Posted in Book Talk, Reviews

Skyhunter has convinced me!

Hey y’all!

I’ve been (finally) reading Skyhunter by Marie Lu. When it was first out, I kept wavering on it, thinking I might love it or hate it. Indecisiveness was rough on this one. I left it to fate’s hands and entered a Goodreads giveaway for it. Amazingly, I actually won it from a Goodreads Giveaway about a year ago (although I didn’t realize it at first)! So I was set to give it a shot!

Ah, but… COVID 19 was in full swing, but not far enough in that people had kind of worked out how to do things despite it. This resulted in a month passing after winning without receiving a book, and then another, and then the release date passing me by, and then ANOTHER month without it…. I did finally get it a while after once I had reached out. By that point, though I was already deep into some other books and my excitement had dimmed for this one.

I did try to start reading it, but the first few chapters didn’t really pull me in right away. And so it has been almost a full year since I won it, and yet I’m only just now reading it!

AND IT HAS BEEN PRETTY GOOD!!! Look, I know I’m a little late to this train, but I’m still excited about it! I went through a lot with this book, and now I’m actually enjoying it. It’s enough to bring a beautiful tear to my eye. 🥰

Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Replenishing the Sea of Galilee by Wagih Abu-Rish

Replenishing the Sea of Galilee: A Family Saga across Ethnicity, Place, and Religion: A Novel by Wagih Abu-Rish
Release Date: August 17, 2021

Recommended: yup!!
For folks interested in historical Palestine, for a novel about embracing female sexuality and equality, for sparse language that says a lot

Summary

Replenishing the Sea of Galilee: A Family Saga across Ethnicity, Place, and Religion: A Novel

Replenishing the Sea of Galilee is a sweeping story of love, loss and the power of loyalty in the face of conflicting ideologies and religious beliefs. The story begins in 1940s Palestine where twins Rasheed and Rasheeda Dinar work in their family inns. Educated by a Jesuit priest about the essence of his own Muslim religion, relative to love and sex, Rasheed follows closely the teachings of his mentor and includes Rasheeda, so that she learns those teachings as well.

When Rasheed falls in love with Natalia, a Jewish woman, he is able to apply what he learned from the priest to his budding relationship. However, it is the 1940s, and relations between Arabs and Jews are tense. Before long, those tensions come to a breaking point. Natalia mysteriously disappears, and Rasheed and Rasheeda are chased out of Palestine to Beirut, Lebanon.

Years pass, and though Rasheed continues to miss his beloved Natalia, he gets word of a surprising visitor—someone he didn’t even know existed. Rasheed’s life is upended, but in the most wonderful way.

As the Dinar family expands and enters the 1970s, their convictions are tested. In a dramatic final scene, the family reunites and proves once again that the thin line separating people because of their differences is powerless against the strength of family, love, and loyalty.

Thoughts:

Attracted by the historical aspect that I don’t know much about, and made all the more relevant by the forever present conflict between Palestine and Israel, I grabbed this book right up. I worried that it might be a little too literary and highbrow for me, but that was not the case. It’s a thoughtful story that spans a long period of time. I got to know the characters so so well, and I cared so much about all of them.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Replenishing the Sea of Galilee by Wagih Abu-Rish”
Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Reasons for Avoiding Friends by Megan Leavell (9/14)

Reasons for Avoiding Friends by Megan Leavell
Verdict: fine for a diversion, nothing that blew me away on it’s own
Expected Release Date: September 14, 2021

Recommended: Sure
For a quick contemporary read, for a female-friendship story, for a look at alcoholism and falling into patterns even when they don’t make you happy and how to break out of it

Summary

Growing up, Gwen and Iris were the best of friends, even if they couldn’t have been more different. Now Gwen is living her hometown dream, or so she reminds herself while juggling endless parenting drama, an unemployed husband, and a neighborhood pyramid scheme. Never mind that at age thirty-nine, her social circle still resembles middle school. Her life is everything she ever wanted it to be, but nothing like she had planned.

Iris was never destined for the ordinary. When she moved to Manhattan, she shed her old life for a better one—but not without a cost. From a distance, Iris’s life couldn’t be more charmed, but no one knows about the cracks in the image she’s worked so hard to cultivate. No one knows the real Iris at all. Except for Gwen. But Iris and Gwen haven’t spoken for years. Until…

When Iris’s past catches up with her, she turns to the one person she could always count on—but she isn’t the only one keeping secrets, and as Gwen scrambles to preserve an illusion of domestic bliss, she finds herself wondering when they went from telling each other everything to sharing nothing. Now, a little wiser, and most certainly a little older, Gwen and Iris discover that the truest of friends accept you just as you are, and that loving yourself is sometimes the best way to find happiness.

Thoughts:

I went for this book because I had been reading a lot of heavy topics and depressing novels, and I wanted a bit of a break. I more or less got it with this, but it did have more serious issues than I expected. One of the main characters is DEFINITELY an alcoholic, and it’s painful to watch the many terrible decisions she makes. And somehow never admits or recognizes. DAMN, GIRL. It’s really not a whole lot easier to watch the other MC live in her sad rut of a life without galvanizing to do anything about it.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: Hématite by Victoria Maderna

Hématite by Victoria Maderna

Recommended: not really?
Because the plot seemed to take unnecessary and unexplained turns, because the mood was far more grim than anticipated

Summary

Hematite is a young vampire who is trying to find her way. As a member of the illustrious Blackwood family, she faces pressure to conform to high society standards, but such grandstanding isn’t for
her. And neither is drinking blood—she’d rather have vegetable soup!

So it is that she opts for the more diverse Wolven School, rather than joining the ranks of her fellow vampires at the Diaemus Academy. Being different can be hard, though, and doesn’t always help to make friends. Luckily for Hematite, she has her poetry, as well as Drunela—a draugr who won’t let their differences keep them apart—and Emile, a human boy fascinated by the occult who would just love to take a peek at the Blackwood’s private library. Unfortunately, bridging societal divides isn’t always easy, and can lead to terrible
consequences…

Thoughts:

You know, at first I was quite enjoying it. Learning about the powers each character has and how they all interact with each other in this world was fun and full of promise. Now that I’ve finished it, though, I’m left feeling confused about why I just read that.

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ARC Review: The Tenets in the Tattoos by Becky James

The Tenets in the Tattoos by Becky James
Release Date: August 9, 2021

Recommended: yes!
For a lengthy, epic tale that grows and grows and grows, for emotional messages and themes carried throughout the book, for humour and action and reflection all nicely balanced

Summary

FYI: I wrote this blurb, because the one for the book is AWFUL, as I mention in my review! This one is better representative of what you can look forward to in this fantastic book. 😁

Thorrn is an accomplished swordsman desperate for his promotion, but he is considered only half a person until he finds his soul companion. Unfortunately, Evyn, Thorrn’s newly found soul companion, is… distinctly underwhelming. But when his king is deposed and the usurper demands Evyn to be used for the power of her Earthian blood, Thorrn is forced to fight against everything he’s ever stood for in order to save her.

Aubin is sick of missing out on happiness. Chafing at injustices piled on him for his position as an apothecary, he’s ready to quit. When Aubin’s timing takes him into the path of Thorrn, Evyn, and the new king, he has to decide what he will risk for a chance at what he’s always been missing.

Sharing their worlds and learning how to work together, Thorrn, Evyn, and Aubin have to figure out a way to save not only each other, but possibly the whole fragile peace of Thorrn’s world from the threat of magical war.

Thoughts:

The first thing I think after finishing this book is that the blurb for it does not do it justice at all for how the story goes. The blurb sounds like there’s a soldier struggling with the morality of an order, and an apothecary seeking immortality who decides to commit treason in a last-ditch effort to seek something better. What’s very much missing from this is any mention of what a soul companion actually is or why it’s significant, or the fact that his female soul companion is an integral part of this whole journey — and yet not once is she mentioned! Awful blurb, but a pretty good book.

I was most surprised by two things in about equal measure: the careful attention to the growth of each character and their relationships, and the sheer complexity and length of the story. It’s about 400 pages, which is on the longer side, but it felt like a complete epic story of Tolkien’s style (minus the details in extreme). There is just SO MUCH to the story! From the start to the end, so much happens that it really sucked me in with the characters. I was invested and I cared a lot about each of them. And yet, the pace was never too fast or too slow. I was always interested and entertained. I learned about the characters, but that happened through action and conversation blended evenly.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: World of Warcraft Chronicle: Volume 1 by Blizzard Entertainment

World of Warcraft Chronicle: Volume 1 by Blizzard Entertainment

Recommended: yesssss
For fans of WoW, for a look at the incredible world building from a game, for incredible illustrations, for all the lore you could wish for

Summary

World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1 is a journey through an age of myth and legend, a time long before the Horde and the Alliance came to be. This definitive tome of Warcraft history reveals untold stories about the birth of the cosmos, the rise of ancient empires, and the forces that shaped the world of Azeroth and its people.


This beautiful hardcover features twenty-five full-page paintings by World of Warcraft artist Peter Lee, as well as a cosmology chart, half a dozen maps charting changes through time, and other line art illustrations by Joseph Lacroix, and marks the first in a multipart series exploring the Warcraft universe; from the distant past to the modern era.

Thoughts:

My favorite part about video games, and especially World of Warcraft, has always been the story. The game has plenty of that, but forces me to run around and kill things in order to get more story, which sometimes I don’t want to bother with! Here, finally, I have my hands on a condensed version of the whole story (for the first 10,000 years or so, anyway).

Honestly, the world is incredible. I always think about how hard writing a book series is, to have all the details and the richly envisioned customs and minutiae. A video game of this scale is very similar. This first volume captures the earliest lore of creation and dang did I learn a lot! Sargeras was a GOOD GUY? Vindication that the haughty night elves are no better than trolls, since they evolved from trolls after all!! And I finally understand the idea of a titan world soul (mostly…). BFA was killing me with the whole Heart of Azeroth thing.

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ARC Review: Punderworld, Volume 1 by Linda Šejić (Aug 31)

Punderworld, Volume 1 by Linda Šejić

Recommended: YES!!!
For absolutely stunning art, for clever details that bring so much extra life to the characters, for characters you fall in love with and cheer for and laugh at, for a really wonderful take on a classic story
Expected Release: August 31, 2021

Summary

The classic tale of Greek mythology, but 100% more awkwardly relatable. Hades is the officious, antisocial ruler of the Underworld; Persephone, daughter of Demeter, is an earth goddess of growth and renewal – they’ve been crushing on each other for the past two centuries. But when a festival (and a little liquid courage) present an opportunity to put an end to their Olympian will-they-won’t-they, a meddlesome pantheon and several titanic mis-assumptions threaten to give every god in the sky the wrong impression… and leave their romance dead before it can bloom.

Thoughts:

I started reading Punderworld through it’s publication as a comic series on WebToon, and I am so excited to have a print copy of it! Because you’d better believe that I already have my pre-order in to have a copy of my own.

I’ll be honest: I know just the bare basics of the classic story of Persephone and Hades that this is based on. And frankly, I don’t care, because the way Linda Sejic tells the story is the story I want to read, regardless of authenticity or accuracy to the original. She’s made it a funny, fledgling love story.

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Review: The Complete List of Jericho by Chris Jericho

The Complete List of Jericho by Chris Jericho

Recommended: yes!
For folks who are interested in wrestling, for stories from Jericho in his usual genuine, funny style, for interesting insights into other wrestlers Jericho has gotten to know over his years

Summary

The Complete List of Jericho is a one-of-a-kind pro wrestling book, compiled in a way that has never been done before and will never be done again.
Throughout his illustrious 30-year career, Chris Jericho has documented EVERY ONE of his 2,722 matches from around the world in a handwritten journal.
That artifact provides the backbone of this unique book, which also includes dozens of never-before-seen photos from Chris’s personal collection, infographics, and a collection of top-ten lists compiled by some of the biggest names in pro wrestling history AND Le Champion himself! Want to discover his best and worst matches (there were plenty), his favorite tag partners, or his favorite ring music? All these answers – and more – are in this book!
If you think you know everything about Chris Jericho from reading his four previous New York Times best-selling books, think again. The Complete List of Jericho is the definitive chronicle of the career of one of the greatest, most charismatic wrestlers of all time.

Thoughts:

First of all: it is like 70% a giant list, living up to the name of the book. Based on Jericho’s personal notebook recording and rating all of his matches ever, that content makes up the bulk of this. If you’re interested in data and patterns, like myself, then that can be pretty interesting. How much money did he make on his Japan stints compared to Mexico? What did he rate that iconic match with Kenny Omega?

Besides that though, there are some matches he gives commentary for, and sometimes other wrestlers will provide their own notes on their match with Jericho. Jericho himself has lists of tops and favorites and worsts and mosts. Plenty of other names I recognized pitched in as well with lists of their own about Jericho, matches, locations, and everything else related to wrestling.

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Pre-Publication Review: 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard (8/17)

56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard
Release Date: August 17, 2021

Recommended: yes!!
For an actually mysterious mystery, for fascinating characters who grow a lot as you learn more about them, for whiplash-inducing twists that still make sense, for Covid as a setting but not a plot point (ie no illnesses)

Summary

No one knew they’d moved in together. Now one of them is dead. Could this be the perfect murder?

56 DAYS AGO
Ciara and Oliver meet in a supermarket queue in Dublin the same week Covid-19 reaches Irish shores.

35 DAYS AGO
When lockdown threatens to keep them apart, Oliver suggests that Ciara move in with him. She sees a unique opportunity for a new relationship to flourish without the pressure of scrutiny of family and friends. He sees it as an opportunity to hide who – and what – he really is.

TODAY
Detectives arrive at Oliver’s apartment to discover a decomposing body inside.

Will they be able to determine what really happened, or has lockdown provided someone with the opportunity to commit the perfect crime?

Thoughts:

WOW y’all, maybe it’s because I admittedly had low expectations for this, but DANG did it blow me away! I was iffy on all the Book of the Month Club options, but chose this because it was by my fav publisher, Blackstone. And I should have known to trust that. ^.^ They held up, as always!

First off: a lot of people side-eye this book because it’s set in 2020 in the real sense that it’s the start of COVID-19 and discusses lockdown and other protocols enacted as it spread across the world. The whole premise is that two almost-strangers shack up because otherwise they won’t have ANY contact for who knows how long. It’s all or nothing, and they change it going all-in. But that’s it — there’s not a lot of play with COVID beyond working from home and the unease going out in public. If anything, it was weird how often the characters say “well no one else was wearing a mask so I took mine off.” Anyway, point being, the scope of COVID in this book is probably fairly light all things considered.

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Review: Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean
Verdict: UGH, glad it’s over 😫

Recommended: no
If you speak and think like the character then you’ll get past that barrier, but you’ll still have to deal with how subpar the story overall is

Summary

Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”—and her mom against the world. But then Izumi discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity…and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.

In a whirlwind, Izumi travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.

Izumi soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairy tale, happily ever after?

Thoughts:
My two main issues with this book were the character herself and the fact that nothing new was brought to the table with this story. The second issue is self explanatory, but the first is more specific to me.

Izumi speaks like people 15-25 sound on social media. The kind of writing I usually cringe at despite being around that age myself. It’s full of the overly dramatic writing style of Instagram and Twitter and tumblr. I hated it, which made me dislike her, which made me not enjoy the book. I also called the “twist” right from the introduction of a character. Meh.

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