Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Book Birthdays! -- March 31, 2015

Sorry I missed a couple of weeks! It was spring break, and then my personal life was a little chaotic. But there weren't a TON of releases those weeks, and there are only a

*Note: when celebrating birthdays for books in a series other than Book 1, I will not list the summary, in the interest of avoiding spoilers. If you've read the first book(s) in the series, or are just insanely curious, follow the book title link to the Goodreads page to read the summary there! 


Title: The Start of Me and You
Author: Emery Lord

Summary: Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics, The Start of Me and You proves that it's never too late for second chances. 

It's been a year since it happened--when Paige Hancock's first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally read for a second chance at high school...and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her--the perfect way to convince everyone she's back to normal. Next: Join a club--simple, it's high school after all. But when Ryan's sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

Author: Elizabeth Wein

Summary: Emilia and Teo's lives changed in a fiery, terrifying instant when a bird strike brought down the plane their stunt pilot mothers were flying. Teo's mother died immediately, but Em's survived, determined to raise Teo according to his late mother's wishes--in a place where he won't be discriminated against because of the color of his skin. But in 1930's America, a white woman raising a black adoptive son alongside a white daughter is too often seen as a threat. 

Seeking a home where her children won't be held back by ethnicity or gender, Rhoda brings Em and Teo to Ethiopia, and all three fall in love with the beautiful, peaceful country. But that peace is shattered by the threat of war with Italy, and teenage Em and Teo are drawn into the conflict. Will their devotion to their country, its culture and people, and each other be their downfall or their salvation? 

Title: Solitaire
Author: Alice Oseman

Summary: In case you're wondering, this is not a love story. 

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year--before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people--I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that's not all over now. 

Now there's Solitaire. And Michael Holden. 

I don't know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don't care about Michael Holden. 

I really don't. 

Series Continuers

Title: The Wicked Will Rise
Author: Danielle Paige
Series: Dorothy Must Die #2

Title: Etherworld
Author: Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam
Series: Elusion #2

Tell me: what new releases are YOU excited for this week? Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments below! 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Series Review: DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth

*Note: from now on, I will be reviewing books in a series individually, but if I feel the need to delve into spoilers, I will do a series review. Therefore, individual reviews will spoiler-free, but series reviews will be SPOILER-LADEN. If you'd rather avoid spoilers,  please refer to the individual reviews I will place at the top of the post. You have been warned!*


Series title: Divergent
Book titles: 
1. Divergent 
2. Insurgent (Review HERE.)
3. Allegiant (Review HERE.)
Author: Veronica Roth

Summary (Divergent): In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest, Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. 

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves...or it might destroy her. 

Why I read it: I read Divergent way back when it was first published. I thought it sounded so intriguing and cool and I loved it. So right before Allegiant came out, I tried to read Insurgent, but it had been so long since I'd read Divergent that I couldn't remember any of it. So I put it down. Then I bought Allegiant when it released, and they sat on my shelf forever. I was spoiled for part of the ending. So I lost a bit of interest. But the film adaptation of Divergent came out last spring and I absolutely loved the movie, and it refreshed me on most of the points of the book I had forgotten. So I was ready to finish the trilogy. I just didn't get around to it for a while. Since the film Insurgent was coming out this spring, I decided to read books 2 and 3 before I saw the movie, to be fully prepared. (Whew, that was long!)

Thoughts: As you know if you've read my Allegiant review, I came to be very disappointed with this series. 

But let's start with Divergent. It's been a long time since I've read it; almost four years. So I've definitely lost a lot of the finer details about the book; hence the need to watch the movie to refresh my memory. So right now, I can't comment a lot on the writing of the book, or specific events. What I can talk about is the general plot. 

Back then, I thought it was highly inventive and extremely engaging. I loved the characters. I loved Tris for taking everything in her life in stride and for fighting what she wanted and who she loved. I think she develops fantastically over the course of the first book, and her slow-burn romance with Four is just what I love. Speaking of Four, I adored him in Divergent. He was my kind of male lead; a bad boy with a heart of gold and a sensitive side. I loved the side characters, I loved the idea of the faction system, and I was just so excited for the future of the series. 

I still feel that way. If I could go back, knowing what I know now about the rest of the series, I would still read and love that book. That's what made reading Insurgent and Allegiant so hard. 

Going into Insurgent, I'd already been spoiled for the end of the series. I knew that Tris was going to die. So it began a bittersweet read for me. It started out strong...ish. Then it all started to go downhill. 

Tris experiences some severe emotional trauma, which affects her character severely. After killing Will in self-defense at the end of Divergent, the guilt of his death weighs heavily on her shoulders and she can't stand to hold a gun anymore. All of which I can understand...to a point. The problem is that under the pressure of all these emotions, Tris doesn't even resemble the same girl we'd come to know and love in the first book. And I had a really hard time being in her head for 500+ pages. There were moments where the old Tris peeked out--when she stabbed Eric, for example--but those moments were few and far between. And because of this, she ends up making several very poor decisions throughout the book.

This also affected her relationship with Four/Tobias. She's constantly upset that he doesn't trust her enough to tell her things, but she spends the majority of this book not telling him things, too. I suppose that all of this just serves to isolate Tris further so that when she decides to go to Erudite and basically sacrifice herself for everyone else, it makes complete sense. But still, some of it felt like unnecessary relationship drama. 

I did still love Tobias. As I've said before, I appreciate the fact that Tobias strives to be more like all five factions, though he's not great at being like Amity. Tris, on the other hand, still takes her aptitude test to justify her personality. Since she didn't have an aptitude for Amity or Candor, she doesn't even think about trying to be kinder or more honest. If it's not in your nature, don't worry about it. 

Speaking of Candor, I'm still upset that we never got more information about them. Throughout the trilogy, we learned quite a bit about every other faction other than Candor. In the second book, we're introduced to their leader, Jack Kang, and he plays a rather large part in moving the plot forward in the middle of the book, but after Dauntless has moved on from the Merciless Mart, we never hear about Jack Kang again. Ever. What happened to him after the events of Allegiant? I wish we knew. 

This is something that actually happens often. Characters are introduced, then once they've outstayed their welcome and usefulness, they're relegated to the background and never mentioned again, or at least only mentioned in passing for continuity's sake. Zoe, a character in the third book, makes quite an impression at the beginning, being the group's almost tour guide to their new location, but she fades away in the second half of the book, and I don't think we ever found out her fate. 

OR, they're killed to make room for new characters. Tori, one of my favorite nuanced characters, is unceremoniously killed near the beginning of Allegiant. She is never really mourned. It turns out that her brother George, whom she had thought was dead, is alive and well outside the wall. After having a moment of grief about his sister, George is only granted one or two more scenes in the book. Minor Dauntless characters, friends of Tobias and Tris, are killed or maimed often. Christina and Zeke may be the only two Dauntless friends who end the series in one piece. 

Having said that, there are some characters whose arcs I really enjoyed. Cara and Peter especially come to mind. Both characters develop and change throughout the series, especially in the third book. I also love Christina from beginning to end. She's a loyal friend, and she is often so funny, which is something the books really needed: humor.

On the other hand, let's talk about the character I can't stand: CALEB. It turns out that Caleb, while masquerading as an ally to Tris and the Dauntless, has never left Erudite in the first place. He's been helping Jeanine the whole time and has betrayed Tris. Which means that he had betrayed his parents, as well, and ended up playing a part in their murders. Does he even regret that? Roth attempts to explain this in Allegiant, but I'll touch on that later. 

Insurgent's plot can be divided into two parts: the aimless wandering, and Tris's mission to find out the secret of society that Abnegation has kept hidden all this time, and that Jeanine now has in Erudite headquarters. Because this is only brought up a few times until the end, when Tris teams with Marcus to retrieve that information, the majority of the book feels pointless. Not only is there not much plot happening, but our core group of characters is constantly moving from place to place, which makes the book feel like a series of episodes, rather than one large story. Especially since the moves are almost never spurred by their own decisions, but by the decisions of the "adults" around them. 

All of which brings me to the end of Insurgent. Tris manages to get to Jeanine's office where the information is held, but so does Tori. And before Tris can force Jeanine to release the info, Tori kills her, fulfilling her personal mission of revenge for her Divergent brother's murder. Which also factors into Evelyn's plan to overthrow Jeanine and destroy the faction system entirely. But Tobias forces Caleb to release the information anyway, and it ends up being a video of a woman named Amanda Ritter. 

Amanda tells us that their faction-based society was created specifically because the world had become corrupt, and Chicago was designed to eventually help society at large recover. When the number of Divergents in the community have increased (SIDENOTE: what constitutes an increase? 10%? Half? A majority?), Amity is to open the fences permanently and the Divergents should emerge to help the outside world. She says that she is joining this community, voluntarily giving up her memories, and taking on the name Edith Prior. 

Yes. Edith Prior, an ancestor of Beatrice and Caleb Prior. Once again, reestablishing Tris as the very most special butterfly in a series about special butterflies. 

Which of course, leads us into Allegiant, AKA when everything really goes to hell. 

First, though, let me just point out that from the beginning of the book, Tris already feels more like herself than she did in all of Insurgent, which was great. It felt good to have strong, clear-headed Tris back. 

Our group leaves the city and finds themselves at the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, or what used to be O'Hare airport.

It turns out that the entire faction system is based on genetic damage and the mission to correct that damage. So rather than your faction being determined by your true personality, it's based on your genetics. Which created a whole host of new problems in my head. 

Society wanted to correct undesirable personality traits that could be linked to certain genes. But instead of correcting genes, the genes were damaged instead. When society wanted to eliminate low intelligence, for example, it also resulted in eliminating compassion. Or eliminating aggression also took away motivation. Which plays directly into the factions. And I won't even get into the Purity War. 

Chicago is one of many experiments designed by the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, a government branch dedicated to reversing the genetic damage and achieving genetic purity once more. People were chosen (or volunteered) to take part in the experiment and they're genes were altered so those genes would be healed in the generations to come. We're also told that Divergent is the word that was chosen to describe genetically pure people, or those whose genes have healed. But Chicago was the first to have the faction system. The Bureau hoped that an environmental aspect would aide in the behavioral modification along with the genes. 

The whole concept and process is so complicated that I could read a paragraph of explanation two or three times and still not entirely understand how something worked. Which was definitely annoying. But one question: if the Bureau believes that the originally altered genes resulted in damaged ones simply from genetic manipulation, why do they believe that genetic manipulation alone is not enough to fix the damaged genes? Mostly, I just really loathe the genetic damage/purity explanation. 

Let's talk about the fact that Tobias ISN'T EVEN DIVERGENT. The one thing that really bonded Tris and Tobias together in the first book, and we find out it isn't even true? Tobias simply has the gene that gives him the ability to resist the simulation serum. That was a low blow. How does that even work? How would your genes make you immune to one serum, but not the rest? How can the Bureau determine what percentage of the Chicago population is actually Divergent if it's possible to appear Divergent without actually being so? It just felt like a poor plot device to give Tobias a reason to fight against the Bureau while causing drama between him and Tris again. Because he is "damaged" and he believes it, while Tris tries to convince him that he is still the same strong person he's always been. 

Also, if your factions are based on your genetics, how is it EVER possible to change factions? Or at least, how is it possible to receive a different faction from your aptitude test? We know that it's more rare for people to transfer out of certain factions than others, but how many of those transfers actually received their new faction from their aptitude test? I would assume that most transfers aren't like Tris or her parents, simply picking a new faction to escape their current one. Because most of the population has been raised with a specific belief system, the belief being that the faction system is doing good and that the aptitude test is designed to help them realize their true selves. Especially in past generations, when there weren't as many Divergents who received more than one result in their test. One would think there would have been fewer and fewer transfers as you look into the history of the city.  

BUT, when Caleb and Tris are discussing Edith Prior and the beginning of the experiment, they are discussing their ancestors. And Tris realizes that Edith, despite her name, didn't go into Abnegation, but Erudite instead. Which makes sense because Tris's father was originally Erudite and Caleb is Erudite, so it makes sense that their ancestors would have been Erudite as well. 

What doesn't make sense is the next thing that Caleb says. He tells Tris that while Edith entered Erudite, her brother was also part of the experiment and entered Candor, and he is the ancestor who carried on the Prior name. And since Tris and Caleb are Priors, that makes the brother, not Edith, their direction ancestor. 

Tris has told us that in their society, last names aren't usually a big deal. When two people get married, they take one name. She never clarifies that they take the man's last name, so it's assumed that it doesn't matter whose name they take, as long as they have the same one. So why would Roth choose to give Edith an unnamed brother, just in the interest of carrying on the family name? Even more confusing, how? How is it possible that their direct ancestor was Candor, but no one in their recent history has been Candor? Especially Tris, who is the "super-Divergent" and the most genetically pure person they've ever seen in the experiment and has aptitudes for three of the five factions, but Candor is not one of them. 

Speaking of ancestors and history, why did Caleb have to find all of this information in books? There is a specific room in the complex that has the family histories of everyone in Chicago on plaques on the wall. Why couldn't they just look there? I really would have loved more information about that room, or at least for it to have played more into the plot. 

(SIDENOTE: how complicated would that have to be? How many generations have there been since the beginning of the experiment? How small are these plaques? Are they even close to running out of room on the walls? How do they deal with the different families inter-marrying? How many people are there in Chicago? Why, with all this technology they have, did they make a room of plaques for all the family histories?)

For most of the book, a lot of revelations are made and plans are hatched, but not a lot happens. But so much is discussed that I can't even go over it all here, so I'm going to skip to the end. The part that everyone has been spoiled for. 

Here's the deal: I don't entirely mind that Tris died. It feels true to her character arc. I don't even mind that she died to save Caleb. Even if he betrayed her in the biggest way possible, he's still her brother, and she has so much selflessness in her that it makes sense she wouldn't want him to do it. Especially since she knows he's only doing it to lessen his guilt, and not because he loves her. What I do mind is the way she died. 

What I do mind is that she decided to go for it because she just knew that she could defeat the death serum because she is the "super special" one who can resist all the serums like no one else before. 

The death serum is so weird. In vapor form, it just sinks into your skin and kills you instantly? I know this is the future but that doesn't even try to make sense. And she thinks that just because she can resist the serum that makes you tell the truth, she can resist a serum designed to just shut her down? Fine. Whatever. Twisted logic, Tris be thy name. I can deal with that. 

(SIDENOTE: Why do they release the death serum if someone tries to break into the weapons room? They have all these serums at their disposal and they choose the death serum? Why couldn't they just release the memory serum so whoever it was would forget what they were doing there in the first place? That would make so much more sense.)

But what really bugs me is the fact that she DOES IT. She resists the death serum. She MAKES IT. She gets into the room. Against ALL odds, she survives. And then David is there. And of course, he is just straight up villain at this point and decides to shoot her. Even though she is the most genetically pure person they have, and their entire goal is genetic purity. And she just dies. Not even knowing where she was shot. But not before she deploys the memory serum within the complex!

(SIDENOTE: Didn't they talk about how they had to do this before they loaded up the planes with the memory serum so they would have access to it? So they had to do it within 48 hours. But then suddenly, that whole concept is thrown by the wayside and they are executing their plan the same night that the city was going to be reset...so how did the memory serum weapons work? Did she just have to key in the location? Was there memory serum on the planes and in the complex still? Confusion.) 

In my humble opinion, it would have made more sense for her to die from the death serum. She was so arrogant and prideful to think that she could resist whatever serum she wanted just because she had a higher resistance than others. That pride seems very Erudite, which she also had an aptitude for, so it made sense!

In general, I still have questions. 

We find out that Tris and Caleb's mom and dad met in school when she helped him study for psychology, and they fell in love, so they decided to choose Abnegation together. If children from all five factions go to school together, how does Tris not know anyone her age? How do the Amity children get to school? Why would children need to learn something like psychology in school if they're not in Erudite? 

If Abnegation is supposed to be the selfless faction, why are they the only faction in which families get their own houses? 

We're told that Abnegation has the lowest number of failed initiates of any faction. How do you fail Abnegation initiation?!

What does Candor's initiation really look like? 

What do weddings look like in this society? 

Where do they get the gas to run all of these trucks and cars? 

Why did Uriah and Tori have to die? 

I am just very disappointed by this series now. Divergent still holds a place in my heart, but it will never be the same. There are just too many questions and plot holes and inconsistencies. But I will admit, I will probably give Veronica Roth another shot, because I really do like her writing style. I just can't deal with this series anymore. 

Tell me: what are YOUR thoughts on this complete trilogy? Did you have some of the same questions I had? Do you disagree with me? Let me know in the comments below!

Friday, March 27, 2015


Title: Cosmic Avengers
Author/Artist/Artist: Brian Micheal Bendis/Steve McNiven/Sara Pichelli
Series: Guardians of the Galaxy

Summary: There's a new rule in the galaxy: No one touches Earth!

But why has Earth suddenly become the most important planet in the galaxy? That's what the Guardians of the Galaxy are going to find out! 

Join Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, Groot and--wait for it--the Invincible Iron Man as they embark upon one of the most explosive and eye-opening chapters of Marvel NOW! The secrets these galactic Avengers discover will rattle Marvel readers for years to come! But while London deals with a brutal invasion by the Badoon, the fate of the Guardians may have already been decided millions of miles away!

Why I read it: As I've said, I'm trying to get more into graphic novels. I absolutely LOVED the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, so I thought this would be a good jumping-on point for Marvel comics!

Thoughts: This was a great introduction into Marvel comics and the Guardians.

The art style is something that jumped out at me from the beginning, and it's one of the reasons I decided to go for this over Ms. Marvel or Captain Marvel for my first Marvel comic book. It's so colorful and fun, and so perfect for the fun story. The art style changes at the end because this trade includes an issue from another storyline, so the artist is different. That threw me a bit, because the story in that issue has deviated from the main story, so at first I wasn't sure what was going on. But that's probably just because I was a newbie, and was unfamiliar with that kind of thing. It's easier to spot and realize for me now, so it won't be an issue in the future.

The story is great. I especially loved the prelude at the beginning, depicting how Peter Quill's parents met and fell in love. There's a montage page that has no words, but is so adorable because it illustrates their growing relationship so perfectly. And this prelude perfectly sets the stage for the rest of the story.

My one and only complaint is that there are only three issues of the main story collected here, the plot is slightly lacking. If the series was a movie, this volume would be the inciting incident only. But that's a minor complaint. It definitely intrigued me enough to want to continue the series!

Rating: 4/5 stars

Tell me: have YOU read this volume of Guardians of the Galaxy? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Review: ALLEGIANT by Veronica Roth

Title: Allegiant
Author: Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #3

Why I read it: To finish the trilogy before I saw the film adaptation of Insurgent.

Thoughts: Frustration. Anger. Betrayal. Annoyance.

But first, let me start with what I did like about this book.

Right from the beginning, Tris feels more like herself--more like the Tris we came to know and love in Divergent. And luckily, she stays this way throughout the entire book. She is strong and independent and she doesn't take any crap. And along the same vein, I enjoyed Tris and Tobias's relationship and how it ebbed and flowed throughout the book. It felt realistic.

I liked the view of the outside world. It feels realistic and gritty, the way a dystopian United States should feel. Especially when they travel to the "fringe."

Of all the secondary characters, I liked Peter and Cara's journeys the most. They made sense, they showed growth and development, and they felt true to the characters.

And I do like Veronica Roth's writing. It's very visual, and I can always see exactly what she's describing in my head.

Now, onto the bad parts. This is hard to get into without spoilers. But I'm going to try. So I apologize if things are vague.

The alternating POV chapters from Tris and Tobias did not work for me. At all. They're voices are so similar that I, like many other readers, often got confused as to whose head I was in. I would think I was in a Tris chapter, but then the narrator would start talking about how Tris is so small, and I would realize it was a Tobias chapter. Then I would have go back and reread several paragraphs because I had read them in the wrong context. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that while the chapters usually alternate, there were a few instances where either Tris or Tobias would have two chapters in a row.

I despised the plot threads for this book. While I did like the world-building outside the city, I couldn't stand the history and the science behind all of it. In a fantasy or dystopian worlds, there obviously needs to be a suspension of belief about certain things, but this was just too much for me to handle. And the explanations tended to be complicated and lengthy, and I often felt like I was grasping at straws, not able to completely understand certain actions or motivations, especially in retrospect looking at the previous two books.

It felt very much like Veronica Roth got to this third book and realized that she needed a reason for everything, and this was the best she could come up with (while still not making total sense), rather than having planned this ending since the beginning. I had so many questions throughout the book, and later I would find hastily explained answers to those questions, as if Veronica had the same thoughts while she was writing and just threw them in as they came to her. Though I do still have plot hole questions that will probably never be answered.

I didn't care for many of the new characters. I was so annoyed that Amar was supposedly someone important in Tobias's past and that we were supposed to feel something, but since I'd never heard the name Amar before, I couldn't bring myself to care that much. It felt contrived, mentioning a character for the first time and then seeing that character a chapter later.

Nita annoyed me. David really annoyed me. I was apathetic towards Zoe. What is really annoying is that some of these new characters become "very important people" for a chunk of the book, then fall by the wayside when they're no longer useful. They're only mentioned in passing again for continuity.

The only new character I really liked was Matthew. (And that may be because I was totally picturing him as Graham from Chasing Life.)

And while I can't talk about the ending in detail, I will say that I hated it. More than I hated the ending to Requiem by Lauren Oliver. And I really hated that ending. More thoughts and feels to be explained in the spoiler-y series review.

My only question now is this: HOW are they going to split Allegiant into two movies? I can almost guarantee you I know where they'll split it, because there are two good climax points in the book, and the first one could easily be the end of the first movie. That's not the problem. The problem is that not enough happens to fill the spaces between and around those two events in two different movies. I guess we will just have to sit back, wait and see.

Overall, this is one of the most disappointing books I've read in a long time.

Rating: 2/5 stars

Tell me: if you've read Allegiant, what did YOU think of this conclusion? Were you as disappointed as I was? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (17): WINTER

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine!

Title: Winter
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: Lunar Chronicles #4
Release date: November 10, 2015

Thoughts: AHHHH. I have been waiting for this book ever since I finished Cress in December, but I didn't want to feature it here until it had a cover, and now it does! And what a GLORIOUS cover it is! I seriously adore this series, and I can't wait to see how it all ends up. And the fact that it is going to be 800 pages long just makes my heart ache. With joy AND sadness. I'm so excited for this conclusion that I can hardly contain myself. Only 7 1/2 months of waiting left! 

Tell me: what are YOU waiting on this Wednesday? Are you as excited for Winter as I am? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, March 23, 2015


Title: The Faust Act
Author/Illustrator/Colorist: Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie/Matt Wilson
Series: The Wicked and the Divine Vol. 1

Summary: Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you're immortal, doesn't mean you're going to live forever. 

Why I read it: I've seen it around a bunch on booktube in hauls and such, but I hadn't heard a ton of reviews yet. Then I visited my local comic book store and decided to find a graphic novel to buy, and since this was one of the few series I want to read that only had one volume out so far, I went for it! Then I came home and read it immediately.

Thoughts: HOLY COW.

Part of what drew me to this series is the art style. It's super colorful and clean, and very 80's inspired. And I LOVE IT. Here are just a few examples I rounded up on the internet because BEAUTY.


The art perfectly complements the story, as well. The gods are colorful and flashy, so the art is, too. 

I have now read four graphic novels, three of which were first volumes in the series. But this is the first one that really made me feel something intense. The first volume of Guardians of the Galaxy very effectively sets up the upcoming story, but there's not much plot happening yet. The first volume of 30 Days of Night is simply just too short to really explore characters and make me attached to them. (Review here.) But The Faust Act sets up the story quickly, then continues with tons of plot. 

Our main character, Laura, is a major fangirl of the gods, providing the reader with a perfect stand-in within the story. We can all imagine ourselves as Laura, wishing to meet the gods until the day she does, and she's thrust into their world with all of its mystery and intrigue. And as Laura is whisked away into this crazy situation, so is the reader along with her. 

Laura gets to interact with a number of the gods, though we still haven't met all twelve. However, those we have met are all interesting and unique. Laura's specific connection to the gods is a newfound friendship with Lucifer, aka Luci, who I absolutely love to pieces. She's irreverent and sarcastic and fantastically androgynous. Through Luci, Laura meets several other gods, including Amaterasu, the Morrigan and Sakhmet, among others. And every single one is fun to read about. 

As I said before, this volume is packed full of plot, which moves quickly. The way Laura is introduced to each god provides an opportunity for a show, which is perfect for a story about god-pop-stars. 

And that cliffhanger? WOW. I was literally breathless by the end of this volume, desperate for the next one. Which doesn't come out until July. Of course. 

If you like graphic novels with a fun, fascinating plot, bright colors, and interesting characters, I highly recommend this series! 

Rating: 5/5 stars

Tell me: have YOU read this series yet? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

Friday, March 13, 2015


Title: Serenity: Leaves on the Wind
Author: Zack Whedon
Series: Serenity #4

Why I read it: I watched Firefly and the follow-up movie, Serenity, a couple of years ago on my quest to watch ALL the Joss Whedon shows. (All I have left is Angel!) I absolutely loved it. Laughed a lot, cried some, just absolutely loved it. So I bought this recently at my local bookstore. Like I said in other reviews, I picked up some short books at the end of February to finish out the month.

Thoughts: ALL THE FEELS.

Damn. I told myself I wasn't going to flail. But I knew it was going to be so hard to contain myself writing this review. Because this isn't just a book. This isn't just a graphic novel. This is Firefly. This is fandom. This is life.

Let me try to start over.

This is the fourth volume of the Serenity graphic novel series. However, I have not read the first three volumes. Those books take place during the timeline of the show, while this book takes place after the movie. So I was more interested in the continuing adventures of the gang than heretofore unseen adventures. But now that I've read and LOVED this volume, I'm definitely more interested in going back and reading the rest.

Also, THAT TITLE. Just reading the title gives so many feels I can't contain them. And every time I read it, I practically shout the line that it comes from. And then I cry. (Almost.)

The art in this book is beautiful. It's colorful and eye-catching. It's easy to tell the characters apart, and they look fairly close to their actor counterparts. It was so great seeing the gang again, and seeing how they're doing now, eight months after the events of Serenity.

It had it all, everything I'd come to love and expect from a Firefly property. The fun slang, the sarcasm, the wit, the plot, and most importantly, the characters we've come to know and love. There was a couple of great surprise appearances, too, from characters I wasn't expecting to see.

The plot genuinely had me on the edge of my seat, just like the show and movie originally did. The overall plot from this volume was wrapped up by the end, but Whedon provided us with a couple of other teasers, plot threads than can be continued in further volumes. And that ending? WOW. I can't wait to read more of these graphic novels!

Rating: 5/5 stars

Tell me: have YOU read this graphic novel? What were your thoughts? And were you a fan of the original TV show? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Review: CHARM & STRANGE by Stephanie Kuehn

Title: Charm & Strange
Author: Stephanie Kuehn

Summary: When you've been kept cage in the dark, it's impossible to see the forest for the trees. It's impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars...

Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself. 

He's part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost. 

He's part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable. 

Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present. 

Before the sun rises, he'll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths--that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying. 

Why I read it: I've heard great things about this one. I follow YA Highway, an author blog, and Stephanie Kuehn is a contributor there, so I've been hearing about her books for a long time. I found this on Book Outlet last summer, and at the end of February, I was looking for something short to finish out the month. This book is only a little over 200 pages, so it perfectly fit the bill!

Thoughts: This is a difficult book to talk about. But it is really, really good.

This book is not so much about plot and action and events. It's a character study.

This book is tough to review. Not because there aren't a million things that I could talk about, because there are. It's because talking about any of them would immediately fall into spoiler territory, and I wouldn't want to ruin the experience of reading this book for anyone. Because that's definitely what it is: an experience.

The atmosphere of this book is dark and moody and very mysterious, and I spent a huge chunk of this book trying to figure out exactly what was going on. Events are hinted at early on, but full explanations for those events don't happen until later in the book after you've had time to figure them out on your own.

The writing is stunning. The metaphors and descriptions really made this book for me. I could really picture everything that was happening, even when it wasn't exactly spelled out for me.

The title comes from quarks, of which there are six kinds, but are usually discussed in pairs: up/down, top/bottom and charm/strange. (Fun fact: I learned this from an episode of The Chase.) The quarks are mentioned in the book, but it is also a fitting title to the book itself. Drew, and especially his older counterpart Win, is charming and strange, and you come to care so much about him, even if he makes it hard.

Though this is wholly Drew/Win's story, the secondary characters are well-developed for the short time that we get to know them. From Drew's brother to Win's friends, I cared about all of them.

It's hard to say that I loved this book, or even that I enjoyed it, because it is not a "nice" book. It is a difficult book that is sometimes hard to swallow. But it is fascinating and beautifully written. It kept me guessing the entire time and when things were slowly revealed, everything fell into place perfectly. It is just a very good book.

I would highly recommend this if you are drawn to dark books with difficult subject matter. It's a short book, but it definitely packs a punch.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Tell me: have YOU read this book yet? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Book Birthdays! -- March 10, 2015

Once again, there are quite a few great YA titles coming out this week. March is shaping up to be a great month for YA releases!

*Note: when celebrating birthdays for books in a series other than Book 1, I will not list the summary, in the interest of avoiding spoilers. If you've read the first book(s) in the series, or are just insanely curious, follow the book title link to the Goodreads page to read the summary there! 


Title: Confess
Author: Colleen Hoover

Summary: Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there's no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn't expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry. 

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it. 

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can't seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin...

Title: Vanishing Girls
Author: Lauren Oliver

Summary:  Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it's too late. 

Series Starters

Author: Jodi Meadows
Series: The Orphan Queen #1

Summary: Wilhelmina has a hundred identities. 

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom's capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne. 

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie's behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can't trust anyone. 

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina's magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil's magic, she will vanish like all the others. 

Series Continuers

Title: Shadow Scale
Author: Rachel Hartman
Series: Seraphina #2

Author: Lauren DeStefano
Series: Internment Chronicles #2

Tell me: what new releases are YOU excited for this week? Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments below! 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Review: I WAS HERE by Gayle Forman

Title: I Was Here
Author: Gayle Forman

Summary: Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until...they weren't anymore.

When here best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything--so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg's college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there's a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg's heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can't open--until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend's death gets thrown into question. 

Why I read it: I really enjoyed Gayle Forman's If I Stay duology (reviews of which can be found here and here.) So I received her other duology for Christmas, and then immediately picked this up when it came out. Then in February, I finished Insurgent after reading it for almost three weeks. I needed some short books to read at the end of the month to make sure I didn't get into a slump, so I picked this one up!

Thoughts: I absolutely loved this book. I couldn't put it down and finished it in two days.

All of the characters in this book are so distinct, and I loved all of them. Cody is a strong girl, much stronger than she even thinks she is. I loved her relationship with all of the other characters, and how she slowly lets them in throughout the book. She is "the" best friend to Meg's more outgoing and strong character, but we're shown over and over that Cody is just as strong, which I really appreciated. Too often, the narrator of books like this really are weaker than the best friend, but that wasn't the case here.

I loved Meg's roommates: Harry, Stoner Richard and Alice are so unique, both in their personalities and their interactions with Cody, but I loved all three of them.

And then there's Ben. The evolution of his character as Cody gets to know him was spot-on. I loved that he was so far from perfect. He definitely had his moments where I wanted to punch him in the face, but I actually like that kind of character because they're realistic.

I know a lot of people have disliked the romance, but I thought it was perfect. In real life, things get messy and complicated, and this book reflected that. The romance progressed really naturally in my opinion, and I was swooning by the end.

I also cried at the end. This book does a great job of coming full circle and bringing the story to a satisfying conclusion. Yes, it's a sad book, but I think the story began and ended exactly where it needed to.

If you are a contemporary fan, and if you don't mind suicide as a theme, I would highly recommend this standalone, especially if you're a fan of Gayle Forman's other books!

Rating: 5/5 stars

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Review: ECHOES OF US by Kat Zhang

Title: Echoes of Us
Author: Kat Zhang
Series: Hybrid Chronicles #3

Why I read it: As the third book in a trilogy, it went along perfectly with my goal of finishing more series than I start this year! So onto my TBR for January it went. (AKA this review is really late. Sorry!)

Thoughts: The way I felt about this book was similar to how I felt about Lark Ascending.

This was a very solid conclusion to the Hybrid Chronicles trilogy. Reading about the institutions and the plight of the hybrid children was still interesting, and I definitely felt the words pull at my heartstrings a few times.

I still loved the characters, especially Addie and Eva. Even though the book is only told through Eva's POV, I still felt like we really knew both of them as individuals, driving home the point that they are distinct souls and have distinct personalities, but they are still intertwined. This is something I think the series did really well throughout.

My only problem with the characters is that there were so many of them. And with this series, adding more characters often means adding twice the number of characters, since most of the new people Eva and Addie meet with are hybrids, which means the reader has to learn not one, but two new names for these characters. And I just had trouble keeping all of them straight in my mind. I think the only ones I consistently kept straight were Hally/Lissa and Devon/Ryan. So when something would happen, it often took a few moments for me to realize who I was dealing with. Even now, I can remember all of the main events from the book, but I can't remember which characters were involved.

My other problem with this book is that it felt like it wrapped up a little too neatly. The last couple of chapters felt like everything had magically solved itself, even though we are told that everything does not change overnight. I appreciated the turn at the end, but I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never did. While I always love a good happily-ever-after, sometimes it feels like our characters have gone through too much to have a truly HEA. I'm not sure if that's just me, or if others were slightly dissatisfied with the ending.

Overall, I did enjoy this book. The pace of this series is slower than most, and moments of action are few and far between, but I enjoyed reading about the relationships between the characters, even if I couldn't remember all of their names. If you've started the series, I still recommend finishing it out!

Rating: 4/5 stars

Tell me: have YOU read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (16): A MADNESS SO DISCREET

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine!

Title: A Madness So Discreet
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Release date: October 6, 2015

Summary: Grace Mae knows madness. She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum. 

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past. 

Thoughts: THAT COVER. God, it is beautiful and eerie and just SO COOL. It makes me so intrigued. I own Not a Drop to Drink, another Mindy McGinnis book, but I haven't read it yet. But then I saw this cover of her next book and was so drawn in and curious. It sounds intriguing, too. Madness? Crime solving? And that last line of the first paragraph, "the bulge in her belly?" I am SO CURIOUS. I seriously can't wait to read this. 

Tell me: what are YOU waiting on this Wednesday? Does my pick sound intriguing to you, too?  Let me know in the comments below! 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Book Birthdays! -- March 3, 2015

There are a TON of awesome YA releases this week, so let's jump right in!

*Note: when celebrating birthdays for books in a series other than Book 1, I will not list the summary, in the interest of avoiding spoilers. If you've read the first book(s) in the series, or are just insanely curious, follow the book title link to the Goodreads page to read the summary there! 


Title: Mosquitoland
Author: David Arnold

Summary: "I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange." 

After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the "wastelands" of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland. So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane. 

Title: The Memory Key
Author: Liana Liu

Summary: Lora Mint is determined not to forget. 

Though her mother's been dead for five years, Lora struggles to remember every detail about her--most importantly, the specific events that occurred the night she sped off in her car, never to return. 

But in a world ravaged by Vergets disease, a viral form of Alzheimer's, that isn't easy. Usually Lora is aided by her memory key, a standard-issue chip embedded in her brain that preserves memories just the way a human brain would. Then a minor accident damages Lora's key, and her memories go haywire. Suddenly Lora remembers a moment from the night of her mother's disappearance that indicates her death was no accident. Can she trust these formerly forgotten memories? Or is her ability to remember every painful part of her past driving her slowly mad--burying the truth forever? 

Series Continuers

Title: The Boy Who Lost Fairyland
Author: Catherynn M. Valente
Series: Fairyland #4

Author: Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #2

Title: Selection Stories: The Queen and The Favorite
Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #0.4 and 2.6
(Novella bindup!)

Series Enders

Title: The Forgotten Sisters
Author: Shannon Hale
Series: Princess Academy #3

Title: Death Marked 
Author: Leah Cypess
Series: Death Sworn #2

Title: Sorceress
Author: Claudia Gray
Series: Spellcaster #3

Tell me: what new releases are YOU excited for this week? Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments below! 

Top Ten Tuesday (15): Books I Consider ALL TIME FAVORITES From the Last 3 Years

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely ladies at The Broke and the Bookish!

10. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. I don't read a ton of historical fiction, so for this to be one of my favorite books is a fairly big deal. But this book is beautifully written, and heartbreaking and a fantastic portrait of female friendship. I only read this less than a year ago, but it's stuck with me ever since.

9. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. My very first Patrick Ness book, and the one that told me I should buy all the Patrick Ness books. It's a beautiful, simple story, and it's another tearjerker. It's also fairly short with big print and gorgeous illustrations, so I highly recommend this one. Read my review here.

8. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo. This is the second book in the Grisha trilogy, and it is my favorite of the three. Don't get me wrong; I love all of them. But this one introduces Sturmhond and gives him a great deal of "screen time," and since he's my favorite character in the series, of COURSE this is my favorite book. One of my favorite complete series of all time!

7. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. These books just keep getting better and better, and this one left me breathless. This is also the first book where we got a really great sense of just how big this world is, and we got peeks into what is going on outside of Rifthold. I am loving it, and I can't WAIT for the next book! Read my review here.

6. I Was Here by Gayle Forman. I JUST read this book last week, but when I read the topic for this week, it was the first book that came to mind. I've heard some mixed reviews on this book, but I absolutely LOVED it. I laughed, I cried, I thought a lot about life. And since it's a fairly short book, I sped through it in two days. (And this just got optioned to become a movie. Hopefully that pans out, and we get to see this one on the big screen!) Look for a review of this soon!

5. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. I will never stop loving this book. It is difficult to explain, so I will just say that if you're looking for a book to completely mess with your mind and you don't mind irregular formatting and multiple appendices and breaking codes and stories within stories within stories and footnotes and clues that lead nowhere and...crazy stuff...just read it. I cannot EVER do it justice. I just love it so much.

4. Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi. Gah. This series. This book. The character development here, the plot, the beautiful writing style; it all just adds up into an amazing book. This is definitely one of my favorite series conclusions that I've read in a long time. Read my review here.

3. Cress by Marissa Meyer. I've loved all four books in the Lunar Chronicles series so far, but Cress has definitely been my favorite. I think as each book gets longer, there's more to love. I love all three main characters thus far, and we got some seriously amazing plot revelations in Cress, so it just totally made me THAT MUCH more excited for Winter!! Read my review of Cress here.

2. Champion by Marie Lu. Another one of my favorite conclusions, this book had it all. Action, plot, character development, heartbreak, and just an amazing ending. What I love about this book is that there is actually a resolution of the conflict from the series, and that Marie Lu wasn't afraid to do certain things. That, and the romance is just top-notch for me. Love!

1. This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers. Hands down, new favorite book in the last few years. I read this in October and I still can't stop gushing about it. Dark contemporary meets zombies, both of which I love. The characters are so well developed; no one is a caricature. The writing is beautiful, and haunting, and will stay with you for a long time after you've finished. Read my review here.

Tell me: what are some of YOUR all-time favorites books? Do you also love any of my choices? Let me know in the comments below! 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Review: A DAWN MOST WICKED by Susan Dennard

Title: A Dawn Most Wicked
Author: Susan Dennard
Series: The Spirit-Hunters #0.5

Why I read it: I was bored late at night and I realized that I still hadn't read this yet. I have it on my Kindle app on my tablet, so I just opened it up and started reading. Then I finished it over the next couple of late nights!

Thoughts: I love Susan Dennard's writing, and I absolutely LOVE her Spirit Hunters trilogy. And I thoroughly enjoyed this novella! It was great finding myself back in the world of the Spirit Hunters and seeing some of the characters once again.

This novella is centered around Daniel, the sarcastic inventor and member of the Spirit Hunters. A Dawn Most Wicked explores Daniel's backstory and how he ended up in a team with Joseph Boyer and Jie. In the original trilogy, this past was hinted at, but we got a much deeper understanding of Daniel's character in the novella.

The novella is a lot longer than I had expected, but that definitely works in its favor, because we have time to really explore Daniel's history, as well as his relationships. None of it feels rushed, and everything seems necessary.

While I loved reading this novella, I admit that the story wasn't exactly what I was expecting, though it definitely makes sense for Daniel's character. I was just expecting to be much more emotionally invested in Daniel's relationship with Cassidy, especially after finishing the trilogy last summer. But I still loved the writing, and the action scenes were so fast-paced.

My only other problem isn't with the novella itself, but rather how it is marketed. It is listed as the #0.5 installment in the series, meant as a prequel. However, the beginning and end of the novella take place at the end of the first book, and contain major spoilers for that book. Therefore, I would strongly suggest waiting to read this until you've read at least the first book, Something Strange and Deadly, otherwise you'd be spoiling yourself.

I highly recommend this novella if you're a fan of Susan Dennard's trilogy. It might not be crucial to the story, but it definitely is enlightening and entertaining.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Tell me: have YOU read this novella? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!