Comic Review: Colder, Volume 1 by Paul Tobin

FAIR WARNING: THE ARTWORK IN THIS COMIC IS A LITTLE DISTURBING SO SOME OF YOU MIGHT NOT WANT TO LOOK – I’VE INCLUDED THE COVER AND SOME IMAGES FROM THE ACTUAL COMIC.

ColderAuthor: Paul Tobin

Illustrator: Juan Ferreyra

Publisher: Dark Horse

Publication Date: October 22, 2013

152 pages, paperback

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

LOOK AT THAT COVER. YES YES YES. Volume 1 starts off in an insane asylum 50 or so years ago where Declan Thomas (who has this seriously cool ability to walk into someone’s personal madness – and he can even sometimes cure or worsen it) resides. A demonic predator visits him and tells him he’s about to start getting colder, which he does. He doesn’t talk or get sick or feel pain. He’s a ward of the state and lives with a lonely nurse who cares for him as best she can, until one day Nimble Jack shows back up to claim him.

The artwork in this is freaky and scary and wonderful and bizarre, and I love it. The story is unique and creepy and really easy to read. It took no time at all but I was completely absorbed in the story. Nimble Jack is downright frightening – both in his actions and in the artwork.

Colder 1SOURCE

Colder 2SOURCE

The bottom line: That artwork though. So good. So so good. I’m a little obsessed. Plus the story is freaking cool and dark and absolutely captivating. Loved this one.

Rating: 9 – practically perfect

 

Graphic Novel Review: Username: Evie by Joe Sugg

Username EvieAuthor: Joe Sugg / Matt Whyman

Illustrator:  Amrit Birdi

Publisher: Running Press

Publication Date: September 22, 2015

192 pages, paperback

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

I feel like I should’ve known better, but I think that Joe Sugg is super funny (check out his YouTube channel ThatcherJoe) so I wanted to check it out and I wanted to like it so much. Plus the art on the cover looked pretty cool, but it was A LIE. I was more disappointed than I should have been – again, I should have known better.

Why this is bad:

  • The story is ridiculously fast-paced. There is zero time to actually get to know and therefore care about any of the characters. It rushed through everything that happened and led to a very confusing and muddled plotline.
  • The characters are flat in more ways than one.
    • The artwork has no movement whatsoever and all of the characters are 2D because of it.
    • But their personalities are also super flat and boring. There’s no explanation for why Mallory – Evie’s cousin – hates her so much; the science isn’t explained – although the idea of a virtual world that is influenced by a person’s thoughts/actions is pretty cool; I just didn’t care about anyone.
  • The art. JFC. It’s just bad. Sometimes the characters aren’t proportional; sometimes Evie and Mallory look like the same person which is confusing. The art is flat and emotionless and bland, despite the vibrant colors.
  • The writing. I’ll say that the idea is pretty cool, but the writing is not. The characters – mostly Evie – feel the need to constantly explain what they are doing or why something won’t work or that they are currently running. Okay, not the last one, but that’s what it felt like. Instead of showing the reader what was happening through the art or through dialogue, we are flat out told in long explanatory thought boxes. It was exhausting and unnecessary and annoying.

The bottom line: I was NOT a fan of this graphic novel. From flat art and characters to unnecessary explanations, Username: Evie is just not a good book.

Rating: 3 – Horrible; why am I reading this?

Mini Audiobook Reviews: Scarlet, Cress, and Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Check out my review of Cinder, the first book in the Lunar Chronicles series, if you are interested.

Author: Marissa Meyer
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Genre: Young adult, sci-fi, retelling
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (book) / Macmillan Young Listeners (audiobook)


ScarletSCARLET (Book 2)

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Audiobook length: 11 hours and 19 minutes

Jesus. I just really didn’t like this one. After the incredibleness that was Cinder, I was completely underwhelmed by Scarlet, both the book and the character. The narration of Scarlet was whiny, and I’m not sure if that’s because the character was or just because the narrator read her that way. Either way, I was annoyed, and I almost stopped listening several times because of it. I found Scarlet to be completely obnoxious as a character. Plus, I just kept wanting the POV to switch back to Cinder so I could see what was happening with her. I did like Scarlet and Wolf together – probably because I thought it was a cool retelling of Little Red Riding Hood.

My favorite character is Thorne – I adore him.

I want to eventually reread this series in physical format, especially this one, because I think it’ll be nice to hear a different voice for Scarlet.

CressCRESS (Book 3)

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Audiobook length: 15 hours and 40 minutes

Cress redeemed this series for me. After the disaster (in my opinion) that was Scarlet, I really needed a book that would hook me back in.  And this one did not disappoint. This book has a bunch of POVs, but none of them felt unnecessary and they all blended together into one cohesive story. Meyer is really great at making each POV distinct as well, which is the main problem I usually have with multiple POVs. Plus, the narrator does a wonderful job with each character’s voice – they are all different. However, I’d just like to point out how annoying I still think Scarlet is. Although I do like her character a bit more in this one.

I think my favorite part is that I can see how much Meyer’s writing has evolved since the first book. The characters are sharper, the plot is tighter, the writing is even better. The characters are flawed and not flat, and I enjoyed getting to know each of them better in this book.

FairestFAIREST (Book 3.5)

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Audiobook length: 6 hours and 36 minutes

I don’t have much to say about this one except that Levana is certifiably insane. Although she really got on my nerves A LOT, Meyer does a fantastic job of developing this character into the crazy villain we know in the rest of the series. It was interesting to see how she got to be where she is and watch her crazy grow.

Have you read this series? Which book is your favorite? Look out for my review of the last book in the series – WINTER – soon.

Book Review: A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

A Boy Called Christmas by Matt HaigAuthor:  Matt Haig

Genre: MG, Christmas

Publisher: Canongate Books

Publication Date: November 12, 2015

272 pages, hardcover

With illustrations by: Chris Mould

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Did you read up there where it says “Matt Haig”? You did? Have you ever visited my blog before? You have? Good, then you know how much I love that author. I pretty much mention one of his books every opportunity I can. Meaning I really don’t even have to do this review, right? You just KNOW I loved it. Actually, no. Any opportunity I can to word vomit my love for Matt Haig’s books is an opportunity I take.

You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas.
It is a story that proves that nothing is impossible.
If you are one of those people who believe that some things are impossible, you should put this book down right away. It is most certainly not for you.
Because this book is FULL of impossible things.

I adored this book. It’s the story of Nikolas, an 11-year-old boy who goes on the adventure of a lifetime. It’s full of magic and elves and pixies and snow. It was the perfect book to read to get me into the Christmas spirit. I’m one of those people who can’t listen to Christmas music until AFTER Thanksgiving, but this book just filled me with cheer and joy.

Nikolas was a poor, skinny boy who ventured north in search of his father, who’d gone off to find the city of elves. There is some sadness here, but there’s also joy and kindness, laughter and even some silly dancing. Gasp! It’s a beautiful story. Just an little tip: this would be a perfect Christmas gift!

The illustrations are amazing as well, the perfect touch. Here’s a few examples that Matt tweeted out:

The bottom line: Yet another book to add to my ever-growing Matt Haig obsession er…love. A perfect book to read with your kids at Christmas or with yourself to get you into the Christmas spirit. It’s fun and magical, and I loved it. It gives you that perfect sitting-in-front-of-the-fire-with-hot-chocolate feeling.

Shout out to the lovely people at Canongate Books for this copy! (Note: this did not sway my review in any way. You know it was already glowing because it’s Matt Haig)

Book Review: Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett

Blood and Salt by Kim LiggettAuthor:  Kim Liggett

Genre: Young adult, horror

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: September 22, 2015

352 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Putnam for letting me read this!

The first line of this book is: “The dead girl hung upside down over our kitchen table.” What an excellent start to a horror novel! The beginning of this book continues to be super creepy and strange, and it hooked me right away. You can really hear that rope creaking as the dead girl swings, first over the kitchen table then later in Ash’s room, school, and everywhere else she sees her. It gave me the creeps. I won’t say I felt that way throughout the entire book though. The middle part dragged a bit and wasn’t nearly as creepy nor satisfying as the beginning and the end were (the last 50 pages or so? WOW).

As for the romance parts of this novel, I really wanted to be all in for Ash and Dane – you’re meant to root for them, but not only was there a bit of instalove (which you guys know I’m not a fan of) explained away by the fact that they are magically attracted to each other (um. By their scent…?), their love felt a bit forced in places. I didn’t get it. However, I won’t lie: they are some swoon-tastic moments here. For real. Also, I honestly felt more about Ash’s brother Rhys and his love interest. Man, were they adorable. Plus, Rhys is probably the character that felt the most…real to me? His emotions were very honest and genuine and it was easy to feel for him. Some of the characters felt a bit flat in comparison to him.

The mythology in Blood and Salt was fascinating, but it was also a bit confusing in parts. There were a few instances when I just didn’t understand what was happening. However, overall, the magic and history about Katia and Ash’s bloodline were really interesting. I think the issue I had was mostly with the middle bits where we were getting some history about Quivira and its people.

The bottom line: Although I did have some issues with this one (mostly with the instalove and the middle part of the novel), I’ll definitely be picking up the second book in this duology. That ending left me wanting more, and I’m looking forward to reading what happens next.

Rating: 7 – pretty good

The Picture Books I’ve Been Reading

You guys all know I’m a Youth Services Librarian, right? I mostly read YA and MG, but I also read a ton of picture books (through story time or just my own time) because I spend a lot of time recommending books to patrons. I adore picture books. Before I started working in the library, I never read them, but there’s something about the sweet messages, adorable illustrations, and short page length that is wonderfully satisfying and calming to read. SO here are a few picture books I’ve read recently:

The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield MartinThe Wonderful Things You Will Be – Written and illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin (Find it on Goodreads)
Published August 25th, 2015 by Random House Books for Young Readers

I checked this one out because I adore the cover. The illustrations inside are just as gorgeous and fanciful. I’m not a mom (yet) but I can just imagine reading this one with my future child – what wonderful things will they be when they grow up? A book about all the amazing possibilities a child has. The Wonderful Things You Will Be is sweet, gentle, and lovely. And seriously, I could frame some of the illustrations. They’re gorgeous.

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea BeatyRosie Revere, Engineer – Written by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
Published September 3rd, 2013 by Harry N. Abrams

Inspiring and fun. “The only true failure can come if you quit.” This book is about the importance of failing but continuing to go on, continuing to try, and I really love that message. It’s all about having confidence in yourself and what you want even in the face of ridicule and failure. It’s a quick, fun read, but definitely powerful. Plus, it’s got some GREAT illustrations.

Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea BeatyIggy Peck, Architect – Written by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
Published October 1st, 2007 by Harry N. Abrams

This one is written by the same team who wrote Rosie Revere, Engineer. After I read that one, I HAD to read this one too. Iggy Peck, Architect is a really cute story with some seriously cool illustrations. It’s not exactly one I would read in story time at the library as there are some parts where the text is rather long, but this one would be perfect for some one-on-one reading with the little builder in your life. A great story about not giving up and doing the things you love.

(Thanks so much to Emma at Miss Print for recommending the last two books to me!)

Book Review: Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout

Hello, I Love You by Katie M. StoutAuthor:  Katie M. Stout

Genre: YA, contemporary

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Publication Date: June 9, 2015

304 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Hello, I Love You was really cute. Grace is running away from her family, and she decides to head to the complete opposite side of the planet to a school in Korea, where she meets a Korean musician who is brooding and…even rude at times. Grace has to navigate a country and culture completely different from her own as well as potential love.

When I first finished this book I was kind of…angry? Grace is not a nice person. She was ignorant, patronizing, judgmental, and just flat out rude to a lot of the people around her because they were different than her. Now that I’ve had time to think about it though, I realize that a lot of that was because of how she was raised – her family shaped her and influenced her thoughts on other cultures. While I do think she began to break out of that by the end of the novel, I don’t think it was quite as much as I wanted her to. But it was a start.

The romance was cute at times. I got a little annoyed by Jason (the love interest) as he continued to flip flop about his feelings and I wanted to reach in and shake him. Well, honestly, both Grace and Jason were hot and cold for each other throughout the novel. There were several times when I questioned WHY they even liked each other. However, this did kind of remind me of KDramas a LOT, which I know Katie is a big fan of, so I guess it makes sense.

I wouldn’t recommend this book to you if you think this a book about KPop or Korean culture because those themes are almost non-existent. Differences in American and Korean culture/customs/food/etc. were mentioned occasionally but not explored in depth like I was hoping. I was pretty disappointed with that. However, if you’re looking for a book that really resembles a KDrama (emphasis on the drama bit), Hello, I Love You is for YOU! The end of the book will give you all the feels.

Rating: 5.5 – take it or leave it (some people could really dig this one)

Book Review: Our Song by A. Destiny and Elizabeth Lenhard

At the beginning of September, I was at the Decatur Book Festival, where I moderated two panels, including Thicker Than Water with Una LaMarche, Katie M. Stout, Elizabeth Lenhard, and Marie Mardquart.
Our Song by A. Destiny and Elizabeth Lenhard

Author:  A. Destiny and Elizabeth Lenhard

Genre: YA, contemporary

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication Date: July 7, 2015

240 pages, paperback

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Our Song is a super quick, light read. Nell doesn’t want anything to do with her family’s business – her family is “folk music royalty” and everyone at the camp she’s sent to knows it. She’s rebelling against her family and trying to figure out who she is. And then Jacob shows up – he’s a fellow musician at the camp, and through their interactions, Nell realizes she might be more in love with her family’s ways than she thought (but in her own way), and quite possibly in love with Jacob.

This book was cute, you guys. It has that distinct summer-book feel with its light story, cute romance, and summer camp shenanigans. I read it quickly and laughed a lot. Nell and Jacob’s banter was adorable. I really enjoyed the focus on music – Elizabeth includes a lot of musical sounds in the book; in fact, Elizabeth described her book is these six words: Grumble; Stutter; Clang; Sigh; Sizzle; SING! How cool is that?

Our Song also has a distinctive focus on family. Nell may be rebelling against her family and everything that means, but throughout the book, she also comes to realize that they might mean more to her and who she is than she originally thought. I loved this. The book may have a few clichés and such, but it was cute and I enjoyed it.

Rating: 7 – pretty good

Audiobook Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder by Marissa MeyerAuthor:  Marissa Meyer

Narrator: Rebecca Soler

Genre: Young adult, science fiction, retelling

Publisher: Macmillan Young Listeners (audiobook); Feiwel & Friends (physical book)

Audiobook length: 10 hours, 6 minutes

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

The book:

Cinder is a retelling of Cinderella in a dystopian, Asian world in which Cinder is a freaking cyborg! How cool is that?! I was a little nervous for this one just because of the huge amount of hype surrounding this series, but I honestly wish I would have read it years ago! I feel like there isn’t much I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said, but let me point out a few of my favorite things:

– Queen Levana is exactly what a villain should be like – manipulative, creepy, horrible, and just deliciously evil.

– The way Meyer took this well-known and sometimes overdone story of Cinderella and completely transformed it into her own story was amazing. Yes, sometimes you’d be able to predict what was going to happen, but for the most part, it just read as a quick nod to the original story and then she’d take it somewhere else. It was fascinating.

– The world that Meyer has created is incredible, original, and all around captivating. I just wanted to know EVERYTHING about it. The politics, science, technology – all of it was SO cool, and I was completely engaged with the story and world from the beginning.

– There were a few parts that felt a little long/drawn out, and the main reason I’m not giving this a TOP rating is because I figured out the big “twist” pretty early on, and while I definitely didn’t want to stop reading because of that, it made reading/listening a little less fun.

The audiobook/narrator:

I absolutely LOVED Rebecca Soler’s narration. There were a few times in the book that I think would have…bored me during the story but her narration kept me completely enthralled and I didn’t want to stop listening for a second. I wanted to start the next book right away.

The bottom line: I can’t believe I waited this long to read Cinder, but I’m glad I finally did. A fascinating world, wonderful retelling of Cinderella, perfect villain, and fantastic writing all mix together to create a book I didn’t want to stop reading for a second. I figured out the twist early on, but the book was so good I didn’t really care that much.

Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic

I’m participating in The Lunar Chronicles Read Along hosted by the lovely Brittany from The Book Addict’s Guide!

Book Review: The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith

The Alex Crow by Andrew SmithAuthor:  Andrew Smith

Genre: young adult, sci-fi, contemporary

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: March 10, 2015

336 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

The Alex Crow was my first Andrew Smith book, and I was pretty blown away. This book is nuts, you guys. It’s remarkably strange and different and weird, and I loved it. I’m not even really sure how to review it because of how weird it was, but I’ll try.

Andrew Smith expertly weaves together three seemingly separate story lines about a melting man who was told by Joseph Stalin to build a bomb and travel hundreds of miles to set it off, an exploratory ship from the 1880s (called The Alex Crow) on its way to the North Pole, and a Middle Eastern boy named Ariel (AH-riel, get it straight) who is the lone survivor of his village being murdered by a terrorist group and is now living in the US. It’s surprisingly hard to go into much detail about the plot of this book without giving anything away, but I was completely enthralled and shocked with how it all came together.

I loved the focus on friendship in this book. Ariel, his adoptive brother Max (aka he of the innumerable euphemisms for masturbation), and Cobie, the only other sane kid at the camp where the three of them are sent, bond over the uncontrollable situation they’ve been thrown into. They go through a lot of crazy stuff, and it brings them closer.

This is a layered, complicated story that actually goes a lot deeper than what meets the eye. It brings up a lot of hard issues like morality, race, gender, friendship, and kindness. It’s not always the easiest book to read nor is it like anything else you’ve ever read (or at least anything I’ve ever read). This book is messy and complicated and just so so good.

The bottom line: I honestly cannot wait to read another of Andrew Smith’s books. The Alex Crow was disturbing, weird, awkward, hilarious, and absolutely wonderful.

Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic