Friday, June 23, 2017

Review: Inception

Inception Inception by Bianca Scardoni
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

DNF @ 15%



I would have thought this would have been right up my alley. Yes, I read Twilight. Yes, I liked it. Yes, I've read Vampire Academy and L.J. Smith's many lovely Vampire Diaries books. Yes, I liked them. I like vampires and werewolves and witches.



I like YA, even love Indie authors because sometimes you can find something AMAZING from an indie author (Chess Desalls I'm thinking of you here! Elise Kova - YOU TOO!). I keep thinking that I'm going to find someone who is going to do something kind of different with the paranormal older ya genre - and Bianca Scardoni kind of did, but then she also kind of didn't or at least there was no improvement on the mythos that Joss Whedon created for us in a certain blonde slayer.



The Slayer trope has been done by so many, but I'm pretty sure Buffy Summers is the one we all think of when we hear that word (especially if '99 was a banner year for you!). This just doesn't live up. Jemma Blackburn is definitely NOT Buffy Summers in any way, shape, or form - and I think that's what kills it for me. I can't even imagine anyone being able to live up to that expectation - but your heroine, your slayer, CANNOT be a whining little brat who can see nothing but how much the world is against her and moping in her every thought and action. Buffy didn't mope - her life, at times, sucked beyond belief. Jemma's had a rough past, but I swear she's more annoying than the one preachy Bennett sister that no one EVER really cared about.

ASIDE ON THE AUDIBLE AUDIO -

I've posted the same thing there (and I wasn't the only one who said this) DEAR GOD DON'T LISTEN TO THIS BOOK! The Narrator is TERRIBLE! Every sentence is overly dramatized, as though she's trying to amp up suspense but I swear, it just doesn't make sense to amp certain things... Like, at all. EVER.

I hated this one. The writing hurt (the bits of it I read through the WhisperSync enabled Kindle Edition) and you could tell that this was either the debut novel, or it was very, very close to it. Poor word choices (some things really don't make sense - at all!), poor grammar... I think it wasn't edited - it certainly feels like it!

Will I ever try this again?



There's your answer!




View all my reviews

Friday, June 16, 2017

Review: Air Awakens

Air Awakens Air Awakens by Elise Kova
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...
 

 
I promised to review this the day I finished it (I promise myself lots of things, but following through can sometimes be so very hard!) and yet, here I am after listening to the audiobook (PLEASE SAY THERE WILL BE AUDIO OF THE REST OF THE SERIES TOO!!!!) for a second time through this magical series opening and vowing to myself that I need to keep into the rest of this series because I MUST KNOW HOW THIS ENDS!
 
I think I love this book even more the second time through, which is saying a lot because I really loved it the first time around, so, shocking I know!
 

 
Rarely do I find a story where the MC is as compelling as Vhalla Yarl was to me. There’s always something about a woman who starts as, not nothing, but not what she could be – no anywhere near as strong as she could be. Everything Vhalla knows about her world, all the comfort that she feels within the safety and security as she yearns for knowledge… Vhalla could be anyone at the start of the story, any woman, becoming the hero that she needs to be for herself and for the world around her once she was awakened to all the possibilities. I love strong women, women who can be fierce and vulnerable, without apologizing for their ability to be vulnerable. Vhalla is all of that and so much more!
 
A sorcerer with battle scars, dead friends, and blood on her hands occupied the mirror.


Ok so, spoiler or no... THIS IS MY FUCKING GIRL RIGHT HERE! She's determined she's going to make them see what they did was wrong, what they continue to do is wrong, and that she is a person just like anyone else and I will be right here prepared to defend her to MY DEATH.



Vhalla is bookworm, working as an apprentice in the Palace Library. She often will read when she should be doing other duties in the library and she never lets the title of a book dissuade her from reading it. She is thirsty for knowledge, and the library allows her to drink her fill day and night. When we open the book, there is a storm raging outside and the return of a prince of the realm during said storm from the battlefield... injured, mortally so. This is how Vhalla becomes fully awakened... well, as fully as she can be before (view spoiler), but I digress...

Vhalla's magical abilities bind her to the prince she saved in the library, the man in black, the Fire Lord - Prince Aldrick - and there is no way to fight the attraction that grows between them from then on. The idea that like calls to like... I knew the moment I first read those notes from her phantom that they were going to be the couple to root for - the epic love story to end all others in the tale - and I was right!

Because you are the sorcerer to whom I am Bonded. A bond can never be broken, and it can never be replaced.




Every obstacle thrown in their way... I gotta tell you, this is one roller coaster ride of a series opener and I need to know more!
 
They were sending her to war, so she would go and become something they had every right to fear.


And I must know how it ends! On to Fire Falling right after I finish a couple of other indie marvels!

Five enthusiastic stars and two thumbs up!

View all my reviews

Review: Sleeping Giants

Sleeping Giants Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars



View all my reviews

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Review: Someday, Someday, Maybe

Someday, Someday, Maybe Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Le sigh.



As a fan of Lauren Graham the actress, I’m afraid I had a very hard time separating the voice of narration (Franny Banks) from Lauren Graham the author. When I could do that – and believe me it took more than one time through this one – I could appreciate the writing better.

If you have never seen Gilmore Girls, Parenthood or anything that had even a second of Lauren’s wonderful comedic timing and beautiful smile, you probably would fare better reading Someday, Someday, Maybe. And then if you haven’t seen any of these things I would ask you what rock you have been living under for the past twenty years because WTF?!??!!!! How do you NOT know her????



Someday, Someday, Maybe is the story of Franny Banks and her determination to become an actress. The occasional sarcasm and biting wit is why I needed to read this more than once. I heard Lauren Graham the actress and an amalgamation of her many characters when I read it. This was the kiss of death for me – but the second time through, I learned to appreciate it. Franny’s story follows a predictable plot trajectory – and it doesn’t really deviate. She is truly the main focus of the story and even the LI doesn’t have much presence. This isn’t a love story, it’s a slice of life story that sort of has romance, but an unfulfilled romantic angle.

The writing is good - there's room to expand and grow (doesn't everyone have that????) but this was a solid first attempt. I really would love to see more, but I'd also like to see her explore romantic relationships and stories. I think Lauren could give create quirky, humourous romances and that would be the best thing. Who wants a romance to be totally wonderful and perfect? There should be awkwardness and laughter - that's what I want out of a good romance!

Three stars is not a bad rating, I did like Someday, Someday, Maybe, but I couldn’t separate Lauren the actor from Lauren the author and that is my fault, not hers. Bring us more Lauren, we know you can!


View all my reviews

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Review: Geekerella

Geekerella Geekerella by Ashley Poston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVED Geekerella - and I want to tell you why!



Ashley Poston had me hooked with the first line, and anyone who knows me will know why:

The stepmonster is at it again.


Yes, I call my father's wife my stepmonster. Yes, when she does deign to make an appearance in my life she makes me feel like I am to blame for everything in this world - even the sky being blue! I feel your pain, Elle, I truly do!

I'm not eighteen, I haven't been for a long, long time, and I never had my stepmonster as the only force in my life but there was a time there where she was like my mother - she was all I had - and every interaction between Catherine and Elle rang true for me. Catherine was the perfect evil step-parent for a Cinderella retelling!

It's the same spiel again and again. How she used to shop at Tiffany's. How she used to attend galas at Boone Hall Plantation. How she used to be happily married with two wonderful daughters. She never mentions me, her stepdaughter.

Catherine finishes cutting her coupon with a sigh. "But that was all before. Before your father left me and the twins here in this dreadful little house."


The stepmother from Cinderella had to be this vicious, venomous (yet, crafty and cunning) viper. Everything was done to her. Everything that happened was an offense to her and it was planned, crafted, and executed with skill by Cinderella just by breathing. The levels of emotional abuse and torture in that tale are staggering, but Catherine is perfection. She has moments where she shows Elle kindness, or appears to. Those moments are just enough to keep her wrapped about her fingers and stunted into her role as servant and deserving no better from anyone. They are just enough to isolate and destroy. I really think the stepmother from Cinderella (along with Catherine!) should be a character study for emotional abuse.

Elle isn't at a loss for this torture, but she is inundated with it by Catherine and Chloe (one of the twins), that she feels helpless to do anything about it. I've lived my life like that, lived it like that for so long that I found myself in therapy trying to unravel the damage that was done by believing I was powerless and deserved all the horrible things that happened to me. Watching Elle wander through this journey, the emotional landmines left everywhere by the cruelty of her stepsister and stepmother.... Enough dwelling on the sadness! LET'S GET TO THE GOOD STUFF!

Sage

You thought I was going to start in about the romance, right? C'mon, admit it? That's where you thought I would go!



Nope! Sage is a gift - and not just because she becomes the best friend (rightfully so!) to Elle, she is the best example that appearances can be deceiving. She was modeled after the fairy godmother (I'm assuming Ashley Poston and if I'm wrong, please correct me!) but she is a beautiful representation of someone who is on the receiving end of torment herself but has found a way to be kind and to remain positive throughout. She also has a little bit of devious streak in her which I love! Her mother is the owner of the The Magic Pumpkin, the Vegan food truck that Elle works in - but she is her own person, and not exactly a Vegan herself.

"You bought ice cream," I say stupidly.

"Uh, yeah. It's hot outside." Sage stirs her ice cream soup.

"But ice cream has... cream."

She blinks her purple-shaded eyelids. "And? Oh" - she grins big - "you thought I was a vegan? No way. That's just boss lady. I don't get it at all."

"Same," I agree. "I'm too much of a bacon fan."

"Mhm, bacon-flavored ice cream. Now that would be a sin in a vegan truck." Sage laughs. "We'd go straight to vegan hell. Though I don't know how much of a hell that'd be if we're already in it."


Everyone knows my Mom is a vegan - so I get it! (Sorry Mummy, but I'm with Elle and Sage! Mmmmmm, bacon!)

I think she's a gift - she's a strong, determined and positive LGBTQ character. (Her sweet little side romance with (view spoiler) is precious! I just wish we'd seen more of it!) She's comfortable in her own skin and she helps Elle realize that she is not to blame for the sky being blue or the grass being green. She becomes her best friend and champion. I'm happy to see that they are still friends at the close of this tale, because the world needs more positive female friendships!



Elle

Why yes, I do rank the MC after a supporting character! It doesn't happen always but Sage deserves her own love story *nudges Ashley Poston* I'm not part of whatever fandom you came from (or maybe I am and I just don't know it because anonymity) but...

You should write a book about Sage and (view spoiler).



Anyways, back to Elle and why I love her so much! She resonates with me because she is so much like me! Elle has a deep love for Starfield (I like to think of it as Star Trek of this little Universe) and she spends the book explaining that love and defending that love to everyone in her life (except Sage). Elle is unashamedly part of the whole fandom experience. She writes fanfic, she cosplays (well in the story she manages to, but before that it was something she wanted desperately), she loved the characters and reviews and rewatches over and over to provide her well thought out metas... The accurate portrayal of Fandom life (and the absolute disbelief when anything you post gets tons of notes/likes/views because you can't believe that anyone could really like what you have to say!) is so real that I feel certain Ashley Poston is part of a fandom herself - and she knew just how to make it feel real! She delights in converting people to her show (I do this too!) and she loves that there are cons where she can find that release and be among "her people" (because there isn't anyone that feels like my people in my everyday life but on the floor of a convention I feel like I'm at home!), even if she can't get to them.

She self-belittling at times, this is the example of the emotional turmoil she has lived in, but the strength that she shows - when she shows it - shows us all that Elle grows and comes into her own. She has great growth, it might not be as straight forward for everyone to see, but she does blossom into a strong, confident young woman. The strength of character and the strength of her love for her parents... It's just so beautiful!!



And then we come to....

Darien

I've seen a lot of comments about how they felt he was weak, but he wasn't. Darien was vulnerable - and how many of us talk about how we want vulnerability from our partner but when we see it we recoil? This young man is vulnerable, he shouldn't be abused for it. He suffered some attrocities at the hands of people he trusted and felt the crushing pain of being alone though he was surrounded by people. The moment where he discovers the truth, he becomes the hero and the Carmindor he was always meant to be. He discovers himself and how much strength he really has inside him and that he was not alone and bringing that to the romantic aspect between him and Elle - BEAUTIFUL.

That brings me to the romance... AND WHAT A ROMANCE!

The meet-cute aspect of the text messaging... The moment he realized that Elle is his Elle that he has been communicating with for so long via text, falling in love with without knowing what she looked like but only knowing her... PERFECTION! Darien has such a romantic soul.

-Not JUST the sky. It's the SAME sky.
-And if we're both looking up at the same sky, how far apart can we REALLY be? What were the odds of us being put on the same slab of rock in this huge universe?




I think he had me from the moment he realized and called her ab'lehna. You had me at ab'lehna, Darien. You had me at ab'lehna!

I think Cinderella teaches us all that no matter how much suffering there is, everyone deserves love and happiness. Geekerella does the same. No matter how they suffered, Darien & Elle deserved their happily ever after - or their happy beginning, depending on how many of my #oncers are reading this - and they deserve their happiness.



Five enthusiastic stars and another nudge for that Sage spin off! Go read it - if you're a member of a fandom you love and want to see the geek girl and the geek boy get their happy beginning!

View all my reviews

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

White shouldn't be the default any more than straight should be the default. There shouldn't even be a default.






Because it shouldn't have to be said, but it beautiful when someone can write something so powerfully beautiful that isn't harping at you or trying to shove your square peg into the triangle hole on the board. I have all kinds of love for this book - and not just because Simon is a character who is so easy to love, but because it's real. It's so very real, and there is nothing that perverts the relationships between peer, parents, children and paramours here - there is only open honesty and something that many people can relate to - love.

I take a sip of my beer, and it's - I mean, it's just astonishingly disgusting. I don't think I was expecting it to taste like ice cream, but holy fucking hell. People lie and get fake IDs and sneak into bars, and for this? I honestly think I'd rather make out with Bieber. The dog. Or Justin.




There were so many moments in this book that made me remember what it was like being a teenager (ok yeah, it's been a while now) and how I felt about certain things. The first time I had beer being the big one - I'm with you Simon, that stuff is disgusting! I thought it the first time I tasted it, and I still think it many years later. I think that's part of the charm, that no matter how much time passes, things don't really change that much.

There are so many social issues in here to deal with that I think it's beautiful how Becky Albertalli married it all into Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. There wasn't anything like this when I was younger and dealing with issues - there wasn't anything like this and that's the saddest part, because with something positive to read I might have internalized the it does get better and there are reasons to believe motto rather than the it will never be better for you and this is all you deserve in life, to be be unhappy motto that put me in therapy many, many years later. It doesn't matter if you're a teen who's questioning your sexuality, the nerd they make fun of, or the one who didn't quite fit in and couldn't seem to make themselves fit (like me) that they tortured both in school and online, there is something here for you. There's a positive message for you, and I think that's key.

A full 5 stars for this one, I'll be reading The Upside of Unrequited soon because of how wonderful this one was. I can't recommend Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda enough!

View all my reviews

Friday, May 26, 2017

Review: Sons of Ares

Sons of Ares Sons of Ares by Pierce Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think that it was a guaranteed 5 stars with me for this. Pierce Brown has something with this series that is electrifying. It has a rhythm that beats in syncopation with the hearts and minds of all those searching for equality, freedom of choice and fighting back against persecution of any kind. By putting this prequel series in a different medium, he's accomplished something that can be incredibly difficult and this first edition was GLORIOUS!



I think this was probably the best representation, to bring the story to comics instead of an ordinary prequel novel (because prequels usually leave something to be desired). This does NOT! It's not clean, Golden coloured richness - it's gritty, just like you'd expect Fitchner's history to be but the artwork is beautiful and very fitting for the themes. I cannot wait for more! We're off to a great start learning just why Fitchner became who he was for Darrow (view spoiler) and more importantly it reinforced the similarities with Sevro (and I love Sevro and would protect him with my life!

Five stars for this fantastic start to the Sons of Ares prequel series!

View all my reviews