graphic novel, new adult, science fiction, scifi

Graphic Novel Review: Saga Volumes 1 and 2

Saga volumes 1 and 2

Title: Saga Volumes 1 and 2
Author: Brian K. Vaughan
Illustrator: Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image Comics
Length: 160 and 144
Genre: New Adult, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction
Rating: 4 Folded pages for both volumes

Summary:
Landfall and it’s moon, Wreath, have always been at war. Instead of fighting on their own planets the opposing sides take proxy planets to fight wars on. The story follows a star crossed couple and their baby.

Review:
I’m really enjoying this graphic novel series so far. Volumes one and two were equally exciting. Although the child of the couple is still in infancy, she narrates the story as if she’s telling the story while you read the action. It’s extremely interesting.

That being said, I did feel like there’s something missing. I can’t really put my finger on it but some of the plot falls a little flat. I think it might be the freelancer plot which I won’t go into so I don’t give any spoilers. I just find myself kind of bored when the story veers away from the main couple.

The artwork is absolutely beautiful. I am a bit of a snob when it comes to the art in graphic novels, comics, or manga and Staples beautiful character design and color usage definitely meets my standards.

I’m excited to see where Vaughan and Staples take this beautiful space drama. I’m glad the New Adult genre is becoming more popular. Saga was an impulse grab at the library today and I’m definitely not sorry. Now I just wish my library had the other volumes!

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unpopular opinion

Unpopular Opinion: Hardback vs. Paperback [1]

unpop opinion 1hardbacks

I decided to start a new series so my blog isn’t just book reviews. Welcome to Unpopular Opinions! The first in the this series is hardback books vs paperback.

I’ve been lurking around the online book community for a long time and I’ve noticed a trend; almost everyone prefers hardback books. I understand the appeal. They’re harder to damage and the covers are pretty. Sometimes you get two covers if the actual book has a cover as well as the jacket. But hardback books are not for me.

paperbacks

I prefer paperback. They are easier to read because you don’t have to worry much about damaging the spine. They are easier to carry around. Plus I never leave the jacket on my hardcover books because I’m too afraid of damaging it.

So now I throw the question to you. What do you prefer hardback or paperback and why?

young adult

Book Review: Little Brother Duology by Cory Doctorow

Hard cover books of Little Brother and Homeland by Cory Doctorow

Title: Little Brother and Homeland
Author: Cory Doctorow
Publisher: Tor Teen
Length: 384 and 400
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4 and 3.5 Folded Pages

Blurb for Little Brother:
Marcus, a.k.a “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.

But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days.

When the DHS finally releases them, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself.

Summary for Homeland:
I wanted to ensure no spoilers for Little Brother would get through, so Homeland follows Marcus 2 years later. Marcus gets an information bomb dumped on him and he finds himself forced to do something about it. While still dealing with post-traumatic stress from earlier incidents, Marcus struggles to find the right path for him.

Review:
I really enjoy Cory Doctorow’s books though I fully understand his writing style isn’t for everyone. He tend to give the reader info dumps that last anywhere from a few paragraphs to a few pages. I personally enjoy these info dumps because that means he doesn’t have to explain the technology in the middle of the story but I understand how it can be tedious at times especially when it splits a particularly intense part.

I think what I enjoy most about this duology is that although Marcus sometimes has an inflated ego, he’s still just a regular boy. He struggles with what’s happening in his city just as much as everyone else but he falls into situations where he’s able to become the hero because he has useful skills. It’s not because he’s the chosen one, or because he has some hero complex. He sees an issue and tries to use technology to fix it. It just ends up blowing up in his face (literally sometimes) turning into a revolution.

I definitely liked Little Brother more as far as both novels go. It had better pacing and I think the side characters were so well rounded in it. Homeland’s pacing is a little slow and for the most part I think Marcus is the only character that’s truly fleshed out.

This series has a lot of technology terms that are hard to grasp even knowing a good amount about technology (like I do) and with the info dumps so if you don’t think you could keep up I wouldn’t suggest reading it. However, if you’re up for a bit of a reading challenge and some laugh out loud moments I think you should definitely but this series on your TBR.

Fantasy, historical fiction, young adult

Audiobook Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

A great and terrible beauty audiobook cover

Title: A Great and Terrible Beauty (Unabridged)
Author: Libba Bray
Narrator: Josephine Bailey
Publisher: Random House, Inc. & Listen Library
Length: 11 hours 13 minutes
Genre: Young adult, historical fiction, fantasy
Rating: 4 folded pages

Blurb:

It’s 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma’s reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she’s been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence’s most powerful girls—and their foray into the spiritual world—lead to?

Review:

The last time I read a great and terrible beauty by libba bray I was 13. I remember having to look up nearly every other word or suffer through not knowing half of what was being said but I loved it none-the-less.  I decided to give audiobooks a try recently and started with something I’ve been meaning to re-read for a while considering it’s been almost 9 years.

I still love the plot as much as I remember which makes me really happy. I was slightly afraid I’d read (or rather listen to) it and I wouldn’t like it. I do think the book has a slow start. I kept wondering when they would get to the magic bit. The writing is still phenomenal though. I think that combined with listening to it rather than physically reading it is why I didn’t get impatient like I normally would.

The narrator, Josephine Bailey, did an amazing job. Every voice felt distinct and her British Victorian accent for Gemma felt very real. I enjoyed the way she pronounced and enunciated words and her voice wasn’t grating at all.

I thoroughly love Gemma but I did feel like some of the side characters like Pipper, Ann and Felicity could have been fleshed out a little more. Especially Pipper, I feel like most of the book we just get an annoying, jealous girl who’s afraid of losing Felicity to Gemma. I would have liked to see more go on between Gemma and Pipper to warrant some of what happens in the end. Another reason I couldn’t give this book a full 5 folded pages.

I enjoyed every minute of listening to this audiobook. I think I’m going make audiobooks a part of my reading. I had never really thought about it before, but I enjoyed listening to it while doing chores and taking walks.

contemporary, young adult

Book Review: Sugar by Deirdre Riordan Hall

Sugar book cover

Author: Deirdre Riordan Hall
Publisher: Skyscape
Length: 276, Kindle
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: 1 Folded page

Blurb:

I’m the fat Puerto Rican–Polish girl who doesn’t feel like she belongs in her skin, or anywhere else for that matter. I’ve always been too much and yet not enough.

Sugar Legowski-Gracia wasn’t always fat, but fat is what she is now at age seventeen. Not as fat as her mama, who is so big she hasn’t gotten out of bed in months. Not as heavy as her brother, Skunk, who has more meanness in him than fat, which is saying something. But she’s large enough to be the object of ridicule wherever she is: at the grocery store, walking down the street, at school. Sugar’s life is dictated by taking care of Mama in their run-down home—cooking, shopping, and, well, eating. A lot of eating, which Sugar hates as much as she loves.

When Sugar meets Even (not Evan—his nearly illiterate father misspelled his name on the birth certificate), she has the new experience of someone seeing her and not her body. As their unlikely friendship builds, Sugar allows herself to think about the future for the first time, a future not weighed down by her body or her mother.

Soon Sugar will have to decide whether to become the girl that Even helps her see within herself or to sink into the darkness of the skin-deep role her family and her life have created for her.

Review:

I’m sad to say I got about 50 pages into this novel before stopping. I can’t force myself to finish it. It’s nothing against the book, I just don’t think it’s for me. This book isn’t technically released until June 1st. I got it from Kindle First. In case you don’t know, if you have Amazon Prime one of the perks is getting a novel that hasn’t been released yet 1-3 months before it’s released. You get to choose from four different books for this. For the month of April (I think not sure) I chose Sugar.

The book is very gritty and accurate in its description of binge eating. I definitely appreciate that. The writing is also very well done. I like the voice of Mercy, known by her pet name Sugar to most, as well.

So what is the reason I couldn’t finish it? Honestly I’m not sure. I just don’t think the book was for me. I don’t enjoy the idea of Mercy being saved solely because a boy can see her for who she is and not her body. But I think the plot is very slow moving. While reading the first 50 pages, I felt like a lot of things were repetitive and there wasn’t a real plot that I could feel. Nothing makes me drop a book faster than a slow plot.

I think this book could be good for others, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

science fiction, scifi, young adult

Book Review: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer Thus Far

Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress hard book American covers

Titles (in order): Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Length: 400, 464, and 560 respectively on Kindle
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Rating: 5, 5 and 4 folded pages respectively

Summary:

The Lunar Chronicles is a series of fairytale retellings using Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White (coming November 2015).

Cinder is a cyborg in the Eastern Commonwealth where cyborgs are treated like second class citizens. Her entire world changes when soon-to-be Emperor Kaito comes to her to fix his favorite android after hearing of her mechanic skills and Cinder learns a secret. He ends up inviting her to a royal ball where things only get stickier.

Scarlet desperately wants to find her grandmother who was kidnapped from their house without a trace of struggle. All Scarlet can find is her grandmother’s ID chip cut out of her arm and left at the house. The local authorities assume Scarlet’s grandmother finally went crazy and left but Scarlet knows better. She sets out on a journey to find the only family she has with a handsome fighter she can’t help but fall for.

Cress has been locked in a satellite hacking for just over 7 years now. She doesn’t much mind the solitude but she realized early on that the Lunar empire wasn’t a good place. She’s waiting for a way to get out and she thinks she just might have found one.

Review:

I know the summaries are a little brief but I can’t give accurate descriptions of Scarlet and Cress without spoiling Cinder. As an avid reader of fairytale retellings, it actually took me quite a while before picking up this series. The blurb on the back of Cinder always made me a little apprehensive, however, I deeply regret reading this series as soon as it came out. As a disclaimer, I am only reviewing the three main stories in the series and not the shorts or the novella.

Marissa Meyer does an excellent job making every character, even ones that are only around for a few pages at most, seem entirely real with their own personality. It’s impossible not to get caught up in each characters story. Considering the huge cast by the end of Cress, this is amazing. Each character is so entirely different that there is someone in the story everyone can relate to and I don’t say this lightly.

Not only that, her writing is easy to read while remaining interesting. I enjoy that she doesn’t use entirely unfamiliar words in a world that’s definitely different from our own. The writing also doesn’t get boring. Meyer finds the fine line in writing where it’s simple enough to understand and enjoy but descriptive enough to not get bored. I found Cress a little slower passed than Cinder and Scarlet but I enjoyed all three of them quite a bit. Each book is told from various character perspectives, in other novels I usually find this kind of narration too choppy to enjoy. However, Meyer’s writing makes the narration easy to follow and I never felt my suspension of belief break.

Aside from great characters and writing, the plots that arch through each book feel so new. Meyer takes age old stories and turns them into something new with her science fiction spin. I enjoy that she doesn’t stick very close the original fairytales. Instead, she takes the general idea and builds her own world and characters around that. I can’t go more into details on that without some major spoilers but don’t expect to know how these stories end. I’d like to consider myself an expert on fairytale retellings considering I’ve read so many, and I would rate The Lunar Chronicles high on my very long list of retellings I’ve read.

Overall, I gave Cinder and Scarlet 5 folded pages and Cress 4 folded pages. I enjoyed all three books immensely, but Cress was much slower than the other two. While Cinder and Scarlet kept me on the edge of my seat at all times, Cress was more of a slow burn. I wanted to continue reading it but I needed to do it in smaller chunks instead of a few long ones because there was so much to take in.

I love this series and it’s going to be an agonizing wait until November 10th with the 4th book in the series, Winter, comes out.

dystopian, young adult

Book Review: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The darkest minds by Alexandra Bracken

Title: The Darkest Minds
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Length: 488, Paperback
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Rating: 4.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

Review:

I feel a little late to party with the darkest minds since it’s been floating around booktube and other young adult book reviewers for quite a while, but I’m so glad I picked it up! I couldn’t put it down reading it in a total of 3 days. With this being finals week and my job making me work more hours than usual because it’s a busy time, I’d say this is pretty fantastic for an almost 500 page book.

The thing I loved the most about this book was that instead of one big overarching plot with subplots within, it was more like smaller plots that folded seamlessly together. Normally, this would bother me, but Bracken does such a wonderful job keeping the pace up without forcing a “main goal” for the ragtag group of kids.I also loved Bracken’s writing. It is to the point and easy to read while still maintaining depth and allowing the characters to grow with the passing of time.

I did find myself annoyed with the main character, Ruby, which is one of the main reasons I can’t give this book a full five stars. I’m just not a fan of the whole “I absolutely have to hide who I really am” mindset that seems to be a trend in dystopian novels. Still, as frustrating as it was, Ruby is a very dynamic character that you can watch change with each page almost.

No spoilers, but I will say the ending made me cry. I tried so hard not to but I couldn’t help it. I always end up really liking it when a book can give me enough emotion to manifest physically whether it be tears or legitimately laughing out loud and I found I did both with The Darkest Minds.

I say this is one of my favorite YA dystopians, which is hard for me considering out many books are in the genre at the moment. The Uglies series will always hold the number one spot in my heart for that slot but I think The Darkest Minds series might be pulling a close second. We’ll definitely see once I get my hands on the next installment!

Fantasy

Book Review: Beauty by Robin McKinley

physical book of Beauty by Robin McKinley
My beaten, battered copy of Beauty.

Title: Beauty
Author: Robin McKinley
Publisher: Harper Teen
Length: 325, paperback
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5 folded pages

Blurb:

Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lack in looks, she can perhaps make up for in courage.

When her father comes home with the tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, “Cannot a beast be tamed?”

Robin Mckinley’s Beloved telling illuminates the unusual love story of a most unlikely couple: Beauty and the Beast.

Review:

As I decided to start this blog, I thought it would only be fitting if the first review is one of my all time favorites. It was hard to sit down and re-read the book objectively. I tried stopping myself from transporting back to when I was an angsty teenager and this fantasy world helped me escape with some success.

I don’t know why, but I’ve always fancied that Beauty was set in the same universe as Howl’s Moving Castle. Totally preposterous, but I think it’s an interesting thought and lends itself to how the book feels when reading. If you’ve ever read or watched Howl’s Moving Castle and enjoyed it I think you’d enjoy this book as well.

Considering I labeled this as my all time favorite, you may be wondering why I’ve only given it ⅘ folded pages. As much as I love the story and the way McKinley brings a fresh but classic view on the age old tale, I did find some spots rather lacking. There were a few typos that I find shouldn’t have been so easily passed up. I also think the ending, though satisfying, needed more. More explanation, more oomph, more something.

Overall, it’s still my favorite book. It has flaws but I love that the story is both classic and unique.