survive, he recounts all the ways society changed as the human population continued to shrink. THE MAN WHO WATCHED THE WORLD END is the haunting account of a man who has witnessed the world fade away. It is also a story about the power of family.

Thoughts: This seems like an interesting, quiet twist on the apocalypse story. And, at 259 pages, it’s not a huge time investment.

Decision: KEEP

Book #57: A Disease Called Childhood

24795534Synopsis: In 1987, only 3 percent of American children were diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD. By 2000, that number jumped to 7 percent, and in 2014 the number rose to an alarming 11 percent. To combat the disorder, two thirds of these children, some as young as three years old, are prescribed powerful stimulant drugs like Ritalin and Adderall to help them cope with symptoms. Meanwhile, ADHD rates have remained relatively low in other countries such as France, Finland, and the United Kingdom, and Japan, where the number of children diagnosed with and medicated for ADHD is a measly 1 percent or less. Alarmed by this trend, family therapist Marilyn Wedge set out to understand how ADHD became an American epidemic.

Thoughts: Probably an interesting book … but I’ve decided to declare competency in adult health psychology rather than child.

Decision: GO

Book #58: Wolf by Wolf

24807186Synopsis: The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s Ball in Tokyo. Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move. But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

Thoughts: AU WWII? Yes, please!

Decision: KEEP

Book #59: The End of Absence

20821373Synopsis: Soon enough, nobody will remember life before the Internet. What does this unavoidable fact mean? For future generations, it won’t mean anything very obvious. They will be so immersed in online life that questions about the Internet’s basic purpose or meaning will vanish. But those of us who have lived both with and without the crowded connectivity of online life have a rare opportunity. We can still recognize the difference between Before and After. We catch ourselves idly reaching for our phones at the bus stop. Or we notice how, mid-conversation, a fumbling friend dives into the perfect recall of Google. In this eloquent and thought-provoking book, Michael Harris argues that amid all the changes we’re experiencing, the most interesting is the one that future generations will find hardest to grasp. That is the end of absence-the loss of lack. The daydreaming silences in our lives are filled; the burning solitudes are extinguished. There’s no true “free time” when you carry a smartphone. Today’s rarest commodity is the chance to be alone with your own thoughts.

Thoughts: ALL THE KEEP!

Decision: KEEP

Book #60: The Theta Timeline

23364634Synopsis: Leaders who rely on war and fear. The men and women who refuse to accept a tyrannical government. And an unreliable means of time travel in which most people don’t survive. Welcome to the nightmarish future of The Theta Timeline. Freedom was not stolen overnight, but gradually chipped away through a campaign of war and terror. People were told new laws and restrictions were for their own good. But the reality was a monstrous regime bent on controlling its subjects. Now, there is only one way to stop the Tyranny: go back in time and prevent it from ever starting. At times eloquent, funny, satirical, and infuriating, The Theta Timeline is not only Dietzel’s most powerful book, it is as important as any dystopian vision created to date.

Thoughts: My second Chris Dietzel book on today’s list. I’ll give The Man Who Watched the World End a shot first.

Decision: GO

Down the TBR Hole is a bookish meme created by Lia @Lost In A Story. Here’s how it works:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf
  • Order by Ascending Date Added
  • Take the first 5 (or 10, if you’re feeling adventurous) books. If you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or let it go?

Readathon | A Discovery of Witches Real-Time Reading


A Discovery of WitchesRe-reading A Discovery of Witches has turned into annual tradition for me: it’s a crisp, witchy way to start the autumn. Normally this involves holing up in my living room with a pot of tea and lots of ginger snaps. This year, I thought I’d mix it up and try a real-time reading.

Harkness has laid out an official timeline, which you can find here!

The book starts on September 18, and runs to November 1. There are 43 chapters total. The most you’ll read is three chapters on one day.

… or you could cheat and watch the TV show, which is equivalent to 1 episode per week starting about September 19. (It’s a relatively good series — has a great soundtrack — AND there’s tons of footage filmed on-site at Oxford!)

Interested in joining me? Leave a note below!

T10T: Redesign

Happy Tuesday, darlings! Welcome to early fall! It’s crisp and cool here on the west coast — and the fall rains have already started.

My T10T this week is “Book covers I wish I could redesign“.

  • The North American versions of The Winternight trilogy – They aren’t bad covers in the least … but I love the whimsy of the UK versions.
  • Celeste by I. N. J. Culbard –  I didn’t like this graphic novel for a bunch of different reasons … one being I felt the cover completely misrepresented what the book was about.
  • Menagerie by Rachel Vincent – I dislike this cover for the same reasons as Celeste: The cover makes me think of a whimsical, speculative fantasy. The book actually reads like a dime-store urban fantasy.
  • Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen – It is a simple coincidence that this super-disappointing book also has a super ugly cover? I suspect not …
  • Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson – This cover isn’t bad, but I definitely would have prioritized more First Nations imagery.
  • Books where the author’s name is HUGE – Like in After You. I get it: people have their favourite authors … but books where the author’s name takes prescience reeks of marketing over story.
  • Losing Control by Baumeister et al – Ah, mid-1990s glory. This is an important book that desperately needs a redesign. (And, no! That’s not an asymmetrically-cropped image! The content isn’t even centred!)
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman – Yawn!
  • Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas – Yaaaaawn! Never mind that it completely breaks with the feel of the other books. Chaol should have been featured on this cover!
  • The Watchers by Jon Steele – This is a gritty and gorgeously-written book, that never got the attention it deserved. I suspect it might be due to the cover: It’s pretty enough, but rather bland.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly prompt by The Broke and the Bookish and The Artsy Reader Girl. The list is 400+ strong — so, not wanting to miss anything, I started at prompt #1.

TBR | Down the Hole #10


Book #51: Angelmaker

12266560Synopsis: Joe Spork repairs clocks, a far cry from his late father, a flashy London gangster. But when Joe fixes one particularly unusual device, his life is suddenly upended. Joe’s client, Edie Banister, is more than just a kindly old lady–she’s a former superspy. And the device? It’s a 1950s doomsday machine. And having triggered it, Joe now faces the wrath of both the government and a diabolical South Asian dictator, Edie’s old arch-nemesis.

Thoughts: Originally spotted at the KFPL … and spotted many times since then. As cool as the cover looks, I don’t see myself checking out this book out in the future.

Decision: GO

Book #52: The Man Who Wasn’t There

23398718Synopsis: We are learning about the self at a level of detail that Descartes (“I think therefore I am”) could never have imagined. Recent research into Alzheimer’s illuminates how memory creates your narrative self by using the same part of your brain for your past as for your future. But wait, those afflicted with Cotard’s syndrome think they are already dead; in a way, they believe that “I think therefore I am not.” Who—or what—can say that? Neuroscience has identified specific regions of the brain that, when they misfire, can cause the self to move back and forth between the body and a doppelgänger, or to leave the body entirely. So where in the brain, or mind, or body, is the self actually located? As Ananthaswamy elegantly reports, neuroscientists themselves now see that the elusive sense of self is both everywhere and nowhere in the human brain.


Decision: KEEP

Book #53: The World Beyond Your Head


Synopsis: We often complain about our fractured mental lives and feel beset by outside forces that destroy our focus and disrupt our peace of mind. Any defense against this, Crawford argues, requires that we reckon with the way attention sculpts the self. Crawford investigates the intense focus of ice hockey players and short-order chefs, the quasi-autistic behavior of gambling addicts, the familiar hassles of daily life, and the deep, slow craft of building pipe organs. He shows that our current crisis of attention is only superficially the result of digital technology, and becomes more comprehensible when understood as the coming to fruition of certain assumptions at the root of Western culture that are profoundly at odds with human nature.

Thoughts: I have Crawford’s other book – Shop Class As Soulcraft – further down my list, which, at this point, I have a greater interest in reading. If that book goes well, I’ll consider adding World Beyond Your Head back on my list.

Decision: GO

Book #54: Death: A Life

3845819Synopsis: The shocking new memoir from Death. At last, the mysterious, feared, and misunderstood being known only as “Death” talks frankly and unforgettably about his infinitely awful existence. Chronicling his abusive childhood, his near-fatal addiction to Life, his excruciating time in rehab, and the ultimate triumph of his true nature, this long-awaited autobiography finally reveals the inner story of one of the most troubling, and troubled, figures in history. For the first time, Death reveals his affairs with the living, his maltreatment at the hands of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the ungodly truth behind the infamous “Jesus Incident,” and the loneliness of being the End of All Things.

Thoughts: Yeah. No. Perhaps I thought this was a funny concept once upon a time … Now it just comes across irreverent.

Decision: GO

Book #55: The Once and Future World

15797661Synopsis: From one of Canada’s most exciting writers and ecological thinkers, a book that will change the way we see nature and show that in restoring the living world, we are also restoring ourselves. The Once and Future World began in the moment J.B. MacKinnon realized the grassland he grew up on was not the pristine wilderness he had always believed it to be. Instead, his home prairie was the outcome of a long history of transformation, from the disappearance of the grizzly bear to the introduction of cattle. What remains today is an illusion of the wild–an illusion that has in many ways created our world … MacKinnon never fails to remind us that nature is a menagerie of marvels. Here are fish that pass down the wisdom of elders, landscapes still shaped by “ecological ghosts,” a tortoise that is slowly remaking prehistory. “It remains a beautiful world,” MacKinnon writes, “and it is its beauty, not its emptiness, that should inspire us to seek more nature in our lives.

Thoughts: Definitely a keep. There are a lot of doom-and-gloom environmental books out there right now … This one sounds … hopeful?

Decision: KEEP

Down the TBR Hole is a bookish meme created by Lia @Lost In A Story. Here’s how it works:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf
  • Order by Ascending Date Added
  • Take the first 5 (or 10, if you’re feeling adventurous) books. If you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or let it go?

TBR | Friday Reads #1

Happy Friday, Y’All!

I spotted this prompt during my hiatus, and have been eagerly holding on to it until now … so, a big shout-out to Umairah @Sereadipity!

Friday Reads was created by The Candid Cover, and is a merger of Book Beginnings (Rose City Reader) and The Friday 56 (Freda’s Voice). It involves:

  1. Sharing the first sentence(s) of your current book; and,
  2. Sharing a snippet from page 56 of a book (or 56% of an e-book/audiobook)

So, to start things off … my book this week is Trickster Drift by Eden Robinson.

Bookish Beginnings:

The clouds finally broke into a sullen drizzle after a muggy, overcast day.

The Friday 56:

Seven messages from his mom. Her cell number had left three voice mails, the maximum his phone plan would allow. He fought the urge to delete them and block her number. He didn’t want to listen to them just yet. Messages from Sarah and Crashpad, who had texted What happened wit David?

What are you reading this Friday?