Friday, June 30, 2017

Review: China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan | Rating: ★★★★☆

There are three stages in my reactions that I've witnessed whilst reading the delightful Crazy Rich Asians series. I have been all over the place during the first two books of the series and each page feels as intriguing as the last. I said it before, but I'll say it again, reading this series for the first time was like that fateful day I picked up a copy of Gossip Girl by the incomparable Cecily von Ziegesar--the novels are pure entertainment and compel you to read further by the snap of a finger.

Stage One: Roar with laughter. This is the biggest thing about China Rich Girlfriend. There was so much humour in Crazy Rich Asians but somehow, Kevin Kwan outdoes himself in this smartly woven sequel. I, like Auntie Belinda, frequently cry over Fleetwood Mac into my Chanel handkerchief. I'm not kidding you. Not only is China Rich Girlfriend deeply dramatic and juicy with gossip, the humour is on point and not to be ignored. Get ready to choke on some wine from time to time.

Stage Two: Sympathy and endearment, despite all the privilege. You've got to admit you feel bad for Astrid's dilemma--Michael is such a crap husband and she deserves better. Ahem, so Charlie? Rachel's plot line broke my heart too and I did not see the twist coming. Hint: poison. (Don't worry--spoiler: she is okay!) And even Kitty tugged on my heartstrings with her desire to just fit in somewhere--despite the otherwise insufferable moments of her grasping at straws.


Review: The Walking Dead, Vol. 04: The Heart's Desire (Graphic Novel)

The Walking Dead, Vol. 04: The Heart's Desire by  Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn | Rating: ★★★★☆

Continuing on with my binge reread (as well as my first time reviewing the graphic novels, ah!) of The Walking Dead we've officially reached volume four. Time really flies by when you're reading one of these volumes--I have to stop myself from reading the entire series because if I could, I would do so and not eat/sleep. The Heart's Desire is one of my favourites to read because to me, it is one of the quickest. Also--Michonne is introduced in this go.

So for me, the intrigue is at an all-time high. Death and loss during the series are common. I mean, hello? Zombies. There's always that threat and the lengths they will go to continue to survive. At its deepest, that's what The Walking Dead is about; the complexities of remaining humane whilst surviving the most dire of circumstances. I think that The Heart's Desire really plays into this fact well and shows the most soul that we've seen in the first quarter of the series.

That being said: the massive cliffhanger at the end of the third volume is confronted right away and it's something that Rick struggles with through the remainder of this installment. I always thought that seeing this shift in Rick was one of the most realistic paths the novels could have taken with his entire persona. He is very conflicted trying to figure out where he stands and what his morals are nowadays and I think that's one of the most fascinating developments.

Review: The Walking Dead, Vol 03: Safety Behind Bars (Graphic Novel)

The Walking Dead, Vol. 03: Safety Behind Bars by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn | Rating: ★★★★☆

My rating of the third volume, Safety Behind Bars is a bit lower than I anticipated. I loved it on my first read and still enjoyed it this time around but much less than before. A lot of the plots in this were fantastic--action packed, dramatic, heart-wrenching and downright spooky. Yet there was a bit of something missing in the tone when compared to its previous, and later, installments. I do not want you to misinterpret this as me saying it wasn't a good read because it was.

But! I thought there were parts that dragged on a little too much and relied on something else entirely at the end of the day. Can't really explain it beyond that--from two young characters gruesome deaths, the former inmates from the prison the gang now resides in, to the suicide pact of two other characters and the attempted murder of another, there's a hell of a lot to be seen. Just as disturbingly compelling as you expect, it definitely left me both on the edge of my seat and lost elsewhere in my emotions.

I loved the recurring themes of survival--would it really be a The Walking Dead story without it?--and the fact that Rick's emotional struggles are posed front and center.

Review: Paper Girls VOL. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang (Graphic Novel)

Paper Girls Vol. 2 by | Rating: ★★★☆☆

Hilarious and darkly told, Paper Girls, Vol. 2 may not be my favourite graphic novel read from the last few years it is a vast improvement on its predecessor, Paper Girls, Vol. 1, in terms of coherent story telling. It's still a bizarre tone and a bit sloppy from time to time, but you have to hand it to the team behind it: it's super, insanely, compelling and is only getting better with time. As also, the graphics are the most stunning part of the story and really ties up the plots, and the characters, vividly. Moreso, it captures a sort of nostalgic feel that is necessary to how the story is told and keeps your attention for the long haul.

Picking up immediately where volume one ended, the girls are--somehow--sent to the future and are forced to team up with the older version of one of them. During this time, shit really hits the fan and it appears that whatever happened in their past is happening in the future. And, though we don't get a lot of answers about the how's and the why's, there are quite a few revelations to be found.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Review: The Mirror Sisters by V.C. Andrews

The Mirror Sisters by V.C. Andrews | Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

It's not at all shocking to me that during the Andrew Neiderman era of the V.C. Andrews name, his work seems to grow more and more muddled together. The Mirror Sisters, though armed with an especially dark and delicious tone and premise, does not live up to its promise. Although it is an absolute improvement on the last books I've read from his era (Whitefern, Diaries, etc) it still is simply not a good book for at least 90% of the time.

Really, I had high hopes for this one. I've always had a fascination of identical twins battling out in a good and evil power struggle. From Pretty Little Liars (Alison and Courtney DiLaurentis in the delightful books, Spencer Hastings and Alex Drake in the television adaptation) to Lois Duncan's classic Stranger With My Face and back around to the soap opera tropes that all but invented this timeless plot twist, I had an instant connection with the summary of The Mirror Sisters and was compelled to pick it up.

Because, c'mon. The entire description is twisted. I picked it up and was like, " I'm ready to be disturbed " in ways that only a good psychological thriller could do. Sadly, I had to dig around a lot (not an exaggeration) to even get to the good parts of the novel. I mean it quite literally when I say that--the vast majority of The Mirror Sisters is spent rehashing the same five paragraphs in a different variation. Beyond this, it was also choppy.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Review: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan | Rating: ★★★★☆

Outrageously funny doesn't even begin to describe the wild ride that is Crazy Rich Asians. I haven't had this much fun reading about gossip fueled lives of the richest families in society since the early 2000s when books like Gossip Girl and The A-List dominated my shelves. As fun and delicious as the above series, Kevin Kwan takes me back to that bubbly feeling of enjoying a book purely for entertainment purposes. Further, he writes these tropes in such a humorous and smart way that you can't help but devour it in one sitting.

Where has this book been all my life? To put it bluntly: Crazy Rich Asians feels both new and nostalgic all at once. It's definitely one of the funnest and most laid back reads I've picked up in ages. The entire novel is full of drama and delightful dialogue that is definitely sugary sweet. This is one of those books you carry around in a tote bag and take in the sun with a glass of wine. Captivating and an easy-breezy romp in the genre. Kwan balances the scandal and gossip prone upper crust with a variety of realistic plots wonderfully--crafting a guilty pleasure full of life.

(Not that I really believe in guilty pleasure.)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

 Heartless by Marissa Meyer | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

"Fascinating, isn't it, how often heroic and foolish turn out to be one and the same."

Oh, where to start, where to start? I do so love dipping into various spins on Wonderland and am constantly looking into retellings and re-imaginings. Marissa Meyer, of course, is one of the most prolific authors in the fantasy young adult world and is known most highly for her fairytale retellings in the beloved The Lunar Chronicles series. Heartless is a standalone novel not related to the above series but surely will strike a chord amongst her biggest fans and then some.

Highly imaginative and entertaining, Heartless serves as an intriguing origin story to The Queen of Hearts. Full of action, romance and one heartfelt characters way to being heartless, it is impossible to put down in all its glory.

While, at times, it felt as though the story was underdeveloped and was unable to keep up with its delicious premise and prose, Heartless was captivating and easy to read in one sitting. It is very much so a story that you will devour almost instantly (not unlike, ahem, Lady Peter and her pumpkins) and find yourself craving to continue even when you must take a break. The characters are fascinating and it's always a good tale when it comes to getting into the heads of someone who is on their path to becoming one of literature's biggest villains.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Review: The Sound of Seas (The Earthend Saga #3) by Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin

The Sound of Seas (The Earthend Saga#3 ) by Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

"I am constantly searching for places that rekindle my sense of wonder."

In the conclusion of Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin's highly entertaining The Earthend Saga it is apparent that the answers we so desired from the getgo are fast approaching. The Sound of Seas was the perfect final installment to the highly entertaining series and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Much like its previous releases, The Sound of Seas follows a similar path of history, science fiction and intrigue--though it is vastly underwhelming compared to the second of the series, it was still a fun read that I don't regret picking up for an instant.

I'm not just saying that as Gillian Anderson's #1 fan, either. The Earthend Saga has had its share of hits and misses but for the most part Marie Claire had it right: it's highly addicting. I love the bending of genres and the array of characters; the way the POV rotates without flaw. Most of all, I love the pacing and the mystery of it. It takes a special talent to mold our world with another and both Anderson and Rovin continue to prove that together they can create a compelling story.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Review: A Dream of Ice (Earthend Saga #2) by Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin

A Dream of Ice by Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin | Rating: ★★★★☆

I have about three words to sum up my thoughts on A Dream of Ice, the second installment of The Earthend Saga and they are as follows: OH MY GOD . You feel me? Okay, so, perhaps, it isn't a five star series for me personally but the thing I'm noticing about these books is pretty point blank. They just keep getting better.

There was something that was lacking of the predecessor to A Dream of Ice and this is a bit more engaging than the last. By me saying that, it gives off a falsehood that I didn't like the first in the saga. I did; quite a lot, too. It's just that there is something far more superior to this follow-up and it makes the series all the more compelling. Not only are the stakes higher (can you imagine?) there was a lot more to explore in terms of heart and mystery as well as intrigue.

A Dream of Ice is all of the qualities one loves in a good old fashioned science fiction novel. A solid prose. A great cast of characters told in rotating points of view. Everything is woven into a bigger picture, tying up all the little details and twists from the first novel into this. It sets the stage for an excellent third installment--let's talk about that cliffhanger. This is the sci-fi book for readers who are new to the genre and can appreciate it despite its flaws.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Review: A Vision of Fire by Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin

A Vision of Fire by Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

Is that the ultimate paradox of life, she wondered, that the universe should become less clear with age?

Everyone who knows me knows that I have a massive crush on Gillian Anderson--she is basically my ride or die when it comes to celebrities. A Vision of Fire is her debut work of fiction with Jeff Rovin and it starts off steady and with a thrilling question. As far as first installments goes in science fiction, this is a positively delicious (and maybe a little frightening) introduction to The Earthend Saga and managed to be riveting, thoughtful and mysterious. It had its rough patches mid-novel that felt to drag on a bit more than the rest, which is what knocked it down a half star in my review, but for the most part it was thoroughly enjoyable.

I liked seeing her return to science fiction in a way that was reminiscent of The X-Files but still fresh and different. Teaming up celebrities and authors to create a new series can be a tricky task that is often lost in translation but Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin's vision (har-har-har) is clear from the getgo. A total dream-team. Not only do they pen an engaging novel that will compel its readers to keep flipping through from start to finish, the message and overall plots are coherent and full of something utterly fascinating.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Review: Secret Brother by V.C. Andrews

Secret Brother by V.C. Andrews | Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

"The most unexpected Dollanganger story of them all, new from the author of Flowers in the Attic and Petals on the Wind..." I think you meant the most unnecessary Dollanganger story of them all, new from the man who's been using the author of Flowers in the Attic and Petals on the Wind's name for the last few decades. When I picked up the Diaries series, I knew it was going to be disastrous but I hadn't the slightest idea just how bad it would get.

If I were a dramatic person (which frankly I am, but I'd like to pretend I'm not) I would say that after reading these books, I am not the same person. But to be fair, that has no sense behind it beyond a bit of anger and annoyance. Again, I can't help but to wonder why we can't leave V.C. Andrews' legacy alone. Regardless, we're here. We're bored. We're about to cry. Okay--I won't cry but I'm mostly stalling in my review because I can't figure out how to describe how bloody awful this book--and the previous two installments--and I don't want to approach it too rudely.

I should say this: Flowers in the Attic is an iconic property and I do--on some levels--get the reasoning behind continuing to publish these new installments. They are nothing more than glorified fan-fiction (an insult to FF) and won't affect the original series if you don't want to consider it canon.


Review: Christopher's Diary, Echoes of Dollanganger by V.C. Andrews

Christopher's Diary: Echoes of Dollanganger by V.C. Andrews* | Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Is it possible to scrub a book from your memory? 

Oh, boy. If I could give less than a star to a book, this series would be one of the half stars. Total. All three of them. Ugh. Where to begin? Well. My first thought is terrible. Just as God-awful as the first in the Diaries series, Echoes of Dollanganger and proves once again, for me, that Andrew Neiderman has no business writing under the V.C. Andrews name anymore. It's time to let her legacy go on as it should have been to begin with. Which each release under the V.C. Andrews name, I can't help but ask myself two things.

Why and how did these books get published to begin with?

Shudder.

Gone are the signature trigger warned novels and in their place is a clusterf*ck of dullness.

Whereas the original/real V.C. Andrews titles were all horrific, cringey, campy fun--the better part of a decade of the books released through Neiderman's era of V.C. Andrews have been some of the worst pieces of literature I have ever picked up. Granted, he gets a half star for trying to return to his former glory (some of his earlier work as V.C. Andrews was at least mildly plausible and a bit entertaining) all the while attempting to capture the spirit of V.C. Andrews' greatest works. I'll say it again, like other reviews of this series: it's a train wreck you can't look away from.

Review: Christopher's Diary, Secrets of Foxworth by V.C. Andrews

Christopher's Diary: Secrets of Foxworth by V.C. Andrews* | Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

"Nostalgia was nothing more than dissatisfaction with the present. Anything looked better than now, even harder times. It was a fantasy that people accept."

I... don't understand how this got published to begin with? Out of sheer curiosity, I've been picking up on reading the Andrew Neiderman era of V.C. Andrews books--I still can't justify calling them V.C. Andrews books when they just keep coming and are attributed to her, despite the fact that she is dead. It is quite awkward and bothersome knowing that her name has become something else entirely. A property. This fact makes my skin crawl bit by bit.

Nonetheless, there's something undeniably drug-like and naughty about V.C. Andrews books and the creations of Andrew Neiderman. Some are quite good in the way that only trashy literature can be. I mean, they are basically all a walking trigger warning but it's something you can't look away from.

Which is precisely how I took to binge reading the books from this Diaries spin-off of The Dollanganger Saga. No matter how much time has passed since the original release of V.C. Andrews' crowning glory, Flowers in the Attic, the story and its sequels still stir up conversation both in hype and disgust. For some reason, the idea of hearing Christopher's thoughts seemed appealing to me and this is basically the equivalent of fanfiction anyways, so it's rather nice to pretend.

Review: The Fever by Megan Abbott

The Fever by Megan Abbott | Rating: ★★★★★

“I have another friend who gets what I’m really like, and I get her. She scares me. Did you ever see yourself times ten in another person and want to cover your eyes?” 

I'm not going to even hesitate when I tell you this: Megan Abbott is one of my favourite writers. You know when you read a novel and it just hits you suddenly that hours have passed but you've been utterly consumed by a story? That was me with The Fever. Immediately, it hit me that the story was heavy in that special way that haunts you for hours after you've concluded your binge. I felt it in the previous novel of hers I had read--Dare Me.

That was different, though. This felt all new to me and it simultaneously intrigued and gutted me. All in one sitting I just kept thinking: "Holy shit. This book." The Fever kept my mind spinning and reeling and captivated in a way that comes with mysterious and thrillers. I had the same feeling during Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. It's like you've become so invested in the characters that you feel this lump forming in your throat as the story progresses. Ultimately, that's the most  striking thing about Abbott's prose and stories; your mind doesn't remove itself from the pages. The Fever is not unlike a fever itself, heavy and intimidating. You feel yourself but not like yourself.


Review: The Walking Dead Volume 2, Miles Behind Us

The Walking Dead Vol. 02: Miles Behind Us by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn | Rating:  ★★★★★

There's something about The Walking Dead that feels like a classic horror film--it's easy to see why its following has stuck to it so long and why T.V. fans everywhere salivate for its phenomenal television adaptation. In Miles Behind Us, the second volume of the graphic novel series that started it all, we see a glimmer of life as the survivors struggle to--well--survive.

After the groundwork is set for the series as a whole, both in volumes one and two, we settle in with the loss of Shane (and the potential gravity of Carl having done the deed); the unexpected pregnancy of another character, the arrival of several new faces, the loss of others, a main character is nearly lost and more. In other words: plot twist after plot twist after plot twist.

Miles Behind Us feels like an expansion on what was already set up as an introduction to a brave (and horrible) new world. Now that we're familiar with the general story board, we're able to flesh out the characters and their connections to one another as well as, hopefully, dive into backstories and the like. What I liked most about Miles Behind Us is that it felt undeniably like it was more fleshed out than the first volume. This is a factor that comes into play in any story--the more development there is, the more compelling the stories become. And in a series like The Walking Dead, the story only grows from here on out.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Review: Everything Reminds You of Something Else by Elana Wolff

Everything Reminds You of Something Else by Elana Wolff | Rating: ★★★☆☆

A copy of this novel was provided through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way. 

The first thing that strikes me about this collection of poetry is that there's a great glimpse of soul in the works. I had a bit of a problem tying the collection together (it flowed, at times, incoherently and I wasn't connecting with specific parts of it) but Everything Reminds You of Something Else is still a damn good release.  As far as introductions to a poet go, I really enjoyed getting to know her--there were, as I said, some rough patches for me personally, but when it was good it was bloody brilliant. I only wish that the collection had been longer; it would have, in my opinion, smoothed out some of the less than stellar parts had it been expanded. 

You may be thinking: "It's only 90 pages and the average rating is sitting at a solid three stars--is it worth it?" For me, it was worth it. When the poems were on fire, they made the kinks less irritating. I liked the nature aspects of it--we relate our words back to something else that feels familiar.Wolff weaves through the heart of things on several occasions and we really get to know people through their poems; this is no different. 


Review: Royally Matched (Royally #2) by Emma Chase

Royally Matched by Emma Chase | Rating:  ★★★★☆ (4.5)

“I was happy with myself before – with my little life. But this is different. It feels like I’m on the edge of a mountain cliff, the wind whipping my hair, the sun blinding – but there is no fear. Only exhilaration, pure and right. I’m not going to fall. I can’t. Because Henry has shown me how to fly.”

Emma Chase has really knocked me straight on my ass with the Royally series. While I loved the dynamics in Royally Screwed, and connected with the characters on some level, Royally Matched blows the previous book out of the water. I had a feeling I would enjoy Henry's story but nothing prepared me for how much I loved seeing him and Sarah's romantic tale progress. To make things better, we see some familiar faces from Royally Screwed and it's just as delightful as you'd think. More importantly, Matched is far steamier and the superior of the two novels. That's hard for me to say because they are both some of the best royal romances I've ever read. I think the only way to accordingly describe the second installment of this series is: hot. So hot that I would put the fire emoji all over this review if I could.

At first glance, Royally Matched would appear to be an adult version of Kiera Cass' The Selection series. Very, very, very adult. But I don't need to tell you that. Sexy prince? Check. Quiet girl who (kind of) is on set for a reality program similar to The Bachelor, but doesn't really want to be there at first? Check. Fireworks from tension and respect? Check, check, check. Although the premise is entirely similar, the stories aren't actually much off a mirror image and there's plenty to satisfy fans with this one.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Review: Royally Screwed (Royally #) by Emma Chase

Royally Screwed by Emma Chase | Rating:  ★★★★☆ (4.5)

“Because this place, Olivia, it’s a pretty little shitheap—with a thousand bloodthirsty flies. But there is goodness here. I’ve felt it. I’ve found it.” She covers my hand, squeezing. “And my Simon loves Nicholas like a brother. So if he loves him, I know he is one of the good ones.” 

Well, well, well. It appears Emma Chase really knows how to get a girl's heart pounding when it comes to a delightful and ultimately frothy romance. You know the sort of romance book that is so good you kind of wonder if it's bad for you? The very novel you take with your all girls trip to the beach one hot summer weekend? This. Is. It. Royally Screwed takes you away in one full sweep of royalty, romance and steamy sex scenes. Chase weaves a heartwarming (and at times heartbreaking) tale of love, loss, life and inbetweens, sprinkled into a grand plot of the exploits of one royal family. Get ready for a wild ride, kids. You're going to need to sit still for this one.

Royally Screwed is the ultimate summer book that women will be bouncing around in excitement over. Although it is not terribly unique (it isn't meant to be) in premise, it's still a delicious romance that will leave you with the warm and fuzzies. My experience with it was nothing but wonderful and it's definitely going down as one of my favourites in the better part of a decade. Which, coming from a gal who isn't particularly fond of romance novel's and their suffocating tropes, is pretty high praise. Not to toot my own horn, of course. The fact of the matter is that it's a bit cheesy--sure--and has a hell of a lot to offer besides the various tropes.


Monday, June 19, 2017

Review: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke | Rating: ★★★★★

“Time and I have quarrelled. All hours are midnight now. I had a clock and a watch, but I destroyed them both. I could not bear the way they mocked me.”

The first thing every reader should know is that this book will certainly not be for everyone. Susanna Clarke pens a tale of magicians that is worthy of a classic in its unique and elegant tone. But it is also a flaw for many readers, as it may drag on or be intimidating for them to stick to/pick up. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is one of my all time favourite novels but even I can see the flaws in it and understand how tedious its tone and length may be. It's surely a commitment--but it's a completely magical one.

While many will find the prose to be deeply satisfying and, perhaps, get lost in the depths of its pages. I fit in that category. Something about Clarke's writing feels like an old friend sitting beside you in front of a fireplace. You know? I never tire of the way the story is told and I like unwinding with it slowly and delicately because it makes the experience all the more fun. I think that it's definitely one of those books where, every time you read it, you pick up on one thing you hadn't before. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell captivated me from the very start and felt like it was of a different time.


Review: Growth by Karin Cox

Growth by Karin Cox | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

I'll send you summer's memory,
sharp and clear,
to slice through icy veneer like a knife.
My girl, your halcyon days may well be
here,
but you'll return
--this sunshine fuels your life. 


I snagged this for free on Amazon not that long ago. If my memory serves, it was earlier this year--but don't hold me to it. Karin Cox has an elegant prose to her that is in a class of its own and highly relatable; but in the case of Growth, there are several missteps and a whole lot of filler to weed out before you find a classic gem. In fact, it's because of this that I've been so conflicted about even beginning to review this collection.

Let me explain. When Karin Cox is good, she's good. But in all that goodness, there are several (several) duds in the batch that will make reading this short series border on tedious. Which is strange, given the size of it and how little there is to pick up on in its length. Saying this will perhaps give off the impression that I didn't like or connect with a vast majority of her work--that is not true. At. All. I did connect with a lot in Growth, despite its lower points.


Review: The Walking Dead Volume 1, Days Gone Bye

The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore (Illustrator) | Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5)

The Walking Dead is--and always will be--one of my all time favourite comics. Days Gone Bye proves to not only be one of the most compelling first installments to what appears to be (on first read) one of the best releases in recent years. Admittedly the first few are fantastic but lack a little bit in comparison to future volumes. That doesn't make Days Gone Bye any less than it is.

The thing about zombies in popular fiction is that a genre (more than one, really) bends to fit a certain story type and often the tropes just don't work. In that sense, it's kind of like all warmth has been sucked dry from the tale and it becomes the zombie they are writing about. The Walking Dead has never had that problem--and hopefully never will.

What always strikes me about revisiting Days Gone Bye is that it always feels like what's old becomes new again. It's an introduction to this world the characters are forced to survive in but it also gives that glimmer of strength and perhaps a bit of hope. Looking back at this you can't help but to feel a bit of nostalgia because it's more than just another end-of-the world rundown story.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Review: #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso |  Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

“The energy you’ll expend focusing on someone else’s life is better spent working on your own. Just be your own idol.”

Infamous #GIRLBOSS extraordinaire, founder and former CEO of Nasty Gal, Sophia Amoruso's memoir (though not quite memoir) is loud, proud and humorous. I've always loved Nasty Gal's clothing (oh, the downfall of it all has been sad) and as a supporter of every Girlboss to have ever been: I had to pick this book up. While I don't consider it to be groundbreaking or particular excellent reading material, it is an entertaining pick-me-up about one girl's adventures leading up to her crowning moment: opening her own business. 

It's likely you've heard a lot about each and every one of Sophia Amoruso's flaws and exploits. Oh, she certainly is a wild one--isn't she? Despite not being particularly likable (let's be honest--it's because of these flaws and goals most readers will admire her) and having had more than one scandal float her way, #Girlboss is an engrossing read that gives fans a look into the personal and business life of Amoruso. 


Review: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

 The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

“It was just that there was something newly powerful about this assembled family in the car. They were all growing up and into each other like trees striving together for the sun.” 

There's this weird and twisty sensation at the pit of my stomach when I consider how underwhelming this book was and the fact that I am giving it lower than a four star rating. I should have known that such a fantastic series would end on a fizzle rather than a bang. When I started The Raven Cycle, I never expected to like it--yet I loved it. In one swift movement, Maggie Stiefvater took up a new place in my heart with her whimsical word, each fantastic character and the elegant/unique tone her prose takes as stories unfold. The Raven King has many of her signature qualities but seems to trip over itself all too often and leave you feeling as though something is missing.

Now, this isn't to say that the novel itself wasn't good. In my opinion it was solid enough but not quite enough to balance the weight of the first three books. I felt disappointed and as if an old friend had invited me over only to rush me out the door after a half hour tea. The Raven King had its moments of greatness and surely was fast and entertaining. As per usual, Stiefvater has a smart and magical way with words. So what made the balance break? I... can't actually put my finger on it.


Review: Deadpool Vol. 1 by Daniel Way

Deadpool, The Complete Collection (Vol. 1) Daniel Way (Writer), Andy Diggle (Text), Steve Dillon (Illustrations), Paco Medina (Illustrations), Carlo G. Barberi (Illustrations), Bong Dazo (Illustrations) | Rating: ★★★★☆

All right, all right, I'm way late to the game in actually reading Deadpool. I had read a few issues here and there through the years (something that would have been impossible to avoid considering my ex was obsessed with him) but not the entire collection. When I saw that the library had the first two volumes, I pounced (and vowed to buy the rest in time) and devoured them in a very small frame of time.

Marvel has always been one of my go-to favourites when it comes to comic books and this graphic novel illustrates why. Deadpool is hilarious and dark--action packed and... well, did I mention hilarious? It's easy to see why he has become such an iconic fucker (can we just curse freely in Deadpool reviews?) and why his stories are so appealing to comic readers. I loved seeing familiar faces from varied Marvel stories popping up here and there; seeing Deadpool's origins (or parts of them) was truly entertaining. I have always had an interest in characters that toe the lines and have a bizarre sense of humour, so it's only natural I love Deadpool.


Review: Before the Rain Falls by Camille Di Maio

Before the Rain Falls by Camille Di Maio | Rating: ★★★★★

A copy of this novel was provided through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

After reading The Memory of Us late last year (at least, I think it was last year?) I was a little underwhelmed story wise but still highly intrigued by the prose of Camille Di Maio. I distinctly remember thinking, whilst reading and then writing my review, that her talents were something to look out for in the lit world. Before the Rain Falls is the novel which proves that theory of mine and then some. Whereas The Memory of Us was by no means a terrible book, this novel blows that one out of the water.

Let me catch you up to speed: Before the Rain Falls is a story told in split timelines. A task that can, typically, be hit or miss. In this case, it's a hit. I've never personally read something that was 100% like it and have to stress the fact that Camille Di Maio is a voice to look out for in recent releases. There's something deeply intriguing and moving about the way she portrays a story of an elderly woman with a mysterious past and a life lived behind bars for the murder of her sister shortly after her wedding day.


Review: I Am More Than a Daydream by Jennae Cecelia

I Am More Than a Daydream by Jennae Cecelia | Rating:  ★★★★☆ (4.5)

I wish I could be as bold
as the people who spend
the twilight hours
with their lights on and
curtains wide open.
The people who do not fear of who
is peering in on their belongings and
personal moments exchanged.
-I prefer my do not disturb signs


It's important to note that I am a huge poetry reader. I love poems in all sizes and from many, many voices. One of the only qualities I look to when seeking out new collections is simple: emotion. If you write with a voice that moves me, it is likely I will fall in love with the words you write. I Am More Than a Daydream by Jennae Cecelia is one of those collections.

Thought provoking, moving and highly intelligent--I am very thrilled to say that this is my first glimpse of anything penned be Jennae Cecelia. Although the collection is short, and the prose is simple, it leaves you feeling a great many things. All poetry comes from such an intimate place, it's beyond me to see it as anything short of a piece of our souls. Sometimes, the most powerful poems come from a short (but no less vibrant) place in our minds or hearts and I Am More Than a Daydream is an example of that.


Review: Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang & Matthew Wilson

Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang & Matthew Wilson | Rating: ★★★☆☆

There's a quality to Paper Girls that ought be admired: it's quirky and unique. It's altogether a throwback of science fiction and fun. We get a lot of solid girls as our leading ladies (and I appreciate this most of all) that don't seem like their age. But it's downfall is that it's also fast. A lot of graphic novels lack a proper speed (either they are too fast or too slow) and sadly this one is in the "went by too quickly" category of things.

You can hardly catch your breath by the time you catch up with the plots. It feels oddly choppy; like there were a lot of parts that were underdeveloped and which went by in the blink of an eye, leaving an unsavory taste of confusion on readers minds. There was a lot of promise and potential to the premise that ultimately kept tripping over itself. I felt like a lot of things were disconnected from me and my preference and this was frustrating.

I had several moments where I was like, okay, this is it. I can't continue reading it and feeling like I've soaked up nothing in suspense. Because despite its general quirkiness and solid plot line, there was just something dull in its development and pace. Just when I was about to give up and toss it to the side, in an effort to shake off the feeling that it was going nowhere, it got good.


Review: Sad Girls by Lang Leav

Sad Girls by Lang Leav | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

A copy of this novel was provided through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

“You know, missing someone can sometimes be the best thing for a writer.”

You know when you finish a book by someone you truly admire and can't help but to feel a bit of confusion? It's almost like being let down by an unsatisfactory read. In a way, you know that something could have been so much more than the finished product. That's the best way I could describe Sad Girls by the incomparable Lang Leav. Leav is praised over for work amongst poetry and Sad Girls' prose is a definite confirmation of this. 

Which is an odd quality to have--I found myself adding a tab to quite a few points in Sad Girls but even the way the novel opens itself to readers couldn't save what felt like a definite miss. Lang Leav creates something special within words--the sort of way poetry is meant to reach out and touch our hearts. And while this is very much alive in quite a few moments of Sad Girls, it's not something that translated very well within a full-length novel. 


Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne | Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5)

"Love and hate are visceral. Your stomach twists at the thought of that person. The heart in your chest beats heavy and bright, nearly visible through your flesh and clothes. Your appetite and sleep are shredded. Every interaction spikes your blood with adrenaline, and you're in the brink of fight or flight. Your body is barely under your control. You're consumed, and it scares you."

I'll admit at the start I had quite a few reservations about The Hating Game. Despite its flaws (and some lackluster or questionable moments at the start), I found it to be an intriguing romance that was simple but without a doubt enjoyable. I'll be the first to tell you that I'm not typically a romantic book reader but 2017 has been the year for me to really give the genre (romance, erotica, NA, etc etc) a shot--Sally Thorne blew all of my expectations away with The Hating Game and has quickly captured my attention.

You should know: I had an incorrect vision of what the novel was going to be and when I finally (and maybe a bit reluctantly) gave into the hype, I was nearly positive I wouldn't enjoy it. A lot of readers will probably look first to the title and then to the description and think, 'Okay. This won't be for me. It's bound to be unhealthy, underwhelming and overhyped.' but it is actually none of those things. I genuinely loved the characters and the many mishaps that came with their inability to accept or even comprehend what they felt for one another. Lucy and Joshua have a typical co-worker's-that-don't-get-along connection that was filled with tension.


Review: Kiss Me in New York by Catherine Rider

Kiss Me in New York by Catherine Rider | Rating: ★★★☆☆

A copy of this novel was provided through Edelweiss by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way. 

I wasn't sure what to expect from Kiss Me in New York beyond a fluffy tale of the magic of New York City. What I found in its pages was a warm tale of the holidays that will surely be appealing for its target audience. Even I enjoyed its otherwise fluffy tone--it's a novel to cozy up to and just get lost in. You've got two of my favourite themes: Christmas and NYC. Yes, I am aware one is a city not a theme--but who really cares?

There's a certain kind of fondness in Kiss Me in New York that is easy to enjoy. It's sugary sweet and short enough that the sweetness doesn't leave a nasty taste in your mouth when you're done. The best way to put it is, Kiss Me in New York is a cuddle in the form of literature. A treat that is good in moderation and will leave you feeling good. Christmas time is an already romantic (and often overused) timeline but it makes you long for the city, for snow and for love.


Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern | Rating: ★★★★★   

“Secrets have power. And that power diminishes when they are shared, so they are best kept and kept well. Sharing secrets, real secrets, important ones, with even one other person, will change them. Writing them down is worse, because who can tell how many eyes might see them inscribed on paper, no matter how careful you might be with it. So it's really best to keep your secrets when you have them, for their own good, as well as yours.” 

I felt like I was dancing on the clouds while reading this novel. This could be because I had a fever whilst reading it but I'd like to pretend it's because of its prose and the otherworldly magic it captures. I couldn't put it down and was intrigued from the very start. Morgenstern kept me in place for the duration of the novel and made the tips of my fingers feel warm with joy and--silly to note--magic. It feels like a classic that has been around for all of time--making it timeless to readers and an instant favourite of mine. Fans of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Harry Potter and other magical based fantasies, will find themselves lost in this beautiful novel.

Plain and simple: The Night Circus is a triumph. It's everything modern literature needs.


Review: Abigale Hall by Lauren A. Forry

Abigale Hall by Lauren A. Forry | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

A copy of this novel was provided through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

There was something utterly engrossing about Abigale Hall. Before I even cracked open (or whatever the eBook equivalent of that phrase is) I knew this. Even the briefest of summaries will signal that this novel is going to be a trip. That is the most important thing you should know about this release by Lauren A. Forry: it is a trip. Creepy in all the right ways, Abigale Hall is a very solid release that keeps you on the edge of your seat and has not only a secretive air to it, but also an incredibly intelligent one.

I cannot stress how intense the story is itself. It has that dark vibe to it that a good, old fashioned thriller would and because of this darkness it's very easy to envision everything. Abigale Hall is fashioned in the way that an old, spooky movie is and it's so painfully vivid, you can't bring yourself to look away. Lauren A. Forry is a master of suspense who put forth a lot of effort to make this story bigger than its cover and description says it is. Which makes it stand out a lot more than I had imagined. Picture a historical novel mixed with a thriller and add in a solid dash of just about every genre. I don't want to make a comparison to V.C. Andrews novels (because, in truth, Lauren A. Forry has a far more descriptive and coherent way of expressing her tale) but I do think that fans Gothic fiction will appreciate this story more than the ordinary reader.


Review: Celebrate by Lauren Conrad

Celebrate by Lauren Conrad | Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2.5)

Would it be silly to say that this review hurts me more than it hurts you, fellow readers, and of course Lauren Conrad? Yes? No? Maybe--whatever. The truth is that, despite my low star rating, I don't regret buying this book in the least. It just wasn't all I was expecting... which, I suppose, isn't all that surprising?  I'm positive I am just not a lifestyle book kind of girl and that has everything to do with the reason why I didn't love nor hate Celebrate.

Everyone knows that Lauren Conrad is my girl. From the Laguna Beach/The Hills days, to her full force run ahead into fashion and her previous fictional releases, I'm always keen on supporting her work. I'm consistently buying her clothing (ugh, it's all so cute) and stalking her website and Pinterest for inspiration. So to say I was excited, and then disappointed by this release, would be an understatement to the highest degree. I own each and every once of her previous books and while they have never been the greatest, or the most unique, they at least were solid.


Review: Life in High Def by Kimberly Cooper Griffin

Life in High Def by Kimberly Cooper Griffin | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

A copy of this novel was provided through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

Life in High Def is mysterious and sexy; a read that may be your next summer hit. Kimberly Cooper Griffin keeps you on the edge of your seat often and mixes up glamour and grit seamlessly. It's more than your ordinary fluffy tale of romance and Hollywood--there is a mix of genres that will keep even the pickiest of readers going. What I loved about Life in High Def was the tone--it was delicious, dark and honest. The perfect beach read.

In a world where same sex relationships are often ignored in fiction (and in life) it's always a joy to find a novel that tackles it in the same way male/female relationships are portrayed. While Life in High Def had a lot of flaws, it was no more flawed than the typical romance novel. The only difference being that this one had actual depth to it and this fact kept things going in a way that was captivating for its audience. I can't say I've never read a novel like it but I also can't say that I have. The truth is: it is a voice desperately needed in wlw romance novels.

There's just something fun and dishy about it; all the while, realistic and incredibly dark.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Review: Whitefern by V.C. Andrews

Whitefern by V.C. Andrews* | Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

As you, no doubt, know by now V.C. Andrews is/was the queen of disturbing young adult sagas that were, more often than not, banned for their explicit and controversial content. Gothic Horror has always been her strongest genre and nearly all of her work defines at least five trigger warnings. Her literature has never been an easy thing to swallow.

Even those who've never picked up a forbidden release from this iconic author, chances are you've heard of her catalogue. From treacherous family drama to taboos. To unbearably dark challenges her characters face. Teenage sexuality and abuse are often her calling card but frankly a lot goes down in her work.

Her most iconic works--and amongst the most twisted--are often topics in popular culture and this has hardly changed in the decades since her novels were first published. Each release has gone through multiple prints and even decades after she has passed--a ghost writer has grossly taken on her legacy and continued to milk her name for all its worth. In and of itself, that's scoff-worthy. Whitefern--the sequel to one of my favourites and most disturbing of V.C. Andrews' vast archive, My Sweet Audrina--is just as bad as one would expect.

If I could give it less than one start, I would. I truly left this novel feeling not only like I've stepped on a nail, I finally found the book to dethrone novels like Fifty Shades of Grey as some of the worst pieces of fiction published in the better part of a decade. The first thing I noticed about Whitefern was its lack of knowledge about the original novel (seriously: did they only read it once?) and the publisher's lack of respect towards V.C. Andrews' legacy as a whole.


Picture This! Book Spotlight: The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas |  Rating: ★★★★★   

"Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right."

Wow--just wow. That's the only way I can accurately sum up my experience in reading this stunning debut from Angie Thomas. I can't remember the last time I was so deeply moved by any novel--not just a young adult novel. Perhaps, it was over a decade ago by a book that is very different yet so entwined with a similar message. When I was in middle school, my teacher suggested I read a book called Candle in the Wind by Maureen Crane Wartski. The Hate U Give tackles a very different topic of violence and the effect it has on a community.

Utterly relevant to the world we live in where the topic of violence against POC by the hands of police--The Hate U Give offers its readers a highly underrepresented voice to fiction. Even more, it is something that is instantly a classic for many who pick it up. Indeed, I'm not afraid to say that Angie Thomas not only carves a name for her work with this riveting debut; she has certainly won out a place for this novel on the best young-adult novels of all time. The Hate U Give is something we so desperately needed to see represented in literature and in the years to come, it will surely remain at the top of that list.


Monday, June 12, 2017

The Flash, Volume 2: Speed of Darkness (Rebirth) by Joshua Williamson (Writer), Felipe Watanabe (Penciler), Oclair Albert (Inker), Chris Sotomayor (Colourist), Steve Wands (Goodreads Author) (Letterer), Jorge Corona (Artist), Ivan Plascencia (Colourist) | Rating: ★★☆☆☆

A copy of this novel was provided through Edelweiss by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way. 

I think now is the time for me to admit defeat when it comes to my dislike of (or rather, boredom towards) the DC Universe Rebirth comics. At this point, it's become so tedious and boring to read the latest issues, I'm not sure why I'm shocked when an issue (or in this case, collection) just isn't my cup of tea. In all the good, there has been far more strikes against this run. The Flash: Speed of Darkness takes on an incredibly lackluster path and even its magnificent artwork cannot save it.

While its predecessor had its flaws it still remained full of that spark meant to keep readers attentive; this one didn't. It had an even more difficult time keeping its footing--it was, to put it bluntly, dull. I'm not talking "oh, it's fine--I'll push through it" levels of dull. We're talking "I put this down seven or eight times since I began reading it and still can't get past it" levels of "I'm lucky I even finished it" dull.


The Lauras by Sara Taylor | Rating: ★★★★☆

A copy of this novel was provided through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

The Shore was one of those books that was hit or miss for my personal taste; I often flip flopped in my opinion of its entire premise/prose. What always remained full of praise was Sara Taylor's general tone and understanding of her characters. She has this moving way about her storytelling that will captivate you even if the story isn't your cup of tea by its final pages--The Lauras is just as wonderfully told and far more appealing and satisfying than The Shore.

I think that the first word that comes to mind when I'm to explain the novel is intense. The Lauras is intelligent, a vivid picture painted in words that remain intense as you move forward. One of the most appealing things about this was that it made you feel a great deal in just a few words. A genuine strike of emotion comes hand-in-hand with it and you will find yourself connected pretty quickly. It's the perfect story to curl up with in bed and is a pretty fast read that somehow doesn't lack emotional depth. I think that it should be said, as well, that the prose is so moving you will find yourself reaching for your highlighter or something to mark up your favourite passages with--not unlike Kate Morton's books manage to do for me.


The Tuesday Club Murders by Agatha Christie | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

“Human nature is always interesting, Sir Henry. And it's curious to see how certain types always tend to act in exactly the same way.” 

Who doesn't love a good Miss Marple Mystery from the iconic Agatha Christie? Christie is one of the most beloved writers in class literature and with good reason--she had a way with words that kept her readers inching forward on the seat; all but pressing their noses against the pages of her books in their suspense. 2017 has, for whatever reason, brought Christie's works back into my day-to-day life (and general reading goals) and The Tuesday Club Murders is one of those rare collections by Agatha Christie that I had yet to read.

Miss Marple is one of the most fascinating fictional characters to read about and seeing her keen sense of mystery in action is always a pleasure. Although this is not my favourite release to feature her, nor is it in the top ten of Christie's finest works, it was still a fun and fast paced read that was perfect for the summertime!


Forks by A.E. Davis | Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Once upon a time, I was a huge Twilight fan. Okay, maybe not huge but moderately so. Every once and a while, that fangirl rears her head at a mention of Twilight--in so many ways, it was one of my first fandom experiences. I still feel incredibly tied to it as a whole (and the community in general) despite my lukewarm feelings towards the franchise. Which is why my feeling of excitement came full force at the freebie known as Forks by A.E. Davis and I put it at the top of my priorities list this summer.

Forks isn't a bad novel by any means. It is weird. Solid in terms of writing. Pair this up with a concept and a very, very familiar setting--it was an interesting experiences to read. Davis breathes something into the story that makes its appearance known every now and again but for the most part, I just couldn't figure out what was going to be the number one thing that kept my attention. At times, it felt all over the place and sloppy--other times, it shined and had a certain kick to it that Twilight didn't. The latter was very rare but it still should be acknowledged that however minor it was, that kick was there.