Book review: Last Sons of America

Title: Last Sons of America

Author: Phillip Kennedy Johnson

Illustrator: Matthew Dow Smith

Colorist: Doug Garbark

Format: Graphic Novel

Publisher: Boom!Studios

After a biological attack on America makes everyone infertile, the only way to have children is to adopt from other countries. Jackie and Julian are adoption agents stationed in Nicaragua. They go to families with children, those who are poor and need money, and negotiate on behalf of prospective parents. But it’s becoming harder to do this legally because child abductions are on the rise. Desperate, Jackie decides to kidnap a child to sell. Of course, he chooses the exact wrong child, the daughter of a local crime lord. Now, Jackie and Julian find themselves in the midst of a conspiracy that will turn their world on its head.

This was a kind of tough read. It started really well and the consistency of the writing stayed high throughout. It was the subject matter that was hard to deal with, especially by the third volume. I found I had to put it down and read something else just because it was so horrifying. The entire concept is difficult. It reminded me a little bit of Children of Men, where no one was having children, but in this case, it’s just America and not the whole world. The idea of people buying and selling children–and more–his terrifying in the extreme.

I liked the characters. Julian was more sympathetic and a good guy. Jackie was the “older” brother, but he really acted immaturely and in desperation. My favorite character was Sara. She had a good heart, was bold and brave, and is a Star Wars fan, which is awesome.

Personally, I didn’t find the art anything to write home about. It was serviceable and got the story across, but there wasn’t anything noteworthy about it.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was sobering and scary, but action filled and tense. I liked the characters and the plot and thought the writers and artists did a good job.

Avengers Book Tag

I’ve seen this tag done in several places and, since I love the Avengers, I thought I’d play along. From what I can tell, this originated on YouTube with Super Space Chick.

So, without further ado, The Avengers Book Tag!

Iron Man: A Book that made you laugh out loud.

I listened to this on audio, the combination of the hilarious plot and the even more hilarious narrator had me laughing out loud almost the whole book. I love this book so much. It’s silly, it’s fun, it’s intriguing, it’s fast paced. It’s just a wonderful experience. If you haven’t read it or listened to it, do it ASAP.

Captain America: A book that sends a positive message.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levin is a wonderful story about saving yourself, choosing your own live, and being authentic. It’s also got a wonderfully developed love story.

Thor: A book with a character’s strength you admire.

Ace of Shades/King of Fools. I admire Enne Salta’s strength. She’s spent her life feeling like a failure. But when her mother disappears, she goes from her safe life in Bellamy to the city of sin and gets entangled in the dark underworld. Instead of letting it beat her, she becomes a street lord, forms her own gang, and does what she needs to survive. She’s strong and she doesn’t break even when things get rough. I wish I could be half as strong as she is.

Black Widow: A book with a kick-ass female protagonist.

Velvet Templeton from Velvet: Before the Living End by Ed Brubaker is a secret agent turned secretary turned rogue agent. She’s strong, she’s smart, and she’s deadly. She’s awesome.

Hulk: A book that made you incredibly angry.

Blackout by Mira Grant made me angry. I liked the first one okay, enjoyed the second more, but the third one made clear that something was happening and then did all sort of acrobatics to claim it wasn’t what it was. And it made me mad. Because, just call it like it is, don’t justify it and pretend it’s not what it actually is.

Hawkeye: An underrated book you think more people should pay attention to.

Backwards to Oregon by Jae is a super fantastic book about a woman named Luke Hamilton who’s lived her life as a man (and is probably really non-binary). She’s planning on going to Oregon and needs a wife to join the wagon train. She marries a woman named Nora, who’s worked in a brothel for three years and is ready for a change. It’s got so many tropes that I love, it’s romantic, it’s sexy, it’s epic, and it’s wonderful. And no one I know except for my sister has heard of it. I think more people need to read this book.

*BONUS* Loki: A book with a twist or a surprise that tricked you

Gemina totally tricked me. I was in Minneapolis on a work trip, and I grabbed a few minutes for myself in the room I was sharing to read while everyone was at happy hour. I was relaxing on the bed, reading, and then something happened in the book. I bolted upright and yelled out loud. It was totally shocking and totally great.

I’m not entirely sure who to tag to do this, so I’m going to leave this open for anyone who’s interesting. Just drop a link below so I check yours out.

Book review: Aurora Rising

Title: Aurora Rising

Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Format: e-book

When Tyler Jones sneaks off to venture into the Fold, he never stops to consider that he might lose his ideal place in the Draft. But, thanks to a last minute rescue operation, he does Now his squad if filled with the cadets no one else wants. But that’s not his biggest problem. The biggest problem happens when a routine mission to deliver aid to a space station goes to hell thanks to Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he rescued from cryo-sleep where she’d been trapped for over two hundred years. Now, he and his squad are on the run from their own people, unsure why they’re running or what, exactly, they’re up against.

Oh my goodness, this book was so much fun! It was seriously great. I love all the characters, especially Aurora and Kal. Aurora is just amazing. Her entire world has just fallen apart, and she manages to hold it together even as her body starts doing things she can’t control. She’s smart and savvy and thoughtful. I just love her.

Kal was practically made for me. I’m not usually into warrior races, but there’s just something about him that really resonated. Plus, he gets a trope that I love and pulls it off in a way that makes me ache for him and root for him and want to scream at him all at once.

Scarlett was also great. She’s the squad’s diplomat and she’s very good at her job. She’s compassionate and empathetic, but also sarcastic and sassy. She flouts rules and regulations, but never fails to do her job to the best of her ability. It’s wonderful.

The plot was very well done and kept me on the edge of my seat. I usually get a little frustrated with multiple points of view, and this book gave chapters to every single squad member which could have been annoying, but it wasn’t. All the characters had really distinct voices and inner lives. It was very compelling.

I am so glad I read this book and the wait for the next one is going to be agony.

WWW Wednesday May 15

I am having a very hard week and don’t really feel like posting, but I also don’t want to break my streak. Life’s hard, isn’t it?

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Each week, you answer three questions:

What are you currently reading?

What did you just finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

Ever Alice by H.J. Ramsay is from NetGalley. It’s about Alice from Alice in Wonderland after Wonderland and everything that happens to her. It’s also about the Queen of Hearts and her descent into further madness. I’m not… super enjoying it right now. It’s a little choppy and feels unfinished. But I’ll keep reading it to see if it gets better.

Rising Strong as a Spiritual Practice by Brene Brown is once again not a book but a lecture she gave. It’s not about religion, but about the belief that people are connected to each other through something bigger than themselves, whether it be religion, art, exercise, singing, … whatever, really. I really like listening to her speak; it’s soothing, and that’s just what I need this week.

If you are paying close attention, you will notice I didn’t read any of the books I said I was going to read next last week. Last week, I said I was either going to read Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy, or Treacherous is the Night by Anna Lee Huber. Part of the reason I didn’t read either is because I didn’t end up going to Barnes and Noble after the play I saw on Saturday (it’s almost forty minutes away and I only go every once in awhile). The other reason is my library had Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff available and I wanted to read it. And I’m super glad I did.

So, next, I think I’ll read *drumroll*

What are you reading this find Wednesday? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Top 5 Magical Creatures

It’s Tuesday which means it’s time for Top 5 Tuesday! Yay! Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm. Each week, she posts a new topic and gives us all a chance to respond.  This week’s topic is Top 5 Magical Creatures.

This is honestly so, so hard for me. I’m not really into very many magical creatures. At first, I was going to just list my top five characters who happen to be magical, but it ended up being just a bunch of vampires and Puck. And I don’t think that’s what this topic is about. So, in the spirit of trying, here I go.

Vampires I love vampires. Ever since I saw Buffy the Vampire -the movie, mind you, not the show–I’ve been obsessed. The beauty, the violence, the seduction, the intrigue, I love it all. I prefer vampires that are soulful, but there are some soulless vampires who have a soft spot in my heart. I like them to be humanish and have some sort of code, whether it be moral, immoral, or ammoral. I like them to be witty and clever and very seductive. They just aren’t any fun if they’re not. My top 5 favorite vampires are: Louis, Armand, Lord Akeldama, Spike, and Dracula (but only from Fred Saberhagen’s Dracula Tape)

Fairies. I’ve always enjoyed fairies in things, but I didn’t really fall in love with them until Gargoyles did episodes revolving around Puck, Oberon, and Titania. Puck was always going to be right up my alley, because he’s a trickster, and the whole series of episodes had me running to my Complete Works of William Shakespeare and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I became obsessed with that play. I’ve since enjoyed fairies in other things, like Ella Enchanted and Spindle’s End, but my go-to is always the fairies from Shakespeare.

Werewolves. Okay, here’s the thing: I’m not a huge fan of werewolves as a magical creature. But there are werewolves that I like. Remus Lupin is one of my favorite characters from Harry Potter. I love Professor Lyall and Biffy from the Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger. I loved Oz from Buffy (which I know isn’t a book, but…) So, while I’m not really there for pack dynamics, shifting, were-guilt, or whatever, I like individuals well enough to give them third place.

Mermaids. I don’t think I’ve ever actually read a book about meremaids, except maybe Peter Pan, but I’m a swimmer and the idea fascinates me.

Elves. I mean, I guess I like elves. I’ve written elf AU fanfic before. They seem interesting? I’m kind of out of ideas.

Those are my top five magical creatures.

What kind of magical creatures do you like? Drop me a comment below and let me know!

Book review: The Alchemist

Title: The Alchemist

Author: Paulo Coelho

Publisher: Harper Collins

Format: audio

Narrator: Jeremy Irons

Length: 4 h 1 m

When a young shepherd has a dream that he finds a treasure in Egypt, he never imagines it will lead him on a journey both physical and spiritual. An encounter with a man claiming to be a king leads the boy to sell his flock and journey to Africa. There, he is met with a series of adventures and misadventures, all which lead him to a deeper understanding of the language of the world.

I’m honestly not quite sure what to say about this book or how to talk about it. I definitely enjoyed it. I listened to it on audio and it was a very pleasurable experience. The story was interesting and moved along at a good pace. I was rooting for the boy to both find his treasure and realize his spiritual journey. I was satisfied with the ending.

But, a little over halfway through, I did get a little tired of how everyone the boy met seemed to speak the same language. Everyone talked to him in terms of personal legends and the language of the world and the language of the desert and, for a little while, it got to be a little tedious. But then it was saved again by the flow of the story, so my irritation went away.

The book did give me a lot to think about in a good way. I’m not the most comfortable in the realm of spirituality, but this book offered food for thought in a way that was palatable and understandable to me. It was really interesting, and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it.

Sunday Post: May 12

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by the Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, and showcase books and things you’ve received. The rules are here: The Sunday Post.

This was a really nice week. It was Teacher Appreciation Week, which meant there were all kinds of goodies and treats at work. The best was on Wednesday when, instead of our regular grade-level collaboration meeting, we had a staff-wide one over ice cream sundaes. It was relaxing, it was fun, and the ice cream was delicious.

Yesterday, I got to see The Lightning Thief musical, based on the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan. It was a lot of fun. The sets were cool and it covered a lot of stuff from the book in a relatively short time. It was, of course, much, much better than that travesty of a movie. My only complaint was that the band was too loud and it drowned out some of the lyrics, but I think I’ll get the cast recording and catch up with what I missed. I definitely had a good time, and if the tour comes around, I recommend seeing it.

Monday: ARC review of An American Duchess

Tuesday: Top 5 Book I Want to Reread

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: Book Review: Aru Shah and the Song of Death

Friday: New Disney Princess Tag

Saturday: Book Review: King of Fools

Monday: The Alchemist (book review)

Tuesday: Top 5 Magical Creatures

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: Aurora Rising (book review)

Friday: Avengers Book Tag

Saturday: Ever Alice (book review)

I’m not feeling quite as reading slumpy as I did last week, but I’m still not reading as fast as I want to. Maybe I should get off the internet and read, right?

What are you reading this week? Drop a comment below and let me know!