Friday, May 31, 2019

DNF&Y [17]

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!

Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Can a romcom-obssessed romantic finally experience the meet-cute she always dreamed of or will reality never compare to fiction, in this charming debut adult novel from Kerry Winfrey.

Annie is twenty-seven years old, single, and obsessed with romantic comedies (she and her mother watched them religiously, before her mom died). Her dating life is limited by the expectations she’s formed from these movies. She is not as open to new experiences as she might be, because she’s waiting for her Tom Hanks–i.e., a guy she’ll find in the perfect, meet-cute romantic comedy way. When Annie does finally meet her perfect match, it’s not quite in the way she expected, and she’s forced to reckon with the walls she’s built around herself over the years.

DNF at 25%

I received a review copy from Penguin's First To Read program 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 Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Annie was hard to like. She's constantly making movie comparisons, which was cute at first, but quickly got on my nerves. I didn't mind the occasional reference, but everything reminded her of a rom-com. I lost count of how many times she compared Chloe and Nick's relationship (or lack of a relationship), to the beginning of a romantic comedy. 

We meet Drew when she literally walks into him, but she doesn't stick around long enough to form an opinion. However, after further interactions between the two, and some Googling on her part, she makes crazy assumptions about him and his life (because tabloids are reliable sources of information). Drew is teasing, playful, and sarcastic, but Annie thinks he's making fun of her and belittling her life. "Maybe all of the cute guys are actually big jerks who make fun of your job and your city and your totally normal romantic comedy obsession." Drew didn't do any of that, so her animosity towards him was annoying and unfounded. 

At one point he says something about her being beautiful (it was an offhanded comment in a larger conversation), and she's completely convinced he said it to make fun of her. "And also because Drew has made it abundantly clear that he thinks I'm mostly mockable, certainly not someone to flirt with." He said he was sitting with a beautiful woman, and she blows everything out of proportion. I honestly don't think it even registered to him, because he was just stating what he thought. He also doesn't mock her, but playfully calls her Coffee Girl, which could be due to a number of reasons (she spilled coffee on him, she's always in a coffee shop, and she gets coffee for her boss). 

Annie frequently made bizarre assumptions and had unrealistic expectations. Drew was never mean to her, and even watched the movies she recommended, but she still disliked him from the start. She practically bit his head off when he tried to talk to her about one of the movies. He questioned how realistic something was, and she lost her shit. Honestly, I'm pretty sure she formed an opinion about him before they ever met, which was unfair to him and stupid of her. 

Waiting for Tom Hanks was also repetitive, which only added to my disinterest in the story. It didn't help that Annie is twenty-seven and acts like a teenager. Her uncle does something incredibly awesome for her, yet she's embarrassed by his presence. She thinks Drew is going to use whatever he says against her, which was just so ugh. He was simply having a conversation with his boss and her uncle, but she thinks everything is about her. She tries to get her uncle to leave (by asking him if he needs to get to work), which was totally unfair to him, and very unprofessional of her. Needless to say, this one didn't work for me.


I Dream of Spiders by Elle Keating
Synopsis (via Goodreads): The move to the remote town of Quarry Hill, Pennsylvania was supposed to help Griffin McGuire start over and forget the two people who betrayed him. As a paramedic at the local hospital, he would still have to interact with people, but the rest of the time he could hole himself away in the secluded cabin he was renting. It was perfect. For the first time in over a year, he felt like he could finally breathe.

That was until he met her.

A woman who doesn’t know her own name or why she was covered in blood and standing in the middle of the road when he found her. Griffin knows he should contact the police, but something is preventing him from going to the authorities. It doesn’t take long for him to realize that he was correct in trusting his instincts. Every time she falls asleep, she dreams and another memory is unlocked. Memories that are horrific and make him want to protect and hide her from the world.


DNF at 12%

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 Dream of Spiders was too unbelievable for me. She wakes up with no memories and very serious injuries, and one of her first thoughts is how attractive someone is. "Even through the fuzziness and the mind-numbing pain, I know this man isn’t just handsome, but stunning." A random guy's appearance should have been the furthest thing from her mind. 

Also, Griffin was a creeper. He takes her home after their secret visit to the hospital, because she doesn't want him to involve the police. He doesn't know why, she doesn't know why, but the man trusts his gut. More often than not, Griffin's gut alters the direction of the story. Ah, but it gets worse. He helps her take a shower, thinking she's coherent enough to agree, but she doesn't remember anything about it. She was also super unstable in the shower, and his sole focus should have been on helping her. Instead, he has to make a comment about his dick. 

"With her back to me I was able to keep it together, making sure my focus was on cleaning her soiled skin and matted hair; that was until I turned her in my arms. With her eyes half-shut she stumbled, causing her full tits to mash against my soaked through t-shirt. I felt her nipples pebble as I steadied her. My cock twitched, which surprised the shit out of me since there hasn’t been any movement down there in over a year."

Nope. One, she doesn't remember what happened (the night he found her or the shower). She's vulnerable and has injuries she cannot explain, and she's also terrified of the police for some reason. Griffin should have kept his hands to himself, or at least waited until she could shower on her own. Even if she really needed a bath, he could have kept his manbits under control and kept his thoughts from wandering. They shouldn't have been thoughts in the first place!

I was somewhat curious about the girl's past and what brought her to a dark road in the middle of nowhere, but these two characters were just too much ugh.


Hazel and Holly by Sara C. Snider
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Nestled within an enchanted forest is the Grove, a community where witches and warlocks practice elemental magic, brew mystical potions, and lock their cellars against beer thieving gnomes. Life is quiet and uneventful. Well, except when Hazel's long-lost father uses necromancy to trap her dead mother's soul.

That simply won't do. Necromancy is forbidden in the Grove, and for good reason too. Nobody wants filthy corpses shambling around, mussing up one's garden. Hazel is determined to find her father and undo his treachery.

But despite Hazel's plans of becoming a one-woman army, she can't do everything alone. It's not until wild sister Holly convinces her to leave the house for once and go to a party that Hazel finds a pair of unlikely allies in two bickering warlock brothers.

Together, the four of them go on a journey that takes them out of the Grove and into a world where necromancy reigns and the dead won't respectfully stay in the grave. Hazel will do whatever it takes to stop her father and save her mother's soul. Even if it means turning to necromancy. Even if it means losing her friends. Because they would never help a necromancer. Would they?


DNF at 11%

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

Firstly, the characters speak and act like they should be in a middle grade novel. I was surprised when Hazel mentioned she was twenty-three and her sister, Holly, was seventeen. Neither one of them acted their age, and it really affected the overall story. 

Secondly, the perspective was weird. The first chapter mentions someone named Willow, and it took me a few paragraphs to determine that it was Hazel and Holly's mother. A few more context clues would have been helpful, but it also didn't feel right for their mother to be referred to by her first name while she was speaking with Hazel. They didn't call her Willow, it was just the story's point of view. Her conversation with Hazel also didn't feel like a mother talking to her daughter. It was like they were acquaintances having a disagreement over where to go for dinner, not a daughter wanting to save her mother from a hellish situation.

Thirdly, Hazel is trapped in a cellar with a single door and no keyhole. A gnome is there when she wakes up, searching her pockets, and she watches his lantern disappear as he leaves. How did he leave? It seems unlikely that he squeezed himself through the crack underneath the door, and Hazel didn't mention the squeaking of hinges, or the air of a door opening and closing. How was he able to get in and out of her room? Also, if he could do it magically, why did he need her help to escape?

You would really have to suspend belief to make this book work. I'm always a little more understanding when magic is involved, but it still needs to be explained in some way. The author needs to make me believe whatever she's selling. 

Also, the characters were unlikable and forgettable. As I mentioned before, neither of them acted their age, and both made really ridiculous decisions. Holly is seventeen and falls in love with a man in his thirties after one meeting (she seriously questions why he doesn't show more interest in her), even after he lies to the guests at his party and watches them fight over his attention. Speaking of the party, why were they trying to tear each other to shreds over him? They're all witches, but only Hazel seems unaffected by his charm and glamour. His servant or butler rang a bell and suddenly everyone was accommodating again, but why? Nothing made sense! It was preposterous. 

The transitions between chapters were abrupt and confusing, and the dialogue was definitely more suited to a younger audience. Everything about this book was frustrating, and I still have no idea what was going on or why.


Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King
Narrated by Kirby Heyborne
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Lucky Linderman didn't ask for his life. He didn't ask his grandfather not to come home from the Vietnam War. He didn't ask for a father who never got over it. He didn't ask for a mother who keeps pretending their dysfunctional family is fine. And he didn't ask to be the target of Nader McMillan's relentless bullying, which has finally gone too far.

But Lucky has a secret--one that helps him wade through the daily mundane torture of his life. In his dreams, Lucky escapes to the war-ridden jungles of Laos--the prison his grandfather couldn't escape--where Lucky can be a real man, an adventurer, and a hero. It's dangerous and wild, and it's a place where his life just might be worth living. But how long can Lucky keep hiding in his dreams before reality forces its way inside?

Michael L. Printz Honor recipient A.S. King's smart, funny and boldly original writing shines in this powerful novel about learning to cope with the shrapnel life throws at you and taking a stand against it.


DNF at 7%

There wasn't anything wrong with this one, it just wasn't my cup of tea. I like books with a quicker pace, and Everybody Sees the Ants was a very detailed and thorough read (would spend forever in one place). I also had a hard time connecting with Lucky, and I think it's because I couldn't relate to his experiences. His parents were frustrating and I hate that they didn't do more for their son. He was being bullied, told them about it, and they chose to ignore the problem. The story felt authentic and I liked the concept, but it wasn't a book I looked forward to picking back up again.

At the beginning of the book, everyone thinks Lucky is suicidal just because he jokes about it, and I wanted to see where that thread would lead. However, the book jumps to six months later, and that aspect of the story wasn't addressed again (at least not during what I read). I would suggest reading this if you enjoy character-driven books with a slower pace (even the flashbacks seemed to last forever), and don't mind uninvolved parents.


Star-Crossed by Minnie Darke
Synopsis (via Goodreads): A highly adorable and addictive love story about one woman who gives destiny a little push.

When childhood sweethearts Justine (Sagittarius and serious skeptic) and Nick (Aquarius and true believer) randomly bump into each other as adults, a life-changing love affair seems inevitable. To Justine anyway. True, she hasn't seen Nick in thirteen years, one month and three weeks, but who's counting? She's pined after him all the same, and now that Nick lives in the same town, a struggling actor to her struggling magazine reporter, he'll surely realize his own unchanged feelings, take the reins and jump at the chance to rekindle their relationship. Right? Well, no. Nick, she learns, is an astrological devotee, and his decision-making, romantic and professional, is guided solely by the infallible horoscopes in his favourite magazine. The magazine Justine happens to work at. Perhaps the stars' guiding forces could use a little journalistic reimagining?

It's only a few tweaks to the Aquarius column, just a little push to get him to realize they're meant for one another. It's nonsense in the first place, what could possibly happen? Aquarians everywhere are about to find out, when the doctored horoscopes, ostensibly published to steer Nick and Nick alone, end up reverberating in the lives of the column's devoted readers, showing the ripple effects of what can happen when one woman takes the horoscopes, and Fate itself, into her own hands.

Spanning exactly one year, as the earth moves through all twelve stars signs,
Star-Crossed is a delicious, intelligent and affecting love story about fate, chance and how we all navigate the kinds of choices that are hard to face alone.

DNF at 11%

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 was really looking forward to this one, so I was disappointed when it didn't work for me. Short version: Star-Crossed started off at a snail's pace and the story was uninteresting.

Both the perspective and the characters were hard to like, and they made very childish decisions for people in their late twenties. She didn't ask for his number, because she knew she was impulsive and would call him. He didn't call or text her, because she didn't ask for his number, and because he didn't think he could compose a message worthy of her intellect. Their reasons for not speaking to each other, even though that's what they both wanted, were ridiculous.


The Afterwards by A.F. Harrold, Emily Gravett
Synopsis (via Goodreads): From the acclaimed team behind The Imaginary comes another powerful, poignant, and darkly fantastical story about friendship, perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Roald Dahl.

Ember and Ness are best friends, completely inseparable. Ember can't imagine what life would be without Ness. Until Ness dies, in a most sudden and unexpected way. Ember feels completely empty. How can this even be real?

Then Ember finds a way into the afterworld-a place where the recently dead reside. She knows there must be a way to bring Ness back, so she decides to find it. Because that's what friends do: rescue each other. But the afterworld holds its own dangers. How far will Ember go to make things the way they were again?

Paired with enchanting illustrations from Emily Gravett, A. F. Harrold's powerfully woven tale explores the lengths we go to for the people we love.


DNF at 34%

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.

The Afterwards was super disturbing, and definitely not a book I want my children to read. First of all, their names were a little confusing (December and Happiness/Ember and Ness), but that was easy to overlook. I can appreciate when an author tries to be unique and original with words. However, I wish the characters had mentioned why they were given those names.

I didn't get very far into this one, so I can't comment on the book as whole, but I disliked how the characters were portrayed at the start. Her friend dies, and she receives the news from the principal at her school. I thought the information was delivered in strange way, with all the kids sitting on the floor in front of him. Wouldn't you assemble a large group of children in a gym or auditorium? It also felt impersonal and careless, even though the characters were emotional. 

After the death of her friend, Ember is approached by an uncle that she doesn't see very often, and he tells her that she's supposed to come with him because her father is busy with his girlfriend. Red flag! Red flag! Ember knew this was an odd request, because her father always tells her when his plans change, so she should have asked to go back inside the school and call him. She should not have left with him just because they were related.

Her uncle was super shady about the details, and very vague when she asked him questions, yet she was willing to follow him in circles despite knowing it wasn't the way to her house. Also, what he did was unforgiveable. She should have said something to someone when it was over, but she chooses not to so she can question him on her own. The guy essentially kidnaps her, and she doesn't tell her father? She didn't have to tell him the unbelievable aspects of what happened to her (her visit to the afterlife or whatever), but she could have told him that her uncle picked her up from school and abandoned her somewhere unfamiliar. 

If your child has lost a friend or loved one, please keep them away from this book. The Afterwards will likely terrify them, and make them worry about their own deaths. When Ember finds her friend in the gray place (for lack of a better term), she was alone, confused, and scared. I don't want my children to worry about what's going to happen to them when they die (not at this age), and to even consider the possibility of it looking anything like what's described in this book.

Oh, and there's a talking cat that wasn't explained. Shouldn't she have been more concerned with that? Ember also knows she isn't dead, but she's in a dead place, and she actually wants to stay. Kudos for friendship, but she's also a child and should have been more afraid. Why doesn't she want to live? I'm seriously having a hard time wrapping my head around this one, and cannot think of a single positive aspect to end this review with.


I Spy the Boy Next Door 
by Samantha Armstong
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Four p.m. spy sessions are the highlight of Mallory Taylor’s day. Observing the boy next door—one with a body and an attitude to match—has her perched beside her window so often it can't be healthy.

When she finally convinces her mom to let her go to public school, Mallory comes face to face with her neighbor, Troy Parker. And he makes it clear he wants nothing to do with her. His rejection awakens a newfound tenacity and maybe even a touch of recklessness. But when Troy starts to show up when she needs him the most, Mallory can’t help but wonder if there’s more to him than he’s let on.

Taking chances, breaking rules, and following her heart is all new to Mallory. And no one warned her just how fickle hearts can be. When she discovers that Troy isn’t at all the guy she imagined him to be, secrets rise to the surface that will change her life forever.


DNF at 22%

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.

This book made me feel icky. Mallory admits to spying on her neighbor from her bedroom window, which is somewhat obvious from the title, but she takes it too far. She has his schedule committed to memory, so she knows precisely when he'll get home, and even when he will take his shirt off (almost to the exact second). She is constantly objectifying him (to herself and her online friend that she's never met in person), which was not okay.

Mallory felt more like an obsessive stalker than a lovesick teenager, and it's even more apparent when she starts school. She's been homeschooled ever since someone tried to kidnap her as a child (what her mother's says since she can't remember), and now she's determined to fight for her independence. Not surprisingly, she knows which school Troy goes to and asks her parents if she can attend there.

If she sees him in the hallway, the parking lot, or in class, the girl cannot function. She loses track of time, stares until it's obvious she's been looking at him for awhile, and cannot focus on anything else that's happening around her. It was beyond creepy, even if you blame her lack of social skills on being homeschooled for most of her life.

Also, she hasn't had the courage to talk to him for five years even though they're neighbors (after some perceived slight over a football), yet she's willing to chase him down hallways to question him about his life choices. She knows absolutely nothing about Troy, but she feels compelled to condemn his illegal late night boxing matches. Mallory even asked to go see him fight (she gets a ride from a random girl at school), just so she could tell him it was a bad idea. However, blood makes her dizzy, so she ends up fainting in his arms and thinks it's a sign from the gods that they're meant to be together.

I think this book sends the wrong messages to teenagers. You shouldn't look at someone like they're an ice cream flavor you're jonesing to try, or memorize their schedule so you can be a peeper. Mallory shouldn't have lost the ability to function just because he was in the same room, especially over a guy that was never nice to her.


In the Night Wood by Dale Bailey
Synopsis (via Goodreads): In this contemporary fantasy, the grieving biographer of a Victorian fantasist finds himself slipping inexorably into the supernatural world that consumed his subject.

American Charles Hayden came to England to forget the past.

Failed father, failed husband, and failed scholar, Charles hopes to put his life back together with a biography of Caedmon Hollow, the long-dead author of a legendary Victorian children's book, In the Night Wood. But soon after settling into Hollow's remote Yorkshire home, Charles learns that the past isn't dead.

In the neighboring village, Charles meets a woman he might have loved, a child who could have been his own lost daughter, and the ghost of a self he thought he'd put behind him.

And in the primeval forest surrounding Caedmon Hollow's ancestral home, an ancient power is stirring. The horned figure of a long-forgotten king haunts Charles Hayden's dreams. And every morning the fringe of darkling trees presses closer.

Soon enough, Charles will venture into the night wood.

Soon enough he'll learn that the darkness under the trees is but a shadow of the darkness that waits inside us all.


DNF at 6%

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.

Dear In the Night Wood, 

It's not you, it's me.

Best wishes,

Lindsi 

Honestly, the writing style just wasn't my cup of tea. It was hard for me to follow the story, and I felt lost in the language. I have a feeling this book is really beautiful, and I'm simply not equipped to see it. I started this late one night, and decided to pick it up again the next day. However, when I started reading it again, I had absolutely no idea what had happened during the previous pages. I skimmed over several of them, but was completely lost. If this sounds like something you'd like, I suggest giving it a go. Hopefully it works better for you! I really liked the premise, so I'm bummed it didn't work out.

*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, May 30, 2019

Storm and Fury (The Harbinger, #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Eighteen-year-old Trinity Marrow may be going blind, but she can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. Her unique gift is part of a secret so dangerous that she’s been in hiding for years in an isolated compound fiercely guarded by Wardens—gargoyle shape-shifters who protect humankind from demons. If the demons discover the truth about Trinity, they’ll devour her, flesh and bone, to enhance their own powers.

When Wardens from another clan arrive with disturbing reports that something out there is killing both demons and Wardens, Trinity’s safe world implodes. Not the least because one of the outsiders is the most annoying and fascinating person she’s ever met. Zayne has secrets of his own that will upend her world yet again—but working together becomes imperative once demons breach the compound and Trinity’s secret comes to light. To save her family and maybe the world, she’ll have to put her trust in Zayne. But all bets are off as a supernatural war is unleashed...


𑁋

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 was so, so excited when I stumbled across Storm and Fury by JLA. I've really enjoyed her books in the past, and this one was no different. However, after reflecting on the story and my feelings, my initial rating of four stars dropped down to a three. I don't do half-star ratings, but if I did, this one would be a solid 3.5. 

Okay, so to start... the dry-humping. I don't like it when a character is overly concerned with someone's virginity. Trinity mentions that it wouldn't have been a big deal, because she'd assumed Zayne had been with other people before, but she liked him more when she discovered he was still unfucked. I don't think that should matter, if you really want to be with someone. It's fine when people want to be handsy and take things slow, but they had no intention of taking things slow. They simply wanted to swim without diving into the deep end. Really, that's fine, but it was weird to read about. Honestly, at one point I thought they'd decided to just go ahead and do it, but no, it was just excessive grinding in all the right places. I think it would have been more realistic for them to just boink.

Secondly, Trinity is a really confident character, but she puts herself down a lot. She thinks she looks like a bug being squeezed whenever she's surprised and her eyes get large (something that's mentioned more than once). She claims her friend looks like a goddess while she looks like a dirty dryad, and it was frustrating to read about. I wish she'd been happier with herself and her appearance. 

Thirdly, there's a lot of repeated information, but that could change before this is published. Trinity would look at the stars and claim she could only see four, but then she would close one eye and see three (she does this a few times). Also, Trinity is 18 and Zayne is in his twenties, but the language didn't reflect that. 

A few examples:
  1. "That was utter crazy pants with a side of dangerous sauce."
  2. "...that flipped my bitch switch into power on like a mofo mode."
  3. "Holy crap on a cracker the size of Texas..."
Additionally, Trinity's blood is supposed to attract demons, and the clan has gone to great lengths to make sure that doesn't happen. However, she's an adult female, so she's going to have a monthly period. What do they do then? It's not like they can stop that from happening. No one mentioned monthly demon attacks, and very few people know what she is, so I'm assuming that detail was overlooked. But then... "I bit down on my lip until I tasted blood..." Why would she do that knowing it would bring a horde of crazy demons to her location? At least, that's what I assumed would happen since her blood has been such a big issue from the start (nothing actually happened). Yes, she could have been on birth control, but that wasn't mentioned, and swallowing the blood from her lip may have negated the effects, but it wasn't clarified. 

Everything surrounding Misha was anticlimactic. I was expecting something... more from the story. It's hard to elaborate on without being spoilery, but I was disappointed with how certain issues where resolved. 

Gargoyles! Storm and Fury is about gargoyles! Did anyone else watch that 80's cartoon? I really liked JLA's spin on them, and how they were actually living creatures made to fight demons. The angels and demons trope isn't usually my thing, but this was mostly about gargoyles and demons with a dash of angels. Of course, all of the gargoyles are sinfully attractive, but it was interesting that they could shift forms whenever they wanted to. I think they all had red hair, but I don't know if that was intentional. Wait... maybe Zayne was blond... hmm.

The book mainly focuses on Trinity, and there aren't any secondary characters worth mentioning, besides Zayne the love interest and Misha the best friend. I wish Zayne had been more honest with his feelings and whatnot from the start, but he isn't, which causes a lot of unnecessary drama between the two. I did like him as a character, and thought he had an interesting backstory, but wish that had been elaborated on. 

Roth was awesome, and I loved his familiars, but he's just there in the background to help the story along. Someone else mentioned that he was in another series, but I haven't read it. Maybe I would have felt differently if I had?

I'm curious what's out there killing both Wardens (the gargoyles) and demons, and what role Trinity is supposed to play. She and Zayne have a complicated relationship, which only gets worse as the story progresses. I hate that they fought their feelings the entire book, briefly gave in to what appeared to be a glorious grinding session, and then went back to not touching one another (because of his perceived feelings and the fact that it's maybe forbidden). 

It was an enjoyable read overall, and I read it in a single day, but it was also ugh. I was so frustrated with the characters and how they handled their feelings, but also with how disappointing the ending was. At the end JLA mentions that she shares the same degenerative eye disease that Trinity has. It was interesting to read about something the author similarly struggles with. I cannot imagine what it would feel like to have limited eyesight, and to know that one day you might lose it altogether. 

Storm and Fury wasn't the epic adventure I was expecting, but I did have a lot of fun with the story.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

My Weekly Pull [72] & Can't Wait Wednesday [42]

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 #6 by Brian Ruckley, Bethany McGuire-Smith
Daredevil #6 by Chip Zdarsky, Lalit Kumar Sharma, Julian Totino Tedesco

Jacob's comics for the week!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Urban Legends #13 by Gary Carlson, Frank Fosco, Kevin Eastman
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #94 by Tom Waltz, Dave Wachter, Kevin Eastman
Amazing Spider-Man #22 by Nick Spencer, Ryan Ottley
War of the Realms: Spider-Man and the League of Realms #2 (of 3) by Sean Ryan, Nico Leon, Ken Lashley
War of the Realms: War Scrolls #2 (of 3) by Jason Aaron, Andrea Sorrentino, Alan Davis

Only two comics for me this week! I've been really enjoying reading Transformers with my son, and I like Zdarsky's take on the new Daredevil. My husband and I rarely agree on Matt Murdock and what he's currently doing. He agrees with how Daredevil chooses to subdue/apprehend villains, and I prefer Frank Castle's approach. It's always interesting when those two are in the same room, because I think they both have very valid points. There's a line that Matt isn't willing to cross, but Frank believes it's the only way to ensure real change. We have very lively conversations about it.

Jacob and I don't read the same genre of books (he prefers non-fiction while I live happily in other worlds), and comics allow us to share our love of reading in a different way. He doesn't want to hear about the latest romance I'm reading, and I don't care to hear about whatever biography he's listening to. Comics are our middle ground, where we happily talk about characters we enjoy, and stories we like to read about. We have different comic book preferences, too, but some of them overlap.

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.

Gods of Jade and Shadow 
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Expected publication: July 23rd 2019
Synopsis (via Goodreads): The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark, one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore.

“Simultaneously heartbreaking and heart-mending, Gods of Jade and Shadow is a wondrous and magical tale about choosing our own path.”—Kevin Hearne, New York Times bestselling author of The Iron Druid Chronicles

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.


In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

So. Excited. For. This.

*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, May 28, 2019

Hope and Other Punch Lines by Julie Buxbaum
[Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway]

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

Title: HOPE & OTHER PUNCHLINES
Author: Julie Buxbaum
Pub. Date: May 7, 2019
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
Pages: 320
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, Audible, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD

The New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things and What to Say Next delivers a poignant and hopeful novel about resilience and reinvention, first love and lifelong friendship, the legacies of loss, and the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive.

Sometimes looking to the past helps you find your future.

Abbi Hope Goldstein is like every other teenager, with a few smallish exceptions: her famous alter ego, Baby Hope, is the subject of internet memes, she has asthma, and sometimes people spontaneously burst into tears when they recognize her. Abbi has lived almost her entire life in the shadow of the terrorist attacks of September 11. On that fateful day, she was captured in what became an iconic photograph: in the picture, Abbi (aka "Baby Hope") wears a birthday crown and grasps a red balloon; just behind her, the South Tower of the World Trade Center is collapsing.

Now, fifteen years later, Abbi is desperate for anonymity and decides to spend the summer before her seventeenth birthday incognito as a counselor at Knights Day Camp two towns away. She's psyched for eight weeks in the company of four-year-olds, none of whom have ever heard of Baby Hope.

Too bad Noah Stern, whose own world was irrevocably shattered on that terrible day, has a similar summer plan. Noah believes his meeting Baby Hope is fate. Abbi is sure it's a disaster. Soon, though, the two team up to ask difficult questions about the history behind the Baby Hope photo. But is either of them ready to hear the answers?

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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.

Hope and Other Punch Lines provided me with a new perspective regarding the events that happened on 9/11. I know where I was when it happened, and I've always understood what it meant on a larger scale, but I have never made myself look closely at the details. I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't know there were jumpers, people that chose to leap to their deaths over the alternative, and it's made me reflect on my life as well as that horrible day. 

Julie Buxbaum has taken a tragedy and shown us the impact through new eyes. Abbi and Noah both survived something that day, even though their experiences were drastically different. Abbi became a symbol, a tangible hope that people could cling to, and Noah lost his father. Honestly, I didn't like Noah at first. I hated what he essentially forced Abbi to do. I understood his reasons, but they didn't justify his actions. I wish his choices had been addressed with more depth and sincerity, but Noah used humor as a coping mechanism. 

Abbi was a kind and selfless character, and she allowed people to share their grief with her, even though it made her uncomfortable. Her life wasn't her own, since people associated her with the Baby Hope photo. Even though she was a baby at the time, people felt compelled to share their personal stories and tragedies with her, regardless of where they were (supermarket, sidewalk, etc.). She even went along with Noah's plan, disregarding her personal feelings, and was nice to him despite how he handled the entire situation. Her desire to avoid conflict and negativity is what caused her to keep a big secret from her family, which I wish had resulted in more than a slap on the wrist. 

If you ignore how their relationship started, Abbi and Noah had an adorkable romance. I really loved their conversations in the car, and even the subtle foot taps they shared. I enjoyed Noah's friendship with Jack as well, and how easily the two boys accepted Abbi as one of their own. All of the relationships in this book (good and bad) were authentic and completely relatable. 

The parents and families were fantastic and flawed. Abbi's parents were divorced, but the two remained close friends and lived on the same street. They were both involved in their daughter's life, and they talked to her like she was an adult and her opinion mattered. Also, I loved Abbi's no-nonsense grandmother! Noah's mom remarried after a decade or so, and Noah's stepfather is present, even if he's not actively involved in his stepson's life. They were just different people, neither of them bad, but they'd never tried to see past their differences before. I enjoyed seeing how their relationship progressed, and was happy to see they there were both willing to try.

Buxbaum didn't shy away from the hard topics and conversations, and it was a really eye-opening experience for me. I feel like I have a new understanding, a more educated perspective, and also a greater appreciation for the people who were present during the attacks. A lot of people have medical issues that are directly related to chemicals they were exposed to on 9/11, and there's still a lot we don't know. I think the author has created something that will encourage people to remember, and she does it in a way that's both hopeful and honest.


Saturday, May 25, 2019

Mini Reviews [28]

This Place Is Not My Home (Brothers, #2)
 by Cyn Bermudez
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Hi-Lo Fiction. Victor and Isaac aren't sure how long they'll make it in their foster homes. Isaac is comfortable around his foster parents, but afraid they'll give him up. Victor has just landed in a new, crowded home with lots of rules, and is accused of stealing. The brothers make a secret plan to run away from their foster parents and make a home of their own. Will their plan work, or will they lose everything trying?

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

This Place Is Not My Home was told using emails between Victor and Isaac. There was zero character development, and something that only vaguely resembled a plot. I have no idea what either brother looked like, and there are no details about their personalities. I'm also not entirely sure how old they were, only how old they've been when referring to things that have happened in the past. Also, if they're able to communicate with each other, why is there no correspondence with their sisters? The brothers mentioned their siblings a few times, but never talked about what happened to them or where they were.

I'm not sure what I was expecting from this one, but it left me feeling disappointed and a little frustrated. I wanted to know more about the brothers, but they share very few details about their lives. Basically, Isaac was in a play and nervous about a girl, and Victor was trying to prove his innocence. Everyone in his foster home (both the children and the adults) thought he was stealing things, but even that aspect of the story was anticlimactic. Victor runs away, gets picked up by the police, and all of that is handled in a single email with two or three sentences. 

It's really hard to review this one, because there's simply no substance to this book.


War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery
(#1-2) by Clint McElroy, 
Andre Araujo (Illustrator)
 Synopsis (via Goodreads): The creators of the blockbuster podcast The Adventure Zone bring their talents to Marvel for a wild romp through THE WAR OF THE REALMS! Earth is at war, besieged by an army of Frost Giants, Trolls and Fire Goblins — and the mighty Thor is nowhere to be found! But could it be that the key to turning the tide is…Thor’s baby sister? Journey into Mystery with Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Hawkeye (Kate Bishop), Wonder Man, and Balder the Brave as they go on an epic quest to save Earth’s only hope! (And, yes, deal with diaper duty.)

This review is mainly for the second issue in the series.

I think this one tried too hard to be funny, and I don't think the jokes always landed. Apparently there was a reference to The Princess Bride that went right over my head, even though that's a movie I've seen a thousand times. Also, this comic is about a really odd mashup of characters, and I feel like more backstory would've been beneficial for readers. I only have a vague idea of who some of the characters are.

Additionally, this second issue doesn't pick up right where the first issue left off, so there's some confusion at the start. They were face-to-face with Ares at the end of the last one, yet we start somewhere else with only a vague reference to his character. If he's a god, I'm sure he could have pursued them with very little difficulty, but now it's like he doesn't even know where they are. Also, the dialogue felt choppy and forced, and it was hard to really connect with the characters. 



Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #6
by Tom Taylor, 
Andrew C. Robinson (Illustrator),
Juann Cabal (Illustrator) 
Synopsis (via Goodreads): The neighborhood, and the planet, is doomed. Spider-Man is powerless to stop the end of the world. Only Earth’s Newest and Mightiest Hero, Spider-Bite, can save the day. Wait, WHAT?!

I was really, really confused when this issue started, but thankfully it all made sense at the end. This issue of Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man doesn't pick up where the last one left off, or even feel like a one-shot, but instead throws you into the middle of an unfamiliar story (a really wacky, almost unbelievable story).

It's a good things comics are so short, because I might have skipped over this one thinking there was a mistake, but I'm so happy I saw it through to the last page. It's very Peter Parker, and it's nice to remember that our favorite superheroes are also human (mostly human, or at the very least have feelings and emotions). I absolutely love what Tom Taylor did with this issue!

Also, the Jurassic Park reference was gold.


Goosebumps: Horrors of the Witch House #1
by Denton J. Tipton, Matthew Dow Smith, 
Chris Fenoglio (Illustrator)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): When young tech entrepreneur Veruca Curry buys the old Whaley House, the kids in town are worried the ghosts who haunt it will get her. But when they discover Veruca’s horrible secret, it will turn their world upside-down!

This issue was the perfect setup for a new Goosebumps series! The team is vaguely introduced, and since they haven't actually spoken more than a few words to each other, I'm curious how well they're going to work together. 

The Whaley house is supposedly haunted, and even the adults stay away from it. Randomly, a woman decides to buy the house, and we quickly learn that she isn't what she seems.

My son and I had a lot of fun with this one, and the illustrations were amazing! I think they'll really appeal to a younger audience, and the details were fantastic. We're both looking forward to the next issue!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Girl Gone Viral by Arvin Ahmadi

Synopsis (via Goodreads): For seventeen-year-old Opal Hopper, code is magic. She builds entire worlds from scratch: Mars craters, shimmering lakes, any virtual experience her heart desires.

But she can't code her dad back into her life. When he disappeared after her tenth birthday, leaving only a cryptic note, Opal tried desperately to find him. And when he never turned up, she enrolled at a boarding school for technical prodigies and tried to forget.

Until now. Because WAVE, the world's biggest virtual reality platform, has announced a contest where the winner gets to meet its billionaire founder. The same billionaire who worked closely with Opal's dad. The one she always believed might know where he went. The one who maybe even murdered him.


What begins as a small data hack to win the contest spirals out of control when Opal goes viral, digging her deeper into a hole of lies, hacks, and manipulation. How far will Opal go for the answers--or is it the attention--she's wanted for years?
"Fairness is a rubber band, and the longer you stretch it--the more you rely on its elasticity--the more it stings when it snaps."
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 really dislike it when books end without actually ending. Girl Gone Viral would have received a higher rating from me, if something had been resolved at its conclusion. We spend the entire book with Opal, a girl that has struggled with the disappearance of her father, as she tries to fight for answers. However, once she learns the truth, the story just stops. I wanted to know what she did with that information, and how it impacted what the world thought to be true.

Opal set a lot of things in motion, and she was a catalyst for world's current political upheaval. She inadvertently made people acknowledge a truth they were afraid to admit to themselves. It has the world hurdling down a dangerous path, but the story stops before we see the consequences of her actions. Again.

I really liked the scientific aspect of the story, and it was never too hard to follow. Although, there were some jokes and references that went over my head. I understood that they were being funny, and that's all that really mattered. It was also interesting to see how the world could potentially function with advanced technology. What would a world look like if robots were our doctors, drivers, and police force? What if we took bias and emotion out of the equation? I'm sure that it would be beneficial in some scenarios, but it's also a little scary in others. Empathy is a large part of what makes us human, and it's not really possible for a robot to perceive the world in the same way.

I enjoyed Arvin Ahmadi's writing, and really liked reading this book, but I feel like he set me up for disappointment. I was really invested in the mystery surrounding Opal's father and his disappearance, and thought there would have been more resolution at the end. When she finally gets answers, the information doesn't fall perfectly into place. There were still jagged holes that never get addressed.

Also, I felt like the author made a really big deal about her college admissions essay, but then it stopped being important. She was having a lot of trouble with the prompt, and even missed getting her application in for early consideration. A few months later, Moyo brings up her application (because even he knows that she hasn't been able to finish it), and she tells him that it's already been completed and submitted. When did that happen? It felt like a really big deal, and then it wasn't.

Another issue I had was the author's use of real late night talk show hosts. I'm very familiar with most of them, and his versions didn't really match up with the personalities I've experienced for myself. It's also supposed to be set in the future, and it felt weird to have Jimmy Fallon and James Corden mentioned throughout the book. Seth Meyers played an even larger role, and it just felt wrong somehow. I wish the author had created his own late night talk show hosts, and feel like it would have made the story more believable.

Opal is a very self-absorbed and unapologetically selfish character, but I still enjoyed reading the book from her perspective. She's intelligent and driven, but easy to manipulate and quick to throw her friends under the bus. I dislike people that are willing to use their friends to further their personal goals, and would have liked a more considerate and thoughtful Opal. Moyo is their moral compass, but no one listens to him, and he easily succumbs to peer pressure. Shane is the wild card of their group, and it's clear that he's struggling with more than we're shown. I have no idea why they were friends, when it was clear Opal was self-serving, Moyo wanted to live without sacrificing his beliefs, and Shane had more issues than he was willing to share with everyone else.

Girl Gone Viral was a quick read that left me feeling mostly disappointed. There is very little resolution at the end, and the characters were unlikable and only show what's on the surface. I would have liked for the author to expand more on the characters, and the mystery surrounding Opal's father. Also, Opal has a nonexistent relationship with her mother that wasn't fully explained, especially since her mother wanted to be a part of her daughter's life. Opal's causal cruelty was unwarranted, and I wish she had been a more relatable character.

Other things worth mentioning: There's an unnecessary romance and something that resembles a love triangle. Opal should have stood up for herself and her friends. There were very few adults in this book (even though it takes place on a school campus), and the few that were mentioned were creepy as hell.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

TinkerActive Workbooks: Kindergarten Science
[Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway]

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

Title: TINKERACTIVE WORKBOOKS
Author: Various Authors & Illustrators
Pub. Date: May 14, 2019
Publisher: Odd Dot
Formats: Paperback
Pages: Differs per workbook
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, TBD

Tinker, make, and engineer to learn through play! With TinkerActive Workbooks, learning leaps off the page and into the real world. Start with interactive and entertaining exercises that cover the essential kindergarten, 1st Grade, & 2nd Grade, math, science, and problem-solving skills. Then, apply what you’ve learned in exciting hands-on tinkering, making, and engineering activities that utilize only common household materials. Plus, the charming cast of characters, the MotMots, guide kids through every new concept with cheer and humor. Once you've completed the workbook, unbox a collectible magnet hidden in the back cover!

Vetted by award-winning educators, TinkerActive Workbooks are designed for all learners. They build your child’s fundamental math & science skills AND inspire them to try new things, discover new skills, and imagine new possibilities.


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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.

My son and I both really love the TinkerActive Workbook, and have enjoyed completing many of the activities over the last week! He would actually ask me when we could choose a new activity from the book, instead of me trying to coax him into sitting still for more that five minutes. Since I received this for review, I let him randomly select the activities instead of starting from page one. I wanted to see what the workbook offered as a whole, and this method worked really well.

In addition to having to draw his thoughts, which is something he isn't used to doing, the TinkerActive Workbook includes many different experiments. They require very few materials, and most were items we already had around the house (water, paper, cotton balls, etc.). My son stumbled across an experiment for a small tornado, which was perfect after all of our storms last week. After receiving a tornado warning on my phone, and having to explain what that meant to him, he's been a little less impressed when he sees massive amounts of lighting and hears thunder that can also be felt. We used this opportunity to learn more about tornados, and what conditions allow them to form. It also provided him with an educational way to make one for himself, and we had a blast with the entire process!

I also really like how this workbook is formatted. The back is made like a children's board book, which meant we weren't confined to the table when we used it. It traveled in the car, to restaurants, the library (I always keep activities in my bag in case we have to wait somewhere), and the thicker backing really helped. Also, the pages are perforated, so we could easily hang up the activities he was proud of on the fridge. Although, I think he would have preferred putting stickers (included at the end of the workbook) on every available surface!

I know there's a magnet included at the end of the workbook, but I haven't made my son aware of that fact. I think it will make a nice little surprise once we've worked our way through the entire thing! Besides, we always need more magnets.

We've used a lot of workbooks in the past, and this one is a new favorite. We are really enjoying the activities, and I like how everything is presented. The TinkerActive Workbook was made to be used, and touches on a wide variety of materials. I'm already looking forward to future activities with my little loves. If you have children, even if they go to school, this is an excellent workbook to have around the house!

Giveaway Details:
3 winners will receive their choice of one of the TINKERACTIVE WORKBOOKS, US Only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway



Tour Schedule:

Week One:

5/20/2019- Lifestyle of Me- Review- 1st Grade
5/21/2019- The suburban lifestyle- Review- 2nd Grade
5/22/2019- The Pages In-Between- Review- Kindergarten
5/23/2019- Do You Dog-ear?- Review- Kindergarten
5/24/2019- ⒾⓃⓉⓇⓄⓈⓅⒺⒸⓉⒾⓋⒺ ⓅⓇⒺⓈⓈ- Review- Kindergarten

Week Two:
5/27/2019- 100 Pages A Day- Review- 1st Grade
5/28/2019- Wonder Struck- Review- 2nd Grade
5/29/2019- BookHounds- Review- 1st Grade
5/30/2019- Two Chicks on Books- Spotlight- All Workbooks
5/31/2019- Little Red Reads- Review- 2nd Grade 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

My Weekly Pull [71] & Can't Wait Wednesday [41]

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!

Miles Morales Spider-Man #6 by Saladin Ahmed, Javi Garron, Marco D'Alfonso
War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery #3 (of 5) by Clint McElroy, Andre Araujo, Valerio Schiti, David Curiel

Jacob's comics for the week!
Venom #14 by Cullen Bunn, Iban Coello, Max Lim
War of the Realms: Punisher #2 (of 3) by Gerry Duggan, Marcelo Ferreira, Juan Ferreya
War of the Realms: Strikeforce Land of Giants #1 by Tom Taylor, Jorge Molina

I didn't know Tom Taylor was writing War of the Realms: Strikeforce Land of Giants, so I might read that one from Jacob's list to see if it's something I'd like. I've really enjoyed Taylor's writing in the past, and I would love to see how he portrays characters like Luke Cage and Iron Fist. 

It's a pretty short list this week! My comics were starting to stack up again, so this gives me an opportunity to stay on top of them. Are you reading anything new this week?

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.

Shatter the Sky (Shatter the Sky, #1)
by Rebecca Kim Wells
Expected publication: July 30th 2019
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren dreams only of sharing a quiet life with her girlfriend Kaia—until the day Kaia is abducted by the Aurati, prophetic agents of the emperor, and forced to join their ranks. Desperate to save her, Maren hatches a plan to steal one of the emperor’s coveted dragons and storm the Aurati stronghold.

If Maren is to have any hope of succeeding, she must become an apprentice to the Aromatory—the emperor’s mysterious dragon trainer. But Maren is unprepared for the dangerous secrets she uncovers: rumors of a lost prince, a brewing rebellion, and a prophecy that threatens to shatter the empire itself. Not to mention the strange dreams she’s been having about a beast deep underground…

With time running out, can Maren survive long enough to rescue Kaia from impending death? Or could it be that Maren is destined for something greater than she could have ever imagined?

I love the synopsis for this book! Fighting for love? Fighting for love with dragons? Yes! Please!

*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!

Monday, May 20, 2019

A Monster Like Me by Wendy S. Swore

Synopsis (via Goodreads): There are trolls, goblins, and witches. Which kind of monster is Sophie?

Sophie is a monster expert. Thanks to her Big Book of Monsters and her vivid imagination, Sophie can identify the monsters in her school and neighborhood. Clearly, the bullies are trolls and goblins. Her nice neighbor must be a good witch, and Sophie’s new best friend is obviously a fairy. But what about Sophie? She’s convinced she is definitely a monster because of the “monster mark” on her face. At least that’s what she calls it. The doctors call it a blood tumor. Sophie tries to hide it but it covers almost half her face. And if she’s a monster on the outside, then she must be a monster on the inside, too.

Being the new kid at school is hard. Being called a monster is even harder. Sophie knows that it’s only a matter of time before the other kids, the doctors, and even her mom figure it out. And then her mom will probably leave — just like her dad did.

Because who would want to live with a real monster?

Inspired by real events in the author’s life, A Monster Like Me teaches the importance of believing in oneself, accepting change, and the power of friendship.
"Oftentimes we fickle humans have fleeting wishes for a life not our own, but such superficial desires lead to discontent and unhappiness. Better to take heed of all the good in your life, and take nothing for granted. Look for the good and you will find it, no magic or wish required."

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.

A Monster Like Me really captured what it's like to have a child's imagination. At one point, Sophie and Autumn were at the beach, and they imagined stone giants where others simply saw rocks. When they were underneath a willow tree, they believed they were battling a ferocious monster with webs and arms. It felt like an authentic portrayal of what children see when they look at the world. It's like they have a special lens when they're younger, and it was nice to be reminded of how magical even the most mundane items can be. Sophie has a talisman that could've easily been called junk, but it meant the world to her. It may have looked like mishmash to an adult, but every item she selected for it was special and unique.

Sophie's story also broke my heart. I can understand children teasing her about the mark on her face, but it really shocked me when adults were sometimes worse than their children. Something happens at the beginning of the book that felt totally unrealistic, and I made a note to say something about it in my review, but another blogger mentioned it was based on a real experience the author had. It still baffles me, because in my mind, adults should be responsible and kind, not verbally abusive and cruel. However, I know that there are some really rotten people in the world, so it shouldn't have been so surprising.

Despite my overall enjoyment of the book, I do have some quibbles regarding the story. One, I have no idea how old Sophie is supposed to be in this book. She can read, her mother also leaves her alone at the Farmer's Market (Sophie seems to know her way around), and she uses words my five-year-old doesn't know yet. Sophie still needs adult supervision when her mother goes on a date, but her mom left her home alone when she was pretending to be too sick to go to school. There was a lot of conflicting information that made it hard for me to place her age, and it's not specified anywhere within the story.

My second complaint would be the vocabulary. I believe this book was written for a younger audience, yet some of the words from Sophie's Big Book of Monsters were hard for me to pronounce. I had to Google a few of them to make sure I was reading them correctly (example: cireincròin), and there were a lot of different monsters and mythological creatures mentioned throughout the book. One of them was a constant in her life, and I still have no idea how she pronounced what she thought he was.

Speaking of the Big Book of Monsters, I loved the little excerpts at the beginning of each chapter. Sometimes Sophie's story would obviously tie into the reference, and other times it was a little harder to make the connection. After a few chapters, the excerpts started to take on a very motivational vibe. "Remember, dear reader, the truth these creatures will never understand: emotion is a powerful force, and while it is easy to use it to destroy, it is far nobler to build. Things once said, cannot be unsaid. Whether emotion-fueled rampages strike a city of millions or a single person’s heart, painful scars are left behind. And some scars are invisible to all except those who carry them."

As a whole, I really enjoyed this book. I think there were a lot of wonderful aspects, and the author gives you a lot to reflect on even as an adult. I wish Sophie's interactions with a counselor had been expanded on, but I'm happy that it was even mentioned. It seems unlikely that the counselor would have bought a gift to bribe Sophie, and the fact that she won the game seemed purely coincidental, but it was easy to overlook. At least her mom knew that her daughter needed to talk with someone that would be able to better understand what Sophie was thinking and feeling.

A Monster Like Me also shows what it's like to be an imperfect parent. Sophie's mother makes mistakes, but it's obvious she loves her daughter. She wants Sophie to have an easy life, and she doesn't want other people to bully or ridicule her child. I think her mother's reactions to other people added to Sophie's discomfort and embarrassment. Honestly, I didn't like her mother most of the time, because she saw Sophie's mark as something to be fixed, instead of loving her daughter with no reservations. I think if she'd been unbothered by other people's perceptions of Sophie, her daughter would have been more accepting of herself.

I tried to read this one to my five-year-old, but I don't think he's quite there yet. Although, I do think this will be an excellent book for children that can understand (and possibly relate to) the various concepts mentioned throughout the book. ISwore has written an incredibly impactful story that shows what's it like to be different, and how to accept and love those differences.