Monday, September 24, 2018

The Lantern's Ember by Colleen Houck
Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway

http://www.rockstarbooktours.com/
Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the The Lantern's Ember blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. I'm really happy to share my thoughts on this book with you! 

Title: THE LANTERN'S EMBER 
Author: Colleen Houck 
Pub. Date: September 11, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 416
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, iBooks, TBD 

Welcome to a world where nightmarish creatures reign supreme.

Five hundred years ago, Jack made a deal with the devil. It’s difficult for him to remember much about his mortal days. So, he focuses on fulfilling his sentence as a Lantern—one of the watchmen who guard the portals to the Otherworld, a realm crawling with every nightmarish creature imaginable. Jack has spent centuries jumping from town to town, ensuring that nary a mortal—or not-so-mortal—soul slips past him. That is, until he meets beautiful Ember O’Dare. 

Seventeen, stubborn, and a natural-born witch, Ember feels a strong pull to the Otherworld. Undeterred by Jack’s warnings, she crosses into the forbidden plane with the help of a mysterious and debonair vampire—and the chase through a dazzling, dangerous world is on. Jack must do everything in his power to get Ember back where she belongs before both the earthly and unearthly worlds descend into chaos.
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I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Fall has officially started (despite Texas not getting the memo), which makes this the perfect time to read spooky stories and eerie tales! I save all of my horror, suspense, and mystery books for the end of the year -- eeep!

The Lantern's Ember was inspired by the legend of Sleepy Hollow, which has always been one of my favorites. I enjoyed the little references that were peppered in throughout the story! Jack is a Lantern and carries his soul in a pumpkin, he compared Finney to Ichabod (a wizard he terrorized by appearing to look like a headless horseman), and then Ember's Sleepy Hollow. There were others, but I'll let you discover those on your own.

Ember was my least favorite character. I found her to be incredibly naรฏve as she continued to make bad decision after bad decision. She feels drawn to the Otherworld, but ignores all of Jack's warnings. He explained that the two worlds would start blending together, entire towns disappearing on both sides, but she was undeterred. Her decisions only get worse when she meets Dev and the two of them take off without Jack's knowledge. She was way too willing to trust Dev, a vampire that she had just met, even though she sensed he was hiding something and had ulterior motives.

Jack was many things. I thought he was sweet and kindhearted, but he would also bully humans and try to be intimating just for fun. He wanted to justify his actions by saying he was only protecting the crossroads, but he enjoyed tormenting people and giving them reasons to be superstitious. He himself has caused much of the lore surrounding his name, and simply because he was toying around while serving his time.

Dev was something else. He started off cocky and self-assured, but he quickly became hesitant and possessive. I'm not really sure what sparked the change, but it felt sudden and rushed. I also didn't care for the way he used Ember like a battery. He offered her to anyone that could use her powers, but he made sure he benefited from everything she did. He also seemed to know more than he should, about her powers specifically, which didn't really make sense. He's known witches in the past, but his knowledge seemed extensive. 

I wish Ember had had another motivation or reason for going to the Otherworld. Yes, she felt compelled to go there, but she never questioned it. She never asked Jack what it might mean, or even Dev. She just carried on like it wasn't abnormal or concerning. I wanted her to question everything and hesitate before siphoning off her power for unknown reasons. There were a few times when I wanted to shake her and tell her to think about what she was doing.

A Lantern's Ember was slow at times, because they spend a lot of time doing nothing as they travel through the Otherworld, and we get a lot of descriptions about the nothings they're doing. Nevertheless, I devoured this book in a single sitting. I don't know if it was the atmosphere of the book (think spooky steampunk), my desire for cooler weather, or just my interest in the legend of Sleepy Hollow (there were other tales sprinkled in, too). Overall, I enjoyed Colleen Houck's writing, and I thought the story had a very unique twist!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Book Blogger Icon Tags!


A few years ago, Parajunkee made a set of book blogger icon tags that she sold through her blog. When I was blogging in college, I thought they were really fun and unique, so I happily bought them to use on my site! Unfortunately, all of that information was saved on a laptop I used in college, which has been at my parents house for the last few years. I recently got it back and found the old icons while looking through my files.

I decided to use some of the old icons again while reviewing, but suddenly had an itch to make my own! It's taken me a few days, but I think I've created an interesting set to share with everyone. Additionally, I will not be charging anyone to use these icon tags. Please feel free to use them however you wish! I would love it if you gave me credit and linked back to my blog, but it's not a requirement. (A blog follow would be nice, too!)

I also have a Ko-fi account, so you could always buy me a coffee! Any money I receive through Ko-fi gets funneled back into my blog (giveaways, upkeep, and new creative ideas). I've researched icon tags, and they can be really expensive, but again these are free. If you're able to buy me a coffee for using these tags, thank you in advance! (There's a button over on the right!)

If you would like an icon that isn't included in this set, just email me with your requests! I would be happy to make one that compliments this set.

For the full set (there are currently 132 total) please see the tab at the top, or click here to view them.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

I Do Not Trust You
by Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Memphis "M" Engle is stubborn to a fault, graced with an almost absurd knowledge of long lost languages and cultures, and a heck of an opponent in a fight. In short: she's awesome.

Ashwin Sood is a little too posh for her tastes, a member of an ancient cult (which she’s pretty sure counts for more than one strike against him), and has just informed Memphis that her father who she thought was dead isn’t and needs her help. 



From the catacombs of Paris to lost temples in the sacred forests, together they crisscross the globe, searching for the pieces of the one thing that might save her father. But the closer they come to saving him—and the more they fall for one another—the closer they get to destroying the world.

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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.

How did I feel about this book? Short answer: it's complicated. There were aspects that I really enjoyed, like the mythology and archeological sites, but I needed to suspend a lot of belief for this book to work. I also felt like the story progressed with very little conflict, despite the direness of their situation. Everything had a simple solution, and I would have preferred more risk and excitement. I love it when characters overcome challenges and obstacles!

I could tell the authors did a lot of research regarding the temples and various other sites Memphis and Ash travel to, but I was a little iffy on the language of Horus. I wish there has been more details surrounding this hidden language that only three people knew how to read. Was this a language the authors made up themselves, or was is based on fact and history? The language itself was never elaborated on, so I'm not sure about the specifics. Also, why were there only three people that could decipher the language, and how did her father learn? Maybe I missed something.

I wasn't fond of referring to Memphis as "M," but that was her preferred nickname for the majority of the book. It was just a weird thing to think as I read, and I actually like the name Memphis. She says only her friends and family call her M, but she never explains why.

Whenever Ash and M found themselves in a difficult situation, it was too easy for them to find a solution. They needed to search for an artifact that was underwater, and M happened to know a lady with a boat full of the equipment they would need. This lady also happened to be living in exactly the right place, and M was able to phone a friend. Speaking of the boat, Ash mentioned it belonged to a university and not the woman herself, but they never addressed what happened when they returned with a damaged boat. They were obviously able to get back to land, but how did they explain what happened?

When they were at another location, they thought the airports were being monitored and were afraid to buy plane tickets. Unsurprisingly, M knew a guy who knew a guy, and they were able to score seats on a private plane. It was too easy. Her phone seemed to full of endless contacts that could solve their every problem. Why weren't any of these people mentioned before? Why did she only think about them when Ash couldn't just throw money at it?

It also bugged me how quickly M and Ash were able to solve the riddles left in the hieroglyphs. They sped through the ancient map with relative ease, even though she's been working with Mike (this really random person she only ever texts for information) for nearly a year after her father's death. Additionally, this map is something her father worked on for years prior to his death, but they're able to solve it in a matter of days.

Ash's personal story had too many holes, and I'm surprised M wasn't able to see through them. The title is also misleading, because it's clear from the start that these two trust each other, even if they won't admit it out loud. They may have had two different motivations, but they were a team. Ash also has a unique quality that allows him to save M from two Nile crocodiles (very unrealistic part of the story), yet he doesn't use this same quality on the enemies they face. Why wouldn't that have been his first thought?

My feelings for I Do Not Trust You are complicated. It's probably not a book I will read again, but it was mildly entertaining while it lasted. (Side note: I think this book is listed as YA, but she's 18 and he's older, so I'm going to go with NA on this one.) Oh, and everyone uses Google a lot. 

Friday, September 21, 2018

Hunt For Wolverine: Mystery In Madripoor (#1-4) by Jim Zub

Hunt for Wolverine: Mystery in Madripoor (#1-4) by Jim Zub, Thony Silas (Illustrator), Greg Land (Illustrator),
Giuseppe Camuncoli (Illustrator)
WHAT MAYHEM HAS THE RETURN OF THE MUTANT WITH METAL CLAWS CAUSED IN MADRIPOOR? When Wolverine's former alter-ego Patch is sighted on the streets of Madripoor, the infamous island of ill-repute, Kitty Pryde pulls together a group of Logan's closest friends to try and find him: Storm, Rogue, Psylocke, Domino, and Jubilee. What they discover is a twisted cabal of crime and dark mysteries that will take these X-Men from the depths of Lowtown to the stars circling overhead in the Hunt For Wolverine.
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Out of the four Hunt for Wolverine mini series, Hunt for Wolverine: Mystery in Madripoor was easily my favorite. Everyone is looking for Logan's missing body, so each series focuses on a different group of people as they search for its whereabouts. Logan's body is dangerous whether he's dead or alive, and the ramifications of its loss are unfathomable. What could someone do with his DNA? What if he was cloned? What if someone did something to his brain so he hurt others? The possibilities are endless, which is why it's imperative that someone finds him as soon as possible.

Kitty's team is the only all-female group, and they kicked ass. I loved watching everyone work together despite a few disagreements at the start. They questioned Domino and her reasons for being there, but she has her own past with Logan. I'm also a little partial to Domino since I've been reading her comic -- girl has had a rough life. It isn't much easier now, but she's learning more about herself and making friends along the way. (You can find my review for the first two issues of Domino here.)

It was surprising how many twists Zub managed to squeeze into just four issues, but the all-female villain team might be my favorite. I knew they would encounter someone or something when they arrived in Madripoor (there's always conflict in comics), but their adversary was unexpected. I enjoyed Zub's writing and thought he did a wonderful job portraying some of my favorite characters.

There were so many layers to this one, too. Psylocke is struggling in a way only Psylocke can, Kitty is scrambling trying to put her team back together, and the others are fighting to stay alive and save the day. It was interesting to see how everyone fought against each other, since they all have such unique gifts.

If you have a chance to read one of the Hunt for Wolverine mini series, I highly recommend Mystery in Madripoor (or all of them). The others are good (especially Tom Taylor's team), but this was the one I looked forward to the most. I think they all play off one another a little to create the final one-shot issue, but you can read them individually with no problems.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Narrated by Phoebe Strole
Synopsis (via Goodreads): I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange.

After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the "wastelands" of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.

So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.

Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, Mosquitoland is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking. 
“When you were born, you cried while the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries while you rejoice.”
I didn't know what to expect when I started this, because I initially chose to read the book based on its cover. There was just something about it that piqued my interest. I'm really glad I went with my gut on this one, because David Arnold has crafted a really beautiful, sometimes heartbreaking, story with lovely language and imagery.

I really enjoyed listening to the audiobook, and thought the narrator did a wonderful job expressing Mim's unique personality. Mim likes to leap before she looks, and then she just deals with the consequences. She sees detours as opportunities, and finds friendship in the unlikeliest of places.

“So I float in silence, watching the final touches of this perfect moonrise, and in a moment of heavenly revelation, it occurs to me that detours are not without purpose. They provide safe passage to a destination, avoiding pitfalls in the process.”

I hated that Mim felt so alone in her life, and that her father had stopped thinking about her interests. He was too focused on the past, and a future that may or may not happen. He subjected Mim to medication simply because he was afraid of what might be. He thought he was educated on the subject matter because he read a book about it, and that one decision impacted his daughter in a really profound way.

“I have limited experience, but I know this: moments of connection with another human being are patently rare. But rarer still are those who can recognize such a connection when they see one.”

I loved that this book was more about Mim's journey than the outcome, which is good, because I found the ending to be unsatisfactory. She's trying to get to her mother the entire book, and her experiences were often unpleasant and disasterous. She's a young girl traveling alone, and people aren't always decent and kind. They're often cruel and self-serving, despite Mim's positive outlook.

Speaking of the dangerous situation she placed herself in, I don't think her actions were adequately addressed. She was almost assaulted, comes close to dying a few times, barely mentions personal hygiene (which is important because a wound she received), and ate questionable food that could have ended her life right then and there. Mim was able to get through these things relatively unscathed, but others were not as lucky.

Mim is brilliant, but she's also reckless and a little lost. I think she's trying to find herself while also trying to find her mother. The sporadic journal entries were interesting, and allowed us to glimpse Mim's past while being in her present. She's a complicated mess, but I really enjoyed her outlook on the world. Her mother taught her to view people and places with love and understanding. She's not your typical teenager, but an old soul walking around in a young (albeit broken) body.

Beck and Walt were her people, and I adored them both. Beck's history was questionable at first, but I quickly understood Mim's instant attraction. There was just something special about him. He's older than Mim, but they address that issue pretty early on. They both know it would be wrong for them to start a relationship and instead choose to admit their feelings and form a really solid friendship. There is a potential for something later on, and I like that Arnold left us with some hope at the end. Hope for Mim, her family, Beck, and Walt.

“And even though things are heavy right now, it occurs to me how happy I am just to be with my friends. Sure, I'd love to kiss-hug-marry-hold Beck, but for now, I'm happy just to be with him. Sometimes being with gets overlooked I think.”

Walt is a beautiful person inside and out, and I am so frustrated and angry on his behalf. He has a disability, something that makes him different but no less amazing, and his father abandons him after his mother's death. He just handed Walt some money and sent him on his way. He was still a child incapable of truly taking care of himself, and his circumstances killed me. He deserved so much more, and I'm thrilled he stumbled across Mim and later Beck. They're his people, too.

“Beck’s smile is intense and sincere, a smile with, not a smile at. Mom used to say you could tell a lot by the way a person treats the innocent, and Walt is nothing if not innocence personified.”

There were so many quotes and passages that I wanted to share from this book, but there just wasn't enough space for all of them. There were entire chapters that I wanted to mark, highlight, and annotate to my heart's content. It's definitely a book I will buy and re-read in the future. Mim's story is one for the ages, and I hope more people aspire to live their lives with as much love and acceptance. Sometimes we're wrong, but it's how we choose to right those wrongs that matters. We should all want to help the Walt's of the world, and be willing to embrace the unexpected detours in our lives.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

My Weekly Pull [38] & Can't Wait Wednesday [8]

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!

West Coast Avengers #2 by Kelly Thompson, Stefano Caselli, Tony Fleecs
Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows #23 by Jody Houser, Scott Koblish, Eduard Petrovich

Jacob's comics for the week!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #86 by Tom Waltz, Dave Wachter, Kevin Eastman
Hit-Girl #8 by Jeff Lemire, Eduardo Risso, John Paul Leon
Kick-Ass #7 by Steve Niles, Marcelo Frusin
Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 by Saladin Ahmed, Garry Brown, ACO
Venom #6 by Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman
Venom First Host #4 (of 5) by Mike Costa, Mark Bagley, Tak Miyazawa

If you want to read my review for West Coast Avengers #1, you can find it here. Short version: it flarking rocks! I love the team Kelly Thompson has put together, and she's just so damn creative with her writing. I'm already madly in love with the cover for this week's issue, too. It's like an old school movie poster, and I think I'm going to frame a copy so I can hang it on my wall. (It's a slightly more expensive cover, but totally worth it!)

Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows is getting dicey! I think our Spiders are going to finally confront their main villain for this arc. I cannot wait to see how that battle goes! I'm also curious what the next story arc will be... 

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

Knights vs. Dinosaurs by Matt Phelan
Expected publication: October 23rd 2018
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Renowned for their courage, their chivalry, and their ability to fight mythical creatures, the Knights of the Round Table must face their most dangerous opponents yet—DINOSAURS!

This heavily illustrated middle grade novel from award-winning author and artist Matt Phelan is a hilarious, rip-roaring tale of derring-do perfect for reluctant readers and fans of
How to Train Your Dragon and The Terrible Two.

Let me tell you a secret about the Knights of the Round Table: they don’t have much to do. The realm is at peace and dragons are few and far between. So Merlin decides to send the knights out on a real adventure to a world filled with the most terrible lizards of all: DINOSAURS!

Knights vs. Dinosaurs is a highly illustrated, fast-paced adventure full of uproarious knightly hijinks, surprising secrets, and terrifying dinosaurs. With art on nearly every page, including an epic fight scene depicted in several graphic-novel style spreads, this engaging story is Monty Python for young middle school readers.

A great choice for reluctant readers, aspiring knights, and fans of Peter Brown’s
The Wild Robot.

This sounds like it'll be so much fun to read with my kid! I've always been a fan of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, but throw in some dinosaurs and I'm sold. My son is also obsessed with dinosaurs, so win-win! This synopsis says it's full of "uproarious knightly hijinks," so I'm hoping it delivers. We're also big fans of How to Train Your Dragon.

Have you read The Wild Robot? I recently borrowed the audiobook from my library, but haven't had a chance to read it yet. The synopsis mentioned it as well, so...

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
(Harry Potter, #2) by J.K. Rowling

Synopsis (via Goodreads): The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he's packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike

And strike it does. For in Harry's second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls' bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley's younger sister, Ginny.

But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone -- or something -- starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects . . . Harry Potter himself?

“When in doubt, go to the library.”
This review may contain spoilers for the first book. Read at your own risk!

I always love re-reading this series, and I'm thrilled to finally be sharing them with my son. He's still a little to young to fully understand the story, but it's been lovely reading these to him before bed. He gets so excited about the small things -- a car that can think for itself, a tree that fights back, and he was absolutely fascinated by the basilisk. It's hard not to keep reading once he's fallen asleep, but I force myself to dog-ear the page and wait until the next night.

I feel like I notice something new or different each time I re-read these books. There were a few things that irked me when I read this one, and I'm not sure the issues are addressed in later books. One, Malfoy confessed to Harry and Ron (when they were Crabbe and Goyle) that his father had a hidden room in their house where he stored his really dark artifacts. Ron says something about sending an owl to his father, but then nothing comes of it. Did Mr. Weasley raid Lucius Malfoy's house? If so, why wasn't Malfoy imprisoned or charged with something? You'd think that would have been notable information.

Another thing that I'm upset about -- Hagrid. We know he was expelled from Hogwarts ages ago, and his wand was broken in half. When it becomes clear that Hagrid was falsely accused of a crime, why wasn't he reinstated as a wizard? I'm sure someone could have fixed his wand, or allowed him to finish school (even do some owline courses). I feel like Riddle's wrongdoings were never addressed, and Hagrid is still seen as somehow being less than others. It's infuriating because I love Hagrid to death. He's a gentle soul that truly loves Dumbledore, and he cares deeply for Harry and his friends. 

I'm also pretty flarking upset that Hedwig was locked in a tiny cage all summer. It was cruel and unnecessary. You're telling me Harry can fight Voldemort, take on a basilisk, and be the schools youngest Seeker, but he couldn't pick a lock on his owl's cage so she could stretch her wings at night? His aunt and uncle wouldn't have noticed as long as she made it back by morning. Speaking of his aunt and uncle, they are cruel and heartless people. Harry was a child and they locked him in a room and fed him barely edible food. They could have given him a decent home despite their animosity towards wizards. He was still family.

Despite my new issues with some of the content, I will forever love this series. I was always the same age as the characters, so it felt like we grew up together. Now when I read these books, there's a sense of nostalgia. I remember a younger version of myself, and how thrilled I would be to get the next book in the series. I was a different person then, and I'm much older now, but the feelings of wonder and joy are the same.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Rule (Rule, #1) by Ellen Goodlett

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Three girls with three deadly secrets. Only one can wear the crown.

The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos.

Or rather, three unexpected options.

Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her band of Travelers. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she's already gone.

Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom.

Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady's maid and scheming her way out of the servants' chambers. But one such plot could get her hung for treason if anyone ever discovers what she's done.

When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny... to rule.

Magic, mystery, and blackmail abound in this sensational and striking fantasy debut.

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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.

Firstly, Rule ends with a cliffhanger. I understand that some people enjoy remaining suspended in a story until the next book is released, but not me. Especially when the cliffhanger leaves more questions than answers, and none of the major plot points are resolved. Ren, Zofi, and Akeylah are all being blackmailed throughout the book, but we still have no idea who is responsible when the story ends.

Now with that being said, I enjoyed the overall story. I thought Rule had a unique concept with an interesting setting. However, there was a lot of world-building at the start, so it felt a little slow until I was about halfway through. The story picks up significantly when the three sisters start working together to find their common enemy, instead of second-guessing each other and looking for motivations that are not there. I wish they had all been a little more honest when revelations were made, but each sister still guards their individual secret. (It really bugs me when a single conversation can clear up sooo many issues.)

I also enjoyed how little romance there was. Rule was about three sisters and their relationships with each other. I loved how well they worked together, and how easily they seemed to bond once they stopped being suspicious of one another. There were a few dalliances, but nothing concrete (yet). They were there and then they were gone, which left the sisters relying on one another more than anyone else. 

Thank the gods for same sex relationships that weren't frowned upon or seen as something perverse. Men and women were free to be with whomever they wanted, and that was normal.

They mystery was really intriguing, and I found myself re-reading anything that could have been a potential clue. The girls started sharing information, but withholding anything that was relevant to their personal crime. I think they would have learned more if they'd been willing to open up completely, but I also understood why they were so hesitant. However, the suspense was somewhat diminished for me at the end, because of the heinous cliffhanger.

The blood tithes were an odd addition to the story, too. It was an interesting idea, but I hope to see it used more in the next book. I also feel like there are a lot of applications for it that weren't really addressed in Rule. Why wouldn't people just tithe for personal gain? If everyone can tithe, you'd think there would be more chaos surrounding the towns and their inhabitants. Despite the heavy beginning, I still have a lot of questions.

In the end, I enjoyed the story and I definitely want to read the next one, but I wish the content had been delivered a little differently. I liked the three different perspectives, even though I never felt attached to any of them. They always felt like characters -- never people. I wish the beginning had been condensed, or written in a way that didn't feel so informative. I want to learn something new without feeling like I'm learning something new. Finally, I disliked the ending. I don't want to work hard alongside the characters to figure the story out, and then have it end without answering a single question. Adding more questions only makes it worse. 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

West Coast Avengers (#1) by Kelly Thompson

West Coast Avengers #1
by Kelly Thompson,
Stefano Caselli (Illustrator)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): A NEW ERA DAWNS…AVENGERS ASSEMBLE! HAWKEYE (KATE BISHOP). HAWKEYE (CLINT BARTON). A guy named FUSE. Never have they ever been called “the big three” of...anything. And now here they are, reunited for, okay, well, it’s only the second time ever. Thank god they also brought AMERICA CHAVEZ, GWENPOOL and KID OMEGA. Wait. What? That’s right, it’s the new West Coast Avengers, son. And you better hope they can figure out how to save the world because BIG things are headed for the West Coast.

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Yes! A million times -- yes! I was really bummed when All-New Hawkeye and Gwenpool ended, but now they're in the same comic! Then there's the other Hawkeye (Clint), Fuse (he was from the old Kate Bishop comic and her current boyfriend), America (she's fucking awesome), and Quentin (total douche canoe).

America is a character after my own heart! I can't believe this is the first time I've read anything with her in it, because I can totally relate to her personality. She has a punch-first-ask-questions-later vibe, and I love it. She's also incredibly strong, can fly, and can smash open star-shaped portals that allow her to travel all over the multiverse. 

I'm really excited about the rivalry between Gwenpool and Quentin (Kid Omega). She's already tried to blow him up once, and managed to play the best practical joke! It was totally deserved, and the comic somehow made "moist" an onomatopoeia that popped up when he touched something (so gross). If Gwenpool does manage to injure him a little, I don't think anyone would be disappointed. 

Fuse and Hawkeye (Kate) are adorable together, and I'm curious how their relationship with play out within the comic. It's relatively new, and they're already going to be under a microscope. The first issue had random interviews thrown in, because apparently a reality TV show is going to be funding this new group. They don't specify what the footage we'll be used for, but I'm sure it'll be interesting. 

Hawkeye is my jam, whether it's Kate or Clint, because they're the best. They're hilarious and both genuinely good people. They don't have superpowers, but they manage to save the world with their superior wit and skills. Kate might be slightly more intelligent, but Hawkeye's down for a good time. He mentioned being on their team part-time, so I don't know how much he'll actually be around. I love having two Hawkeyes, so hopefully a lot!

If you don't read comics, West Coast Avengers is a fantastic reason to start! I've enjoyed Kelly Thompson's work in the past (All-New Hawkeye, Rogue & Gambit), but I think this is going to be my favorite. She's also writing a new Nancy Drew and I think a Jessica Jones, so be sure to check out her work! If you do read comics, go to your LCS and have this added to your monthly pull list -- you won't regret it! 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Neil Gaiman, long inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction, presents a bravura rendition of the Norse gods and their world from their origin though their upheaval in Ragnarok.

In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki—son of a giant—blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.


Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose, these gods emerge with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.
“Because,” said Thor, “when something goes wrong, the first thing I always think is, it is Loki’s fault. It saves a lot of time.” 
It's always fun when an author narrates their own book! I thought Neil Gaiman did a brilliant job giving a voice to his characters. It wasn't difficult to discern who was talking, and I particularly liked his Thor. I'm not crazy familiar with Norse mythology, and I thought this was a wonderful introduction. The writing is simple, the stories were fun (in one Thor's hammer is stolen and he has to dress like a woman to get it back), and the characters had a depth I wasn't expecting. 

I love that the author tried to locate the original stories, and the tales that have been passed down over the years. There aren't that many left, which is a tragedy, but I enjoyed his spin on what he was able to find. It's a complex mythology, and we've only been able to learn a fraction of its history. In this version Thor and Loki are not bothers, and Hel is not their sister. Odin is the father of Thor, but not Loki, and Hel is actually Loki's daughter. (Gaiman also explains all of this in a way that is less confusing, hah.)

Leave it to Loki to have a wolf (Fenrir), a snake (Jรถrmungandr), and a half-dead girl (Hel) for children. I think Fenrir was treated the worst (and for no reason other than the gods were scared and stupid). I don't blame him for wanting revenge after what they did to him. Loki's punishment was pretty brutal, too. Gaiman's versions were a little gruesome (wanting someone's head, and settling for sewing their mouth shut), but that also made them feel more realistic.

The stories were engaging and enjoyable, and I felt like I really learned something by reading this book. (I'm also really glad I listened to the audiobook, because it would have been impossible for me to pronounce some of the words.) I appreciate that the author went through so much trouble to find the most accurate information possible. His stories don't necessarily go together, but they do flow in a way that makes sense. So much history has been lost over time, so it's hard to paint a perfect picture.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

My Weekly Pull [37] & Can't Wait Wednesday [7]

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!

Domino #6 by Gail Simone, David Baldeon, Greg Land
Runaways #13 by Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka

Jacob's comics for the week!
Amazing Spider-Man #5 by Nick Spencer, Ryan Ottley
Daredevil #608 by Charles Soule, Phil Noto
Infinity Wars #3 (of 6) by Gerry Duggan, Mike Deodato, Ron Lim
Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man #309 by Chip Zdarsky, Chris Bachalo
Venom First Host #3 (of 5) by Mike Costa, Mark Bagley, Dave Johnson

Ahh! Those covers! I love what the artists come up with each week -- so lovely! I really like the Domino cover because we get to see all the different versions she's been throughout various comics. The one in the middle -- yes, the one between her breasts -- looks like the Domino from Hunt for Wolverine Mystery in Madripoor. I'm not as familiar with the others.

The Runaways covers are always fun and a little magical!

I'm pretty positive I will eventually read Venom First Host, but I'm still trying to get through the older Venom series I started months ago. I've barely had time to read my ongoing comics, so trying to squeeze in an older series has been challenging. I feel like I have no time these days! Are you finding the time to read everything you want to?

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

Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy, #3.5)
by Ilona Andrews
Expected publication: November 6th 2018
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Nevada Frida Baylor and Connor Ander Rogan cordially invite you to join their wedding celebration. Summoning, weather manipulation, and other magical activities strictly forbidden.

Catalina Baylor is looking forward to wearing her maid of honor dress and watching her older sister walk down the aisle. Then the wedding planner gets escorted off the premises, the bride’s priceless tiara disappears, and Rogan's extensive family overruns his mother’s home. Someone is cheating, someone is lying, and someone is plotting murder.


To make this wedding happen, Catalina will have to do the thing she fears most: use her magic. But she’s a Baylor and there’s nothing she wouldn't do for her sister's happiness. Nevada will have her fairy tale wedding, even if Catalina has to tear the mansion apart brick by brick to get it done. 

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The Hidden Legacy series is one of my all-time favorites! I flipped when the authors announced this book via a wedding invitation on Twitter. Conner and Nevada's wedding -- eeeeep! I still can't believe Diamond Fire is listed as a novella... it has 384 pages! I'm not complaining -- the more pages, the better! When I started this series, I think I devoured the first three books within a week. Great characters, fantastic family dynamics, a brilliant story, magic, steamy sex -- what more could you want?

Read my reviews for Burn for me, White Hot and Wildfire.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.


Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?
“And as someone you would never date, but who will soon be your best friend, I can say with no ulterior motive that I don’t like that you’re in a relationship with a potentially treasonous skank.”
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.

Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating wasn't what I was expecting, but it was everything I wanted. I was a little hesitant about Hazel at first, because I disliked how often she declared herself "undatable". However, I was happy to see that she was super confident, loved herself, and had no desire to be something she wasn't. She was eccentric, and it was beautiful. I'm also glad she was able to surround herself with people that loved her and didn't expect her to change.

I love that she had so many pets! Hazel is a girl after my own heart! I adored the names she gave them and think Christina and Lauren are lovely geniuses. Winnie the Poodle -- golden. I've never wanted a poodle before reading this book, and now I have a strong desire to adopt one and give it the same name.

Hazel had the best humor, and I really enjoyed her outside-the-box way of thinking and living. She inhaled life with every breath and didn't take anything for granted. "And two, I think there’s something about the eight-year-old brain that just resonates with me on a spiritual level."

Josh Im is perfection. He's quiet and thoughtful, but never judgmental. He has always accepted Hazel for who she is, even when she was vomiting all over his shoes, or feeding him barely-edible food. He actually listened when she spoke, and he appreciated her way of living life. I adored the two of them as friends, and liked watching their relationship grow. He was wary at first, but unable to resist Hazel's charms and her lovely personality. She declared herself his (sometimes inappropriate) best friend, and the two really hit it off. 

I read this book in less than twenty-four hours, if that tells you anything. I enjoyed the setting, the story, the characters -- all of it. They went on a couple of double dates, which were fun to watch, but I kept waiting for them to realize the other two people didn't matter. They were so focused on not admitting their feelings (unsure if the other person felt the same, and not wanting to alter their friendship), that they missed out on a lot of moments together. I just kept waiting for everything to click into place for both of them, and I think in the end it was done in the best possible way.

The epilogue might be my favorite part...

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Mini Reviews [15]

The Other Bears by Michael Thompson
Synopsis (via Goodreads): An eloquent tale about tolerance and acceptance, this beautifully illustrated story shows how Mother and Father Koala's suspicions of the "other" bears are mollified. The Koalas don't like the pandas and don't trust the polar bears; they believe that black bears are noisy and that brown bears have big teeth. However, all of the Koalas' grumpiness melts away when they watch the littlest bears at play. Appealing to young and old readers alike, this picture book conveys an important message in a playful way. 

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I love, love, loved this book! It was a wonderful story that conveyed a really important message (yes, I know the synopsis says basically the same thing, but it's true). The adults always found something negative to say about the other families, while the children only saw kindness and the potential for friendship. They were open to meeting new people and making friends, while their parents acted annoyed and affronted. 

However, in the end... seeing all of the children playing together -- without judgement -- caused them to reevaluate their perspectives. Yay!

When the Moon Comes by Paul Harbridge,
Matt James (Illustrator)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): In this atmospheric story, a group of kids play hockey on a frozen lake by moonlight. At once nostalgic and timely, this is a gorgeous book that will speak to readers young and old.

The beaver flood has finally frozen--perfect ice, without a bump or a ripple. For the kids in town, it's Christmas in November. They wait, impatiently, for the right moment.

Finally, it arrives: the full moon.

They huff and puff through logging trails, farms, back roads and tamarack swamps, the powdery snow soaking pant legs and boots, till they see it--their perfect ice, waiting. 



And the game is on.
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I think the writing in this book might be underappreciated by its target audience. I'm sure they'll enjoy reading it, but the writing was just so beautiful. It was elegant and flowed in a way that really made this story feel magical. 

As a parent, I would freak out if my kids were doing something like this (leaving in the middle of the night to walk through snow up to their waist, building a fire, and staying out until their toes are numb). It did make a good story, though. There's a lake or a pond in the middle of the woods, and they use the moonlight to play hockey on the surface (after they clear the snow away themselves). 

It was a story my husband really enjoyed reading to our son, and he encouraged me to read it afterwards so I could have the same experience. A really lovely book!



Neither of these have a legitimate synopsis on Goodreads, but you can find Play with Your Food by David G. Derrick Jr. here, and We Love Dinosaurs by Lucy Volpin here.

Play with Your Food isn't a book I would have chosen for myself, but my son has always loved stories about dinosaurs. It ended up being quite a funny book, and not at all what I was expecting. The little guy avoids being eaten by trying to teach the larger dinosaur how to play games (which most children are already familiar with). His antics were enjoyable and the story was a lot of fun!

We Love Dinosaurs is a better fit for younger children that are still learning words and what they mean. The writing is very simple, but the illustrations are beautiful! I really loved all the colors and how they made the dinosaurs pop. This book gives examples of a dinosaur that eats plants, one that eats meat, another that likes to cuddle when it sleeps (I think), and so on.

We own The Other Bears, but the three library books will definitely be future purchases!