Saturday, March 31, 2018

DNF&Y [3]

DNF&Y is used to explain why I gave up on certain books, and what about them just didn't work for me. What I didn't like about something, might be what you love, so it helps to share your thoughts even when they're negative! If you would like additional information, please click on the DNF&Y tab at the top. If you want to join, you can link up at the bottom!

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover,
Candace Thaxton (Narrator)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves. 

DNF after the first hour of the audiobook.

I actually tried to listen to this one twice, but it just wasn't working for me. I didn't connect with Merit, and I thought the family dynamics were a little too strange. The mom lived in the basement, the dad and his new wife shared a room upstairs, and they all lived in an old church that was purchased out of spite... even the sibling relationships seemed off. 

Merit was able to miss school and what... no one noticed? Sleeping and looking for trophies seemed like a poor alternative to going to school. The school made a phone call that was briefly mentioned and never addressed, but it seemed like a lot went unacknowledged in this book. A living, breathing person moved in and Merit didn't notice for an entire week.

I really thought their mom needed help, or someone to talk to that wasn't online or related, and staying shut away in the basement seemed wrong. I understand that she had a legitimate problem, but that means she needed assistance and not avoidance. 

I've heard so many wonderful things about Colleen Hoover and her books, so I don't want to give up on the author! I just couldn't finish Without Merit. If you have another suggestion, let me know!

If you would like to read a more positive review, check out Jessica's (Peace Love Books) review on Goodreads!

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater,
Thom Rivera (Narrator)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Here is a thing everyone wants: a miracle.
Here is a thing everyone fears: what it takes to get one.

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect. 

DNF after the first hour of the audiobook.

Maggie Stiefvater has always been hit-or-miss for me. I loved The Raven Cycle. I devoured that series and already want to read it again! Shiver is another one of her books I enjoyed, but The Scorpio Races wasn't for me (even though I loved the concept). I'm on a Stiefvater seesaw! ๐Ÿคฃ

All the Crooked Saints started out okay. There are three people driving around trying to boost their signal for their personal radio station (and avoid detection by the police), but as soon as I started to settle into their rhythm and learn their personalities, I was in someone else's head. Then another and another... it was like the perspective bounced around without a reason and definitely without warning. I never really knew where I would be next.

Aside from that, I didn't really relate to these characters individually. I was never with any one person long enough, but they also didn't stand out. I may have felt differently if I had kept reading this, but maybe not. Maggie is always so creative with her books and their settings, and I wish I had been able to like this one more.

Get a second opinion from Brittany over at The Book Addict's Guide!

Blue Window by Adina Gewirtz
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Five siblings fall through time and space into a strange, unkind world -- their arrival mysteriously foretold -- and land in the center of an epic civil struggle in a country where many citizens have given themselves over to their primal fears and animal passions at the urging of a power-hungry demagogue.

When siblings Susan, Max, Nell, Kate, and Jean tumble one by one through a glowing cobalt window, they find themselves outside their cozy home -- and in a completely unfamiliar world where everything looks wrong and nothing makes sense. Soon, an ancient prophecy leads them into battle with mysterious forces that threaten to break the siblings apart even as they try desperately to remain united and find their way home. Thirteen-year-old twins Max and Susan and their younger siblings take turns narrating the events of their story in unique perspectives as each of the children tries to comprehend their stunning predicament -- and their extraordinary new powers -- in his or her own way. From acclaimed author Adina Rishe Gewirtz comes a riveting novel in the vein of C. S. Lewis and E. Nesbit, full of nuanced questions about morality, family, and the meaning of home. 

DNF at 10%

I received ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

This was very similar to The Chronicles of Narnia, and even had it's very own Susan and Lucy (though the two are not related in this book). Blue Window is about a group of children (siblings) that fall into another world via a window. This new place is scary, unexpected, and filled with... I don't know what, because I didn't get that far.

I know I didn't read much of this book, but I had a lot of trouble separating the different characters. I also kept getting confused and had to re-read certain parts to figure out what was going on. One minute they're at the kitchen table eating breakfast (there were a few things going on), and someone mentions going to school. The next sentence everyone is already home from school and doing various activities. 

Where are their parents?? They're mentioned a few times, and the mom shows up with orange juice once, but then just disappears. I feel like there should have been more interaction with the children, since the oldest is only 13. It wasn't just the parents that vanished in the middle of a paragraph. The other characters seemed to flutter around without a purpose, too.

I really loved the synopsis for this one, but I just could not get into it. The random additions from an exile, or the exiles, were odd and didn't seem to fit with everything else. I'm sure that perspective would have tied in later, but I was already confused without trying to decipher their cryptic words.

The flow of the story was weird, the way the information was presented was confusing, and I didn't connect with any of the characters. I did like Susan's fondness for words, but their application to the story seemed forced. I might look for this book once it's published, because maybe these kinks were ironed out after I received this review copy. It just had such a promising, interesting concept. I'm still a little curious about where they landed, and what's going to happen to them, but not enough to read it as it is.

If you want to read another review, try Jackie's on Goodreads!

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Risen (Blood Eternal, #1) by Cole Gibsen | Blog Tour: Book Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

Hello! Welcome to one of the stops on the Risen blog tour hosted by Entangled Publishing. I'm really happy to share my thoughts on this book with you, as well as an excerpt from the story! Risen was released into the world on March 27, 2018 and can be found here.

Synopsis (via Goodreads): My aunt has been kidnapped by vampires, and it’s up to me to save her. Only…I had no idea vampires existed. None. Nada. I’m more of a reader than a fighter, and even though I’d been wishing to escape my boring existence in the middle of nowhere, I’d give anything to have it back now if it meant my aunt was safe.

Then there’s the vampire Sebastian, who seems slightly nicer than most of the bloodsuckers I’ve run into so far. Yes, he’s the hottest being I’ve ever come across, but there’s no way I can trust him. He swears he’s helping me get answers, but there’s more to his story. Now I’m a key pawn in a raging vampire war, and I need to pick the right ally.

But my chances of surviving this war are slim at best, when the side I choose might be the one that wants me dead the most.
I almost smile. This strange, violent girl—I kind of like her. “It’s too bad we can’t be friends because of our impending gruesome murders.”
I received an ARC from NetGalley (was contacted about the blog tour afterwards) in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Also, the quote I used may have changed or been altered in some way, but I am quoting from what I received.

Questions, questions, and more questions. I actually struggled with what rating to give this book, because I did enjoy the story, but there were a few things that bothered me. Despite those pesky problems, I really want to know where the story will go from here, so I'll definitely be reading the next one!

I'm all about a slow reveal. I actually savor the moments leading up to the big thing, but when those questions are never answered, I feel deflated and disappointed. I need some issues to be resolved before the end of the book, and I get a little frustrated when every answer seems to be reserved for later. Risen ends with way too many questions and very few potential answers.

I also struggled with the ease in which Charlie "trusts her feelings." I just don't know how accommodating I would be to a vampire that just assisted in the abduction of a family member. I know for the sake of the story, there has to be a little give so things can progress, but she seemed to forget all the bad a little too easily. Yes, she mentions her brain malfunctioning in that area, but thinking and doing are not the same. Once we get past the initial "don't trust the vampire," it was a little easier to go with the flow, but I did grind my teeth a few times when things fell into place without resistance or conflict.

Sebastian is eager to protect Charlie for reasons, but more of his backstory would have been helpful (what he's able to share anyways). The added content at the end of the book with his perspective was only a little enlightening. I liked him as a character, but never felt like I knew anything about him.

There were a lot of surprises that I wasn't expecting, and I'm not sure how I feel about them because questions. I don't even know if I'm supposed to believe or understand what I think I know. I'm also not sure why everyone else isn't freaking out if it's true. Then there is the mysterious Rachel, a person with actual answers, but she isn't sharing them right now.

All in all, I'm curious what is going to happen next. I'll definitely be reading the next book in the series, and I'm assuming that is when I'll start getting some answers (at least I hope so). This book has so much going for it, and I don't say that lightly. It's been ages since I've read a vampire book, and this synopsis intrigued me enough to give it a shot. I wasn't disappointed by the story, or the characters really, but by a lack of information. 

Opal, Charlie, Sebastian, Matteo, Delaney... all very interesting characters that I would love to know more about. If you're looking for a vampire book to shake things up a bit, I recommended looking into Risen. Despite my issues, I was hooked on the story!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

My Weekly Pull [13]

My Weekly Pull is something I will be doing every Wednesday to show which comics I had pulled for me that week! If you're into comics, or you're looking to start, please join me! If you decide to do your own post, leave a link in the comments. I would love to stop by and check it out!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #80 by Tom Waltz, Brahm Revel, Kevin Eastman
Hit-Girl #2 by Mark Millar, Ricardo Lopez Ortiz, Dustin Nguyen
Black Panther #171 by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Leonard Kirk, Brian Stelfreeze
Daredevil #600 by Charles Soule, Ron Garney, David Aja

Despicable Deadpool #297 by Gerry Duggan, Mike Hawthorne
Invincible Iron Man #598 by Brian Michael Bendis, Stefano Caselli, Alex Maleev
Legion #3 (of 5) by Peter Milligan, Wilfredo Torres, Javier Rodriguez
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #29 by Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos

Moon Knight #193 by Max Bemis, Jacen Burrows
Old Man Hawkeye #3 by Ethan Sacks, Marco Checchetto
Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man #302 by Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones
Spider-Man Deadpool #30 by Robbie Thompson, Chris Bachalo

I'm really worried about my Old Man Hawkeye. The cover looks painful! I was iffy on this one after the first issue, but it really picked up with the second. The villain is no joke. 

Jacob and I did decide to stop getting Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. There still hasn't been a dinosaur (since the Legacy issue), and I'm not a fan of the Fantastic Three team-up. We did decide to finish out this arc, so I think that means this issue and the next. 

Moon Knight didn't end with a cliffhanger this time, but I still never know what is going to happen. I thought I understood how his mind worked, but now I'm not so sure... it's trippy.

Loving the covers for Invincible Iron Man and Legion!

I didn't like the first issue of Hit-Girl (Jacob did), but I like to read the first three issues in a series before I make a decision (unless I just really, really hated the first one). I do love the cover for this week!

Daredevil just hit 600! There were so many different covers to choose from, but we went with this variant. I love how the birds are flying out of the back of his head. (I personally have not read DD, but fully intend to! It's just going to be quite the endeavor.)

I'm pretty much caught up on all of my comics, so I've started the Venom series. There's quite a few of those, too, so it's going to take me a little bit. I need to get past Lee Price... Dude is bad news.

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor, #1) by Jessica Townsend

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she's blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks--and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.

It's then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city's most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart--an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests--or she'll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate. 
“Ginger was an understatement, Morrigan thought, trying to hide her astonishment as the hat came off. Ginger of the Year or King Ginger or Big Gingery President of the Ginger Foundation for the Incurably Ginger would have been more accurate. His mane of bright copper waves could probably have won awards.” 
It has been ages since I read a middle grade book! I entered a giveaway on a whim and won! I'm so happy it happened, or I probably wouldn't have known about this book. The Trials of Morrigan Crow was an adorable and suspenseful story about a child trying to find her place in the world.

Morrigan grew up thinking she was cursed. Anything that went wrong in her town was blamed on her because she was born on Eventide. Did you smash your thumb on a hammer? You should blame the eleven-year old girl that wasn't anywhere near you, and her father will likely compensate you for the trouble. The townspeople pissed me off, but her family was worse (like, let me seethe over this for a few minutes because how dare you treat your child that way). I was so happy when Jupiter came into her life. 

I'll admit... the beginning of the book was a little weird for me, and it took me a few chapters to really get into it. I understand that the author created an entirely new world, so it takes time to adjust to the way things work. It was brilliant after that! If you decide to read this, make sure you give it a couple of chapters to get going.

I love trying to figure a story out, and this one kept me on my toes! I didn't know what was going on until the very end when everyone else found out, too. It was insanity. There's always something going on, so the story never lags. It just keeps adding details that make you crazy trying to piece them together. I read this aloud to my son at night and would catch myself mentally reading ahead of what I was verbally saying. It's like my brain wanted to speed up to see what would happen next, but my mouth was too slow.

I don't know how much of this my son actually heard or retained, but I look forward to reading it to him again in the future. He's four, so this might also be a little over his head, but the point is to put him to sleep, so... That's why I like for them to be books I enjoy, too!

The Trials of Morrigan Crow was a delightful read with a fantastical setting, amazing characters, and a story that left me wanting more. I would definitely love to stay in the Hotel Deucalion one day!

I'm looking for new MG books to read to my son! Let me know if you have any good recommendations. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Narrated by Bahni Turpin
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life. 

“Daddy claims the Hogwarts houses are really gangs. They have their own colors, their own hideouts, and they are always riding for each other, like gangs. Harry, Ron, and Hermione never snitch on one another, just like gangbangers. Death Eaters even have matching tattoos. And look at Voldemort. They’re scared to say his name. Really, that “He Who Must Not Be Named” stuff is like giving him a street name. That’s some gangbanging shit right there.”
Impactful. I think this one word encompasses my feelings about the entire book. Angie Thomas has created characters that I will think about for a long, long time.

I'm not going to pretend like I know or understand what Starr went through. There's no way for me to know, because I haven't lived that. I haven't experienced that prejudice and hatred. It was eye-opening to read a book from Starr's perspective. She sees the world so differently, and she's forced to live by a separate set of rules based on the color of her skin. 

My parents raised me to see color when I looked at another person. Once I was old enough to make decisions for myself, we started to clash on a lot of things, but race seemed to be a big one. I wasn't allowed to play with other kids at school if they didn't look like me, and as a kid that's so fucking confusing. My parents actually instructed my teachers to inform them if they saw me interacting with classmates that "looked different," which my teachers obediently did.

If I asked my parents to read this book, I doubt they would. It makes me sad. They're filled with so much hatred and they don't even know why. It's just "the way things are," and that's not okay. It's a shit excuse to exercise hate.

The Hate U Give shows how an entire community, a family, and a girl live in a world full of that hate and indifference. They have different rules to get them through the day, especially if they're pulled over by a police officer. It shouldn't be that way. It's wrong. I don't know why so many people still cannot grasp that concept.

Starr is a strong, brilliant, lovely character. I enjoyed watching her live her life. Yes, she struggled, but she also grew as a person. She fought with friends, learned to understand community, found comfort in her family, and tried to get by in life. No one should have to eat dinner with gunfire going off in the background, or look out their window to see tanks driving down the road.

I think this book needs to be read by everyone (the narrator was wonderful if you enjoy audiobooks). I could talk about the incredible family dynamics (loved Starr's family!), the amazing secondary characters, or the significance of the protests and riots. There is so much being said in this book, and I have too many feelings to adequately express them all.

Angie Thomas is an amazing author that wrote something powerful and beautiful. It's a story that will have a lasting impact on this world, and I hope a lot of people take Starr's story to heart and try to be more understanding and uplifting.

Other quotes I liked:

“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”

“At an early age I learned that people make mistakes, and you have to decide if their mistakes are bigger than your love for them.”

“Trust me, my school has hoes too. Hoedom is universal.”

Thursday, March 22, 2018

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Narrated by Julia Whelan
Synopsis (via Goodreads): A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel. 

“Frankly, I had no idea how anyone knew if they were in love in the first place. Was there ever a single thread a person could pick out from the knot and say “Yes—I am in love—here’s the proof!” or was it always caught up in a wretched tangle of ifs and buts and maybes?”
An Enchantment of Ravens was a somewhat enjoyable read. I felt like I spent the entire book doing one of two things: watching Isobel paint or walking through the woods. At first I enjoyed the descriptions of curves and colors, but then I think my mind started to skip over those details. They were lovely illustrations, but there were a lot of them.

Rook and Isobel have an odd relationship that doesn't always make sense. I felt like I was picking a flower and saying, "She loves me, she loves me not. She loves me..." I never knew how they truly felt about each other, but somehow everyone else did. I wish we had learned more about Rook's raven pendant (and the story behind it), because I feel like that would have answered a lot of my questions. Isobel seemed very isolated from the world, but savvy in the ways of faerie. People were awed by her Craft and proximity to the Fair Folk, but she didn't seem to have single friend. 

I was really disappointed when it felt like I was always one-step ahead of the characters. It was a little frustrating waiting for them to figure things out, and honestly I thought Rook would have been more knowledgeable about his world. It seems like a lot of things happen that he isn't prepared for, yet he's a Prince of Faerie. He's supposed to be crazy powerful, but we don't see him use that power too often, and never when it's needed.

Overall, I liked the story. I feel like things either didn't make sense, or they clicked into place too easily. An Enchantment of Ravens just didn't wow me like I thought it would.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

My Weekly Pull [12]

My Weekly Pull is something I will be doing every Wednesday to show which comics I had pulled for me that week! If you're into comics, or you're looking to start, please join me! If you decide to do your own post, leave a link in the comments. I would love to stop by and check it out!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe #20 by Ian Flynn, Dave Wachter, Freddie Williams II
Kick-Ass #2 by Mark Millar, John Romita, Francesco Francavilla
Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows #17 by Jody Houser, Nathan Stockman
Incredible Hulk #714 by Greg Pak, Carlo Barberi, Mike Deodato

Ms. Marvel #28 by G. Willow Wilson, Nico Leon, Valerio Schiti
Tales of Suspense #103 (of 5) by Matthew Rosenberg, Travel Foreman, Yasmine Putri
Thanos #17 by Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw
Thanos #17 by Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, Christian Ward (Ward Variant)

Only seven this week! We're still trying to narrow down our list, but it's hard. There are so many I don't want to give up on; however, Ms. Marvel may be one of them. I've read a few issues now and she's still missing. I haven't read anything from her perspective, so I have no idea where she is or what she's doing. It may have been mentioned before her Legacy issue (when I started), but I don't know. ๐Ÿคท

The last two images are for the same comic: Thanos. I have heard so many good things about this series since Donny Cates took over. He started writing the comic on the thirteenth issue, and now they can't keep it in stock. The Legacy was #13, but it's impossible to find a first printing (unless you want to spend a ridiculous amount of money). I had really wanted to surprise my husband with the first few issues for our (five year!) anniversary, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. I'll think of something else! 

Spider-Man Renew Your Vows is sooo good, you guys! I love the banter and family dynamic. Spider-Man married MJ, had a baby, and now they all fight crime together. It's really fun to read!

Still undecided on Kick-Ass, but it's just the second issue! Tales of Suspense is marvelous! Hawkeye and Bucky working as a team--hilarious. 

Let me know what you've read this week and if you're starting anything new!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Final Thoughts [1]
Hawkeye (#16) by Kelly Thompson & The Unbelievable Gwenpool (#25) by Christopher Hastings

Hawkeye #16 by Kelly Thompson
Leonardo Romero (Illustrator)
Julian Tedesco (Illustrator)
I picked up Hawkeye on a whim when I stumbled across the first few issues at a Half Price Books. They looked interesting, and I've always liked Hawkeye, so... I fell in love. Kate Bishop is an incredible Hawkeye. She's clever, silly, and I frequently found myself laughing at the things she said and did.

Jessica Jones made an appearance for a few issues. Kate is a Private Investigator (or trying to be), and JJ offered to show her the ropes (prior to the comic starting). She pops in for a visit with a little business on the side, and I really enjoyed the banter between the two.

Hawkeye (Clint Barton) shows up at the end, and it's like seeing your brother and best friend for the first time in forever. They have an easy relationship, and they just understand each other. Watching two Hawkeyes fight baddies was so much fun!

I cannot believe this is ending so soon, but the final page said she (Kate Bishop) would return in August, so we'll see! It could mean a lot of things: a new arc, a new writer, etc. This one left something major unresolved (not really a cliffhanger per se...), so there is plenty to build on. I hope they do! I would like to know what happens with a certain something. Read my review of the first few issues here.

Gwenpool #25 by Christopher Hastings
Gurihiru (Illustrator)
When we decided to start getting comics every month, Gwenpool was my first choice. I actually knew very little about her (other than the basics), but thought it would be fun to read. I grabbed the issues I could find, and my LCS helped me find the rest (the comic had been running for awhile, so sometimes it's hard to find the first few issues).

I binge-read the first ten and knew this was the perfect comic for me! Gwen is stabby, insane, and the best friend you could have. She actually tried to teach herself how to fight with swords by searching the internet, and a lot of her battles were only won because some unforeseen accident happened. Luck seemed to play a big part in her comic book experience. 

Gwen has a mysterious past, and she willingly chose to insert herself into the Marvel Universe. She grew up reading comics, and eventually found herself living in one. She knew everything about everyone, which caused problems for her a few times. She didn't always get scared, because she was able to use this "other" knowledge to her advantage. It was like a super power (almost).

The Unbelievable Gwenpool offers a unique perspective to the MCU, and her presence will be sorely missed. Gwenpool always has something else to say, even if you don't want to hear it. She's very in-your-face and constantly surprised me. She could be terrified one second, but giggling about it the next. She didn't rely on her prior knowledge too much, but tried to fend for herself and help her friends.

Another thing I loved about The Unbelievable Gwenpool was the other characters. We get to see so many different superheroes, and a few of them play significant roles in her personal story. Dr. Strange, Deadpool, Thor (Jane Foster), and a lot of others. It was interesting to see how they looked outside of their own comics.

It was so weird to read about a character that knew we were reading about her, and also that this was her final issue. It was twisty, unpredictable, and perfectly Gwenpool. I'm pretty sure every version of Spider-Man made an appearance. Gwenpool wrapped things up with a bittersweet conclusion, but hopefully not a permanent one. Read my review of the first few issues here.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Here So Far Away by Hadley Dyer

Expected Publication: March 20, 2018
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Award-winning author Hadley Dyer’s YA debut is smart, snarky, and emotionally gripping, about a rebellious cop’s daughter who falls in love with an older man, loses her best friend, and battles depression, all while trying to survive her last year of high school.

Feisty and fearless George Warren (given name: Frances, but no one calls her that) has never let life get too serious. Now that she’s about to be a senior, her plans include partying with her tight-knit group of friends and then getting the heck out of town after graduation.

But instead of owning her last year of high school, a fight with her best friend puts her on the outs of their social circle. If that weren’t bad enough, George’s family has been facing hard times since her father, a police sergeant, got injured and might not be able to return to work, which puts George’s college plans in jeopardy.

So when George meets Francis, an older guy who shares her name and her affinity for sarcastic banter, she’s thrown. If she lets herself, she’ll fall recklessly, hopelessly in love. But because of Francis’s age, she tells no one—and ends up losing almost everything, including herself.

This is a gorgeous, atmospheric, and gut-wrenching novel that readers won’t soon forget. 
He glanced over at the farmhouse, then back at me. "No. I knew you were too young for me. Even if you were twenty, you would be too young. But the first thing you said to me was funny." He slapped his hat against his leg. "And I wanted to hear what else you had to say."
I received an ARC from a Goodreads giveaway, but this is still an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Also, the quote I used may have changed or been altered in some way, but I am quoting from what I received.

I've been trying to figure out what to say, but this one is hard. I was so invested in George's life and how her decisions rippled out and impacted the people around her. She wasn't selfish or insecure, but seemed to be very honest with herself and her thoughts. At the beginning of the book she's full of confidence, but soon learns that you can be lonely even when you're surrounded by people. 

Here So Far Away deals with a lot of tough topics. I don't think they were over-the-top and obvious, but the writing was delicate and deliberate. There's an old man struggling to come to terms with his age and not being able to do the things he once did. We have an irresponsible and unadvisable relationship. A father feeling like he's not up to the challenge of being the man before. A brother struggling to take on more responsibility and dealing with his fears. A mom that feels smothered and underappreciated. A group of friends that are slowly drifting and discovering that they might not want what they've always wanted. A man that wants what he can't have, but still tries to do the right thing. Also, a girl that doesn't know how to mend a broken fence, who does things she wouldn't normally do, and eventually stops being able to deal with reality.

I don't know how Hadley Dyer was able to squeeze so many important issues into so few pages, but she does it incredibly well. My heart beats for these people. I wanted to comfort them when they were sad, cry when the world punched them in the face, and rage when everything comes crashing down. I know that people have to learn to live with their mistakes, and the things that no one has any control over, but that doesn't mean any of it is easy. Living with lies and half-truths doesn't just hurt one person, and making a decision for someone else doesn't give them strength or courage.

My one disappointment is that there wasn't more. I wanted to see the person George became. I wanted to know what happened to her friends and family. Rupert. Bobby. Here So Far Away is filled with witty dialogue that made me laugh-out-loud, and vibrant details that really brought a small valley to life. The story and the characters are so authentic and will forever be real to me.

I'm still internally crying about the pig and the rock (two completely different things). Life is full of mistakes and regret, but it's how we choose to deal with those two things that help define who we are. Friendships don't always last forever, love is incredibly hard, and people will continue to surprise us. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

My Weekly Pull [11]

My Weekly Pull is something I will be doing every Wednesday to show which comics I had pulled for me that week! If you're into comics, or you're looking to start, please join me! If you decide to do your own post, leave a link in the comments. I would love to stop by and check it out!

All New Wolverine  #32 by Tom Taylor, Djibril Morissette-Phan, David Lopez
Astonishing X-Men #9 by Charles Soule, Matteo Buffagni, Leinil Francis Yu
Despicable Deadpool #296 by Gerry Duggan, Matteo Lolli, Declan Shalvey
Falcon #6 by Rodney Barnes, Sebastian Cabrol, Jay Anacleto
Marvel Two-In-One #4 by Chip Zdarsky, Valerio Schiti, Nick Bradshaw

New Mutants Dead Souls #1 by Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Gorham, Marcos Martin
Peter Parker Spectacular Spider-Man #301 by Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones
Punisher #222 by Matthew Rosenberg, Guiu Vilanova, Clayton Crain
Spider-Man Deadpool #29 by Robbie Thompson, Scott Hepburn

As you can see... Jacob did not give up Spider-Man Deadpool, so we are at odds. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I don't know why they are old men now, because I didn't get that far into their story, but I do love the covers. I think they're unique and still very them.

All New Wolverine is my favorite ongoing comic right now. If you're just getting started, you could definitely start with this one! Her Legacy issue isn't too far back. 

The New Mutants Dead Souls is new this week! It looks really interesting and is supposed to explore some of the darker parts of the Marvel Universe. 

I'm actually completely caught up on my comics right now, so I've been digging into some of the older stuff I haven't started yet. I'm almost finished with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ghostbusters 2 (it's only 5 issues), and then I'm going to tackle Venom. Jacob has already gotten them in order for me (the crossovers can be a bit confusing), and I cannot wait to start them! #WeAreVenom

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Q [2] How many books do you read at once?

This is something I’ve been wondering about lately! I know it’s different for everyone, and I’m just curious what works for you. How many books do you read at one time? A few years ago, I would have said only one. I felt like I needed to get through one story before starting another. It was confusing bouncing from one book to the next, and I had trouble separating the details.

I don’t know when the change occurred, but suddenly I was reading four or five different books at once. I was definitely being controlled by my moods, but also by the format. In the last year or so, I’ve started listening to a lot of audiobooks, replaced my long-dead Nook with an iPad (so ebooks were an option again), and this past year we’ve really gotten into comic books. It's opened up a lot of different avenues for reading, and I like to take advantage of them all! I feel like I get something different from each of them, too.

This is what I’m reading right now: one physical book (for myself), one physical book (a chapter book at night for my son), one electronic book, an audiobook and various comics. In my mind, it's like I have several incomplete stories being thought about, and I cannot wait to get back to each one!

I can plan what I want to read the next day, but it almost always changes. I love that I have so many options to choose from! What do you do? How do you like to read the written word? Let me know!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2) by Marissa Meyer

Narrated by Rebecca Soler
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her
“I knew they would kill me when they found out, but…” He struggled for words, releasing a sharp breath. “I think I realized that I would rather die because I betrayed them, than live because I betrayed you.”
I am really enjoying this series! I love the world, the writing, the characters--everything. Marissa Meyer is very good at what she does. I'm not usually a fan of retellings, but these are amazing! The subtle references don't overpower the story, and you can see how Meyer took a thread from an old fairy tale and made it something new and entirely her own.

Also, the narrator! I know I've said this about her before, but Rebecca Soler is WONDERFUL.

Cinder was about Cinder, and Scarlet was about both Scarlet and Cinder. We see everything unfold from various perspectives, so we know what is happening in multiple places at once. There are so many different layers to these books; hidden nooks and crannies that are not fully realized until all of the pieces fall into place. I cannot stop listening once I start (which isn't good for getting things done).

I loved Scarlet and her no-nonsense personality. She was straightforward and determined in her efforts to find her grandmother. I admired her capabilities (she had no issues pointing a gun at someone's face), but thought she was a tad too eager to throw herself into dangerous situations.

Wolf was an interesting character, and I would love to know more of his history. I think I might get my wish in the next book, if how it ended is any indication.

I loathe Levana. She's vile, vain, and virtually untouchable.

I feel like everything is building toward something catastrophic, and I cannot wait to find out what that is! I'm so happy there are still more books in this series to read!

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart? 
"And then he was kissing me like we were both on fire and he was trying to put the flames out, and I kissed him back like an arsonist with a pocketful of matches."
The universe was against me, but I finally finished this book! It didn't take me long to read, but it was "misplaced" for over a week. My son thought my shelves were too full, so he decided to add a few to his. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿ’•

I absolutely adored this book! Jenn Bennett is a wonderful author that writes truly authentic stories with relatable characters. All of the characters, regardless of their roles, were meaningful. A few were only mentioned a handful of times, but their overall impact was great and fit seamlessly into the rest of the story.

I loved watching Bex and Jack form a relationship. It was awkward and intense at the beginning, but slows down once the two finally start interacting with each other. It's like they've finally found another person they can confide in, which is good, because there is no shortage of secrets.

I was surprised by some of the revelations, and it was exciting to see how they would start to play into the story. It was so awesome watching all of the pieces come together! The family fights were not over-the-top, and the sibling relationships made me smile. I was disappointed with the parents a few times, but I can understand the reasons for their actions. They also love their children and make an effort to fix their mistakes.

Bex and Jack are practical when it comes to the physical aspects of their relationship, and they're able to talk about it reasonably before moving forward. There were a lot of times I forgot these two were in high school, and loved the level of maturity they had already achieved. They were open and honest, and both wanted assurances from the other that they were happy. They were so selfless and sweet. (Bonus: If they had a problem, they actually talked about it.)

It isn't an angsty romance, or even a slow burn, but a simple and honest connection that blooms over time. They're able to connect through their love of art, but it's really so much more than that. Bex and Jack are two people that know what they want in life, and they're not afraid to go for it. I loved their confidence and enthusiasm, and their willingness to help others. Brilliant book!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

My Weekly Pull [10]

My Weekly Pull is something I will be doing every Wednesday to show which comics I had pulled for me that week! If you're into comics, or you're looking to start, please join me! Leave a link in the comments if you decide to do your own post. I would love to stop by and check it out!

This week will also include my pulls from last Wednesday! My DNF&Y, which is posted on the last day of the month, happened to fall on the same day. I know you guys were sooo disappointed, right? ๐Ÿ˜œ

Last Week:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #79 by Tom Waltz, Brahm Revel, Kevin Eastman
All New Wolverine #31 by Tom Taylor, Marco Failla, David Lopez
Black Panther #170 by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Leonard Kirk, Phil Noto
Gwenpool #25 by Christopher Hastings, Gurihiru
Invincible Iron Man #597 by Brian Michael Bendis, Stefano Caselli, R.B. Silva
Legion #2 (of 5) by Peter Milligan, Wilfredo Torres, Javier Rodriguez 
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #28 by Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos
Moon Knight #192 by Max Bemis, Jacen Burrows
Peter Parker Spectacular Spider-Man  #300 by Chip Zdarsky, Adam Kubert, Scottie Young
Spider-Man Deadpool #28 by Robbie Thompson, Chris Bachalo, Scott Hepburn
X-Men Blue #22 by Cullen Bunn, Jacopo Camagni, Arthur Adams

This week:
The Amazing Spider-Man #797 by Dan Slott, Stuart Immonen, Ed McGuinness
Hawkeye #16 by Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, Julian Totino Tedesco
Infinity Countdown #1 (of 5) by Gerry Duggan, Aaron Kuder, Gustavo Duarte
Rogue & Gambit #3 (of 5) by Kelly Thompson, Pere Perez, Kris Anka
Spider-Man #238 by Brian Michael Bendis, Oscar Bazaldua, Patrick Brown
Venom #163 by Cullen Bunn, Will Robson
X-Men Red #2 by Tom Taylor, Mahmud A. Asrar, Travis Charest

Firstly, Jacob brought something to my attention... the Spider-Man #238 cover is actually the cover for last month's issue, and the image from last month is the correct cover for this week. I use Comic List as a reference (it links you to other sites, but gives you a general list of what's coming out), and I guess they had their covers swapped!

Secondly, I'm loving all the covers for this week! The Rogue & Gambit heart, the last issue of Hawkeye (๐Ÿ˜ญ), and even crazy Rocket and a splintered Groot. The image of Nightcrawler is pretty awesome, too!

From the first week, I'm incredibly pumped for the All-New Wolverine with Deadpool. He's always making things worse, but in the best way. The Moon Knight cover has me a little worried, but Max Bemis always ends with a massive cliffhanger, so I feel like I should just worry on principle. It's also my last Gwenpool (๐Ÿ˜ญ), because all of my favorite comics are ending. I know there's the next thing to read, but it's hard when you've already fallen in love with something else.

Clearly, Jacob and I read way too many comics, so we are trying to narrow them down a bit, but it's difficult. Some of these are only going to be five issues, some are ten issues, and others are ongoing. Do we stop reading comics that have only a few issues, or see them through to the end? Should we stick with what we just absolutely love, or still branch out a little? It's hard to give up on a comic, or slim down your list, but there are a few that I don't have an issue quitting. 

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur -- She's started acting really snobbish for an nine-year-old (I'm pretty sure she's nine), and she knows she is smarter than everyone else in the world. I think it's gone to her head, and I'm not a fan of her "superior" attitude. I also don't really care for the addition of Thing and The Human Torch. It's been...odd. It keeps getting weirder, too. I started reading this from the Legacy issue, so I haven't actually read one that includes Devil Dinosaur. She sent him back to his time... or something... I don't actually know. It's not one that I have a strong desire to continue. 

Marvel Two-In-One -- Maybe I just don't like Thing and The Human Torch? I've read the first three and just don't feel very invested in their story. 

Spider-Man Deadpool -- (Note: I only read the Legacy issue. Jacob is hovering over my shoulder and telling me I need to "read the oldies" to have a better opinion.) UGH. I've never not wanted to finish a comic, but this one was extremely tempting. But it's a comic, right? They're not very long, so I persevered. Spider-Man was almost as annoying as Deadpool. Peter Parker seemed lazy, unmotivated and unlikable. Deadpool is meant to be obnoxious, but I feel like his winning personality was over-the-top and just too much. I didn't think their banter was witty or funny.

Those are the three I would like to strike from our list, but I'm not sure Jacob will agree with Spider-Man Deadpool. He enjoys it, so I don't want to break the man's heart. It's just not something I will continue to read. I think he and I agree on the other two. 

Have you tried any new comics this week? Let me know!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Phoenix Fire (Phoenix Cycle #1) by S.D. Grimm | Blog Tour: Book Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

Hello! Welcome to one of the first stops on the Phoenix Fire blog tour hosted by Entangled Publishing. I'm really happy to share my thoughts on this book with you, as well as an excerpt from the story! Phoenix Fire is being released into the world today (March 5th) and can be found here.

Synopsis (via Goodreads): After spending her life in foster care, Ava has finally found home. But all it takes is a chance encounter with hot nerd Wyatt Wilcox for it to unravel.

Now, things are starting to change. First, the flashes of memories slowly creeping in. Memories of other lives, lives that Wyatt is somehow in. Then, the healing. Any cut? Gone.

But when Cade and Nick show up, claiming to be her brothers, things get even weirder. They tell her she’s a Phoenix, sent to protect the world from monsters—monsters she never knew existed. It’s a little hard to accept. Especially when they tell her she has to end the life of a Phoenix turned rogue, or Cade will die.

With Wyatt’s increasingly suspicious behavior, Ava’s determined to figure out what he’s hiding. Unless she can discover Wyatt’s secret in time and complete her Phoenix training, she’ll lose the life, love, and family she never thought she could have. 

"Actually, I was certain I wasn’t okay, but there was no way I’d tell comic-book-loving, Bunsen-burner-master Wyatt that."
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Also, the quote I used may have changed or been altered in some way, but I am quoting from what I received.

I really liked the concept for this book, but I didn't love it as much as I thought I would. Ava, one of the three siblings, really started to get on my nerves. I can understand why she pushed people away in the beginning, but after the first quarter of the book her comments really bugged me. She kept saying she was better off alone, and the only person she could trust was herself. It was like listening to a broken record.

Her foster family was amazing, and they never gave her a reason to push them away. She was acting preemptively and without cause (because she thought it would be best to remain unattached), but she didn't give them a chance. She was guarded and defensive from the beginning, and it was like she couldn't accept that people genuinely cared about her.

I also thought it was weird that two teens died and no one mentions it or asks what happened. You would think Ava's foster parents, the school, or even her brothers would have discussed the deaths, but it was like it never happened.

Wyatt, Nick and CadeI really wanted to like these three, and I did for the most part, but ugh. NO ONE TELLS ANYONE ANYTHING EVER. For some unknown reason, Wyatt and Nick get their memories back first, like two years before the others. What do they do during those two years? Who explains what is happening to them? Why does it take so long for everyone to get on the same page?

I felt like the story was moving forward without actually going anywhere, but I wanted to see how everything would play out. Phoenix Fire did manage to surprise me a few times, so bonus points there, but I wish the information had been presented a little differently. A few more details here, a little character development there, and less "Drat! I'm being sucked into a memory!" I know they needed the information from their past lives, but there had to be a better way for them to access those memories. Everyone kept fainting and falling down.

I don't know if I will read the next book in the series, but I am curious about the conclusion. ๐Ÿ˜

Friday, March 2, 2018

How to Love by Katie Cotugno

Narrated by Merritt Hicks
Synopsis (via Goodreads):
Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he's never seemed to notice that Reena even exists until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.


Almost three years have passed, and there's a new love in Reena's life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena's gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she's finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn't want anything to do with him, though she'd be lying if she said Sawyer's being back wasn't stirring something in her. After everything that's happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice. 
“I am remembering so clearly how he looked when he was eight, when he was eleven, when he was seventeen. Sawyer and I were only together for a few months before he left, but he was my golden boy for so long before that he would have taken the guts of me with him even if we’d never been a couple at all.”
I feel like I've lived Reena's entire life! The audiobook wasn't any longer than others I've listened to, but it still felt like I grew up with her. I loved the alternating chapters! The before and after really helped shaped the overall story. Obviously, we know Reena ended up pregnant and had a baby, but we simultaneously get to see what her life is like now, and the events that led up to that world-changing moment.

I didn't always agree with Reena or her decisions, but I did understand them. She was a young adult trying to find herself, and mistakes are a part of the process. I could look at some of her choices and think about how I would do things differently, but that's because I've already lived through that part of my life and learned from my mistakes.

I didn't love Sawyer, but I don't think I was supposed to either. He was a troubled teen with parental problems (that are never really explained), and he also struggles with addiction. His life is lacking substance, so he seems to just float from one place to the next. I understand now why he left, but I really wish he had never gotten involved with Reena. It was selfish and impulsive on his part.

On the other hand, Reena shouldn't have gotten involved with Sawyer. I don't have enough fingers to list the reasons why, but friends and family showing concern is a big one. Also, I've never seen someone so motivated to graduate and follow their dreams, so I was more than a little peeved when Sawyer became more important than school. He just kept taking things from her, slowly and without concern.

I didn't like how easy it was for Sawyer to wiggle himself back into her life in a major way, nor did I agree with how Reena treated those around her that had been there since his absence. I felt cheated. I know Reena deserved better than what she was getting, even if he seemed changed and understanding. He went about it the wrong way, and again she just let him without much consequence. I never understood her strong emotional attachment to him, other than the fact that he's her daughter's father and she has loved him since they were children. The middle (her actual relationship with him) was weird for me. What did he do to deserve so much from her?

I  may have said, "I didn't," more than a few times, but I truly enjoyed this book. It was remarkably realistic, and I felt like their situation could have happened to anyone. While I didn't agree with a lot that happened, that doesn't mean it wasn't possible. The writing was beautiful, the secondary characters were prominent people within the story, and the narrator was captivating. I kept going back for more even when I wanted to yell at the characters for their stupidity. Life is about learning, and some lessons are harder than others.