Thursday, January 16, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings, that highlights upcoming releases that we're anticipating and excited to read. It's a spinoff of the feature Waiting on Wednesday that was hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Birdie and Me by J.M.M. Nuanez
Expected publication: February 18th 2020
Synopsis (via Goodreads): A stunning debut about a girl named Jack and her gender creative little brother, Birdie, searching for the place where they can be their true and best selves.

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

They're also somehow . . . spectacular.

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

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

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Lucky Caller by Emma Mills

Synopsis (via Goodreads): When Nina decides to take a radio broadcasting class her senior year, she expects it to be a walk in the park. Instead, it’s a complete disaster.

The members of Nina's haphazardly formed radio team have approximately nothing in common. And to maximize the awkwardness her group includes Jamie, a childhood friend she'd hoped to basically avoid for the rest of her life.

The show is a mess, internet rumors threaten to bring the wrath of two fandoms down on their heads, and to top it all off Nina's family is on the brink of some major upheaval.

Everything feels like it's spiraling out of control―but maybe control is overrated?

With the warmth, wit, intimate friendships, and heart-melting romance she brings to all her books, Emma Mills crafts a story about believing in yourself, owning your mistakes, and trusting in human connection in Lucky Caller.
"The perfect comeback only comes to you way after the offending incident, most especially when you’re alone in the shower with no one but the shampoo bottle to tell it to."
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

This was my first Emma Mills book, but I'll definitely be back for more! Lucky Caller made me feel warm and fuzzy, and avoided all of the teenage angst that I've started to associate with most YA books. The romance was soft, slow-burn, and intrinsically sweet. Jaime was definitely a cinnamon roll, and I adored everything about our Prince Hapless. The game Kingdom was epic and everything! I really loved that aspect of the story, and how fleshed out their make-believe world was.

I loved watching Nina and Jaime remember their past friendship, and how it grew into something neither of them expected. They were really close growing up (since they lived in the same building and his grandparents would watch Nina and her sisters occasionally), and I really enjoyed the games they played together on the bus! What interesting questions they had! Like... would you rather be a clown forever, or marry one? Something like that! The back-and-forth Q&A sessions had me smiling from ear to ear, particularly when one or both would defend an answer.

As they got older, an incident in middle school threw a wrench in their relationship, and I hated how hurt both parties were afterwards. Nina wasn't a mean person, but she did do something callously (as children sometimes do), and it hurt Jaime deeply. He was still a trooper though, and continued their game of Kingdom when Nina's youngest sister (Sidney) asked. He was fully committed to his role, and didn't let what happened between him and Nina alter something so fundamental about their friendship. He showed up and was there when it mattered, and he always gave 100% of himself.

Nina's family was the cat's pajamas (ignore my 20's references, I'm listening to Lair of Dreams right now)! All of their interactions felt authentic and were totally relatable. They were sarcastic with their mother, but it was playful and teasing. Respectful... but with a hint of an eye-roll. 🙄 They tormented in each other in the best ways, and it was always done out of love. They knew each other intimately, in the way only family can, and could communicate clearly with a look or simple gesture. Mills really captured the essence of family, and what it means to love and be loved by them.

The radio show was the icing on the cake for me! Initially, I didn't think I would like Joydeep's personality (annoying and ridiculous), but it meshed well with Sasha, Jaime, and Nina's. They formed an unlikely group, and bonded over shared experiences (some good, some bad). They complimented each other, and managed to work well despite their differences. Jaime is quiet and shy, but will passionately defend who/what he cares about. Sasha is athletic and self-conscious, worried about her future and enjoying her present. Nina wasn't a pushover per se, but she did tend to go with the flow and rarely made waves. Joydeep was goofy and a prankster, and his random comments always made me smile. Separately, they were interesting, but combined they were a formidable force. Their group interactions were probably my favorite parts of the book.

The Dantist! Mr. Paint! He was so nice! Like, a genuinely good person that enjoys helping others. He's not around a lot, but I liked how obvious it was that he cared. He loved Nina's mother and was invested in their lives, and he surprisingly didn't turn down our foursome's very crazy request. I'm still not sold on his story (if you've read this, you know what I'm talking about), and think there's more to him than meets the eye. Although, I do like that we were left with a little bit of a mystery surrounding him and his past. It made things more entertaining! 

It's unlikely that events would have unfolded the way they did, but I'm not complaining. I'm thrilled that everyone ended up exactly where they needed to be, and even forgive Nina's dad for flaking and being an unreliable father. They've accepted that about him, and still love him despite his flaws. They're family. It might not be perfect, but what in life is? I think Mills has captured the essence of what it means to love without reservation, and to appreciate the connections we make with other people. The time we spend together may be fleeting, but that doesn't make it any less important or meaningful.

"And my mom told me that part of growing up is just … learning that people come in and out of your life, and that there are all kinds of levels of friendship, all different types. And maybe you’ll make a friend, and you won’t see them again, but it doesn’t devalue what you had with them or the time you spent together. That’s still valid, even if it wasn’t built to last. It’s not any less … significant, you know?" (★★★★★)

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
[Blog Tour: Review]

Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the Tweet Cute blog tour hosted by Wednesday Books. I'm thrilled I get to share my thoughts on this book with you! Review snippet: "Emma Lord has delivered a deliciously sweet rom-com that's full of banter and the best kind of suspense." 🍧

Title: TWEET CUTE
Author: Emma Lord
Pub. Date: January 21st 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Buy Link: Click here
Goodreads: Click here

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming — mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account. 

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese — that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life — on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate — people on the internet are shipping them?? — their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

𑁋𑁋𑁋

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

Reading Tweet Cute was like hearing an ice cream truck on a hot summer day. You didn't know you wanted something, and then suddenly it's all you can think about. (Grilled cheese food truck? Anyone?) This book was impossible to put down, and it was refreshing how snarky-sweet and unpredictable the story was. I'm thrilled Lord managed to keep me on my toes, and was pleasantly surprised with how everything played out.

Pepper's parents were mostly nonexistent. Her mom was too busy with work (until it and Pepper became synonymous), and her father lived in another state. His lack of interest in his daughter's life (like not asking about the Twitter war, or how she was feeling about it) was upsetting. She knew he knew something was wrong, but neither of them broached the subject. He was happy to stay in his corner of the world and let events unfold on their own. Divorced parents can still be present in their children's lives, even from a distance. Her mother was incredibly frustrating for the better part of the book, and I hated how she belittled Pepper's efforts. Not once did she consider what a massive time-suck her requests would be for her daughter (a senior in a very competitive private high school), or concern herself with Pepper's feelings about the whole shebang.

Jack's parents were slightly better, but that's only because his mom was awesome. She was attentive, caring, and totally there for her family. Grandma Belly was pretty fantastic, too. Unfortunately, his father made some pretty questionable decisions that had a lasting impact and came with repercussions. I really didn't like that certain revelations and underlying issues were left unaddressed and unresolved. I think knowing the how and why were helpful, but the adults in books need to be held accountable for their actions as well.

I definitely prefer character-driven books, and Tweet Cute has that in spades. I loved the two main characters, but I also enjoyed the interactions with their families (yes, the families I was just complaining about). Nothing was perfect -- not by a long shot -- but it was a realistic portrayal of love, flawed relationships, and imperfect people. We see them overcome the negatives in order to pursue the positives, and watch as they find new footing in the world. Note: I can dislike something and still think it was an accurate representation of how the world works. Additionally, the sibling relationships were very relatable, if somewhat underdeveloped. I would have enjoyed seeing more interactions between Pepper and Paige (her older sister), and Jack and Ethan (his twin brother).

Tweet Cute was probably longer than it needed to be (a little lengthy in the middle), but from start to finish I never wanted to stop turning the pages. I also wish the author hadn't waited until the last minute to spill everyone's beans, because I thought it added unnecessary tension to already complicated situations. However, this is one of those books you just know will eventually become a television show, Netflix series, or movie. Overall, I had very few quibbles (mostly just the stuff about their parents and the length of the book), and look forward to reading whatever this author writes next! Emma Lord has delivered a deliciously sweet rom-com that's full of banter and the best kind of suspense.

About the author: 

Emma Lord is a digital media editor and writer living in New York City, where she spends whatever time she isn’t writing either running or belting show tunes in community theater. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a major in psychology and a minor in how to tilt your computer screen so nobody will notice you updating your fan fiction from the back row. She was raised on glitter, grilled cheese, and a whole lot of love. Her sun sign is Hufflepuff, but she is a Gryffindor rising. TWEET CUTE is her debut novel. You can find her geeking out online at @dilemmalord on Twitter.

Early praise: 

"Tweet Cute delivers in every possible way: a perfect enemies-to-lovers romance, a whip-smart plotline, and endearingly real characters. I devoured it.” - Francesca Zappia, author of Eliza and Her Monsters

"Sweet and fun! An adorable debut that updates a classic romantic trope with a buzzy twist." - Jenn Bennett, author of Alex, Approximately and Serious Moonlight

“A witty rom-com reinvention for the Twitter age, Tweet Cute pairs delicious online rivalry with deeply relatable insights on family pressure and growing up. This fresh, funny read had us hitting ‘favorite’ from page one.” - Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka, authors of Always Never Yours and If I’m Being Honest

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Sunday Post [37]

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

News:

Please excuse any delayed posts while we're in the process of moving! We finalized our lease today (WE GOT THE HOUSE), and I only had to read through the paperwork three times. 😩 There were a few minor details that needed to be changed (like the previous renter's names on the pet addendum), and then signing was a hassle when Adobe decided it didn't want to work properly. We really love the house though, and the location is good (school district has a high rating, we're near an area with a lot of hiking, not too far from the beach). It's going to be great! I'm really looking forward to it. I just wish we could snap our fingers and be there, haha. Unfortunately, we still have the moving part to do. 

Surprisingly, I've been getting a lot of reading done! I don't really know how it's happening, or when I find the time, but you'll get no complaints from me. Maybe the monsters are taking longer naps? I have a few reviews I need to write, and I'm really looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you! Where the Crawdads Sing was beautiful! It's easily one of my favorite reads this year.

Other than moving, there's not a lot going on in my life right now! I've been wearing shorts and t-shirts in January, but it's Texas, so. Oh! I got another tattoo: Lady Justice. 


Operation Lady Justice to address Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Crisis was an article I read that really resonated with me. The artwork was done by a Choctaw artist named DG Smalling, and I fell in love with the image and what it represented. I think Cora captured it perfectly! 

Previous week on the blog: 
What I'm currently reading:

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Lair of Dreams (The Diviners, #2) by Libba Bray 🎧
Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz
  • Tweet Cute is cute. Review tomorrow! 
  • Lair of Dreams is spooky! I am thrilled to be back in the 20's with this amazing group of characters, and the narrator is the bees knees! Although, I am curious why Memphis hasn't been mentioned yet. He's okay, right??
  • Jane Anonymous is stressful and terrifying. I keep thinking, "What if that was my daughter?" I haven't read anything by Stolarz in ages, but her writing is incredibly powerful and really punches you in the feels. 

What I plan on reading next: 

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

What I'm watching: 

I recently watched Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist and really enjoyed it! She hears people's inner thoughts and feelings as songs that play out in front of her (there's a lot of singing and dancing). It's a really interesting concept. Also, this happened: 
If you've seen Pitch Perfect you know who Skylar Astin is! This like totally made my week! 

Challenge updates: 

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin

Synopsis (via Goodreads): One girl must make a name for herself--or die trying --in this royal fantasy where an unknown peasant becomes the ultimate ruler. But how long can she keep the crown if everyone wants her dead? Perfect for fans of Furyborn, Red Queen, and Everless.

Everyone expected the king's daughter would inherit the throne. No one expected me.

It shouldn't even be possible. I'm Nameless, a class of citizens so disrespected, we don't even get names. Heck, dozens of us have been going missing for months and no one seems to care.

But there's no denying the tattoo emblazoned on my arm. I am queen. In a palace where the corridors are more dangerous the streets, though, how could I possibly rule? And what will become of the Nameless if I don't?

"What’s one more impossible thing?"
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.

Nameless Queen left me feeling confused and dissatisfied. What's one more impossible thing? Everything about this book felt unbelievable and unrealistic. The characters and their circumstances, how certain events transpired, and even the way the story concluded. It was all just too inconceivable. What? You just happened to have an object on your person that saved your life after someone stabbed you with their sword? The object would've been bulky and noticeable (unless they were wearing a very flowy top), and it simply wasn't presented in a way that felt believable.

Additionally, someone "tortured" the king for years. How?? He was the mother-effing king, with a Royal Guard, Royal Council, family, friends -- it didn't make sense that one person was able to maliciously practice projecting their emotions onto him without consequences. Are you telling me the king wouldn't have been able to make them disappear, or just have them killed outright? Also, how the hell was he protecting his daughter? None of this made any sense to me. (If you've read this and have a theory, let me know!)

Another aspect of the story that bothered me in terms of believability, was Hat. Her existence was an issue after certain circumstances, and her appearance was very distinct. It didn't make sense that no one recognized her later. (I'm trying not to be spoilery!) Other characters were there and felt important, but then faded into the background once the story reached a certain point. Devil, for example, was someone I really liked, and thought her character brought something interesting to the table. I hated that she wasn't more involved.

Coin's actions never rang true for me. She follows a hunch, berates herself for doing something without help, but then does it anyway. She's used to being alone, but then seems to ask for help with ease when it matters. I'm not sure if this is making sense, since I'm having trouble finding the words to explain why Coin's actions felt flat and not at all authentic. She just inexplicably knew what to do. A hidden army? Oh, let me take this very vague comment and solve it within the hour. What? I was right? Imagine that! Should've brought back up... *groans*

No one noticed a missing baby???

I'm also not entirely sure how the hallucinations and illusions worked, since everyone knew they weren't real. If you know something isn't real, wouldn't that make it easier to dismiss? Coin making alternate versions of herself and/or disappearing is one thing, but fire and lighting? Not so much. It was somewhat believable, since she could also make people feel the illusions, but the fantastical elements of this story weren't clearly defined. The logistics didn't work. When someone explained why the magic didn't work on the Nameless, it wasn't specific enough. There weren't enough details to describe why only those with names were affected, and how certain changes occurred at the end. The characters give you a reason, but it felt too easy and convenient.

Glenquartz was weird. He was described as an older man that had lost his wife and child, but his relationship with Coin felt inappropriate. He's her personal guard, but his actions felt more grandfatherly. Creepy grandfatherly. He was smitten with Coin after just a few days, and I wasn't sure what endeared him to her. OH! He has supposedly guarded the royal family his entire life (his family has for generations), but he was unaware of what was happening to the king? The previously mentioned thing that should have been avoidable? If he was the king's personal guard, there's no way he wouldn't have noticed what was happening. He also didn't come across as guard-like (an example would be him sharing a bed with two young girls). There was no stoicism. His words and actions didn't mesh with how a Royal Guard would behave. Even his mannerisms felt off to me.

It also doesn't make sense that the villain was able to get away with as much as they did. Everyone knew how important Hat was to Coin. Coin advocated for her and it was a Big Deal. That means Hat was someone they knew about, so the villain shouldn't have been able to do The Thing. Also, Coin should have been able to call them out on several occasions, but didn't because...??? Why didn't she just show them, or have other people investigate for proof?

Another thing is the cadet that nearly murdered a child because they were anxious to do something. His punishment? Coin makes him see spiders that aren't there. Those harmless illusions were not a sufficient punishment for what he tried to do. He would roll his eyes at her afterwards, and it felt like the two were playing with each other. Gross.

Nameless Queen still gets three stars from me, because it was a solid read with an interesting concept. I think if the history of the world had been elaborated on, and the secondary characters had been built up a bit, it would've helped the overall story. I did have problems with some of the holes, and you'll definitely need to be able to suspend your disbelief for this one, but this was also a review copy and those holes might've been filled with dirt or cement by now.

I wish the magic had been discussed more, particularly the treaty in the king's bedroom with the shimmery writing, because WHY? It felt important, but was never addressed again. After finishing this book, I still had way too many questions floating around in my head, and I want my thoughts to feel more grounded when a story reaches its conclusion. I don't think there's another book in this series, but I could be wrong. (★★★☆☆)

Friday, January 10, 2020

State of the ARC [18]

State of the ARC is a monthly meme hosted by Avalinah at Avalinah's Books! It's an opportunity for readers to catch up on their long overdue ARCs, but right now I'm using it to keep up with my upcoming ARCs instead. It helps me stay organized!

Lucky Caller by Emma Mills (1/14)
Tweet Cute by Emma Lord (1/21)
What I Carry by Jennifer Longo (1/21)
A Queen in Hiding (The Nine Realms, #1) by Sarah Kozloff (1/21)
When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald (1/28)

Don't Read the Comments by Eric Smith (1/28)
How to Build a Heart by Maria Padian (1/28)
The Bard's Blade (The Sorcerer's Song, #1) by Brian D. Anderson (1/28)
Foul is Fair (Foul is Fair, #1) by Hannah Capin (2/4)
Things in Jars by Jess Kidd (2/4)

Been There, Married That by Gigi Levangie Grazer (2/11)
The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (2/11)
Firewatching by Russ Thomas (2/25)
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle (3/3)
Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen (3/3)

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales (3/3)
The Raven and the Dove (The Raven and the Dove, #1) by Kaitlyn Davis (3/9)
Don't Check Out This Book! by Kate Klise, M. Sarah Klise (Illustrations) (3/10)
A Murderous Relation (Veronica Speedwell, #5) by Deanna Raybourn (3/10)
The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune (3/17)

Tigers, Not Daughters (Tigers, Not Daughters, #1) by Samantha Mabry (3/24)
The Honey-Don't List by Christina Lauren (3/24)
What I Like About Me by Jenna Guillaume (4/1)
Jack Kerouac Is Dead to Me by Gae Polisner (4/7)
To Have and to Hoax by Martha Waters (4/7) 
The New Husband by D.J. Palmer (4/14)
In the Role of Brie Hutchens... by Nicole Melleby (4/21)
Spark and the League of Ursus by Robert Repino (4/21)
Premeditated Myrtle (Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries) by Elizabeth C. Bunce (5/5)
Deal with the Devil (Mercenary Librarians, #1) by Kit Rocha (5/12)

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner (5/26)
A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow (6/2)
What Unbreakable Looks Like by Kate McLaughlin (6/23)

January has been jam-packed with books, and I'm barely keeping my head above water! I wouldn't normally feel so pressed for time, but I've been diverting a lot of my energy to our upcoming move. Finding a house is a huge time-suck, but a necessary evil. However, I have been listening to a lot of audiobooks, so there's a silver lining. 

Are any of these books already on your TBR? Which books are you looking forward to reading the most? Any new additions after seeing this list? Let me know!