Sunday, February 26, 2017

Jughead (2015) #4 by Chip Rating: ★★★★★  

Archie Comics does it again! I mean listen, I am probably slightly biased on the matter--I would definitely call Archie my ride or die comics--but the recently rebooted Jughead stories just keep getting better. In #4 we are continuing the trail of mystery (is the new staff at Riverdale up to something? If so, what?) with humour (a lot of humour!) and of course familiar faces. 

Oh, yes! Not to mention hilarious dream sequences--say hello to Slackbeard! I am either really tired (plausible) or really easily amused because I'm almost always howling with laughter at the vivid and creative dreams he has. While this one doesn't beat out Game of Jones or their spoof on U.N.C.L.E it is still filled with good old fashioned nostalgic humour that even the oldest Riverdale fans can appreciate. Tied it up in one stunning bow (that! artwork! I! feel! faint!) and you've got yourself a can't miss comic. 

Honest.

Even better we get to see more interactions between Jughead and his friends. We get more of Dilton Doiley filling in the position of his partner in crime; as Jughead tries to crack the case on whether or not they are in serious trouble (danger!) at school. I've got a hint for you: HACKING and a bit of a backfire. Because what is an Archie comic without a little mischief gone wrong? 


If I Could Tell You by Elizabeth Wilhide | Rating: ★★★☆☆

As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

Elizabeth Wilhide's novel If I Could Tell You is full of hits and misses for me and while I did enjoy myself a lot with this one, I also felt immensely underwhelmed by other traits. In many ways it's a highly compelling read with stylish prose and a solid plot. It has its moments of intrigue. In other ways, it is highly unobtainable in the sense that as a reader you may have difficulty connecting to the characters. Wilhide is very intentional in the way the story ties up and this is a plus, but there are many other qualities that put me off and caused my to walk away a time or two.

I think my problem with the novel was more-or-less in the characters and the way their characteristics were tipped at us. Something felt off about it and I couldn't really get past that from the get-go. I had a fun time with the plot whilst ignoring its flaws but at the same time you can't help but to get frustrated because it lands in a way that's neither here nor there.

You spend all that time getting to know the story without coming away with much. And at the end of the day it's mostly a quick read that warrants use during a book hangover, for example. It can be fun and captivating only to leave you feeling as though there could have been more to it. I don't personally like that in my historical fiction--but that's okay. Because despite my problems with it, again, I didn't hate it.


Jughead (2015) #3 by Chip Rating: ★★★★★ 

SO. So. You guys know how I said that Issue #2 was my new favourite in this reboot of Jughead? I lied. I mean... in my defense, it's entirely because I didn't expect them to go all The Man From U.N.C.L.E on my ass. But here we are. The third installment of the phenomenal re-imagined Jughead is even better than the first two. I loved the tone of conspiracy and humour to it. Everything played out well and the artwork is just as nice as ever.

Picking up immediately where #2 left off, we find our boy in some hot water over an incident at school. Cleaning up after this mess isn't easy especially when you consider how much the new staff at school seems to hate Jughead. He is definitely a nuisance in their eyes which is hilariously true--he is Jughead Jones, after-all. His best friend is Archie Andrews. You get the picture.

Riverdale is just as fun and full of trickery as ever. There's something teasingly witty about this issue and I found moments to be more funny than they probably were. Once more, we strike gold with a Jughead Jones dream sequence. I love all the references they sneak in those and this issue is no different. In fact, while I loved their spin on Game of Thrones, I loved this U.N.C.L.E reference more.


The Hope Chest by Viola Shipman | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

Before The Hope Chest, I'd never heard of Viola Shipman and frankly I'm surprised by this. I thought the entirety of this novel was drawn wonderfully and while it wasn't/isn't my favourite novel of the year, it was still quite the captivating read and an experience I won't soon forget. I was curious by the entire premise of both it and The Charm Bracelet and binge-read them during some much needed downtime.

I think the first thing that readers should know is that the writing is elegant. Pure and simple, it is stunning and offers so much to the story. Beyond that, it's thought provoking and sparkles from start to finish. I know, I say it a lot in my reviews but this novel has heart and just takes you in from the start. Something in the way that Shipman crafted the story is special--whether it be the first time you read it, the last, or the fifth. Shipman pulls on our heartstrings and makes us really, really think and feel freely. I caught myself tearing up a few times over the most mundane of things. Then, came the heavy stuff.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Jughead (2015) #2 by Chip Rating: ★★★★★ 

Jughead Jones is back and better than ever! In Jughead #2, everyone's favourite is in for some serious trouble--detention! Gasp! Howl! The horror! In my humble opinion, Jughead #2 is even better than the first installment of the newly rebooted Riverdale favourite and as usual is totally giggle worthy. Can I say that without sounding lame? Definitely not. Am I going to say it anyways? Duh.

Once more, the new Jughead combines new and old traits together; tying generations of fans up quite nicely. I found this installment to be more humorous than the previous which is saying something, since the last one was pretty damn funny! Of course, I am biased--as you know, Jughead Jones is one of my favourite comic characters of all-time. In #2, the artwork is on point and the characters we know and love are just as fun as they've always been. I couldn't get enough of it!

And I'm not going to lie, I totally cackled during the scene in detention when Jughead and Dilton were talking. "Your dad's name is Harvard?" Dilton? Hello, Dilton? (I actually wanted to add: is this thing on? To this entire scene. I was giggly, I guess.) The way that this scene is portrayed is classic Archie all the way and as mundane as it seems, it just made me smile like a doofus. Or like a Jughead who just spot a burger--whichever.


The Original Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

Ginny Moon is a highly intriguing novel that hit a lot of high and low notes. I don't want my rating to fool you--I did appreciate this novel and thought it was very important to its genre. There were a few things I didn't like about it, which were what landed it between 3 and 4 stars, I may update it to 4 of 5 stars at the end of the day, like the ending.

For the most part Benjamin Ludwig crafts an unforgettable tale that combines innocence and a little heartbreak. I can't explain how I felt while reading it without spoiling and that's the opposite of what I want to do. It shines light on a character that is vastly underrepresented in modern and classic literature, and its prose is thoughtful--elegant and thought provoking. Ludwig managed to impress me deeply with the way the plotline is captured and you can feel everything as you are reading. I do mean everything.

Full of solid relationships (family and all its confusions) and sprinkled in are a lot of mixed genres; Ginny Moon is charming. I do think that even the most reluctant of readers will appreciate this novel and the characters in it. The tone is such a compelling one that you can't really put it down.


The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace | Rating: ★★★★★

Original review here. Slightly revised from its original form in honor of the newly published version, now featuring more new poems. This is pretty much the same review only it tackles a bit more without spoiling the new works published. 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 Princess Saves Herself in this One is a triumph in modern poetry and I'm not just saying this because I've followed Amanda for years on her Tumblr and admired her blog from afar. I'm saying this because it's the first thought that comes to mind when reading this. If ever there were a release this year worthy of hype, it's this one. No matter what someone says--this is poetry and this breathes life to Amanda's words.

It came to me during a reading slump and brought me from it. Actually, I can't stress how important this collection is to me because reading it was something truly magical and didn't just pull me out of a reading slump. Now, my second time reading it and exploring the newer additions, I can say even further that Amanda Lovelace is a talent in her own league and someone to look out for.

Blind Attraction by Eden Summers | Rating: ★★☆☆☆

“I've watched a never-ending line of relationships crumple around me, with each sordid detail publicized to the world. I couldn't stand to hurt you that way.”

Eden Summers' Blind Attraction is just the latest in a string of romance novels I've been trying on for size. It follows a relatively normal and familiar formula: good, sheltered girl falls in with someone unexpected. Tropes like this are hit or miss for me and while I didn't hate Blind Attraction, I wasn't all that fond of it, either.

And while I'm sure it's found its audience and a steady fan base, it just wasn't for me. I felt bored a good chunk of the time despite liking the main characters. Eden Summers' prose is a solid departure from the genre but at the end of the day, I kept walking away from the story and lacked investment in it.

There were multiple times when I thought I wouldn't finish the story and found myself skipping certain parts in it when I couldn't focus.


Ms. Manwhore by Katy Evans | Rating: ★★★☆☆

Because I love him.
Because when I look into his eyes, nothing else exists but him.
Because even when I don’t look into his eyes, nothing else exists but him.


From hot and heavy to sweet and heartfelt, Katy Evans has a way of getting her readers invested in her stories. Manwhore was good and surprised me, Manwhore +1 furthered my interest in the love story between Rachel and Malcolm and I've heard nothing but good things about many of her other novels. But, Ms. Manwhore was pretty lackluster and a bit too clichéd compared to the first two installments. I just felt very bored the entire time I read it--because it wasn't awful but it just wasn't filled with the same spark as the first two of the series.

If it had been a full-length novel, perhaps their "happily ever after" would have compelled me more. As happy as I was to see how their story tied up I do wish it wasn't a novella; there was so much more of a story to tell about their vows and the wedding. I felt like something was missing the entire time I was reading it and even though I did enjoy it for the most part, I just think it could have been better. Perhaps, I was just picky about it.


Right On, Riverdale! Jughead (2015) #1

Jughead (2015) #1 by Chip Rating: ★★★★★  

Jughead Jones has always been one of my favourite fictional men (er, boys) so it's going to come as no surprise that I loved the first issue of the newly rebooted Jughead comics. There's something undeniably retro and modern about this particular portrayal of Jughead and I absolutely appreciate that. He's visibly different (look at that incredible new artwork!) but still the same old Juggy and you have to really hand it to Archie Comics for the way they are modernizing their characters once more. 

Filled with food and humor (the injustice of a new set of rules for the cafeteria food!) it is the perfect illustration of who Jughead Jones is. You can see the past adaptations and present ones college in #1 and that's what makes reading it so fun. It's one of those "what is old becomes new again" scenarios and lifelong fans of Jughead will appreciate it. The story is classic Archie style--new spines on old characters that has such a feel-good vibe to it. Plus, it's only right that Jughead's newest incarnation features food as the central plot to its first issue--because what is Jughead without his love of burgers? 

I found myself cracking up more times than I could count and when Jughead is knocked out cold, his dream sequence is by far one of my favourite columns in recent Archie releases. Bring on the Game of Jones, am I right? 


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Manwhore +1 by Katy Evans | Rating: ★★★★★ 

Be safe with me. Reckless with me. Be who you are with me.

Much like with its predecessor, I found my expectations surprisingly shattered in the best possible way with Katy Evans lovestory. Manwhore +1 is entirely as fun and steamy as Manwhore and this time, there's a lot more romance and resolution to be found. While the story at its core is highly clichéd and a bit unbelievable, it is still likable and captivating. And if you loved the first novel in the series, you'll be positively enamored by the sequel and all the love and growth that materializes before our eyes.

Manwhore +1 is ultimately more heartfelt in its central plot that the first book. It takes a look around and improves itself--the main romance is expanded after they are reunited and make peace with the article and its aftermath. Everything in this novel is put to the test and the growth we see looking back at the start, to that ending, is a great example of what romance writers can learn. I found myself rooting even more for Rachel and Malcolm, something I thought not possible--as I was already cheering them on in the first installment.

Are you ready to be a sinner? Because I know I am. Full of steamy moments and sharp dialogue, Manwhore +1 is in it to win it.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Wrecked by Maria Padian | Rating:  ★★★★☆ (4.5)

As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

Let's start right off the bat with the topic at hand the trigger warning that is laying in the central plot. Wrecked tackles the subject of rape. This will not be for everyone. I need to lay that out there for my readers. Because, it is a sensitive topic. Remember, as always, to look into the novel and protect yourself from triggering any memories. Although it tackles the topic, it is not in the usual way--the story is not narrated by the victim, instead, it's a bit of an outsiders view of the aftermath.

That being said, Maria Padian has a realistic way of approaching the topic and breathes a life into her story that makes you feel deeply from page one until the end. It's deep, it's a bit of a painful experience, there's humor and it just remains true to itself in a way that most novels cannot manage. Wrecked isn't an after school special but a frank look into the characters' we meet and their lives. You look into the community of a college and the all-too-real look at sexual assault.


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Betting on Bailey by Tara Crescent | Rating: ★★★☆☆

As if knowing someone is a prerequisite to good sex.

Betting on Bailey is another one of those on a whim purchases I've made lately. Until this novel, I'd never heard of Tara Crescent but can't understand why. Her writing is the type that pulls you in and just might set you on fire by the ending. I had a love/hate for this novel because there were a lot of parts that just didn't flow quite like I'd have hoped. I did, however, enjoy it overall and am curious to more by Crescent.

That being said--threesomes. It's one of those fantasies that just sort of sticks in your mind. Betting on Bailey is not my first experience with the topic when it comes to literature. But it is one of the better ones. You've got three intriguing characters who have off the charts chemistry; pulling you in from the moment they meet and keeping you in place firmly. Did I find their relationship to be entirely plausible? Not quite. Did I still enjoy it? Yes.

One of the things that bothered me about Betting on Bailey was how it flowed overall. It felt a bit strange, the way everything developed and grew from one thing to another. That's the only reason I'm giving it a three-star instead of four or even a five. I found some of the interactions to be a bit strange or lack that extra kick that would set it apart. Beyond that, I'm not going to lie to you: a great deal of it felt unbelievable and unrealistic.


Manwhore by Katy Evans | Rating: ★★★★★ 

A challenge is something you stop wanting once you acquire it. I can’t know if you’re a challenge yet until I make you mine. 

I went into Manwhore fully intending to hate it. This was a novel I picked up on a whim to cure a massive book hangover I'd been having for a few weeks. I never expected to like it, let alone love it. After-all, its plots are full of frequently used devices, tropes and all those bloody archetypes that grow more and more tedious with every passing day. We get it! Bad boy is tamed by a good girl.

The thing that surprised me about Manwhore was it was a total cliche. One that came into its own in a way that is very, very satisfying to a reader. Katy Evans spins a sizzling tale that is smart, sexy and quick on its feet. It only helps that it takes place in Chicago, a city that I love immensely. To describe the plot of Manwhore, I'd have to sum it up as a very steamy spin on How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days. They're not identical in plots but I think the general premise will be appealing to those who love a good romp and the feel that comes with the now-classic romantic comedy. 

Manwhore is a lot more serious than I expected but also not serious at all. I'm sure you're thinking the same thing I am: "Jessica, that makes no sense." I'm not going to apologize, though, because that's the only way I can describe it. Evans mixes business, pleasure, heart and everything in between. Not unlike the tone that Sylvia Day writes in--she'll captivate you with the romance that blossoms against odds between Malcolm and Rachel.