Thursday, December 31, 2015

Re-Read 2015: The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket

Summary from Goodreads:
Dear Reader,

I hope, for your sake, that you have not chosen to read this book because you are in the mood for a pleasant experience. If this is the case, I advise you to put this book down instantaneously, because of all the books describing the unhappy lives of the Baudelaire orphans, The Miserable Mill might be the unhappiest yet. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are sent to Paltryville to work in a lumber mill, and they find disaster and misfortune lurking behind every log.

The pages of this book, I'm sorry to inform you, contain such unpleasantries as a giant pincher machine, a bad casserole, a man with a cloud of smoke where his head should be, a hypnotist, a terrible accident resulting in injury, and coupons.

I have promised to write down the entire history of these three poor children, but you haven't, so if you prefer stories that are more heartwarming, please feel free to make another selection.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket
So, the repetition is kind of getting to me. It’s been four books now where the story repeats itself in a new setting, with a new relative. At least in this one, it took much longer for Count Olaf to show his face. Also, the children appeared to have spent not quite as much time convincing Mr. Poe that the secretary was really Count Olaf in disguise. Mr. Poe is not fooled by nametags and business cards any more. He’s slowly learning, kind of.
Also, in positive news, the death count in this one was much smaller! There were a few close calls involving Klaus being hypnotized and almost killing his guardian’s business partner, but thankfully, all seemed to work itself out (minus a couple of accidents and almost getting kidnapped again).
If possible, the books are getting more and more absurd as they go. The children, in this one, are expected to work at factory with dangerous machines. How on earth could anyone expect an infant to work at a machine? Also, the employees are never paid money, and are only given coupons for their labor…And then there’s the whole mess with the hypnotizing optometrist, and well. There’s a lot of peculiar things happening.
I also couldn’t help but notice a few more literary references. The eye doctor who worked in the building with the giant eye, was named Georgina Orwell. That had to be a 1984 reference, right? I love these littler literary clues the author spreads through out the books. I’m always on the lookout for them now. I also like where things end, with the children being told about going off to boarding school. I assume they go there because of the title of the next book being: The Austere Academy. I can’t help but be happy with the slight change of scenery too.
I think this installment was my least favorite so far. Like I said, the formula of it all has finally gotten to me. I know the formula will change soon though, and I have hopes for the rest of the books. I give this one a 7/10.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (169)

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 The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo #1) by Rick Riordan (5/3/16):

Description on Goodreads:
How do you punish an immortal?

By making him human.

After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus's favour.

But Apollo has many enemies - gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go . . . an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.
So, I got to hear all about this book when I went to go see Rick Riordan at his first tour stop in Boston. And let me tell you, it sounded amazing then. It sounds even better now. I love the cover. I love that this will take place in Camp Half-Blood. I have grown to be a rather big Rick Riordan fan over the years, and I cannot wait to see where this one goes. Also, more Percabeth please? And possibly Nico too!
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Re-Read 2015: The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket

Summary from Goodreads:
Dear Listener,

I am sorry to say that the lives of the Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Klaus and Sunny, are filled with bad luck and misery. All of the stories about these three children are unhappy and wretched, and the one you are holding may be the worst of them all.

If you haven't got the stomach for a story that includes a hurricane, hungry leeches, cold cucumber soup and a doll named Pretty Penny, then this audio will probably fill you with despair.

I also shouldn't mention the interactive features of the CD, which include:
A perplexing word game
Photos from The Lemony Snicket Archives
Art from The Brett Helquist gallery

I will continue to record these tragic tales for that is what I do. You should decide for yourself if you can possibly endure this miserable story.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket
Life is not easy for the Baudelaire orphans. After the disaster at the end of book 2, I knew the kids were heading for another rough situation in book 3. And for some reason, I really remembered book 3. There’s something about people being eaten alive by leeches and children stealing a boat in the middle of a hurricane that just sticks with you.
As you might imagine, the stakes are higher, the adventures are scarier, and the orphans have everything to lose. There was a never a good spot to stop listening to this high action installment of the story. I had to know what would happen and where a certain relative was. I just had to know.
I love that the adults in these books all have their flaws. The children’s’ aunt is so terrified of everything. She refuses to answer the phone or turn the oven on because of her irrational fears. And while it’s clear she’s not fit to raise 3 children, the Baudelaire orphans come to care for her any way. These poor kids are just desperate for a family at this point.
And then of course there’s my least favorite character: Mr Poe, who not only keeps placing the children in these terrible homes, but also never believes them when they remark on how terrible their situations are. Can’t he just accept that whenever the children claim to see Count Olaf, that they are in fact seeing Count Olaf? They are always right!
Any way, I really enjoyed this installment. Though, I think I might have liked it more when I first read it many years ago. It’s gotten a bit formulaic for my tastes now. And sadly, I know the repetitive nature of the stories will only continue. However, the formula will not get in the way of me completing the books again. I want to know things!
Also, the author himself reads the books on audio for books 3-5 (I believe). It took me a little while to get used to the new narrator. I soon came to really enjoy the author’s reading, particularly the parts where he doesn’t cough. The character, Mr. Poe is a big cougher and where Tim Curry would physically cough for what felt like five minutes straight, Lemony Snicket will just mention the coughing.
However, volume is now a concern. I raise the volume all the way up to be able to hear all Mr. Snicket is saying because he has a soft voice most of the time, but when he voices a character like Count Olaf, I always jump out of skin because the volume is astronomically higher. Basically, I can either listen to the audio at a volume where I can’t hear most of the narration, but hear certain characters really well. Or, I can listen to the audio very loudly and understand all of it, but just deal certain character’s voices being insanely loud. Of course, I picked the latter option. Though, I must say it’s the not the safest option while driving.
This is one of the more action-packed stories, so I of course loved this installment. The absurd humor was great. And I love all the characters (except Mr. Poe). It does drag a little in its repetitive nature, but not to the point of making me want to stop my reading of the series entirely, at least not yet. I give this one an 8/10.

Monday, December 28, 2015

End of the Year Giveaway Part 2

So, my last post was all about my favorite books of 2015. This post is going to be about giving away some of my favorite books of 2015.
One winner can pick any two of my favorite books of 2015 (including the Honorable Mentions marked with the *):

1) Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine (Review)
2) Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (Review)
3) Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (Review)
4) Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (Review)
5) Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Review)
6) The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (Review)
7) Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas (Review)
8) Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead (Review)
9) Hold Me Closer by David Levithan (Review)
10) Beastly Bones by William Ritter (Review)
*) Ms. Marvel, Volume 4: Last Days by G. Willow Wilson (Review)
**) The Marvels by Brian Selznick (Review)
***) Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (Review)
This giveaway is open to all followers, including the international ones –as long as the Book Depository or Amazon or Barnes and Noble can ship to you.
Standard Rules Apply: The winner has 48 hours to respond to my email with book choices and a shipping address or I’ll have to randomly select a different winner.
Happy new year!

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Best Books of 2015

Writing this post is always something I both look forward to doing, and dread at the same time. I love having the opportunity to look back at all the books I’ve read over the course of the year, organizing my thoughts, and picking my favorites. Some years though are harder than others because my choices are so vast. This is one of those years. This has been an exceptional year for YA literature.
There were some truly unique books that came out this year. And there are still so many more books I haven’t gotten to yet. I read less books this year too. Normally, my goal is for 100 books, but I decided to go easy on myself this year and I changed my goal to 80. Of course, I’ve read 85 now, and will probably have completed close to 90 by the end, but still…you’d think a smaller pool to choose from woul make my decision process easier. It didn’t. There were just so many wonderful books this year.
For a chance to win some of my favorite books of the year, come back next week for my End of the Year Giveaway Part 2.
My rules for this list is how they have always been:
1) Each book listed has come out this past year.
2) Each book is YA or Middle Grade
3) I have read the book in 2015.
I am going to start at the top with number 1, and make my way down to my number 10 book of the year. And of course, there will also be honorable mentions after that. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! May 2016 bring just as many, if not more wonderful books into the world.
1) Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine (Review / Rating: 10/10)

In my review, I agreed that this was like reading a mixture of Harry Potter, The Book Thief, and Fahrenheit 451. I’m not sure higher praise can be given. Seriously, this book has so little hype, and I’m not sure why. It shocked me, grabbed me, and has yet to let me go. I cannot recommend this one any more than I possibly already do. Reading it reminded me of the reason I do what I do and the impact books can have on their readers.
2) Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (Review / Rating: 10/10)

This is not just one of my favorite books of the year; this is one of my favorite books ever. The book is the fan fiction written by the main character of another book (that happened to be my number one book of 2013). It read like Harry Potter fan fiction. This wondrous book was part fan fiction, part satire, part awesome fantasy in its own right, part coming of age story, part love story, and part magic. My love for this book and this author is never-endless. More books like this need to exist. Go read this one (but read Fangirl first).
3) Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (Review / Rating: 10/10)

This may be the first graphic novel to brace my Best Lists (and it won’t be the last). This is one of those books that reminded me how great graphic novels can be. The story is funny, smart, and action-packed. The characters are just ridiculously hilarious. I’ve already given 3 copies of this book out as presents. And I may end up getting another copy for another friend. Everyone needs to read this.
 4) Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (Review / Rating: 10/10)

This is by far the best writing I have seen all year. Libba Bray is a master. She derserves a crown and a tv show, and possibly a nomination for president. Seriously, her words are so beautiful. All the elements of this story woven with what happened in book 1, lead for quite a remarkable tale. Add that to an amazingly written setting and some extremely developed and loved characters, and you will only have an inkling of how good this is.I wish I had a fraction of this author’s skill.
5) Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Review / Rating: 10/10)

This was a unique book. As I said in my review, it had so many good things going for it: “the format, the characters, the love story, a zombie level plague (they kind of spell it out in the summary so I don’t feel like I’m spoiling), bossy AI, computer hacking, genocide, space ships, insane plot twists, and plenty of witty commentary.” This book moves at the speed of light. There is no straight narrative either. It’s told in emails, Instant Messages, illegal documents, and security footage. I can’t even begin to describe all the different ways this story is told. It moves fast, and really it just has everything you’d want from a good YA book.
6) The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (Review / Rating: 10/10)

Ah, the world building in this book!  This was just another beautiful gem of a story. I’m so glad I decided to read this one. The stories and the language in here are just poetic. Also, the plot twists, the action, and the overarching darkness make this such an amazing read. Oh, and the romance! The romance literally took my breath away. I may be more excited for this book’s sequel than I am any other book on this list.
7) Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas (Review / Rating: 10/10)

These books are like coffee for me. I need them to remain human and to be able to function normally in society. Seriously, I need Maas’s books. They are my comfort food. And they keep getting better and better. This was my favorite book in the series so far. The main character is one of the coolest, toughest, strongest, kick butt main characters of all time. I love Celaena. Along with the politics, the magic, the assassins, the power struggles, the romance, and the revenge, Celaena makes this one of the best YA fantasy books out there, period.
8) Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead (Review / Rating: 10/10)

Strangely, this is the first contemporary to make it to my list this year. Some years are all about the contemporaries and some seem to be all about the fantasy. This was definitely a more fantasy driven year for me. That being said, the reason I really loved this particular book was how real it all felt. Everything that goes down felt like legitimate problems that could occur. The characters felt real too. I loved the emphasis on friendship, and while some tough topics are covered in this book, there’s this overall lightness and sense of fun that brings it all back to focus. Stead is another fantastic writer, with strong emphasis on character. And this book was above and beyond what I have even come to expect form her.
9) Hold Me Closer by David Levithan (Review / Rating: 10/10)

I have nothing but love for this one. The book reads like a play. Technically, it’s a musical. It’s written by my favorite side character from another book (Will Grayson, Will Grayson). I guess it’s also the year for books written by fictional characters. As I said in my review, “I was expecting over the top humor. I was expecting fantastic songs. I was expecting to laugh. And I did. I got all these things. What I was not expecting was to feel so much in this book, and I had all the feels. I laughed out loud one moment, I sang along another, and then there were moments when I had tears in my eyes. And I loved every mixed bag of emotions moment of this book.”
10) Beastly Bones by William Ritter (Review / Rating: 10/10)

I thought it couldn’t get any better than Jackaby, but I was wrong. I liked this sequel even more than the original. This one did involve stolen dinosaur bones, feuding scientists, plenty more magical creatures, top notch witty banter between Ms. Rook and Jackaby, a very curious mystery, and some superb writing. It’s a supernatural Sherlock Holmes type retelling and it’s amazing. I’ve recommended these books over and over again, always to the upmost success.
 Honorable Mention 1) Ms. Marvel, Volume 4: Last Days by G. Willow Wilson (Review / Rating: 10/10)

As I said in my review, “These are the comic books I’ve come to compare all others too. Though, nothing is quite as good. I’ve picked up the occasional comic book or graphic novel in the past, but seriously reading these has made me want to read so many more. I have been reading more. I guess before I was never fully able to see myself in comic book characters. And while, on the superficial side of things I’m nothing like Kamala, I related to her on so many metaphorical layers.” Seriously, these books are so amazing, and this last one had dystopian/end of the world plotlines and well, I’m not sure it can get any better.
Honorable Mention 2) The Marvels by Brian Selznick (Review / Rating: 10/10)

I am a huge Brian Selznick fan. What this author accomplishes both in words and in pictures is just so powerful. This book did not disappoint. Half is told in illustration. The other half is in words. Part of the fun of reading it was needing to connect the two different stories. Reading it felt a bit like fitting clues together and solving a mystery myself. And what a fabulous feeling that was. There were so many layers to this story, and I remember being awed by each clue I connected.
Honorable Mention 3) Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (Review / Rating: 10/10)

Sarah Dessen is the queen of YA contemporaries. Seriously, she has become the author (maybe along with Rowell now) whom I compare all other YA contemporaries. I have a soft spot for her because I read her books all through high school, in my actual young adult years. And I find myself connecting just as strongly now as I did then to her fantastic characters. Her characters in this book were so authentic and believable. Some of the topics covered in this one were a little intense, more so than I have come to expect from most Dessen novels. And this actually made me read the book so much faster. I remember zooming through it, needing to know what would happen with a particular character.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (168)

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 Stars Above by Marissa Meyer (2/2/16):

Description on Goodreads:
The enchantment continues....

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.
Why I’m Waiting:
I need this book now! I absolutely loved all the books in the Lunar Chronicles. And the idea of getting more information about some of my favorite characters is just pretty amazing. I’m not going to lie though; getting that excerpt of the author’s new book will be pretty amazing too. Also, it’s so pretty! I love how all the book covers have remained consistent.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Good Week in Books (125)

I had a bittersweet week in books. I had a nice week in general. I was visiting my family in Chicago for the week (with the boyfriend in tow). We celebrated Hanukkah, caught up with old friends, and ate our hearts out, Chicago style. I got to show my boyfriend all my favorite bookstores growing up. And we ventured over to the famous Chicago comic book stores as well. We played tourist and went to museums too.
I bought two books in Chicago. I received another as a very wonderful Hanukkah gift from the boyfriend. And one I re-purchased today after leaving my (signed!) copy on the airplane, midway through! I need to know what happens! Also, I filled out a form online with the airline, in case anyone finds it, but I think it’s gone forever. I was just in such a rush to get off the plane (that was delayed 5 hours). I don’t know what I was thinking.
But, I just about had a melt down when I realized my signed Rick Riordan book was gone. So sad. Also, I have now bought the book twice. I was going to get it from the library this time around, but I cannot wait for that copy to come. I need to know things now. And I’ll want my own.

The lovelies:
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan (What was I thinking??)
Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay (Thank you, Nick!)
How was your week in books?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 4: Last Days by Willow Wilson

Summary on Goodreads:
From the moment Kamala put on her costume, she's been challenged. But nothing has prepared her for this: the last days of the Marvel Universe. Lucky she's got the help of Carol "Captain Marvel" Danvers! Between teaming up with her personal hero to rescue her brother and trying to keep her city from falling into an all-out frenzy, Kamala has barely had time to come to terms with the face that the world is literally collapsing around her. But the truth will catch up to her, and soon. When the world is about to end, do you still keep fighting? Kamala knows the answer. Let's do this, Jersey City.
These are the comic books I’ve come to compare all others too. Though, nothing is quite as good. I’ve picked up the occasional comic book or graphic novel in the past, but seriously reading these has made me want to read so many more. I have been reading more. I guess before I was never fully able to see myself in comic book characters. And while, on the superficial side of things I’m nothing like Kamala, I related to her on so many metaphorical layers.
Kamala is every self conscious teenage girl. She felt real. If she was real, I’d want to be best friends with her. I love having a non-sexualized girl hero. I love how “normal” she is. I also love how geeky she is. She knows everything there is to know about all the heroes in the Marvel Universe. And she fangirls out every time she meets one of them.
She learns from her mistakes. I love that she’s still picking up the pieces from her misplaced crush of the previous book. She knows what she did wrong. Oh, and I love her relationship with her family. I’m glad this volume focuses on family a bit more. I also love the storyline. I mean come on, it’s the end of the world…
Secrets come out in this one. Kamala’s brother is kidnapped and she of course goes to recue him. One of the moments I’ve been waiting for since book 1 finally comes to pass. And I guess when it’s the end of the world, people want to tie up loose ends, admit to secrets, and resolve feuds.  In a way this read like part comic book, part coming of age story, and part dystopia. What’s not to like about that?
I think this was my favorite comic yet. I can’t wait to see what happens next. I give it a 10/10.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (167)

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 You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour (6/6/16):

Description on Goodreads:
You Know Me Well, told in alternating points of view, is the story of two unlikely confidants. Classmates Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for a year, but have never spoken. One night, far from home, their paths cross, and soon, they realize they know each other better than anyone else. They’ll guide each other through their first loves and heartbreaks, which, by the way, don’t involve each other: Mark is in love with his best friend Ryan, while Kate has been in love with a girl from afar, and may have ruined her chance to meet her.
Why I’m Waiting:
Well, this sounds amazing! I absolutely adore David Levithan. He has written some of my all time favorite YA. I’ve only heard good things about Nina LaCour. I haven’t read her book yet, though I plan on it eventually. This story just sounds so amazingly good. I cannot wait for it to come out!
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger

Summary from Goodreads:
If one must flirt…flirt with danger.

Lessons in the art of espionage aboard Mademoiselle Geraldine’s floating dirigible have become tedious without Sophronia’s sweet sootie Soap nearby. She would much rather be using her skills to thwart the dastardly Picklemen, yet her concerns about their wicked intentions are ignored, and now she’s not sure whom to trust. What does the brusque werewolf dewan know? On whose side is the ever-stylish vampire Lord Akeldama? Only one thing is certain: a large-scale plot is under way, and when it comes to fruition, Sophronia must be ready to save her friends, her school, and all of London from disaster—in decidedly dramatic fashion, of course.

What will become of our proper young heroine when she puts her years of training to the test? Find out in this highly anticipated and thrilling conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Finishing School series!
I unfortunately only own book 1, and the rest I’ve gotten as library books. I feel such a bookish need to own all of these books. I want to re-read them whenever I feel like it. And I know I will need to re-read them soon. They are some refreshingly unique, hilarious, smart, witty, and wonderful. I can list all of the positive adjectives I can think of and still not quite vocalize just how spectacular this series is.
Reading this book, this week, was definitely like reconnecting with old friends. I missed these characters and it was so nice getting to see them all again (though there was one friend in the group that was MIA). I know that she needed to be where she was, but I still missed her.
As far as this particular story went, it was just what I was expecting from another Gail Carriger book.  I loved the plot, which I can’t divulge without seriously spoiling things, but I love what was at stake in this book. I love the emphasis of friendship and the overall feeling of girl power I get every time I read a book in this series. Yes. More please.
I think my favorite thing about this last book was the level of wisdom gained. The girls have learned from past mistakes. Sophronia knows who to trust and who not to. She knows how to not get caught, yet she also knows how to take a punishment for when she does. And as far as matters of the heart go, my ship was strong. And I loved every sizzling second of the much awaited romance I’d been craving for Sophronia.
Of course, there’s balls, shopping in London, fancy teas, and some of the most superior witty conversations in all YA books. Add the adventures, the highwaymen, the super villan boys school, the automatons, the spying, the sacrifices, the dangling from the airship, the rescuing of a vampire teacher, and helping out the werewolves, and well, there’s never a dull second.
Things tied together nicely here. I wasn’t sure what to expect in the grand finale. But I loved what I got. Loved.  Also, I got so many answers to my questions. I finally know some things I’ve been questioning since book 1.
That being said, I feel like there could be more books. Why did this have to end? Can’t we see the jobs the girls go on as adults? I’m going to miss these girls so much. I’ll have to go read this author’s adult books now.
These books ended up becoming one of my all time favorite YA series’. They are smart, sexy, hilarious, and just plain fun. I highly recommend them. I give this a 10/10.

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 by Ryan North

Summary from Goodreads:
Wolverine, Deadpool, Doctor Doom, Thanos: There's one hero that's beaten them all, and now she's got her own ongoing series! (Not that she's bragging.) That's right, you asked for it, you got it, it's Squirrel Girl, (she's also starting college this semester!) It's the start of a brand-new series of adventures starring the nuttiest and most upbeat super hero in the world!
I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting from this comic. I only recently learned of its existence through one of the voting rounds on the Goodreads Choice Awards. It was nominated for best graphic novel, and I’d never seen it before. As soon as I read the above description though, I knew I had to read it.
I must say it’s be been a great year for girls in comics. I have read some really fantastic stuff this year. And I knew there was no way Squirrel Girl could compete with Ms. Marvel (my current favorite), but I was pleasantly surprised by how entertained I was by the whole thing. Yes, bring on the girl superheroes please. And I love the girl superheroes that aren’t 100% sex symbols. Squirrel Girl (besides her tail) is very average looking and isn’t always posing in the best way to highlight all her best assets, as many girl superheroes are drawn to do. I was impressed with this. Girls can be heroes without also being super models. Yes.
I loved the college campus setting. I loved the roommate who had a secret pet cat, and a love for knitting. And I absolutely adored Squirrel Girl. She was so funny, optimistic, and genuinely rather innocent. She was not what I was expecting. It was nice having the main character want to be a superhero and not complain about her powers. Her confidence was so endearing.
She though she could do things and she did. She defeated and or talked her way out of various battles with some of the most famous of villains.  And it’s not like she’s the strongest superhero out there. Her greatest skill is her ability to talk to squirrels. And her kindness is so refreshing.
I loved all the bonus features in the book too. There were all these Q and A sessions and twitter feeds running between the different parts of the book. Also, I loved the Deadpool cards she kept referring to. Oh, and seeing her first interaction with Ironman was so funny. I kept laughing throughout the whole thing.
All in all, I think Squirrel Girl makes an excellent addition to the Marvel universe. Her story is funny and different. And I can’t wait to read more about her. I’m so glad I found this on Goodreads. I give it a 9/10.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Every Breath by Ellie Marney

Summary from Goodreads:
When James Mycroft drags Rachel Watts off on a night mission to the Melbourne Zoo, the last thing she expects to find is the mutilated body of Homeless Dave, one of Mycroft's numerous eccentric friends. But Mycroft's passion for forensics leads him to realize that something about the scene isn't right--and he wants Watts to help him investigate the murder.

While Watts battles her attraction to bad-boy Mycroft, he's busy getting himself expelled and clashing with the police, becoming murder suspect number one. When Watts and Mycroft unknowingly reveal too much to the cold-blooded killer, they find themselves in the lion's den--literally. A trip to the zoo will never have quite the same meaning to Rachel Watts again...
I’m a little late to the game on this series. I have read so many glowing reviews for this book, I had to purchase it. I bought it a long time ago though. Really, what was I waiting for? It was such a fun take on Sherlock.
I have to admit I’m a huge Sherlock fan. My latest obsession has been the show Elementary. I’ve been binge watching it on Hulu, and I just can’t get enough of these Sherlock Holmes retellings. I was so happy to not only hear of a YA retelling, but to hear of a YA retelling that everyone in the world seemed to love.
It took me a little longer that expected to get into the story. I think some of the Australian language was hard to wrap my brain around at first. Though, the setting and language soon came to be one of my favorite components of the story. I love reading books that take place in other countries. I just do. It also took me a little longer than normal to get to know the characters. I just wasn’t clicking with Watts at first. She clearly had some deep-rooted family frustrations and came off as kind of snotty to me. But, I did grow to really like her.
I found Mycroft fascinating. I wanted all the details that weren’t given about his past. I love how eccentric he was. He was friends with tram drivers and homeless people. I liked that he was known for being intelligent, but he didn’t seem quite as cocky or conceited as the actual Sherlock Holmes. Maybe he’ll grow into that? He felt more human.
I loved the romance. I loved the slow-building, friends-first type romance. It’s the best kind. I was shipping these two from the very beginning. I’m excited to see where things go from here.
I found the murder mystery to be quite interesting. The side characters were great. The artists, the zoo workers, the best friends, and Watts’ brother were all very believable to me. The other characters made this book feel more like a contemporary YA than a murder mystery, and I guess that just made for a super good mixture.
Not all the goings on of the police department were very believable to me. Though, I guess, how could they be in a teenage Sherlock Holmes story? I liked that it wasn’t all about the mystery. It was also about family, first love, the concept of home, and friendship. These contemporary themes really made this novel stand out to me. I really enjoyed this. I give it a 9/10. It would have been a 10, but it did take me a little time to get invested in it. And I’m only just starting to really like Watts. I want to like her more. I’m hoping I will in the next installment, which I need to get my hands on now.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (166)

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 Wax by Gina Damico (8/2/16):

Description on Goodreads:
Paraffin, Vermont, is known the world over as home to the Grosholtz Candle Factory. But behind the sunny retail space bursting with overwhelming scents and homemade fudge, seventeen-year-old Poppy Palladino discovers something dark and unsettling: a back room filled with dozens of startlingly life-like wax sculptures, crafted by one very strange old lady. Poppy hightails it home, only to be shocked when one of the figures—a teenage boy who doesn’t seem to know what he is—jumps naked and screaming out of the trunk of her car. She tries to return him to the candle factory, but before she can, a fire destroys the mysterious workshop—and the old woman is nowhere to be seen.

With the help of the wax boy, who answers to the name Dud, Poppy resolves to find out who was behind the fire. But in the course of her investigation, she discovers that things in Paraffin aren’t always as they seem, that the Grosholtz Candle Factory isn’t as pure as its reputation—and that some of the townspeople she’s known her entire life may not be as human as they once were. In fact, they’re starting to look a little . . . waxy. Can Poppy and Dud extinguish the evil that's taking hold of their town before it’s too late?

Fans of Gina Damico’s creepy Croak trilogy and the acclaimed Hellhole will be wowed by Wax!
Why I’m Waiting:
I loved the Croak books. Seriously, I think they are some of the most underrated gems. They were sarcastic, interesting, hilarious, and so much fun to read. I need to read this one so bad. Also, clearly, I need to get Hellhole because I didn’t know that was out too…Why don’t these books get the hype they deserve? Seriously, this sounds so creepy and fantastic. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
What are you waiting for this week?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Re-Read 2015: The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket and read by Tim Curry

Summary from Goodreads:
Dear Customer,

This story may seem cheery at first, when the Baudelaire orphans spend time in the company of some interesting reptiles and a giddy uncle. But don't be fooled.

The three siblings endure a car accident, a terrible odour, a deadly serpent, a long knife, a large brass reading lamp, and the reappearance of a person they'd hoped never to see again.

I have made a solemn vow to present this information to the public, but there is nothing stopping you from pretending you've never heard of the audiobook. Then you can buy something that is less unpleasant.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket
I know I’ve said this before, but I’m so glad I decided to make my challenge this year a re-reading one. I have completely forgotten what gems these books are. I first read them when I was child.  And I wasn’t sure what it would be like re-reading them as an adult. But, really, I think a lot of the humor went over my head in my first reading. I’m so entertained by the sarcastic humor.
I’m also in love with the narrator. Lemony Snicket is so interesting. I’m so lost in the mystery of the narrator. I need to know all there is to know. I forgot how fun it can be to have a narrator be a character. Why isn’t this done more often?
The poor Baudelaire orphans really do not ever get a break. The story picks up right from where the previous one left off. And the narrator, right away, lets us know there is no happy life awaiting the children. A lot of the story is over-the-top. But, that’s part of what makes it so fun. And Tim Curry again is the perfect over-the-top narrator for such an over-the-top plot. Also, I loved the special Reptile Room song, that I never heard before.
This was never my favorite book in the series. Though, I think I enjoyed reading it more this time. I loved the snakes (particularly the Incredibly Deadly Viper). I loved the teamwork amongst the children. I also enjoyed watching the children learn from their mistakes. I hate that Mr. Poe couldn’t learn from his mistakes though. Why couldn’t he believe the children? I was so frustrated along with the kids. So frustrated.
I’m starting to kind of remember where the story is heading, and I’m so excited to get there. I’ll be starting the next book soon. And I cannot wait for things to really get started with the overarching plot a bit more. I really enjoyed this installment, though it still isn’t my favorite of the stories. I give it an 8/10.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and performed by a full cast

Summary from Goodreads:
A thrillingly reimagined fairy tale from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell – weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic, which will hold readers spellbound from start to finish.

On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.

Lavishly produced, packed with glorious Chris Riddell illustrations enhanced with metallic ink, this is a spectacular and magical gift.
This was so entertaining. I wish it was longer. It’s a very short book (1 disc on audio). Though, reading that summary made me want to go back and look at the physical book too because clearly I missed out on the illustrations. However, what I got was one beautifully performed play. I’ve never listened to an audiobook like this before. Each character was read/performed by a different voice actor.
First off, the story is a lot of fun. I’m a sucker for retold fairytales. And who better to write one then Neil Gaiman? I love Neil Gaiman and when I saw he had a new YA book, I quickly put a request in for it at my library. Then I saw the audiobook had a full cast and well that was it.
This story was part serious, part joke, and part epic storytelling. Seriously, I was laughing the whole time. I loved getting dwarves as main characters. They were loud, wise, vocal, and hilarious. This was not a book that held back on language. Those dwarves had mouths on them. The Queen (other main character) was so epically awesome too. She left her soon-to-be prince to go rescue a town of innocent people. She never seemed too afraid. She marched strongly into a cursed town and really was such a hero.
Also, the dark, almost creepy elements of the story were so pure Neil Gaiman. It was easy to forget that this was his story and not some BBC special. But then, there’s evil spells that allow the sleeping townspeople (of the Sleeping Beauty Tale) come to partial life and go after the main characters as sort of sleeping zombies. And I went, oh yea, this is Neil Gaiman. There was jus the right amount of adventures and twists too.
I highly recommend this one. I can’t think of anything negative to say, besides the fact that I wished there was more. I’m sure the book is beautiful, but if you listen to audio at all and love a good comedy, I’d go for the audio for sure. I give it a 10/10.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Good Week in Books (124)

So many good book weeks in a row. Nothing could make me happier to have all these weeks in a row. I purchased two new ones (with a coupon). I’m helpless. I also received three pretties for review. Thank you, Disney Hyperion. They really are so pretty. I have some amazingly awesome reading in my future. This is good because I tend to read a lot more when the weather gets colder. I have been on a reading streak. I may have read 5 books this week…that’s a lot, even for me.
Any way, here’s my new gorgeous haul:

by Alexandra Bracken
Jackaby by William Ritter
Oblivion by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Alistari Grims’s Odd Aquaticum by Gergory Funaro
Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
How was your week in books?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

Summary from Goodreads:
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.
I really enjoyed this book. I’m not sure I loved it as much as everyone else seemed to. But, it was one of those books that kept me up late. I needed to read until I finished. And lately, those have been rare. I read this in one day. That does say something.
That being said, I loved this until about the 80% mark. I can’t really talk about what happens after that point without seriously spoiling the whole book, so I won’t talk about it. However, that last 20% drastically effected my overall enjoyment and rating. It was kind of a hard book to rate for me. I literally loved it until that point.
I loved the idea of this story. I was so curious to see how a story about a girl this sick, so sick she literally was never able to leave her house, could end up being in a love story. I loved Madeline’s relationship with her mother and her nurse. I cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like to only ever see my mom and a nurse every day of my existence. I felt so bad for all the things Madeline could not see, feel, experience, and love.
I also fell in love with Olly, along side her. They developed their relationship over the internet, with emails and instant messages. And I loved that they got to know each other that way. Their banter and back and forth dialog was some serious YA contemporary gold. I loved every second of it. This book had some definite John Green and Rainbow Rowell vibes going for it, and honestly, is there a better compliment?
That being said, I was very disappointed about where things went at the end. Sometimes I feel like authors have two choices: the easy route and the hard. And this author definitely picked the easier route. She did set it up from the beginning. It didn’t come out of nowhere. I just wish she took the harder route and emphasized the importance of one thing over another.
Vagueness aside, I did mostly fall in love with this book. I read it in record time. I loved the dialogue, wit, and romance. The characters and relationships were fantastic. I was not a fan of the end. I give it an 8/10. It was a good debut and I will definitely have to check out more from this author in the future.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (165)

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 The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh (5/3/16):

Description on Goodreads:
I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid's empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn't yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.
Why I’m Waiting:
I fell in love with book 1. It was definitely one of my favorite reads of 2015. It was also one of the most cliffhanger-iest reads I’ve had the pleasure to read in a long time. I need to know what happens next. Now. Right now. Not in May. May is so far away, I’m not sure how I’ll be able to wait that long. Any way, book 1 was a beautifully written retelling of Shahrzad’s story, and I know book 2 will be just as beautiful. I cannot wait.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Re-Read 2015: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket and read by Tim Curry

Summary from Goodreads:
Make no mistake. The Bad Beginning begins badly for the three Baudelaire children, and then gets worse. Their misfortunes begin one gray day on Briny Beach when Mr. Poe tells them that their parents perished in a fire that destroyed their whole house. "It is useless for me to describe to you how terrible Violet, Klaus, and even Sunny felt in the time that followed," laments the personable (occasionally pedantic) narrator, who tells the story as if his readers are gathered around an armchair on pillows. But of course what follows is dreadful. The children thought it was bad when the well-meaning Poe bought them grotesque-colored clothing that itched. But when they are ushered to the dilapidated doorstep of the miserable, thin, unshaven, shiny-eyed, money-grubbing Count Olaf, they know that they--and their family fortune--are in real trouble. Still, they could never have anticipated how much trouble. While it's true that the events that unfold in Lemony Snicket's novels are bleak, and things never turn out as you'd hope, these delightful, funny, linguistically playful books are reminiscent of Roald Dahl (remember James and the Giant Peach and his horrid spinster aunts), Charles Dickens (the orphaned Pip in Great Expectations without the mysterious benefactor), and Edward Gorey (The Gashlycrumb Tinies). There is no question that young readers will want to read the continuing unlucky adventures of the Baudelaire children in The Reptile Room and The Wide Window. (Ages 9 and older) --Karin Snelson
I’m so happy that my challenge set for 2015 was a re-reading one. Re-reading old favorites has been nothing short of awe-inspiring. And truthfully, I had mostly forgotten about the Lemony Snicket books. I read them all many years ago, but never took the time to go back to them. The reason I went back now was because two different friends highly recommended the audio (read by Time Curry!). Besides, I’ve already re-read the Harry Potter and the Percy Jackson books this year, so why not throw in more middle grade favorites?
I cannot believe I’ve never re-read these books. They are so wonderful and hilarious, and smart, and sad, and scary, and addicting. The writing style is so unique. There is so much wit and sarcasm written between the lines of this book, I always found myself smiling –despite the sad plot line. And who better to read hidden sarcasm and wit, than Tim Curry? Why am I only realizing now that he’s the voice of all these audio books. He’s fantastic. Seriously, what a perfect pairing. Tim Curry reading this book is like the perfect red wine paired with a perfect steak, cooked exactly as you ordered.
As a kid, I remember loving how the narrator explained what the harder words meant as he went along, and I took this as a learning tool. As an adult, I realize the sarcasm and humor behind each time this happens in the story and I love this even more. I love that instead of using simpler language (as many middle grade authors are want to do), this author uses the language he wants, but then explains some of the things a younger audience might not understand. He doesn’t dumb it down. And even better, he can teach a thing or two in the process.
I also thoroughly love the characters. I love that the girl character (Violet) is the one into engineering and inventing. She creates the devices that save the day, or at least attempt to save the day. And the boy character (Klaus) is the bibliophile, who’s knowledge and fast reading is required to also save the day.  Though, all the children are in love with books. And this is another special things about these books. The author is full wisdom and quotes about how amazing books and libraries are.
And yes, as is described in the description, the book is rather dark. The orphans never have it easy. However, the humor in here is never endless. I particularly loved all the moments when Sunny (the baby) would say something in gibberish/baby talk, but then the narrator would explain what she was actually saying (sometimes in many sentences). There’s a lot to these books. Also, there’s the fantastic narrator. Lemony Snicket is so interesting and mysterious. I remember needing to know more about him as the books went on. And I already feel that way now just after book 1.
I can’t wait to start book 2 on audio. I already requested it from my library, and I’m sure I’ll delve into it soon. As far as this first book goes, I give it a 10/10. I loved Tim Curry’s reading of it. I loved being immersed in the story again. And I’m so excited for more.