Thursday, January 29, 2015

You Can't Choose Your Family

Published:  March 18th, 2014
Wonder Woman, Vol. 4: War (Wonder Woman Vol. IV #4)
By: Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang (Artist), Goran Sudzuka (Artist), Tony Akins (Illustrator), Dan Green (Illustrator)
DC Comics
ISBN-13:  9781401246082

Wonder Woman's father, Zeus, has disappeared.  Her family - aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, gods and demigods - form a pantheon of the most powerful beings in the universe.  Intent on seizing Zeus' throne, they will destroy anyone who can stand in their way -- including Zeus' infant son, who might just have the power to ignite the apocalypse.

But even as Wonder Woman and her few remaining friends scramble to protect the life of her youngest brother, her eldest has arisen.  Known only as the First Born, he has spent an eternity in exile, his might and malice growing by the millennium.  Now he will burn Earth and Olympus alike if it means he can be king of the ashes.


       Not my favorite of the series. I really enjoyed the last couple of volumes (iffy artwork aside, especially Hades the person-candle and Poseidon the talking-fish dinner) and have been wondering how they were going to resolve the whole magic, world-destroyer baby plotline. In the last volume they brought in Zeus and Hera's son, the first-born of all the gods' children. He was banished from Olympus and buried beneath the Earth. His sister Cassandra unearthed him and got him started on the path to taking his birthright - Olympus. Of course all those idiots up on the Gods' Mountain Resort (that's what it's drawn like anyways) are still focused on the baby. In the last volume War helped Wonder Woman, Zola, Hera and Lennox get the baby back from Demeter and Hermes. In this one it's more of the same band-on-the-run bullshit.

Substitute Dawn's name for Zola's and you've got the picture.

       Some cool moments, such as the boom tube trip with Orion (who also pops back in from the last volume), a character death I wasn't expecting and one that was supposed to surprise me and didn't. Gotta say that ending was anti-climactic for me. I guess I was expecting more of a battle or something to resolve that storyline. The whole thing with Hera at the end was nice. But then again, it's always nice to see that our favorite bitch-queendoes have feelings, no matter how much she hides them. All in all this was very mediocre for me story wise and I'm really hoping that the next volume focuses more on Diana's newfound responsibilities and NOT the freaking baby or the power struggle for the Olympian throne!

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.*

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

GIVEAWAY for 1 Signed Copy (U.S. ONLY) and 3 e-books (INTL.) of "I Want Crazy" by Codi Gary!!!

       Hey everyone!  I hope you are all having a great New Year so far, with many great reads in your book life! :D  As of New Year's Eve 2014, I was tweeting a link to my Top 10 Books of 2014 (and the 10 runners up).  I was just putting a blog post out there, sharing my opinions like usual.  It started a conversation with romance author Codi Gary, whose wonderfully funny and touching book I Want Crazy (Loco Texas #2) (my review here) was part of my Top 10 list.  She generously offered to send me a signed copy of her book and to send an additional one for this giveaway!  Because I love this book so much (and it's only $0.99 for the Nook & Kindle right now!!!), I decided to spread the love a little more by giving away 3 ebook copies (format of your choice) as well.  Just enter the giveaway below and good luck to you all!  I hope whoever wins enjoys this book just as much as I did! :D

Published: July 8th, 2014
I Want Crazy (Loco Texas #2)
By: Codi Gary
Books with Benefits Press
ISBN-13:  9781941170007

Alfred “Red” Calhoun is in a rut so big, he doesn’t know how to climb out of it. After his second best-selling romance novel, Red signed a contract for three more books, but now he’s having trouble finding his romantic mojo. To top it all off, his favorite bar has been bought by a woman who wants to close down and re-vamp it. With his favorite place gone, Red is looking for a distraction…just not the kind that the bar-ruining Jessie Dale has to offer, no matter how hot she may look in a pair of paint-covered overalls…

Jessie has been running away from trouble since the time she was a kid and now that she’s decided to make a place in Loco, Texas, she’ll be damned if she’s going to let a pain in the rear cowboy with too blue eyes chase her out of town. As Red and Jessie go toe to toe in an epic battle of wills, Jessie finds it hard to stay mad when Red’s kisses make her want to forget her trust issues…and take him home for a test drive.

But when Jessie’s pissed-off ex comes to town to make trouble, Red finds himself playing a hero in his own life and can’t seem to stay away from the her. But will he be able to handle all the crazy baggage Jessie’s been hauling around, or will these two miss out on the greatest adventure of all…falling in love?

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

I Fought the Law & the Law Won

Published:  November 13th, 2012
Red Hood and the Outlaws, Vol. 1: Redemption (Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 1 #1)\
By: Scott Lobdell, Kenneth Rocafort (Illustrations)
DC Comics
ISBN-13:  9781401237127

No sooner had Batman's former sidekick, Jason Todd, put his past as the Red Hood behind him than he finds himself cornered by a pair of modern day outlaws: Green Arrow's rejected sidekick Arsenal, the damaged soldier of fortune, and the alien Starfire, a former prisoner of intergalactic war who won't be chained again.  As a loner, Jason has absolutely no interest in this motley crew of outlaws.  So what's he going to do when they choose the Red Hood as their leader?


       For anyone unfamiliar with DC Comic lore, Jason Todd was Robin #2.  That is, until the Joker beat him to death with a crowbar!  But don't worry, Talia al Ghul (daughter of that crazy fucker Ra's al Ghul, head of the League of Assassins) threw him in the magical Lazarus Pit, which holds a liquid that restores people and can bring the dead back to life.  Only, he's quite a bit fucked up now.  Arsenal, also known as Roy Harper, was the sidekick for the Green Arrow - until he became a drug-addicted mess that even the villains wouldn't fight with.  Now that he's clean, he's trying to make it on his own, without Arrow/Oliver Queen to help prop him up.  Starfire, also known as Princess Koriand'r, has been in slavery since childhood when her sister sold her to appease the inavders that conquered their planet and destroyed their parents.  Now that she's free, Kori will never be a slave again and life will always be on her own terms.  Thrown together by circumstances beyond their control, the three must go on a mission together.  But can they become a team?  And what happens once the job is over?
       Ugh.  I just cannot even with this one.  Probably the only reason I gave it more than one star was the scene where we get to see Jason's "best" memory (I loved the cute Robin/Nightwing brother moment) and the fact that I actually kind of liked Jason, despite him deciding to have sex with Starfire, who he knows has memory issues.  And on that subject, yes she's been a victim, but man what a bitch!  She sleeps with them both and from what I got her memory issues are mostly just that she can't "be bothered" to remember who is who (though I think she's lying about that, honestly).  She even jokes about not knowing Roy's name one time, calling him Ray instead.  At least, I think it was a joke (she doesn't seem to have a sense of humor, so I could be horribly wrong).  In all honesty, yes what was done to her is absolutely horrific.  But I don't feel like she was exploited in the comics like a lot of other readers do.  I feel like she used sex as a weapon, to keep the guys from getting close to her and to hurt them preemptively.  She used it to be in control (which someone as "confused" as she purported to be probably couldn't manage).  So my sympathy is minimal for Starfire's portrayal.  Watching Roy Harper, aka Arsenal mug his way through each panel as the comic relief was painful for me (it was too much like watching the dumb guy/comic portrayal of Flash, on the Justice League cartoons).

       At least Jason seemed kind of pissed off/horrified that he was "sharing" Starfire with Roy, but good ol' boy Roy seems to think it's no big deal!  And yeah that may be the more "adult" of the attitudes displayed, but if being an adult means being a swinger -- NO THANKS.  It's not like I hate Lobdell either, because I just started Teen Titans Vol. 1 and I'm liking it so far (I didn't think I'd like Tim Drake either, after his horrible SUPER SECRET ORIGIN!).  This just didn't work for me and it's one I have no regrets about not continuing with.

VERDICT:  2/5 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.*

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Reflections of a Small Town Family

Published:  September 1st, 1991
What's Eating Gilbert Grape
By: Peter Hedges
Simon & Schuster
ISBN-13:  9780671038540

Just about everything in Endora, Iowa (pop. 1, 091 and dwindling) is eating Gilbert Grape, a twenty-four-year-old grocery clerk who dreams only of leaving.  His enormous mother, once the town sweetheart, has been eating nonstop ever since her husband's suicide, and the floor beneath her T.V. chair is threatening to cave in.  Gilbert's long-suffering older sister, Amy, still mourns the death of Elvis, and his knockout younger sister has become hooked on makeup, boys, and Jesus -- in that order.

But the biggest event on the horizon for all the Grapes is the eighteenth birthday of Gilbert's younger brother, Arnie, who is a living miracle just for having survived so long.  As the Grapes gather in Endora, a mysterious beauty glides through town on a bicycle and rides circles around Gilbert, until he begins to see a new vision of his family and himself...


       I did not even know this was a book until I ran across it by chance on Goodreads, on some list or another.  If you don't like personal reviews, abandon ship now because this shit's about to get real up-close-and-personal -- because this book was super-personal and self-revelatory for me as a human being.  That doesn't mean I will necessarily be gushing about it to everyone who asks for book recommendations, because I think this is a book that not everyone will understand.  Thank you Peter Hedges, you freaking bastard, for that unwanted look in the mirror.  I have a confession to make: I am Gilbert Grape.  We might not have the same name, live in exactly the same circumstances, or feel exactly the same about everything, but we are the same person where it counts the most.  We are the one who stays, the one who takes care of everyone else.  
       Gilbert Grape is someone who has gotten sucked into being the breadwinner and pretty much SOLE provider for his family, whom he both loves and hates at the same time.  He lives with his mother Bonnie Grape who is so obsese that the floor is caving in under her, his sister Amy who is selfless and good (and who deserves better than wasting her youth being mother to her siblings), his younger sister Ellen who is a pretentious brat (verging on slut at times) and his brother Arnie, who is mentally handicapped, never seeming older than five or six years old mentally.  Gilbert works at the local grocery store, that is slowly going under due to the new superstore in town.  He's worked for the owner Mr. Lamson for seven years, and believes in loyalty to the man (and the business) who has been a father figure/oasis for him in the midst of his family issues.  Also, Gilbert has been in a sexual affair with Betty Carver, the insurance man's wife, for about the same amount of time.  He feels trapped in by his family, his dumb-ass friend Tucker, his job, and Endora in general.  
       Things are building up and feelings are coming to head, as Arnie's thought-to-be-impossible eighteenth birthday draws nearer and the rest of the Grape siblings make their way home.  The Girl from Michigan also shakes things up for Gilbert, making him think of his life in new ways, even if they're not always pleasant or easy.  Can the Grapes begin to let go of past hurts and move on, or will they continue to stagnate, with Gilbert "shrinking," as Arnie puts it?  This was uncomfortable to the max.  I saw myself at the age I am now (24) working a dead end retail job, supporting my family because no one else can/will.  I am also not perfect.  In the moments Gilbert calls his brother a "retard" I see myself with my mentally ill mother, and I'm ashamed.  Not to say that I'm a monster, but I lose my temper too.  I am "shrinking," letting things go unsaid and being everything for everyone.  I also see myself in Momma & Amy, eating all of my feelings and multiplying in size.  But this novel is also hopeful, because as the ending tells us, nothing lasts forever.  Things, people and hardships cycle in and out of life.  A beautifully harsh portrait of the American Dream dying in the Midwest, only to be partially re-invented by the time the book ends.  A story that'll stay with me, but I don't see myself revisiting it often.  Highly recommended if you're brave and daring.

VERDICT:  4/5  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.*

Favorite Quotes

"I'm told women scream when they give birth because of the intense pain.  And I think about how easily life can slide away, like thawing ice.  And how it's only the living that scream."

"You can tell the idyllic nature of a family by the upkeep of its picnic table.  Ours is its own indictment.  We are splintering and peeling.  We rot."

Friday, January 16, 2015

Feature and Follow #35 - Or the One Where I Talk About Doubles...

       So, Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  It's where you answer the weekly question and link yourself to the social hop!  We each go check out the other blogs, helping to support our endeavors as a community.  Also, do it just because it's fun! :D

Q:  Do you own any doubles of your books?  What led you to getting a second...or third or fourth...copy?

A:  So, yeah...I'm going to admit that I'm a bit of a freak about my Anne of Green Gables series!  I have the first two books three times each!  I have a falling apart Scholastic paperback, a beautiful illustrated edition and an ebook of #1.  Of #2, I have an old (slightly falling apart) hardcover edition, a paperback version and an ebook.  The third one I have a paperback and an ebook.  The rest are just paperbacks, but I'd love hardcovers with the original artwork.  A first edition of AoGG is my dream book!  I love old books and old children's books are my personal crack (I desperately want the anniversary edition of A Wrinkle in Time too, even though I have a paperback and an ebook!).  I'm going to shut up now, and put the freak flag away!!! LOL

       If you stop by and want to follow us, we prefer Facebook, Bloglovin', and Twitter follows (please and thank you)! :)  Happy visiting everyone!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Positively Worthwhile

Expected Publication:  March 3rd, 2015
Positively Beautiful
By: Wendy Mills
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
ISBN-13:  9781619633414

16-year-old Erin is a smart if slightly dorky teenager, her life taken up with her best friend Trina, her major crush on smoky-eyed, unattainable Michael, and fending off Faith, the vision of perfection who's somehow always had the knife in for Erin.  Her dad, a pilot, died when she was very young, but Erin and her mom are just fine on their own.

Then everything changes forever one day after school when Erin's mom announces she has breast cancer.  And then there's even worse news to come.  Horrified, Erin discovers that her grandmother's death from cancer is almost certainly linked, the common denominator a rare gene mutation that makes cancer almost inevitable.  And if two generations of women in the family had this mutation, what does that mean for Erin?  The chances she's inherited it are frighteningly high.  Would it be better to know now and have preemptive surgery or spend as much life as she has left in blissful ignorance?

As Erin grapples with her terrible dilemma, her life starts to spiral downwards, alleviated only by the flying lessons she starts taking with grumpy Stew and his little yellow plane, Tweetie Bird.  Up in the sky, following in her dad's footsteps, Erin finds freedom chasing the horizon.  Down on the ground it's a different story, and facing betrayal from Trina, humiliation from Faith, and a world of disappointment with Michael, Erin knows she must discover the truth about herself.  Sure enough, she's positive for the gene that's slowly killing her mom.

Suddenly, Erin's life has turned into a nightmare, and the only person she can truly talk to is a girl called Ashley who she meets online.  But when, in a moment of madness, Erin flies away with Tweetie Pie to find her new friend, she finds herself on a journey that will take her not only through shock and despair -- but ultimately to a new understanding of the true meaning of beauty, meaning, and love.


       Why is it so much harder to write a review for a book you loved, than for one you hated?  All I know is that this one particularly resonated with me.  Erin is someone who just coasts through life, not wanting to take any risks.  Her Dad was a stunt pilot and died in a plane crash when she was little.  Ever since then, Erin has taken a page out of her overly cautious Mom's book, reveling in the status quo.  She thinks life is enough with her unacted-upon crush on Michael, her close friendship with the loud/unique Trina, and the good relationship with her Mom.  Then Erin finds out that her Mom has breast cancer and that because of a gene mutation, she might eventually get it (or some other cancer) as well.  On top of this, after a couple quasi-dates with Michael (courtesy of Trina), mean girl Faith has started bullying her and turning the entire junior class against her.  The only thing keeping her going is her flying lessons and the online communication with her gene-positive friend Ashley.  When Erin finds out from an online genetic test that she's postive for the mutation, it's the last straw.   Erin goes on an unsanctioned journey to meet Ashley and get away from the harsh realities of her own life.  But will Erin find what she's looking for?  And will it be in the way that she wanted?
        Let me just get this out of the way: Erin is kind of a selfish brat for most of this book.  Yes, she has a lot to deal with and maybe I'm just too far into the adult perspective to understand a teenager's angst sympathetically anymore.  But the way she just disregards the individual situations of Chad, Trina, her Mom, and even Ashley, kind of got on my nerves.  Plus, the whole 'romance' with Michael was so childish and viewed through rose-colored glasses (at first, anyhow), that I couldn't help but roll my eyes.  He was such a douchebag, pretending that he was so deep when really he was just afraid to keep living.  And that's what this whole book comes down to, really.  How do you go on living when you don't know for sure how long you have left, or if a horrible disease will take you down?  Erin's relationship with Ashley (which was something unexpected), her closeness with her Mom, the possibility of a new romance, and the flying lessons are all things that have the power to take  her away from her self-pity.  Is it better to know if you have the mutation, or to live without knowing?  I won't say anything more to avoid spoiling the book, but I was on the verge of bawling at the end and I can't remember the last book that made me cry!  Overall, a beautiful and thought-provoking read that I'd recommend to adults and teens alike.

VERDICT:  4.5/5  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 March 3rd, 2015.**

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Book Blitz & GIVEAWAY - Lover Divine by A. Star

Lover, Divine by A. Star
(Mythos: Gods & Lovers #1)
Publication date: February 25th 2014
Genres: Adult, Mythology, Romance

For fans of the Oracle of Delphi series…and for those who aren’t…
Born into one of the wealthiest families in Ireland, Siobhan Law has status, privilege, and a secret: The Greek gods of Olympus and their kingdom in the clouds are real, and her family acts as one of their agents on Earth.
When the beautiful immortal celeste Liam Argyros shows up claiming to have come to Earth to deal in the affairs of the divine, Siobhan finds herself unable to resist his charms. New to the game of passion and seduction, she quickly ends up in over her head, sinking deeper with every attempt Liam makes to win her over.
But Liam’s divine mission is far more complex than she ever imagined and nothing is truly as it seems. Because Liam has a secret of his own: He is Apollo, Olympian god of the Sun, and his mission will never be complete until he has claimed Siobhan’s heart forever.
WARNING: For readers 18+ only. Contains adult language and sexual situations.

A. Star is a fan of dirty passion. She likes to read it, and she damn sure likes to write it. Her first adult romance/fantasy novella is called Invasion, an alien romance about sacrifice. Lover, Divine is the first release from the Mythos: Gods and Lovers series. Future releases under A. Star include, King, Desired (Mythos: Gods and Lovers #2), the Love & Steampunk series, the Purr, Inc. stories, and more.

Author links:


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