Thursday, March 22, 2018

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

My Weekly Pull [12]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Final Thoughts [1]: Hawkeye #16 & The Unbelievable Gwenpool #25

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 16, 2018

Here So Far Away by Hadley Dyer

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

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

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

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

This is a gorgeous, atmospheric, and gut-wrenching novel that readers won’t soon forget. (Synopsis from Goodreads)

He glanced over at the farmhouse, then back at me. "No. I knew you were too young for me. Even if you were twenty, you would be too young. But the first thing you said to me was funny." He slapped his hat against his leg. "And I wanted to hear what else you had to say."
I received an arc from a Goodreads giveaway, but this is still an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Also, the quote I used may have changed or been altered in some way, but I am quoting from what I received.

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

My Weekly Pull [11]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Q [2] How Many Books Do You Read at Once?

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

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

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

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

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

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

Jack is charming, wildly attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart? (add on Goodreads)

"And then he was kissing me like we were both on fire and he was trying to put the flames out, and I kissed him back like an arsonist with a pocketful of matches."
The universe was against me, but I finally finished this book! It didn't take me long to read, but it was "misplaced" for over a week. My son thought my shelves were too full, so he decided to add a few to his. 🤷💕

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

My Weekly Pull [10]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 5, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 2, 2018

How to Love by Katie Cotugno

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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