Friday, July 19, 2019

Mini Reviews [30]

Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter
Narrated by Brittany Pressley
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president's son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie's dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.

No phone.
No Internet.
And not a single word from Logan.

Maddie tells herself it's okay. After all, she's the most popular girl for twenty miles in any direction. (She’s also the only girl for twenty miles in any direction.) She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full.
Until Logan shows up six years later . . .
And Maddie wants to kill him.

But before that can happen, an assailant appears out of nowhere, knocking Maddie off a cliff and dragging Logan to some unknown fate. Maddie knows she could turn back- and get help. But the weather is turning and the terrain will only get more treacherous, the animals more deadly.

Maddie still really wants to kill Logan.
But she has to save him first.


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Not If I Save You First was really great on audio! Brittany Pressley is an amazing narrator, and she's one of the reasons this book received four stars from me. Another reason was the setting. Alaska! I liked how completely stranded Maddie and Logan were, and thought it added another layer of tension to the story. Alaska was basically its own character.

My main issue with this book was believability. Maddie and Logan were both sixteen, but they occasionally acted like they were much older. Other times the two acted incredibly childish. I know Maddie has spent the last six years living in isolation, but her ability to discern edible from poisonous berries (with just a glance) felt a little farfetched (even she said they looked nearly identical). I'm sure it's possible, but her nonchalance was unconvincing. Additionally, Maddie's badass behavior felt forced at times. I have no doubt that her experiences hardened her in some ways, but her "bedazzled" ax spoke volumes. I wish we had seen that Maddie mixed in more throughout the story. Instead, we mostly see her acting tough and overconfident.

Overall, I thought it was a very enjoyable and quick read. There's a lot of suspense and a few surprising twists. I'm not thrilled with how the story ended (again, the believability of it), and a decision Maddie made without considering all of the facts. I'm also not sure how she managed to stay on her feet for so long after... everything. She and Logan proved to be very resilient characters, and they surprised me with how well they handled a kidnapping and the Alaskan wilderness.

Side note: I wish their childhood nicknames had been explained. Mad Dog and Rascal? There has to be a story behind those, right? I was also interested in the kidnapper's backstory. We're told very little about his circumstances, although it doesn't excuse his actions.


The Looking Glass Wars (The Looking
Glass Wars, #1) by Frank Beddor
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Alyss of Wonderland?

When Alyss Heart, heir to the Wonderland throne, must flee through the Pool of Tears to escape the murderous aunt Redd, she finds herself lost and alone in Victorian London. Befriended by an aspiring author named Lewis Carrol, Alyss tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Alyss trusts this author to tell the truth so that someone, somewhere will find her and bring her home. But he gets the story all wrong. He even spells her name incorrectly!

Fortunately, Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan knows all too well the awful truth of Alyss' story and he is searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland so she may eventually battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts.


The Looking Glass Wars unabashedly challenges our Wonderland assumptions surrounding mad tea parties, grinning Cheshire cats, and a curious little blond girl to reveal an epic battle in the endless war for Imagination.

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I started this series years ago, but never finished it! I decided to start from the beginning (to refresh my memory and not as an excuse to buy more books). I mistakenly thought this would be another series I could read aloud to the kids before bed, but I'd forgotten how violent it was. I started skimming all of the fighting (really bloody) and battles (scary stuff), but quickly realized that violence was intricately woven into this book, and it would be pointless to skip over 75% of the story. Alyss returns to a war-torn Wonderland, and the story reflects the devastation and unfavorable circumstances.

Needless to say, I read this one solo and started something else with the kiddos. It didn't take long for me to turn the last page, because I was completely wrapped up in the story from the start (again). I really liked Beddor's take on Alice in Wonderland, and enjoyed how he turned something whimsical into something shady.

Additionally, the author was very creative with his characters and their roles within this book. Hatter Madigan is hands down my favorite, and I say this knowing that there's not much character development in the first book. There's just something alluring about him, that I believe is explained in the second book (if I'm remembering correctly). Alyss herself isn't a sweet and innocent child that tumbled down a rabbit hole, but a rebellious and stubborn princess that knows she's important. She flaunts her imagination and typically gets what she wants, so her unexpected predicament really paved the way for her transformation. I think she would have stayed a spoiled and irresponsible child, if she hadn't grown up in a completely different world.

The Looking Glass Wars was a delightfully dark spin on one of my favorite childhood stories. Beddor is a creative genius, and I'm amazed at how he's made this story so entirely his own. I'm really looking forward to continuing the series and seeing how it inevitably concludes!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

My Weekly Pull [79] & Can't Wait Wednesday [49]

My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday (when the stars align in my favor) 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!

Spider-Man Life Story #5 The '00s by Chip Zdarsky, Mark Bagley 
Daredevil #8 by Chip Zdarsky, Lalit Kumar Sharma
Loki #1 by Daniel Kibblesmith, Ozgur Yildirim 

Transformers Ghostbusters #2 by Erik Burnham, Dan Schoening
Firefly #8 by Greg Pak, Dan McDaid, Lee Garbett
Transformers #9 by Brian Ruckley, Cachet Whitman, Bethany McGuire-Smith, Umi Miyao

Jacob's comics for the week!
Punisher Annual #1 by Karla Pacheco, Adam Gorham, Dustin Weaver 
Deadpool #15 by Skottie Young, Nic Klein
Hit-Girl Season 2 #6 by Daniel Way, Goran Parlov
Usagi Yojimbo #2 by Stan Sakai

A lot of comics this week! Naturally, I added Loki to the pull list. I'm curious to see how he's going to be portrayed in this series. Zdarsky with Spider-Man Life Story and Daredevil, because the guy is a genius (crazypants... but a genius). ;) Firefly might be the comic I look forward to the most each month, and my son loves his Transformers. 

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.

The discovery of an ancient artifact at an archaeological site sets off a chain of events that puts the world in danger as a ruthless group of Nationalists attempt to raise a villain from Arthurian legend with the hope of gaining power, and fulfilling a long-standing prophecy for England. The only ones who can stop them are Bridgette McGuire, ex-monster hunter, and her grandson Duncan, who is soon swept up into a world of magic and myth as he comes face-to-face with the legends from England’s past and his own complicated family history.

It's a comic about Arthurian legend!! How awesome is that?? I've read a few of the preview pages, and I think it's going to be really good. It's supposed to be a six-issue series, and the first one is extra-sized!











The Power Rangers arrive in New York City to find Tommy Oliver - AKA The Mighty Morphin Green Ranger - but soon discover he's joined forces with the villainous Shredder and the Foot Clan! As the Rangers are sent reeling by this betrayal, they're confronted by another (fr)enemy - the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Can these heroes find a way to work together to defeat the bad guys and save the world from total destruction?!

BOOM! Studios is quickly becoming one of my favorites! Their stories are original and tend to make me reminisce about my childhood. Power Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Firefly, stories related to The Dark Crystal -- love it!

*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, July 16, 2019

Please Send Help (I Hate Everyone But You, #2)
by Gaby Dunn & Allison Raskin

Synopsis (via Goodreads): In this hilarious follow-up novel to the New York Times bestseller I Hate Everyone But You, long distance best friends Ava and Gen have finally made it to the same time zone (although they’re still over a thousand miles apart).

Through their hilarious, sometimes emotional, but always relatable conversations, Ava and Gen are each other’s support systems through internships, relationship troubles, questionable roommates, undercover reporting, and whether or not it’s a good idea to take in a feral cat. Please Send Help perfectly captures the voice of young adults looking to find their place in the world and how no matter how desperate things seem, you always have your best friend to tell it like it is and pick you back up.
"1) You can buy sunblock that smells really good. Coconut or mango. I think if it smells good you will want to eat it and then when you realize you can’t eat it you will still want it on your body."
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.

Please Send Help made me smile and was a super quick read. I really enjoyed the banter between Ava and Gen, and it was clear they knew each other really well. Their conversations felt realistic and their situations were relatable. They had their disagreements and fights, but those never lasted very long. Their friendship was more important to them than whatever they were fighting about, and I liked how self-aware they seemed to be. They apologized when they did something wrong, and they were quick to forgive for the sake of their friendship.

I've rewritten this paragraph ten times trying not be too spoilery, but I feel like it's an aspect that should be addressed. Okay, eleventh time's the charm... one of the characters has sex and gets more than they bargained for (stop here if you don't want specifics). I think it's great the author's chose to address sexually transmitted diseases, because it's something that real people deal with every day. It's also not a topic I've personally come across while reading YA, likely because it's not an issue most people want to discuss. I thought it was handled well and offered a different perspective.

I liked the overall story, and seeing how the two main characters progressed over time, but I never felt connected to them. They're both struggling with serious issues (mental health, alcoholism, depression, anxiety), and I wish those things had been expanded on a little more. I appreciate what they authors were trying to do, but I also felt overwhelmed my how much was going on throughout the book. It was like they tried to take every touchy subject and cram them all into one book (therapy, boss hitting on an intern, LGBTQ, homelessness, corruption in politics, family bias in business, a ménage, plus the things I mentioned earlier, and others I've already forgotten).

As far as connecting with the characters... it's just hard to do when you're only reading text messages and emails. There's very little depth to those, and we don't really see how the characters are feeling, just what they say they're feeling (and we all know that our perceptions of ourselves can be a little skewed). It also felt like the topics were all over the place, and sometimes I got lost in their conversations.

Please Send Help was an interesting read that I often found humorous, although I wish it had delved deeper into the characters and their individual stories. Also, the ending felt rushed and a little too convenient. There's an epilogue that's super short, but somehow manages to tie all of the loose ends together. Maybe if this had been more than just conversations, it would have worked better for me, but in the end I felt like the story just stopped without really going anywhere (a problem I seem to be having with a lot of books lately). It didn't feel open-ended, just open.

Side note: I didn't read the first book, but I don't think you need to.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Synopsis (via Goodreads): It's been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty's life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don't dare wander outside the school's fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.


But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there's more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.
"It’s like that, with all of us here. Sick, strange, and we don’t know why. Things bursting out of us, bits missing and pieces sloughing off, and then we harden and smooth over."
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.

Wilder Girls made my skin crawl! It's been awhile since a book made me shiver. The editor's note at the beginning said, "Dig deep, though, and this novel is a brilliant feminist twist on Lord of the Flies," and I can totally see it. I vaguely remembered Lord of Flies from school, but this book made the story come rushing back.

I've been struggling with this review (and my rating), because I really loved the story, but not its conclusion. The private school (Raxter), the Tox, the mutations (humans, animals, plants), and the relationships were all amazing. It kept me on the edge of my seat, and I never wanted to stop turning the pages. However, the story kept building until my mind felt like it was going to explode from the anticipation... and then it ended. There's no resolution and very few questions are answered. A few aspects are hinted at, but nothing is really confirmed or validated. I needed so much more after all that suspense and buildup. The anxiety alone was brutal.

Think about it this way... you're on the verge of an orgasm, and then your partner suddenly stops, or your vibrator decides to die. You're left feeling extremely frustrated, and probably a little angry. I loved everything that led to the story's climax, but ultimately I was left feeling unsatisfied.

There were a few inconsistencies throughout the book, but this was a review copy, so some errors are to be expected. I was mostly confused about the gate... at one point it needs a key to be opened from the inside, and then other times it only needs a key to be opened from the outside. There's also a bit at the end with the keys that felt off. If you've read a finished copy, let me know if you experienced any confusion regarding how it works.

I loved the relationships between the characters in this book, and how their dynamics shifted after the Tox. Their situation seemed to make them feel everything more strongly, and my emotions were directly tied to theirs. I disliked the "adult" presence we see throughout the book, because they're mostly dishonest and manipulative. I never knew what their intentions were, and I hated that the girls suffered because of their decisions.

The end of Wilder Girls progressed a little too quickly. I wanted more from Byatt's perspective, because even though it was choppy and disorganized, it provided a lot of clues. Additionally, the characters really struggled for most of the book, and then things conveniently clicked into place at the very end. There were no explanations, and their last encounter with the Headmistress felt weird. I almost want to re-read the last few chapters to see if I missed a major turning point. It all happened so fast!

Hetty and Reese were both really impressive characters, and they did what they had to do to survive. Their friendship felt realistic, and we see them have their ups and downs. Being quarantined on an island didn't change the fact that they were teenagers. There were fights and arguments, but even those felt intense and like lives depended on the outcome. (Side note: Hooray for some wonderful f/f representation!)

I really enjoyed the world Power created, and think it's very original and unique. I wish we had learned more about the island and how the Tox originated, but information is hard to come by. It seemed like everyone had secrets they were willing to die for, and it was interesting to see people working together but also for themselves. They needed each other to survive, but in the end people only cared about themselves and those closest to them. Lives lose their value when you get used to death, and it was heartbreaking to see what these girls had gotten used to.

I hope there's a sequel planned, because I am still fuming about the lack of an ending!


Friday, July 12, 2019

My Weekly Pull [78] & Can't Wait Wednesday [48]

My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday (when the stars align in my favor) 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!

Ghosted in LA #1 by Sina Grace, Siobhan Keenan
Shades of Magic #7 by V.E. Schwab, Budi Setiawan, Jesus Hervas, Enrica Eren Angiolini
Miles Morales Spider-Man #8 by Saladin Ahmed, Javi Garron, Patrick O'Keefe

Jacob's comics for the week!
Amazing Spider-Man #25 by Nick Spencer, Ryan Ottley, Todd Nauck
Symbiote Spider-Man #4 (of 5) by Peter David, Greg Land
Venom #16 by Donny Cates, Juan Gedeon, Ron Lim
The War of the Realms Omega #1 by Various, Juan Ferreyra, Phil Noto

I'm not sure if Ghosted will be a good fit for me, but the synopsis convinced me to give it a shot! I like ghost stories and stories about ghosts, and this promises to have one or the other. Also, the main character is just starting college, which is an age group we don't read about too often. Hopefully she and her experiences are relatable! We'll see. 

In Los Angeles, finding an apartment is killer-unless you live with the dead. Rycroft Manor may be old. It may be abandoned. It may even be haunted. But Daphne Walters doesn't care about any of that-it has a pool and the rent is free. New to LA, coming off of a bad breakup and having a pretty terrible week, Daphne might need to crash on this haunted couch for a while, but having undead roommates might be more than she bargained for! Will the dead be able to help Daphne find the life she's been missing in the big city? From GLAAD Award-nominated Sina Grace (Iceman) and illustrator Siobhan Keenan (Clueless, Jem and the Holograms) comes a story about learning how to make friends, find love, and live to the fullest with a little help from some friends whose lives didn't end at death. 

I finally figured out what was going on with V.E. Schwab's Shades of Magic series. She posted this on her Instagram yesterday! I've read everything that's been released so far, but I initially thought there were only going to be four issues. I now know I was both right and wrong.

The third and final arc of the Steel Prince comic is coming... For those catching up, there are 3 arcs:
The Steel Prince
The Night of Knives
The Rebel Army

Each arc is 4 issues. Steel Prince is done and available as a graphic novel. The first 3 issues of Night of Knives are available and the graphic novel is on its way! Up next, Rebel Army.

Check the link in my Insta bio to learn more!

Miles Morales Spider-Man is AMAZING, and I'm loving this cover! 

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.

Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett
Expected publication: April 7th 2020
Synopsis (via Goodreads): In this coming-of-age romance perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen, a rule-abiding teen embraces her more rebellious side while falling for her ex-boyfriend’s arch-nemesis.

Josie Saint-Martin is well-versed in the art of concealment. Bullied as a child, she’s spent most of her life with her single mother, moving from city to city, covering up what she doesn’t want others to see, comfortable behind the lens of her favorite vintage camera . . .until Josie’s grandmother dies and they return to her mother’s historical New England hometown to run the family bookstore. There, Josie pulls off the ultimate camouflage: dating Adrian, the Harvard-bound son of the most influential man in town.

But her smokescreen is blown when Adrian breaks up with her during his high school graduation party, and Josie’s poorly executed act of revenge lands her big-time trouble—jail alongside the last person she’d want to share a mugshot with: the mysterious and brooding son of the boat mechanic next door, Lucky Karras.

Forced to spend the summer together in mandatory community service, Josie and Lucky become the talk of their coastal town—shamed, trolled, and publicly disgraced. The weird thing is, Josie starts to not mind, because the pair have more in common than she once thought. A lot more. But during a summer of secrets, in a town built on gossip, everything rises to the surface. Can Josie and Lucky swim past these obstacles, or will they both go down together?

Another book to add to my Jenn Bennett collection! They'll likely need their own shelf soon... ;)

Sorry for the late post this week! If you follow me on Instagram, you know my dog was badly injured by a stray and needed medical attention. Although, he wasn't the only one. I used my foot to pry the stray dog's mouth off of my dog, and ended up with two fractures in my big toe! It's been a bananas week -- and an expensive one, ugh. Ironically, my husband sent his list early, so I would have had plenty of time for this post under normal circumstances.

*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, July 9, 2019

Blastaway by Melissa Landers
[Release Day Blitz + Giveaway]

Blastaway was the book I chose for my most recent Can't Wait Wednesday post, because I really liked the synopsis! It made me think of both Wall-E and The Goonies, which is an interesting combination. I have no idea if that's what the story is going to be like, just the vibe I got from the blurb. I was thrilled when an opportunity to participate in the Release Day Blitz presented itself!

Title: BLASTAWAY
Author: Melissa Landers
Pub. Date: July 9,2019
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 304
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, Audible, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD

Kyler Centaurus isn't your typical runaway. All he wanted was a quick trip to the legendary Fasti Sun Festival. Who wouldn't want to see new stars being born? Um, try Kyler's entire family. They couldn't care less about mind-blowing wonders of science.

When an accidental launch sequence ends with Kyler hurtling through space on the family cruiser, the thrill of freedom is cut short by two space pirates determined to steal his ship. Not happening!

Luckily, Kyler bumps into Fig, a savvy young Wanderer who makes a living by blowing up asteroids. She could really use a ride to Earth and Kyler could really use a hand with the pirates.

But when Kyler learns the truth about Fig's mission, the two must put aside their differences long enough to stop the threat of astronomical proportions racing towards Earth.

Exclusive Excerpt! 

At some point, I must have fallen asleep.

I say that for two reasons. First, my chin was wet with drool, and I hardly ever slobber on myself when I’m awake. And second, I was no longer on Earth.

I sat bolt upright and stared out the window as distant stars whizzed past in a blur. There were no planets in sight, and judging by the swirling purple nebula ahead of me, this wasn’t the way to Nana’s house. I checked the navigation screen and felt my mouth drop open. The flashing beacon that represented my ship was halfway between Earth and Fasti.

(So you see, it is totally possible to steal a spaceship on accident.)

I guess my hand hit the EXECUTE button when I fell asleep. And because it would take just as long for me to turn around and go home as it would to finish my journey, it made sense to keep going, right? Either way, my parents would ground me into the afterlife, so I might as well earn the sentence, right?

Right.

An electric thrill rushed through my veins when I thought about the possibilities that lay ahead of me. Anything could happen on this trip. Literally anything. I could discover a brand-new element. Or meet a secret race of aliens. Or invent a new energy source. Or eat so much chocolate that I puked. Either way, I had complete freedom to make this journey into whatever I wanted, and once I realized that, there was no freaking way I could turn back. It was like the universe had dropped a gift in my lap, a gift I had no intention of returning.

I wiped the drool off my chin and smiled.

“Hold onto your stars, Fasti. Here I come.” 

About Melissa:


Melissa Landers is a former teacher who left the classroom to pursue other worlds. A proud sci-fi geek, she isn’t afraid to wear her Princess Leia costume in public—just ask her kids. She lives just outside Cincinnati in the town of Loveland, “Sweetheart of Ohio.”

Giveaway Details:
1 winner will win a finished copy of BLASTAWAY, US Only.


http://www.rockstarbooktours.com/

Monday, July 8, 2019

Queen of Ruin (Grace and Fury, #2) by Tracy Banghart
[Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway]

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

Title: QUEEN OF RUIN (Grace and Fury #2)
Author: Tracy Banghart
Pub. Date: July 2, 2019
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 336
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, Audible, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD

A fierce sequel full of sisterhood, heart pounding action, betrayal, and intrigue in the royal court in a series that "breathes new life into the feminist story of oppression and resistance" (Publisher's Weekly).

Banished by Asa at the end of Grace and Fury, Nomi and Malachi find themselves powerless and headed towards their all-but-certain deaths. Now that Asa sits on the throne, he will stop at nothing to make sure Malachi never sets foot in the palace again. Their only hope is to find Nomi's sister, Serina, on the prison island of Mount Ruin. But when Nomi and Malachi arrive, it is not the island of conquered, broken women that they expected. It is an island in the grip of revolution, and Serina--polite, submissive Serina--is its leader.

Betrayal, grief, and violence have changed both sisters, and the women of Mount Ruin have their sights set on revenge beyond the confines of their island prison. They plan to sweep across the entire kingdom, issuing in a new age of freedom for all. But first they'll have to get rid of Asa, and only Nomi knows how.

Separated once again, this time by choice, Nomi and Serina must forge their own paths as they aim to tear down the world they know, and build something better in its place.

The stakes are higher and the battles bolder in Tracy Banghart's unputdownable sequel to Grace and Fury.

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I received a copy 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.

Queen of Ruin was a gripping read that I never wanted to put down! I even forgive Banghart for the cliffhanger she left us with at the end of Grace and Fury. This book was epic, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

The characters are fantastic! We clearly see growth from one book to the next, but they keep improving as the story progresses. They're all fighting for something they believe in, and I felt like everyone had a role to play. It was fun watching them interact with each other in their new surroundings, and even the secondary characters found a place in my heart. There were no meaningless deaths in this one. Everyone mattered. Every life meant something. 

The story was deliciously unexpected! I had no idea what would happen next, and I absolutely loved it. It was hard to anticipate what each individual character would do, so I stopped trying and just enjoyed the story for what it was. Queen of Ruin took me on a roller coaster of emotions, and I'm still processing how everything made me feel. 

Additionally, I love the relationship between Nomi and Serina. They're sisters that truly care about each other, and they both want to make a difference in their world. They might not always agree, but the love is there. They're also not constantly trying to save each other, which was nice. They were able to stand on their own two feet and work together to accomplish a similar goal.

It's been awhile since I read the first book, but I had no trouble falling back into this world with these characters. It was like I never left, which is an amazing accomplishment for an author. She didn't have to regurgitate information at the beginning, just continued her story in a way that made me remember what had happened previously. Banghart has serious skills! 

I would definitely recommend this series! There's a big Girl Power vibe that I enjoyed, but it's also about family and fighting for what's right.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Kingdom of Exiles (The Beast Charmer, #1)
by Maxym M. Martineau

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Fantastic Beasts meets Assassin's Creed in this epic, gripping fantasy romance from debut author Maxym M. Martineau.

Exiled beast charmer Leena Edenfrell is in deep trouble. Empty pockets forced her to sell her beloved magical beasts on the black market—an offense punishable by death—and now there's a price on her head. With the realm's most talented murderer-for-hire nipping at her heels, Leena makes him an offer he can't refuse: powerful mythical creatures in exchange for her life.

If only it were that simple. Unbeknownst to Leena, the undying ones are bound by magic to complete their contracts, and Noc cannot risk his brotherhood of assassins...not even to save the woman he can no longer live without.
"When it came to us, there were just too many thorns. But damn if I didn’t want to cut them all down and see what grew."
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.

First of all, Kingdom of Exiles didn't remind me of Fantastic Beasts or Assassin's Creed, even though that's what the synopsis claims. It was more like a Pokémon adult romance. Ash has to work for his Pokémon, Leena does the same for her beasts, and the relationships were similar. She also chooses beasts for her companions, and I couldn't help thinking, "I choose you!" whenever she did. Regardless, I really enjoyed the book and its characters. 

The beasts were my favorite part of Kingdom of Exiles! I wanted to know more about their abilities, the beast realm, and why they would willingly choose to work with humans (other than companionship). Most of them are crazy powerful and intelligent, but they seemed to easily bond with Charmers, even those that are supposed to be difficult to tame. I wish we had seen more failed attempts, or at least given examples of people who had been unsuccessful. Additionally, they seemed to be able to converse with Leena on some level, and when she gave her beasts to the members of Cruor, they were able to communicate despite the obvious language barrier. I wish that had been elaborated on, as well as their abilities and what they entailed. I feel like we were shown very little of their powers and capabilities. 

Cruor was probably my second favorite thing about this book. People die and are raised from the dead to become assassins, which is pretty cool. However, once they die a second time, they cannot be reborn. Again, I wish we were told more about this and Cruor's existence in general, but the history was vague. I thought their ability to command shadows was interesting, and liked the dark vibe it gave the story. Noc is their leader and crazy powerful, but we never see him going all out. It's hinted at a few times, but he never fully gives in. What is he truly capable of? I also disliked that his history remained hidden throughout the story, even though I'm sure it'll be a focus in the second book. It was alluded to many times, and we have a pretty good idea what it is, but nothing was actually confirmed. Whenever Noc would approach the topic, or Leena would ask a question, something would happen that prevented their conversation.

I liked Leena as a main character, although I didn't always understand her actions. She was banished from her home, and thought her only way back in was with a legendary beast. However, she sold beasts to scumbags in order to make some money, and I hated that she would trade the lives of her friends (beasts that she personally made a connection with) for money. She could have easily worked at the tavern or whatever, and still searched for the Myad. She didn't have to trade lives for profit. When she explained her reasons, they were flimsy and not entirely believable. She was also quick to trust the people that had recently tried to kill her, and she did little to protect herself. She has a beast that can camouflage itself, Inky, and she doesn't use him to gather information about the members of Cruor. Her beast could have learned so much, if she'd just thought to use him.

Speaking of trust, Leena was way too comfortable with Noc, especially since he nearly choked her death when they first met. I believe that alone should have been a good reason for her to keep her distance. However, she's drawn to him, even when he's icy and aloof. I'm sorry, but if someone tried to kill me, and then was wishy-washy with their feelings (whether they had a good reason or not), I wouldn't have been as forgiving. I definitely wouldn't want to start a relationship (physical or emotional) with them. Noc had his reasons for being cruel and standoffish, but Leena didn't know that. She stuck around without knowing what he was struggling with, and I couldn't get behind that.

Ozias was my favorite character. He was sweet and didn't necessarily want to kill as a solution for everything. Kost wanted to do whatever would keep Noc and Cruor safe, and Calem was simply trouble. All three of these characters have secrets, and the author chose to keep their past lives hidden as well. Everything was a secret. Why Leena's death and bones were needed, who placed the original hit on her life, what Noc's life was like before he died, etc. The author doesn't really reveal anything of importance, which was disappointing. I don't like leaving a story feeling like I still don't know anything about the characters, or what they're trying to accomplish. The major plot was addressed and mostly resolved, but I was still irked by how little information was shared. 

I went into this one thinking it was YA, but it's most definitely an adult fantasy. Some of the terminology that was used during the sex scenes was weird, but not overly distracting. The author just used odd words to describe different body parts and what they were doing. It's always frustrating when characters don't call things by their name, but try to come up with creative substitutions. Example: mountain. It's not something these specific characters said, but you get the idea. Also, can someone get Noc a pair of hiking boots...

Wynn was a bastard, and not someone I can easily elaborate on. Also, there are quite a few plot holes, which is unfortunate in a fantasy. If an author creates something new, they need to follow the rules they've set for their story. For example, Leena was able to break a beast's bond with someone else, but doesn't think to do it when it would potentially save her life. There's a beast making a noise that prevents her from sleeping, and another that brings her food, but she doesn't attempt to override their bond in order to escape. Even if there was a reason why she couldn't, she should have at least had the thought. 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but I did have some minor issues with it. I feel like it had the potential to be more than it was, if a few things had been changed or elaborated on. I'm also not a fan of stories that hold on to their secrets until the next book. I feel like we should get to know something after reading 400 pages. 

Kingdom of Exiles was fun to read that I never wanted to put down. Despite my issues with this one, it's a series I plan to continue in the future. Hopefully, there will be more information revealed in the next book!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

My Weekly Pull [77] & Can't Wait Wednesday [47]

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!
Transformers #8 by Brian Ruckley, Cachet Whitman, Anna Malkova, Bethany McGuire-Smith

Jacob's comics for the week!
Batman Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III #3 (of 6) by James Tynion IV, Freddie Williams II, Kevin Eastman
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #95 by Tom Waltz, Dave Wachter, Kevin Eastman
Punisher #13 by Matthew Rosenberg, Szymon Kudranski, Greg Smallwood
Savage Avengers #3 by Gerry Duggan, Mike Deodato, David Finch

Only one for me this week! I need to catch up on my comics, but haven't had the time! I'm in the middle of two really good books, so I always want to grab one of those when I have a few minutes to spare. I really want to read these comics, but it's so hard to choose sometimes! I love it! This Transformers series has been amazing so far, and I highly recommended it to anyone who enjoys these characters.

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.

Blastaway by Melissa Landers
Expected publication: July 9th 2019
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Kyler Centaurus isn't your typical runaway. All he wanted was a quick trip to the legendary Fasti Sun Festival. Who wouldn't want to see new stars being born? Um, try Kyler's entire family. They couldn't care less about mind-blowing wonders of science.

When an accidental launch sequence ends with Kyler hurtling through space on the family cruiser, the thrill of freedom is cut short by two space pirates determined to steal his ship. Not happening!

Luckily, Kyler bumps into Fig, a savvy young Wanderer who makes a living by blowing up asteroids. She could really use a ride to Earth and Kyler could really use a hand with the pirates.

But when Kyler learns the truth about Fig's mission, the two must put aside their differences long enough to stop the threat of astronomical proportions racing towards Earth?

This book sounds like it'll be fun to read with my monsters, and I absolutely love the cover! It makes me think of Wall-E and Zathura. Does anyone else remember Zathura?

*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!