We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

Following the premiere of season 10 of The X-Files, I decided to pick up We Are the Ants.

Henry has been continually abducted by aliens since he was 13 years.  If that wasn’t bad enough, his dad abandoned the family when he was a child, his single mom is struggling to hold the family together while his grandmother is suffering from Alzheimer’s, his brother Charlie knocked up his girlfriend Zooey, and Henry’s boyfriend Jesse committed suicide last year.  It’s a lot to sort though – oh and the aliens have told him that the world is going to end in 144 days and Henry has the power to stop it but right now Henry doesn’t feel like he or the world are worth saving.

Full Goodreads synopsis found here.

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I feel like I’m in the minority here but I thought We Are the Ants was just so-so.  This book reminds me of an Andrew Smith novel which I’m sure for some readers is a major selling point but for me it means a book about a 16 year old boy that thinks about sex a lot while being consfused and angry along with a really weird premise.  I love the weird plots in the background but not the inner monologue of the boys (good thing I’ve got 16 years until I have a teenaged son).

Some things I liked -> The chapters are interspersed with journal entries of how Henry thinks the world could end.  Henry’s estranged best friend Audrey.  Jesse’s mom. Henry’s grandmother.  Apparently all the ladies.

Some things I didn’t like -> Description of the sluggers (aliens), I had no clear picture of their appearance.  Diego (love interest), I couldn’t get a good grasp on him.  Marcus (bully/love interest – enough said).  ANGST.  How Charlie/Zooey’s storyline played out.  SO MUCH ANGST.

It’s not a bad story, it’s just not for me but if you’re looking for an angsty contemporary novel with a sci twist check out We Are the Ants for yourself.

I received an ARC from Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA.

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Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl

I can’t describe to you my triumph of nabbing the ARC of Black Widow: Forever Red off the Little Shop of Stories’ ARC shelf before anyone else in my bookclub could get to it!  Bwahaha!  Black Widow is beloved by my bookclub and pretty much all superhero-loving, women-kind.

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Nastasha Romanov stands out as the lone female in the testosterone heavy group of the Avengers.  But being the only woman is tough because we hold her to a higher standard, she’s the only one we have to look up to.  We want her to be all the things – she can’t be perfect but she can’t be too flawed, she has to be relatable but still awe-inspiring, and so on and so forth.  It’s a tall order for sure.

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It’s no surprise after the Avengers movies that women (and men too) were clamoring for more Black Widow (hello Marvel where is our stand alone Black Widow movie??).  Coming out this October is a new Black Widow YA novel from Margaret Stohl (co-author of the Beautiful Creatures series and author of the Icons series) – here’s the Forever Red synopsis from Goodreads:

Natasha Romanoff is one of the world’s most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow’s infamous academy for operatives.

Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments-until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn’t really the big sister type.

Until now.

When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned-and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava’s dreams. . . .

For starters, look at this badass cover – it’s amazing!

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Forever Red reads like a movie script, it’s fast-paced and action-packed and with some familiar faces (namely Phil Coulson and Tony Stark) it’s impossible not to read the dialogue using the actors’ voices (not that that is a bad thing!).  This book is written like a movie in your mind.  The story is told from 3 different POVs – Natasha’s, Ava’s and Alex Manor’s (a seemingly normal American teenage except that Ava has been dreaming about him for months even though she has never met him).  There is at least one chapter that was titled as an Ava chapter and halfway thru it turned into a Nastasha chapter, I’m hoping that gets cleared up #eek.

Overall, I liked the story/adventure/mission/whatever you want to call it, the novel is also full of witty dialogue and entertaining cultural references though I would have liked some more feels.  There is backstory (primarily referring to Natasha) but I want more – there can never be enough origin story.  I think maybe because it read like an action movie, it lacked some depth, the story was bam bam bam scene scene scene.  The downside – the climax was over in an instant (insert sex joke), it happened so fast that I didn’t really have time to process that the final showdown was happening.  Had it been a bit more drawn out, I would have had more feels because I was definitely supposed to.  The story wrapped, no cliffhangers but there are unanswered questions so I wouldn’t be surprised if this became a series.  All said and done, I really enjoyed Forever Red and can’t wait to let my bookclub fight over and then we can all dissect it!

Moral of the story is WHERE IS THE GODDAMN BLACK WIDOW MOVIE???

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Monday Comics

I didn’t get around to posting yesterday because our cat Bear was missing!! He went on a weekend long adventure into the great outdoors that nearly gave Mark and I a heart attack.  After searching on foot/by car, going to the animal shelter and hanging flyers, Bear turned up this morning laying on the porch like nothing had happened.  We are very happy to have the little troublemaker home.  

On to comics!  Just 3 this week plus a super awesome ARC. 

Giant Day #5 – Probably my favorite issue yet!!  I’m glad this was such a strong issue because I was a little indifferent about the last issue.  Issue 5 saves the day.

A-Force #2 – A lot is going on which seems like an understatement.  Still s relative newbie to comics, I am working on navigating Battleworld and Victor Von Doom.  I’m loving all the the action.  All the wonderful ladies in one comic is making want to seek out the solo comics especial She-Hulk.

Lumberjanes #16 – Month after month I love these girls.  The girls are reunited with Jen and we get some more backstory of Rosie and the old Bear Woman.

Black Widow Forever Red by Margaret Stohl – So so excited to have nabbed this ARC from my bookshop Little Shop of Stories and I can’t wait to pass it around my book club.  Due out this October, I’ll post a full review before then, hopefully within the next month.

What comics are you reading??

Bookshelf Thursday

This is one of my favorite cubbies!  The loose theme of this cubby magical YA
IMG_4686In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters – a bookclub pick from last year that I absolutely loved!!  Bookclub has introduced me to so much fantastic historical fiction.

Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake.  LOVE LOVE LOVE – I can not praise this duo enough.  If you love Buffy and Supernatural and similar amazing shows, check these books out!!

House of Ivy and Sorrow by Natalie Whipple, I received this ARC from Little Shop of Stories.  I loved the dark nature magic in this novel, everything comes with a price.

Rampant by Diana Peterfreund was a book I received in our bookclub white elephant.  A surprisingly entertaining read about unicorns hunters.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City by Ransom Riggs.  There are Tim Burton movie rumors abound!

Jackaby by William Ritter – another bookclub pick, part Doctor Who part Supernatural part Sherlock.

Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.  One of my favorite witchy series.  I have Dangerous Creatures waiting to be read!

Last but not least – Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, once again another bookclub pick.

What are your favorite magical YA novels??

Sunday Comics – Free Comic Book Day Edition

Saturday, May 2nd was Free Comic Book Day AND Independent Bookstore Day!!  Needless to say, I spend the day with my favorite comic book shop Criminal Records and my favorite bookstore Little Shop of Stories who was also celebrating their 10 year anniversary.

So much activity in one day definitely led to a late afternoon couch nap during Star Trek TNG.  I picked up 15 free comics from Criminal Records.  The comics I picked up were a mix of ones I’d been looking forward to (Doctor Who, Boom!’s 10 year celebration), ones I’ve been curious about (Cleopatra in Space, Gronk), and ones that just looked cool (Lady Justice, Worlds of Aspen).

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In honor of LSOS’s 10 year anniversary, they had a party in Decatur Square Saturday afternoon.  I bought up An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (a much anticipated read and my book club pick for August), enjoyed a delicious King of Pops ‘Little Pop of Stories’ – raspberry-lime flavored, and got a sweet temporary tattoo on my wrist ‘read’.

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I rounded out my day reading The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (May book club pick) and watching Orphan Black – all in all, a pretty magically nerdy wonderful day.

How did you spend Free Comic Book Day and Independent Bookstore Day??

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

Extraordinary Means is not your typical coming-of-age, boarding school love story.

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At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it’s easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French.

There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times.

But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down. Told in alternating points of view, Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about doomed friendships, first love, and the rare miracle of second chances. – Goodreads

Like I said, not your typical boarding school romance.

Lane is a newly diagnosed Total Drug Resistant-Tuberculosis patient trying to understand how his rigidly planned future, previously made up of AP exams and early admission to Stanford, crumbled into automatic A’s, mandatory rest periods, and unlimited sick days.  Miserable at Latham, Lane yearns to be a part of a quirky group of students who seem unaffected by their quarantined surroundings (a la The Secret History by Donna Tartt or The Likeness by Tana French).

Sadie is one of Latham House’s longest staying residents.  Neither improving, nor declining, Sadie is in a sort of stasis watching the other patients come and go – patients who overcome the (fictional) TDR-TB and go home to their regularly schedule lives and those patients who do not . . .  Despite their potentially bleak future, Sadie and her friends rebel in the only way they can – arguing with the lunch lady, refusing pajama parties in favor of black-tie affairs, and sneaking out into woods to secure contraband for their fellow students/patients.

Schneider has created a fragile, yet beautiful story of a group of friends staring into the void of an uncertain future with nothing to cling to but each other.  (Speaking of uncertain futures, I can’t wait to read We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach #Squee).  Schneider executes the dual point of views like a pro. Setting wise, Latham House feels real – the school, the woods, the nearby town, it all feels like a place that could exist.  At the end of the novel, Schneider even includes a brief history of tuberculosis and sanatoriums which I found completely fascinating.  It’s easy to fall in love with Lane, Sadie, Nick, Charlie and Marnia – you’re rooting for them so completely but you know in the end, it can’t last forever.

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Also – so many Harry Potter references *flails*

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Extraordinary Means hits shelves May 26th, 2015 from Katherine Tegen Books.  Thank you Little Shop of Stories for the opportunity to read and review this lovely novel!

Book Review: My True Love Gave to Me Edited by Stephanie Perkins

My True Love Gave to Me is a collection of 12 holiday-themed romance tales brought to you by some of the best young adult authors today, edited by Stephanie Perkins (author of the Anna and the French Kiss trilogy). Two weeks ago my fav bookshop Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA hosted David Levithan and Stephanie Perkins herself. Both authors read from their stories, spoke a bit about their favorite parts of the holidays and signed copies of the novel.

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I was planning on saving this collection until December but I wanted to be prepared for the reading so Christmas came a bit early. It was however a great way to kick on the holiday season! I’m just going to speak a bit about a few of the stories. Overall, the collection was heart warming, a perfect winter read. Levithan’s story titled ‘Your Temporary Santa’ was one of the more serious stories about a teenage boy pretending to be Santa for his boyfriend’s youngest sister. Levithan really knows how to pull together family dynamics in just a few pages.

Stephanie Perkin’s tale ‘It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown’ is easily her best work to date. You read that right, I would go so far as to say that this is my favorite writing by her ever, including the entire Anna trilogy. Don’t believe me? Read it for yourself. I could read an entire novel about Marigold and North, their 34 page romance made me fall in love right there with them.

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My favorite, surprise surprise, was Midnights by Rainbow Rowell which follows Mags and Noel over the course of multiple New Year’s Eves, their friendship anniversary. Midnights is another short story that I wish was an entire novel. Ahh give me all the stories!!!! This collection introduced me to some new authors, notable Matt De La Pena, Kiersten White, and Ally Carter, all of which I am really eager to read some of their full length novels. There are a few supernatural stories I found enjoyable but overall I did not like them as much as the more traditional realistic holiday romances.

The cover art for this collection is beautiful and features all 12 couples ice skating. Curl up next to the fire with a cup of hot chocolate for this deliciously sweet holiday read (I think I just vomited a little in my mouth typing that). But seriously it’s really great read.

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