Friday, January 30, 2015

Feature and Follow #36 - Or the One Where We Talk Paper or Ebooks!

       So, Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  It's where you answer the weekly question(s) 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:  Hard print (real thing) or Kindle/Nook, which is your favorite?

A:  To be honest, it's more of a 50/50 situation nowadays.  I love the fact that I have so many choices when I'm carrying my Kindle around, and I have noticed that reading is easier on my Fire than it was with my Touch.  But I do always have at least one print book in my purse at all times, and I do seem to read faster with an actual book most of the time.  What about everyone else?  What do you all prefer?  Share with me in the comments! :D

       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 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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Monday, January 12, 2015

The Comeback Kid

Expected Publication:  February 17th, 2015
The Return (Titan #1)
By: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Spencer Hill Press
ISBN-13:  9781939392626

The Fates are cackling their bony asses off...

It's been a year since Seth made a deal with the gods that pledged his life to them.  And so far, the jobs they've given him have been violent and bloody - which is kind of all right with him.  But now Apollo has something else in mind for Seth.  He's got to play protector while keeping his hands and fingers off, and for someone who really has a problem with restraint, this new assignment might be the most challenging yet.

Josie has no idea what this crazy hot guy's deal might be, but it's a good bet that his arrival means the new life she started after leaving home about to be thrown in an Olympian-sized blender turned up to puree.  Either Josie is going insane or a nightmare straight out of ancient myth is gunning for her.

But it might be the unlikely attraction simmering between her and the golden-eyed, secret-keeping Seth that may prove to be the most dangerous thing of all.

Because history has once again been flipped to repeat.


       I was really kind of disappointed by how much I didn't love this one.  Not to say that I love EVERY book that JLA writes, but the good majority of hers that I've read have been four or five stars for me - pure enjoyment.  I kind of feel really bad about even reading it, cause once I realized it was a sister series to her Covenant books (which I have no interest in reading), I knew I wasn't going to be gushing about it's wonderfulness.  The funny part is, I liked Seth well enough.  I think that surprised me, but Jennifer definitely knows how to write a misunderstood, bad-boy hero sympathetically.  It's kind of a trademark of hers at this point (in a good way).  I even liked the way the story was going, with his mystery mission from Apollo and the whole "Titans on the loose" thing.  It was shaping up to be a great read, especially as I'm a mythology nut.  Then some things started to fizzle for me, until this turned into a mediocre experience.
       The first thing I didn't love was Josie, the heroine of the story, who is "special" and must be protected at all costs - the world depends on it!  Yup, felt really "speshul snowflake" to me and unfortunately for her, she reminded me of a slightly more competent Bella Swan.  Especially considering the fact of the insta-attraction/bordering-on-love that her and Seth share for each other.  Yes Seth, I get it.  You think she's hot, innocent and so much better than you.  Guess what: you've known her like two days.  Josie got on my nerves with how easily she accepted everything that was happening to her (I won't say exactly what her circumstances are so as not to spoil anything); girl, kick and scream!  Question "authority," even if that so-called authority (that you just met, btdubs) is a VERY hot guy that you want to get it on with!  Don't take everything at face value!  Even when some big, very grief-inducing and life-changing stuff happens later in the book, she STILL acts like its all okay.  There's autopilot and denial modes, but this came off to me as robotic and over it way too soon.  Didn't make me like her any better.  
       The double point of view didn't help either.  The plot was very slow moving, and the two of them spent most of them time trying NOT to jump each other's bones,while thinking about it 24/7.  Josie's thoughts were really shallow and I kept wishing JLA would pick a POV and stick with it (just Seth would have made more sense, because he IS the established character from the last series).  Also, the comparisons everyone makes between Josie and the girl from the Covenant series (Seth's unrequited love, Alexandra) got annoying.  Supposedly this can be read as a stand-alone, but I wouldn't attempt it.  Yes, you'll be able to understand the plot (what little there seems to be) but the allusions to past events might frustrate the un-indoctrinated reader.  Overall, not fun for me personally.  I think fans of the first series will enjoy it though, as it seems to be mostly written for them.  To me it was poorly written, with an annoying heroine and the plot moved glacially until almost the end of the book when it was setting up for the next one.  Honestly, it reminded me of a New Adult version of Twilight, mixed with Vampire Academy.  

VERDICT:  2.5/5  Stars (Most of this is for easy readability and Seth, who I really liked)

**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 February 17th, 2015.**

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Just Go On Wikipedia Instead...You'll Thank Me Later - Trust Me!

Expected Publication:  February 17th, 2015
Secret Origins Vol. 1 (The New 52)
By: Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino, Greg Pak, Tony Bedard & Various
DC Comics
ISBN-13:  9781401250492

At last, the SECRET ORIGINS of the World's Greatest Heroes in The New 52 can be revealed!  The beginnings of the most popular characters in the DC Universe are finally told here, in stories that fans have been clamoring for since September 2011.  Included here are the origins of The Last Son of Krypton and Kara Zor-El, Supergirl, plus the first Robin, Dick Grayson.

Written by a host of the industry's brightest talent including Jeff Lemire (Justice League: United), Greg Pak (Batman/Superman), and Tony Bedard (Green Lantern Corps) and painted covers by Lee Bermejo (Joker), this new series is a fantastic way to jump on with the DC Universe!  Collects issues #1-4.


       Major disappointment is all I was really feeling when I finished reading this volume.  You'd think that as someone still slightly overwhelmed about where to start in a vast universe like DC Comics, I'd be grateful for a volume of origin stories.  You'd think that, wouldn't you?  Well, I did too goddammitt and boy, oh boy, was I WRONG.  Because it turns out, I pretty much knew everything these guys had to tell me.  I can point to maybe 2 or 3 of the stories total that gave me anything new that made it worth my while, even a little bit.  There is almost nothing in this book, even as someone pretty much brand new to comics, that I hadn't already gleaned from the USA's pop culture collective/episodes of Smallville/episodes of the Justice League cartoon.  I can honestly say that for a reboot, they sure played it safe.  And the things that were different were just dumb or confusing!
       Let me break it down for you a little further.  There were origins in this book for: Superman, Supergirl, Batman, Dick Grayson/Robin #1/Nightwing, Aquaman, Starfire, Batwoman, Green Lantern/Hal Jordan, Tim Drake/Red Robin, Harley Quinn, Green Arrow, Damian Wayne/Robin #5.  That is a lot of ground to cover in just one volume!  I was kind of excited for this, because I'm unfamiliar with Red Robin, Starfire, Green Lantern and iffy on Harley Quinn.  What I got was shitty artwork, origins mainly regurgitated from past runs (from what other people have said it seems that way, anyhow) and stories that were just boring or made the heroes unsympathetic to me, as a reader.

Superman:  One of the few I actually DID end up liking.  You can tell that even though it wasn't anything really new, the author(s) at least tried with it.  The dual narrative from both of Clark/Kal's mothers was touching and it was a nice little piece, if a bit sappy.

Batman:  Really???  This is what you do with the Dark Knight?  Show some dumb training montages and "over the years" panels, before actually having him don the cowl.  He only gets the idea after seeing a bat fly in front of his Dad's statue.  "Yes father.  I shall become a bat."  He has to be scarier, see, cause the criminals don't fear him.  *Scoffs*

Supergirl:  Okay, blah blah, incident with Kryptonian-a-saurus Rex, parental expectations, time in stasis, etc.  Then when she becomes Supergirl, she saves North Korean astronauts!  Yeah, suuurrreeee.  Talk about freaking random and unnecessary adjustments.

Dick Grayson/Robin #1/Nightwing:  Very slight, but I didn't mind this really as I didn't know much about him beforehand.  I would've liked something more interesting, but it wasn't a detriment to the character.  I had just read Nightwing Vol. 1 though, and this was a nice sidenote to it.  Practically obsolete though, after the 0 issue.

Aquaman:  Once again, 'A' for effort, but obsolete after the 0 issue I just had the pleasure of reading.  They are really similar, in a way that does nothing to recommend this one.  Just go read the Aquaman volumes instead, you really can get by without the origin.

Starfire:  A character I knew nothing about, other than her Teen Titans membership, and I feel like I still know nothing about her.  For instance, was she the big sister or the little sister?  This was really confusing and she came across a bit stupid as well.  Whatever.

Batwoman:  Nothing against Kate Kane, this was just something to get through for me.  I wasn't really all that interested in it, as I didn't care for Batwoman Vol. 1 when I read it.  I did like seeing how she met her police officer girlfriend though.

Green Lantern/Hal Jordan:  This I actually liked.  Probably because I was confused as Hell when I read the Vol. 1 of his New 52 story arc.  I went in knowing nothing about Hal or the Lantern Corps, and they didn't even pretend to reboot that one - they just continued straight from a past run.  This actually gave me his background, some motivation and showed me his Lantern training.  One of very few reasons I'm glad I read this.

Tim Drake/Red Robin:  What. A. Little. Bastard.  He goes out of his way to find out who Batman is, baits him using Penguin, gets his parents in witness protection and all he can think about is how great he'll be as Robin!  It's not like he had any real reason to want to be a crime-fighter either, other than a young boy's fascination.  Came across as a selfish prick.

Harley Quinn:  It was interesting to get a look into Harley's demented mind and see how she got so immersed into the Arkham side of Gotham.  I liked the artwork in this one too, and it's one of two (the other being Aquaman) that I can genuinely say that for.  Plus, telling your story to a captive audience that you blow up afterwards is such a Harley maneuver! :D

Green Arrow:  Really?  Now they're putting Diggle in the comics?  Talk about a desperate bid to cash in on the CW's tv show.  Mostly just boring though.  I'd have liked to see a more focused story, with it choosing either the island or just after, with more detailed flashbacks used to good effect.  Nothing I haven't seen before and they might as well have just called Naomi Singh by her real name, Felicity Smoak.  Seriously, why even try to hide it at that point?

Damian Wayne/Robin #5:  I don't know why they even bothered with this one.  This isn't even canon to the current run of Batman for the New 52, at least with how Damian becomes Robin.  In this, Dick is taking over for Bruce, who just died, as Batman.  Damian is just becoming Robin, and never even worked with Bruce.  This is confusing, because there is a WHOLE comic dedicated to the two of them as Batman and Robin for the New 52!!!  It makes no damn sense in the context of their 'rebooted' universe.

Overall, I don't know why I even bothered.  If I didn't know better, I'd probably let this talk me out of reading any of these characters' individual comics.  I do know it for sure hasn't made me want to read Red Robin or Starfire, who came across the worst in my opinion.  Also, this doesn't make me hopeful for Green Arrow, who I love.  I will be picking up Harley Quinn though, so there's that.  I also feel a bit more prepared to read more Green Lantern comics, without reading the last five to ten years worth of stuff to catch up.  I would NOT recommend this particular volume, except as a curiosity maybe.  Check it out of the library though, for the love of God.  Don't pay for the boring stories/shitty artwork contained herein.  You have been warned.

VERDICT:  2/5  Stars

*I received this book from DC Comics, on NetGalley.  No favors or money were exchanged for this review.  This book was published on February 17th, 2015.*

Friday, January 9, 2015

Christmas All Year 'Round

Published: September 24th, 2013
Christmas on 4th Street (Fool's Gold #12.5)
By: Susan Mallery
Harlequin HQN
ISBN-13:  9780373777822

Noelle Perkins just got a second chance at life, and she intends to make the most of every minute.  That's why she ditched a frustrating legal career to open her own store in Fool's Gold, California.  The Christmas Attic celebrates everything that's magical about her favorite season.  Business is booming, and as a bonus, gorgeous army doctor Gabriel Boylan has offered to help out during the holiday rush.

Gabriel's memories of Christmas past contain more sour grapes than sugar plums, thanks to a drill sergeant father who ran his home like a boot camp.  Spending the holidays with his family while he recuperates from injury sounds as appetizing as last year's eggnog.  Still, there are some enjoyable distractions in town, including sunny, sexy Noelle...and the red-hot mistletoe kisses they can't stop sharing.

Gabriel didn't think he was made for happily-ever-afters.  But when fate hands you a love as sweet and surprising as this, only a fool could refuse...


       So, imma be completely honest: I just wanted a cute, slightly schmaltzy, Christmas romance.  I have never read any other books by Susan Mallery before, including the others in this series.  In other words, I started twelve and a half books into a series.  I am a dum-dum and I FULLY admit it.  But that doesn't mean I think I'm rating/reviewing this book unfairly.  It just means that I don't have the rose-colored glasses and series-fan filter that many other readers are going to have going in to it.  I can admit also, that had I read the other books in the series, I think I STILL would have been disappointed.  Her name is Noelle, she runs a store called "The Christmas Attic" and lives in a small town called Fool's Gold.  His name is Gabriel, he's an army doctor struggling with PTSD, and is just in town to visit his brother for the holidays.  Of course, the two of them meet-cute and it's instant attraction.  Unbeknownst to him, Mom and Dad are visiting too; so he does the only thing he can: offers to work at Noelle's store (she's short-handed) to get out of the house.  The attraction only grows but can the two of them work past their issues, and end up happily ever after?
       Their cheesy holiday names didn't bother me that much.  Neither did the dumb way they met each other.  It was her Mary-Sue perfectness, topped with the "loveable ditz" routine, that really got on my frickin nerves.  Her stupidity when driving on snow and ice really made me roll my eyes and scoff - then again, I'm from Michigan.  If I drove like she did, I'd be laughed out of the state.  They had no real reason to resist attraction.  The whole of their "obstacles" were forced at best and tritely unbelievable at worst.  He doesn't believe in love.  And that's pretty much the base of the whole thing.  Not to mention, his leave from the army is forced and he doesn't even want to really be there.  The whole thing of why she lost her job/quit and moved to Fool's Gold - to open a Christmas store of all things! - was so cliched, even for a romance during the holidays, that it kind of made me gag.  And his family problems were resolved way to easy.
       I think what REALLY made me mad though, was the ending.  They have known each other for six-freaking weeks!!!  I do not know anyone (at least anyone SANE) that would jump from misunderstandings, to sex, to not speaking, to marriage!  It must be luuurrrvve apparently.  The whole thing with the town "booming" and needing all those doctors, etc. just seemed so Mayberry that it had me rolling my eyes every time the Mayor or anyone else talked about how great the town was, or how they'd never expected to love it so much.  Uh-huh, okay...  Overall, not the series or writer for me.  It was just too cheesy and cutesy, and I hated the ending.  I'm sure fans of the author and people who liked the other books in the series might feel differently.  But I for sure won't be revisiting Fool's Gold.

VERDICT:  2/5  Stars

*I received this book from Harlequin HQN, on NetGalley.  No favors or money were exchanged for this review.  This book was published on September 24th, 2013.*

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Where Have All the Heroes Gone?

Published: November 11th, 2009
Wolverine: Old Man Logan
By: Mark Millar & Steve McNiven
Marvel Comics
ISBN-13:  9780785131595

Nobody knows what happened on the night the heroes fell.  All we know is that they disappeared and evil triumphed and the bad guys have been calling the shots ever since.  What happened to Wolverine is the biggest mystery of all.  For 50 years, no one has heard hide nor hair from him...and in his place stands an old man called Logan.  A man concerned only by his family.  A man pushed to the brink by the Hulk Gang.  A man forced to help an old friend -- the blind archer, Hawkeye -- to drive three thousand miles to secure his family's safety.  Get ready for the ride of your life, Logan!


       The synopsis basically explains everything you need to know to be able to dive into this particular story arc.  It's been 50 years since all the supervillains finally figured out that by teaming up, they could get rid of the heroes and take over completely.  Wolverine is now just known as Logan and has let himself just become an old man, caring for his family in a harsh new world.  The Hulk Gang (Bruce Banner's inbred, cannibalistic descendants) runs what used to be California and they come calling when Logan falls behind on the rent.  After beating the Hell out of him, they demand double next month or they'll kill his wife and kids.  Then Hawkeye, also an old man (and blind to boot), shows up looking for a cross-country driver.  The money he's offering could set up Logan's family for quite awhile, so he accepts.  But he refuses to do anything but drive, as he hasn't used his claws in 50 years - since the tragic night when Wolverine disappeared from public life.  Can Logan manage to save his family and will he ever be able to get over the horrors he lived through the night the heroes died?
       I mostly LOVED it!  It made sense that out of everyone, Wolverine and Hulk would be two of the only "heroes" left standing when all the others had been assassinated.  I love that Logan has decided to put away the Wolverine, but still hasn't completely lost that part of himself just yet (the awesome panel near the beginning where he imagines ripping apart his Hulk landlord demonstrates just that).  We get to see a completely different side of Logan than normal and the westernized feel of the artwork and the storyline (man goes on journey to save family from destitution/death by evil landlord[s]) definitely lends a dystopian feel to things.  I liked that Hawkeye had gone through a lot of the same things, but led a completely different life.  Blind, three-times married/divorced and ornery as ever, Hawkeye calls out Logan constantly for hanging up his claws.  But they come to mutual understanding, when Logan finally tells him what horrific things happened on that night 50 years ago.  As someone who has never read a Captain America comic, the thing with Red Skull and his trophy room still sent shivers down my spine.  Also, the scene with the Iron Man suit was perfect.
       My main problem, the one thing that really kept this from being perfect for me, was the motivations of the Hulk and the ending that they led to.  I thought it was a very weak, "bwahahaha" type of characterization and kind of disappointing.  Seeing Hulk be just plain insane would be one thing, but the over-the-top, backwoods hillbilly tint didn't really make all that much sense.  Bruce Banner, the counterpart of the Hulk, was a very educated man and I never really bought that he would've married/mated with his first cousin, Jenny (She-Hulk).  He would've known the kind of genetic problems that would cause in his bloodline.  And the rationale?  She was the only one who could keep up in then.  I guess in the context of true insanity, anything can be explained away, but it just didn't really ring true to me.  I did enjoy the end though, with Logan walking into the sunset holding Baby Bruce Banner Jr. on his back, ready to start fighting again.  Overall, a mostly fantastic comic book and a great alternate universe story, with some mostly overlooked weak spots.  I highly recommend it.  And boy oh boy, is it hella gory!

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.*

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Road Not Taken

Expected Publication:  March 17th, 2015
Everything That Makes You
By: Moriah McStay
Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN-13:  9780062295484

One girl.  Two stories.  Meet Fiona Doyle.  The thick ridges of scar tissue on her face are from an accident twelve years ago.  Fiona has notebooks full of songs she's written about her frustrations, her dreams, and about her massive crush on beautiful uber-jock Trent McKinnon.  If she can't even find the courage to look Trent straight in his beautiful blue eyes, she sure isn't brave enough to play or sing any of her songs in public.  But something's changing in Fiona.  She can't be defined by her scars anymore.

And what if there hadn't been an accident?  Meet Fi Doyle.  Fi is the top-rated female high school lacrosse player in the state, heading straight to Northwestern on a full ride.  She's got more important things to deal with than her best friend Trent McKinnon, who's been different ever since the kiss.  When her luck goes south, even lacrosse can't define her anymore.  When you've always been the best at something, one dumb move can screw everything up.  Can Fi fight back?

Hasn't everyone wondered what if?  In this daring debut novel, Moriah McStay gives us the rare opportunity to see what might have happened if things were different.  Maybe luck determines our paths.  But maybe it's who we are that determines our luck.


       I am a sucker for anything that has an alternate reality involved in the narrative.  There's just something about the road not taken that seems to appeal to me on a deeper level.  Does one event really change our lives as much as we think it does?  Moriah McStay helps us try to figure that out with a dual narrative of the same character.  The main difference between the two being that in one reality her face was horribly scarred in an accident when she was five years old.  In the other, that never happened and now she's the local high-school's (girl's) lacrosse team's star player.  She's still the same person though, right?  Not so much, actually.  Meet Fiona Doyle, an introvert who writes songs about all her anxieties and feelings, especially the ones for the boy she secretly likes.  Her counterpart, Fi Doyle, is best friends with the afore-mentioned boy and a star lacrosse player who can't be bothered to do more than the bare minimum with school or any other extracurriculars - lacrosse is her life.  Then Fi has an accident and is sidelined for an entire season.  In that time, she's forced to discover who she is without lacrosse to define her; while Fi is becoming someone else, so is Fiona, who is deciding whether or not to have her scars surgically removed with a skin graft.  Will she still be who she is, when the scars that have defined her for most of her life are almost completely gone, as if it never happened?
       My favorite thing about this book was that while both Fi and Fiona have common threads (people, places, likes/dislikes) in their lives, things ultimately end up differently.  They ARE different people, even romantically.  They end up with different career paths, love lives and family issues.  Fi has to figure out who she is without sports and in doing so, meets the love of her life.  But she lets it consume her and when things go wrong, she downward spirals into destructive self-pity.  It takes some harsh wake-up calls for Fi to pull herself out of the darkness of being alone - by choice.  I had a harder time relating to her than to Fiona, who is struggling to accustom herself to being liked and noticed for any reason other than her scars at first/in spite of her deformity.  She has such a difficult time putting herself on display with her music, even after the scars are gone as an excuse.  Because yes, she was using them as an excuse to not let anyone get close.  Both Fi and Fiona are dealing with huge changes in their lives and ultimately they have to discover a way to rise above it.  
       I loved the writing style, the dialogue and the interactions between the characters.  This book punched me in the gut and it was in the best way.  That said, I do think it was semi-unrealistic for Fi to pull out of her downward spiral so easily.  And her Northwestern problem would NOT have been so easily resolved in the real world.  With some minor believability problems aside (and yes, with an alternate-universe as the lynchpin, that is an oxymoronic statement!), I really enjoyed this book.  I highly recommend it for people who enjoy messing with events, reality and reading about different versions of people.  Also, there is some super-sweet romance in this book.  I have to say, I liked Fiona's romance a lot better than Fi's though.  I was swooning a little bit! :D

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 17th, 2015.**

Friday, January 2, 2015

Feature and Follow #34 - Or the One Where I Share My Favorite Books of 2014!

       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 then 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:  Happy New Year!!!  What was your favorite book of 2014 - or books if you can't name just one? -- via AlisonCanRead

A:  I had so many this year!  Here are some pictures linked to the Gooreads pages, of my absolute top favorites! :D






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