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!

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

The Best Books I Read in 2017

This year was full of many duds when it came to new releases or even old releases that I finally got around to, but there were a few stand-outs that really caught my attention and became new favorites of mine, the first of which was Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham.

CpH4ANsVUAE5OwOGilmore Girls is one of my favorite TV shows, and Lorelai is one of my favorite characters. She’s sassy, spunky, quirky, and hilarious, and I hoped that reading Graham’s memoir would make me love the actor who played her. (PS – it did.)

This reading experience was so much fun; Graham’s voice was so clear through her writing, and I can only imagine how wonderful this audiobook must have been. I loved reading about her life and some behind the scenes tidbits from Gilmore Girls, Parenthood, and A Year in the Life. This was my first 5 star read of 2017 and really just made my heart so happy.

29772863Next up was a graphic novel by none other than Marissa Meyer, a personal favorite of mine and a staple in the YA book community. That book would be Wires and Nerve, which is a sort of spin-off of the Lunar Chronicles following the adventures of Iko the android. Seeing as Iko was never a favorite character of mine, I was surprised by how much fun I had reading this and how much I now anticipate book two! This was my second experience reading a graphic novel and it has also given me a thirst for more. (PS – if anyone has any recommendations for other good graphic novels, comment below because seriously, I need more.)

DocumentAnother surprise was Caraval by Stephanie Garber. You can read my full review for this book here, but basically this book was incredible. It had everything I ever wanted and checked all of my boxes and was absolutely amazing. There was magic and mystery and action and romance and twists and family drama, and truly I cannot recommend this book enough. I want to buy copies for everyone I know and force them to read this except I don’t have that kind of money, so all I can say is: do whatever you can to get your hands on a copy of Caraval.

9781250050748Another book that I loved was This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales. For some reason, this received a 4 star rating according to my Goodreads, but that may change upon further inspection because really, this book was so incredibly moving. Not only did I relate to the main character, I felt that it was a beautiful story of redemption and growth and moving past the pain of your past. I wrote a full review for this book here, so feel free to check out my complete thoughts on it and then hopefully pick up the book for yourself.

34538054The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones is another book that snuck up on me and became a quick favorite. The story was very unique and sucked me in fairly easily, but ended up really tugging on my heart-strings as well. I didn’t expect this to be such an emotional read, although I should have based on other people’s reactions. This was such a special book with such a heart-wrenching ending, but I can see myself rereading this for sure. Definitely check this pick out, and also my original review for it.

29385546Marie Lu’s most recent release definitely made it on the list; Warcross exceeded my expectations. I didn’t want to get too caught up in the hype lest it let me down, but this book is well-deserving of the praise. It was cool and modern, with interesting characters, a steamy love interest, and an awesome concept. This book made me want to get sucked into video game culture and participate in this world of virtual reality and technology. Check out my full review for Warcross here.

81uGB-QT1hLGeekerella by Ashley Poston was not a surprise favorite for me. I went into this book 100% certain that I was going to love it, and I was not disappointed in the slightest. This fairytale retelling of a fangirl Cinderella was adorable, funny, fresh, and such good fun. I wrote a review for Geekerella here, but you can just take my word for it: this retelling is so worth it. You may think that this story has been wrung dry, but I think there are still so many new and special ways to tell this classic tale.

Xpress-YA-Bardugo-TheLanguageofThornsThe last favorite of 2017 was The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo. Sometimes I have issues with short story collections because typically, there are a few in the batch that aren’t as good as the others. This was not the case with this compilation. Every single story included in The Language of Thorns was exceptional, and I was so pleased with the entire reading experience. The illustrations on every page were stunning, and the stories were all beautiful and unique. Check out my review for this book here, and then buy it for yourself because you know you want to.

This was such an incredible batch of books and I’m so excited for the new stories I’ll be introduced to in the coming year! What are some of your most anticipated 2018 releases?

BOOK REVIEW: “Slasher Girls & Monster Boys”

9780147514080Title: Slasher Girls & Monster Boys

Author(s): Stefan Bachmann, Kendare Blake, Jay Kristoff, Jonathan Maberry, Carrie Ryan, Nova Ren Suma, April Genevieve Tucholke, Leigh Bardugo, A.G. Howard, Marie Lu, Danielle Paige, Megan Shepherd, McCormick Templeman, Cat Winters

Genre: Horror/Thriller

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys is a compilation of 14 stories by some of the most well-known young adult authors in the business. This particular collection is full of creepy, scary, bone-chilling, spine-tingling stories, some of which might keep you up late into the night, scared to check under your bed or inside your closet. Each one is inspired by either TV, movies or books, some horror and some not, and gives it a twist. You’re intended to read each story and attempt to guess what they’re reminiscent of, and then you can find out at the end.

1.) The Birds of Azalea Street by Nova Ren Suma

The very first story in this collection was a really good way to set the tone for the entries to follow. It was appropriately creepy and told in just the right way; a story about a perverted old neighbor who takes pictures of young girls and shoots birds in his backyard.

2.) In the Forest Dark and Deep by Carrie Ryan

This story was by far the scariest. It’s quite obvious from the very first pages that the other drew her inspiration for Alice in Wonderland, but it took a very, very dark turn. It was disturbing and twisted and terrifying, and I will be thinking about this short story for a long, long time.

3.) Emmeline by Cat Winters

While some of these stories are intended to scary and induce nightmares, this particular story was sad: a lonely ghost girl who seduces men and likes the cinema. This one wasn’t a favorite of mine, but at least it didn’t make me want to cry like the previous one. Short, sweet, and to the point.

4.) Verse Chorus Verse by Leigh Bardugo

I was excited to read this one because it was written by the lovely Leigh Bardugo, a favorite YA author of mine. This one was creepy but much more subtle. It was written well, but it was a little underwhelming to me.

5.) Hide-and-Seek by Megan Shepherd

This was a very enjoyable read for me. It was a unique and interesting concept and I feel like it could have possibly served well as a full-length story as well. The main character is murdered by her step-father in the beginning of the story, but she’s given a chance to live if she can win a game of hide-and-seek with death. The ending was very satisfying and justice was served in the end, a very uncommon trait for most horror stories.

6.) The Dark, Scary Parts and All by Danielle Paige

Unfortunately, this was one of my least favorites in this collection. It was kind of creepy, but it felt mostly silly. I wasn’t impressed by this story about the son of Hades.

7.) The Flicker, the Finger, the Beat, the Sigh by April Genevieve Tucholke

Another one of my least favorites. It seemed sort of pointless and anti-climactic. It wasn’t scary, there were no explanations, and the characters were all very annoying and problematic. Bleh.

8.) Fat Girl With a Knife by Jonathan Maberry

This was definitely my favorite story in this book; I absolutely loved it. It was the only one of the stories that included humor, and it had zombies, which I also love. Quite honestly, I’m thinking about trying to contact Maberry and asking him to write an entire book- heck, an entire series about Dahlia and her zombie-killing awesomeness. So very enjoyable.

9.) Sleepless by Jay Kristoff

I’ve never read anything by Kristoff before, even though I’ve been seeing him all over Instagram. This wasn’t my favorite story, but it has made me want to read more of his work for sure. It was one of the more unpredictable works in this compilation and I was surprised by the outcome. It’s obvious the direction the story was going in based on the first few pages: boy meets girl online, they talk and develop a crush on each other, and one of them is probably a predator. Somehow, I got it all wrong though, and I really liked how it ended.

10.) M by Stefan Backmann

I was a little disappointed by this one. It wasn’t a bad story and it had a really interesting, lovely setting, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea, I suppose.

11.) The Girl Without a Face by Marie Lu

Another beloved author contribution, Marie Lu. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read from her so far, so I was expecting to love this. Unfortunately, it was also meh. I guess I’m not impressed with paranormal-type stories about vengeful spirits. It’s such a common trope in ghost stories and I didn’t think this one was good enough to stand out.

12.) A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow by McCormick Templeman

This one could have been really good. It had a unique setting, but it was almost like it was a completely different world. While it was different, it’s hard to create a whole new world and catch your reader’s attention when your story is barely 20 pages long. It’s hard to understand what’s happening when the author has so little time to explain it. If this had been longer and had more content, it would have shown promise.

13.) Stitches by A.G. Howard

Stitches was a weird story. I’m still not completely sure what happened. I want to say I liked it, but I don’t even know that. I don’t have much else to say.

14.) On the I-5 by Kendare Blake

This one was interesting, and I thought it was a good story to end on. It was beautiful in an odd, creepy kind of way.

All in all, this collection of stories had a pretty even mix of good and bad for me. Half of them I liked, half of them I didn’t.

Many of them reminded me of the stories my grandpa used to tell me. For some reason, I was able to handle scary stories better as a young child than I can now, and he used to set me up on his lap and tell some of the best ones. It’s one of my favorite memories of him and reading this brought those memories to mind. Reading this took me back to that time, and I appreciate that.

BOOK REVIEW: Marie Lu “Warcross”

29385546Title: Warcross

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Science Fiction

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

In this technology-driven world, Warcross is a game that everyone, young, old, rich, poor, plays. It’s a virtual reality-type game where you can log on to be strategic and competitive, or just to escape your world and life to be somewhere else for a while.

Still, you can get into a lot of trouble on Warcross with illegal gambling and such, and Emika Chen is the one who catches these guys when the police don’t have time to. She’s a bounty hunter, and even though she has the skills to do so much more, her criminal record keeps this from happening. So she scrapes by on the little bit of money she gets from the guys she catches and finds solace like so many others in the world of Warcross.

That is, until one day when Chen unintentionally glitches herself into one of the most important games of the Warcross Championship, and she’s sure that she’s going to be arrested again.

Except she isn’t. She becomes an overnight sensation and is drafted into the Championship. Still, there’s more than just the games to worry about. Hideo Tanaka, the creator of Warcross, has a special interest in Emika and her hacking abilities, and she has a special interest in him. It becomes clear that someone is trying to sabotage the games, or planning something worse than any of them have imagined, and it’s Emika’s job to stop them.

My thoughts:

I absolutely loved this.

This is the book I’ve been waiting for. The dialogue was believable and the characters were interesting, well-rounded and complex. The action was engaging and the story was unlike any other virtual-reality, video game-related story I’d ever seen or read. Don’t even get me started on the romance. It was electrifying, and I could feel it before they ever even touched each other (which wasn’t until, like, after page 200?). Marie Lu took her time building up the romance and the tension, and I absolutely loved it. I loved Emika and Hideo. I loved everything.

It was just such a fun read that I didn’t want it to end. I actually found myself trying to slow down and take more time on it, and I was so sad to read the last page. Not that we aren’t getting at least one sequel, and since Marie Lu seems to have a thing for trilogies, I’m going to guess there will be two. Still, how long am I going to have to wait to find out what happens next?

I liked that I didn’t predict who the culprit was. Yes, I love to guess and yes, I love to be right. But lately, my accurate predictions have really been ruining the experience for me, and while the end wasn’t exactly out-of-this-world shocking, I was surprised.

One thing I’ll say is that the book seemed short. I suppose I’m not complaining because I like it when it doesn’t take me two weeks to read a book, but I do wish there had been at least 50 more pages of content? However, that’s just me. I was still so pleased with this that I don’t care too much.

Ever since I read Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy, I’ve admired her world-building. I noticed it there, I noticed it in her Young Elites trilogy, and I see it here. Her ability to shape and describe the world that her characters are living in is mind-blowing and I so enjoyed it here in Warcross.

I loved this book so very much and I’m going to recommend it for all of my days. Starting with my blog readers. Hey. Read this book.

 

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