Saturday, February 1, 2020

Graphic Novel Review of Nils: The Tree of Life by Jérôme Hamon and Illustrated by Antoine Carrion

Read for: Netgalley/Requested Review/ Graphic Novel

Synopsis: "A dystopic Nordic fantasy world, where spirits of light are the key to life, but seemingly have abandoned the world. Young Nils and his father set out to discover why the ground has grown infertile, heading north where the drought seems worse to find the cause. Far along the way, they find signs of fresh and vibrant life, caretaken by these little light spirits. But before they know it, a large metal creature arrives and attacks the creatures, apparently hunting and gathering them. From out of the woods, a woman attacks the creature, bringing it to its knees... apparently the plant was bait for the spirits, which in turn were bait for the metal creature, which serves the high-tech Cyan Nation. This huntress, named Alba, takes Nils and his father into their tribe, where the battle between the shamanistic people and the Cyan Nation is paramount, a battle over the protection vs exploitation of the light spirits power... Meanwhile, three goddesses watch these events, lamenting the fact that man had abandoned all belief in their power long ago. They watch but do not intervene, despite the fact that the spirits are being harvested en masse by the Cyan Nation, wreaking ruin on the world outside their city. Realizing that this conflict will in one way or another change the very fabric of this world, they slowly begin to intervene... As they continue their travels, Nils has a dream (seeded by one of the goddesses) about the World Tree, Yggdrasil, which is being consumed by a metal plague. He knows he must now find and save the tree, and in the process, save the world. But the high council of the Cyan Nation would have otherwise... Having been separated in their quest, Nils's father finds himself a guest of the Cyan Prince, where he learns that they do indeed understand the power of the spirits, which they call Ethernum, serving as the power source for their technological advancement. More sinister than that, however, is the fact that they've used the Ethernum as a means of near-eternal longevity, having wiped out all competitors to their power and resource long ago. And now, they believe they have unlocked the secrets for using the Ethernum to revive the dead... And for the goddesses, that is a step too far. They intervene, but in the process find one of themselves surprisingly captured by the Cyan royalty... and then killed. The remaining two goddesses are torn by this affront. One vows to wipe mankind off the planet for good, while the other goes to help Nils save the Life Tree. High fantasy adventure combining science-fiction with pseudo-spiritual magic, posing dramatic examinations of man vs nature, life vs death, fact vs faith, and man's desire to play god."

My Review:  As soon as I heard about this book and saw the cover I knew I had to read it. I was intrigued by the idea of reverting back to mythology in a dystopian world. I didn't get as much Norse mythology as I would have liked but it was still an epic story. The illustrations are amazing and the unique world was great. It was a bit difficult to follow and the reasoning behind events was not well explained. There are a few different unique cultures/religions throughout the story and I loved that idea but we didn't really get to see much of how those cultures evolved or how they have survived. The artwork though and the few character story lines that you can actually follow somewhat kept you turning pages. This was aesthetically beautiful but left me a bit confused and underwhelmed with the story.

My Rating: I had such high hopes for this one, I am always on the lookout for unique or mythology based graphic novels.  The artwork in this was amazing and the concept was amazing as well, however the story delivery just lacked a bit.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review and opinion.

You can find out more about Jérôme Hamon and his work on his Goodreads Page.

Nils: The Tree of Life is scheduled to be released on February 11th but you can pre-order your copy now in print format from Amazon and Barnes & Noble or request it at your local library or comic book store.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Bedtime Story: I'll Never Get All of That Done by Bryan Smith & Illustrated by Lisa M. Griffin

Read for: Children's Books/ Netgalley/ Requested Review

Synopsis: "Teach children how to set priorities with this great storybook.

Blake has a to-do list that's just too long.
How can his parents and teachers expect him to finish his homework, clean his room AND bake cookies for the baseball bake sale? Don't they know there's something urgent he has to do now like play video games?!
When Mom encourages Blake to follow the 3 Ps, prioritizing, planning and posting a reminder of what needs to be done, he's unimpressed.
But as his responsibilities pile up and his deadlines quickly approach, he has to figure out what needs doing now.
Can following Mom s advice and using the 3 Ps really make a difference?
School counselor and award-winning author Bryan Smith reveals the answer in this relatable story about the power of preparation and planning. It s the latest tale from the author s Executive FUNction storybook series, written for K-5 students, their parents and teachers."

My Review: I previously read another book by this author (Time To Get Started) in a similar style and it was very helpful, so I definitely wanted to read this one. As an adult, and a rather organized, to-do list, type A, adult; it is often hard for me to remember that the ability to prioritize, lists and get things done isn't an innate skill, it must be taught. Munchkin has been struggling with this as a second grader, what needs to be done first and what is just an optional item. I like the way this book goes about explaining things without being too preachy. It gives a great example of how to prioritize items on a to do list not just for a single day but over a whole week. It also has great resources for both parents and teachers on how to help teach these skills to our children.

My Rating: I love how this books makes learning to prioritize approachable and easy with simple tricks kids can execute on their own.  This is an important skill that will be needed throughout life and a great way to start early.  I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

 I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review and opinion.

You can find out more about Bryan Smith and his children's books on his Amazon Author Page.

I'll Never Get All of That Done is scheduled to be released on February 11th but you can pre-order  your print copy now from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or request it at your local bookstore or library.

January 2020 Wrap Up & February TBR

Gosh it is always a little weird wrapping up the first month of the year, the list of books read always looks so small after seeing final numbers from last year. But this month, while it started out rather slow, really picked up steam and I manage to read so many books!  As in year's past I will post updates on the challenges I have set for myself this year, as well as the new books I have picked up.  I am going to try a slightly different format from my years past so you will have to let me know what you think.

First and foremost is my only actual challenge for the  year . . .

TBR Books from the Past 3 Years:
I read 5 books off the TBR list from the last 3 years, not quite as many as I wanted but I am pretty happy with this number.

I also DNFed one book off the last 3 years of TBR books:

I also read 3 more books off my older TBR (not included in the last 3 years of hauls):

January Additions:
As I said earlier this year, I am trying to limit the number of books I purchase to 1 a week, not including gifts.  This month I didn't quite stick to that due to a purchase I forgot about in December that didn't arrive until this month. 

While I did add more books than I had wanted to my shelves this month, The Raven's Tale was a gift, so technically I only went 1 over on my purchases.  I have also read 3 of these already and have plans to read the other 3 very early in February!

In other reading I am tracking this year, I read . . .


Borrowed Books:

Books Over 500 Pages:
1. A Plague of Giants (624)

2. A Blight of Blackwings (512)

Requested Reviews:
By Design (Caffinated PR)
Nameless Queen (Netgalley)
Risk It All (Netgalley)
The Snow Bear (Netgalley)
Come Tumbling Down (Netgalley)
Belle Revolte (Direct/Netgalley) - DNF

A Blight of Blackwings (Netgalley) *

January Reading Stats:
I read a total of 23 books this month
3,013 pages read and 3 days, 5 hours and 56 minute of listening

Resolutions Check in:
1. Read that TBR: While I didn't read as many books as I had initially hoped for this month (Requested reviews kind of took over), I did manage to read 5 and DNF 1 from my priority list.  On average to remove 100 books from my TBR list I need to read 8-9 books, but I am going to call this month a win, it was a good start.  - CHECK
2. Purchase Less Books: I am trying to limit myself to only 1 book purchase a week and I got very close with 5 purchases and a gift. I only went 1 over and tomorrow would be another week so I just won't pick one up tomorrow, so again not technically a win but I am going to count it for progress sake!- CHECK
3. Read Big Books: I am once again trying to read those big books on my shelves. So with a goal of 10 books over 500 pages, I have to really get cracking. With that said with my reading tracking last year, I discovered that early in the year is when I tend to reach for those chunkier reads and this month was no different with 2 over 500 pages (and 1 just 5 pages short of 500) - CHECK 
4. Interact: I have pulled so much into my little corner of the internet that I have almost zero interactions each week.  So I have been pushing myself, I have joined in with a few meme series, Top 10 Tuesday and Can't Wait Wednesday as well as pushed myself to comment on other blogs as well as interacted with others on Instagram. It is hard to get out of the habit of being a silent watcher but we have progress - CHECK


Now I get to look forward to February's TBR! We have some fun things going on this month, I have a few more Requested Reviews to read, we have Tome Topple in the middle of the month and I need to get cracking on my TBR list.  So I have decided what books I don't manage to read on my TBR list this month will be subject to a Try a Chapter Challenge.  So here are the books on my list for the month . . .

For TBR List
The Raven's Tale
The Language of Fire
Steel Crow Saga
The Winter King
The Bromance Book Club
Wastelander Awakening
The Half-Drowned King
Freeing Her Dragons
Not the Girl You Marry
The Bridge Kingdom
Shadow Frost

How has your kick off to this year's challenges gone? Are you happy with the fresh start of the new year? What challenge are you most looking forward to completing?

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Can't Wait For . . . Queen's Peril by E.K. Johnston (Waiting On/ Can't Wait Wednesday)

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hoste at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. If you're continuing with WOW, feel free to link those up as well! Find out more here.

I haven't done one of these Waiting on Wednesday (now Can't Wait Wednesday) posts in ages but there are so many books I am excited about this year that I thought it was time to bring these posts back.  

One that I almost didn't realize was coming out this year but am now dying for right now is Queen's Peril.  After getting Queen's Shadow last year, I figured that would be all we got for Padme.  I am so anticipating this book that I have started to hunt down props and costume ideas for instagram posts for once I have this book in my hot little hands!

Queen's Peril by E.K. Johnston
Release Date: May 5, 2020

Synopsis: "When fourteen-year-old Padmé Naberrie wins the election for Queen of Naboo, she adopts the name Amidala and leaves her family to the rule from the royal palace. To keep her safe and secure, she’ll need a group of skilled handmaidens who can be her assistants, confidantes, defenders, and decoys. Each girl is selected for her particular talents, but it will be up to Padmé to unite them as a group. When Naboo is invaded by forces of the Trade Federation, Queen Amidala and her handmaidens will face the greatest test—of themselves, and of each other."

Who is your favorite underrated character from a popular series/fandom?

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Review of A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

Read for: Recently Added/ Audio Book

Synopsis: "Find the heir, win the crown.

The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Win the crown, save the kingdom.

Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen--until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.

In the sequel to New York Times bestselling A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer returns to the world of Emberfall in a lush fantasy where friends become foes and love blooms in the darkest of places."

My Review: I had really enjoyed the first book in this series, so I was really excited to pick this one up. It did start off a little rocky, the original characters Rhen & Harper seemed completely different from their personalities in the previous book. Once we got past their appearances in this book, things got a lot smoother. I really enjoyed Lia Mara, she was a great combination of understated, nose in a book and complete badass. Of course, as Grey was a favorite in the previous book, he still remains a favorite and I really enjoyed the development of his character throughout this story. The side characters were great and we get a few from the previous book as well. The ending was worth sticking with the story and continuing through to the end.

My Rating: It really took me a while to become invested in this story, I actually almost DNFed it but I am glad I pushed through to the end.  It does have a cliffhanger ending but I don't find myself too driven to pick up the next book as I was not thrilled with the change in Rhen and Harper.  I do give this one a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Monday Reading List

It is Monday again, and time to update with what I read last week, what I am currently reading and what to look forward to next week.

Reviews Posted Last Week:
Links will take you to my review

The Drum that Beats Within Us by Mike Bond
Brushalot: A Tale of the Tooth Fairy by Ian Wilms (Bedtime Story)
Mister Black by P.T. Michelle (Date Night/After Dark)

 Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

The Bird and The Blade - DNF 60%
A Heart so Fierce and Broken
Plum Crazy Vol. 2
The Last Bit Bear
A Little Book of Hygge

Currently Reading:
The Very, Very Far North by Dan Bar-el - Print - on page 36 of 265
A Winter's Promise by Christelle Dabos - Audio - on page 163 of 468
Belle Revolte by Linsey Miller - Print - on page 76 of 384

Pages Read/ Time Listened
63:13 Hours Listened (21:47 listened this week)
1,878 Pages Read (277 this week)

Books Added to Shelves Recently: TBR
The Drum that Beats Within Us - READ
A Heart so Fierce and Broken - READ
Nameless Queen - READ
The Raven's Tale (gift)
Steel Crow Saga
The Language of Fire


It was such a busy week last week but it was still a really productive week.  I have been swamped at the office so haven't gotten much reading time done there but I have been listening to a lot of audio books at home while cleaning.  I did have my first DNF of the year, while I may pick it up again some time but for now I really just wasn't that invested in The Bird and the Blade.  I almost DNFed a couple others but did push through and finish.  I just have so many books I am excited to read, I don't have time to spend on books I am not that into.  Do you DNF books often?

I also had a bit of an oops, I forgot that I had purchased The Language of Fire from an individual and it arrived right after I had purchased Steel Crow Saga, it threw off my 1 book a week limit but I am okay with that right now as I have read all the previous books I purchased this month so far.  I haven't been the best about reading books already on my TBR but I have been swamped with eARCs of some of my most anticipated releases early this year so I have been focusing on getting those read as quickly and timely as possible.  How do you balance requested review reading and TBR reading?