Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart
Blog Tour: Book Review & Giveaway

Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the Grace and Fury blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. I'm really happy to share my thoughts on this book with you!

Author: Tracy Banghart
Pub. Date: July 31, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 320
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, iBooks, TBD

In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi Tessaro face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other in prison.

Serina has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace--someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. But when her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, catches the heir's eye, it's Serina who takes the fall for the dangerous secret that Nomi has been hiding.

Now trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one way to save Serina: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to release her sister. This is easier said than done. A traitor walks the halls of the palace, and deception lurks in every corner. But Serina is running out of time, imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive and one wrong move could cost her everything.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. (A few weeks later I joined a blog tour for this book.) My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product. 

I don't like it when I'm able to easily discern how a book is going to end, but I love when I make an assumption that turns out to be right based on the tiniest of details. Grace and Fury was not in any way predictable, but there were certain people that felt off. I feel a little like Sherlock Holmes right now! The revelations at the end of this book were satisfying, but I'm going to pretend like there wasn't a cliffhanger, because ugh.

At the beginning, I didn't like Nomi or Serina. They kept making decisions that benefited themselves, so it wasn't a surprise when their world's came crashing down. However, I have a lot of respect for them both. They were thrown into unfamiliar (and sometimes hostile) environments and thrived. Nomi's situation was a gilded cage, while Serina fought for her next meal. Nomi was supposed to be the rebellious sibling, but she seemed to lose her confidence when it really mattered.

I want to kick so many people in the face! I hated how the women were treated, and what some of their punishments were. They're not allowed to do anything and are required to be sickeningly submissive to men. Some of the girls lived for that life, while others refused to accept their fate.

Nomi and Serina learned a lot from their new roles, and they both became stronger in their own way. Although, I think Serina should have hated her sister a little more, because Nomi didn't suffer nearly as much as she did. Serina was groomed to be a Grace, and she is... but not in the way she expected.

In the end, Grace and Fury was a quick and exciting read that kept me on my toes. It takes a lot for me to enjoy and respect characters that I don't like, but the author does just that. I understand Nomi and Serina's situation, even if I disagree with some of their choices. The story is solid and the world is great, but that cliffhanger was brutal.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman

Synopsis (via Goodreads): The last thing Elise wants is to start her senior year in a new town. But after her brother’s death in Afghanistan, she and her mother move from San Francisco to a sleepy coastal village.

When Elise meets Mati, they quickly discover how much they have in common. Mati is new to town too, visiting the U.S. with his family. Over the course of the summer, their relationship begins to blossom, and what starts out as a friendship becomes so much more.

But as Elise and Mati grow closer, her family becomes more and more uncomfortable with their relationship, and their concerns all center on one fact—Mati is Afghan.

Beautifully written, utterly compelling, and ultimately hopeful, THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US asks—how brave can you be when your relationship is questioned by everyone you love?


The Impossibility of Us was a beautiful story about acceptance and following your heart even when the world is against you. Elise stood up to her family and sacrificed those relationships when it became clear they wouldn't let go of their prejudices. It's easier to deal with hate and ignorance when it's not directed at you and your choices.

Janie was my favorite character! She's Elise's three-year-old niece and always made me smile. Her wishes, love of cookies, and adoration for a father she'll never know... it was so sweet and heartbreaking. She also doesn't understand racism or hatred, or even know how to form those feelings, so she easily accepts Mati and his relationship with Elise. He was incredibly kind to her and told her stories that were relevant to his culture.

I enjoyed all of the information Katy Upperman included about Mati and his beliefs. I also liked that Elise researched things on her own. She wanted to understand and be knowledgeable. She made an effort to learn some of his language and customs, and he did the same.

At first some of the language felt weird, but I quickly learned it was just how Elise thought and spoke. She had a different way of perceiving the world, and it showed through her speech. When the wording felt awkward, I realized it was because Elise felt awkward herself. Her thoughts and feelings were represented in what she said. 

An observation that bugged me... At the beginning Mati claimed to only have a prepaid phone that they kept for emergencies, but later he's carrying it around and using it like a normal cellphone. He texts and calls Elise with little abandon, and a few messages and calls to Ryan. I wish the author would have mentioned the phone again and whether or not it was an issue for him to use it that way. Did he have to keep putting more money into it? If so, where did that money come from since they were in the states for his father's treatments?  No one was working (that I know of), so I'm not sure how they rented their cottage, paid bills, or bought groceries.

I really liked Ryan and his friendship with Elise, but I felt like they were instant friends that rarely saw each other. When they hung out it felt a little forced, so I wish more time had been spent on developing that relationship. He was so sincere and I wanted him to be a more prominent part of the story. 

It would be lovely if the author's story had been completely fictional, but the hatred and prejudice are real. People always have their reasons, and they feel like they're able to justify them, but it's never okay to despise one person for the actions of others. Would you want the world to judge American citizens for the actions of its president? I have no control over what he does or says, just like Mati has no control over what some Muslim/Afghans choose to do. 

Overall, The Impossibility of Us was a truly remarkable story that had me turning the pages through the wee hours of the morning (already on my second cup of coffee as I write this), and I cannot wait to read more from this author. 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

DNF&Y [7]

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 disliked about a book might be something 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!

*I'm posting this a little early since I have other things scheduled the next few days!

The Intermission by Elyssa Friedland
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Have you ever had a secret so gut-wrenching you couldn't share it with anyone, not even the person who shares your bed? Told from the alternating perspectives of a husband and wife who both have something to hide, this incisive novel pulls back the curtain on a seemingly-happy marriage, posing the question: how much do we really know--and how much should we want to know--about the people we love the most?

After six years of marriage, the unshakeable confidence Cass felt on her wedding day is decidedly gone. Jonathan, on the other hand, is still smitten with Cass. It's true that the personality quirks he once found charming in his wife--her complexity, her high standards, her refusal to clean the dishes--are beginning to grate. But for him, these are minor challenges in an otherwise healthy relationship. So it comes as a complete shock to Jonathan when Cass suddenly requests a marital 'intermission': a six-month separation during which they'll figure out if the comfortable life they've built together is, in fact, the one they both want. 

After Cass and Jonathan devise an absurd and jet lag-inducing plan to swap custody of their beloved dog every thirty days, they decide that (aside from their monthly canine exchange) the intermission will be a time for self-reflection--and not a time for talking. But, as the months pass, Cass and Jonathan begin to see that the very worst of their problems are rooted in just these kinds of calculated silences--and in a delicate web of blistering secrets they may never be ready to share.

DNF after 20 or so pages

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Cass was catty and vindictive. She had a rough childhood, so now she thinks the world owes her something. It's pretty shitty that she takes some of that out on her husband. She'll pretend to be asleep when he wants to talk, or think about doing something nice for him only to change her mind. Relationships are partnerships, and Cass seemed remarkably self-centered.

"Her husband--before he became that--used to remind her of a nearly ripe farm-stand peach, a project almost completed. He was someone in need of finishing touches, a man who would be so grateful to her for getting him a better haircut and jazzing up his apartment that he'd fail to see that she was truly the one in need of finishing." This is not how or why you should start a relationship with someone.

Jonathan was pretentious and obnoxious. He was also paying way too much attention to people that were not his wife. "...was more tolerable coming from a twentysomething with perky tits and a gravity-defying ass." Ugh. Then there were two paragraphs that should not have gone next to each other... "Headboard-gripping, doggy-style sex followed a few dates later. Maybe she wasn't that hard to please after all." (This was said about Cass pre-marriage.) Followed by: "His mother, another woman for whose approved he'd worked overly hard..." and now all I can think about is him working his mother in that way. 

Yes, I understand this was a book about two people struggling with their marriage, but neither one was likable. They were terrible people when they were alone, so it's not surprising that they were awful together.

Caught Up by Rya Stone
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Cassie Mitchum is interested in one thing and one thing only—closing a deal on the Lucas property. Until she sets eyes on Jason “Jase” Lucas. He’s bad news, but he looks damn good doing it. She’s never been one for tattooed roughnecks, but she’s willing to make an exception, especially since he won’t look at her lease offer unless she agrees to a date with him.

Jason Lucas needs Cassie Mitchum to stay the hell off his land. There’s more happening than she needs to be aware of—or mixed up in. With that feisty attitude and those tight jeans…he can’t get her out of his head. Too bad being close to her would put her on the radar of the most dangerous person Jase has ever known.

DNF at 12%

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

This one was a little darker than I was expecting... domestic violence, prostitution, and so much drama. It wasn't enjoyable drama, but the type that follows jealous women around. These were supposed to be adults, yet they were acting like hormonal teenagers and wild animals claiming their territory. It just wasn't a good fit for me from the start.

Also, if someone is a jerk... please don't swoon over them. I don't care what the flark their eyes look like, or whether or not their rough exterior makes you hot and bothered. Have more respect for yourself!

Synopsis (via Goodreads):
Kiss the boys and make them cry...
Arrowheart (The Love Curse, #1)
by Rebecca Sky

The gods are gone.
The people have forgotten them.
But sixteen-year-old Rachel Patel can't forget - the gods control her life, or more specifically, her love life.

Being a Hedoness, one of a strong group of women descended from Greek God Eros, makes true love impossible for Rachel. She wields the power of that magical golden arrow, and with it, the promise to take the will of any boy she kisses. But the last thing Rachel wants is to force someone to love her . . .

When seventeen-year-old Benjamin Blake's disappearance links back to the Hedonesses, Rachel's world collides with his, and her biggest fear becomes a terrifying reality. She's falling for him - a messy, magnetic, arrow-over-feet type of fall.

Rachel distances herself, struggling to resist the growing attraction, but when he gives up his dream to help her evade arrest, distance becomes an insurmountable task. With the police hot on their trail, Rachel soon realizes there are darker forces hunting them - a group of mortals recruited by the gods who will stop at nothing to preserve the power of the Hedonesses - not to mention Eros himself, who is desperate to reverse the curse . . .

Rachel must learn to do what no Hedoness has done before - to resist her gift - or she'll turn the person she's grown to love into a shadow of himself … forever.

DNF about halfway through

I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I love books about Greek mythology, so I dove into this one without any hesitation. Unfortunately, everything was too unbelievable. Stories like this have to be explained and portrayed in a way that feels real to the reader. The characters in Arrowheart were not very likable, and they accepted the impossible with little very little doubt.

One of the characters was taken captive and he chose to accept it and do whatever they told him to. He didn't try to fight, escape (even though there were plenty of opportunities), and questioned very little. I also didn't understand the romance the author was trying to portray with him and another character. Keeping someone against their will (and actually taking away their will more than once), would hopefully make them look for an escape.

I don't know if the reasons were explained later in the book, because I just couldn't bring myself to continue reading it. The characters were either shallow and spent a lot of time on their looks, or oblivious and let others walk all over them. I barley understood Rachel's thought process most of the time, or why she chose to make certain decisions. 

In the end, it wasn't my cup of tea. I'll admit that I'm curious about Eros, because I'm not as familiar with his mythology, but my lack of interest in the story cancelled out my desire to know how it ended.

School for Psychics (School for Psychics, #1)
by K.C. Archer
Narrated by Madeleine Maby
Synopsis (via Goodreads): An entrancing new series starring a funny, impulsive, and sometimes self-congratulatory young woman who discovers she has psychic abilities—and then must decide whether she will use her skills for good or…not.

Teddy Cannon isn’t your typical twenty-something woman. She’s resourceful. She’s bright. She’s scrappy. She can also read people with uncanny precision. What she doesn’t realize: she’s actually psychic.

When a series of bad decisions leads Teddy to a run-in with the police, a mysterious stranger intervenes. He invites her to apply to the School for Psychics, a facility hidden off the coast of San Francisco where students are trained like Delta Force operatives: it’s competitive, cutthroat, and highly secretive. They’ll learn telepathy, telekinesis, investigative skills, and SWAT tactics. And if students survive their training, they go on to serve at the highest levels of government, using their skills to protect America, and the world.

In class, Teddy befriends Lucas, a rebel without a cause who can start and manipulate fire; Jillian, a hipster who can mediate communication between animals and humans; and Molly, a hacker who can apprehend the emotional state of another individual. But just as Teddy feels like she’s found where she might belong, strange things begin to happen: break-ins, missing students, and more. It leads Teddy to accept a dangerous mission that will ultimately cause her to question everything—her teachers, her friends, her family, and even herself.

Set in a world very much like our own,
School for Psychics is the first book in a stay-up-all night series. 

DNF about halfway through

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I struggled with this one at the beginning, because I was unfamiliar with the setting and the terminology. I've never been to a casino or played whatever game she was playing, so some of the references went over my head. I wish the author had spent a little more time explaining what Teddy was doing, but instead I felt separated from the story.

Despite my initial misgivings, I decided to continue reading this one. I thought things would get better once she arrived at the super secret school, but sadly they did not. I originally thought this was going to be a YA book, and was surprised when it was about twenty-somethings instead. However, despite her age... Teddy's thoughts and actions were childish. She was impulsive and rarely considered what she was doing, she stole money from her adoptive parents (she was in debt), and she had very little concern for herself and others. 

Also, some of the logistics surrounding the psychics didn't really work. There were too many holes and not enough explanations. The story also started to feel like it was dragging on... she'd study, make a mistake, be threatened with expulsion, promise to do better, and then repeat ten more times. I didn't want to put any more time into a story I wasn't fully enjoying. The concept was interesting... psychics being trained to work in government positions, but the delivery was less than stellar. 

*Share your DNF&Y post! Please leave the direct link to your DNF&Y post and not just your blog's URL. Thank you for participating and happy reading!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Runaways (#8-10) by Rainbow Rowell

Runaways (#8-10) by Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka (Illustrator)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): "BEST FRIENDS FOREVER" STARTS NOW! The Runaways welcome Karolina's girlfriend, JULIE POWER of the POWER PACK! Well, most of them do. Some have mixed feelings…but they'll all be glad to have an experienced hero around when one of the Universe's most fearsome super villains invades the hostel!!! 


First of all, the synopsis overexaggerates. "...but they'll all be glad to have an experienced hero around..." wasn't even an issue. Yes, someone unexpected shows up, but invades isn't the word I would use. The Runaways also do their own thing despite Julie being there, so her experience wasn't really relevant. Moving on!

I never read the synopsis for a comic until I'm writing its review. They're usually a series I'm already reading, so I have a good idea where the story is and don't want any spoilers. However, I haven't read issues four through seven, so it was nice to see that eight started its own arc. I wasn't too terribly lost. I started this series a little late, and I haven't had a chance to get the issues I'm missing. I will though! 

I love Karolina and Julie together! Julie and the Power Pack were new-to-me, so I'm not entirely sure what her specific history is. It didn't detract from the story at all, which was nice. She was just there to visit her girlfriend and got caught up in their shenanigans. 

Dr. Doom is everywhere these days, or at least in all of the comics I'm reading. He was in Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Marvel Two-In-One, and there was something else... Gwenpool was ages ago. Ah! All-New Wolverine. Dude Doom gets around. 

I'm not sure how I feel about the Runaways insisting that they're not a team, but a family. Shouldn't they be both? Julie asked the same question, and she also pointed out how completely unprepared they are for danger. There are no plans or backup plans, they don't debrief after a fight, and they tend to make things up as they go. Julie also pointed out that those methods haven't worked for them in the past, because people have died. I'm wondering if this is going to be where they start taking things more seriously. 

I would also like to know what's going on with Nico and her staff. I'm pretty sure that's something I missed in a previous issue, which only makes me want to get them sooner rather than later. I know she can only use a spell once, but now it seems like calling her staff at all causes her pain.

Runaways is definitely one I will continue reading! If you enjoy Rainbow Rowell's books, you would probably love this!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Forever, or a Long, Long Time by Caela Carter

Synopsis (via Goodreads): An achingly beautiful story in the vein of Rebecca Stead and R. J. Palacio about two foster children who want desperately to believe that they’ve found their forever home.

Flora and her brother, Julian, don’t believe they were born. They’ve lived in so many foster homes, they can’t remember where they came from. And even now that they’ve been adopted, Flora still struggles to believe in forever. So along with their new mother, Flora and Julian begin a journey to go back and discover their past—for only then can they really begin to build their future. 
"There are more letters and more words. They're building up inside me but they refuse to leave my body. They jam on top of each other like a million-car pileup on the freeway until my face is hot and my throat is sore and I know that when I finally do cry it won't be tears falling out of my eyes but letters."
When we went to the library our goal had been to find Artemis Fowl, but someone else had already checked it out. Lucky us! Forever, or a Long, Long Time was a really interesting story that explored the difficulties foster children face, and the lasting effects of being in the system.

Flora had trouble expressing her thoughts and feelings with words. She's capable of talking, but would sometimes float away from a conversation. I enjoyed reading about how she perceived herself, because she is incredibly smart. She would often mention "lung filters" and how her words would get stuck behind them, but occasionally would spill out if they weren't working. She was able to think so clearly, yet she struggled to communicate with everyone except Julian (who hides food in his closet because he's afraid he'll go hungry again).

It was heartbreaking when Flora misunderstood a situation and thought she was to blame. She was always worried that their new mom would stop loving them if she wasn't good enough. Flora and Julian were constantly waiting to be moved again, so there were a lot of ups and downs that went with that. Sometimes they threw tantrums and did awful things, and other times they were trying to be perfect so their new parents wouldn't send them away. I hated that they felt like they were to blame for their circumstances, and that they struggled to believe their mom when she promised them they would be with her forever.

It was even worse when the family started researching Flora and Julian's past. Their paperwork had been lost and never recovered, so their adoptive mother knew very little about their previous homes. They took a trip and tried to backtrack through all the places they'd lived, and some of the things they discovered were shocking and left me feeling angry and frustrated. They're children.

Forever, or a Long, Long Time was a wonderful story about learning to trust again and believing in a future where forever means something. I think the author did a great job of highlighting some of the issues foster children are facing today, and discussing some of the conditions they are forced to live in. These children have done nothing wrong and deserve to be loved and appreciated for who they are. It's sad how many of them end up somewhere worse than where they started. Flora and Julian were lucky, but a lot of children in foster care never find new families.

I loved the random theories throughout the book. Flora and Julian didn't believe that they had been born, so they made up different theories about where they came from. An example would be, "We come from the chaos, my brother and me. We were born out of the screams of other kids. We're made of their tears. We grew from their temper tantrums. We will never escape the chaos because it's what brought us to life in the first place."

I really did enjoy this one, and I like that the author told the story from Flora's perspective. It was unique and very eye-opening.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Mini Reviews [11]

Snowy: A Leopard of the High Mountains 
by Milisava Petkovik, Xuan Loc Xuan (Illustrator)
Expected publication: August 14, 2018
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Snowy the Leopard of the High Mountains tells the compelling tale of a little cub who overcomes danger through friendship, patience, and courage.

Snowy becomes separated from her mother as they run away from menacing fur hunters. Lost and lonely, the little leopard cub makes new forest friends who teach her all she needs to know to find her way back home.

Artist Xuan Loc Xuan's sensitive illustrations help kids to connect with the author's story on a stirring emotional level. Snowy's moving and poignant journey provides a heartwarming way to get children in touch with nature, and teach respect for animals at risk of extinction.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Snowy: A Leopard of the High Mountains
was an okay read for me. I think the synopsis made it seem like this book was going to be about more than it actually was, but the story itself wasn't bad. I thought this would be about the impact hunters have on the lives of animals and "teach respect for animals at risk of extinction." However, it mentions hunters twice and doesn't say anything about extinction. 

Snowy gets separated from her mother when they hear hunters shooting in the distance. Her mother tells her to run while she distracts the hunters, but then Snowy gets lost. Other animals within the forest offer to help her find her way home again, and they teach her some skills along the way. I feel like this book tried to balance reality with fiction, but it didn't always work. The animals that helped Snowy would have likely been her prey, not her friends. She also would not have ridden on the back of another animal... this is all understandable because it's a children's book, but it felt weird when the author also tried to make the content a little more serious. 

If this book had been about a mother and child being separated, and then the child having to navigate their way home, I think I would have enjoyed it more. The addition of the hunters was irrelevant to the story, because they were never mentioned again. I wish the author had taken the time to explain why hunting animals is wrong, and how it can lead to their extinction. 

Just the Right Size by Bonnie Grubman, 
Suzanne Diederen (Illustrator)
Expected publication: August 1, 2018
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Who's just the right size? You are! A sweet story about being tall or being small... and about hugging! For all readers ages 3 and up.

Did you know that a frog is small enough to perch on a lily pad? A hippopotamus is not (obviously), but he is big enough to scare a crocodile away! And a kitten is small enough to fall asleep in the flowers, but an ostrich is not. An ostrich is big enough to shade her chicks with her wings. In 'Just theRight Size', Bonnie Grubman teaches children the basic concepts of big and small, and shows that no matter how small or how big, you’re always just the right size.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

The formatting for this one made it difficult to read, but we were able to grasp the gist of it. The wording was also weird and very redundant. I know it's a children's book, but even my son asked me why they kept repeating the same phrases. If the author had left out all of the sentences ending with "is not," I believe the story would have flowed more smoothly. For example, "A kitten is small enough to fall asleep in the flowers. An ostrich is not." Then the book continues with what an ostrich is big enough to do, and so on. If it had been written a little differently, I think this book would have been an excellent example of opposites and why it's okay to be both sizes.

Dynomike: Love Bug by Frankie B. Rabbit,
Don Suratos (Illustrator)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): From the Dynomike series: Dynomike trudges through the cold snow, feeling lonely and blue. Until he meets a magical new friend that has just what he needs to feel amazing again. Now Dynomike is on a mission to spread the joy and love to everyone! We all feel sad and lonely from time to time, but the way we deal with it is what makes all the difference. Join Dynomike as he teaches kids the healthy way to get rid of the blues and spread the joy to those who need it—through the magic of the Love Bug!

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

This is going to be a hard no for me. I'm happy to give you an example:

"The whole zoo is smiling. Happiness is compiling. That was a marvelous hug! Was that the LOVE BUG? I've heard of this love plug. My zoo is happy and snug. What about you? Whaddya-say? Need some love too? Stay here and play. We have this magical plug. We'll give you a magical..." bug!

The language was incredibly hard to follow, and it barely made sense. The concept of sharing love and brightening someone's day--great. However, that concept was overshadowed by how difficult this book was to read though. 

The Trivial Tragedy of Hilda the
Vegetarian Vampire Bat by Beth Boland

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Every year in Vampire Creek there is an initiation ball for adolescent bats who have not yet tasted human blood. Hilda, a vegetarian, is blissfully ignorant of the purpose of the ball.

Devoted to her lentils, Hilda lives with her curmudgeonly maid Matilda and her cynical cat, Wiglaf, and has no idea what her fangs are for. She attends the ball dressed in white when it is compulsory to wear red, and sticks out like a sore thumb.

Hilda doesn’t care: she has secured Handsome Harry as her beau, the catch of the creek. She has turned her friend and arch-rival Adelaide green with envy.

But Hilda has offended Queen Gwendolyn and her husband Mad King Ludo the Bonny by not wearing red to the ball.

What fate will befall her?

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I barely made it past the prologue, and even that was a struggle. This format and writing style might work for some people, but it really wasn't for me. It also wasn't fun to read out loud to my kid. This was supposed to be a children's book, but I have no idea how a child is supposed to read through this and understand anything.

"I had gone to bed at nine of the clock. This is early for me, but I was more than usually tired, having topped off my supper with a portion of Stilton bigger than my head. My stomach was dragging me down towards the floorboards, and it was with great difficulty that I remained upright at all. Cheesy fumes filled my brain. Sleep was knitting up my eyelashes with a greenish crust. I concluded that I must become horizontal with great haste otherwise I would surely die."

I was really excited about a vegetarian vampire bat, so I'm bummed this one didn't work out.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

My Weekly Pull [30]

My Weekly Pull is something I do 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!

Hunt for Wolverine Mystery in Madripoor #3 (of 4) by Jim Zub, Thony Silas, Giuseppe Camuncoli
Marvel Two-In-One #8 by Chip Zdarsky, Jim Cheung
Moon Knight #197 by Max Bemis, Ty Templeton, Becky Cloonan
Venom #4 by Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman
Wakanda Forever X-Men #1 by Nnedi Okorafor, Ray-Anthony Height, Skottie Young

Jacob's comics for the week! (I might read them eventually...)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
#84 by Tom Waltz, Dave Watcher, Kevin Eastman
Transformers Unicron #2 by James Roberts, Alex Milne
Hit-Girl #6 by Jeff Lemire, Eduardo Risso, Rob Liefeld
Amazing Spider-Man #2 by Nick Spencer, Ryan Ottley
Deadpool Assassin #4 (of 6) by Cullen Bunn, Mark Bagley
Infinity Wars Prime by Gerry Duggan, Mike Deodato
Punisher #228 by Matthew Rosenberg, Guiu Vilanova, Clayton Crain

I think the women in Hunt for Wolverine Mystery in Madripoor are my favorite group searching for Wolverine (or his body). I'm really enjoying the all-female team and the story surrounding them. They've recently been attacked by Viper and her crew, but I'm still not sure what their motives are. They're clearly working for someone, but I have no idea who that someone is. I'm also curious how the appearance of Magneto will alter things. Oh, and they always look amazing while they're kicking ass!

The covers for Moon Knight and Venom are dark and disconcerting. A head is typically attached to a body... I know this isn't always the case in comics, and there have been quite a few unattached heads that function without any issues. Sometimes it's just a brain. 

This is the second Wakanda Forever and there should only be one more after it. I really liked the last issue with Spider-Man, so I cannot wait to see how the X-Men contribute to the story!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Future Will Be BS-Free by Will McIntosh

Synopsis (via Goodreads): In this terrifyingly timely tale for fans of The Eye of Minds, a teen and his group of friends find themselves on the run after using a genius lie-detector contraption to expose their corrupt government.

In a Putin-esque near-future America, the gifted and talented high school has just been eliminated, and Sam and his friends have been using their unexpected free time to work on a tiny, undetectable, utterly reliable lie detector. They're all in it for the money--except Theo, their visionary. For Theo, it's about creating a better world. A BS-free world, where no one can lie, and the honest will thrive.

Just when they finish the prototype and turn down an offer to sell their brainchild to a huge corporation, Theo is found dead. Greedy companies, corrupt privatized police, and even the president herself will stop at nothing to steal the Truth App. Sam sets his sights on exposing all lies and holding everyone accountable.

But he and his friends quickly realize the costs of a BS-free world: the lives of loved ones, and political and economic stability. They now face a difficult question: Is the world capable of operating without lies, or are lies what hold it together?


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

First of all, the synopsis is a little misleading. It did not feel like a "Putin-esque near-future", but they did mention Russia and cyberattacks a few times. If this was supposed to be satirical, it needed more oomph. For example, the president is super shady and tortures teens by bursting their eardrums with excessively loud music. She also asks civilians to take up arms and hunt down innocent people on their own. Those people felt empowered and easily justified their actions with no evidence. Oh, and she rhymes everything she says to the public, but I have absolutely no idea why. I don't even know if the characters noticed.

After about seventy percent, I started skimming through to the end. It just became a tad too ridiculous and unbelievable for me. The previously mentioned ear drums, the lack of adulting from parents and teachers (they just went along with teenage shenanigans and barely questioned anything), and the way everything just sort of fell into place made me lose interest in the story. I also have no idea how the president managed to stay in power.

I liked the concept for the story, and I was curious how their portable lie detector would work. However, even that is only vaguely explained. The reader is supposed to believe something is possible just because someone says it is, but I want the facts to back it up. If you want me to believe something, make me believe it with the writing. They somehow ended up with two rings and used facial recognition, but I have no idea how it worked. It's set in the future, so some of the technology they were using and referencing wasn't familiar to me.

I would have enjoyed more details about their initial escape, but that was over way too quickly. The characters body-shame themselves quite often, and even one of the adults makes fun of a girl for being overweight. The author mentions her being carried multiple times, and not because she's weak or tired. It's implied that she's slowing them down because she's too heavy and slow to keep up. 

Some of the characters formed instant attachments to people, and in the end I just couldn't do it anymore. It's hard to explain exactly how I felt... there was just something off about the entire story. It didn't flow together or hold my attention, and I can't get lost in a book that I don't believe in.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Final Thoughts [5]
Astonishing X-Men (#8-12) by Charles Soule

Astonishing X-Men (#8-12) by Charles Soule, Gerardo Sandoval (Illustrator), Greg Land (Illustrator)
I really enjoyed this one at the beginning (read my review of the first seven issues here), but I stopped being as invested in the story once they left the Astral Plane. There was a lot going on... and a lot of it didn't make sense. I decided to finish the series since there were only going to be twelve issues, but now I wish I'd stopped after #7.

Astonishing X-Men had an amazing group of characters, but they all played minor parts in the overall story. The author would occasionally hint at more, but everything came back to Psylocke, Professor X and Fantomex. Logan, Mystique, Rogue, Bishop, Gambit, Archangel--I wish they had all been given larger roles.

In the end, I lost interest in the story. There was one issue that was unbelievably trippy, and it was hard to follow the speech bubbles and the illustrations. Imagine a page in a comic book blending together until it's a giant blob of a picture... The ending was somewhat predictable and very unsatisfying. I think it had the potential to be more than it was, and I disagree with how it concluded.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Forest of Ruin (Age of Legends, #3) by Kelley Armstrong

Narrated by Jennifer Ikeda
Synopsis (via Goodreads): In a world at war, who can you trust?

The empire rests on the edge of a knife, and sisters Ashyn and Moria are the handle and the blade. Desperate to outmaneuver the evil Alvar Kitsune, whose hold on the people grows stronger every day, Emperor Tatsu begs Moria to put aside past grievances and ally with Gavril—at least long enough to make an attempt on Alvar’s life. Meanwhile, reunited with her long-lost grandfather, Ashyn discovers that she is the key to a ritual that could reawaken an ancient dragon and turn the tide of the coming battle in their favor.

But with lies and betrayal lurking around every corner, Ashyn and Moria will have to decide once and for all where their allegiances are. And it may not be where their hearts would lead them…

“Threatened you with what? Forcing you to father children? I’m hardly an expert in the matter, but my rudimentary knowledge of the process suggests that would be difficult.”
Kelley Armstrong might be really good at dismembering fictional bodies, but she's even better at destroying hearts. I cannot remember the last time a book made me cry, but Forest of Ruin had me sobbing so hard I had to pause the audiobook. My heart was already feeling anxious and unsteady, so it couldn't take the expertly thrown dagger that the author had crafted.

If you've been following my blog the last few days, you know I've been flying through this series. I think I listened to all three audiobooks in less than a week, which is insane. I don't think I've slept as much as I should...  I looked for any and every excuse to dive back into the imaginative world Armstrong had created. It was so vivid and realistic!

“As they neared the spot from which the noise had come, Moria saw a hand lying on the pathway. It appeared to be attached to a body, which was a relief. Again, these days, one could not guarantee such a thing.”

I like that there wasn't a love triangle, even though there was an opportunity for one. Two people of the opposite sex can love each other deeply, but only want friendship out of the relationship. It is possible to enjoy someone's company without wanting to share their bed.

My one teeny tiny issue with this series was how often Ashyn compared herself to her sister. They were two different people, and I wish she hadn't struggled so much with her identity. Even at the end she saw her sister one way and "resigned" herself to another fate. She said both were important in their own way, but she still made it seem like one was somehow better... I wish she had felt happier in her own skin and with her own abilities and contributions. She did a lot to save the empire and move the story forward.

Despite a few unanswered questions, I absolutely loved this series! It's definitely going to be one I add to my shelves. If you enjoy audiobooks, the narrator was fantastic! She really brought the characters to life in my head and gave them their own personalities and mannerisms. I feel like that sounds weird, because it's just someone reading words, but she really captured the essence of the book and the people within it.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Mini Reviews [10]

Empire of Night (Age of Legends, #2)
by Kelley Armstrong
Narrated by Jennifer Ikeda


Their village is gone. Their friends have betrayed them. And now, they are all but prisoners in court, forced to watch and wait while the Emperor decides whether to help the children of Edgewood, who remain hostages of the treacherous Alvar Kitsune.

But when the emperor finally sends the girls on a mission to rescue the children - accompanied by Prince Tyrus and a small band of men - the journey proves more perilous than any of them could have imagined. With lies and unrest mounting in the empire, Moria and Ashyn will have to draw on every bit of influence and power they possess to unite their people and avert an all-out war.

In this second book in her epic and captivating Age of Legends trilogy, #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong blends romance, danger, and magic to send readers on a heart-racing journey through an unforgettable world.


I know I reviewed the first book on Monday, but I am zinging through this series! I'm already halfway finished with the third and final book, Forest of Ruin. It's crazy intense and wonderfully fantastical. I am in love with the characters and the world Kelley Armstrong has created. I feel like I'm on the long and arduous journey with them, and I'm increasingly worried about their safety. They no longer know who they can trust, and they keep finding bodies that are broken, shredded, or unrecognizable. Beasts from stories and lore are appearing with more frequency, so I'm pretty confident the dismemberments and disappearances will continue.

Although dark and dangerous, Armstrong has written a story that has completely captivated my mind. She has given the characters a rich history and an authenticity that makes me feel as if I've known them my entire life. I cannot wait to see how everything ends!

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss,
E.G. Keller (Illustrator)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): HBO's Emmy-winning Last Week Tonight with John Oliver presents a picture book about a Very Special boy bunny who falls in love with another boy bunny.

Meet Marlon Bundo, a lonely bunny who lives with his Grampa, Mike Pence - the Vice President of the United States. But on this Very Special Day, Marlon's life is about to change forever...

With its message of tolerance and advocacy, this charming children's book explores issues of same sex marriage and democracy. Sweet, funny, and beautifully illustrated, this book is dedicated to every bunny who has ever felt different.

100% of Last Week Tonight's proceeds will be donated to The Trevor Project and AIDS United.


I'm not sure if this started off as a joke to irritate the Vice President, but the story is solid and meaningful. Two boy bunnies fall in love after a day of hopping, so they decide to get married and hop together forever! It was sweet and showed that having a support system can make a huge difference. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo also shows what happens when a group of people stand together and demand change.

Amazing Spider-Man: Wakanda Forever #1
by Nnedi Okorafor, 
Alberto Alburquerque (Illustrator), 
Terry Dodson (Illustrator) 
Synopsis (via Goodreads): PART ONE OF A THREE-PART STORY THAT SEES THE DORA MILAJE TEAM UP WITH THE MARVEL U! The blockbuster Black Panther film has everyone talking about Wakanda’s best warriors, the fierce Dora Milaje! Now witness the Dora outside of Wakanda – and in Spider-Man’s world! When the Dora catch wind of a Wakandan threat causing trouble in New York, they’ll leap into action – with or without their king. Don’t miss Okoye, Ayo and Aneka on a globe-trotting mission to protect the realm at any cost. WAKANDA FOREVER starts here!

There were some literal laugh out loud moments in this one, and I enjoyed seeing Spider-Man's humor paired with the seriousness of the Dora Milaje. They actually complemented each other quite well! 

I'm not sure how the characters in this comic compared to their movie counterparts, because I still have not seen the Black Panther movie. I've tried to watch it with my husband a few times, but something always comes up. I hope we're able to get through the entire movie soon! I've only heard great things about it, and the first 25% was awesome.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

My Weekly Pull [29]

My Weekly Pull is something I do 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!

Magic Order #2 by Mark Millar, Olivier Coipel
Hunt for Wolverine Claws of a Killer #3 (of 4) by Mariko Tamaki, Butch Guice, Greg Land
Infinity Countdown #5 (of 5) by Gerry Duggan, Aaron Kuder, Nick Bradshaw
Runaways #11 by Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka
X-Men Red #6 by Tom Taylor, Mahmud A. Asrar, Travis Charest

Jacob's comics for the week! (I might read them eventually...)

Optimus Prime #21 by John Barber, Sara Pitre-Durocher, Kei Zama
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #24 by Ryan Ferrier, Pablo Tunica, Freddie Williams II
Analog #4 by Gerry Duggan, David O'Sullivan
Kick-Ass #6 by Mark Millar, John Romita Jr.
Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man #307 by Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones
Spider-Man Deadpool #36 by Robbie Thompson, Chris Bachalo

I'm really curious about what Mark Millar will do with Magic Order. I think it has the potential to be really interesting (despite the naked shapeshifter), and like that it seems to focus on a family and their roles within the group. I have a feeling it's going to be sad based on some of the information given in the last issue, but also fascinating because of the monsters they fight on behalf of the world.

I have no idea how they plan to end Hunt for Wolverine, but there are multiple groups of people looking for him. Not all of those groups are searching to be helpful, and I want to know if their different stories will eventually crossover into one ending.

Are you reading any good comics this week? Let me know!

*This My Weekly Pull was briefly posted yesterday before I realized I didn't need to do it a day early! I was supposed to be participating in a blog tour, but I had my dates mixed up. Everything worked out in the end, because now this one is posted on the correct day, and I was able to post about the release of Like Never and Always by Ann Aguirre. If you're interested in the book, there's also a giveaway... just go to the post before this one. If you commented on this before I took it down, my apologies! Your comments are still there, but they're likely not going to show the same date as the post.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Like Never and Always by Ann Aguirre
[Release Day Blitz + Giveaway]

I'm really excited to be participating in the Release Day Blitz for Like Never and Always hosted by Rockstar Book Tours! I'm really looking forward to reading this one.

About the Book:
Author: Ann Aguirre
Pub. Date: July 17, 2018
Publisher: Tor Teen
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 336
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, iBooks, TBD

On a hot summer night, a screech of brakes and shattering glass changes two lives forever.

Liv wakes in the hospital, confused when they call her Morgan. She assumes it’s a case of mistaken identity, yet when the bandages come off, it’s not her face in the mirror anymore. It’s her best friend Morgan’s.

Morgan always seemed to have the perfect life, yet Liv must navigate endlessly disturbing secrets of the criminal and murderous variety—and a romance that feels like a betrayal. Torn between the boy she loved as Liv and the boy she’s grown to love as Morgan, Liv still has to survive Morgan’s last request.


“Just let this be the second secret you keep for me,” I say then. “Thanks for not telling Nathan, by the way.”

Clay leans his arm along the door frame, tilting his head slightly out the open window as if he needs the air. “You couldn’t pay me to talk to that jackass lately.”

“You two fighting?”

“No. He’s just . . . Nathan.” He hesitates. “I wasn’t going to tell you this . . .”

“What?” Anything that could divert me from my precarious situation, even momentarily, seems like a welcome distraction.

“He brought a girl home last night.” From his tone he expects this to destroy me.

And sure, there’s a twinge because before, I thought Nathan and I had a soul-deep connection. Fact is, he’s a little immature, a lot selfish, and I just never noticed. They say love is blind, but I’d say that infatuation is blind, and love is tolerant. When you really love someone, it’s not that you can’t see the flaws; you’re just willing to forgive them.

Belatedly I realize he’s expecting a reply. “I’m not surprised. Nathan is used to getting what he wants just like you’re using to giving things up. Oh, I was going to ask him to drop this off, but since you’re here . . .” I fish in my backpack for his hoodie.

Yes, I’ve been carrying it for like four days. First I hesitated to wash it, but I didn’t want to be a sad girl who’s still smelling her ex’s clothes a month later. Then I didn’t return it because that felt like final acceptance, —superstitious, I know. Over is over, and random articles of clothing don’t change anything.

“You didn’t need to bother with that. I’ve had it forever.”

“All the more reason for you to have it back,” I say.

“Do you need to be this cool about everything?” he bursts out. “I know you have to be scared and hurt—”

“Yeah, I am, all those things. And yes, I have to be this way, or I can’t function. Why are you even here anyway?” The pain and frustration cracks my voice, and I really wish I was anywhere else.

“Because I’m worried about you.”

“Then stop. I accepted your decision, now respect mine. It’ll be easier if I don’t have to see you.”

His jaw clenches, showing the force he’s exerting to bite back whatever he wants to say.

Finally he just takes his hoodie but he pauses with his hand on the door. “You know you can call me, right? Even if we’re not together, I’d never let anyone hurt you. One call and I’m there.”

My heart feels like it’ll crack in two, but I’m resolute; I have to be. “I already deleted your number.”

About Ann: 

Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. She likes books, emo music, and action movies. She writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens.

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will win a Kindle Oasis, US Only.
5 winners will win a finished copy of LIKE NEVER AND ALWAYS, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 16, 2018

Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends, #1) by Kelley Armstrong

Narrated by Jennifer Ikeda
Synopsis (via Goodreads): In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.


Sea of Shadows worked really well as an audiobook. I'm starting to think that fantasy books with elaborate new worlds will always be a better fit when I'm listening to them. Understandably, there is a lot of world-building and thorough explanations of the things we're unfamiliar with, and I think listening ultimately gives me a better experience. I know for some people these books can feel long and wordy, but I actually prefer it. I had similar feelings about Mercedes Lackey's Hunter series. The worlds are completely new and there's so much to learn...  I love it!

I'm also a fan of books about twins. I don't know if it's because I have twins myself, or if I just find their relationships interesting. Moria and Ashyn are two very different people that look exactly the same. I loved their friendship and the bonds they shared with each other and their beasts. Daigo (a wildcat) and Tova (a Hound of the Immortals) were two of my favorite characters, and they never spoke. However, they could communicate with their eyes, sounds, and movements, and I thought they were valuable companions and assets to the story. 

I enjoy Kelley Armstrong's writing, and have read a few of her other books, but this one was the most violent by far. There are a lot of detailed descriptions of fighting and dismemberment, and not all of them were expected. I was taken by surprise quite a few times when someone was attacked for seemingly no reason, or an unexpected monster made an appearance. Armstrong kept me on my toes, but even those violent interactions were tempered by lengthy descriptions. It drew out the battles, fights, escapes, and everything else. I was okay with all of this, but it does cause the pacing to be a little slow at times.

The story really picks up at the end, and I've already started listening to the second book, Empire of Night. I love that there is already a different setting, and that no one really seems to stay in one place for too long. There's also a constant rotation of characters, and I enjoy how well Armstrong writes all of them. There is always someone new to figure out. What are their motives? Whose side will the be on? I think this has the potential to be one of my favorite fantasy series!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Mid-Year Book Freak-Out Tag

I've seen a few other people doing this one, and I just couldn't resist! I think Tanya from Girl Plus Books was the most recent one I've seen. *This took a lot longer to finish than I originally thought it would! ๐Ÿ˜…


There's no way I can choose just one book! It's really not a fair question, so I will randomly select one of my favorite reads from this year... The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. It was perfection in every way.

Other books I've really enjoyed: The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis, Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta, Autoboyography by Christina Lauren, Maybe Someone Like You by Stacy Wise, Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, How to Love by Katie Cotugno, This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter, White Hot and Wildfire by Ilona Andrews (to name a few).


The Lunar Chronicles has been one of the best series I've ever read! I knew I liked Marissa Meyer after reading Heartless, but this series is something else. While I really enjoyed Scarlet, I think Cress is my favorite book so far! I only have Winter and Fairest (which is supposed to be about Queen Levana) left to read.


The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory. I won a copy of this book earlier this year, but I haven't gotten to it yet. It's terrible, because this is a book that I really want to read. I've only heard wonderful things about it.