Monday, October 29, 2018

MMGM--Catwoman: Soulstealer

When I learned that today was National Cat Day, I decided that posting a review of Catwoman: Soulstealer would be very appropriate. (Because I'm festive like that. :P)

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Selina Kyle is a thief. Two years after escaping Gotham City's slums, Selina returns as the mysterious and wealthy Holly Vanderhees. She quickly discovers that with Batman away on a vital mission, Gotham City looks ripe for the taking. 

Luke Fox is a hero. Luke Fox wants to prove that as Batwing he has what it takes to help people. He targets a new thief on the prowl who has teamed up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. Together, they are wreaking havoc. This Catwoman is clever--and she may be Batwing's undoing. 

In Gotham City, not everyone is what they seem. Selina is playing a desperate game of cat and mouse, forming unexpected friendships and entangling herself with Batwing by night, and her devilishly handsome neighbor Luke Fox by day. But with a dangerous threat from the past on her tail, will she be able to pull off the heist that's closest to her heart?

Okay. I tried to draft this review so many times that it's not even funny. I just felt like I couldn't get it right, because every time I would try to write it, I would always circle back to saying, "I liked how Sarah J Maas' take on this character was . . ." and so on and so forth.

But the truth is--I don't know how her spin on the characters differ from that of the comic books or the movies, because I have never seen a DC movie, or read a DC comic. Ever.

I know--shame on me.

So, if this review sounds a bit choppier than usual, my lack of culturing is to blame. (That, and the fact that I've been swamped with schoolwork, so my margin of blogging time has shrunken considerably.)

This story is told in duel point of view, with a majority of the novel being told from Selina Kyle's perspective, and a lesser portion being told from Luke Fox's perspective. I loved this, because it gave me insight into both the hero's mind, and the villain's.

And honestly, it was very refreshing to hear a story from the villain's side for once. I never actually thought that I would root for the bad guy, and it was a rather refreshing change. It also gave me a good reminder that the villains are people too.

For instance--in this rendition of Gotham City, Selina Kyle is just an orphaned girl, trying to get food on the table for her very ill little sister. She only begins her transformation into Gotham's newest criminal when she's given an offer she can't refuse--a better life for her sister, Maggie. She takes the offer, and a few years later, she's back and better than ever. A wealthy philanthropist by day, and a skilled thief by night.

But, not everything goes according to plan, and one night, she's caught by Poison Ivy, who was attempting to make the same steal as Selina. After a little negotiation, Selina agrees to team up with Ivy--on one condition--Harley Quinn makes their duo a trio.

I have to admit, the story was very slowly paced in the beginning, up until the point where Selina meets Harley and Ivy. After that, I could barely put the book down.

Once again, I don't know how these characters differ from the book to the movie or comics, but I really liked Sarah J. Maas' version of Poison Ivy. In the book, her powers are the result of a college experiment gone haywire--but Ivy doesn't let that faze her too much. A science prodigy--she never really fit in at college anyway.

Now, she uses her powers to help a cause she was already passionate about--saving the environment. And I gotta say, Ivy made some pretty compelling cases. One of the only downsides is that for the past few years, her only friends--besides Harley Quinn--have been green and leafy.

Harley is a bit of a loose cannon. She not very stable, and her mood swings can sometimes involve detonating cars. But in spite of that, she's still very loyal to Ivy and Selina--as long as they respect her, she'll do them the same honor. Although, as a skilled ballistics expert and the long-time sidekick to the Joker, somebody would have to have a death wish to cross Harley.

On the flip side of Gotham, is Luke Fox, aka, Batwing. As an retired marine, Luke's main purpose throughout life has been to help people, and with Batman out of the city, it's his job to keep Gotham safe. To his chagrin, Selina, Ivy, and Harley's trio of terror is making that a considerably difficult feat to accomplish. 

While the middle of the story was amazing and full of action-packed goodness, the beginning was a little slow, and I wasn't a huge fan of the conclusion.

That being said, this is still an entertaining story, and I give it 3.75/5 stars.

You can find Sarah J. Maas' website HERE, and you can read a free excerpt of Catwoman: Soulstealer HERE

Happy Reading!

Monday, October 15, 2018

MMGM--Tell Me Three Things

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Tell Me Three Things, by Julie Buxbaum

Jessie has just started her junior year at an ultra-intimidating LA prep school where she knows no one except her new stepmonster's pretentious teenage son. Just when she's thinking of hightailing it back to Chicago--to her friends who understand she's still grieving the death of her mother--she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School.

In a leap of faith--or an act of complete desperation, Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline a closest ally. Jessie can't help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

I read this book for the first time over the Summer--almost four months ago--so it's a bit of an understatement to say that my review is looong overdue. (I was planning to review a different middle grade book today, but #lifehappened and I didn't get to finish it in time.)

One of my favorite aspects of Tell Me Three Things was the large cast of side characters. Scarlet, Jessie's home-town best friend is snarky, and supportive and everything I would want in friend. Plus, she uses correct capitalization and punctuation in text messages.

And, there are plenty of new friends at Jessie's new school, too. Ethan, Dri, Liam, Caleb, Theo, and Agnes are all terrific additions to the story. I won't go in too deeply with any of them though, in lieu of giving any spoilers. (Also, I think if I started, gushing about them, I wouldn't be able to stop. :P) So, I'll just say that Julie Buxbaum gave each character his or her own, unique voice in the story.

While I wasn't completely sure I liked the main character, Jessie, at first, she quickly managed to win me over with her love of books and major awkwardness--something I can very much relate to. She also openly talks about why she likes writing so much better than speaking, because with writing, she has time to flesh out a conversation in her head before replying, something I tend to agree with myself.

There was also a lot of character development done on Jessie's part throughout the novel, and I had an awesome time watching her grow. Sort of tying in with the character development, Jessie was such a believable, realistic character. So often in romance book, the main characters are these perfect girls who have, what seems like, an entire fan-club of boys chasing after them. It a welcome change for me to read about a dorky, sarcastic girl who had priorities bigger than finding a boyfriend.

One aspect that many books leave out is food. But one of the things Jessie misses most about her home is the Chicago-style pizza, and the slushy combination she spent an entire summer perfecting. Another little tidbit that isn't super relevant to the plot, but that I adore, is that Jessie's favorite word is waffle, because it's a delicious food, and a synonym for writing.

And while Jessie wasn't an automatic like for me, Somebody/Nobody definitely was. While I am by no means an expert on all things plot-related, I thought that the idea of a stranger emailing her--while albeit a little creepy (which SN admits in the first email)--was something very original.

My only complaint is that it was kind of predictable who SN was. Julie Buxbaum did a good job of including a few different boys and possibilities for SN, but it was pretty clear who it would be in the end--for me, anyhow.

Fair warning--I will say that this book is on the older side of the scale, in terms of reader age. Barnes and Noble gave it an age rating of 12-17, so as long as you're above that age, you should be good. (There are a few mentions of some rather controversial topics.)

This book is perfect for anyone who likes complex character arks, fresh plot ideas, as well as the inclusion of food. (!!!)

You can read an excerpt of Tell Me Three Things HERE and you can find Julie Buxbaum's website HERE

Happy Reading!

Monday, October 1, 2018

MMGM--Always and Forever, Lara Jean

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Always and Forever, Lara Jean, by Jenny Han

Lara Jean is having the best senior year.

And there's still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend, Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad's wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she'll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn't be more perfect!

At least, that's what Lara Jean thinks . . . until she gets some unexpected news. 

New the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans--but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

The stunning conclusion to my Jenny Han Book Review Marathon is here! Once again, I will give the warning that there are *slight* spoilers for the previous two books included in my review. So, read at your own risk!

With Lara Jean's senior year of high school coming to a close, the gang is preparing to run to opposite corners of the world--Chris jetting away to South America, Lucas to New York City, and Lara Jean and Peter set to start their freshman year of UVA together.

But not everything goes to plan.

After Lara Jean is rejected from UVA, she's sent into a tailspin. UVA had been her dream school since she was a child. She has no backup school. And there would be no Peter.

Lara Jean isn't the only one going through growing pains. Lara Jean's little sister, Kitty, is determined to find her father his dream woman.

And Lara Jean's dad isn't the only one with budding relationship in the Covey household. Margot returns from Scotland with a new boyfriend, Ravi. And I admit, I *really* liked Josh, and I *really* didn't want to like Margot's new boyfriend. But that was a battle I lost almost immediately. Ravi has an English accent, is insanely polite, is a full-blooded Hufflepuff and is almost *impossible* not to like.

Margot and Ravi seem made for each other, and while Lara Jean used to think the same thing about her and Peter, she's beginning to have second thoughts. After they are sent to different schools, and forced into what could be a one-to-four-year long-term relationship, she begins to wonder if she should listen to her mother's advice.

Never go to college with a boyfriend. 

One of my only complaints is that there was practically no Josh in the book. I'm aware that he isn't really a huge influence to the plot anymore, but he was hardly even mentioned. And I love Josh! :(

There was also a lot of college decision making, and event planning on Lara Jean's part, and while it was necessary to the plot--it wasn't the most interesting to read about. This book--while amazing--definitely was the slowest paced out of the three. This might not bother some people, but I am *insanely* picky when it comes to the pacing of a story.

You can read a free excerpt of Always and Forever, Lara JeanHERE and you can find Jenny Han's website HERE

Happy Reading!

Review of The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, by Jenn Bennett

Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she's spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci's...