Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #102

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten Graphic Novels!

I was so tempted to put every single Ms. Marvel comic on here, because of what happened last weekend. I won't since I have a lot to recommend (and also want to read), but just know that I am very much emphasizing Ms. Marvel. It's a great comic and it has great representation.

Like I said, Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal is a GREAT place to start if you're new to comics. Also it features Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel, and she is amazing. And a teenager. And a Muslim.
Saga is one that I recommend again and again and again. It's also a great place to start if you're new to comics AND graphic novels in general. The thing that makes me hesitate about superhero comics is that it's hard to find a place to start, and there's so much background on a certain character, that it's tough to know what "series" to read. With Saga, you don't need to know anything at all. Just pick up the first volume, and before you know it, you'll be on the fifth.

I raved about this earlier, but YES to American Born Chinese. Totally resonated with me (10 years later). It also is #ownvoices, and brings in the story of the Monkey King.

I recently read This One Summer, and loved the simplicity, yet hard hitting messages it conveyed. If you find this in your library, check it out ASAP.

I read Maus years ago for my English class. It was a great pick for 10th grade. Even though I don't remember much about it, I remember 1) loving it and 2) being more aware about what happened during WWII. If you love reading about WWII as much as I do, pick this up! 

After reading Ms. Marvel, I also picked up Captain Marvel (Marvel Now) #1, and loved that as well. Though I was more confused with this one, as I didn't know the history of Captain Marvel. However I still enjoyed the story and the series! 

I read The Graveyard Book and loved it, which is why I picked up the graphic novel version of it. And I was impressed! Rather than having only one artist, each chapter was drawn in a different style by different authors. I started to appreciate the diversity of the art after a couple of chapters (because to be honest I wasn't sure how I felt about it at the beginning).

Batgirl, Volume 1, in which never have I been more happier to see Batgirl back in action! I only was able to read the first volume, but I have yet to check the local library for the rest of the series.

Then there is Everything Is Teeth, which is about SHARKS. I can't say much else except that haha.

Lastly, there is White Sand, which is by Brandon Sanderson. I will never NOT recommend Brandon Sanderson, so of course he makes it onto this list!

Have you read any of these? I'm constantly on the lookout for more graphic novels at the library, so feel free to recommend me some!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Review: Almost Autumn

Almost Autumn by Marianne Kaurin
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Release Date: January 3rd, 2017
Source: Publisher
Date Read: 1/15/17 to 1/17/17
278 pages
Rating: 1/2

Everything starts this autumn.

It’s October 1942, in Oslo, Norway. Fifteen-year-old Ilse Stern is waiting to meet boy-next-door Hermann Rod for their first date. She was beginning to think he’d never ask her; she’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember.

But Hermann won’t be able to make it tonight. What Ilse doesn’t know is that Hermann is secretly working in the Resistance, helping Norwegian Jews flee the country to escape the Nazis. The work is exhausting and unpredictable, full of late nights and code words and lies to Hermann’s parents, to his boss…to Ilse.

And as life under German occupation becomes even more difficult, particularly for Jewish families like the Sterns, the choices made become more important by the hour: To speak up or to look away? To stay or to flee? To act now or wait one more day?

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

If you don’t know me by now, you’ll see that I will request and review pretty much anything related to WWII. (And if you haven’t noticed the political climate in the US, you’ll know that this is very much needed). Unfortunately, this story ended up being a bit too simple for me. With POVs changing constantly with no warning whatsoever, and a story that did not bring anything new to the table (other than the setting, maybe), Almost Autumn wasn’t my cup of tea.

Almost Autumn starts off with our Jewish main character (yay!) Ilse, being stood up by her long time crush, Hermann. Though this seems devastating at the time, little does she know that the Nazis are out to get her and her family. And although Hermann secretly works for the Resistance, he struggles with his choice about telling Ilse about his job.

Other than the above, there’s nothing much to say about Almost Autumn. With discussion about the inclusion of Jewish main characters in YA, I was delighted to see one featured here (even though it is still in the setting of the Holocaust). But honestly, my delight ended there. Most of my problems stemmed from the writing, which was simple and bland at times. However, as this was translated from Norwegian, I wouldn’t be surprised if some things were lost in translation.

Another thing that bothered me a bit was the number of POVs, and how the story jumped from one character to the next with no warning. On one page, we’re with Hermann and his thoughts about the occupation. On the next, we’re with the next door neighbor, who is debating on whether to resist or not. The closer I got to the end of the book, the more inconsistent it became.

Lastly, each WWII novels I’ve read told a different, unique story. And although Ilse’s story needed to be told, I felt that it wasn’t compelling enough. There wasn’t much depth to the characters, and the plot was as simple as the writing. Overall, I feel like I learned nothing new.

As my first read of 2017, I’m hoping that this will be my only “meh” read. But I did end up finishing my Goodreads Challenge (of one)! So there’s that piece of good news!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #101

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten New Releases I Am Excited For!

I may have missed doing this topic a couple of weeks ago, but HERE IT IS, for my freebie! Because why not. Honestly I didn't know much about 2017 coming in, but now I'm much more familiar with what will be releasing in the next upcoming months.

I should probably clarify that this most likely covers the first half of 2017!

There's really no doubt that A Conjuring of Light is my all time highly anticipated for this year. It's the final book of the series, and I'm honestly not quite sure how I will feel after I finish.

I am actually currently reading When Dimple Met Rishi right now. And you know what? I actually wasn't as excited about it before I picked it up. Now I am hooked and I understand the hype. The hype is real. (Also CODING!)

Still beyond excited for It's Not Like It's A Secret. I do hope that there are some edits before the final book comes out though. Because I really needed this book yesterday, and it needs to be perfect. Really hoping I am not overhyping this in my head hahah.

Guys this is Elizabeth Wein's new book, The Pearl Thief, AND HOW COULD I NOT BE EXCITED? I have read every one of her WWII-related books (now I know all about planes) and of course this will be my next. ALSO FREAKING PREQUEL.

I am a huge fan of Shaun David Hutchinson so I will read anything of his even if I know nothing about it. At the Edge of the Universe is already preordered and I have no regrets. 

I have also been looking forward to Noteworthy since 1994 (just kidding since a couple months ago). Anything with acapella in it just cannot go wrong.
Daughter of the Pirate King just sounds amazing. Because pirates. AND WOW I WAS JUST REMINDED THAT I AM SUPER EXCITED FOR THE EDGE OF THE ABYSS AS WELL. But I forgot to add it to this list! Let's just say I am just excited for pirates.

Coding guys. Coding. Girl Code may be non-fiction, but I will read and promote anything that has to do with girls and coding. 
Strange The Dreamer is definitely on top of this list as well. I've been waiting forever for it, so hopefully it is as good as it sounds! Also I may have preordered both the US and the UK edition because I just could not decide which I wanted more. Whoops.

Another Victoria Schwab novel! Our Dark Duet is the continuation of This Savage Song and I would be lying if I said I didn't need it ASAP.

That is a very very short list of what I am looking forward to from now til June! Obviously there are tons more on my TBR. What are you highly anticipating?

Friday, January 20, 2017

Review: Scythe

Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Arc of a Scythe #1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books
Release Date: November 22nd, 2016
Source: Edelweiss
Date Read: 11/24/16 to 12/8/16
435 pages

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

I have been putting off this review since forever. About a month and a half or so. The reason for that is because I just didn’t know how to review Scythe. Because it was that good, but in a way I just couldn’t possibly explain.

The great thing about Neal Shusterman is that he has these worlds that are constrained by rules of his own making. About two years ago, I heard him talk about it during a signing. He showed the audience pages and pages of his manuscript, all written out in ink. I couldn’t imagine all the hand cramps that came with that. His dedication to world building is clearly shown in this new series, and I highly recommend you at least read this for that.

In this science fiction world, humanity has gained immortality. Without hunger, disease, war, or misery, you could say that this is a pretty good world to live in. Well, except for the fact that there are people called scythes, in charge of maintaining the human population. Everyone is scared of them, sometimes there’s bribery, and this book (and most likely the series) focuses on the corruption within the group. That’s where Citra and Rowan come in, two apprentices who not only have to learn the morals of what it means to take a life, but also find a way to survive themselves in this political climate group.

Though I absolutely adored the characters, I was very much drawn into the plot and the world-building. It’s not every day where you read about how to pick someone to kill. And the different scythe mentors, Scythe Faraday and Scythe Curie, each had unique methods. One who goes for the instant kill, and the other who confronts the person first. Also pretty sure Scythe Faraday was one of my favorite characters from this book.

As with all great books that I’ve read, I just don’t have that much to say about Scythe. But don’t take my lack of words as me not liking it. Because I did! Compared to the rest of the books I read in 2016, this one is way above all of them.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #100 (Yay!)

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

Ten Underrated/Hidden Gem Books I've Read In The Past Year Or So

This is just going to be underrated books I read during the year of the garbage fire, and not ones released during 2016. Sadly I didn't have such a great time with the new releases. Hopefully 2017 will be better in that regard!

Also I think I'm going to define underrated as under 1000 ratings. Plus I did already do this post a couple of months ago, so I am only limiting this to 5 books! Because then it would be too repetitive.

I really liked Iron Cast, especially the cover. I did see a little bit of hype on my Twitter feed, but it definitely wasn't as much as some other books coming out at the time!

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl was first published in Australia, but then finally made its debut in the US, for which I am pretty thankful for. Looking back, I think I expected more from it, but in the end I really enjoyed it.

I can't believe Return Once More is not more popular. I don't think it helps that the pub did little to no publicity, PLUS they dropped the sequel. Luckily the sequel is self-pubbed and is on Amazon. 

This next one is interesting. Everything Is Teeth is a graphic novel about a little girl obsessed with sharks and shark attacks. It was interesting. I may not have understood the message, but it was UNIQUE.

Lastly, and this one is decently popular on Twitter, there's Timekeeper! I actually really liked this one, and I have been having really good luck with Sky Pony Press. I hope this streak keeps up!

Have you read any good underrated books? I hope to read more this year!

Monday, January 16, 2017

DNF Review: The Architect of Song

The Architect of Song by A. G. Howard
Haunted Hearts Legacy #1
Publisher: Golden Orb Press
Release Date: August 15th, 2016
Source: Amazon
Date Read: 12/28/16 to 1/12/16
425 pages
Rating: DNF

A lady imprisoned by deafness, an architect imprisoned by his past, and a ghost imprisoned within the petals of a flower - intertwine in this love story that transcends life and death.

For most of her life, nineteen-year-old Juliet Emerline has subsisted – isolated by deafness – making hats in the solitude of her home. Now, she’s at risk to lose her sanctuary to Lord Nicolas Thornton, a twenty-seven-year-old mysterious and eccentric architect with designs on her humble estate. When she secretly witnesses him raging beside a grave, Juliet investigates, finding the name “Hawk” on the headstone and an unusual flower at the base. The moment Juliet touches the petals, a young English nobleman appears in ghostly form, singing a song only her deaf ears can hear. The ghost remembers nothing of his identity or death, other than the one name that haunts his afterlife: Thornton.

To avenge her ghostly companion and save her estate, Juliet pushes aside her fear of society and travels to Lord Thornton’s secluded holiday resort, posing as a hat maker in one of his boutiques. There, she finds herself questioning who to trust: the architect of flesh and bones who can relate to her through romantic gestures, heartfelt notes, and sensual touches … or the specter who serenades her with beautiful songs and ardent words, touching her mind and soul like no other man ever can. As sinister truths behind Lord Thornton’s interest in her estate and his tie to Hawk come to light, Juliet is lured into a web of secrets. But it’s too late for escape, and the tragic love taking seed in her heart will alter her silent world forever.

International and NYT bestselling author, A.G. Howard, brings her darkly magical and visual/visceral storytelling to Victorian England. The Architect of Song is the first installment in her lush and romantic Haunted Hearts Legacy series, a four book gothic saga following the generations of one family as - haunted by both literal and figurative ghosts - they search for self-acceptance, love, and happiness.

Hello friends. Long time no see.

I'm starting 2017 with a book I did not finish, a book I had immense feelings over. Angry feelings. I just wish this book turned out differently, but sadly it just didn't end up working out.

You know how much I love The Mediator series by Meg Cabot? And see how this isn't YA, but rather shelved as NA? I was 100% looking forward to a NA version of my favorite series of all time. But like all naive readers, I shouldn't expect such things. As someone who loves reading about ghosts and the paranormal, this book just rubbed me the wrong way.

The book immediately starts off with Juliet's mother passing away. We then learn that not only is Juliet heartbroken, but she also is being pressured to sell her estate. To this guy called Thornton. Juliet is also deaf, and relies on reading lips in order to fit in with society. She can't hear anything until she encounters a handsome ghost named Hawke that only she can see, when she is in contact with this magical flower. Once this flower wilts (think Beauty and the Beast here), then she'll lose Hawke forever.

It really is set up to be great. Sigh.

Let’s be honest here, I was getting into this in the beginning. For someone who loved The Mediator, this is making me question whether I still do.

WARNING. Prepare yourself for some serious ranting. Which may or may not be grammatically correct. I do not care.

For one, there is a ghost. Two, only Juliet can see him. I was totally on board with it. Heck yeah I love ghosts and all things supernatural! But the romance took an overbearing turn, leading to a “I’m dead but you belong to me and I’m super jealous that you’re getting closer to this other guy”. DUDE, Hawk or whatever your name is, YOU ARE DEAD. DEAD. Unless by some miracle, by the end of this book, you live again, this is NOT okay! I really don’t blame Juliet here, for not holding on to your flower at times because she wants some peace and quiet.

I get it, you’re dead. This one woman means a lot to you because she can see you. But you (and really both of you) have to let it go. It won’t happen. LET HER GO. That’s true love okay?

Accurate gif of how I felt. Also, this is a great anime

I’m not sure why I have such strong feelings about it. I think it just hurt my head to see the main character tied down to someone who is dead. Someone who will be brooding in the background if she chooses another man over him. It just annoyed me to see how overprotected he was over her, even starting fights (with his somewhat ghostly powers) against others. I just don’t think I’m happy with the idea of this ghost having a say in Juliet's love life. And this makes me wonder whether this happened in The Mediator Series. A part of me doubts it, but I won’t know for sure until I reread the series.

I honestly have nothing else to say at the moment. This started out really strongly, until I became sick of the romance. I might change my mind about the book depending on whether I decide to pick it up again.

If I may ask, have you read this? Does it get better? How exactly does this "love" triangle play out, and did I decide too soon to DNF?
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