Friday, May 31, 2013

It's Our Prom (So Deal With It) by Julie Anne Peters REVIEW

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Title: It's Our Prom (So Deal With It)
Author: Julie Anne Peters
Year Published: 2012

Synopsis: When Azure's principal gives her the chance to turn the school's traditional (and boring) senior prom into an event that will appeal to everyone, not just the jocks and cheerleaders, she jumps at the opportunity. Soon Azure manages to convince her best friends, Luke and Radhika, to join the prom committee as well.

Facing heavy opposition and admittedly clueless about prom logistics, the three friends are nonetheless determined to succeed -- if Luke's and Azure's secret crushes on Radhika don't push the committee members, and their friendships, to the breaking point first.

Review: I would describe this book as a light, fun high school LGBT story. It isn't one of those brooding coming-of-age inner dialogue YA books. The high school situations may not be very realistic, but everyone's high school is different. 


There is a musical in this book that I enjoyed reading about. It was interesting how the author dealt with bisexuality. The relationship the main characters have with their families is also interesting to read about. The characters are really quirky and even the side characters really come through at the end. 

This was overall a fun read. I would suggest this book to mature middle school or early high school readers interested in reading an LGBT high school story. I give this novel a 3.5/5.

-PAUL

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Star Trek: The John Byrne Collection - Paul's Review

**I was provided an ecopy of the first chapter in this graphic novel by Diamond Book Distributors through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

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Title: Star Trek: The John Byrne Collection
Author: John Byrne
Year Published: 2013

Upcoming Release Date: Tuesday June 4, 2013

Synopsis: Comics legend John Byrne has taken on 4 Star Trek titles, and they are all collected here, in one oversized hardcover collection. "Assignment Earth" recounts the adventures of interstellar agent Gary Seven, "Crew" recounts a tale from the very beginnings of the United Federation of Planets, "Leonard McCoy: Frontier Doctor" is a collection of tales from the member of the Frontier Medics Program, and mystery, intrigue, and war abound in "Romulans."

Review: I was provided the first chapter of this graphic novel collection. It takes place during the TOS era and shows some behind-the-scenes action in Romulan space. I liked that it showed more about the cloaking devices that were so prevalent in TOS. The Klingons were cool to see as well. 


I'll give this one chapter a 3/5 and I look forward to checking out the graphic novel when it is released.  

-PAUL

Irresistible by Raven Gregory - Paul's REVIEW

**An ecopy of this graphic novel was provided to me in exchange for a fair review from Diamond Book Distributors through NetGalley** 

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Title: Irresistible
Author: Raven Gregory
Illustrator: Sean Chen
Year Published: 2013

Synopsis: Allen Keeg was just another regular, heart-broken guy - just another face in the crowd. But after he's unknowingly given the supernatural ability to be completely irresistible to women, Allen's life is about to be changed forever! However, although the gift of unparalleled attraction seems like a blessing at first, it turns out to be a horrible curse that Allen can only get rid of by paying an ultimate price! 

Review:  I was surprised how explicit this graphic novel was. And also, oddly enough, Biblical. There was an odd use of religion and sex. This story brings up many interesting questions that really get you thinking. Questions of morals and wants/desires. This was a dark, dark comedy. I think.


I could see this being a really good dark comedy film by Diablo Cody. It reminded me of the 2000 film What Women Want, but a lot darker. 

I must add that you should not read this graphic novel on your computer at work. There is nudity. 

Although a lot darker that I thought it would be, I give this graphic novel a 3.5/5. If you are okay with nudity and like stories that bring up moral questions, this is a graphic novel for you. 

-PAUL

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher - Paul's PRE READING

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Title: Incarceron
Author: Catherine Fisher
Year Published: 2010

Synopsis: Incarceron is a prison so vast that it contains not only cells, but also metal forests, dilapidated cities, and vast wilderness. Finn, a seventeen-year-old prisoner, has no memory of his childhood and is sure that he came from Outside Incarceron. Very few prisoners believe that there is an Outside, however, which makes escape seems impossible.

And then Finn finds a crystal key that allows him to communicate with a girl named Claudia. She claims to live Outside- she is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, and doomed to an arranged marriage. Finn is determined to escape the prison, and Claudia believes she can help him. But they don't realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye. Escape will take their greatest courage and cost more than they know. 

Why?:  I tried to read this before a few years ago. I got about halfway into the book and then had to put it back on the shelf. Everything about this book sounds like something I would absolutely love: fantasy, dystopia, and sci-fi. The idea of the book also intrigues me so much. I'm not exactly sure what the reason was I couldn't keep reading it. It could have been unrelatable characters, the pacing, or the writing style. I am willing to try again, though. I have heard good things about this book from others. I read a lot more a lot more often now than a few years ago so I think I'll be able to finish it.  

Expectations: I'm expecting an interesting blend of sci-fi and fantasy. I'm hoping for a mystery that is revealed in a really cool way. 

Judging a book by its cover:  I really like this cover. The key is so intriguing. I like the colors and the mix of leaves and mechanics in the background. The font of the title is also really cool. 

-PAUL

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Follow the White Rabbit (Beautiful Madness #1) by Kellie Sheridan - Ashley's Review

*I received this novella as an eARC from Patchwork Press on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Title:  Follow the White Rabbit
Author: Kellie Sheridan
Year Published: 2013

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Synopsis: For centuries, Wonderland thrived as the domain of beautiful bedlam and unapologetic madness. It was a place like no other. All it took was one girl slipping in through the cracks of the universe to start chaos spiraling toward order. In the 150 years since Alice’s visit, the realm has become tainted—almost normal. Rabbits in waistcoats and playing card minions are little more than creatures of myth, and Wonderland is literally falling to pieces.

For Gwen, Rose, and Lucky, Wonderland is home, and yet they know little of its former glory. When the Alice prophecy resurfaces, they’ll have one chance to use Wonderland’s own legends to bring a little mayhem back into their reality. For she who controls Alice controls the fate of Wonderland.
---------------------------

Review: I've always loved Wonderland. and how it's so versatile that it can be taken to be so many different things by so many different authors. It's interesting how people pick and choose what parts they want to show, and how they take different things to be literal or figurative. The white rabbit is not always a rabbit, the mad hatter has a variety of different backstories, the card soldiers may not always be literal cards, and so on.  This story presents a unique version of  Alice's impact on Wonderland, and what Wonderland is really about.  Madness used to abound, but now it's become like any other world, and the only way to return it to its former glory is by controlling the new Alice.

I love the new characters that are introduced in this story, especially after I figured out who they were supposed to be in the traditional Alice story. All of our favorite classic characters are there, it just might take a while to figure out who they are. Gwen and Lucky were my favorites, and I can't wait to learn more about them in the next novella. It also amazes me how much world-building there really is. I mean, we all know the basics of Wonderland, but Sheridan takes them and warps them to make her own, new Wonderland.

The timeline is a little different than I was expecting, but I think it works well. We start near the end, and then are thrown into the past and work our way up to the present. But I don't think this story would have worked any other way, and it's pretty neat to see the characters become who they need to be to make the Alice prophecy come true. There are still a few characters that I'm unsure about, and I can't wait to find out who they are as the story progresses. Although I think this could have been a full novel, I'm actually kind of excited that it's going to be released as smaller novellas. I just feel like it's more effective as novellas. 

Overall, I think this was a nice little story set in a new and exciting Wonderland. The characters are well done, and the story is even better. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a quick read that gives a new take on a classic. I can't wait to continue the series, and I hope the next novella comes out soon! This short story gets a 4/5 from me. 


--Ashley

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest - Paul's REVIEW



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My Pre Reading

Title: Boneshaker
Author: Cherie Priest
Year Published: 2009

Synopsis: Boneshaker derives its title from the Bone-Shaking Drill Engine, a device designed to give Russian prospectors a leg up in the race for Klondike gold. Unfortunately, there was one hitch: On its trial run, the Boneshaker went haywire and, long story short, turned much of Seattle into a city of the dead. Now, 16 years later, a teenage boy decides to find out what is behind that mysterious wall. Can his mother save him in time? Zombie lit of the first order.

Review: I was told this book was one of those not-quite-YA books. That is very true. It is not your typical YA that has a strong female protagonist finding her way in a strange world. The YA part of it isn't even female. The story has two different perspectives. One is that of a teenage boy and the other is that of his mother. I guess people consider it YA because one of the perspectives is that of a young adult. 


I like that there are two perspectives. Both leads meet some of the same characters on their journeys. It's interesting to see how they interact differently and to know things that the protagonists do not. 

I felt that this was a slow paced novel. This may be because the whole novel takes place over only a few days. Time passing always make a novel feel faster. I also felt that it took some time to get to know the main characters, but by the end I not only knew the main characters but really liked a lot of the side characters. Some of my favorites were Swakhammer, Miss Angeline, and Dr. Minnericht. 

Overall, I enjoyed the book. The steampunk and the zombies just didn't really connect with me, though. It was well written, but not YA. If you are looking for a steampunk and zombies book that is more of your typical YA, you should pick up Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard. I give Boneshaker a 4/5.

-PAUL

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mind Mgmt Volume One: The Manager by Matt Kindt - Paul's REVIEW

**I was provided an ecopy of this graphic novel by Diamond Book Distributors through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

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Title: Mind Mgmt Volume One: The Manager
Author/Artist: Matt Kindt
Year Published: 2013

Synopsis: Reporting on a commercial flight where everyone aboard lost their memories, a young journalist stumbles onto a much bigger story, the top-secret Mind Management program. Her ensuing journey involves weaponized psychics, hypnotic advertising, talking dolphins, and seemingly immortal pursuers, as she attempts to find the flight’s missing passenger, the man who was MIND MGMT’s greatest success—and its most devastating failure. But in a world where people can rewrite reality itself, can she trust anything she sees?

Review: The storytelling in this graphic novel really pulled me in. So many mysteries appear in this novel. It had me thinking the whole time. It is a spy/investigator/conspiracy story with hints of X-Men, Watchmen. and Wanted.


The artwork is very simple, but it matches the tone of the graphic novel. 

The themes aren't that original, but it's a nice take on the secret society with super powers working under the government and is behind all historical events story. The ending was left open, but there is a sequel due out in October. 

I give this graphic novel a 4/5. The storytelling is done well and it had me thinking the whole time. 

-PAUL

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Ravine by Stjepan Sejic - Paul's REVIEW

**An ebook was provided by Diamond Book Distributors through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**


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Title: Ravine
Author/Illustrator: Stjepan Sejic
Year Published: 2013

Synopsis: In a fantastic world far from our own, an ancient magic spell almost split the world in two and left an endless ravine in the north. One man, Nebezial Asheri, driven by the deaths of his wife and daughters, will attempt to reclaim that magic and bring his loved ones back to life. The forces of an entire city, Paladia, will rise to oppose him, but his greatest foes will be a ragtag band of an outcast wizard, a dragonrider, and their allies.

Review: This graphic novel is very high fantasy. The book opens up with an epic battle. Names of people, kingdoms, and more are thrown around, instantly confusing me. It was very difficult to figure out the relationships between characters. I like political fantasy, like A Song of Ice and Fire, but in A Game of Thrones everything starts in Winterfell to establish. Action is happening all over the place in this book. Maybe if this was written out and not in graphic form it would have been easier to understand. 


There are a lot of characters in this graphic novel. Towards the end I was starting to recognize them, but I still had confusion as to who was on what side, except for obvious villains. 

This graphic novel seems like someone's personal D&D game. There is beautiful imagery. The world is also very interesting. But, the story just doesn't hold for me. Maybe if the story was told in a different way. Too much happened to characters I didn't care about. 

I give this graphic novel a 3/5. The artwork is beautiful, but the story just didn't do it for me. If you are into all things high fantasy, it might be more for you. 

-PAUL

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Debris by Kurtis J. Wiebe - Paul's REVIEW

***I was provided with an ebook by Diamond Book Distributors through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review***

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Title: Debris
Author: Kurtis J. Wiebe 
Illustrators: Riley Rossmo and Owen Gieni
Year Published: 2013

Synopsis: In the far future, humanity has doomed planet Earth to rot and decay, covering her surface with garbage. Now, ancient spirits called the Colossals rise from the debris and attack the remaining survivors, forcing the human race to the brink of extinction. After an attack leaves their people without water, Maya, the last Protector, sets out on a journey for pure water, to save the world before the monsters bring it all to an end.

Review: I like when a graphic novel is complete, not leaving most of the story open for a potential second volume. Debris has a finality to it that I enjoyed. The imagery in this graphic novel is really cool. The creature creations are done really well. They are so intricate. I feel like this whole graphic novel is a modern take on an 80's cartoon tv show, especially with the robot animals. 


This was a nice post apocalyptic adventure story that wraps up in just one volume. I give this graphic novel a 4/5

-PAUL

Friday, May 24, 2013

Six Earlier Days by David Levithan - Paul's REVIEW

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Paul's Every Day Review
Ashley's Every Day Review

Title: Six Earlier Days
Author: David Levithan
Year Published: 2013

Synopsis: In Every Day, New York Times bestselling author David Levithan presented readers with his most ambitious novel to date: Every morning, A wakes up in a different body and leads a different life. A must never get too attached, must never be noticed, must never interfere. 

The novel Every Day starts on Day 5994 of A’s life. In this digital-only collection Six Earlier Days, Levithan gives readers a glimpse at a handful of the other 5993 stories yet to be told that inform how A navigates the complexities of a life lived anew each day. 

In Every Day, readers discover if you can truly love someone who is destined to change every day. In Six Earlier Days, readers will discover a little bit more about how A became that someone.

Review: I absolutely LOVED Every Day. This collection of a few chapters shows more of that world. It's a really cool way to have a short stories collection because each chapter could be absolutely anything. A could wake up as any gender, sexual orientation, race, etc. And, Levithan picked random days throughout A's life so add age to that list. Levithan did an excellent job of telling stories of just one day in someone's life. The stories aren't quite as powerful as the book, but this is definitely a fun read for any fan of Every Day. I give this collection a 4/5.


-PAUL

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis - Ashley's Review


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Title: Shades of Earth
Author: Beth Revis
Year Published: 2013

My Pre-ReadingPaul's Review
My A Million Suns Review
My Across the Universe Review

Synopsis: Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing.

FUELED BY LIES.
RULED BY CHAOS.
ALMOST HOME.


Review: I'm pretty sure that this book was the perfect ending to this series. It was really cool to FINALLY be able to see Centauri-Earth, after spending two books aboard the Godspeed and only hearing about this new planet. Not that this new Earth doesn't have its own problems and dangers and mysteries... I mean, there are these huge pterodactyls for crying out loud. Which, as scary as they are, are totally awesome. I love dinosaurs. And I think it's completely fitting to have an ancient creature on a new world. 

Amy and Elder still have an incredible relationship, and it just grows and becomes better as they try to figure things out. I'm glad that Amy has finally decided that she loves Elder, regardless of if she has a choice or not... and that they still remain close friends even as their romantic interest in each other develops. It just seems very really, and I like when relationships don't come off as forced or unbelievable. 

Meeting all of the frozens is pretty neat too. And all of our favorite characters (well, the ones who haven't died yet anyway) are back, and just as awesome as ever. Even better, some of them. Plus, I feel like there's a message in there somewhere about being accepting of people even if they're strange or different. It's all really nice, and I think it's good to be reminded of every so often.

As always, Revis' writing is fantastic, and the plot moves along quickly so that I never wanted to put this book down and go to sleep. And her world building is phenomenal. I mean, we've learned a lot about what the world is like on Godspeed, and how everyone ended up there, but now we get a completely new world. Introduced and developed in the conclusion to a trilogy. I mean, who does that? I was just blown away by how Revis manages to pack so much detail into the story without it feeling overwhelming.

And of course, she manages to make you love her characters and then kill them. Like in the rest of her books in this series, your heart will be ripped out by all of the people who die. I didn't even think it was possible to kill so many people in one book, but Revis manages to do it, and do it well. And even though I usually think people should stay dead, I think Revis handles everything very well. I'm pretty sure there's nothing she can't write about, because she's pretty much got all of it covered in this series.

I would totally recommend this book to anyone who has read any of the other Across the Universe books, and to any lover of YA Sci-Fi. Actually, if you just like stories about space, new worlds, adventure, mystery, and lots of cool technology, you should definitely read this series. And especially stick it out until you make it to Shade of Earth. You won't be disappointed. I would rate this 5/5, even though I'm so sad to see this series end. 


--Ashley

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest - Paul's PRE READING



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Title: Boneshaker
Author: Cherie Priest
Year Published: 2009

Synopsis: Boneshaker derives its title from the Bone-Shaking Drill Engine, a device designed to give Russian prospectors a leg up in the race for Klondike gold. Unfortunately, there was one hitch: On its trial run, the Boneshaker went haywire and, long story short, turned much of Seattle into a city of the dead. Now, 16 years later, a teenage boy decides to find out what is behind that mysterious wall. Can his mother save him in time? Zombie lit of the first order.

Why?:  I was first introduced to Cherie Priest through the Sword and Laser Book Club on the Geek and Sundry youtube channel. They had an episode featuring an interview with Cherie Priest. You can find this episode below. But, onto the "why?". Zombies and Steampunk.




Expectations: I am expecting this to be well written. It is sometimes considered YA, but it seems like it was not intentionally written for a younger reader audience. I expect some cool steampunk tech and some awesome zombies. 

Judging a book by its cover:  The cover is so steampunk: the glasses, the dirigible, the coal stricken face. I like the cover. It already paints a world that I'm ready to read about. 

-PAUL

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Warlord of Mars (Barsoom #3) by Edgar Rice Burroughs - Ashley's Pre-Reading


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Title: The Warlord of Mars 
Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs 
Year Published: 1913-1914 as serials, 1919 as novel

Synopsis: 
Far to the north, in the frozen wastes of Polar Mars, lay the home of the Holy Therns, sacred and inviolate. Only John Carter dared to go there to find his lost Dejah Thoris. But between him and his goal lay the bones of all who had gone before.


Why?: I've read the first two books in this series, A Princess of Mars and The Gods of Mars, and enjoyed both of them immensely. They're nice, short, classic science fiction stories that have lived through generations, and I think that's pretty cool. Plus, I'm all about space novels with new creatures and adventures. And a pretty kick-ass hero. Plus, the ending of The Gods of Mars was such a cliffhanger that I really have to read this book too. Oh, and it's free for Kindle! So that's a pretty big bonus. 

Expectations: I expect this book to be similar to the first two. I don't think it will be an easy read (since it was written in 1913 and I'm not used to the language used), but I do think it will be a fun read. Burroughs hasn't let me down yet, so I'm hoping he doesn't here either.

Judging a book by its cover: There are so many covers out there for this book that it's hard to judge it based on just one. I like this cover though - it's colorful and has an alien creature on the front. And it looks pretty comic book-y to me, so that's a plus. If this was the cover I saw, I would likely pick it up. 


--Ashley

What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy by Gregory Maguire - Paul's REVIEW



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Title: What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy
Author: Gregory Maguire
Year Published: 2007

Synopsis: A terrible storm is raging, and ten-year-old Dinah is huddled by candlelight with her brother, sister, and cousin Gage, who is telling a very unusual tale. It’s the story of What-the-Dickens, a newly hatched orphan creature who finds he has an attraction to teeth, a crush on a cat named McCavity, and a penchant for getting into trouble. One day he happens upon a feisty girl skibberee who is working as an Agent of Change — trading coins for teeth — and learns that there is a dutiful tribe of skibbereen (call them tooth fairies) to which he hopes to belong. As his tale of discovery unfolds, however, both What-the- Dickens and Dinah come to see that the world is both richer and less sure than they ever imagined.

Review: Gregory Maguire is most well known for his retelling of the Wicked Witch from Oz's story in Wicked. I read that book many years ago and absolutely loved it. I've since read the sequel and didn't find it as amazing. I unfortunately didn't think this book came close to Wicked either. 


I'm not sure what the audience for this book was supposed to be. The writing is excellent and beautiful, but it feels at times like big words are just thrown in for a vocabulary list. The whole story is slow. There wasn't any time while I was reading this when I wasn't able to put down the book. The structure of the story was confusing. The content is appropriate for a 9-year old, but the way it reads is not. 

Although there were many things I didn't like about this book, I did like the world Maguire created. His version of tooth fairies were interesting. I just felt the structure of the story wasn't compelling. It was very much meta storytelling. The book had an overall feel of a bedtime story, almost like a parent started on a whim and then had to figure out a story spontaneously. 

I give this book a 3/5. If you are looking for fairytale retellings there are better ones out there. If you don't mind a very adult retelling, pick up Maguire's Wicked. 

-PAUL

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Volume 1 by Katie Cook & Andy Price - Ashley's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from IDW Publishing on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Title: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Volume 1
Author: Katie Cook, Andy Price
Year Published: 2013

Synopsis: Welcome to Ponyville, home of Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, and all your other favorite Ponies!

 Something's not right in the town though, as some of the inhabitants are acting very, very strange. It’s up to the Mane Six to find the source of the weirdness before it’s too late!

Review: When I first heard that "My Little Pony" was going to be rebooted for television as "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic", I thought it was a really terrible idea. I mean, there have been some pretty awful incarnations of this franchise. But then, I decided to give it a chance... and I got hooked. And so, when I saw this comic available on NetGalley, I had to request it immediately. 

The ponies in this story are drawn a little differently than in the show, but it isn't too far off and I think it works in this medium. They're more cartoon-ish, but I guess that's what you get when you're not using a computer to animate. The story is predictable (because the Mane Six always win!), but it's nice and presents a good message nonetheless. They have to work past their differences and the trickery of Queen Chrysalis in order to make it to her kingdom and rescue the Cutie Mark Crusaders. 

I think any fan of the TV show will really enjoy this comic. I also think this would be a nice way to introduce younger children to the wonderful world of comics and graphic novels - give them something nice and easy to read, full of vibrant colors and their favorite characters. Boys and girls alike will enjoy this story (I mean, there are Bronies after all), and you don't have to be afraid of anything too scary or too mature for kids to handle.

Overall, I actually enjoyed this story more than I thought I was going to. I would definitely suggest buying the paperback version though, because reading an electronic copy of this was a little rough. I think comics are more effective in printed form anyway. A 3/5 from me. 


--Ashley

How They Met by David Levithan - Paul's REVIEW



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Title: How They Met and Other Stories
Author: David Levithan
Year Published: 2009

Synopsis: A confection from David Levithan that is sure to have fans of Boy Meets Boy eager to devour it. Here are 18 stories, all about love, all kinds of love. From the aching for the one you pine for, to standing up and speaking up for the one you love, to pure joy and happiness, these love stories run the gamut of that emotion that at some point has turned every one of us inside out and upside down.

What is love? With this original story collection, David Levithan proves that love is a many splendored thing, a varied, complicated, addictive, wonderful thing.

Review: Collections of short stories are always nice to have on your bedside table. You can read one a night and feel like you read a whole story. Usually collections have a theme or they have a common author. This collection has both. David Levithan has been writing Valentine's Day stories since he was in high school. This is a collection of some of those stories. They all have a connecting theme of love or relationship. 


It's always awkward to review a collection of short stories. Do I review each individual story? Do I just review the overall book? Do I review some highlights? I think what I'll do is give you my overall feel of the book and then throw some random things at you that you might find intriguing. 

One thing I loved about these short stories was that initially you didn't necessarily know the gender of the main character in each story. If you don't know the gender then you definitely don't know their sexual orientation. It shows how universal love is. Gender and sexual orientations don't matter. Everyone experiences love. I also liked the variety of the relationships shown. Reading about high school relationships as a 24-year old brings back nostalgia for such naivety. 

Here comes the random. Miss Lucy had a Steamboat. Prom. Chance, luck, and coincidences on an airplane. Middle school crushes. A purely physical relationship. Family expectations and acceptance. When someone you love is far away. Alternate prom. Physics. The power of music. Unrequited love. Long lasting, routine love. Accidents create life. 

I highly recommend this book. Devid Levithan is such a great author. If you haven't read Every Day go read that now! And read this collection of short stories as well! I give this collection a 4/5.

-PAUL

Monday, May 20, 2013

Scarlet (Scarlet #1) by A.C. Gaughen - Ashley's Review


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Title: Scarlet
Author: A.C. Gaughen
Year Published: 2013

My Pre-Reading

Synopsis: 
Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance. 


Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.


Review: I can't believe I put off reading this book for as long as I did. That was such a huge mistake, because it was all sorts of fantastic. I love how Gaughen is (mostly) true to the classic Robin Hood story, and keeps all of the major characters there in one form or another. Robin, Little John, Much the miller's son, Will Scarlet, Friar Tuck, and all of the rest of the noteworthy gang are there, and they retain their identifying characteristics; Scarlet and Robin are very close, John is a brawny woodsman, Much is the miller's son who had his hand cut off as a punishment, etc. Even though these are old and well known characters though, Gaughen does an amazing job recreating them and making new and her own.

And I love Scar. She's strong and free-willed, but she's still so afraid of her past and her emotions. She's so very real, and it's really interesting to see how she grows and changes and matures over the course of the book. Her relationships with the other boys also seem very real, and the really awkward relationship between Scar and John made me laugh quite a bit. But it's very well done, and I'm glad things ended up the way they did.

At first, the dialect was kind of hard to get past. After the first few chapters or so though, I got used to it and I don't think the story would have worked as well if it hadn't been written the way it was. I think it really helps to get inside Scar's head and see how and what she's thinking, and to sympathize with her and her decisions. Her voice is so strong that to have everything in proper English would have really destroyed the character. So if you're having a hard time with that, just give it a little while. You'll stop noticing as you become more invested.

The story has so many twists and mysteries that are all revealed in a timely fashion, and the more you know the more secrets you wish you knew. I don't want to give too much away, but there was one twist that I thought I saw coming and was really excited when it actually happened. The world and the story are rich and exciting, and I can't wait to revisit it in the next two books. I'm just upset that book two doesn't come out until 2014!

I would totally recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Robin Hood stories, or just enjoys fairy tales that have been re-imagined. Or to anyone who is looking for a good adventure story with mysteries, secrets, and a little bit of romance. And I mean, one of the suggested things to watch if you want to learn more about Robin Hood is Mel Brooks' "Robin Hood: Men in Tights," so I think that just makes this book that much more awesome. This has been one of my favorite reads this year, and it definitely deserves a 5/5! Go pick it up ASAP!


--Ashley

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis - Ashley's Pre-Reading


Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Shades of Earth
Author: Beth Revis
Year Published: 2013

Paul's Review
Paul's Pre-Reading

Synopsis: Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing.

FUELED BY LIES.
RULED BY CHAOS.
ALMOST HOME.

Why?: I read the first two books in this series, and loved them. I'm really looking forward to find out how Amy and Elder's story ends, and to see what Centuri-Earth is like. Also, what else is living on this planet.

Expectations: I expect an epic adventure, full of secrets and mysteries. Also, I expect a lot of people to die, and I'm pretty sure some of them will be people very close to Amy, Elder, or both. Since people just keep dying in this series as soon as you get to know them and like them. 

Judging a book by its cover: So this cover is completely different from the other two original covers... and I'm not really the biggest fan. It looks really steampunk to me, and that's not what this series is about. I'm not sure why they got away from the original artwork, but oh well. I might pick this up in a bookstore based on the cover alone, but I'm honestly not sure. 


--Ashley

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Pirate's Wish (The Assassin's Curse #2) by Cassandra Rose Clarke - Ashley's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Title: The Pirate's Wish
Author: Cassandra Rose Clark
Year Published: 2013

My Pre-Reading
My The Assassin's Curse Review

Synopsis: 
After setting out to break the curse that binds them together, the pirate Ananna and the assassin Naji find themselves stranded on an enchanted island in the north with nothing but a sword, their wits, and the secret to breaking the curse: complete three impossible tasks. With the help of their friend Marjani and a rather unusual ally, Ananna and Naji make their way south again, seeking what seems to be beyond their reach.


Unfortunately, Naji has enemies from the shadowy world known as the Mists, and Ananna must still face the repercussions of going up against the Pirate Confederation. Together, Naji and Ananna must break the curse, escape their enemies — and come to terms with their growing romantic attraction.


Review: This book picks up pretty much where The Assassin's Curse left off, and I really appreciated that. It didn't feel like diving into the story right in the middle; instead, it felt like we were just picking up right where we left off. Getting back into the dialect was a little rough, but I still think it adds to the story and to understanding Ananna, and anyone who has read The Assassin's Curse really won't mind it at all. 

I still love Naji, and I'm so glad that he and Ananna are finally able to work through their differences and figure everything out in order to break the curse. Plus, they enlist the help of some old friends and we get to learn more about people like Marjani. I love when we're reintroduced to old characters in such a way that they become completely new, and Clark does an excellent job with that. And, we get to meet awesome new characters, like the chimera. I loved her, and her family. 

The way that Naji and Ananna end up completing all three impossible tasks is absolutely fantastic. The last one seemed like a huge stretch and kind of thrown together, but I guess anything is possible in this world. Plus, it does tie in to the rest of the story, so it ended up being alright. Nothing else really seems too strained or too far-fetched, especially considering the world. And even though we already know quite about the world, there's still a great deal of awesome world-building that goes on. 

Originally, I thought this was a trilogy. It is, in fact, a duology, so everything is pretty much wrapped up by the end, which is actually kind of nice. There are going to be two more books set in the same world, so I'm really looking forward to that! And two short stories so far, set before The Assassin's Curse. I would totally recommend this series to anyone who likes fantasy, adventure, magic, and all that jazz. Plus, this book specifically to anyone who read The Assassin's Curse! Trust me, you don't want to miss this fantastic ending. 4/5!


--Ashley

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Archived (The Archived #1) by Victoria Schwab - Ashley's Review


Amazon Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: The Archived
Author: Victoria Schwab
Year Published: 2013

My Pre-Reading
Paul's Review
Paul's Pre-Reading

Synopsis: 
Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.


Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn't just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.


Review: Ohmygosh, you guys, this book. When I heard so many people gushing about this book, saying how extraordinary it was, I had no idea that they were so right. This book has everything that makes a book wonderful - the writing is phenomenal, The world-building is awesome, and the characters are fantastic. I was hooked as soon as I started reading.

I love the idea that there are three worlds that are all connected, and that most people only know about the Outers. The Narrows are so creepy, I'm glad that they aren't real. I'd be really terrified if I was walking around one day and all of a sudden someone who is supposed to be dead escaped into my world and started running around killing people. And if I were like Mackenzie, I would not enjoy walking around in hallways that often have trapped Histories. And then there are the Archives. I love how much it resembles a library (because who doesn't love libraries), and I love that the people who work there are Librarians. And that everyone becomes a History when they die - it's really interesting to think that no one is ever completely lost. 

The whole time I was reading this book, I felt like the three separate worlds could totally exist, and I think a lot of that has to do with Schwab's writing. I mean, of course the world-building and the creativity behind it was great, but everything just flows so nicely together. There are details, but not too many. And I liked that Schwab doesn't take too much time to describe the Outers, since we already know what our world is like. Instead, she focus on the worlds we DON'T know. 

I really loved the relationships between Mackenzie and her family, her friends, and her love interest(s). The familial relationship is so real. Broken and strained, but real considering the circumstances. I really love Mac's dad too, he seems like he would be a lot of fun in different circumstances. And then there's Wes, who is absolutely wonderful. I love their friendship, and how they can talk to each other about things they can't mention to anyone else.

I would totally recommend this book to pretty much everyone who enjoys contemporary, paranormal stories. Especially ones with mystery, twists, and adventure. I can't wait for the sequel to come out to learn more about the Archives, and the people who work for them. A 5/5 from me on this one!! 


--Ashley

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Scarlet (Scarlet #1) by A.C. Gaughen - Ashley's Pre-Reading

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Scarlet
Author: A.C. Gaughen
Year Published: 2013

Synopsis: 
Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance. 


Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

Why?: I love when classic stories get a fun, new twist, and this book seems like exactly that! A girl in Robin Hood's merry band of thieves? I can't wait to find out why Scarlet is there, how she became a thief, and what her secret past is. Plus, action, secrets, and romance! This sounds like exactly the kind of book I would love.

Expectations: I've heard so many good things about this book that I kind of expect quite a bit from it. While I expect there to be elements of the Robin Hood story we all know and love, I'm also hoping for some new perspectives and fun, new characters. And lots of mysteries as to why there's a girl among the boys and why she's so loyal to Robin.

Judging a book by its cover: I really love this cover. It looks like it features a female Robin Hood, so I would probably pick this up off a bookshelf somewhere. Because who doesn't love a good Robin Hood cover?


--Ashley

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tall, Dark, and Divine (Bagging a Greek God #1) by Jenna Bennett - Ashley's Review


*I received this book as an eARC from Entangled Publishing in exchange for an honest review.*

My Pre-Reading

Title: Tall, Dark, and Divine
Author: Jenna Bennett
Year Published: 2013 (First published July 20, 2012)

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Synopsis: Being the Greek god of love doesn't mean you believe—or want—anything to do with that sappy emotion. Sure, Eros runs his matchmaking business, Made in Heaven, but finding his own love has never been part of the equation. When he spots the sweet baker who works across the street, he vows to match her with someone else before she stirs his sullen heart.

Annie Landon has given up on finding Mr. Right. What she needs is Mr. Right Here, Right Now, and this so-called “Greek God” she’s heard is on the rebound sounds like the perfect kind of distraction. But picking up the bitter workaholic is easier said than done… especially when he seems unreasonably determined to match her with someone else.

Can a woman looking for love—and the matchmaking god who wants her to find it with someone who isn't him—have a shot at a happy ending? May the best god—or mortal—win.


Review: While this is not typically the kind of book I read, I actually ended up enjoying it much more than I thought I would. I loved how the Greek/Cretan gods and goddesses were integrated into New York, and how they somehow managed to avoid doing anything really suspicious that would lead mortals to think they were divine beings. I also really enjoyed how they tended to pick professions based on what they were gods/goddesses of - Eros runs a matchmaking service, Dionysius owns a bar, etc. Oh, and I thought it was neat how they modernized their names as well.

I kind of felt like the romance was a little forced, but that it ended up working out eventually. The whole story takes place over like 5 days, so I guess it plays with the whole "love at first sight" thing. That's not really my style, but it seemed to work here so props for that. I also should have expected there to be sex scenes and such, because just look at the cover, but I was a little taken by surprise when I got to them. They aren't long or too in depth though, so even if those tend to scare you off, you can always skip over them pretty easily. I don't think the story would have really worked without there being a few steamy parts though, so take that as you will.


Although I'm used to a significant amount of world-building and all that jazz because of the types of books I normally read, I actually think Bennett did a pretty decent job of reconstructing the world as we know it to include the Greek gods living among us. I think she gives enough history and enough explanation without really taking away from the whole romance thing, and I was pretty impressed by that. There's also not much character development, except for maybe Eros, but again I don't think that it's really necessary in this book. It works. Oh, and I love Zeus and Dionysius' father/son relationship.

Overall, I think this was a nice, easy read. Maybe not for the younger crowd, so tread with caution if you plan on giving this to your teen. I don't know if I would read any more in this sequel (I might), but I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a contemporary romance with a twist. a 3/5 for me, but I think it would do very well in the romance genre. 


--Ashley