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In Libris Veritas

The Geek's Guide to Dating by Eric Smith

The Geek's Guide to Dating - Eric  Smith

Source: Quirk Books– I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation
Publisher: Quirk Books
Series: -
Edition: Hardcover, 204 Pages
Genre: Non-fiction, Self Help
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 4.5/5

 

 

I know…you’re looking at this and you’re not sure you even want to read the review. A self-help guide to dating…yikes! But hear me out because this one is actually really fun and actually contains helpful advice, and the best part is it’s speaks our language: Geek.

This book uses the word ‘he’ a lot but fear not geek ladies, if you have common sense you are equipped to switch out those pronouns and use the advice yourself. Also you’re probably wondering if a book nerd will relate to something that looks pretty video game based, the answer is yes it does. In fact none of this is exclusive advice and even if you don’t understand all the references I bet there will be some that at least get you to chuckle a bit.

Now on to the actual content. If you know me then you know I’ve been in a relationship for over 6 years and if you really know me then you know I never did much of the dating thing. I was one of those super lucky people who hit it off immediately with the person I plan to spend the rest of my life with, in high school no-less. BUT if I did have to do the dating thing I think this would have been helpful, especially since I’m one of those people who is painfully “shy” (social anxiety) and is bound to screw up sentence structure when under pressure. It starts off with getting to know who you are as a person and a geek, gives you advantages/disadvantages of each niche and tells you how to apply them to real life situations. It even gives you tips on where to meet people, geeky and on, and how to get to the point of asking that person out. You get a ton of tips: tips for the more mature situations, how to keep things fresh, tips on how to prep yourself for a date, and how to handle when things get serious or fizzle out. In fact I’m a bit surprised how much ground it covered in just over 200 pages and that is definitely a good thing. No one wants to spend weeks reading a text book sized dating guide.

So if you’re like me and already out of the dating game you can still enjoy this. It has some really great lines in it and a ton of fun references that had me laughing out loud. You can even get some really great ideas for date night with your boyfriend/girlfriend/hubby/wife (*phew*). Not only is the book fun to look at, it’s fun to read.

4.5 Stars

Parasite by Mira Grant

Parasite - Mira Grant

Source: Orbit/Netgalley – I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation
Publisher: Orbit Publishing
Series: Parasitology #1
Edition: eARC, 504 Pages
Genre: Sci-fi Horror
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 4/5

 

 

Parasite is the sort of book I avoid. It’s sort of a medical thriller, but on top of that it touches on some horror aspects that I have nightmares about. In sort it’s about Parasites and anyone who has a slight phobia against these things will not find a friend in this book, I was seriously wigging out while reading this and I had to take long breaks from it in order to keep from having a spike in anxiety. Adverse side-effects aside it is a really good book. The subject is handled in a realistic and really scary way, and I really enjoyed it even though it scared me to death.

This is set in the not to distant future of 2027. The world has changed but it’s easily recognizable as our own and all of the little tidbits of new technology were easy to see as an advancement possible in our own world. This includes the new medical practices which include an intestinal tapeworm that secretes medications and keeps their host from being sick. Sadly it’s not an idea that seems far fetched because in our not to distant past humans were actually taking pills with tapeworms in them to help them loose weight. If humans are willing to do that for something superficial as weight loss then I don’t see it as under heard if it was proven they could help with something as huge as actual medical problems. So in that respect Mira Grant really presented an easy to believe subject, and on top of that she even built a case for it. I will admit that some of the medical talk toward the beginning of the book was kind of boring and it wasn’t until things started to get really weird that I found myself really interested.

Sal is an odd one and I really liked her overall. She’s still learning about herself and how to handle the world around her due to a nearly fatal car accident that she made a miracle recovery from, unfortunately her memories were gone and she had to start over. I really loved that she was kind of a mess. She has trouble with word meanings, and things most humans know automatically like modesty and what’s weird and what isn’t. I was also really fond of Nathan, who through all of Sal’s issues stuck by her and helped her whenever she needed it. Though I think my favorite character was Tansy, who is a complete nutcase. Everything out of her mouth was a complete surprise and it was a toss up between cute/weird and downright insane.

The parasite angle of this has probably scarred me for life and if anyone ever suggests it as a medical procedure I’ll probably flip out, but I thought it was handled really well and the effect of everything was downright chilling. I’m use to medical thrillers being standalone, at least judging from all of the books my mom use to read. So I’m super excited that this is a series and after the ending Grant gave us I’m so ready for the next book. Overall the plot isn’t the hardest to figure out but there are a few curve-balls that really make this worth while, and even though I saw the ending coming I still felt a chill when I read it.

If you’re looking for a wild ride into a uncharted territory then I definitely recommend this. It has some serious detail in it and everything is carefully constructed, making this great for those who enjoy a bit of world building and realistic ‘proof’.

4 stars

Precious Blood by Tonya Hurley

Precious Blood  - Tonya Hurley, Abbey Watkins

Source: PulseIT/Won from Simon & Schuster
Publisher: Simon Teen
Series: Blessed #1
Edition: Audiobook/Ebook, 432 Pages
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Purchase: *
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 2/5

 

 

Oh boy…where to even begin with Precious Blood? I read this while it was free on Pulse It and switched between it and the audio version I’ve been meaning to listen to for some time now. So this will be a combination of both experiences.

Precious Blood is not a book that clues you in on the plot until about half way through and even then it takes pleasure in spinning you in circles until you just throw up your hands and let it have it’s way. In fact that’s kind of how I felt with this one the whole time. The writing style is…odd and I have trouble categorizing it, it’s not bad but it holds a certain vibe that just doesn’t sit right. The plot is rather slow at first but I think around 62% it becomes a full on whirl-wind and I was literally yelling “What the f—” out loud.

We meet three girls Agnes, Cecilia, and Lucy who live very different lives and have very different personalities, all of which I kind of hated. Agnes is by far the most redeemable of them, but as innocent as she is she’s also incredibly naive. Cecilia is a rocker and she makes her very meager lives playing in the clubs and loves her loyal following. Lucy is one of those celebrities that you look at and wonder what the hell they’re famous for; she’s stuck up, stubborn, and shallow. They are all hard to like from the get go, and given their rather unorthodox introduction as ER patients  it’s kind of clear they are not supposed to be likeable…or maybe that’s just how I felt. It’s really hard to like a person who demands Vicodin for some as simple as period cramp. At any rate this is a very unorthodox story of three girls who find redemption and become saints…in their own way. Though I have trouble understanding how they fit the role of saints, who from my knowledge are normally martyrs or healers…these girls are not. There is a line that says something like “we’re saints. not angels” that was meant as a haphazard explanation, but threw me off because Angels are the ones who do the real dirty work. They’re soldiers…saints are not. At any rate the whole saint storyline was rather interesting and I will admit that I found it hard to put the book down after that halfway point.

There is also the rather confusing good vs bad plot that comes in later that I’m not entirely sure about. I understand the goal but I’m not sure I understand all the parts that lead up to it. There were a few incidences that I actually cringed at because they just felt so wrong…I didn’t understand the overt sensuality of some of the scenes and their placement (and a few of the lines) were just uncomfortable.

As for the audio narration…I definitely do not recommend it. If you’re going to read this one, then I suggest actually reading it. The narration isn’t bad per say but I found it too jarring. There were moments where the sound of the voice would suddenly be really loud and moments where she paused unnecessarily. It just wasn’t a smooth listen.

Overall Precious Blood gets a nod from me for creativity and for making my heart pound a few times, however I found the story too confusing and the characters too unlikeable. I don’t see myself reading the rest of this series, though I will admit to some morbid curiosity.

2 stars

Waterproof by Amber Garr

Waterproof - Amber Garr

Source: Mark My Words Book Publicity/Amber Garr
Publisher: Amber Garr
Series: Waterproof #1
Edition: eBook, 258 Pages
Genre: New Adult Dystopian
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 4/5

 

 

Waterproof is another one of those rare indie gems that bring something a little new to the table and make you excited for the next book. It’s not just another dystopian with some rehashed horrible government and one person trying to make a change. It’s a dystopian with real characters who are fighting to survive for themselves, not because they have a high calling. Not to mention it has some new ideas.

The story is told in dual POVs and while I normally don’t like novels that switch back and forth I did appreciate it with this one. Not only do we get the extra insight into each character we also get to see two separate stories once the characters have split up. I love having that added anxiety of knowing something a character doesn’t. Over all the story is about surviving in a world where drinking water is hard to come by and people are willing to do anything to get it. I know of another book that deals with water like this but I haven’t read it, so this is fresh and I really enjoyed the newness of the idea. Especially once other plans are revealed later in the book. I’ll admit to reading it in shock and then declaring the idea stupid, but the more I read the more I enjoyed the different quality to the idea.

As for our characters we have a hand full but Zach and Vivianne (Vee) are the main focus. Their relationship plays a huge part in this and it’s honestly a good thing. They already have a set relationship before the book starts and they have the history together, so it doesn’t feel rushed and they feel comfortable. I was a little under prepared for the sexy times though because I mislabeled the book when I got it and thought it was YA, oops. I really liked Zach and Vee, they both felt real and realistically hardened to certain aspects of their life. They’re only in their twenties and when crap hit the fan they were younger than that, so it’s logical that certain things are easier for them. Zach has the realistic mind of a male and his POV doesn’t shy away from the more personal aspects of it. In fact this book doesn’t really shy away from anything and I appreciated the blatant humanity of all of it, sometimes I just get tired of reading cut and dry books. There are also other great characters like Hunter, Sasha and Trevor that I really enjoyed, but would have really liked to see more from them. They are great side characters and it’s clear they have their own personalities but I would have liked to get to know them better before things were kicked into high gear. Also there are characters called Sam and Dean…I have no idea if this was intentional but I kind of squealed a bit and immediately pictured them as the Sam and Dean from Supernatural. In fact I have no idea what they were supposed to look like.

Overall I found Waterproof to be a rather quick and enjoyable read that really pulled me in from page one and made me want more. Especially with the ending, cliffhanger alert…It’s a interesting story with a new idea and a great flow.

4 stars

Gambit Volume 1: Once A Thief

Gambit, Vol. 1: Once A Thief... - James Asmus, Clay Mann, Diogenes Neves

Source: Borrowed
Publisher: Marvel
Series: Gambit #1-7
Edition: Paperback
Genre: Graphic Novel
Purchase: Currently Out of Stock*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 3/5

 

Gambit is a smooth talking Cajun with some serious sticky fingers and the ability to use kinetic energy as an explosive. In short he’s a pretty cool guy, however this set of issues was seriously lacking and I found myself kind of disappointed in my first venture into pure Gambit storyline.

I rather like Gambit as a person, he’s kind of edgy and is not limited to his mutant ability as far as skills. However I feel like I didn’t really find a reason to care much about him in this, at least not like I did with the cartoons or other short instances of him. I understand that he’s a kleptomaniac, or at least I’m hoping he is because I honestly didn’t see any other reason as to why he would be pulling off huge heists when he has already built a life as an X-man. At any rate he’s still the smooth talker and until towards the end of the story I didn’t really care too much about him. Of course there is a girl, but she’s sort of a throw away character. She’s supposed to be edgy and sexy, but she really just reminds me of Lara Croft and you don’t even find out her name until towards the end…which I have forgotten already.

The plot is only so so, and I didn’t really get the middle section of it at all. I’m not really sure I like the whole find super rare and mythological artifacts angle, because it honestly seems like an attempt at an Lara Croft meets Indiana vibe and while it’s “fun” it also means nothing.

So overall it’s an okay story arc, but it’s not one that I would personally buy. I’ll probably read the second set of issues, but I’m in no real hurry.

3 star

Cornerstone by Kelly Walker

Cornerstone  - Kelly  Walker

Source: Purchased
Publisher: 
Series: Souls of the Stone #1
Edition: eBook, 344
Genre: Young Adult High Fantasy
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 4/5

 

 

Cornerstone is one of the many kindle books I have squirreled away in the cloud due to my crazed addiction to one-clicking my way through Amazon. So when I found myself wanting to read something different that I knew very little about I randomly picked out Cornerstone and I’m so happy I did. This is truly one of those shining gems in the indie book market and I’m surprised I haven’t seen more people talking about it, because I’m in firm belief that they should.

 

Cornerstone follows Emariya, a young woman born into a seat of privilege and power. She has grown up without her mother who was killed when she was a baby and her father has also disappeared from her life, leaving her with her brother Reeve. She is a headstrong woman with a fierce loyalty and the drive to do what is right by others. I think what I liked most about her is the fact that she isn’t rash when it comes to making decisions, though there are a few emotion produced moments where she finds herself in trouble.Considering I wasn’t expecting to become emotionally invested in the story I was surprised when I was so hooked on her character and after everything she’s been through I wanted the best for her. I loved her friendships with Gairth, a blacksmith’s son, and Jessa, her handmaiden. Though I rarely feel it is needed as a warning there is no love triangle in Cornerstone, in fact the romance angle is a very small part of the overall story though I can certainly see it becoming more of a focal point in the following books.

 

I’m a huge fan of high fantasy novels and one of the things they must have is world-building, or else the whole story caves in from the lack of support. Walker definitely gives her story that support it needs as she paints us a new world known as the Three Corners. It’s made up of three nations who are in turmoil and desperately need change or they risk the lives of many. It’s a great high fantasy novel for those who crave new worlds without having to flip back and forth between glossaries and maps. It’s simple enough lore that it’s easy to learn but detailed enough to satisfy the need. I really only had one issue and that had to do with the lore of the Stones, which is incredibly interesting and I really look forward to seeing more of as I continue the series. There was one tiny scene where Riya could have possibly gotten the info she needed but didn’t, though overall it didn’t really pull the story down. I did enjoy learning about the Stones and their different roles for each corner of the world, but we as readers learn with Riya so there is still a lot that I want to know.

 

There are some delightful twists and turns that had me literally gasping and scribbling down notes as fast as I could. There is a bit of political intrigue that had me guessing who was behind everything and why, and I enjoyed the little snippets of story that focused on other people involved. Combine that with the adventure and danger and it made it really hard to walk away from this one.

 

In the simplest of terms this book had me hooked. Once the world was built and Riya started her journey I couldn’t put it down and I finished it in a few hours. I would truly love to see more people try this out because I think the series has great potential, and I know I will definitely be reading the second one.

4 stars

 

Nightwing Year One

Nightwing: Year One - Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty, Scott McDaniel, Andy Owens

Source: Borrowed
Publisher: DC
Series: Nightwing #101-106
Edition: ebook, 144 Pages
Genre: Batman, Graphic Novel
Purchase: Currently Sold Out *
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 4/5

 

As promised I made a point to read Nightwing and learn more about Dick Grayson and you know what? I like him more than Batman. The caped crusader was much cooler when I was a kid but once you get old enough to realize he’s kind of jerk…well not kind of, he is a jerk….he’s not a shiny and amazing anymore. He’s grouchy, egotistical, and at times it seems he’s mentally unstable…but he helped raise an awesome guy. (Helped…because Alfred did most of the actual child rearing).

 

This goes over Dick Grayson’s first encounters after he is kicked out of the bat cave and sets off on his own. He does some soul searching and ultimately ends up back in a suit scaling buildings in the dead of night. I really like his character and I’m really happy to see that he’s not just a Batman clone…because one is seriously enough. I love his dynamic with Batgirl and even his interaction with Jason Todd (who I’m kind of iffy about…the kid is a brat, but not as bad as Damian.)

 

The art-style was not my favorite at all. The images are very simplistic with heavy outlines and an almost cartoony look to it, which wouldn’t be so bad if the content matched but it doesn’t. Some of the scenes did look really good though and I really liked the acrobatic panels. However there is one thing I simply can not understand…and that’s Jason Todd’s legs. This kid looks like he’s been lifting weights since he was three, I wouldn’t doubt his ability to kill a man with them either. I mean look a them!

 

jasonrobinnwyo

Okay now try looking away…you had trouble with that didn’t you? That’s because it’s scary…I doubt Batman has legs that toned. *shudders*

 

Anyway! Despite the problems with some of the artwork and Batman being an eternal butthole, Nightwing Year One is really solid and really enjoyable. I’m glad I took the time to get to know Dick Grayson better and I’m excited to read even more about him.

Pivot Point by Kasie West

Pivot Point - Kasie West

Source: Won from the Book BFFs
Publisher: Harper Teen
Series: Pivot Point #1
Edition: eBook, 343 pages
Genre: Young Adult Sci-fi
Purchase:*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 3.5/5

 

Pivot Point takes the hard question “what would you do if you could see your future” and brings it to life in a emotional and engaging story revolving around a teen called Addie. This book is unique, sweet, and with a pinch of intrigue.

 

The world of Pivot Point is surprisingly contemporary and in some ways I found this slightly disappointing. The interesting world of the Compound is described very sparingly and we don’t get to see very much of the inter-workings aside from the schooling and the testing. I would have to have some more world-building because the beginning was only so-so for me and it wasn’t until Addie was well into one of her paths that I became hooked. I found the idea of mental abilities to be really interesting and we do get to see some of what other people can do, and I loved the fact that it doesn’t paint any ability as mostly good or bad. Most of the story happens in Addie’s Search of her two possible futures and we are given both stories in alternating chapters labeled with either a Para or a Norm word to help you keep track of which one. I had a bit of trouble focusing and found the overall pace to be on the slow side, and it wasn’t until the last 3rd of the book that was well and truly pulled in.

 

I think it’s sort of obvious from the lack of extensive world building that this is a character driven book and that really run the show. Addie is a sarcastic bookworm, that while I really enjoyed reading about kind of fades into the background once the book is over. She’s a great girl though and she was pretty easy to connect to and understand, and while she’s definitely different from the normal female MC’s  I can only say I feel somewhat invested in her future now that the book is over. Then there are the boys Duke and Trevor, who are complete opposites. I honestly can’t stand Duke. I hated him right from the off, because when hitting someone with a football is an acceptable introduction you lose me. Trevor is great though and I found him to be adorable, he’s definitely worth the time and effort of book shipping. Even though there are two guys this book does not have a love triangle. It sounds complicated and in some ways it is, but no love triangle here.

 

Overall I found Pivot Point to have a really interesting premise and I thought it was handle really well. I do wish it the middle hadn’t lulled so much but it was worth the effort to get to that ending. I’m definitely curious to see how things have developed in the second book and I’m really hoping we get to see more of the Compound.

The New Avengers Vol. 2: Sentry

The New Avengers, Vol. 2: Sentry - Steve McNiven, Brian Michael Bendis

Source: Purchased
Publisher: Marvel
Series: The New Avengers #7-10
Edition: Paperback, 152 Pages
Genre: Graphic Novel
Purchase:Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 3/5

 

So I’m going through a lot of comic books lately and surprisingly there are very few typical superhero story-lines mixed in there. I’m sort of blaming it on this series right now, because even though I’ve only read 10 issues of it and it has a ton more I feel like it’s boring. Superheros and supervillians should never be pair with boring, it just don’t make sense. The first volume was decent enough for a start and it had a lot of promise to be big, to sort of live up to big things like Disassembled and then House of M, but this volume lacked any of the initial spark.

 

We’re fully introduced to Sentry, who was only briefly spotlighted before as a shivering half naked guy who said he killed his wife. We meet him again and he’s pretty much the same, though eventually he does put on more clothing. I feel like they were trying to give Sentry a good introduction into the Avengers, but instead it turned into a mess that I could barely follow. We find out his background or lack there of, and eventually we find out why…and then I threw my hands in the air because at the end of I failed to see the point of wasting 4 issues on something so trivial. He does some stuff, it’s kind of cool and makes a mess…and then we find out why and it’s convoluted mess of lame.

 

So while the art remains pretty nice and Spiderman still makes me laugh, this one failed to deliver truly worth my time. I am interested to how the Sentry story-line plays out or if it just gets lost, and the next section of issues promises some more answers in terms of Spider-woman so I’m curious enough to continue.

The Archived by Victoria Schwab

The Archived - Victoria Schwab

Source: Borrowed from Octavia @ Read.Sleep.Repeat
Publisher: Hyperion
Series: The Archived #1
Edition: Hardcover,
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 4/5

 

The Archived is a wonderfully written venture into a unique take on the afterlife. It follows a teenaged girl named, Mac who is charged with the job being a Keeper and the sudden dangers of the slowly crumbling Archive. If I had to choose three words to describe it they would be: Unique, beautiful, and thrilling.

 

The Archived has two new places for us to feast upon, The Archive and The Narrows. Imagine a huge library, with rows and rows of shelves and the layer of quiet that’s almost eeriy, now instead of books replace them with bodies and you have The Archive. It sounds rather creepy but the way that Schwab handles it paints a picture of odd beauty, where everyone has a place and are protected by the Keepers. Unfortunately someone is disturbing the peace of The Archive and the Histories (the people housed there) are being altered. The Narrows to me seemed like the purgatory type level of Schwab’s afterlife. You know that scene in horror movies where the character is walking in a hallway and it suddenly seems longer and darker than it did before, that’s how I pictured The Narrows. It’s creepy, dark and full of doors. I loved the unsettling way it was presented and it’s such a great juxtaposition to the calming effect that The Archive has. Then of course we have the really interesting jobs that play a huge roll in keeping and maintaining the Histories and the Archive at peace. The plot takes a bit of building but once it gets started it becomes really hard to put the book down, I even found my self I bit surprised at times. There was only one instance where I found myself confused and that’s because Dad and Da are two different people.

 

Overall I really enjoyed all of the characters and while some of them probably won’t stick with me I thought they were handled great. Mac is one tough girl with some amazing fighting skills and her determination to keep up her work in the Narrows. However she’s human and she’s tired of the lying that is required of her and it’s making her somewhat weak under pressure. She has a lot of weight on her shoulders and I liked that she wasn’t completely invisible against it. She’s dealing with a lot of heartbreak and the way schwab writes really makes that emotion real and raw. Then there is Wes, who becomes a sort of rock for Mac. He’s rather upbeat despite his rather dour upbringing and really tries to help Mac the best that he can. I liked how goofy and real he seemed, which is great when you need a break from the cliche suave guys that come by the bunches in YA. I was a bit disappointed in how little we learn about him though and really thought that seeing a bit more of who he is would have helped me connect with him a bit more.

 

Without saying too much about it I do want to mention that one thing that brought the story down for me and that was the way a certain relationship of Mac’s was handled. I knew what path it was going to go down and I had my hopes that it wouldn’t. To me it felt a bit predictable and once it happened I had no trouble figuring out some of the other plot points a head of time.

 

However other than that I think this was one solid book and has really set the bar for the rest of the series. I can’t wait to see more of Mac and hopefully get to know Wes a bit better. I really enjoyed the mystery and eerie beauty of the Archived and I’m looking forward to learning even more about it.

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

Breadcrumbs - Erin Mcguire, Anne Ursu

Source: Won from Walden Pond Press
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Series: -
Edition: Paperback,  312 Pages
Genre: Middle Grade Fairy-Tale Retelling
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 4.5/5

 

Breadcrumb was a delightful and sometimes incredibly beautiful middle grade story following a girl named Hazel and her journey to save her friend.

Middle Grade is a genre I use to read avidly before becoming a blogger but now I never seem to have any to read and I really miss them. They hold incredibly imaginative stories without the restrictions of reality that you find in YA, and occasionally you find a fantastical story that also feels realistic and they blow you away. That is what Breadcrumbs turned out to be.

Hazel is a girl who struggles daily with fitting in and finds solace in her best friend, Jack, and the stories they tell. Her life has become harder since her father left and everyone expects her to grow up, and now her best friend has abandoned her. Or so it seems, until he finds out the truth and seeks to find him. I felt that Hazel was an incredibly brave and strong girl for one so young, and it was kind of reminder that kids her age are capable of so much. This shows just how close she comes to giving up or giving into temptation but instead she put one her foot down and keeps moving. I really loved her friendship with Jack and how she felt so comfortable with him, but I was also happy to see her budding friendship with Adelaide because I wanted her to be able to feel at home with herself all the time and not just with Jack.

I loved the overall story as well. This is a true retelling of fairy tales because it comes complete with the extra meaning and morals. The world that Ursu paints in the woods feels much like several fairy tale worlds all pushed together and in some ways it is. I loved the tiny glimpses of other fairy-tales that we get as Hazel makes her way to save Jack, and they are not the ones with happy endings. It’s a cold harrowing place and I was completely invested. Even with all of the amazing scenes and seemingly beautiful imagery this is wholly a character driven book and in 312 short pages we manage to see so much growth in Hazel that I really want to know how things are for her after the end of the book.

I’m a bit sad that this is a standalone but I think that’s part of it’s charm. One of the best things about this is that I think it’s great for all ages, middle grade up. The writing is beautiful and the world is so easily picture, plus everyone has been a child so it’s fairly easy to relate to on several accounts (unless you’ve managed to skip your childhood completely). I’m definitely going to check out more of Anne Ursu’s books in the future.

 

4.5 Stars

The Living by Matt De La Penas

The Living - Matt de la Pena

Source: Random House Kids – I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation
Publisher: Random House Kids
Series: The Living #1
Edition: Hardcover, 336
Genre: Young Adult Thriller
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository *
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 4/5

 

The Living took me completely by surprise and gave me the unexpected. When you sit down with a book like this you immediately paint a picture of survival and that’s really about it, but The Living gives you much more. There are hints of attraction, friendship, mysterious and odd happenings, and then there is also the survival. It took me about four hours to blaze through this one and I’m so happy with it’s unique turn of events.

The plot for The Living is initially hard to explain and I have trouble fitting it into a genre, though it’s definitely a thriller. The style is very laid back and has a nice easy flow to it, that really helped me connect with the main character Shy. We’re given plenty of time to learn about Shy and his friends well before the expected happens, and because of that I had much more appreciation for each of their personalities and bonds. There is also the fact that part of this takes place on a cruise liner and I don’t think I’ve ever read something with that as a main setting. The overall survival aspect does not spare the harshness of reality and shows how things can go from bad to worse very quickly. It becomes intense very quickly. But this is no ordinary contemporary survival book because it holds quick a few little twists and turns that slowly build into something I had never expected in the beginning. It’s a bit farfetched but at the same time I found it to be a fresh idea for a YA book and I enjoyed the surprise of it.

Shy is a really down to earth, hardworking and kind hearted guy; who felt realistic in the way he acted and worked through his problems. I haven’t read a book with a male main character who has ever been this responsible and family oriented and I really enjoyed the perspective. He was extremely easy for me to root for. I also loved getting to know Carmen and Rodney a bit as well and I came to enjoy their easy banter and friendship with Shy. Carmen has a sharp wit and I loved her openness with Shy, even when things are rough between them. Addison is not a character you can like right away. She’s shallow, snobbish and very ill-informed about other people; so needless to say I was more than a little curious to see how facing death would shape her. The odd relationship she formed with Shy was really nice and felt genuine, and now that I’m done with the book i find myself oddly worried about her.

I had no clue this was a series until I realized that I was running out a pages but the story was definitely not over with, and there on the last page was an advertisement for the sequel. I think I mentally screamed when I realized I wouldn’t know how everything was going to turn out for Shy and if he would ever make it back home, but I’m definitely glad I decided to read it

Sia by Josh Grayson

Sia - Josh Grayson

Source: Received from Josh Grayson in exchange for an honest review. Recieved no compensation.
Publisher: Josh Grayson
Series: -
Edition: eBook,
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Purchase: *
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 4/5

 

Sia is one of those rare books that make you want to get out and attempt to make a difference in the community. It’s a heartfelt and encouraging story that definitely has it’s core set in the right place.

Sia wakes up on a park bench completely lost and with no memory of who she is, and as result spends week on the streets. When she finally returns home she sees that her life is incredibly far away from what she experienced while homeless. She also realizes that everyone see her as someone completely different and she desperately wants to turn her life around. However Sia isn’t the only one who grows and changes through the course of the novel and I loved that more than one person was affected by her amnesia and her want to improve the lives of others. Her family starts off broken and nearly collapsed, and her friends want nothing to do with the ‘new’ Sia. Everyone grows and by the end of the book has reached their own levels of improvement. There were a few moments of convenience but they didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the novel.

Kyle is a kind-hearted guy who volunteers at the local soup kitchen and has witnessed Sia when she was in her prime, and he wants nothing to do with her. The relationship that they cultivate over the course of the book is really sweet  and I liked that despite some moments of tension they worked better as a team.

Grayson has given us an extremely charming and heartfelt story about about self discovery, selflessness, and friendship. Sia’s tale shows that second chances are possible and no one is beyond redemption.

Forty Nights by Stephanie Parent

Forty Nights - Stephanie Parent

Source: Stephanie Parent – I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation
Publisher: Stephanie Parent
Series: Neima’s Ark #2
Edition: eBook, 94 Pages
Genre: YA, Post Apocalyptic, Historical
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 4/5

 

The Neima’s Ark series has been a complete surprise for me. I don’t like religious books and Noah’s Ark is one of the most well known religious stories, surely that qualities as one of my “no-no books”. However Stephanie Parent takes a story I would have immediately shrugged off and turned it into a story with a surprising amount of reality and despite being religious based is not at all religious. Stephanie somehow created a paradox.

This is the second book, so if you haven’t read the first book go do that and come back.

The story picks up directly after Forty Days leaves us and Joran’s fate hanging. We are put right back into the middle of all that tension and with about 25ish days left in the story things have plenty of time to get worse before they ever get better. When I think of a word to describe this story I think, layers.

 

The tension is extremely layered. We get internal tension among the characters, tension relating to the animals, and tension from the storming raging outside. It’s not even supernatural elements, it’s all practical points like food and animal needs. The characters are also well defined and fleshed out. Noah (being the most notable of characters) is not as prominent in this story as it is Neima’s but he’s is completely human in his decisions and personality, which I must give Stephanie credit for because instead of making him an infallible character he has weakness and fragility just like everyone else. I love the relationship between Neima and Joran. It’s not some fairy tale perfect relationship, it’s a sweet love that has it’s faults but is just right for them.

 

I’m really satisfied with the way this ended and I’m definitely satisfied with the way it progressed. I’m just bit bummed out it’s over so quickly. I really appreciate that Stephanie took the time to developed the family and make the story more human and less fairy tale. Families fight and turn against each other, there is disbelief and self-doubt. Overall I think Stephanie handled the story with care, giving as much detail and accuracy as she could to the storyline and the time period. If you haven’t checked out Forty Days I really encourage you to do so, it’s free and in my opinion worth a try.

Morning Glories Vol. 1 For A Better Future

Morning Glories, Vol. 1: For a Better Future - Joe Eisma, Nick Spencer, Rodin Esquejo

Source: Library
Publisher: Image Comics
Series: Morning Glories #1-6
Edition: Paperback, 188 Pages
Genre: Science Fiction Horror
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository *
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 3.5/5

 

Morning Glories is a graphic novel that starts off with a bang and then keeps you in suspense about what exactly is going on. Think of the show Lost and add some serious horror and dystopian aspects…now you have Morning Glories.

 

The story revolves around six newly arrived students to the Morning Glory Academy. We get to see first hand how weird the school is and how they don’t really care if they hold up appearances for very long. The group is extremely varied in personality and we are treated to a bit of their background so we can see just how these six function. I loved that each twist was wholly unexpected and I like the mystery of the plot, though I do hope they clue us in on it very soon because I can see this getting confusing fast. The art style is beautiful and crisp which perfect for those gorgeous scenes as well as the scenes that make you wish you could unsee things.

 

For a graphic novel I picked up on a whim this turned out to be an extremely good choice. It’s fun in a ‘holy crap these people are crazy’ kind of way and I can see the potential for this to be a series I really enjoy.

The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman

The Waking Dark - Robin Wasserman

Source: Knopf Books/Netgalley – I received this in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation.
Publisher: Knopf Books
Series: -
Edition: eARC, 464 pages
Genre: Young Adult Horror
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 4.5/5

 

The Waking Dark is a book that draws you in and absolutely refuses to let you go, even though it’s 2am and you don’t want to have nightmares. Tough luck, you’re getting them anyway and don’t think you’ll just read it during the day…because when you look at the clock after a few chapters it’s going to be nighttime. Unless your luckier than I am.

 

From the very beginning Wasserman paints a very creepy, sudden, and violent picture. We lose a ton of characters before we even know the story and suddenly it feels vital to continue on and figure out what exactly is going on in this little town in the middle of no where Kansas. There is a very small ‘lull’ in the events giving us time to learn and care for the group of kids the povs follow, but it doesn’t take long for things to get amped up again and sudden it’s a full on nut house for most of the story. It’s detailed and above all things it’s creepy. For me reading it was like a mad dash, which was partially due to it being read during a readathon but also due to the fact that I just didn’t want to put it down. The events of the story barely slowed down and there was no real time for a mind breather, which in terms of this novel I consider that a plus.

 

I did have some trouble toward the beginning distinguishing when the story turned to follow another character, but overall I liked the way it was written. There is so much detail and I loved the realness of the town, even while the creepy stuff was happening. The human nature in this is pretty spot on and I loved the fact that as you get farther into the books things become incredibly amplified and though it’s clearly a level that most people would never see in their friends and family, it’s still a realistic reaction. It deals with the grit and negative of humanity, while subtly showcasing some of the best characteristics.  I’m also a fan of that fact that I didn’t learn what really happened until towards the end of the book, because by that point everything is already so messed up you’ve gotten the full effect of the insanity without the weight of an explanation. I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t totally fond of the explanation, but since it came so late in the story it barely affected my opinion of the overall book. The characters were really well done and I appreciated seeing how others viewed each other and having that two-sided view point.

 

I think I could talk on and on about this one, because there is just so much to praise and point out. So I’m going to cut myself short and just say, it’s one of the best horror books I’ve read in the YA category. I will say that if your sensitive to horrible things happening to people then you should probably skip it, there is also some drug usage which I know some people just don’t go for in books. Overall I really enjoyed it and I’m really impressed with how well The Waking Dark turned out.