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It’s not often that I read comics. In fact, it’s probably been at least fifteen years. Not that that matters, because I will happily watch, read, or listen to anything Bob’s Burgers-related. That silly cartoon is one of my favorite shows, and the first volume of its comic does not disappoint.

Each character gets their own story, and everything is very true to the show. I particularly enjoyed Tina’s Erotic Friend Fictions, mostly because Tina is my favorite character and I’ve always wondered what she has hidden away in those journals of hers…

The first one may have been the best. I nearly fell out of my bed when I read the following exchange:

“What’s your name, stud?”
“Horse Jimmy Jr.”

Because of course Tina would write about herself and Jimmy Jr. as horses. Of course.

There’s not a lot to say about this one, aside from highly recommending it to any fan of the show.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

For my 2015 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #49: a book based on or turned into a tv show.

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A Discovery of Witches has been on my radar since shortly after it came out. I’d seen glowing reviews and heard great things from friends, so I figured I should give it a shot. I received this book for Christmas last year, and finally got a chance to pick it up about a week ago. Honestly, I’m not really sure what I think.

Here are the basics:

Our main character, Diana Bishop, is a historian and non-practicing witch descended from the famous Bridget Bishop (of Salem Witch Trials fame). Not wanting to be accused of getting ahead by using her magic, Diana refuses to use it for anything aside from necessities. When the book begins, Diana is at Oxford, researching alchemy for her next project. She puts in a request for the well-known Ashmole 782, and given her credentials, it’s readily provided to her. Suddenly, it seems that every supernatural creature in all of Europe has flocked to the library to watch what happens, because little did Diana know, but Ashmole 782 has been something of a mystery for hundreds of years. This super-special, super-enchanted manuscript has baffled even the most powerful witches, but Diana opens it by simply laying her hands on it. She knows there’s something special about it, but given the fact that she’s denying her magical heritage, she just gets what she needs and sends it back to the stacks. That’s when all hell breaks loose and she requires the assistance of a very old, very mysterious, very handsome vampire to keep her safe.

I’m not going to lie. I really struggled through the first half of this book. At one point, I made it about five pages before falling asleep. In the middle of the day. (That is not something I do, ever.) The first half of the book is dedicated to ridiculous, painstaking, overly-detailed descriptions of what Diana is reading, what Matthew is drinking, and what everything smells like. It’s like Harkness hadn’t quite found her plot yet, but wanted to keep filling pages while she thought about it. The pacing does improve about halfway in, but not enough to compensate for the first half. With the improved pacing comes a fairly predictable plot:

• Diana and Matthew passionately kiss. Diana wants to sleep with Matthew, but he turns her down.
• Diana is put in harm’s way. Can Matthew save her? (Of course he can.)
• Diana and Matthew passionately kiss. Diana wants to sleep with Matthew, but he turns her down.
• Diana is put in harm’s way. Matthew can’t save her this time, but can she save herself? (Obviously, there’s two more books.)
• Diana and Matthew passionately kiss. Diana wants to sleep with Matthew, but he turns her down.
• Diana is put in harm’s way. Can she figure out how to use her magic in order to save herself?
• Diana and Matthew passionately kiss. Diana wants to sleep with Matthew, but he turns her down.

I took issue with a few things in the book that made it really hard to like the main characters:

• Matthew thinks it’s perfectly fine to break into Diana’s rooms himself – before he even knows her. But he flies into a rage when he finds out that someone else did the same.
• Matthew convinces Diana to flee to France with him because of the supposed danger she’s in at Oxford. But once they’re there, he abandons her (probably because he loves her so much, or something) and she literally cries enough to fill a room with water.
• [VIEW THIS SPOILER ON GOODREADS]

This book is basically just Twilight for adults, and I really wish someone would have told me that before I started, because this is not what I signed up for.

A Discovery of Witches is much too long, and much too detailed. A decent editor could have cut out at least 100 pages of unnecessary descriptions and backstories. A good editor could have probably taken this book down to half its length.

I’m not sure whether I’ll pick up the next two books in the series. Harkness seems to think that by having Matthew repeatedly say, “You don’t need to know about this right now, I’ll tell you later,” I’ll be compelled to keep reading. Honestly, I don’t think it’s worth the effort. I was frustrated with the slow-moving plot and pages upon pages of unnecessary description. I wasn’t impressed by A Discovery of Witches, but it’s also not the worst book I’ve ever read.

I’ll give it a generous two and a half stars for drawing me in at the very end.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

For my 2015 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #1: a book with more than 500 pages.

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I’ve liked a lot of books lately, but The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things hit me on a totally different level. Sage and Shane are completely awesome, beautifully flawed characters who defy pretty much every teenage stereotype that exists in young adult novels.

Sage prides herself on leaving her dark past behind her and moving on to a cheerful future. She makes a point to leave a compliment on a random student’s locker every day (written on hot pink sticky notes in sparkly purple pen, no less). She helps out so much at home that her friends think she’s crazy. She volunteers. She tries her best to get good grades. All this so that maybe she can forget what an awful person she used to be. Shane is trying to lay low and make it through high school without ending up in juvie. He made a lot of mistakes at his old school, so he just wants to keep to himself, avoid conflict, and make it through the next few months. Sage and Shane weren’t counting on finding each other, but maybe they’re just what each other needs.

The first thing that I noticed about The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things was the beautiful writing. Each sentence flowed so well, and the dialogue felt natural. Actually, everything felt really natural, from the personalities of the characters to the conflicts to the pacing. It was pretty near perfect, and I had a tough time putting it down at night!

I felt like the characters were really well-developed, from the main characters to their friends and the minor characters who have their own little lives on the sidelines. I think it’s rare, particularly in young adult novels, to have minor characters whose personalities are so developed that we understand the rationale for their actions. I was surprised at the amount of attention given to the main antagonist in the story, and the fact that small offhand comments from the beginning of the book were followed up on throughout.

The only semi-negative comment I can make has to do with the language used in the book. Yes, it is 100% natural for RIGHT NOW. But in five or ten years, I’m wondering if the people who read it will be thinking, “She can’t even? She can’t even what? That’s not a full sentence!” or “Why do these characters keep saying ‘forever alone’ and what does that mean?!” Aguirre does a great job of not dating the book through its use of pop culture (for example, when Sage watches Crazy Stupid Love, she mentions that it came out years ago but she’d never seen it), but as a total linguistics nerd, I wonder how today’s slang is going to hold up in the future.

Aside from that totally minor complaint, everything in this book is amazing, and you should probably preorder it right now.

Thanks to Goodreads First Reads and the publisher for the free copy!

Final rating: ★★★★★ (more like 4.5)

For my 2015 reading challenge, I’m checking off #36: a book set in high school.

Goodreads | [not available for purchase]

Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky is a cute, short glimpse into the teenage years of the dashing Carswell Thorne. We first met Carswell in Scarlet, and he’s no less charming at thirteen years old than he is fully grown.

I loved this little window into his childhood, and especially the fact that he’s always wanted to captain the Rampion. This is a really short review for a really short story, but I don’t want to give anything away! As always, Marissa Meyer weaves an excellent story with characters you can’t help but care about.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

For my 2015 reading challenge, I’m checking off #35: a book set in the future.

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My first experience with Shannon Richard was Undone, which I read via Netgalley in February 2014. I remember really liking it because it was just cute and fluffy and almost angst-free. Well,Undressed is pretty different.

I guess it’s good when authors don’t follow a formula. It’s really frustrating to pick up the third or fourth book in a series just to find that it’s the same story with different names. Because whereas Undone was cute and fluffy, Undressed (as its name might imply) is a little more steamy. And while Undone was pretty low on the drama scale, Undressed has the characters sneaking around and hiding their feelings. Best of all, though, is that while I noticed a lot of errors in Undone, I had an uncorrected proof of Undressed and noted minimal mistakes.

So what’s the story? Abby Fields is a high-powered publicist working for the Stampede, a well-known hockey team. Her job is to get the players in the news – in a good way. Her toughest customer is Logan James, one of the best players, who would rather keep to himself. But after circumstances beyond their control land them in a secluded cabin for the night (and a few shots of alcohol get involved), Logan and Abby find themselves in a very unprofessional situation. The problem? Abby’s contract clearly stipulates that she cannot fraternize with the players, and doing so is grounds for immediate termination. So when Logan and Abby find themselves falling for each other, they need to keep their relationship, and their feelings, secret.

Although I read and enjoyed Undone, somehow I missed Undeniable, Unstoppable, and Unforgettable. I don’t know what happens in the rest of the books, but part of what I really liked about Undone was how easy Paige and Brendan’s relationship seemed. In Undressed, not only are the characters struggling with their relationship (it’s got to be hard to hide your feelings from your coworkers every day!), but they’re also struggling in their personal lives. Abby is dealing with a father who only wants to be in her life when it’s convenient, and Logan is fighting to keep his most personal memories private. Sometimes it feels like they almost have too much going on in their lives, particularly for a novella of only 224 pages.

Undressed is a quick, steamy read that gets a bit too dramatic at times, but is ultimately enjoyable.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy!

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

For my 2015 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #9: a book by a female author.

ARC review: Joyride by Anna Banks

Joyride by Anna Banks
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Goodreads • Amazon
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Source: ARC via Netgalley

A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber’s mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.

Carly Vega doesn’t exactly lead the life of a typical teenager.  She and her brother Julio live alone, trying to stay under the radar so that nobody realizes that their parents are nowhere to be found.  The Vegas, illegal immigrants who led a productive and quiet life, were deported to Mexico, leaving their two oldest children alone.  Now, Carly and Julio work themselves to exhaustion trying to earn enough money to smuggle them back into the country.  Carly hasn’t really had a childhood, because every time she tries to do something for herself, she’s met with disapproving glares and lectures.  That’s just the way her life is, until she meets Arden Moss, a former high school sports star who is dealing with his own familial issues.  Together, they’ll learn to be true to themselves instead of blindly following their family’s orders.

I was actually fairly surprised at how much I liked this book.  I honestly thought that it was going to be your typical young adult romance, in which boy and girl fall in love, boy and/or girl does something stupid, angst ensues, and then at the very last second, boy and girl fall back in love.  That’s not what I got, not at all.  In fact, Joyride is more a story of the impact of illegal immigration than anything else.  The story of Carly’s family is devastating, and unfortunately all too common.  With everything that you hear about in the news, it’s almost overwhelming to read about the struggles that she and her brother go through to earn enough money to smuggle their parents back, not even knowing whether it will work this time.

And then on the other side of the novel, we have Arden Moss.  On the surface, Arden Moss is a former jock who used to have it all.  Then he just threw it all away to turn into a slacker.  But is that really what happened?  Arden is still reeling from his sister Amber’s death, and he harbors a lot of resentment toward his father for failing to get her the help she needed for her mental illness.  And this is another big issue tackled in this book.  Mental illness is a real concern for a lot of people, and unfortunately, many people feel that if you pretend that it doesn’t exist, it’ll just go away.  But that’s not the reality, and we see the consequences of that attitude in Amber’s suicide.

I was so surprised when I was reading this book that it wasn’t just another vapid teenage romance.  It tackles big, important, relevant issues in a great way.  I thought the writing was great, and actually really enjoyed that the narration changed from first person to third person, because I got a sense that we were inside Carly’s head, but kind of watching Arden from afar.  I’ll be on the lookout for other books by Anna Banks, because this book was such a pleasant surprise.


For my 2015 reading challenge, I’m checking off #11: a book with a one-word title.