Tuesday, April 30, 2019

DNF&Y [16]

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!

How to  Make Friends with the Dark
by Kathleen Glasgow
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Here is what happens when your mother dies.

It’s the brightest day of summer and it’s dark outside. It’s dark in your house, dark in your room, and dark in your heart. You feel like the darkness is going to split you apart.

That’s how it feels for Tiger. It’s always been Tiger and her mother against the world. Then, on a day like any other, Tiger’s mother dies. And now it’s Tiger, alone.
Here is how you learn to make friends with the dark.

DNF at 20%
"But I need the other half of my machine to beep and whir at me, and to do all that other stuff moms are supposed to do."
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 Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

How to Make Friends with the Dark wasn't what I was expecting. It's actually pretty heavy from the start, and it only gets worse as the story progresses. Tiger's mom dies, so obviously it isn't going to be about sunshine and rainbows, but the entire thing felt a little off. The way people reacted to certain scenarios, and how they spoke... it just didn't ring true. At times the story and conversations felt rushed, and other times I felt like Tiger was over-explaining her feelings and rambling.

It also threw me when the author kept changing Tiger's point of view. One chapter she's saying, "and you drag yourself, sick as you feel, but elated," and the next it's, "ready to strike me down if I don't cook drugs for her." I can see how this might work for the story, but it almost feels like Tiger is two people, and it was more confusing than convincing.

Tiger is also incredibly repetitive with her descriptions of things. I'm not sure if it was intentional, or if the author didn't realize her character had previously made similar comparisons.

"And Kai, who looks dreamy and sweet, plucking his bass, his brow furrowed, like one of my books might say."

"His brow is knitted, as they might say in one of the books we read last fall in Lit class."

And then there were times when I didn't understand the main character at all, "Suddenly the smear of acne across his jawline wasn’t something I was embarrassed for, for him, but something I found tender, and wanted to touch." Would anyone really think that?

Side note: Tiger and her mother are barely scraping by, there's no food in the house, but they both have cell phones. Details like this irk me, because food is a priority, texting is not. I understand having a phone for emergencies, but Tiger's mom was calling and texting her despite knowing her daughter was in school. Also, phone bills are expensive, and that money could have kept Tiger from going to school hungry, and desperately trying to scrape Life Savers from the bottom of her backpack.

In the end, How to Make Friends with the Dark just wasn't a good fit for me. I've read other raving reviews, so don't simply take my word for it. If you think it sounds interesting, try it for yourself. I didn't get very far into the book, but I did glimpse Tiger's first negative experience with foster care, so be warned. Children are often mistreated even when they are under the "protection" of the state, and I have a feeling this book is going to touch on some of the more unpleasant aspects of being in the system.


Saving Meghan by D.J. Palmer
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Can you love someone to death?

Some would say Becky Gerard is a devoted mother and would do anything for her only child. Others claim she's obsessed and can't stop the vicious circle of finding a cure at her daughter's expense.


Fifteen-year-old Meghan has been in and out of hospitals with a plague of unexplained illnesses. But when the ailments take a sharp turn, doctors intervene and immediately suspect Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a rare behavioral disorder where the primary caretaker, typically the mother, seeks medical help for made-up symptoms of a child. Is this what's going on? Or is there something even more sinister at hand?

DNF at 65%

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.

Honestly, I should have stopped reading this one long before I did, but I was just curious enough to continue. The mystery was interesting, and I wanted to know who was at fault. Was Meghan really sick? Was it in her head? Did her mother have anything to do with it?

After awhile, some of the clues stopped being vague, and were more in your face, so I guessed the ending (not necessarily how the story ended, but who or what was at fault) pretty early on. I know this, because after reading sixty-five percent of the book, I felt somewhat invested in the outcome and skimmed the remaining pages to see how the story would end.

The characters in Saving Meghan are not likable. I really thought I would relate with the mother, but her shameless flirting to get what she wants (whether it's for her daughter or not) was unnecessary. She's a woman that knows she's beautiful, and she knows how to work her body to get the results she wants. Meghan was bratty and made decisions with very little actual thought. Carl, her father, was horrible from the start. No one, not even the depressed doctor, made me feel anything for the people in this book (although I could sympathize). From an outside perspective, it was horrible and sad, but I wasn't invested in the character's lives.

Additionally, I think this book was much longer than it needed to be. There were a lot of medical phrases and terminology, while described adequately, didn't really add anything to the story. I'm sure it lent some authenticity to everything, but sometimes it was too much. 

The majority of the story is told from Becky's perspective, followed by Zach (the doctor), while Meghan received the short end of the stick. This is all happening to her, but we actually see very little of her thoughts and experiences. Yes, we get the crucial bits, but not enough for me to connect with her individually, or understand her as a person. She's the girl that's always sick, and may or may not be crazy. I enjoyed the alternating perspectives, but I wish everyone had been given an even amount of time. 

Overall, I think this had the potential to be a really interesting story, but I just didn't care about the people in it.


The Evolution of Jeremy Warsh 
by Jess Moore
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Jeremy Warsh has been in off-mode ever since his grandpa’s death a couple years ago. He set aside their shared passion, comic art, and hasn’t looked back. As an introvert from the other side of town, he fully expects to spend his boring life bagging groceries until, maybe one day, he’s promoted to store manager.

Yet, his two best friends, Kasey and Stuart, are different. They’re not afraid to demand more out of everyone. When Kasey comes out, Jeremy’s inspired. He picks up his colored pencils and starts drawing comics again, creating a no-nonsense, truth-talking character named Penny Kind. Who speaks to him. Literally.

The friend group set in motion Stuart’s plans for a huge Homecoming prank, and if they can get Penny’s comic trending, they might be able to pull it off. Could this be a stepping-stone to a future Jeremy’s only dreamed of? And after he kisses a boy at a college party, will Jeremy finally face what he’s been hiding from?

DNF after a few chapters

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I tried starting The Evolution of Jeremy Warsh a few times, but it never worked for me. I didn't care about the characters, and their conversations frequently felt forced and unnatural. They've been friends for years, but their interactions lacked the familiarity of a long friendship. Jeremy often tells us details about his friends and their lives, but we don't really see it in action. I also found it a tad unbelievable that Stuart only recently stumbled across his grandfather's drawings.

I kept trying to find the flow of the book, but my attention was easily diverted. Occasionally, an outside factor was to blame, but more often than not, it was something the characters did or said that caused me to lose interest in the story. I really liked the concept for this one, so I'm super bummed it didn't work out.


All These Things I've Done
by Gabrielle Zevin
Narrated by Ilyana Kadushin
Synopsis (via Goodreads): In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidentally poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

Engrossing and suspenseful,
All These Things I've Done is an utterly unique, unputdownable read that blends both the familiar and the fantastic.

DNF at 31%

First of all, I'm not entirely sure why chocolate and coffee were illegal. Anya mentions them being chosen (something to do with politics) because they were things people could live without, but there was very little talk about why. Also, I didn't really believe it when people were getting high from caffeine. Everyone had been living with it for years, but suddenly it impacted people like a drug? I had a hard time wrapping my head around the concept, and the author wasn't very clear about the specifics. If you're going to change how the game is played, please provide detailed instructions. 

I really liked Anya as a character, and I adored her family. She and her siblings survived a lot during their formative years, and everyone was affected in a different way. Leo's story is heartbreaking, and I both love and hate that he was so trusting. Natty was your typical annoying little sister, but it was easy to tell how much they loved one another. I'm not entirely sure how their grandmother continued to have custody over the children, since she was incapable of taking care of herself. 

Once Anya is accused of murdering her ex-boyfriend (it's in the synopsis, but it would have been obvious regardless), I stopped feeling as invested in the characters and their lives. She's supposed to be really great at reading people and noticing details, but she seemed to miss the most important ones. Those missed details are what got her into trouble in the first place, and then everything went downhill from there. 

I enjoyed the beginning of All These Things I've Done, but lost interest once she was arrested. The police officers in charge of her case didn't behave in a professional way, and they seemed giddy about trapping a sixteen-year old girl and accusing her of murder. They weren't interested in anything she had to say, because they went into their interrogation self-assured and single-minded. Everything about it felt wrong.


Tempests and Slaughter (The Numair
Chronicles, #1) by Tamora Pierce
Narrated by Ariadne Meyers
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Arram. Varice. Ozorne. In the first book in the Numair Chronicles, three student mages are bound by fate . . . fated for trouble.

Arram Draper is a boy on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting danger. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.

DNF at 19%

This was my first experience with Tamora Pierce, so I wasn't sure what to expect going into Tempests and Slaughter. Honestly, the cover is what grabbed my attention and made me want to read it. After a little research, I discovered this book tied into another series, but could also stand on its own. However, the pacing was incredibly slow, and at times I was bored with the story. I felt like every chapter was just more of the same... Arram gets a new and more advanced schedule, he goes to class, and then he hangs out with his two friends. 

I really wanted to like this one, so I was disappointed when it didn't work out. I appreciate the author's detailed descriptions and thorough explanations of the world, but I wish it had been condensed a little. Maybe Arram could have flashed forward by years instead of semesters? I'm sure it was important for us to see his growth, but everything developed at a snail's pace.

Additionally, Arram has the ability to see magic, but fails to bring it to anyone's attention. It's likely an important aspect of the story, since he saw magic in the sand and in the concoction given to his roommate. He just forgets to ask about it, which means it's probably addressed later on. I wish he'd remembered to voice his questions when they happened, so maybe it would've felt like we were getting somewhere with his story.

On a more positive note, Ariadne Meyers was a fantastic narrator! I enjoyed her many voices and the way she read through the story. I'll definitely be checking to see if she's narrated anything else.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Among the Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz

Synopsis (via Goodreads): World War Two has shattered Valka’s homeland of Russia, and Valka is determined to help the effort. She knows her skills as a pilot rival the best of the men, so when an all-female aviation group forms, Valka is the first to sign up.

Flying has always meant freedom and exhilaration for Valka, but dropping bombs on German soldiers from a fragile canvas biplane is no joyride. The war is taking its toll on everyone, including the boy Valka grew up with, who is fighting for his life on the front lines.

As the war intensifies and those around her fall, Valka must decide how much she is willing to risk to defend the skies she once called home.


Inspired by the true story of the airwomen the Nazis called Night Witches, Gwen C. Katz weaves a tale of strength and sacrifice, learning to fight for yourself, and the perils of a world at war.


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I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Historical fiction isn't usually my thing, but I really enjoyed Among the Red Stars. The story is told from Valka's perspective, but we get most of our information from the letters she and Pasha write to one another. He shares his experiences on the front lines, and she shares what it's like fighting from the sky.

There were a lot of differences simply because Pasha was male and Valka was female. Pasha was drafted for being an able-bodied male, and Valka was refused because her body could have other uses, like popping out the next generation. She wanted to fight, and he didn't. Also, his training was short and rushed, while hers lasted longer than it should have (once she finally found a way to join the VVS). They didn't think women were as capable, and I love that they proved themselves to be just as efficient and effective in their duties (oftentimes better). 

Like I said before, I really enjoyed that most of this book was told through their correspondences. We get to see how the war changes them, their feelings for each other (not the main focus, but a nice addition to the story), and the impact death and destruction have on people during wartime. There are so many innocent lives lost during a war, friends and strangers alike, and it's something that can never be undone or forgotten.

Speaking of friends, I really liked the friendships portrayed throughout the book. Valka and the rest of her group lived and died together, so it made sense that they would form strong bonds with each other. I also liked how Pasha made friends with people he would never meet in person. They communicated messages to one another on their radios, and it was always sad when someone new starting sending them. It meant that Pasha had lost someone, even if they'd only spoken through metal boxes.

After reading the author's note, and realizing that this book was based on real people and occurrences, it made me see the story in a different light. The women mentioned in this book fought to be seen as equals, and often had to do twice as much work. They saw their friends die in the air and on the ground, and some were seen as deserters simply because they went missing in action. They could have crashed behind enemy lies, died horribly, and still been viewed as traitors to their county. It was really eye-opening for me. These women risked their lives, their very names, to protect the country they loved. It was sad to see that sometimes the country didn't love them back.

Among the Red Stars is an inspirational book for women, and shows what we can accomplish when we work together. Change is slow and arduous at times, but it can happen if we keep trying. The women in this book were heroic and made a huge difference in the war. Without their efforts, there may have had a different outcome. 

My one complaint would be Valka's lack of correspondence with her parents. She's always writing to Pasha, but it would have been nice if she'd received or written letters to her family as well. I'm not saying they should have been something visible to the reader, but at least mentioned somewhere in the story. 

Overall, Among the Red Stars captured my attention and offered an honest and realistic portrayal of the women in Aviation Group 122 (from what I've been reading about them anyways). Katz piqued my interest, and I've been doing some of my own research into their lives and what they were able to accomplish. A very interesting read!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Sunday Post [16]

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:

I took an unintentional break from blogging! We had family visiting, and then a spontaneous camping trip, so I just haven't been around. It's been nice to get away and focus on my children more. My son attempted to swim in a lake, even though it's April and the water hasn't warmed up. I'm sure he'll have a cold in the near future. 

I've been having trouble with my audiobook choices this month. Nothing seems to work out! It hasn't been the audio, but the books I've been choosing. Our new library doesn't have a very large selection, and I think I'm trying to force myself to listen to books that I'm not in the mood for. 

This is what summer in Texas looks like, haha. It's been a few years since we've lived in the county, and this one was hanging out in one of my shoes. Always check your shoes before putting them on! Even if you don't have scorpions, spiders can be a problem as well.

The kids and I have spent the week working on our summer garden. We have flowers planted (cannot wait for the iris to bloom) and a few vegetables. My son was adamant about planting watermelon, even though it's a plant I've never tried before. I hope it works out! We also planted squash, tomato, and banana pepper. If you would like to see my garden updates, and pictures of flowers, check out my Instagram page!

Don't forget to enter my Saving Meghan giveaway! It's open internationally, and there will be two winners. One winner will receive an ARC of the book, and another will receive the Audiobook on CD! There are only 5 days left to enter!

Previous week on the blog:

Sunday: Nothing!
Monday: Nothing!
Tuesday: Descendant of the Crane by Joan He ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆
Wednesday: Nothing!
Friday: Nothing!
Saturday: Nothing!

What I'm currently reading:

Among the Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz
Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha, #1) by Tomi Adeyemi

Initially, I was listening to the audiobook for How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen, but I was enjoying it so much I ordered a physical copy! I needed something to highlight and take notes in, because there is a lot of valuable and applicable information in this one. I think it's really helped my communication with my son, and I've only gotten through a few chapters. I try to take is slow, so I can apply new concepts and techniques, and then I take notes as I go. It's been great! I highly recommend this one if you have young children.

Among the Red Stars has been very interesting so far! It offers a different perspective on a war we're all familiar with. I love reading about women overcoming obstacles and achieving their goals. The main character wants to fight for her country, but they tell her she's better suited to creating a new generation of children. However, her neighbor and friend is drafted even though it's not what he wants.

I just downloaded the audiobook for Children of Blood and Bone, and I'm really excited to start it! I've only heard wonderful things about this one. I'm about to mow the lawn (ugh, help me), so it'll give me something to listen to while I work.

What I plan on reading next:

Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
This Is Not a Love Scene by S.C. Megale
Every Last Breath (Final Hour, #1) by Juno Rushdan

What I'm watching:

I'm completely caught up on Fairy Tail, and now I'm working my way through One Piece. I've already cried a few times (everything that happens during the Marineford arc), and have finally made it to Fish-Man Island. Hordy Jones is a beast! 

I want to watch the new Avengers movie, but children. Haha! I'll have to wait until I can either rent or buy it. I recently bought Muppet Treasure Island for the kids, and they loved it! I remember it being one of my favorites growing up. What was your favorite childhood movie?

Challenge updates:

Thursday, April 25, 2019

My Weekly Pull [67] & Can't Wait Wednesday [37]

My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday (yep, it's Thursday) 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!

 Firefly #5 by Greg Pak, Dan McDaid, Lee Garbett
Runaways #20 by Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka

Jacob's comics for the week!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #93 by Tom Waltz, Dave Wachter, Kevin Eastman
Amazing Spider-Man #20 by Nick Spencer, Humberto Ramos
Hulkverines #3 (of 3) by Greg Pak, Ario Anindito, Gerardo Zaffino
Venom #13 by Cullen Bunn, Iban Coello, Ryan Stegman

I am really loving Firefly! Greg Pak has exceeded my expectations, and really captured the characters from the television show. It feels like the show never ended, and they're just going on another adventure. I cannot wait to see where the story goes from here! There are endless possibilities.

I think this will be my last issue of Runaways. It's been my light and fun comic for awhile now, but I've started to lose interest in the story. The characters feel exactly the same, even after life-changing experiences, and I wish there had been more growth after twenty issues. New people are introduced, but the group is very dependent on each other. They've also remained in essentially the same place throughout the comic, and danger finds them instead of the other way around. It's sad to say, but I'm just not feeling this one anymore.

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.

Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer
Expected publication: June 25th 2019
Synopsis (via Goodreads): When his dad is caught embezzling funds from half the town, Rob goes from popular lacrosse player to social pariah. Even worse, his father’s failed suicide attempt leaves Rob and his mother responsible for his care.

Everyone thinks of Maegan as a typical overachiever, but she has a secret of her own after the pressure got to her last year. And when her sister comes home from college pregnant, keeping it from her parents might be more than she can handle.

When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a calculus project, they’re both reluctant to let anyone through the walls they’ve built. But when Maegan learns of Rob’s plan to fix the damage caused by his father, it could ruin more than their fragile new friendship...

This captivating, heartfelt novel asks the question: Is it okay to do something wrong for the right reasons?

Kemmerer is a new favorite, and I've been trying to read everything she's written! They've all been great so far! Have you read A Curse So Dark and Lonely? Amazing! I have Letters to the Lost, but haven't started it yet. Call It What You Want sounds like it'll be another awesome read. 

*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, April 23, 2019

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own.

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death... because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

In this shimmering Chinese-inspired fantasy, debut author Joan He introduces a determined and vulnerable young heroine struggling to do right in a world brimming with deception.

"Someone with eyes like that could have smiled as they bled."
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I cannot stop thinking about this book! I really hope there are plans for a sequel. I need more Hesina and Akira, Mei and Sanjing, soothsayers and everything else. Initially, I wanted to take my time with it, but that plan quickly went out the window. I couldn't flip through the pages fast enough! Descendent of the Crane is easily one of my favorite reads this year!

All of the characters were fascinating and unique. Lilian was sassy and always had a smile for her friends. It was obvious how much she cared about her brother and sister. She still used an affectionate childhood nickname for Hesina, and always brought laughter to their conversations. Lilian was loving, sarcastic, and always put her family first. Her twin brother, Caiyan, was more reserved and quiet, but she never failed to tease a smile from him.

Caiyan and Lilian were Hesina's adopted siblings, but they didn't see it that way. They were family, and that's all that mattered. They put each other's interests before their own, and I think that really shaped the overall story. However, they did keep secrets that eventually damaged their relationships, despite having good intentions. Their actions stemmed from love and a desire to keep each other safe. It was tragically complicated, and my heart hurt for all three of them.

Sanjing is Hesina's blood brother, but the two were at odds more often than not. They saw the world differently, but both took their roles very seriously. They both had their people's best interests at heart, but had very opposing ideas about how to keep everyone safe. Their relationship felt very honest and realistic. They're teenagers with responsibilities they're not entirely ready for, facing threats from outside and inside their city. It was hard to know who to trust, because everyone had their own agenda. Sanjing and Hesina do love one another, but it's understandably complicated.

Akira was a very interesting character that the author doesn't elaborate on very much. He plays a crucial role in the story, but his past remains a mystery. We're not even told if Akira is his real name. We know some minor details about experiences he's had, but nothing really significant. The author hints at important details, and I really hope he's fleshed out more in a future book. I really enjoyed him as a character, and his interactions with people were often meaningful. He doesn't always say a lot, but he's very observant and knowledgeable.

Rou was incredibly sweet and always had a something kind to say to his siblings. He may only be a half-sibling, but he still referred to Hesina as his sister. He was there for her when no one else was, and showed a hidden bravery that I hadn't expected. He's loyal and willing to do whatever it takes for his family, even if they've been less-than-friendly towards him in the past.

The Silver Iris, Mei and her shadows, and even some of the council members, were all very well-written, and I enjoyed learning about them. I even liked learning about the characters that were easy to hate, because they all had a role to play within the story. There were a lot of hidden agendas and surprises that I didn't anticipate, and I enjoyed being kept on my toes.

I know this post has been mostly about the characters, because they're truly amazing, but the story itself was fantastic and impossibly creative. I loved the rich history the author created, and I hope we learn more about soothsayers and the Eleven in the future. I think they've both committed atrocities, although I don't think either group anticipated how long their hate and destruction would continue.

I really loved the Descendent of the Crane and hope there will be a sequel! The ending left the story somewhat resolved, but definitely open for more. It hasn't concluded, but I'm okay with where the author left things.



Friday, April 19, 2019

Giveaway: Saving Meghan by D.J. Palmer
[ARC + Audiobook on CD]

Hello, lovelies! It's been ages since I've had a giveaway on the blog, so this one will have two winners! One person will win an ARC of Saving Meghan by D.J. Palmer, and someone else will win the Saving Meghan audiobook on CD. No, it's not possible to win both, haha. Sharing is caring (at least that's what I've been telling my kids)!


Synopsis (via Goodreads): Can you love someone to death?

Some would say Becky Gerard is a devoted mother and would do anything for her only child. Others claim she's obsessed and can't stop the vicious circle of finding a cure at her daughter's expense.

Fifteen-year-old Meghan has been in and out of hospitals with a plague of unexplained illnesses. But when the ailments take a sharp turn, doctors intervene and immediately suspect Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a rare behavioral disorder where the primary caretaker, typically the mother, seeks medical help for made-up symptoms of a child. Is this what's going on? Or is there something even more sinister at hand?


I will be using Rafflecopter for this giveaway, and the first winner selected will be given a choice between the two prizes. Once that has been confirmed (see rules and details below), a second winner will be selected (again via Rafflecopter), and will be given the remaining prize! This giveaway is open internationally! 

Rules:

This giveaway officially starts on April 19th and will end on May 3rd. The winner will be announced on May 4th (Star Wars Day!) on this post within the Rafflecopter form, and also notified via email. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or I will have Rafflecopter select another winner (read my full giveaway policy here). Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1) by Victoria Aveyard

Narrated by Amanda Dolan
Synopsis (via Goodreads): This is a world divided by blood - red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. 

Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power. Fearful of Mare's potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. 

Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime. But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance - Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.

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First of all, the title is a little misleading. It should be RED PRINCESS instead of RED QUEEN, because of reasons. The title makes you think one thing going into the story, but it's not really an accurate description of what happens. I can see how it might work after reading the entire book, but for some reason it bothered me. It's a very small detail that didn't really impact my feelings about the book as a whole, but I thought it was worth mentioning. If you've read this, what do you think?

Moving on! I really enjoyed Red Queen overall. I thought Mare was an interesting character that's morally complex. She steals for her family to survive, yet makes questionable decisions that could endanger their lives. She lies to protect herself and others, but I think she lies to herself the most. If she had been more honest with how she was feeling, and for whom, I think some of her problems could have been avoided. Mare was swept up in the Silver's world and almost lost herself in the process.

I wish we had seen more of Mare's family, because I thought they had an interesting dynamic. We spend a little of the book in the Stilts, but not enough to really get a feel for her relationships and what her life was like there. Yes, we see the bare bones of it all, but I would have enjoyed seeing her interacting with friends and family more, and gotten a better sense of their personalities. Kilorn particularly. He's a very complex and fascinating character, but he pops up randomly and exchanges very few words with Mare.

It's your typical class division, except this one is based on blood and powers, not just wealth and connections. Reds have been taken advantage of for decades simply because they cannot do what the Silver's are capable of. They're being forced to do the world's dirty work, with no benefit, and no way out. They live in horrible conditions, and are abused into submission. I wish their plight had been more of a focal point, and Mare had been more concerned with helping them than furthering the politics of a rebellion. Yes, I can see how a rebellion was necessary for the people to free themselves, but I wish Mare had been less focused on the Red Guard's plans, and worked more with Julian and other people like him. She had an opportunity to really help people, but she started following the ideas of others instead of being her own person.

I guess I had more issues with this one than I thought! Overall, it was great. There's a lot of action and fighting, and I thought the Silver's powers were interesting. They can do fantastic things, but they can also use their abilities to be really cruel. Imagine what they could have done in the world, if they had simply wanted to help others...

Cal was an equally conflicted character, but he was loyal to a fault. He'd never experienced betrayal before Mare (that he was aware of), and her manipulation of him was hard to watch. She claims to have feelings for the prince, despite being engaged to his brother, but she flip-flops constantly. I don't think even she knew what she really felt, and I wish she had taken a second to figure it out. Maybe then she could have avoided some of her mistakes.

I do think this is a series I will continue, but I'm not desperately searching for the next book. The ending left me feeling hopeful, but also wary of what's to come. I'm also not sure why Farley lied about someone super specific and integral to the story, and I'm curious if that will be addressed later on. Did she think not saying anything would keep Mare motivated? Regardless, it wasn't right for her to keep that secret.

I'm on the fence with this one, and Glass Sword will be the deciding factor. I hope there is more character growth, and a significant change in the overall story. There's an opportunity to do a lot with the ending of Red Queen, and I'm curious where the author will go from here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

My Weekly Pull [66] & Can't Wait Wednesday [36]

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!

Spider-Man Life Story #2 (of 6) by Chip Zdarsky, Mark Bagley
Transformers #3 by Brian Ruckley, Angel Hernandez, Nick Roche, Ron Joseph
West Coast Avengers #10 by Kelly Thompson, Gang Hyuk Lim, Eduard Petrovich

Miles Morales Spider-Man #5 by Saladin Ahmed, Javi Garron,  Marco D'Alfonso

Jacob's comics for the week!
Kick-Ass #13 by Steve Niles, Marcelo Frusin
Amazing Spider-Man #19.HU by Nick Spencer, Chris Bachalo, Greg Land
Daredevil #4 by Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto, Julian Totino Tedesco
Guardians of the Galaxy #4 by Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, David Marquez
War of the Realms #2 by Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, Arthur Adams, Matthew Wilson
War of the Realms Punisher #1 (of 3) by Gerry Duggan, Marcelo Ferreira, Juan Ferreyra
War of the Realms War Scrolls #1 (of 3) by Jason Aaron, Andrew Sorrentino 

Phew! Jacob is getting a lot of comics this week. I'm completely caught up on my reading (comics only, haha), so I'm really looking forward to getting these! My son and I have been reading the Transformers comic together, and it's awesome. They've started over from the very beginning, and it's been a blast learning the history behind the autobots (and the other generations) and their world. We're loving it!

I really enjoyed the 60's version of Spider-Man Life Story, and I'm curious how the 70's is going to go. In the 60's, Spider-Man was torn between going to war and fighting, or staying where he was. He felt somewhat obligated to enlist, since he had powers and could help, but he also knew that he was needed where he was. He also didn't know if it was his place to fight in the war, and it was interesting to see Peter Parker struggle with what felt right. A very creative perspective! Chip Zdarsky is a phenomenal writer. 

West Coast Avengers ended with me feeling completely blindsided, so we'll see where the story goes from here. Thompson has finally combined the loose threads from All-New Hawkeye with West Coast Avengers, and questions are finally being answered. Although, I don't think they're the answers anyone expected.

I highly recommend Miles Morales Spider-Man! Saladin Ahmed is an amazing writer, and he's been really creative with Miles and his story. He also ties real word issues into his writing, and his words really make you think and question how you feel about certain things. Miles Morales is only a kid, but he's dealing with very adult problems. He's also fighting supervillains, and trying to get to class on time, but there are bigger issues being addressed. It's really, really good!

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.

How to Build a Heart by Maria Padian
Expected publication: January 28th 2020
Synopsis (via Goodreads): One young woman’s journey to find her place in the world as the carefully separated strands of her life — family, money, school, and love — begin to overlap and tangle.

All sixteen-year-old Izzy Crawford wants is to feel like she really belongs somewhere. Her father, a marine, died in Iraq six years ago, and Izzy’s moved to a new town nearly every year since, far from the help of her extended family in North Carolina and Puerto Rico. When Izzy’s hardworking mom moves their small family to Virginia, all her dreams start clicking into place. She likes her new school—even if Izzy is careful to keep her scholarship-student status hidden from her well-to-do classmates and her new athletic and popular boyfriend. And best of all: Izzy’s family has been selected by Habitat for Humanity to build and move into a brand-new house. Izzy is this close to the community and permanence she’s been searching for, until all the secret pieces of her life begin to collide.

How to Build a Heart is the story of Izzy’s journey to find her place in the world and her discovery that the choices we make and the people we love ultimately define us and bring us home.

How to Build a Heart is a recent addition to my TBR, and I think it's going to be a story that a lot of people will relate to. Even if we're not constantly moving around, it's hard to find your place in the world. 

*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!