Friday, January 24, 2020

The Fragile Ordinary by Samantha Young Review


Title: The Fragile Ordinary
Author: Samantha Young
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

                I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                Before Wednesday, I’d never read anything by Samantha Young. The Fragile Ordinary was the chosen book for one of the clubs I go to for the month of January, and I was intrigued. I didn’t finish it until this morning, and holy smokes! Samantha Young, where have you been my whole life?! This book was unique, powerful, and heartfelt, but I wish that there had been more clarification on some issues, but nonetheless, this book packs one heck of a punch. Lyrical, painful and true to life, The Fragile Ordinary was a fantastic novel, despite a few little things that I wish had been wrapped up. A contemporary romance with a healthy dose of coming of age, I loved this book so much! It makes me wish that I’d picked up one of her books a whole lot sooner! This may be one of my favorite books of 2020!

                Comet Caldwell hates her name with a burning passion. Comet is the name of a girl who isn’t shy, awkward, and greatly prefers books to people. Her two best friends, Vicki and Steph, have been encouraging her for years to take a leap of faith, be a normal teenager for once. But after being bullied at school by classmates and being ignored by her parents for pretty much her whole life, Comet has decided that life is better avoiding the spotlight. But when a young American boy named Tobias comes to her school, she feels an almost immediate attraction to him. Comet must decide whether to stay the same, or change and become a better person.

                This book; honestly, at first, I didn’t know what to think. I saw Comet’s name and almost laughed; it was such a surprise. It took me a little while to get into it, but I took Wednesday and yesterday off work so I could at least read most of it before we met last night. The pacing was breakneck, and I was almost immediately entranced by Comet’s voice, colorful and shy and sweet, but also ringing with so much pain. I really related to Comet, at first: the insecurity, the desire to hide in literature, as well as her writing aspirations! I loved watching her character development as the book went on. She transformed from a shy, quiet and kind of repressed little mouse into a freaking lioness who takes what she wants, whether it’s first love, her career and what she wants to do after high school, or making amends with her distant, cold parents. And the ending! I adored it! The only issue I had with it was that I wish there had been things in the narrative that were explained more clearly, and it made me cry! A lot! But nonetheless, I will be looking into more of Young’s books, because this one was a total knockout! The bottom line: Emotional and cathartic in the best way, I loved The Fragile Ordinary! Next on deck: The Last Wish: Introducing The Witcher by Andrzej Sapowski!

The Raven's Tale by Cat Winters Review


Title: The Raven’s Tale
Author: Cat Winters
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Horror
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

                I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                A note for the sake of full disclosure before I start this review: I didn’t finish Kingdom of Souls. It felt like it was dragging on the whole time, so I reshelved it. Maybe I’ll go back to it later! Cat Winters is one of my favorite authors, so her latest book has been on my list since before it came out. The first time, I couldn’t read it before it went back to the library. But it’s been sitting at the top of my library stack, and as soon as I was finished with Kingdom of Souls, I dove in. The Raven’s Tale reimagines Edgar Allan Poe’s childhood and young adulthood, stifled under his cruel stepfather’s iron fist. Despite his dreams of being a writer, his stepfather demands that Edgar work toward more lucrative pursuits. But on the evening Edgar is set to go to university, a Muse named Lenore appears, promising him wealth, greatness, fame: everything he’s ever wanted. In exchange, she demands to be shone to the world. But will Edgar give in to his tyrant of a foster father, or make his dark, macabre dreams a reality?

                This book might be my favorite in Winters’s entire body of work; I remember being totally spellbound by EAP when I was younger, so this opportunity to have a fictional spotlight on him as a young man was awesome! The prose was gorgeous, and I loved the way that Winters actually incorporated Poe’s writing throughout. The pacing was breakneck, and I was totally riveted; I loved the way Winters talked about the arts, but especially writers. I also adored the way that she explained the complicated and dark relationship between Edgar and his dark muse, Lenore. Edgar’s voice was wry, humorous and melancholy, and I loved it. I also adored the other characters: Edgar’s lady love, Lenore, his parents. They provide a great foil for Edgar, brooding and at times even vicious. The tension was also crazy; there were several times that I had to walk away to take a few deep breaths. But Winter’s reimagining of one of the most prominent writers in the English canon was nothing less than fantastic, and I loved the way it paid tribute to him and the muse who inspired his work. The bottom line: Creepy, richly detailed, gorgeous and surprising, I loved The Raven’s Tale! Next on deck: The Fragile Ordinary by Samantha Young!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass by Mariko Tamaki Review


Title: Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass
Authors: Mariko Tamaki and Steve Pugh
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Graphic Novel
Series: DC Ink
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

                I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                Everyone who knows me knows I love comics and graphic novels, and Harleen Quinzel is one of my favorite characters in the entire DC universe. So, when I went to book club last month and saw the gorgeous cover of this graphic novel sitting on a display, I knew I had to take it home with me. Mariko Tamaki, Steve Pugh, and DC Ink has hit another home run; this one just might be my favorite of the series so far. This book, colorful and vivid and distinct, was amazing: the art was gorgeous, and I devoured this book in a matter of hours. This book revisits Harley as a teenager, fighting with Ivy to save the neighborhood from corrupt businessmen and gentrification. She lives with a group of kind, hilarious drag queens who entertain Gotham City after dark. When Harley realizes that a corporation is doing its best to take over her city, she gets mad. Teaming up with Poison Ivy, Harley realizes that sometimes, the choices you make can define or destroy you…

                I really, really enjoyed this book! Harley Quinn is one of my favorite characters, so as soon as I got an opportunity to read it, I dove in. The art was gorgeous, colorful and compelling; I loved the way that Pugh used a muted color palette for everything in the book except for Harley herself; it provided great contrast. I was captivated by Harley’s hilarious, honest voice; the pacing was breakneck. I also loved the cameos from other, familiar DC characters: Poison Ivy and the Kane family, even Batman himself! But baby Harley is the star of this beautiful graphic novel, still destructive, fierce, and protective of her city, even its ugly underbelly. I was laughing, crying, and cheering by the time that I finished this book, and I absolutely loved it! Colorful, heartfelt, hilarious and honest, I loved this rendition on one of my favorite antiheroes. DC Ink, Mariko Tamaki, and Steve Pugh have done a fantastic job of fleshing out the younger years of one of Gotham City’s most memorable characters! The bottom line: Funny, beautifully drawn, surprising and honest, I loved Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass! Next on deck: Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater Review


Title: Call Down the Hawk
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Dreamer Trilogy, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

                I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                Okay, so I just finished this book last night and I’m still so emotional. This is going to sound crazy fangirly, but whatever, here we go. There aren’t enough words in the English language to describe just how much I love and have missed Maggie Stiefvater’s writing. The Raven Cycle is one of my all-time favorite series, and once I found out that one of my favorite Raven Boys, Ronan Lynch and his family, got the spotlight in Call Down the Hawk, I was so excited! I was lucky enough to receive my library’s first copy, and as soon as I was finished with Supernova, I dove in. This book is dark, weird, lyrical and surprising; I loved it so much. It might be one of my favorites of Stiefvater’s entire body of work. I loved this weird, strange book, but most of all, this book made me realize just how much I love the brothers Lynch. This is the second book of 2020 for me, and I loved every crazy, insane moment of it. One of my favorites of the year, and I can’t wait for the next two books!

                Ronan Lynch has always known that he and his family have been different. Left alone at the Barns after his boyfriend, Adam Parrish, goes to start college at Harvard, Ronan soon discovers that the world his late, also dreaming father inhabited hides dark, dangerous secrets, some of them about Ronan himself and his brothers. But when he meets another dreamer, the mysterious Hennessey, Ronan begins to realize that there is a war raging, dreams and destiny are crashing together, and unknown forces are working behind the scenes to make sure that the Dreamers stay hidden. But Ronan must decide if he will become the hero everyone wants him to be, or turn his back on his loved ones…

                I loved, loved, loved this book. The Raven Cycle is one of my die-hard, deserted island series; I wish I had it in my own collection, and reading this book felt like nothing less than coming home. It made me so emotional that there were several times where I had to put the book down to cry. I’ve missed these characters so much; it felt like I was being welcomed back into an old group of dear, loving friends. The pacing was breakneck, and I immediately felt at home with Ronan and his brothers. The prose was dark, lyrical, and per Maggie’s signature, confusing; there were times when I had to go back and reread to make sure I really understood it. But she puts her signature magic into this new trilogy, and one of my favorite parts of the novel was the way that the Lynches’ dreaming was explained. I also adored the characters, old and new, but especially Hennessey and the girls, Bryde, and the Visionaries and Zeds. I don’t want to say too much about the plot; it’s confusing, tangled, but best experienced blind; the better to keep the surprises under wraps! The bottom line: Weird, dark, surprising and funny, I loved Call Down the Hawk! I can’t wait for more from this new trilogy! Next on deck: Cursed by Frank Miller and Thomas Wheeler!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Supernova by Marissa Meyer Review


Title: Supernova
Author: Marissa Meyer
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Renegades, book three
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
                I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
                Supernova was the first book I finished in 2020, but due to the holidays, I wasn’t able to finish it until a few days ago. If I’m being totally honest, I didn’t want to finish it, because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Gatlon City, or any of the Renegades or Anarchists just yet. But I finished it, and I’ve been sitting on it ever since. This book was so bittersweet. I was eager to see what would happen, but I was also dreading the end, because it meant that it was really, truly over! Supernova picks up where Archenemies left off, with a traitor in the midst of The Renegades. Nova and Adrian are both left scrambling to hide their identities, and must withstand even more lies and betrayal as they do their best to protect their loved ones. Their greatest fears are about to come to life, and unless they can mend the rift between villains and heroes, they stand to lose everything, including each other. But secrets don’t stay buried, and Nova and Adrian must do everything to save their broken world…
                I really, really liked this book! I got it a few weeks ago, and it’s been sitting on the top of the library stack ever since; I finished it right as the new year started, but due to the holidays, I’ve been sitting on my review. Sequels always make me anxious, especially when I don’t have the previous books to refer back to, but I had nothing to fear like that from Supernova. I was instantly thrown back into the action, and it didn’t take long to remember everything that was going on. The pacing was breakneck, and I have to say that I had to walk away from the book sometimes, both to get a hold of myself emotionally and to make it last longer. I cried through a lot of it, and the fight scenes were some of the most nail-biting I’ve ever read. But even more than that, I loved the resolution that was presented in this book, even with all of the pain involved. All of my questions were answered, all loose ends were tied. But my favorite thing about this series is how it took one of our culture’s most prominent myths and turned it on its head, forming a brand-new classic. I love Heartless, but for now, Renegades and its sequels hold the place in my heart for this author’s best series. Marissa Meyer has done an outstanding job, and I will never forget this series! The bottom line: Dark, emotional, and surprising, I loved Supernova! Definitely a great choice for the first novel of 2020! Next on deck: Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater!

Runaways by Brian K. Vaughn Review


Title: Runaways: The Complete Edition
Authors: Brian K. Vaughn, Adrian Alphona, et. Al
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Graphic Novel
Series: Runaways, books 1-18
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

                I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                Okay, so, the reason I was curious about the comics was because of the TV show on Hulu; I started watching it a while ago, and I wanted to read the source material. I just finished it this morning upon waking up, and let me just say, whoa. The adaptation was definitely different, but I enjoyed the first set of comics nonetheless! This darkly funny and surprising series asks a serious question: Every group of teenagers thinks that their parents are evil incarnate. But what if your parents actually were? When a group of children discovers that their parents are murdering supervillains, they run away, furious that they’ve been lied to all their lives. I’m a sucker for good characterization, especially with young adults. The art is gorgeous, sharp, and colorful; I’m looking forward to more from this series! Next on deck: Supernova by Marissa Meyer!