All the Feels- By Danika Stone

All the FeelsAll the Feels by Danika Stone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OMG! All the feels!! Normally I am not a romance reader. However, the title of this book was so enticing that I had to grab it. It did not disappoint. This book was hard core geek wrapped in squees and swoon worthy dialog.

College Freshman Liv, is navigating the trials of newly won adulthood while still under her mother’s roof. When her favorite character of all time is killed off she is left a pile of sobbing fangirl desperation. Determined to bring him back she launches #SpartanSurvived with her steampunk loving (and totally gorgeous) best friend Xander. The tag takes on a life of its own much to the chagrin of her mother who thinks that this fandom thing needs to die yesterday. Now Liv must balance college classes, an online rebellion, her mother’s nagging, and her budding feelings for her best friend.

What I loved-

This is book sums up fandom, feels, online obsession, and geekdom in the most perfect way possible. I loved Liv. She is awkward and determined without becoming the typical Mary Sue of her own story. I could totally relate to her love of Starveil because I am an epic fangirl of all things Star Wars.

Xander… wow.. um not a romance girl here but dang bring on the swoons! He is dreamy and chivalrous. I found myself blushing during some of the dialog! Who wouldn’t love him?!

DragonCon.. Hello, yes.. this is exactly what it feels like to be at your first con. Especially for someone with a touch of social anxiety. You totally feel at home with your people, but at the same time there are so many of them that you want to run screaming for the door. It is overwhelming in the best and worst ways possible. The author does a fantastic job of describing what it is actually like.

Online fandoms.. YES!!! This is what happens when you meet someone you have only talked to online. Sometimes it’s awesome and sometimes you are thrown for a huge loop! Loved this part!

The romance.. Hello steamy without being smut! This book has been mentioned under the umbrella of New Adult. At first this was a bit of a turn off for me. Many of the New Adult books can be pretty hardcore leaving little to the imagination. Thankfully this one manages to stay fairly clean with no sex scenes. It does have some really steamy dialog and blush worthy kissing moments but manages to stay pretty PG-13. I would not have a problem recommending this to my high school students.

Mild issues-

There are a few plot holes. Mostly involving her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. (Who is just icky!) Another involves the actor from Starveil. That one left me hanging. I won’t say anymore because I feel like it would give away the big twist!

Final thoughts-

This is the book that all fangirls should read. It nails fandom and feels perfectly. The romance is real and not rushed even though it’s sooo dreamy! I adored this book and will be recommending it to all my geek girls who need a mostly clean romance with plenty of swoon!

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February Favorites and completing book challenges..

yes we crab

I was invited to a book challenge at work called “Yes we crab.” The goal is to read a select number of books and then work on your blogging habits during the month of February. I decided to try and read 20 books and blog once a week. Needless to say, I didn’t make it. Thankfully this is a low key challenge and nobody is going to come and get me for not finishing. I am happy to say that I did read 10 books and I blogged twice. It was a bit more challenging because I chose lengthy YA chapter books to complete. Usually I am pretty hard on myself with book challenges but this time I am actually pretty proud that I got though half of what I wanted to complete. February was a busy month at work and in my personal life so reading 10 books was pretty awesome!

Most of the time I avoid book challenges. They tend to make me anxious and feel like a bit of a failure when I don’t finish them. Plus, in 2015 I was stuck in the worst book slump ever. I had picked up a few books that were just terrible. After that nothing was appealing and I was burned out.  Completing a book challenge sounded like torture.

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However, “Yes we crab” was a simple enough challenge without the usual guilt trip. This month I am doing my own personal book challenge and calling it the “Clean sweep.” I have stacks of galley books and a huge TBR pile that keeps staring at me from my crowded shelves. I hope that I can clean up at least 15 of them before the month of March ends. Feel free to join. I don’t have any fancy hashtags but you are welcome to tweet me about what you are reading from your own piles. @MsVal313

Here is what I read in February.

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Full list:

The Night Parade by Kathryn Tanquary: (4.5 stars) If you are a fan of the Studio Ghibli films then this is the book for you. It is charming and full of adventure. I really liked this one! (Full review coming soon)

The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins: (3.5 stars) This book is filled with action and lots of romance. Perfect for those teen readers that love to gush over handsome boys and daring deeds. While the romance was not my favorite (so not a romance reader), I did love the action. Aerity is a strong female character that I actually liked despite her brush with insta-love.

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by  Sarvenaz Tash: (4.5 stars) A geeky love story that unfolds at New York City Comic Con. Follow 4 teens as they profess their love for artists, authors, and each other in this fun coming of age story.

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi: (3 stars) The words in this book are rich and enthralling like the tapestry they describe. Blending Greek mythology and takes from India, the author takes you on a twisted tale full of colorful characters and plotting demons.

The Red Wing by Jonathan Hickman: (2 stars) This one was just weird. Too much story and not enough book. Very heavy handed on the message of “leave the world a better place.” This easily could have been a longer series. Very disappointed that it’s just one book.

 

Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Nathan Fairbairn: (3.5 stars) This one was pretty fun. I enjoyed reading an adult graphic novel. Lots of humor, plenty of adulting, and the graphics are fab.

Trail of the Dead (Killer of Enemies #2) by Joseph Bruchac: (3 stars) This book took me a few weeks. It was not as good as the first in the series and I kept putting it down. I did love the story of Coyote and the additional Native American mythology. That part of the story was very well done.

We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen: (2 stars) This one frustrated me! The characters read way younger than they really are and there are too many themes for such a short book. I don’t know who I would recommend this too because it is complicated mess.

The Isolator, Vol. 1 (The Isolator #1) by Reki Kawahara: (3 stars)  This was my first trip into the “light novel” world. It wasn’t horrible and the story was fairly good. Not a series that I would likely continue but one that I would recommend to my anime fans.

The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2) by Renee Ahdieh: (5 stars) The Wrath and the Dawn was my absolute favorite read of 2015. I have been anxiously awaiting the final book after a heart wrenching cliffhanger!
This book was everything I wanted it to be. The story is rich and complex just like the first with humor, thrills, daring deeds, strong female characters, and a lush romance. I love what Renee Ahdieh has done with story of “A Thousand and One Arabian Nights.” The ending was almost perfect.

Best wishes on your March reading list!! Feel free to join the “Clean Sweep!”

 

 

 

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love- By Sarvenaz Tash

The Geek's Guide to Unrequited LoveThe Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars

A geeky love story that unfolds at New York City Comic Con. Follow 4 teens as they profess their love for artists, authors, and each other in this fun coming of age story.

The Feels!!!

Oh man was this one fun! I really loved all of the characters in this book. Even the handsome British side character bent on foiling the love plot with his nice manners and perfect hair! You are thrown into the story right at the beginning and you have to get to know the characters as the story unfolds. Usually this doesn’t work for me but it was a fun change of pace in this novel. I loved the main character and his undying affection for his best friend. I also liked the portrayal of the Con. It didn’t follow the cliches that other authors have used to describe the epic nerdiness of the event. It also didn’t make fun of fans and geeks. I also liked that the focus was on the main characters and it didn’t throw in a weird adventure side story into the mix. You stayed with the group through the whole story and it felt like an experience any teen fan could have at a con.

The meh-

A bit of teen drinking is thrown in with this one. It doesn’t detract too much from the story but is something to note in case of parental restrictions.

Final thoughts-

This is the top choice for a story that takes place in a Comic Con. It’s lots of fun and has fantastic geeky references sprinkled through out the book. I loved the romance and the humor. I think this will be a fun title for my book talks this summer.

Pairings- (If you like this read this)

The Improbable Theory of Anna and Zak- By Brian Katcher
The Rest of us just live here- Patrick Ness
Fangirl- Rainbow Rowell
Geek Girl- Holly Small

View all my reviews

The Force Awakens: Books you should know (Possible Movie Spoilers)

With the  recent release of “The Force Awakens” comes a slew of books and comics that provide some insight into the new movies and its characters. Now that Disney has set aside the much loved (or hated) Expanded Universe (depending on your point of view), there are new stories to take its place. While some fans are embracing this change others are mourning the fact that 30+ years of literature have now been relegated to the “Legends” pile making them pretty much null and void to the new timeline. Before I review some of the newer titles for children and teens let me add the following disclaimer:

Personally I like some of the new changes. I have not had the chance to explore the EU as much as I would have liked. There is so much of it that for years I have struggled on where to even begin my reading journey. That being said the EU has some fantastic series that I have read and wonderful stories that are sadly no longer cannon. Several of these series were personal favorites of mine and I am a little bit bummed that they are no longer part of the official story. However, I also love almost all of the new stories that have been recently published. If anything these books are hooking new fans into this amazing universe of geeky awesome. As a librarian I have seen many young fans jumping on the book bandwagon and lots of those fans are girls! It warms my heart that there are new books out there that introduce Star Wars to kids in a way that they can understand and appreciate. The publishers have done a great job at providing books for all ages and reading levels.

I am going to attempt to keep this mostly spoiler free in case some out there have not seen the movie yet. However, if you are worried stop reading now and bookmark this post for later after you have seen the movie. Some of these books require that I give you some scenes from the movie so that the review makes sense. Books with spoilers have (*) next to the title. Trust me, I am not going to give away the big twist. Plus, if anyone feels the need to be a Jar Jar and comment with spoilers I will delete and have Boba Fett hunt you down. Don’t be a Jar Jar..

Books for kids/tweens:

Star Wars Trilogy for young readers: Disney Lucasfilm Press 

These three titles follow Episodes 4-6. Each is written by a different author that takes the reader through the movies using beloved characters to tell the tale. These are targeted at ages 8 – 12 so adult readers don’t get your socks in a bunch over the simplified plot line. They are made specifically for kids to give them an understanding of some of the themes presented in the movie.

So You Want To Be A Jedi? – By Adam Gidwitz

In the first addition to the series we follow Luke Skywalker through scenes from The Empire Strikes Back. It is told in both a second person and third person narrative that gets mixed reviews online. Most of the negative reviews come from people who have listened to the audio-book instead of reading it so you might stick with the print version. It has gotten good reviews from kids who like learning about what it takes to become a Jedi. The book shows how Luke trains with the force and has lessons about meditation, compassion, and other Jedi tidbits between each chapter. It is a fun book for kids and one that I think they will enjoy.

Target age: 8-12

 

The Princess, The Scoundrel, and The Farm Boy- By Alexandra Bracken

This story is a retelling of The New Hope from the view points of Leia, Han, and Luke. Each character tells their own story about overcoming perceptions and becoming the beloved figures that we know today. This is a great intro for kids who are just starting their journey into Star Wars literature. It is a fast read and the author has taken information from the radio drama script, some of the still cannon EU, and scenes from her own imagination that still feel true to each character. Out of the three, this one was my favorite and is a great book to get to know the characters on a more personal level.

Target age: 8-12

 

Return of the Jedi Beware the Power of the Dark Side!- By Tom Angleberger

The final book in the series focuses on the events from Return of the Jedi. In this book you will find a retelling sprinkled with humor, fantastic illustrations, and hilarious footnotes. It keeps the campy narrative feel from the movies that will appeal to younger readers. Add more explosions and Ewoks and you have an all around entertaining read for all ages. Tom Angleberger is one of my favorite authors and his books are very popular with the younger crowd. This one has more humor than the other three and is good for kids that liked “Origami Yoda” and similar stories.

 

Target age: 8-12

 

Journey to the Force Awakens- Disney Lucasfilm Press

The next series has new stories that feature members of our favorite trio. These are for kids a bit older and have a squint more violence than the others. The illustrations in these are fantastic and help move the reader along. I love the layout of each chapter and hunting for hints about the new movies!

**Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Smuggler’s Run: A Han Solo Adventure – By Greg Rucka

Join your favorite smuggling duo for a new adventure aboard the Millennium Falcon! Tasked with saving a key member of the rebellion from a sinister new villain , Han will need to use all of his smooth talking and blaster shooting skills to win the day. Filled with humor and a scary new female villain with a cyborg eye, readers will love this fast paced middle grade novel. The story is told in a series of flashbacks from a jaded Han in search of his beloved ship. Where could it possibly be? While this doesn’t have a lot of info key to the new movie it still is a good read with fantastic illustrations.

Target age: 10-14

 

The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure (Star Wars)**Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure- By Jason Fry

Luke is being sent out on a diplomatic mission instead of fighting the Imperials in his trusty x-wing. But, all is not as it seems when he lands on a planet with ruins from an old Jedi temple. As Luke explores the force he attracts the attention of a new villain bent on destruction. This is another fast paced read that brings together several story-lines from the Clone Wars cartoon and the original trilogy. Luke doesn’t just rely on his lightsaber to save the day and other elements of the force are explored in the story. Is this mysterious temple key to the new movie? Read and find out!

Target age: 10-14

 

**Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Moving Target- By Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry

Set between the Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope, readers follow Leia on a new and dangerous mission for the Rebel Legion. Told in a series of memoirs this story lets Leia’s wit and boldness shine. Paired with wonderful illustrations and a key appearance from Luke this novel is a good addition to the trilogy. While the adventure is not as daunting or perilous as Han and Luke’s from the first two novels, this one still adds important details to the Star Wars Universe. There are not as many sneak peaks into the new movie other than a character reference and some clues into Leia’s upcoming role.

Target age: 10-14

 

**Star Wars: Before the Awakening – By Greg Rucka

MAJOR SPOILERS ABOUT REY, FINN, AND POE AHEAD!! – Just not the big one! Promise!

After watching the movie I was dying to know several things. One- Why on earth is it so easy for Finn to abandon his life as a stormtrooper and go MIA? Seriously, he is a First Order Trooper trained from birth so you would think that he would have had more reservations. One of his own calls him a traitor later on in the movie and is pretty bent on revenge with this weapon that stops a freaking lightsaber?!!! What??!!! Well this book mostly answers these questions while still leaving a bit of mystery. You get some great background into Finn’s training and his squad members. You also get a glimpse into the new weaponry of the First Order. This character chapter is perhaps the most important (in my opinion) in the entire book.

Two- Who is Rey? How does she know how to fly? Well the first does not get answered beyond some minor character development. The second helps you understand why she is able to fly the most awesome ship in the galaxy and fix pretty much anything she touches. Everything else is left up to speculation. (cue epic fangirl sigh of frustration)

Three- Why is Poe the best pilot in the Resistance? Who is he anyway? His chapter explores the origins of his story starting with facts about his parentage and how he gets into the resistance. Readers looking for more stories and clues about his squad will get a few teasers and minor character development. The biggest intrigue is the First Order and his discovery about their some of their dastardly deeds.

All in all this does help with some questions I had after watching the movie. I am still dying to know who Rey really is and I want more stories about Poe and that mysterious dude in the dessert. These are not major plot changing stories but they do give some insight into the motivations of each character. A short quick read.

Target age: 8-12

A Book for Teens: 

Lost Stars (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
by Claudia Gray

This is a Teen novel set during the time of the Empire and the original trilogy. Keep in mind that this is not a novel for a younger audience due to violence and adult situations (some sex- not descriptive). The characters end up facing some pretty ugly situations that require them to consider what it means to be loyal. Older readers will understand the struggles a bit more so I do recommend this to teens 13 and up due to the content. Parents might want to read this first before handing it to anyone younger. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way… I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!

 

As a teen librarian this is one of my favorite books of 2015. It has action, romance that does not involve a love triangle, realistic hard choices, and characters that I actually cared about.

Summary:

Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree come from a planet where honor and loyalty is something that flows through your veins. Thrown together by their love of ships and their desire to fly away to new adventures  we follow them to the Imperial Academy where loyalty and friendship are put to the ultimate test. Both characters have a voice in this exciting new series that fits almost seamlessly into the events from Episodes 4-6. In these books you will see the perspective of an Imperial Officer and a Rebel Pilot. This book is more than just a romance as it challenges readers to think about both sides of the fight.

Things I loved:

I really connected with both characters. Getting to see the perspective of an Imperial Officer throughout their career and during the destruction of both Death Stars is something that I didn’t know I would care about until this book. The author created a world within the Imperial Forces that feels real. I get why some of the cadets turn into fanatical madmen who will stop at nothing to destroy planets. The brainwashing and control is explored in detail that made me cringe at times and want to pull the character out of the pages and shake sense into them!

I like that popular characters like Vader, Leia, and Tarkin are not scene stealers when they show up in the book. They add to the story but they don’t take over the plot. You get glimpses of them as they interact with the main characters but it doesn’t feel forced or out of place.

I loved that the romance was not a triangle! You get to grow up with both Ciena and Thane from age eight until they are in their 20’s. The friendship and eventual romance makes sense without using all the tired YA troupes and lame cliches. I rooted for them and I am not a romance reader! I did like that the smexy times were not super descriptive. It was basically hey baby, smoochy time and fade to black. However, there are some steamy moments and steamy thoughts from the characters later on.

I loved the ending where you end up on Jakku. OMG! That made me create my own fangirl conspiracy theories as to who a certain female character might be.

Things that I didn’t like:

That there isn’t more to read right now! If I was being picky I would say that there were not enough details about the new movie included in this title. It gives you just enough to make you go “really?!!” and then frantically flip pages to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

Final thoughts-

Please let there be a second!! I did enjoy this one and that is not just the Star Wars fangirl speaking. It was a fast paced read with romance and adventure that fits well into the universe as we now know it!

 

Coming soon:

I will be reviewing more Star Wars books as they become available. I hope to provide reviews for a variety of ages and reading levels so stay tuned.

 

May the love of reading be with you and happy holidays!

 

The Improbable theory of Ana and Zak- By Brian Katcher

The Improbable Theory of Ana and ZakThe Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Told from a duel POV this book is full of geeky feels, crazy adventures, and a sprinkling of romance. Ana’s only goal in life is to be as perfect as possible so her uber control freak parents won’t kick her out of the house. As a member of the Quiz bowl team she wants nothing more than to just win, move on, and graduate from high school while keeping her brilliant little brother out of trouble. Zak is the opposite. The only thing in life he cares about is making it to Washingcon. When his dreams are dashed due to poor choices on his part, Zak is forced to join the Quiz Bowl team or fail Health class.

Then Ana’s little brother makes a break for the con, ditching the quiz bowl team and leaving her in a panic. Ana must partner with Zak and face down angry Vikings, Zombie hoards, and lots and lots of geek cliches to rescue her brother from a decision that could change their lives forever.

What I liked:

I enjoyed that the tale is written from both Zak and Ana’s perspective. I really connected to both of them and it made the story so much better than I expected. It is full of humor and the romance is pretty believable. I was totally rooting for them to get together by the end. The adventures at the convention were hilarious and I could totally relate to some of the side characters from visiting local cons myself.

The book ends on a sweet note that you should discover for yourself!

What I didn’t like:

SPOILERS:
The reason this book only get 3.5 stars from is because things got way out of hand towards the end of the book. The whole drug deal scenario was completely unbelievable. It added nothing to the plot. That whole part could have been left out and the story still would have been great. It is a big plot hole. The drug dealer tells them he will hunt them down if they say anything and then gives their phones back. So will he be watching them forever and keeping tabs on them? Ugh… it made me cringe.

Final thoughts:

Other than the drug deal thing the book is great. It’s funny, sweet, full of geeky references, has a clean romance that is not triangle shaped, and has a lot of heart. It’s one that I have put on my Geeky Reads booklist and have recommended to my teens at the library.

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Black Widow: Forever Red (Book Review)

Black Widow: Forever RedBlack Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With the recent surge in superhero movies it’s about time that some of the female heroes get their stories told. Black Widow: Forever Red is an excellent tale of death and deception, family vs foe, and ultimately… redemption.

Ava Orlova is an average American teen with a dark past. She was trained by the evil Russian Mastermind Ivan Somodorov. Rescued by the Black Widow she escapes with just the clothes on her back and tries to forget her past. When children all over the world go missing she must team up with Natasha Romanov to stop a madman. But what do you do when you hate the one that saved you?

Black Widow was a fast paced, action packed read that leaves you hoping for a sequel. With the media pushing aside the popularity of the Black Widow Character this is a much needed book. It tells the tale of Natasha, her family, and her dark past while weaving in old and new characters that readers will enjoy. It is high on my list of recommendations for teens and one that I will be promoting heavily this fall.

I sincerely hope this is a series!

**Thank you to Disney Publishers and Marvel for providing a review copy. This in no way influenced my opinion.

View all my reviews

Jem and the Holograms- Comic review

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Guys I am sitting here with my brand new copy of Jem and the Holograms and my inner 8 year old self is freaking out! I love love loved this show when I was little! Right now I am reading it with the theme song running through my mind~ Jem is truly outrageous…Truly truly truly outrageous..  (youtube it)

The story is about Jerrica and her fab band who have a secret. They are really Jem and the Holograms! After Jerrica’s Dad passes away he gifts her with Synergy. Synergy is a holographic computer that can imitate anyone. The girls use this gift to create a fierce new band with Jem as the lead singer.

If you watched the shows in the 80’s you know the rest of the story. This new comic breathes life into a popular TV show with a new modern take. It has the colorful hair, clothes, makeup and sparkle of the original series. The dialog is a vast improvement over the show which at times could be rather clunky. That being said this is just the first issue so we shall see how it progresses.

For me, it did not disappoint. I love the modern look and the improved dialog. The artwork is spot on and the coloring is squee worthy! The preview of the Misfits was an added bonus. Will they be just as wretched as the show? I have inner fangirl high hopes…

Once this get its own graphic novel I will be getting for the teen department. I might even have an 80’s rerun day for kicks! Totally fab for Teens! Now excuse me while I go have a Netflix marathon!

 

**Parents, this one has some swearing.