Book Review – The Jungle Book by Crystal S. Chan (Adaptation)

★★★★ 4 Stars

Genre: Adventure / Classics
Manga Demographic: Shounen
Publication Date: April 28th, 2017
Publisher: Udon Entertainment

A lively retelling of Rudyard Kipling’s classic – the saga of a boy raised by the inhabitants of the jungle making up the first half, with the second being a series of individual short stories.

It’s a vibrant adaptation, and I appreciate that the artist goes their own way and doesn’t drawn too much from the iconic 1964 Disney film, considering how infused that adaptation has become with peoples’ image of the original.
I’ll admit that I only really know the Disney version, which I enjoy a lot but I know deviates from the novel, notably in tone, and cuts out some of the darker acts. I haven’t gotten the chance to read the original yet, though I feel from what I know about it that Chan’s version is probably a truer echo of Kipling’s novel than the animated movie was. I especially found the half with the unrelated stories interesting, because I hadn’t really known those existed – I had thought it was mostly about Mowgli and the jungle clans.

The Jungle Book is very symbolic of both the dangers and positives of both humans’ and animals’ instinct to behave as clans – how they can choose to accept an outsider as one of their own (as the wolves do Mowgli) or cast them out like a pariah (as the humans eventually do to him when he attempts to join them). Mowgli is sort of the sole exception in an environment where humans, or even humanesque animals like the monkey clan, are something strange and destructive, and to be kept away from. But only because the animals chose to raise him rather than kill him or leave him to die.

As for the art in the book, it’s very cute and crisp and the characters show a wide range of emotions. Some of the animals in particular look amazing, especially Baloo the bear and the tiger Shere Khan. It’s totally a good adaptation, overall.

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.]


Poem – “Hostility”


That smile of yours, curved like a blade
Those grinning teeth are sheathed knives
Blue eyes writhe with secret encryption –
The code to maim and the code to kill
It twists my stomach in two to realize
I never recognize you until the end

©S. M. Shuford 2018
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Book Review – A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver

★★★ 3.5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Poetry
Publication Date: October 11th, 2012
Publisher: Penguin

A Thousand Mornings – as sweet, as gentle as the rustle of lavender in a spring’s breeze, arm in arm with nature and its delicacy fine as webs.

Reminiscent and nature-inspired poetry can be a hit-or-miss game for me. They can be the opening of an emotional drain, or they can be the brew of sappy cliché in place of any real feeling.
Oliver’s work leans toward the former, though it’s not an emotional punch, but rather a waft of sensitivity that rises and falls like the winds. It’s never poorly written. It does get repetitive in its fervor for forests.

To tell you the truth, I was drawn in by the fogged ambience of the cover. Extremely fitting, the cover is. While not my all-time favourite, Mornings evokes a similar, beautiful feeling. I suppose you could call it “purity”. It feels like clean waters pooled beneath a mountain, somehow bottled into words.


  • “Oh the house of denial has thick walls and very small windows, and whoever lives there, little by little, will turn to stone.”
  • “As long as you’re dancing, you can break the rules. Sometimes breaking the rules is just extending the rules. Sometimes there are no rules.”
  • “For some things there are no wrong seasons. Which is what I dream of for me.”
  • “And therefore who would cry out to the petals on the ground to stay, knowing as we must, how the vivacity of what was is married to the vitality of what will be? I don’t say it’s easy, but what else will do if the love one claims to have for the world be true?”

Poem – “Driven Far”

Driven Far

Driven far into the nooks of the world,
I stared the living demon in the eye
Like you advised against with curses,
I saw not apparent evil nor a blasphemy,
I saw a sorrow that never learned to survive
Too deep to reverse,
Too buried to be acknowledged

The demon turned his face from me in shame.

© S. M. Shuford 2018
Follow my poetry on Tumblr.

Poem – “Vanilla – Frozen Sugar”

Vanilla – Frozen Sugar

Virgin love for a green-eyed waverer
Alone in the world beneath the stairs
Never a heart beats there, never it dies
In the tender sweetness of after-dreams
Lying in the abyss, I hear his silence
Listen to the sleep of the never-born
Always my love is a stranger to me

© 2018 S. M. Shuford
Follow my poetry on Tumblr.

Book Review – Triptych by Karin Slaughter

★★★★★ 5 Stars

Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Series: Will Trent
Publication Date: August 16th, 2006
Publisher: Delacorte Press

This unpredictable, gut-slicer of a novel, I swear it fuels its cruelty on the reader’s horror. Triptych is a brave book – it bears no fear for the depths of human depravity it plucks apart. Nobody is what they appear to be – not on the surface, nor when you chance a glimpse into their heads. Whether a saint or monster, no one in this book wants to acknowledge the truth of themselves.

Triptych focuses on a triangle of characters whose lives have intersected through grand misfortune and a string of  brutal, systematic murders – an ex-con, a morally ambiguous detective, and a vice cop – the bloody ties binding them meeting at the knot of an outsider detective, Will Trent.

The webs of character are this novel’s strong point – meticulously spun in blood and shame, an entity that’s impossible to pull away from. I liked Will and the ex-con, John Shelley, especially – both very real characters, and products of the injustice they spent their lives trying to right, though the way they go about it is far different. There is something to be said for a novel that can evoke equal sympathy and distaste for any character at any given moment.

Triptych is like an addictive candy you don’t know has a toxic center, but once you find it, it’s already too late to stop – it’s crafted well, but it shys not from malice.