Friday, August 26, 2016


Recently, I decided to do a reading decathlon challenge suggested by Epic Reads. I was going for gold, but life got in the way and I ended up reading five graphic novels and five novels - for a silver medal! Here’s the full report.

Day One: Book One - Novel
I read an adult horror novel (but I thought it was a mystery, so SURPRISE), Security by Gina Wohlsdorf. I didn’t like it very much.

Day Three: Book Three - Novel & Book Four - Graphic Novel
I finished Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley and LOVED it. I am SO GLAD that I bought it and can read it again someday. Also, I finally got Jessica Jones: Alias, Volume 3 from the library and it was fantastic. I think I need to get Netflix so I can watch the series.

Day Five: Book Four - Graphic Novel
I read the third Amulet book by Kazu Kibuishi, The Cloud Searchers. I had read it before a while ago, but recently purchased my own copy, so I reread it - and still loved it!

Day Eight: Book Five - Novel
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh was fantastic. I had been meaning to read it for a while, and this challenge motivated me to bump it up my TBR list. I’m waiting for the second book in the series from the library!

Day Nine: Book Six - Novel & Book Seven - Novel
I loved Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prineas, did NOT like A Year in the Life of a Complete and Total Genius by Stacey Matson. Ash and Bramble was a fantastic fairy tale filled with strong characters. Matson’s book could have done so much more with the story that she created. Polar opposites.

Day Ten: Book Eight - Graphic Novel, Book Nine - Graphic Novel & Book Ten - Graphic Novel
I reread the rest of the Amulet books that I purchased, which were The Last Council and Prince of the Elves. They were just as good as the first time around! The last book that I read for this challenge was Gotham Academy, Volume 1 by Becky Colonna, Brendan Fletcher and Karl Kirschl. Honestly, I wouldn’t have finished this one if it weren’t for the challenge. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.

List of Books Read in Order

1. Security by Gina Wohlsdorf
2. Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
3. Jessica Jones Alias, Volume Three by Brian Michael Bendis
4. Amulet Volume Three, The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibuishi
5. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
6. Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prunes
7. A Year in the Life of a Complete and Total Genius by Stacey Matson
8. Amulet Volume Four, The Last Council by Kazu Kibuishi
9. Amulet Volume Five, Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibuishi
10. Gotham Academy Volume One by Becky Colonna, Brendan Fletcher and Karl Kirschl 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Wrath & the Dawn

The Wrath and the Dawn
Renee Ahdieh
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2015
Source: Library
Audience: Older Teens

Reading Decathlon: Day 8, Book 5

From Goodreads:
In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Inspired by A Thousand and One NightsThe Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.

This book was beautifully written with gorgeous details, and an amazing retold fairy tale. However, no matter how hard I try, I can never remember the name of The Wrath and the Dawn. Major problem! I don’t know why at all.

I loved Shahrzad’s sassy strength and how the story unfolded. Nothing was clear at the beginning, and even though I felt like I was missing something, I didn’t feel lost. Eventually, I understood everything. Also, Ahdieh’s attention to detail was amazing. I felt like I could taste the food and see the setting myself. Hopefully, the second book will be just as good!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Gotham Academy Vol. 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy

Gotham Academy, Vol. 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy
Becky Cloonan, Brendan Fletcher, Karl Kerschl
DC Comics, 2015
Source: Library
Audience: All Teens

Reading Decathlon: Day 10, Book 10

From Goodreads:
Welcome to Gotham Academy, the most prestigious school in Gotham City. Only the best and brightest students may enter its halls, study in its classrooms, explore its secret passages, summon its terrifying spirits...

Okay, so Gotham Academy isn't like other schools. But Olive Silverlock isn't like other students. After a mysterious incident over summer break, she's back at school with a bad case of amnesia, an even worse attitude...and an unexplained fear of bats.

Olive's supposed to show new student Maps Mizoguchi the ropes. Problem: Maps is the kid sister of Kyle, Olive's ex. Then there's the ghost haunting the campus...and the secret society conducting bizarre rituals. 

Can Olive and Maps ace the biggest challenge of their lives? Or are they about to get schooled?

I wasn’t a fan, unfortunately. It felt too young for me, and I didn’t know enough about the Batman franchise to understand what was truly going on. I knew about Bruce Wayne, Batman (duh) and the last name Cobblepot, but that’s it. On top of my ignorance, the reader was dropped into the story with little introduction. I’m sure part of that was because the main character was suffering from amnesia, but it still made me feel lost, which I didn’t like. The ghost mystery and additional plot lines felt a little bit like Scooby-Doo to me, and that was disappointing. However, the ending was enough to make me consider reading the next installment, but I won’t make a special effort to seek it out.

Ash & Bramble

Ash & Bramble
Sarah Prineas
HarperTeen, 2015
Source: Library, E-Galley
Audience: All Teens

Reading Decathlon: Book 6, Day 9

From Goodreads:
A prince.

A ball.

A glass slipper left behind at the stroke of midnight.

The tale is told and retold, twisted and tweaked, snipped and stretched, as it leads to happily ever after.

But it is not the true Story.

A dark fortress.

A past forgotten.

A life of servitude.

No one has ever broken free of the Godmother’s terrible stone prison until a girl named Pin attempts a breathless, daring escape. But she discovers that what seems to be freedom is a prison of another kind, one that entangles her in a story that leads to a prince, a kiss, and a clock striking midnight. To unravel herself from this new life, Pin must choose between a prince and another—the one who helped her before and who would give his life for her. Torn, the only thing for her to do is trade in the glass slipper for a sword and find her own destiny.

Loved it! Even though Ash & Bramble was a thick book, I flew through it. I liked the story, the twists, and the ending... however, the first person/third person narration switches bothered me. That technique made it easy to tell whose point of view it was, but for some reason, I didn’t like it. Also, there was an abrupt change between parts one and two that didn’t flow well enough for me. It was like reading two different books, which is probably what the author was trying to do. It worked well for her, but instead of contributing to the story, it made me wonder why the first part of the book was even there. At the end it all came together, and I liked it, and I’m totally looking forward to the next book in the series - but Ash & Bramble wasn’t perfect.

This post probably sounds more negative than I meant it too. I really did like the book, and I definitely thought it was significantly better than the average fairy-tale retelling.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Year in the Life of a Total and Complete Genius

A Year in the Life of a Complete and Total Genius
Stacey Matson
Sourcebooks, 2015
Source: Library, E-Galley
Audience: Younger Teens

Reading Decathlon: Day 9, Book 7

From Goodreads:
Arthur believes that he is destined to become a famously rich novelist. The first step in his journey to literary greatness will be winning the school writing contest, which will also (hopefully) distract him from the untimely death of his mother. Unfortunately, Arthur can't come up with a good story, unlike his beautiful writing partner Kennedy, who he's sure will ditch her popular boyfriend and fall in love with him sometime soon. Even Robbie Zack, Arthur's nemesis, has an idea! As the competition draws closer, and as his father drifts further and further away, how far with Arthur go to win?

Stacey Matson’s writing format and quirky characters were enjoyable, but the book didn’t end. One of the most important characters was gone for most of the book, Arthur’s feelings weren’t adequately identified, and I didn’t feel that the characters learned their lesson at the end of the book. A Year in the Life of a Complete and Total Genius did address bullying well, and definitely promoted compassion. However, I wish it would have explored the relationship between Arthur and his father more.

Overall, it seems that for every good thing about Matson’s book, there’s a not so good thing. I’m curious to read more from this author... maybe some of my questions will be addressed in future work.

Monday, August 22, 2016

City Love

City Love
Susane Colasanti
Katherine Tegen Books, 2015
Source: E-Galley, Library
Audience: Older Teens

From Goodreads:
Sadie, Darcy, and Rosanna are living together in New York City the summer before their freshman year of college begins. With no parents, no rules, and an entire city to explore, these three girls are on the verge of the best summer of their lives.

Sadie is a native New Yorker. She is hopeful, romantic, and an eternal optimist who is ready to find her soul mate. Then she meets her dream boy: cute, funny, and quirky in all the right ways. The chemistry between them is unreal. Could he be the one?

Darcy is a free spirit from SoCal with rebellious tendencies and unlimited financial resources. Moving to New York City is just another adventure for her. Darcy wants this summer to be all about boy adventures—nothing serious. But how much fun is too much?

Rosanna leaves Chicago for NYC so she can put her past behind her and reinvent herself. The only thing standing in her way is the grand total of seventy-three cents she has saved. Then she meets a guy who wants to show her the glamorous side of New York—a side that she would never get to experience on her own. If Rosanna doesn't resist, she may find herself in city love.

Told from alternating points of view, City Love captures the moments in each girl's life when everything is thrilling, amazing, and terrifying all at once . . . in a way it will never be again.

Well, nuts. I raced to read City Love so I could review the sequel via E-Galley, and I failed. The E-Galley EXPIRED. Oh, a book bloggers worst nightmare!

So at first the narration in the novel absolutely drove me crazy. I think it was too accurately reflecting teen girls’ voices. Once I got used to that, it was ok. I got the feeling that City Love was Susane Colasanti’s love letter to New York City. Additionally, the romance was a little too swoony and too easy. Overall, I would describe it as syrupy. While a grown woman (I suppose that’s what I am, even though it doesn’t feel like that) found it unrealistic and annoying, I think teen girls would love it. Honestly, I think it was written more for older teens, judging by the age of the characters and some of the content, but I have a feeling that younger teens would love it more. Basically, there’s a romantic storyline for almost every type of romance in this book. At the end, reality did come crashing down a little bit, but not so much that it would ruin the story for readers.

In general, I liked it well enough, and I’ll probably read the sequel, but teen girls really are the audience for City Love.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Jessica Jones: Alias, Vol. 3

Jessica Jones: Alias, Vol. 3
Brian Michael Bendis
Marvel, 2015
Source: Library
Audience: Adults

Reading Decathlon: Day 3, Book 3

From Goodreads:
As a costumed adventurer, Jessica Jones was plagued by a lack of self-esteem and an inability to master her superhuman powers. Eventually she realized that she would forever be considered a second-rate super hero, and hung up her cape and tights. Now a tough-as-nails private investigator, Jessica returns home to find a mysterious girl in a costume hiding in her apartment, but the girl flies away before Jessica can find out who she is. Through sources, Jessica discovers that her intruder is Mattie Franklin, a.k.a. Spider-Woman, a teenage super hero with a connection to Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson.

Wow, I like this series! I need to start watching the Netflix show. I love the private eye aspect and how we learn more about Jessica’s past in each volume. (Additionally, out of comic book ignorance, I always learn more about the Avengers and the history of other Marvel characters.) This edition was the perfect blend of mystery, new characters, humor and romance. I can’t wait for volume 4 to arrive for me!