Friday, January 31, 2020

DNF&Y [25]

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!
Bloodborne Awakened 
by Tracey Laviolette
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Welcome to my world.

Meet sixteen-year-old Jessie Connelly. She lived a normal life until she witnesses a horrifying attack on a student at her high school. No one but Jessie could explain what happened, but who would believe her when she tells them she didn’t see what attacked another student? Jessie’s parents believe it would be good for her to spend the summer with her Grams in Weston, Florida until the suspicions cool down.

Life seemed chill, at least for the first day or two, but it’s not until she meets Jacob, Gram’s best friend’s grandson, that Jessie’s world turns upside down.

After a planned camping trip goes wrong, Jessie’s faced with something she hadn’t anticipated- Life and Death. Jacob’s decision to save Jessie sealed their fate together forever.

Enter the world of Bloodbornes—for thousands of years they have protected Claybornes from demons, and other creatures of the night who would devour the flesh and souls of humans. Demons have been drawn heavier than before to the human world, and they are searching for something.

Jessie is thrown into an age-old battle of good vs. evil and soon discovers she’s not entirely what she believed to be—but something more terrifying than just a Bloodborne. The only one who can help her is Kyle—a stranger with a red dragon tattoo on his neck.

Soon a motley crew develops with Jacob, Kyle, Jessie, and the very ancient Tristan. They must stop the horde of demons from attacking by first discovering what it is they want in the first place. The trail leads them directly into the path of not only demon hybrids, but dragons.

Jessie soon learns that to save her Bloodkin, she must join forces with the side that hates her kind the most – Bloodbornes.

DNF at 2%

I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I normally refuse unsolicited reviews, but every once in awhile I'll take a chance if the synopsis is interesting. Unfortunately, Bloodborne Awakened was a hot mess. It was a struggle to get through the first page -- the language, grammar, and spelling were bad enough to give me a headache. Additionally, the wording was so convoluted, I had no idea what the author was trying to say, only that it involved clocks. I forced myself to read a few more pages, because stopping after a single page felt ridiculous, but it got worse instead of better. I wasn't planning on saying anything to the author, even though they'd recently emailed me about whether or not I'd reviewed their book (understandable), because I never know what to say to a person when their book doesn't work out. And then this happened: 

"Hi Lindsi, 
I just noticed the update on Goodreads, and that Bloodborne Awakened was a DNF. I’m terribly sorry that you did not like the story. However, could you please give me some feed back on the particulars? I would greatly appreciate your thoughts and opions."

Aargh. I don't want to be an asshole, but I also don't feel like it's my responsibility to be this person's beta reader, you know? After telling her why I didn't finish her book, she responded with this:

"Hey! Oh Lindsi I’m so terribly sorry. I know what you mean, I have a book that I began and just can’t finish it, primarily because of the writing. So I can relate.

I do appreciate your honesty, and I’ll have to do something to fix this. I’m only disappointed with the help I received from beta reading/editing. Now, I feel bad this slipped through like it did. I may pull the book and have it re-edited. Some changes, I questioned. My husband and I have found a new editor, one whose had about 35 years in the business.

One last thing, could you possibly recommend to me one of your favorite YA books? Something that would give me an example of what you consider the top in writing, etc?

Could I possibly keep you as a friend to chat with about books and writing? I don’t talk to much, or annoy people."

Again, I don't want to be an asshole, but really? She seems like a really nice person, but at this point I feel like I'm sort of working for her? If she saw my rating on Goodreads, she could have easily went to my profile and checked out my list of favorites. Has this happened to you before? Do you respond to the emails, ignore them, or do something else entirely?
The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson 
& Mary Engelbreit 
Synopsis (via Goodreads): This charming retelling of the classic tale by Hans Christian Andersen is exquisitely complemented by Mary Engelbreit's magical illustrations. Wrap up warmly to join Gerda on her quest to rescue Kay from the icy clutches of the wicked Snow Queen.

DNF at 48%

I wouldn't normally DNF a children's book, but The Snow Queen was a little too dark for my monsters, and not something I wanted to continue reading on my own. The children were abducted or spelled to stay against their will, and I didn't think it was appropriate for younger kids. 

Age-appropriateness aside, I didn't really like the stories. I think they're all connected somehow, and the broken mirror at the start plays a role in people's behaviors, but it simply didn't grab my attention.

*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!

Sunday, January 26, 2020

The Sunday Post [39]

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly at the Caffeinated Reviewer! It's an opportunity to share news, post a recap for the previous week, showcase books, and highlight what's planned for the week ahead.


We're moving this week! I have a few posts scheduled, but I likely won't be around to respond to your comments or have time to visit your lovely blogs. I plan on catching up once we're settled and situated at the new place (fingers crossed our stuff arrives within the week, so we're not waiting an eternity to get everything organized). They actually lost our furniture during the last move, and it took them over a month to locate everything.

Unrelated: I  recently stumbled across Mermaid Straw and have fallen in love with their products! We've had a set of stainless steel straws that we've used for awhile now (trying to cut down on our plastic use), but I think the kids will enjoy using these colorful creations even more! They have a new product -- the Telescopic Straw -- and it's fabulous. There are Mermaid and Siren versions (colorful vs. solid black), which are collapsible and more portable. If $15 per straw seems like a lot, they have cheaper versions available on their website. Amazon also offers a wide variety, and their products typically come with multiples. 

Plastic is killing our planet. Reducing how much of it you use can make a noticeable difference, even if it's something small like a straw. For more information, check out this article by National Geographic. 

Previous week on the blog:
What I'm currently reading:
When We Were Vikings by Andrew David McDonald
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart ๐ŸŽง
Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz
  • When We Were Vikings isn't quite what I was expecting! Certain parts have been very vulgar and offensive (which was intentional, but still terrible). I'm enjoying the story as a whole, and I'm curious how the main character is going to handle recent developments. 
  • I haven't actually started We Were Liars, but plan to later this afternoon (we have a short car ride to visit family). I've herad really great things about it!
  • Jane Anonymous is an intense read, so I'm taking my time with it.

What I plan on readng next:
The Bard's Blade (The Sorcerer's Song, #1) by Brian D. Anderson

What I'm watching:

We finished the first season of Kipo and definitely want more! Seriously, it's a fantastic show! There's something for everyone, and we've been watching it as a family. The kids have even asked to re-watch it while we wait for a second season. I'm not really watching anything else right now (as a family or solo), since moving has taken over every aspect of our lives. Although, I have been reading and listening to audiobooks while working on stuff, so that's a plus!

Challenge updates: 

Saturday, January 25, 2020

When you're done with a book, do you immediately write a review, or do you sit on it for a few days?

I know there are people that like to process books after they read them, but I like to get my thoughts down as soon as possible. If a book really speaks to me, or if it's problematic, I take notes. If I'm reading on my iPad, I'll copy the sentence or paragraph that stood out, and then I'll email it to myself with a few quick thoughts typed underneath. When I've finished the book, I'll go back and reference those points and incorporate them into my review.

As some of you may know, and for those of you that guessed based on my blog's title, I do dog-ear my books. What you might not know, is that I occasionally mark my books in the margins in addition to using an obscene amount of sticky notes. If I fold the top corner, it means that's the page I'm on. If I fold the bottom corner, it's a page I want to reference later. The sticky notes are for when I have more thoughts than the margins can hold, and need additional space for words. Are you hovering over the unfollow button right now? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Fear not! Your books are safe. I only do it to my own.

I'm getting sidetracked, but it's also kind of relevant? When I'm reading, I am completely absorbed in the story, and I like to keep track of my thoughts as I move through the book. Once I'm finished reading, I feel compelled to spew those thoughts from my fingertips as quickly as possible. As time passes, my immediate thoughts and feelings fade, even with my excessive note-taking. I want to write my reviews when I'm caught up in the emotions a story elicited, whether they're good or bad. I feel like it adds another layer of authenticity to my reviews, because you not only get my thoughts, but the feelings it evoked from me as well. I'm not saying you can't have those same feelings later on, but they never feel as powerful when I wait to write a review. They're still there -- just dulled -- and it's difficult to re-enter the same emotional state from before.

There are times when I cannot immediately write a review and schedule it, which is why I usually keep a notebook lying around. I'll basically write an outline of my review and the key thoughts and feelings I had while reading the book, and then I can refer to that outline later when I have a chance to sit down and type it all up. Sometimes I'll even write the entire review by hand, if I'm really caught up in what I'm thinking.

There's only one other reason I'll let a book sit unreviewed for a few days: I don't know what to say. When I love or hate a book, it's easy to explain why. It's when I feel neutral about a book that I have trouble. That usually means it was good enough to finish, but not one I would recommend or read again. Those reviews are so difficult to write, because what else can you say? "I liked it, but it was just okay." Why was it just okay? "It didn't really speak to me?" I feel like those reviews start to sound repetitive, and that's why I've started doing mini reviews for those titles. I can say very little and still feel like I've reviewed the book properly.

What about you? Do you like to write reviews when you're in the moment and swimming in feelings, or do you like to sit on them for a few days until your thoughts and emotions settle? Which path leads to a more productive and coherent review?

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Narrated by Cassandra Campbell
Synopsis (via Goodreads): A novel about a young woman determined to make her way in the wilds of North Carolina, and the two men that will break her isolation open.

For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She's barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark.

But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world--until the unthinkable happens.

Saying Kya was abandoned at age ten is a kindness. She was basically on her own as soon as her mother and older siblings left. Her good-for-nothing father was around, but not in any way that mattered. His presence wasn't a positive point in Kya's life, but merely something to be tolerated and avoided (if possible). The two eventually shared a few meaningful moments; however, it was hard to overlook how her father had abused his family in the past. His few minutes of sobriety do not outweigh the years she suffered because of his decisions (drunken or otherwise). 

I don't really use the word poignant when writing reviews, because I feel like it only really applies when a book can evoke strong feelings of sadness that have the capability of overwhelming me. Where the Crawdads Sing was both poignant and powerful. Kya learns to love the land she lives on, and she survives on a strong-will and the unexpected kindness of Jumpin' and Mabel. They were two people that loved her like she was their own, but also gave her the space she desired and maybe didn't always need. They helped whenever they could, and I think their presence was a big part of Kya's survival, and definitely the majority of her social interactions. It was also during a time when people of color were still treated abhorrently, but Kya only ever saw their kind-heartedness and understanding. They never pushed her to do anything more than she was comfortable with, but were always there if she needed something (even when she didn't necessarily know how to ask for it).

Tate. Sweet, adorable, gentle Tate. I really loved him from the start, and appreciated his approach to Kya. It was endearing to see how long he had been in her life without her realizing it, and that he'd always done what he could to help her survive in a world that wasn't necessarily fair or kind. His presence was a solid aspect of the story, and he felt like an immovable rock in her ever-flowing life. I'm not thrilled with how he chose to handle certain aspects of their friendship-turned-relationship, but they were both children and didn't always make the best decisions. I can blame their thick-headedness on age and circumstance. Tate is genuinely good though, and I really loved his interactions with Kya over the years. Their dynamics may have changed as they got older, but there was a deep-rooted love that transcended time. 

Where the Crawdads Sing evoked very visceral feelings from me. My emotions were all over the place while reading this book, and it's a credit to the author that I could experience multiple feelings simultaneously. I'm pretty sure Owens made me feel every single known emotion (and even some that don't have names) with her writing, as well as the story she created. Kya is a character that has had a profound impact on my life, and the fact that she's fictional, only makes it that more remarkable. I also think the narrator did a wonderful job with this book, and cannot wait to listen to more books read by her.

The murder mystery was an interesting addition to the story, and it added another -- more immediate -- level of tension that was always hovering in the background. I kept trying to figure out who was responsible for Chase's death, and using the new information I gathered each chapter to figure it out. It was incredible how the author seamlessly weaved something so significant into the rest of the story. I honestly had no idea who it was, and kept circulating through most of the characters until it was revealed at the very end. Side note: Kya's lawyer was one of my favorite characters. He understood her on a level few others did, and he seemed to grasp what she needed without her having to say anything. 

The ending was bittersweet, and left me feeling both satisfied and wanting. I wanted more for Kya, but appreciated that she was happy with the life she lived. I enjoyed watching her grow from a child to an adult, and seeing all of the hard lessons she had to learn along the way. Owens painted an authentic picture that included the intricacies of family and finding oneself in an unforgiving world. It was a very eye-opening experience for me, and one I will treasure always. Where the Crawdads Sing is a story that will stick with you long after you've turned the last page. (★★★★★)

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

My Weekly Pull [106] & Can't Wait Wednesday [76]

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, there's a link-up at the bottom. I would love to stop by and check it out!

Guardians of the Galaxy #1 by Al Ewing, Juan Cabal, Ivan Shavrin
Family Tree #3 by Jeff Lemire, Phil Hester
Atlantis Attacks #1 by Greg Pak, Ario Anindito, Rock-He Kim 

Once & Future #6 by Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora
Folklords #3 by Matt Kindt, Matt Smith
Firefly #13 by Greg Pak, Lalit Kumar Sharma, Ben Caldwell

Jacob's comics for the week!
Ruins of Ravencroft: Dracula One Shot by Frank Tieri, Stefano Landini, Angel Unzueta, Gerardo Sandoval
American Jesus New Messiah #2 by Mark Millar, (the artists are a secret)
Amazing Spider-Man #38 by Nick Spencer, Iban Coello, Patrick Gleason
Web of Venom Good Son #1 by Zac Thompson, Diogenes Neves, Philip Tan
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Urban Legends #21 by Gary Carlson, Frank Fosco, Erik Larsen

Quick thoughts: 
  • I'm really excited about the new Guardians of the Galaxy & Atlantis Attacks. It's been awhile since I've read anything about either, and I skipped the last Guardians of the Galaxy series. My husband really enjoyed it, and he shared tidbits about what was going on, but I never picked it up for myself. I love that Rocket is wearing a suit on this cover! Also, super excited to see what Namor has been up to. 
  • Family Tree gets weirder every issue! Love it!
  • Once & Future has been one of my all-time favorites, and I hope this issue isn't going to be its last. I feel like they're wrapping things up, but I don't know if it's for this current arc, or for the series as whole. Fingers crossed it's just a temporary ending, because I definitely want more!
  • I wasn't sure about Folklords, but decided to try it after reading some really positive reviews. It's not bad! I'm not 100% sold on the story, but it's promising. 
  • Mal's life just became infinitely more complicated, and I'm looking forward to seeing how he handles his current predicament in Firefly.
Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings, that highlights upcoming releases that we're anticipating and excited to read. It's a spinoff of the feature Waiting on Wednesday that was hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Kappa Rho Nu isn’t your average sorority. Their parties are notorious. Their fundraisers are known for being Westerly College’s most elaborate affairs. But beneath the veil of Greek life and prestige, the sisters of Kappu Rho Nu share a secret: they’re a coven of witches. 

For Vivi Deveraux, being one of Kappa Rho Nu’s Ravens means getting a chance to redefine herself. For Scarlett Winters, a bonafide Raven and daughter of a legacy Raven, pledge this year means living up to her mother’s impossible expectations of becoming Kappa Rho Nu’s next president. Scarlett knows she’d be the perfect candidate — that is, if she didn’t have one human-sized skeleton in her closet…. 

When Vivi and Scarlett are paired as big and little for initiation, they find themselves sinking into the sinister world of blood oaths and betrayals.

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

Monday, January 20, 2020

Scavenge the Stars (Scavenge the Stars #1) by Tara Sim
[Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway]

Hello, and welcome to the next stop on the Scavenge the Stars blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours! Thank you for stopping by, and don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom!
Title: SCAVENGE THE STARS (Scavenge the Stars, #1)
Author: Tara Sim
Pub. Date: January 7, 2020
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 336

When Amaya rescues a mysterious stranger from drowning, she fears her rash actions have earned her a longer sentence on the debtor ship where she’s been held captive for years. Instead, the man she saved offers her unimaginable riches and a new identity, setting Amaya on a perilous course through the coastal city-state of Moray, where old-world opulence and desperate gamblers collide.

Amaya wants one thing: revenge against the man who ruined her family and stole the life she once had. But the more entangled she becomes in this game of deception—and as her path intertwines with the son of the man she’s plotting to bring down—the more she uncovers about the truth of her past. And the more she realizes she must trust no one…

Packed with high-stakes adventure, romance, and dueling identities, this gender-swapped retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo is the first novel in an epic YA fantasy duology, perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and Leigh Bardugo. 


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.

Scavenge the Stars was somewhat predictable, but not in a way that detracted from the overall story. I know it's supposed to be a retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo (one of my favorites), but the author wasn't very subtle with their hints. We weren't gently led down a path, but shoved off a cliff into the watery truths below. It was easy to work out the anagram (which let you know who someone was before you were supposed to know), and the twist was something you could see from the start. The author does withhold some information (mostly regarding Amaya's mother), but it's not really relevant to the story. I think keeping the mother mostly an enigma is supposed to set up the next book, but it was annoying.

Cayo. I loved his name, but not his personality. He was rash, but not bold. Helpful, but not necessarily compassionate (unless it involved his sister). Cayo claimed to care about the people around him (particularly the children working off their parent's debts) when his only concern weeks before was getting drunk, high, and gambling his family's money away. There are moments of sobriety and decency (like keeping a child from being beaten to death), but it's like his eyes have suddenly been opened and exposed him to the ugly truths of the world. He berates himself for poor decisions, but it doesn't take him long to resort to bad habits. "It's the only way" is a phrase I'm tired of hearing. There's never just one way, only one you're willing to do above the others.

Certain aspects of the story didn't always make sense, like Cayo's "friends" thinking he was dead when he stopped going to the Vice Sector. If they were true friends, they would have been able to get in touch with him outside of the gambling dens, but chose not to. Other characters were mentioned once and never seen again. I wish some of the secondary characters had been fleshed out more, like Cayo's sister and Romara. The book's sole focus seems to be Amaya, Cayo, and the people in their immediate vicinity. We know they're there without really knowing them. Amaya also prides herself on being resourceful and a survivor, but she ignores all of her instincts in favor of a personal vendetta she was only recently made aware of. She talks about not trusting people, but then wholeheartedly believes the words of someone she barely knows. It wasn't particularly believable.

At one point Amaya says, "All her work, for nothing." What work?? She didn't actually do anything. Her "plan" unfolded with little to no effort on her part. Events simply happened in a way that was favorable. She was just a pretty figurehead being manipulated by someone else.

There's a smidge of insta-love. They don't necessarily act on their feelings, but they're smitten from the start. They know literally nothing about each other, but there's an undeniable attraction between the two. (You can't see me, but I'm rolling my eyes.) Amaya was easily distracted for someone seeking revenge.

Those were my main issues with Scavenge the Stars, but the story itself was still mostly enjoyable. Retellings aren't usually my cup of tea, but I couldn't pass up an opportunity to see how an author remade The Count of Monte Cristo. Everyone has a unique perspective when reading or telling a story, and I love to see how those feelings and perceptions translate into new versions and ideas. I think Sim did an amazing job recreating something familiar and making it her own. Some of the phrases were repeated a little too often (like Cayo saying Amaya was made of salt water and steel), but it only briefly pulled me from the story.

I was not a fan of the Brackish or what happened on the ship, and Silverfish's experiences really made me angry. If you can't stomach children being used for labor, and occasionally dying because of their efforts, this might not be the book for you. They are barely given enough food to survive, and any perceived slight on the captain is met with violence and cruelty. 

Overall, I enjoyed reading Scavenge the Stars and look forward to seeing how the author wraps up the duology. I do think you'll need to suspend your disbelief for this one to work, because Amaya is very lucky when it comes to not dying. She has a lot of close encounters, but always manages to scrape by just enough to make it. (★★★⋆☆)

Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Sunday Post [38]

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly at the Caffeinated Reviewer! It's an opportunity to share news, post a recap for the previous week, showcase books, and highlight what's planned for the week ahead.


This is going to be our last full week in Texas! Can you believe it? I can't! There's still so much to do. ๐Ÿ˜ฐ Movers will be here at the end of the week to start packing our belongings, so I'll likely be MIA until February. 

We had a surprise party for our son over the weekend! We wanted him to be able to celebrate with his friends before we moved (his birthday is actually next month). I did some midnight baking the night before, and made lightsabers out of cupcakes! We also took every age-appropriate board game we had and dubbed his party the Board Game Birthday Bash! Surprisingly, it was the adults that started a really competitive game of charades. ๐Ÿ˜‚

I really wanted to visit my grandparents before we moved (they live one state over), but they both have the flu, and that's not something we want to travel with. Can you imagine?? The horror! Hopefully we can make a trip in the not-so-distant future. 

Previous week on the blog:

What I'm currently reading:
Scavenge the Stars (Scavenge the Stars, #1) by Tara Sim
Lair of Dreams (The Diviners, #2) by Libba Bray ๐ŸŽง
Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz
  • Scavenge the Stars isn't what I expected! Review tomorrow!
  • Lair of Dreams: Memphis! Finally! Also, Evie is getting on my nerves, and I'm worried about Sam.
  • Jane Anonymous is an intense read! I'm only able to read a few chapters before needing a break. 

What I plan on reading next: 
A Queen in Hiding (The Nine Realms, #1) by Sarah Kozloff
What I Carry by Jennifer Longo

What I'm watching: 

We recently discovered Kipo on Netflix, and now we're addicted! Like, two-episodes-a-day addicted. The music is fantastic, the story is super creative, and the characters are amazing. I've already had to explain to my son what a few things are: apocalypse, dystopian, mutation, and some scientific terms (parsec, tardigrade, etc.). It's building his vocabulary! Also, the rap about science was golden. I highly recommend this one, if you're not watching it already!

Challenge updates: 

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Past Due Reviews [1]
Truly Healthy Vegan Cookbook: 90 Whole Food
Recipes with Deliciously Simple Ingredients
by Dianne Wenz
Synopsis (via Goodreads): There's vegan, and then there's truly healthy vegan

As you journey toward the impressive gal of a perfect vegan diet, you may find various obstacles in your path. For example, many vegan foods are laded with processed sugars, white flour, and unhealthy fats. The Truly Healthy Vegan Cook
book is for anyone looking to remove these additional, unnatural contents, and enhance their noble, animal-friendly, dietary lifestyle.

Inside you'll find recipes filled with diverse flavor, all within a narrow ingredient checklist. And don't worry - - an occasional comfort-food cheat is human and encouraged. The goal is to get away from using them as a regular part of your daily menu.

AVOID THE PITFALLS -- Steer clear of the 10 most common vegan diet mistakes.

POLICE YOUR PANTRY -- Carefully fill your pantry with the right proteins, fats, and complex carbs, so they are always on hand.

NO FUZZY VEGGIES -- Learn product-freshness timelines with a product storage guide, so you can keep an accurate count of your fresh fridge inventory.

Recipes Include:

Pina Colada Green Smoothie, Spinach and Strawberry Salad, Baked Zucchini Fries, Vegetable Chili, and Crispy Artichoke Tacos.

I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I like to try several recipes from a cookbook before writing a review (it's not feasible to attempt them all), because I feel like it gives me a general idea of the book's contents and the difficulty of its recipes. Truly Healthy Vegan Cookbook is nice to have around for its convenience. It provides a lot of recipes for the simple and frequently used meals in a vegan lifestyle. 

One such recipe: Baked Tofu. We probably use two blocks of tofu every week, and it starts off very bland and unappetizing. An easy way to add flavor and texture to tofu, is by baking it in the oven (always after pressing the tofu first, since you wouldn't want the excess liquid to prevent other flavors from attaching themselves). Squishy tofu = super gross. The Truly Healthy Vegan Cookbook provides a recipe that I've used several times now; one that's easy, efficient, and allows me to have the tofu baking while I do other things.

One of my favorite things to make? Overnight oats. There's a peanut butter recipe that we normally use, and ohmygod so good. I love being able to wake up in the morning and already have breakfast ready, since it drastically decreases the amount of time spent getting everyone out the door for school. This cookbook has a recipe for Blueberry Pie Overnight Oats, and it's delicious. It's also ridiculously easy to make! It's only ingredients are unsweetened nondairy milk, rolled oats, maple syrup, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, fresh blueberries and almonds. Yum!

A recipe I didn't really care for: Carrot Cake Oatmeal. Even the monsters didn't want to eat it, and they'll consume pretty much anything (even if it's not necessarily edible). My husband ate it, but only because he's very against food waste of any kind. I agree with this, but will sometimes share with the dogs if I'm not enjoying a meal (not all new recipes are winners).

I also liked the author's anecdotes at the start of each recipe. She shares something personal about her experience with the food, and why she does or doesn't like it. If it's a food she typically doesn't enjoy (like the mushy texture of oatmeal), she explains how she made it better (for herself at least, because the carrot cake oatmeal was not an improvement on regular oatmeal). Butter, sugar, and walnuts are all you really need for nom-worthy oatmeal in the morning. ๐Ÿ˜‰

There are a lot of recipes that I still want to make from the Truly Healthy Vegan Cookbook, and even have plans to make Baked Zucchini Fries later this afternoon. In the end, I really liked that this cookbook felt more like a conversation, and less like an instruction manual. I would definitely recommend it! (★★★★☆)
Pure (Pure, #1) by Julianna Baggott

Synopsis (via Goodreads): We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . . 

Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . . 

There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.
When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.


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.

I've had an ARC of Pure on my shelves for years. The book was originally published in 2012, so that means I've had this sitting around and collecting dust for nearly a decade. That's a ridiculous amount of time, but I know some of you can relate. I was never in the mood for this one, but the synopsis was too interesting for me to let it go without reading it first. Lately, I've been using audiobooks as a way to help me get through some of my older stuff, and I've had a lot of success!

I liked the originality of the story, but didn't care for some of the content. People are physically abused, tortured, experimented on, and that's in addition to what the bombs did to people's bodies. They're fused with each other (mothers and children, animals and humans, inanimate objects and whatever was closest to them). It was vividly descriptive, but also unsettling and horrifying. There's also animal abuse, which I've always found hard to stomach even when it's fictional.

The characters were interesting, but not very relatable. Pressia is a child (sixteen, I believe), and she's dealing with issues most adults would find challenging. She's lost people she's cared about, endured unimaginable hardships, and still maintained something as improbable as kindness. She cares about others in a kill-or-be-killed world, and sometimes that faith in people has harmed her more than helped. I do like that there was obvious character development, but wish some of her more childlike tendencies had been expunged.

At times it felt like the author was being cruel and shocking for no reason at all. After a while it starts to lose its effectiveness, and you're just left with something else that makes you cringe, but isn't really all that unexpected anymore. The predictability of the cruelty was not an aspect I liked about this book. It's disturbing qualities are not what initially piqued my interest, but the prospect of a dystopian world that was unlike anything I've read before. I think I got a little more than I bargained for, which made it hard for me to fully lose myself in this story. Additionally, I had to listen to this book in pieces, because sometimes it was just too much.

I thought Pure was wonderfully innovative, but too unsettling for my tastes. (★★★☆☆)
Excalibur #1 by Tini Howard, Marcus To,
Mahmud A. Asrar (Illustrators)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): A NEW DAWN IS FORGED! The Otherworld is rocked by war! It is a new era for mutantkind as a new Captain Britain holds the amulet, fighting for the Kingdom of Avalon with her Excalibur at her side - Rogue, Gambit, Rictor, Jubilee...and Apocalypse.

I'm having a really hard time getting into anything X-Men-related at the moment. It's all about Krakoa (some new island that only allows mutants to pass through its gates), an I just don't care. They're bringing long-dead characters back to life, the island provides everything they could possibly need, and bad guys are suddenly not-so-bad.

Take Apocalypse for example... he's a BAD DUDE. He always had been, and now he's helping out of the goodness of his heart? Does the island change personalities as well? It's too convenient, and not at all believable. Additionally, all of the Betsy Braddock/Psylocke business is beyond confusing. Writers should never assume that new readers will just know what's going on. They need to provide background information, drop hints, etc.

I think the King Arthur angle has been played out, and there's nothing new or original about this series. Saying it had a slow start would be a kindness, since it felt like the story was running in place. I was totally here for Rogue and Gambit (two of my favorites), but it seems like the author has decided to take our beloved couple in a new direction, and one that I'm not on board with. It simply didn't feel authentic. Where are Kelly Thompson and Tom Taylor? They know how to write good X-Men comics. ๐Ÿ˜‰ (★★★☆☆)

Thursday, January 16, 2020

My Weekly Pull [105] & Can't Wait Wednesday [75]

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, there's a link-up at the bottom. I would love to stop by and check it out!

Jessica Jones Blind Spot #1 by Kelly Thompson, Mattia De lulis, Martin Simmonds
Rising Sun #1 by Ron Marz, David Rodriguez, Martin Coccolo, Katrina Mae Hao
Scooby Apocalypse Vol 6 TP by Keith Giffen, Pat Olliffe, Gus Vazquez

Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance #5 by Adam Cesare, French Carlomangno, Christian Ward
Dragon Age Blue Wraith #1 by Christina Weir, Michael Atiyeh
Undiscovered County #3 by Charles Soule, Scott Snyder, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Daniele Orlandini, Greg Capullo

Scooby Apocalypse Vol 1-5 by Jim Lee, Howard Porter, Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Dale Eaglesham, Tom Mandrake, Ron Wagner

Undiscovered County #1 Signed by Charles Soule & Scott Snyder
Hawkeye Freefall #1 Signed by Matthew Rosenberg

Jacob's comics for the week!
Venom The End One Shot by Adam Warren, Chamba, Rahzzah
Hit-Girl Season 2 #12 by Peter Milligan, Alison Sampson, Declan Shalvey
Spawn #304 by Todd McFarlane, Jason Shawn Alexander
Ruins of Ravencroft Sabretooth One Shot by Frank Tieri, Angel Unzueta, Guillermo Sanna, Gerardo Sandoval

๐Ÿ˜ฒ I know this looks like a lot, but it's really not! Haha. Greg from Greg's Book Haven suggested Scooby Apocalypse a few weeks ago, and I finally broke down and bought the first six TPs (trade paperbacks). Note: a trade paperback is usually six regular comics compiled into one book, but that's not always the case... sometimes it's an entire miniseries or story arc reprinted into a single book. It's helpful with ongoing series, because it allows you to catch up quickly, and without having to track down all of the previous single issues.

I'm really excited about Kelly Thompson's Jessica Jones Blind Spot! Two of my favorite people! Rising Sun and Dragon Age Blue Wraith are both new, but look really interesting. I'm still enjoying Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance and Undiscovered Country is fucking brilliant.

Speaking of Undiscovered Country, we ordered a signed copy of both it and Hawkeye Freefall. ๐Ÿ‘€ Charles Soule, Scott Snyder, and Matthew Rosenberg are some of our favorite writers, so this is epically awesome! 

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings, that highlights upcoming releases that we're anticipating and excited to read. It's a spinoff of the feature Waiting on Wednesday that was hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.
Birdie and Me by J.M.M. Nuanez
Expected publication: February 18th 2020
Synopsis (via Goodreads): A stunning debut about a girl named Jack and her gender creative little brother, Birdie, searching for the place where they can be their true and best selves.

After their mama dies, Jack and Birdie find themselves without a place to call home. And when Mama's two brothers each try to provide one--first sweet Uncle Carl, then gruff Uncle Patrick--the results are funny, tender, and tragic.

They're also somehow . . . spectacular.

With voices and characters that soar off the page, J. M. M. Nuanez's debut novel depicts an unlikely family caught in a situation none of them would have chosen, and the beautiful ways in which they finally come to understand one another.

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