Thursday, April 27, 2017

My Foray Into Graphic Novels

I've really wanted to start reading more graphic novels recently, especially the ones I mentioned on a Top Ten Tuesday back in February. So when I was pitched a few books from First Second (an imprint of Macmillan), and they sounded super interesting, I could not pass up the opportunity to give them a try. And I'm so glad to say that I really enjoyed them all!

*****

Title: Spill Zone (The Spill Zone, #1)
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: May 2nd, 2017!
 
My Review!
This was REALLY weird, and goddamn creepy. I figured it would be, but wow. Not sure if that's in a good way or not. I think this will definitely appeal to people! But not sure if it'll be for me. I appreciated the main character, Addison, and how protective she was of her sister. I loved that they had each other, even when they didn't have answers to what happened to their parents in the spill. And I AM intrigued to see where the series is going, and I want to know what REALLY happened and what exactly is going on here. There are meat puppets (which ew), cats that talk, and lights that give you nightmares. However, there are no explanations, and I WANT THEM. But I never want to see that doll, Vespertine, again. *shudders*
RATING: 3 Paw Prints!



Title: The Nameless City (The Nameless City, #1)
Author: Faith Erin Hicks
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: April 5th, 2016!

My Review!
Oh my gosh, this was so ADORABLE. It was a starter book, to get us familiar with the world that Faith Erin Hicks has built, and to introduce the characters we'll see and who will be important throughout the series. I loved Rat and Kaidu, in particular. Kaidu is an outsider, and Rat is a Named, born and bred in this city that changes names. It's a city of many different people, from many different cultures, but there is no unification. I think that's going to be a big part of the series, especially in the sequel, when Kai's father's plan is going to be enacted, a plan that encompasses all people, even the Named. It was a very fun story, and even gave me some feels (Joah and Rat, MY HEART). I'm very excited to continue with The Stone Heart!
RATING: 4 Paw Prints!



Title: The Stone Heart (The Nameless City, #2)
Author: Faith Erin Hicks
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: April 4th, 2017!

My Review!
I am LOVING these books! I'm honestly sad I have to wait so long for the 3rd and final one, The Divided EarthI'm so happy I took a chance on these, because the illustrations are gorgeous and the story and the characters so rich in detail. I just freaking adore the friendship between Rat and Kaidu. Their playful banter and bond despite the fact that he's Dao and she's of the Nameless City. I wish there'd been more scenes with Hannya and Iniko, because that one was great and funny. I adore Rat's relationship with Joah, and would love to see more development with the one between Kai and his father. Though it's short and there is very little text, these characters feel real and multifaceted, even the "villains." I WANT MORE.
RATING: 4 Paw Prints!

*****

As for graphic novels in general, I'm still unsure where I lean. I've like enjoyed all that I've read (which is only like 4 of them, so I definitely need to try more), but I also think I might still prefer stories? Illustrations are fabulous, of course, and they are used to tell the story. But sometimes I miss the words.


Do you guys read graphic novels? What are some of your favorites? I'm definitely here for recommendations. :D

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

#ReadADessen Campaign: Keeping the Moon

Today I'm very excited to be participating in this cool campaign that Penguin Teen has cooked up. While all the books will be featured, I'll be talking about Keeping the Moon, which was sent to me by the lovely PRH team. :)

*****

Title: Keeping the Moon
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Speak
Release Date: September 1st, 1999!
*Physical review copy kindly provided by Penguin Teen.

From Goodreads...
Never underestimate the power of friendship.

When Colie goes to spend the summer at the beach, she doesn't expect much.

But Colie didn't count on meeting Morgan and Isabel.

Through them, she learns what true friendship is all about, and finally starts to realize her potential.

And that just might open the door to her first chance at love...

 
Music and Friendship
I really liked Keeping the Moon! It was my first Sarah Dessen read, and I can tell you that it won't be the last. It had a very lovely friendship at the core of it. The main character, Colie, had always been on her own for much of her life, with just her mom for company. And she's never known a warm embrace from a good friend. But with Isabel and Morgan, she starts to open up more and discovers what friendship means. It was a super enjoyable story, and I can't wait to read more of her books!

Music was such a big part of the book (the characters had emergency dance parties often), and it's a big part of my own life. So for my post in the campaign, I thought it'd be cool to make a music playlist of feel-good songs. Ones about confidence and power, people you love and the joy of life. Songs that you can dance along to and forget that the world can be a cruel place. Ones that make me happy whenever I listen to them. :)


*this is a Spotify playlist, so if you don't have that, you might not be able to see or listen to this, sorry guys!

These are mostly newer songs, because I generally listen to them more often. There is definitely some good older stuff here that I still really love when they come on shuffle or the radio. And I would have more on the list (especially some T-Swift!! IF SPOTIFY HAD HER MUSIC ON THEIR SITE), but I think a lot of the songs I love wouldn't be categorized as feel-good or something you can have an emergency dance party to. Some of my absolute favorites are more on the emotionally charged side. But yeah, I hope you enjoy this playlist! I'm a little nervous sharing it because sharing music is hard when you don't branch out very much, but I think these are all fun and great songs. :)

*****

There is also a giveaway going on courtesy of Penguin. One winner will receive a set of Sarah Dessen's books in PB! 

The Fine Print: 
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on April 17, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 1, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.
And here is the schedule of participating blogs! :D
 KEEPING THE MOON 
April 24 – In Wonderland 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

(74) Top Ten Things That Make Me Not Want to Read a Book

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic: Top Ten Things That Make Me Not Want to Read a Book.

*****

Ooh, let's talk about my pet peeves, man. I just wrote a post recently about the things that make me want to read a book asap. But I haven't done one about things I hate. So, here we goooo. Also it just so happens that I've been cleaning up my Goodreads to-read list recently, so I am realizing there definitely are certain tropes/themes that I'm just about done with and want gone forever.

1. Vampires/werewolves/fae/angels/mermaids/etc. aka paranormal stories after the post-Twilight hype. They were all about mysterious dudes and MCs who find out about their supernatural secrets and fall in love despite that and BLAH. I'm over them. I can't tell you how many I moved to the "unsure-lost-interest" pile. I do still love angel stories, though. But I have a hard time finding unique ones anymore.

2. Teacher/student romances. This one is definitely a ~me~ thing. I have ISSUES with this trope, and I don't think I've liked a story with this relationship in it. I have a hard time accepting them. I believe teenagers know themselves and their feelings the best, but I also don't like the uneasy power dynamic in situations like this. And some adults prey on teens. It's gross.

3. Alternately, romances between adults and teenagers. If the teen is over 18, it's not as squicky for me. (Ironically, I just read a book with a romance between an 18 year old girl and a nearly 40 year old guy, and I don't know why I do this to myself). But any age below that, and it's almost a 100% guarantee that I won't read it.

4. Also. Romances between siblings. I would love to understand why Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma is such a beloved book, but I cannot bring myself to read it. It grosses me out. I even tend to stay away from romances between step-siblings or adopted siblings. There is still just such an ick factor for me. I don't know if it will ever NOT be.

5. Synopses that need to quit. I am nooot at all opposed to love triangles, but if I see one talking about the best friend good human versus the bad boy who the MC is inexplicably drawn to even though she hates him, I'm like not again. Also of course, this MC is the Chosen One with special powers (also not opposed to this trope, it's one of my favorites). I've read and seen these same stories over and over again throughout the years. I'm tired. Give me something new.

6. Hearing about girl-on-girl hate. Like, can we just all agree that it should die out in books? I get that it IS realistic, especially in high school settings. But C'MON. It's only going to continue to reinforce the idea that other women are competition, and teenagers do NOT need to keep hearing that. I want awesome friendships and girls supporting each other and it being a priority over love interests. 

7. Slut shaming. Kind of falls into the above category, but something that deserves its own spot because it reinforces rape culture and the double standards women have to fight every single day when it comes to sex. It's SO harmful and it does not need to exist. Ever. And if it's the (male) love interest doing it? Oh, fuck no. Not here for that.

8. Horror. It's just. Not really my thing. I haven't read one that has actually scared me. I shy away from this genre with movies too (and have only gotten scared with a few of them before), so I don't think I'm ever gonna get into it honestly.

9. Dystopia/post-apocalyptic. And this is nothing against the genres in general, but more the fact that I just cannot read them at the moment. The world is a little terrifying enough without reading stories like these on an already anxious mind. So, I'm taking a break of them ALL for the immediate future.

10. Aliens. Yeah, nope, not into anything involving aliens. 

I have other minor pet peeves, like books with camp settings (because I always hated camp) and rock star romances, but I will give most anything a try if it sounds good. But these 10 things are generally a straight-up no for me.


What are YOUR reading pet peeves? Would any of these make your list? Let's talk! :)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Girl Versus the Unforgiving Sea

Title: Given to the Sea (Given Duet, #1)
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 11th, 2017!

From Goodreads...
Khosa is Given to the Sea, a girl born to be fed to the water, her flesh preventing a wave like the one that destroyed the Kingdom of Stille in days of old. But before she’s allowed to dance – an uncontrollable twitching of the limbs that will carry her to the shore in a frenzy – she must produce an heir. Yet the thought of human touch sends shudders down her spine that not even the sound of the tide can match.

Vincent is third in line to inherit his throne, royalty in a kingdom where the old linger and the young inherit only boredom. When Khosa arrives without an heir he knows his father will ensure she fulfills her duty, at whatever cost. Torn between protecting the throne he will someday fill, and the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is at odds with his heart.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race whose dwindling magic grows weaker as the island country fades. Animals cease to bear young, creatures of the sea take to the land, and the Pietra – fierce fighters who destroyed the Indiri a generation before – are now marching from their stony shores for the twin’s adopted homeland, Stille.

Witt leads the Pietra, their army the only family he has ever known. The stone shores harbor a secret, a growing threat that will envelop the entire land – and he will conquer every speck of soil to ensure the survival of his people.

The tides are turning in Stille, where royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the rising sea calls for its Given.



My Review!
I’m actually so disappointed right now I don’t even know what to say. This was neither what I expected nor what I was hoping for in Mindy’s first fantasy novel. It was as readable as her other books, except definitely on the slower side, which did not make this any better. I think the slower pace was a hindrance, because it made the barely-there plot noticeable, and I was looking for more action and found none. This was basically a story wrapped around one girl’s virginity and need to produce a kid before she takes a dive into the waters that *everyone* is so damn afraid of, even herself.

And what’s sad is that I just wanted Khosa to take that fucking dance into the waves and disappear. It wasn’t that I didn’t like her character, but it was that she was so bland with little personality that I wondered how she had not one but two important boys clamoring to be in her presence. She does NOTHING in this book. The only part of her I liked was the fact that she loved books and knowledge. I understood her pain and anger, and I could only imagine what this “tradition” does to a person. But she wasn’t a fighter until pushed, and even by the end, she still just continues to accept her lot in life without dissent.

She was a striking difference to Dara’s character, who was my favorite, probably not altogether the fault of Khosa being so opposite but the way that Mindy wrote the two of them. Here is a girl who survives, who refuses to stay down and who will murder anyone who stands in her way. She is one of the last of her kind, and she is cold and rude and she does not help the people of Stille want to warm up to the Indiris. But she was fascinating and powerful, and I’m so sad that her heart was broken by her childhood friend, the prince. Because after that, her story just kind of washed away and I wanted more from it.

The whole plot of the book revolves around who is going to finally bed Khosa and provide her an heir, to be given to the sea when it’s their time. It creates SUCH romantic drama that I ended up not really caring about either of the two boys that Khosa finds herself attracted to. Donil, Dara’s twin brother, who was by far the more interesting of the two and who was a stark contrast to his sister. He at least had personality, and Vincent was, a bit boring to be honest. I was very annoyed by him, and the back and forth shit between these characters. And while this was all going on, it seemed everyone in Stille forgot about WAR.

The other half of the plot was focused on the political maneuvers between the big kingdoms. A hell of a lot more exciting compared to the issue of the Given. But still not quite enough to get me invested in what was happening. I think part of the problem was also the multiple POVs, when I really only cared about Dara’s. I also did not really get why Witt had a voice, leader of the Pietra, a group of people harsh and unforgiving and set on destroying Stille. I didn’t really find him to add anything to the story. Gah, I don’t know guys. I’m just sad, and disappointed. Given to the Sea was very weird and different, but it didn’t work for me.

RATING:

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Checking In for March

I don't do a monthly recap on the blog, partly because I'm lazy and partly because there isn't usually much to say. But I was inspired by Jamie's If We Were Having Coffee feature (which was inspired by someone else!) to start doing more personal posts on here. And what better way to do that than to recap my month in LIFE instead of just books and blogging? So Checking In will be a monthly feature on here that will help you guys get to know ME better, and hopefully you'll start sharing your own stories with me. :)

*****

Life Update
Hey y'all, it's been awhile! I think the last time I did one of these posts, it was before my birthday, and that was over a month ago. I had a fairly nice birthday, but it was mixed in with a lot of bitterness and anger over my cousins. Like, I love working with them and all, because it's helped my relationship with the one I'm closest to, and I actually talk with the others, which never happened before I started at this job. But it's also brought me a lot of tears and hurt, because my family, for all their loveliness and caring, make me feel invisible and ignored way too often. From not bothering to acknowledge my birthday (even a simple "happy late bday" since I took the day off but worked the next) to forgetting to invite me to go out for lunch, I never know if it's gonna be one of those days where they make me feel like shit and never apologize or even seem to see beyond their own narrow scope of the world and their lives. It just, sucks.

Family issues aside, March was surprisingly not super bad. February and March are typically hard months for me, for a few reasons, so I was glad that it went better than expected. And work is going well, better than it was when I last posted one of these. I still think the company needs to seriously work on their scheduling, because we're in a slow time right now, and I've gotten called off at least once the past three weeks. Others have to worry about rent and such, and I don't so it doesn't exactly hurt me. But as I'm saving up for a new car, it's a bit annoying, and a little concerning. I think my uncle is still okay with me riding with him, and my cousin and a friend carpool with us too. But I'd still like my own car again, especially to help out and give his vehicles a break (which is what we'd planned to do starting the week my car broke down, and WELL). I'm also saving up for ALA, which is 99% happening for Shannon and I, so I'D LIKE TO WORK MORE. 

I think it'll just be the two of us this time, which is definitely okay, but it won't be the same. I'm excited it's back in Chicago, though, because I could use a redo. I also just found out Victoria Schwab's coming to Michigan the week before, so I'm REALLY hoping I can go because I missed her the last time she was here. I haven't been able to do much, aside from going out after work a few times with people, like dinner and a couple mall visits. But that's not *much* of a social life. Haha. I'm friendly with a bunch of people at work, and I've even made a friend, but I've also been terrible at socializing of late. So I want to get better at that throughout the rest of spring and summer!


Kitten Update
look at these judgy little faces

Guys, our babies are almost one years old! *sniffles* I remember when they were just such tiny furballs that hissed and didn't like to be held, and now they're members of the family. They sleep ALL OVER and seriously idk how they find such places to sleep. They've gotten along swell with our adult cat, after a rough start. They love our dog, but our dog still does not like them. But I think that's more to do with her jealousy and anger over not being the only pet anymore. ;) They just kind of all coexist. The kittens aren't as playful as they used to be, but they're still so fun and sweet. 

Anna's a bit sick right now. She's been on medicine for almost a month, and she's had a few vet visits. They said that her numbers are getting better, though, the last time she went. They think it has to do with her immune system. Hoping this new round of daily meds will help more, and that when she goes back to the vet, she's completely out of the woods. We're just really hoping at this point that it's not FIV, which is what our male indoor cat had had, and who had to get put down last May. Other than that, they've both been good additions to the fam, and I'm so happy we have them. <3
 

Blogging Update
Hey friends. I really had expected 2017 to be better. But the start has been super shitty, ever since the election really, and my blog suffered because of it. HOWEVER, I think I'm getting out of that terrible slump. I've commented back and replied a little bit, and everything I've published I've put 100% effort into. It's just not been a whole lot, but I haven't been forcing it, and it's been good for me. I feel like I've also made a little headway with publishers and publicists, and I like building these relationships. I'm excited for what the rest of the year brings, I really am. I just hope to be more consistent for the rest of it, and to get back into interacting because that's always been my fave part. :)


How have your lives been going, guys? Any exciting news? Let's talk!