Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout

Summary (from Goodreads):
A teen escapes to a boarding school abroad and falls for a Korean pop star in this fun and fresh romantic novel in the vein of Anna and the French Kiss.

Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.

She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can't stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can't deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol.

Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she'll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write? Sweet, fun, and romantic, this young adult novel explores what it means to experience first love and discover who you really are in the process.
Again, I found myself reading a book I wasn’t quite expecting. I wasn’t expecting to have so much feels in this one. But, I had a lengthy, teary-eyed moment here. And I normally like some kind of warning of sadness so I can mentally prepare. Also, I was expecting this to be a little more about KPOP than it was.
I’ve also noticed that this book has some mixed reviews. A common opinion seems to be that Grace is almost too “American” and un-accepting of a new culture. And while I agree with this in the beginning, I’m not so sure about this by the end. Grace does a lot of growing up in this book. It takes her a long time to be able to see the beauty of Korea. There’s a lot of culture shock, and strong unwillingness to accept difference and change. But, I think this has more to do with Grace’s situation that she left behind than anything else.
Also, I like that Grace grows up. She learns to be a more accepting person. She sees her flaws and wants to fix them. She learns from her ignorance. And watching that happen was amazing.
I also kind of feel that a lot of the reasons people didn’t like this book had more to do with marketing. I was expecting a fluffy romance with KPOP elements. This is not what I got. It was more a coming of age story set in a foreign country, then it was romantic comedy. And KPOP was not the main focus. It wasn’t a major focus at all. In fact, a lot of the time, it’s mocked by the main character. So, I could see why someone (like a KPOP fan) would be super excited to read this, and super then disappointed.
I took a Korean class in high school, and I learned about the music and dramas then. I enjoyed them, though I’m by no means a huge fan. So, I guess some of the things that were said didn’t bother me too much. I’m not a big pop music listener, period. But, I can see why people might not like this because of what the book looks like it promises. It was more about coming to terms with change, sadness, and love then it was about the music or culture of a country.
I mostly loved it. I connected to Grace. I would also sweat my face off from all the walking, be ill-prepared to use chopsticks, and not know how to make friends, etc. I liked watching her grow. I loved her roommate and her sister. I loved watching her connect with Jason. And I loved that Jason was also learning how to live through his own problems. Jason didn’t fix Grace. But, he understood her. And that was fantastic.
Really, I wish I had some kind of heads up about the feels that came. I wish I could have prepped myself for the level of fluff this provided. However, I loved seeing Korea through Grace’s eyes. I want to go there so bad! Also, I loved the romance. I found the music and drama in the background to be a little addictive, as they should be. I give it an 8/10.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

Summary (from Goodreads):
Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?
This book was not at all what I was expecting. I knew it would involve a main character with a severe/fatal illness. And I knew there would be another world with ships in the sky. I was not expecting bird people. Or magical singing. Or little birds that pair with you and your heart. The world of Magonia is insane. The politics, the beauty, the power, and the adventure of it really make this book stand out. The world-building is remarkable.
It’s hard to compare this story to anything else. Aza makes a rather nice comparison, herself, in the middle of the book. “I feel like I’m in a book written by George Orwell. Except that this is nicer than Orwell. This is Animal Farm plus Peter Pan, plus…squallwhales and bird people” (144).
The writing is also pretty amazing. It read a bit more like an adult fantasy novel than a YA one for me. Some of the sentences were so well put together, so poetic, I commonly found myself stopping to re-read certain phrases.
I loved the romance in this too. It’s the slow-building best friends turned best soul-mates kind of love. It was so awkward and real feeling. It wasn’t all pretty. It was filled with hospital visits and ambulance rides. But, it also involved watching nerdy videos, a shared love for acquiring knowledge of all things, and such moments of adorableness that I found myself shipping these two from page one.
One of my few complaints about this book was that it was a little too easy to put down. It took me over a week to read. It moved rather slowly, like an adult fantasy novel. Also, a little too much time seemed to be focused on Aza’s illness on earth. And I kind of wish more time was spent in the sky.
I have never read anything quite like this story. I enjoyed being surprised by its uniqueness. I loved the world building. I enjoyed the characters. I shipped the romance. And I could not get enough of the adventure. The pace was a little too slow for my liking, and I’m not sure so much emphasis was needed for the main character’s illness in the beginning. I still loved it. I give it a 9/10.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (146)

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 Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl (10/13/15).

Description on Goodreads:
This novel features all the thrilling adventure readers will expect from the Marvel brand, backed up by the young-adult cred of #1 New York Times bestselling author Margaret Stohl. Uncover a new side of the Marvel Universe, accessible to old fans and new readers alike, as Stohl weaves an unforgettable story through the world of the Black Widow.
Why I’m Waiting:
Who doesn’t love Black Widow? I liked Margaret Stohl’s earlier YA series and I can’t wait to get a YA element to this amazing Marvel character. Frankly, I find it insulting that she doesn’t get her own movie. I mean even Ant-Man gets his own movie. Why not Black Widow? Any way, I have a feeling this book will be awesome. I can’t wait to read it.
What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Marvels by Brian Selznick

Summary from Goodreads:
Caldecott Award winner and bookmaking trailblazer Brian Selznick once again plays with the form he invented and takes readers on a voyage!

Two seemingly unrelated stories--one in words, the other in pictures--come together. The illustrated story begins in 1766 with Billy Marvel, the lone survivor of a shipwreck, and charts the adventures of his family of actors over five generations. The prose story opens in 1990 and follows Joseph, who has run away from school to an estranged uncle's puzzling house in London, where he, along with the reader, must piece together many mysteries.
I picked up an advanced copy of this at BEA. The finished book comes out in September. I’ve wanted it since I heard of it, and I was so unbelievably happy to get my hand on this so early. It’s one of the first books I read from BEA. I physically could not sit in the same room as this book at not read it. And well, this may be my favorite Selznick book yet.
This author is so good from switching back and forth between narrative prose and illustration. Telling the first half of this story in illustration though was new. There is no prose until the second half of the book! Technically, there are words. There are tidbits from newspaper articles, signs, and advertisements. But, I’ve never read anything like this. I had to put things together on my own because only so much can be revealed through pictures. I loved this. I loved that it wasn’t linear or easy. And oh, man, the artwork in here. It’s what you’d expect from a master like Selznick.
This book is not for everyone. It’s not the standard graphic novel you can hand to a reluctant reader. This is a book for readers who love to read. And there were some complexities in it that I’m not sure I would have fully grasped had I not read it as an adult. That being said, everything this book accomplishes in its complex webs of stories, actors, relatives, and uniqueness is just plain brilliant.
I read the whole 650 page volume in one day (granted, half of it is in picture). The story moved fast because you are trying so hard to fit all the pieces together and then to connect the two different stories. Selznick accomplishes here what David Wiesner does with picture books like Flotsam; he is able to tell so much just through images. And the other author I kept finding connections to here was the adult author, David Mitchell. The layers to all the stories and worlds and characters reminded me a lot of Cloud Atlas (my favorite adult book besides the works of Austen).
There’s all the good stuff that makes up a good middle grade book too: family drama, a theme of coming of age, an attempt at running away, making new friends, and acceptance. There’s a nice LGTQ element as well. And there’s also sadness, mental illness, and grief. I wasn’t the biggest fan of all the aspects of the ending, if anything, because I’m not really sure what it all did for the story at large, but that’s okay. I still whole-heartedly loved this book.
I have never read anything like this. This book accomplishes so much with so few words (in the beginning). The layers to the story, the fascinating characters, and the artwork really make this a unique book. I can’t wait to read more reviews for this once it is published. I give it a 10/10.

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Good Week in Books (111)

I had a nice, little book week. I received to new pretties for review. Don’t they all look so pretty this week? Thank you, Macmillan and Hachette. And don’t judge me, but I also pre-ordered the newest Fifty Shades of Grey book: Grey. They are kind of a guilty pleasure for me. I’m so excited to dig into some good books tonight.

The Heart of Betrayal
by Mary E. Pearson
Tangled Webs by Lee Bross
Grey by E.L. James
How was your book week?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Re-Read 2015: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan and read by Jesse Bernstein

Summary from Goodreads:
All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of a victory are grim. Kronos’s army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan’s power only grows.

While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it’s up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time.

In this momentous final book in the New York Times best-selling series, the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy’s sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate.
I’ve changed my mind. Sorry, book 3. This is my favorite Percy Jackson book. I thought the other ones were hard to put down/stop listening to. This was the worst. It was literally non-stop action. The whole book was one attack by the Titans after another.
On top of the Titans V. Olympians war taking over Manhattan, there is also more trips to the underworld, humongous risks, prophecies being fulfilled, kisses that transpire, meetings with the Gods, the return of all your favorite mythological creature friends, the getting to know the old Luke, prophets, family drama, the worst of all monsters (that take all of the Greek gods to kill), and death.
I was impressed by Percy’s bravery. He went all out to be able help win this war. I was actually blown away by the bravery of all the side characters too.  Clarisse just owned the town with her fighting skills. Grover went all out too. Even Thalia comes back, along with the hunters, and shows off her mad skills. Also, surprising, were Percy’s mother and stepfather. I was blown away by their help. And I can’t forget about how brave Rachel Elizabeth Dare is either.
This is the book all the other ones lead up to. The moment of the prophecy is here. And It so easily could have been a major let-down. It wasn’t. It completely led up to all of my high expectations (both times)!
I remember being annoyed by some of the things it took Percy too long to figure out. Like, seriously, why was the next prophet a surprise? And the overall message of the prophecy wasn’t that confusting. This time reading/listening though, this didn’t bother me so much. Percy was never known for being the smartest or wisest. I liked that he wasn’t good at all things, and had to figure some of the important stuff out as he grew up.
I love the ending of the book too. What a fantastic ending. I kept thinking about what I would do if I were offered what Percy was offered. He clearly made the right decision, and I can’t wait to get into the next series (of which I have only read book 1 in the past…).  These books are fun, fast-paced, hilarious, adventure-filled, sentimental, and just plain good. I can’t believe I never re-read them until now. They combine Greek mythology with all the normal kid/teen stuff I read on a routine basis. Riordan does a fantastic job of mixing modern day NYC with ancient Greece. The characters are believable and fun. And I really can’t say anything bad here right now. This gets a 10/10.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (145)

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 These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly (10/27/15):

Description on Goodreads:
Set in gilded age New York, These Shallow Graves follows the story of Josephine Montfort, an American aristocrat. Jo lives a life of old-money ease. Not much is expected of her other than to look good and marry well. But when her father dies due to an accidental gunshot, the gilding on Jo’s world starts to tarnish. With the help of a handsome and brash reporter, and a young medical student who moonlights in the city morgue, Jo uncovers the truth behind her father’s death and learns that if you’re going to bury the past, you’d better bury it deep.
Why I’m Waiting:
I love this author. I loved her first two YA books. I also love her adult books. I have yet to start her mermaid series, but I have all of the books in it, that are out, sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read. This sounds like an interesting enough story. It sounds like historical fiction, what Donnelly does best. And it also sounds like there could be a love triangle, and possibly grave robbing. I am so there! I also just know it will have some amazing, top notch writing too.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Re-Read 2015: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling

Summary (from Goodreads):
The war against Voldemort is not going well; even Muggle governments are noticing. Ron scans the obituary pages of the Daily Prophet, looking for familiar names. Dumbledore is absent from Hogwarts for long stretches of time, and the Order of the Phoenix has already suffered losses.

And yet...
As in all wars, life goes on. Sixth-year students learn to Apparate — and lose a few eyebrows in the process. The Weasley twins expand their business. Teenagers flirt and fight and fall in love. Classes are never straightforward, though Harry receives some extraordinary help from the mysterious Half-Blood Prince.

So it's the home front that takes center stage in the multilayered sixth installment of the story of Harry Potter. Here at Hogwarts, Harry will search for the full and complex story of the boy who became Lord Voldemort — and thereby find what may be his only vulnerability.
This book is one of my favorites. You know a book is great when upon re-reading for possibly the 10th or maybe the 15th time, you still cry when a certain character dies. You still cry when it hits all of your favorite characters at the funeral. You still cry when Hagrid realizes the truth. And you still need at least a few minutes afterward to gather up your strength and deal with the loss.
I have said over and over again how impressed I am with Rowling’s ability to plan and prepare this extraordinarily complex and layered children’s fantasy story from the beginning. I loved re-reading and finding her not so obvious clues. I loved tying all the pieces together. But, what this book proves more than anything for me is how fantastic the characters are too. I cried with them. I laughed with them. I shipped them. I think I may be the only person alive who actually shipped the couples the way they were written. I screeched with Joy when Harry ran into Ginny’s arms for the first time. And every possibly sentimental moment between Ron and Hermione had me hoping (from book 4 on).
This book deals with so many things. It has been years since I’ve read this book and I what I find the most interesting is how I have changed between readings. I used to skip over a lot of the bits about Voldemort’s past, finding them to be slow and less fun than the rest of the story. But, this go-around, I loved those parts and focused in on every minute detail. I also remember being so mad at Harry’s friends for not listening to him and taking him seriously about his gut feelings for Malfoy. And this time, I found Harry’s obession, well, a little too obsessive. Those parts were the parts I wanted to skim over, but didn’t.
I also felt a lot more empathy for Draco in this reading. He made some seriously bad moves and some terrible choices, but man, I felt so bad for his situation. I remember always kind of hating him in the past. Also, I remember not loving the beginning before and wishing it just started with Harry immediately. This time, I loved the beginning. Rowling seriously knows how to set up a story.
I love the combination of the magic world with the ordinary one. I loved seeing the prime minister interact with the minister of magic. I also loved how Harry stood against the minister. He did not fall into any traps there, and I am so glad.  There’s so much darkness in this book. There’s death, dark marks, curses, disappearances, and wrongful arrests. There’s also private lessons with Dumbledore, relationship drama, adventures to find horcruxes, inferi, quidditch, the Slug Club, and attacks on the school.
I love Professor Slughorn. He’s not the nicest or easiest professor in the lot, but I found his character to be fascinating. His whole concept of “collecting” students was believable. And I love how important he ended up being to the whole process of learning how to kill Voldemort.
All in all, this is one of my favorites. The characters are fantastic. The mixing of worlds is extraordinary. The new and old characters feel like people you know. The death is terribly sad. The adventures are at an all time maximum. And I cannot wait to start book 7 again. This is another 10/10 fur sure.

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Good Week in Books (110)

I had a nice, little book week. I received 3 new pretty books for review. Thank you Macmillan and Hachette. I have so many books that one of my book shelves recently broke (due to all the weight). The weird thing is it’s my solid oak bookcase…I have much cheaper ones made of plastic or even some IKEA types with cardboard backings that are still holding together. But, my solid one broke…and I sort of laid one of he shelves on the top of the bottom row of books, so I can still use it. Any way, I’m still super excited for these new ones.

Every Last Word
by Tamara Ireland Stone
The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
Glittering Shadows by Jaclyn Dolamore
How was your week in books?

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Golden Compass The Graphic Novel Volume 1 by Philip Pullman and adapted and illustrated by Stephane Melchior-Durand and Clement Oubrerie

Summary (from Goodreads):
The world of Philip Pullman’s internationally bestselling His Dark Materials saga is brought to visual life in book 1 of a three-volume graphic adaptation of The Golden Compass.

Lyra Belacqua is content to run wild among the scholars of Jordan College, with her dæmon familiar always by her side. But the arrival of her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, draws her to the heart of a terrible struggle—a struggle born of Gobblers and stolen children, and a mysterious substance known as Dust. As she hurtles toward danger in the cold far North, Lyra never suspects the shocking truth: she alone is destined to win—or to lose—this more-than-mortal battle.

The stunning full-color art offers both new and returning readers a chance to experience the story of Lyra, an ordinary girl with an extraordinary role to play in the fates of multiple worlds, in an entirely new way.
I picked up the ARC of this at BEA. It comes out 9/22/15. I started reading it at the conference. This is one of the books I wanted to pick up the most when I was there and I was beyond happy to just see it sitting there at the publisher’s booth, almost like it was waiting for me. My love for Philip Pullman’s books is borderline obsessive. I may have even dressed as The Amber Spyglass one year for Halloween…
I have re-read this series like I have re-read the Harry Potter books (over and over again). And they will always have a special place in my heart. Getting to see the story told in this format was beyond exciting for me. Seeing Lyra’s Oxford, the Gyptians, the daemons, the fantasy, and the suspense all over again was as close as I could get to reading this again for the first time.
The art is fantastic. It actually more closely resembles how I imagined things than the movie does. (Side note: why can’t they make the second and third ones into movies too?) So much goes down in book 1, that the makers of this have to turn book 1 into 3 volumes. So, this is only the first third of the story of the first book. I hope all the books will eventually be covered. I know the second and third volumes will come out one year apart (in 2016 and 2017). And it’s going to be a long wait for me. I already knows what happens, but it will sill seem like ages. That’s how good it was.
One of the things I found super interesting about this version, is what was revealed from the beginning. Certain things about Lyra’s daemon, about Lyra’s ultimate decision, and about the future in general were foreshadowed from the beginning. I’m not sure how I feel about all the hints for what’s to come, but I guess I won’t make up my mind about if officially until certain things come to pass. Though, it gives me high hopes for graphic novels of the other books hinted at.
This was a great graphic novel re-telling. The art was wonderful. The story was true to the original, minus a few more hints than there was before. Reading felt a bit like reading it again for the first time. I read it quickly and when it ended, I wanted more. I give it a 10/10.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins

Summary (from Goodreads):
Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and her best friend, Bee, has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can focus on the important things in life: school, canoodling with David (her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie), and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant.

Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him. The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her . . . or make her more powerful than ever.
I love Rachel Hawkins. I really do. Her books are the kind of fun, fluffy YA perfect to take to the beach with you. I don’t love this series like I loved her first one, but I do still really enjoy these books too. This one kind of read like a mixture of Buffy and Hart of Dixie.  It’s cute. It’s full of supernatural action. It’s heavy on the teen romance. And it has all these southern town quirks that makes the humor stand out.
I have started to hate not knowing things in this series. There’s just so much I don’t know about the Ephors, about paladins in general, about her Harper’s best friend, about everything and I was looking for a little more answers in book two, than what I got. On the other hand, I got scary (psychological) trials, ex boyfriend drama, school fairs, and pageants. This one seemed to be a little more about the high school drama than the supernatural drama. And normally, I’d love this. I just felt like I needed a little more of the supernatural stuff to clarify some things that have become a bit frustrating not knowing.
I have grown to love Harper though. She is so loyal. She’d do anything for her friends, even the ones who don’t deserve it. She’s a strong, multi-tasking, powerhouse of a main character and I love watching her figure out her life as the paladin and balancing it with her normal over-achieving life.
All the break-ups and hook-ups seemed pretty predictable to me. I wasn’t a fan of them all. But, I do see the believability of all these teens having all this drama. It’s as one of Harper’s aunts puts it:  too many important things are happening and being decided upon by children. This is what children would do.
I love Harper’s relationships with her aunts. I also found her relationship with David to be super interesting. Their transition from rivals to something more has been a lot of fun to read about. Though I kind of wish an important moment in their relationship received more than a few seconds of consideration later…I liked watching Harper become friends with her ex (and now mage). I liked seeing how her powers came in handy, but so did her personality. She couldn’t always fix things with a mind eraser by her mage of an ex-boyfriend. She actually had to fix some problems the old fashioned way.
I’m not sure I completely understood the ending. I’ll have to put together a lot of pieces when the next one comes out. I definitely still need to read the next book (like yesterday). Hopefully, more will be clear then. Overall, the characters and charm of this book outweigh its flaws. I give it an 8/10.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (144)

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 Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs (9/22/15):
Description on Goodreads:
The epic conclusion to the best-selling series!

Time is running out for the Peculiar Children. With a dangerous madman on the loose and their beloved Miss Peregrine still in danger, Jacob Portman and Emma Bloom are forced to stage the most daring of rescue missions. They’ll travel through a war-torn landscape, meet new allies, and face greater dangers than ever. . . . Will Jacob come into his own as the hero his fellow Peculiars know him to be? This action-packed adventure features more than 50 all-new Peculiar photographs.
Why I’m Waiting:
I just love these books. I was beyond excited to learn there was a sequel. And then I was even more beyond excited to learn it was a trilogy. I love the story. I love the photographs. I love the time-travel-esque elements. I love the history. I love the characters. I just really cannot wait to hear what happens next either, after the  crazy ending of book 2.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Nimona by Noelle stevenson

Summary (from Goodreads):

The graphic novel debut from rising star Noelle Stevenson, based on her beloved and critically acclaimed web comic, which Slate awarded its Cartoonist Studio Prize, calling it "a deadpan epic."

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren't the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona's powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.
This book was amazing. I read so many good things about this one. And I kind of knew from the cover that I would have to love it. I love that the main character isn’t a stick-skinny. And she has dragon wings. How could I not love something with this cover?
I read the book in two sittings, rather quickly. I knew there would be adventure and fantasy, and most likely good characters going into this book. I didn’t know how hilarious it would be. I literally was laughing out loud on page 1. Nimona is just such an amazing, interesting character.
I love the whole idea of the bad guy not actually being the bad guy. It’s one of the major themes in YA I tend to always enjoy. I liked that the bad guy was in fact the super harsh government organization that trained men to be knights. I loved the mixture of modern day technology with old school fantasy themes. There’s knights and dragons, but there is also pizza delivery and tv monitors.
I loved the relationship of the two men on the cover. Their story kind of read like a Harry/Draco fan fic. All of the bickering, history, and tension between the two made this book stand out even more than it already was. And I was definitely shipping them. I also loved the 100% platonic relationship between Nimona and Lord Blackheart. They had some great bickering going as well, usually the result of Nimona going way further than Lord Blackheart ever intended on a mission.
This book has everything: great characters, a shippable/tension building romance, platonic friendship, dragons, fantasy, action, bickering, word play, gorgeous art, and fantastic humor. I give it a 10/10. It’s probably my favorite graphic novel of the year.

Monday, June 8, 2015

A Good Week in Books (109)

I know it seems ridiculous for a girl who just came home with over 50 books from BEA to go and purchase 2 more books, but I did. I held off on getting my hands on books that were recently released because I wasn’t sure if they’d be at BEA. Some of them were. So, good call on me. But, two weren’t, so I bought them right when I got back. I also then received a whole bunch of awesome books for review. Thank you, Macmillan (for four of these lovelies) and Hachette (for one). Good thing pretty much all of the tv I watch is over for the year…I have so much reading to do! And I’m so happy about it.

A Court of Thrones and Roses
by Sarah J. Maas
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Blood Will Tell by April Henry
Brain Camp by Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan, and Faith Erin Hicks
Sweet by Emmy Laybourne
Joyride Anna Banks
Alive by Chandler Baker
How was your week in books?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Heir by Kiera Cass

Summary (from Goodreads):
Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon—and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she'd put off marriage for as long as possible.

But a princess's life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can't escape her very own Selection—no matter how fervently she protests.

Eadlyn doesn't expect her story to end in romance. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn's heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her . . . and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn't as impossible as she's always thought.

So, these books are like coffee for me. They are comfort food and I need them. I rely on them to get through my day. And while they are not always the best for me, I just can’t ever stop reading them. I am addicted to Kiera Cass novels for life.
So, I know Eadlyn isn’t the most popular among reviewers at the moment. However, I loved her. I liked her more than America. Where America was indecisive, Eadlyn is strong and opinionated. Yes, she is selfish and a bit snobby. However, I thought this was realistic considering she’s a princess, brought up to the be the future queen. She hasn’t seen the world her mother lived in. And she doesn’t exactly feel lots of empathy for those outside, surviving in a post-caste system world. Then again, she was brought up in a castle.  She’s ignorant of a lot of things, yet also highly intelligent in other areas, leaps and bounds smarter than her mother was at her age.
I loved Eadlyn and her logic. I loved that she had no qualms about an enormous elimination (some of her arguments were so logical they even reminded me of Bones). I also loved her willingness to learn more though. She knows there are things she doesn’t know. She wants to know them. She listens to a guy explain his side of the story before hastily eliminating him after a fight. She loves fashion and drawing. She’s also a hardcore introvert who has issues letting people get to know her.
I also love the selection process. It’s fun to meet all the boys, and pick a favorite. I think I have an idea for who she will end up with, but I’m actually not 100% sure. And I love this. I love not being certain. There’s interesting romantic moments, there’s fights, there’s baseball games, there’s family moments, and then there’s also the background noise of a country in distress. And this background is actually a little more prevalent, I feel, in this book, than it was in the previous ones. Granted, America wasn’t being brought up as queen and didn’t face politics every day like Eadlyn does.
There were a couple things that did not sit well with me though. One was the confusing overall message. I love that Eadlyn was the heir. She even comments on how her parents worked to make it so. She was born before her twin brother and her parents thought that was more important than the fact that she was a girl. I loved this. It sounded like America and Max all the way. However, the conflicting message then becomes that she needs a man. I get the reasons for this new selection. I really do. But, I kind of wish it was just about the “distraction,” and none of the other comments about needing a husband happened. Does she need a husband? Queen Elizabeth didn’t. I don’t think a woman should ever be forced into a marriage against her will. And after the first series, I really would have thought Eadlyn’s parents felt the same way.
Also, I am not a big fan of her twin brother. Though, she considers him her second half. I never thought he gave the best advice to her. There’s one time where he even instructs her to punch someone in the face…And then he did something at the end that really pissed me off. Why did she compliment him and say how wonderful he was all the time, if all I saw was him kind of being a jerk for the whole book? Did all the nice stuff happen long ago? Or does she really consider his bad advice, egotistical behavior, and rudeness to be wonderful? If so, the rest of the selection will certainly be interesting.
So, I loved the main character. I loved seeing the selection again. I loved the family dynamics. I loved seeing old friends appear. I loved the drama. I just could not stop reading this book. It’s as addictive as coffee. I was not a big fan of the overall mixed messages about whether a woman can be the heir (with or without a husband). And I don’t really see why her brother was her other half. Still though, this is coffee. And it get’s an 8/10.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (143)

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 See How They Run by Ally Carter (1/5/16):

Description on Goodreads:
Inside every secret, there's a world of trouble. Get ready for the second book in this new series of global proportions--from master of intrigue, New York Times bestselling author Ally Carter.

Grace's past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

The twists get twistier and the turns get even more shocking in the second thrilling installment of Embassy Row.
Why I’m Waiting:
Mostly, I’m waiting for two reasons. One, it’s Ally Carter. I will always be waiting on the next Ally Carter book. She is amazing. And two, the ending of the first book. It was crazy. I need the answers now. I didn’t like this first one as much as her other series, but it only just started, and I have a feeling it might get equally good if not more so.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Re-Read 2015: The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan and read by Jesse Bernstein

Summary on Goodreads:
Percy Jackson isn’t expecting freshman orientation to be any fun. But when a mysterious mortal acquaintance appears on campus, followed by demon cheerleaders, things quickly move from bad to worse.

In this latest installment of the blockbuster series, time is running out as war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near. Even the safe haven of Camp Half-Blood grows more vulnerable by the minute as Kronos’s army prepares to invade its once impenetrable borders. To stop the invasion, Percy and his demigod friends must set out on a quest through the Labyrinth–a sprawling underground world with stunning surprises at every turn. Full of humor and heart-pounding action, this latest audiobook promises to be their most thrilling adventure yet.
I am so glad I discovered the greatness of these audio books before all my road trips. I kind of breezed through this one on my way to CT (where I was staying during my time at BEA). And I probably keep saying this, but I forgot how awesome these stories really are.  I remember enjoying these books on my first run-through, but I don’t remember appreciating them as much.
The characters and the world-building are top-notch. The maze in this one is ridiculously cool. Some of the modern day explanations for where things are and what the entrances look like were a little over the top. But, I kind of love the humor and over-the-top feel these books have maintained through out the whole story. I love being able to read/listen to these books all in a row, one after another. I’ve never done that before. It allows for me to make all the connections and see how much was planned from the beginning.
This book also has a couple twists that I completely forgot about! You know it’s a good twist when on your second reading, it surprises you again! Also, both Annabeth and Grover really step up in this one for me. Grover has become so much more than a sidekick. I love his budding friendship with Tyson. And Annabeth finally gets to lead her own mission. And I just ship her and Percy so much. Though, I don’t hate Rachel. I actually found getting to know her in this book to be a lot of fun. I love the awkward middle grade romance and how clueless Percy is when it comes to these things.
So, the characters are older. The battles are more intense. And the stakes are even higher. Kronos is getting stronger. There is some seriously scary stuff going on with him. And of course there is also more death. This isn’t the kind of middle-grade fantasy where everyone lives and has a happy ending. It’s the kind of middle-grade fantasy that has seriously scary creatures, death, family drama, and darkness. Is there a better kind?
This one has taken all kinds of dark turns. The way Riordan combines ancient mythology with modern day plot arcs is just incredible. And I know it’s all leading up to the final battle. I just started the last book. I’ll listen to more of it in the car, on my way to work this week. I have a feeling, it will be really hard leaving my car. This one gets a 10/10 from me. I just never wanted to stop listening. It reads really fast, and is so full of action, there’s just never a good moment to stop.

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Good Week in Books (108) -BEA 2015 Edition

I’m not sure a better week in books exists, at least for me. I went to BEA again this year. And well, I feel like I brought home all of BEA with me.
I was really impressed this year. I feel like the staff/authors/exhibitors/etc. have slowly been learning more and more what works and what doesn’t. And I was genuinely and happily pleased by the level of organization this year. I was  blown away by the authors in attendance. And I was even more blown away by the people I bumped into and got to see again at the conference.
Some of the coolest people/bloggers were there and I sometimes feel like even more of a book nerd in their presence than in authors’. I got to go with my friend and newbie blogger, Emma (testybadger), and it was so much fun introducing her to this part of the conference. Really, BEA is one giant networking tool of awesome and I feel so lucky to have been able to go for so many years in a row. I always bring a book along with me in case I need it while waiting in line. But, there are always such cool people to talk to in line that I barely read it.
The books I picked up:

Some books are going directly to my library. Some have already been mentally divvied up for a few select/amazing friends. And some are going to the boyfriend.
The master list:
Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
After the Red Rain by Barry Lyga, Peter Facinelli, and Robert DeFranco (signed)
365 Days of Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Voyagers: Project Alpha by D.J. MacHale
The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz (signed)
The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead (singed)
The Marvels by Brian Selznick
Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith (signed)
Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
Fairest by Marrisa Meyer (signed)
Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (signed)
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
City Love by Susane Colasanti (signed)
Kissing Ted Callahan (and other guys) by Amy Spalding (signed)
Soundless by Richelle Mead (signed)
Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate (signed)
Another Day by David Levithan (signed)
Tonight the Streets are Ours
by Leila Sales (signed)
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy (signed)
Beastly Bones by William Ritter
Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti
The Anatomy of Curiosity by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff (signed)
Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa
We’ll Never be Apart by Emiko Jean
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle
Awake by Natasha Preston
The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss by Max Wirestone
Juniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings
The Blackthorn key by Kevin Sands (signed)
Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul (signed)
Anton and Cecil Cats on Track by Lisa Martin and Valerie Martin
Uprooted by Lynne Reid Banks
Stone Rider by David Hofmey
The Tale of Less Valued Knights by Marie Phillips
The Ables by Jeremy Scott
Unlovely by Celeste Conway
Sweet Goodness: Unbelievably Delicious Gluten-Free Recipes by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming
The Scorch Trials Official Graphic Novel by James Dashner
The Golden Compass The Graphic Novel Volume 1 by Philip Pullman
Max the Brave by Ed Vere
Zen Socks by Jon J Muth
Friendshape by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld
Miss Todd and her Wonderful Flying Machine by Frances Poletti And Kristina Yee (signed)
8 An Animal Alphabet by Elisha Cooper (signed)
Max Ride First Flight Preview by James Patterson
Star Wars Previews
by Aaron, Cassaday, and Martin
Fatale by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Low by Remender and Tocchini
Revival by Seeley and Norton
Velvet by Brubaker and Epting

Here are a few photos of the fun. The one where I’m making an exceptionally awkward facial expression is me behind a cut-out of the character Jackaby. I just had to. The other one of me is more charming; it’s me after finally getting to sit down after a long day of lugging books. The conversation happening is between Libba Bray and Barry Lyga when they came to the Librarian’s Lounge just to have a book discussion with librarians. I was in the front row, inches from Libba (my favorite author)!

How was your week in books?