Monday, August 3, 2015

Captain America: Winter Soldier


Published:  April 14th, 2010
Captain America: Winter Soldier (Winter Soldier #1-2)
By: Ed Brubaker (Writer) & Steve Epting (Artist)
Marvel Comics
ISBN-13:  9780785143413

A midnight call to duty brings Captain America aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D Heli-carrier to identify the corpse of his most feared adversary: the Red Skull!  The shocking murder of Cap's oldest enemy may not be the end of the Skull's plans, however, because whoever shot the Skull has stolen his final project: an unfinished Cosmic Cube with the potential power to alter reality itself.  Adding to the imminent danger, a cadre of the Skull's followers has already set in motion a plan to ignite bombs in the heart of Paris, London and Manhattan -- causing untold destruction.  Racing against these bombs' rapidly ticking clocks, the Star-Spangled Avenger must not only solve the mystery of his nemesis' murder, but find the Cube before it can be used in the Red Skull's malevolent plot against the United States!  Then, the questions plaguing Captain America's dreams and memories have been answered in the most brutal way possible.  And in the wake of this brutality, General Lukin makes his first move...

Review

     More like 3.5 stars. To be honest, the stuff with the cosmic cube was very "meh" to me personally. The "death" of the Red Skull was interesting though and I feel like if I had more background on it, I'd be more invested in what happened. That ending was creepy as Hell though! I do think I liked the way the movie was structured a lot better than this comic -- too much talk and not enough action! (Oh my God, I'm turning into my Dad...)


     But, I really truly enjoyed the idea that Bucky was not a recipient of the super-soldier serum, but was a trained tactician/sniper/wetworks operative -- even when he was Steve's teenage partner!!! And that backstory that was in the "Winter Soldier" file left on Steve's doorstep...oh my god, the feels. It broke MY FEELS.


     However, I felt like this was not the place to start if I actually wanted to like Steve Rogers/Cap as a person. To be completely honest, he was kind of a dick...to everyone he spoke to for the ENTIRE comic. He's built like a mack-truck and spends most of his time breaking shit in blind rages, yelling at people, refusing to listen to anyone elses' opinions and looking downright scary! Not a guy I'd approach on the street for directions. More like someone I'd expect to go to rehab for one too many roid-rage incidents.


***POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT***

     Don't know all the history between him and Sharon Carter, aka Agent 13, but obviously there was some mega-tension and clashing of ideals going on between the two of them. Also was very put off by her basically just wanting to shoot Bucky and get rid of him, regardless of the fact that he was a brainwashed hired-gun and none of it was really his fault -- all because his Philadelphia strike kills her ex-boyfriend. BOO-FUCKING-HOO Sharon, boo-fucking-hoo! To her it doesn't matter if Bucky's still in there or not, which didn't endear her to me AT ALL. 


     Final verdict, I liked the movie better because it's more approachable for someone that's a noob like me. That said, I definitely want to read more Cap comics and will be continuing this series. Now excuse me while I celebrate Friday with a virtual drink or two...

You're A Virgin, Who Can't Drive!


Published: July 7th, 2015
As If!: The Oral History of Clueless as told by Amy Heckerling and the Cast and Crew
By: Jen Chaney
Touchstone
ISBN-13:  9781476799087

Acclaimed pop culture journalist Jen Chaney shares an oral history of the cult classic film Clueless in the ultimate written resources about one of the most influential, revered, and enduring movies of the 1990s -- in celebration of its twentieth anniversary.

Will we ever get tire of watching Cher navigate Beverly Hills high school and discover true love in Clueless?  As if!  Written by Amy Heckerling and starring Alicia Silverstone, Clueless is an enduring comedy classic that remains one of the most streamed movies on Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes even twenty years after its release.  Inspired by Jane Austen's Emma, Clueless is an everlasting pop culture staple.

In the first book of its kind, Jen Chaney has compiled an oral history of the making of this iconic film using recollections and insights from key cast and crew members involved in the making of this endlessly quotable, ahead-of-its-time production.  Get a behind-the-scenes look at how Emma influenced Heckerling to write the script, how the stars were cast in each of their roles, what was involved in creating the costumes, sets, and soundtrack, and much more.

Review



I really enjoyed this one! I'm grading up a tad bit due to nostalgia factor -- plus I'm looking forward to looking at the production/publicity pictures I'm sure will be included in the finalized copy. If you're a fan of Clueless, but don't know everything about it already, you will find this to be a fun book. It's mostly transcription of interviews, etc. with the cast and crew of the film that are still alive (the notable exception being the late Brittany Murphy, aka Tai) and there are some great stories from filming. Like the story behind the real Mr. Hall and the last-minute casting of the mugger who holds up Cher at the gas station.



I especially loved the stories from Amy Heckerling, Twink Caplan (associate producer and "Ms. Geist"), Paul Rudd, and Donald Faison.  It follows from the pre-production and planning of Clueless, all the way to the cultural zeitgeist existing today.  We get insights into the costumes, acting, directing, the soundtrack (with interviews from a few of the artists), and just about everything else involved in making a movie that you could possibly think of!  Obviously there are some things that slightly contradict each other -- no one's memory is perfect after 20 years.  But it's funny seeing them argue with each other over certain things and to get opposing viewpoints is wonderful.  I'd recommend it if you're a fan of Clueless at all, you'll be surprised at how much you learn and the fun you have doing it!  Thank you to NetGalley for this eArc to read and enjoy! :D


VERDICT:  3.5/5  Stars

*I received this book from Touchstone, on NetGalley.  No favors or money were exchanged for this review.  This book was originally published on July 7th, 2015.*

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

All the Appeal of an Ambulance Siren


Published:  October 28th, 2014
Gotham City Sirens: Book One
By: Paul Dini, Guillem March (Illustrations)
DC Comics
ISBN-13:  9781401251758

This graphic novel features the bad girls of Gotham City!  Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn are tired of playing by other peoples' rules regardless of which side of the law they're on.  These tough ladies have a new agenda that's all their own, and they'll use any means necessary to pursue it.  But can they get along and work as a team?  And who will get hurt along the way?

Contains issues 1-13.


Review (HERE THERE BE SPOILERS, YAR!) 

I was enjoying myself pretty good for the whole volume, until that last issue. I was annoyed by the constant referencing of Hush which I've never read. But it wasn't so tied into the story that I couldn't figure out what was going on and it didn't really diminish my enjoyment -- so I was letting it slide. I also really liked the portrayal of Harley as a somewhat coherent adult, albeit one with major issues and tendency towards childish behavior. The holiday issue with Harley's family definitely gives some background on how she could've turned out so messed up. So, things were chugging along decently. Than in that last issue things got really BIZZARE! 



Selina's homeless sister Maggie, a former nun (who has been locked up in the mental hospital after going bonkers -- I'm assuming she escaped!), goes to see another nun -- a renowned exorcist. Turns out, she thinks Selina is being possessed by a cat demon of some sort and Maggie thinks she has to "free" her...then the nun's cat comes into the room and Maggie kills it and the nun, cause she's been "compromised." WTF???!!! Maggie then goes through her relics and gets possessed by an "angel" (probably not a real angel - they never are...), who wants her to kill Selina. Who she then doesn't kill, because when Selina ripped off a holy relic from Maggie's church when she was a nun, turns out she felt GUILTY and took it back. So there's "hope" of saving her...y'know, from the cat demon!!! 





I kind of want to know what happens to Ivy, who was on the verge of murdering a co-worker at S.T.A.R. Labs that learned her identity and was trying to kill her, but don't know if it's worth my effort now. Just, wow. What the actual fuck???



VERDICT:  2.5/5 Stars

**No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mismatched Lovers


Published:  February 1st, 1979
Harold and Maude
By: Colin Higgins
Avon Books
ISBN-13:  9780380003853

Nineteen-year-old Harold Chasen is obsessed with death.  He fakes suicides to shock his self-obsessed mother, drives a customized Jaguar hearse, and attends funerals of complete strangers.  Seventy-nine-year-old Maude Chardin, on the other hand, adores life.  She liberates trees from city sidewalks and transplants them to the forest, paints smiles on the faces of church statues, and "borrows" cars to remind their owners life is fleeting -- here today, gone tomorrow!  A chance meeting between the two turns into a madcap, whirlwind romance, and Harold learns that life is worth living.

Review

       Ugh.  I know this is a classic, and I have a couple friends that absolutely loved it.  Maybe it also doesn't help my opinion that I've never seen the movie?  Not sure, but for some reason I'm not at all a fan of this one.  It was okay, but overall un-inspiring for me personally.


       I found it to be kind of similar to Love Story, in the fact that you can totally tell it was written to be a screenplay.  It was never written to just be a book and for me personally, that hurt my enjoyment of it.  There was no real flesh to the characters and barely any plot happening.  And that freaking ending...


       Since when is that the freaking answer?  Maybe if I had seen the movie, or read this as a teenager, I'd have had more tolerance for the whole "suicide-star-crossed-age-gap-lovers" thing.  But get this: I just didn't.  She could have just told him, "Hey yo, I'm way too freaking old for you.  Find a nice girl your own age and P.S. I'm going off on further adventures."  Instead she committs suicide and Harold learns a nice, neat lesson?  FUCKING GAG ME.


VERDICT:  2/5  Stars

*I received this book from Avon Books on NetGalley.  No favors or money were exchanged for this review.  This book was originally published on February 1st, 1979.*

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Crazy On You


Published:  March 3rd, 2015
Rocket Raccoon, Vol. 1: A Chasing Tale
By: Skottie Young
Marvel
ISBN-13:  9780785193890

Rocket Raccoon has been a hero to the weak, a champion of good, a heartthrob to many intergalactic females, but his high-flying life of adventure may be a thing of the past when he's framed for murder -- and the authorities aren't the only one on his tail!  (Get it?  Tail?)  The real killer is an imposter who seems to be one step ahead of Rocket at every turn...now it's up to our hero and his best pal Groot to find the truth!  With Macho Gomez and the Ex-Terminators tracking him, can Rocket make it out alive and clear his name?

Review

       If there's any comic that I can get behing whimsical, unrealistic-in-every-way artwork, it would be a comic starring Rocket Raccoon and his ever present buddy, Groot.  So this time, it wasn't the art that got on my nerves.  In fact there really wasn't much of anything that got on my nerves, so to speak.  It was yet another case of the "mehs" for me with this book.  I really enjoyed the first few issues, but I felt like it ran out of steam and I must be the only one who read this that DIDN'T enjoy the issue that was all "I Am Groot"s and pretty artwork.  This whole book starts with Rocket on a quest to find the surviving member(s) of his race, that he found out about recently.  Oh, and to clear his name of murder.  Not that he hasn't committed murder before, but this rap sheet doesn't actually belong to him.  So, it has to be another from his race, right?  Then there's also the matter of all the ex-girlfriends that are trying to kill Rocket, for overall being a womanizing douchebag!



       As soon as the story arc from the first three issues was tidied up, I felt like the last half of the "story" was just filler.  And I think that's half of my problem with reading Marvel comics over DC.  No matter which publisher, there's a 50/50 shot as to whether or not it's going to be any good, no matter what.  But when you look at the pros and cons, I usually choose DC over Marvel.  It tends to be because Marvels trade volumes are about 20-30 pages shorter (2 issues, give or take).  Also, the story arcs, at least from the trades that I've read, seem to be more pointless/used to less effect.  About half the volume is filler, unlike DC where even if it's shitty, all of it's pertinent.  I guess what I've been learning from reading Marvel, and what I learned from reading Rocket Raccoon in particular, is that I'm old and a fun-sucker.  Which, y'know, doesn't make me Marvel's ideal audience.  In other words, I'm the perfect DC fan (to my DC-fan friends, just admit it to yourself).


VERDICT:  3/5 Stars

**No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Life of Her Own, With a View


Published:  January 27th, 2015
Love, Lucy
By: April Lindner
Poppy
ISBN-13:  9780316400695

While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician.  After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her "vacation flirtation."  But just because summer is over doesn't mean Lucy and Jesse have to be, does it?

Review

       I'll go right out there and say that I don't think this book is for everyone and it definitely could have been better.  The original source material for this retelling is A Room With a View by E.M. Forster.  It is a comedy of social errors and the class divide, somewhat reminiscent of a Jane Austen novel, but not quite.  This is less about following the rules of society and finding love with someone who might be slightly inappropriate, in terms of class.  But in say, Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth at least has some social graces and knows how to act in society.  Also, she's not THAT far beneath Darcy, no matter what his pride says.  She's a gentleman's daughter.  Lucy Honeychurch in the original Room, falls in love with a young man named George who has no social connections, isn't rich and can't offer her anything other than his love.  She has to choose between socially unacceptable happiness and marrying a man named Cecil (for whom she feels nothing), who could give her every comfort she's used to and more - plus she'd still be accepted in society with her family/friends if she married Cecil.
       When you're adapting a story like that for a modern-day audience, set in the modern United States, it's difficult to translate quite what Lucy would have been giving up by marrying outside her social circle, in a downwards direction.  So Lindner tries to resolve this by making Lucy an actress, who is going to the college her father wants, majoring in business and never acting again, all so he'll pay for college.  That alone is somewhat far-fetched, due to the type of family she lives in and the time period.  It's an upper-middle class, caucasian family, with no obvious religious affiliations and no real obvious reason for this strict point of view.  Also, he forbids her to even continue acting as a hobby.  Alrighty then...and she's supposed to take a trip to Europe in exchange for forgetting her dreams?  On the trip, which she takes with Charlene (the daughter of her Mom's friend), she meets Jesse in Italy and he forces her to question how easily she's giving in to her parents about her future.  I did like the little love-hate thing they had going on at first, but once she's into him she ditches Charlene and is downright mean to her, which I wasn't super fond of.  Being a bitch to your traveling companion is just wrong, even if it's supposedly true love at stake.
       Probably the stupidest thing about this for me, was Lucy's romantic life once she gets to college.  While growing a backbone about being in plays/acting, she seems to lose all sense of self in regards to dating.  Thinking that it's over between her and Jesse, Lucy starts dating someone who seems like the absolute perfect guy.  Yet, she doesn't really have feelings for him.  But he's the perfect guy, so she should just stay with him anyway, right?  Then Jesse comes back to town, to be with Lucy, so she sleeps with him and goes on a date with the other guy the next day anyways, a "weekend away" on which he thinks they're going to have sex (I'm pretty sure it was the next day, I could be mistaken, as it's been a little while since I read this one).  It's like she just wants to miserable.  I think this novel should have been adapted in a different country/culture/place with other social expectations.  Or at least there should have been better reasoning behind Lucy's actions and lack of self-worth.  It made for an unlikeable protagonist which is never fortunate, unless it's on purpose.  Sadly, I don't think it was on purpose in this instance.  Overall, I give this one three stars because I could see the original glimmering underneath.  I also know what it's like to give up the direction of your life to the needs/wants of others.  But there was a lot of wasted potential in this one.  Maybe as a fluffy beach read, if you decide to pick it up?

VERDICT:  3/5  Stars

**No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**

Friday, March 13, 2015

Bite Sized Review: Lois Lane - A Real Work of Art


Published:  March 4th, 2015
Lois Lane: A Real Work of Art
By: Gwenda Bond
Capstone
ISBN-13:  9780000000

In high school art class, Lois Lane demonstrates her undeniable talent.....but not for painting.

This is an official teaser short story for the young adult novel LOIS LANE: FALLOUT that takes place before Lois moves to Metropolis.

Review

       I normally don't care too much for short stories, especially ones that are under 50 pages long.  I know that a lot can be conveyed in them if the right writer is guiding the ship -- but more often than not, these short stories and novellas for popular YA book series are just useless filler.  This was available on NetGalley, so I requested it and hoped for the best.  And I got it!  Lois Lane is exactly how I wanted her to be - sassy, smart, and self-aware.  Of course, she's a teenager, so there is some self-doubt.  Lois is constantly moving around as an army brat, and she's in a new town again.  All she wants is to figure out something that she's good at, something that can be just for her.  So, Lois decides to try out an art class, and manages to get into more trouble than you'd think possible.  If you're a fan of Lois Lane (especially as portrayed by Erica Durance on Smallville, who this Lois really reminded me of!), try reading this.  I am now super pumped up for the full-length book coming out in May.  I enjoyed Gwenda Bond's style and I will LOVE reading more of Lois' misadventures!  Highly recommended.



VERDICT: 4/5 Stars

*I received this book from Capstone, on NetGalley. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. This book was published on March 4th, 2015.*

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Love Strung (Love # 2) by Jamie W. Matlock BLOG TOUR -- Excerpt & Giveaway!!!



Love Strung by Jamie W. Matlock
(The Love Series #2 - can be read as a stand-alone)
Publication date: January 21st 2015
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult

Synopsis:

Country music hopeful, Kennedy Masters is a leap-before-you-look type of woman. Live in the moment, the here and now. That’s her policy – anything other than that is boring, and she’s never been particularly interested in boring. So, when she makes the irratic decision to join country music’s reigning star, Mick Callahan, on his tour bus after a show, she’s just living right up to her life’s motto.
The only problem? Her snap decision making lands her on the front page news and it’s for less than desireable reasons. Even worse is the fact that Mick decides she’s his next conquest, irratically announcing to the public that they’re engaged.
Her only option? Hiding out at the Callahan Ranch until the storm blows over – a decision that she’s not altogether pleased with, but one that she must follow considering the circumstances. When unexpected sparks fly upon meeting Mick’s mysterious older brother, Griff Callahan, Kennedy’s left sorting through matters of the heart – something that’s not exactly her forte.
And her career? Well, it’s been labeled TBD.
Kennedy must figure out a way to deal with her heart and her career, all while fighting her own feelings and fending off someone else’s.

Purchase:



AUTHOR BIO
Jamie W. Matlock is the author of The Love Series, which includes Love Aced & Love Strung. Bored with punching a clock and watching dust collect on the frame of her marketing degree, she decided to turn her lifelong hobby into a career and hasn't looked back since.

Known for mixing both humor and drama into her novels, she likes for her readers to experience a gamut of emotions while enjoying one of her stories. She's also a sucker for flawed protagonists, strong male characters and incredible sex scenes, so be on the lookout for all three in each of her novels.

Outside of writing, you can find her spending time with her family, yelling at a television screen during sporting events, nursing her coffee addiction and coupling a good book with a glass of wine.

Author links:



EXCERPT

       "Kennedy, I don't like to share."  He had grown downright serious, the words coming out as a growl.  "And since I've come to the realization that I can't keep my hands off of you, I'm sure as hell not going to share with Mick."
       His possessiveness curled around me, making me feel things that I couldn't process, didn't understand.  It presented emotions that I wasn't comfortable with, made me want to run yet at the same time, enticed me.  The dichotomy of the struggling emotions was staggering.  "We're not together," I pointed out.  "You don't have any claim over me or me, you."
       My words were a lie, something said mostly out of confusion and I regretted them as soon as they left my lips.  Shamefully - truthfully - I'd be his whatever as long as he'd have me.  I wasn't sure of a lot of things where Griff Callahan was concerned, but I was certain of this:  I wanted him and was absolutely powerless to stop it.
       His eyes went heavy, narrowing as they fixed on me.  "Sure as hell didn't feel like it when your legs were wrapped around me so tightly I could barely breathe.  Or when your thighs spread wide so I could step in between them.  Or when your back arched towards me as cries of pleasure fell from your lips when I kissed your nipples."  The growl reigned supreme, his voice bouncing off of the walls.  "Let me tell you something, Kennedy.  If you think that was good, just wait until you see what else I have in store for you, what else I have planned for us.  You'll be begging me for more, screaming my name in your sleep because you'll want it so bad."
       "I'm sorry," I mumbled, his words leaving me in a hot stupor.
       "You're going to be sorry," he informed me, his hands finding either side of my neck.  He brought my face close to his angrily, possessively, his thumbs pressing down over my cheekbones.  "Sorry I wasn't your first and begging me to be your last," he mumbled.  His eyes stared at my lips hungrily, my brain processing his tongue sliding over his.  "Tell me what you want, Kennedy," he demanded, his voice barely above a whisper, his anger seeping through making his gruff voice shaky.
       "I-I don't know," I stuttered.
       He jerked my body suddenly, my eyes widening in surprise.
       "I-you," I managed, the words tumbling out as if he’d shook them from me.
       "No part of you wants him?  Not even the smallest inkling?  You better let me know if you do and I'll walk away right now."  I could hear the bitterness in his voice, the poison that the thought provoked.
       "You…only you.  I don't know beyond that," I admitted hesitantly, wanting to say the right thing without give away too much.
       "In what way?"
       "Griff, please stop.  You're making me uncomfortable."
       "Oh, like the erection that I've had since you showed up in my kitchen with that damned silk robe on and nothing else?  Or the fact that I can't fucking sleep because every time that I do, all I can see is you and that robe and your nipples, hard and erect and so damned perfect-"
       "Griff, I said I'm serious, okay?"
       "You better not be messing with my head, Kennedy."
       His temper was spiking and my inability to be clear wasn’t helping.  His emotions were all over the map and he was dragging mine along with his.  I needed to smooth things over, to tame the beast that was clearly on the verge of breaking through.  I wrapped my fingers around his thick wrists, doing my best to capture the attention of his angry eyes.
       "I'm not messing with you.  I swear," I said softly.  "I know only a few things.  From the morning that I set eyes on you in that kitchen, there was no denying which Callahan man I wanted.  I can't write a song without it being about you.  I can't stand the thought of you being with someone else, touching someone besides me.  You've got me so twisted and confused, so far from my comfortable center that I don't know which way is up or which is down.  I can't think straight or breathe or form a cohesive thought when you're around.  I want you near me, by my side, on top of me…inside me.  I want you every which way I could possibly have you.  I know I shouldn't, but I do.  I can't understand it and I sure as hell don't know what to do about it, but there's absolutely no way that my body will allow me to leave you alone."

GIVEAWAY

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Every Body Talks


Published: October 17th, 2012 (first published 1999)
Body Bags (Body of Evidence #1)
By: Christopher Golden
Daring Greatly Corporation
ASIN:  B009SLYJ4A

When Jenna Blake starts her freshman year at Somerset University, she's not only living on her own for the first time, she's moving closer to the father she never really knew.  It's an exciting time, filled with new faces and new challenges, not mention parties and boys and...corpses?

Jenna is torn about her future.  She'd like to be a doctor like her mother, but she can't stand the sight of blood.  Her father, a criminology professor, thinks he has the answer -- and sends her to interview for a job with the Medical Examiner -- an interview that takes place in the middle of an autopsy!

When a congressional aide goes violently insane, and then drops dead, the pathology team at Somerset Medical Center discover that his brain was ravaged with disease -- and loaded with insect larvae.  When Jenna takes on her new job, she is drawn into a web of terrifying disease, dangerous politics, and intriguing mystery.  And when one of her professors ends up dead, she starts making connections even the police haven't seen...which will bring her face to face with a pair of killers, one medical, and one all too human.


Review

       I didn't feel disappointed after reading this, like so many of the other reviewers here on Goodreads.  You want to know my secret?  Extremely low expectations, and the prior knowledge that Golden tends to be the master of the pulpy, Alloy-series type of book.  It was a story centered around Jenna Blake, an incumbent college freshman, who is unsure what she wants to do with the rest of her life.  All she knows is that her mother would love for her to be a doctor like her, but Jenna can't stand the sight of blood.  Her Dad gets her an interview with the local Medical Examiner, who hires Jenna as a pathology assistant.  The first big case is a man who was infected with a mysterious illness, of unknown origin and it becomes a priority to find out exactly what happened, when a teacher on campus dies of the same sickness.  Coincidence or murder?  That's what Jenna will have to find out, especially once her and her dad's lives are endangered.  Can she survive her first week at college?
       This book is extremely short and I didn't really expect too much, since it is the first in a ten-book series.  Also, it's original publication was sixteen years ago, in 1999.  Some of the language, situations, etc. are kind of culturally dated (not as bad as most though, surprisingly).  This type of book is the kind that people who are unfamiliar with YA, and it's ever-widening, reach like to cite when they malign it as all being unmitigated "trash."  It's pulp fiction, pure and simple.  I will say that it reminds me of Nancy Drew, in the sense that Jenna is pretty much just a cardboard cut-out, meant to move along the plot.  Hopefully she and her friends (roommate Yoshiko & southern-boy Hunter) will be better characeterized/fleshed-out in later books.  I do wish that the mystery had been more murder/crime and less of a politically driven, thriller type.  I liked it enough to continue and see if the next couple are any good, but overall I wouldn't recommend it unless you like the type of book that's pure, time-wasting cotton candy.  If you want a really great, plot and character-rich series by Golden, try his Hollow series, co-written with Ford Lytle Gilmore.  Now THAT is an awesome series! :D

VERDICT:  2.5/5  Stars

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.*

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Heart Is a Complex Thing


Expected Publication:  April 21st, 2015
Things We Know By Heart
By: Jessi Kirby
Harper Teen
ISBN-13:  9780062299437

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

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

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

Review

       I am always on the lookout for books with unique premises.  That said, though this one sounded a bit like a Lurlene McDaniel story, I'd previously read a book by Kirby that I liked well enough.  So I decided to take a chance on this one and try it out.  Let's just say I wasn't particularly impressed.  Quinn is so broken up over Trent's death, that she decides to meet with the people that received his organs after the accident.  The boy who got the heart doesn't reply, so Quinn does what she can to find him so they can meet.  Only, she doesn't tell him about their connection to each other through her dead boyfriend's heart -- and a relationship is built, based on lies of omission.  I wanted something else when I decided to read this book.  I wanted a story about someone struggling with grief and learning to love again.  I didn't really want a love story with the grief as a side order.
       Mostly, it comes down to the fact that this book was bland for me.  I was not surprised by a single, solitary thing that happened to these characters.  Also, as sweet as the romance between Colton and Quinn was, and as much as I liked Colton, I really wasn't so hot on Quinn.  I understand that she was grieving, not necessarily thinking things through.  But just because she was dating Trent and the heart USED to be his, didn't give her the right to find Colton when he didn't respond to her letter.  I honestly find that kind of creepy, truth be told.  What entitles her to find him and build a relationship with him, based on something he has no knowledge of?  I guess the difference between adult me and teenage me, is that I no longer find that kind of thing even remotely romantic (yet another reason that movie Return to Me is bizarre).  
       As someone who is a registered organ donor, I wouldn't want my loved ones harrassing the people who gets pieces of me to help them live their lives.  My heart is just a heart; my soul is what they love and that will be long gone.  Overall, this story was okay, Quinn's family was wonderful and the romance was sweet.  But the cliche, predictable plot and underlying aspect of creepiness was too much for me to truly enjoy it.

VERDICT:  2/5 Stars

**I reviewed this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie.  No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book's expected publication date is April 21st, 2015.**

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Two Girls, A Guy, and...the SATs?


Expected Publication:  April 21st, 2015
Wrong About the Guy
By: Claire LaZebnik
Harper Teen
ISBN-13:  9780062252302

As the stepdaughter of a TV star, Ellie Withers has it all: an amazing house in LA, a devoted friend who loved her before she even knew who Ellie's stepfather was, and a burgeoning romance with handsome Aaron Marquand.  But Ellie isn't the kind of person who's content with simply having it all -- the people in her life have to be equally happy.  And, of course, she knows exactly what they need.

When Ellie's plans for her family, her friends, and even her love life don't turn out the way she imagined, she begins to wonder if maybe she could stand to learn a thing or two after all.  Most surprising, though, is that the perfect person to teach her is the last person she'd expect.

Review

       Ellie has a charmed life with her Mom, famous stepdad Luke and little brother in an LA mansion.  But she thrives on getting things to go her way, whether that means sharing her infuriating SAT tutor George with her less motivated best-friend Heather, getting her Mom and Luke to honeymoon where she wants them to, or planning the future of her own love life.  When Luke's best friend's son moves back to LA for his senior year, Ellie thinks this might finally be the time to jump start her own romantic life.  But there doesn't seem to be any chemistry to speak of between the two of them.  With fake girls at school giving her trouble, fights with Heather over college (and surprisingly, a guy) putting a crimp in their friendship, and Aaron not being quite what he seemed on the surface, is it finally time for Ellie to admit that she needs to spend some time on her own life instead of everyone else's?
       I am a sucker for Jane Austen retellings and had previously read Epic Fail and The Trouble With Flirting by this author, and really enjoyed them.  That said, Elizabeth Bennet and Fanny Price were likeable heroines inherently and I was rooting for them in the original stories.  Emma was not really a favorite of mine.  I will say that Claire definitely managed to make the characters more approachable.  I especially liked Emma's Mom and her stepdad in this book, and the overall family relationship (a great one).  Heather was okay, but I do feel like she was dumbed down quite a bit to make the whole SAT situation more believable.  I honestly felt like Emma didn't even need an SAT tutor, but it was a good way to bring George (aka Knightley) into the story and lessen the originally FAR more creepy age difference between him and Ellie (Emma).  The were a few subplots, such as the one with Aaron's true object of affection, the one with a weird girl at school trying to get to Ellie's stepdad through her, and one with the slow development of Ellie's little brother/what could be responsible for it medically.  Overall, a sweet and fluffy retelling of Emma that I enjoyed and would recommend, even if I didn't quite love it.

VERDICT:  3/5 Stars

**I reviewed this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie.  No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book's expected publication date is April 21st, 2015.**

Friday, February 27, 2015

Cart Yourself Away From ME


Published:  September 1st, 2012
Cart's Top 200 Adult Books For Young Adults: Two Decades In Reviews
By: Michael Cart
American Library Association
ISBN-13:  9780838911587

Put together with insight and obvious affection, Cart's guide spotlights hundreds of great books for a hard-to-satisfy audience.

Review

       So, let me just go ahead and admit it: I am a complete and total moron, who apparently can't read book titles. Ummm...yeah, I totally thought this was his list of the best YOUNG ADULT books from the last two decades!!! Totally missed the whole, ADULT BOOKS for Young Adults part of the title!



       I had read a book of Cart's before, a history of the Young Adult genre, and found it interesting enough. I thought to myself, hey, why the hell not read what basically amounts to a mini-textbook?



       That said, his list of books was all the boring, bestseller crap everyone tells you to read all the time. I didn't see anything on there that wasn't un-interesting to me personally, or straight off a high school's required reading list! Also, what a douchebag (I know he's older than dirt, as he states his first professional library gig was in 1967, but still! How out of touch can you be, especially when being the "authority" on young adult literature?!)! This is a direct quote from his introduction:

"I didn't regret saying goodbye to these early teen books, though I never dismissed them as being baby books, as some teenagers have over the years. On the other hand I certainly didn't regard them as having much literary merit or posing any particular challenge to high school-age readers. So where to turn to find the constituents of my new collection? The answer was simple: I turned to adult books." 

       FUCK YOU, MICHAEL CART. FUCK YOU FOR JUDGING ME (and my fellow readers) AND SAYING YOUNG ADULT BOOKS ARE FLUFF/WITHOUT ANY SUBSTANCE. JUST...URGH!!!!! Perpetuating stereotypes and generalizations FTW, people.




VERDICT:  0.5/5 Stars (Only because this might be useful to librarians looking for adult books to recommend to teens - if they haven't read them all in school already, as most of these are required reading titles I recognize, etc.)

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.*

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Screams All Sound the Same


Expected Publication:  May 26th, 2015
The Tenderness of Thieves
By: Donna Freitas
Philomel
ISBN-13:  9780399171369

Jane is ready for a fantastic summer.  In fact, she's pretty sure the universe owes her one.

This past winter, Jane was held at knifepoint during an armed robbery and the specter of that night still haunts her.  A summer romance with one of the town bad boys -- sexy Handel Davies, who takes her breath away and makes her feel like a bolder version of herself -- seems like the universe's way of paying her back.

But bad boys always have secrets, and Handel's secret just might shatter Jane completely.

Review

       I just seem to be striking out with books lately, and this one was no exception to that rule.  I requested this from the tour site that I belong to, because almost four years later I still remember her book The Survival Kit fondly.  I remembered comparing her to Sarah Dessen and really enjoying myself while reading her books, namely her characters.  I read the synopsis to this one and the comparison to Gone Girl (a book that, despite the hype, I still haven't read yet) did give me a moment's hesitation.  But I decided to request it anyways, even though the synopsis doesn't exactly cover up what the big "secret" Handel's keeping is regarding.  I have a soft spot for bad boys.  Well, me and this book did not get along.
       It started with a phrase the author, narrating as Jane in first person, uses in her thoughts - "me and my girls."  That phrase sounds like some sort of animal pack, or something out of a Brooklyn-ized Mean Girls revival.  This phrase happens at least four times within the first chapter.  I flipped through and it happens way more than just that, with "the girls and I" heading chapter thirteen, for example.  I am a freak and I know this, fully admitting it right now.  But something about that phrase SCREAMS ghetto trash, Maury-show contestant -- or rich, spoiled, partying Daddy's girl.  Either way, I cannot STAND that phrase.  I have come to the collective realization that I am now officially old in a way that I never was before.  Plus, the whole first chapter is a "meeting" between Handel and Jane, where he says her name twice, she says his once and he walks away.  Then she goes and rehashes the whole thing to her friends as an "interesting" story.  Overall, I think the current generations might like it, but I'm an old lady.  I kept thinking to myself, who talks like that?  And in what universe are this girl and her friends interesting?  Not for me.

VERDICT:  DNF, No Star Rating

**I reviewed this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie.  No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book's expected publication date is May 26th, 2015.**

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Spark Rising (Progenitor Saga #1) by Kate Corcino BLOG TOUR: Excerpt & Giveaway!!!



Spark Rising by Kate Corcino
Publication date: December 15th 2014
Genres: New Adult, Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction

Synopsis:

All that’s required to ignite a revolution is a single spark rising.
Two hundred years after the cataclysm that annihilated fossil fuels, Sparks keep electricity flowing through their control of energy-giving Dust. The Council of Nine rebuilt civilization on the backs of Sparks, offering citizens a comfortable life in a relo-city in exchange for power, particularly over the children able to fuel the future. The strongest of the boys are taken as Wards and raised to become elite agents, the Council’s enforcers and spies. Strong girls—those who could advance the rapidly-evolving matrilineal power—don’t exist. Not according to the Council.
Lena Gracey died as a child, mourned publicly by parents desperate to keep her from the Council. She was raised in hiding until she fled the relo-city for solitary freedom in the desert. Lena lives off the grid, selling her power on the black market.
Agent Alex Reyes was honed into a calculating weapon at the Ward School to do the Council’s dirty work. But Alex lives a double life. He’s leading the next generation of agents in a secret revolution to destroy those in power from within.
The life Lena built to escape her past ends the day Alex arrives looking for a renegade Spark.


Purchase:




AUTHOR BIO:

Kate Corcino is a reformed shy girl who found her voice (and uses it…a lot). She believes in magic, coffee, Starburst candies, genre fiction, descriptive profanity, and cackling over wine with good friends. A recovering Dr. Pepper addict, she knows the only addiction worth feeding is the one that follows the “click-whooooosh” of a new story settling into her brain.

She also believes in the transformative power of screwing up and second chances. Cheers to works-in-progress of the literary and lifelong variety!

She is currently gearing up for publication of Ignition Point and Spark Rising , the first books in the Progenitor Saga, a near future dystopian adventure series with romantic elements, science, magic, and plenty of action.

Author links:



EXCERPT!!!

       Spark Rising’s Lena Gracey does things her way, with few apologies, even as Alex Reyes uses her need for vengeance to draw her into a revolution. Frustrated, angry, and tired, all she wants is a physical release, and she turns to the one man she thinks can give her that with no strings attached. But the strong chemistry born of hard-won friendship and the electrical power that seethes in both of them guarantees they both get more than they bargained for…

“I know you want me.”
Alex growled and narrowed his dark eyes. “We all want you, because you’re special.”
“Then give me fifteen minutes. You want to fix it. That will. Give me that.”
“Fifteen minutes of tension relief? That’s what you’re asking for?”
This isn’t about feelings, she told herself. No feelings.
Lena lifted her chin. She wouldn’t play by anyone else’s rules. “Yes.”
“Yes?” Alex nodded. “It’s not me, then. Not personal.” He looked past her, his eyes hooded. When he brought them back to her again, she could see the decision he’d made. “Sounds like something I can live with.”
She leaned in as he reached to slide his hand up her jaw.
His palm cupped her face, fingers tangling in her hair as it slid forward. His thumb moved across her lips. Lena slid her knees up onto the seat to either side of him, straddling him as he pulled her mouth to his.
Like the first time, the contact was more than lips meeting, the electric flare deeper and brighter than it had been with Jackson. But this time, the only thing soft about his kiss was his lips.
Energy surged between them. As his tongue traced the inside of her lips, a blazing trail of shocks flared in her skin and exploded like bright lights behind her eyelids. He sucked at her lips, first one and then the other, and energy welled up from her. As he pulled and coaxed, the rising flow felt like fingers stroking deep inside. Each time he drew her lip into his mouth to suckle at the energy, those fingers of power slid up inside of her, moving toward him, leaving a quivering, electrified trail behind. He drew her power into himself.
Lena pulled away, and the electricity crackled white energy between their wet mouths. It hurt, little sparks popping against nerve endings. Alex’s eyes were glazed. He wanted more. But it was her turn.
She lowered her mouth again, pulling the energy from him this time as she darted her tongue between his lips. She framed his face with her small hands and tapped the energy deep within him to draw it up into her through his nerves, his skin, his lips, and tongue.  exploded like bright lights behind her eyelids. He sucked at her lips, first one and then the other, and energy welled up from her. As he pulled and coaxed, the rising flow felt like fingers stroking deep inside. Each time he drew her lip into his mouth to suckle at the energy, those fingers of power slid up inside of her, moving toward him, leaving a quivering, electrified trail behind. He drew her power into himself.
Lena pulled away, and the electricity crackled white energy between their wet mouths. It hurt, little sparks popping against nerve endings. Alex’s eyes were glazed. He wanted more. But it was her turn.
She lowered her mouth again, pulling the energy from him this time as she darted her tongue between his lips. She framed his face with her small hands and tapped the energy deep within him to draw it up into her through his nerves, his skin, his lips, and tongue.
Alex groaned and wrapped his hands around the backs of her legs. He slid them up, cupping the curve of her bottom, fingers caressing the crease that led him to her inner thighs. He drew her to him.
She allowed it, pressing against his body. She wanted more of him. More pressure. More skin against skin. Her hands sank down from his face to slip between them, pulling on his shirt. She pulled it up and off, tearing her mouth from his for an instant to yank the shirt over his head.
He worked the buttons of her shirt, fumbling at them in his hurry. He freed the last of them, spreading her shirt open and back and pushing it off her shoulders. He sat back to look at her.
She followed his gaze to his hands. They spread wide across her ribcage, his sun-darkened brown 

skin stark against her pale freckles. Above his hands, her skin curved into the slight swell of paler 

skin and peaked nipples. He slid his hands up to palm her sensitive breasts, and she pressed into him, 

sliding her hands up to cover his.  His thumb circled her nipple then slid away as he pulled her up.

         He drew her into his mouth, the power slicking electric hot up her nerves.  She arched her back, 

melting into him, already shuddering with the force of the energy surging through her as he licked at 

her.  He slid his hands around her back, pulled her closer, holding tight.  Everywhere their skin met, 

the searing flux of energy wove between them.  Each time their skin parted, a white arc of heat 

spanned the distance and danced along their skin, joining them.

         Lena sank lower, pushing her hand between his waistband and his skin.  She slid her fingertips 

along his lower belly before dipping lower.  The soft, almost delicate skin she found was a contrast 

to the rigid flesh it covered.  She wrapped her hand around him and pulled energy along the length of 

him.
         
         Alex's hands and mouth stilled and his eyes closed.
         
         Like that, do you?

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