Two Minute Review: A Lie for A Lie by Robin Merrow MacReady

Monday, February 20, 2017
Title: A Lie for A Lie
Author: Robin Merrow MacReady
Genre: mystery, thriller
Series: N/A
Pages: 208
Published: expected February 28 2017
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 1/5

A gripping YA mystery about seventeen-year-old Kendra, an amateur photographer who discovers her father is leading a double life.

Kendra Sullivan loves taking pictures. But when a photograph reveals that her father is leading a double life, she sets out to investigate the situation. Before long, Kendra discovers her father's second family, which he has hidden for years. Kendra's knowledge soon turns into power; she is torn between exposing her father and destroying her family as she's known it, or looking deeper for the truth and suffering that outcome. This emotionally charged mystery pushes the boundaries between truth and deception, and the consequences one faces when dealing with life-changing information.

The premise for A Lie for A Lie is attention-grabbing and unique -- which is why it's such a shame that book shares neither of those two traits. The main character of Kendra faces a tough situation with her father/family situation and the chance to really grow up while handling it. However, this is a stunted, very rushed novel that exchanges emotion and honesty for a simple and easy ending. The potential for more is left unfulfilled or unexplored, and this YA thriller ends up shallow and silly.

This book is rather disappointing in several ways, both big and small. For one, it's too short to make any real impact -- less than 215 pages to create realistic characters and storylines? Secondly, (and a direct result of the first issue) the characters all lack depth and the ability to evoke empathy. Even Kendra is under-developed and deliberately facile. The plot is handled with bluntly or dispassionately, despite the supposedly dramatic subject matter. Unpolished and simplistic across the board, at least A Lie for A Lie is over quickly.

Review: Love is Love anthology

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Title: Love Is Love
Author: Anthology
Genre: Graphic Novel
Series: N/A
Pages: 144
Published: December 28, 2016
Source: Borrowed Library
Rating: 1/5
The comic industry comes together in honor of those killed in Orlando. Co-published by two of the premiere publishers in comics—DC and IDW, this oversize comic contains moving and heartfelt material from some of the greatest talent in comics, mourning the victims, supporting the survivors, celebrating the LGBTQ community, and examining love in today’s world. All material has been kindly donated by the writers, artists, and editors with all proceeds going to victims, survivors, and their families. Be a part of an historic comics event! It doesn’t matter who you love. All that matters is you love.
This anthology, released by IDW in conjunction with DC in the wake of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando is the definition of empty allyship. From the very cover, where a canonically straight Wonder Woman* leads a brightly colored and adoring parade of safe queers and adorable poppets, where the only visible sign reads, "I love my lesbian daughter", the entire product is aimed at making the shooting palatable to straight people.

*Have artists portrayed Diana as trans or bi? Yes. Has DC acknowledged this a permanent part of her mythos? Of course not,

We're then confronted with the introduction, written by Patty Jenkins, a straight woman who once directed a movie about a lesbian. She proceeds to word vomit a long, rambling story about serial killer Aileen Wuornos and how she found acceptance in the Florida gay community, so Patty herself feels a kinship towards them.  And then, and then!
Second, because it appears more clear all the time that the perpetrator of the Pulse shooting was himself struggling with his own sexuality and the same kind of homophobia, xenophobia, and cycle of violence that created Aileen Wuornos. Everything about that circle pains my heart.
It pain your heart? Do you know how often the LGBT+ community is told that those who perpetrated violence against us are really just closeted? It is a disgusting tactic used to put the onus back on us for our own victimization. It creates an "us vs them" separation for cishet people to hide behind, making crime an intra-community issue and not worthy of mainstream attention and resources. Furthermore, there is no proof that Omar Mateen was gay and that is not becoming "more clear all the time". What he was was an abusive, four time failed cop who shouldn't have had a gun in the first place. But as one comic mentions, it seems IDW wanted to keep the book "non-political" and "positive" so, we're left with useless poems and endless rainbow flags to cover the real issue.

The book itself mostly consists of single page comics and full page splashes. Some like "Fly" by Joe Kelly are mostly harmless platitudes along the same lines of "It Gets Better".  Some, like an unnamed page by Joshua Hale Fialkov are full of the same kind of faux allyship demonstrated in the introduction.
Thank you wise plotMoppet for teaching us queers to appreciate BlueLives
If it speaks to any LGBT+ youth, I won't say the book is worthless, but nothing groundbreaking is within these pages. Those who belong to the community already know our love is valid and strong. Those outside the community either won't be swayed by such brief, trite little messages or are already patting themselves on the back for being good allies and buying the book. No matter what, I can't get a handle on who this was written for. What I will call worthless is the story "Thoughts and Prayers: A Confession" by Jeff Jensen. This two page call for absolution tells of how the author heard of the shooting and planned to call his reps but then forgot so "all [he does] is bring it before the Lord...and leave it there". Why in God's name would you write that? Should I forgive you for not calling your gay friends to check on them? For not writing a check to the survivors GFM? For recognizing this failure and not course correcting? All because you took the time to write and donate 225 words to an anthology months later? Guess what, Jeff Jensen, this queer bitch is not your confessor and you are not forgiven,

The makers of this book seem to have forgotten there are other letters beyond L and G. The cover features a man in a "trans men are men shirt" and another character in a trans flag colored top. One group story 1/3 of the way through the book features a masculine looking character trying to buy a dress, and Emma Houxbois' page is about a trans woman. That's about it, if I don't count the story of a man deadnaming his daughter-in-law at her wedding. (Spoiler, I fucking don't.) There's a line about "axesuals [sic] pretending, joking about having sex..." in a larger story about sex noises and staying out of others bedrooms? Whatever. I broke it down for you below:

Stories centered on:
L - 11.5
G - 25
B - 0
T - 3
Q - 0
I - 0
A- 0
Mixed Groups - 10
Allies explaining homophobia to kids - 9
Straight people w/hurt feelings - 8
GUNS - 5
Animals? There are more stories about animals than trans people? - 3

As for the DC content? Paul Dini provides seven panels of Harley and Ivy, which I go back and forth on as representation. Their relationship was queerbait and fannon for a long time, but I do see more artists using it as the accepted backstory so. There is a two page Batman story which needs a massive trigger warning, as Batman goes inside the club and investigates the dead bodies while searching for a motive. Of course, this is a real life event and there isn't one and it's super exploitative, including 911 transcripts, and I think less of Marc Guggenheim, Brent Peeples, Chris Sotomayor, and John Roshell for writing and illustrating it. Batwoman, one of the few cannon lesbians in comics, makes several appearances. Deathstroke gets a page that might be supposed to be humorous? where he throws out his guns and vows to use karate after watching the news of the shooting. Superman and Supergirl also get in on the action, used as metaphors for how accepting humanity can be. None of it's worth anything. Superheroes can absolutely be a filter to explain the world at large, and one story almost gets it as a golden age villain breaks the fourth wall to explain how harmful his gay affectations and eventual death at the hands of an AIDS metaphor were, but what does Bizarro flying around saying:

actually mean? He doesn't learn to "hate that hate", he goes back to saying nonsense. There has to be a reason to include these recognizable figures besides just name value.

This anthology is a disaster. It's nothing more than a blatant back pat from a bunch of straight white men in an industry that has long abhorred our community. It's not for us. I'm sorry for the few LGBT+ artists and writers who got roped into this obvious Kill Your Gays fetish porn.

Review: The Dragon's Price by Bethany Wiggins

Saturday, February 18, 2017
Title: The Dragon's Price
Author: Bethany Wiggins
Genre: fantasy
Series: Transference #1
Pages: 304
Published: February 21 2017
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 3/5

When two warring kingdoms unified against a deadly menace laying waste to both their lands, they had to make a choice: vow to marry their heirs to one another, or forfeit their lives to the dragon.

Centuries later, everyone expects the sheltered princess Sorrowlynn to choose the barbarian prince over the fire-breathing beast—everyone, that is, except Sorrow, who is determined to control her own destiny or die trying.

As she is lowered into the dragon’s chamber, she assumes her life is over until Golmarr, the young prince she just spurned, follows her with the hopes of being her hero and slaying the dragon. But the dragon has a different plan. . . .

If the dragon wins, it will be freed from the spell that has bound it to the cave for centuries. If Sorrow or Golmarr vanquish the dragon, the victor will gain its treasure and escape the cave beneath the mountain. But what exactly is the dragon hiding?

There are no safe havens for Sorrow or Golmarr—not even with each other—and the stakes couldn’t be higher as they risk everything to protect their kingdom.

The Dragon's Price is a YA fantasy with a great premise, and boasts a fresh approach to worldbuilding and unique lore. It's fun and fast to read, though unfortunately the overall plot is somewhat easy to anticipate and the characters are rather basically drawn. Despite the few flaws in its short pages, there's more to like than dislike in Bethany Wiggin's latest novel. The story is entertaining despite its admittedly predictable nature. Sorrowlynn's story is full of the usual fantasy hallmarks (lots of traveling! Threatening dragons!), but this experienced author throws plenty of her own ideas/twists into the narrative.

For the most part, I liked the various characters at play in The Dragon's Price. This is a series opener so there's more potential than proof so far. Sorrowlynn, the would-be sacrificial princess, is the best defined as the main character, but she is the exception and sadly not the rule. Her "barbarian" counterpart of Golmarr is somewhat less developed than his love interest, though his personality deepens the longer the two are together. Their romance is as expected as it is well-handled; it might be a bit fast-paced but given the nature of their circumstances.... I find myself more forgiving of how quickly their bond is established. 

The strongest idea in the novel lies in the title and its unique meaning. Bethany Wiggins has created a total fresh new idea for what the phrase "dragon's treasure" would mean in her invented world and uses it smartly. I love the way she adapted a fantasy staple into something new and a natural fit for her storyline. The premise and overarching threat lends itself to sustaining the sequels well, too -- there will be plenty of time and opportunity for the other dragons to search out Sorrowlynn and use their unique powers. 

This is a solid young adult fantasy novel. The inventive approach to old genre staples keeps even the predictable elements fun, and the romance is promising. An entertaining beginning to a new series, The Dragon's Price is solid start.

Lunar New Year Book Tag

Friday, February 17, 2017


Hello all! As some of you may know, Sat, Jan 28, 2017 is Lunar New Year. Happy Year of the Rooster!
Millions of people around the world celebrate Lunar New Year, mostly in Asian cultures.
To celebrate the Year of the Rooster this year, Tiffany (Mostly YA Lit) teamed up with Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts (the King of Book Tags) to bring you the Lunar New Year Book Tag! 

Here’s the deal: like in Western astrology, Chinese culture has it’s own zodiac, based on the year you were born and a corresponding animal. There are 12 animal signs and they each represent different personalities. We’ve created a book tag based on those.

Which Chinese zodiac animal you are?

  • Click over here for list of dates. Match up your birthday to the corresponding year, and that’s your animal.
  • Or if you’re good at math, try this handy trick from Divide your year of birth by 12 and read the remainder. If the number of the year can be divided with no remainder, take the remainder as zero. Each remainder corresponds to an animal sign. 

0: Monkey 1: Rooster 2: Dog 3: Pig
4: Rat 5: Ox 6: Tiger 7: Rabbit
8: Dragon 9: Snake 10: Horse 11: Sheep

Got it? You can read more about the different signs here, or below in each of the graphics!
Without further adieu, I present you…

The Lunar New Year Book Tag



Jessie: Without a doubt Laini Taylor's Strange the Dreamer. I have been anticipating this book for forever and it's nearly here! Nothing else comes close to the level of excitement I have for this book. I mean I have it preordered from two different places?


Jessie: I tend to reread books that make me feel intensely.... sometimes that means happy feelings (Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins), sometimes sad feelings (Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein), and sometimes a mix of both (Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta).

Dani: I think anyone who knows me can guess, but my comfort books are Harry Potter, specifically numbers 1-3


Dani: I'm not a huge book collector, but I did spend more than $100 on the 1970s Super Dictionary, better known to the internet as the book where Lex Luther steals forty cakes. That's as many as four tens. And that's terrible.

Jessie:  lol my wedding? Just kidding! I tend to be pretty frugal so my bookish buys are prints under $20 or collector's editions. So maybe.. the first edition hardcover I bought of Silksinger? I don't regret it, though.


Jessie: Hmmm... Taylor Jenkins Reid? Amalia Carosella? Both are good and both need to be read more widely. Also: BRIAN STAVELEY. He's not exactly an unknown but damnit more people need to read The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne.

Dani: I'm really surprised Jeremy Whitley's Princeless hasn't made more waves in the community. It's the book I wish I had a time machine to go back and give to our fourth grade selves.


Dani: The Baudelaire orphans from A Series of Unfortunate Events. I always loved how the three kept moving forward and seeing the good in people.

Jessie: Ella from Ella Enchanted! One of the many many reasons I loved her as a kid and continue to love her as an adult.


Jessie: Please go read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas as soon as you can. That book is powerful and honest and painful.

 Dani: Jess stole my answer so I'm going to say all of Jennifer Mathieu's books, but mostly just go buy THUG


Jessie: This is my sign! :) And, as always, my answer for this is Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.

Dani: I'm also a rabbit. An older rabbit. A wiser rabbit? A romance-ier rabbit? I pick Steph Perkins' French Kiss series. All three are the epitome of sweet romances.


Jessie: How about my newest favorite nonfiction --- Rejected Princesses! It's not all royalty but there are some. Mostly it features badass women from history! With cartoons!

Dani: Going back to Princeless for this one. The story of a damsel in distress who saves herself from a tower and sets off to rescue her sisters, with side plots about the prince and queen and their gender defying talents.


Dani: Thinking YA, the first name that comes to mind is Cara from Alienated. It's not often we get to see a female prog be manipulative and ruthless in pursuit of her dreams and I think that's why this series sticks with me even as the author moves on.

Jessie: Gonna have to go with the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series -- is there a more manipulative fuck than Petyrphile-- I mean Petyr Baelish?


Jessie:  Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. A short slight book that makes so many points -- emotionally, logically -- and then just.. ends.

Dani: Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig. Though, what if not standalone, Caleb? What if NOT?



Jessie: I love the cover design for Sisters Red but I will never ever read it.


Jessie: HOID from the Cosmere! I mean he plays a deeper role than just comic relief but damn that man is a snarky bastard. See also: Wayne from the Mistborn second era books. Wayne is perfection.

Dani: Keeping the Sanderson theme, my answer is Syl and Rock from The Way of Kings/ Words of Radiance. 

Since this is a book tag,  and anyone else who wants to play. Instructions and downloads below. 
Thanks for checking out our Lunar New Year Book Tag! Are you guys celebrating Chinese or Lunar New Year? What are your traditions? What are your thoughts on my picks?


Two Minute Review: Daughter of the Pirate King by Trcia Levenseller

Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Title: Daughter of the Pirate King
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Genre: fantasy
Series: Daughter of the Pirate King #1
Pages: 320
Published: expected February 28 2017
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

A 17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling YA adventure.

If you want something done right . . .

When the ruthless pirate king learns of a legendary treasure map hidden on an enemy ship, his daughter, Alosa, knows there's only one pirate for the job—herself. Leaving behind her beloved ship and crew, Alosa deliberately facilitates her own kidnapping to ensure her passage on the ship, confident in her ability to overcome any obstacle. After all, who's going to suspect a seventeen-year-old girl locked in a cell? Then she meets the (surprisingly perceptive and unfairly attractive) first mate, Riden, who is charged with finding out all her secrets. Now it's down to a battle of wits and will . . . . Can Alosa find the map and escape before Riden figures out her plan?

Debut author Tricia Levenseller blends action, adventure, romance, and a little bit of magic into a thrilling YA pirate tale.

Impressive and fun! So much fun! Tricia Levenseller's first novel is an energetic whirl of banter, hate to love tropes, action, and tricky plotting. Fantasy and adventure combine to make a fresh and lively storyline with some dynamic characters. Daughter of the Pirate King is clever and amusing and zips along from chapter to chapter, never letting up on the entertainment. Lots of fun, plenty of action, and also featuring a fantastic main character in the titular Alosa. She's clever, capable, cutthroat; a woman with a plan for everything and every situation. To say this was a good beginning for the series is an understatement.

The voice in this is fantastic. Alosa carries the novel and she does so ably; she's smart, snarky, brash, and confident. It's easy to get caught up in her forthright and ambitious narration -- though admittedly she does read as much older than her stated 17 years. She's what you would expect from the daughter of a pirate king. From outsmarting older pirates to watching her match wits and exchange banter with her love interest, Alosa is unpredictable and engaging. She's fun to read and she makes up a large part of why Daughter of the Pirate King ends up the success it is.

ARC Book Haul

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

New month, new edelweiss drop and new NetGalley approvals!

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi (The Star-Touched Queen #2)

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson
Queer, There, And Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager
Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz

The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian
This Is How It Happened by Paula Stokes
Changes in Latitude by Jen Malone

Blight by Alexandra Duncan
Wicked Like A Wildfire by Lana Popovi
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

From Taylor Jenkins Reid comes an unforgettable and sweeping novel about one classic film actress’s relentless rise to the top—the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Filled with emotional insight and written with Reid’s signature talent, this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.



The Secret Life of a Blogger Tag

Monday, February 13, 2017

This book tag was from Ashley at Must Love Books.

How long have you been a blogger?

 I started this blog (under a different name) in April of 2011, so just about 6 years. I posted reviews on Goodreads for 4 months before that, but "officially" I go with April for my anniversary.

At what point will you stop blogging?

I don't know. Right now I am inclined to say as long as my free time allows it to be a hobby I will never give it up. I am relatively lucky that I don't work fulltime so I have plenty of energy/time to devote to this. Hopefully that never changes. This is something I really enjoy doing and that I seem to get better at the longer I keep at it.

What is the best thing about blogging? 

Well there's the obvious: I love getting to promote the books and authors I love. I love finding just the right book to recommend or to advise against (friends don't let friends read Goodkind!). 

But above all, I love the community I have found. It's given me a lot of perspective and friendships. It's genuinely made me a better person. BEA 2014 and BEA 2016 were so much fun for so many reasons, not just the ARCs/panels/etc.

What is the worst part? What do you do to make it okay? 

 It can feel like a bit of an echo chamber sometimes. We have a pretty good commenting group here (that I try to respond and reciprocate!) but it's frustrating when the posts you work hardest on get the smallest amount of attention.

How long does it take you to make/find pictures? 

 Well I am pretty lucky because Dani is a wizard and makes 99% of the graphics we use. Our signatures included. The few header images I use are just picmonkey collages or font + color. I'm as basic as they come XD

Who is your blog crush?

I don't think I have one! I really love the variety of design and coverage that I have cultivated over the last 6 years. I don't think I could pick a favorite.

What author would you like to have on your blog?

Laini Taylor? Except I would be a gibbering mess and make no coherent sense? Oh, just like when I met her in person, you mean.

What do you wear when you write your blog posts?

Normally pajamas. I tend to blog early in the morning on my days off or right after work while my husband is still working. I like to be comfy and that means GoT sweater and yoga pants.

How long does it take you to prepare? 

Not too long. I can write a review in under and hour most of the time and I tend to draft the post/review while still reading the book. Then, when I finish, all I have to do is iron out my thoughts, tweak the phrasing and then post.

How do you feel about the book blogger community? 

It's made my life a richer, and more aware. Books have always opened my eyes and now I can learn from all kinds of voices -- and not just in fiction.

What do you think one should do to get a successful blog? 

  • Content
If your blog is 90% memes, that's not helpful to your audience. There is nothing wrong with doing TTT, or WoW, or STS. But if that is all you post, with little to no reviews -- chances are I won't be following.

  • Originality
I like to hear someone's voice in what they write. I like for blogs to do things on their own and try for something new. Like Reader of Fiction's weekly Cover Snark posts - an original and awesome feature that Christina utilizes well.

  • Creativity
Do something out of the box! Get my attention! Let your bookish side show! Like Gillian at Writer of Wrongs Baking the Books idea. That's creative -- and it showcases a whole new side of Gillian.

  • Honesty
If you dislike a book, rate it accordingly. If all I see are 4 and 5-star reviews, I'm not going to view your reviews as accurate. No one loves every book they read. Even if you are the champ of DNFing, some books disappoint halfway through, or the ending falls flat. Be honest with how you feel.

  • Variety
People find favorite genres, but I am drawn more to blogs that feature more than just fantasy, or contemporary. Change it up! Variety is the spice of life. If you like and review sci fi, YA, contemporary, dystopia, and post-apocalyptic? I'm sold.

  • Humor 
I'm a sucker for anything funny. If you snark, or like puns, or can make creative post titles, I'm halfway to being a fan based on that alone. I do like solid, serious reviews, but not always. Some books deserve humor/snark/etc.

  • Lack of Captcha
Captcha is evil. No one likes it. And chances are, if you have it enabled, I won't be commenting... no matter how much I like your posts.

  • Reciprocity
Book blogging is all about the community. If you never comment back, or reply, I'm going to assume my time spent on your blog was wasted. You get what you give, and if you're a non-commenter, I probably won't put in the effort to comment on your posts.

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