Friday, April 24, 2015


Title: Reagan Youth
Author/Artist/Colorist: Rick Remender/Wesley Craig/Lee Loughridge
Series: Deadly Class Vol. 1

Summary: It's 1987. Marcus Lopez hates school. His grades suck. The jocks are hassling his friends. He can't focus in class. But the jocks are the children of Joseph Stalin's top assassin, the teachers are members of an ancient league of assassins, the class he's failing is "Dismemberment 101," and his crush has a double-digit body count. Welcome to the most brutal high school on earth, where the world's top crime families send the next generation of assassins to be trained. Murder is an art. Killing is a craft. At Kings Dominion School for the Deadly Arts, the dagger in your back isn't always metaphorical. 

Why I read it: I was in the mood for a graphic novel. It was calling to me.

Thoughts: This was great, and so much fun.

What I loved about this comic is that even though it takes place at a school for assassins, most of the main characters--especially Marcus and his newfound group of friends--are INSTANTLY likable. Even though they are deeply flawed, imperfect characters, I felt myself cheering all of them on.

The format is great. The story is told almost non-linearly; halfway through the book, we flash forward to a scene, then flash back to discover all of the events leading to that moment. It really makes you think, and keeps you on your toes.

Part of the reason this book works so well is that Rick Remender is a great storyteller. Obviously, there were dark and violent moments, and plenty of despicable people. But there were also moments of levity, and a few moments where I laughed out loud.

The art is fantastic. The color schemes for each panel are perfect, and each character is very distinct from one another, all the time. There was never a moment I was confused about who was who.

I loved the story, and I can't wait to see where it goes from here. Volume 2 recently came out, and I picked it up already, so I plan to read it soon!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (19): ILLUMINAE

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine


Title: Illuminae
Authors: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Release date: October 20, 2015

Summary: This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she'd have to do. 

This afternoon, her planet was invaded. 

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that's little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra--who are barely even talking to each other--are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit. 

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what's really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again. 

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents--including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more--Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes. 

Thoughts: First of all, THAT COVER. The first picture is what the dust jacket cover looks like, and the second picture is what the actual hardcover will look like. And there are a few places where the dust jacket is see-through to see the cover underneath. How freakin' cool is that?! Then, the summary sounds like a great story. And then the concept that it's all told through different documents and such? SO INTRIGUING. Plus, Caz of Little Book Owl on YouTube has read the ARC of this bad boy and raved about how much she loved it, so color me curious! I can't wait to read this in the fall!

Tell me: what are YOU waiting on this week? Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Book Birthdays! -- April 21, 2015

Sorry I missed a couple of weeks, again! I had a death in the family, so it's been a stressful, crazy couple of weeks. But I think I'm back on schedule now. So without further ado, here are some of the biggest YA book releases this week!

*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: Things We Know By Heart
Author: Jessi Kirby

Summary: When Quinn Sullivan meets the recipient of her boyfriend's donated heart, the two form an unexpected connection. 

After Quinn loses her boyfriend, Trent, in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the pieces of her now-unrecognizable life. She hears back from some of them, but the person who received Trent's heart has remained silent. The essence of a person, she has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent's, then maybe she can have peace once and for all. 

Risking everything in order to finally lay her memories to rest, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas--a guy whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction. She doesn't want to give in to it--especially since he has no idea how they're connected--but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again. No matter how hard she's falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she's lost...and all that remains at stake. 

Title: Finding Paris
Author: Joy Preble

Summary: Sisters Leo and Paris Hollings  have only ever had each other to rely on. They can't trust their mother, who hops from city to city and from guy to guy, or their gambler stepfather, who's moved them all to Las Vegas. It's just the two of them: Paris, who's always been the dreamer, and Leo, who has a real future in mind--going to Stanford, becoming a doctor, falling in love. But Leo isn't going anywhere right now, except driving around Vegas all night with her sister. 

Until Paris ditches Leo at the Heartbreak Hotel Diner, where moments before they had been talking with physics student Max Sullivan. Outside, Leo finds a cryptic note from Paris--a clue. Is it some kind of game? Where is Paris, and why has she disappeared? When Leo reluctantly accepts Max's offer of help, the two find themselves following a string of clues through Vegas and beyond. But the search for the truth is not a straight line. And neither is the path to secrets Leo and Max hold inside. 

Title: 99 Days
Author: Katie Cotugno

Summary: Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that's how I know everyone still remembers everything--how I destroyed my relationships with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I'm serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college and be done. 

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn't finished. I'm expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it's just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. "For what it's worth, Molly Barlow," he says, "I'm really glad you're back." 

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I'm actually having fun. I think he's about to kiss me--and that's when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who's supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who's never going to forgive me. 

Author: Neal Shusterman

SummaryCaden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench. 

Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior. 

Caden Bosch is designated the ship's artist in residence, to document the journey with images. 

Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head. 

Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny. 

Caden Bosch is torn. 

Series Continuers

Title: Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke
Author: Anne Blankman
Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog #2

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

Monday, April 20, 2015


Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black

Summary: Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they're destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she's found the thing she's been made for. 

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries' seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can b, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once. 

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking. 

Until one day, he does...

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

Why I read it: I was looking for another standalone to finish off March, but I didn't want to read another contemporary. This was one of the most recent books I'd bought, so I grabbed it!

Thoughts: LOVE.

This is the first Holly Black book I've ever read, so I wasn't sure what her writing style was going to be like, but I absolutely loved it. The writing is lyrical and beautiful, and unexpectedly emotional. In the beginning, during exposition, the narration wandered a bit. Things would be happening and the narrator would start thinking about something else, which would then make her think of something else, until her thoughts finally ended up back in the present. At first it was a little bit confusing, but it didn't take long to get used to. I ended up liking the almost stream of aspect.

The characters are fantastic. Every character is fully fleshed out, and I was shipping characters left and right from the very beginning. Hazel is so strong, and I love that she is the warrior instead of her brother, Ben. But Ben is pretty amazing, too. I loved him so much, and his crush on the horned boy is so perfect. Having a gay character in an urban fantasy YA was so refreshing.

The secondary characters are fantastic as well, such as the horned boy and Ben's best friend, Jack. Even characters who are mentioned in passing early in the book are brought up again at some point, often playing a significant part in the plot. I like this attention to detail; the idea that no one is insignificant.

I've read quite a few books with fairies or faeries or fae in them, but this one managed to be completely different. The folklore and mythology behind the fae is so intriguing, and some of it definitely felt familiar. Especially the Alderking. (Erlkonig, anyone? Since I'm a vocal music person, it was great to see that come up! Let me geek out a bit.)

This book twists and turns and I was constantly wondering what was going to happen next. There were so many plot points that I never guessed, but they worked perfectly. I really appreciate that this is a standalone fantasy, and everything is wrapped up by the end.

I highly recommend this to everyone, whether you're a diehard Holly Black fan or a newbie like me! Especially if you like books about fae.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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

Friday, April 17, 2015


Title: My Heart and Other Black Holes
Author: Jasmine Warga

Summary: Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness. 

There's only one problem: she's not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide  Partners, Aysel's convinced she's found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who's haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner. 

Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other's broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince. 

Why I read it: I've heard great things about this book and I'm very interested in books that revolve around suicide for some reason. And since so many of them came out this winter/spring, I've been collecting them. I just needed a fairly short contemporary to read after Allegiant and Dorothy Must Die. Also, this is Jasmine Warga's debut novel, and the last debut I read the year it was released was Something Strange and Deadly back in 2012. Crazy!

Thoughts: I've literally been sitting here for twenty minutes, trying to put my feelings into words.

I really, really liked this book.

I loved Aysel (pronounced "Uh-zell"). Even though this is a book about depression and suicide, Aysel often shows a great sense of humor and self-awareness. She's also unique; her parents are Turkish, though she admittedly doesn't know much of her own culture. She's so realistic and a great protagonist.

I loved Roman, too, for different reasons. He's also realistic, and he can be very hot and cold, which I appreciated. I loved the approach to his character and his very real problems.

I loved the buildup and relationship between Aysel and Roman. It's not rushed at all, and it never feels forced, either. They begin as acquaintances and it just builds from there.

The ending was realistic, too. Without going into spoilers, I'm glad that Jasmine Warga didn't manufacture a fake, Hollywood-type ending for our characters.

This book hurts. It deals with depression and suicide and family and loss. But it's shot through with humor and lightness and hope. One of my favorite parts of this book is how it deals with family. Both Aysel and Roman have issues they have to work out through relationships with their family, and it's nice to see that aspect explored in a YA book.

And I cried. So, there's always that.

I highly recommend this book, especially to anyone who is dealing with or knows someone who is dealing with depression and/or suicidal thoughts.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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

Monday, April 13, 2015

Review: DOROTHY MUST DIE by Danielle Paige

Title: Dorothy Must Die
Author: Danielle Paige
Series: Dorothy Must Die #1

Summary: I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.

But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado--taking you with it--you have no choice but to go along, you know? 

Sure I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still a yellow brick road--but even that's crumbling. 

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe. 

My name is Amy Gumm--and I'm the other girl from Kansas.

I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. 

I've been trained to fight. 

And I have a mission.

Why I read it: This was my jar pick for the month, and I thought, How perfect! The sequel was coming out at the end of the month, so it was a perfect time to get to this!

Thoughts: I know there have been some mixed opinions on this book, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that I thoroughly enjoyed it!

I really love the main character, Amy Gumm. She's a trailer-park girl from Kansas with an absent dad and a lackluster mom, and she's got pink hair to boot. But what I really love about Amy is that even though she's had a rough life and she's definitely a strong female character, she isn't mean or overly sarcastic. And that's what makes her interactions with everything Oz so special.

We have a large ensemble of characters here, all of which fall into two categories: ones that were in the original L. Frank Baum books, or ones that have been imagined by Danielle Paige.

All of the L. Frank Baum characters are twisted in delightful ways, either for good or for bad. I won't get into the "how's" and "why's" for fear of spoilers, but it is so much fun to meet each character and see how Paige has changed them for her story, or to catch small mentions of minor characters from the originals.

The characters Paige has created fit perfectly into the world of Oz and its topsy-turvy feel. Nox quickly turned into a favorite character for me (and a swoon-worthy one, at that!) Grandma Gert and Glamora (Glinda's twin sister) are also two of my favorite characters.

That's the thing about this book. I have so many favorite characters because Paige is so good at writing them. None of them are purely good or purely evil; they all exist in that morally gray area that I just love.

The setting is mostly the Oz we all know and love, so it's recognizable and doesn't require too much explanation, but with some extra fun thrown in!

The plot is so intriguing, as well. I was constantly wanting to turn the page, find out what happens next, because the plot twists just kept coming! And that ending? I did NOT see that coming!

My only problem with this book is that it drags in a few places, and there are a few times where things are over-explained, telling rather than showing. But other than that, I'd say this is a very solid debut from Paige and I can't wait to read more!

Rating: 4/5 stars

Tell me: have YOU read Dorothy Must Die yet? If so, what were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (18): DAUGHTERS UNTO DEVILS

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine!

Author: Amy Lukavics
Release date: September 29, 2015

Summary: When sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner's family decides to move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, she hopes it is her chance for a fresh start. She can leave behind the memory of the past winter; of her sickly Ma giving birth to a baby sister who cries endlessly; of the terrifying visions she saw as her sanity began to slip, the victim of cabin fever; and most of all, the memories of the boy she has been secretly meeting with as a distraction from her pain. The boy whose baby she now carries. 

When the Verners arrive at their new home, a large cabin abandoned by its previous owners, they discover the inside covered in blood. And as the days pass, it is obvious to Amanda that something isn't right on the prairie. She's heard stories of lands being tainted by evil, of men losing their minds and killing their families, and there is something strange about the doctor and his son who lives in the woods on the edge of the prairie. But with the guilt and shame of her sins weighing on her, Amanda can't be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or deep within her soul. 

Thoughts: HORROR. It seems like there's never enough YA horror in the world. I grew up on horror movies since they were my mom's favorites when I was small. And this definitely plays into that genre. It sounds SO CREEPY and wonderful. And I always love those stories where you're not sure if something supernatural is actually happening, or if the protagonist is just crazy. I'm not sure if this is historical or contemporary horror, but the rural setting always makes things even creepier. And that cover? I'm definitely sold! 

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