Wires and Nerve, Volume 1

In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new, action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold. When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers’ leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.

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This graphic novel is Iko: Android Super Spy. Although all of our favorite heroes make an appearance in Wires and Nerves, this is Iko’s story.

Wires and Nerves Volume 1 occurs shortly after Winter. Luna and Earth are trying to come to a trustworthy alliance, Cinder is on the verge of abdicating her throne in favor of a democratic government, and rogue wolves have escaped on Earth and must be tracked down and returned to Luna before they hurt more people. With the people of Earth wary of Luna and unwilling to accept Cinder’s help, Cinder sends Iko on a secret mission to track down the packs of wolves and bring them back to Luna. Through Iko’s adventures, we get a peek into what post-rebellion life is like for our heroes of the Lunar Chronicles.

Since this is a graphic novel, we get less information than we would if it were in novel format. While we do not get a great deal of information to what we already know from the main Lunar Chronicles, I enjoyed seeing more of Cinder’s struggle with being a queen. However, her love life was a bit of a disappointment; she is on Luna and Kai is on Earth. And while all of our leading characters make an appearance, Cress and Thorne definitely took center stage (which is fine with me! I love them!).

One complaint I have about this graphic novel was the illustrations. I was hopeful that there would be more color as the cover image suggests (varying shades of blue with bright orange highlights), however, the only colors used were black, white, and blue. I also feel that some of the characters looked too similar at times and I had to rely on names in order to distinguish them (main example: Cress and Captain Thorne’s mother looked eerily alike).

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Overall, I let the story and nostalgia take over and I became used to the illustration style. I really enjoyed this volume and cannot wait for the next one! This is a great extension to the Lunar Chronicles that lovers of the series should read.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Title: Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 (Wires and Nerve #1)

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Genre: Graphic Novel, Comic Book, Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction

Read… on the bus in Seattle while… drinking a warm latte.

Purchase your copy hereBuy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

marissa meyerAuthor: Marissa Meyer

“One of my first spoken words was “story” (right along with “bath” and “cookie”), my favorite toy as an infant was a soft, squishable book, and I’ve wanted to be a writer since I first realized such a job existed.

When I was fourteen my best friend introduced me to anime and fanfiction—over the years I would complete over forty Sailor Moon fanfics under the penname Alicia Blade. Those so inclined can still find my first stories at fanfiction.net. Writing fanfic turned out to be awesome fun and brought me in contact with an amazing group of fan-fiction readers and writers. As Alicia Blade, I also had a novelette, “The Phantom of Linkshire Manor,” published in the Gothic romance anthology Bound in Skin (CatsCurious Press, 2007).

When I was sixteen I worked at The Old Spaghetti Factory in Tacoma, Washington, affectionately termed “The Spag.” (Random factoid: This is also the restaurant where my parents met some 25 years before.) I attended Pacific Lutheran University where I sorted mail that came to the dorm, carted tables and chairs around campus, and took writing classes, eventually earning a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Children’s Literature. Knowing I wanted a career in books, I would also go on to receive a Master’s degree in Publishing from Pace University (which you can learn more about here). After graduation, I worked as an editor in Seattle for a while before becoming a freelance typesetter and proofreader.

Then, day of days, someone thought it would be a good idea to give me a book deal, so I became a full-time writer. CINDER was my first completed novel, though I have an adorable collection of unfinished ones lying around, too.

I married my husband in 2011, two months before the release of Cinder, and we adopted our two beautiful twin daughters, Sloane and Delaney, in 2015. Reading lots and lots of bedtime stories is most definitely a new favorite pastime.”

Illustrator: Douglas Holgate

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Beauty and the Beast (2017)

The new Beauty and the Beast improves upon the animated original! The film is longer than the original – a full 45 minuets longer than the 1991 cartoon – but it uses that time to unleash fresh new songs, expand on character backstories, and provide more reasons for a provincial girl to fall in love with a ferocious beast.

It is a tale as old as time: Belle (Emma Watson) is the well-read outcast of her French village who comes to the rescue of her eccentric artist father (Kevin Kline) when he’s taken captive by the Beast (Dan Stevens). The former prince is now the furry resident of a rundown castle, and when Belle switches places with her imprisoned dad, she and the Beast go from distrusting strangers to fledgling lovebirds. Standing in their way are a jealous suitor, angry townsfolk, and a magical rose with falling petals that acts as a countdown clock for the Beast’s humanity.

Condon’s Beauty and the Beast is much more of a musical than the original; from an over-the-top musical opening where the selfish prince is transformed by an enchantress, to additional songs and wide-scope dance numbers, this Beauty and the Beast will enchant viewers the whole way through.

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Belle is updated and much more of a modern feminist; in addition to having no patience for illiterate brutes like uber-macho town hero Gaston (Luke Evans), Emma Watson’s Belle is an inventor herself, designing a washing machine so that she can spend more time reading.

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More time is spent in this Beauty and the Beast showing how Belle and the Beast grow to love each other beyond just geeking out over books. A new plot point has the Beast helping Belle come to grips with the loss of her mom. The Beast is created through visual effects wizardry, but the effects are so seamless that oftentimes you forget you are watching cinematic magic. The extra time spent on the love story in this rendition lets us in on more intimate moments, and this is where the movie catches fire. This Beast is a flawed human being instead of a special effect; he is a Beast worth saving. The love story was so well developed in this film that I found myself tearing up at the end, even though I knew what was to come!

Beyond the beautiful love story, the casting of this film was absolutely perfect! Gaston is the entertaining jerk Evans was born to play. Josh Gad, who plays Gaston’s loyal sidekick, took LeFou from a bumbling sidekick to a wickedly entertaining voice of reason who fosters a crush on Gaston. Be prepared to watch Gad steal every scene. The film also gets a boost from the household objects that famously come to life: Ewan McGregor played a charming Lumiere and Emma Thompson was a delightful Mrs. Potts.

Go see this film in theaters! Go see it more than once! It is pure magic!

Review: 5 out of 5 Stars

Director: Bill Condon

Writers: Stephen Chbosky (screenplay), Evan Spiliotopoulos (screenplay)

Stars: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans | See full cast & crew »

Release Date: March 17, 2017

Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird #2)

Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents’ invention, to cross into alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse—even hurting the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked and his consciousness scattered across multiple dimensions.

Marguerite has no choice but to search for each splinter of Paul’s soul. The hunt sends her racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each world brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with each trial she faces, she begins to question the destiny she thought they shared.

ten thousand skies above you coverThis second novel of the Firebird series picks up where we left off, jumping between dimensions as we dive deeper into the multiverse theory, cross-dimensional travel, and an evermore complicated romantic triangle between Marguerite, Theo, and Paul.

Like the first book of the series, the best feature of Ten Thousand Skies Above You was the cross-dimensional travel. In this second book, we explore even further the ethics of cross-dimensional travel and consciously inhabiting and controlling another person’s body and actions. Despite good intentions, Marguerite quickly learns that her actions in every dimension have consequences.

Unlike the first book, the majority of the dimensions we travel to in Ten Thousand Skies Above You have very minor differences in technology. Gray used this to her advantage to work on subtle character development. Through Marguerite’s cross-dimensional travels, we get to explore how different surroundings and environments can influence one’s behaviors and attitudes. It is an interesting flip of the nature versus nurture argument. Are people inherently the same at their core being, or do their surroundings influence their personality? Then there is the idea of fate: are two people destined to find each other or is it just chance, choice, and circumstance?

Due to the fact that we spend the majority of this book following Marguerite on her quest to save Paul’s splintered soul, we get to explore other characters in more depth. By the end of this book, I was much more connected and invested in Theo. The love triangle between Marguerite, Paul, and Theo makes much more sense in this book than it did in A Thousand Pieces of You. Through the cross-dimensional travels, Marguerite encounters several dimensions where she discovers that she chose Theo over Paul, which makes her question the foundation of her relationship with Paul. Is fate real? Or is life simply a series of choices? I am not saying that I am “Team Theo,” but I love the exploration of the idea of fate and soul mates through this love triangle.

Unlike A Thousand Pieces of You, this book started off slowly. In a departure from her usual methods, Gray spent too much time summarizing and addressing things that we learned in the first book. This was particularly frustrating as I finished the first book just a few weeks ago. It does eventually pick back up, and Gray resumes the fast pace that she set in A Thousand Pieces of You.

On the whole, Ten Thousand Skies Above You was a great sequel to an interesting book about cross-dimensional travel with likable characters. Even though it stumbled through the beginning with a slow start, the plot was engaging and intricate and left me wanting to read the third book in the series.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

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Claudia-GrayAuthor: Claudia Gray

Claudia Gray is a pseudonym. I would like to say that I chose another name so that no one would ever learn the links between my shadowy, dramatic past and the explosive secrets revealed through my characters. This would be a lie. In truth, I took a pseudonym simply because I thought it would be fun to choose my own name. (And it is.)

I write novels full-time, absolutely love it, and hope to be able to do this forever. My home is in New Orleans, is more than 100 years old, and is painted purple. In my free time I read, travel, hike, cook and listen to music. You can keep up with my latest releases, thoughts on writing and various pop-culture musings via Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, GoodReads, Instagram or (of course) my own home page.

Genre: Fantasy, Science-Fiction, Young Adult, Fiction

Read… on a rainy Saturday while… the boyfriend played Legend of Zelda: Breath of Wild.

Title: Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird #2)

Publisher: HarperTeen

Purchase your copy hereBuy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Déjà Dead

deja dead book coverGenre: Mystery, Thriller, Murder, Suspense, Detective, Crime Fiction

Read… in a cafe down the street from my apartment while… sipping a latte and watching the Seattle rain outside.

Title: Déjà Dead

Publisher: Pocket Books

Purchase your copy hereBuy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Review: 5 out of 5 Stars

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Summary (from Goodreads): Her life is devoted to justice; for those she never even knew. In the year since Temperance Brennan left behind a shaky marriage in North Carolina, work has often preempted her weekend plans to explore Quebec. When a female corpse is discovered meticulously dismembered and stashed in trash bags, Temperance detects an alarming pattern and she plunges into a harrowing search for a killer. But her investigation is about to place those closest to her, her best friend and her own daughter in mortal danger…

Review:  I loved this book! Caveat: I came into this book as an already established Bones fan. My main motivation in reading this book and starting this series is the fact that we are at the final season of Bones and I am not ready to let go of Dr. Brennan.

Déjà Dead (1997) won the Ellis Award for Best First Novel in 1997 and it is the first book in Kathy Reichs’ acclaimed mystery series featuring Dr. Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist working in Montreal, Quebec.

[Side note: For those of you who are also Bones fans, be aware that this Dr. Temperance Brennan is fairly different from her TV counterpart. They are very similar, but more akin to cousins than identical characters. As of this novel, we do not have any of the ensemble characters of agent Seeley Booth, Angela Montenegro, Jack Hodgins, etc. The setting is in Quebec, Canada not Washington D.C., USA. Book Brennan is a recovering alcoholic, recently divorced, and has a daughter in college. Reading book Brennan is like looking at a distorted reflection of TV Brennan – rooted in the same reality, but different. Let us move on.]

brennanDr. Temperance Brennan is newly divorced and establishing an independent life in Montreal while she works as a consulting forensic anthropologist, identifying remains for the local police department. What makes this  book stand apart from other murder mystery fiction is that it is part biography. The author, Dr. Kathy Reichs, is also a forensic anthropologist, just like our heroine, and as a result the science in the book was detailed and true. To an non-forensic anthropologist reader, there will be bits and pieces in the book that may prove difficult to understand, however, if you are coming into the books from watching Bones, then the science will not be that unusual or distracting. The scientific detail does not detract from the story; if anything, it only serves to enhance it, bringing us further into the story by making it that much more believable.

The ensemble of characters in this book was a delight as well. I really appreciated the focus on Dr. Brennan as the sole woman in the male dominated field of police work. I love strong female leads, and Dr. Brennan is not one to back down, even when her own life is on the line.

Déjà Dead is dark, suspenseful, gritty and graphic, full of twists and turns, and is overall a stunning debut novel. If you find yourself like I was this weekend, full of longing for warmer, brighter, and dryer days, then Déjà Dead was just what the doctor ordered. We have gotten non-stop rain in Seattle all winter, and losing myself in the murder mystery surrounding Dr. Temperance Brennan’s work was just what I needed to escape this weekend.

kathy-reichs-antropologa-forense-bonesAuthor: Kathy Reichs

Kathy Reichs’s first novel Déjà Dead catapulted her to fame when it became a New York Times bestseller and won the 1997 Ellis Award for Best First Novel. Her other Temperance Brennan novels include Death du Jour, Deadly Décisions, Fatal Voyage, Grave Secrets, Bare Bones, Monday Mourning, Cross Bones, Break No Bones, Bones to Ashes, Devil Bones, 206 Bones, Spider Bones, Flash and Bones, Bones Are Forever, and Bones of the Lost, and the Temperance Brennan e-short, Bones In Her Pocket. In addition, Kathy co-authors the Virals young adult series with her son, Brendan Reichs. These books follow the adventures of Temperance Brennan’s great niece, Tory Brennan.  Dr. Reichs is also a producer of the hit Fox TV series, Bones, which is based on her work and her novels.

From teaching FBI agents how to detect and recover human remains, to separating and identifying commingled body parts in her Montreal lab, as a forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs has brought her own dramatic work experience to her mesmerizing forensic thrillers. For years she consulted to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina, and continues to do so for the Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale for the province of Québec. Dr. Reichs has traveled to Rwanda to testify at the UN Tribunal on Genocide, and helped exhume a mass grave in Guatemala. As part of her work at JPAC (Formerly CILHI) she aided in the identification of war dead from World War II, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Dr. Reichs also assisted with identifying remains found at ground zero of the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Dr. Reichs is one of only eighty-two forensic anthropologists ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. She served on the Board of Directors and as Vice President of both the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, and is currently a member of the National Police Services Advisory Council in Canada. She is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Dr. Reichs is a native of Chicago, where she received her Ph.D. at Northwestern. She now divides her time between Charlotte, NC and Montreal, Québec.

An Ember in the Ashes

Ember in the Ashes Cover Image

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Author: Sabaa Tahir

Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Fiction, Dystopian

Devoured… in the evenings while… staying up late and way past my bedtime.

Title: An Ember in the Ashes

Publisher: Razorbill

Purchase your copy hereBuy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Review: 5 out of 5 Stars

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Summary (from Goodreads): Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

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Review: I loved this book! It will keep you up at night because you will not want to put it down. I have not read a book this engrossing since The Hunger Games.

An Ember in the Ashes is set in a dystopian fantasy world in which a Martial elite rules an empire through fear and brutality. The story is told through two different characters: Laia, a slave girl who will risk everything to save her captive brother, and Elias, a young soldier raised to become a Martial but whose only desire is to be free from the destiny of violence awaiting him. The interlacing narratives explore themes such as oppression, suffering, the meaning of freedom and its cost.

Tahir’s society in An Ember in the Ashes is poisoned by slavery and full of violence. The school’s commandant (Elias’s estranged mother and Laia’s master) is likely to gouge out the eye of a child as payment for another slave’s offense. In one scene, the commandant burns her initial into Laia’s chest, marking Laia as her own property. Tahir does not shy away from blood, violence, or gore in this novel, so readers beware.

What I appreciated about this book, particularly as a fan of Star Wars and Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars, is that Tahir is careful to show that the members of the Empire are also victims. Students are whipped and subjected through psychological terror. An elite group of Martials known as Masks wear silver masks that fuse and bond with their faces, erasing their original identity and forging a new one devoted to the Empire.While the repetition of violence runs the risk of inuring readers to it, An Ember in the Ashes is a richer book for showing that none of its characters are truly free or safe.

The overall setting of An Ember in the Ashes echoes of ancient Rome. But what sets this fantasy world apart is the introduction of middle-eastern influences: the scent of spices, the date and apricot trees, the mirror embroideries in the women’s skirts, the glass lanterns, the lattice screens. In a genre where the aesthetic is often shaped by medieval Europe and countryside Britain, the result is a strikingly original and visually memorable fantasy landscape. Between this and Rebel of the Sands, I am loving all of the fantasy-epic journeys into middle eastern influenced landscapes.

Romance weaves throughout the plot, but it does not drive the story line. Two connected love triangles are in play and I am sure they will be further explored in A Torch Against the Night. There is not much to say about the romance as all we see in this novel is the groundwork that will be further explored, but I already have my favorite couple that I am rooting for and I am excited to see where their journey takes us.

Pick this book up ASAP and start reading it. You will not regret it.

#ECCC2017

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This weekend marked the annual Emerald City Comicon and my first time attending a Comic-Con. Needless to say, I loved it! Here are a few of my favorite things from Emerald City Comicon 2017:

Favorite Panel: “Rebel Scum: Finding Hope in Resistance”

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At Rebel Scum¸ a diverse all-female panel discussed hope and rebellion from Rogue One and how to participate in making the galaxy a better place in today’s current political climate. Every woman on the panel was smart, talented, and amazing! The panel was uplifting, full of great insights, and truly inspiring. You can find all of the panelists on twitter by searching #RebelScumECCC

Favorite Fan Group: “The 501st Legion: Bad Guys Doing Good”

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Photo from Geek Dad

The 501st Legion’s Garrison Titan was out in full-force at Emerald City Comicon! For this year’s ECCC, the 501st Legion teamed up with the Alpha Base Rebel Legion, Jet City Saber Guild, SARLACC, and the Ewok Builders Club to create a Star Wars experience unlike any other—all for a good cause.

Every year, the Star Wars costuming and props groups in the Seattle area join forces to create a Star Wars interactive area at Emerald City Comicon. To enter, all they ask is for an optional donation to the Seattle Children’s Hospital. 100% of the donations go to Seattle Children’s Hospital.

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All of the builds and displays are funded by the members themselves, and they are amazing! We got to participate in stunning photo ops on a speederbike in the forest of Endor, enjoy a cup of coffee around the dejarik table of the Millennium Falcon, and sit inside the cockpit of an X-wing. Volunteers were on hand to help us suit up and strike a pose.

Favorite Piece of Swag from the Show Floor: Star Wars Rebels Flat Bill Hat from MoPOP

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The Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPOP, is dedicated to the history and exploration of popular music, science fiction, and pop culture. They had a booth set up in the Show Floor and I managed to snag one of their limited edition Star Wars Rebel Pilot Uniform Caps!

Favorite Newly Discovered Comic Book Author/Series: Brian K. Vaughn with Saga and We Stand on Guard

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I haven’t started reading Saga yet, but here’s a breakdown of the story-line from IGN:

Saga is a science fiction fantasy, set in a galaxy that’s as full of magic and monsters as it is spaceships and lasers. There’s a war between the planet Landfall, whose inhabitants have wings on their backs, and its moon Wreath, whose people all have horns on their heads — and this war has encompassed the entire universe. Our heroes go on an adventure that spans countless worlds, and includes epic battles, nefarious bounty hunters, and a ruthless robot that’s tracking them all down. You know how Star Wars featured all this stuff that we’d never seen before, but it all felt so right that it was like it was practically real? Saga has that exact same magic.”

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Curious what a war between the U.S. and Canada would look like? Then look no further than We Stand on Guard. 100 years from now, a heroic band of Canadian civilians must defend their homeland from invasion… by the United States of America!

Biggest Regret: Missing the Outlander Panel

I love Outlander and I was so disappointed when I could not make it to their panel. Thankfully, someone recorded it and shared it on YouTube!

All in all, I had a blast at ECCC this year! The only thing I would do different is get a full four-day pass. Thank goodness there’s always next year!

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

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Happy Belated Birthday to Dr. Seuss,
who was born on March 2, 1904.