Friday, June 30, 2017

Book Review: Rebel Rising by Beth Revis

I have a confession to make: I didn't like Rogue One. I know, it's shocking that I didn't like a Star Wars film. But I didn't. There were parts I did like. Stardust. Cassian's face. The soundtrack. "I am one with the Force and the Force is with me." Diversity. Darth Vader's pun. K-2SO. Realistic depictions of war. Overall, though, I was disappointed in it. I was disappointed everybody was saying it was the best Star Wars movie ever! (Really? Better than the Original Trilogy? Better than Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens? Nah, man.) I was disappointed in the lack of character development, the lack of character motivation, the lack of the opening scroll.

But I wanted to like it. I wanted to see what everybody else saw. But I couldn't. I felt they could have done better. (Maybe if they had invested in a live-action TV show all about the rebellion instead of the animated Disney show that I've been told has terrible writing, it could have been better. Maybe if it had time to flourish, for me to understand the motivation of the characters, to know their sacrifices, to feel that their sacrifices were worthwhile, to be invested, it could have been better.) I felt that it was rushed and that parts of the story were cut or left unexplained. (I mean, is there like a ton of cut scenes I'm missing or something? Because I'm confused.) Still, I tried.

So when I heard that Beth Revis had been selected to write a Star Wars novel and that it would be the backstory of Jyn Erso, I wanted to give it a chance. I wanted to see if maybe her book would help give me an explanation behind Jyn's character in the movie, if maybe it would help me understand what I had watched. (After all, Revis' book is canon.)

And it did.

Slight spoilers for Rogue One included below. 

Rebel Rising follows Jyn Erso from the moment her mother is killed and her father is taken away by the Empire up until the Rebel Alliance recruits her for their mission. It tells the missing pieces of her story that Rogue One only hinted at. Her time with Saw Gerrera, learning to fight, learning to rebel. Her time imprisoned in an Empire work camp, forming her attitude against both the Empire and the Rebellion, becoming the stoic, guarded Jyn Erso on the screen.

The book itself starts off slow. A lot happens in a short amount of time, and a lot of it is telling instead of showing. But as the story unfolds and Jyn becomes involved with Saw Gerrera's side of the rebellion, the book picks up. We see her learning to fight, learning to make decisions about life and death, understanding Saw's motivation. We see her being abandoned, left alone to survive. We see her interacting with other people, even falling in love.

Some parts of it may come across predictable. I guess if you've seen Rogue One you know where she'll end up eventually. This is also a Star Wars YA novel. There are going to be certain aspects included, like the love interest, that might seem cliche, maybe unimportant, or predictable. But I also noticed that like Rogue One, Rebel Rising has a significant point to it. The depiction of Saw's rebellion is much different than the one Luke fights for, the one even Jyn fights with during Rogue One. His rebellion is brutal, it's dishonest, and it's sadly realistic. In our world today, there are tons of people who have the same mindset of Saw: kill or be killed. Completely destroy the enemy, no matter the cost, or die trying.

And I think this depiction, along with Jyn's realization of what Saw believes and what Jyn herself comes to believe, is significantly important for our world today. Fantasy has this habit of exploring truths about today's world and humanity in a way that gets the point across. Somehow other books can't always do this, which is the many reason why I read fantasy. It's truth spelled out plainly. And Beth Revis does that through Rebel Rising. She points out the different kinds of rebellions people fight--the different methods of overcoming, of defeating an enemy, of choosing a side--and then she allows the reader to make the decision for himself or herself which is the right way.

And I think that's incredibly important. Just as important as it was for Rogue One to show that victory does not mean everybody survives. That war always means sacrifice and loss. Rogue One realistically portrays another side of the rebellion we don't see in the Original Trilogy; it's the harsh side, the side people don't want to talk about. But we need to talk about it. And I'm grateful that Beth Revis took the next step, through a Star Wars book, to talk about other sides of rebellions as well, even if it's in a small way (though I hope it's not).

And hey, Rebel Rising made me stop and consider Rogue One again. I might try to watch it once more, and maybe the second time around I'll understand where the characters are coming from (or at least understand Jyn's motivation behind her actions). And maybe, I'll enjoy it. But if not, at least I know there are merits to Rogue One, and Rebel Rising follows right alongside those merits in a number of ways.
"You never know. Something small and broken really can be powerful." -Galen Erso, Rebel Rising

~I borrowed Rebel Rising by Beth Revis from my local library. I chose to write a review of the book of my own free will. All opinions and images are my own.~

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Top Ten Tuesdays: The Best Books of 2017 So Far

This week's Top Ten Tuesday prompt is a list of the best books I've read in 2017 so far. It's kind of open-ended, so I'm going to list only books that were published in 2017. Here are my favorites! (They're in order of how I read them, not how I rate them.)

1. Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer: I was stoked when I learned Marissa Meyer was writing a graphic novel set in The Lunar Chronicles world. I was definitely not ready to say goodbye to these lovely characters. Thus, I'm glad I enjoyed reading it. It had the same humor, adorableness, and action-y awesomeness that the books have. I'm already looking forward to part two!

2. A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab: I inhaled the first two books in the Shades of Magic trilogy, so when A Conjuring of Light came out, I had to read it immediately. It was worth it. So worth it. Every page, every moment. I don't know if I've ever been so satisfied with a story's conclusion than this one. V.E. Schwab's writing is just magic.

3. King's Blood by Jill Williamson: I'm not always a huge fan of big books because they usually take forever to read, but in some cases, long books are good. King's Blood is gigantic, but it was definitely worth all those pages. The story that unfolds is intriguing and heart-felt. A lot happens, and it's wild. (Check out my review of it here.)

4. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: There are some authors that make me want to give up writing because there is no way I'll ever reach that level of amazing. Laini Taylor is this author. Strange the Dreamer goes above and beyond her other books, weaving a story with stellar world-building, fantastic characters, and gorgeous descriptions. Just go read it now! (If you're not convinced, check out my review here.)

5. Attack on Titan, Vol. 21 by Hajime Isayama: I don't normally include manga or long comic series volumes in my top books list because one volume can't always accurately capture the entire series. But Attack on Titan Vol. 21 is the exception. (Really, Attack on Titan is always the exception.) This volume revealed a lot, completely changing everything I thought I knew about this story. It's kind of incredible, and it definitely left me screaming.

6. The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan: Basically, Rick Riordan can do no wrong. Once more, he knocks it out of the park with his perfectly placed dialogue, his blending of mythology and modern day aspects, and his fantastic, wonderful, amazing characters. (That was for you, Apollo.) If you love Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, or anything else Riordan has written, read Trials of Apollo. They're hilarious and well-written.

7. Spider-Gwen Vol. 2: Weapon of Choice by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez: Spider-Gwen has easily become one of my favorite comic book series. There's just something more to her that I never quite caught with Peter Parker's Spider-man. Her relationship with her dad is definitely a high point, but I also admire Gwen's determination to do the right thing, no matter the cost.

8. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia: This book surprised me because I expected it to fall into a typical YA formula, but it didn't. It had a lot to it--highlighting many important issues--and I loved the characters. I'm grateful for what Francesca Zappia has done with this novel. (Check out my full review here.)

9. Rebel Rising by Beth Revis: Like Eliza and Her Monsters, I was impressed by this book. I expected it to fall short of my expectations, but there were moments when I realized how important this book was, both for the YA genre and for the Star Wars universe. It made me appreciate Rogue One and Jyn's character more than I originally did. I think Beth Revis did a stellar job with her story.

10. The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber: This book was definitely one of my most anticipated reads at the beginning of the year, and it definitely had me hooked. While I'll never forgive the author for that cliffhanger ending (why must I wait until March for book two? Why?), I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the world-building, and the diverse cast of characters. If you're looking for a science-fiction, conspiracy story filled with aliens, action, and lots of romantic tension, read this book. (Or if you're not looking for that, read it anyways.)

What are your favorite books of 2017 so far?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Mini-Reviews: "When I Look at the Stars" (Books with "Star" in the Title)

For some reason, I've read a lot of books recently that have the word "star" in the titles. It doesn't really come as a surprise, since I love outer space and anything related to stars. I'm not sure if I was drawn to these books because of the titles, the gorgeous covers (depicting stars, of course), or simply for the story. Here's what I thought of each one.

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

The Star-Touched Queen is a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast or the Cupid and Psyche myth and the Hades and Persephone myth mixed with Indian mythology. The concept sounds so amazing, and I was told to read this book by a friend who thought it was absolutely stunning. And it is. Or it mostly is. The descriptions in The Star-Touched Queen are beautiful, but I felt that the characters and the plot was a bit flat. I wasn't a huge fan of the main character, Maya, and I'm kind of tired of the whole "bad boys are mysterious and alluring" trope that continues to crop up in YA books lately. No, thanks. Give me the nice, sweet dork and I'll be happy. Still, somethings about The Star-Touched Queen didn't work for me. The pacing was off, there were so many "dumb" moments or plot holes, and it was predictable. I wish the book had more time to flourish, even if it meant splitting the story into multiple books. It isn't a bad book, but it definitely isn't a favorite.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Starflight by Melissa Landers

Starflight is a crazy space adventure involving space pirates, bounty hunters, and the ragtag crew of a beat-up spaceship. Basically, it reminds me of Treasure Planet mixed with Firefly. I was surprised with Starflight because I expected it to turn into a cliche, stereotypical mess of a YA novel. But it didn't. It was fun and exciting. There were a lot of good twists and turns (though I did predict a few ahead of time), the characters were excellent (I loved their banter), and the romance wasn't immediate or annoying (aka it made sense and flourished over the course of the book). The world-building was cool too. I think the author did a great job with the story. It was a fun adventure in space. And that cover is stellar.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Starfall by Melissa Landers

Based on other reviews, I full expected to be disappointed in Starfall. This book follows two of the minor characters from Starflight and what happens to them after the events in Starflight. I was mainly surprised that I did enjoy it, though, because it focuses heavily on political aspects (ruling a kingdom, leading a war, etc.) instead of space action-y stuff, but I was actually intrigued by these concepts. There is still a lot of rip-roaring adventures in space, of course, complete with more space pirates, bounty hunters, and the entire ragtag crew of the beat-up spaceship. It was definitely different than Starflight. It follows different characters, different stories, different paths. But it was still a fun story set in outer space. And once more, that cover art is A+.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Have you read any of these titles? Are there certain covers or book titles that you find yourself drawn to? 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Top Ten Tuesdays: Series I've Been Meaning to Read But Haven't

This week's Top 10 Tuesdays (which is actually going to be posted on Tuesday!) is a list of series I've been meaning to read but haven't yet. Unfortunately, that list is longer than ten. With over 800 books on my Goodreads to-be read list, it's bound to be full of series I need to start. Here are ten I probably should read soon.

1. Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness: I've heard good things about this series for a long time. I even own the first book, which I plan to read soon-ish. In the next coming years, the series is getting a movie adaptation, so I definitely need to read them!!

2. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin: I don't know how many times these books (or the TV show) have been recommended to me. I own the first four books, but I have yet to feel brave enough to pick up the hefty volume and read it. Maybe soon? Or... never?

3. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas: Like ASOIAF, I've been told numerous times but numerous people to read Throne of Glass, but I haven't. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because I've also been told it's not that good, or maybe I just focused on other (read: better) books that are out there?

4. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: This series is right there with Throne of Glass. I've been told to read it, but I've also heard it wasn't as good. I've been kind of back and forth about what to do, so maybe I should just try it out and decide for myself.

5. The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss: I've been told over and over by a few close friends that I need, need, need, need to read this series. But... the books are so long! I love a long story (I mean, I read Les Mis last year), but sometimes long books are so intimidating, especially when my TBR pile is overflowing. What to do... what to do...

6. Gentleman Bastard by Scott Lynch: Again, I've been told by multiple friends that I have to read these books. The first is on my short list to start soon, once I finish all the library books I currently have checked out. So we'll see.

7. The Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence: I was recommended the first book in this series during a writing workshop in order to help my own writing and world-building, but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I should probably put it on my short list and read it soon, right?

8. Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis: I read Out of the Silent Planet forever ago, but I never finished the trilogy. I received a copy of all three books in one volume (which has a gorgeous cover) for my birthday several years ago, but... I still didn't finish. Do you see my problem?

9. The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Mil├ín: This series is about medieval knights that ride dinosaurs into battle. I mean, come on! Did somebody read my Christmas list or what? This sounds epic, and most of the reviews say it's good. Must. Read. Soon.

10. The Queen's Thief by Megan Whalen Turner: Okay, okay, I read The Thief a while ago, back in high school, and honestly, I forgot the rest of the series existed. (Oops.) But recently with the hype for the Thick as Thieves release, this series has caught my interest again. I'll probably have to re-read The Thief first, but hey, it's worth it!

Should I even bother with any of these? Any other series you'd recommend?

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Fantastic Fathers (and Where to Find Them) of Literature

A few years ago (and by a few, I mean forever), I did a post about my favorite mothers of literature. There weren't many at the time, and since then, I've probably found a few more I could add to the list. But since it's Father's Day today, I'm not going to talk about my favorite mothers of literature; instead, I'm going to talk about my favorite fathers of literature. So without further ado, in no particulate order, here are ten fantastic fathers (and where to find them).

1. Mr. Betarrini from the River of Time series: Mr. Betarrini (whose first name I think is Ben?) isn't in the River of Time books a whole lot. Mainly because he spends the first two dead. (Weird, right?) But when he finally does show up due to this awesome thing called time-travel, he's pretty cool. He can fight, he's smart, and he cares a lot about his daughters. I like him.

2. George Stacy from Spider-Gwen: One of my favorite aspects of the Spider-Gwen comics is Gwen's relationship with her father, George. He cares an awful lot about his daughter, but that doesn't automatically mean their relationship is perfect. They struggle a lot trying to understand each other, but their love for one another trumps any other confusion or feelings they might have. Their relationship is realistic and touching, and I am grateful it exists in the comic book vein.

3. Elrond from Lord of the Rings: Sometimes I feel Elrond gets a bad rap. He's the stone-faced elf that won't allow his daughter to marry her one true love, right? (Or is that just the movie version?) But I think his concern for his daughter is admirable; he doesn't want to leave her behind, to be alone, to be sad. He's old; he knows the world. He's heard of Beren and Luthien and other elves, and he understands what it means for an elf to stay behind. Plus, Elrond is super wise and knowledgeable. He deserves more credit as a father.

4. Mr. Murry from A Wrinkle in Time: After recently re-reading A Wrinkle in Time, I realized how much I adore Mr. Murry. Like George Stacy, he's not perfect and his relationship with his family isn't perfect. He may be smart, but he still makes mistakes. When Meg finally finds him, she expects everything to become better, to be magically fixed, but it doesn't. This portrayal shows a realistic side of parents that I think more books need to include. Plus, in the face of adversary, strife, and despair, Mr. Murry is always optimistic and hopeful, pointing toward the good that still exists. If that's not admirable, I don't know what is.

5. Mr. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice: Who doesn't love Mr. Bennet? Sure, he may seem to slip away from his family and ignore his wife's mutterings, but when they need him the most, he steps up. His most famous moment is when he tells Elizabeth she doesn't have to marry Mr. Collins. Secretly, I think it's because he doesn't want his daughter to end up like him: in a loveless marriage. Or maybe he just loves to give Elizabeth her way.

6. Pa Ingalls from the Little House books: Growing up, Charles Ingalls was like a second father to me. I spent hours reading the Little House books, traveling all across the Midwest with the Ingalls family. Charles is a hard-working, entertaining, and ornery father that raises Laura to be the same. From playing violin and singing songs to building log cabins and harvesting crops, Pa Ingalls is a honorable man, worthy to be recognized.

7. Hans Hubermann from The Book Thief: Hans Hubermann isn't Liesel's biological father, but he's definitely her papa. He's a quiet man, known for his kindness and accordion playing that cheers people up. It's no wonder he finds a way to warm Liesel's heart in The Book Thief. I get teary-eyed just thinking about their relationship and the way the story progresses. He's admirable for his actions, whether it was teaching Liesel to read or hiding Max from the Nazis or simply walking the street playing his music.

8. Matthew Cubert from Anne of Green Gables: Like Hans, Matthew Cubert isn't Anne Shirley's biological father, but he's the closest thing she has to a father. Matthew is quiet, does his work, and obeys his sister. But he also learns to open up, just a little, to the spunky red-haired girl that invades his life. It's Matthew that convinces Marilla to give Anne a chance, and it's Matthew that spoils Anne because he wants her to be happy. Matthew is a soft, kind soul, and I can't help but cry at how wonderful a father he is.

9. Jean Valjean from Les Mis: Jean Valjean is a complex character. He takes in Cosette simply because he made a promise to a woman he met once, maybe twice. But he cares for Cosette as if he were his own daughter, and so she becomes his own daughter. He wants to keep her safe, from his past and from others, and he will do whatever it takes to do that... even entering a barricade battle to save the life of the man she loves so they can be together. Now that's noble.

10. Theoden from Lord of the Rings: Theoden's son dies early on in The Two Towers, but Theoden is still a father to both Eomer and Eowyn, his nephew and niece. It's his relationship with Eowyn though that makes him a fantastic father. He cares for her, wanting to protect her from the darkness of the world. He forbids her to fight because he wants to keep her safe from the atrocities of battle. In the end, by she avenging his death, she learns the reality of war. In addition, Theoden has a great redemption story; he was under the influence of Grima and Saruman, completely lost to the world, but he was able to come back from that and become a better king--and father.

Bonus: Sirius, Remus, Dumbledore, etc. from Harry Potter: It'd be hard to have a list of fantastic fathers (and where to find them) without including all the father figures of Harry Potter. From James Potter, who is Harry's actual father, and his sacrifice to save his wife and child to everything Sirius, Remus, and Dumbledore to do help Harry along his journey, the Harry Potter books are filled with fantastic father figures. Even Arthur Weasley is a wonderful, loving father-figure to Harry, welcoming him into the Burrow and taking him on wild adventures to Quidditch games and the Ministry of Magic. if given the chance to spend more time with these father-figures, I think their influence on Harry's life would only grown stronger and for the better.

Who are you favorite fathers of literature?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

I have a confession to make: I actually enjoyed the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini.

What?! Really? But-but... Jaime! You swore up and down all the realms that they had poor writing and wasted potential. Yes, yes, I know. For years, I've groaned about this series, stating it wasn't "good," yet I had only read the first two books (which are a poor portrayal of the potential of this story). But let me explain.

This reaction came from a mix of A. There are a lot of other (read: better) fantasy books in the world to read and B. I had a few friends in high school that liked to complain about Paolini's writing and more recently I've realized how easily I can be swayed by other people's opinions. So to throw off that stigma of the Inheritance Cycle being "oh so terrible" or "god awful" (as I've seen it described) and form my own opinion about the series, I decided to re-read the first two books and actually finish the series for once, but this time I listened to the audiobooks (much like I did with the Divergent series last year).

Let's just say, I was surprised at what I discovered. Eragon has always been held in a different place in my heart than other books because back in middle school (when dragons ruled the earth), Eragon was my life. It's the reason I started writing my own dragon stories and came to love dragons more than almost anything. (I mean, chocolate and books also exist.) Basically, Eragon (and The Hobbit because, duh, Smaug) is the basis of everything I write. But I always felt that the series let me down after I read Eldest, and I couldn't bear to pick up the monster that was Brisingr (and then Inheritance came out and made Brisingr look small, wowzer).

More recently, though, I can say that I enjoyed the series. Yes, there are a lot of flaws in the story. Yes, it's cliche and stereotypical. Yes, it could have been better. But you know what? For what it is, the series is good, it's decent, and it definitely has potential. (Seriously, though, give me a Game of Thrones-style show where it can dive into the darker, grittier side of high fantasy and I guarantee people would watch it, not the lame-o garbage of a movie we got in 2006).

Eragon follows the Hero's Journey so closely it's basically the story of Star Wars in a Lord of the Rings world. (Seriously, I could map it out for you; I might just do that because it's hilarious.) But if you can ignore that and the lengthy descriptions of exposition, the story isn't bad. It involves dragons and creepy monsters and Brom. Brom is definitely the best in this book, followed by Arya and Murtagh. (Basically, everybody but Eragon, amirite?) There's action and world-building (lots and lots of world-building) and did I mention the dragons yet? Because dragons. It's a fun adventure story with a lot of detail and dragons.
Rating: 4/5 stars

Of the entire "cycle," Eldest is the worst. It has a lot of boring parts like Eragon training (there is literally 5 minutes worth of narrative that consists of Eragon interacting with ants! Ants!!!) or Roran traveling for days on end with the entire village of Carvahall. But there are some merits: Roran kicking butt, Arya kicking butt, and Eragon... erm, Saphira kicking butt? I think the most memorable thing Eragon did in this episode was get drunk and cry over Arya. It's only memorable because it's sad. Give me a story about literally any other character and it would be better. Still, this one is necessary to read in order to read the others, so onward!
Rating: 3/5 stars (though it probably deserves like 2.75 or something)

Brisingr is a step-up from Eldest, but only due to the amazingly epic dragon battles! Seriously, those parts were the absolute best! (Yes, plural: two whole dragon battles. I mean, is it Christmas or what?) But this book dives deeper into the world's history and the dragon lore. There is so much explored and explained that I'm kind of in awe. (You mean Paolini has an imagination? What the what?) We also get our first appearance of Galabatorix, and it was kind of glorious. Nasuada and Arya are obviously cool also. If they (along with the dragon battles) weren't present in this book, it would suffer a lot. But they do. So it's definitely possible to get through this book without too much screaming or pulling out your eyeballs (*whispers* because dragon battles).
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Inheritance, however, sealed the deal for me. This book--how it flowed, how the characters developed, how everything was resolved--it was all done well. I think you can see that Paolini grew as a writer over the course of the series, and it shines in Inheritance. It surprised me, but I think that's a good thing. There was a lot I enjoyed about this book, but to keep it spoiler-free, I'll just say if you've come this far, read Inheritance and finish the series. Believe me, it's definitely worth it.
Rating: 4/5 stars

The Inheritance Cycle is definitely not going to satisfy everybody. I know a lot of people who dislike it, and I know a lot of people who love it. I think if you can read it and enjoy it for what it is--a YA high fantasy involving dragons--then it's worth reading. Look past the flaws, ignore the lengthy passages (which are definitely not as lengthy as Tolkien's work), and appreciate all the dragons. Because there are actually a lot of dragons by the end of it, and it's glorious. What more do you need?

~I checked out audiobook copies of the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini from my local library and chose to review them of my own free will. All opinions are my own.~

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Beautiful People: June 2017

It feels like it's been forever since I participated in Beautiful People, but it's only been a few months. I skipped a few of the themed ones because I didn't have any characters that fit the prompts. But this month I'm linking up!

As I looked over the questions, a new-ish character came to mind. I have an inkling of an idea involving a girl and an airplane. I've always been enthralled by the era of airplanes, aviators and aviatrixes, Amelia Earhart, Bessie Coleman, Charles Lindbergh... all of it's just so intriguing. I've always wanted to write about something related. So meet Avis, the main character of a story involving zeppelins, airplanes, and a strong brother-sister bond.

Avis has been dreaming of piloting an airplane her whole life, but airplanes are considered dangerous and only men are allowed in the cockpit. Her brother, Jules, is a pilot and has taught her all about how airplanes work, fueling Avis' dream. So when her brother's airplane goes missing, Avis is determined to find him... even if it means stealing an airplane and taking to the skies by herself. 
It's sort of steampunk-y, sort of altered history, and I think it would make a great story and possibly a gorgeous graphic novel.

The Questions

1. What’s their favorite place they’ve ever visited?
Before they died, Avis' parents took her and Jules to the Grand Canyon one summer. It was the most glorious land she's ever seen, and she couldn't help but daydream about flying above the rocky cliffs and the thundering waters.

2. What’s one mistake they made that they learned from?
She knows better than to sit and wallow in self-pity about her life. She's had a tough life, and her dreams seem far-fetched and out of reach, but she doesn't let that hold her back. She's learned that complaining only gets her a punishment and being sad only makes life unbearable. Instead, she holds her chin up and moves past the pain to focus on what she wants out of life.

3. What was their favorite subject in school? Or favorite thing to learn about?
Her favorite thing to learn about is obviously airplanes, but often school won't talk about it because of how dangerous airplanes are thought to be. Instead, she soaks up history and math, using it to further her own research about airplanes.

4. What’s their favorite flower/growing thing?
If you ask her, she'll tell you the vines that grow along the dorm building of Miss Emma's School for Girls are her favorite because she can easily use them to climb in and out of her dorm room at night. Sentimentally though, she's always loved peonies because they remind her of her grandfather.

5. Have they ever made someone cry? What happened?
Tons of times. She liked to beat up the annoying boys at school and make them cry when she was younger. She'd get in trouble and receive a few raps on the hand with a ruler, but she always thought her punishment was mild compared to what she did to them.

6. Would you consider them a reliable or unreliable narrator?
I think she's reliable. She's truthful and honest, and she doesn't hesitate to speak her mind.

7. What do they dream about at night?
If it's a good dream, she's flying weightless--no airplane, no parachute, just weightless drifting through open skies. If it's a bad dream, she's plummeting from the sky.

8. They’ve gone out for a “special meal.” What would they eat?
The biggest, juiciest steak she can find. And potatoes. She loves potatoes. But she doesn't go out often; only when her brother steals her away from the School for the evening after his shift at the hangar.

9. Do they have any distinguishing or unique talents?
She has a good memory with a knack for remembering random details about things. She's an artist and poet and idles away her hours daydreaming of flying, drawing sketches of it, and writing snippets along her page. She also can climb in and out her dorm room in a matter of moments without making a sound.

10. What’s at least one thing they want to do before they die?
Fly an airplane solo.

Link-up with this month's Beautiful People and tell me about your characters!

All images were found on Pinterest.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Top Ten Tuesdays: June TBR Pile

I've heard about the bookish link-up "Top Ten Tuesdays" for a while, but I never took the step to participate until now. The gals at The Broke and the Bookish started this link-up to talk about books, and if there is anything I like to talk about, it's books! The prompt for this week is to discuss ten books of a specific genre you recently added to your TBR list. Instead of picking a specific genre, I'm just going to list the next ten books I plan to read, hopefully during the month of June!

In addition to books, I also have a ton of comics and manga to read. 

1. Starfall by Melissa Landers
I'm already reading this, and I hope to finish it soon. Based on reviews, I expected it to fall short of the first book, Starflight, but I like it so far. I'll share my thoughts on both Starflight and Starfall once I'm finished!

2. A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle
Just like with Starfall, I've already started reading this. I read this book forever ago, but I can't remember any of it. It's definitely weird... but not any weirder than A Wrinkle in Time or A Wind in the Door, which were both fantastic.

3. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
I just started listening to the audiobook of this, and I'm already enjoying it. The descriptions are great, and it has just that slight hint of peculiarity that it's perfect. Plus, the narrator is superb.

4. Rebel Rising by Beth Revis
When I heard Beth Revis was writing a Star Wars book, I was stoked. I finally have it in my possession, and I'm excited to read. I'm looking forward to diving into Jyn Ero's backstory.

5. The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber
I heard about this book over a year ago, and I've been eagerly waiting to read it. Mary Weber is a gem, and I can't wait to read more of her books!

6. Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab
I read This Savage Song a month ago, and I couldn't put it done. I've just been completely starstruck with her stories, so I cannot wait to read this book. I need answers. And I need more August in my life!

7. Beren and Luthien by J.R.R. Tolkien
If it has Tolkien's name on it, I need it. Case closed.

8. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
I've heard a lot of good things about this book, and even though its contemporary, it sounds super cute.

9. The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson
I haven't heard a whole lot about this yet, except its similar to Lost. But I have a high suspicion that I'm going to receive it in a book box later this month...

10. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
I inhaled the first two books in this series, and I need the next one! These books are just hilariously adorable and I can't get enough of them.

What books are on your TBR pile?

Friday, June 9, 2017

Book Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Owlcrate's May theme was "Comic Explosion," which included a ton of amazing items. I was stoked when I heard that was the theme because I love comics and I was excited to see what I would receive. The book for the month, however, was not a comic or graphic novel. Instead, it was a story about a creative person who writes a web comic: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia.


Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of a popular web comic Monstrous Sea and would rather spend time online than in the real world where she's lonely and weird. Until Wallace, Monstrous Sea's biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace, believing Eliza is just another fan, begins to coax Eliza out of her online shell and into the real world. 

My Thoughts

This book surprised me, as most contemporary books I enjoy do. I was afraid it would turn out to be a stereotypical, cliche story filled with teenage-angst and only a glimpse at the life of a creative person. But it wasn't. It was good.

I read the whole book in one sitting. The story drew me in, and I wanted to find out what happened with Eliza and Wallace and her web comic. Despite not being in high school anymore, I related a lot to Eliza and the safety net of the Internet. Even her reactions to her family--despite how annoying it was at times--was something I felt deeply. How Eliza felt about her art is how I often feel about my writing. I find myself too engrossed in my own head that I miss the real world. I struggle with finding the right words. I understand wanting to shy away from the world, from other people, and spend my time online with a screen between me and the person I'm talking to. Francesca Zappia, the author, portrayed this side of an introverted creative person very well. And I'm grateful for the book because of this portrayal.

The inclusion of Eliza's artwork was cool, but I didn't see how it connected to the story. Maybe I read it too fast or maybe it was just supposed to be an added bonus. My other issue was the amount of profanity and discussion of sex within the novel. I suppose the story was going for a realistic approach to teenagers in high school, even if I didn't think it was necessary.

The story touched on a lot of issues often overlooked in literature these days, such as social anxiety, how invested we with the Internet, working out the issues in a parent and child relationship, creativity and creation in any form. I feel these aspects were portrayed well and realistically, which made the book realistic and flow well.

Overall, Eliza and Her Monsters was a well-written story about someone who creates. It reminded me of Fangirl and the Disney Channel movie Read It and Weep. If you're a creative person or you spend more time online than in real life, give this book a chance.

~I received Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia in the May Owl Crate monthly subscription box, which I purchased with my own money. I chose to write a book review of my own free will. All opinions are my own.~

Friday, June 2, 2017

Comic Book Conglomeration: May 2017

Somehow I've managed to read nine novels this month. Nine. I have no idea how that happened. But that also meant I read less comic books and manga. Because of this I have a stack of Wonder Woman comics waiting to be read. Hopefully I'll get to them soon! Until then, here's what I thought of the comic books I read in May.

Batgirl Vol. 1: Beyond Burnside by Hope Larson and Raphael Albuquerque
I picked up this Batgirl comic because I wanted to read more about this hero. I've seen her in the Batman movies and she was pretty cool in the DC's Bombshell comics, but I really didn't know much about her. Unfortunately, I don't think this was the right comic to read in order to learn more about Batgirl. It wasn't what I expected, and while there were a few aspects here and there I enjoyed, it didn't capture me like other comics have in the past.

Princeless Bk. 1: Save Yourself by Jeremy Whitley and Mia Goodwin
Princeless was recommended to me by a friend. It's a quirky story that takes a different take on the "damsel in distress" and typical fairy tale princess stereotypes. It includes dragons, kick-butt ladies, and a lot of jokes. It was a lot of fun, and I look forward to book two!

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 3: Squirrel, You Really Got Me Now by Ryan North and Erica Henderson
Once again, Doreen Green steals the show. Squirrel Girl is hilarious, and this comic only furthers the hilarity by sending Squirrel Girl back in time! It was fun and full of hilarious dialogue and commentary. I quite enjoyed it, even the strange comic crossover with Howard the Duck. More Squirrel Girl, please!

Spider-Gwen, Vol. 2: Weapon of Choice by  Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez
With every Spider-Gwen comic, the story becomes better. Gwen continues to struggle with being a hero, but she also has the support of her father. I really love that the father-daughter relationship is such a vital part of this comic series. We also see another side to Frank Castle, and we're introduced to more conflict that propels Gwen forward as a hero. It's shaping up to be a good story arc, and I can't wait to read the next volume!

Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Five, Vol. 2 by Brian Buccellato
This volume of Injustice was hard to read. A lot of sad stuff occurs, sad on both sides of the divide, and it left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. I know that there is a volume three coming out soon, so this isn't the end of the story, but it just makes me sad to watch all the heroes turn on one another, forced to pick sides. The volume was good, though. The stakes were high, the action strong, and the characters crushing.

What comics did you read recently? Any recommendations?