Monthly Archives: July 2014

ARC Review – The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew

18465601Title:  The Shadow Hero

Author: Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: In the comics boom of the 1940s, a legend was born: the Green Turtle. He solved crimes and fought injustice just like the other comics characters. But this mysterious masked crusader was hiding something more than your run-of-the-mill secret identity… The Green Turtle was the first Asian American super hero.

The comic had a short run before lapsing into obscurity, but the acclaimed author of “American Born Chinese,” Gene Luen Yang, has finally revived this character in “Shadow Hero,” a new graphic novel that creates an origin story for the Green Turtle.

Huge thank you to First Second for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I LOVE Gene Luen Yang’s stories. There’s something about them that stays with me after I complete something he writes — he always seems to ask the reader to have an open-mind when participating in one of his worlds. This time, however, we have a world that isn’t entirely his own, but with the help of Sonny Liew, they give a neglected Golden Age hero the treatment he deserves.

First off, I adored the origin story presented in this graphic novel for the Green Turtle. I love that Hank is completely pressured by his tiger mom to become a superhero because it would give him the fame and glory that she feels he deserves in some ways. His family comes from humble beginnings, though his father was possessed by a spirit, which was then “passed down” to Hank. The Green Turtle may not have any notable powers, but he’s awesome at avoiding bullets, so that’s something right?

I really enjoyed the interaction between the characters in this story, particularly the relationship between Hank and his father. There is such a genuine level of respect between the two of them and its wonderfully portrayed. You get a sense that all the characters in the story are harmoniously woven together without having to question why a character just appears in the story (like some comics do). Plus, Sonny Liew’s artwork does an amazing job of capturing all the emotion and zaniness within the story.

I admittedly had never heard of the Green Turtle until after I had read this comic. I loved and appreciated Yang and Liew’s origin story for this forgotten hero, and I feel like they did it in such a way to remind readers about how Golden Age comics lacked a sense of diversity (or at least feared it). Hank and his family are completely unforgettable and the history lesson to take from this comic alone makes it worth being checked out.

ARC August Challenge – ACCEPTED.

ARC-August-2015

This Challenge is Hosted by Octavia over at Read. Sleep. Repeat (Sign Up Post Linked!)

So I probably shouldn’t be attempting this challenge, buuuuut… I can’t say no to challenges for some reason. This is probably the worst month for me to be attempting this challenge since I’m getting married in August, I have guests staying with me after the wedding,  review content for RPGamer, and I’m likely working Fan Expo on top of all of it. I don’t think I’ll be able to power through all my ARCs (because that is impossible!), so I am making a goal to complete ten ARCs for the month.

Here are the ten ARCs I am going to attempt to complete this month.

  • The Rise of Aurora West by Paul Pope (Release Date: September 30th)
  • I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson (Release Date: September 16th)
  • Sparkers by Eleanor Glewwe (Release Date: September 30th)
  • Spirit’s Key by Edith Cohn (Release Date: September 9th)
  • The Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane (Release Date: September 16th)
  • Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang (Release Date: September 9th)
  • The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry (Release Date: September 23rd)
  • Firebug by Lish McBride (Release Date: September 23rd)
  • 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith (Release Date: September 2nd)
  • Feral by Holly Schindler (Release Date: August 26th)

These are the bunch I am going to TRY and read in August, as well as review. I’m just so swamped in ARCs that I need to really just make the time and jump into them head first without fear, I’ll be a lot happier if I can get my pile down a bit more, especially since I put myself back on a library and book buying ban because of the giant pile of shiny ARCs.

If you’ve read any of these let me know in the comments. I hope I can get through a lot of these, but I don’t know if I can. I’mma gonna try, though! Also if you’re doing the event, let me know so I can cheer you on!

ARC Review – The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

17847318Title:  The Girl from the Well

Author: Rin Chupeco

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out. 

Huge thank you to  Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley for this ARC!

River’s Review: 

I am VERY critical about books that take place in Japan. A lot of the time they are ripe with stereotypes and generalizations. This one lost points for a few things that bugged me. Mainly the ~cool Japan~ / ~only in Japan~ stuff that Tark noticed when he first moved to Tokyo… the stupid underwear in a vending machine… gag me. I also was SUPER annoyed when Callie arrives in KANSAI (western Japan) and the tour guide is like ‘don’t worry, we wont be going near the areas that were damaged by the earthquake / affected by radiation’. Um, I’m sorry but NO PLACES in Kansai were damaged/radiated. So why was that in there?! Also I wish the author would have made up her mind about how to write out their names. Some were the traditional last name/first name order but then it randomly flipped to first name / last name. And one guy even introduced himself as ‘san’ which is just no. And the date for Obon was wrong (I even googled it, it’s in August, not October).

I don’t know a lot about Japanese ghost stories or legends so I’m not totally sure how accurate all of THAT stuff was but I’m just going to go with it because I can’t be bothered to care if it was accurate or not. But if anybody who is like, versed in Japanese lore reads these and there IS something incorrect… lemme know.

My only other nit-picking is there were A LOT of errors in this book. Mainly pluralization mistakes. Which was weird, and I know it’s an ARC, but I hope that an editor goes over this a bit more carefully before it publishes because I don’t remember the last time I read a book with that many errors.

STORY WISE… this was good. I was instantly drawn in. The story is told from the POV of a ghost, Okiku, who’s been dead for over 300 years. She hunts murders but only those who murder children. And she kills them. Horror movie style. I was REALLY worried that this was going to scare me because I am NOT a horror movie person. Thankfully I’m able to control my imagination a bit more when I read scary books and I actually ENJOY my imagination over seeing other people’s twisted imaginations up on the big screen. This was deliciously creepy. But if you’re looking for something that’s going to make you sleep with the light on for the next month… this isn’t it.

I LOVED the family relationship in this book. There’s NO romance (tho I do think that Tark kinda had a crush on Okiku). Tark is cursed and his cousin Callie helps him figure out what’s happening. I loved their relationship and how she took care of him. I thought it was rather refreshing to have a family relationship over a romantic one for once.

The writing… was odd at times, buuuuut I think that helped the book. It was a little annoying at first, but once I got into it the sometimes strange writing actually made it a bit more atmospheric. Okiku’s counting was uncomfortable at times and that just added to her character. So if you find it a little strange at first, just keep going, because it does work.

So yeah, despite my gripes, I really liked this!

SIT DOWN! SHUT UP! READ THIS! – August Edition

Well, August is on its way, and for me its going to be a busy month of birthday, wedding, visitors and all that goodness. However, I don’t care! Because I will still find time to read, and River and I declared August to be Holly Black-fest! That’s right, this month’s SIT DOWN! SHUT UP! READ THIS! is all Holly Black books. Who knows though, maybe there will be a joint reading of The Iron Trial as well just to keep within the theme!

Here’s our selections!

Sam’s Pick for River:

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Doll Bones by Holly Black

I absolutely loved this book when I read it last year, and it’s got a good level of creepy and thoughtful mixed in. Although I know River isn’t huge on middle grade, I know how much she adores Holly Black’s writing, and I think she will enjoy this book a fair bit (or at least, I HOPE so!)

River’s Pick for Sam:

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Th Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

So for whatever stupid reason, I’ve had this book on my shelf since it released (it was gifted to me by Kiki). I adore Holly Black and she wrote one of my favourite series ever (Modern Faerie Tales) so how I haven’t read this yet is beyond me. Thankfully, River gave me a book bitch slap so this is the choice she made for me and she is the best because of it. THE BEST.

And there you have our picks for August. Who knows, this month could see us reading all the Holly Black we haven’t tackled yet. Exact our full report on these two books at the end of the month. If you’ve read either of these, let us know in the comments as we’d love to know what you thought of them!

USAAAAAAAAAAAA

10563031_885496288131512_7474970727825617561_nMy niece, the sweetest most hilarious two year old on the PLANET, gave me my first hug on US soil.

I made it to the USA! After two months of packing, canceling all the things, cleaning, throwing away trash and hauling luggage I’ve FINALLY made it back to the USA! First stop for me was Michigan, where I’m spending a week and a half with my family. Husband is off doing science-y things in the great white north, and we will reunite in Boston at the beginning of August.

I left Japan on July 24th and was ready to say goodbye. It hasn’t quite hit me yet that I’m NOT going back (I was at the grocery store yesterday and kept thinking OMG HOW AM I GOING TO EAT ALL THE FOOD I WANT TO EAT… oh wait… I don’t have a time limit).

My flight was actually really good. I flew Korean Air and it was SO nice. The seats had a lot of leg room and my flight from Tokyo to Incheon was EMPTY. I had four seats to myself. Too bad my flight from Incheon to Chicago was not so empty. But I still did well, didn’t get sick, and was able to eat. I watched a TON of movies (EVERYBODY NEEDS TO WATCH NEED FOR SPEED IT WAS AMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZING.)

Things in Michigan are good (it’s FREEZING here compared to Tokyo) and I’ve been doing okay jet-lag wise. I managed to stay awake for almost 30 hours (from Tokyo to Chicago and then Chicago to my hometown in Michigan), so when I finally crashed I slept for like 12 hours and woke up at a normal human time and have been doing okay since.

Ford-FT150-Pickup-Truck-2014
I drove this giant truck! This is my dad’s new Ford FT 150 and oh. em. gee. I drove it and it was the first thing I have driven since 2009! I honestly can’t believe that I drove something this big and LOVED IT. I have missed driving so much. Back in 2008 when I first moved back to the USA after my study abroad year I did NOT want to drive (I just didn’t want to be in the
USA), so I really struggled. But now that I WANT to be back I am taking to everything like a fish to water. And I drove this bad boy on the highway and down one of the most infamous streets in the city and yeah. I owned it. (Only made my mom cringe once when I ran a yellow light… sorry mom!)

And I came home to a pile of books. Anytime I’d win a book I’d send it to my parent’s house (can’t wait to have my own US address now!) so I had a bunch of won books and then a few that I’d bought with amazon discounts (Landline!!!) and then my love Melissa sent me  A SIGNED COPY OF SINNER!!!!!!

So yeah… that’s it for now. I’m hoping to get back into blogging once I’m settled in Boston, but we’ll see. It might take me a few more months. Have to get my apartment all set up, have to figure out how to navigate Boston, have to get my husband set for school, and hopefully I’ll be starting a new job too! So until then keep following me on twitter and goodreads. And keep loving Sammy for all the hard work she’s doing to keep this place going (LOVE SAMMY!!!!)

ARC Review – Sleepless Knight by James Sturm, Alexis Frederick-Frost, and Andrew Arnold

21469048Title:  Sleepless Knight

Author: James Sturm, Alexis Frederick-Frost, and Andrew Arnold

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: The Knight can’t wait for her first camping trip! She and her horse Edward pack everything they need — including her beloved Teddy – and head out into the woods. But when it’s time for bed, Teddy is nowhere to be found!  A helpful racoon thinks this “Teddy” sounds familiar, and sends the Knight off to a cave… but that’s no teddy bear in that cave. That’s a bear!  In this sweet, simple adventure, basic comics elements combine with the picture book format to create a picture book for the youngest of comics readers, and a fantastic introduction into the world of Adventures in Cartooning.

Huge thank you to First Second and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

<i>Huge thank you to First Second and Netgalley for this ARC!</i>

Oh my goodness, THIS BOOK. What a charming, fluffy, cute adventure about needing something or someone to cuddle. Knight has misplaced his teddy bear and he needs his friend’s help to find him. This book reminded me of my childhood when I read it simply because I was totally one of those kids who had favourite plushies that needed to be RIGHT BESIDE ME before bed or I’d lose my cool and not sleep. In fact, I was the kid who slept with twenty plushies and said good night to each individually, likely driving my mother crazy.

But seriously, this book is sweet, and the dialogue and artwork completely suit the tone of the book. The characters have a great sense of humor! It’s surprisingly funny! Also I love the idea of <i>Adventures in Cartooning</i> as it actually shows the reader how to draw the characters in the story. I think kids would absolutely love that idea!

It’s too bad you’ll all have to wait until 2015 to check this book out, because I think it’ll definitely be a hit with the younger to middle grade readers, especially for the activities included within the story. Definitely an easy book to recommend, even for a reluctant reader.

I’m Getting Married! Also Library Shower!

Soooo, I may have been hinting at it for awhile (or some of you all just know, which ever) but I am getting married! In August! To man I’ve been with almost nine years! He’s adorkable, and I love him. It’s kind of crazy to think you could be with one person for a long time and then poof! You’re getting married! But yeah, I’m really excited to start the next phase of my life with my fantastic and quirky fiancée.

In any case, after talking with my mom and the amazing Kiki came up with the idea that for a bridal shower, we’d shower me in books. The reality is, I don’t need no pots, pans, etc, but I do need library resources. I’m training to be a children’s librarian and my friends and family are aware of this, so I challenged them to go shop in the children’s, middle grade, and YA sections of their local book stores OR select something that was a favourite of theirs from when they were growing up. The results are pretty crazy, let me tell you!

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Needless to say, my family and friends spoiled me rotten (and apparently this isn’t all of it either, which scares the crap out of me). I am the type of person who would rather give gifts than receive them, so I was shocked at the out pour and love I received that day. It’s crazy to know and think how much people truly love you, and these women are some of the strongest, smartest, and most thoughtful people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing in my life. I’m eternally grateful to each and every one of them. I only hope I do each one of them proud.

Looks like I’ll be on another book buying ban soon, because I have a lot of reading to do!

 

Late to the Party ARC Review – In the End by Demitria Lunetta

18712520Title:  In the End

Author: Demitria Lunetta

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: It s been three months since Amy escaped New Hope, and she s been surviving on her own. Then one day Amy gets a call from Kay and hears the four words she had hoped she would never hear: “Dr. Reynolds has Baby.” Now it s a race against time, for Baby is in imminent danger, her life threatened by the malevolent doctor who helped start the end of the world. Amy must make her way to Fort Black, a prison turned survivor colony, where she will need to find Ken, Kay s brother, who holds the key to Baby s survival.

One small slipup on this quest might not only cost Baby and Amy their lives but could also threaten the survival of the people in the After.

Huge thank you to Harper Teen and Edelweiss for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

In the After gave me all the feels. In the End gave me all the feels quadrupled. There’s something to be said about an emotionally charged post-apocalyptic novel, that yes, is about survival, but Lunetta gives us more than just instinct — this idea that you do need others to keep you sane. Amy goes rogue in this book after her beloved Baby has been stolen from her, and it sends her on the rescue mission that may not have been exactly what she thought it was when she started.

Lunetta does this amazing job of building tension and giving the reader the tools they need to understand what is going on in Amy’s mind and the world. Since this is also a direct continuation, there’s no hand holding either — this world is sick, twisted, and the humans might be far worse than the creatures they are trying to eliminate. For me, however, it was Amy’s personal journey that just kept me moving through the book, she had to save Baby, she had to make sure she was okay — their interactions were my favourite part of the first novel.

I really enjoyed a lot of the character motives in this book too. A lot of the characters are malicious, with the intent that they think they are saving people when in actuality, they are the real monsters. A lot of what these characters do are so unforgivable, so when someone is sincere in the story, it’s almost jarring because this world is such a crappy place. I liked Jacks and Brenna, and I thought they were great. I loved Amy’s maturity in the story, it’s a forced kind but very symbolic to how her world has transformed around her.

I’m not going to spoil any of this book or the series, but there were a few parts in this book that made me really emotional. I could feel like heart break in parts because the intensity and the emotion was just so spot on throughout. If you haven’t checked out this series and you want a strong zombie or survival narrative, look no further.

ARC Review – The Zoo Box by Ariel Cohn & Aron Nels Steinke

20518978Title:  The Zoo Box

Author: Ariel Cohn & Aron Nels Steinke

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: When Erika and Patrick’s parents leave them home alone for the night, they head straight to the attic to explore. When they open a mysterious box, hundreds of animals come pouring out! Soon the town is awash in more and more zoo animals, until Erika and Patrick discover that the tables have been turned… and the animals now run a zoo full of humans! 

Huge thank you to First Second Books for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I loved The Zoo Box. I think what I adored the most about this story is how imaginative it is — you open a box and suddenly there’s a zoo in your house, or how about the reality you once thought was real, may have been in fact… different? Erika and Patrick discover that humans are in fact, the animals on display at a “human zoo.” It may sound a touch creepy at first, but this book approaches this idea in a very genuine way — what do animals really think of us humans?

I really enjoyed the simplicity of this story. The art fits the story its telling, the characters are really sweet and fun, and it’s just such a crazy idea. I love how the element of make-believe gets turned completely on its head, though if I were Erika and Patrick’s parents, I don’t think I’d trust either of those children to be home alone!

Overall, this is a great little graphic novel for young readers, especially even reluctant ones. There’s lots of creativity and humour, and I think this is one parents should definitely check out if they have kids who love zany plotlines and animals!

 

Book Review – A Love for the Pages by Joy Penny

22441497Title:  A Love for the Pages

Author: Joy Penny

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Kiss. Marry. Kill. Nineteen-year-old June Eyermann has always known exactly which of her favorite Byronic heroes goes where. She’d kiss moody and possessive Rochester from Jane Eyre and marry prideful but repentant Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, leaving obsessive and spiteful Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights to be chucked off a cliff—but no. She couldn’t leave any of her heroes behind. She lives for her favorite fictional worlds.

But June is about to get a serious wake up call when she returns home for the summer after her college freshman year. Stuck somewhere between feeling like a kid again under her parents’ roof and being forced to start acting like an adult with worries about her future career, June looks at the library volunteer position offered to her as a way to keep her sanity for the next few months before she can go back to school.

What June doesn’t expect to find at the library is her favorite romantic heroes brought to life—all in the same man. Obstinate, prideful and even a bit rude, Everett Rockford shouldn’t exactly be “dating material,” even if June’s heart rate accelerates whenever she’s near him. But after discovering his enigmatic past and witnessing a few fiery moments of tenderness, June can’t help but see Rochester, Darcy and even Heathcliff in Everett. If she’s going to make it through the summer without becoming a tragic heroine in her own story, she has to separate the man from the ideals of fiction in her head. Because if there’s one thing she knows about Byronic love stories, it’s that they don’t always end happily ever after.

Huge thank you to Joy Penny for a copy of her book!

Sam’s Review:

I’ll admit, A Love for the Pages was a touch out of my comfort zone in the sense that I haven’t read a lot of New Adult and I’m not big on Byronic classics (although Jane Austen and I? We are buddies!). I’m happy I read this book though because I think it has a lot of honesty and heart, something I appreciate when I a read a contemporary story.

June doesn’t entire know what she wants to do with her life and she’s lost. She’s gets treated fairly poorly by people around her and yet, I appreciate that she’s someone whose willing to offer a second chance to make a mends and start over. She felt very real to me, and I loved her characterization because I could understand where she was coming from. Sometimes books are this wonderful escape from reality, but sometimes reality is something we need to face, whether we like it or not.

I think the thing that threw me with this book was how fast June and Everett fell for each other. There wasn’t much of a build in their romance, and yet Penny crafted this really solid friendship for them. So it goes from being friends to lovers lightning quick and it just didn’t entirely work for me. I did like that they got to know each other, but holy moley relationship, Batman!

However, I enjoyed the Austen aspects of this book. I loved that June comments on how her life has these Austen-esque qualities and any time she talked about her favourite books, I was just instantly connected. I think, however, I wished there was more personality from some of the secondary characters, because someone of them felt very one-dimensional, particularly Isla, Cooper, and even June’s friends. I wanted a bit more personality from the other characters because they were semi-important to the progress of the story and June’s development even.

However, regardless of my problems with the book, I did enjoy it a lot and I’d be interested to see what the author does next. I think it has a lot of promise and June really was a fantastic character to follow, and I appreciate that Penny captured her the way she did. June felt so real and her problems were easy to sympathize with. If anything, June is the real reason you read this book, because she’s wonderfully thought out and someone I think many of us can relate to. I’d be interested to see how a sequel could be spun from this, but I am equally content with how the story ending. Other then for poor Sinjin. My heart broke for him!

If you want to check out this book, you can purchase it on KoboAmazonNook and The Book Depository! Remember to support great independent authors!