Emerjas

Wonder Woman: The True Amazon

Wonder Woman: The True Amazon - Jill Thompson, Jill Thompson

In this version of Wonder Woman's origin story, Diana is spoiled as a child causing her to grow up to be a spoiled jerk who only learns to change her ways after a horrible incident caused by her selfish ways. In all the retellings of Wonder Woman's origins, I don't believe I've ever seen the story go this route. While the story was told well, I can't say I particularly liked it as a Wonder Woman story.

 

One of the things I like about Wonder Woman is that she doesn't have a traumatic event in her past that led her to taking on the mantle of Wonder Woman. She's just a really good person who believes in justice for everyone and is willing to fight for that. I never felt she needed some horrible thing in her past that explained why she did what she did, so this origin story just doesn't feel right to me. The book's not bad. The art is nice. The plot and character arc makes sense. The story is entertaining. It just feels like it takes something away from Wonder Woman if she has to be given a reason for being a superhero beyond just simply being a good person.

 

It's an interesting alternative take on Wonder Woman's origin story. This will never be a favorite of mine, but it did keep me entertained with a well-written story and lovely art.

Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Lies

Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Lies (Rebirth) - Greg Rucka, Liam Sharpe

Wonder Woman begins her DC Universe: Rebirth run by discovering that someone has been messing with her, leaving her unsure which parts of her life are real and which aren't. She seeks out Cheetah to help her find Themyscira and, hopefully, the truth.

 

I find myself ambivalent about the start of Wonder Woman's new run. On one hand, I am delighted about the premise. The New 52 was not kind to Wonder Woman or the characters related to her, so having the run start off by saying everything that happened was a lie was wonderful. I am on board with anything that undoes the Amazons being turned into rapists. And with the number of differing Wonder Woman origin stories that have come into play, having Wonder Woman realize all these stories don't fit together is an interesting premise that leaves me wanting to know where this leads and what the ultimate truth will turn out to be.

 

On the other hand, this first book is a rather boring start. There are hints of more interesting things to come later, but that doesn't help the main plot of this arc. The villain is forgettable despite his connection to Cheetah.

 

I have hope for where this run is going, but I just don't think this was a strong start to it.

Goldie Vance, Vol. 1

Goldie Vance Vol. 1 - Hope Larson, Brittney Williams

I grew up on Nancy Drew, so when this book kept getting comparisons to that, I knew I had to read it. It did not disappoint.

 

Goldie loves solving mysteries and has decided to assist the detective at the hotel she works with his cases. She's just adorable and determined to help people in need. And her love of cars, particularly when it comes to racing them, had me smiling several times.

The books got a fun cast of characters. I especially liked Goldie's best friend whose scientific knowledge helped Goldie crack a case and Goldie's crush, Diane, who has a very cute budding romance with Goldie. I want to see more of all of them.

 

The only part of the book that I didn't love was the resolution to the mystery.

A couple of mysterious people from an organization no one has heard of appear to tell the scientist in trouble that he should come with them to live on Mars if he wants to be free. And the scientist just goes with them. He's just escaped from being held against his will for some time. But a group a people he's never met before appear and say he should come with them and he just trusts them immediately and goes? If I were in his shoes, I don't think I'd be so quick to go with them. It just struck me as a weird move for someone in his situation. Then again, I probably wouldn't have thought twice about that resolution when I was a kid.

(show spoiler)

 

Despite the minor issue I had with how the mystery ended, I still loved the book. It was fun, and the characters were great. I will definitely be reading more of the series.

Justice League, Vol. 1: The Extinction Machines

Justice League, Volume 1: The Extinction Machines - Bryan Hitch, Tony S. Daniel, Sandu Florea, Tomey Morey, Richard Starkings, Sean Parsons, Jesús Merino, Matthew Clark

I was looking forward to a Justice League that had the two newest Green Lanterns on it and seeing them work with the more experienced members, but this was just disappointing. There wasn't much of getting to see the team all interacting with each other. Instead, the focus was more on the villains destroying the world. Which is a shame since they weren't particularly interesting. And neither was watching the Justice League go up against them. The book was mostly boring.

 

I'm hoping the series will start focusing on the team's dynamics more because they've got some great material to work with like the Justice League's uncertainty of the new Superman after the death of the Superman they were friends with and the new Green Lanterns learning from the veteran members. And it'd be nice to see Flash stop being a jerk to Baz.

 

Not the worst Justice League story I've read, but certainly not one I'd ever want to read again. Although the art was nice. It just went with a boring story.

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 6: Civil War II

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 6: Civil War II - G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Adrian Alphona

I was a bit leery going into this despite loving the Ms. Marvel series. And that's because this volume is the Civil War II tie-in. I just don't particularly like big crossovers that have heroes fighting other heroes usually for an incredibly ridiculous reason. Which is basically what Civil War II has sounded like. And this book did nothing to convince me otherwise.

 

The first issue was fine. Kamala and friends face off against Spider-Man (Miles) and friends when their schools compete in an academic competition. This kind of hero vs. hero battle I enjoy. They weren't trying to harm each other over something ridiculous. It was just a bunch of kids competing over science in the hopes of scholarships. With a bit of superhero saving the day at the end.

 

Then the Civil War II crossover began. When Kamala first gets with Captain Marvel about the Inhuman, Ulysses, who has visions of future catastrophes, she likes the idea of being able to prevent tragedies from happening. The first mission was fine when Kamala led her newly assigned team of teen heroes against a villain who had stolen a tank and was destroying a bunch of cars as he drove it through the streets. Ulysses had a vision that the guy would accidentally activate a self-destruct sequence on the tank and destroy a good portion of the city. It was a pretty straightforward mission. The guy had already committed a crime and done quite a bit of damage, but they were able to stop him from killing anyone.

 

But then things got a bit confusing to me. When a news report came on about it, Kamala's sister-in-law speaks out against the man being arrested for a crime he didn't commit. I didn't understand that because he absolutely did commit a crime. Several, in fact. He stole a tank and then destroyed a lot of cars driving it through the city. When he was first shown driving the tank, the street behind him was filled with crushed cars. Tyesha had a great speech about profiling and I agreed with what she was saying. I just didn't understand why that particular criminal prompted it because he definitely had committed crimes. And then he appeared again in the next issue and I understood why he prompted that speech, but didn't understand what Kamala and her team were doing. He was being detained in a prison run by Kamala's team, not for the crimes he did commit, but for the potential crime of blowing up part of the city. I don't get why they didn't send him to a real jail since he no longer had the tank to blow up the city, but definitely did commit crimes with the tank. But everyone kept acting like he hadn't actually committed a crime yet and was only being held for the potential one. It just made no sense to me.

 

Then the next vision leads to someone Kamala knows getting thrown in their prison. This made more sense for the story they were trying to tell since the guy hadn't committed a crime yet when he was detained. Kamala's friends had some great arguments against what was happening, and it was nice to see Kamala struggle with the morality of what they were doing. But it was also frustrating because her team was awful with what they were doing. They would just grab anyone who was supposed to commit a crime and lock them up in a building they controlled and treat them all horribly. It hard to believe that all the superheroes would just let them do what they were doing. Based on this little bit, I have a feeling I'm not going to enjoy any other Civil War II material I read.

 

And these issues also left me wondering where in the world Bruno's girlfriend had gone. She was in the academic competition one and that's it. Which was weird with what Bruno was doing during all the tie-in issues. Her absence really stood out to me.

 

Things got better with the final issue of the book though. Kamala left the US to visit family in Pakistan and regroup. It was a nice break from the rest of the book and gives me hope the next volume will be better now that it's past Civil War II.

What Light - Jay Asher

Sierra's family owns a Christmas tree farm which they go to every year for the Christmas season to live and work for a month. This move brings mixed feelings for Sierra. She loves the tree farm and has a close friend who lives there, but she also misses her friends in her other home while she's away. But then she meets Caleb, a boy with a bad reputation, while living at the tree farm for the month.

 

Prior to meeting Caleb, Sierra wasn't interested in starting a relationship with someone she'd just be leaving in a month's time. Then Caleb shows up and he's got dimples (they are mentioned quite a bit) and is cute. Sierra pretty much falls for him right away. Their whole relationship was a bit too insta-love for me. They had their cute moments, but they just weren't developed enough for me.

 

Then there was the matter of Caleb's big mistake that led to his bad reputation in town.

A couple years ago, Caleb's parents were going through a divorce. His sister blamed him for it and repeatedly told him that. One day when he was at home with his sister and his best friend, Caleb snapped on his sister, picking up a knife and chasing her through the house and repeatedly stabbing her door after she shut herself in her room while sobbing in terror. Caleb's sister left town to live with her father, Caleb's best friend was kept away from him by his friend's family, and the people of the town have kept their distance ever since.

(show spoiler)

I just felt like the book wanted to have a big incident, but also wanted to downplay the severity of it. One of the themes of the book was clearly forgiveness, and I'm not saying one mistake, particularly when you're young, makes you an irredeemably bad person who everyone should shun forever. But forgiveness also doesn't magically solve all problems either. I was left wondering how much help Caleb got after the incident. It sounded like there was some family counseling, but did he get therapy for himself to learn ways to cope to prevent that from ever happening again? Because therapy would also help with learning to forgive himself too, which was a big problem he faced in the book. And if he didn't get the help he needed to learn how to deal with stress, that one-time incident could easily be repeated. His story would have gone over much better with me with a more straight-forward "This is what I did. It was awful and here's what I'm doing to make sure it never happens again" approach to it. He's working to atone for his mistake in a way that's very sweet and awesome, but again, that doesn't address whether he's getting help, which is a bit more important to me since that would be the thing that helps ensure it truly is a one-off incident.

 

I felt like Sierra accepted everything once she heard the story a bit quickly, immediately taking Caleb's side without hearing anything from either of the other two people involved.

When she speaks to the friend about the incident, instead of asking about what he witnessed, Sierra insists that Caleb's friend knows that Caleb never meant to hurt his sister. The friend says that he doesn't know that and that he was there while Sierra wasn't. Sierra has a moment's reflection that she really doesn't know since she wasn't there, but instead of asking for the friend's take (since he actually was there for it), the story just moves on with Sierra still firmly on Caleb's side. It felt like the story was trying to give the incident more depth by acknowledging that Caleb's friend was a victim as well, but then just stopped and went for the friend eventually making up with Caleb without us getting to see them talk. Outside of that one moment of reflection, it didn't feel like Caleb's friend was considered a victim of the incident, even though witnessing your friend going after his sister with a knife would be pretty traumatizing.

(show spoiler)

 

We do eventually meet Caleb's sister and hear from her a bit, but Sierra and the book had already taken its stance on the situation before we get to see the sister's interactions with Caleb. Caleb had said he and his sister were fine, but that's the kind of thing I'd really want to judge on my own rather than take his word for it. The book probably wanted to have Sierra taking a leap of faith by believing Caleb and giving him the benefit of the doubt, but that's something I'd want to see for myself. I wish the sister had shown up sooner in the story and been given more of a chance to talk about the incident.

 

Outside of the main relationship, the other characters were too bland for me to really say much about them. They had various sub-plots in the book, but the story didn't give them a lot of focus. This is one of those books where I think it was too short to do all its plot lines justice. There were interesting themes, particularly with how one's mistakes doesn't make one a terrible person forever, but I just felt like the book didn't have enough time to really explore anything meaningfully. Everything just felt brushed over instead.

Rat Queens, Vol. 3: Demons

Rat Queens Volume 3: Demons - Kurtis J. Wiebe

Volume 3 of Rat Queens lacked the charm of the previous two books. It was by no means a bad book. It just was a letdown after the first two. I think part of that was the change in art. This book seemed to have an increased focus on the boobs and butts of the female characters. I don't remember that being the case with the first two books. Several of the characters were drastically different in physical design from the first two books to the point where if I had been shown panels from this book prior to reading it, I don't think I would have recognized some of them.

 

Of the four main characters, only Betty remained as lovable as ever. Violet had plenty of great moments that made me laugh, but I didn't quite connect with her as I had before. Hannah and Dee were the hardest to enjoy though. I adored the two of them in the first book, but I just felt distant from them in this book, which shouldn't be the case when they both had some emotional events going on for them, particularly Hannah.

 

At the end of the book was a quick story about Braga's past and why she left her family. It was a nice story that gave some depth to her and made me miss her presence in the main tale.

 

I still like Rat Queens. I just can't say I love it like I could before. But I'm hoping I can get back there.

The Conspiracy of Us

The Conspiracy of Us - Maggie  Hall

Avery's never known her father. But when a mysterious transfer student, Jack, shows up at her school, Avery learns all about his employers, her father's side of the family. They're one of the families of the Circle, a group that secretly runs the world. And Avery may be the answer to an old prophecy. She's taken to Paris by Stellan, a boy who works for one of the families in the Circle. With the interest of some of the most powerful people in the world suddenly on her, Avery finds herself in a dangerous position. To have a chance at freedom, she must solve the prophecy with the help of Jack and Stellan.

 

Despite liking romance, it's often the very thing that ruins books for me. Like here. We get a healthy dose of Jack falling for Avery because she's not like other girls because she does stuff like read during lunch rather than talk with friends. He basically fell for her right away because of that. Because no other girl in the history of the world has ever read during lunch. And of course he was sent to watch her and get close to her for his job meaning he's been lying to her from the start. But we can just ignore all that. He's cute. All good.

 

So yeah, no to the romance between Jack and Avery for me.

 

The plot was much more fun. All the conspiracies and plots the Circle were behind was a bit ridiculous, but in a fun and silly way. Some of the twists were a bit obvious to me, but that never took away my enjoyment of the prophecy and secret organizations mystery.

 

We didn't see much of the side characters, but the little we did was fairly nice. I'd like to see Avery get closer with the other kids in the families because they had a good start on friendships between them. There wasn't as much of Stellan as I expected since he was one of the names mentioned in the synopsis, but it looks like the next book in the series will feature a lot more of him based on how this one ended. I liked him much more than Jack. A lot of that is because he wasn't part of an insta love couple that was declaring Avery to not be like other girls.

 

I'll probably check out the next book because the ending intrigued me enough to want to see where they're going.

Cryer's Cross

Cryer's Cross - Lisa McMann

When a girl goes missing in the small town of Cryer's Cross, the residents are understandably frightened by this and join together to find her. Unfortunately, they are unable to find her. Then Kendall's boyfriend, Nico, goes missing, and Kendall is desperate to find him. But the new boy in town is starting to make her question her feelings for Nico, even as she tries to figure out what happened to him.

 

The mystery in this took a backseat to Kendall's growing relationship with Jacián and her sorting out her feelings. I did actually like her relationship and her struggle with her growing feelings and her missing boyfriend. It was just disappointing the mystery was pushed to the background so much. When it finally did come back to the forefront, there wasn't much time left for it and made the conclusion feel rather rushed and sudden.

 

I did like how Kendall's OCD was handled, for the most part. It was an ever-present part of her character and was impossible to forget she had it because it was always there. The romance didn't magically cure her OCD, and therapy was seen as helpful for her. The descriptions of what was going on in her head weren't always clear with phrases like her OCD kicked in leaving things a bit vague on what exactly is going on in her head.

 

The romance and Kendall's figuring her own feelings out were the strongest parts of this book. Kendall and Jacián didn't hit it off right away, but it's hard to avoid people in a small town, so they end up spending time together, even if that's not what they want at the start. Even though Kendall's boyfriend is missing during most of the story, he's not forgotten when she begins to develop feelings for Jacián. Kendall struggles with her feeling that she's betraying Nico just by liking someone else. That struggle with her conflicting feelings was very understandable.

 

While the mystery left something to be desired, I did like following the characters quite a bit.

Prodigy

Prodigy - Marie Lu

After saving Day from execution, June and Day are on the run from the Republic. With no options left, they join with the Patriots to help them bring down the Republic. But are the Patriots the allies they think they are? Or have they just thrown themselves into another dangerous situation?

 

I am happy to say that June and Day no longer sound the same, a complaint I had with the first book of the series. I had no problems keeping the two of them straight this time around. Unfortunately for Day, part of the reason I was able to keep the two of them straight so easily is because I did not like him much in this book. For someone so smart, he really didn't do a great job of demonstrating that this time around. But June was great. Even as she was questioning everything she thought she knew, June remained logical when gaining new information even when it was difficult. I liked that all these drastic changes in her life hadn't changed who she ultimately was when it came to her thoughts and actions.

 

The world building certainly improved in this book. We got a lot more information about the country and its history. And the revelation of non-evil people in power within the Republic was nice. Pure evil governments get really old in dystopian literature. It's a nice change to see someone in power who recognizes the system is flawed and corrupt and is working to change it.

 

I'm not a big fan of the romance between June and Day, but I do like the fact that it doesn't take over the plot. The two of them have much bigger things to worry about, and they prioritize those things over their developing relationship. I wish that happened more often in young adult books.

 

I wish June and Day were older. They do not sound 15 at all, and I actually forgot how young they were because of that. It makes it difficult to suspend my disbelief at all the things they can do and just how important they are to everyone.

 

Despite that, I still enjoyed this sequel. The story's better. The characters (minus Day) were more engaging. And the plot twists were a little less predictable.

The Revenge Playbook

The Revenge Playbook - Rachael  Allen

Liv, Peyton, Melanie Jane, and Ana are sick and tired of how the football players of their school get away with everything and how they treat girls. So they've banded together to get revenge on them and try to change things. All they have to do is steal the boys' prized football by completing the football team's annual scavenger hunt before them without the boys realizing they have competition.

 

This book was a ton of fun. I loved watching the girls band together and do the scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt was a series of tasks that had to be completed and documented on camera. The girls put their own spin on several of them which was fun, especially their spin on going up to a fat girl and telling her she was pretty hot...for a fat girl. Their version is much better.

 

Each of the girls has their own reason for taking part in this revenge plot. Ana was raped by one of the boys. Melanie Jane and Liv were both dumped by their football boyfriends because they were on a list of girls the team couldn't date for various and awful reasons. Peyton is sick of them getting special treatment in class and interfering with her studies, as well as their sexual harassment. The book switches back and forth between the night of the scavenger hunt and the time leading up to the scavenger hunt and gives plenty of reasons for why the girls have decided to do this.

 

But my favorite part of the book was the girls' growing friendship and how they supported one another. The girls have several nice conversations with one another about the horrible ways they are treated and how they don't deserve any of it regardless of how they dress or how much sex they have. Even though there was a lot of rage-inducing stuff within the book, there was also a lot that I loved and it's all because of the four girls and their friendship.

 

My biggest complaint was that the perspectives of all four girls sometimes sounded too similar and I'd forget whose point of view I was currently in. I could usually keep Liv's straight because she was so peppy and bubbly. It was the other three that I had more problems with. I didn't confuse the girls themselves and could keep the details about each of them straight, so when a girl's point of view was dealing with her specific problems I was fine. But when a girl's point of view was focusing on more general things that could apply to any of the girls, I sometimes had to check back to see who it was again.

 

There was romance for some of the girls, but it was never a main focus. I actually liked the romances and the fact that not every girl was paired up by the end. Books that pair off every character tend to annoy me, so I appreciate that this book didn't do that.

 

The Revenge Playbook was a ton of fun, despite the not so fun subject matter. There were plenty of horrible things in the book, but it was ultimately a story about friendship. And revenge.

Storm Siren

Storm Siren - Mary Weber

Elementals are humans with powers. They are always male. Except for Nym, an elemental with the ability to summon storms. Unfortunately, she can't control it which has resulted in quite a bit of death and destruction. One of the king's advisers witnesses her using her ability and buys her. Adora, the adviser, has plans to train Nym as her weapon. But Nym doesn't want to hurt anyone.

 

This is one of those books where I liked the concept, but the finished product didn't quite deliver for me. I didn't really connect with any of the characters and had a hard time getting into the world. There was a lot that wasn't really explained, and I found myself forgetting a lot of the world-building that did happen despite reading the whole book within a 24-hour time span. And then when things suddenly started happening at the end of the book, I just got confused because I kept forgetting things. I'm normally pretty good about keeping stories straight, but that did not happen here. I just didn't get drawn into the story, so my brain apparently decided it had no reason to remember what I was reading.

 

Relationships felt underdeveloped, particularly with the romance. When Nym declares herself in love, I was left wondering what in their interactions led to love. When some characters die, I just didn't care because I never connected with them in the first place. The cliffhanger ending which should have left me worried for the characters actually made me start laughing.

It's probably bad of my to find it hilarious that Nym's love interest has been replaced with someone else and is potentially dead, but I just found it funny for some reason.

(show spoiler)

 

On the plus side, I don't remember anything about the story infuriating me. Storm Siren was just an underwhelming read.

DC Comics: Bombshells Vol. 1: Enlisted

DC Comics: Bombshells Vol. 1 - Marguerite Bennett

Based off a line of "Bombshells" variant covers and statues of the female characters done in 1940s pinup style, this comic book is set in an alternate universe during the Second World War. In this world, the female superheroes came first, and we follow them as they get their starts.

This book was a surprise delight. For a series based off a series of pinup pictures and statues, I was not expecting something so feminist. The women still face all the sexism that would have been typical for that time and get none of the respect they deserve, but that doesn't stop them from being amazing.

The book starts off with Batwoman who rescues the Wayne family when they attacked coming home from a movie, stopping Bruce Wayne's journey to being Batman right in its tracks and establishing firmly that this book was for the female superheroes. When not protecting the city as Batwoman, Kate Kane is the captain of a female baseball team and lives with her girlfriend Maggie who works with the police until she is recruited by Amanda Waller to join her organization: The Bombshells. Her first mission has her working with Catwoman

We switch over to the USSR where two sisters, Kara and Kortni (Supergirl and Stargirl respectively), join the Night Witches to be pilots in the war. But Kara must keep her powers secret, which becomes impossible when an accident while flying forces her to save her sister's life. The two are then forced to become Supergirl and Stargirl and fight for their country.

Over the island of Themyscira, an air battle between fighter pilots gets interrupted when the Amazons appear and kill everyone to protect their people from the bombs raining down on them. Diana finds the one survivor of the battle, Steve Trevor, who tells her of a terrible dictator threatening the world. She turns to her friend, Mera of Atlantis, to help her rescue Steve and save the world.

Zatanna finds herself facing the Joker's Daughter who holds a dangerous secret over Zatanna's head as she's forced to help her with dark magic. And John Constantine gets turned into Zatanna's pet rabbit.

 

Harley Quinn is on a mission to find her man and gets Poison Ivy to join her on in wreaking havoc across Europe along the way.

I adored every one of these women and loved every page of this book. It was just so much fun, and they all fit into their alternate universe roles so well. I especially enjoyed Diana and Mera's friendship and want to see much more of it. I don't think I've ever seen them be friends in the main universe, so this was a surprise, but a really nice one. And Mera sings to use her powers. She doesn't have to, but she likes to, and I am all for it.

The art is lovely, the characters are excellent, and the story is a blast. Overall, this series is a ton of fun, and I'm looking forward to continuing it.

Heart in a Box

Heart in a Box - Kelly  Thompson, Meredith McClaren

Emma's in pain after getting her heart broken. She just wants it to go away and makes a wish to not have her heart anymore. To her surprise, a man appears who offers to do just that. But without a heart, Emma can't feel anything at all. She asks for her heart back, but is told that it's already been broken into multiple parts. Now she's on a journey to get back her heart, even if it brings her even more pain.

 

Shortly into the book, I wasn't sure whether I was going to like it. The art wasn't quite doing it for me, and watching Emma be heartbroken wasn't the most riveting of things. However, once the plot starts with her wishing her heart away, I was hooked. Emma's journey to heal herself was a painful one. It was not always nice. People got hurt along the way, several times directly as a result of Emma's actions. But that's also how life works sometimes. Ultimately, it's a story of a hope. Despite the pain she's suffered and caused, there's still hope for Emma that she'll heal and be alright in the end.

 

The art ended up growing on me. I didn't particularly like it at the start, but once I got drawn into the story, I felt it suited everything and found myself really liking it by the end.

 

Despite the dark premise, there was plenty of humor thrown in. Even if it was sometimes dark. The book had a good balance of heartbreak, humor, and hope.

Dumplin'

Dumplin' - Julie Murphy

Willowdean is comfortable with her body, even if her former beauty queen mother wishes she were skinnier. She's fine with being fat. She is surprised, however, when the cute jock at the fast food place she works at is attracted to her. But when she enters into a relationship with him, Willowdean starts to doubt herself. That's when she comes up with a plan - she's going to enter the beauty pageant and show everyone that she's perfect just the way she is.

 

I loved how comfortable Willowdean was with herself. She's not perfect and can be quite judgmental at times, but she is fine with her body and sees no problems with her weight. Her entering the beauty contest inspires several other girls whose looks don't match what is considered attractive by society for various reasons. Willowdean's thoughts about them are not always nice, especially at the beginning. However, she begins to realize that she's being just as wrong as the people who judge her for her weight.

 

The best part of the book was Willowdean's relationship with her best friend, Ellen. Ellen looks more like how Willowdean thinks her mom wants her to look like. While Willowdean loves Ellen, that does cause a bit of tension, particularly when Ellen enters the beauty pageant with her. Even though the two of them are so close, they still have some things to work.

 

The one part that didn't work well for me was Willowdean's romance with Bo. While I love the fact that Bo liked her for exactly who she was, their chemistry just wasn't there for me. I didn't see why they were so into each other beyond looks. And I just didn't really care too much about Bo.

 

Outside of the romance, I loved this book. It was filled with body positivity, even though it took Willowdean a little bit to extend that body love to everyone. And I loved her friendship with Ellen, despite the rough patch it went through in the book.

2015 End of Year Book Survey

I've seen this survey done a few times by several book bloggers over the years and enjoyed reading their choices, so I decided I'd try it out this year. This is hosted at The Perpetual Page-Turner and can be found here. I have a hard time choosing just one, so I cheated on most questions and gave multiple answers.

 

2015 Reading Stats

 

Number Of Books You Read: 285

 

Best in Books

 

1. Best Book You Read In 2015?

  • Rachel Rising by Terry Moore - I read the 1st 4 volumes of this horror/paranormal comic book series back-to-back. It'll pop up a few more times on this list.
  • Fingersmith by Sarah Waters - A historical fiction novel following a girl raised by thieves who gets roped into a con man's plan to trick an heiress out of her inheritance. This'll pop up a few more times as well.
  • X-Factor by Peter David - I read the 1st volume of the 2005 version of this series where this mutant team headed by Jamie Madrox (Multiple Man) runs a detective agency called X-Factor Investigations.
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sara J. Maas - A faerie retelling of Beauty and the Beast that I was surprised (but happy) to learn was not a stand-alone, but actually the start of a series.
  • DC Comics: Bombshells by Maguerite Bennett - I read the 1st volume of this which features an alternate reality set during the Second World War where the female superheroes came first. It was delightful.

 

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

  • All Fall Down by Ally Carter - After loving her Gallagher Girls and Heist Society series, I was positive I'd love this, but it just didn't work for me. The ending did give me some hope that the 2nd will be more enjoyable though.
  • Angela: Asgard’s Assassin by Kieron Gillen and Marguerite Bennett - I adore Angela, so a comic book series with her as the lead should have been a win. Sadly, I found myself bored while reading it.
  • Young Avengers by Kieron Gillen - After hearing so many good things about this comic book series featuring a group of teen heroes and already adoring several of the members (Wiccan, Hulkling, and Kid Loki), I was positive I'd love this. Instead, this book made me dislike most of the characters.
  • Multiversity by Grant Morrison - This anthology superhero comic book series was quite strange and hard to follow at times. I generally love alternate universe works, so I thought I'd love it.
  • Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone - I was excited for a book about a girl with OCD, but I just didn't really enjoy this one.

 

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

  • Fingersmith - The end of part 1 of this throws a twist in that changes the whole book and several more surprises were still to come. Going into any kind of detail would be major spoiler territory.
  • Rachel Rising - Not only is it surprising that I'd love a horror series, the series provides plenty of surprises too.
  • DC Comics: Bombshells - For a comic book series that was based off a series of statues of bombshell versions of female superheroes, it's surprisingly feminist and a complete blast.

 

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

I really only push books on my family, so these are the two that win:

  • Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay - This was a series of essays on her thoughts about feminism and various topics in pop culture that I thought my mom would enjoy. I was right.
  • Fingersmith - My youngest sister likes historical novels, books with female leads, and books with lies and trickery, so a female-led historical fiction featuring thieves and cons seemed like a good bet for her. It was.

 

5. a. Best series you started in 2015?

I'm not going to repeat myself by including books that made it on the best book list. It's safe to assume if it made it on the best book of 2015 list and also was a series starter, it would also have made it to the best series list.

  • Secret Six by Gail Simone - I read the 1st volume of the 2006 comic book featuring a team of villains who managed to steal my heart with the little family they're building. I just bought the next two volumes on sale, so I plan to continue it soon.
  • Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe - With four main characters as wonderful as the four wild and often vulgar Rat Queens, this is one hilarious series I can't wait to continue.

    b. Best Sequel of 2015?

  • The Rose Society by Marie Lu - This book continued Adelina's path to darkness quite nicely, managed to make the Dagger Society more interesting to me, and introduced a love interest I actually like. Basically, it improved the series in every way.

    c. Best Series Ender of 2015?

  • Winter - With such a big cast of main characters, it's impressive that each of them managed to have their own thing going on and have their stories wrapped up so well. I continued to love her sci-fi twist on fairy tales.
  • Batgirl Vol. 5: Deadline by Gail Simone - This isn't technically the end of the series, but it is the end of Gail Simone's run on it. And the next team on the book changes it so much that it's basically a different series with the same name. Anyways, this wraps up Barbara's story on a hopeful note with her in a good place and gives us a bonus story in the form of a potential future where a team of Batgirls defends Gotham. I loved every moment of it.

 

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?

  • Noelle Stevenson - I read the 1st 2 volumes of Lumberjanes which she's the coauthor of, Nimona, and a short story from Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman. I wasn't sure about her art style at first, but it quickly grew on me. Her stories are fun and all featured diverse casts.
  • Terry Moore - I read the 1st 4 volumes of Rachel Rising. Each issue was consistently great, which is really hard to find in longer comic series.
  • Dahlia Adler - I read Behind the Scenes and Under the Lights. She writes great friendships, and I can't wait to get my hands on her next book.

 

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

  • Rachel Rising - I am not generally a fan of horror. I usually find it gross or too creepy. But I was hooked on this from the first issue.

 

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

  • Fingersmith - There wasn't a ton of action in this one, but the schemes and cons going on in this kept me glued to the book to find out what would happen next.
  • Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward - I've only read the 1st 3 Black Dagger Brotherhood series (this is #3), but I've found myself speeding through each one to find out what the group of vampires warriors are going to do next and how each romance will play out.
  • Rachel Rising - I read the 1st 4 back-to-back and can't actually tell you where one book ends and the next begins as a result.

 

9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

  • Rachel Rising - There were so many twists in the first arc of this series that I want to read it over again before continuing on.
  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell - I want to read both this and the companion novel, Fangirl, over again because they were just so much fun.

 

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?

Apparently comic book covers featuring women were my thing this year. Even if I didn't always like the story inside, I did like looking at their covers.

        

 

11. Most memorable character of 2015?

  • Rachel from Rachel Rising -The eponymous lead of the series, Rachel was introduced digging her way out of a shallow grave mostly dead. That's one way to make an entrance.
  • Baz from Carry On - This vampire wizard may have taken a while to appear in the story, but once he did, Baz stole every scene for me.
  • Maud from Fingersmith - I would have been surprised at this choice when I first started the book, but once things got going, Maud gained a lot of depth and became the most compelling part of the story.
  • Layla from X-Factor - I was first introduced to her in House of M where she made no impression on me. Then I got into this series, and she's the one I have tons of questions about, especially with that ending.

 

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

  • Black Iris by Leah Raeder - Her books tend to be dark and hard to read at times, but the writing is always gorgeous.

 

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?

  • Bad Feminist - It's not surprising that this was my most thought-provoking since it was a series of essays about the author's thoughts on a number of topics with the hope of getting others to think about those things as well.

 

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?

  • Battle Royale by Koushun Takami - I watched the movie 5 or 6 years ago, so it's a bit surprising I waited so long to get around to the book.
  • Secret Six - I love Gail Simone's work, and this is the series I hear the most about by her, so it's a bit ridiculous that I took so long to start it.

 

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?

I can never remember quotes, so I'll just have to pass.

 

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?

 

17. Book That Shocked You The Most:

  • Fingersmith - I did not see all the twists coming. And I'll just leave it at that.
  • Rachel Rising - Another one where I didn't see all the twists coming. And I'm sure there are plenty more to come.
  • Irredeemable by Mark Waid - This comic book series of a superhero gone bad does not pull any punches when it comes to the lead going dark. He is terrifyingly brutal and sadistic and puts all other villains I've read to shame.

 

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!):

  • Sue/Maud from Fingersmith - Did I mention this is also a lesbian romance? Because it totally is. And they're pretty cute together.
  • Simon/Baz from Carry On - Hate-to-love romances are one of my favorites, and this one between two wizard roommates delivers just that.
  • Mia/Michael from Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot - I've been a fan of them for over a decade, and it was great to see them together again.
  • Lois/Clark from Fallout by Gwenda Bond - They haven't actually met face-to-face yet in this series, only chatting online, but I've been a fan of Lois Lane and Superman since I was a kid, so even if it was only messaging, they had me smiling every time they talked.

 

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year:

  • Ma/Jack from Room by Emma Donghue- The story of Jack and his mother who are held captive in a room, their absolute love for one another was my favorite part in this sometimes creepy book.
  • Rat Queens from Rat Queens - The Rat Queens are a team of 4 (Hannah, Violet, Dee, and Betty) who have each other's backs and get into all sorts of trouble together.
  • Adelina/Raffale from The Young Elites - Adelina and Raffaele's friendship was my favorite part of this book and was far more compelling than her relationship with either love interest.
  • Diana/Mera from DC Comics: Bombshells - I was not expecting Wonder Woman and Mera of Atlantis to be best friends in this, but they are, and it is beautiful.

 

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously:

  • The Rose Society - I had read Legend by her previously, but I enjoy this series far more with book 2 being my favorite at the moment.
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses - I read several of her Throne of Glass before, but I love the characters in this more. And everyone has great chemistry here.
  • All the Rage - I had read Some Girls Are before. Based on these 2 books, Courtney Summers writes great teenage characters and covers some hard topics, and I need to get to work on reading her other books.
  • Secret Six - I've read a number of books by her before, but this is one of my favorites now.
  • Lover Awakened - I've only read the 1st 2 in this series before, but I love every one of them.

 

21. Best Book You Read In 2015 that You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

  • Rachel Rising - I never would have heard of this, let alone read it, if it hadn't one of the sites I get comic book recommendations from hadn't repeatedly called it one of the best comics currently being published.
  • Fingersmith - I can't remember exactly where I got the recommendation, but I know it was specifically because it was a great book with a lesbian romance.

 

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

  • Rachel from Rachel Rising - She's just too cool for me not to love her.
  • Raffaele from The Young Elites - He's clever, calculating, charismatic, and pretty. My favorite type of guy.
  • Feyre/Tamlin/Lucien/Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses -Remember how I said everyone had great chemistry? It made me fall in love with all of the main characters.

 

23. Best 2015 debut you read?

  • Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli - Looking over my list of books read, I didn't actually read too many this year. This was my favorite though following Simon who is being blackmailed into helping a fellow classmate or risk being outed to everyone as gay.

 

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

  • Rachel Rising - This did have the advantage of drawings to help set the atmosphere for this creepy town with a dark history.

 

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

  • Carry On - This book was just so silly and fun.
  • Rachel Rising - These books just kept making me smile at how much I loved the characters and the story.
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses - I love books where the main character has chemistry with everyone. They're a blast.
  • Rat Queens - These ladies are hilarious and cracked me up with their antics.
  • Lumberjanes - The girls' adventures at summer camp are just so cute and fun.
  • DC Comics: Bombshells - This was so much fun, and I loved seeing all the female superheroes in the alternate universe Second World War era.

 

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?

  • Torn Away by Jennifer Brown - The book starts with a tornado destroying Jersey's home and killing her family. And things get worse from there. I got teary-eyed several times.
  • Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen - Sarah Dessen has made an art of writing books that bring me close to tears. In this one, Sydney's family is thrown off balance after her brother gets into an accident while driving drunk. Sydney feels lost in the aftermath and finds herself growing closer to another family as she tries to deal with everything.

 

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

  • Rachel Rising - This is the comic book no one has heard of. Can you tell I like it yet?

 

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

  • Saint Anything - Sarah Dessen's book are pretty good at destroying me, but then putting me back together again by the end of it.

 

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?

  • Ody-C by Matt Fraction and Christian Ward - The was a sci-fi comic book retelling of The Odyssey that was unlike anything I've read both in terms of story and art. It was a bit too weird for me though.
  • Room - Telling the story of a mother and son held captive from the eyes of the 5 year-old son who has no clue what's going on is not something I ever expected, but it worked really well.

 

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

  • Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick - A sci-fi comic set in a world where women can be thrown in jail for being noncompliant (not being exactly how the patriarchy wants) where they face even more abuses of power is bound to make me mad.
  • Ensnared by A.G. Howard - The last book in the trilogy and Jeb, her horrible human love interest, was still awful.
  • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon - It's specifically the ending on this one that made me mad.
  • All the Rage - The book focused on how young women who are raped are treated by society, specifically following one girl and how it wrecked her life. The title is pretty appropriate.
  • Torn Away - After losing her home and family, Jersey has to live with the worst people. I was so angry at what she had to go through.

 

Looking Ahead

 

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016

I say #1 priority, but we'll see how well I do at actually getting to them quickly.

  • Made You Up by Francesca Zappia - All I know is that it features an unreliable narrator with schizophrenia, but I really want to read it.
  • Glimpses by Lynn Flewelling - This is a collection of short stories from her Nightrunner  series that I want to read.
  • Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler - I've heard this is her best one yet and that there's a strong focus on friendship in it, which have been my favorite relationships of her other books I've read.
  • Black Widow: Forever Red - It's Black Widow. I have to read it.
  • The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet - I loved The Lizzie Bennet Diaries web series and the first spin-off novel, so I'll definitely be reading this one.
  • The DUFF by Kody Keplinger - I keep meaning to read this, and it hasn't happened yet. I need to fix this.

 

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?

  • Heartless by Marissa Meyer - I loved her sci-fi fairy tale retellings in her Lunar Chronicles series, so I can't wait to see how she does with Alice in Wonderland.
  • Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson - I love stories told through emails, journal entries, etc.
  • Truthwitch by Susan Dennard - My reason for wanting to read this is pretty shallow: the cover is gorgeous.

 

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

  • Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst - The only part I remember from the synopsis is that a princess falls in love with her fiance's sister. That's enough for me.
  • Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin - The main character is genderfluid, and I'm intrigued.

 

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?

 

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?

  • Get caught up on reviews - I've gotten very behind on writing reviews for the books I want to do, and I don't like that.

Currently reading

Overlord, Vol. 1 - manga (Overlord Manga) by Satoshi Oshio, Kugane Maruyama
Bungo Stray Dogs, Vol. 1 by Kafka Asagiri
A Certain Magical Index, Vol. 1 - manga (A Certain Magical Index (manga)) by Kazuma Kamachi
My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected @ comic, Vol. 1 - manga (My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected @ comic (manga)) by Wataru Watari
Noragami: Stray God 01 by Adachitoka
Ten Count, Vol. 1 by Rihito Takarai
Platinum End, Vol. 1 by Takeshi Obata, Tsugumi Ohba
Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura, Vol. 1 (SAKURA HIME KADEN) by Arina Tanemura (2011-04-05) by Arina Tanemura
Kuroko's Basketball (2-in-1 Edition), Vol. 1: Includes vols. 1 & 2 by Tadatoshi Fujimaki
Akame ga KILL!, Vol. 1 by Takahiro Arai