February 2018 Wrap-Up

Well lookie there, it’s the end of February already! I haven’t written a wrap-up post in quite a while but I suppose now is as good a time as any to remedy that. Unfortunately, if I go on about every book I read in February, I would be here a while: I read a total of 20 books!

Now, I’ve had quite a bit of time on my hands lately so this makes sense. I’ve only just recently started school but even that isn’t taking up too much of my time. My husband is going to be leaving for 4 months in March (he’s military so he’s going on a mission), which means I will be left alone with even more time on my hands. I’m going to knock this 100-book reading goal out in no time.

untitledFirst book I read was Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu. This one was so much fun, and a vast improvement on the first DC Icons book by Leigh Bardugo (I’m sorry, queen.) I wrote a full review of this actually, so you can check that out here.

The-ForgettingNext up was a DNF, The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron. I don’t typically write full reviews for DNF unless I feel obligated to (an arc copy) or if I feel like there’s a reason for the DNF that needed to be touched on.

I had very high hopes for this book. It had a very intriguing concept and a beautiful cover, but the execution was awful. I was so bored and turned off by the writing that about 20% of the way through, I couldn’t handle it anymore.

TOG-NYT-CoverMy first and only reread of the month of February was Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas. This is one of my favorite series and I’m actually rereading one book a month in preparation for the release of the final installment in October of this year! I am so excited for the conclusion of this series but so sad to say goodbye to some of my favorite characters. Seeing as it’s been about 5 years since I read Throne of Glass for the first time, I thought it would be a good idea to reacquaint myself with the story once more.

SerenityTPBCoverAlso this month, I was on quite the graphic novel kick. I found some Firefly comics at my local library and absolutely had to check them out! There were four of them total, two I read in physical form and the other two I found digitally online. I binged the whole dang series this month, which wasn’t difficult since they were all very short. Still, it was a very sentimental read and it made me happy to see some of these characters again. The last book, Leaves on the Wind, was set after the events of Serenity, which was like a stab to the heart but a bandage all at once. If you’re a fan of the TV show Firefly, definitely check these out!

falling-kingdoms-morgan-rhodesContinuing with my Falling Kingdoms binge read, I finished Frozen Tides and Crystal Storm, books four and five in the series. I started this series in January and never reviewed it because I figured I would write a complete series review once I read Immortal Reign next month. I continue to have mixed feelings about the books, of the conclusion that while the story is very interesting, the characters are incredibly flat and I care about literally none of them. Oh, and the insta-love is real.

33784373Hunting Prince Dracula was a book I was excited to read this month but ended up being disappointed by. After the amazingness that was Stalking Jack the Ripper, I was so sure I was going to love the second book but was so wrong. Still, it wasn’t enough to scare me away from the rest of the series. Keep ’em coming, Maniscalco!

71fXyrRrXCLAmy and Roger’s Epic Detour was yet another DNF and a disappointment. Hunting Prince Dracula put me in a terrible slump and I chose a Morgan Matson book to hopefully pull me out of it. Sadly, I discovered that road trip books are not my thing, and this book only sunk me deeper. DNF’d at about the halfway mark.

36986066Worst Case by Beck Anderson is sadly another DNF for the month of February. (Hey, I’ve got a life. And I already make myself miserable, why do I want to force myself to read books that make me miserable, too?) I just wasn’t into the writing style or the characters. Couldn’t bring myself to finish.

25041504After You, the sequel to Me Before You, was picked up on a trial basis. Me Before You made me so angry, but I loved Lou’s character and wanted to see her happy and well. Unfortunately based on the opening chapters, it was obvious that I wasn’t going to like the direction the book took. I wanted to see Lou on a healing journey, not being friendly with Will’s long-lost teenage daughter. No, thank you.

9780349414256-328x480The Hating Game by Sally Thorne was a refreshing read. The romance was fun and the characters were real and this was a great way to get out of a slump. I’m not planning to review this due to some mature content that I skipped through (I’m not a fan of the smutty stuff, I’m here for the rest of it).

33158561Another book this month was Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore. This had a very interesting concept but was altogether much too slow for me to handle. I’m a fan of much more fast-paced story telling, and while the flowery writing was beautiful, it put me to sleep in the end.

coverBizarre Romance was written by Audrey Niffenegger (author of the Time Traveler’s Wife) and was basically the weirdest, creepiest book I’ve ever read in my life. It was a series of short stories, some illustrated by Eddie Campbell, and they were freaking weird, dude. And not a good kind of weird, like a twisted kind of weird. It left me with a gross feeling in the pit of my stomach and ultimately, I left the last three stories unread because I couldn’t take it anymore. I won this ARC in a giveaway so I don’t know if I would have ever picked this up on my own. If you like wacky, out-of-this-world stories that end abruptly and creep you out, check this out.

51irO0dsQDLAnother (slightly less) creepy book I read was the Coraline graphic novel. I never liked this movie as a kid and thought it was way too dark, but I recently read The Graveyard Book, another graphic novel by Neil Gaiman, that I loved. So I figured I’d give this another shot, and if I ended up liking it, I told myself I’d try to watch the movie again now that I’m older. It was still quite creepy but without the Tim Burton vibes, it was much more tolerable. I didn’t enjoy this as much as The Graveyard Book but I’m glad I tried it out.

eliza-and-her-monstersEliza and Her Monsters was one I’ve been pretty excited to read and ended up having mixed feelings about it. I’m planning to review this soon, but I’m still trying to make up my mind about it.

DIG017563_1._SX1280_QL80_TTD_I read two more graphic novel/comics this month, the first being Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader. This was actually and incredibly enjoyable and powerful Batman read which surprised me. I can’t say a whole lot about it, only that if you’re even remotely a DC or Batman fan that you should check it out.

9781250078285And the last book that I completed this month was Gone Rogue, the second volume in the Wire and Nerves graphic novel series. I absolutely loved these books and am so sad to see them end! Iko was such a fun character to get to know better and I’m just so thrilled with the way everything played out and ended. What another lovely installment in the Lunar Chronicles world!

There you have it folks, my ridiculous monthly wrap-up! I can’t wait to see what the rest of you have read in February! Let me know in the comments below. For now, have a great day!

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BOOK REVIEW: Francesca Zappia “Eliza and Her Monsters”

eliza-and-her-monstersTitle: Eliza and Her Monsters

Author: Francesca Zappia

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

 

Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, the screen name behind the creator of the world-famous web comic, Monstrous Sea. However, she leads this life of anonymity because offline, Eliza is quiet, anxiety-ridden and terrified.

Then she meets Wallace, who she finds out is one of the most famous Monstrous Sea fan-fiction writers around, and she struggles to tell him her true identity. Instead, she befriends him, quietly reading the fan-fiction that he gives her to beta read. She fangirls about Monstrous Sea with him. They grow closer.

But obviously, it’s never that easy, is it?

My thoughts:

There were a lot of things to love about Eliza and Her Monsters. I love any book that represents fandom culture accurately and this was definitely a lot of fun. I used to write fan-fiction years ago so this was also very interesting to read for that reason.

Wallace was a sweet, in-depth character and it was fun to see the relationship between him and Eliza develop.

Sadly, I found myself frustrated with Eliza for much of the book, for simple things. Not knowing the basic interests of her younger brothers. Being angry at her parents for not understanding her life but refusing to tell them that she’s a world-famous web comic creator. Her unpleasant attitude. And for someone who struggled with anxiety and low-self esteem, she had quite a high opinion of herself, basically looking down on everyone she went to school with.

I don’t fault Eliza for her mental illness. I completely understand and suffer from anxiety sometimes myself, although definitely not as extreme as hers. What I don’t understand is being so thoughtless and self-centered that you won’t just try to get to know your own family. I just couldn’t get on board with her character.

Also, was definitely not a fan of the time when Wallace got angry with Eliza for being unable to finish her series just so he could further himself and his own career. When he literally just chapters ago was saying he wouldn’t fault an author for not finishing a book if it caused them misery or pain. Nice going, Wallace.

This was a page-turner and I definitely was into the story. Unfortunately, there was a disconnect between me and the main character that just really kept me from enjoying this more.

 

Francesca Zappia: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Kerri Maniscalco “Hunting Prince Dracula”

33784373Title: Hunting Prince Dracula

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Historical Fiction

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

In this second installment in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series, Audrey and Thomas are on their way to Romania which homes one of the finest forensic schools around. It also happens to be the castle of Vlad the Impaler.

Audrey is still recovering from the events surrounding the Ripper case, which hit much closer to home than anyone outside of her family and Thomas realizes. She struggles to maintain her spot in the school, where she’s already unwanted but now has to fight the panic she feels every time she sees a dead body.

So Audrey decides that if she can solve the mysterious murders that have been occurring around the castle lately, she can prove to the headmaster that she’s worthy of attending his school.

My thoughts:

I definitely didn’t love this. Which was truly a disappointment because Stalking Jack the Ripper was my first 5 star read of 2018. It was entertaining and interesting and swoon-worthy – everything I want in a book. Unfortunately, I found I had a much more difficult time clicking with Hunting Prince Dracula.

For one, I found myself bored for the majority of the book and felt that it could have been condensed a good bit. Audrey’s inner struggles, while understandable, were frustrating because she refused to do anything to remedy it. I obviously sympathized with her but it’s like my mama said: Don’t complain about a problem if you’re doing nothing to fix it.

I also thought that them going to school in a castle, a castle that happened to be Vlad the Impaler’s, was a little far-fetched. I can reach a lot when I’m reading, and I can ignore a lot of stuff if I want to. Still, for historical fiction, this seemed a little much.

That’s not to say that I hated this book. In the last bit, it started to pick up. The big reveal was interesting and exciting and everything I want in a murder mystery. I absolutely adore Thomas and Audrey. Could their flirting become a little much? Maybe. Was it annoying that Audrey went along with the flirting constantly but insisted she didn’t want to be with him? Yeah, definitely. Did I still swoon? Heck yeah.

And honestly, while I didn’t love this book, it’s not like it’s going to keep me from reading the rest of the series. I’m totally here for a kick-butt, progressive heroine who goes against the grain and her totally adorable side-kick/boyfriend. Bring ’em on, Maniscalco.

 

Kerri Maniscalco: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Sarah J Maas “Throne of Glass”

TOG-NYT-CoverTitle: Throne of Glass

Author: Sarah J Maas

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

Ardalan’s Assassin Celaena Sardothien has been slowly dying as a slave in the mines of Endovier as punishment for her crimes for the past year, yet the Crown Prince Dorian Havilliard offers her the strangest of salvations. He asks her to compete in a competition to become the King’s Champion, and if Celaena wins, Dorian promises her eventual freedom.

This being her only opportunity to get out of Endovier, Celaena accepts this deal and accompanies Dorian back to the glass castle, where she is pitted against other brutal, equally dangerous contestants. The tests are difficult, and some even perish, but this isn’t the only thing that Celaena must worry about. Another, possibly supernatural evil lurks within the castle, and magic that hasn’t been touched in years. Soon, it’s apparent that this competition, the glass castle and its inhabitants are much more than they appear.

My thoughts:

This is not the first time I’ve read Throne of Glass. I have been a huge fan of this series for almost 5 years now, but I decided it was time to reread the entire series in preparation for the final installment coming out in October 2018. In addition, I never reviewed this book when I read it the first time, so I thought it would be perfect to write something now that I’ve re-familiarized myself with the events of the first book once more.

Reading this the second time brought back all the feelings of the first round. I can recall exactly where I was when I read Throne of Glass for the first time, and the way my heart raced and my jaw dropped at every awe-inspiring moment. This book was so dang cool to me then, and it was just as cool to me today.

Knowing what I know about the rest of the series, I can read this now and appreciate the way Maas eases the reader into this world that, in a few books, is going to get way crazier. I love the way that she slowly introduces the magical and supernatural elements of the story and that we’re not just thrown into this world with foreign terms that haven’t been explained yet. Maas takes the time to explain it and build her world and I’m so thankful for it.

Celaena is so wonderful to read. I can understand why readers are sometimes put off by her because she can be pretty vile at times. However, I think that’s what I love about her: the things that rub other readers the wrong way are what make her realistic. Yes, Celaena is vain and a little too sharp-tongued for her own good, but as you read on, you see also how brave and selfless and loyal that she is. She’s a complex and absolutely beautiful character, and I will always love her.

I also don’t care what all you Chaol-haters think: I always liked Chaol. Yeah, he’s grumpy, but that’s also what makes him kind of hilarious. Y’all need to chill. I love the way he takes to Celaena, even in spite of himself because you know he didn’t plan on liking her. I enjoy reading Celaena and Dorian’s banter and just think they make such good friends. (Yes, I have shipped them two before and I thought they were adorable. But I’ve also shipped her and Chaol. Celaena would be amazing with anyone because she’s amazing, okay?)

Everything about this series is amazing. The characters, the magical elements, the world building, the action, everything. I love it all. I’m going to be oh so sad to see this series end. A piece of my heart will die once I’m finished.

That’s all, folks. 10/10 would recommend forever and ever, please read this series, thanks.

 

Sarah J Maas: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Marie Lu “Batman: Nightwalker”

untitledTitle: Batman: Nightwalker

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Science Fiction

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

Bruce Wayne has just turned 18, just given access to his trust fund, and is ready to carry on his parent’s legacy. Sadly, on the eve his birthday and a very important fundraising dinner, Bruce crashes while chasing down a fugitive and gets into trouble for interfering for police business. His punishment: community service work at Arkham Asylum.

During his time mopping floors in the prison, Wayne encounters an inmate, Madeleine, who takes a special interest in him. When the police find out, all talk of punishment is dismissed in favor of using him to get closer to this prisoner.

Soon Bruce finds himself close to the case and even closer to the person of interest. But is he really getting closer to Madeleine, or has he been manipulated the entire time?

My thoughts:

Batman: Nightwalker is the second in the DC: Icons series. The first was Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo, but you don’t have to read it to enjoy Batman or any of the book released after this. If you read my review for Wonder Woman, you’d know that sadly, I didn’t enjoy it very much.

All that to say that this installment was a welcome surprise. I’ve always loved Batman, and seeing this origin story was super awesome. We’ve never really seen an adolescent Bruce Wayne before and it made him seem fresh and new. We also got to see a young Harvey Dent and even caught a glimpse at future James Gordon.

I really enjoyed seeing Bruce’s relationship with Madeleine develop, and I also enjoyed Madeleine’s mysterious nature and the intrigue surrounding her possible crimes. Arkham Asylum was properly creepy and Wayne’s reactions to everything thrown at him were believable and understandable.

This story was action-packed, gasp-filled, and everything that a Batman story should be. I found it very entertaining and I absolutely can’t wait for Catwoman in a few months, written by Sarah J Maas.

 

Marie Lu: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Holly Black “The Cruel Prince”

51n9H+zFt1L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Cruel Prince

Author: Holly Black

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

Jude and her sisters were stolen away from the human world to Faerieland when they were very young. They were forced to grow up in a foreign, hostile world and raised by the man who killed their parents. You could say that Jude feels like an outsider.

Still, while others might shy away and wish to look small and insignificant so as not to be a target for aggression or bullying, Jude still wishes to be a part of their world. She envies them: their beauty, their power, and their immortality.

She stands up for herself and keeps her head high even in the midst of brutality. But will Jude remain strong through every bit of cruelty that Prince Cardan throws her way?

My thoughts:

Jude was a very interesting character to me. The way that she reacted to her experiences and her situation was unique; after all, many would probably rebel against the man who had murdered their parents and stole them away from their world. Yet the dynamics of Jude’s family was strange: Madoc, their new “father”, seems to have developed genuine love for the girls through the years, even though he only shares blood with one of them. And the sisters don’t really seem to hate him. They do their best to adjust to the new lives they’re forced to live and make the best of things.

The bullying toward the sisters is pretty brutal. The fey don’t take very well to humans, and it’s strange to see them being raised alongside fellow fey. One faery in particular, Prince Cardan, seems to be particularly bothered by Jude’s presence, and she goads him by standing up to him. The prince and his gang participate in some very nasty activities with Jude and her twin, Taryn, making their lives miserable.

And yet, Jude’s response to this cruelty is a desire to rise above it and become stronger. She asks Madoc to train her more intensely in sword-fighting, and secretly moves her way through the ranks of the fey, grasping for power and affluence. It’s all very motivating and I found myself rooting for her and wishing for her to come out on top.

While I was reading this, I found myself very enamored by the story. However, sadly, I also found that once I finished The Cruel Prince and put it down, I wasn’t dying for a sequel. I wasn’t totally “wow-ed”. And when all is said and done, I found it pretty forgettable. I wasn’t particularly in love with any of the characters, nor was I so impressed with the world that I want to visit it again right away.

There is a great deal amount of hype surrounding The Cruel Prince. I never jumped on the hype train because I’ve never read anything by Holly Black before now, and I just didn’t see the big deal. It seems to be just another book about faeries.

Did The Cruel Prince live up to the hype? Not really. I don’t see why everyone is going nuts about it. Still, I enjoyed this enough to want to read any sequels and to read more of Black’s work. I look forward to seeing what else she brings to the table.

 

Holly Black: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Emma Mills “Foolish Hearts”

33275690Title: Foolish Hearts

Author: Emma Mills

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

When Claudia is caught after accidentally overhearing the breakup of their school’s longest-standing couple, she thinks things can’t get much worse. That is until she and Iris, freshly single and very upset about it, are thrown together for a group project and then forced to audition for the school play.

Thus begins a very unexpected friendship and the beginning of some serious changes in Claudia’s life. However, she has a hard time adjusting to these changes.

My thoughts: 

This book made me feel like glitter was exploding in my heart. I absolutely adored this story and I was surprised how I fell in love with each of the characters. Foolish Hearts really snuck up on me; despite reading rave reviews about this, I still had my doubts. Well no more.

I could totally relate to Claudia and I loved seeing her grow throughout the story. She became so much more confident and it was so rewarding to see her blossom. Her friendship with Iris was absolutely precious. And Iris’s personal growth was great to see as well.

Also reading about Claudia and Gideon’s blossoming relationship was adorable. Gideon was like a precious weird alien flower that needs to be protected at all costs. He was the perfect love interest in this story!

One of my favorite things about this book were the gaming references. The video game scenes were described in such a hilarious way; it’s been a long time since I’ve laughed out loud this much while reading a book. Gideon’s desire to connect with Claudia over video games by surprising her with making his own account to play with her was absolutely great.

This was just such a heartwarming, happy, adorable read. I can absolutely see myself rereading this for years to come. Thank you, Emma Mills, for this gem of a book.

 

Emma Mills: Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Lauren Destefano “The Glass Spare”

29622131Title: The Glass Spare

Author: Lauren Destefano

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 1.5/5 stars

 

Princess of the Northern Isles Wil suddenly finds that she’s developed the ability (or as she may call it, curse) to turn people and even things into gemstone just by touching them. Sadly, this unwanted, newfound skill causes her to be driven out of her kingdom by her father, who tells her family that she died.

This story follows Wil on her journey to discover the origins of her powers and to hopefully get rid of the curse.

My thoughts:

The Glass Spare was a sort of retelling or spin on the classic King Midas story, the gold being replaced with the gemstone. To be perfectly honest, this is a very flimsy concept, and the result of this idea was just as lame.

Sadly, I don’t have much to say about this story. Full disclosure, I skimmed the entire last half of the book to at least see if the ending was worth sticking around for the rest of the series. It wasn’t really.

Destefano took half an idea, slapped on a strange, difficult to picture world that was half-medieval with aspects of technology, and never fully delivered on the rest of the story. It was a painful read to say the least; an absolute total mess.

I’ve read a few of this author’s other works and found that it suffered from the same lack of follow-through. I hoped that this would be an improvement on her earlier publications but ended up disappointed. Don’t waste your time.

 

Lauren Destefano: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Neal Shusterman “Scythe”

28954189Title: Scythe

Author: Neal Shusterman

Genre: Science Fiction

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

Humans have attained complete immortality. They have defeated all manner of diseases and natural disasters through artificial intelligence called the Thunderhead. The Thunderhead knows all and sees all, and has done away with all political authority, crime, corruption. The Thunderhead is the governing body of the entire world. The only thing that the Thunderhead cannot interfere with is the Scythes.

Because humans can now essentially live forever, there has to be some way to manage the growing population. People still have to die. This is what the Scythes are for.

There’s no real rhyme of reason to how they glean. Some glean based on statistics, some glean based on the look in the person’s eyes, and some do it randomly. However they do it, the Scythes maintain a quota of 250 gleans per year; no more, no less.

Our two main characters, Rowan and Citra, get taken on as Scythe apprentices, and this is the story of their journey, change, and development through their now upside-down world.

My thoughts:

Holy crap. This book was absolutely amazing. I cannot say enough good things about Scythe and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it or talking about it since I finished. I immediately ordered Thunderhead (the next book) upon finishing this because I need to know what happens right now.

I’ve been hearing people talk about this for some time, but it took me too long to jump on the bandwagon. And I am ashamed. Scythe is not talked about enough. It is not hyped enough, not enough people are talking about it, and I am going to recommend this to everyone I meet for the next forever.

First of all, the world building in this is perfect. Absolutely spot on, so interesting and detailed and intricately done. I was so pleased reading this perfect, utopian world and was so intrigued by it. I could imagine it vividly, but not only that: it all makes sense. Everything just clicks.

The book poses so many difficult questions about mortality, right and wrong, the intents of the heart. I truly feel like it’s such an important book that people should be forced to read and evaluate. Analyze. People should be writing papers about Scythe, about what it means to them and how they interpret it. It makes you think about what you may do as a Scythe and how you may choose the people that you glean. It also makes you think about how you may live your life if you didn’t have to worry about death (aside from the possibility that you may be gleaned, which isn’t super probable to be frank).

The characters are relatable and the struggles they face make the reader feel for them. You can see the changes our apprentices undergo and why they turn out the way they do. You see the way they face corruption within the Scythedom and how the handle it. It’s all just so complex and amazing and really, I just want everyone in the entire world to read this book.

Scythe is fascinating, entertaining, engaging, relatable, thought-provoking, and a true gem. I cannot recommend this book enough. I’ve already been bothering my friends and family to read it so please, do yourself a favor and read this wonderful book.

 

Neal Shusterman: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads