March 28, 2017

Book Review | Lady Renegades

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Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins is the third and final book in the Rebel Belle trilogy. This series follows Harper Price, a Southern Belle who acquires ancient powers that make her a Paladin. She is tasked with protecting her rival in school, David Stark, who is revealed to be a male Oracle, which makes his powers and visions more unpredictable and dangerous. After an incident in the second book, David decides it would be best if he left town and runs away.

The story picks up in the summer before senior year of high school. Harper and her best friend Bee are working at the pool and are attacked by another Paladin who says David sent her to kill Harper. Shortly after this attack Harper and Bee decide to go on a road trip to find David and try to save him from himself.

This is unfortunately one of those series where the first book is great, the second book is okay, and the final book falls by the wayside (sort of like Divergent). Nothing really happens in this book apart from Harper whinnying about her powers growing weaker, about missing David and about Blythe, a Mage who has accompanied Bee and Harper on this trip. It’s a paint-by-numbers road trip: they visit one place to get some information about David, go to another place to get info, and so on and so forth until they eventually find him and then the book ends. This very well could have been a novella and certain scenes could have been cut out that would not have made the story drag.

The first book, Rebel Belle, is definitely worth checking out. David and Harper had such a great relationship in that book, and I thought the overall plot was unique to what was on the market at that time. I also really enjoyed Miss Mayhem, but if you have read those and just want to finish the series, save your money and check Lady Renegades out from the library.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 Stars.

Have you read the Rebel Belle series, or any of Rachel Hawkins’s other books? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

March 27, 2017

Book Review | Watchmen

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Hey there Literature Lovers! Today I’m here with a review of the graphic novel Watchmen.

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Watchmen was originally published from 1986 to 1987 by DC Comics. The story was written by Alan Moore with artwork by Dave Gibbons. The twelve-chapter story is set in an alternative version of history that mirrors what really happened in the early 1980s with the inclusion of superheroes and how they would have had a hand in events such as the Cold War and JFK’s assassination.

It begins in 1985 with the death of The Comedian, a former member of the crime-fighting group known as the Minutemen. Rorschach, another member of the team, begins to investigate the murder, believing there is a “mask killer” on the loose and tries to band together his former colleagues, including Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan, Ozymandias, and Nite Owl. None of them believe his theory that someone trying to kill the now retired vigilantes, mostly because Rorschach has always been a bit of a psychopath and they don’t want to be a part of this potential delusion. However, as more time passes and new threats arise (someone shooting at Ozymandias and Dr. Manhattan being forced into exile), Nite Owl and Silk Spectre decide that Rorschach must be on to something and agree to help him find out who is behind these attacks.

Overall, I did enjoy this story. Normally I don’t go for dark, gritty storylines, but Watchmen introduced me to interesting characters that kept me invested. The ending was a little strange to me, but it’s a superhero comic, things are going to be strange and silly, even in a darker storyline. I’m looking forward to giving the movie a shot soon.

Let me know in the comments below if you have read Watchmen, and what other dark comics and graphic novels you would recommend.

Thank you for reading!

February 22, 2017

Book Review | Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a new take on the wacky world of Sabrina Spellman, better known as Sabrina the Teenage Witch. This series focuses on the dark cult aspects of witchcraft.

I loved the first 10 issues of the Afterlife with Archie series and wanted to give this a shot. I vaguely remember seeing reruns of the Sabrina TV show with Melissa Joan Hart as well as the animated series that I believe used to run on Toon Disney, but I had not read a ton of her comics unless she appeared in a Jughead or Archie story so I was excited to dive into this.

I loved the artwork in this series. Where Afterlife used bold orange and reds to illustrate the gravity of the horror setting, this series uses what appears to be colored pencil illustrations, which add an air of both whimsy and mystery, which I think sums up Sabrina pretty well. I loved seeing some familiar faces (Betty and Veronica as witches from Riverdale) as well as experiencing the wild and oftentimes scary world of magic.

Overall this is a great first volume and I can’t wait for Volume 2 to release! I highly recommend!

Rating: 4 out 5 Stars.

Are you a Sabrina fan? Do you have a favorite story of hers? Share with me in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

February 16, 2017

Series Review | Black Canary (New 52)

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So I’m going to be honest: I had no clue who Black Canary was until I started watching Arrow on Netflix. Growing up I was a hardcore Marvel fangirl (specifically a Spider-Man and Fantastic Four fangirl) and only read the occasional Superman comic book here and there. The dark gritty DC Universe did not appeal to me at all. But after I got hooked on The Flash TV show I decided it was worth checking out the other big DC show. Black Canary quickly became my favorite character to watch and, even though I personally liked her sister Sara a little more, I enjoyed seeing Dinah “Laurel” Lance in action.

Brendan Fletcher brought Dinah Lance to life in the Black Canary New 52 series. This storyline had a shorter run than most of the others in the New 52 as DC Rebirth had just started up, but it was still an enjoyable story that didn’t feel too rushed.

Dinah Lance is the front-woman for the punk rock band, Black Canary. She must her super sonic voice to help stop crime and get her a record contract.

While both volumes of the trade paperbacks were great, I enjoyed the second volume a little more than the first. Kicking and Screaming kept giving me Josie and the Pussycats vibes for a while, with the one mean girl talking trash with Dinah and her bandmates. New Killer Star had that as well, but it felt like its own thing, with music and mystery and lots of action.

If you like kick butt girl bands and strong female superheroes, then you definitely need to check this out.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

Have you read this series? What did you think? Who is your favorite female DC hero? Please share in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

February 9, 2017

Book Review | The Reptile Room

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The Reptile Room is the second book in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, a thirteen-book series documenting the lives of the Baudelaire orphans. After living with their evil relative Count Olaf the children are sent to live with Dr. Montgomery Montgomery (whom they call Uncle Monty), an energetic herpetologist who is a ray of sunshine in the childrens’ gloomy lives.

This was, and still is, one of my favorite books in the series. After the terrifying experience of living in the villainous Count Olaf’s house, I was relieved that Violet, Klaus and Sunny were able to find an adult who seemed to respect them and wanted what was best for them. Uncle Monty embraced the skills all three children had and was encouraging them to expand these abilities within his Reptile Room. He provided them with a loving and comfortable home and seemed willing to keep them safe from harm. I wish that he could have featured more in later books, but the Baudelaires rarely have anything pleasant like that happen to them.

The Reptile Room features the first appearance of Count Olaf in disguise. Olaf can be a sinister character, but he definitely stepped it up in this book, always being around the children and wielding a sharp knife which he threatens to use on an infant. Stephano in the movie was played up as a more silly character so I’m interested to see how he is presented in this new television show.

My favorite thing about this book was the reptiles. The Incredibly Deadly Viper and all the other creatures were so interesting to learn about. I’m not normally someone who likes snakes, but after reading this I might look into more books featuring or about herpetology.

As I said before, this one of my favorite books in the series and I am looking forward to watching this episode in the new Netflix series. I highly recommend you check this one out if you haven’t already.

What is your favorite book from A Series of Unfortunate Events? Are you going to check out the show? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

February 7, 2017

Book Review | The Bad Beginning

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The Bad Beginning is the first book in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. This book introduces us to the Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Klaus and Sunny, as they are placed in the care of the cruel and calculating Count Olaf following the demise of their parents. Using their intelligence and unique talents the orphans must find a way to keep their inheritance out of the hands of their evil guardian.

I was introduced to this series by my third grade teacher, who used to read the books to our class. I have read them multiple times throughout the years and still find them entertaining as an adult. I love all the Baudelaires. I dressed up as Violet one year for Halloween, using costume inspiration from the movie that was released in 2004. I used to try and memorize everything I read so I could be like Klaus, who was able to pull out useful facts in even the most stressful of situations. I didn’t really try to imitate Sunny since she was a baby who liked to bite things, but I was impressed with the level of understanding an infant, even a fictional one, seemed to have about these terrible situations she was in.

I had not read this book since high school, so for about five or six years, but since the Netflix show was coming out, I thought it would only right to give the first four books a reread. Despite the large gap of time, this is probably the book I remember most clearly. I think it’s because this was one of the first audiobooks I ever bought. I swear I listened to it so many times I probably could have recited the whole book. Even after all this time, Olaf and his acting troupe terrify me (especially the Hook-Handed Man), I find Mr. Poe frustratingly incompetent, and I still desperately wish that I could give the poor orphans a hug and help them get out of that terrible situation.

One of my favorite scenes in this story (maybe even in the entire series) is Violet making the grappling hook to save Sunny from the top of Count Olaf’s tower. Violet had the incredible ability to make something functional out of limited resources. She only needed three things to make her grappling hook and managed to make it work until she was caught by the Hook-Handed Man.

This is simply one of my favorite series of all time. I highly recommend reading these books, and I hope that the new Netflix series will inspire a new group of people to go out and grab themselves a copy of these books.

What are your thoughts on this series? Did you read them as a kid? And what do you think of the new Netflix series? Leave a comment below!

Thanks for reading!

November 1, 2016

Book Review | Afterlife with Archie

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Hey there Literature Lovers! Welcome back to the blog! Today I wanted to share with you my review of Afterlife with Archie.

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I just discovered this series last night and I am already hooked! Our local comic book store was giving away free Halloween issues and I selected Betty R.I.P., which appears to be issue 7 in the series.

Afterlife with Archie gives us a darker look at the usually peppy town of Riverdale. If you have read past Archie comics you know that Riverdale is sort of like Pleasantville. It’s stuck in a 1950s limbo where everyone is sweet and charming, sharing milkshakes and burgers at Pop’s Chocklit Shop or showing their school spirit at whatever high school sporting event is happening. I have always loved these comics and goofy hijinks the gang gets into, but it was refreshing to see this new take on such an iconic town.

Afterlife with Archie kicks off with Jughead’s sheepdog, Hot Dog, being hit by a car. He is close to death when Jughead finds him and brings him to Sabrina Spellman, a.k.a. Sabrina the Teenage Witch, He begs Sabrina to help, but Hot Dog has already died and it is forbidden to use magic to revive someone who has already passed on. However Sabrina does this anyway. Hot Dog comes back to life and is not his usual self, acting untamed and erratic, at one point attacking Jughead, this starting the zombie apocalypse in Riverdale.

I’m normally not a fan of the horror genre, but I have been trying to branch out of my comfort zone. I’m so glad I gave this a shot. After reading the free comic, I immediately went on the Archie Comics app and purchased the other issues (they were all $0.99) and devoured them. I love the deep orange and red colors that dominate the artwork. It’s a striking contrast to the usually bright and colorful Riverdale and adds a feeling of tension.

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I cannot wait to read the next issues, and will possibly check out The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina as well. I would highly recommend this to anyone.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars.

Are you a horror fan, or maybe just an Archie fan? Have you read this comic? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

October 11, 2016

Book Review | As Old As Time

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As Old As Time is the third book in the Twisted Tale trilogy by Liz Braswell. Although this is the third book in the series you don’t have to read the other two to read this one. Each one is its own standalone novel exploring different storylines from classic Disney movies. This particular novel focuses on Beauty and the Beast and poses the question: What if Belle’s mother cursed the Beast?

The book is sectioned off into three parts. The first part follows Belle as she is introduced to us in the original 1991 animated feature. She is living a provincial life, reading and dreaming of far off places, daring sword fights, and magic spells until she takes her father’s place as the Beast’s prisoner. She meets the enchanted objects and explores the forbidden West Wing where she touches the enchanted rose, and things go wrong. We are also given chapters in between these familiar scenes that show Belle’s father Maurice meeting and falling in love with Belle’s mother, who turns out to be an enchantress. There is discourse and violence in the kingdom against those who possess these magical abilities, and many magical beings are killed in the process. This is all because of the cold King and Queen who do nothing but sit in their castle. Eventually the plague comes, killing the King and Queen and leaving their son, who is still a young boy, to take the throne. Belle’s family has moved to a new village (the one we see Belle grow up in), but Belle’s mother wants to make sure that the young Prince is not as cold-hearted as his parents. He fails her test and is cursed. The other two parts of the novel focus on Belle trying to break the curse, spending time in the library with Beast and exploring the grounds to find a way for the Beast and the objects to escape with her, as well as Gaston plotting to lock Maurice in the asylum.

The overall tone of this book is similar to the new live action movie starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. It’s a little darker than the cartoon, but it expands on Belle and Beast’s friendship before they fall in love.

Also, I’m not sure how canon this book is to the Disney movie from 1991, but it did offer some answers to plot holes in the movie.

Why does no one in the village remember the royal family or the castle? Because the enchantress wiped the memories from people’s minds.

Where/Who is Chip’s dad? Mr. Potts used to work at the castle as the Stable Master and was the Prince’s favorite servant, but one day he went away and never came back.

Why does no one age except the Beast? Inanimate objects don’t age while people and animals do.

Why is the portrait of the Beast older than when he would have supposedly been cursed at age 11? It has a Dorian-Gray-type spell on it where the portrait ages with the Beast and shows him how he would look as a human if he had never been cursed: handsome but with a cold, unfeeling heart and cruel eyes (a fact that Belle notices and seems to frighten her a bit).

 

This was the best of the two Twisted Tale books that I have read. While it did feel a little slow at some spots in the middle, it felt like the author had finally hit her stride with her writing, and was clearly having a ton of fun with this prompt. I give it 3.5 stars out of 5.

Let me know in the comments below if you’ve read this book, what your thoughts were, and what is your favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling!

Thanks for reading!

September 20, 2016

Book Review | Wink Poppy Midnight

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Wink Poppy Midnight is a stand-alone novel from April Genevieve Tucholke, best known as the author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. The story’s narration switches between our three main characters: Wink, Poppy, and Midnight, who each fit into your typical high school stereotypes. Poppy is the mean and pretty popular girl; Wink is the weird misfit from an eccentric family; and Midnight is a boy from a broken home who is in the middle of the love triangle. But are they really as simple as those molds?

Wink Poppy Midnight is quite honestly one of the most beautiful books I have ever seen. I was actually hesitant to buy it at first because of this. Pretty covers often mask disappointing stories. I’m afraid this was one of this situations where I should have trusted my first instinct.

As I stated above, Wink Poppy Midnight tells the story of three characters named Wink, Poppy, and Midnight. Midnight is a teenage boy who has been in love with beautiful but manipulative and popular Poppy for as long as he can remember. He starts to realize that he is more in love with the idea of Poppy after spending time with the quirky Wink, who lives across the way from him. The story switches between the characters, giving us more insight to each while posing the question: in this story who is the hero and who is the villain? Are they as simple as the roles life has given them The answer is a resounding yes.

I never felt like any of the characters grew as the story progressed. Midnight maybe, but only because he went from idolizing manic-pixie Poppy to manic-pixie Wink. Wink was just your average quirky girl who likes to sleep in a barn and hang out in the woods with her quirky family. I think the character that could have had the biggest character arc was Poppy. She mentions that she wants to be better, even if it’s only to please a guy (Wink’s older brother a.k.a. the only person has never loved her because she is shallow and mean). But instead of making a big effort of trying to be better, she very quickly keeps falling back on her typical Queen Bee mentality and teasing Wink because she is different.

I was intrigued by this book after reading the first sentence. But as the story progressed I started to care less and less about the characters. The author seemed to focus more on writing pretty phrases that would be shared across Tumblr and Instagram posts than on providing some substance to the story and characters. By the time I finished the book I had already forgotten everything I had read. Sadly, this is a 2-Star read for me.

Have you ever read a beautiful book that ended up leaving you disappointed? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

September 8, 2016

Book Review | Poor Unfortunate Souls

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Hi everyone! I’m here today with a book review of Poor Unfortunate Souls by Serena Valentino.

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For a book that is supposed to be about Ursula, she isn’t in it very much.

I really enjoyed the first books in this trilogy (Fairest of Them All and The Beast Within). Both offered some interesting back stories for Snow White‘s Evil Queen and the Beast from Beauty and the Beast respectively. So when I heard that there would be one for Ursula, I automatically added it to my TBR list.

Ursula is, in my opinion, one of the top three best Disney villains, right up there with Jafar and Maleficent in terms of being the most evil and powerful. I was really excited to read her backstory and learn more about her motivations for dethroning King Triton and becoming ruler of the oceans.

Unfortunately this one was a disappointing read for me. The parts that actually touched on The Little Mermaid characters were great (mostly because they were just dialogue from the movie. Seriously, there is one chapter where it’s pretty much just the lyrics of Poor Unfortunate Souls, but you won’t hear any complaints from me there). The rest…not so much.

The main focus of the story is not on Ursula, but is in fact on the Odd Sisters, three witches who made appearances in the first two books. They interact with Ursula a handful of times, but that’s about it. The rest of the time they are arguing with each other and discussing how to find their other sister. The story also focuses on a princess named Tulip and her Nanny, and also this cat that belongs to both the Odd Sisters and Princess Tulip. It all felt very random. So yeah, this story was lacking what should have been its real main character, and instead focused on these other characters who were really hard care about.

The opening of the book does touch on Ursula’s youth and how she actually grew up living in a village with an adoptive father. She is called to the sea and seems aware that she has some type of magical abilities. However, her adoptive father dies and her real brother Triton emerges from the sea to bring her to her true home. However he convinces people that she is dangerous and she is exiled. I personally found this all very interesting and was waiting for it to be expanded on, to see more scenes of Ursula and her brother interacting, of seeing how the subjects of her kingdom felt about her, of her possibly trying to get her revenge in other ways before deciding to wait for the perfect opportunity to strike again (which would be through using Ariel). But no. It was more time spent with the other characters. When you have the license to write the backstory of one of the most well-known animated villains in the Disney universe and she is given the backseat, you know you have a problem.

Another problem here was that there was more telling than showing, and some things felt like they were being repeated over and over again, almost as if the book knew I might start glossing over things and forget what was happening while I tried to get to the next scene that actually contained elements of the Little Mermaid story-line that I know and love.

Also there was a subplot (I guess?) concerning the Dark Fairy (a.k.a. Maleficent), and the Odd Sisters kept saying, “Fire and Water don’t mix, we can’t tell her we are working with Ursula blah blah blah.” Um, no. A boss battle between Maleficent and Ursula would have been way better than having to deal with all the scenes starring Princess Tulip and her Nanny.

I do like this author’s writing in certain scenes, and I really, really enjoyed her previous books, but sadly, I could not get invested in this. I suggest checking out the other two books in this trilogy if you are a Disney fan and have any interest in re-tellings.

Thanks for reading!