Book Review: “The Brothers Lionheart” [Spoiler-Free]


I have to start this review out by admitting that, prior to a gift from a friend to my daughter, I’d never heard of The Brothers Lionheart. Author Astrid Lingdren – of Pippi Longstocking fame – wrote it in the early 1970’s, so I rather have no excuse other than that it never passed my desk before recently.

The book was sent, as I mentioned, to my daughter from a friend of ours, and looked like a lovely little innocent tale that we could enjoy together during our nightly bedtime reading sessions, so it was with that thought that we curled up together on the first night and I read her Chapter One.

I have to admit that, at first, I was a little taken aback and curious as to how my daughter would take the take, as the first chapter (don’t worry, this isn’t a spoiler, it’s literally one of the first things that happens) describes how the main character Rusky and his older brother Jonathan die. I had no idea what the book was about going in, but I can honestly admit that I didn’t expect it to begin with two young boys dying, one of them from an accident, and the other from terrible sickness.

It does, however, get a little lighter and much more intriguing from there. Our narrator, Rusky, is the second to pass, and follows his brother into an afterlife-world known as Nangijala. It is supposed, according to Jonathan, to be a peaceful, wonderful place where people can live their days joyfully and simply, and at first it seems to be just that. However, it transpires that there are terrible things going on in the valley on the other side of the mountains, where a horrible ruler has made life a living hell for the residents there.

The rest of the story follows the journey of the two brothers as they seek to liberate Nangijala from it’s oppressor, all of it seen through the eyes of a young boy who, in his prior life, had seen next to nothing of the world as he lay forever in his sickbed.

As I mentioned, I wasn’t sure, with that first chapter, how my daughter of seven was going to take the story. On top of the book opening with double-death, it also has a lovely, flowery prose that is quite nice, but also a bit olden days, for lack of a better description, so I didn’t know if my modern-day child would really connect with it. I needn’t have worried, because she was hooked from start to finish, asking questions at the end of chapters, and gasping suddenly at important moments when I wasn’t even entirely certain she’d been listening. She was especially surprised and concerned when Katla first showed up, but if you want to know who Katla is you’ll have to read the book for yourself!

But what were my feelings on the book? All in all I have to say that I enjoyed it quite immensely. It was an odd idea to me from the get-go, having the two child characters perish in order to travel to their fantasy adventure land, but it turned out to be a truly wonderful one. It’s a lovely little tale that effectively centers around Rusky learning about himself after spending his entire childhood confined to a bed. The characters are the kind you can get attached to, but are also somehow depicted so that they feel almost like ghosts (ironically) whom are there and are definitely part of the story, and yet somehow don’t seem that important. It’s a difficult idea to get across, but it really comes down to the fact that all that really matters is Rusky and Jonathan, especially Rusky. You want to know what’s going to happen, you want to see him grow and come into himself, and you want him to be the hero that you’re sure he’s meant, somehow, to be. By the end of the story you’re a bit exhausted because of the emotional rollercoaster you’ve gone on with him. It’s difficult to say much more than that because, to be quite honest, it’s just the kind of story you have to read for yourself.

The ending, personally, I thought was a bit of a mixed message. I can’t explain without spoiling it, but let’s just say that I understood where Lindgren was coming from with the ending, but it also gave me a bit of a weird, “I don’t know if this is a good message” kind of feeling. I expect it seemed a little more innocent in the time it was written, but I’m certain I’m not the only one who would see the negative connotation in it today. Even so, if you’re able to close off that bit of your brain that’s cringing a little at that particular thought process and just imagine the situation as it exists in the context of the story, it’s as lovely an ending as you can imagine for the type of tale that it’s attached to.

In conclusion, I’m grateful to have read this story, and even more happy that I read it with my daughter, who immensely enjoyed following the steps of the little boy throughout his journey. A beautiful tale filled with hope and strength and courage where one cannot see such things within himself. Definitely worth a read, especially if you have children to enjoy it with.

Want to check out The Brothers Lionheart for yourself? Click right here to order!
Already read it? Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comment section below!

May’s “To Be Read” List

This is less a TBR for May, and more of a confession. Do you recall at the beginning of April when I said that I wasn’t going to create a TBR because I was behind on a few books already and didn’t want to just keep adding to the pile? Well, I followed that up by completely failing to read anything at all throughout April. 

Okay, that’s a tiny bit of an exaggeration because I did read a bit more A Clockwork Orange, and the little one and I finally finished up The Brothers Lionheart, but all things considered I read very, very little.

Therefore May is going to be a bit of a repeat of April (hopefully not literally, since I actually want to get some reading done this time). My intention is to finish the three books I still have in progress, which are the previously mentioned A Clockwork Orange, plus Stephen King’s On Writing, and the final book in the Lunar Chronicles series, Winter. They’re all partway done, so if I can set aside the mobile games for a little while I should have no trouble actually, you know…finishing them. 

If there’s time to be had, I’d like to also delve into a few comics, as they’ve been creating quite the pile in our downstairs hallway. 😛

Reviews will also come for everything, of course.

So with that said, I’ll head off to grab a book, because there’s no sense in just talking about reading, right? Right. 🙂

Do you have a “To Be Read” list for May? What’s on it? Feel free to share in the comments below!

April’s “To Be Read” List

Prepare yourselves! I’m about to lay down a totally logical and mildly adult decision!

As I mentioned in my first “To Be Read” post back in January, I really like the idea of a TBR list because it gives that sense of accountability and it is definitely helping to remind me to actually read some of the giant pile of books and comics that I’ve been amassing over the years. That said, I’ve been having a bit of trouble finding the time of late, give a laundry list of reasons which I won’t get into because I mention them often enough in my weekly update posts.

For March’s list I didn’t finish either of the books I had intended to, although I did get about halfway through Stephen King’s On Writing and am enjoying it. I did manage to get through the Buffy the Vampire Season 8 volume that I had left over from February’s list, and I’m getting close to finishing A Clockwork Orange, which was actually from January’s list, but that still leaves me behind by one full book (The Lunar Chronicles: Winter) and two halves of books. In addition to that I’ve actually also been reading The Brothers Lionheart with the little one, and I give that one precedence since reading with my daughter is more important to me than reading just for myself. 🙂

So, to cut to the chase, I’m currently reading three different books at once, and have another full one remaining from last month’s TBR list, so I’ve decided to just leave it at that for the month of April, because I don’t want to get further behind. If I do manage to complete the books that I’ve yet to catch up on, I’ll try to sneak in an extra one just to say that I read something extra for April, but I’m not terribly concerned. The official listing will return in May.

In the meantime, look forward to getting reviews for all the books I’m currently working through, including The Brothers Lionheart, which I’m enjoying just as much as the little one!

Book Review: “Tomie” Complete Deluxe Edition [Spoiler-Free]


What can one say about the “Tomie” series of manga from renowned horror artist Junji Ito? Well, for starters, we can say that it is another in the list of items that prove Ito has a terrifying, terrifying mind. Don’t get me wrong! That’s a good thing, in the context of this review, assuming that you are, of course, a horror fan.

Ito’s character, Tomie, is a beautiful teenage girl who is a relentless seductress, able to bend nearly any man to her will. She is rather sick of both mind and heart, and genuinely enjoys twisting a man’s very soul in knots as she makes him long for her more and more. The twist is that although Tomie’s powers allow her to push men as far as to even commit murder, she herself is nearly always the victim.

It is a twisted tale that is told and retold again and again, different each time, as Tomie simply refuses to die no matter how brutally her lovers destroy her body.

Each “chapter” in this Complete Deluxe Edition is an individual story with new characters, new victims, new deaths, and occasionally even new information into Tomie’s powers, although some of the stories do lead into one another, with a lucky character or two managing to survive long enough to show up multiple times. The brutality is kicked off right from the opening story, but it definitely gets significantly more brutal, more grotesque, and more disturbing as the series goes on. Murder scenes are not lacking in blood and gore, and Ito does not shy away from uncomfortable subjects. In other words, this is not a series that is for the weak of stomach or the easily offended.

As with Ito’s other works, the artwork is absolutely gorgeous, even during – and possibly especially during – the most disgusting of scenes. The scripting is well-compiled, easy to read, and spine-chilling, to say the least. There is a great deal of mystery as to Tomie’s origins, the source of her powers, and so on, but little tidbits are given here and there to propel the reader forward. By the end of the series, honestly, you haven’t learned all that much, but in a way you don’t really care, because what you’ve consumed was plenty satisfying. The end of the series – without spoiling it, of course – leaves you extremely curious, perhaps wanting more, but also does have a strange feeling of finality to it that is, for lack of a better word, acceptable.

Tomie“‘s enchanting, mystifying, and horrifying allure will definitely drag you in, making you want more and more, just like her victims in the stories. As with Ito’s other stories, Uzumaki and Gyo, this is a page-turner that is extremely difficult to put down. If not for the many distractions of everyday life – as well as the desire to slow down and enjoy the beautiful artwork – I’m certain I would have breezed through the entire book in a single sitting.

If you are a fan of horror comics, and especially if you’re a fan of Asian horror, I highly recommend Ito’s “Tomie” series. It is a classic in every sense of the word, both in terms of body horror and genuine, flat-out creep-factor. I also highly recommend reading the manga first if you’re thinking about checking out any of the “Tomie” films, of which there have been several based on this amazing series.

Want to check out Tomie by Junji Ito for yourself? Click right here to order the Complete Deluxe Edition!
Already read it? Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comment section below!

March’s “To Be Read” List

Whoops! I seem to have gotten a little behind with my TBRs! Fancy that…who would have thought that I would ever get behind on any goals? *cough cough*

I’m not exactly deep in an inescapable hole or anything, but I definitely feel I should preface this post with the fact that I still haven’t finished A Clockwork Orange (not because I’m not enjoying it, but simply because I haven’t had a good chunk of time to sit down and read a novel lately), and I never actually got a chance to even start the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 comics yet, so in addition to the following to-be-reads, note that I’ll be trying to get through these two during March as well. Please also note that my review of the Tomie deluxe edition from last month’s TBR will be coming soon.


So what’s on the “official” TBR list for March? Well, since I went so crazy on comics for February, I thought I’d move into a few actual novels for March (wish me luck). Starting out, since I’ve been experiencing a lovely bout of writer’s block, I thought I’d finally get around to checking out Stephen King’s “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft“. As one of my all-time favorite authors, and the man who inspired me to write and publish a horror novel, I expect that he may have a few things to say that will be helpful to me in my forward journey toward continual writing. Maybe he’ll even help to teach me not to write ridiculous-sounding sentences like that last one! We can only hope!

Once I’ve picked Mr King’s brain and (hopefully) chiseled my way through that writer’s block, I thought I’d finally get around to reading “Winter“, the fourth and final chapter in Marissa Meyer’s “The Lunar Chronicles” series (excluding the standalone, “Fairest“). I fell in love with the series when I picked up “Cinder” on a whim and found out that it was practically nothing like what I was imagining, and I blew through the first three books in record time. Right around that time, however, I got hung up with a number of things and never managed to find the time to finish up the series with “Winter“. I think it’s about time I rectify that situation!

I will, of course, write reviews of both books, as well as the ones I have yet to catch up on, so look forward to those in the near-ish future. So look forward to those! For now, however, I must cut this post short and leave you because, well…I’ve got to READ! ‘Later, book-lovers!

So those are my upcoming reads for March! Do you have a TBR list? Have you read any of the books on my list? Feel free to share in the comments!