Book Review: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Title: The Replacement
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Published: 2010
Publisher: Razor Bill

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

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I wanted to like this story, the concept is one that I haven’t seen a lot of, and the fey/changelings are something that interest me. However, I just could not get into this book at all. There are so many questions left unanswered, and everything is mysterious, nothing gets explained and all of the characters seem to know what’s going on, but there aren’t any resolutions or forward movement.

Mackie is one of the biggest problems for me. He’s vague and a bundle of walking contradictions. His changeling status makes it so he can’t handle loud noises, yet his favorite place to be is in the pit of a rock show? Or on stage with the band. He can’t touch metal, but he drinks beer from a can. The author spends so much time making him so different from everyone else, and then doubles back and breaks her own character rules. I really couldn’t get behind his voice, or his actions–or really bring myself to care what was happening to him. He’s got a crush on Tate (who is her own bundle of off putting characteristics) and yet he wants to hang out/make out/score with the hot/slutty girl of the school.

Also, can we stop with the slutty characters? You can have sexual characters, just please no slut shaming in books. It really is off putting, and shows no respect for the characters themselves. It distances me even further from this story, because this particular character was only referred to by how hot she was/how easy she was. I did like Emma–she was a character that seemed so fleshed out compared to the others. She had motivation and drive and distinction from everyone else in the story.

I’m not out to trash this book, or anyone who enjoyed it. I couldn’t get into it. There were moments that showed promise, but then something completely removed me from the story. The concept is neat, and something that we don’t see a lot of in the book world. I just wanted more from it.

Overall: pink2 Skip this. It’s frustrating and disjointed.

Book Review: Unspeakable by Michelle K. Pickett

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Title: Unspeakable
Author: Michelle K. Pickett
Published: February 10th 2015
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
“Breathe. No one will break me. I’m strong. Breathe. Just breathe.”

On the outside, Willow appears to have it all. She’s beautiful, smart, from an influential family, and she dates the most popular guy in school—Jaden. But she would walk away from it all in a second. Willow is tormented by lies and suffocating guilt, not the hearts and flowers people believe her life is full of.

She carries a dark secret. Plagued by nightmares and pain, the secret dominates her life. If she hadn’t walked away. If she had just…but she didn’t. And now she has to live with her choice. But when someone uncovers her family’s past, they use it against her, crushing her spirit little by little. She tells herself she just has to make it to graduation. Then she can leave Middleton, and her secret, far behind.

When Brody transfers to Cassidy High, he turns Willow’s life upside down. He shows her what it feels like to live again, really live. And suddenly, she isn’t satisfied with just surviving until graduation. She wants a normal life—with Brody—and he wants her. But the closer they become, the more it threatens to unravel the secret she’s worked so hard to hide.

Willow finds true love with Brody. Will she let his love save her, or walk away from him to keep her secret safe?

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I feel a little weird saying that I really enjoyed this book considering the subject matter. That out of the way, I really enjoyed this book. The story is well written, the characters are engaging and have strong, solid voices. Willow really stood out for me and I really love how she grew and changed as the story progressed-it was refreshing to see her find her own footing and stand up for herself. Brody is a great character and he really works well with Willow. I love their relationship and how it changes both of them and really pushes Willow to stand on her own.

There were a few instances where I was a little skeptical of the authenticity of the story. Medical professionals are trained to recognize abuse, as are teachers, and most adults would question the amount of bruises/’accidents’, and injuries Willow happens to have. A few scenes slipped past me as well, as some of the abuse happened in front of witnesses. I understand Jaden’s hold on the school and student body, but someone would have spoken up at some point–and that could have been really interesting to explore. That being said, I did like how Willow didn’t instantly become able to stand on her own simply because Brody came into her life. It took time for her to be able to speak up, to do something other than suffer at the hands of her tormentors.

Overall: pink3 A well written, thoughtful read with memorable characters. I will be picking up more from this author.

Comic Talk: Gotham Academy v. 1

Writer/Artist: Becky Cloonan, Branden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl.
Trade includes: Issues 1-6, alternative cover art, character design sketches.
Released: June 17, 2015 by DC Comics.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:

Gotham City’s most prestigious prep school is a very weird place. It’s got a spooky campus, oddball teachers, and rich benefactors always dropping by…like that weirdo Bruce Wayne. But nothing is as strange as the students!

Like, what’s up with Olive Silverlock? Is she crazy or what? Where did she go last summer? And what’s the deal with her creepy mom? And how come that Freshman Maps is always following her around? And is she still going out with Kyle? P.S. Did you hear the rumor about the ghost in the North Hall?!

picadillypink: Stop what you’re doing right now, get yourself to the local comic shop, or the library and pick this up. It is a departure from the dark, heavily inked lines of the classic DC lines, the art here being bright and splashy with a watercolor overtone. Day scenes are bright and vivacious, with night scenes still maintaining that fresh burst of color, but being rich and deep in tone. The art alone had sold me on this comic before I even started to read the volume.

Then I read it. The characters are well rounded, vibrant and interesting. The main character is Olive Silverlock, a second year student who is tasked to show her ‘not boyfriend’s’ little sister around campus and be her mentor. Maps (or Mia) is one of the most refreshing characters I’ve seen in a long time. Overly excitable, a giant raging nerd–most of her time is spent creating her ultimate role playing team, and follows Olive with so much adoration that it’s hard not to love her. She and Olive stumble across a mystery that lurks in the shadows of the academy and decide to investigate further. Teaming up with the girl wonder team, is a kid who can get you anything you need for the right price, and a couple of bullies (who are later redeemed). The rag tag team which is a blend of Nancy Drew and the Scooby Do gang get into a bit of trouble, get in over their heads, and manage to save the day within the last few pages. I really love how each character has clear, distinct motives that differ from on another. Something that really stood out for me with this series is the drastic varying shades of gray that exist in the characters’ eyes. Things in Gotham are so often set in shades of black and white (I’m talking morality here right v wrong). It’s very fluid and an interesting addition to the Gotham/Batman verse. The villain that is introduced here has a very different side than what is presented in the main Bat verse. Not to mention Olive’s interaction both with Bruce Wayne, and Batman–not that I’m going to give any spoilers, but it’s really neat.

Overall: pink5 Beautiful art, great story with mystery, comedy and a bit of horror. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.

Comic Talk: Superman Wonder Woman (New 52)

Writer/Artists: Charles Soule, Tony S Daniel

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis: The Man of Steel and the Warrior Princess. An alien and a goddess. They come from two different worlds. But together, Superman and Wonder Woman have teamed up THIS world from all who would harm it.

And they’ve fallen in love doing it.

SO far, they’ve kept their relationship a secret, worried that the world isn’t ready to find out that its two most powerful super heroes are more than just teammates. But secrets have a way of escaping. And the very different worlds that the world’s greatest couple have inhabited are about to collide.

Wonder Woman’s actions on Earth have angered the gods of Olympus, and Superman makes for the perfect target for their revenge. And Superman is not the only being to survive the destruction of his home planet Krypton–the Phantom Zone prison houses an entire dimension full of criminals, killers and worse, yearning to break free.

Gods and monsters alike threaten not just Superman and Wonder Woman, but everyone and everything they care about. Will their love spell doomsday for planet Earth?

picadillypink I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS. I could not put it down, and I’ve got it on order from my local comic shop (I picked this up initially from the library) and the monthlys are on my pull list, because I don’t want to wait for the trades to come out. Their relationship built on respect and mutual respect/affection. The characters of Wonder Woman and Superman for me have always made sense together and I like the draw between them in this series–despite it being set up rather quickly. They gravitate toward each other and round each other out really well. Superman is a little brash/younger in this relaunch and Wonder Woman balances him out. I love that while their chemistry is off the charts–they do argue, and it’s done really well. So much so that Batman (who may or may not steal the comic, but we all know I’m a Batman fanatic) comes in and lays down some hard logic, and is the voice of reason.

Like all good secret relationships, the cover is blown, in a rather cliched way but it doesn’t bother me as much as it normally would. Their response to it is flawless, both Supes and Wonder Woman taking it in stride. Batman on the other hand has a temper tantrum and blows up a monitor broadcasting the ‘reveal’ again and again. As much as I like the relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman, I really like how they both look to Batman as a friend, and for guidance. The power play between the three icons is something that fascinates me and it’s really nice to see them in a positive light here and working together.

There is outside conflict with Zod showing up, and Doomsday making his presence known. But beside this, this trade really is all about the relationship between the two powerhouse superheroes. They struggle to find time to themselves, and for each other. I really loved this.

Overall: pink4 I cannot get enough of this series. The art is BEAUTIFUL, the story really interesting and engaging. I’m curious to see where it goes.

Comic Talk: Batman Incorporated (New 52)

Title: Batman Inc vol. 1
Writer/Artist: Grant Morrison Chris Burnham

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis: Led by the Dark Knight and bankrolled by his civilian alter ego Bruce Wayne, Batman Incorporated has agents in every corner of the globe, fighting injustice no matter the geography. Now the war has come home to Gotham City–and the new Robin is caught in the crossfire.

Raised to rule the world by his mother Talia, the daughter of the villainous Ra’s al Ghul, young Damian Wayne rejected his tyrannical training and now battles evil alongside his father, the Batman. But her ever-growing cult, the global criminal conspiracy called LEVIATHAN, is on the verge of extinguishing the light of justice everywhere. And once she’s taken away everything the Batman cares about, she’ll take away his son too. Even if it means turning him into a monster.

Even if it means killing him.

And the price on the Boy Wonder’s head is nothing compared to what Batman will do to save his son.

picadillypink I’m probably in the minority when it comes to this story line. I didn’t care for the art at all– it is very sketchy with harsh lines, the colors are washed out/water color tone, and the over all toning of the panels was very dark, at times making it really hard to see what was going on. At times it made distinguishing characters visually very difficult to do. The main story arc drops the reader into an all ready in motion story, so at times I felt a little lost, and I spent some time on wiki a) spoiling myself b) trying to figure out exactly what was going on.

That aside, there were some things that I did like about this volume, and it’s enough to get me to pick up the second one. Though I will be picking it up through the library and not collecting it, because I don’t care that much. I really loved the redemption of Jason Todd without the drama and redemption arc ‘on screen’. It’s no secret that I’m a Jason fan–but I really like how Batman Inc handled his coming back to the bat-family without dragging the reader through the mud and beating a dead horse. I did also like the glimmer of humor that was in the story as well. The Bat-cow/Bat-steak panel made me laugh, and it’s probably one of the more iconic scenes in the first volume. Damian really shines in this story but on the other hand Bruce is really off (again, tying into the beginning arc that this story picks up on.)

Overall: pink2 An interesting Batman story arc, but not something that I’ll actively read.

Comic Talk: Batgirl Vol. 1 (New 52)

Writer/Artist: Gail Simone, Ardian Syaf, Vincente Cifuentes

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis: Three years ago, Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, nearly lost her life when the Joker shot her through the spine. Ever the fighter, Barbara not only survived but after years of sitting in a wheelchair found a way to walk again.

Barbara has reclaimed her life and regained her independence, but must prove to her mentors Batman and Nightwing, as well as her Police Commissioner father, that she’s capable of doing it on her own. Even more important, she must prove to herself that she can complete the long journey to recovery.

But getting back on her feet in Gotham City will become even more challenging when a very personal hit list is revealed in the hands of a new villain.

And Barbara’s name is on it.

picadillypink I have to admit that I’ve always been a Batman type of girl. I hadn’t ever read any of the Bat family–until I got sucked into the new 52 verse. Barbara Gordon due to a medical miracle has regained her ability to walk. She strikes out on her own, starting to regain her independence. Her roommate Alysia is awesome–while suspecting Babs is up to something, doesn’t push or go snooping around. One thing that I LOVE about this volume is that Barbara dons the batgirl cowl, but she makes mistakes, big ones. She struggles while fighting, being out of practice. I love the scenes with her and Nightwing and the retelling of their history and the love that they have for each other. The ending arc with Bruce/Batman was done really well, their interaction smooth and effortless. One thing that really stuck out to me is Barbara’s struggles especially with PTSD/night terrors. It shows that she is still effected by the events of The Killing Joke story arc. It’s a brilliant move by Gail Simone and I love it. The art for this volume is absolutely breathtaking, great colors, and easily read.

Overall I highly recommend this volume. Features a strong female lead, and great story.

Comic Talk: Static Shock (New 52)

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Writer/Artist: Scott McDaniel, John Rozum and Andy Owens.
Publisher: DC Comics: The New 52 (June 26, 2012)

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis: Virgil Hawkins may be a small-town kid, but his skills are Big Time. For he is none other than the smooth-talking, energy-manipulating teenaged superhero Static!

New Yorkers have taken note. So has a consortium of the city’s biggest underground bosses. When first the Slate Biker Gang and then the Piranha and the Pale Man (looking suspiciously like a certain psychotic clown….) lead an army of pharma-mutated thugs against him, Static and his family are in for a Big City welcome. Still, Virgil can’t decide what’s more shocking: these new enemies, or just how powerful he’s turning out to be.

picadillypink I really wanted to like this. There’s some really great positives with this series. African American lead character, with a good strong family backing him. Breaks social stereotypes for the most part and has the hints of an interracial romance–something that’s so severely lacking in comic books, and for the most part main stream media.

I had a few problems with this volume however. The story seemed patched together and really disjointed. I felt like I was dropped into maybe the fourth or fifth volume of this series–there was a lot of background information that was implied and never fully explained. I felt lost through a lot of it, and ended up turning to wiki after I finished it. This is the trade paperback, so it compiles all of the paper volumes together in one easier to read book, but I still felt really lost. The dialogue was off as well and some of the exposition just didn’t jive well with me. I’m not sure what’s missing, but I feel like it’s not complete. This paperback includes all of the issues of the Static Shock series that was released with the New 52 relaunch. The book ends on a short note, but if you enjoy the Static Shock character he meets up with the Teen Titans further down the line.

Overall pink2 Diverse cast, strong leaning toward an interesting story line, but lack of detail and background information makes this confusing. If you remember the short lived Static Shock cartoon a few years ago, the characterization is on point with that. I wouldn’t read him on his own again, there’s something missing that I can’t quite put my finger on.

Book Review: More than Music by Elizabeth Briggs


Title: More than Music
Author: Elizabeth Briggs
Published: June 17th 2014
Publisher: Createspace.
Disclosure: I was sent this book by the author because it is ‘damaged’. It was a gift, all opinions are my own.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
Music major Maddie Taylor just finished her junior year of college and has a summer internship lined up with the LA Philharmonic, yet every night she practices guitar and secretly dreams of a louder life. But geeky girls like her don’t get to be rock stars. That is, until tattooed singer Jared Cross catches her playing guitar and invites her to join his band on The Sound, a reality TV show competition.

Once on the show, Maddie discovers there’s more to Jared than his flirty smile and bad boy reputation – and that he’s just as big a geek as she is. With each performance their attraction becomes impossible to ignore, but when the show pressures them to stay single they’re forced to keep their relationship secret.

As the competition heats up, Jared will do whatever it takes for his band to win, and Maddie must decide if following her dream is worth losing her heart.

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This was an adorable, quick, fun little read. It took me on a wild and fantastical romp. I really got into Maddie’s head, and loved her story. It’s something that I’ve secretly always wanted to do–somehow get whisked away by my favorite band and play and tour with them. Plus, who hasn’t had a crush on a musician? Jared is one of those characters that I love to hate. He’s a good guy with a bad reputation of being a heartbreaker. What I did really love about Maggie and Jared’s courtship is while there’s intense chemistry between the two, there are just as many bumps and misunderstandings. It’s very natural rather than the two of them just falling into bed together and everything working out right away.

I love the support cast, and was really happy to find out there’s a novella about Kyle, and books planned for the other characters. In fact, according to goodreads the second book will be out soon, so I won’t be kept in suspense for too long. The main plot point revolving around the band on a reality tv show The Sound, very similar to the Voice. It was a neat twist on things, and the drama of the show really kept the story going. It added a few twists and turns, and in the end, really created something spectacular for Maddie and the rest of Villain Complex.

Overall: pink4 Looking for a swoony, rockstar day dream romance? Read this. The characters have scorching chemistry and the story moves quick with a great ending.

Book Review: Lunacy by R.A. Sears


Title: Lunacy
Author: R.A Sears
Published: December 2012
Publisher: Darq Deviant Press
Disclosure: I won Lunacy off of a Facebook contest. All opinions are my own–the author did not ask me to review in exchange for this book, it was a gift.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
Kacea Meade is your average high school senior: a bit of an outcast, a good student, and looking forward to graduation so she can move on from little Elm Valley, New York. Or so she thinks. Unbeknownst to her, Kacea has a dark destiny heavily entrenched in magick, creatures meant to dwell only in nightmares, and Ragnarok: the Norse apocalypse.

Jynxx Davison, Kacea’s classmate and long-time crush, has his own unnatural calling that is brought to light through her awakening. With their relationship just starting to blossom, a cloud of tragedy hangs overhead, threatening all she holds dear and forcing her hand. To keep her family and friends safe from these eldritch beings with godlike powers, can Kacea leave everything she’s ever known behind and trust in the word of a vampire?

picadillypink I could not put this down. I quickly fell in love with the main cast, two characters stole my heart completely, and at one point I was texting a friend going “THIS CHARACTER BETTER NOT DIE BECAUSE RAGE”. Lunacy is a fast paced read that is dense with world building and blazing imagery. I’m a visual person, and I really appreciate it when authors books are lush with description and images that can stand on their own.

Kacea just wants to finish high school and get on with her adult life. She’s smart, quirky and has a good group of friends that she can count on. She’s been crushing on Jynxx since middle school, and it seems that fate has brought them together. Their chemistry is off the charts, and melts the pages without being too explicit or hurried. Kacea is a strong female character, who knows what she wants and can stand on her own. Jynxx is a character that falls into the ‘tall dark and handsome with a tragic past’ but this is expanded and doesn’t fall into the trope territory.

I love the take on werewolves here, and the werewolf mythology that’s presented. Speaking of mythology, the subtitle of this book is The Ragnarok Legacy, so there’s Norse mythology intertwined with the world of the wolves, Kacea’s seemingly human world and with the addition of vampires it’s certainly jam packed with supernatural elements, but it doesn’t get cluttered. Everything works together and blends beautifully. I’m really interested in where this story goes as it ends on a cliff hanger (con #1). There is a novella that bridges between book one and book two. Book two isn’t out yet, so I’m going to wait somewhat patiently for it.

My only complaint about this book is the sheer amount of characters presented. It’s got a massive cast, both main and support and what I like to call mainsupport (those who are support, but have more of a storyline than the support cast normally do.) At times I had to stop and figure out who was who, making sure I had the right characters in the right place. I have a feeling that these characters will be important down the line, but it was kind of intimidating at times to have so many in the book.

Overall: pink4 I’m chomping at the bit for the second book, which isn’t out yet. I have the novella somewhere in the house so I’m going to be tracking that down as well. It’s a great read full of action, and really amazing lore. If you’re an anime/manga dork like I am, you’ll find little Easter eggs and connections.

Book Review: Falcondance by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes


Title: Falcondance The Kiesha’ra volume 3
Author: Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Published: September 13th 2005
Publisher: Delacorte Press

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
Nicias has never felt completely at home among the avians and serpiente in Wyvern’s Court, despite his loyalty to Oliza Shardae Cobriana, the heir to both thrones. He is a falcon, the son of two exiles from Anhmik- and images of this distant island have always haunted his dreams. But when Nicias’s visions become more like reality, his parents have no choice but to send him back to the homeland- and a royal falcon- they’ve tried their best to forget.

If Araceli won’t bind Nicias’s new found magic, it could destroy him. In a place where everyone is a pawn, only one other woman has the potential to save Nicias. But she holds the keys to a dangerous power struggle that will force Nicias to choose between his duty- and his destiny.

picadillypink To be completely honest I’m still on the fence with this series, as Snakecharm left a bad taste in my mouth. Falcondance introduces a slew of new characters, the second generation of the books if you will, and it’s a little difficult to sympathize with any of them straight off the bat. As readers we’re thrown directly into the story without any sort of buildup or back story at all. Nicias is an interesting character, and I have a feeling he’ll play an important part in the next book.

Falcondance is a bit of an information dump after the first chapter, revealing more about the Falcons, their history, their magic and their part in the war between the avians and the serpiente. This book is far more political than the other two, focusing on an older, stricter culture than the others. It was interesting to see the differences between the three, especially through Nicias’ eyes as he’s someone who doesn’t quite fit in anywhere, until later in the story. It is a short book at just under two-hundred pages, but at times drags. The action, when it does happen is far more brutal and intense than the other two books in the series, further progressing the story and introducing some darkness to it.

Overall: pink3 Falcondance hasn’t redeemed the series for me, but I am more likely to pick up the next one rather than dropping it.