book reviews, book talk, spoiler free

X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga

42423832X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga by Stuart Moore

Rating: XXXX

Published May 14th by Titan Books

“Within her, the power surged. Fiery, unstoppable; ancient and new all at the same time, all barely contained by her desperate will. Fueled by rage, bound for vengence, burning with the primal energies of the universe.”

Piloting a shuttle through a deadly solar flare, Jean Grey saves the X-Men, but is possessed by one of the universe’s most powerful forces–the Phoenix. As she adapts to her new powers, the mutant team launches an assault against the clandestine organization known as the Hellfire Club. Once inside, however, Jean is tricked by the villain Mastermind into betraying her teammates. She becomes first the Hellfire Club’s Black Queen and then Dark Phoenix, as the power to destroy worlds bursts forth uncontrolled. Shooting into deep space, Jean destroys an entire star system, then encounters a cruiser piloted by the spacefaring race the Shi’ar. When the cruiser is obliterated, the Shi’ar queen decrees that the Phoenix must die. But only the X-Men can hope to stop Dark Phoenix, and save Jean Grey.

Growing up one of my favourite things to do was the watch the ever-loving heck out of the animated X-Men show. This was my first real introduction into superheroes, this and the animated Spiderman show, mainly because they both had EPIC openings and are tunes that are basically wired into my DNA at this point. ANYWAY, not only did the animated X-Men show have people with superpowers, it had women and girls with superpowers, (and I was a girl so obviously this meant I could also have superpowers), it had some sweet beautiful angst, amazing romances, hilarious one-liners and some of the most 90’s costumes I have ever seen in my life (and I grew up in the ’90s). This show stole my heart and rocked my world, even more so when The Phoenix and Dark Phoenix story arcs started. I loved that Jean became so incredibly powerful and when she became the Dark Phoenix I have to say it made me feel incredibly empowered and the Dark Phoenix became my first villain/anti-hero obsession and I think very possibly where my love for seriously angsty stories came from.

Years later I had devoured the Phoenix story again in comic form when I was finally old enough to buy and source them myself (my mum didn’t approve back then) and then we got X-Men: The Last Stand and everyone hated it but I ADORED it and although it obviously has some problems I still love the version of the Dark Phoenix we got. Skip ahead and now not only do we have the Dark Phoenix film that just came out (that’s a WHOLE other post trust me) we have also been treated to another Marvel prose story, this one by highly decorated author Stuart Moore and it’s all about Jean and the Phoenix force. To say I was excited is an understatement and thanks to the lovely folks at Titan Books I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Not only was this my favourite X-Men story, Stuart Moore’s X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga is an updated retelling as well. I find comic stories can be very subjective, especially the older ones and absolutely the origin stories, they change so much over the years and I think this was a tale that was definitely due an upgrade and when comparing it to the comic version and honestly, it was brought forward perfectly. I had another look through the comics after finishing this book (it’s been a while since my last readthrough) and it’s such a faithful adaption in that we still get all the key moments and beats, even some of the iconic lines are the same they’re just enhanced by being able to look beyond each frame and into the minds of these characters and really get a read on their thoughts and feelings which is fast becoming my favourite thing about these Marvel novelisations.

With a more in-depth look into each character, we also got to see a lot more character development as the story progressed from Scott finally beginning to understand Jean, Jean accepting herself, Xavier owning his mistakes (a rare find) and Logan actually being pretty damn amazing. For me, other than Jean, Logan was one of my favourite characters, he’s somehow rough and animalistic while also being a sweetheart who just respectfully loves this woman so much and he doesn’t make a fuss that she’s with someone else, he just loves her in his own, unobtrusive way and gets on with things while also understanding the hard truths and being able to deal with them and know his own limitations. I’m really glad we got to see this side of the Wolverine in this novel.

Another character I hadn’t expected to have enjoyed so much was also Emma Frost, she always seems to get the eye candy treatment so it was nice to see what her game plan is, how she feels about Shaw and the others as well as the way it seems she feels towards Scott and one of the big differences I noticed was Emma aiding the X-Men briefly for her own reasons but I won’t go into details for fear of spoilers, I just wanted to mention it because I felt it really helped to build a real personality for Emma.

There were some characters who did appear in the Dark Phoenix Saga novelisation that I hadn’t expected to see and that were brief cameos by Peter Parker and Doctor Strange as well as a small chapter featuring a group fo the Avengers. Although they seemed a little out of place and didn’t have any impact on the story at all I did enjoy them turning up, however briefly. In the original comics, we have one frame each for the Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer as well as Spiderman, Doctor Strange and X-Man turned Avenger Hank Mccoy (Beast). In the true spirit of this being an updated retelling the Avengers we see in the book are the ones we have come to know via the popular films set in the MCU at present and I’m curious if including them was a prerequisite by Marvel themselves to tie it into the success of the MCU at the moment or some personal wish fulfilment by the author in seeing these heroes all truly occupying the same space like we should have seen in the films if it hadn’t been for the rights to the characters being all over the place. Either way, I loved the inclusion, I wanted to be miffed they had no bearing on the story but I honestly couldn’t bring myself to be more than slightly annoyed by it and even that didn’t last long.

I didn’t find much that surprised me but in a faithful retelling that’s to be expected and sometimes welcomed, one thing I did have trouble with was keeping track of some of the action, there would be times when I think I’m following okay and then someone is on the opposite side of the room to where I thought they were or fighting someone completely different, it made sense enough when I stopped and reread the text again but I think some of it was just lost on me.

Overall I enjoyed the book and I feel it’s a fantastic and faithful revival of my favourite story arc. I enjoyed the personal look we got into the characters and I am excited to read more novelisations like this as there are quite a few Marvel storylines, even bigger ones I didn’t get into due to my late-coming to the medium as well as being perplexed by all the different titles, X-Men especially. Another X-Men title, X-Men: Days of Future Past penned by Alex Irvine (he’s written for Blizzard I’m VERY excited) which is out June 25th and you can bet I’ll be reviewing it so keep an eye out.

Is there a comic, tv show or other media you’d like to see get a faithful novelisation or retelling?

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#SixforSunday

S4S – Characters who deserve another/their own book

Happy Six for Sunday day! This weeks prompt, thanks to the ever lovely Steph from A little But A Lot, is “Characters who deserve another/their own book” There are a good few characters I would love to see more about but I made sure the six I picked made sense, some of the choices I had in mind either had a really satisfying end to their story or character arc to the point that I couldn’t see them in another story, no matter how much I liked them or there are sequels imminent i.e Asha from the Last Namsara, most of Squad 312 from Aurora Rising, Issac Sullivan from The Devouring Gray etc.

Remy Silvers from The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

I know The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is a stand-alone book and it works but I would just really love to have a had maybe even a novella about her time after (no spoilers). Until this happens I think I’m just going to read that damn fantastic book over and over again because I can’t get enough of it.

Lucien Vanserra  from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

I know I mentioned Lucien last week (and I’m not sorry) but I couldn’t not mention him for this prompt because this is a story I desperately want. I like to think I’m quite disillusioned with Sarah J Maas all these years later but honestly, I would throw myself at her feet and buy all these damned random special editions of Throne of glass etc if it meant she gave Lucien his own book.

Ben Solo from Star Wars (as written by Claudia Gray)

Completely disregarding the fact that I’ve been known on occasion to ship Reylo, I find Ben Solo/Kylo Ren an immensely interesting character at times and I would love to see where he came from, what events brought him to the Dark Side and how he feels about all of it. He’s a very conflicted character and I’m not saying there’s no chance he’s just a spoilt over privileged kid with some issues but I like to think there’s more to it, I don’t need justification for his crappy behaviour and I’m not (entirely) seeking out a redemption arc but I do want to understand the character better and after reading Bloodline by Claudia Gray I absolutely think she would be the one to do so. I would have suggested Christie Golden too but I honestly think she’ll just make me cry the whole time.

The Illuminae Group from The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Again, I know mentioned this in last weeks post but it’s too important to ignore, especially now that I’ve read Memento. You could honestly write about any of the characters in the Illuminae Files and I would read the hell out of it.

Ari and Janco from the Chronicles of Ixia/Poison Study series by Maria V. Snyder

I loved this duo more and more throughout the Study books and I would love to see them both in their own adventure!

Clove and Ella from The Last Begining by Lauren James

Although I hadn’t initially been too keen on Ella I really enjoyed the short story Another Begining which really warmed me to her and made me want to read more about them together. I know technically Another Beginning IS their story but I feel it’s also very much about unwinding Kate and Matt’s story and I’d love to see more of Clove and Ella’s adventures throughout time.

What do you think? Would you be interested in any of these? What characters would you like to see get their own books?

book talk, spoiler free

Harley in the Sky Cover Reveal

It’s been SO difficult to keep this secret the past couple of weeks but as a member of the Harley in the Sky Street Team I was lucky enough to see the cover for Akemi’s newest novel a little earlier and I’ve been in love with it ever since! Harley in the Sky is the next book out by author Akemi Dawn Bowman, award-winning author of Starfish and Summer Bird Blue follows a multiracial teenage girl who dreams of quitting school to become a trapeze artist in her parents’ Las Vegas circus, against their wishes, prompting her to join a rival circus. There, she grows close to a handsome musician and performer—while untangling her family’s complicated past and present.

Would you like to see the cover?

 

 

Are you sure?

 

 

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I love the mix of yellow and bronze, the silhouetted figure, that absolutely gorgeous font and the beautiful stylised pattern in the background that just SCREAMS circus tent to me. You can add Harley in the Sky to your want to read on Goodreads RIGHT NOW. 

spoiler free, tbr thursday

TBR Thursday – June

It’s the first Thursday of the month so it’s time for TBR Thursday where I reveal the books I intend to read this month (hopefully!). It’s not a huge list this month and very subject to change as I’ve applied for some ARC’s that I’m hopeful I’ll be accepted for, I’m also not quite halfway through The Dark Phoenix Saga by Stuart Moore and Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett which I’m reading at the moment and I think six books in a month might be a little hopeful for me but we’ll see!

The Girl In Red by Christina Henry
As mentioned in yesterdays WWW Wednesday post this is a retelling of the classic Little Red Riding Hood tale with a twist. I’ve heard great things about it and this is my next read for sure, I’m so excited to get into it!

The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie
I fell in love with this book the moment I saw the arcs going out and read the synopsis, it sounds amazing and I think Tabby will almost certainly be a character I can identify with. Anxiety and book clubs? Sign me up.

Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Kelly Link and Robin Wasserman.
Despite my, not exactly falling out of love with Shadowhunters, but more my becoming less excited by I’m still eager to check out the short stories contained within the Ghosts of the Shadow Market collection. The past two Shadow hunter anthologies have been really enjoyable and I’m hoping maybe this will reignite some of my love for the series. This book may, however, get swapped out if I’m chosen to receive any of the ARC’s I’ve applied for.

D-Day Dog by Tom Palmer
I don’t often read a lot of books heavily featuring animals because I worry that something bad will happen to them (thanks Marley and Me and the Warrior Cats books) but something about D-Day Dog just called to me, especially the absolutely beautiful cover by Tom Clohosy Cole. 

Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare
I NEED TO FINALLY FINISH THIS DAMNED BOOK. I started reading QOAD when it was released LAST YEAR. I found the physical book far too big and clunky to read so opted for the audiobook read by the lovely James Masters and…it’s not a bad book exactly it’s just so drawn out. It’s obviously a long book and some bits have been brilliant so far but some of it just drags so much. I have about an hour and a half left to listen to which I’m determined to get done this month no matter what!

There are so many books I’m trying to restrain myself from buying this month that I cannot explain. I’m also at an event on payday halfway through the month so need to restrain myself (hahahahahaha) as we’re also off to Legoland at the end of the month!

Are there any books on here you’ve read that you enjoyed? What are you hoping to get read this month?

spoiler free, WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday – June 3rd

Its time for my fortnightly WWW Wednesday post! I’m slowly slogging through this months TBR (full post to come tomorrow!) but feeling positive I’ll get there, especially after rearranging and tidying my bookcases yesterday! If you want to join in with WWW don’t forget to send over a big thank you to Sam at Taking on a World of Words for keeping WWW alive and kicking.

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

The Dark Phoenix Saga by Stuart Moore. As mentioned in my last post, this is a retelling/novelisation of the Dark Phoenix arc from the X-Men comics. I remember falling in the love with the animated X-Men series when I was younger and other than Rogue, who I adored, I really fell in love with Jean and her story as the Phoenix. I got a little older and looked into the comics more and devoured the whole story arc multiple times. I’m so glad to now get to relive it all over again in this new Marvel novel, not to mention the film coming out very very soon.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Despite meaning to read this for a while now, as soon as I saw that they would be making a show in-fact and I’m now finally getting around to it. I read the first 50 pages so that I could watch the first episode of the show and now I’m hoping to carry on and finish it so I can watch the rest of the episodes because that first one was absolutely brilliant.

What did you recently finish reading?

Memento by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. As a pre-order incentive in the US, the US publishers of Aurora Rising offered a copy of a new and exclusive Illuminae novella when you submitted your preorder receipt. This novella is an 82-page prequel about AIDAN. I was gutted to realise this was US only but the lovely Good Choice Reading who is based in the US and does virtual signings were offering the incentives with your signed book! The postage was a little painful but it was totally worth it. I read Memento the day I received it and I made a reading reaction video which you can check out here.

Nexus by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings. The sequel to their first book Zenith, I was pleased to find Nexus was a HUGE improvement over its predecessor and was really enjoyable, I’m actually pretty gutted that it’s only a two book series. You can check out my review for Nexus here. 

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Girl in Red by Christina Henry.  I’ve been fascinated with the idea of Christina’s fairy tale retellings for years and The Lost Boy is on my TBR and now I’m lucky enough to be taking part in the Instagram tour for her newest book The Girl in Red, the tale of Red Riding Hood (in this case more of a red jacket than an actual hood) and the decimated world riddled with quarantine camps, death, destruction and disease.

Have you read any of these? If so what are your thoughts? What have you read lately and what do you think you might read next?

book reviews

Nexus Review

43257123Nexus by Lindsay Cummings and Sasha Alsberg

Rating: XXXX

Published: May 7th 2019 (Kindle Version)
June 13th (Paperback version) by HQ Young Adult

“There was only one person who might have the power to free the galaxy from Nor’s rule – and yet completely unaware that the lives of millions now rested in her hands.”

From the #1 New York Times bestselling authors of Zenith comes the dazzling finale to the Androma Saga, where stunning betrayals and devastating secrets expose an embattled galaxy to the ultimate nightmare. 

Her ship is gone, her crew is captured and notorious mercenary Andi Racella is suddenly a fugitive, ruthlessly hunted across the galaxy. The bloodthirsty Queen Nor now rules most of the galaxy and she’ll stop at nothing to destroy her most hated adversary. Andi will risk anything, even her precious freedom to stop Nor. However as her crew fight to regain their freedom, Andi and her unlikely ally Dex discover a threat far greater than anything they’ve faced before. Only by saving their mortal enemy can they make one last desperate strike to save the galaxy, unaware that a shattering, centuries-old secret may demand the most wrenching sacrifice of all.

Despite being a little disappointed in the first book, Zenith I had high hopes for its sequel, Nexus. I requested it via NetGalley a few weeks back and was pleased to be approved quickly so I could get to reading it during my sci-fi binge. Thank you so much to YA HQ for providing me with this copy in exchange for an honest review.

Zenith had some great ideas and character outlines but fell short for me, it just seemed lacking in too many areas and I mourned that lost potential. Nexus, however, seems to have thrown off any shackles placed upon it by its predecessor and is a much better, interesting and enjoyable read. A warning that this review will probably be comparing the two works because the difference is so pleasingly apparent. I would say, despite this being a sequel you don’t absolutely need to read Zenith beforehand because it recaps the events that have unfolded previously although it does make it a little easier to know what’s happening from the get-go; that being said although this review will be spoiler free for Nexus there will be spoilers for Zenith.

Although I missed having the crew around for a larger part of this book than previously I think it actually really worked and I found Lira much more interesting in Nexus while she was away from Andi, the same goes for the Bloody Baroness herself who also was much improved. In Nexus, Andi is still very (understandably) focused on her friends devoutly it feels much more in the right place here and I think giving Andi a much more direct purpose she cared for really worked out well as well as giving her a legitimate reason that made sense as to why she’s so important in the fight against Nor. Her space pirate persona is, thankfully, much less overhyped this time around, even with there not being a huge amount of action involved and don’t even get me started on Dex becasue I actually liked him in Nexus which was a nice surprise, I think the events of Zenith really caused him to see what’s important and to grow a bit more of a spine without making him too overconfident to a fault. All the characters in-fact were much improved and although characters don’t have to be likeable for them to be good I think it is preferred that we understand their motives which we got in truckloads during Nexus and I couldn’t be happier about it.

There is a little romance in Nexus but it isn’t a huge plot point and I enjoyed it all the more because of that. Romantic scenes didn’t feel out of place or as flat or frustrating as it had done previously and I actually enjoyed them and the paring as a whole.

The writing was much improved which makes sense, whether it be a result of the collaborating authors working together better after already writing one book with each other or perhaps experience over time? I found there were a lot less clunky sentences and I didn’t find myself having to reread parts to make sense of them which I experienced in Zenith. Apart from a small part in the middle, the pacing was spot on and towards the end especially I found myself reading frantically, desperate to know what happened, there was some good tension building for sure. I really enjoyed the ending despite having worried that I was getting perilously close to the end of the book with no clue as to the outcome (a good thing, it just makes me anxious!).

Overall, Nexus was a good read and one I would be happy to recommend, I absolutely loved reading it and would say it’s definitely worth giving it a try even if Zenith fell short for you as you may be pleasantly surprised! Nexus is out now on Kindle and releases on paperback in the UK on June 13th.

(Extra note that isn’t at all relevant to the review at all but I’m meeting Sasha later this month and I’m SO excited!!)

 

#SixforSunday, spoiler free

S4S – Books I want to be written

Happy Six for Sunday for a new month! The general theme for this months prompts by Steph at a Little but A Lot is Bookish Wishes and this weeks prompt is “Books I want to be Written” which at first I thought would be hard, I mean how do I know the books I want haven’t already been written? Then I realised I was over thinking it and I got on with it because my answers don’t need to be thought-provoking and groundbreaking and heck, maybe some of them already exist which is brilliant because then maybe someone can recommend them to me? Anyway, I hope you enjoy because I had fun thinking about them (and will forever daydream about at least half of them).

More Illuminae Books

This is probably fairly predictable for me (in fact I think most of these are) and usually, I’m of the belief that once a series is done that’s it but after reading Memento (the Illuminae novella) I realised that I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of that damn series. I understand that the main story is done with but I’d love to see the group grown up, maybe a kid or two of their own or something and just getting into trouble, I’m easily pleased it could be boring as hell and I’d probably still love it lets be honest.

Middle-Grade Newt Scamander Books

I want what I thought we were getting with the Fantastic Beasts films, precious, lovely, soft and sweet Newt Scamander – maybe at Hogwarts getting into innocent mischief with his creatures. I think it would really suit a middle-grade voice, maybe first-year Newt is apprehensive about leaving for school and leaving behind the creature friends he’s made at home but then finds his own place at Hogwarts? Obviously, there needs to be a little conflict to keep it interesting but that could maybe be someone might find out about one of his more misunderstood creature friends? Maybe someone does but then they become friends!? Please just give me lovely little Newt Stories.

Overwatch tie-in novels

My son discovered Overwatch recently (Me and Chris played at release and then for about a year after so we didn’t just go out and buy a shooter game for him but that’s another story) it had more variety and has a much more cartoony feel than Apex which after seeing Chris play he was determined he wanted to play too. Anyway, the point is seeing him play with the different characters (and there are LOADS) makes me really want to know more about each of them and their in-game “law.” There are brilliant animated shorts and have been some good comics but what I really want are some canon, game tie-in novels to go with it. Overwatch isn’t anywhere near as popular as it was now (understandably, it’s been out a while and there are FTP games that are very similar everywhere now) but something I would still love.

YA Greek Mythology short story collection

This might seem like a bit of a weird one that I won’t explain well (and it quite likely already exists). There are loads of myth retellings out there but after reading some sweet Hades and Persephone short stories recently I realised I would really like to read more Greek myths with the YA treatment as it were. Or maybe even some of them turned around like we’ve seen with a lot of Disney franchises over the past few years, I’d really love a new tale about Medusa. Maybe Athena helps Medusa kick Poseidon’s butt when he tries to assault her in Athena’s temple, perhaps Medusa chooses to have snakes for hair for herself that can turn all men who look upon her to stone and then she marries Athena? Maybe I just want a queer, feminist-friendly greek mythology short story anthology? WHO KNOWS?!

More Mass Effect tie-in novels

Again this isn’t a fully formed idea in any way but I will honestly read just about anything set in the Mass Effect universe. In magical Christmas land, a choose your own adventure style ME book would be AMAZING but also super difficult and probably turn out badly. I just want my Shepards story. *Cries* I actually really like the way the books have managed to not mention Shepards gender etc in the books so that it can easily be imagined as your own, hence why they could never be the main character in any of the stories. Maybe we could have more tales about the rest of the crew like we go in the Foundation comics?

Anything about Lucien Vanserra  (from ACOTAR)

So there’s a rumour that we’ll be getting a book about Lucien and the Autumn Court from Sarah J Maas. I would like that, please. I’ve been a big Lucien fan girl since reading A Court of Thorns and Roses (my first and favourite D&D character is literally named and modelled after him) and although I wasn’t keen on a lot of aspects of ACOWAR I did like the amount of Lucien development we got and I need more. SO much more, please.

Another one I came up with I decided absolutely had to exist already so I’m hoping if anyone knows of something that fits these criteria but hear me out – Six of Crows – in space. Admittedly I’ve still not finished actually reading Six of Crows but I would absolutely love to read something in that style set in space and if I can’t find it I’ll just try and write it so help me out and save me from obsessing over another WIP.

In-fact speaking of writing I feel like I could solve most of the problem of wanting to read all of the above by just writing lots and lots of fan-fiction. I guess I better get started…