Sunday, August 19, 2018

Q [5] What was the first book you read and reviewed?

Now, without looking... do you remember your very first book review? What was it? I recently realized my one-year blogoversary was coming up, so I was double checking the exact date when this question popped into my head. I started reading some of my reviews from a year ago, and it was like I was seeing them for the first time. It had been so long since I'd written them, I'd almost forgotten what they said!

My first book review was The Winter King (Weathermages of Mystral, #1) by C.L. Wilson. I remember loving the book and immediately pre-ordering the second! It's still sitting on my shelf (unread), but I've already made plans to read it soon. Re-reading my review made me want to start it right away!

Another post I did in the beginning was Bitten at BEA. A few years ago, when I attended the Book Expo of America, a women bit the flark out of my arm (on purpose) at one of the book drops. Karen from For What's It's Worth mentioned the incident on her blog, and when people started asking questions I decided to write a post that explained the entire thing in detail.

What about you? Did you write something really amazing when you first started blogging that you feel didn't get the attention it deserved? How did you feel after re-reading some of your older reviews? Do you think your method for writing reviews has changed? Is there anything you wish you'd done differently from the beginning?

Let's do something fun! Please leave a link to the very first review on your blog, and also any really old posts that you think deserved more attention than they received.  We all know that starting a blog is a lot of work, and it takes time to build relationships and make friends, so it makes sense that our blogs received very little love in the beginning. Were there books that you enjoyed and still want others to read? Share those reviews here! I want you to dig deep and find those long-forgotten posts that are in need of a little dusting.

I know some of you have been blogging for years, so it'll be interesting to see what you come up with! You can add your link below, or just paste them into the comments. Be sure to list the title of your post (since you can leave more than one) and your blog name -- that should make it easier to locate specific posts and who wrote them.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Letting Go of Gravity by Meg Leder

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Twins Parker and Charlie are polar opposites.

Where Charlie is fearless, Parker is careful.

Charlie is confident while Parker aims to please.

Charlie is outgoing and outspoken; Parker is introverted and reserved.

And of course, there’s the one other major difference: Charlie got leukemia. Parker didn’t.

But now that Charlie is officially in remission, life couldn’t be going better for Parker. She’s landed a prestigious summer internship at the hospital and is headed to Harvard in the fall to study pediatric oncology—which is why the anxiety she’s felt since her Harvard acceptance is so unsettling. And it doesn’t help that her relationship with Charlie has been on the rocks since his diagnosis.

Enter Finn, a boy who’s been leaving strange graffiti messages all over town. Parker can’t stop thinking about those messages, or about Finn, who makes her feel free for the first time: free to doubt, free to make mistakes, and free to confront the truth that Parker has been hiding from for a long time.

That she keeps trying to save Charlie, when the person who really needs saving is herself.

“I like thinking of time that way—that it’s a little more fluid in Spanish. Like maybe to start thinking about the future, you need to think about the possibility in the right now, you know?”
Okay, so I originally read and reviewed this book for a blog tour (you can find my initial thoughts here), but I couldn't definitively express my overall feelings. There were things I enjoyed about the book, but there were also a lot of things that really got underneath my skin. What was my solution? Read it again. I feel like I understand Parker a little more now, but I still think she was a terrible friend, sister, and daughter.

Let me elaborate... Parker's twin, Charlie, should have been her equal, but he came across like a younger brother she was trying to protect. I know that deep down her choices came from a good place, and she genuinely thought she was helping, but she only ever made things worse for him. He was old enough to make his own decisions, whatever they may be, but she didn't allow him that freedom. Tattletale. She always had to go behind his back and announce his personal, private business to the world. If I were Charlie, I would have been pissed, too.

Despite feeling like she had to tell on Charlie for the slightest misstep, she kept her own secrets. Her brother wasn't allowed to keep anything to himself, but she could withhold super important information and justify it by saying it was too difficult to talk about. Ugh. Parker also had the very best friend, Em, but she treated her like garbage for being truthful and trying to get Parker to do the right thing. Em was traveling abroad with her cousin, but she still made time for her friend. Her emails were sweet and detailed her adventures, but they also encouraged Parker to be honest with her parents. This was something Parker didn't want to do, and she admits that she doesn't want to be reminded of it, so she just ignores her. Em talked about so much more than that in her emails, but Parker couldn't respond at all? It was so frustrating to watch. I wanted to smack Parker in the face!

The secondary characters in this book were treasures! Ruby, Em, Matty, Carla, and all of the people from the retirement home. I loved those old ladies (and Henry)! They were hilarious and really added another layer to the story. It's clear that the women are dealing with their own issues, and it was nice seeing Parker try to mend their relationships. At first, she just tried to spice up their days with new craft ideas, but it eventually morphed into something else.

Charlie's story is a sad one, and he has every right to be angry with the world. Finn's past is equally (if not more) tragic, and I enjoyed learning more about him as the story progressed. We can't choose where we come from, but we can decide where we are going. It was nice to see Finn take control of his future and his present.

I thought the author did a wonderful job conveying Parker's anxiety. I would start feeling anxious myself when Parker's eye would start twitching. Her inner turmoil felt tangible. I could feel my palms sweating and my heart racing, which gave me a better idea of what Parker was going through.

In the end, I still can't decide how I feel about Letting Go of Gravity. One, I think Parker and Charlie's grandmother should really refrain from telling that specific story to children. Two, Parker wasn't a very likable character, but I don't think she was supposed to be. Instead, she offered a realistic perspective of a person dealing with anxiety and feeling trapped in their current situation. She didn't see a way out for herself even though I felt there were clear alternatives. Three, I felt like the book was a little longer than it needed to be. There was a lot of filler that could have been left out, because at times it felt like the story crawled from chapter to chapter.

It's weird... not knowing exactly how I feel about a book. Did I like it? Yes. Would I read it again? Probably not a third time, no. Was there an important message? Yes. The story is good. It was very thought-provoking and authentic. I wish Parker had made different choices, but then there wouldn't have been much of a story. It was an interesting read with a unique perspective, and I think the author makes a lot of valid points. Life is too short to spend it doing something we hate. We also need to be able to forgive ourselves and others, or the world is going to be a lonely place.

Wow... the ending... it was exactly what this book needed and deserved.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

My Weekly Pull [33]

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

Magic Order #3 by Mark Millar, Olivier Coipel, Tommy Lee Edwards
Hunt for Wolverine Claws of a Killer #4 (of 4) by Mariko Tamaki, Butch Guice, Geoff Shaw

Jacob's comics for the week!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bebop and Rocksteady Hit the Road #3 (of 5) by Ben Bates, Dustin Weaver, Ryan Browne
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Urban Legends #4 by Gary Carlson, Frank Fosco, Kevin Eastman
Cable Deadpool Annual #1 by David F. Walker, Paco Diaz, Rob Liefeld
Deadpool Assassin #5 (of 6) by Cullen Bunn, Mark Bagley, Dave Johnson
Infinity Wars #2 (of 6) by Gerry Duggan, Mike Deodato
Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man #308 by Chip Zdarsky, Chris Bachalo

Only two comics for me this week! I might eventually read some of the Deadpool and Spider-Man comics that Jacob's reading right now, but sometimes Deadpool can be a little... much. There are also a ton of Spider-Man-related comics out there, and I'm happy with my Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows and the new The Amazing Spider-Man

Magic Order is dark. I'm still not sure how I feel about it after two issues. The story is engaging and similar to watching a murder mystery unfold. We already know who the bad guys are, but we still have to watch as they kill off (at least) three people per issue. It's insanity! Not to mention the ways in which they die... writers can get pretty creative when magic is involved. Speaking of creative, this was the only, er, clothed cover for this week's issue (just in case any of you go searching for this series).

Hunt for Wolverine Claws of a Killer is wrapping up with this final issue. I've been disappointed with how the writer has chosen to portray Daken within this series. Throughout the first three issues, Daken is an ass and often makes petty, childish comments. The Daken I knew previously (All-New Wolverine by Tom Taylor) was sweet and wore feminist t-shirts that were too small for him (Gabby's -- his clothes kept ripping off, hah). Regardless, I never thought he and the others would stumble across zombies. It's been trippy -- especially after the small revelation in the last issue. 

As of yesterday, I was completely caught up on all of my comics, and it shouldn't take me too long to read these two, so yay! Hopefully I can stay on top of these so I can finish the Venom series I started ages ago. I want to finish reading the older run before starting the new one by Donny Cates.

Are you reading any new comics this week? Any old ones you think I'd like? Let me know!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday [4]

Tell Me Something Tuesday is hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings! It's a weekly meme that discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging.

Q: At what point do you think a series has gone on too long?

I actually have a good example for this one! The other day I was looking back at series I started but never finished, and I was surprised by the number of Mortal Instruments books. I thought it was a trilogy? I remember reading it when it was first released and thinking things had wrapped up by the end, but now there are more books? What are they about? I thought the original trilogy was great from the start, but now I'm hesitant to read the newer books.

Another example would be The Vampire Diaries. This was a long time ago, so my information might be a little off, but didn't they fire the original author? There was something in her contract that allowed them to hire ghostwriters to pump out more books for the series, but the original author no longer had any say in how her story ended. I believe they only did that because the TV show was successful, and not for the sake of literature.

The Percy Jackson series (and all the books that go with it) is a different example. Each of those books is its own story with familiar characters. New things are introduced every book, but the world and people stay (mostly) the same. The Heroes of Olympus was another amazing series set within the same world, but with a new twist. We're with a different group of heroes, but the author regularly makes references to the old. At one point the characters from the two series start working together, and the story is told through their various POVs.

I think a series that has a lot of books told through multiple perspectives has a better chance of doing well than a long series told through a single person's point of view. It offers more variety and allows readers to better understand the world they're reading about. I'm also really hesitant to start a series that has 10+ plus, because it's unlikely I'm going to love every single one. Additionally, it's a huge time commitment.

There are a lot of series that end with me craving more, but that's half the fun! I loved Harry Potter and how it ended, and I will always want more books set in that world, but I think the ending was final. Yes, J.K. Rowling could write additional books, but that would feel forced. I love that they went a different route and decided to publish Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. We get more from the wizarding world without ruining the characters we fell in love with.

My answer for this one is vague, so I'm sorry, but it really depends on the series and what the author is doing with it. Only an author can know when their story should end, and readers wanting more isn't a bad thing, but that doesn't mean we should get what we want. We should appreciate the story for what it is, and an author should know when their story has reached its end. It shouldn't be about the money (though I know sometimes it is), but about the characters we fall in love with.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Royally Matched (Royally #2) by Emma Chase

Narrated by Andi Arndt & Shane East
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Some men are born responsible, some men have responsibility thrust upon them. Henry Charles Albert Edgar Pembrook, Prince of Wessco, just got the motherlode of all responsibility dumped in his regal lap.

He’s not handling it well.

Hoping to force her grandson to rise to the occasion, Queen Lenora goes on a much-needed safari holiday—and when the Queen’s away, the Prince will play. After a chance meeting with an American television producer, Henry finally makes a decision all on his own:

Welcome to Matched: Royal Edition.

A reality TV dating game show featuring twenty of the world's most beautiful blue bloods gathered in the same castle. Only one will win the diamond tiara, only one will capture the handsome prince’s heart.

While Henry revels in the sexy, raunchy antics of the contestants as they fight, literally, for his affection, it’s the quiet, bespectacled girl in the corner—with the voice of an angel and a body that would tempt a saint—who catches his eye.

The more Henry gets to know Sarah Mirabelle Zinnia Von Titebottum, the more enamored he becomes of her simple beauty, her strength, her kind spirit…and her naughty sense of humor.

But Rome wasn’t built in a day—and irresponsible royals aren’t reformed overnight.

As he endeavors to right his wrongs, old words take on whole new meanings for the dashing Prince. Words like, Duty, Honor and most of all—Love.
Only the villains lock ladies in a tower.
Then you make me want to be a villain.
My heart is swooning right now! I wasn't sure how I would feel about Henry after reading about him in Royally Screwed, but he was everything I wanted from a character. He loves his country and his family, but he's worried about his ability to make a difference. He's not used to the scrutiny his brother grew up with, and he's struggling to find his place now that people are counting on him.

Feeling overwhelmed, Henry makes an impulsive decision that did not provide the entertainment he was looking for. He foolishly thought it would help him feel more like himself, but it ended up having some pretty bad consequences. My heart broke for Henry over and over again. He always had the best intentions (even if they seemed careless at the time), but the world can be cruel and unfair. People are often selfish and only looking out for themselves, which usually means someone undeserving gets hurt.

Sarah is the sweetest person on Earth. She's supportive of her sister, has friends that she loves and enjoys being around, and is happy with her small place in the world. Henry's loud personality shakes her out of her comfort zone, but Sarah isn't a pushover. She'll defend those she loves even if it means she is the one that ends up getting hurt. I really liked who Sarah was with Henry. She was fierce and his equal in every way. She loves literature and treasures words, and she's honest to the core. 

There were some pretty nasty characters in this one (one repeat from the previous book, ugh), and the things they did made me visibly angry. At one point my husband said it looked like I was going to squeeze my phone into tiny pieces (audiobook), and wanted to know what I was listening to. Henry suiting up with ancient weapons to defend the one he loves -- ahhh. That has to be one of my favorite parts!

At the end when I could tell Henry's decisions were going to have unforeseen consequences, I had to keep reminding myself that there was still time left for a happy ending. He was doing what he thought was best, and trying to protect Sarah, but authors like to drag you through the mud first. Emma Chase made my heart constrict and made me wish my ears could listen faster. 

I loved this book! I'm loving this series! I cannot wait to dive in to the next one -- there's bound to be more excitement and adventures. Oh, and let me just say... Emma Chase knows how to write steamy sex scenes. She can also make me burst out laughing at any given moment -- love it!

Additionally, I adored Sarah's sister, Penelope. I really hope she gets her own book in the future! The ending wasn't anything like what I expected, but now I cannot imagine it happening any other way. It was perfect. Everything was perfect!

(Both narrators are amazing -- two of my favorites!)

Friday, August 10, 2018

Gregor the Overlander (Underland Chronicles, #1)
by Suzanne Collins

Synopsis (via Goodreads): This irresistible first novel tells the story of a quiet boy who embarks on a dangerous quest in order to fulfill his destiny -- and find his father -- in a strange world beneath New York City.

When Gregor falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland, where spiders, rats, cockroaches coexist uneasily with humans. This world is on the brink of war, and Gregor's arrival is no accident. A prophecy foretells that Gregor has a role to play in the Underland's uncertain future. Gregor wants no part of it -- until he realizes it's the only way to solve the mystery of his father's disappearance. Reluctantly, Gregor embarks on a dangerous adventure that will change both him and the Underland forever.


You know a book is good when it can make you like cockroaches and spiders. I actually wanted to hug a cockroach and feared for its life! I would love to tell you that Gregor the Overlander has forever changed my heart, but sadly it has not. Cockroaches in real life still make me jump onto the nearest piece of furniture, or run screaming in the opposite direction. The first few times they're mentioned in the book, my skin literally crawled. Even thinking about them right now is giving me gooseflesh, because they were giant cockroaches that you could ride on.

However, Temp and Tick will forever hold a special place in my heart. They treasured Boots and kept her safe (Boots is Gregor's two-year-old sister and my favorite character). She didn't judge them or think they were gross -- she loved them for who/what they were. Boots always remembered to include them in meals and was constantly concerned with their well-being. The others, like me, thought the Crawlers were creepy and kept their distance. In the end, they won me over with their kindness and selfless personalities.

I've never been afraid of bats or rats, but this book gave me a new appreciation for them. It's crazy how a different perspective can alter years of thoughts and feelings.

I really enjoy books with prophecies! It's one of the reasons I like the Percy Jackson books so much. They always start with a prophecy, and it's fun trying to piece the information together on my own. The majority of the time things don't click into place until they happen, but the journey is enjoyable. I have a feeling this series will revolve around prophecies as well (yay!).

Like I said before, Boots was my favorite. She's two and Suzanne Collins captured her personality perfectly. Children (especially at that age) are not immediately afraid of things. They are trusting and view the world with an open heart. Boots was no exception. She quickly formed a friendship with the Crawlers and didn't hesitate to befriend anything or anyone that came her way. I loved the innocence Collins was able to portray through Boots, and how her personality often helped them accomplish their goals.

Gregor was also an enjoyable character and took wonderful care of his sister. He didn't always have the tools he needed, but it was obvious he loved her. He would risk his own life, even being a child himself, to make sure she stayed safe. He carried her on his back without complaint just to keep her close. Gregor was also quick on his feet and easily adapted to new situations. He took everything in stride and tried to find the best path for him and his sister.

Gregor the Overlander was a phenomenal story! I was reading this to my son at night, but would keep turning the pages long after he'd fallen asleep. I'd allow myself to read one more chapter (re-reading it to him the next day), but once I reached a certain point I couldn't stop. I needed to know what happened and how the story ended. I'm really happy with the conclusion -- hopeful and final -- and cannot wait to read the rest of this series!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Mini Reviews [13]

If My Moon Was Your Sun by Andreas Steinhofel
Nele Palmtag (Illustrator)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Did you hear the story about Max, the boy who kidnapped his grandfather from a nursing home ? You didn't see it on the news? Well, let me tell you about it.

Max lives in a small town, much smaller than yours. His grandpa is losing his memory, but still remembers quite a bit. You can imagine how they hurried, Max and his grandpa, followed by old Miss Schneider, who insisted on coming along. Why were they in a hurry? Because everyone was after them. Max had skipped school to rescue his grandpa, and they were just starting out on what promised to be one of the best days of their entire lives.

A touching story about dementia and the special relationship between grandparents and grandchildren, with full-color illustrations and a read-along CD audiobook featuring twelve classical pieces for children by Georges Bizet and Sergei Prokofiev.


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

If My Moon Was Your Sun made me feel both sad and hopeful. Max loves his grandfather, and they've always been close, but now he's in a nursing home across town. His grandfather has dementia, so it wasn't enough to just occasionally check on him at home. He needed constant care that Max and his mother couldn't provide. 

One day, Max decides to take his grandfather away from the nursing home, an adultnapping of sorts, so he can spend the day in a place that was familiar and meaningful. While I'm not entirely sure I believe the logistics of this story, it was sweet and enjoyable. A few of their conversations seemed random at the time, but they did come together at the end. I wish the story had flowed a little better, but instead it felt choppy and scattered.

Despite having a few issues, it was a lovely story overall. 

Edison: The Mystery of the Missing Mouse
Treasure by Torben Kuhlmann
Expected publication: October 2, 2018
Synopsis (via Goodreads): A long time ago, one mouse learned to fly, another landed on the moon...what will happen in the next Mouse adventure?

From the creator of
Lindbergh—The Tale of a Flying Mouse and Armstrong, comes Edison—The Mystery of the Missing Mouse Treasure.

When two unlikely friends build a vessel capable of taking them to the bottom of the ocean find a missing treasure—the truth turns out to be far more amazing.


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

I really liked all of the illustrations for Edison, but some of the wording was weird. I was under the impression that this was a children's book, so saying things like "When I was young, I also went off on crazy adventures, risking life and limb like an idiot" seemed inappropriate. It wouldn't have taken much to phrase that a little differently.

This is another book that didn't flow well. It was almost like reading an old telegram. Words words words STOP words words STOP words... I felt like I kept having to stop and start again within the story. Some of their mousey comments didn't make sense either.

I liked the idea of mice being just as intelligent and independent as people. It made me think of the movie The Borrowers, but with rodents. They have homes, schools, can weld and invent -- one even went to the moon. It was an interesting story about using your brain to come up with a scientific solution to a problem. Trial and error, drawing out plans, researching, hypothesizing -- all of this was a great way to incorporate science into a children's story.

Wonderful book, although I wish it had been presented and worded just a tad differently.

Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows #21
by Jody Houser, Scott Koblish (Illustrator),
Eduard Petrovich (Illustrator)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): WEIRD SCIENCE CONTINUES! Is this the start of Annie Parker’s own clone saga? Can Peter and Mary Jane save her from herself? 


Spider-Man has been cloned in the past, but it's different when his daughter is the target of a villain's scheme. Is it cloning? The person(s) they keep running into seem to have similar features and attributes, but there are some major differences.

We still don't know why the baddie is doing what they're doing, but we know it can't be anything good. I'm really enjoying the family dynamics and watching all three of them work together. They have to balance their superhero lives, and they also have to deal with regular family issues.

Annie may be Spiderling, but she's also a teenager in high school They don't always make the best decisions, and have to make their own mistakes in order to learn from them. However, her mistakes as Spiderling can have more severe consequences, so opening up to her parents as a superhero might be more necessary than opening up to them as their child.

The Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows is still one of my favorites! I cannot wait to see where their story goes. Also, this comic has some of the best illustrations!

Amazing Spider-Man #1 by Nick Spencer
Ryan Ottley (Illustrator)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): An alien invasion hits New York City and the only one who can stop it is…Spider-Man?! And if even that’s not enough, you’ll see a new roommate, new love interests – and a new villain! Spider-Man goes back to basics courtesy of Nick Spencer (SECRET EMPIRE, SUPERIOR FOES OF SPIDER-MAN) and the Marvel debut of RYAN OTTLEY (Invincible)! 


I was really happy to start The Amazing Spider-Man from the beginning. There's a new writer, so that means new stories or old ones with a different perspective.

The first one was... interesting. All of the other superheroes seem annoyed with Spider-Man, but we're not really sure why. I believe Mayor Fisk (bad guy) has something to do with it. I know he wants to isolate Spider-Man, but it doesn't say whether or not he was successful in this issue.

Despite all the animosity directed at him, Spider-Man still does what he always does -- saves the world. He's been selflessly giving up everything about Peter Parker in order to maintain his secret identity and keep everyone safe. I've never thought it was fair how much Peter has lost over the years while being Spider-Man. He's always losing his job, his friends, and alienating his family. (I really wish after all this time he would tell Aunt May what he does. She wouldn't be disappointed, and he could better explain when things go wrong.)

It's too soon to have an opinion on the series as a whole, but the first issue was long. There are some additional stories in the back that give you a villain's perspective as well as something else Peter is dealing with. I really want to love this, so I hope it doesn't disappoint!