These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner | Book Review




These Broken Stars

Luxury spaceliner Icarus suddenly plummets from hyperspace into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive – alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a cynical war hero. Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help. Everything changes when they uncover the truth. 

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This is not the type of book I would normally pick up, but I got it when I went to Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s Gemina book signing. 

I was a in a big mood for something sci-fi and this was one of the few things left on my bookshelf that was unread…a Titanic story in space, told from a dual point of view.

From the start I felt that the main characters, Tarver and Lilac, were kinda meh but a little interesting…interesting enough to keep me reading. I knew this book was roughly Titanic in space, but it turns out that the Titanic in space part is just the first four chapters. The rest of the novel is about these two kids trying to survive on a planet that they have never heard of.

A soldier and an heiress. 

The book was mostly Tarver making sure they both didn’t die (if we are being honest) because Lilac did not know much about the outdoors. 

Throughout the story we see their bond grow, it was a bit of a slow burn which was nice…even though at the start they both had a small crush on each other, that eventually turned to disgust.

The story’s plot focuses on Tarver and Lilac’s need to survive and get rescued, rather than them falling in love. You see Tarver put up with Lilac’s "I need to be stronger than you even though I am way out of my element" attitude. I would have personally left Lilac behind at some point but Tarver is a good person so there is that.

Alongside the main plot, there are the intriguing mysteries of the whispers and the lack of people on the planet. I think my favorite part of the plot was the mystery behind the whispers that Lilac kept hearing. 

Halfway through the book I saw myself growing attached to these two, and actually worrying for their wellbeing even though you know Tarver survives the planet (not a spoiler, it's given away literally at the start of the book).

I enjoyed the book, but I do not think it pulled me in enough to justify reading the two sequels that come with it.

“And there it is, against all hope, like the sun peeking out from behind the clouds. The smallest hint of a smile.” 



My Rating: 3.5/5
Goodreads: 3.9/5
Amazon: 4.3/5

Mama Graciela's Secret | Book Review

This book by Author Assistant was given to me for an honest review
Mamá Graciela’s Secret
Written by Mayra Calvani
Illustrated by Sheila Fein
MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing
www.maclaren-cochranepublishing.com

Description:
Mamá Graciela’s TENDER, CRUNCHY, SPICY bacalaítos fritos are the best in town...
Local customers (including stray cats!) come from all over the island to enjoy her secret recipe. But when the Inspector discovers that Mamá secretly caters to so many cats and he threatens to close her tiny restaurant, Mamá must come up with a plan to save it—and all of the animals she loves.
About the author:
Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her children's picture book, Frederico the Mouse Violinist was a finalist in the 2011 International Book Awards; her anthology Latina Authors and Their Muses was a First Place winner at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards; her nonfiction book, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, was a Foreword Best Book of the Year winner. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications like The Writer, Writer's Journal, Multicultural Review, Bloomsbury Review, and others.

She lives in Belgium with her husband of 30+ years, two wonderful kids, and her three beloved pets. When she's not writing, editing, reading or reviewing, she enjoys walking with her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family. www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com


About the illustrator:

Born in Queens, New York and living in Los Angeles since 1987, Sheila Fein has always been inspired by the changing world around her. Earning her BA in Design from Buffalo State College of New York, her concentration was on drawing, painting, printmaking, and photography. Sheila's education as an artist has taken her everywhere from Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia to Bath University in England. Today, Sheila Fein runs two figurative workshops, Imaginings Sketch in LA and People Sketchers in Thousand Oaks. She has been featured in numerous collections, magazines, books, solo and group exhibitions. Her paintings and drawings reside in public and private collections. Sheila loves to make the imagination of others a reality and has done so through her commissioned Fein Fantasy Portraits and Interactive Paintings. In addition to being a fine artist Sheila works as an illustrator. She just completed the book "Mama Graciela's Secret" for Maclaren-Cochrane Publishing.



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Review

I do not remember the last time I read a picture book, but it was so nice to read one again. Mama Graciela's Secret is a really sweet book about a sweet abuelita that does what she loves and protects what she loves.

Even though the story is less than 25 pages long I actually gasped when the someone threatened to take Mama Graciela's cats! Even though it is a children's book with very little prose Calvani was able to get me invested in Mama Graciela's story. At the end I felt proud of her decision at the end of the adorable picture book.


Rating: 4/5




Super Graveyard | Watcha Reading Wednesday


The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I am currently reading this spooky read...even though spooky month just finished. Neil Gaiman is known for being a very illustrative story teller and so far I agree.

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family... 
Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer

I have given this book for free for a honest review. You can check out my review HERE. Overall I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it. I felt kinda in between about it.

A kingdom burns. A princess sleeps. This is no fairy tale.

It all started with the burning of the spindles.
No.
It all started with a curse…

Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood—and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.

As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.

Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchan
ted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape…or the reason for her to stay.


Super Secret by Eon

This comic has the cutest art style and the most adorable story plot. I squeal whenever it updates because all these characters are just too precious. 

The boy next door, friends for life, is actually a werewolf!






Comic and Graphic Novel Authors at the 2017 Miami Book Fair



Penelope Bagieu, California Dreamin': Cass Elliot Before The Mamas & the Papas

In Mike Cavallro's science fiction/fantasy, Decelerate Blue, a young woman is recruited into a resistance movement to resist a world in which speed and efficiency are everything, but can they succeed before the powers that be shut down their utopian experiment?

In Nidhi Chanani's first graphic novel, Pashmina, a girl growing up in the US wonders about her Indian heritage, until a mysterious pashmina transports her to a place more vivid and colorful than any guidebook or Bollywood film.  (children/elem)

In Kim Dwinell's graphic novel, Surfside Girls: The Secret of Danger Point, Samantha and her friend start investigating the weird stuff happening in Surfside--like ghosts, and pirates, and something even scarier!  (children/elem)

Take That, Adolf! is a compilation of more than 500 stunningly restored comics covers published during World War II featuring America’s greatest super-villain curated by film scholar Mark Fertig, who also contributes an introductory essay examining comics’ coming-of-age amidst the greatest cataclysm in modern history.

At its core, Michel Fiffe's comic, Zegas is a collection of interactions that map out orphaned siblings' most primal concerns: survival, sex, and mortality. 

In Nicole J. Georges' gorgeous graphic novel Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home she chronicles her symbiotic, codependent relationship with Beija, and probes what it means to care for and be responsible to another living thing—a living thing that occasionally lunges at toddlers.

Eric Grissom's science fiction graphic novel Gregory Suicide takes readers into a frightening future.  

Erin Hicks's Eisner Award-winning The Adventures of Superhero Girl presents the re-released, expanded version, featuring two new stories, and new art. (Expanded Edition) (children/elem)

Matt Holm, Swing It, Sunny (children/elem)

Janet Lee's Eisner-winning graphic novel, Return of the Dapper Men, blends clockwork whimsy with majestic art-nouveau visuals, into a hand-crafted fairy tale that feels both familiar and entirely new. (children/elem)

George O’Connor’s Artemis: Wild Goddess of the Hunt is a graphic novel that portrays the myth behind the Greek goddess Artemis.

In Molly Knox Ostertag’s graphic novel The Witch Boy, a boy identifies as a witch in a family where all boys become shapeshifters.

In Mimi Pond’s graphic novel The Customer is Always Wrong, a young woman’s art career begins to lift off as those around her succumb to addiction and alcoholism.

Nate Powell's Omnibox: Featuring Swallow Me Whole, Any Empire, & You Don't Say

Trina Robbins, Last Girl Standing

Jason Shiga’s graphic novel Demon 2 is the second installment in a four volume mystery adventure about the shocking chaos one highly rational and utterly sociopathic man can create in the world, given a single simple supernatural power.

In his new comic book, Terms and Conditions master satirist Robert Sikoryak tackles the iTunes contract everyone agrees to but no one reads.

Mariko Tamaki’s graphic novel for children, Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! (Lumberjanes #1) follows a group of unusual girls who have supernatural adventures at a special summer camp. 

Tillie Walden’s graphic memoir Spinning, captures what it’s like to come of age, come out, and come to terms with leaving behind everything you used to know.

Scott Westerfeld’s The Spill is a graphic novel that follows the aftermath of an industrial spill in Poughkeepsie, NY.

Secret Coders: Secrets & Sequences is the third book in the graphic children’s novel Secret Coders series from Gene Luen Yang; in this installment, Principal Dean demands the secret coders turn over their most powerful robot.

Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer | Book Review


I have given this book for free for a honest review.


A kingdom burns. A princess sleeps. This is no fairy tale.
It all started with the burning of the spindles.
No.
It all started with a curse…

Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood—and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.

As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.

Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape…or the reason for her to stay.
---
This is a retelling of the classic tale of The Sleeping Beauty and like every retelling it has a twist to it. In this case there Aurora has a sister and there is more information as to why she got cursed during.

This book was interesting, I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it I was kinda in the middle. 

One of my favorite things is the Hillyer gives background story to the all fairy and the magic in the world and you understand why Malfleur is ‘evil’. There is so much world building around the fae, the folklore, and history. It was what made the book unique.

Unfortunately, this story felt like a middle grade rather than YA ( I actually had to email the book provided to double check Spindle Fire was a YA). Sometimes I felt that everything was too simply, with not enough UNF, especially the first half of the story. I felt like too many things were happening too quickly ay the beginning that I couldn’t keep up with all the events. Once the plot slowed down the story as a whole started to make more sense to me.

The main characters of the story are Aurora (duh), Isabelle (Aurora’s blind older sister), Gil (Isabelle’s childhood friend/love interest), Heath ( Aurora’s love interest ), Will (the prince of the other kingdom who is also Isabelle’s love interest). Most of these characters didn’t feel very dimensional, only Isabelle (Isbe) felt whole as a character and Will was almost there. Aurora, Heath and Gil felt hallow and kinda just there. I hope that in book two they are fleshed out more.

Throughout the story you read the point of view of multiple characters, with Aurora and Isbe being the main narrators. Isbe’s point of view was the most interesting to read because she is blind and the narrative has to be told through her thoughts and what she hears, smells and feels which is quite interesting…but sometimes I felt that Isbe could see based on the writing which felt a little weird since…she’s blind. But it also meant that Hillyer can paint a picture without usual actual visual words which is pretty big accomplishment.

Throughout the story I have a general idea what was gonna happen next and it was kinda disappointing, because nothing really caught me by surprise. Only two things caught me by surprise in the last 100 pages (which were the best section of the story).

I still have so many questions! And in desperate need for book two. I wanna know more about the two fae sister queens (who are very important to the story and folklore).

The biggest complaint about Spindle Fire is that the relationship between Aurora and Heath feel kinda forced, nothing felt natural. AND PLEASE NO LOVE TRIANGLE OMG, I can see it as a possibility but I don’t want it to happen. 

Overall Spindle Fire is quite an enjoyable book, especially if you like fairy tale re-tellings. I am quite intrigue to see where book two will take us.


My Rating: 3.5/5
Goodreads: 4.3/5
Amazon: 3.36/5