Friday, June 29, 2018

ARC Review: Heroine's Journey by Sarah Kuhn

36606133Title: Heroine's Journey
Series: Heroine Complex #3
Author: Sarah Kuhn
Source/Format: Netgalley; eARC
More Details: Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: DAW; July 3, 2018

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

The final book in the smart, snarky, and action-packed Heroine series completes the "Heroic Trio" as Bea Tanaka joins her sister, Evie, and diva Aveda Jupiter in their quest to free San Francisco from its demon portal problem...

If there's one thing Beatrice Tanaka never wanted to be, it's normal. But somehow, her life has unfolded as a series of "should haves." Her powers of emotional projection should have made her one of the most formidable superheroes of all time. And she should have been allowed to join her older sister Evie as a full-fledged protector of San Francisco, pulverizing the city's plethora of demon threats.

But Evie and her superheroing partner, Aveda Jupiter, insist on seeing Bea as the impulsive, tempestuous teenager she used to be--even though she's now a responsible adult. And that means Bea is currently living a thoroughly normal life. She works as a bookstore lackey, hangs out with best friends Sam Fujikawa and Leah Kim, and calms her workplace's more difficult customers. Sure, she's not technically supposed to be playing with people's mental states. But given the mundanity of her existence, who can blame her?

When a mysterious being starts communicating with Bea, hinting at an evil that's about to overtake the city, she seizes the opportunity, hoping to turn her "should haves" into the fabulous heroic life she's always wanted. But gaining that life may mean sacrificing everything--and everyone--she holds dear...
Heroine’s Journey didn’t disappoint me in any way. This book was as awesome as I was hoping it would be. In fact, it far surpassed my expectations. The story basically followed Bea on her quest to become a superhero like her sister. It was easy to get drawn into the story, because right from the start, there was this perfect balance between supernatural, superhero, mystery, and even some romantic elements. This book accomplished all of that with the same charm and whit that made the last two books so enjoyable. Needless to say, I was hooked.

One of the most appealing aspects of this series has always been the characters. They made the story, and it was no different in this book. There was a lot of character development done for Evie, Nate, Aveda, and of course, Bea. Heroine’s Journey is best described as a journey. It was as much a book about self-discovery as it was about being a superhero and what that really meant to Bea. It all tied together. In that way, Kuhn nailed the human aspect behind the capes and signature costumes—behind the superpowers and crime fighting.

I'm glad that there was finally a story from Bea's perspective, because it's by far my favorite of the series. One reason was that it delved more into the complicated relationship she had with her older sister, Evie. It was something that was always present in the stories, but it was from everyone else's perspective except for Bea. Bea and Evie had their share of issues. There was everything from communication shortfalls, misunderstandings, and some issues caused by outside factors. And I liked the fact that Heroine’s Journey centered on that and expanded on what was already established. I also liked how the conflicts were handled, because Kuhn didn’t shy away from writing  difficult, messy, and emotional conversations. And it was great.

The secondary characters—like Rose, Leah, Shruti, Lucy, and others—were also cool. They weren’t just part of the background. I liked them mostly because they were so individual and interesting. They felt like proper characters with personality and backstories separate from that of the main character.

And while I was happy with how Heroine’s Journey ended, there were some lingering mysteries and potential for other stories. All in all, Heroine’s Journey was a fantastic read. Kuhn is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors, and I look forward to reading whatever she writes next. And if you enjoyed any of the books in this series, then Heroine's Journey is a must read.
About the author...

Sarah Kuhn is the author of Heroine Complex—the first in a series starring Asian American superheroines—for DAW Books. She also wrote The Ruby Equation for the comics anthology Fresh Romance and the romantic comedy novella One Con Glory, which earned praise from io9 and USA Today and is in development as a feature film. Her articles and essays on such topics as geek girl culture, comic book continuity, and Sailor Moon cosplay have appeared in Uncanny Magazine, Apex Magazine,,, Back Stage, The Hollywood Reporter,, Creative Screenwriting, and the Hugo-nominated anthology Chicks Dig Comics. In 2011, she was selected as a finalist for the CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment) New Writers Award.

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by DAW via NetGalley for free in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

I'm Now On Instagram...

I’m now on Instagram 

It’s taken me a while to set up an account, because initially I didn’t know what I would really want to do with it. Then I decided that I would use it similar to how I blog on Our Thoughts Precisely: posting a little bit of anything that interests me. So, there'll be pictures of books, art, items I’ve recently  bought, and so on. So yeah, I’m now on Instagram. There’s nothing much yet, but you can check out my profile HERE...

Monday, June 25, 2018

Music Monday (48): Panic! At The Disco

  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: Excuse me, Pray for the Wicked by Panic! At The Disco is finally here. It was one of my most highly anticipated albums of 2018, and my hype for it only grew with every song that was released prior to June 22. I've essentially listened to it on repeat since then, because I love it! So, today, I’m going to mention just two of my favorite songs from Pray for the Wicked. The first one is King of the Clouds. I adore this song. It’s so good!

The second song is Roaring 20s. The name of it is so fitting. The energy and sound of this song is not only awesome but also catchy. It strongly reminds me of electric swing music. I dig it....

Pray for the Wicked is one of my favorite albums by Panic! At The Disco. If you’re a fan of this band and haven’t listened to it yet, well, what are you waiting for? I highly recommend it....

Have you listened to any music by Panic! At The Disco? If so, what's your favorite song by them? Also, what are you listening to this week?

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Friday 56 (134) & Book Beginnings: Art Deco by Victoria Charles & Klaus H. Carl

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.

8879754Synopsis from Goodreads...

Art Deco style was established on the ashes of a disappeared world, the one from before the First World War, and on the foundation stone of a world yet to become, opened to the most undisclosed promises. Forgetting herself in the whirl of Jazz Age and the euphoria of the “Années Folles”, the Garçonne with her linear shape reflects the architectural style of Art Deco: to the rounded curves succeed the simple and plain androgynous straight line… Architecture, painting, furniture and sculpture, dissected by the author, proclaim the druthers for sharp lines and broken angles. Although ephemeral, this movement keeps on influencing contemporary design

Beginning: "Decorative and industrial arts, like all forms of art, are an expression of life itself: they evolve with the times and with moral or material demands to which they must respond."

56: "The monumental staircase and the hall designed by Charles Letrosne were to lend themselves to large and brilliant ceremonies."

Comments: I'm reading about art deco this week. I was thinking about doing a painting inspired by it, but then I also wanted to know more about the it. My beginning is from the introduction, and my 56 is from page 58. What are you reading this week?

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Mid-Year Resolution Check-In

It’s hard to believe that it’s already more than halfway through the month of June. So much has happened and half the year is basically gone. I got summoned for Jury duty at the beginning of June—although I was only on standby, and there went most of that week. I haven’t been reading as much as I thought I would. However, I've done other stuff like finishing the first draft of a novella. So I figured that now was as good a time as any to check my blogging goals and see where I’m at with them....

  • Finish a sketchbook… 
I have not finished my current sketchbook. I’ve made steady progress on it but am nowhere near done with it. That’s perfectly fine since I’m not trying to rush myself along, and it’s a big sketchbook with plenty of pages. I have noticed that I’m having an easier time sitting down and making quick sketches, which I’m happy about. Other than that, I might make or buy a smaller sketchbook so that this goal is a little more manageable. I have watched a couple of book binding tutorials so I might go with the DIY option since it would be easier to personalize it to the exact specifications I want (for the cover and paper combination).

  • Finish more series… 
Well, I haven't finished more than one series in the past two months or so. In fact, I’ve done the exact opposite and started a lot of new series. In my defense, there have been a lot of books that I’ve wanted to read including Sarah Kuhn’s Heroine Complex series (the third book will be out in July). So, I haven’t really finished as many series as I would have liked to, but I’m still working on it.

  • Actually read some poetry… 
For the past two months, I haven’t read any poetry. After a handful of misses, I decided to put this goal on the backburner. I also had a hard time writing reviews for the poetry books I didn’t enjoy, because it’s such a hard thing to critique. More often than not, I didn’t end up writing anything about them and moved on to books I was more likely to enjoy. That being said, poetry is something I’ll eventually return to but just not right now.

  • Allow more flexibility with the blog… 
Out of all my blogging goals, this one is the one I’ve had the easiest time with. I came into 2018 with the mindset of not stressing out over how many books I’m reading, or how many reviews I’ve written. I was also willing to adjust the style, function, and schedule whenever I need to—that's why the general look of the blog got overhauled, the ever broadening range of post types, and the more frequent week-long breaks. 

So, that’s where I’m at with my blogging goals for the year. I’m not disappointed. What were some of your 2018 resolutions? Have you accomplished anything?

Monday, June 18, 2018

Music Monday (47): Charli XCX

  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: Today, I want to talk about one of my favorite albums: True Romance by Charli XCX. I believe I mentioned this one before but recently I was listening to it again. True Romance was the album that introduced me to Charli XCX’s music. Even now, a couple years later, I still love it as much as I did the first time I listened to it in 2013—it’s hard to believe that it's already been four years. Between the vocals, lyrics, and catchy beats, True Romance is just good album to listen to on repeat. As such, my first pick is Grins. Oh gosh, I love this song a lot…

My second pick is Black Roses, also from True Romance. I think this is my top favorite song from the album and I remember a time when I would listen to it on repeat. Even now, when I listen to Black Roses, I get the urge to sing along...

Have you listened to any music by Charli XCX? If so, what are your favorite songs?

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Friday 56 (133) & Book Beginnings: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.

14Synopsis from Goodreads...

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of the The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out of work actor. Together this dynamic pair begin their journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitch Hiker's Guide "A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have" and a galaxy-full of fellow travellers: Zaphod Beeblebrox - the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out to lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod's girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ball-point pens he has bought over the years...

Beginning: "Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun."

56: "The real Universe arched sickeningly away beneath them. Various pretend ones flitted silently by, like mountain goats."

Comments: I haven't been reading much beside the ARCs I currently have to get through. As such, I'm sharing a quote from one of my all-time favorite science fiction novels: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. The first sentence is one of the most memorable lines from the book. It's one of the few books that has made me really laugh. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Review: Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn

30955863Title: Heroine Worship
Series: Heroine Complex #2
Author: Sarah Kuhn
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library; paperback
More Details: Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: DAW; July 4, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Once upon a time, Aveda Jupiter (aka Annie Chang) was demon-infested San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine, a beacon of hope and strength and really awesome outfits. But all that changed the day she agreed to share the spotlight with her best friend and former assistant Evie Tanaka—who’s now a badass, fire-wielding superheroine in her own right. They were supposed to be a dynamic duo, but more and more, Aveda finds herself shoved into the sidekick role. Where, it must be said, she is not at all comfortable.

It doesn’t help that Aveda’s finally being forced to deal with fallout from her diva behavior—and the fact that she’s been a less than stellar friend to Evie. Or that Scott Cameron—the man Aveda’s loved for nearly a decade—is suddenly giving her the cold shoulder after what seemed to be some promising steps toward friendship. Or that the city has been demon-free for three months in the wake of Evie and Aveda’s apocalypse-preventing battle against the evil forces of the Otherworld, leaving Aveda without the one thing she craves most in life: a mission. All of this is causing Aveda’s burning sense of heroic purpose—the thing that’s guided her all these years—to falter.

In short, Aveda Jupiter is having an identity crisis.

When Evie gets engaged and drafts Aveda as her maid-of-honor, Aveda finally sees a chance to reclaim her sense of self and sets out on a single-minded mission to make sure Evie has the most epic wedding ever. But when a mysterious, unseen supernatural evil rises up and starts attacking brides-to-be, Aveda must summon both her superheroine and best friend mojo to take down the enemy and make sure Evie’s wedding goes off without a hitch—or see both her city and her most important friendship destroyed forever...
It hasn't been that long since I read Heroine Complex, so the memory of how much I loved the story is still fresh in my mind. Obviously, I was excited to read Heroine Worship. I’m happy to say that I loved this story as much as the first book in the series. It had everything I liked about Heroine Complex and more since it was told from Aveda’s perspective this time around. And I have to say that the Heroine Complex series just keeps getting better and better.

Heroine Worship was just a good story. I don’t have any other way to describe it. It’s also a great example of what can be done with superheroes in an urban setting (in this case, San Francisco). The supernatural elements are unique, the bad guys’ schemes/methods were out of the box, and the characters are awesome to the point where I couldn’t help but root for them to succeed. Kuhn knows how to write action as well as the daily aspects of the superheroes’ lives, and it’s the balance between the two that I really love about Heroine Worship.

One thing that continually works for these books is how Kuhn weaves the issue of relationships (platonic and romantic) in with the more supernatural and superhero aspects of the book. And if there was one character that encompassed those things, it was Aveda Jupiter. The first line of the book is “I love being a superhero.” And in Heroine Complex, Aveda was a larger than life superhero, someone who strived to portray a constant image of perfection. But she was a diva and not the greatest friend to Evie or anyone else. But there was so much more to her character than that. In Heroine Worship, there’s this whole other side to Aveda that I didn’t get to see last time. And somehow, I liked her even better now than before. I think that was because I got a better understanding of her as a character. One of the main storylines included Aveda was coming to terms with how Annie Chang and her Aveda Jupiter persona ultimately fit into her life going forward.

That’s pretty much all I have to say. I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone looking to get into the series. All-in-all, Heroine Worship was a fun read and a fantastic installment to the series. The next book is probably going to be from the perspective of one of my favorite characters, Evie’s younger sister, Bea. And I’m looking forward to that...

Monday, June 11, 2018

Music Monday (46) Teena Marie

  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: I’ve been in a mood lately where I’ve been listening to a lot of music that came out 70s, 80s, 90s, and etc.. As such, I’ve listened to a lot of music by Prince, Tears For Fears, Daryl Hall & John Oats, and Teena Marie among others. There are so many good songs out there that I can’t list them all. So, my pick today is Lovergirl by Teena Marie. I can’t find the words to accurately describe how much I love this song. It’s good…

What are you listening to?

Sunday, June 3, 2018

ARC Review: Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova

33918887Title: Bruja Born
Series: Brooklyn Brujas #2
Author: Zoraida Córdova
Source/Format: Netgalley; eARC
More Details: Young Adult: Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Sourcebooks Fire; June 5, 1018

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Three sisters. One spell. Countless dead...

Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister's newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula's bruja healing powers can't fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life.

Then a bus crash turns Lula's world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn't the only one who's been brought back...
Labyrinth Lost was one of my favorite reads from last year, and I was more than ready to return to the world of the Brooklyn Brujas. As such, I had high hopes that I would love Bruja Born just as much Labyrinth Lost. I did have one minor issue with it (more on that later). That being said, it was still such a fabulous story full of magic, family, and mayhem.

Lula Mortiz appeared in the last book, but wasn’t on-page much due to the circumstance surrounding the story of Labyrinth Lost. I remember her sister, Alex more, because she was the main character. So, I was excited to see that Lula was getting her own story. What I initially remembered about Lula was that she was a healer who seemed sure of her place in the world as well as confident in her magical capabilities. Bruja Born had a different Lula, and if you’ve read Labyrinth Lost you’ll understand what I mean. At the start of the story, she comes off as bit selfish and self-absorbed. She was readily willing to ignore the pain of others because she felt like they owed her. There was a point where her selfishness and refusal to accept what happened—as well as attempting to ignore what was really going on—kind of irritated me after a while. However, I also got that that pattern of behavior had a place in the story. Lula was supposed to be different and hurt in so many ways. So her willingness to cling to the one thing she perceived as being the most good and stable aspect in her life was believable.

Bruja Born was story about magic, family, and choices. Choices are tricky. Some are right, others are wrong, some are mistakes and you don’t even realize it until later. And the story of Bruja Born illustrates how a split second decision, a moment of desperation, can have unforeseen and lasting consequences. It was also kind of a coming of age type story. Lula had to grow up and understand her mistakes and be held accountable for her actions, as well as learning to let go of the past—no matter how painful—in order to move forward. So, despite my irritation at some of the things that happened, as far as the story overall, Bruja Born was amazing.

It was also nice getting to see some familiar faces from Labyrinth Lost like Rishi, Nova, and others. I also liked the new characters who were introduced, and I have my fingers crossed that they’ll make another appearance in the next book.
I’ll read the next book in the series since the story seems like it’s going to focus on Rose. I’m looking forward to that...

Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley for this review.

About the author...

Zoraida Córdova is the author of urban fantasies The Vicious Deep trilogy and the Brooklyn Brujas series. Her short fiction has appeared in the New York Times bestselling anthology, Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View. Zoraida’s most recent release, Labyrinth Lost, won an International Latino Book award, was named a Best Book of 2016 by Paste Magazine and has been optioned by Paramount Studios. Zoraida is also the author of the upcoming Hollow Crown, to be published by Disney Hyperion in 2019.

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