Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Sunday Post [23] & Talk Thirty to Me Giveaway!

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:

Today is my birthday! I'm officially 30! I know a lot of people struggle with this birthday, but I'm honestly okay with it. I love where I am in life right now, and my family is amazing. I'm so thankful to be spending today with my children. This weekend has been full of birthday celebrations, but today is about me and my monsters. We're going to play board games, do puzzles, paint with our feet, and just enjoy the day. At some point we need to grocery shopping, but I've already promised them water balloons. It's going to be great!

On Friday, my childhood best friend and I went to Six Flags. We reconnected recently (our fathers have kept in touch), and decided to celebrate our birthdays together (hers was on the 28th). I learned something while riding on roller coasters for the first time in years... I'm too old to ride roller coasters, haha. They made me dizzy, and were way more terrifying than I remembered. Six Flags has changed a lot over the years, too. There are new rides (ohmygodstheywereinsane), and old favorites were broken or no longer active. The lines were short (rode Batman back-to-back without getting off), and I don't know if that was a good thing or not. I needed more of a break between rides! Despite my body and mind screaming that it was a horrible idea, we had a lot of fun. 

Brooke made our shirts! Talk Thirty to Me!

After spending a few hours at Six Flags, we went to Green Door Public House and ordered food (veggie burger with fries) and drinks (margarita and a jolly rancher shot) while we waited for our Haunted Pub Tour to start. The guide shared ghost stories and historical facts about some of the buildings in Downtown Dallas. Apparently, there is a fan that moves on its own, even though there's no power connected to it any more. She also showed us where Lee Harvey Oswald was killed (it's being turned into a law office or law school), talked about Bonnie and Clyde, and various other things! It was a blast. Karaoke will not be discussed, haha. 


My mom was nice enough to stay the night with the kids, but my son still woke up when I got home and told me how much he'd missed me. I love my kids! It's not often that I leave them for more than an hour or two, and my son starting school is already making me cry.

The next day, my mom and I went to a spa and spent about two hours there getting massages and facials. We also steamed for about half an hour, but I didn't think to bring a book. What are you supposed to do while you sit there?? The actual massage was fantastic, although my mom fell asleep about halfway through hers (according to the masseuse). They had to come and get me after my massage, because they were having trouble waking her up after hers, haha. She was in a deep sleep, and it took me a full minute to wake her up. I videoed all of this of course, and sent it to my father so he could have a good laugh over it.


When I got home after my morning at the spa, my kiddos and my second set of parents (they've been like family forever) had this waiting for me: 


They excitedly told me they were the ones responsible for putting candles into the cookies. Naturally, I let my monsters blow them out, too. Everyone was happy, and the cookies were delicious! 

Moving on to my husband... his gifts arrived on Friday, and I absolutely love them! 


This plant is called a Pink Quill and it's lovely. The chocolate covered Oreos are mmmsogood! The tricky part is keeping the kids from eating all of them, haha (and me from devouring them all at once). The elephant currently resides in the bathroom, until I can convince Arcee (my son's cat) not to eat the leaves. 

That's it for my birthday news! Like I said earlier, I'm spending today with my kids, and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate my birthday. My son jumped on me as soon as he woke up this morning and screamed, "Happy Birthday, Mama!" I don't think I've stopped smiling. 

Previous week on the blog:

Saturday: Nothing!

What I'm currently reading:

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha, #1) by Tomi Adeyemi
The Looking Glass Wars (The Looking Glass Wars, #1) by Frank Beddor 
Kingdom of Exiles (The Beast Charmer, #1) by Maxym M. Martineau 

I'm halfway through the audiobook for Children of Blood and Bone and loving it! I think it's going to expire before I can finish it (again), so you'll probably see this book pop back up in 14-18 weeks, haha. I might actually buy it before then, so I can finish it sooner.

I've read The Looking Glass Wars before, but never finished this series. I thought I would read it to my kids at night, but it's way too violent. I forgot that Alyss is in her twenties when she returns to Wonderland, so the content isn't for children. I've been reading it on my own though, and I'm nearly finished with it!

Kingdom of Exiles is fantastic so far. I've only met Inky, but I'm curious what other beasts we're going to see throughout the story. Noc is an enigma, and I'm really curious about his past. Who was he before Cruor?

What I plan on reading next:

 Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Queen of Ruin (Grace and Fury, #2) by Tracy Banghart
Please Send Help (I Hate Everyone But You, #2) by Gaby Dunn, Allison Raskin

I'm really excited about starting all three of these! Are any of them on your TBR?

What I'm watching:

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is the only show I'm watching at the moment, although not very often. I haven't had time this week! 

Challenge updates:

Audiobook Challenge: 27 / 30+

One winner will receive a book of their choice (up to $25) from Amazon or The Book Depository, depending on where you live. For a list of some of my favorites, click here.

Giveaway Rules:

This giveaway officially starts on June 30, 2019 and ends on July 14, 2019 (two weeks!). The winner will be announced on July 15, 2019 on this post within the Rafflecopter form, and also notified by email. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or I will choose another winner (read my full giveaway policy here).

International entries are okay as long as The Book Depository ships to you. Click here to check!

To enter – simply fill out the Rafflecopter form!

DNF&Y [18]

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!

My Side of the Mountain (Mountain, #1)
by Jean Craighead George
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Every kid thinks about running away at one point or another; few get farther than the end of the block. Young Sam Gribley gets to the end of the block and keeps going--all the way to the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. There he sets up house in a huge hollowed-out tree, with a falcon and a weasel for companions and his wits as his tool for survival.

In a spellbinding, touching, funny account, Sam learns to live off the land, and grows up a little in the process. Blizzards, hunters, loneliness, and fear all battle to drive Sam back to city life. But his desire for freedom, independence, and adventure is stronger. No reader will be immune to the compulsion to go right out and start whittling fishhooks and befriending raccoons. 

DNF at 20%

We started listening to the audiobook for My Side of the Mountain while in the car on a family trip. It was my husband's choice, and while it wasn't terrible, it wasn't for me. My son seemed to enjoy it, and it's one of my husband's favorites from his childhood, but I couldn't bring myself to finish it on my own once the trip was over (we'd alternated between audiobooks so everyone was happy). I purchased a physical copy thinking that might help, but I simply have no desire to dive back into this story. However, my husband and our son are thrilled to have a copy in the house now, so that's something. 

*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!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Q [10] Do you want people to point out the flaws in your reviews?

Let's be honest... we're human and we make mistakes. Unfortunately, being human also means taking offense at people pointing out those mistakes. I know my reviews likely contain spelling and grammar errors, which is inevitable for me, but do I want those mistakes brought to my attention?

Honestly, I don't think I would mind, because then I could fix the error and the review would be better for it. However, what about when someone disagrees with the content you've added in your review? Maybe they think you're mistaken about events that occurred, or that you didn't perceive the story in the correct way? How would you react to those helpful souls that left comments explaining everything they thought you did wrong?

I know most of us enjoy a good book discussion, even if we have differing opinions, but what if it's not about the book itself? Instead, it's about what we thought happened within a story? Do you think you would be as accepting of those commenters that decided to say something?

I'm very meticulous when I take notes on a book, and often keep a notebook around when I'm reading. It's not easy to quote an audiobook, but I do my best to make sure I copy down everything word for word when I want to include something in my review. I know I could make a mistake, like leaving out a word or misspelling a name, and I would be understanding if someone pointed out those mistakes so I could fix them. I don't believe I would be as amendable if someone wanted to correct the content of my reviews. We may have perceived the same situation in two very different ways, and that's part of the reading experience.

What do you think? Has anyone ever commented on a review and told you that you'd make a mistake? Grammar or otherwise? How did you react? If not, how to you think you would respond to something like that happening?

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Chilly da Vinci by Jarrett Rutland

Synopsis (via Goodreads): While others do “penguin” things, Chilly da Vinci—self-declared inventor penguin, builds machines that don’t work…yet!

When Chilly's latest invention, the Good Bird crashes into the penguins' home iceberg, it separates a chunk of ice and sends the penguins drifting out to sea. Can Chilly invent a machine to get them home before a hungry orca nibbles the ice away?

The book includes an author’s note about the Leonardo da Vinci and the inventor's early failures.

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Chilly da Vinci was not at all what I was expecting, and if there was any correlation between him and Leonardo da Vinci, it wasn't obvious. We start the book with Chilly's inventions breaking apart and sinking into the ocean, which is terrible for the creatures that live there. One, there's pollution. Two, any of those parts could end up killing an animal, or making their existence extremely painful. Also, you have to suspend all belief, because where is Chilly getting all of these parts in the first place? They're stranded on an iceberg, yet he manages to build giant, non-working machines. 

Chilly also talks down about himself, saying his "brain is full of seawater", and his sketchbook is "full of goof-ups". I want the characters in children's books to have confidence, so they're setting a good example for the spongey minds reading them. It's okay for characters to feel flawed and inadequate, if that's what the story is focusing on, but Chilly just had a negative personality. He doesn't get encouragement from his friends, or think positively about himself when something does work out.

Chilly's terminology for things made very little sense, and confusing language isn't something you want in a children's book. Additionally, the wording was weird, and the story felt jagged and disorganized. The imagery was also confusing. I think at times we were supposed to be seeing what Chilly was imagining, and not what was happening in reality. People were wanting his autograph at one point, although I'm not sure why, or what it had to do with the story. Maybe because he hoped to be a famous inventor? Honestly, I have no idea. Chilly's goals and aspirations were unclear, and his character left a lot to be desired.

Someone named Vinnie is throwing things and Chilly and being a bully, but again... where are all these things coming from? I wish the other penguins would have been discussed more, and that the bullying would have been addressed. Instead, Chilly thinks about leaving Vinnie behind when they make their escape, which is not what you want to teach a child. I wish the main character had been more compassionate and included the other penguins that were trapped with him. (Side note: He does take Vinnie with them, but only because Vinnie offered something in exchange. Fritters, I think. We should be teaching children to show kindness regardless of what the other person has done, and that they shouldn't need to be bribed into doing the right thing.)

"Note: I am terrible at thinking. I should do it less." Seriously? We should want to encourage more thinking, not less. The humor wasn't humorous, and the story wasn't environmentally friendly. "I'll use leather for the wings so they won't tear. And I'll use bones." An animal is wanting to use another animal's skin for his project? It felt wrong. Also, Chilly said he doesn't eat fish, only kelp, so I'm assuming he's a vegetarian...but one that has no qualms about using other aspects of animals for his inventions. It just didn't make sense.

Chilly da Vinci was a random assortment of nonsense that left me feeling frustrated and annoyed. Chilly's failed projects polluted the water near his home, so I'm sure that will impact the food supply his family and friends need to survive. There is no character development, and Chilly seems very judgmental of those around him. I dislike how negative he was in general, especially about himself, and believe that sets a bad example for children. They're in danger the entire book, but I never felt a sense of urgency. I would not recommend this book for children, and I'm glad I decided to read it on my own before sharing it with my kids.

I originally received this book from NetGalley, but the formatting was too difficult to read on my iPad. I stumbled across this book at a store, and decided to give it a shot. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

My Weekly Pull [76] & Can't Wait Wednesday [46]

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!

Shades of Magic #6 Night of Knives by V.E. Schwab, Budi Setiawan, Enrica Eren Angiolini, Rachael Stott
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #8 by Tom Taylor, Ken Lashley, Andrew C. Robinson 

Canto #1 by David M. Booher, Drew Zucker
Transformers Ghostbusters #1 by Erik Burnham, Dan Schoening

Synopsis for Canto: "Canto's adventure begins! Enslaved for generations, Canto's people once had hearts. Now they have clocks. When slavers damage a little tin girl's clock beyond repair, Canto must brave his strange and fantastic world to bring back her heart. Can he overcome the dangers that await to save the one he loves?

An all-ages fable inspired by Wizard of Oz and Dante's Inferno.
Part fantasy. Part adventure. All heart."

My husband recommended Canto after he stumbled across it (the man is always looking for new comcis), and thought it sounded like something I would like. He was right! It sounds fantastic, and likely one I'll read with our son. 

Transformers Ghostbusters doesn't need an explanation... it just sounds awesome! I read a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters crossover last year and enjoyed it.

I'm still liking V.E. Schwab's Shades of Magic comic. Orignally, I thought there were only going to be four issues, but I think they added on to the story, or chose to extend the series. I'm not sure. I'm finally listening to the audiobook for the first book in the Shades of Magic series, and it's been slow so far. I'm not a fan of Lila and there's a ton of world-building. I've only heard good things about these books, so I'm sticking with it for now. I'm also interested to see how the two tie into each other. I believe Maxim from the comics is the current king in the books. 

I'm actually behind on my Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man comics, but I plan on catching up later this week. 

Jacob's comics for the week:
Amazing Spider-Man #24 by Nick Spencer, Ryan Ottley
Kick-Ass #15 by Steve Niles, Marcelo Frusin, Amy Reeder
Spider-Man Featuring Spider-Ham Annual #1 by Jason Latour, Phil Lord, David Lafuente 
Spider-Man Reptillian Rage #1 by Ralph Macchio, Christopher Allen, Ron Lim
Star Wars Age of Rebellion Darth Vader #1 by Greg Pak, Marc Laming, Gabriele Dell Otto
Star Wars Galaxy's Edge #1 by Ethan Sacks, Will Sliney, Rod Reis
Star Wars Galaxy's Edge #2 by Ethan Sacks, Will Sliney, Tommy Lee Edwards
Star Wars Galaxy's Edge #3 by Ethan Sacks, Will Sliney, Tommy Lee Edwards
War of the Realms #6 by Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, Arthur Adams
War of the Realms: The Punisher #3 by Gerry Duggan, Marcelo Ferreira, Juan Ferreyra

Phew! This week's pull list is insane. Jacob said he wanted to start Star Wars Galaxy's Edge, which is already on it's third issue. Luckily, Midtown Comics still had copies of the first two, so I just tacked them on to our order. I might read that one, too. Also the Star Wars Age of Rebellion: Darth Vader looks interesting. 

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.

Don't Call the Wolf by Aleksandra Ross
Expected publication: April 28th 2020
Synopsis (via Goodreads): A forest, besieged. A queen, unyielding. Fans of Leigh Bardugo and Holly Black will devour this deliciously dark Eastern European–inspired YA fantasy debut.

When the Golden Dragon descended on the forest of Kamiena, a horde of monsters followed in its wake.

Ren, the forest’s young queen, is slowly losing her battle against them. Until she rescues Lukasz—the last survivor of a heroic regiment of dragon slayers—and they strike a deal. She will help him find his brother, who vanished into her forest… if Lukasz promises to slay the Dragon.

But promises are all too easily broken.

The synopsis says very little, but I'm intrigued! Just like last week...dragons.

*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, June 25, 2019

Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer

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?

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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.

Call It What You Want was a heavy read that really weighed on my mind. A lot of tough topics are addressed throughout the book, and it was refreshing to see teenagers having authentic reactions to distressing situations. Their emotions and responses were realistic and really packed a punch, and my heart repeatedly broke for these characters. Sometimes life isn't fair, and we occasionally get lost in the gray areas. 

It's not always easy to distinguish right from wrong. What if you did something wrong to protect a family member? Does that make it right? Maegan knew people's secrets, and constantly struggled with whether or not to tell someone. She knew her sister needed help, and that someone else should know what information Samantha had shared with her, but she didn't want to lose her sister's trust. However, keeping Samantha's secret could have caused more problems for her in the end. Is it better to keep the truth to yourself, or risk hurting and helping in equal measure? 

Everyone's secrets seemed to find Maegan, even though she wasn't very good at lying. When cornered, she tended to give away whatever she was hiding, even if she didn't want to. However, Maegan was a good friend. She wanted to give people the benefit of the doubt, and she was also loyal and fiercely protective. She didn't always know what to think, but she tried to not judge others and looked for the bigger picture. I wish her friendship with Rachel had been elaborated on. They've been best friends for years, so I was hoping for more conversation and conflict resolution between the two.

I did enjoy seeing Maegan and Samantha repair their relationship. Samantha was hurting and conflicted, Maegan was lost and unsure, and they really rallied together when it mattered. I also liked their family dynamics, and that their parents were really invested in their lives and well-being. I think their dad was a little judgmental, and he came across as an overprotective father. It was clear he loved his daughters and only wanted the best for them.

Rob's family is a little trickier... I understood his mother's perspective, but I didn't really agree with it. As a mother, I can see her wanting to protect her son and his future. As an outsider looking in, I think she did more harm than good. It was hard to watch them interact with Rob Sr., because his condition affected everyone around him. His choice to end his life, and the fact that he failed, only caused more strain on their family and what they were going through. They all loved each other, but I think their feelings were misplaced for awhile. 

Speaking of Rob, I do have a small complaint about his character. He's lonely and frequently complains about having nothing to do, but he has a vehicle that he can drive, so why doesn't he have a job? He's struggling with money, his mother has gone back to work, and he has the means... so why didn't he get a job after school? That would have helped everyone, and he likely wouldn't have felt the need to rebel in other ways. It doesn't make sense for him to stay hidden away in his room feeling bad about his situation, especially since he often mentioned wanting to do something to help.

There are a lot of complicated relationships in this story. Relationships between old friends and new, siblings, parents, teachers... it's amazing Kemmerer managed to squeeze them all into one book. Everyone was hurting, or knew someone that was, and we see that people can be unnecessarily cruel. They can also surprise you by being kind and doing things you wouldn't expect.

Like I said before, there were a lot of tough topics addressed in this book, but I think Kemmerer handled them all very well. Nothing had a perfect resolution, but that's life. It's rarely perfect. If anything, her portrayal of this story was brutally honest. You want to cheer these characters on, but at the same time, you don't know how to make their individual circumstances better. Oftentimes, there was no right answer, only moving forward and trying to make the best of a bad situation.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox, #2)
by Julie Kagawa

Synopsis (via Goodreads): One thousand years ago, a wish was made to the Harbinger of Change and a sword of rage and lightning was forged. Kamigoroshi. The Godslayer. It had one task: to seal away the powerful demon Hakaimono.

Now he has broken free.



Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has one task: to take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple in order to prevent the summoning of the Harbinger of Change, the great Kami Dragon who will grant one wish to whomever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, who for centuries was trapped in a cursed sword, has escaped and possessed the boy she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.

Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with the Master of Demons in order to break the curse of the sword and set himself free. To overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness, they need one thing: the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross once again, the entire empire will be thrown into chaos.

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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.

Julie Kagawa never fails to surprise me! I was completely blown away by the events that unfold in Soul of the Sword, and was disappointed when the story reached its conclusion. Thankfully, there's going to be a third book! I cannot wait to see how this new group dynamic is going to work, and which souls will be triumphant in the end. ;)

I've had a feeling about Seigetsu from the beginning, and while nothing was confirmed, I do think my suspicions were correct. However, he's still an enigma, and I'm excited to see what his role is in all of this. He's clearly had a hand in everything that's happened, although we don't know why he's so invested in the events of this story. I enjoyed his companion, Taka, and would love to know more about how that partnership/friendship started. 

There are so many wonderful characters in this book! I've really enjoyed learning more about each of them, and seeing how their relationships have developed over time. They've all grown close as a group and as friends, but love is in the air... and it's an amazing, heartwarming romance. I swooned underneath that tree with them, and really wish Yumeko had stuck around longer! Haha!

I'm sad Tatsumi didn't have a larger role in Soul of the Sword (for obvious reasons if you've read the first book), but did enjoy learning more about his past and how he became the Kage demonslayer. His upbringing had been rigorous and challenging before being chosen to weild Kamigoroshi. Once he was selected for that...ugh. It was interesting to see what aspects of himself he'd chosen to lock away, and to understand how hard it had been for him to keep Hakaimono under control.

I adore Yumeko and her inability to understand most metaphors. She's determined and fiercely protective of her friends. She wouldn't risk their lives for anything, and frequently puts herself in danger to lend a helping hand. Reika is a maternal presence, and you can tell she really cares for the kitsune and the rest of their group. Chu is amazing even though he doesn't speak, and resembles a dog most of the time. Okame is hilarious and adds humor to the story. Everyone else is pretty serious, but he chooses to be obstinate on principal, even at the expense of others. However, he's a loyal friend that frequently puts himself down because he doesn't think he's worth very much. Daisuke is our noble, although he never acts like he's better than anyone else. He sees everyone as equals and looks forward to testing his skills against demons and humans alike. He wants to die with honor, which means on his feet and in the throes of battle (despite that being what he wants, I'd like for him to stay alive indefinitely).

Julie shows us more of the world she's created, and Iwagoto is a beautifully vivid and complex place. There are multiple clans and territories, but we've only traversed a few of them as the characters try to reach the Steel Feather Temple. The Shadow Clan's castle was both unique and fascinating, although I wish they'd encountered more issues within its walls during their visit (it's supposed to be impossible to navigate, but they didn't seem to have too much trouble). I hope we get to experience more of this world in the next book, although I'm worried the group is going to be too distracted to enjoy their surroundings. 

I really liked the relationship between Tatsumi and Hakaimono. They're enemies, but it's so much more complicated than that. I can't really say more without spoiling what happens in this book, but I'm really curious about their situation and how it's going to play out. There are so many moving parts in this story! I have no idea how the author manages to keep track of all the different pieces. I briefly felt bad for Hakaimono, it was really a flicker of fear on his behalf, because the Oni has been suffering for centuries. It takes skill to make me feel concern for something that is wholly evil. 

Suki has been with us from the beginning, although her story has been mostly sad. I'm not sure what happened to her at the end of this book, but I have a feeling she still has a role to play in the outcome of this story. 

Shadow of the Fox was one of my favorite reads last year, and Soul of the Sword is already one of the best books I've read this year. Julie Kagawa is truly an artist, and she paints a rich and vibrant world with authentic and endearing characters. I want all of them to get a happy ending when this is over, but I don't know if Kagawa will be so kind...

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Sunday Post [22]

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'm sorry I haven't been around much this week! I've been spending more time with my children (still cannot believe my baby starts school this year), and less time online. Normally, I would stay up after everyone went to sleep, and used that time for blogging and commenting, but I've been going to bed early now that I'm working out again (consistently). I have to squeeze it in before the kiddos wake up, because the little monsters try to work out with me. It's adorable, but really distracting. They end up rolling into me or colliding with each other, which results in lots of laughter and no work out for Mom. 

I'm kickboxing and running for my cardio, and doing the 28 Day Summer Sculpt Program by Blogilates. I'm also doing the 100 Ab Challenge, which is brutal but effective. I wake up feeling sore and grumpy, but force myself to work out which loosens my muscles and gets my endorphins going. Previously, before the #SUMMERSCULPT, I was doing the PIIT28 program, and it's intense. I highly recommend Casey and her videos! Most of the challenges are free and on YouTube. PIIT28 is the only one I've paid for, and it was definitely worth the money. Her videos are easy to follow, and there are usually beginner moves for people just starting out (which I sometimes have to use myself). 

Between working out and spending more time with my kids, I barely have any time to myself these days. During their naps I try to conquer the beast that is Housework, and start dinner preparations. I love my life, but it's bananas right now.

Also, I reconnected with my childhood best friend, and we're going to celebrate turning 30 together (hers is the 28th and mine is the 30th)! We've already started making plans, and it's going to be amazing! I'll have to share some pictures next week.


Previous week on the blog:

Tuesday: Nothing!
Thursday: Nothing!
Friday: Nothing!
Saturday: One Day in December by Josie Silver ⋆⋆⋆⋆

What I'm currently reading:

Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer
A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1) by V.E. Schwab

I finished Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa earlier today (fantastic book), and then polled Twitter to see what I should read next. Call It What You Want initially had the most votes (it's still ongoing), so that's what I went with. I'm really enjoying it so far! Kemmerer is an amazing writer, and her characters are always so relatable and complex. I'm barely into this one, and I already feel a connection with both of the main characters. 

I'm finally, finally starting A Darker Shade of Magic. The first book was available on audio at my library, so I decided to give it a shot. I love how apathetic Kell seems so far, and the different versions of London have been interesting. I'm barely into it, so we'll see how it goes.

What I plan on reading next:

Kingdom of Exiles (The Beast Charmer, #1) by Maxym M. Martineau 
Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha, #1) by Tomi Adeyemi

Kingdom of Exiles was the other book on my Twitter poll, so I'll start it after Call It What You Want. I started Children of Blood and Bone a few weeks ago, but my hold expired before I could finish it. I didn't realize the book was so long! However, I was thoroughly enjoying the story. I can see why everyone was raving about it.

What I'm watching:

I'm still working my way through Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but I also watched Murder Mystery with my mom. It was enjoyable, but not as funny as I was expecting it to be. I think most married people will be able to relate to their relationship, and what happens to couples after 15 years of marriage. ;) I plan on starting Jessica Jones sometime this week. I've been catching up on my shows while I run (treadmill win!). My husband recommend Afterlife. Have any of you seen it? It's super depressing so far.

Challenge updates:


Saturday, June 22, 2019

One Day in December by Josie Silver

Narrated by Eleanor Tomlinson & 
Charlie Anson
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there's a moment of pure magic... and then her bus drives away.

Certain they're fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn't find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they "reunite" at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It's Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered.
One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

“You tread lightly through life, but you leave deep footprints that are hard for other people to fill.”
One Day in December was both frustrating and fantastic! My heart was in a constant state of brokenness, because I felt bad for every single character. Jack, Laurie, Sarah, and even Oscar. They all wanted to find love and be loved, but it's like the universe was conspiring against them. We see missed opportunities and infuriating decisions, but also happiness and genuine friendships.

I adored the relationship between Laurie and Sarah. I love that they created their own sandwich, and would only make one when they were together (even though the ingredients were super gross). I wish I had a friendship that solid and lasting. I hated the wedge that Jack inevitably caused in their relationship, because his presence was a constant reminder of what Laurie had lost. She couldn't act on her feelings, because she didn't want to hurt Sarah, but her heart was stuck on her best friend's boyfriend. Sarah and Jack seemed to genuinely care for each other, which only made things more complicated.

“We are a triangle, but our sides have kept changing length. Nothing has ever quite been equal. Perhaps it’s time to learn how to stand on our own, rather than lean on each other.” 

I enjoyed seeing the three of them together, because they really did have a great group dynamic. They all got along so well, and I hated that Sarah found Jack before Laurie did. However, I do think that both Laurie and Jack grew a lot during the ten years of their friendship, and maybe had experiences they wouldn't have had otherwise. Everything with Laurie and Oscar was lovely, until it wasn't. It's impossible to know if things would have been different had Jack gotten on that bus, but we do know their futures were irrevocably changed that night.

Both Jack and Laurie made mistakes. They hurt each other, their friends, and themselves. It was a complicated series of events that felt completely realistic, even if it was heartbreaking to read about. I struggled with my emotions for the better part of the book, torn between what I wanted, and what was best for the characters. I felt conflicted and worried about all of their individual futures, and wanted everyone's story to have a happy ending. 

One Day in December really captured what it means to be a friend, and how difficult it can be to maintain a lasting relationship. Laurie and Sarah were like sisters, and it showed in their actions and conversations. Jack was brotherly, friendly, and a love interest all at once, and sometimes to the same person. It sounds bananas, I know, but it really worked for this story. Every character had their individual ups and downs, and I was really invested in each of their lives. 

“But what else was I supposed to say? That I felt as if she’d just kissed fucking stardust into my mouth.”

This book will likely make you cry, and probably more than once. There were so many wonderful moments, but there were also really authentic conflicts that left me feeling empty and at a loss for words. I struggled with these characters, cried with them, and laughed when everything was fun and light. I enjoyed the time skips, and seeing how the characters and their relationships developed over time. At lot can happen in ten years, and I think the author did a brilliant job of covering a lot of ground without making the book feel too long. Amazing story (and the audio was perfect)!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

My Weekly Pull [75] & Can't Wait Wednesday [45]

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!

Daredevil #7 by Chip Zdarsky, Lalit Kumar Sharma
Miles Morales Spider-Man #7 by Saladin Ahmed, Various

Firefly #7 by Greg Pak, Dan McDaid, Lee Garbett
Go Go Power Rangers: Forever Rangers #1 by Ryan Parrott, Eleonora Carlini, Gabriel Picolo

Jacob's comics for the week!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Urban Legends #14 by Gary Carlson, Frank Fosco, Erik Larsen
Usagi Yojimbo #1 by Stan Sakai
Hit-Girl Season Two #5 by Daniel Way, Goran Parlov
Drawing Blood Spilled Ink #2 by Kevin Eastman, David Avallone
Deadpool #14 by Skottie Young, Nic Klein
Guardians of the Galaxy #6 by Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, David Marquez
War of the Realms: Journey into Mystery #5 by Clint McElroy, Various, Andre Araujo, Valerio Schiti
War of the Realms: Spider-Man and the League of Realms #3 by Sean Ryan, Nico Leon, Ken Lashley
War of the Realms: War Scrolls #3 by Jason Aaron, Various, Andrea Sorrentino

I an so excited for this week's comics! Daredevil is getting really interesting. I love seeing this new version of Matt Murdock, and what his life looks like without the suit. Miles Morales Spider-Man is fantastic. Ahmed has given Miles a very unique and relatable voice. Firefly is perfection. Also, Go Go Power Rangers: Forever Rangers is finally here! My son and I have been waiting months for this one, and we're so happy to be starting from the beginning.

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings, that highlights upcoming releases that we're anticipating and excited to read. It's a spinoff of the feature Waiting on Wednesday that was hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Synopsis (via Goodreads): In the first book in an exciting and charming new coming-of-age fantasy series from the author of the Age of Fire series, an impoverished girl enters into a military order of dragonriders, but her path won't be as easy or as straightforward as she expected.

Fourteen-year-old Ileth grew up in an orphanage, and thanks to her stutter was never thought to be destined for much beyond kitchen work and cleaning. But she's dreamed of serving with the dragons ever since a childhood meeting with a glittering silver dragon and its female dragoneer. For years she waits, and as soon as she is old enough to join, Ileth runs away to become a novice dragoneer at the ancient human-dragon fortress of the Serpentine.

While most of her fellow apprentices are from rich and influential families, Ileth must fight for her place in the world, even if it includes a duel with her boss at the fish-gutting table. She's then sent off to the dragon-dancers after a foolish kiss with a famously named boy and given charge of a sickly old dragon with a mysterious past. But she finds those trials were nothing when she has to take the place of a dead dragoneer and care for his imprisoned dragon in enemy lands...

The cover is what initially drew me in, but the synopsis is beyond amazing. Dragons! It also sounds like the main character will have a really compelling and authentic voice. 

*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, June 17, 2019

To Night Owl from Dogfish
by Holly Goldberg Sloan, Meg Wolitzer

Narrated by Imani Parks, Cassandra Morris,
and Various Others
Synopsis (via Goodreads): From two extraordinary authors comes a moving, exuberant, laugh-out-loud novel about friendship and family, told entirely in emails and letters.

Avery Bloom, who's bookish, intense, and afraid of many things, particularly deep water, lives in New York City. Bett Devlin, who's fearless, outgoing, and loves all animals as well as the ocean, lives in California. What they have in common is that they are both twelve years old, and are both being raised by single, gay dads.

When their dads fall in love, Bett and Avery are sent, against their will, to the same sleepaway camp. Their dads hope that they will find common ground and become friends--and possibly, one day, even sisters.


But things soon go off the rails for the girls (and for their dads too), and they find themselves on a summer adventure that neither of them could have predicted. Now that they can't imagine life without each other, will the two girls (who sometimes call themselves Night Owl and Dogfish) figure out a way to be a family?
“I really like reading stories with an unreliable narrator, because the person telling you what happened can't be trusted with the facts and you have to figure it out. Maybe when it's your own story, you're always going to be an unreliable narrator" -Avery (Night Owl)”
To Night Owl From Dogfish was an amazing and truly remarkable read that I will never forget. However, I do have one teensy complaint about the audiobook. At the beginning of the book, Bett and Avery are communicating via email, and they use a single thread for most of their conversation. Every time we switched perspectives it was, "Subject: Re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: you don't know me". If I had been reading a physical copy, I simply would have skipped over this part and kept reading. Unfortunately, it was an audiobook, and the narrators read every single re. It made me a little crazy, and I was so very thankful when they switched to a new subject. Other than that, the narrators were absolutely perfect for this.

I enjoyed both Bett and Avery's perspectives, and everything about the summer camps was enjoyable. Bett's antics made me laugh! She was bold, reckless, and I loved how she chose to tackle the world. Avery followed the rules and stuck to her plans, but she was also willing to try new things. Despite their rocky start, the two developed a very loyal friendship that continued to grow throughout the story. To Night Owl From Dogfish takes place over two years, and I really liked seeing how the characters developed over time. I think the authors executed these characters perfectly, and I was in love with them from start to finish.

I also loved that the authors discussed "found" families, and how they are just as important and meaningful as "traditional" families. They were both raised by single dads, Bett having a surrogate mother and a deceased father, and Avery knowing who her mother is (parents were separated and not in contact). It was their normal, and they defended their families without hesitation. Bett and Avery also acted like sisters, and continued their constant communication over the years. A lot of the characters in this book weren't technically related, but they felt a kinship with one another that was beautiful. 

There are plenty of machinations in this book, and I absolutely loved it! Bett and Avery scheme constantly to make things work in their favor, and it was fun watching them plan everything through email. I was worried how that would work at first, telling the story through emails and letters, but it was perfect. It really worked, and I'm thrilled with the result.

I was smitten with all of the characters in this book, especially Bett's grandmother, Gaga (or Betty 1). She's a riot! She also adored her granddaughters, and gave really excellent advice. Gaga participated in a few of Bett and Avery's schemes when the other adults were being unreasonable. Loved her!

To Night Owl From Dogfish is a book that left me smiling and happy. It emphasizes the importance of friendship and family, and shows how two girls can grow together and apart in unimaginable ways. There's a twist at the end that caught me off guard, but it was unexpectedly perfect for this story. I highly recommend this one!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Deogratias: A Tale of the Rwandan Genocide
by Jean-Philippe Stassen

Synopsis (via Goodreads): The 2000 winner of the Goscinny Prize for outstanding graphic novel script, this is the harrowing tale of the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, as seen through the eyes of a boy named Deogratias. He is an ordinary teenager, in love with a girl named Benigne, but Deogratias is a Hutu and Benigne is a Tutsi who dies in the genocide, and Deogratias himself plays a part in her death. As the story circles around but never depicts the terror and brutality of an entire country descending into violence, we watch Deogratias in his pursuit of Benigne, and we see his grief and descent into madness following her death, as he comes to believe he is a dog.

Told with great artistry and intelligence, this book offers a window into a dark chapter of recent human history and exposes the West's role in the tragedy. Stassen's interweaving of the aftermath of the genocide and the events leading up to it heightens the impact of the horror, giving powerful expression to the unspeakable, indescribable experience of ordinary Hutus caught up in the violence. Difficult, beautiful, honest, and heartbreaking, this is a major work by a masterful artist.


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Originally, I requested this on NetGalley to read, but the PDF expired before I could get to it. It wasn't the book itself, but the content that made me hesitate to pick this one up. Deogratias isn't something you grab for a little light reading. The Rwandan genocide "lasted 100 days and took 800,000 lives." I decided to buy the book after stumbling across a copy, and I almost wish I hadn't.

I hate to say this, but I was disappointed with the overall story. The forward was the most interesting and informative part of the book, and it's only a few pages long. I felt like it really set the tone for the story, while also conveying the severity of the situation. The forward also mentions that Stassen didn't go to Rwanda with the intention of writing a book about the genocide, but he did, and he's profiting from it. I think this story needs to be told by those who were there and experienced what happened firsthand, or at least by someone who was affected by what happened. It seems like Stassen told his version of events through a character that he himself is unable to relate to. How can you write about something like this as a white male with an outsider's perspective?

Speaking of perspective, the main character was an unreliable narrator. We see the boy he was before (someone only interested in having sex with girls), to the broken shell of a person he is after. When the Hutu started killing Tutsi, the author didn't show us how Deogratias felt, only that he chose to participate in what was happening around him. I couldn't connect with Deogratias and what he was experiencing, because it felt like everything that happened to him was out of his control. There was no depth to him or what he was feeling as the world fell apart around him.

It's clear that Deogratias has been through something traumatic, and it's impacted his mind and how he perceives himself and the world, but the author still uses him to mention female mutilation and dogs devouring bodies (always random and without warning). When we finally discover what happened to him, it's very choppy, and also disturbingly graphic. There's no explanation of his actions, and we're not given any information that would help us understand how certain parts of the story unfolded. We're just supposed to infer based on broken conversations, and images that I won't describe. 

I have very little experience with this topic, so I went into this without any expectations. I do know that children were often made to do things they wouldn't normally do, and they did them to survive. I'm not sure how old the main character was supposed to be, but I think we're supposed to believe that his actions were mostly forced. However, the author doesn't even pretend to give him a choice, but makes one for him without giving us any relevant information.

None of the other characters were expanded on either, which made the story feel somewhat flat. The author has a full cast of diverse people, yet chooses to focus on other aspects of the story. The illustrations felt like caricatures of people, which felt wrong when the author was depicting graphic scenes from the genocide. The violence was often sudden and unexpected, and while it may be accurate, felt like it was included to shock an audience instead of inform them.

The Rwandan genocide is something that happened fairly recently, and I disagree with how this author chose to depict the horrific events that occurred. His story feels like an insult to the people who were there, and to those who lost loved ones to unfathomable cruelties.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Mini Reviews [29]


Little Bird #1 by Darcy Van Poelgeest, 
Ian Bertram (Illustrator)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Director/screenwriter DARCY VAN POELGEEST boasts a long list of awards and accolades for his storytelling prowess and brings the same writing finesse to IAN BERTRAM's breathtakingly detailed artwork in the gorgeous, hyper-detailed miniseries LITTLE BIRD.With the same limitless scope as a new EAST OF WEST or SAGA and the drama and surrealism of Akira, LITTLE BIRD follows a young resistance fighter who battles against an oppressive American Empire and searches for her own identity in a world on fire.

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I didn't hate this, but it wasn't really for me. It was weird and disturbing, but also incredibly gory and violent. I'm looking for more happiness in my comics these days, not torture and death. I think I saw more of what people looked like on the inside (literally, not figuratively), than on the outside. Bleck.


Transformers (#1-3) by Brian Ruckley, 
Angel Hernandez (Illustrator), Ron
Joseph (Illustrator)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): A NEW ERA DAWNS! In the infinite universe, there exists a planet like no other: Cybertron! Home to the Transformers, and a thriving hub for inter-stellar commerce, it is a world brimming with organic and constructed diversity. Immense structures line its landscape. Mechanical giants roam across its surface. Starship-sized titans orbit its skies, keeping a constant protective watch above and below. Ancient Transformers merge into its very fabric. Small, mysterious creatures skulk in its shadows. It is a truly amazing realm, long untouched by war, and exuberantly reaching for the stars. This is the Cybertron that Optimus Prime and Megatron vie for in this bold new origin—a world of seemingly endless peace! All that changes when Bumblebee and Windblade take a newly-forged Cybertronian on his first voyage through this world of wonders—they are confronted by the hard reality of the first murder to have occurred on Cybertron in living memory!

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My son and I are loving the new Transformers series! He watched Transformers: Rescue Bots on Netflix when he was younger, and now he likes Transformers: Robots in Disguise and Trasformers Prime. However, all of these shows are about their lives once they've landed on Earth. The comic offers more backstory and history. We get to see where they live, how they're created, and what their home planet (Cybertron) looks like. In the movies and television shows there are so few of them left, but in this comic we see how vast their world and population used to be.

Optimus isn't a Prime yet, he's Orion Pax. There hasn't been a war, so Megatron is just like everyone else, and there are no Decepticons. Orion Pax tries to keep the peace and balance what's already there, while Megatron encourages them to do more as a race. He wants them to be more. Bumblebee still has a voice, and there are a lot of other familiar characters as well. I think the story and the illustrations have been fantastic so far, and I cannot wait to see where the story goes from here. It's so nice to be starting from the very beginning!



Runaways #20 by Rainbow Rowell,
Kris Anka & Andres Genolet (Illustrators)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): The fallout from “That Was Yesterday” is still very much being felt. There’s rebuilding to do, both metaphorical and literal – Are the Runaways up for these repairs?
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This is going to be my last Runaways comic! I haven't been enjoying is as much the last few issues, and I feel like the characters are stuck on a loop. There is no growth, and nothing happens that really challenges them (physically or emotionally). 

I understand that they're a unit, a group that's always been together, but it would be nice to know them as individuals, too. They have their romances and conflicts, but it all feels very on the surface. It's rare to for Rowell to dig deeper into their personalities and give us something life-changing or relatable. 

Honestly, I feel like they all avoid their problems until everything blows up, and then they scrape by until they resemble what they were before. There's no forward movement, and nothing to indicate that they are going to be anything more than what they are now. Gert is unhappy, since she's literally in the wrong time and place, and her romantic interest is beyond complicated. However, all we see are shared looks and a glimmer of what she's really thinking and feeling. I wish the characters were more open about what they're feeling, but everything seems to stay bottled up.

Old Lace had the potential to be my favorite character, but felt more like a decoration than a member of the team.


Jim Henson's The Storyteller: Sirens (#1-2) by Sztybor Bartosz, Jakub Rebelka & Cory Godbey (Illustrators)

Synopsis (via Goodreads):  The critically acclaimed Jim Henson’s The Storyteller celebrates four mythic tales of sirens, inspired by folklore from around the world and told in the spirit of Jim Henson’s beloved television series. In this first issue, Polish writer Sztybor Bartosz teams with artist Jakub Rebelka (Judas) to reimagine the classic Polish folktale “The Fisherman and the Mermaid”. The fisherman is not happy with his life. He works all the time, struggling to make ends meet rather than spending time with his wife and their daughter. One day, while fishing, he hears a mermaid singing and the song overwhelms him with joy. He can’t stop thinking about this song so he captures the mermaid and imprisons her.

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 thought the first two books in this series were wonderful! I'm a fan of Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal, and was thrilled when I saw Boom! Studios had created a new series (that I still need to read). There's also a Netflix show in the works. Anyhow, Jim Henson is a fantastic storyteller, and The Storyteller: Sirens was no exception. I thought the first issue was a great retelling of The Fisherman and the Mermaid (sad and thought-provoking), while the second issue was a spin on the mythology surrounding Nuwa (super interesting and creative). Both were beautiful and well-written!