Wednesday, September 18, 2019

My Weekly Pull [88] & Can't Wait Wednesday [58]

My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday (when the stars align in my favor) to show which comics I had pulled for me that week! If you're into comics, or you're looking to start, please join me! If you decide to do your own post, there's a link-up at the bottom. I would love to stop by and check it out!

Transformers #12 by Brian Ruckley, Sara Pitre-Durocher, Alex Milne
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #12 by Tom Taylor, Pere Perez, Andrew C. Robinson
Spider-Man #1 by J.J. Abrams, Henry Abrams, Sara Pichelli, Olivier Coipel 

Firefly #9 by Greg Pak, Dan McDaid, Lee Garbett
Once & Future #2 by Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora

We finally caught up on all of our Transformers comics! The kid and I got behind once he started school, but we made time for them last weekend. It's something he and I would do together while the girls were napping, and I miss spending that one-on-one time with him throughout the week. 

I wasn't going to read the new Spider-Man, because I'm reading three others right now (Amazing, Friendly, Miles Morales), but this one is written by J.J. Abrams and his son. I feel like I have to at least try it, right? Random question: Do you think Spider-Man is optimistic? Let me know in the comments!

I am loving the cover for Firefly, and cannot wait to see how the crew members handle their current situations. They're pretty scattered at the moment, so it'll take some fancy flying and maneuvering to get them all in one place again. Also, luck. I feel like they've survived this long with a healthy dose of luck.

Once & Future! Once & Future! Once & Future! 

Jacob's comics for the week:
Absolute Carnage #3 by Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman
Absolute Carnage Lethal Protectors #2 by Frank Tieri, Flaviano Armentaro, Greg Smallwood
Guardians of the Galaxy #9 by Donny Cates, Cory Smith, Patrick Zircher
History of the Marvel Universe #3 by Mark Waid, Javier Rodriguez, Steve McNiven
Strayed #2 by Carlos Giffoni, Juan Doe, Jim Mahfood 

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.

MICHIGAN VS. THE BOYS 
by Carrie S. Allen
Expected publication: October 1st 2019
Synopsis (via Goodreads): When a determined girl is confronted with the culture of toxic masculinity, it's time to even the score.

Michigan Manning lives for hockey, and this is her year to shine. That is, until she gets some crushing news: budget cuts will keep the girls' hockey team off the ice this year.

If she wants colleges to notice her, Michigan has to find a way to play. Luckily, there's still one team left in town...

The boys' team isn't exactly welcoming, but Michigan's prepared to prove herself. She plays some of the best hockey of her life, in fact, all while putting up with changing in the broom closet, constant trash talk and "harmless" pranks that always seem to target her.

But once hazing crosses the line into assault, Michigan must weigh the consequences of speaking up - even if it means putting her future on the line.

*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, September 17, 2019

Thunder Trucks by Cheryl Klein, Katy Beebe
& Mike Boldt (Illustrations)
[Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway]

Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the Thunder Trucks blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. I'm thrilled I get to share my thoughts on this book with you! Thank you for stopping by, and don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom!

Title: THUNDER TRUCKS 
Author: Cheryl Klein, Katy Beebe, & Mike Boldt (Illustrations)
Pub. Date: September 10, 2018
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 40
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD

Was that a flash of lightning? A rumble of thunder?

Better get ready--there's a new crew in town!

As Bulldozer piles up clouds and Tanker Truck hauls the rain, the whole Thunder Truck gang works together to build a tremendous storm.

Brimming with energy and fun, this cheerful bedtime story is perfect for snuggling, no matter the weather.


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I thought Thunder Trucks offered a fun and unique perspective for storms, and really enjoyed the scientific facts mentioned at the end. The authors took the time to explain how storms really work, which was a nice contrast to their imaginative story about impossibilities in the sky. 

My son isn't really afraid of storms, but one of my girls doesn't like the sound of thunder. She'll cover her ears and tell me it's too loud, and sometimes leave her hands over them for the duration of a storm. I believe she really liked thinking of thunder with this creative lens, because she's fascinated by tractors, fire trucks, etc. We'll see how this impacts future storms at our house! 

I did notice that all of the characters were female, and I'm not sure if that was intentional or not. It's not a bad thing, just something I noticed while we were reading it.

Overall, I thought this was a wonderful portrayal of storms and a very simplistic view of how they work. A lot of children are afraid of the sights and sounds associated with lighting and thunder, and I think Thunder Trucks makes the phenomenon a little more lighthearted and playful.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Sunday Post [27]

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:

My son's first week of school was uneventful, unless you count him getting Strep and passing it on to his sisters. They were all given antibiotics which one of the girls ended up being allergic to. She broke out in hives and couldn't breathe, so we spent some time in the ER. We'd been in the ER previously when my son's temperature was too high and they determined he had Strep, and it would be lovely if my kids would stop scaring me to death. Everyone is feeling better now, but my daughter will be taking Benadryl until her hives are completely gone.

As for school, the kid doesn't really care for it. He's bored since most of the materials they're covering are things he already knows, and he's not given an opportunity to physically exert himself either. Recess is 15 minutes, and gym is only every other day. I'm going to keep him in public school through December, but then I'm going to seriously consider other options.

With everything going on, I completely forgot to sign my son up for soccer this season. I made a few calls to see if there was any chance I could get him on a team, and something unforeseeable happened. My son was placed on a team (hooray), but I am also coaching that team (uhhh). Apparently, there was a team that had never been assigned a coach (people kept backing out), so the kids hadn't been able to practice yet (made my heart sad), and I volunteered. 

Originally, we were going to be the Shooting Stars (my nod to ACTOAR and Starfall), but changed it at the last minute. We are now The Goonies! Additionally, if anyone knows how to play soccer... send me an email! Haha. I think it goes without saying, but my new role as my son's soccer coach is going to require time and energy, so my reading and blogging will likely slow down a bit for the next few weeks. At least until I get the hang of things!

Previous week on the blog:

Sunday: Nothing!
Monday: Nothing!
Thursday: Nothing! 
Saturday: Nothing!

What I'm currently reading:

Touch of Smoke by Karissa Laurel
A Study in Scarlet Women (Lady Sherlock, #1) by Sherry Thomas

Touch of Smoke was an unsolicited review that I'm happy I took a chance on! I am thoroughly enjoying the story and the mystery surrounding Rikki's past. The time jumps are interesting, because we see what lead to the event, and what's happening in the present a few years later. 

The Transformers book is what I'm reading to the kids before bed at night, and we're all enjoying it! I've always been fascinated by the history of Cybertron, and how Orion Pax became Optimus Prime. I was at the library with the girls when this book snagged my attention, and I immediately grabbed it to take home. I love going to the library! I almost always go home with books that are not on my TBR.

I'm nearly finished with A Study in Scarlet Women (listening to the audio), and will likely finish it today. It's been okay so far, although a lot more interesting now that Charlotte has more freedom to be herself. However, I'm curious if it will work with her potential love interest.

What I plan on reading next:

Six Goodbyes We Never Said by Candace Ganger
Cursed by Thomas Wheeler, Frank Miller (Illustrator)
The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

What I'm watching:

I finally finished the final season of Fairy Tail, and I'm mostly disappointed. Everything felt rushed and there was no closure. They only hint at what might happen in the future, but after all this time... we should have been given specifics and resolutions. In the past, story arcs would last forever, but this season it was all crammed into too few episodes. Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Veronica Mars are two I'm still working through.

Challenge updates:

Friday, September 13, 2019

The Girl the Sea Gave Back (Sky in the Deep, #2)
by Adrienne Young


Synopsis (via Goodreads): The new gut-wrenching epic from the New York Times bestselling author of Sky in the Deep.

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.

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

Sadly, I didn't love The Girl the Sea Gave Back. It wasn't terrible, but it didn't live up to my expectations after reading Sky in the Deep. During the first book, I felt like the characters were fighting for something, even if they didn't necessarily understand what that something was. The characters in this book chose to fight out of fear, disregarding the fact that one side wanted to avoid bloodshed, which made it unnecessarily violent. I wish the Svell had had a better reason for wanting to go to war. Any loss of life is abhorrent, but they freely sacrificed themselves for their clan even without a good reason.

Additionally, I felt like most of the book was spent walking from one place to the next. Tova traveling with the Svell, and Halvard trying to reach his people. Little skirmishes pop up along the way, but nothing like the battles we witnessed in the first book. Everything was quickly or easily resolved, and even the final battle was a disappointment. Don't even get me started on the ending (or the lack of one). 

The romance was an unnecessary aspect of the story. They feel connected from the beginning, but neither of them really understands why. Tova decisions were based on wishful thinking, and not hard facts (disregarding the times she used the stones, although those were never definitive). Tova and Halvard's relationship was poorly presented and didn't fit in with the rest of the story. He easily accepted her presence and place in his life, and he should have been more cautious and wary.

I would have enjoyed learning more about the Spinners and their role within this series. What are their motivations? Do they have any? They obviously have no qualms about involving themselves to get the results they want. Why did they lie to Tova's mother, and how did that even happen? It wasn't explained very well. 

There's very little world-building in this book, which was a bummer since I really enjoyed how developed the setting was in the first. Eelyn's time spent in battle and while in captivity... it was so detailed and descriptive. This book felt like it had very little to add to the overall story, so the details were minimal and lacking. I also thought the secondary characters in the first book were well-established and fleshed out, while the secondary characters in this book were rarely a focus.

In the end, it was a quick read, but I felt like the story progressed without really going anywhere. The Big Events felt small when compared to the first book, and even the violence and bloodshed were toned down. Sky in the Deep had clear goals and expectations, while The Girl the Sea Gave Back alternated between two perspectives that occasionally overlapped. I'm still not entirely sure what the point of the story was, unless is was simply to be entertaining. I do plan on continuing this series since I really enjoyed the first book, but this one was lacking the oomph of its predecessor. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

My Weekly Pull [87] & Can't Wait Wednesday [57]

My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday (when the stars align in my favor) to show which comics I had pulled for me that week! If you're into comics, or you're looking to start, please join me! If you decide to do your own post, there's a link-up at the bottom. I would love to stop by and check it out!

Miles Morales Spider-Man #10 by Saladin Ahmed, Javi Garron, Mahmud Asrar
Gwenpool Strikes Back #2 by Leah Williams, David Baldeon, Terry Dodson
Daredevil #11 by Chip Zdarsky, Lalit Kumar Sharma, Julian Totino Tedesco

Moon Knight Annual #1 by Cullen Bunn, Ibrahim Moustafa, Pasqual Ferry
Canto #4 by David M. Booher, Drew Zucker

After the last issue of Miles Morales Spider-Man, I'm curious what the author has in store for Miles. Ahmed really put the young Spider-Man through hell -- physically and mentally -- and I'm sure the experience will leave scars. It's also unresolved, so it's entirely possible for it to pop back up again without warning. I really love the family dynamics in this one!

I'm giving Gwenpool another shot even though I really didn't like the first issue. I try to remain open-minded, because I know it's hard to set something up in a single issue. We'll see how this one goes!

That Daredevil cover is freaky, but also hard to look away from... Moon Knight! It's been ages since the last series ended, so I am pumped for this annual issue. Canto is interesting and not at all what I was expecting, although I have stopped reading it with my son. He needs to be a little older before he can really comprehend all the Hard Questions this series poses. 

Jacob's comics for the week!
Hit-Girl #8 by Daniel Way, Goran Parlov
Kick-Ass #17 by Steve Niles, Marcelo Frusin, Andre Lima Araujo
Absolute Carnage Symbiote of Vengeance #1 by Ed Brisson, Juan Frigeri, Philip Tan
Absolute Carnage vs. Deadpool #2 by Frank Tieri, Marcelo Ferreira, Rob Liefeld
Amazing Spider-Man #29 by Nick Spencer, Francesco Manna, Ryan Ottley
Punisher Kill Krew #2 by Gerry Duggan, Juan Ferreyra
Venom #18 by Donny Cates, Iban Coello, Kyle Hotz

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

The Light at the Bottom of the World
by London Shah
Expected publication: October 29th 2019
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Hope had abandoned them to the wrath of all the waters.

At the end of the twenty-first century, the world has changed dramatically, but life continues one thousand feet below the ocean's surface. In Great Britain, sea creatures swim among the ruins of Big Ben and the Tower of London, and citizens waver between fear and hope; fear of what lurks in the abyss, and hope that humanity will soon discover a way to reclaim the Earth.

Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Leyla McQueen has her own problems to deal with. Her father's been arrested, accused of taking advantage of victims of the Seasickness-a debilitating malaise that consumes people, often claiming their lives. But Leyla knows he's innocent, and all she's interested in is getting him back so that their lives can return to normal.

When she's picked to race in the action-packed London Submersible Marathon, Leyla gets the chance to secure his freedom; the Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. The race takes an unexpected turn, though, and presents her with an opportunity she never wanted: Leyla must venture outside of London for the first time in her life, to find and rescue her father herself.

Now, she'll have to brave the unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a secretive, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If she fails, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture-and her father might be lost forever.

I love the concept for this book! Life at the bottom of the ocean? How did they get there? Why are it's depths still unexplored? I've always been fascinated by what lives at the bottom of the ocean, and how deep it truly goes. What's really down there? I cannot wait to read this book!

*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, September 10, 2019

Frankly in Love (Frankly in Love, #1) by David Yoon

Synopsis (find this book on Goodreads): Frank Li has two names. There's Frank Li, his American name. Then there's Sung-Min Li, his Korean name, which no one uses, not even his parents. Frank barely speaks any Korean. He was born and raised in Soubthern California.

Even so, his parents still expect him to end up with a nice Korean girl--which is a problem, since Frank is finally dating the girl of his dreams: Brit Means. Brit, who is funny and nerdy just like him. Brit, who makes him laugh like no one else. Brit...who is white.

As Frank falls in love for the very first time, he's forced to confront the fact that while his parents sacrificed everything to raise him in the land of opportunity, their traditional expectations don't leave a lot of room for him to be a regular American teen. Desperate to be with Brit without his parents finding out, Frank turns to his family friend Joy Song, who is in a similar bind. Together, they come up with a plan to help each other and keep their parents off their backs. Frank thinks he's found the solution to all his problems, but when life throws him a curveball, he's left wondering whether he ever really knew anything about love--or himself--at all.

In this moving novel, debut author David Yoon takes on the question of who am I? with a result that is humorous, heartfelt, and ultimately unforgettable. 
"I try to eat my lower lip. Then I remember the first Rule of Being a Person: no auto-cannibalism."
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 excited about starting Frankly in Love by David Yoon, but it really missed the mark for me. Additionally, this is a DNF, which I usually save for my DNF&Y post at the end of the month, but I had too many thoughts that I wanted to share right now. I know the book is being released today, so I though it would be a good opportunity for discussion. Frankly in Love has been promoted and hyped like crazy, but I'm just not feeling the love for Frank Li.

Let's start with the language... do teenagers really talk like this nowadays? 

"'Jesus christ almighty hang gliding up in heaven,' I say to Q."

"Dear lord Flying Spaghetti Monster in Pastafarian heaven. I think Brit Means in flirting with me."

"'Jesus,' I say. 'You scared the poop out of my butthole.'"

"What in God's hipster beard is Joy Song doing here?"

I think this book tried too hard to be funny. None of these statements made me laugh, but they were distracting. They felt thrown in at random and forced into conversations or thoughts.

Next, let's talk about love. Frank and Brit's relationship escalated way too quickly. They have calculus together, so they're acquainted, but then an assignment has them working together after school. This entire encounter was weird --from her parents and their matching everything, to how Brit encroached on Frank's personal space without warning. After that afternoon of studying together, the start sucking face at school. A few days later, they're on the beach and Brit is saying she loves him! He doesn't know if he loves her, but he says is back since he doesn't have a better idea. Whaaat??

"Love demands you do stupid things like post goofy selfies, but if that's what love takes, then I can be stupid all day... Wait. Is Brit saying she loves me?"

"'I love you. I love saying I love you. It's like I learned a new word today.'"

"'I love you,' she murmurs, like she's falling asleep. 'It feels so good just to be able to say it finally. I love you.'"

All of this happens in the same chapter, but you get the idea. Instalove, too much too fast -- whatever you want to call it. They barely know each other! They've been on one date and kissed a handful of times. That's not love! Affection? Yes.

Also, Brit is a bully. She flirted with Frank and involved him in some minor theft (and whatever else you want to call what she was doing), and she essentially forced herself into his bubble whenever they were together. Frank could have said no, but he honestly seemed overwhelmed by the attention and desires of his new girlfriend. "'Come on, one selfie,' she says, laughing. 'Let's brag about us. Let's make everyone feel like shit compared with us.'" Was that really necessary? Why do they need to make anyone else feel bad? Why couldn't they just post a selfie because they were happy with each other?

Frank is a douche canoe. Why couldn't he have been honest about his feelings from the start? If he isn't sure about what he's feeling, he should say that. He should not say whatever he thinks someone else wants to here. I also don't think he pushed back enough when his parents made racist comments.

The racist comments. The author mentions the racism at the start of the book, but I still cringed every time Frank's parents said something insensitive or simply ridiculous. They hardcore stereotyped people by the color of their skin, and they were unashamed of their words and feelings. Honestly, it was hard to read. It was even harder to watch Frank and the other Limbos let the comments slide because it was easier than confrontation. They assumed their parents were stuck in their "old ways," which is bullshit. I'm not even going to bother quoting all the awful shit that was said throughout this book.

"We both get serious for a moment. In this particular moment, right here. Sucking cocoa from a girl's hair is weird. Who does that sort of thing? And who lets them? But Brit is letting me. She wants me to. I am extremely proud to be the only person who has ever sucked Brit Means's hair."

No. Just... no. Kids, don't try this at home. I don't think I need to explain myself here. I believe the words and actions speak for themselves.

I liked Q, but his friendship with Frank slipped once Frank started "dating" Brit. He bailed on the things he used to do with is friends just to spend time with her, and he was constantly on his phone talking to her while physically with his friends. Q was understanding and Frank was apologetic, but ugh.

I officially gave up on this one at 39%, but did skim the rest of the book for the highlights. It doesn't seem like Frank Li starts to make better choices. In fact, I believe his decisions get worse as the story progresses. Honestly, I could keep talking about the things that bothered me about this book. Like, "She smelled exhausted." How does that smell, Frank? What does exhausted smell like?? However, I'm going to leave you with a passage that I really enjoyed from this book. A lot of people seem to be raving about Frankly in Love, so I would suggest getting a second opinion before making any final decisions.

"Let me tell you something. I live to make people laugh. Parents, siblings, friends, lovers, doesn't matter. I just have to. If you for some reason don't know how to make someone laugh, then learn. Study that shit like it's the SAT. If you are so unfortunate as to have no one in your life who can make you laugh, drop everything and find one. Cross the desert if you must. Because laughter isn't just about the funny. Laughter is the music of the deep cosmos connecting all human beings that says all the things mere words cannot."

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Mini Reviews [32]

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Bestselling adult author of The Bear and the Nightingale makes her middle grade debut with a creepy, spellbinding ghost story destined to become a classic. Now in paperback.

After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie who only finds solace in books discovers a chilling ghost story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who loved her, and a peculiar deal made with "the smiling man"--a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price.


Captivated by the tale, Ollie begins to wonder if the smiling man might be real when she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she's been reading about on a school trip to a nearby farm. Then, later, when her school bus breaks down on the ride home, the strange bus driver tells Ollie and her classmates: "Best get moving. At nightfall they'll come for the rest of you." Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie's previously broken digital wristwatch begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN.

Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed these warnings. As the trio head out into the woods--bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them--the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: "Avoid large places. Keep to small."

And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins.
"You can't, she decided, be super scared for very long before you start just laughing or crying."
I read Small Spaces with my monsters and it was delightfully eerie! I was often tempted to continue reading after the kids fell asleep, but knew my son would likely never forgive me. The girls are still too young to really follow along, but he definitely would've noticed. I read Katherine Arden's The Bear and the Nightingale and thoroughly enjoyed her storytelling skills, and Small Spaces was no exception -- wonderfully written!

Ollie is dealing with the loss of her mother, and that pain is evident throughout the book. I enjoyed how realistic her feelings were, and how her emotions impacted her day-to-day life. Ollie is no longer interested in school activities, even those she's really good at, and she chooses not to have any friends. She's isolated herself on purpose, and she doesn't want pity from her teachers or others, even though she does occasionally use it to her advantage.

I thought Ollie was a remarkable character that children will be able to relate to. She's intelligent and compassionate, she likes to think outside of the box, and she's willing to go above an beyond to save people from a horrific thing. I thought she was incredibly brave and enjoyed her interactions with others (especially her unlikely allies).

The story itself was creeptastic and only intensified my dislike of scarecrows.


The Magicians: Alice's Story
by Lilah Sturges, Lev Grossman, 
Steve Morris, Pius Bak, Dan Jackson (Art)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Alice Quinn is manifestly brilliant, and she’s always known that magic is real. During her years at Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy, she rises to the top of her class, falls in love with Quentin Coldwater, and witnesses a horrifically magical creature invade their dimension.

It’s not soon after graduation when Alice, Quentin, and their friends set their sights on the idyllic setting of Fillory: a place thought to only live in the pages of their favorite children’s books. A land where magic flows like rivers . . . But in this magical realm nothing is what it seems to be, and something darker lies behind the spellbinding facade. It is in the darkness where Alice will discover her true calling and her life, and those friends, forever changed.

Acclaimed novelist Lev Grossman teams with New York Times bestselling writer Lilah Sturges (Lumberjanes: The Infernal Compass), and breakout artist Pius Bak for a new look at the smash hit trilogy The Magicians.

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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.

I requested The Magicians: Alice's Story even though I'm unfamiliar with Lev Grossman's series and the television show. I know both are popular... but this graphic novel is what finally piqued my interest. I thought it would give me a good feel for the characters and the setting, and I was intrigued by the promise of magic and a mythical world.

Unfortunately, the story felt long and was unexciting. We see what Alice was like as a child, observe her relationship with her parents, watch her obsess over an unresolved issue with a sibling, and then witness her time spent at school. Things picked up when the group went to Fillory, but it was also unimpressive. I felt like certain aspects of this story could've been left out to make this a quicker read, but the details started to feel tedious after awhile. I'm sure it was an interesting story for people familiar with the series, since they're already acquainted with the characters and the setting, but I would not recommend this for someone just starting out.

If you are familiar with this series, did you expect the ending? I thought it was rubbish and unnecessary. It made me angry. I did enjoy how everything eventually connected, but I felt like a lot of bad had to happen before something good came out of it. 

An interesting story, a peculiar setting, and unique characters make up The Magicians: Alice's Story. I may try the series at some point in the future, and that might make me like this one more. As it stands, it was mostly enjoyable but ultimately unremarkable.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Author Interview: Gwen C. Katz


Gwen C. Katz is the author of Among the Red Stars, which is a book I thoroughly enjoyed earlier this year. I'm so happy Gwen reached out with an opportunity to read her book, because it put an incredible story on my radar that I might have missed otherwise.

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

If you would like to read the rest of my review, just click on the link in the first paragraph! I'm thrilled Gwen was willing to do an interview, because her book left me with a lot of questions (not with the story itself, but about the history surrounding the women included in her book). I love stories about woman overcoming obstacles and changing history! (Evie Dunmore's Bringing Down the Duke has similar vibes with the women's suffrage movement.)

Interview:

Q1) Why did you decide to write about the Night Witches from WW2? What originally sparked your interest?

GCK: My father-in-law was the one who originally told me about the Night Witches. He's a big war aviation buff and I asked him one time about female pilots. I ended up dedicating the book to him.

Q2) At the end of your book, you mentioned that most of the characters were based on real people. Was it hard to give these people a voice within your story?

GCK: I actually found this really natural! When I was reading about these people, their voices came through so clearly that I just had to use the real people instead of making up fictional supporting characters.

Q3) I really loved the letters between Valka and Pasha! Did you always plan to tell most of their story that way, or did it just sort of happen?

GCK: I read Dracula at a formative age and I've been a big fan of epistolary novels ever since. Right from the start I realized that would be a great storytelling tool in this book. I hope I'll get the chance to revisit the format in the future, because I think it's a really enjoyable style.

Q4) If you had been a part of Aviation Group 122, what job would have been assigned to you? (Pilot, Navigator, Mechanic, etc.)

GCK: Realistically I probably would have ended up in Siberia, but if I somehow managed to avoid that fate, I'd be a mechanic. Flying a plane in real life is not for me!

Q5) Do you think you'll write something similar in the future? Another story about women overcoming obstacles and proving themselves? 

GCK: I've got another one out to editors right now! It's about the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, which was the women's branch of the US Army during World War II. There are still so many untold stories about women's accomplishments.

Bonus: What book are you currently reading?

GCK: I'm currently reading Devils Unto Dust by Emma Berquist. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

My Weekly Pull [86] & Can't Wait Wednesday [56]

My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday (when the stars align in my favor) to show which comics I had pulled for me that week! If you're into comics, or you're looking to start, please join me! If you decide to do your own post, there's a link-up at the bottom. I would love to stop by and check it out!

Transformers Ghostbusters #4 by Erik Burnham, Dan Schoening

Jacob's comics for the week!
Batman Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III #5 by James Tynion IV, Freddie Williams II, Kevin Eastman
Usagi Yojimbo #4 by Stan Sakai
Absolute Carnage Scream #2 by Cullen Bunn, Gerardo Sandoval
Absolute Carnage Symbiote Spider-Man #1 by Peter David, Francesco Mobili, Greg Land
Amazing Spider-Man Going Big #1 by Various
Punisher #15 by Matthew Rosenberg, Szymon Kudranski, Greg Smallwood
Savage Avengers #5 by Gerry Duggan, Mike Deodato, David Finch

Just one for me this week! I'm totally okay with this because last week was a doozy. I'm currently all caught up on my comics, so hopefully I can maintain my groove. :)

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.

I Hope You Get This Message
by Farah Naz Rishi
Expected publication: October 22nd 2019
Synopsis (via Goodreads): In this high concept YA novel debut that’s We All Looked Up meets The Sun Is Also a Star, three teens must face down the mistakes of their past after they learn that life on Earth might end in less than a week.

News stations across the country are reporting mysterious messages that Earth has been receiving from a planet—Alma—claiming to be its creator. If they’re being interpreted correctly, in seven days Alma will hit the kill switch on their “colony” Earth.

True or not, for teenagers Jesse Hewitt, Cate Collins, and Adeem Khan, the prospect of this ticking time bomb will change their lives forever.

Jesse, who has been dealt one bad blow after another, wonders if it even matters what happens to the world. Cate, on the other hand, is desperate to use this time to find the father she never met. And Adeem, who hasn’t spoken to his estranged sister in years, must find out if he has it in him to forgive her for leaving.

With only a week to face their truths and right their wrongs, Jesse, Cate, and Adeem’s paths collide as their worlds are pulled apart.


*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, September 2, 2019

State of the ARC [14]

State of the ARC is a monthly meme hosted by Avalinah at Avalinah's Books! It's an opportunity for readers to catch up on their long overdue ARCs, but right now I'm using it to keep up with my upcoming ARCs instead. It helps me stay organized!

The Girl the Sea Gave Back (Sky in the Deep, #2) by Adrienne Young (9/3)
Frankly in Love (Frankly in Love, #1) by David Yoon (9/10)
Six Goodbyes We Never Said by Candace Ganger (9/24)

Cursed by Thomas Wheeler, Frank Miller (Illustrator) (10/1)
The Grace Year by Kim Liggett (10/8)
Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1) by Rosaria Munda (10/15)

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren (10/22)
When the Stars Lead to You by Ronni Davis (11/12)
Coral by Sara Ella (11/12)

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord (1/21)
When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald (1/28)
Foul is Fair (Foul is Fair, #1) by Hannah Capin (2/4) 

Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me by Gae Polisner (4/7)

Only three this month! The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett was on this list, but I read and reviewed it yesterday. Loved it! I really hope it turns into a series. I started The Girl the Sea Gave Back today, so hopefully I can squeeze it in before the third! I think I'll be able to. The kids have been sick, so they've been taking longer naps and going to bed early. It makes me sad for them, but also provides a little extra reading time for me. I received Six Goodbyes We Never Said for a blog tour, and I have a feelings it's going to make me cry. 

What are you reading right now? Should I add it to my TBR?

Sunday, September 1, 2019

The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

Synopsis (via Goodreads): The Last Magician meets A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue in this thrilling tale filled with magic and set in the mysterious Carpathian Mountains where a girl must hunt down Vlad the Impaler’s cursed ring in order to save her father.

Some legends never die…

Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protΓ©gΓ©—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.

Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him.

Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it.


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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.

I really hope this turns into a series! I want to go on more adventures with Theo, Huck, and Richard Damn Fox! Daddy Fox wasn't physically present throughout most of the story, but I really enjoyed his journal entries. They showed a side of him that we likely wouldn't have seen had he been interacting with Theo and Huck in person. We get a glimpse into his mind and how it works, and see the why behind some of his actions (though they were still pretty frustrating). 

Theo is a fierce female that knows multiple languages and can crack secret codes. She loves her best friend and her father, though both relationships are strained throughout most of the book. It wasn't a simple misunderstanding, but the lie of a parent to "protect" their child. It caused a lot of heartache, and I was happy with the resolutions that were made. Maybe Theo and Huck needed the time apart to appreciate each other and their feelings a little more... maybe not. I did like their relationship, and how the two of them interacted with each other. It's obvious they have a strong foundation -- been friends for years -- and the resulting romance was subtle and sweet. They weren't consumed by a fiery passion, but felt like two pieces finally clicking together. 

Speaking of Huxley, he's adorable and I want to be his friend. I also love the name Huxley! He can pick locks, fly planes, and is extremely terrified of anything even remotely paranormal (something that fascinates Theo). He lost one family only to find another, and I really enjoyed learning more about him. Seriously, we need more books with these characters. The ending of this book left the potential for more, and I want it!

It's obvious Bennett did her research, because the world she created was vibrant and wholly believable. I know she said she took some liberties with the history, but everything felt real. I've enjoyed her books in the past, but I particularly love it when she adds magic to her stories (see my review for Bitter Spirits). They just have an added oomph that keeps me turning the pages. Vlad the Impaler has always fascinated me (seriously, look him up), and I thought this story was the perfect mix of fact and fiction. 

The Lady Rogue was a quick read that left me wanting more. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and will keep my fingers crossed for future books with Theo and Huck!