Saturday, May 30, 2015

Review of Saga: Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Saga: Volume 4
by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Bindup 4 in the Saga series
114 Pages
Publisher: Image Comics



Visit new planets, meet new adversaries and explore a very new direction, as Hazel becomes a toddler while her family struggles to stay on their feet.










It has been a few months since I have picked up one of the books in the Saga series, but shit, man, this book was fucking good. I love the direction the story is going in. Especially, all the ways the characters became interconnected during this volume.

I liked the fake foreshadowing that this book made since it really built up the suspense level during some scenes. I don't have any idea where the story is going to go in the next volume, but I am SO READY to find out. Too bad the next book does't come out until October. :(

My only grievance with this book was that it didn't flow. It would be with one character for three pages, switch characters, then change again three pages later. I wish it would have been a lot more focused in rather than all over the place.

Overall, I found this volume to be the best one in the series so far. It was extremely action packed, and knew just what to do to hit your feelings hard.

The Rating:


XOXO,
Belle

Thursday, May 28, 2015

General Update

We need to have a talk. I have so much to say to you guys right now, so lets get into it.
Lets start this off on a good note: IT'S SUMMER. I DON'T HAVE SCHOOL!!!

Now that I have cleared up the confusion about what season it is, I need to get serious with you guys.

This is probably going to be the busiest summer I have ever had. I am a Counselor in Training at my camp for six weeks this summer, so that will take up most of my time. In addition to camp, I will be working at a job (where is TBD. I will update you guys when I know), so that will take up most of my time when I'm not at camp. But wait, there's more. I am social!! For probably the first summer ever, I have real friends that I genuinely want to see all the time. I am trying my best to balance the three, and sometimes they overlap, but I just want to have a really good summer.

Its going to be a lot, I know, but that doesnt mean I am going to neglect my blog. I am not going to be posting every day since I will probably not have enough time to do that, but I will try to post two or three times a week.

Since I am not going to have the much time for reading, I am probably going to throw in some random movie or TV show reviews along with some random posts. Due to the fact that I am not going to be reading that much, I am definitely going to try to review every single book I read regardless of my opinion or how much I have to say about it.

On a different note, June is going to be a big month for us. I am going to be taking part in four blog tours!! I am so excited for all the books I'm reading, so look out for my reviews (and there will be a couple of giveaways!!). In addition to the blog tours, I have a bunch of books that I am reviewing for publishers! Even though I won't have too much reading time, I am going to be reading as much as possible.

I have more though! I am trying to read 50 books this summer; all of them are completely separate to the review books. While I am not going to have the time to read all of them, I am going to try my best to finish around 35 of them.

Also, I want to partake in as many read-a-thons as possible because they always motivate me to read more than I usually would. I don't know which read-a-thons I will take part in, but I will post TBRs when I know.

As a final note (and since I want to end positively), I want to tell you guys that I can legally drive now!! This makes everything so much easier and overall better for me. I am so grateful to my mother for allowing me to drive our Nissan Leaf (<3). I don't know if I could have gotten a better car for my first car.

And that is all I have to say.

What has been going on with you lately? I would love to get to know you guys better (I am just going to refer to you guys as my "pals" from now on.)

XOXO,
Belle

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Endless Possibilities Read-A-Thon




I don't know about you, but I love read-a-thons. They are always a great way to get yourself to read without having too too much pressure on yourself. Having said that, I am shit at read-a-thons. I always read like .384% of the books I want to read, but that doesn't matter since I have 764% of the fun I thought I was going to have. 

This read-a-thin sounds like it is going to be very fun since it is just three days of reading whatever the hell you want to read. I am actually so excited for this!!

I have a bunch of books that I have to review, so that is what I am going to be focusing on for the read-a-thon. 

To Read (in this order):

Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican 

In a Dark Wood by Joseph Luzzi

To Help Break Things Up (not in this order):


The Spectators by Victor Hussenot


Fantasy Sports No. 1 by Sam Bosma

Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout

I don't actually expect to be able to make it through all of these books, but I am planning on finishing at least three of them. Between work, camp, and friends, I am not sure how much reading time I am going to have, but I will try my best to read a lot.

Do you want to partake in this read-a-thon? Click here to sign up. :)

Thanks to 
for this read-a-thon.       

XOXO,
Belle

Monday, May 25, 2015

Review of The Abduction of Smith and Smith by Rashad Harrison

The Abduction of Smith and Smith
by Rashad Harrison
Standalone
352 Pages
Publisher: Atria Books
Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble

The Civil War is over, though for Jupiter Smith, a former slave and Union soldier, many battles still lie ahead. He returns to the plantation he worked on before the war in search of his woman, but rather finds his old master gone mad, haunting the ruins like a ghost. Out of pity for the now mentally ill Colonel, Jupiter strangles him and heads west to seek a new life in San Francisco.

When the Colonel’s son, Confederate soldier Archer Smith, arrives at home and finds his father murdered, he vows revenge upon Jupiter for all he has lost—following his former slave to the far reaches of the continent.

But things take a new turn as Archer’s desire for retribution is overwhelmed by his dependency on opium, and he ends up the target of a gang of “crimpers”…the very gang that Jupiter works for in San Francisco. When Jupiter fails in an attempt to save Archer, they both end up shanghaied aboard a ship headed on a dangerous mission and ruled by a merciless captain. Will the two Smiths work together to stay alive and return home, or will they become victims of the sea, the crew, and their mad captain?
 




I had absolutely no idea what to expect going into this book. In my head, I was comparing it to Alias Hook, which was probably much better for this book. Both books were about pirates and were very nautical, but I detested Alias Hook, and I quite liked this book.

I think it was in the writing that both captivated me and lost me. The writing was very pretty and just kind of flowed, but it was so easy that I zoned out quite a few times. I had to read and reread some pages as many as three times. This was possible just me being negligent in my reading, and sounding out the letters, not reading the words.

What I most loved about this book was the concept. I don't read much (or any, really) historical fiction, and I especially don't read ones set on a ship. It's not that I don't like historical fiction, it's just that I don't really find any that interest me. This one really got me since I have this weird thing about pirates, and, well, I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. This isn't exactly pirates, but it is set on a boat for a good part of it. This is the first book I have ever read that I feel like was written for me, concept-wise at least.

I really loved how this book was told. It had a third-person omniscient narrator, so you really got to understand what was going on with so many different characters. As much as I loved reading about Liberia, San Francisco, and "somewhere in the Pacific" all in three subsequent chapters, it was not always clear as to who you were reading about. Sometimes within a chapter the character that was being focused on would switch with very little warning. Other than the few times that I was unsure of who i was reading about, the narration technique was very well done and well thought out.

The characters were the shining stars in this book. They all met the end they deserved, which I appreciated so much, and overall the characters were very well crafted. It takes a lot for me to become truly attached to a character, but this book had me hooked. I, being a hopeless romantic when it comes to books, was rooting for the reunion of Jupiter and his wife, Sonya, the entire time. I didn't care what the obstacles were, whether they were one charming magician or two oceans and a continent, I just wanted them to be reunited. I have to say, even though it wasn't exactly explained in the fullest it could have been, I was not disappointed with the outcome.

The one character that I didn't feel like I understood what happened to him was Barrett. I loved the mad captain. He was a really good character, and I don't know if it did say in the last few chapters what became of him, or if I missed it (refer to paragraph two). I will probably try to reread the last few chapters just so I can know for sure what happened to him.

This book was a very slow burn. I don't think things started picking up until page seventy or so, and for a book that a little over 300 pages, thats pretty far into the book. I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy all the intricacies, but I just wish the plot would have happened a little faster.

My last point is going to be able the climax. Okay, I'm sorry, I should say anticlimax. After all of the build up throughout the book, I didn't feel like there was much of a climax. I guess I could see none tiny part of the book that could be considered a climax, but it wasn't that long or exciting to be completely frank.

Anyway, I really liked reading this book, it was EXTREMELY fun. I may pick up Rashad's other book sometime in the future, but I'm not sure when I will get around to it.

The Rating:

XOXO,
Belle

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About Rashad Harrison

Rashad Harrison was the Jacob K. Javits Fellow in fiction at New York University. He is the author of the acclaimed novel Our Man in the Dark (2011) and The Abduction of Smith and Smith (2015). He and his family currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Visit Rashad at his website, RashadHarrison.com, connect with him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

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Tour Stops:
Monday, May 4th: Raven Haired Girl
Monday, May 11th: Booksie’s Blog
Tuesday, May 12th: FictionZeal
Monday, May 18th: A Bookworm’s World
Monday, May 18th: Unabridged Chick
Thursday, May 21st: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Monday, May 25th: Belle’s Beautiful Books (here!!)
Thursday, June 4th: Beauty in Ruins


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I received this book in exchange for an honest review, and honestly it would be more difficult to make a dishonest review than a truthful one.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Guest Post by Lisa Jensen: Child's Play

According to J. M. Barrie, the Neverland is a paradise for children, where they can play all day and never have to grow up. But it must be a horrible thing for a man to be trapped forever in a world run by the uncensored willfulness of children.

The original Peter Pan is all about the fear of growing up. At the start of the play, Wendy is told that tomorrow, she's going to have to move out of the nursery, which she shares with her younger brothers. And that's the night Peter comes to whisk her off to the Neverland.

The adult vs. children theme runs throughout the play. ("Dark and sinister man!" "Proud and insolent youth!") Traditionally, the actor who plays the children's father, Mr. Darling, onstage, is the same actor who plays Captain Hook—which sort of symbolizes the dark side of growing up!

Obviously, an adult perspective on the Neverland would be very different from a child's. As the idea for Alias Hook began to take shape in my brain, I began to hear Captain James Hook's caustic voice in my head telling me his story in his own words. And I have to say I found his viewpoint refreshingly subversive. This was definitely NOT the Disney version of the Neverland! And that's what I found so interesting—to revisit the magical Neverland from an adult viewpoint.

For source material, I went back to Peter and Wendy, Barrie's 1911 novelization of his famous play, and I was surprised how much darker it is than the play; it's about children but not necessarily for children. The fairies attend orgies, the pirates and Indians slaughter each other to entertain the boys, and a strange, simultaneous adoration and fear of women—specifically, mothers—runs throughout the story.

It also seemed to me that Barrie hardly even scratched the surface of the Neverland he created, with all its complex enchantments. I thought it would be fun to delve beneath that surface and explore what daily life is like for the sisterhood of fairies who guard the place, the society of merfolk in their grotto beneath the Mermaid Lagoon, and the Indian tribes. Let alone all those generations of former Lost Boys and Wendys who never quite fit back into the real world after they've been to the Neverland.

Hook is an adult trapped in this child's paradise, which is as frightening and foreign to him as the grown-up world is to Lost Boys when they have to go back to their real lives. So there were already adult themes in play before I got hold of the story!

My major invention was to add an adult woman into the mix. My new character, Stella Parrish, becomes James Hook's friend and ally, helping him navigate this treacherous world of children and rewrite his own story.

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Check out her book!!
Alias Hook



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XOXO,
Belle

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Review of Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Anya's Ghost
bu Vera Brosgol
Standalone
221 Pages
Publisher: First Second

Anya could really use a friend. But her new BFF isn't kidding about the "Forever" part.
Of all the things Anya expected to find at the bottom of an old well, a new friend was not one of them. Especially not a new friend who’s been dead for a century.
Falling down a well is bad enough, but Anya's normal life might actually be worse. She's embarrassed by her family, self-conscious about her body, and she's pretty much given up on fitting in at school. A new friend—even a ghost—is just what she needs.
Or so she thinks.



First off, this book was a beauty. I loved the art so much. It was very stylized, and it was extremely easy to read. The art was perfect for the story. What I loved most about the art was the color scheme. The colors in a graphic novel are what really set the mood for the piece, and the dull cool colors really set an ominous tone to this book.

This was also an extremely quick read for over 200 pages. I think this book took me maybe thirty minutes to read, if even that. I really appreciated that this was not a long drawn out story, and that the author did exactly what she wanted in such a short amount of time.

I just want to put out there that this book had one of the mod  kickass beginnings of any book I've ever read. Who the fuck decided that this story would take off after falling in a well? Whoever thought that deserves a trophy for the amazing place to really kick start the eeriness.

My main problem with this graphic novel was that you didn't really get anything beyond the ghost situation. I get that the ghost was a huge part of the story, but the synopsis promised more than just ghost. I was hoping for a little more about who Anya is, and why she was so embarrassed about everything. We got little snippets of her embarrassment of her family, low self esteem, and problems fitting in, but I just wanted more of that. Having more backstory would really have improved this book.

The Rating:


XOXO,
Belle

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Review of Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

Meant to Be
by Lauren Morrill
Standalone
304 Pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").
But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.



I don't really think I had expectations going into this book. Ive seen some rave reviews and some not so rave reviews, so this was just supposed to be some random YA contemporary. Unfortunately, I was let down by this book. I just found it overall flat and predictable.

The plot of the story was probably one of the least original things I've ever read. It followed one of the most linear plot lines, and it was just annoying. I think the worst [and most original] part of the plot was when Julia went beyond a love triangle, and went to a love square (is that a thing. I was saying a love triangle but three options rather than 2). Then it all worked itself out exactly how it was supposed to and blah blah blah. I was just not captivated by the story.

The characters were just unrealistic if I'm being completely honest. Julia was one way, then she decided that she would be another completely different way, then she would go back to her normal self. It just went from one personality to another, and she couldn't make up her mind on who she was going to be. And Jason was even worse. He was cocky asshole in the beginning, then we got to know him and everything changed. *pukes* Ugh I was just so annoyed with all of the people being so awfully crafted.

How the hell do you fall in love in a week. Exactly. You don't.

What else.  Hmmmm. The cover was nice. I liked the setting :/

The Rating:


XOXO,
Belle

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Cover Reveal: Omni by Andrea Murray

Omni
by Andrea Murray
First Book in the Omni Duology
Publication Date: Mid May
Goodreads | Amazon
Synopsis:
They will risk everything, even challenging the all-seeing eye of the Omni government.  But will the prize be worth the cost?
Seventeen-year-old Pierce is a Drudge, the lowest social stratum in society.  For over two years, he’s hoped—prayed—that his upcoming aptitude test will finally free him from his virtual slavery and give him a chance at a better existence.  When he rescues Harmony, an Artist and member of the most successful stratum, his life takes an unbelievable twist.
With his gallant act and good looks, he becomes a media sensation.  Every stratum in society seeks his membership for their publicity, but as he becomes closer to Harmony, Pierce realizes what fame in Omni is truly like.  His choices will not only affect him but Harmony as well.  The life Pierce thought he wanted may not be worth the cost to either of them.


Okay, now that you have read about how AMAZING this book sounds, are you ready to see the cover?

Are you sure you're ready??

Are you REALLY ready?

Really, really ready?

Really, really, really ready?

Okay, Belle, we get it. Just show us the cover. 

Well, it should like you're absolutely ready to see the cover.









ISN'T IT SO BEAUTIFUL!! All the colors make it cover look MAGNIFICENT!! And I love the cityscape, and AAHHHH its so pretty!!









Author Bio:
Andrea Murray has been teaching English for longer than most of her students have been alive. She has taught everything from elementary reading groups to concurrent credit classes. She is currently teaching junior high language arts. She has a BSE and an MA in English.
She lives in a very small town in Arkansas with her husband of nineteen years and their two children. In addition to teaching, she also blogs on Chick Lit Plus, writes young adult fiction, and recently completed her fourth novel, Omni, a YA dystopian based on the story of Paris and Helen. Andrea has also written The Vivid Trilogy, a YA paranormal romance. When she isn’t doing that, she’s probably reading or watching bad B movies.


Author Links:


What do you think of the cover? Are you planning on reading this book?

XOXO,
Belle

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Review of Catalyst by Lydia Kang

Catalyst
by Lydia Kang
Sequel and Conclusion to Control Duology
400 Pages
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books

In the past year Zel lost her father, the boy she loves, her safety, and any future she might have imagined for herself. Now she, her sister, and the band of genetic outcasts they've come to call their family are forced on the run when their safe house is attacked by men with neural guns. But on the way to a rumored haven in Chicago, Zel hears something--a whisper from Cy, the boy who traded himself for her sister's safety. And when she veers off plan in order to search for him, what she finds is not what she expected. There's more to their genetic mutations than they ever imagined...aspects that make them wonder if they might be accepted by the outside world after all.




I'm actually so glad that I read this book because in my opinion it was better than Control. I really felt that stuff actually happened in this book rather than just more world building/sitting around/science-y stuff like in the first book. You really got a feel for the characters in this book even though they were completely illogical at times.

There were a few things that really annoyed me that the characters did. First, when *BEGINNING OF THE BOOK SPOILERS* Zel found Cy at the start of the book, he was cuddling another girl, and instead of TALKING to him, she was passive aggressive and angsty and annoying. It just really got to me that Zel and Cy were supposed to love each other, but they couldn't even talk to one another. Thats not what love should be. I don't know why this annoyed me so much because things like this happen a ton in YA, but something about this instance really got to me. */SPOILERS*

The thing I really liked about this book is that it how much of the world that you saw. In the first book you only got to see one small section of America, but in this book you really delved into other parts, and the laws in place with many other parts of the country. I loved how much perspective the characters and the reader gained about the world.

Another very good thing about this book was that it was so fast. Even though it was 400 pages, it read like a 200 page book. There was just so much action in it, and the pages flew by and before I knew it I had finished the book. It was a very well paced book since you never were bored, nor got whiplash from the roller coaster ride of emotions. It was just quick enough to keep me interested, but not offensively quick either.

A major problem that I saw with the first book was the amount of slut-shaming. I am really glad that the author took that viewpoint into account when creating this book. There was not one instance that I saw of slut-shaming. I really appreciated that development, and it really made me like this book more.

Now the ending: it was a glorious ending. Violence, and peace, and love, and just very well done. I really respected how the author ended the book, and it just made me very happy.

I would definitely recommend this series. Overall, I would give it 3.5-4 stars. If you want a very science-y science fiction novel, I would recommend picking up this series.

The Rating:

XOXO,
Belle

Sunday, May 3, 2015

April 2015 Wrap Up

This was such a good reading month. It wasn't that I read an absurd amount of books, but instead that I read a hell of a lot more than I assumed that I was going to read. My TBR this month said that I was going to read an entire three books, but I shattered that number by reading eight books! I didnt really do a very good job of reviewing the books this month, but I am probably going to try and write reviews for some of the books sometime after this post. I'm going to go ahead and show you the books now.
The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
This was the first graphic memoir that I have ever read, and it was an amazing introduction to that subgenre. I loved being able to learn about a time period that I knew nothing about. I am incredible interested in history, and I loved the parts of this book that took place in Tehran since all my history classes have skipped over the Islamic Revolution. This was not just about the war, which I appreciated since it showed the author's life from childhood all the way until adulthood. I just appreciated this so much. 
4/5 Stars

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
I have never been so proud of myself as I was when I finished this book. It wasn't just that I was making progress on this series, but instead that I finished this book in TWO WEEKS. That was the shortest I have ever taken to read a book in this series. I was told that this was not the most interesting of the series, and I agree, but I still really liked this book. I loved all the political drama that this book instead of just battle planning and fighting. I cannot even wait to move onto book 5, and be waiting with everyone else for the sixth book.
4/5 Stars

The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rich Riordan
I owe everything I did this month to this book. I was feeling like I was about to enter a reading slump since I could not decide worth anything what I wanted to read after AFFC. I started rereading this series last summer and got through three books, but I decided to pick this one up, and start up my rereading again, and it was an AMAZING choice. I read this book in about five hours, and loved it more than I did the first time. I didn't realize how much I forgot about this, and it was kind of like reading it for the first time. This series is brilliant.
5/5 Stars

This was a very short graphic novel that I got for review from the amazing publisher, and I thought that for how short it was, it was a very good story. There it not really too much that an author can do in terms of character development in 24 pages, but I got to see a little bit into who the people were. This was very good for 24 pages.
3/5 Stars

This was the book that got closest to a 5 star this month (that I read for the first time). I really got attached to the two main characters, and I just wanted to know all about their past. I loved the pacing of this book. It was never too slow, but it didn't give you whiplash from going too fast. This was a remarkable depute, and I would highly recommend that you read this book when it comes out.
4/5 Stars

This was bad. The end.
1/5 Stars

Catalyst by Lydia Kang
Despite the confer change from the first book, I was very satisfied with the book. This was just a very satisfying conclusion to the duology, and I'm very happy with the way it ended. There were so many twists and turns in this book, and so many great new characters. I loved all the character development from the first book. I was really happy that there wasn't any slut-shaming since there was some in the first book. I would definitely recommend this duology to you if you enjoy science fiction.
4/5 Stars

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
I don't know, pals. This just wasn't that good of a contemporary. I didn't dislike it, but I really did not like the main character. She spent most of the book looking down on her classmates instead of actually trying to make friends. It was just irritating. I didn't really like the love interest, and I didm't get his character development at all. Also, there was a brief period of time where the girl had three options for guys. Most of all, I didn't like the writing style. The ending was pretty solid, and this book was kind of funny at times.
2/5 Stars

I am very satisfied with the books I read this month, and I, for the second time this year, have rated a book every number of stars in a month.

Have you read any of these books? Do you want to? What did you read this month?? Let me know in the comments.

XOXO,
Belle