Friday, November 30, 2018

DNF&Y [11]

DNF&Y is used to explain why I gave up on certain books, and what about them just didn't work for me. What I disliked about a book might be something you love, so it helps to share your thoughts even when they're negative! If you would like additional information, please click on the DNF&Y tab at the top. If you want to join, you can link up at the bottom!

Me and Me by Alice Kuipers
Synopsis (via Goodreads): It's a perfect day for Lark's dream date with Alec from school. Blue skies, clear water, a canoe on the lake. Alec even brought flowers for Lark's birthday. Everything is just right … until they hear screams from the edge of the water.

Annabelle, a little girl Lark used to babysit, is struggling in the reeds. When Lark and Alec dive in to help her, Alec hits his head on a rock. Now Annabelle and Alec are both in trouble, and Lark can only save one of them.

With that split-second decision, Lark's world is torn in two, leaving her to cope with the consequences of both choices. She lives two lives, two selves. But which is the right life, and which is the real Lark?



Me and Me is about how it feels to be torn in pieces, and how to make two halves whole again. This mind-bending novel from Alice Kuipers, expert chronicler of the teenage heart, explores loss and love, music and parkour, all while navigating the narrow space between fantasy and reality. 

DNF at 21%

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 Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I've finally decided to give up on this one. I thought maybe I wasn't in the mood for it, but Me and Me never really clicked for me. I found myself getting increasingly aggravated with the characters, until I just couldn't do it anymore.

Lark had to choose between saving a guy she liked and a young girl she used to babysit. Someone was going to lose, and Lark had to choose who that was. You would think an experience like that would shake someone up, but Lark doesn't seem very distressed by it. She's taking risks and scaling buildings the very next day so she can feel alive.

Me and Me shows us what would have happened if Lark had saved Alec, but it also shows us what would have happened if she'd saved Annabelle. There are only a few chapters in this book, but they alternate between parallel universes. It's hard to discern which one is real, or if they both are. I wish this had been explained early on, because it would have saved me a lot of confusion.

Also, Lark and Alec were not likeable people. I disliked how easy it was for him to convince her to ditch her plans with her best friend for him. He didn't care about her or her other friendships; Alec only cared about himself and how Lark fit into his life. On the other hand, Lark shouldn't have been so willing to cancel her plans with Lucy. Lark was late for work on multiple occasions (because she was with Alec), and Lucy always covered for her. When the two of them finally made plans, Lark broke her promise because Alec asked her to. Ugh.

I think there were only nine chapters in this book, but each chapter was broken down by days (sometimes times and places). It was a little hard to follow, and I wish the transitions had been done somewhat differently. I briefly started the second chapter (where Anabelle is saved instead), but quickly realized this wasn't going to work for me.

In the end, I just could not connect with the characters. Lark was flaky and seemed unbothered by the tragic events on the lake. Her music always came first (unless Alec said something), and she would ignore everyone until she'd worked out the song in her head. Alec was possessive and kept her away from her friends. They were really frustrating people.

I've heard there is a twist at the end, so if this sounds like something you'd like, stick with it. It might surprise you. It just wasn't a good fit for me.


Moonlight over Manhattan (From
Manhattan with Love, #6) 
by Sarah Morgan
Synopsis (via Goodreads): She'll risk everything for her own Christmas miracle...

Determined to conquer a lifetime of shyness, Harriet Knight challenges herself to do one thing a day in December that scares her, including celebrating Christmas without her family. But when dog walker Harriet meets her newest client, exuberant spaniel Madi, she adds an extra challenge to her list--dealing with Madi's temporary dog sitter, gruff doctor Ethan Black, and their very unexpected chemistry.

Ethan thought he was used to chaos, until he met Madi--how can one tiny dog cause such mayhem? To Ethan, the solution is simple--he will pay Harriet to share his New York apartment and provide twenty-four-hour care. But there's nothing simple about how Harriet makes him feel.



Ethan's kisses make Harriet shine brighter than the stars over moonlit Manhattan. But when his dog-sitting duties are over and Harriet returns to her own home, will she dare to take the biggest challenge of all--letting Ethan know he has her heart for life, not just for Christmas?

DNF at 31%

Moonlight over Manhattan is another book I tried to read for the #HoHoHoRAT, but it really didn't work for me. The story was repetitive and I felt like the characters were on a loop. This book could have been a lot shorter if some of the repeated dialogue had been removed. There was also an oversharing of thoughts and feelings, and nothing was left to the imagination.

Both Ethan and Harriet were unbelievable characters. I didn't feel like their decisions and conversations were authentic, and it was exasperating trying to read through one of their interactions. Additionally, all of the characters sounded almost exactly the same. At one point Harriet was talking with an elderly lady, and I would often confuse the two. I kept having to stop, go back, and re-read a few paragraphs to figure out who was saying what.

Things fell into place a little too easily, and their situations weren't very believable. Also, some of the medical terminology was complex and went soaring over my head. I started skimming those parts because they weren't relevant to the overall story, and felt like a way for Ethan to show off. He may have been good at his job, but his arrogance was unattractive.

Ethan was mean and caused Harriet's stutter to resurface, but then he handled the situation too perfectly. He was apologetic, didn't finish her sentences, waited patiently, and had conveniently dated someone (a speech therapist maybe... I can't remember) who knew a lot about Harriet's condition. He referenced some of the things he'd learned while dating her, and them presumed to know everything about Harriet and what she was going through. It was obnoxious. 

Speaking of Ethan, he was controlling and demanding. He put Harriet in uncomfortable situations and expected her to comply with his wishes (which she did). She saw his requests as an opportunity to challenge herself (to step outside of her comfort zone) even though she felt unsafe and wanted to do things differently. I hated how easily she gave in to his demands, and that everyone else approved because he was a doctor. That doesn't mean he isn't hiding an axe in his closet! It was insane. His personality, her decisions -- all of it.

Harriet was too perfect -- too innocent -- and therefore wasn't very relatable. If people like Harriet actually exist, they are few and far between. As an example, she attempted online dating, but seemed extremely surprised that people would lie on their profile pages. She was also incredibly friendly with homeless people (bought them food, gave them money, knew their life stories), and went out of her way to help the elderly (groceries, cooking, exercise). She avoided conflict, took everything at face value, never questioned people's decisions or stood up for herself, and was entirely too trusting.

After awhile I stopped caring enough to continue.


Wilder by Andrew Simonet
Synopsis (via Goodreads): I met Melissa in the rubber room, a.k.a. in-school suspension. And that’s not her real name.
She had secrets, I had enemies.
“People are either useful or dangerous,” she said. “One or the other.”
“Which one am I?” I said.
“You’re both.”
Meili was right. (That’s her real name.)
You can solve a lot of problems if you don’t mind getting hurt.

Jason Wilder is in permanent in-school suspension for fighting. Meili Wen gets there by breaking a girl’s finger. Jason and Meili don’t just connect; they collide. Two people who would never cross paths―outsiders from radically different backgrounds―they form an exhiliarating, unpredictable bond. When circumstances push, they push back. There’s no plan. And there’s no stopping.

"I am so crap. How can you stand being with me? Don’t answer that or I will crash this thing with both of us on it, swear to god, are you ready?”
Yes. No. Didn’t matter.

I reached both arms around Meili’s waist as we zoomed down the hill.

DNF at 17%

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.

My reoccurring thought: What the fuck? Wilder was crazy and extremely convoluted. It was often difficult to follow their conversations, because they were random and bounced all over the place. I could tell the author was trying to build suspense, and I'm sure there would have been a big reveal later on, but I didn't want to stick around to find out.

Melissa, Meili, or whatever her name actually is, was condescending and evasive. The girl's secrets had secrets. She's supposedly in danger, but seems to be the only person that doesn't care. She's brash and abrasive, combative and cruel. “You’d do alright in a thong, wouldn’t you? Make a fortune dancing at a gay club. Is there one in town?”

Neither character was relatable, but Wilder was desperate and eager to please the girl he'd just met. He knows nothing about Meili, but he's willing to do whatever she asks him to. I think he would have chopped of his hand just to see her smile for a few seconds. She seriously treated him like garbage, and he kept trying to make her happy. "And you’re very cute for blushing. I mean, it would be cute if you were twelve. At your age, it’s a bit sad, isn’t it?” Why was he so obsessed with her from the beginning? He should have had more respect for himself.

Wilder and Meili had a toxic and extremely unhealthy relationship. She would ignore him at school, turn down his offer to hang out, and then show up unexpectedly at his house. She was constantly changing her mind, and I honestly don't think even she knew what she really wanted. However, she was more than happy to take someone else down with her.

Also, where the hell did Manny come from? He was abusive and threatening, but only because he "cared" about Melissa. Apparently, the two share the same dark secret, so he's being a protective douche canoe, but dude was aggressive. He also went from being Wilder's best buddy to his worst enemy in a single conversation. It was like watching someone play ping pong, but with a grenade instead of a ball.

In the end, my annoyance outweighed my curiosity. I was tempted to skip to the end just to see what their secrets were, but I had no desire to share that experience with them.


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

Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Synopsis (via Goodreads): A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.
“My brother was born a soft whistle:
quiet, barely stirring the air, a gentle sound.
But I was born all the hurricane he needed
to lift - and drop- those that hurt him to the ground.”
Thought-provoking, heartbreaking, and empowering. It's been ages since I've read a book written in verse, but I thought it was perfect for Xiomara's story. She expresses herself through poetry, and the words flew from the pages to fill my ears and ultimately my heart.

Highlight. Highlight. Highlight. If I had read a physical copy, it would be covered in notes. There were so many amazing quotes and phrases in this book; it would be impossible for me to share them all! “And I think about all the things we could be if we were never told our bodies were not built for them.”

Elizabeth Acevedo has written a story for the soul. One day the words will fade from my memory, but I will never forget how this book made me feel. 

Please believe me when I say that you need this book in your life! Especially the audio version! The author is the narrator, and she knows the characters better than anyone else. There were a lot of sounds (sighs, tongue clicks, etc.) that would have been missed had I read a physical copy. I think those small details really enriched the overall story and made the characters more realistic.

One of the great things about books written in verse, is their ability to tell impactful stories with very few words. I felt like I was living and breathing Xiomara's thoughts and feelings, and it was easy to get lost in her story.

Every character was important, regardless of how often they appeared in the book. The guys that groped and harassed Xiomara effected her experiences and her writing. Her father was absent even when he was present. Her twin, Xavier, was repeatedly saved by her fists and her fury. Her mother was too involved and wanted to control everything, even the thoughts in her head. Her best friend was her opposite in every way, but she was always there and never waivered. A teacher, a lab partner, a priest, a random person on the train -- everyone played a role. I really enjoyed seeing how they helped to shape Xiomara over time.

The one thing that bothered me was Xiomara's relationship with her family. Her father and brother were too silent and frequently ignored what was happening around them. Her mother was abusive with her words and her religion, and I hated how one-sided it was. Xiomara was treated differently because she was a girl. She needed to pray that her body wouldn't attract unwanted attention, like it was somehow her fault that people were creeps and couldn't keep their thoughts to themselves. I hated that her family wasn't more supportive and understanding.

Xiomara was an authentic character that I think a lot of people will be able to relate to. She is teenager trying to find her place in the world, which isn't always easy. She struggles with her body and the way it's perceived by others. She wants to express her thoughts and feelings, but doesn't know how. She's full of emotions and desires and dreams, but also wonders whether or not they're allowed. She's perfectly imperfect -- just like everyone else.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

My Weekly Pull [48] & Can't Wait Wednesday [18]

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!

 Infinity Wars Arachknight #2 (of 2) by Dennis Hopeless, Ale Garza, Giuseppe Camuncoli 
Spider-Girls #2 (of 3) by Jody Houser, Andres Genolet, Yasmine Putri
Uncanny X-Men #3 by Ed Brisson, Yildiray Cinar, Emanula Lupacchino

Jacob's comics for the week!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #88 by Tom Waltz, Dave Wachter, Kevin Eastman
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Macro-Series #3 by Sophie Campbell, David Petersen
Amazing Spider-Man #10 by Nick Spencer, Humberto Ramos
Black Panther Vs. Deadpool #2 (of 5) by Daniel Kibblesmith, Ricardo Lopez Ortiz, Steve Skroce
Daredevil #612 by Charles Soule, Phil Noto, Bill Sienkiewicz
Spider-Man Deadpool #42 by Robbie Thompson, Matt Horak, Dave Johnson

Infinity Wars Arachknight and Spider-Girls are both short (one is two issues and the other is three), and they had really solid starts. I always enjoy seeing how they cram an entire story into so few issues! A lot happens really quickly, and I cannot wait to see what happens with these two. Infinity Wars Arachknight is basically what would happen if you combined Spider-Man and Moon Knight, while Spider-Girls has people from multiple dimensions. 

Uncanny X-Men had a really strong first issue, too. I think the "villain" has good intentions, but they also see death as a necessity, which can never end well. There are a lot of people in this one, and I'm curious if some of the characters will have larger roles than others. There's an X-Men team, but also some younger trainees that are new to field work. They're typical teenagers, arrogant and overconfident in their abilities, so I'm sure they're going to find themselves in unfavorable situations. 

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.

To Best the Boys by Mary Weber
Expected publication: March 5th 2019
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port receive a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. Every year, the poorer residents look to see that their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father’s microscope.


In the province of Caldon, where women are trained in wifely duties and men are encouraged into collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her Mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands—through the annual all-male scholarship competition.

With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone’s ready for a girl who doesn’t know her place. And not everyone survives the maze. 

The cover is what initially caught my attention, but the synopsis really sold it for me. I already want to know how people are selected for scholarships, and why they eventually end up in a labyrinth. Why does it matter if your rich or poor? Male or female? I think it's going to be an interesting story!

*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!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, #1) by Eoin Colfer

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is a millionaire, a genius—and, above all, a criminal mastermind. But even Artemis doesn't know what he's taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren't the fairies of bedtime stories—they're dangerous! Full of unexpected twists and turns, Artemis Fowl is a riveting, magical adventure. 

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Jacob and I both enjoyed this book when we were younger, and we had a lot of fun sharing it with our son! Normally, we take turns reading to him at night, but always from separate books. We actually argued over who would read this one first, and eventually decided to co-read it and alternate chapters.

Artemis Fowl is simply a fun book to read! Artemis isn't a hero or a villain, but a child willing to take big risks if they promise an even bigger reward. He's a twelve-year-old genius, which is why people much older than him (namely Butler) respect his decisions and blindly trust his judgement. On more than one occasion, Butler followed directions even when he didn't understand what was going on. He trusts his employer explicitly, and Artemis is lucky to have someone so unwavering at his side. Personally, I would have called Artemis crazy and ditched him years ago.

It's hard to say whether or not I like Artemis. I like that he's ambitious and seems to have a conscience, but I dislike that he was willing to use Holly and her people to achieve his goals. Yes, he felt bad once he'd interacted with her, but it didn't deter his plans. I would have been more understanding if he'd been in a life-or-death situation, but he was merely trying to reclaim some of the Fowl's monetary loses. He risked people's lives so his family would have more money to use for nefarious purposes.

Regardless of his reasons, Artemis did try to keep the casualties to a minimum, and asked Butler to maim instead of harm those that attacked the house. However, some of the fighting (especially against the troll) became very violent and somewhat graphic.

Eoin Colfer has created a fantastic world full of magic and interesting creatures. My son was particularly impressed by a kleptomaniac dwarf named Mulch Diggums. He excels at tunneling underground and isn't bound by the rules those with magic have to follow. He's able to unhinge his jaw so he can swallow soil and rock, only to have it pass through his body and out the other end (gross). My son thought the overall process was fascinating and laughed when Mulch used the gas in his body as a weapon (yuck).

Holly is a wonderful character that's always trying to do the right thing. I liked that she was willing to help Artemis and Butler despite being their captive, because their lives were more important than their transgressions. I really enjoyed her perspective within the book, and I'm looking forward to re-reading the rest of this series with my son and husband. If you're looking for a fun MG book, Artemis Fowl can deliver!


Edit: I had no idea they were making an Artemis Fowl movie! I stumbled across the trailer this morning and couldn't resist adding it to my post. What a lovely coincidence! 

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Sunday Post [6]

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:

We had a lovely Thanksgiving! Jacob had to work, but the kids and I drove to my grandmother's house for lunch. We had a Thanksgiving breakfast with Jacob before leaving, which was delicious! The trip was roughly two hours, and the kids were surprisingly great. I've started listening to children's audiobooks when we're in the car for long periods of time, and that seems to keep them occupied more than anything else.

This was the fist time all of my dad's children and grandchildren were in the same place at the same time, so it was a happy occasion for him. My grandmother is a twin, so she was thrilled when we had ours! It's the first set of twins in the family since she and her sister were born. She brought a ton of pictures for me to look at. She wanted me to see what they looked like over the years! It was a Thanksgiving I'll always remember, and I just wish Jacob had been able to go with us. 

I'm know I haven't been around as much lately, but we're packing up the house for a move! We've been busy getting everything ready for that -- phew! Also, the girls will be two in a few days, so we're planning a party for them. I really need there to be more time in a day!

Previous week on the blog:

Friday: Nothing!

What I'm currently reading:
 Illusions by Madeline J. Reynolds
Phoenix Unbound (Fallen Empire, #1) by Grace Draven
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Illusions is a book I've been meaning to read for awhile! I'm only a few pages into this one, so I can't really comment on the story just yet. The synopsis is what hooked me -- lovely and intriguing! 

Finally making progress with Phoenix Unbound! I've been fascinated by the story from the beginning, and really like the world and the characters. I think Draven shows a darker side of people, what they're willing to endure for survival, and the compromises they make along the way. It's not always pleasant to read about, but I do think she handles everything well. I look forward to seeing where this story goes!

I just borrowed the audio for The Poet X from my library! I've only heard wonderful things about this book and look forward to reading it. It's been awhile since I've read a book written in verse, but I usually find those stories to be powerful and compelling.

What I plan on reading next:
Naughty or Nice by Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward, Jodi Ellen Malpas, Emma Chase, Marie Force, Corinne Michaels, Susan Stoker 
Love à la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Among the Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz
 
What I'm watching:

I still need to finish the third and final season of Bitten, but I don't really like where the story is right now. The characters have changed so much since the first season, and I've almost forgotten why I liked them. I'll finish it eventually, because I don't want it hanging over my head, but it has definitely lost some of its appeal. A quick Google search told me the TV show is vastly different from the book series, so I'll probably read those in the future to see how they differ.

Jacob and I started watching the newest season of The Great British Baking Show, and really enjoyed it! We binged the entire thing in less than a week. It was the first time either of us had seen the show, and now I'm tempted to go back and watch the previous seasons. I do have one question about the show, and it's something that has been bugging me from the start! From what I can tell, the show sometimes takes place over two days. However, all of the contestants wear the same clothes the entire episode. If it was filmed over multiple days, wouldn't their clothes be different?

Challenge updates:

Goodreads: 402 / 250 

I still can't believe I've read so many books this year! I thought 250 was a lofty goal, haha. I'm doing okay on my Beat the Backlist Challenge, though I still need to read 40 books before the end of the year. We'll see how that goes! My kids were sick during the HoHoHo Readathon, so I wasn't able to read very often. However, I am happy that I managed to complete two books! Snowed In wasn't a good fit, but The Bear and the Nightingale was lovely!

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! May your days be full of yummy leftovers!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, #2) by Ilona Andrews

Narrated by Renee Raudman
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Down in Atlanta, tempers – and temperatures – are about to flare…

As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels has seen her share of occupational hazards. Normally, waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. Now Kate’s going to have to deal with problems on a much bigger scale: a divine one.


When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta’s paramilitary clan of shapeshifters, she quickly realizes much more at stake. During a flare, gods and goddesses can manifest – and battle for power. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic tug-of-war between two gods hoping for rebirth. And if Kate can’t stop the cataclysmic showdown, the city may not survive…
“I don't want it to be attributed to a loss of control on my part. When I throw you out of the window, I want there to be no doubt the act was deliberate.”
I LOVE this series! The Ilona Andrews duo never ceases to amaze me, and I hope they write books together forever! I first discovered this writing team when I read Burn for Me, which is part of their Hidden Legacy series. When I ran out of books to read in that series, I went searching for something else to replace it and stumbled across their Kate Daniels books. I read the first book (read my review here) and knew it was going to be wonderful. The world-building is fantastic, the characters are complex and detailed, and the stories have been engaging and action-packed.

Kate is a snarky, no-nonsense character, and I love her personality. She has a big secret that we've only scratched the surface on, and I have a feeling the authors will slowly reveal new details as the story continues. We learn a little more about her with each consecutive book, and I have a vague idea of what she might be hiding. I really like that her thoughts show us how scared or concerned she might be in a situation, but she always sounds confident and gives plenty of attitude. “We were screwed and he didn't even kiss us first.” 

Curran is everything I want in a male character. He's clearly an alpha, and doesn't hesitate to put people in their place. I think he secretly enjoys it when Kate challenges him, despite her clearly being the weaker opponent. Yes, she has magic at her disposal, and she's good with a sword, but Curran is fierce and acts with an animal's instincts. Their back-and-forth banter is one of my favorite things! They like each other, but haven't admitted their feelings to anyone. It's apparent in the way they choose to interact, even if they're never overly obvious about it.

I really enjoy all of the secondary characters, no matter how small their roles are within the book. Derek is clearly a teenager, but he has a lot of responsibility within the Pack, and he takes his job very seriously. I like that he's usually assigned to guard Kate (per Curran's orders), and think the two have a lovely working relationship. He's sweet and dependable, always loyal to the Pack, and fiercely protective. 

Ghastek is rarely there as a human, because he's almost always piloting a vampire, but I love his dry sense of humor and how he teases Kate throughout the book. They get along for the most part, but working alongside a vampire is never easy (though there are some benefits). It's eerie what a vampire can do, and there is always the possibility of Ghastek losing control.

Andrea is a new favorite of mine, and I cannot wait to see her in future books! She and Kate share a secret, which only solidifies their friendship, and I hope Andrea is involved in future adventures. Even people that are only mentioned once or twice feel significant. It's really amazing!

I'm always surprised by the story and rarely anticipate the direction it will go. There are vampires, shifters, witches, gods, mythology, giant turtles -- it's almost impossible to imagine what will happen next! I can never listen to the audiobooks fast enough, and I'm always eager for the next one as soon as I'm finished. It's a bummer there is a wait list at my library! 

If you haven't heard of this series or these authors, I highly recommend you check them out! They've written some amazing things, and I look forward to reading whatever they come up with next.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Made by Maxine by Ruth Spiro
[Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway]

Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the Made by Maxine blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. I'm really happy to share my thoughts on this book with you!

Title: MADE BY MAXINE
Author: Ruth Spiro (Author), Holly Hatam (Illustrator)
Pub. Date: October 9, 2018
Publisher: Dial Books
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 37
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, iBooks, TBD

Meet Maxine, an inspiring young maker who knows that with enough effort and imagination (and mistakes), it's possible to invent anything.

Maxine loves making new things from old things. She loves tinkering until she has solved a problem. She also loves her pet goldfish, Milton. So when it's time for her school's pet parade, she's determined to create something that will allow Milton to march with the other animals. Finally, after trying, trying, and trying again, she discovers just the right combination of recycled odds and ends to create a fun, functional--and absolutely fabulous--solution to her predicament. 

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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. 

My son loves to use household items to build things! We have a craft box that is full of odds and ends we've collected over time. There are a few toilet paper rolls, plastic silverware, buttons, leftover yarn, rubber bands, and even a seashell or two. When we decide to do something crafty, the kids have quite the selection to choose from, and we always have fun with it. I love watching them work and seeing what their young minds come up with!

Made by Maxine was the perfect book for us! Maxine uses her imagination to create a very extravagant tank for her goldfish, which resulted in my son wanting to build something similar for our cat. I told him the story was supposed to be fun and encouraging, but that most children Maxine's age don't have access to all of the items she was using for her inventions (or have parents that would allow their children to break stuff for their personal use).

I'm really glad her parents (seen randomly throughout the book) seemed to be supportive, but I wish Maxine had been a little more responsible and less destructive with her actions. When her ideas didn't work out, there were a lot of broken pieces to contend with. I would have also liked to see more descriptions surrounding her inventions, and what she used to make them work. My son was fascinated when she used vegetables to make music, but there was no explanation describing how it functioned. Maybe little information bubbles at the bottom, or a page at the back?

The illustrations were fun and really made the story pop! I enjoyed all of the little details that will probably go unnoticed by younger readers, like a paper that said, "Think like a proton. Always positive." There's one page in the book where Maxine is laying on the floor drawing her ideas, and there are dozens of pages with images on them. Clearly, Holly Hatam put a lot of thought into her work! I also liked seeing all of the inventions around the house that weren't mentioned in the story.

Overall, Made by Maxine was a really enjoyable story that encourages children to use their imaginations. "If I can dream it, I can make it!" I think I would have liked it more if the thought bubbles for the fish had been left out. They were distracting and didn't really contribute to the story. Other than that... a lovely book!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

My Weekly Pull [47] & Can't Wait Wednesday [17]

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!

Uncanny X-Men #2 by Ed Brisson, R.B. Silva, Javier Garron
West Coast Avengers #4 by Kelly Thompson, Stefano Caselli

Jacob's comics for the week!
Optimus Prime #25 by John Barber, Kei Zama
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Urban Legends #7 by Gary Carlson, Frank Fosco, Kevin Eastman
Marvel Knights 20th #2 (of 6) by Matthew Rosenberg, Niko Henrichon, Kaare Andrews, Donny Cates
Punisher #4 by Matthew Rosenberg, Szymon Kudranski, Greg Smallwood
Web of Venom Carnage Born #1 by Donny Cates, Danilo Beyruth, Kyle Hotz

The first issue of Uncanny X-Men was lengthy but fantastic! I wasn't sure how three different writers would write the same story, but it all worked out in the end. There was one main story, and then each writer wrote one of their own. As always, there's something dangerous happening in the world, and it's up to the X-Men to figure it out!

West Coast Avengers is still amazing! There was a pretty big twist at the end of the last issue, and I can't wait to see what happens next!

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.

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.


I loved Helen Hoang's The Kiss Quotient (read my review here), and look forward to re-reading it again in the future! I stumbled across The Bride Test yesterday, and thought it would be the perfect book for this week's Can't Wait Wednesday post! I'm anticipating unique characters, a fun story, and a lovely romance.

*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!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Wilder by Andrew Simonet
[Blog Tour: Spotlight + Giveaway]

Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the Wilder blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. This is a spotlight post, which means it's full of information about the book! Also, there's a giveaway at the bottom.

Title: WILDER
Author: Andrew Simonet
Pub. Date: November 13, 2018
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Pages: 320
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, iBooks, TBD

I met Melissa in the rubber room, a.k.a. in-school suspension. And that’s not her real name.

She had secrets, I had enemies.

“People are either useful or dangerous,” she said. “One or the other.”

“Which one am I?” I said.

“You’re both.”

Meili was right. (That’s her real name.)

You can solve a lot of problems if you don’t mind getting hurt.

Jason Wilder is in permanent in-school suspension for fighting. Meili Wen gets there by breaking a girl’s finger. Jason and Meili don’t just connect; they collide. Two people who would never cross paths―outsiders from radically different backgrounds―they form an exhiliarating, unpredictable bond. When circumstances push, they push back. There’s no plan. And there’s no stopping.

"I am so crap. How can you stand being with me? Don’t answer that or I will crash this thing with both of us on it, swear to god, are you ready?”

Yes. No. Didn’t matter.

I reached both arms around Meili’s waist as we zoomed down the hill.