Monday, August 3, 2015

A Good Week in Books (114)

I had a nice week in books. But, I’ve had an interesting couple of weeks in general. There was one week in July where I was MIA and I wish I could say it was because I went on vacation. Instead, it’s because I had an emergency surgery to remove my gallbladder. I couldn’t blog, or do much reading for a week or so. I did bring up my audiobooks from the car and that helped a lot. I’m all good now. Apparently, we don’t need gallbladders, so no big loss.  I went back to work last week, just in time for our big Harry Potter Birthday Party. This is me decked out and ready to celebrate:

We had edible potion making, a coloring/crossword/sorting quiz station, guess how many jelly beans in jar game, birthday cake, and we watched the first movie. It was a great time.

And I was good enough this past weekend to make it to Boston Comic Con. I have a few pictures to share. I'm a big Wonder Woman fan.

These are some geeky prints I picked up. I’m a big Miyazaki fan so I loved the poster that’s a homage to him. Also, how cool is the Hogwarts Express poster? And I picked up such a fun, candid photo from The Walking Dead set (I’m a big fan of that show too.) Also, so much Sirius love.

I went to the con with my wonderful boyfriend, who picked up these goodies for me. I’m so lucky to have a boyfriend who spots the booth selling Harry Potter jewelry and then says he wants to buy me some. Also, when I was too tired to geek out any more and went to sit down for the last bit of the con, my boyfriend found me a Wonder Woman Lego mini figure. He’s the best.

These are the books I got this week. The two comics are also from the boyfriend. He gave me his copy of the The Walking Dead graphic novel, so I could have Tony Moore sign it! And I’m a big Arrow fan. I’m feeling spoiled. Also, I got two new books to review courtesy of Macmillan.
 How to Say I Love You Out Loud by Karole Cozzo
Public Enemies by Ann Aguirre
The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirman and Tony Moore
Green Arrow Year One Special Edition
How was your week in books?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan and read by Joshua Swanson

Summary from Goodreads:
Percy is confused. When he awoke from his long sleep, he didn't know much more than his name, even after the wolf Lupa told him he is a demigod and trained him to fight. Somehow Percy manages to make it to a camp for half-bloods. The only thing he can recall from his past is another name: Annabeth.

Hazel is supposed to be dead. When she lived before, she was an obedient daughter, even when her mother was possessed by greed. But that was the problem—when the Voice took over her mother and commanded Hazel to use her "gift" for an evil purpose, Hazel couldn't say no.

Frank is a klutz. His grandmother says he is descended from heroes, but his bulky physique makes him feel like an ox, especially in front of Hazel, his closest friend at camp. He trusts her completely—enough to share the secret he holds close to his heart.

This breathtaking second installment in the Heroes of Olympus series introduces new demigods, revives some fearsome monsters, and features other remarkable creatures, all destined to play a part in the Prophecy of Seven.
I’m so happy that I decided to re-read all the Percy Jackson books this year and to not give up on the Heroes of Olympus series. This book was so good. I loved it. And I both enjoyed it and read it so much faster than I did The Lost Hero. I had a feeling I would. Everyone kept telling me I needed to keep reading these books, and I finally listened.
I was so happy to have Percy back in the mix! Even though, he couldn’t remember much of anything for the first ¾ of the book, I knew he would eventually, because Jason did. I loved getting to see the Roman camp! One of the reasons, I did not enjoy the first book in this series as much as I wanted to was because of a lot of repepetition about the gods. This one had a little repetition, but not a lot. It was mostly new because the Roman camp and the Roman versions of everything was new for me.
I loved making the comparisons between the Greek and Roman camps. And I loved watching Percy be the hero everywhere he goes. Even with no memories, he’s still the same much loved, brave character from all the other books. I also loved the new characters here. I think Hazel is so fascinating. Everything from her curse to her past life to her bravery was just so cool. And I also loved Frank. I loved that he had to discover what his special family powers were, and that it was more than his Roman background making him stand out.
The action and adventure in this book was top-notch. There were new mythological creatures to meet (like ghosts and the fastest horse in the world). And the appearances of old favorite creatures (like Mrs. O’Leary) made me so happy too. There’s also the Amazons, who run Amazon…So so cool.
I like that different, sometimes minor gods are playing a larger role in this series. Also, it’s interesting seeing Hera/Juno play such a critical role. The prophecy of seven is proving to be as complicated and scary a prophecy as the one in the first series. I’m so curious to see how things end up. I can’t wait to see the Greeks and Romans fighting together to save the day.
I’m also curious to see if the author will write about different mythology in the future. I know he has a Norse mythology series starting this fall. But, there are hints of Chinese mythology and Native American mythology in this series too. There’s so much for him to work with!
All in all, I loved the new story elements. I loved the combining of Greek and Roman. I loved the new set of characters. And I just plain loved this book. I’m not sure how long I can wait before starting book 3. I’ll probably start it tonight. This one gets a 10/10. It might be my favorite Riordan book yet.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (150)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on Unspoken by C.C. Hunter (10/28/15):
Description on Goodreads:
Despite her superhuman strength and enhanced senses, Della Tsang's life as a vampire certainly hasn't been easy. Especially since she was reborn and bound to the mysterious, infuriating, and gorgeous Chase Tallman.

But if there's one thing that's always kept Della going, it's her dream of being an elite paranormal investigator. Her newest case is the opportunity she's been waiting for, but as Della tries to solve the twenty year old murder and clear her father's name. She uncovers secrets about the vampire council. And about Chase.

Feeling betrayed by all the secrets he's kept hidden from her, Della is determined to keep him as far away from her heart as she can. But she'll need his help to solve the case that will lead them into the darkest and ugliest vampire gangs in town and into the scariest reaches of her heart.
Why I’m Waiting:
I love all these books. C.C. Hunter writes YA paranormal romance like a pro. I can’t wait to get more of Della’s story. And I also can’t wait to see what Chase’s secrets are. These books are fun, action-packed, and loaded with friendship, romance, and twists. What’s not to love?
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Summary from Goodreads:
Bridge is an accident survivor who's wondering why she's still alive. Emily has new curves and an almost-boyfriend who wants a certain kind of picture. Tabitha sees through everybody's games--or so she tells the world. The three girls are best friends with one rule: No fighting. Can it get them through seventh grade?
This year everything is different for Sherm Russo as he gets to know Bridge Barsamian. What does it mean to fall for a girl--as a friend?
On Valentine's Day, an unnamed high school girl struggles with a betrayal. How long can she hide in plain sight?
I’m reviewing an ARC that I got signed at BEA. The book comes out August 4th though, so you thankfully do not have much of a wait. And you should be waiting for this one. Stead is one of my favorite middle grade writers. Her books, When You Reach Me and Liar & Spy both shocked me in how good they were. I have no idea why I continue to be shocked by Stead’s books. I should just expect greatness at this point. This was definitely greatness.
I have been able to see myself in all of Stead’s characters. I connect to what makes them stand out, or what makes them “weird.” And then I connect even further to how these characters see the world. I loved and connected to Bridge maybe more so than any of her other characters. I love that she was sort of the more “normal” one in her friend’s trio. Tabby was the uber political feminist (who I adored). And Emily was the athletic popular one and the first one to discover boys.
I loved that different things were important to each friend: sports, social issues, family. And I loved that none of them felt too pressured to be like each other. Bridge didn’t want to be in any club and then fell in love with being on stage crew on her own. She didn’t join a club or a team because her friends did. She was her own person. And I loved her for this.
I also loved the handling of a form of cyber bullying. I love that the publisher didn’t market this as a cyber bullying book nor even make this the central focus. I think this was one of the best handlings of the topic I’ve seen. There’s the problem, there’s the repercussions of the problem, and then there’s the unfairness and handling of the problem. 
And then there’s the slightly older, nameless character who ditched school on Valentine’s day. All we know is he/she is avoiding school and an epic mistake made with a friend that day. And this story so nicely fits in with the trio of friends that gets the main focus. So much happens in regards to friendship, trust, betrayal, and family. There are some chapters in the point of view of a boy who enters Bridge’s life. And I loved his chapters too. I loved that they weren’t all about Bridge and I loved that Bridge took her time in deciding her feelings. I shipped them hardcore, and I loved how their relationship grew.
Also, through the whole book is the immense sense of setting. Like Stead’s other books, it takes place in NYC. And the city is as much a part of the book as the characters are. Everything from the black and white cookies to the blocks walked to get home, to the car accident reference pieces of NYC. And I love that you can never forget where you are while reading this.
All the things that happened in this book from the character who won’t take off her cat ears headband, to the one texting her crush too many photos, to divorce, to learning about what’s not fair in the world all just felt like things that could and probably do happen. Nothing seemed fake or added for drama purposes.
I loved the story, the setting, and the characters. This is definitely another one of my favorite contemporary middle grade books out there. I can’t wait to see what else Rebecca Stead will write. This gets a 10/10.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Another Day by David Levithan

Summary from Goodreads:
In this enthralling companion to his New York Times bestseller Every Day, David Levithan (co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green) tells Rhiannon’s side of the story as she seeks to discover the truth about love and how it can change you.

Every day is the same for Rhiannon. She has accepted her life, convinced herself that she deserves her distant, temperamental boyfriend, Justin, even established guidelines by which to live: Don’t be too needy. Avoid upsetting him. Never get your hopes up.

Until the morning everything changes. Justin seems to see her, to want to be with her for the first time, and they share a perfect day—a perfect day Justin doesn’t remember the next morning. Confused, depressed, and desperate for another day as great as that one, Rhiannon starts questioning everything. Then, one day, a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that day with, the one who made her feel like a real person . . . wasn’t Justin at all.
This is one of the books I attended BEA for. Every Day is one of my all time favorite books. I wasn’t expecting to like this one as much as the first –how could that be humanly possible? I’ve met the author a few times in the past, and he always comes off as so genuinely kind that I cannot help but want to read everything he has to say. Going to a signing for the companion novel of one of my all time favorite books (which I also have signed) is probably one of the best experiences a girl can have.
Why was I expecting not to like it as much? Well, I remembered Rhiannon from Every Day. She’s not the easiest person to like. I remember just not getting why she would stay with such an awful boyfriend. I remember feeling she didn’t deserve the kind, goodhearted A. And I know my opinion of her was biased because anyone in comparison to A would come off as mediocre. I mean A has no bias whatsoever in regard to gender, race, class, etc. Everyone in comparison looks bad. But, my least favorite characteristic in a character is one who can’t stand up for her/his self at all.
So, I went into reading this book with both excitement for Levithan’s excellent writing skills and trepidation for being in the head of a character who I knew had issues standing up for herself. The most surprising thing of all for me was I finished the book loving Rhiannon. I didn’t love her at first. I had all the problems with her that I knew I would have. There’s just something about her that is so real, any beyond relatable.
No one can actually be as good as A. I wish to be. I wish I could not judge a person by anything they show on the outside. I strive to be A. But Rhiannon almost justified to me that striving to be A is good enough. It’s okay to not be as good. And frankly, what she put up with and was able to handle might have been more than I could have handled. Plus, I love that Rhiannon grows to be a better person.
She learns to see that what’s inside a person is more important than what’s on the outside. She grows to see that not all people think the same way and that’s okay. And most of all, she grows to respect herself. She’s even able to finally stand up for what she wants and what she believes by the end.
This was such a strong novel. It was more “coming of age” themed than Every Day. Every Day was unlike anything I’d ever seen before or even dreamed possible. And Another Day had a lot of lot of that wow factor, but also maintained a steady realistic, contemporary, a-typical YA vibe too. Levithan weaved all these elements together to not necessarily write a new story, but to expand on an already great one.
David Levithan, can you write anything I won’t love? I devoured this novel. It surpassed my expectations. I even grew to love a character I never though I would. I give this a 10/10. I think all fans of Every Day should give this a try. I read an ARC and the pub date is August 25th.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Re-Read 2015: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Summary from Goodreads:
Harry is waiting in Privet Drive. The Order of the Phoenix is coming to escort him safely away without Voldemort and his supporters knowing - if they can. But what will Harry do then? How can he fulfill the momentous and seemingly impossible task that Professor Dumbledore has left him?
First off, I need to mention that I tried to time my re-read of this to be in July. And it’s not just because Harry’s birthday is at the end of the month. I wanted to contribute something to:
Harry Potter Month
Harry Potter Month is a yearly event taking place throughout the month of July, to coincide with Harry Potter's birthday. Hosted by Faith @ GeekyZooGirl and myself here at Lunar Rainbows Reviews, the aim is to fill the month with all things Potter.  There will be themed posts, discussions, art and fans rereading the books and rewatching the movies, all of which will earn the participants House-Points towards the House Cup at the end of the month. For more information or to sign up, click here.
So, to add to the cup for Gryffindor, and to contribute to a wonderful month, I’m sharing my re-read review.
Please don’t read the rest of this post, if you don’t want book 7 spoilers. I’m assuming in this review that people have read all the books already.
I’ve slowly been re-reading this series this year as part of re-read challenge I setup for myself. The thing though is, it was not a challenge at all. Re-reading these books is like meeting up with friends you haven’t seen in a while. There’s nothing in the world I’d rather do. This book in particular was a real treat to re-read. It’s only my third time reading it. I first read it at midnight. And then I read it so quickly –to find out how it would all end. Then, I read it again a few years ago. But, this time, it was nice because I had recently re-read the ones before, so my brain was ready for it.
I was able to put all the pieces together that Rowling so smartly had in place since book one. Also, if it’s possible, I felt a lot more emotionally connected to characters in this go-around. I cried for Dobby and Fred, and I don’t even think I did that the first time.
I remember thinking certain scenes were too cheesy for my tastes before (like the chapter called “King’s Cross” and the whole epilogue), but now I can’t imagine this story not having those things. I’d be upset not knowing where everyone was 19 years later. I needed that closure. I needed to know that Hogwarts would be okay.
I also took my time reading this time. I savored each word, knowing it would be a while until I returned to them again. I forgot how much of this book was about Dumbledore. I forgot how much of the important stuff was figured out by Harry in this book. I keep letting the movies block my memories of the words and I shouldn’t do that. I also forgot how much of this book was about wands.
I loved all the small details that came full-circle here. Harry and Griphook talk about Harry’s first experience at Gringotts. Harry and Ollivander talk about the wand choosing the wizard. Old characters return like Lee Jordan and Krum. Everything from Rita Skeeter’s book to Snape’s memories were just so thought out and I still can’t even believe how it all fit so nicely together. Rowling is a master of storytelling.
Of course nothing was a surprise any more. And there were moments I wanted to yell at the characters before they did something dumb like say Voldemort’s name and then get kidnapped and taken to the Malfoys. But, I also remember when all the things were a surprise. And it’s so easy to get wrapped up in this story and pretend it is my first time reading it.
There are some things the movie leaves out, like Hermione being tortured (and not just cut with a knife) or Dumbledore once believing that wizards were better than muggles. I also feel like certain scenes were way more manageable in book form than in movie form. All the moments camped in the woods flew by quicker in the book than they seemed to in the movie. Granted, the movie did “need” to be in two parts. I also like how Harry handles having the elder wand better in the book.  I almost can’t believe how many details like that I forgot about with all my movie viewings.
I know I’m in the minority in saying this, but I always shipped Hermione and Ron, and I loved watching their relationship grow in this book. I also loved watching the threesome’s friendship grow to a new height. There is so much darkness in this book, so much that has to be accomplished, found, and beaten, that’s it hard to imagine there’s room for anything like laughter, but there is.
There is also so much heart. There’s the winning over of Kreacher and there’s Neville becoming a rebel. Luna is still always saying the right thing (even helping Harry escape everyone at the very end). There’s clues left behind by the best professor out there. And there’s the constant fight for what is right. The added story of the Hallows is also amazing. I loved how hard the decision was for Harry between going to Gringotts for another horocrux or going to Hogwarts for the elder wand. I’m not sure I could have made that same decision. And I’m definitively not sure I could have let that wand go.
This book, along with the rest, is a book I can read over and over again. So much happens in it. There’s so much darkness and death, but there’s also humor, love, closure and such a great ending. Reading this again really felt like connecting with old friends. I know there will be many more re-readings in the future for me. This book has to get a 10/10. There’s not much out there that compares or that I’d even consider reading more than 3 times (let alone the 20 or so times I’ve read most of the books in this series).

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (149)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on Calamtiy by Brandon Sanderson (2/16/16):
Description on Goodreads:
When Calamity lit up the sky, the Epics were born. David’s fate has been tied to their villainy ever since that historic night. Steelheart killed his father. Firefight stole his heart. And now Regalia has turned his closest ally into a dangerous enemy.

David knew Prof’s secret, and kept it even when Prof struggled to control the effects of his Epic powers. But facing Obliteration in Babilar was too much. Once the Reckoners’ leader, Prof has now embraced his Epic destiny. He’s disappeared into those murky shadows of menace Epics are infamous for the world over, and everyone knows there’s no turning back. . .

But everyone is wrong. Redemption is possible for Epics—Megan proved it. They’re not lost. Not completely. And David is just about crazy enough to face down the most powerful High Epic of all to get his friend back. Or die trying.
Why I’m Waiting:
I love this author. I love this series. The first book in this series was actually my first Sanderson book and I’m so glad I picked it up. And I’m so glad I got to meet Sanderson and have him sign it, even though I had no idea that this guy would become one of my favorites. Seriously, this is fantasy at its best. And I cannot wait for February. I’m not someone who normally say this because that’s always the worst month of winter in New England. But, I don’t care. February cannot come fast enough.
What are you waiting on this week?