Reading with AngelaRenea

Muirwood: The Lost Abbey Graphic Novel (Kindle Serial) (Legends of Muirwood)

Muirwood: The Lost Abbey Graphic Novel (Kindle Serial) (Legends of Muirwood) - Jeff Wheeler, Matthew Sturges, Dave Justus, Alex Sheikman, Lizzy John I received this graphic novel as an advanced reading copy from Jet City Comics through NetGalley, so a big thank you to whoever approved me!

I saw this book on NetGalley and thought it had a pretty interesting summary. I've been looking for a few good science fiction or fantasy series to read and this one promises to be an intro/prologue to the Muirwood series so I thought I'd give it a try. I was pretty glad I did too!

There is a really good chance I will pick up this series! I like the basis for this story and I love that I can already tell it's a very well flushed out world (although I did not fully understand it yet) I think that someone who has already begun the series would be able to appreciate it a lot more than I could, so I will defiantly have to revisit this once I have a few of the main books under my belt!

I think that the art was very interesting, it reminded me of a stained glass window at times. There were lots of dark outlines with blurry middles. I'm not sure if I liked that or not, but it was beautifully done.

There is a lot of potential here and I hope that the next installment does not disappoint! I will absolutely be continuing on with this series and encourage anyone who likes the Muirwood books to pick this up!

My review on my blog

Queen of Someday, A Stolen Empire Novel

Queen of Someday, A Stolen Empire Novel - Sherry D. Ficklin I received this as an advanced reading copy from Clean Teen Publishing through NetGalley, so first of all I'd like to say a big thank you so much to them!

Did you love season one of Reign? Are you itching for a historical fiction about a younger historical figure? Allow me to introduce Queen of Someday.

I was initially drawn in by the beautiful cover of this book, and the interesting summary. This book follows the life of Catherine the Great before she was Catherine the Great, so obviously it's a historical fiction. Who is Catherine the Great you say? Well in this book, she is the young Sophie, who has been invited with her mother as a guest of the empress Elizabeth in Russia.

It sounds so cliche but I could not put this book down. I expected to take a week and read this book and it ended up taking me two days. Fast paced, and full of twists, I found myself one-more-chapter-ing all night until I realized that I had no more chapters. I already can not wait for the next book in this series (Stolen Empire). I actually know very little about historical Russia, Catherine the Great, or most of history for that matter, but even I found a few references that I understood. There is an author's note about historical accuracy and creative liberties, and I'm not sure how a history buff would feel, but with my casual knowledge level I enjoyed this book very much.

One of the things that I really enjoyed about this book was the way that the romance aspect played out. It did not feel rushed, or forced, but it was also not drawn out or exaggerated. Sophie's love life felt natural, and of course passionate! Something that I felt was not quite as natural feeling was Sophie's mother. I wasn't sure if I was just frustrated with her, or if it seemed like a skewed point of view.
I would have to say that my favorite part was the beautiful way the author gave the feeling of time drifting past our dear Sophie in the way that she went from a day to day description, to a faster week by week chapter. Well done!

This book comes out on October 7th 2014, and I will most definitely be getting my copy!

Review post on my blog

The Prince

The Prince - Kiera Cass This review is full of spoilers for both this novella and The Selection series.

This novella was essentially what Maxon was up to for the first part of book one of the series (The Selection). I am usually not into re-reading scenes I just read from someone else's perspective but I really enjoyed this, and was honestly disappointed when it ended. A lot of times the novellas are not as good as the primary works, and feel a little neglected, but I didn't find that that was the case with this one. I think one thing that helped was that there were a lot of new scenes. I could picture what would be happening on America's end, but it was something completely different. I think it also helped that it was a little bit faster paced than The Selection because we already knew what was going on, and had seen the scenes, it focused more on Maxon's thoughts and perspective rather than explaining the plot.
I think that this novella brought a lot to Maxon's character. When I initially read the series I was very frustrated by him floating around with multiple girls, but after this story I could see a boy who just seemed to want companionship, and went from having one long distance friend to having all of these girls.
I also enjoyed hearing about him and Daphne, because I feel that it was a story line that I found myself wondering about.
Basically this is one of the better novellas I've read and anyone who's read The Selection (and liked it) should give this novella a try.

Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky

Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky - Marissa Meyer This review might have some spoilers

I thought that this was an interesting little short, but I wasn't really crazy about it. I liked reading about the whole fight incident, and hearing things from Thorne's point of view was cool too, but it just didn't wow me. It was a nice display of Meyer's diverse writing skill though, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes the series.

The Queen's Army

The Queen's Army - Marissa Meyer This review is full of spoilers!
I didn't actually like this short when I started it, it was too fight club and I'm just not into that, but I ended up really liking it. I have already read the first three Lunar books so I'm not sure how much about the army I'm supposed to know. I am guessing (maybe it's obvious? I don't know, but it seemed like it fit to me) that this was about Wolf. I thought that the army was very sad in the primary novels, but I just found this short to be so heart breaking. Basically this was an incredibly short and I would recommend it to anyone who likes the Lunar Chronicles series.

The Little Android

The Little Android - Marissa Meyer This review is full of spoilers.

I thought that this little novella was incredibly sad. It is set in the Lunar Chronicles world, and we have a brief interaction with Cinder, but it is pretty well separate from the plots of the main books (at least thus far, and as far as I could tell). I didn't actually know until I read the description on the goodreads page after I had already finished this book that it is a retelling of The Little Mermaid, but not that I know, it seems pretty obvious.

This is the story of a little android who, due to some glitch perhaps, longs for the stars, and later to be loved by the head engineer at the spaceport she works at. Unlike the other Mech droids that work on the space ships, she is distracted by Dataran. When he falls into a large container of oil, Mech6.0 rushes to his rescue, saving his life, but destroying her body in the process. When she realizes that they are going to dismantle her, she rushes off into the streets of New Bejing where she comes across a mechanic stall owned by Cinder.
Cinder helps her by giving her an escort droid's body until she can earn enough money to buy something more compatible, but unfortunately the escort droid is mute. Compelled to return the little locket that contains a hologram of the universe to Dararan, Mech6.0, now Star, returns to his place of work and get's hired as an electrician. She develops a friendship with him, only to find he is in love with one of the customer's daughter. Star bides her time until Miko will leave, but when she realizes how heartbroken the two would be without each other, she returns the locket, allowing them to buy a ship and leave together. She also poses as Miko when her father takes off. As the last of her dying body's energy leaves her circuits, she finally sees the skies open up to her.

Now that I've read it, and know, I'm not sure how I missed that it was a Little Mermaid retelling, but it was excellently done, tragic and beautiful. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the Lunar Chronicles.


Glitches - Marissa Meyer This review is full of spoilers.

I was really glad that Marissa Meyer wrote this novella because I think that there were a lot of holes in Cinder's background. I really enjoyed reading about where (ish) she came from, and how things were for her starting out. I particularly enjoyed that it was Cinder who put Iko back together. I thought the scene where Garan was taken away was pretty heartbreaking, and the whole short makes you wonder what it would have been like if he had lived.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoyed Cinder.

The One

The One  - Kiera Cass This review is full of spoilers.

This book was not as good as the first one, but much better than the second. I really liked that the back and forth between Aspen and Maxon came to an end pretty early on. As I've said in my review of The Elite, I was not a fan of the love triangle. I still found the love story plot a bit tired. Maxon was selfish and obnoxious dating 3 people at once, although I do know that is the basis for this series. The thing that got me though was the childish games that America and Maxon played with each other. Who cares who says I love you first? Page after page of back and forth monologues about how she loves him but can't or won't say it unless he says it first, and then the arguments over who should say it! For Heaven's sake just someone say it and be done with it!

As far as the political aspect, I thought it was amazing! I liked the way the northern rebels' story line played out and I absolutely loved the scenes with the Italians. This book had a feel that danger was right around the corner, but unlike the previous book, it felt important, and worth the risk.

I also really enjoyed seeing the family dynamic in the Singer household and was genuinely sad when the father died. I did not, however like the 180 Celeste's character pulled. I think she started out too extreme and had to come too far too fast to make it believable. I did like her after said unbelievable character change.

I think that the ending was rushed and a little bit of a cop out, but I saw it coming. Too much setup had been laid out for the Aspen reveal not to touch on it, and the king had to die to tie this up nicely. I didn't see the queen's death coming though, and was upset about that. I really liked her, she seemed like quite a lady.

If someone liked the first two books, I think that they would really enjoy this wrap up of the series.

The Elite

The Elite - Kiera Cass This review is full of spoilers.

I didn't like this book as much as I liked the first one and I think that that was mostly due to the Aspen story line. It just did not appeal to me at all. It was predictable from the first chapter of the first book that this kid was going to show up and mess things up, and honestly I'm a little tired of this dramatic secret love triangle story line where the leading lady tries to explain away why she is messing around with two or more men. To be honest, I didn't even find Aspen that likable. So because that was a major story line in this book, it just didn't seem as good.

I loved Marlee and even though I had already guessed what was coming, I was so sad for her when she got caught with Carter. I thought it was a very moving scene when America was fighting to get her, although I'm not sure what she thought she was going to do.

I liked that the political aspect took more of a forefront than the previous book, and thought it was very interesting reading about Gregory Illéa, and the situation in present day Illéa. When her father seemed really interested in the diary, and I found the whole rebels with books scene very suspicious.

I think that in this book Maxon's character started to seem all over the place. I've said that I didn't like America was messing around with Aspen while we were lead to believe how much she cared about Maxon, and I found it equally irritating when Maxon put on a show of complete devotion to America while being secretive about the other girls. I thought that this whole mess was made even worse by the touching revelation in the closet about how Maxon is beat by his father. Don't get me wrong, I thought it was a nice scene, but it just seemed like a plot twist to me.

I could have ignored a lot of those things if it wasn't for the terribly arrogant scene where Maxon humiliates America in front of Kriss, and then leaves with her, just, it seams, to get back at her.

If you liked the first book, I would recommend reading this one, if only to get to the last book in the series.

The Selection

The Selection - Kiera Cass This review is full of spoilers.

This was another one of those start out rocky books. I almost put it down for a while but then decided to finish it and I am so very glad that I did! I thought, initially, it was going to be another cliche book about a girl who doesn't know how pretty she is, while forcing it down your throat that she is. That, and I'm not a huge fan of America as a name. I am happy to report that it was not one of those books, and the name was not an issue.

This book is set in a dystipian America after world war 4, and a Chinese invasion due to debts. The countries of the world had consolidated into a few large countries rather than so many small ones. Instead of a president, Illea (the country that most of North America has been reformed into) has a royal family. When the heir to the throne comes of age, girls are sold into political alliances, and boys must pick one common girl from the selection, where 34 girls all compete for the prince's favor while navigating eliminations,group and solo dates, and the royal palace. Think fluffy Hunger Games meets The Bachelor.

I really enjoyed the relationship between America and Maxon, as well as hearing about how the society works. The caste system was particularly interesting to me, and was a focal point of this book. I liked that America did not just fall into the role of perspective princess. She always seemed to remember her place as a 5.

Overall I really enjoyed this book, a lot more than I expected to. I would most definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys political dystopian stories, especially those about royal life, and people who enjoy reality shows like the Bachelor or the Bachelorette.


Cinder - Marissa Meyer This review is full of spoilers.

I started reading this book a long time ago not I sort of lost interest very early on and put it on long term hold for a while. But I made a goal this year to cut down on my currently reading shelf, so I decided to give it another try.

It must have been book ADD be cause I really loved it this time around! I thought that this dystopian science fiction fairytale retelling was so creative and took on such a beautiful life of it's own outside of the well-known Cinderella tale. The futuristic setting was incredibly well thought out and realistic seeming.

I was a bit wary about the relationship between Kai and Cinder because I expected it to seem fake or forced, but I thought that Marissa Meyer did a really great job keeping it believable while still maintaining that fairytale feel to it. I also really liked that she brought a political feel to it with an incredibly rich background.

I would recommend this great book to anyone who loves dystopian books and fairytale retellings.

Dead to the World

Dead to the World - Charlaine Harris
This review is full of spoilers.

This is book 4 in the Sookie Stackhouse books, and I thought that it was about to par with the third book, and quite a lot better than the first two. I guess I'll take this moment to mention, in case you haven't seen my reviews of the first 3 books that before I decided to read this series, I watched all 6 of the currently aired seasons of True Blood, so my opinion of this book is obviously not what it would have been had I read the books first.

The book begins with Sookie at a new year's eve party where Sookie makes the sad, but circumstantially impressive resolution not to 'get beat up' this year, even if this means spending less time with Bill. I was actually really proud of Sookie for this, and in the long term (books 1-4) the author way she handled Sookie and Bill's relationship. I admit that in the first few books I assumed that this was another whisk-me-away, I-am-nothing-without-you stories where, the treatment of the leading lady by her love interest makes me cringe at it's presentation as a beautiful story. This does not seem to be the case though, because this book (as far as the relationship aspect of it) read to me like a healing, moving on story. I particularly liked the scene in which Sookie morns the loss of her 'one partner status' because I think that it is something that a lot of people don't think about until they, or someone they know are put in the situation. She had fallen in love with Bill, and slept with him, and I think she believed that they would end up getting married (pending legal changes) and that was that. I liked the very real pause she had when she slept with Eric, and the little internal debate about her own self image, because I know quite a few people who have had one of those moments.

Even though I enjoyed Sookie being with someone other than Bill, I'm not sure that I liked it being a memory wiped Eric. Somehow it felt a little bit shady her starting up a sexual relationship with someone who had no idea who he, or anyone else was (but I guess it's a little bit less shady because he obviously wanted to have sex with her before, during, and after his memory was wiped...).

I actually was able to enjoy the mystery aspect of Jason's sorry line, even though I already watched the show, because I guess it just didn't click with me where he was because of the differences throughout the show I just assumed it was different. I was a little disappointed in the way that his captivity ended though, because Jason running through the wood shouting about werepanthers was one of my favorite parts of the entire show, but I have hopes that it might happen in the next book.

I continue to be disappointed because of the lack of sub plots in the books, because as far as the series went I felt like Sookie and Bill's collective story lines (and to be honest, their separate ones) were the weak link.

I think that this book was better than the previous three, at least partially because it seemed to be structured better, with a more easily followed plot. Reading this book felt a lot more natural, and less like wading through muddy water that the previous three. I feel confident that I could have enjoyed this book without the crutch of the show to help me figure out where I was at some points.

I would still recommend this book to people who enjoyed the Vampire Diaries series and Beautiful Creatures, but I think that this one would appeal to a wider range of people (if they could get past books 1-3, or they didn't mind reading books out of order).

Club Dead

Club Dead - Charlaine Harris This review is full of spoilers.

I liked this Sookie Stackhouse book better than the previous two. I liked the relationship between Alcide and Sookie, maybe because they didn't just jump into it declaring their love from the get go. I don't really enjoy Bill as a character and even less so as one half of Sookie's love life. I think that he is a fictionalized image of an abusive, and controlling relationship.
This book held my attention much more so than the previous two, and didn't seem to drag on quite as much.
I continue to enjoy that 'unique' southern voice that Sookie brings to the story. It isn't apologetic and careful like so many books these days, afraid to offend anyone. It feels closer to what people from small towns thoughts would be.
I will continue this series at least until the next book, although this is not one of those series that just scream to be finished. I will probably eventually finish them, but I'll most likely need to take a few breaks.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed The Vampire Diaries books, or the Beautiful Creatures series.
Even though this is shelved/categorized as a mystery, I would not recommend this as a book to someone who is looking for a mystery. I also would probably not recommend this to anyone looking for a "serious" read, for lack of a better term. It was a little bit on the cheesey side, with some 'guilty pleasure' aspects to it.

Overall though this was not a terrible book, and there are significant improvements from books one and two (mainly, the fact that it got away from the unassailable couple of perfection trap).

Living Dead in Dallas

Living Dead in Dallas - Charlaine Harris This review is full of spoilers.

I think I should start out by saying that I was introduced to the True Blood show before I even knew about any of the Sookie Stackhouse books, and so I already had a picture of these characters, as well as opinions of and attachments to some of them. So I found it very upsetting when one of my very favorite characters was found dead right at the beginning. Although we had not seen much of Lafayette in the first book, I had hoped (due to how important he was in the show) his role would pick up, but I guess not.
I thought that this book was a little slower than the first one, and found the maenad confusing and a little juvenile. She just sort of skipped into Bon Temps, throws a few orgies, kills a few people, then shrugs her shoulders and tosses her hair with a painful 'oh well, I have to go somewhere else now' type goodbye worthy of a flirty 13 year old talking to a crush on AIM, and flounces right back out of the series leaving Sookie, or rather Bill and Eric, to clean up the mess. It felt like a cop out ending if there ever was one. So you found the villain, and they killed someone, and they attacked you, leaving you for dead just to send a message, what are you going to do next? Answer: watch her dance off into the woods like a crazy person and do nothing. In the sarcastic words of my 18 year old younger sister 'Cool story, bro, tell it again.'
But there is another story line here, you say? It's got a much better resolution to it, you say? Well, yes, you would be at least partially correct. Sookie is hired(bullied) into helping Bill's boss, Eric's friend find his kidnapped 'brother' from a crazed religious group called the Fellowship of the Sun, because an ancient, remorseful, child molesting vampire want's a buddy when he commits suicide to escape the guilt (and gain redemption?). I wasn't sure if I felt bad for this guy because he was thoroughly brainwashed to the point of stupidity by the Fellowship of the Sun, into thinking that this was God's will, or something like that, or not because he was a self proclaimed child rapist.

But wait, you say, that's not the whole book! There is the wonderful, and romantic love story between Sookie and Bill! Now that you mention it, I do remember a deeply disturbing, and borderline terrifying relationship between the two of them. The entire book, while trying to show the deep love and devotion these two had for each other, was littered with alarming passages about Bill's controlling nature, and outbursts of rage. My favorite is when he demands that she take off Eric's shirt (given to her because her own was ruined in a vicious attack) because he could not stand to see her wear Eric's clothes. Other's included hastily brushed away bursts of fear from Sookie, and borderline rape, when Sookie, badly injured, does not feel up to sex, but Bill insists until she finally agrees. It almost played out as a what not to do for relationships, although their eventual split up at the end of the book makes me wonder if the author wrote it as a bad relationship (I hope so!).

Overall I didn't really like this book all that much, but I would recommend it to someone who liked the Vampire Diaries books, or Beautiful Creatures. I will probably finish the series, but it will most likely take me a while.

Dead Until Dark

Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris This review is full of spoilers.

Before I start, I think it's important to say that I watched True Blood before I read this book and so it somewhat colored my opinion of the characters, and events, that being said, I didn't care for the first season of True Blood so I went into this book hoping that it would be better than the show, but not expecting much.

I was not overly impressed with this book, although it did have it's moments. Right off the bat I found Sookie to be irritating, but I can't quite place my finger on what about her irritated me. It could have been her un-modest self introduction of her own looks that just rubbed me the wrong way, or the way that she calls her telepathy a disability. Don't get me wrong, I completely understand that she was trying to show that she did not consider this a gift, but to call it a disability is uncalled for in my opinion. Whatever the reason I just found her frustrating from the start, but I can't think of a book that I've read about telepath, and I found the concept interesting.
Unfortunately, the story begins with Sookie meeting Bill, the vampire. I enjoyed the first few pages of their meeting, which was not full of the cliche love at first sight or obsession before they even speak. She was justifiably intrigued by him because as a vampire, she could not hear his thoughts. I also enjoyed a story starting out with our leading lady saving the male love interest.
The story was set up as a mystery, but because I saw the show first I already knew who the killer was, so I can't speak on the suspense (although that story line is kept fairly well on screen, and I enjoyed the suspense there).
I was very unhappy with the portrayal of relationships in this book. The thing that made me most upset was the fact that, on the night her grandmother died (or perhaps her funeral? I can not remember) Bill thinks it is a good idea to comfort this distraught young girl, by having sex with her for the first time, and her first time for that matter. Now call me crazy, but I do not think that when a person loses their grandmother, and only parental figure, and is grief stricken, it is a good time to make them make those big decisions. It is not the time to try to move the relationship to 'the next level' nor is it the time to make decisions of virginity. I know that if I were in Sookie's position I would have felt extremely taken advantage of, although perhaps not until after the fact, and Bill, being incredibly old, should know better. I also cringed at nice-guy-Sam-Merlotte. I was very upset at the way that the author brushed aside Sam mascaraing as a dog and watching Sookie undress. To be honest that one thing that I will take away from this book was how distressing it was reading about Sookie's relationships, because on top of the large events I mentioned, there was a terrifying aspect to her relationship with Bill that stemmed from his controlling and jealous attitude towards her, and her feeble objections to being treated like his property and then content acceptance of it all.

I would recommend this to people who liked the Vampire Diaries books, or someone looking for a quick romance-mystery for a vacation of something, but not to someone looking for a good mystery. The book had it's moments but overall it left a bad taste in my mouth and the desire to read something with a healthy relationship.

Ender's Game

Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card This review is full of spoilers.

I think it's important to mention that before I read this book I saw the movie adaptation and absolutely loved it; so naturally, when I heard it was a book series first I jumped on them! I never read much science fiction before, but recently I've sort of been breaking through the mental block and exploring some, and I'm really glad I did for this book.

I thought that the idea for this book was a really interesting one. I wasn't sure if the children were somehow genetically different than the other children or if Orson Scott Card just wrote them a little older than their ages. I thought that the game, both the simulation and the battle game, was really interesting and I enjoyed reading about it.

I thought that Peter was a very frustrating character because all that we saw was a jealous and angry young boy, and I would be interested to see what made him the way that he was. I though that it was really interesting how when he and Valentine were writing, he got her to help him write the more humanitarian views, almost like he was trying to force her to teach him to be better. Or maybe that is just me wanting him not to be not all bad.

I felt terrible for Ender the whole way through the story, because he was thrust into situations far outside the range of emotional stress anyone, particularly a child, should be expected to endure. I think that Graff was a terrible man for making Ender believe it was all a game, knowing that he would live with the stigma forever, even if others treated it like a badge of honor. In my opinion, if he wanted to kill the Buggers, he should have done it himself.

I think that this was a really great novel that, while it's childish humor (what little there is) and language may appeal to younger readers, the heavy, somewhat dark plot, and almost philosophical feel to the story has something to offer readers of all ages!

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