Saturday, January 31, 2015

*Challenge Review* Outlier: Rebellion (Book 1) by Daryl Banner

Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian
Published: July 23, 2014
Pages: 518
Ages: 14+
(My estimate)


“Those in power will do whatever they can to get away with everything they can.”

Every citizen in Atlas, the last city on the planet, is born with a unique, special ability, and no one sleeps past the age of two.

Except for Wick Lesser who, at seventeen, still sleeps. Hiding this rare ability from the world, his father, who can calculate futures, trains him in self-defense and combat while his healing-gifted mother works an unglamorous job in the muds and keeps his secret safe with the help of Wick’s older brothers. The Lesser family of the ninth ward slums manages to keep afloat, suffering under the corrupt, greed-driven Kingship of the Lifted City.

But not for long.

In the first installment of the Outlier series, Wick’s unassuming slumborn life soon explodes into a full-speed adventure of danger, betrayal, and self-discovery when he secretly joins an underground rebel movement working to take down the oppressive ruling power. But the task is far from easy, and there are more adversaries than Wick can count. Not to mention the complication of an intense, unplanned attraction ... to someone on the wrong side of the rebellion.

Powerful forces are gathering to put an end to the uprising, including the city’s elite crew of law-enforcers called Guardian, of which Wick’s own two eldest brothers are sworn members, and all corners of the slums grow ever restless: a lustful boy with blackened eyes leads a violent street gang, with Wick’s younger brother as his newest recruit. A cunning orphaned girl whose ability is to be unseen, sees everything. And high up in the Lifted City, a privileged and wealthy boy yearns for an exciting new life in the slums.

Their world is at a precipice of great change. No one is safe. The rebellion has begun.

*** Contains adult themes, M/F and M/M sexuality, and violence.


This book was like a combination between The Hunger Games and Twilight for me, without the blood sucking. The Lifted City is clearly the Capital from Hunger Games, and the various wards that make up the slums are similar to the districts in the Hunger Games. The special abilities, or Legacies, that everyone is born with, seemed a lot like the special abilities that some of the vampires in Twilight possess, like Edwards ability to read minds or the little blonde psycho Volturi guard's ability to cause great pain with just a thought. Also like the vampires, no one sleeps. 

I LOVED this book. I wanted to just sit and devour it without getting up, and yet I found myself having to put it down after every two to three chapters because I needed time to absorb what I had read. I can't think of a time when that has ever happened to me before; where I wanted to keep reading but just couldn't do it because I needed time to wrap my head around everything I had just taken in. I do not consider this a bad thing.

The story itself is told in limited omniscient third person, rotating between characters (although not with a particular pattern). It was a great way to get inside many of the characters heads, albeit briefly every time, allowing us to see the events of the story from several different angles. And while there was a fairly large cast of characters, I never felt lost as to who was who. Each character had a very distinct voice, and the legacies also kind of helped to keep them straight in my mind because I always immediately thought, "That's the one who..." 

I thought the descriptions were excellent. I had no problem picturing the filth of the slums and the shine of the Lifted City. I was able to imagine most of the Legacies, except Forgemon's math, but math stopped making sense to me when I got to Trig, and that was 14 years ago, so I don't expect to be able to picture a math Legacy very well. 

Overall I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. It's a book that I would happily re-read and I imagine there are things I would pick up on in a second and third reading that I didn't notice in the first, you know, because I'd be starting with more knowledge. I would definitely recommend this to all dystopian fans because I cannot say enough good things about it. 

Buy the Book

My Challenge Scorecards

How does this book help me with my two challenges? For book bingo, it very clearly fulfills the dystopian category. That was not a category I was at all worried about filling because I pretty much love all things dystopian. For the Popsugar reading challenge, I used it to fulfill my "set in the future" requirement. I am a member of a Facebook group created specifically for the Popsugar reading challenge, and within the group, we are pretty much all in agreement that dystopian counts as set in the future since these dystopian worlds do not yet exist. 

Other Popsugar categories this would have fulfilled for me:
A book with more than 500 pages (according to Amazon)
A book a friend recommended
A book based entirely on it's cover (If I had just seen this cover, without the friend recommendations, I really would have wanted to read it anyway)
A book set in high school (portions of it take place in high school)
A book by an author I've never read before

Copy received in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, January 26, 2015

*Challenge Review* The Good Soldiers by David Finkel

Genre: Non-Fiction
Published: September 15, 2009
Pages: 287


It was the last-chance moment of the war. In January 2007, President George W. Bush announced a new strategy for Iraq. He called it the surge. “Many listening tonight will ask why this effort will succeed when previous operations to secure Baghdad did not. Well, here are the differences,” he told a skeptical nation. Among those listening were the young, optimistic army infantry soldiers of the 2-16, the battalion nicknamed the Rangers. About to head to a vicious area of Baghdad, they decided the difference would be them.

Fifteen months later, the soldiers returned home forever changed. Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter David Finkel was with them in Bagdad, and almost every grueling step of the way. 

What was the true story of the surge? And was it really a success? Those are the questions he grapples with in his remarkable report from the front lines. Combining the action of Mark Bowden’s Black Hawk Down with the literary brio of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, The Good Soldiers is an unforgettable work of reportage. And in telling the story of these good soldiers, the heroes and the ruined, David Finkel has also produced an eternal tale—not just of the Iraq War, but of all wars, for all time.


I bought a copy of this book not long after it was published. It took me almost six years to read it though because I was waiting for my husband to get out of the Army. This book was a difficult read for me, because it was personal. My husband was a member of the 2-16 during the surge in Iraq. So even though this story isn't specifically about him, this is his story. Reading this book brought back my own memories of the time while my husband was in the sandbox, so I wrote a companion post of those memories. You can find it here. 

So what did I think about this book? I pretty much hated it, but not because it's bad. I hated it because it put me in the soldiers shoes, showing me the blood, guts and the shit in Baghdad. I hated it because it made me relive every email I received from the FRG (Family Readiness Group) each time a member of the unit was killed with much more detail than we ever received in those emails. I hated it because it put me in the shoes of one of the wives that watched her husband suffer for months before he succumbed to his injuries because it reminded me that that could have been me. And I hated it because it felt so real that it frequently left me in tears. 

The only thing I liked about this book is that in spite of the fact that my husband has refused to talk to me much about his time in Iraq, I now feel a little bit more like I know what he went through. Overall I give it 5 out of 5 stars, because everything I hated about it, is just an indication of how good it is. This is one book that I think all Americans should probably read. 

Buy the Book

Reading Challenges

This book has been on my TBR pretty much since it was published, so it clearly fulfills the category of TBR pile for Book Bingo. I elected to use it for my non-fiction category on the Popsugar reading challenge. 

Other categories it could have filled for the Popsugar challenge are:
A book based on a true story
A book set in a different country
A book at the bottom of my to-read list (it's been there for 6 years after all)
A book that made me cry
A book by an author I've never read before
A book I owned but had never read
A book that I started but never finished (I'd originally tried to read this during my husband's second deployment. I quickly realized that was a really bad idea.)

*Companion Post* The Good Soldiers - Life of a Wife

I was twenty-two when I met my future husband in Manhattan, Kansas. I worked as a waitress at a local buffet restaurant and he was a soldier in the Army stationed at Ft. Riley, twenty miles away. In Kansas, 20 miles is nothing. We met at a club. According to him, he'd spent half the night watching me turn down guy after guy that tried to dance with me (I did frequently turn down guys when I was out dancing with my friends, so I can believe it). Eventually he said to his buddy, "You wanna see something funny?" and headed my way, fully believing that I would turn him down too. I didn't. We were married three months later at the courthouse on the Friday of Labor Day weekend. By Thanksgiving we knew when he was going to deploy.

We got up early one Tuesday morning in early February to head to base. I spent the morning sitting in his "office" which was just a small space inside a cage, while my husband made sure he had all the equipment he needed. My husband was communications support in an infantry unit. It was his job to help make sure the radios were working before missions. I wanted to believe that meant he would never leave the base, but he was also a humvee driver. In the end, he spent more time off the base than he did on it.

Before the soldiers even got on the buses to head to the gym for a final briefing, I ended up in my car, bawling my eyes out because I couldn't hold the tears back anymore. At that point, I was pretty sure I was going to be one of the unlucky spouses that never saw her husband alive again. I cried most of the way home too, until the tears dried up. I don't remember what I did for the rest of the day, but I think I went back to bed and slept until I just couldn't sleep any more.

After my husband left, I threw myself into work, putting in sixty hour weeks, pulling doubles most days, rarely ever taking a day off, because I couldn't bear to be home alone. I slept on the couch for the entire fourteen months that he was gone, with the t.v. on all night, so the apartment would never be quiet. I sent my husband a Myspace message every night, a letter every week, and a package twice every month. I was lucky to hear from him once a week, usually via a Myspace message, but sometimes we would be able to chat on Yahoo Messenger or he would have the chance to call me. He could text my phone from Yahoo Messenger, so I took to walking around with my hand in my apron pocket at work whenever I could, so I would feel it vibrate if he got online. If he called while I was at work I'd sneak into the store room to talk to him for a couple minutes before I got back to work. Sometimes I was lucky and he'd call while I was in the back doing my side work. I'd immediately go clock out and then finish my work while talking to my husband. Sometimes my manager would catch me talking on the phone while doing my side work and he'd gripe even though I'd already clocked out, but I didn't care. I was not missing the chance to talk to my husband. I missed a lot of phone calls too, because I couldn't always get back to the store room in time to answer.

I avoided base like the plague while my husband was gone, although I'd basically avoided it before he left too, so that wasn't really a big change. I just didn't really have a reason to go there, because there wasn't much that I could buy on base that I couldn't get at Wal-Mart, Target or Dillons. I did go to base one time, though, to buy some new PT shirts for my husband. The soldiers could buy PT shirts at their PX in Iraq, but the size selection wasn't always very diverse, and my husbands size was one of the ones that they basically never had.

The day my husband was supposed to be home for his R&R, I was woken up by a phone call at about 9 a.m. It was my husband telling me he'd be in Kansas City in an hour. He wasn't supposed to be getting in until about 4 that afternoon, but they'd gotten bumped up to an earlier flight in Dallas. The plan had been for me to pick him up at 4 at the Manhattan airport, and I could still do that, or I could get my butt in the car and pick him up in KC, six hours earlier. The only problem is that the KC airport was a 2 hour and 15 minute drive away from our apartment. Somehow I managed to get dressed, do my make-up and get to the airport in an hour and forty minutes because I was the idiot on the interstate doing 90. My husbands flight had just landed when I got there and I got to see him walk off the plane. That had been my goal. I think putting him on the plane to go back after his leave was even harder than watching him get on the bus to leave back in February. I even had strangers at the airport hugging me because I couldn't contain my tears.

In December portions of Riley and Geary counties were covered in ice, including Manhattan and Ft. Riley. The ice hung heavy on the trees, breaking off branches and pulling down power lines. My apartment was without power for almost 4 whole days. I got a call from Rear D on the second day, asking if I had power. I said no. They told me I should come to post because they had cots set up for families without power. I lied and said I was staying at my brothers place that still had power. My brothers apartment did still have power, but I wasn't staying there. I did go there to shower and recharge my phone a couple times while my power was out though. On the other two nights that I wasn't at my brother's apartment when the power was out, I took a book to Village Inn to eat and read in the warmth and light until I figured I was tired enough to fall asleep at home. Then I'd huddle up on the couch under seven blankets until I fell asleep. On the 14th, my birthday, I still didn't have power when I left the apartment to go to the bars with my brother to celebrate. When I got home, I had power. The next day I left for a week to spend time with my in-laws before the holidays.

In early April I finally got the call I'd been waiting for. The one to tell me that my husband was going to be home at 3 pm in two days, less than 48 hours after receiving the call, because that's all the notice we were allowed. The next day at work I was lucky to have the section of the restaurant where most of the regular customers always sat. I spent my day in a cloud telling them all that my husband was coming home tomorrow. I had just over 24 hours left until I would see him. I was talking to one table of regulars when I felt my phone vibrate. I glanced in my pocket and didn't recognize the number. "I think I need to answer this," I said to them as I crouched down between them so hopefully if my boss came out of his office he wouldn't notice me talking on my phone. I was right and I did need to answer it. It was Rear D calling to tell me that the return ceremony had been moved up to 3 am instead of 3 pm. I literally squealed. I had another table that wasn't composed of regular customers and they had just seen me answer my phone while I was supposed to be working. I was not expecting a tip from them, because they had not received very good service. They had however, overheard me telling my other tables that my husband was coming home and tipped me anyway. One of them even congratulated me on getting my husband home. I'm glad they understood my distraction.

I didn't go to sleep that night. I was far too excited to even think about getting a few hours of sleep before heading to the ceremony. Instead, at 1 am, I was dress, with my hair and make-up done, just waiting for my mother-in-law and her boyfriend to get to my place so we could go to the ceremony together. We wanted to get there early to get good seats, and we were in the front row of the bleachers with at least an hour until the guys would arrive. They were playing a slideshow of pictures of the guys from the deployment to keep us entertained while we waited. Then the soldiers filed in. Once I saw my husband I kept my eyes trained on him. We'd chosen our seats exceptionally well because he was basically straight in front of us, a few rows back in the formation for the brief fifteen minute ceremony that still felt like it took way too long. Then he was in my arms and everything was alright again, well mostly.

And that's most of my deployment experience, and I probably had it easier than most. My brother lived in the same town as me, and I was only 2 hours away from my parents. I had friends at work so I could avoid base without feeling completely isolated. I had some bad days at work when the National Guard and Reserve soldiers would come in to eat during drill weekend. If I'd heard from my husband recently, seeing them wasn't a problem. If it had been days since the last time we talked, I just wanted to hide in the back until they were gone. One evening when I wasn't working, my next door neighbor scared me. I'd heard a knock on my door and I basically never got visitors that knocked (my brother would just walk right in, because that's what family does). I looked through the peephole to see a soldier in ACU's. My heart dropped into my stomach as I opened the door, expecting bad news. Instead I got a package that UPS had left with him because I wasn't home when they'd tried to deliver it. I vaguely remembered the slip they'd left stuck to my door four days before, but I always got home from work so late that I wasn't about to knock on a soldiers door just to get a package. I wish he would have changed out of his uniform before knocking on mine though.

I had regular Monday night dinner dates at Chipotle with my brother. I'd go out to the bars or parties anytime my brother or friends invited me. I worked a lot. Basically, I did everything I could to take my mind off the fact that my husband was possibly being shot at. I spent 14 months trying to pretend that I wasn't terrified that my husband would be one of the unfortunate ones to come home in a box. Does my experience even begin to compare to his? Not in the least. My experience doesn't even begin to compare with that of the spouses that did receive those horrible phone calls, but I can't write about their experiences, because I didn't live them. This is what I lived, and these are the memories that reading The Good Soldiers brought back to my mind.

 Photos from top to bottom:
My husband on the right and the buddy he was trying to make laugh the night we met.
My husband and I shortly before he got on a bus to head to his final briefing before leaving.
A photo from shortly after the ice storm hit. All the trees in town were coated like this.
My husband sitting on the door of a humvee eating beef jerky in Iraq.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

*Review* Zombie Reign by Tim Miller

Genre: Horror/Comedy
Published: January 13, 2015
Pages: 106
Ages: 14+
(My estimate)


Clarence Ringo is a movie director. Well, no he isn't but he wants to be! He has convinced himself and numerous others around him that he has written the next great Zombie blockbuster: Zombie Reign. But there are a few problems. Clarence has never directed a film in his life and hasn't actually written anything. That will not stop him though! 

He proceeds with hiring cast and crew while promising them fame and riches beyond their wildest imaginations. After all, if you want something badly enough, you should go for it, right? Clarence does just that until things start to go wrong. Soon everything begins to fall apart as each of his lies start to crumble. From people dying on set, to having to kill in order to see his delusion through, Clarence will stop at nothing to bring his fake vision to life. 

Will Clarence be able to keep it all together in order to create his fake vision? Probably not, but he's not about to let that stop him! Zombie! Reign!


This is a fairly short book, it only took about two hours to read, and I basically sat down and didn't get up again until I'd finished it (thankfully I waited to start it until after my children were in bed asleep.) I was immediately sucked into the story, although I believe that's due in part to my previous knowledge of the events that inspired it. I would strongly recommend you check out for all of the interesting updates on Zombie Reign (the movie) before you read this book. 

This story is told in third person, and jumps around between cast members, which allows us to see the story from several different angles. However, with all the jumping around, I never really felt a connection with any of them. A few of them frequently left me feeling appalled, but never connected. 

This book is largely dialogue driven and doesn't have a whole lot of lengthy descriptions, which can make it a little difficult to picture the scenes, although it also gives your imagination more free reign to decide what the characters and settings look like, so you can create your own fake movie in your head. The dialogue comes off as a little bit cheesy, but that's pretty typical for satire. It also seems a little absurd at times, but I think that's actually the point since the dialogue is at its most absurd when Clarence or Lisa are talking. 

My biggest complaint is that there were several spelling/grammar errors in this story. They didn't completely interfere with the flow, but at times they were a little jarring. For anyone that frequently reads my reviews, you know that means I will be detracting one star from my rating for this.

Overall I give this story 3.5 out of 5 stars. I did thoroughly enjoy it, but the lack of character connection and spelling/grammar errors are an issue for me. I would recommend this book to readers that are also fans of movie parodies. 

Buy the Book

Reading Challenges

I was able to use this book to fulfill some of my reading challenge categories. I elected to use it for my single new release spot in Book Bingo and since I read it in a day, it's filling that category for the Popsugar reading challenge. 

Other categories it could have filled for Popsugar include:
A book published this year
A book based on a true story (sort of)
A book by an author I've never read before

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

*Review* Fae: The Realm of Twilight by Graham Austin-King

Genre: Fantasy
Published: December 7, 2014
Pages: 352
Ages: 14+
(My Estimate)


The Riven Wyrde Saga continues with Fae - The Realm of Twilight. 

The Wyrde is dead and gone, its protection passed into the ether. The fae have been loosed upon the world as they begin their wild hunt, a nightmare from fables and legend made flesh. 

At Hesk, in the heart of the Barren Isles Ylsriss must confront a reality she never could have imagined when her son is stolen from her by the fae. Her desperate attempts to reclaim him lead her far from this world and deep into the Realm of Twilight where a still darker truth awaits her. 

As the Bjornmen invaders drive their way deeper into Anlan, King Pieter refuses to act. Selena is forced to confront him directly even as Devin and Obair flee Widdengate and begin a search for answers, seeking help from a woman who may little be more than a memory.


It has been eight months since I read Fae: The Wild Hunt (the first book in this series) and normally for a series with this scope, re-reading the previous books is mandatory for me to feel up to speed with the storyline after a break that long. I didn't find that to be the case with Fae: The Realm of Twilight. I was thrown a little at first, until I realized that the character I was following wasn't one of the major players from the Wild Hunt (although he is a major player in Realm of Twilight). Once I had that realization, I was immediately back in the world that Graham Austin-King created in Wild Hunt. 

I was once again struck by how similar Austin-King's storytelling is to that of George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series. Austin-King weaves a story together, while following several different characters as their lives are affected by both the Fae and each other. I frequently found myself frustrated by the characters actions because as an outsider it's clear to me what they should be doing, and they're just not doing it. I have hope that they will see the error of their ways in the next installment of this series. 

I already knew most of the characters from Wild Hunt, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend more time with them, although I'm starting to question the role one of them has played. I am once again left with some unanswered questions, which just make me that much more anxious for the next book in the series. 

Overall I give this book 5 out of 5 stars, because it immediately pulled me in and transported me back into Austin-King's world and left me desperately wanting the next book. I would still recommend this series to fantasy fans and readers of The Song of Ice and Fire series. - Katie

*Note: If you found this review helpful, I would love it if you would vote it as such on Amazon

Buy the Book

Other books in this series

Title: Fae: The Wild Hunt (Book 1)
Genre: Fantasy
Published: March 9, 2014
Pages: 332
Ages: 14+
(My estimate)


Faeries... The fae... The stuff of bedtime stories and fables. 

But sometimes the faerie tales are true. Sometimes they are a warning... 

For a hundred generations the fae have been locked away from the world, in the cold, the Outside. They have faded out of sight and mind, into myth and folklore. But now the barriers are weakening and they push against the tattered remnants of the wyrde as they seek a way to return. 

As a new religion spreads across the world, sweeping the old ways and beliefs away before it, a warlike people look across the frozen ocean towards the shores of Anlan, hungry for new lands. War is coming, even as the wyrde of the Droos is fading. 

As the fae begin to force their way through the shreds of the wyrde, will mankind be able to accept the truth concealed in the tales of children in time to prepare for the Wild Hunt?


I was blown away by this book. I stayed up until almost four in the morning trying to finish it before giving in to exhaustion with three percent of the book left (lame, I know. I should have just finished it then.) Fae - The Wild Hunt is like A Game of Thrones with more mythical creatures. Most of the action and intrigue is human based, but we get hints of supernatural elements here and there. This book has a fairly large cast of characters, but we meet them slowly and get to know them pretty well before we are introduced to new people, so it's not hard at all to keep all the characters straight.

I detracted one star from my rating for excessive typographical/grammatical errors. They are not completely riddled through the book, but there are enough to make an impression on me and quite glaring when they do occur.

I would definitely recommend this book to fans of the Song of Ice and Fire series, and other fantasy and maybe paranormal fans.

*Note: This is my review as shown on Amazon as I did not do a blog review for this book. If you found this review helpful I would love it if you would vote it as such on Amazon. I have also heard from the author that the book has been re-edited since my review was posted to correct spelling and grammar errors. I have not yet had time to do a re-read to verify this. 

Buy the Book

I am using this book as my one book in a series for the Book Bingo challenge. I will be using Fae: The Wild Hunt for one of my re-reads (soon I hope). 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Batman: Attack of the Fans

If you follow this blog regularly, which I recently found out there are some of you that actually follow the blog through blogger (which totally made my day and you guys are awesome!), then you may remember my challenge review of the graphic novel Batman. Well, I post all of my reviews on Amazon (when I remember, I do have some that I need to get transferred over still from when I didn't have internet for months), and apparently comic book fanboys don't like it when people who don't usually read comic books review them on Amazon. The thing is, I had an additional reason for posting this review on Amazon, and it's that I won the book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program, and part of the reason for that program is to get reviews of books on Amazon and Goodreads. It's not a requirement, because they can't realistically require it, but it's the right thing to do. 

I honestly don't object to people down voting this review. Sure, it's going to hurt my ranking a little, but not much. I honestly don't feel that what I have to say would be helpful to a comic book fanboy (or girl) in their decision to purchase this book. And I think I made it very clear in my review that I don't have experience with the genre. Because I made it clear that I'm not familiar with the genre, I don't think that my review is going to damage the books reputation, and the only people it might prevent from purchasing the book are others like me that do not typically read graphic novels (and I really doubt someone looking to start is going to be looking at Volume 5.) So why do these fanboys feel the need to attack my review? 

This person has two reviews posted on Amazon, neither of them are for a graphic novel of any sort, not even this one. Maybe that indicates that he doesn't feel qualified to write reviews to begin with, or maybe he's just better at trying to tear other people's opinions down than he is at writing opinions of his own. I don't really know. 

Now this guy feels that attacking the types of books I typically read is the best course of action...and yet only 3 of my last 20 reviews on Amazon are for "sex novels," and one of those only got 2 stars because it was just not good. Yes, I do have trouble following text boxes in comic books. I'm accustomed to a left to right, top to bottom formula for reading, and comic books don't always follow that formula. Beyond that, they don't even follow the same formula throughout the book. This book in particular had one part where the dialogue crossed over to the righthand page at the top before coming back to the lefthand page to continue, and for someone that doesn't read a lot of comic books, that is confusing. Or maybe it's just me, but I was honest about it being an issue for me.

One thing this graphic novel didn't require though, was a lot of critical thinking, because almost everything you read in a graphic novel is dialogue. You don't even have to turn words into pictures in your head, because the pictures are right in front of you. I am so glad that someone who reads picture books is criticizing my critical thinking skills. Additional note, he only has 5 reviews posted on Amazon, none of them for a graphic novel, not even this one.

It should be noted that I could find no evidence on Facebook of the author sharing this review, so it's possible that these comments are coming from people that are browsing Amazon, and not necessarily street team members that feel the need to defend their authors honor (which for you street team members out there, that is a horrible thing to do. It does turn people off of your favorite author's books.)

What I want to know, is why do people feel it's okay to attack someone on Amazon simply for sharing their opinion of a product? What makes it okay to publicly degrade their choice of reading material? And if you have nothing constructive to contribute about a product yourself, why try to tear down the contributions of others? Do you think that attacking me for my review will get me to take it down? (If that's the case, these people clearly don't know how stubborn I can be.)

At this point I'm tempted to change my rating to the 1 star that the book really earned from me. If I'm going to be attacked for my opinion anyway, it might as well be for a review and rating that actually affects the books rating, right? But that would be petty, about as petty as this blog post (yes, I realize this blog post is petty).

If you read this, please do not go engage on the review on Amazon, because the last thing I want is my fans to act as poorly as these guys have acted. I just really needed to get this off my chest. And I really do enjoy the sounds my fingers make tapping on the keyboard. - Katie

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

*Challenge Review* Graphic Novel - Batman: Zero Year - Dark City by Scott Snyder

If you read most of my blog posts, then you know that this year I am participating in two different reading challenges. The first one is from Popsugar, with 50 different categories that will result in 52 books being read (because one of the categories is a trilogy). The second is a book bingo challenge I found on Thoughts From the Midwest blog that will result in a total of 46 books being read. I feel confident in my ability to finish both of these challenges as there is a fair amount of overlap, and the book bingo is pretty flexible. 

The aspect of these challenges that I figured I would have the most difficult time with was the graphic novel, so I wanted to get that out of the way first. I was never a comic book reader, and that's what a graphic novel really is, just a big comic book, with sections that resemble chapters. This experience has not converted me. 

Genre: Graphic Novel
Published: October 15, 2014
Pages: 240
Ages: 12+
(My Estimate)


Before the Batcave and Robin, The Joker and the Batmobile, there was ZERO YEAR. The Riddler has plunged Gotham City into darkness. How will a young Dark Knight bring his beloved hometown from the brink of chaos and madness and back into the light? This final ZERO YEAR volume collects BATMAN #25-27 and 29-33.


How does a person review a graphic novel? Should I review it like I would a children's book, since there are pictures? Or should I review it like I would a "normal" book because it uses the word "novel." I'm guessing I should probably do a little bit of both. 

The illustrations (is that what they're called in comic books?) were well done, I think, although I had a really hard time dealing with the high and tight on Batman. My exposure to Batman prior to this was entirely through movies and cartoons, but in all of those that I've seen, Batman has had more hair than your average soldier. Talking about it, this seems silly, but it really was a big deal to me while I was reading. Beyond that, the pictures were crisp, and when I remembered that I was actually supposed to be looking at them, they did a pretty good job of helping to tell the story. 

The writing is where I tend to have issues with comic books/graphic novels. Sometimes I have a hard time figuring out which little box I'm supposed to read next, and if you don't read them in the right order, the story doesn't make much sense. I think this is something that may just take practice, because it seemed to get easier to figure out as I got further into the book, but it's not a skill I have any desire to practice because I am just not really a fan of comic books/graphic novels.

Overall I give this book 3 out of 5 stars because I didn't really enjoy it, and had a difficult time reading it due to it's nature, but I am not a normal reader of the genre, so I don't really feel like I am qualified to rate it, so it gets the neutral rating. 

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Other Categories this book would fit:

A book you can finish in a day
A book with a number in the title
A book set in a different country (technically since I'm in Germany)
A book at the bottom of your to-read list (won it through Goodreads)
A book by an author you've never read before
A book you own but have never read
A book that became a movie (Kind of, I think, maybe)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

*Review* Falling Away by Penelope Douglas

Genre: Erotic Romance
Published: January 6, 2015
Pages: 429
Ages: 18+


Jaxon is the guy she’s supposed to avoid. K.C. is the girl he won’t let get away....

K. C. Carter has always followed the rules—until this year, when a mistake leaves her the talk of her college campus and her carefully arranged life comes crashing to a halt. Now she’s stuck in her small hometown for the summer to complete her court-ordered community service, and to make matters worse, trouble is living right next door.

Jaxon Trent is the worst kind of temptation and exactly what K.C. was supposed to stay away from in high school. But he never forgot her. She was the one girl who wouldn’t give him the time of day and the only one to ever say no. Fate has brought K.C. back into his life—except what he thought was a great twist of luck turns out to be too close for comfort. As they grow closer, he discovers that convincing K.C. to get out from her mother’s shadow is hard, but revealing the darkest parts of his soul is nearly impossible.…


I don't think it's a secret that Penelope Douglas and her debut novel Bully are the reason that I read indie books now. I have been a Penelope Douglas fan since the beginning, so I was really looking forward to Jax's story, and Douglas did not disappoint, mostly. 

Of all the books in the Fall Away series, this one has the most intense character backstories. We first met Jax in Bully as Jared's younger half-brother. In Until You we learned that life with their father was bad, but we don't really get a whole lot of details about it. Prepare yourself for some really gritty details because Douglas does not hold back to spare our feelings. These details were peppered throughout the story, a small piece here, a tiny tidbit there, making me want to skip ahead to get the full story, and if I'd had a paperback version of the book, I would have. The suspense drove me to drink. 

K.C. has always seemed so put together, and in Falling Away we find out why, and boy is it messed up. Honestly, I don't feel like I can talk about K.C.'s background without spoilers, so that is all I'm going to say on the matter. But if you are in the K.C. is a major b*tch camp (which almost everyone that has read Bully is), be advised that she will redeem herself to you in Falling Away. 

In spite of perfectly adequate descriptions to the contrary, I still picture Jax as the scrawny kid that he was in Bully. To be fair though, my 25 year old sister is still 16 in my mind and I see her on FaceTime on a fairly regular basis. So this book made me feel incredibly pervy because holy hell I WANT Jax, at least in bed. I could honestly do without his still juvenile behavior. But that boy knows his way around a female body and it is no wonder he snagged Douglas' first erotica tag. It was well earned.

Like all of Douglas' couples so far, when K.C. and Jax get together, it is explosive. There's fighting, and drama, and painful history. And I realized while reading Falling Away that the basic plot for all three stories is the same. Boy likes girl, boy is mean to girl, girl fights back, boy and girl do the dirty. I thoroughly enjoyed that plot in Bully, and the step-sibling taboo kind of masked it from me in Rival, but some of the interactions between Jax and K.C. just felt way too much like Jared and Tate for me even though they are very different characters. 

Overall I give Falling Away 4 out of 5 stars. The backstory and characterization were superb, the suspense kept me turning the pages, and I had to keep a fan handy to cool things down periodically. If you enjoyed Bully and Rival, you will almost certainly love Falling Away. 

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About the Author

Penelope Douglas is a writer living in Las Vegas. Born in Dubuque, Iowa, she is the oldest of five children. Penelope attended the University of Northern Iowa, earning a Bachelor's degree in Public Administration, because her father told her to "just get the damn degree!" She then earned a Masters of Science in Education at Loyola University in New Orleans, because she HATED public administration. One night, she told the bouncer at the bar where she worked that his son was hot, and three years later she was married. To the son, not the bouncer. They have spawn, but just one. A daughter named Aydan. Penelope loves sweets, The 100, and she shops at Target almost daily.

Bully (Fall Away #1) is her first book, published June 2013. The companion novel, Until You, was released in December 2013 and Rival in August of 2014. Please look for Falling Away on Jan. 6, 2015 and Aflame April 21, 2015.

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Sunday, January 4, 2015

*Pre-Release Blast and Giveaway* Falling Away by Penelope Douglas


Jaxon is the guy she’s supposed to avoid. K.C. is the girl he won’t let get away....

K. C. Carter has always followed the rules—until this year, when a mistake leaves her the talk of her college campus and her carefully arranged life comes crashing to a halt. Now she’s stuck in her small hometown for the summer to complete her court-ordered community service, and to make matters worse, trouble is living right next door.

Jaxon Trent is the worst kind of temptation and exactly what K.C. was supposed to stay away from in high school. But he never forgot her. She was the one girl who wouldn’t give him the time of day and the only one to ever say no. Fate has brought K.C. back into his life—except what he thought was a great twist of luck turns out to be too close for comfort. As they grow closer, he discovers that convincing K.C. to get out from her mother’s shadow is hard, but revealing the darkest parts of his soul is nearly impossible.


Here is an excerpt from chapter 6 of Falling Away

As he made his way back through town, the only sound we could hear was the water on the streets being kicked up under the tires. He’d silenced the radio, we weren’t talking . . . and I felt as if he’d switched off. 
Everything had felt alive when he kissed me. His heart under my palm. His breath in my mouth. His hands roaming over my skin as if they were trying to memorize every inch of me. 
Now he was a bullet. Going from point A to point B without hesitation. 
Until his flat tone finally filled the car. “Come home with me.” It wasn’t a question, and I couldn’t hear a trace of emotion. 
I turned to him, stunned. “Are you serious?” I asked. “I don’t think I’d be enough for you.”
“Don’t do that,” he shot back. “Don’t ruin what happened between us. You were fire in my hands, and I want you to remember it, K.C.” 
I could feel his eyes on me as I clasped the strap of Tate’s messenger bag sitting on the floor. 
“Clothed, naked, I don’t care . . . ” He trailed off, sounding almost sad. “As long as your lips are on me again.”
I shifted in the seat, trying to buy myself time. What I wanted and what I should do were two different things. I’d fought that battle with Liam, my mother, and hell, the list went on. It was true when I told Jax that I wanted to be a mess. But I didn’t want to get hurt. 
“Thanks for the lesson,” I said. “And the ride. But I’m not like you, Jax. I don’t just ignore the rules and take what I want.”
“You don’t know me.” His tone turned defensive. “You know nothing about me.”
“And what do you know about me?” I threw back. “Other than you wanted me to spread my legs in high school? You want to have fun with me and nothing more, Jax. Find someone else.”
He jerked the steering wheel to the right, and I grabbed the door handle to keep from vaulting over to his side of the car as he sped up into his driveway. 
My heart jumped into my throat, and I shot out my hand, grabbing the dash when he skidded to a quick halt in front of his garage. 
“Jax, Jesus!” I scolded. 
He shut off the car, yanked the parking brake up, and turned to look at me, leaning his forearm on the steering wheel. “You think I don’t know you?” he challenged. 
I pursed my lips. “Other than that I’m gutless and helpless, no.”
He shook his head. “You want to travel. To unusual and dangerous places. You hid a binder full of National Geographic pages in your locker in high school because you didn’t want your mom to see all the pictures you’d torn out to keep track of the places you wanted to visit.”
My jaw dropped slightly, and I widened my eyes. What? 
He continued. “You didn’t eat lunch for an entire month senior year, because you saw Stu Levi not eating and found out his single mom was out of work and couldn’t afford to put money on his lunch card. So you put your own money on it. Anonymously.”
How did . . . ? 
“You love dark chocolate,” he kept going, “Ricky Gervais, and any movie with singing and dancing.” His voice filled the car, and my heartbeat was in my ears. “Except The Wizard of Oz, because the witch freaks you out, right? And you’ve collected almost an entire set of vintage Nancy Drew books. You had the most badges in your troop in Girl Scouts, and you had to quit swimming when you were fourteen because your mom said that your shoulders were getting too muscular and you wouldn’t look feminine. You loved swimming,” he added. 
I wrapped my arms around my stomach, the air turning cold. Tate and Liam didn’t even know all that. 
“I didn’t drool all over you in high school, K.C. I listened to you. I paid attention to you. What the hell do you know about me?”
And he swung the car door open, climbed out, and slammed it shut, not waiting for an answer. 
I sat there, watching him walk into his house and close the door. 
Then the tears spilled over, and as much as I wanted to prove him wrong, I couldn’t go after him. He didn’t know that I’d watched him, too. He didn’t know that I’d paid attention as well. 
I always saw him. 

“Music centers you,” I whispered to an empty car, staring at his front door. “You listened to your iPod between classes and while you sat on the bleachers before school every morning.” I smiled, letting more tears run down my cheeks and thinking back to him and his black hoodies, looking so dark. “You love popcorn. Almost every kind and flavor but especially with Tabasco sauce,” I said, remembering the times he would come into the theater where I worked. “You hold the door open for women—students, teachers, and even old ladies coming out of Baskin-Robbins. You love movies about natural disasters, but they have to have some comedy in them. Your favorite one is Armageddon.” I swallowed and thought about how little I’d ever seen Jax truly smile. “And while you love computers, it’s not your passion,” I concluded. “You love being outdoors. You love having space.” My whole face hurt, the last words barely audible. “And you deserve someone who makes you happy. I’m just not that person.”

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Author Bio

Penelope Douglas was born in Dubuque, Iowa and has a Masters of Science in Education from Loyola University in New Orleans. She lives with her family in Las Vegas.