Review: Supervillains Anonymous

Supervillains Anonymous, Lexie Dunne (Superheroes Anonymous #2)

Published June 30th 2015 by Harper Voyager Impulse

ebook, 192 pages

Source: e-ARC from Edelweiss



New superhero Gail Godwin, the one and only Hostage Girl, is in big trouble: her nemesis Chelsea is loose, someone close to her is dead, and everybody thinks Gail did it. To make matters worse, Davenport Industries has thrown her into a prison that just happens to be full of the very same supervillains who used to kidnap her on an almost daily basis.

Outside, things aren’t going all that great either. There’s a conspiracy that runs all the way to the bedrock of the superhero community, and it’s affecting everybody Gail loves. With her friends in the crosshairs, it’s up to her to escape and get to the bottom of things. Subterfuge, crime-fighting, and running away from everybody you know should be a cinch, right?

Wrong. Gail faces off against hero and villain alike just to stay alive, and you know what they say about supervillains. If you can’t beat them…join them.

I really enjoyed Dunne’s first book Superheroes Anonymous – where our heroine Gail goes from being a perpetual hostage being rescued by superheroes to finding her own super strength, some true friends and a chance at romance.  There was a major cliffhanger ending to the first book which was a bummer – so I was happy that Supervillians Anonymous jumped right into the action.  Gail is in supervillian prison after being falsely accused of murdering her friend Angelica.  

My first review called the book The Incredibles for adults and I think that stays true – though aside from some violence they’re a pretty PG read.  We find out what a jail full of supervillians is like in Lexie Dunne’s world (amazing) and just how hard it would be to break out of one.  Gail gets more answers to what set her up to become hostage girl and finds she has both more friends and enemies that she realized.  Dunne kept on surprising me at the escapades Gail both gets into and can get out of.  

Again, not a complicated read but a fun and fast book.  I liked Gail and her wit and I will keep an eye out for Dunne’s next book to see what kind of trouble she gets into next. If you like superheroes I would totally check these out for a fun read.

Thank you Harper Voyager Impulse and Edelweiss for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion!

Library Checkout

I am utterly addicted to the Chicago Public Library so I love this check-in posted by Shannon at River City Reading talking about how you use your library.  It is not an exaggeration to say I am on the site or the app or swinging by a branch of the library nearly daily.  Due to a rather sad situation involving a cd my husband borrowed I am the current library card holder for my whole family.  Looking at this all in one list I’m a little embarrassed – I feel like such a book hoarder! 


Checked out To Be Read:

The Sandman Volume One by Neil Gaiman.  2015 TBR Challenge here I come!  

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein  

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – the Husband

The Graveyard Book also by Neil Gaiman – The Husband

Checked Out and Currently Being Read:

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

Aqualicious by Victoria Kann – for Babycakes

Pete the Cat, Rocking in My School Shoes by Eric Litwin

10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle

Being repeatedly renewed:

Sekret by Lindsay Smith -Seriously I can’t admit how many times I’ve renewed this.

Read and Returned:

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

Euphoria by Lily King

Returned Unread:

The Drifters by Kim Harrison

Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski


Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich

The Beekeepers Apprentice by Laurie R. King

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Martian by Andy Weir (this might go off the list because I am 383 for 78 copies)

Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews

Nil by Lynne Matson

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Dewalt (Babycakes but totally for me too)

Interstella Cinderella by Deborah Underwood (Babycakes)

Fancy Nancy: Soccer Mania by Jane O’Connor (Babycakes)

Don’t judge me for being a library hoarder! The CPL is that great that I have to get all the books!

Review: The Scorpion Rules

The Scorpion Rules, Erin Bow (Prisoners of Peace #1)

Published: September 22nd 2015 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Hardcover, 384 pages

Source: e-ARC from NetGalley


A world battered by climate shift and war turns to an ancient method of keeping peace: the exchange of hostages. The Children of Peace – sons and daughters of kings and presidents and generals – are raised together in small, isolated schools called Preceptures. There, they learn history and political theory, and are taught to gracefully accept what may well be their fate: to die if their countries declare war.

Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation, is the pride of the North American Precepture. Learned and disciplined, Greta is proud of her role in keeping the global peace, even though, with her country controlling two-thirds of the world’s most war-worthy resource — water — she has little chance of reaching adulthood alive.

Enter Elián Palnik, the Precepture’s newest hostage and biggest problem. Greta’s world begins to tilt the moment she sees Elián dragged into the school in chains. The Precepture’s insidious surveillance, its small punishments and rewards, can make no dent in Elián, who is not interested in dignity and tradition, and doesn’t even accept the right of the UN to keep hostages.

What will happen to Elián and Greta as their two nations inch closer to war?

I thought I was done reading any new dystopian series, but for some reason I felt compelled to request Erin Bow’s debut from NetGalley. Such a smart decision on my part!  This book was excellent!  I was having a really bad day and thankfully Stormy at Book Blog Bake was tweeting about this book and I decided to start reading.  I nearly couldn’t put this book down!

We meet Talis in the beginning.  Talis is the artificial intelligence who decides that “he” has had enough of watching humans blow each other up and takes everything under his own control.  Talis has control over the Children of Peace – the children of every world leader.  When two nations decide to go to war, their kings, queens, presidents or living deities do so with the knowledge that they first have just put their own child to death.  Talis sounds like a horrible evil entity but he’s really thoughtful, and trying to actually save as many lives as possible.  At the same time Talis kind of made me think of this….



Then we meet Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation, who has been raised knowing her death could come at any time along with the death of one of her friends.  I was reluctant at first to like Greta too much – knowing she could die basically from page 1 – but she was so brave despite her fears, strong in the face of terror, loyal, and so damn smart.  I loved that the Precepture she’s been raised at is full of children from all over the world.  These kids are all hopefully future world leaders so it’s only fitting that they’re of all race, religion and political beliefs.  

The description about this book sets you up to think Greta is coming into an epic love story with a new student in the face of a war but oh no there was so much more!   This book went way deeper into questions of love than I expected and choices were made that I never saw coming.  I would not have thought I would become so emotionally wrapped up in questions of artificial intelligence ever but Bow had me enthralled.  This book was about friendship and sexuality, about sacrifice and duty all in a terrifying future in which we fight over water.  

I cannot wait to see where Bow goes with the next book!  What is Talis going to do next?  I need to know!  Read this because I need someone to talk to about this book!  

5 stars!

Thank you Margaret K. McElderry Books and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review!

Review: The Scam

The Scam , Janet Evanovich, Lee Goldberg (Fox and O’Hare #4)

Published September 15th 2015 by Bantam

Hardcover, 304 pages

Source: e-ARC from NetGalley


Nicolas Fox is a charming con man and master thief on the run. Kate O’Hare is the FBI agent who is hot on his trail. At least that’s what everyone thinks. In reality, Fox and O’Hare are secretly working together to bring down super-criminals the law can’t touch. Criminals like brutal casino magnate Evan Trace.

Evan Trace is running a money-laundering operation through his casino in Macau. Some of his best customers are mobsters, dictators, and global terrorists. Nick and Kate will have to go deep undercover as high-stakes gamblers, wagering millions of dollars—and their lives—in an attempt to topple Trace’s empire.

It’s a scam that will take Fox and O’Hare from the Las Vegas strip, to the sun-soaked beaches of Oahu’s North Shore, and into the dark back alleys of Macau. Their only backup—a self-absorbed actor, a Somali pirate, and Kate’s father, and an ex-soldier who believes a rocket launcher is the best way to solve every problem. What could possibly go wrong?

Fox and O’Hare are back along with their eccentric crew, over the top villains, and flirtatious banter.  If you’re not familiar with the series, Kate O’Hare is an FBI agent who appears to be on the hunt for top con man Nick Fox.  In reality Fox is her secret partner helping the FBI to con other criminals who seem untouchable and to bring them down.  Are these complicated stories?  No.  Are they totally entertaining and perfect for when you need a light read – Yes!  

So Kate and Nick are after a corrupt casino owner first, because he’s just an icky guy and second, to stop him from laundering money for other criminals.  This series is kind of like watching a crime show on tv, there’s basically nothing Fox & O’Hare can’t pull off and it all comes out just right in the end.  I love that Kate is nearly unaware of her own femininity and is happiest going after the bad guys versus Nick who is all about enjoying the finest things in life with simply ingenious plans to con everyone who crosses his path.  I enjoy reading Fox winding Kate up just as much as I enjoy when she shoots him down.  Honestly though, Kate’s slightly crazy dad is still my favorite – okay he’s totally crazy.  And hilarious.

I won’t say if the flirtation finally comes to more than a few smooches – but I will say that if you enjoy this series at all you’re going to be clamoring to get your hands on book #5.  

Thank you Bantam and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion!

Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR

It’s Tuesday so time for Top Ten Tuesday at the Broke and the Bookish! Here are the Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR

  1. China Rich Girlfriend (Chicago Public Library rocks! Finally I have this on my kindle waiting for me!)
  2. Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich
  3. Speed Kings: The 1932 Winter Olympics and the Fastest Men in the World by Andy Bull
  4. The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse: An Extraordinary Edwardian Case of Deception and Intrigue by Piu Marie Eatwell
  5. The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks
  6. The Lake House by Kate Morton
  7. Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
  8. Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein (seriously I think Elsa has taken over Babycakes)
  9. The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff
  10. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

What’s on your list to read this fall?

2015 TBR Challenge Review: Feed

Feed, MT Anderson

Published February 23rd 2004 by Candlewick Press

Paperback, 308 pages

Source: Borrowed for 2015 Roofbeam Reader TBR Challenge (Thank you Steph!)

169756For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon – a chance to party during spring break and play with some stupid low-grav at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its omnipresent ability to categorize human thoughts and desires.

I have pretty nearly accepted that I’m going to fail at this 2015 TBR Challenge but I am going to go down fighting – er, reading.  I decided to get back into the Challenge with M.T. Anderson’s Feed which was highly recommended by my coworker .  

To quote my almost 5 year-old – This book was not my favorite.  We begin with Titus and his friends headed the moon – basically for something for the teenagers to do over Spring Break.  There’s no real introduction to Titus and his time period, you’re just there traveling with him.  The language is crazy, and while I did understand it all by the end of the book it definitely bothered me as I started.  

Spoilers ahead:  This line from the description “And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its omnipresent ability to categorize human thoughts and desire,” made me think this was a book about fighting the feed and letting go of the manipulations of the brain.  There is a constant media stream running through Titus’ brain.  Where to shop, what music to listen to, what does happiness look like – all these questions are answered by the corporations who can access his thoughts.  Yes – Violet had the intent to rebel with her own mind, but there was no grand revolution like I expected.  That was totally a let down for me.  I wanted change in the end and I definitely didn’t get it. These people were visibly rotting and just going with it – WHAT HAPPENS TO THEM?!

My sister read Feed last year and compared it with Feed (Newsflesh #1) written by Seanan McGuire if you want another opinion.  I’ll stick with McGuire and take my Feed with a side of zombies anyday.

Next I think I’m going to either finally read the Hitchhiker’s Guide or try some retired Holmes in The Beekeeper’s Apprentice.

Are you doing the TBR challenge?  Or like me already making your 2016 list?

Saying Goodbye to the Pink Carnation Series

Last September, we started the Bubble Bath Reader’s Pink for All Seasons – a year long read-along of Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series, timed to finish with the release of the 12th and final book in the series.

These books are fun and fabulous and full of interesting historical tidbits. We’ve done quick summaries on the books so far – click for books 1-3, books 4-6, and books 7-9. (And if you notice that the reading order is listed differently in different places, here’s Willig’s official list.)

And, so it ends here, with books 10, 11, and 12:

FotorCreated (2)

The Passion of the Purple Plumeria (2011)

Synopsis: When the younger sister of Jane Wooliston (AKA our Pink Carnation) goes missing from her boarding school in London, Jane and her faithful chaperone Miss Gwen search for her, and along the way meet Colonel William Reid, whose daughter disappeared from school as well. Miss Gwen and Col. Reid get to know each other quite well in the search. In modern England, Eloise reads Miss Gwen’s gothic novel, 200 years after it’s one-hit-wonder debut.

Holly: I definitely enjoyed the relationship between Miss Gwen and the good Colonel, especially the time Miss Gwen dropped the line “we had a satisfactory romp; that’s all.” Things I did not love about this book, however, include Jane’s moodiness and Jeremy’s sliminess.

Amanda: I admit that I had a good sulk when Lauren originally announced this book.  I did not want to read anymore about Miss Gwen except as Jane’s chaperone.  I wanted a book about Tommy (See the Temptation of the Night Jasmine)!  But then I read The Passion of the Purple Plumeria and I fell in love with Colonel Reid and Miss Gwen.  I loved how she tried to boss him around and how he just doesn’t fall into line with what she wanted.  So I apologize Lauren for doubting your judgement of your own stories!    

The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla (2014)

Synopsis: Sally Fitzhugh, whose root-vegetable-named brother we got to know quite well back in Pink #5, stumbles into the garden of the mysterious (and rumored vampire) Duke of Belliston, and ends up helping him uncover the truth about his family. Back in the 21st century, Eloise returns to grad school in Cambridge, MA, and has trouble with her advisor.

Holly: I read some reviews hating on this book for being a far cry from the start of the series, as the actual-spy contact is limited, and, well, there’s the vampire thing. However, I adored Sally and Lucien!  And, while I would have fully supported Eloise if she decided not to return to grad school, I am glad she had a chance to come to the right decision for her.

Amanda:  I’m glad I didn’t know my sister had read hating reviews because I was already apprehensive due to all the hints about the stoat.  I mean – who wants to read about a stoat?  But Sally was a delight!  So there wasn’t a spy connection – big deal – is a creepy murder not enough for people?! Loved the glimpse at a happy Turnip with his bride.

The Lure of the Moonflower (2015)

Synopsis: At last, the final book in the Pink series brings Jane’s story – we find Jane on assignment in Portugal, looking for a missing queen and forced to rely on Jack Reid for tactical help along with way. We get a conclusion to the Colin and Eloise storyline as well, but not without some final hijinks from one of our previous villains.

Holly: I am glad Jane got her story, and I’m so glad to have been a part of the Pink for All Seasons readalong. There are parts of this book that I quite enjoyed, but parts that didn’t quite sit well. Both Jane and her parents seemed like entirely different characters than those we’d gotten to know in previous books. Though, to be fair, that’s exactly what Lauren has done throughout the series – characters like Mary Alsworthy and Turnip Fitzhugh become totally different people once brought into the spotlight. The difference is, I guess, that I liked Mary and Turnip better after getting to know them, and Jane less.

Amanda:  I was totally surprised as this book began at how Jane ended up in Portugal.  As Holly said, Jane’s parents sounded like totally different people than those we met in the Passion of the Purple Plumeria. This annoyed me but I went with the story because since I’ve loved and trusted Jane all these years I kind of had to.  I did love Jane and Jack together, even if things were a bit too convenient in the end.  Maybe everything wrapped up a bit too well – including Eloise and Colin – but it was really a satisfying ending to a series I’ve really enjoyed.  If Lauren writes more Pink books I will read them!

Review: Everything, Everything

Everything, Everything, Nicola Yoon

Published September 1st 2015 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Hardcover, 320 pages

Source: ARC from ALA Midwinter Meeting


From Goodreads…

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

I finished this book in a day – definitely not a heavy read despite the description of disease and impending heartbreak.  Madeline is allergic to basically everything. Thankfully her mother is a pediatrician and has the money to keep her house as safe as possible.  So her home is a haven for her, but still a prison of sorts.  I thought Madeline was a great character.  She’s happy, she’s smart and feisty even though she’s trapped in her house to stay alive.  It was great reading about a biracial heroine as well.  Every book nerd loves more book references – I loved how much she reads and how Madeline applied The Little Prince to her life!   I would have liked Olly to have been more developed, but I did like him for what he was.

This was a sweet romance (though steamier than I expected for YA!) and I was totally shocked in the end.  I loved how Madeline and Olly fell for each over through the window and IM.  I won’t say more because the ending should not be spoiled for readers!  The less you know going in the better.  

This book was made all the richer by the illustrations – and knowing that Nicola Yoon’s husband was the artist made them even cuter I thought!  I am 100% in love with the cover – I would punch someone for a tote bag like Katie’s at Bookish Illuminations!

I thought this was a really sweet read – but from another perspective Disability in Kidlit has a really interesting post about whether Madeline’s story is a realistic portrayal of disability (spoiler warning!).  This gave me a lot to think about in terms of how disability is written about in YA – this definitely put the ending in a different light for me.  I still thought this was a pretty  happy book, but that post made me think about how it could have been different or even more inclusive.  

Thank you Delacorte Books for Young Readers for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review!

Review Part 3: Mortal Heart

After chatting our way through Mortal Heart (see part 1 here and part 2 here), we arrive at the end of the book, and the end of the trilogy about teenage novices serving at the convent of Mortain – the god of Death – in 15th century Brittany.


We’ve been following Annith’s story, and, so far, she’s snuck out the convent, met some dead guys, found her friends Ismae and Sybella, and challenged the reverend mother.

As per usual, Amanda was reading faster.

Holly: I’m at 69%. Did you already finish?

Amanda: I did finish. Did you swoon also?

Holly: I do not swoon.

[A- I now have to find a book to make my sister swoon and am open to suggestions]

Amanda: Are you digging Annith still?

Holly:   Totally digging it. This abbess is so bad!  And this book is bananas.  I did suspect [redacted] but I still didn’t see [redacted] coming.

Amanda: I would have predicted totally the opposite way from you!  But I was still thrown in the end.

Holly: I have 15 minutes left and I am nervous about who is going to die.

Amanda:  I really liked Annith in the end.  She found the escape she needed and a love she didn’t know she could have, but still was a true friend and loyal to Mortain. I loved that LeFevers could surprise me so much in the third book of a series.  I was so glad that we had so much time with Ismae and Sybella as well.  It made me happy that these three girls who so badly needed friends found each other.  And I don’t care – I found Balthazar totally swoony.  I think Dark Triumph might have remained my favorite of the three but I loved this one.  Definitely will be rereading the assassin nuns!

Holly: As weird as this whole series is – and it is really weird – I quite enjoyed all three reads. I liked Annith a lot, and she might be my favorite of the three friends. I am glad you made me read these, pal! Anyway, we will be due for another sister readalong soon because our favorite Comoran Strike will be back!

Review: Dumplin’

Dumplin’, Julie Murphy

Expected publication: September 15th 2015 by Balzer + Bray

Hardcover, 384 pages

Source: e-ARC from Edelweiss


Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine— Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

Let me just put this simply – this is a HAPPY book.  If you like to be happy you should read it.  If you don’t like to be happy, well then I can’t help you.  

Willowdean was overall  a delight to read.  She’s well aware of what her body looks like, but she’s happy with herself.  She has a great best friend, a mom who she is mostly on good terms with, a car named Jolene and her job as a cashier.  I loved her innocent crush on her new co-worker Bo and her initial joy at an unexpected romance.  I was so sad as she remembered her aunt Lucy and the life Lucy was afraid to live because of her weight.  My heart hurt for Willowdean as she became less empowered and felt like less of herself because of her relationship Bo.  

Willowdean isn’t a perfect girl by any means.  She’s mean to her mom and gets into a stupid fight with her best friend because she can’t admit she’s wrong – but she’s trying so hard to find her way back to being herself you have to root for her.  So even when I wasn’t finding her delightful Willowdean felt so real to me.  I loved being inside her head.  

I’ll be honest and say I was kind of dreading the pageant portion of the book because I was sure Willowdean and her friends were in for some serious mocking.  I was so glad to be wrong – she kicked ass.  Even when she knows she isn’t taking pageant life seriously she is still kicking ass at being Willowdean and I loved her.  I want to force this book into the hands of teenage girls and all the women I know because it was just a happy book with a fantastically empowering message.  

Loved this:

“She was born for this, There’s a beauty queen inside that cute, little fat girl.”

“A slow satisfied smile melts across my face.  ‘No,’ I say ‘That cute, little fat girl is a beauty queen.’”

Read this!

Thank you Balzer + Bray and Edelweiss for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion!