Top 10 Tuesday: All About the Visuals

toptentuesday

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. You can find the prompts here.

I’ve been waiting for a topic like this. Besides young adult novels, I love to read graphic novels and manga. This week I get to share my favorites with you! It’s a shame that this list is so small because the list on manga could go on forever.

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1.  Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi

Goodreads

Sailor Moon was one of the first comic books and also one of the first anime shows that I ever got into. She was my introduction into these art forms and I am so happy about that because she isn’t automatically a great superhero just because she’s been given this transformation tool. She has to work through her shortcomings and come to terms with her new powers, the monsters that are attacking her city, and what this all means for her history and her future.

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2. Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya

Goodreads

If Sailor Moon was my introduction to Japanese manga and animation, then Fruits Basket not only continued that education, but it also gave me insight into Japanese culture. While the basis of the story is around a curse of the Chinese zodiac, there are a lot of events and little things that are Japanese-centric: foods, festivals, etc. Tohru is a kindhearted heroine that sees the best in everything and while some might see that as naive, she never lets the haters get her down, even when she’s seemingly lost everything.

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3. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Goodreads

I picked this up almost two years ago when it was being recommended all over the place and it remains one of my favorite comics to this day. I anticipate the release of the combined volumes constantly. It’s a diverse story with so many aspects. It’s a love story, a war story, a story about family. There’s something for everyone here, though it needs to be said that it’s probably NSFW.

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4. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos, Tamra Bonvillain, VC’s Travis Lanham, Mark Pannicia, and Emily Shaw 

Goodreads

This is a relatively new series and I primarily picked it up when I heard that Lunella Lafayette (aka Moon Girl) is canonically the smartest character in the Marvel Universe…and she’s only nine years old! It’s was a lot of fun to read, the art was fantastic, and made me very happy to have read it. The story was very interesting because it’s all about Luna using her abilities to basically circumvent her abilities. It’s about conquering your fears, even when those fears deliver you the most epic BFF of all time…a Tyrannosaurus Rex!

I can’t wait for the next volume which just came out a week ago!

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5. Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata

Goodreads

What I love about this series is that you start out with a character, Light, that truly believes he can make the world right when he comes into possession of the Death Note, a supernatural notebook that will kill the person whose name is written upon its pages. In this 13 volume series you get to witness Light’s descent into madness and whether you can ever make things right by becoming the very thing you hate.

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6. xxxHolic by Clamp

Goodreads

Clamp is an amazing team of manga artists and storytellers. xxxHolic is one of my favorite of all of their works. You meet Watanuki, a boy “cursed” to see spirits in the world around him and Yuko, a dimensional time witch, who grants wishes. Their adventures together do not necessarily remain in this dimension and learning about different spirits and their unique stories is an amazing journey. Coupled with their unique art style, Watanuki and Yuko crossover at times with the characters and artifacts from various Clamp works, a pleasure for fans.

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7. Deadpool and Cable: Ultimate Collection by Fabian Nicieza, Chris Stevens, Mark Brooks, Patrick Zircher, and Shane Law

Goodreads

I didn’t know a lot about Deadpool when I saw the movie last year, but after having an absolute blast watching it, I decided that I wanted to know more about this character. The Deadpool & Cable collection was the only one my library had at the time so I don’t think this is in any kind of chronological order in the grand scheme of things, but I didn’t have too hard a time figuring things out. Deadpool continues to be a funny character on the page and I want to read as much as I can find because I don’t find him to be stuffy or airheaded or a jerk. He’s got rough edges, sure, but ones that make him interesting and fun.

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8. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson

Goodreads

Another fairly new to me series, Squirrel Girl is a funny one that is adorable and has a past that I really need to read more about (apparently this is the girl you call for your babysitting needs – Jones/Cage anyone?).

This is the first collection in which Doreen Green (aka Squirrel Girl) goes to college. Imagine that when you’ve got a squad of furry creatures as your sidekicks!

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9. Food Wars by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki

Goodreads

Whenever I watch a new anime, it’s become a habit to check and see if it’s based on a manga and luckily this one was! It’s so funny and based as it is around food and competition, it’s like watching a hot new show on the Food Network but amped up! I highly recommend this series for any fan of food based manga.

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10. Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

Goodreads

Well of course I had to read a comic about a super hero from NJ! I don’t know if there are any others, but Kamala Khan was the first I’d ever heard of and I love her series thus far. The guest appearances from other Marvel faces is interesting, but watching her come to terms with her newly acquired powers and what it means to bear the mantle of Ms. Marvel is at times thrilling, worrying, exciting, and nerve wracking.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: You Don’t Know My Name by Kristen Orlando

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Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Goodreads  –  Twitter

Fighter, Faker, Student, Spy.

Seventeen-year-old Reagan Elizabeth Hillis is used to changing identities overnight, lying to every friend she’s ever had, and pushing away anyone who gets too close. Trained in mortal combat and weaponry her entire life, Reagan is expected to follow in her parents’ footsteps and join the ranks of the most powerful top-secret agency in the world, the Black Angels. Falling in love with the boy next door was never part of the plan.

Now Reagan has to decide: Will she use her incredible talents and lead the dangerous life she was born into, or throw it all away to follow her heart and embrace the normal life she’s always wanted? And does she even have a choice at all?

Find out if you are ready to join the Black Angels in the captivating and emotional page-turner, You Don’t Know My Name, from debut novelist Kristen Orlando!

Rating: 4 Stars

You Don’t Know My Name was a fast paced thriller that was well written and engaging. Usually the situation that Reagan finds herself in, that of a teenager being a super spy, isn’t very believable, but except for a few flaws, I thought that Kristen Orlando did a good job of weaving a world in which this wasn’t such a weird occurrence and made it sound quite plausible.

I did have some issues that stuck out to me that weren’t a huge problem overall, but were little things that bugged me throughout the course of the story. The first: as well as Kristen Orlando wrote about a Black Angel operative being raised from birth, I feel like there are a lot of holes that could be poked in this. Is Reagan really the first to ever question whether she actually wants to do this? She’s supposed to be some kind of wunderkind, sure, but it felt a little weird that it was assumed that no child would ever rebel against CORE (the Black Angel organization).

Second: it’s distinctly mentioned in the book that Reagan has a pistol concealed in the back of her jeans before leaving to get on a plane. Once she’s arrived in the new location, she stills has this gun. How on Earth did she get on a commercial airliner with a pistol? There was never an indication that she had a concealed weapons permit that would allow her to do so, which I think would’ve been an easy enough thing to slip in considering she was already traveling as an unaccompanied minor (unless she had fake i.d. that said she was older? Again, that part’s glossed over).

Third: Again, the writing was really fast paced and I think that’s what kept me from truly realizing that it wasn’t until about 46% of the way through that anything really happened. The main threat being introduced, etc. Most of the first part was going over Reagan and whether or not she was cutout for this line of work. It was an important discussion, but it took a lot longer than I realized and I just don’t think it needed that much going over, especially with the ending being what it was.

I’m very curious to see what the next book will be like. Considering Reagan’s stance on joining the Black Angel agency throughout most of the book and the ending, I think things have changed a lot for her. I’m rather sad about that because she’s not being able to make the choices she wanted, but her life is being determined for her by the events that are a result of the Black Angels. Will she be able to escape her “destiny” in the future? What will happen regarding Torres, the big bad of You Don’t Know My Name? There are more than a few questions I have at the end of  this adventure and I can’t wait to find out more.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Underrated Books

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Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes and created by Lainey from Gingerreadlainey.

This post was a little tricky to write because Top Ten Tuesday had the same topic last week. It’s always fun talking about the popular books because there tends to be a larger group of people to talk with, but what about the books that don’t get the same attention?

While the post I did last week was focused mainly on young adult books, I thought that this week I would go over the five children’s books that are my favorite that I  think deserve more attention, even if they are a bit on the “classic” side.

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The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

Goodreads

I remember this story being one of the books read to me the most as a child. I felt so bad for Ferdinand, being taken from his home when all he wanted to do was relax and smell the flowers. I’m glad this has a happy ending.

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The Story of Ping by Marjorie Flack

Goodreads

This one was passed down to me from my aunt and was read to me a lot by my grandmother and great-grandmother. I liked ducklings a lot and for a period of time as a very young child, I thought all baby animals were -ings: pig-lings, duck-lings, etc. It was funny and weird at the same time.

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Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban

Goodreads

I loved all the talk about food in this book. Even though Frances loves her bread and jam in the beginning, her mum and dad try to get her to try all sorts of things and by the end she’s open to new possibilities. I’m sure that I begged more than once for a recreation of a meal from this book.

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Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola

Goodreads

A nice book to read right before Italian night at home! It was funny to imagine the endless supply of spaghetti that could come from Stega Nona’s pot and poor Anthony’s foolish wish to use it without her help.

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Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

Goodreads

This was one of the first stories I remember hearing about France. It has beautiful images drawn for the book and the opening line is one of the few that I actually remember of all the children’s books listed here:

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines,

Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.”

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

 

Top 10 Tuesday: All About Audio Freebie

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Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. You can find the prompts here.

This week’s topic was a freebie, so I decided to go back into the Top 10 Tuesday archives and pick a topic that I had missed. Since I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks lately, I thought that the All About Audio topic from September 2016 would be a good one to tackle. I did write about the topic then on my old blog, but I’ve listened to a lot of audiobooks since then and added a few more to my library for future listening, so I thought it would be a fun one to rewrite.

These are some of the audiobooks I’ve enjoyed the most recently and some that I think sound great from their samples and think we should all check out.

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Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Narrated by Michael Crouch

Audible  –  Goodreads

When I finally got around to reading Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda this year,  I couldn’t believe that it had taken me so long. I think my problem was that the beginning of the novel was a bit slow for me and it took awhile for the action, so to speak, to take off.

The narration helped me get through the bulk of  the story, though, when before I had tried to read it from the hardcover. I only picked up the hardcover again for the last 30 pages or so. I think Michael Crouch was a good choice for Simon because his voice doesn’t sound like it has an age to it, really. I’m not sure how old he is, but he could voice a character from his teens, like Simon, to a character in his 30’s and I’d think he’s just as good. I like that versatility in a narrator.

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My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows, Narrated by Katherine Kellgren

Audible  –  Goodreads

Katherine Kellgren had the best voice for this book and I’ll tell you why. Her accent aside, she was the rights parts funny and posh sounding that it all sounded ludicrous and yet humorous at the same time. The combination of writing and storytelling was a pleasure and if the three authors ever write another book together, I hope they get Katherine Kellgren to narrate that one as well.

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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Narrated by Allan Corduner

Audible  –  Goodreads

I’ve only listened to a chapter of this so far and I love it, but I also know going into this that it will likely break my heart. When the narrator in the book is Death, how can I expect anything else? Allan Corduner sounds like he’ll do an excellent job and though I have no idea what he looks like, I have no problem imagining that Death, in this instance, looks like Julian Richings, who played Death on Supernatural.

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Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow, Narrated by Julia Whelan

Audible  –  Goodreads

I read an ARC of Girl in Pieces last year and once the preorder link was available on Audible, I used one of my credits and hopped on that train as well. Why? Because much of Girl in Pieces is about Charlie’s voice and her experience. Hearing it and processing the story in this manner added another layer to the experience. Yes, I cried, but I’m happier for it because it gave new depth to Kathleen Glasgow’s debut.

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A Little Life by Hana Yanagihara, Narrated by Oliver Wyman

Audible  –  Goodreads

I’ll be honest, the initial reason I bought this in part because it was on sale for $4.95 or something like that. Just like when an ebook or a physical book is on a steep discount, I get suckered in when something is only that much.

Having said that, I’m enjoying Oliver Wyman’s performance of this book. His voice is very mellow and flows with the narrative. He’s the type of narrator I picture listening to on a rainy afternoon, watching the rain through the window while you let the words tumble around in your brain.

This is the longest audiobook I own (32+ hours) so it’ll take more than one or two rainy afternoons to get through it, but the fact that it also takes place in NYC is another weakness that had me hooked.

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Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Narrated by Rebecca Soler

Audible  –  Goodreads

Cinder is the first book in a series that I am so far behind on that it’s actually been completed already. I guess that’s something because now I won’t need to wait years for the next book to come out.

Rebecca Soler has the same quality about her that I liked in Michael Crouch’s performance of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda: she’s got a voice that could be anywhere from a young girl to a young/middle-aged woman.

I’m curious to see how she’ll do when I get to the evil characters showing up, particular Levana, but I have to say that I love her portrayal of Iko (hands down my favorite character). That little android is the sweetest, funniest character I’ve encountered so far.

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Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor, Narrated by Cecil Baldwin, Dylan Marron, Retta, Therese Plummer, Dan Bittner

Audible  –  Goodreads

The thing that I like best about this book is that they got the actors from the podcast to do at least some of the voices for the book, particular Cecil Baldwin. I can’t speak for all the narrators, but Cecil is the voice of Night Vale, so his narrating the book is Reason #1 to pick it up if you have ever listened to the podcast. If you haven’t, you’re missing one of the trippiest rides. I’m still catching up on the podcast itself (they did release a couple of volumes in print), but this book is a novel taking place in this little desert town where the dog park is always open but no dogs allowed and the Glow Cloud is always watching.

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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, Narrated by Jay Snyder, Brandon Rubin, Fred Berman, Lauren Fortgang, Roger Clark, Elizabeth Evans, Tristan Morris

Audible  –  Goodreads

Sometimes I find it hard to separate multiple points of view and in this book there are six very different ones to pick from. The company that put together the audiobook made a great choice when they hired separate narrators for each character because I think it helps give each of them more of an individual personality. Narrators can, of course, do multiple voices, Jim Dale being a prime example, but the separation of the voices also gives the dynamic of this gang another facet. They’re dueling personalities at first because of the situation under which they come together and you can really feel that listening to the assembled cast.

This is another series that I haven’t finished yet and I’m glad I haven’t because the sequel is now out so I’ll be able to get right through this book and straight into Crooked Kingdom.

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, Narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Audible  –  Goodreads

Another book that I got because for some reason NYC books are my thing, but did I also mention this is narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda? Oh yeah! I bought this around the time I started listening to Hamilton, but hadn’t yet gotten the soundtrack because I was curious what the big deal was about Miranda.

I loved how into character he got, how much he embraced Ari & Dante and brought them from ink and paper to something entirely other. Like I said about My Lady Jane, when there’s a sequel to this, I hope they get a repeat narrator.

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The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey, Narrated by Finty Williams

Audible  –  Goodreads

This is a unique take on a classic monster story and I’m very anxious to read/listen to it. I borrowed a copy from the library awhile ago, but I never got to finish it. I bought this around the time I heard that there was a movie coming out in 2016, which I don’t think ever got the press it should have. Maybe that’s a good thing, since most adaptations that receive a lot of advance praise tend to disappoint.

In any case, I’m not 100% sold on this narrator yet, but I think what is pushing me more toward listening to it than reading it is because the narration is going to set the eerie tone that this book deserves.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

YaReads Blog Tour Cover Reveal: Walking the Divide by Martine Lewis

Walking the Divide (The Gray Eyes Series #3) by Martine Lewis

Genre: Upper YA Coming of Age Contemporary Romance with a touch of Paranormal

Published by BMJ Chanapi Press

Elyssa Thompson, wealthy Manhattan upper class girl, wants something more from life, something meaningful beyond the drunken rich kid parties and shallow talk about clothes and makeup. Zander Fredrick, street kid, victim of a broken foster care system, survives with the help of his power to project feelings onto other people. When he sees Elyssa in Central park one day, he feels a pull toward her, something beyond attraction, something that promises of home and happiness.

Can Elyssa and Zander cross the divide of social class to be together?

About the Author:

Martine Lewis is a forty something who was born and raised in the French speaking province of Quebec, Canada. She spent her childhood looking forward to her summer vacations at the farm, which were a nice escape from the suburbs where she lived.

Her first written endeavor was a 200-page handwritten Duran Duran bandfiction which she wrote when she was eleven years old. Of all her written work, this is the only one she no longer has.

All throughout high school, Martine wrote more bandfictions and some original work, then she went to write fanfictions in the Star Wars, Buffy and Harry Potter universes. Her fanficiton in the Potterverse are mostly centered on characters of her own creation and can be found on fanfiction.net.

Following her viewing of Roswell on Netflix in 2012, Martine wrote book two and three of the Gray Eyes Series, then went on to create the Gray Eyes Series universe in which she has been playing ever since. She writes contemporary coming-of-age romance fiction (young adult/new adult) with a twist.

Martine is an avid reader and rollerskater. She loves sushi, hot chocolate on a cold day, and the beach. But what she loves above all else is to curl on her chair with her computer and write more stories for her readers.

Martine currently lives in Houston TX with her two cats.

Author links: website: www.martinelewisauthor.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/martinelewisauthor

Twitter: www.twitter.com/authorMartine

Instagram: www.instagram.com/martinelewisauthor

Goodreads author page: www.goodreads.com/martinelewisauthor

Amazon author page: www.amazon.com/author/martinelewis

Amazon sell link: http://goo.gl/DJ2w6n

Top 5 Wednesday: 5 Polarizing Books

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Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes and created by Lainey from Gingerreadlainey.

This week felt a bit tough at first: books the people either love or hate. I didn’t really think that there were all that many but I came up with 5 and I’ll let you know which side of the fence I stand on for each.

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Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Love/Hate

I read it before the movies came out and I enjoyed it. I still enjoyed it even after the movies came out and made some people seriously question it (these are not masterpiece films here). I do realize that there are some issues within the novel, but that hasn’t gotten in the way of it being a fun book for me.

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The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Love/Hate It

I tried to like this because it was so prevalent at the time, but I really could not stand this book. The writing was a drain on my will to keep reading and the story sounded great in theory, but in execution it didn’t pan out for me.

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The Selection by Kiera Cass

Love/Hate It

Without going into the rest of the series (because I’ve only read The Elite), I really liked The Selection. I know it’s kind of vapid, but it was a fun, light read that I didn’t have to think too hard about regarding world building or magic systems.

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Love/Hate It

I didn’t think I would hate this book as much as I did, but oh my god did I HATE this book. No characters were sympathetic (Earl was the only one that came close) and the plot was devoid of any development.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne & J.K. Rowling

Love/Hate It

When this first came out I would have felt ashamed to put it on this list as anything other than love, but guess what? I am firmly on the side of HATE regarding this title. It did not live up to its history: the characters were nothing like what they’d been developed as, the story was on the rotten side of bad fan fiction, and there was no real reason for this to exist in the first place. I didn’t mind that it was a play because I enjoy that format, but this reeked of being a cash cow and that felt like a betrayal of all that the series stood for.

 

 

 

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Underrated Books I’ve Read

toptentuesday

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. You can find the prompts here.

There are so many books that are published every week that is can be hard to keep up with all of the titles we mean to. May 2017 looks especially busy this year, much like October 2015 (at least 10 titles I want to read are being published in quick succession!). Since there are so many, it’s only a matter of time before some get overlooked.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with the titles that get overlooked. Today I want to share with you ten titles that I’ve read that I thought were great reads that might have been overlooked.

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Edge of Wild by D.K. Stone

I was proud to be a part of the Edge of Wild Street Team for Danika Stone, author of this terrific novel. As hard as I and the other members worked, I still think there might be some people that overlooked it.

A mystery that takes place in Alberta, Canada, there’s murder, hostile new neighbors, and few allies for the main character Rich Evans. Can he do the job he was sent there to do, save a floundering hotel, or will he be chased out of town by the unsolved cases that keep popping up around him?

I don’t find many books that are set in Canada and that was one point in this book’s favor. I like mysteries and find it hard to be surprised by them because after reading so many, you tend to start guessing early at who did what. Danika managed to keep me not only interested but guessing up to the last few chapters and that made me very happy.

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Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald

Maybe it’s because these stories were originally published in 1947, but I feel like the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle stories get overlooked a lot. They’re about a woman named Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle that helps parents get rid of their children’s bad behavior in hilarious ways. Her unconventional methods were zany and I loved the image painted for the reader of her upside down house.

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Tomorrow Will Be Better by Betty Smith

Betty Smith only wrote four books in her lifetime, which is a shame, and I would put money on the fact that if anyone can name one of her books when asked, it would more often than not be A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

While that is one of my favorite books of all time, that doesn’t mean that Betty Smith’s other books don’t deserve just as much attention. Tomorrow Will Be Better hardly ever gets mentioned when it really ought to. It’s about Margie, a young woman in the 1920’s, who has dreams of a better life than that of her parents. She thinks that by marrying Frankie she’ll be able to have her own home, her own family, and live happily ever after. Life has a funny way of showing us what we’ll get rather than what we want sometimes and she learns several hard lessons before the end.

Even with all of her difficulties and the lack of clarity regarding her future at the end of the book, Margie manages to hold on tight to her mantra “tomorrow will be better”, though perhaps the twinkle in her eye isn’t what it once was. She’s a strong female lead that manages to soldier through what life hands her and she deserves to be talked about and explored just as much as Francie, the heroine of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

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So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane

I didn’t realize when I first read this series that it was slightly older than I was. I grew up thinking that this was written as I was growing up, before Harry Potter but not before I was even born!

This is the first book in a series about Nita and Kit, young people that find their manuals to becoming wizards in different ways and meet each other, become friends, and later partners in the fight against the Lone Power (the main antagonist).

This series is a bit more on the technical side than similar books, which I thought was a nice change of pace. There’s talk about the decay of the Universe and how to use magic to prevent the loss of energy in the world to prevent the end of the Universe for as long as possible. It is a grand theme that carries through each volume and picks up steam when we meet new characters, from wizards that happen to be dolphins and whales to Nita’s younger sister in a later book.

This series needs to be read more so that people can see where young adult wizard books really started before a British kid ever stepped on the scene.

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Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

This was the first book I ever read that had a female dragon and an anti-princess. Cimorene doesn’t want anything to do with the traditional princess arts: dancing, embroidering, etc. She’d much rather learn magic, fence, read…anything but learn how to faint when a giant kidnaps her.

Kazul is a dragon that just might be crazy enough to “adopt” this princess when she runs away and ask, asks, to be a dragon’s princess. Normally they just kidnap them, but this is a turn of events that will change the course of everyone’s lives. Kazul accepts Cimorene and takes her into her home to cook and organize her treasure. What happens when the wizards and princes start showing up and a dragon kingship is up for grabs will be fun for whoever is reading the first book in this quartet.

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The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

I have never heard anyone talk about this book which is crazy because it is awesome! Libraries are normally havens for bookworms, but what happens when it turns into a nightmare? That’s the question for the little boy that gets trapped in one in The Strange Library. The book is constructed a bit oddly with a weird flap cover rather than the usual cover/pages/cover and different constructions always pique my interest.

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Runaway Vol. One by Brian K. Vaughan

I think Saga is great and probably my favorite of Brian K. Vaughan’s graphic novels. However, he does have some other great titles, Runaways being one of them. It’s about a group of kids that find out their parents are villains: some are evil geniuses, others are aliens, some are super powered, and others prove you don’t need any of that to be evil. When they discover all this, they runaway and vow to use their own abilities to combat whatever schemes their parents come up with.

Finding out all of the details about their parents and themselves along with the kids was a lot of fun and the art was very sharp, the coloring vibrant, and the action wasn’t too messy, which is one of the problems I sometimes have with comics.

The story had lots of little mysteries along the way and I didn’t guess the most important one which shocked me because I was so sure I was right. What is next for these kids? Who knows, but what I do know is that Runaways needs to be read more because of all of the aforementioned reasons.

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In the Forests of the Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

I remember picking this up when it was published in 1999/2000 because I was around the same age as the author and I found it fascinating that someone my age (15 years old at the time) could write a book and get it published! I was also very into vampire fiction at the time, so that helped.

I don’t know why this book doesn’t get talked about as much as I think it should, but hopefully this post will get it onto more than a few TBRs. It’s the first book in the Den of Shadows series and while it isn’t the best, it certainly gives you a taste of the world you’re about to step into. There are just vampires in this world and the ones that there are, are not like the legends.

With a series that combines vampires, witches, shapeshifters and more, I was excited to read it and glad that it wasn’t a brick of a book which can be good when I’m in the mood, but every once in awhile I need a speedier read to clear my mood. In the Forests of the Night is the a good  treat for that kind of occasion.

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The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

I’m a sucker for any book that is about books, libraries, authors, etc. Basically if it has something to do with books or people involved with books, I’m in. I picked this book up originally while I was on vacation in St. Martin and it was a terrific mystery that had a lot of elements that twisted my head around and had my wondering until the very end.

The Thirteenth Tale is equal parts mystery and thriller. It was made into a movie apparently and I need to see that while everyone else needs to read this book about a young biographer who is invited to complete the true story of a reclusive author, learning both the author’s secrets and recalling the darkness in her own past as well.

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Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimo

This book definitely suffered from coming out during the years of Harry Potter’s popularity. The first volume was published in 2002 and while I agree that there are similarities between the series, I still believe that Charlie Bone has his own heart and soul on the page. His series deserves just as much of a chance to be read and loved as other magical schoolboys do.

There are scheming aunts, loving parents, wickedly smart friends, talented enemies, and, of course, plots afoot that make you wonder how Charlie is going to survive from one book to the next.

 

 

 

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Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

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Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Goodreads

At seventeen, Norah has accepted that the four walls of her house delineate her life. She knows that fearing everything from inland tsunamis to odd numbers is irrational, but her mind insists the world outside is too big, too dangerous. So she stays safe inside, watching others’ lives through her windows and social media feed.

But when Luke arrives on her doorstep, he doesn’t see a girl defined by medical terms and mental health. Instead, he sees a girl who is funny, smart, and brave. And Norah likes what he sees.

Their friendship turns deeper, but Norah knows Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can walk beneath the open sky. One who is unafraid of kissing. One who isn’t so screwed up. Can she let him go for his own good—or can Norah learn to see herself through Luke’s eyes?

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3 stars

This book deals with a lot of heavy topics right off the bat. Norah, our main character, suffers from agoraphobia, OCD, and self harm tendencies. Reading her journey, I got a good sense of what her experience was like.

I haven’t read many books with an agoraphobic character before, so  I can’t speak to the authenticity of the story, though if the author’s note is anything to go by, Norah’s experience & treatment have some basis in her reality. Having read Under Rose-Tainted Skies now, I  think that it sounds accurate to agoraphobia and it’s a terrifying illness, which I as a reader felt along with Norah. I’m a bit surprised by the progress she made by the end of the novel, but everyone’s progress and treatment is different, so I suppose I should be happy for her?

I appreciated the author’s handling of self harm. I thought her descriptors of Norah’s thought process before and during the act were consistent with what I know and, while frightening, it felt authentic on the page.

One problem I had with the novel was the relationship between Norah and Luke. It’s beginning is very similar to Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, which I read last year and mostly enjoyed. Norah and Luke’s relationship felt off to me while I was reading it, though. I wanted to believe in the simplicity of it, but it felt stilted in a way that had nothing to do with Norah’s mental illness. Luke did not seem to act in a way consistent with his age or class. Their awkwardness felt as though it was taken to an extreme that wasn’t completely believable.

Louise Gornall did a good job of writing the book and the was the thing that kept me going even when I wanted to quit the book because, another problem I had? A lot of the book felt as though it was getting repetitive. I’m not sure where I expected the novel to go, but the interactions between Norah and Luke felt like they were on a loop with only slight variations and it got annoying after awhile. I was getting frustrated with the sameness and with Norah’s over-exaggeration in her way of describing everything. The author’s skill was a bit heavy handed in these moments, adding to the frustration I had.

I’ve noticed something with books dealing with mental illness recently and I’m wondering why it is this way: there’s usually one parent present, typically the mother. Why is that? I’m curious to see what a book like this would have been like if two parents, whether mothers, fathers, or mother/father, were together in helping their child deal with their illness.

Overall, I’d say this book was intense in Norah’s experience, so you should be aware of that if you’re sensitive to vivid descriptions of panic attacks and mention of self harm . It is, however, interesting because there aren’t many books like it that I’ve read so far that deal with agoraphobia and OCD to this extreme.

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Review: Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

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Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Amazon  –   Barnes & Noble

Sometimes you don’t wake up. But if you happen to, you know things will never be the same.

Three lives, three different paths to the same destination: Aspen Springs, a psychiatric hospital for those who have attempted the ultimate act — suicide.

Vanessa is beautiful and smart, but her secrets keep her answering the call of the blade.

Tony, after suffering a painful childhood, can only find peace through pills.

And Conner, outwardly, has the perfect life. But dig a little deeper and find a boy who is in constant battle with his parents, his life, himself.

In one instant each of these young people decided enough was enough. They grabbed the blade, the bottle, the gun — and tried to end it all. Now they have a second chance, and just maybe, with each other’s help, they can find their way to a better life — but only if they’re strong and can fight the demons that brought them here in the first place.

Rating: 3 Stars

I’ve known of Ellen Hopkins’ books for a long time, but for the most part I stayed away from them because I wasn’t sure how I would like her style of writing. If you don’t know, all of her books are written in verse, which can take some getting used to if you’re not accustomed to it. When one of the challenges for the #DAReadathon said to pick a book about a subject close to us, I thought that it might be time to try one of Hopkins’ books out.

This novel follows the story of three teens that, after failed suicide attempts, are sent to a mental health facility: Tony, whose escape was pills; Conner, who shot himself in the chest; and Vanessa, a cutter that suffers from bipolar disorder.

The stories of each character were relatively easy to follow, though the format made it slightly difficult to keep track of the secrets they were keeping both from me as the reader and from those around them. I’m glad that their separate sections were labeled with their names because if they weren’t, I’m afraid I wouldn’t have been able to tell them apart. The voices were too similar. Any one of them could have been the other: Vanessa the pill junkie, Tony the cutter, etc.

Something I wasn’t sure of during the course of the book and I’m not sure of after it ended was Tony’s struggle with his sexuality. During most of the book I was under the impression that he was gay. He’s introduced as a gay character, after all. Then Vanessa arrives at the mental health ward and he starts to develop feelings for her. This confuses him, though I thought that perhaps he was just learning to accept that he was bisexual.

Tony grew up largely in juvenile detention, surrounded by other boys, and he was raped and abused before that. It’s these events that were presented as events that might explain why he thought he was gay. That is when I started feeling like something was wrong. Once this thought enters his head, it felt like he thought there was only one way to be: either gay or straight. Conner asks him if he’s bisexual once and it is never brought up again.

By the end of the novel, Tony and Vanessa are very cozy and are talking about what their lives will be like after they get out of the hospital. That situation felt weird as it was because I don’t believe that they should have trusted their feelings in that setting to begin with, but even if they did, why is it so impossible to believe that Tony could be bi? I felt like that option was erased and it made my uncomfortable. Having never read any of Hopkins’ books before, I don’t know what her handle is on LGBT situations, but this one didn’t feel like it was handled right.

Aside from that issue, I think the characters and their stories felt unfinished by the end, with the exception of one which I will not mention as it is a big spoiler. I understand that not all stories can be wrapped up neatly and at first thought this wasn’t too bad, but when I think about where these characters were when they entered the story and where they are now at the end, I’m not sure that anything really changed for them. There’s a lot more road for them to travel and I think that we should have been able to see more of it on the page to make it a satisfactory story.

I’ll give Hopkins’ books another try to see where they lead and what her handling of other situations are. As for how this one related to my own experience, I saw in Vanessa a lot of truth and that made me sad. It was believable in the way that she went through things and the dependency that she had on her coping mechanism. I’m glad she seemed to have more support by the end than she felt she did at the beginning because hope is all you have sometimes, even if someone else needs to have it for you.

 

 

 

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Top 5 Wednesday: 2017 Debuts I’m Excited For

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Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes and created by Lainey from Gingerreadlainey.

The great thing about doing blog posts in January? You get to talk about all the great new books coming out this year! Now there’s nothing to say that you can’t talk about new books at any time of the year, really, but the first couple of prompts are usually concerned with your 2017 TBRs or, in this case, debuts that you’re looking forward to.

Every year there’s at least one I’m really looking forward to and this year is no exception, though I must say that there seem to be a tremendous amount of fantastic debuts coming out this year. Five is a hard number to stick to, but I’ll do my best.

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Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval has been on my list since I read the synopsis. I’ll admit, it caught my attention because it sounds like it has some similarities to The Night Circus, another book about a magical circus that I loved, even if it did make me very sad.

I read the sampler for Caraval and think that it will work very well on its own, similarities aside. The adventure is going to start right away with sisters trying to protect one another, no matter the cost. The magic of the island where Caraval takes place is sure to be interesting. I really want to know what the game entails. What are the challenges? How does one win, really? Are there limits to the wish prize?

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This book is timely and the topic is very interesting. While my town hasn’t experienced anything like what Starr, the main character, goes through, I’m constantly hearing about it in the news and from friends and family that live in cities closer to such spots. I’m not sure how Angie Thomas is going to write this book or where the story is going to go, but I have a feeling it needs to be read and not just by me. It feels like it’s going to be a must-read for a lot of people.

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Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

The cover is beautiful, sure, but did you know this book is a retelling/inspired by Beauty & the Beast and Labyrinth? O.O Those are two of my favorite stories and I preordered this book so fast once I realized that, that my Amazon account is probably still in shock. February is going to be a very good month.

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Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic

I haven’t heard much about this book, but the summary sounds interesting. It has traces of Chocolat and Like Water for Chocolate, baking emotions into delectable treats, but there’s also hidden magic that I haven’t seen before. One of the sisters in the books, Iris, sees flowers as fractal images and turns them into stained glass. The cover is gorgeous, to boot.

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You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

This book promises to be interesting. The main character Julia creates art through graffiti and there’s supposed to be graffiti art throughout the book. It’s also incredibly diverse: Julia is not only Indian, but she is deaf and has two mothers. I’m very anxious to read a book about a deaf character. I don’t think I have before.

 

 

 

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