Review: Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Publication Date: August 28, 2017    |    Rating: 4-stars

Wonder Woman: Warbringer was a wonderful adventure story following Diana, aka. Wonder Woman, as she navigates her journey of self discovery from the isolated island of the Amazons to modern-day NYC & Greece! Along the way she learns a lot about herself, about life, friendship, love, loyalty and ass-kicking. I thoroughly enjoyed this book – I felt it had just the right amount of action, turmoil and humor. This is actually the first book I have ever read by Leigh Bardugo (I know…gasp…hiss) and I was really impressed with her writing style. The flow and pace are spot on for my tastes and I think she did a fabulous job of creating an original story for a well-loved action figure. Side Note: I did listen to the audiobook for this one and thought the narration was excellent!

This is the first book in the DC Icons series, the 2nd being Batman by Marie Lu and the 3rd will be Catwoman by Sarah J. Maas releasing later this year. I think this whole series is such a great idea and wonderful marketing/exposure for DC! As a child of the late-70s – 80s, these types of action heroes were a big part of my childhood so this whole series has a nice nostalgic feel for me. I plan to buy them all as they come out and would recommend them to anyone who ever had any love for these characters. The modern spin is really entertaining and great way to escape life for a while!

Are you a fan of comic book heroes? If so, who is your favorite? Have you, or do you plan, to read these DC Icons books? I want to know! Leave a comment below or contact me via social media (links to the right!)

Retell-A-Thon 2018

Hi y’all – it sure has been a while since I last posted.  Life has gotten very hectic and I haven’t been reading half as much as I would like.  With summer comes the busy time at my ‘real-world’ job, plus extra activities with friends and family. I am in the middle of 7 books currently and am hoping to finish at least 5 of them by the end of the month.

One exciting thing I do have planned for my reading life for the summer is participation in my FIRST ever readathon!  This readathon will be hosted by my favorite booktuber (Common Spence – Retellathon Announcement – watch this for additional information) and four other fabulous booktubers: Read By Liv, Wilde Book Garden, Mikayla Tweeting and Lea Bex.

Titled, ‘Retell-A-Thon’, the purpose is to knock some ‘retellings’ off our tbr lists.  As I have mentioned numerous times, I adore retellings!  I own a ton of them because I basically buy them anytime a new one comes out…but actually reading them, that’s a different story. The dates of the readathon are July 8th through the 15th and consists of 5 challenges. Earlier this week I compiled my tentative tbr – of course, I am a mood reader so all of this is subject to change, and most likely will as the time draws closer:

Challenge #1: Love At First Sight (retelling of your favorite fairy tale) – My favorite fairy tale has always been Beauty and the Beast and I own quite a few retellings based on this classic love story. The one I have chosen for this prompt is, The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty’s Prince by Serena Valentino. This is my second Serena Valentino retelling and I am really looking forward to it. This is the story told completely from the perspective of The Beast. One of my favorite spin to retellings is when they are told from the villain’s perspective. I am a villain and therefore love villain tales. (I’ll let you be the judge of whether this is a joke or not…)

Challenge #2: True Love’s Twist (queer or gender flipped retelling) – for this I believe I am going to go with, Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust. Basically, this is a feminist fantasy retelling of Snow White. I believe there is LGBTQ+ rep in this, perhaps a F/F relationship, so hopefully this one counts.  If not, I may switch to And I Darken by Kiersten White, which is a gender flipped retelling of the story of Vlad the Impaler.

 

Challenge #3: Faraway Kingdom (a retelling of a fairy tale from your heritage) – for this, I have already switched from my original plan earlier in the week. As heritage goes, I am choosing to go with my Irish heritage for this challenge, which literally became a challenge because I felt like I had read all of the retellings that fit this category…but, alas, I was wrong. I had to go book shopping for this selection but I am SO excited to get it and it sounds amazing (arriving today from Amazon). This is, Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake. While not based on a literal fairy tale, it is based on Irish folklore/legends; specifically, from what I can tell the legend of The Morrigan. Quick synopsis, The Morrigan is a goddess figure from Irish mythology that is associated with war and fate, especially with foretelling doom, death or victory in battle. This goddess is a shape-shifter and often appears in the form of a crow or raven. So, in this story, Ciara, our main character, a Princess in the ancient land of Eirinn (Ireland…get it?) is visited by a crow who tells her of threats coming and basically she needs to fight to save her home and her people.  Sounds amazing, right!? I am very glad I found this one – plus there is a crow on the cover which is totally my aesthetic.

Challenge #4: Under A Spell (read the group book) – The hosts of the challenge selected, The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill for this one which I am so excited about.  I had just been looking for an excuse to buy this book because the cover is amazing and it needs to live on my shelves! Rumor has it, that under the dust jacket the actual physical book has a mermaid scale design over the entire thing!  My hearts stops just thinking of it.  This is a Little Mermaid retelling that sounds really fun and cute and I am definitely looking forward to this one.

Challenge #5: Unhappily Ever After (retelling with a dark twist) – This is MY challenge, I may read multiples for this if given the time. What I have officially selected for this is from the Twisted Tales series by Liz Braswell. I have previously read another book in this series, a twisted take on Aladdin which was fabulous, but I digress.  My selection for this is Once Upon a Dream which is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty with the tagline: ‘What if Sleeping Beauty never woke up?’ – um, yep, I am here for this. Not to mention the fact that Maleficent is basically my idol in both real and imaginary life so I am very excited to read a book where she features in a main role!

So, that is it!  That is what I plan to read for ‘Retell-A-Thon’.  I cannot even express how happy I am that this readathon has been created.  It is beyond perfect for my reading tastes. I hope it is a wild success so that it may become a yearly event!

Have you ever participated in a readathon? Tips or tricks on how best to tackle it? Let me know in the comments below or reach out to me on social media -links to the right!

Cheers and happy reading lovies!

Review: Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

Publication Date: June 5, 2018    |    Rating: 4-stars

I am so pleased with this! Catherine Steadman’s, Something in the Water is a great story with a great narrator. I was quickly drawn in, as it starts at a very peculiar place that gets you intrigued immediately. This story, in contrast to a lot I seem to be reading lately, is told from one POV. This was so refreshing for me; I related so much to Erin, our protagonist, and felt really comfortable just sitting in her voice and hearing this story told.

Erin, is a documentary filmmaker who we find working on a project interviewing convicted criminals on the eve of their release from prison and just after. In the midst of all of this, she also marries the man of her dreams, Mark, a once successful investment banker who comes under great stress due career issues – like he doesn’t have one any more. With all of this going on they decide to go on the honeymoon of their dreams to Bora Bora. Whilst there, on a private scuba diving excursion, they discover something in the water that will forever change the course of their lives.

This book has mystery, intrigue, some very intense moments, some moments where I was appalled by how reckless our MC was acting – this book is an excellent examination of what human beings are willing to do for something they desire. If you value wealth and stability, what would you do to get and maintain that? What sorts of lines would you cross? Would you be the same person? Are you any different from any other person who may have crossed lines of their own? I found the story was formatted perfectly – it kept me guessing, it kept me wanting to keep turning pages. I would definitely recommend this as a perfect summer Thriller!

What are some thrillers you are looking forward to reading this summer? Do you have this one on your list? If you don’t…you should!  Have you read this one already? If so, what did you think of it? I want to know – leave a comment below or you can reach me via my contact links to the right >

Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Author: Ransom Riggs    |    Publication Date: June 7, 2011    |    Rating: 4-stars!

What a wonderful time this was! I decided to read this book as part of my Unread Shelf Project 2018 – basically I am working backwards through my virtual GR ‘to be read’ list and picking one book per month to read off the backlist. I added this book to my tbr in November of 2015. I have no excuse really for not getting to it before now. Sometimes I do end up avoiding hyped books subconsciously; it’s a problem. I did attempt to watch the movie adaptation of this book but didn’t make it through.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this! I listened to the audio in conjuncture with also reading a hard copy so I moved through it really, really fast. I loved the unique storyline and the characters. Jacob, our MC, is so funny – I laughed out loud several times in regards to his dialogue or observations. Another aspect of this I really enjoyed was the use of so many antique (ahem, creepy) photographs that tie right in to the storyline. I have never seen that done in quite this way before and it was really refreshing. I am sure I am probably one of the very few middle grade readers left on the planet to not have read this one, so I am beyond the moon to be crossing it off my list. There are two other books in this trilogy and initially I was thinking I would stop with this one, but after completing it, I do think I will move on with the series. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a fun, middle grade read – it was quite an adventure!

So, I mentioned a while back a bit about my Unread Shelf Project – just a quick update, the first book I selected for that official project was ‘In Cold Blood’ by Truman Capote, which I had added to my tbr in October of 2015. I am currently reading that and absolutely loving it. I had read this book in high school, or shortly after high school, but really didn’t remember anything about it besides that it is a classic true crime narrative. I am so glad that I am rereading it because Capote’s writing is just so brilliant and I don’t think I was really able to appreciate that the first time around since I was so young. Now, as an old goat, I can really take my time and enjoy the dramatic way he constructs this horrific American crime.

Next up for this project is a book I added to my tbr in December of 2015: The Road by Cormac McCarthy. This is a fairly well loved post-apocalyptic novel that I am actually buddy reading with some friends from Bookstagram; so really looking forward to that! As luck with have it, my copy arrived in the mail today, so I should be starting it this week!

What are some books you are looking forward to checking off your tbr? I want to know! Leave a comment below or reach out to me through my contact links.

Cheers~

Everything’s Coming Up ARC’s

I have been so lucky to have received numerous incredible ARCs (advanced readers copy) to read this summer! I feel so blessed to have so many amazing stories to choose from. Below is a list of my the top ones I am anticipating for the next month:

1. Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman – This book, which was released this past Tuesday, June 5th, is my current read. To say I am loving it is to put it mildly. I think of this book all day long while I am away from it doing serious adult things. This is a debut novel for Ms. Steadman and so far, I am impressed. The style of writing is very fluid and engaging. It follows one POV which feels a change for me – everything I have been reading lately seems to be multiple POVs – so I am happy to sit with this one character for a while and have her tell me her tale. Basically this one involves a young, perfect couple who in the midst of some financial and career hardships go on a dream honeymoon to Bora Bora. Once there they discover something in the water while scuba diving that will change their lives forever. I am almost halfway through this one and can’t wait to discover how it turns out.

2. Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier – This will be by next read – hoping to start it early next week – it releases on June 12th. I am so excited for this one. So many friends of mine in the book community have read this and absolutely loved it. I have seen many, many 4 or 5 star reviews from people whose opinions I really respect. I do not know too much about the story, which is how I prefer to go into Thrillers. From what I can tell, it is a story about three friends, one disappeared in high school and 14-years later her body is discovered and one of the others is arrested for it. The last of the three friends is a police investigator and I believe perhaps she unravels the truth. It sounds exciting – I am all about skeletons being dragged out of the damned closet so this sounds right up my alley!

3. The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager – Riley Sager is the author of one of my favorite novels of 2017 – Final Girls – and this, his second novel under this name, is one of my most anticipated books of the year! My excitement level on receiving notification that I was receiving and ARC of this was skyhigh 10-out-of-10. This book is set to release on July 10th and I know I can get it read well before then. Since this is a Sager, I am anticipating an unreliable narrator of some sort and tons of twists and turns and edge-of-your-seat moments. This story also has a group of young friends that something happens to all of them but one. It has a summer camp setting – which will be the third summer camp book I have read this year – I live for this type of setting. Basically, the survivor of this summer camp debacle returns to the camp years later as an art instructor and while there, she plans to figure out what happened to her friends. I just know I am going to love this! Added bonus: the cover!!!

4. Nyxia Unleashed by Scott ReintgenThis is the second book in the Nyxia Triad series with a expected publication date of July 17th. The first book in this series, Nyxia, I just finished in April and gave 5-stars to…which reminds me, I need to post a full review for that! (stay tuned for more one that…) Anyway, back to Nyxia Unleashed…so, I was so excited to receive an ARC of this to continue along with the series. This is a YA-science fiction series that follows our protagonist, Emmett Atwater, as he travels from Detroit to space to compete for a chance to mine a miracle substance, Nyxia, on a planet called Eden. This series has a great cast of diverse characters, cool sci-fi aspects, mystery and a sinister corporation element. I would highly recommend this to anyone who likes science-fiction; it’s a heck of a lot of fun and I cannot wait to see where this one takes us!

5. The Raging Ones by Krista & Becca Ritchie – This is the first book in a new YA-science fiction/fantasy series that is set to release on August 14th. This one sounds really unique and fun. It is set in a future where the world is frozen and everyone knows the day they are going to die. Three teens somehow escape their death days and are forced to try to flee the planet in order to survive! I mean, does that sound exciting or what!? I am really looking forward to getting to this one – I really do not want to learn anything else about it before I start – I feel like this is definitely the kind of story where it is best to go in blind.

Do you have any of these books on your radar? What are your most anticipated releases of the summer? I’d love to hear about them! Leave a comment below or visit me on my other social media channels – links to the side! Thanks for reading! xo

Review: Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

Publication Date: June 19, 2018

5-STARS:  Bring Me Back, which hits stores on June 19th, is the third novel written by B.A. Paris – who has very rapidly become one of my favorite authors. Her first novel, Behind Closed Doors was published in 2016 and her second, The Breakdown was published last year. I have read all three of these and given them all solid 5-star reviews! I cannot tell you the last time I have had that kind of experience with an author.

This story, like the rest of her stories, starts off with a bang and NEVER lets up. To me, this is one of the most consistent and memorable parts of her stories – how quickly they get going. There is no time wasted, no numerous pages of filler to get through waiting for the excitement to start – you are in it, right away. For example, with this one, I made the following comment on Goodreads at page 6: “Just quickly, 6 paragraphs in…6! And just like that = intense! By paragraph 8, I am already yelling at our protagonist, you did what!? What!? B.A. Paris is queen!”

The story follows two main POVs through both present time and flashbacks. The narrative is expertly woven to keep you at the edge of your seat the whole way through. I had so many theories. ‘This is the answer. No, wait, that can’t be. Okay, okay, I have it, this is it. No?? What is happening???’

This story is not just psychologically intense but as with her other novels, I feel the character development is really strong. I find myself developing strong attachments to her characters, even the most unreliable narrators. I wouldn’t say they are always 100% ‘likable’ but they are definitely always believable! With her MCs especially, I feel like they are my friends – they are doing stupid things and making stupid, yet very human, mistakes and I just want to shake them (and frequently do scold them…yes, out loud, while I am reading…).

I feel it is best to go into her stories blind. The only thing you need to know about this is that it is a taut psychological thriller that will keep you frantically turning pages until the very END! And what an end it is – shook! So, yeah, in summation – I love this book so much. I CANNOT wait to see what she comes up with next – I am really hoping for a 2019 release to keep this beautiful rhythm we have going!

Thank you so much to St. Martin’s Press for sending me an advanced copy of this book for review. It has seriously been the highlight of my year so far. To B.A. Paris, thank you so much for writing – you are my idol – the Queen of Manipulation!! xo

 

Review: The Deep by Nick Cutter

Publication Date: August 16, 2016

3.5-stars rounded up to 4: 😧😩Emotionally exhausted and confused. This book was a complete mind f♤ck! Let me get that right out of the way! This is my second Cutter book – the first I read was The Troop which I gave 5-stars and absolutely loved from start to finish. This one was harder for me to get into and stay interested. Some of the things I liked were the basic premise, the claustrophic feel was creepy as hell and the Trieste itself, how it was a character in the story – this reminded me of how The Overlook Hotel feels. Cutter is excellent at writing creepy ass stuff – there are multiple times in this where ‘monster’ type entities gave me the complete heebie-jeebies and that is friggen fantastic.

However, other aspects of this didn’t work as well for me personally. If you follow any of my reviews, blog, etc., you may recall that I have a really, really difficult time reading anything where animals are harmed/killed, etc. – and even though, in The Troop, there were a few passages I had to skim over rather than actually read due to animal content it was just sprinkled here and there. This one had quite a bit more – if you are sensitive at all about that just know it going in. I was so worried about one of the dogs in the story the whole time that it was hard for me to enjoy – just sitting there with my dog, reading with this incredible sense of foreboding – but I know that is a personal thing for me and may affect others completely differently. I hated Clayton – he was just a terrible, horrible human being I would rate right up there with Professor Umbridge as one of my most hated characters of all time. There was not one redeeming quality about him and if I were his brother, I would never have even bothered going to the Trieste for his pompous ass anyway…but that would have made a pretty short story. ‘Luke, come, Luke…’ ‘No.’ THE END

I rate my books on my personal enjoyment factor – 3 is liked, 4 is really liked. This one fell directly in the middle of that – 3.5 stars. I recently bought Little Heaven and do look forward to checking that one out as well! Have you read any books by Nick Cutter? If so, what was your favorite – I am definitely voting for The Troop so far!  Let me know in the comments or send me a message – I would love to hear your thoughts!

Review: Nothing Happened by Molly Booth

Publication Date: May 15, 2018

3.5 ☆s – ‘Nothing Happened’ is a fun and quirky YA contemporary that is actually a modern day retelling of Shakespeare’s comedy, Much Ado About Nothing. The drama unfolds at a kids summer camp called, Camp Dogberry, on the coast of Maine. I did have fun with this one but also had a few issues with it that I will touch upon briefly here. For me personally, it felt a bit young in comparison with most of the YA contemporary I read. That feel held throughout the story so I have a feeling this one would be enjoyed more by individuals who are actually younger than I am (and since that is A LOT of readers, I think this will do great!) With this in mind, I was surprised at how much alcohol was consumed by the characters in this book – I know some of the characters were in college but many were not. I am certainly not being prudish about this, I know underage drinking is a thing, I mean, I was young once, but I don’t think I have read a YA Contemporary recently were it was so much a part of the story line.

Another slight issue I had was that the story follows multiple POVs and cycles through these views rather quickly and steadily. This being said, it can be hard to follow in the beginning as you are learning the characters, their personalities and backgrounds. Multiple times I had to skip back to the chapter head just to remind myself who I was following at any given point. For me, I felt the characters lacked their own ‘voices’ – they all sort of sounded the same so it was really hard to decipher at times whose chapter you were actually in.

The story did move along quickly – pushed along mainly by gossip and angst but really, if you read the synopsis, that’s what we’re here for!  I loved the relationship between the MC sisters, Bee and Hana – it was 100% supportive and loving. Bee is the older girl and is adopted from Ethiopia. I thought that was handled well. Hana, the younger of the two, battles depression and I also felt that was handled well. The love relationships were a mess but that is what brought the drama. No one was communicating, everything was getting messed up and around and around it went, like a perfect Shakespearian comedy. Claudia, Hana’s love interest, was hugely self-conscious and jealous and I’m not sure if she actually learned anything by the culmination of the story; poor Claudia.

With all of this being said however, it was good! It was a quick read and would be perfect to take on a weekend holiday or to the beach. I am sure teens will find it fun and relatable. The relationships were dramatic, over the top and actually believable. I want to thank the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, for providing me with an early copy to read and review. As always, I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to seeing other readers thoughts on this one!

Review: The Girlfriend by Sarah Naughton

Publication Date: March 6, 2018   |   Star Rating: 4 stars

Wow. Okay, let me catch my breath. I just finished this book moments ago and I have a lot of thoughts but I can’t seem to wrangle them. The Girlfriend, by Sarah Naughton, is a very unique thriller told from multiple perspectives. I transitioned between a 3.5-star and a 4-star rating throughout the book and ultimately decided to go with a 4-star.

The writing style was likable for the most part; nice short chapters, mystery and fluid prose. I liked one of the main characters, Mags, a lot and found I related to her the most. The other main character, Jody, was less likable and less relatable to me personally but I think she was developed well by the author.  Jody was an unreliable narrator (VERY) with a traumatic past who clearly struggles with mental illness throughout the course of the book. Having never experienced the types of mental struggles and stressors that Jody was experiencing personally, it is hard for me to judge whether the mental illness rep was a proper characterization or not; I will leave that for others who know more about that topic to debate.  In regards to Jody however, I was pleasantly surprised with the position she found herself in at the end of the story. I think as a story arc, hers was the most satisfying, definitely leaving off at a more promising place than she started in.

As far as negatives go, I only have a couple items: I was a little taken aback by a few sentences describing the size of side characters which after first noticing, then seemed to just pop up everywhere for me like a beacon. I am sure that the author was maybe just trying to show some sort of attitude of the characters thinking these things but it happened with multiple characters – for example, Mags thinking, “I never thought a fat woman could be so beautiful,” (ugh) and later Jody thinking, “…panting, perhaps with the adrenaline rush of a narrow escape, or maybe just because he’s fat.” (ughh) This being said, if you are someone who may be sensitive to this type of sentiment being batted about in a story, you may want to stay clear. Furthermore, I would say trigger warnings for child abuse, sibling abuse, rape and sexual assault. My only other slight critique would be that personally I do not enjoy second person narratives.

Overall, I found this book to be exciting and engaging. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves thrillers and is looking for something with exciting twists and unpredictable turns. Thank you so much to the publisher, Sourcebooks Landmark, for providing me with a copy to review – I enjoyed it thoroughly and look forward to hearing what other readers think a well!

 

 

 

Review: Endurance by Scott Kelly

Publication Date: October 19, 2017

Subtitle: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery

All the stars in the universe! As memoirs go, this is top-notch! If you like science, you need to read this book. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Scott Kelly himself, and was hooked from start to finish. For me personally, I find it very hard to critique a memoir. I mean, it is that person’s story, it is up to them how they choose to tell it. This being said, even if I was a better reviewer I would have a hard time finding anything to critique within this book. Detailing everything from his childhood, his navy pilot training and career, astronaut training and numerous space missions, this book is replete with interesting facts and stories. I didn’t want it to end – I flew through it and recommend it for everyone. Scott Kelly has lived one hell of a life and you should learn about it!

Do you enjoy reading memoirs? If you do, what is one you would recommend to everyone? I want to know – comment here or send me a message – I would love to hear from you!

Cheers~