Thursday, October 31, 2019

DNF&Y [22]

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!

Cursed by Thomas Wheeler,
Frank Miller (Illustrator)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Soon to be a Netflix original series!

The Lady of the Lake is the true hero in this cinematic twist on the tale of King Arthur created by Thomas Wheeler and legendary artist, producer, and director Frank Miller (300, Batman: The Dark Night Returns, Sin City). Featuring 8 full color and 30 black-and-white pieces of original artwork by Frank Miller.
Whosoever wields the Sword of Power shall be the one true King.

But what if the Sword has chosen a Queen?

Nimue grew up an outcast. Her connection to dark magic made her something to be feared in her Druid village, and that made her desperate to leave…

That is, until her entire village is slaughtered by Red Paladins, and Nimue’s fate is forever altered. Charged by her dying mother to reunite an ancient sword with a legendary sorcerer, Nimue is now her people’s only hope. Her mission leaves little room for revenge, but the growing power within her can think of little else.

Nimue teams up with a charming mercenary named Arthur and refugee Fey Folk from across England. She wields a sword meant for the one true king, battling paladins and the armies of a corrupt king. She struggles to unite her people, avenge her family, and discover the truth about her destiny.

But perhaps the one thing that can change Destiny itself is found at the edge of a blade.


DNF at 41%

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 Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Cursed wasn't a terrible book, but I never felt compelled to pick it up. I kept choosing to read other books instead, which is why I wasn't able to finish this one before its release date. The characters were flat and uninteresting, and I wasn't able to connect with them or their individual stories. Merlin is a drunk. A manipulative, ridiculous drunk that didn't contribute much to the story. Arthur can't decide if he wants to be dependable or flaky, and Nimue was a very one-dimensional main character that rarely made her own decisions. She was either following the orders of others, or doing what the Hidden and the Sword of Power compelled her to do.

The story is also very violent, and actually made me feel sick to my stomach. The deaths were gruesome on their own, but when the atrocities were committed against children... infants... I can't. Especially when one of the babies is later used to convey a message from the Hidden, like some twisted reanimated zombie doll. 

Additionally, I didn't care for the random illustrations peppered in throughout the story. They were odd and distracting. I normally like Frank Miller's work, but the artwork in Cursed missed the mark for me.

I thought the overall concept was unique and had the potential to be interesting, but I wasn't captivated by the story. The Fey twist on Arthurian legend was promising, but I wish they'd expanded on the different clans and variations of Fey. I also felt like there were gaps in the story when we went from one chapter to the next. It always took me a few minutes to figure out who was speaking and where they were. I think the structure of the book could have been a little smoother, but maybe it will transition better as a television series.


The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
Synopsis (via Goodreads): A speculative thriller in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Power. Optioned by Universal and Elizabeth Banks to be a major motion picture!

“A visceral, darkly haunting fever dream of a novel and an absolute page-turner. Liggett’s deeply suspenseful book brilliantly explores the high cost of a misogynistic world that denies women power and does it with a heart-in-your-throat, action-driven story that’s equal parts horror-laden fairy tale, survival story, romance, and resistance manifesto. I couldn’t stop reading.” – Libba Bray, New York Times bestselling author

Survive the year.

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

DNF at 45%
"To be at odds with your nature, what everyone expects from you, is a life of constant struggle."
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 know people are raving about The Grace Year, so I'm going to preemptively apologize for any toes I might step on. What can I say? I'm a terrible dancer.

First of all, the setting was vague. Did they live in some sort of secluded community? A compound? Where they a cult of some sort and the girls just didn't realize it? What is going on in the rest of the world? Vikings are occasionally mentioned, so does this book take place shortly after that? They don't have cars or electricity from what I can tell, but even the people that live on the outskirts seemed connected to the community. Surely they would have left if they had other options? I needed more details about the world they lived in, and how their community originated. I felt like I was playing a video game where only part of the map was visible to me.

Secondly, the characters made me batshit crazy. People aren't supposed to talk about what happens during the grace year, but details and stories trickled through the cracks. Parents and siblings send their daughters and sisters away to succumb to madness and death every year, and for what? Nonexistent magic (guessing here)? A way for men to exert control over the women? There were way more women in the community, and they should have done more to protect their families. They've survived hell on earth, witnessed unbelievable cruelty, yet stand idly by as it happens to others.

The girls in this book are sixteen, and I felt like they were incredibly violent for teenagers. What sane person wants to willingly hurt someone else? I get that these girls were likely drugged by the water supply, or the rations they were given (just a guess), which is what led to their madness, but they were catty and cruel long before that. Small spoiler: Girls were committing suicide before they even reached the encampment. Also, why was everyone so willing to drink from Kiersten's cup of crazy? Surely, they could logically see that Tierney was trying to provide for the group and make sure they survived for the entire year? Why didn't the unveiled girls stick together and prevent Kiersten from asserting "God-like" powers over everyone else? And their magic? Pshh. Why would they believe any of that? I know, I know, I know... they've been conditioned their entire lives, and sometimes it's easier to just believe what you want. However, was there not a single working brain among them? Even Tierney made stupid decisions. She should have taken the axe and lopped Kiersten's head off the second she started hurting others for her own sick amusement.

Thirdly, what purpose to the poachers serve? Where did they come from? They obviously have some connection with the community, but I cannot fathom how they can hunt and kill young girls for pleasure. It was a game to them... the brutality and death. They would torture children for hours, but why were they hunting them in the first place? (I'm sure this is answered later on in the book!) It made me ill to see how quickly people turned on each other. It wasn't necessarily to save themselves, but for the joy of hurting someone else. Girls go through this every year, and no one talks about it? I know it's "forbidden," but the parents should have done more to protect their children.

Lastly, there are no chapters in this book! I like to read from chapter to chapter, but I think there are four total breaks in the book. Sections? Not cool. There were plenty of moments when a new chapter could have started, or at least a chapter break.

Everything about The Grace Year felt disorganized, and the characters were unbelievably frustrating. Why? Why? Why? Why go through something that horrific and then make your children experience the same terror and madness? What parent does that? I think this book had potential, but I often found myself annoyed and angry. Again, a lot of people have really enjoyed The Grace Year, so check out some other reviews first!

*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!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

My Weekly Pull [94] & Can't Wait Wednesday [64]

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!

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #13 by Tom Taylor, Ken Lashley
Excalibur #1 by Tini Howard, Marcus To, Mike Del Mundo
Marvel Zombies Resurrection #1 by Philip Kennedy Johnson, Leonard Kirk, Junggeun Yoon 

Transformers Galaxies #2 by Tyler Bleszinski, Livio Ramondelli
Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal Age of Resistance #2 by Nicole Andelfinger, Matias Balsa, Mona Finden

Jacob's comics for the week!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #99 by Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman, Dave Wachter
Kick-Ass #18 by Steve Niles, Marcelo Frusin
Red Goblin Red Death #1 by Patrick Gleason, Pete Woods, Philip Tan
Savage Avengers Annual #1 by Gerry Duggan, Ron Garney, Mike Deodato Jr.
Venom #19 by Donny Cates, Iban Coello, Kyle Hotz

Marvel Zombies Resurrection is going to be the perfect Halloween read! I'm also really looking forward to the second issue of The Dark Crystal Age of Resistance. Excalibur is new to me, but the synopsis was interesting and I couldn't resist this variant cover! I'm loving the 80's-vibe.

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.

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli & 
Aisha Saeed
Expected publication: February 4th 2020
Synopsis (via Goodreads): New York Times bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed have crafted a resonant, funny, and memorable story about the power of love and resistance.

YES
Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate—as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking
at all to almost anyone), Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.

NO
Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is
political canvassing—with some awkward dude she hardly knows—is beyond her.

MAYBE SO
Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer—and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural romance of the century is another thing entirely.


*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, October 29, 2019

Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart
[Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway]

Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the Scars Like Wings blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. I am thrilled 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: SCARS LIKE WINGS
Author: Erin Stewart
Pub. Date: October 1, 2019
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 352
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, Audible, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD

Relatable, heartbreaking, and real, this is a story of resilience--the perfect novel for readers of powerful contemporary fiction like Girl in Pieces and Every Last Word.

Before, I was a million things. Now I'm only one. The Burned Girl.

Ava Lee has lost everything there is to lose: Her parents. Her best friend. Her home. Even her face. She doesn't need a mirror to know what she looks like--she can see her reflection in the eyes of everyone around her.

A year after the fire that destroyed her world, her aunt and uncle have decided she should go back to high school. Be "normal" again. Whatever that is. Ava knows better. There is no normal for someone like her. And forget making friends--no one wants to be seen with the Burned Girl, now or ever.

But when Ava meets a fellow survivor named Piper, she begins to feel like maybe she doesn't have to face the nightmare alone. Sarcastic and blunt, Piper isn't afraid to push Ava out of her comfort zone. Piper introduces Ava to Asad, a boy who loves theater just as much as she does, and slowly, Ava tries to create a life again. Yet Piper is fighting her own battle, and soon Ava must decide if she's going to fade back into her scars . . . or let the people by her side help her fly.

"A heartfelt and unflinching look at the reality of being a burn survivor and at the scars we all carry. This book is for everyone, burned or not, who has ever searched for a light in the darkness." --Stephanie Nielson, New York Times bestselling author of Heaven Is Here and a burn survivor

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I received an ARC from the publisher via 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.

Scars Like Wings was a very breathtaking and emotional read. Once I started this book, I didn't want to put it down. I wanted needed to know what happened with Ava, Piper, and Asad. They were all very compelling characters, and I really enjoyed getting to know them and their individual personalities. 

In addition to the wonderful friendships, there's a dash of mystery peppered in throughout the story. We slowly see how Ava and Piper's accidents happened, which added wonderfully complex layers to the story. Asad was there for comedic relief, and I thought he was absolutely adorable! 

I thought the journal entries were a clever addition the story, since it allowed us to see a different side of Ava, and offered a very honest perspective. She's someone you want to root for, and I really liked seeing her make steps to reclaim her life, despite how destroyed she felt inside and out. 

I cannot praise Scars Like Wings enough! It was a story that grabbed my heartstrings from the very first page, and I know it's a story I'm going to think about for a long, long time.

Monday, October 28, 2019

The Fire Keeper (The Storm Runner, #2)
by J.C. Cervantes, Irvin Rodriguez (Illustrations)
[Blog Tour: Spotlight & Giveaway]

Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the blog tour for The Fire Keeper hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Initially, I was going to review this book for the tour, but my copy of the book never arrived (warehouse woes). However, I do get to share this lovely spotlight post with you -- whoo! Thank you for stopping by, and don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom!

Title: THE FIRE KEEPER
Author: J.C. Cervantes, Irvin Rodriguez (Illustrations)
Pub. Date: September 3, 2019
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion, Rick Riordan Presents
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 432
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, Audible, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD

Zane Obispo's new life on a beautiful secluded tropical island, complete with his family and closest friends, should be perfect. But he can't control his newfound fire skills yet (inherited from his father, the Maya god Hurakan); there's a painful rift between him and his dog ever since she became a hell hound; and he doesn't know what to do with his feelings for Brooks.

One day he discovers that by writing the book about his misadventures with the Maya gods, he unintentionally put other godborn children at risk. Unless Zane can find the godborns before the gods do, they will be killed. To make matters worse, Zane learns that Hurakan is scheduled to be executed. Zane knows he must rescue him, no matter the cost. Can he accomplish both tasks without the gods detecting him, or will he end up a permanent resident of the underworld?

In this cleverly plotted sequel to The Storm Runner, the gang is back together again with spirited new characters, sneaky gods, unlikely alliances, and secrets darker than Zane could ever have imagined. Secrets that will change him forever.

About J.C.:

J.C. Cervantes is the New York Times best-selling author of The Storm Runner, The Fire Keeper, and Tortilla Sun. Her books have appeared on national lists, including the American Booksellers Association New Voices, Barnes and Noble’s Best Young Reader Books, and Favorite MG Science Fiction/Fantasy Top Ten Books, as well as Amazon’s Best Books of the Month. She has earned multiple awards and recognitions, including the New Mexico Book Award, and the Zia Book Award.

J.C. lives in New Mexico (otherwise known as the Land of Enchantment) can read, write, and talk backwards, always roots for the underdog, and believes in magic.

Her work is represented by Holly Root at Root Literary.


Giveaway Details:
3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE FIRE KEEPER, US Only.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.

During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.

Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.

With Christina Lauren’s signature “beautifully written and remarkably compelling” (Sarah J. Maas, New York Times bestselling author) prose and perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jennifer Weiner, Twice in a Blue Moon is an unforgettable and moving novel of young love and second chances.

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners and the “delectable, moving” (Entertainment Weekly) My Favorite Half-Night Stand comes a modern love story about what happens when your first love reenters your life when you least expect it...
𑁋𑁋𑁋
"I don’t know why people think permanent denial is better than temporary disappointment.”
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 had really high expectations for Twice in a Blue Moon after reading and loving the last few books written by this duo. Unfortunately, the story was mostly disappointing.

My first complaint would be the character's ages. Tate and Sam meet when they are 18 and 21 respectively, and then fourteen years pass before the story picks back up. However, Tate and Sam still act like they did when they were together in London. It was like they never grew up, which was really weird since now they're both in their 30's. Whenever something happened, I had to remind myself that they were waaaay older, because their actions and responses felt immature for their current ages. I wish we'd seen some really obvious character growth, but it just wasn't there.

Additionally, Tate's relationship with her father really bothered me. She claims to be her own person now, but still lets him impact how she feels about herself. The guy has done nothing to earn her respect or her love, yet she freely gives him both. It didn't make sense that she was intimated by him, especially after being very successful herself. I also found it hard to believe that she would let him lie about their past together without calling him on his bullshit (very intricate and excessive lies). I don't know how PR and all that jazz works, but the man was selfish and shouldn't've gotten away with so much.

At the end of the book, I thought there would finally be a confrontation between Tate and her father, or we'd see more confidence and conviction from our leading lady. Sadly, while the ending implies Tate is going to "set the record straight," we don't actually see any of that. A lot of the story was left unresolved, and I wish the authors had written an epilogue or something that addressed all of the loose ends. There were serious issues that needed to be discussed before the book's conclusion.

I felt like the characters in Twice in a Blue Moon lacked authenticity and believability. The book takes place on the set of a movie being filmed, but I never felt like I was fully there for the experience. I was always an outsider looking in, and I want to feel like I'm a part of the story. Honestly, it was a quick read once I sat down and told myself I was going to finish the book, but I didn't feel compelled to pick it up. The before period was probably more interesting than the after, but things progressed slowly throughout the entire book.

The initial friendship and subsequent relationship between Tate and Sam was really sweet. I was completely swept up in their London romance, despite knowing it wasn't going to end well (it's in the synopsis). They were adorable together and so clearly in love, so the lack of communication for fourteen years wasn't entirely believable. I felt like the Sam from before would have reached out, despite the reasons he gives later on for not doing so. It felt out of character for him. “But then I touch you, and it’s like every fantasy I ever had coming true.” Instead of giving Tate the benefit of the doubt, he opted to play the villain in their story.

A bookish pet peeve: miscommunication plays a role in this one. Tate overhears something and makes assumptions, but doesn't think to ask Sam about it.

I did enjoy most of the secondary characters, although I wish they'd had larger roles. It would've been nice to see something happen with Charlie and Nick, or even Trey and someone on set. Maybe if the four of them had spent more time together? I don't know. It was like we were stuck on an endless loop with Tate. The stuff with her father, and then everything with Sam... we just went in circles. I also don't think Tate should have been so blindsided. What she found surprising was ridiculously obvious and sadly predictable. In the end, Twice in a Blue Moon wasn't a terrible read, but I did expect more going into it.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake
[Blog Tour: Spotlight & Giveaway]

Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the blog tour for The Last True Poets of the Sea hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Initially, I was going to review this book for the tour, but my copy of the book never arrived (insert tears here). However, I do get to share this lovely spotlight post with you -- whoo! Thank you for stopping by, and don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom!

Title: THE LAST TRUE POETS OF THE SEA
Author: Julia Drake
Pub. Date: October 1, 2019
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 400
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, Audible, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD

The Larkin family isn't just lucky—they persevere. At least that's what Violet and her younger brother, Sam, were always told. When the Lyric sank off the coast of Maine, their great-great-great-grandmother didn't drown like the rest of the passengers. No, Fidelia swam to shore, fell in love, and founded Lyric, Maine, the town Violet and Sam returned to every summer. 

But wrecks seem to run in the family: Tall, funny, musical Violet can't stop partying with the wrong people. And, one beautiful summer day, brilliant, sensitive Sam attempts to take his own life. 

Shipped back to Lyric while Sam is in treatment, Violet is haunted by her family's missing piece-the lost shipwreck she and Sam dreamed of discovering when they were children. Desperate to make amends, Violet embarks on a wildly ambitious mission: locate the Lyric, lain hidden in a watery grave for over a century. 

She finds a fellow wreck hunter in Liv Stone, an amateur local historian whose sparkling intelligence and guarded gray eyes make Violet ache in an exhilarating new way. Whether or not they find the Lyric, the journey Violet takes-and the bridges she builds along the way-may be the start of something like survival. 

Epic, funny, and sweepingly romantic, The Last True Poets of the Sea is an astonishing debut about the strength it takes to swim up from a wreck.

About Julia: 

Julia Drake grew up outside Philadelphia. As a teenager, she played some of Shakespeare's best heroines in her high school theater program and their stories would stay with her forever. She received her BA in Spanish from Williams College, and her MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, where she also taught writing to first-year students. 

She currently works as a book coach for aspiring writers and teaches creative writing classes for Writopia Lab, a nonprofit that fosters love of writing in young adults. She lives in San Francisco with her partner and their rescue rabbit, Ned.




Giveaway Details: 
3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE LAST TRUE POETS OF THE SEA, US Only. 


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

My Weekly Pull [93] & Can't Wait Wednesday [63]

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!

Amazing Mary Jane #1 by Leah Williams, Carlos E. Gomez, Humberto Ramos
Marauders #1 by Gerry Duggan, Matteo Lolli, Russell Dauterman

Jacob's comics for the week!
Absolute Carnage Lethal Protectors #3 by Frank Tieri, Flaviano, Greg Smallwood
Amazing Spider-Man Full Circle #1 by Nick Spencer, Chris Bachalo, Rod Reis
Amazing Spider-Man #32 by Nick Spencer, Patrick Gleason, Mahmud Asrar
Punisher Kill Krew #4 by Gerry Duggan, Juan Ferreyra

Both of my comics are new, so I'm not entirely sure what to expect! However, I am familiar with the writers. Gerry Duggan is writing Marauders and I've enjoyed his work in the past (Deadpool & Guardians of the Galaxy). I haven't read anything X-Men related in awhile (unless you count The New Mutants: War Children, which I don't), and hope this one doesn't disappoint!

Leah Williams is also writing the new Gwenpool comic -- which I'm not loving -- so hopefully her MJ is better than her Gwen!

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.

Girls Like Us by Randi Pink
Expected publication: October 29th 2019
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Set in the summer of 1972, this moving YA historical novel is narrated by teen girls from different backgrounds with one thing in common: Each girl is dealing with pregnancy.

Four teenage girls. Four different stories. What they all have in common is that they’re dealing with unplanned pregnancies.

In rural Georgia, Izella is wise beyond her years, but burdened with the responsibility of her older sister, Ola, who has found out she’s pregnant. Their young neighbor, Mississippi, is also pregnant, but doesn’t fully understand the extent of her predicament. When her father sends her to Chicago to give birth, she meets the final narrator, Susan, who is white and the daughter of an anti-choice senator.

Randi Pink masterfully weaves four lives into a larger story – as timely as ever – about a woman’s right to choose her future.

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I have a feeling Girls Like Us is going to be a very emotional read!

*Share your My Weekly Pull post! Please leave the direct link to your My Weekly Pull post and not just your blog's URL. Thank you for participating and happy reading!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Mini Reviews [34]

Once & Future (#1-2) by Kieron Gillen, 
Dan Mora & Tamra Bonvillain (Illustrators)

Synopsis (via Goodreads): When a group of Nationalists use an ancient artifact to bring a villain from Arthurian myth back from the dead to gain power, ex-monster hunter Bridgette McGuire escapes her retirement home and pulls her unsuspecting grandson Duncan, a museum curator, into a world of magic and mysticism to defeat a legendary threat.

Bestselling writer Kieron Gillen (The Wicked + The Divine, Star Wars) and Russ Manning Award-winning artist Dan Mora (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Klaus) explore the mysteries of the past, the complicated truths of our history and the power of family to save the day…especially if that family has secret bunkers of ancient weapons and decades of experience hunting the greatest monsters in Britain’s history!

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I am loving this series -- hooked from the very first page! The first issue sold out waaaay before it's release date, and they ended up doing three or four additional printings (which also sold out). This all happened before the first issue was actually published! I was fortunate enough to snag a first printing, but only because I pre-ordered this one in advance (yay newsletters!). After reading the synopsis, how could I not? However, all of the other covers are amazing, and I was tempted to buy one of each!

If you like fantasy or retellings, Once & Future is definitely worth reading! There's also a badass grandma barely blinking at monsters, which I thought was a wonderful addition to the story. Her grandson, Duncan, has no idea what's happening, or who his grandmother really is. Their relationship is realistic and also hilarious. She has no problem tossing a spear at him, or telling him to run and run fast, while she looks for something. I really like this duo, and I'm so happy they decided to make this an ongoing series instead of a mini. I cannot wait to see what adventures they go on!


New Mutants: War Children (#1)
by Chris Claremont, 
Bill Sienkiewicz (Illustrator)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Don’t miss this momentous event as legendary creators CHRIS CLAREMONT and BILL SIENKIEWICZ reunite with Magik, Wolfsbane, Cannonball, Cypher, Mirage, Karma, and Sunspot to share this never before told story of the New Mutants’ past! When Warlock experiences a nightmare, he begins going haywire, and it’s up to his friends to save him! But as Warlock grows more frenzied, they should be worrying about being able to save themselves…and doubly so when Magik’s inner demon, Darkchylde, threatens to break free! Also, a special guest appearance by none other than Kitty Pryde!

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I hate to say it, but The New Mutants: War Children was bad. The author assumed a lot of the reader, so the circumstances of the story were poorly explained. Additionally, the characters were familiar but also unrecognizable. If I hadn't read a similar series previously, I wouldn't have known who they were or what they were doing. A new reader will likely have a difficult time with this one, and it's not fair to assume everyone will have a base knowledge of the world being written about. There has to be some context and background information.

The story was all over the place and I felt like it went on forever. They're trying to find their friend and prevent him from doing something bad (needed more details), but there was nothing leading up to that moment. We go from one thing to the next with very little explanation, and then the story ends. I wish I could say the illustrations saved this one for me, because I typically enjoy Sienkiewicz's style, but this was just terrible. Everything was blurred and out of focus, or scratchy and unidentifiable, and there was a lot going on. If The New Mutants: War Children hadn't been a comic, I probably wouldn't have finished it.


Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal: Age of 
Resistance (#1) by Nicole Andelfinger, 
Mona Finden, Matias Basla, &
Miquel Muerto (Illustrators)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Return to another world, another time…in the age of wonder. The Skeksis reign over Thra, but there are distant echoes of rebellion in the air. Gelfling and unlikely heroes emerge to champion what is good and just, but their stories started long ago. Epic tales of adventure, magic, and mystery send us back in time to witness the untold histories that forged these protectors of Thra. 

Based on a story by Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance series writers, Will Matthews & Jeffery Addiss, Nicole Andelfinger (Lumberjanes) and Matias Basla (Sparrowhawk) present an official prequel to the next chapter of the pop culture phenomenon, streaming on Netflix this August.

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I thought this was a wonderful first issue for Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. I haven't watched the new Netflix series yet, but The Dark Crystal is one of my favorite childhood movies. I recently watched it with my son and realized I'd forgotten about some of the darker aspects of the story -- whoops! He said it wasn't too scary, but that he didn't want to watch it again, haha.

New Gelflings are introduced, familiar creatures make an appearance, and we see a world that existed before the destruction that led to The Dark Crystal. Skeksis are portrayed as protectors, although I suspect they have ulterior motives based on what I already know about them. Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance was a solid first issue that has me looking forward to the next one!


Spider-Man (#1) by J.J. Abrams,
Henry Adams, Olivier Coipel
 & Sara Pichelli (Illustrators)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): The most shocking and incredible comic of 2019 is here as J.J. ABRAMS (STAR WARS, STAR TREK, SUPER 8) and his son HENRY ABRAMS are joined by superstar artist SARA PICHELLI (MILES MORALES, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY) team up for SPIDER-MAN! What do they have planned for Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson?! Who is Cadaverous?! The Modern Master of Mystery Makes His Marvel this September!

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First of all, WHAT THE FUCK J.J. ABRAMS? HOW COULD YOU? Second, that was one hell of a first issue! I was definitely not expecting that particular twist, but I can see how it impacts the rest of the story. That doesn't mean I have to like it!

This new Spider-Man is likely going to be about Peter and MJ's son, Ben. I love it when we see what our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man is like with kids, which is one of the reasons I enjoyed Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows so much (they had a daughter in that one). Ben is an emotional teenager that doesn't get a long with his father, which is plenty interesting on its own since Peter Parker is the father in this scenario. Aunt May is also alive and kicking, and she's one of my all-time favorite comic book characters!

I'm not sure how this story is going to play out, since things have already happened very differently from what I was expecting, so this should be interesting! If you like Spider-Man, be sure check this one out!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
[Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway]

Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the 10 Blind Dates 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: 10 BLIND DATES
Author: Ashley Elston
Pub. Date: October 1, 2019
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 336
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, Audible, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD

Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship.

Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents' house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That's when her Nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby.

When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she's started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available.

This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever . . . or is it?

"This piece-by-piece romance doesn't need its Christmas theme to sell, but it makes it glitter all the more."—Booklist

"In a funny holiday romance that has Sophie dog-sitting in a hockey rink, watching porn at a drive-in theater, and playing the Virgin Mary in a middle school Nativity, Elston cleverly reflects the family members' personalities through their choices of dates for Sophie."—Publishers Weekly

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I received an ARC from the publisher via 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.

10 Blind Dates was my first holiday read of the year! I'm happy to report it was heartwarming and absolutely adorable. I loved the family dynamics! Most of the characters in this book were related, and I really enjoyed seeing how they interacted with each other. There were so many aunts, uncles, and cousins! It would've been easy to get lost in the chaos, but there was something comforting about it too.

I do have a couple of issues... the first one being the number of blind dates Sophie goes on. It was pretty obvious from the beginning who she would end up with, so after a certain point the dates started to feel like a waste of time. I would've liked to see their relationship develop a little more, but it's just a brief blip at the end. Additionally, her relationship with Griffin was weird. He was a stalker, and I really wish that had been addressed. He messaged her nonstop after the breakup, commented on what she was doing with other guys, and showed up unexpectedly on multiple occasions (even going so far as to reach out to one of her cousins for information about where she'd be). It was icky. He was icky.

The dates themselves were super fun, and I'm actually a little jealous of her adventures! I'm happy I was able to live vicariously through her, if only for a few hours. The family hijinks and shenanigans, the betting pool, and the dating activities had me laughing out loud and grinning like a fool! It was also nice that some of her previous dates popped up sporadically throughout the rest of the book. 10 Blind Dates was never boring, and even managed to surprise me a time or two. A few of her dates were really lovely, while others were a train wreck you couldn't look away from.

Sophie's family was probably my favorite thing about this book! They all live near each other, so her grandmother's house is always full of people and food (really, really good food). This book made me crave a cannoli! Everyone wanted to participate in Sophie's blind dates, because they wanted to see her smile and have fun. They were invested in her happiness, which was sweet and made my heart feel full. It's not a perfect family, but the love is there and that's what matters. I really liked the relationship between the Fab Four, and wish they'd been able to do more together as a group. They're included on a few of the dates, but I think more isolated moments with them would have been fun! Charlie is hilarious, Olivia is a fierce friend, and Wes is very much The Boy Next Door.

I thought all of the dates were creative and believable, and I'm happy Sophie was willing to take the time she needed to sort through her feelings. She didn't waver whenever Griffin claimed he wanted her back, but she was internally conflicted over what to do. Her emotions and responses felt honest and relatable, but she was also willing to admit when something wasn't working. She gave herself some much needed room to breathe, and she remembered what it was like to be surrounded by people who loved her.

The side story with her sister was stressful! It added another emotional layer to the story, and some long-distance driving. I don't want to give too much away, because it was fun trying to guess what Sophie's dates would be before she went on them, but Sara's choice was my favorite! Also, I wish the characters had been fleshed out just a smidge more, but it wasn't a huge issue. There was so much good to focus us! Simply put, 10 Blind Dates was a fun and entertaining read that I enjoyed immensely!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

My Weekly Pull [92] & Can't Wait Wednesday [62]

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 #13 by Brian Ruckley, Angel Hernandez, Alex Milne, Winston Chan
Marked #1 by David Hine, Brian Haberlin, Geirrod Van Dyke
Spider-Man #2 by J.J. Abrams, Henry Abrams, Sara Pichelli, Olivier Coipel

Firefly #10 by Greg Pak, Dan McDaid, Lee Garbett
Once & Future #3 by Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora

Jacob's comics for the week!
Absolute Carnage #4 by Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman
Absolute Carnage Avengers #1 by Leah Williams, Zac Thompson, Guiu Villanova, Alberto Albequerque, Clayton Crain
Absolute Carnage Scream #3 by Cullen Bunn, Gerardo Sandoval
Absolute Carnage vs Deadpool #3 by Frank Tieri, Marcelo Ferreira, Tyler Kirkham
Guardians of the Galaxy #10 by Donny Cates, Cory Smith, Patrick Zircher
History of the Marvel Universe #4 by Mark Waid, Javier Rodriguez, Steve McNiven
Hit-Girl #9 by Peter Milligan, Alison Sampson, Declan Shalvey
Strayed #3 by Carlos Giffoni, Juan Doe

If you enjoy fantasy, retellings, or Arthurian legend (and aren't opposed to the occasional zombie), then I highly recommend Once & Future. I've only read the first two issues and I'm completely smitten with the story! There's also a kickass grandma! Her grandson is adorable and wholly unprepared for the world she's thrown him into. I'm am so, so happy they decided to make this an ongoing series instead of a mini -- whoop!

Firefly is about to get ugly! I hope Greg Pak doesn't kill off anyone I like, because that would really suck. The first issue of Spider-Man was brutal. My eyes were watering after two pages (I'm seriously going to cry just thinking about it)! Damn you, J.J. Abrams! I believe this new series is going to be about MJ and Peter's son, Ben.

Marked is a new one I'm going to try -- just look at that cover! Also, "terrifying, soul-destroying magic" sounds like loads of fun. ↣ The Marked may look like cool young influencers, but beneath the designer clothes, their bodies are tattooed with the magical glyphs of an ancient order that secretly protects the world against evil forces. With no new occult threats, The Marked use their tattooed powers solely for the pursuit of pleasure until a young woman called Liza creates a dangerous new form of Hybrid Sorcery. The party is over for The Marked. You'll believe in magic-terrifying, soul-destroying magic.

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.

Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz
Expected publication: 11/5/19
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Isabel has one rule: no dating.
It's easier--
It's safer--
It's better--
--for the other person.
She's got issues. She's got secrets. She's got rheumatoid arthritis.
But then she meets another sick kid.
He's got a chronic illness Isabel's never heard of, something she can't even pronounce. He understands what it means to be sick. He understands her more than her healthy friends. He understands her more than her own father who's a doctor.
He's gorgeous, fun, and foul-mouthed. And totally into her.
Isabel has one rule: no dating.
It's complicated--
It's dangerous--
It's never felt better--
--to consider breaking that rule for him.

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I wasn't sure about this one until I saw the small print on the cover! It says, They don't die in this one, which is a huge relief after reading the synopsis. 

*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, October 14, 2019

An Ember in the Ashes
(An Ember in the Ashes, #1) by Sabaa Tahir

Narrated by Fiona Hardingham & Steve West
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.


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An Ember in the Ashes was a phenomenal read! I flew through the audiobook and looked forward to being in the car for a little extra listening time (quietly, since the kids are too young for this book). Steve West and Fiona Hardingham are amazing narrators and really brought this story to life. I could listen to them for hours, and I did! I cannot wait to listen to the rest of this series on audio, and I've already purchased physical copies for my shelves. Sabaa Tahir has created a very unique and compelling story, although I wish she was a little nicer to Laia and Elias (she seems to really like making my heart stop and creating scenarios that take my breath away).

The characters in this book are memorable and relatable. Laia didn't start off wanting to change the world, she just wanted to get through the day without drawing attention to herself. When she loses her family, her brother becomes her priority, and she learns that she's stronger than she thinks. We see her go from someone that doesn't want to be noticed, to a person that's willing to sacrifice herself for others. There's very obvious character growth, but it happens over the course of the entire book, which made it more honest and believable.

Elias doesn't want to be a soldier. He doesn't want to spend his life killing for the Empire, so he makes secret plans of his own. When those plans are unexpectedly thwarted, he finds himself battling friends and foes alike. It's hard to know who to trust in this book, since everyone seems to have ulterior motives or they know something we don't. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but was still surprised when it finally did. There is so much going on in this book -- so many threads -- that it's mind-blowing. Everyone and everything is connected. One small action ripples out until it causes unexpected waves. I absolutely loved it!

Even the secondary characters were well-written and fleshed out. Elias treasured his friends and their place in his life, and he never wanted his actions to impact them negatively. The members of the Resistance, Cook, Izzy, Helene -- all wonderfully written. I could clearly see them in my mind, and I cared about what happened to (most of) them.

An Ember in the Ashes is extremely violent. People are tortured, murdered, and forced into slavery. We see a very dark side of human nature, and how scary it is when one group of people thinks they are better than another. The Martials believe they are superior to the Scholars simply because there was a fight and they won. They kill freely and without mercy, and were even willing to do it to their own comrades. Tahir has painted a very frightening picture that rings true in certain aspects of the world today.

The world-building was incredible! It was so vivid and realistic! I felt like I was there experiencing the world with Laia and Elias. I walked through the catacombs and hidden tunnels, scaled precarious mountain trails and danced at a Moon Festival. Unfortunately, that also meant I shared in Elias and Laia's pain and discomfort (like their emotional turmoil wasn't bad enough -- eesh).

I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to start this series, but hopefully the fourth and final book is published before I finish the third! I already know I'm not going to want to wait once I get that far. I'm going to need answers! If you haven't read An Ember in the Ashes, I highly recommend it! Once you start, you're not going to be able to stop.