Top Five Wednesday: Hidden Gems in British Contemporary

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Today’s Top Five Wednesday focuses on books in a favorite genre of mine that don’t get a lot of hype, and that genre is British Contemporary. I’ve been reading adult contemporary books that take place in the UK for the past few years now, but I think I really fell in love with the genre in 2017. My dream is to travel abroad to England and buy all the books and editions that aren’t so easy to get here in the US. While I wrote a Fierce Fangirl Friday post in December about my love for British contemporaries, the following books are hidden gems that supplement my love for the genre.

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan/ anything by Jenny Colgan– One of the best hidden gems (at least here in the US) that I discovered in 2017 was Jenny Colgan’s books, including The Bookshop on the Corner. Why had I not walked down her section of the adult section at the library sooner?? Many of Jenny Colgan’s focus on baking and food, but The Bookshop on the Corner is a bit of an exception, with our main character, opening her own traveling bookshop. There’s so much in this novel that any contemporary lover would enjoy: Scotland, friendship, romance, and of course, BOOKS AND READING.

Something Like Happy by Eva Woods- My go-to elevator pitch for this gem highlights that Something Like Happy has the perfect amount of heart-warming and heart-breaking moments, with our two main characters attempting to complete a 100 happy days project as one of the women suffers from a serious illness.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan- Anyone who loves to follow the British royal family would adore The Royal We. The Royal We follows an American girl’s relationship and engagement to her college sweetheart. What makes it so unique? Rebecca is to marry Britain’s future King and must adjust to life in one of the world’s biggest spotlights.

Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher- I think Giovanna Fletcher might be like Jenny Colgan in the sense that she’s probably considered more of a hidden gem in the US than the UK—my county library only has two of her books in their system. Billy and Me follows small village girl Sophie’s romance with an A –list actor. The book was quite cute and satisfying to my contemporary reads heart, and the romance was done right–I’m looking back on my Goodreads review pre-Fangirl Fury, and apparently I called the romance “not gag-worthy”, so take that as another plus?!?!

London Belongs to Me by Jacquelyn Middleton- I’m changing this list up a bit to include a new-adult read. While London Belongs to Me has received a lot of attention in the Booktube community, I think it’s a bit of a hidden gem (I’m 90% sure that it’s self-published). Anyways, I personally enjoyed London Belongs to Me for taking place in London, as the name suggests, and for its fandom aspects, as our main character loves to read and is a huge Doctor Who fan.

Top 5 Wednesday is a collaborative group of book bloggers from various platforms who love sharing lists on Wednesdays. The T5W group can be found here on Goodreads.

 

ARC Review: The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances

Summary: Laura Cavendish has a successful career, a long marriage to her wealthy husband, and most importantly, her twenty-three year old son, Daniel. Laura and Daniel have a close-knit relationship, so when Daniel falls head-over-heels for Cherry, Laura cannot wait to meet the woman who has captured her son’s heart. She pictures a close relationship with Cherry herself, but there’s just something about Cherry’s possessive nature over Daniel that makes Laura feel uneasy. As lies are told and distrust forms, Laura fears Cherry will become something more than just the girlfriend.

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My Thoughts:

From the moment I picked up The Girlfriend, I was addicted. We quickly go from Laura and Cherry’s excitement to meet one another to their lukewarm reactions to fighting over what’s best for Daniel. The story is told through multiple perspectives, specifically Laura, Daniel, and Cherry. I’m glad that we got Cherry’s POV because I feel like it showed her psychotic schemes motivation for wanting to be with Daniel instead of having readers play a guessing game.

One of biggest themes of the novel is wealth; even though he hasn’t asked for too much in life, Daniel has always been extremely wealthy thanks to his parents’ careers, while Cherry has had a less fortunate upbringing. Now working as a real estate agent, she longs for the rich lifestyle of her clients and is ashamed of her mother’s work as a supermarket manager. This difference between Cherry and Daniel is a breaking point for us to either feel sympathetic or not for Cherry. The plus side of having some wealthy characters? Really cool locations, like Laura’s mansion and the family villa in France.

Previously published in the UK, The Girlfriend is promoted as a psychological thriller, and I think the novel fits the genre in the sense that the reader cannot figure out who is more trustworthy, Laura or Cherry? I sided with Laura throughout the novel—I think Cherry freaked me out a tad too much—but there were moments were I questioned Laura’s own motives. I’ve grown to enjoy books with unreliable narrators, and although I suspected that Laura was the more reliable, she was willing to do anything as a helicopter parent. I admit that I wasn’t necessarily mind blown by the end, as Laura and Cherry’s actions were a bit predictable (I totally foresaw the “unforgivable lie” that the book’s blurb promises), but that didn’t prevent me from turning the next page.

Overall, The Girlfriend is the perfect read if you’re looking for a highly-addicting story (perfect for any read-athon) that will keep you turning the pages until the very end.

I was sent an Advanced Reader’s Edition of The Girlfriend by Kensington Books. By no means did this affect my thoughts or rating. Thank you Kensington Books!

Have you read The Girlfriend? Do you like psychological thrillers? Share in the comments!

Fierce Fangirl Friday: Hart of Dixie

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Fierce Fangirl Friday was created by Jackie of Too Much of a Booknerd as an opportunity for us fangirls to do some healthy fangirling on our blogs. Today I will be discussing my latest binge watch on Netflix, Hart of Dixie.

Binge-watch may be too strong of a term, as I watched all four seasons of Hart of Dixie over two months—I have friends who would have done so in less than two weeks. Anyway, in the beginning of November, I needed a new show to watch, after my billionth (okay, tenth or eleventh) Glee rewatch and I  didn’t have a weekly show during the fall (side confession that I have not been too keen on season 2 of Riverdale). Hart of Dixie kept popping up on my recommended list on Netflix, so I decided to give it a try. The CW show follows cardiac surgeon, Zoe Hart, who after being told that she needs more experience in bedside manner, moves to Bluebell, Alabama, where she’s been given the opportunity to work as a general practitioner. As this New York City girl adjusts to southern life, she forms new friendships and relationships while finding herself in some crazy schemes.hod.jpg

Like I mentioned above, there are four seasons of Hart of Dixie. Season 1 focuses on Zoe’s attempts to have a least 30% of the patients in the practice that she shares with fellow GP, Brick Breeland, and her forming relationships with people in Bluebell. Most notably, this includes the young mayor of Bluebell, Lavon Haynes, and Rose, a teenage girl who looks to Zoe for guidance on relationships and growing up. There’s also every fangirl’s favorite trope: a love triangle! This triangle includes Wade, Zoe’s neighbor and town playboy, and George Tucker, a local lawyer who’s engaged to Lemon Breeland, Brick’s daughter and Zoe’s quickly-formed rival.

Each episode is around 40 minutes long and there are 70 episodes of the show altogether. Season 1 was my favorite season of the show, as I loved getting acquainted with the southern, small-town vibes and learning about our main characters’ backgrounds. Season 2 and 3 were also fun, as Zoe has fully adopted life in Bluebell and a lot of relationships between our main cast and some new characters take place. However, I will say that Season 3 was my “least favorite” season of the show, only because I feel like despite all of the drama, we knew what duo was always going to be together by the end of the season. I really enjoyed Season 4, the final season of the show, for the way it wrapped up each character’s story arc, especially in the final episode. It did become a bit cheesy at times (I wasn’t completely in love with the musical-style ending of the last episode), but Hart of Dixie is such a feel-good show that it’s what you expect!

My favorite characters were Lavon and Lemon. I loved Lemon’s antics and I was rooting for her relationship with one particular character from the start (no spoilers here!). Lavon was also a great friend to Zoe and it was really sweet to see how much he cared about Bluebell. When it comes to the Zoe love triangle, I wasn’t really Team George or Team Wade (does anybody know if this was a thing when the show first aired??) because I thought either would work for Zoe just fine! I will admit that I tended to enjoy the other characters storylines more than Zoe’s relationship problems.

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Overall, Hart of Dixie is the perfect show for anyone looking for a light and fluffy series with a touch of comedy. My overall rating for the show is a B+.

Now that I’m finished with Hart of Dixie, it’s time to find a new show that I can easily watch while I’m at school. I’m craving a new season of  Big Little Lies, and I watched the last few episodes of Fuller House season 3 within a day!I’ve started a watch/rewatch of Sex and the City (I haven’t seen every single episode), I’ve heard amazing things about Call the Midwife and The Man in the High Castle, and I keep going back and forth on season 2 of Strangers Things.

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Have you watched Hart of Dixie? Do you have any TV recommendations for me? Share in the comments!

The #NotAll Book Tag

Another Thursday brings another book tag. Thursdays don’t necessarily mean book tags here on Fangirl Fury, by a nomination from Rebecca of mylifeasasportsfangirl to do the #NotAll Book Tag came at the perfect time. I originally had three posts scheduled this week, and I admit that I was feeling a bit weird. I’d say for the past two months, I’ve been scheduling at least four posts a week (winter break is amazing for a reason).

While I do plan on doing 4 a week for the next few weeks, I think at some point I will be going back to my original schedule of just posting on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. My spring semester just started and I NEVER WANT MY WORST NIGHTMARE TO COME TRUE, where I go to schedule and I have no posts ready to go.

Anyways, thank you for reading through my scheduling stress and now let’s get to the tag. Almost every reader has certain bookish pet peeves or tropes that drive them up a wall, but the #NotAll Book Tag is about those exceptions (we all have one love triangle that doesn’t make us completely bananas). The #NotAll Book Tag was created by theoragutanlibrarian.

#NOTALL COVER CHANGES– A COVER CHANGE YOU LIKED

 

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. I actually haven’t read this series (I feel like it’s one I’ll pick up when all the books are out), but the new covers to me scream kick-butt fantasy series, while the old covers scream WALL.

#NOTALL ADAPTATIONS– AN ADAPTATION YOU LOVE MORE THAN THE BOOK

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The Princess Diaries, aka one of my all-time favorite movies aka WHERE IS THE THIRD ONE??

#NOT ALL TROPES– A TROPE YOU’LL NEVER TIRE OF SEEING

The trope in which the female protagonist ends up with the guy who has been there all along. This guy is almost always adorably sweet, a bit nerdy, and 100% book boyfriend material. I’m looking at you Max Watson (The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord) & Reid (The Upside Down of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli). 

#NOTALL INSTALOVE– YOU INSTALOVED THIS COUPLE 

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A Taxonomy of Love by Rachael Allen. In this case, I’m thinking about one character who’s  immediately smitten when he meets the girl next-door.

#NOT ALL LOVE TRIANGLES– AN EXAMPLE OF A LOVE TRIANGLE DONE WELL

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han. P.S. I Still Love You‘s love triangle is done well in the sense THAT YOU DON’T KNOW WHO TO CHOOSE AND THE ONLY THING THAT WILL MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER ARE SOME COOKIES BAKED BY LARA JEAN (also #tbt to when we thought that this was the last book in the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series and our emotions were REALLY all over the place).

#NOTALL VILLAINS– A VILLAIN YOU LOVE 

Okay, so I really can’t think of any villain that I genuinely like, so let’s go with a character that I like who’s questionably a villain: Holland from A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab.

#NOTALL CHOSEN ONES– A CHOSEN ONE YOU CAN GET BEHIND 

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Diana from Wonder Woman:Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo. Diana is so full of purpose and no one can get in her way (especially guys on the subway).

#NOTALL HYPED BOOKS– A BOOK THAT LIVED UP TO THE ACCLAIM

Scythe by Neal Schusterman. DO NOT BE SCARED BY THE HYPE LIKE I WAS GUYS BECAUSE SCYTHE IS THE SCI-FI READ THAT YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU NEEDED. I’m so freaking excited for my review to go up next week and I really need Thunderhead in my life right now.

#NOTALL CONTEMPORARY– A BOOK YOU’RE NOT KEEN ON FROM YOUR FAVORITE GENRE 

Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler. I thought this book would be perfect because it featured baking and hockey, but unfortunately, Bittersweet had a whole lot of fluff that didn’t work  (but it did make me want a cupcake, so that’s a plus).

#NOTALL CLASSICS– A BOOK YOU LIKED FROM A GENRE YOU DON’T READ OFTEN 

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. A classic with a writing style that I could actually understand without reading the same passage 10 times, what?????

Interested in doing the #NotAll Book Tag? Then congratulations, you’ve been tagged!

Are there any tropes that you could endlessly read? Share in the comments!

 

Top Five Wednesday: Books I Disliked but Love to Discuss 

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Today’s Top Five Wednesday is all about books that I disliked or were just ‘okay’ to me, but have a few discussion points that I enjoy talking about. Before jumping into the five books below, I’d just to like to say that if you do enjoy or hold the books below near and dear to your heart, by no means I am saying that these books are unworthy of your love. They just were not my cup of tea.

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Nemesis by Brendan Reich

THIS BOOK HAD SO MUCH POTENTIAL TO BE A TRUE LORD OF THE FLIES RETELLING BUT IT WASN’T. Nemesis received a ton of hype on Booktube last spring and one of my friends generously gave me her ARC copy of the book. I’ve mentioned this previously on the blog, but the characters in Nemesis just felt very juvenile and I did not like the direction of the plot of well. Fortunately, I passed my copy to my book-loving best friend, and she is highly anticipating the next book in the series.

Solitaire by Alice Osemansolitaire

Solitaire is my latest literary disappointment mainly because I loved Alice Oseman’s latest book, Radio Silence. For me, Solitaire was very different than what I was expecting, and I experienced a major disconnect with the characters, with some of them being quite frustrating. I’ve seen Solitaire be compared to our generation’s The Catcher in the Rye, which I should have seen as a warning sign, considering the classic is one of my least favorite books ever.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

*HIDES FROM EVERY RAVEN CYCLE FAN EVER*

Definitely an unpopular opinion, but The Raven Boys did not meet the hype for me. I found it to be very slow-moving, I couldn’t connect with this characters, and I really didn’t understand everything with Glendower and the ley line?? I think I’m going to leave this series alone for right now, but maybe I’ll try a reread one day.

Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock

Just Friends was a struggle for me to get through. I thought the book would be a fun, contemporary read, with its friends-turned-lovers storyline, but I didn’t enjoy the writing style or our two main protagonists. Listen, I have read and loved many contemporary novels with a predictable plot lines and romances, but Just Friends did not bring anything new to the table.

Tatiana and Alexander (The Bronze Horseman #2) by Paullina Simons

The Bronze Horseman series has been heavily (and in my opinion, rightfully) criticized by the book community for the male dominance and non-consent sexual content in this historical fiction series surrounding the World War II period in Russia. I think this element of the trilogy came out for me in the second book in the novel, Tatiana and Alexander. Alexander treated Tatiana horribly, and I decided not to pick up the third book in the series because of how many reviews discuss how Alexander further abuses Tatiana in the third installment. I know this series is based on a time period where men commonly had more power than women, but why not make Tatiana her own heroine, without a man??

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Top 5 Wednesday is a collaborative group of book bloggers from various platforms who love sharing lists on Wednesdays. The T5W group can be found here on Goodreads.

 

Craving Adult Contemporary?? Wedding Night and The Bookshop on the Corner Reviews

New week, new type of post.

Since my thoughts on Jenny Colgan’s The Bookshop on the Corner and Sophie Kinsella’s Wedding Night are a bit short and non-spoilery, I decided to change up my usual review format to include 2 reviews in one post (rebel I know). Plus, both books fall under the same genre: British, adult contemporary!

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The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

Summary: Nina is a literary matchmaker, having plenty of practice as a librarian. But when the job she loves disappears, Nina is left with a lot of books and trying to figure out her next step. Taking her love for books and plenty of them in tow, Nina moves to a quiet village in Scotland, where the community is in dire need of reading. There, Nina buys a van and transforms it into a bookshop on wheels. Between sharing her passion for storytelling with the village and dealing with her grumpy, but caring landlord, Nina begins to feel more at home than she ever has before.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

28372019.jpgMy Thoughts:

Jenny Colgan captured my heart in 2017 with Meet Me at the Cupcake Café and The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, so kicking off my 2018 reading with another one of her books was a great start to my year.  

Obviously being a reader myself, I adored Nina’s appreciation for books and literature, and I found myself trying to figure how I could hypothetically open my own bookshop out of a van. After I finish writing this review, I’ll be off to Internet, looking for any fan art of Nina’s van/bookshop. I wish there was somehow a picture of it included in the book because I struggled to visualize it a bit (I know, minorish detail, use your imagination, Haley, but still!).

My favorite aspect of reading The Bookshop on the Corner was how cozy it made me feel. The majority of the novel takes place in Scotland, which I wasn’t expecting, but I loved this setting! I haven’t read any novels with Scotland as the main setting, and seeing Nina live on Lennox’s farm and participate in village life makes me want to move to the Highlands for a bit! Speaking of Lennox, I loved his role in the story, and it was really fun to see a whole new side of Nina come out when she talked to him. I also loved Surinder, Nina’s best friend, from pushing Nina to do something with her life to her comic relief.

Overall, if you’re looking for a book about books  or a cozy contemporary, The Bookshop on the Corner is the one for you. Personally, I love reading books about books, like Words in Deep Blue, so I would love to see a sequel to Nina’s story (even if it’s a just a small check-in).

 Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

Summary: When Lottie’s boyfriend said that he had a big question for her, she thought it’d be finally be a marriage proposal, not a question about a trip abroad. Heartbroken, Lottie randomly receives a call from her first boyfriend and decides that it must be fate—a trip down the aisle seems like the right way to go! While Lottie is excited for this stage of her life, her sister Fliss feels the exact opposite. Going through her own divorce, Fliss is determined to end Lottie and Ben’s marriage with a ruinous wedding night.

My Rating: 3.75/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I’ve been working my way through Sophie Kinsella’s books (I think my local library has ALL of them!), and next up on my TBR was Wedding Night. I didn’t know too much about the book going in, but I figured I would enjoy the wedding aspects of the novel.17406464.jpg

Unfortunately, there wasn’t too much about weddings itself in Wedding Night, as the novel primarily focuses on Lottie’s rashness in her marriage with Ben and Fliss doing her best to sabotage their marriage for her sister’s sake. There is a considerable amount of wedding talk in the beginning of the novel, with Lottie overcoming her failed engagement to Richard and trying to “plan” a wedding with Ben. Additionally, I really liked the first half of the novel for its introduction to Lottie and Fliss, before the wedding night shenanigans begin. My favorite aspect of the novel was the dual POV from Fliss and Lottie. I liked learning about their backgrounds, like Lottie’s first trip to Greece and her mentoring college students to Fliss serving as head editor at the travel magazine. While reading about Lottie’s honeymoon mishaps from her perspective were quite funny, I liked Fliss’s POV a bit better, with her growing connection with Lorcan.

Wedding Night was a really fun and light read for me, between Fliss and Lorcan’s blooming romance and Lottie’s honeymoon from hell, but it was a little predictable and often dragged towards the end of the book. I figured that Fliss’s sabotaging Lottie’s honeymoon and wedding night would eventually lose control, and I saw some of the cracks in Lottie’s past history with Ben before she discovered them herself. The plot did become a bit ridiculous and far-fetched at times, but overall I think it added to the book’s romantic-comedy vibe.

In conclusion, I recommend Wedding Night if you’re looking for a light-hearted, rom-com-y read. I have two of Sophie Kinsella’s standalones left, and I’m highly anticipating Surprise Me, coming out in February 2018!

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Have you read Wedding Night or The Bookshop on the Corner? Share in the comments!

A DC Icons Review: Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

Summary: Eighteen-year old Bruce Wayne is ready to spend the summer with his best friends before heading off to college and officially inherit his family fortune, including Wayne Industries. But when an impulsive decision leads to five weeks of community service at Arkham Asylum, the home of Gotham City’s worst criminals, he finds himself investigating the Nightwalkers, the infamous group of criminals attacking the city’s wealthiest citizens. The most intriguing person involved is Arkham’s youngest inmate, Madeleine, a brilliant girl tied to the Nightwalkers, who will only speak to Bruce. Bruce must unravel the mystery that is Madeleine and decide if her words speak the truth or are leading him to hurt Gotham City himself.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

 Let’s start off this review with a mini confessional and intro: Hi, my name is Haley of Fangirl Fury, and I am here to admit that I know next to nothing about Batman, but I decided to read a book about Batman. I’ve seen bits and pieces of The Dark Knight trilogy (my philosophy teacher was really into using film to display different philosophical structures), and I think the most Batman I’ve ever experienced is watching The Lego Movie. So why did I pick up Batman: Nightwalker?

BECAUSE IT’S WRITTEN BY MARIE LU, AUTHOR OF WARCROSS AND THE LEGEND TRILOGY AKA SOME OF ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOKS NOT TO MENTION MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE AUTHOR.

Since I’m not the biggest Batman fan, I actually didn’t buy my own copy of the book, choosing to borrow it from the library. If I have the opportunity to go to another Marie Lu signing or if I find a signed copy at the bookstore (I’ve seen a few float around Instagram), I’ll be adding it to my personal collection becayse I ADORED Batman: Nightwalker.

My main point that I want to stress about Batman: Nightwalker is that you do not need to be any sort of Batman or DC fan to understand the novel. The majority of the characters in the book were created by created by Marie Lu, aside from of course Bruce, Alfred (Bruce’s guardian/ head of the Wayne estate/ sidekick/ MOST CARING, CUTEST MAN), Lucius Fox, who works for Wayne Tech, and Bruce’s friend, Harvey (who I did not was actually from the DC world until after I finished reading). Marie Lu was able to capture so much world-building and character creation of her own while playing in the “DC sandbox” (she’s often used this term when talking about writing the book on various panels about the DC Icons series). And the book felt so much like a Marie Lu book; her writing style wasn’t overpowered by having to be in the world of Batman/ DC.

My favorite part of Batman: Nightwalker was the world building. I really enjoyed Marie Lu’s descriptions of Gothman City and Wayne Industries and how she constructed Bruce’s family background and his history with his friends and the press. The coolest aspect of the DC Icons series is that we get to experience these superheroes as young adults. From what I understand, mostly from Marie Lu’s interviews, this is the first time someone has really highlighted Bruce Wayne as a teenager and not so much as Batman. While I wish the book had been a bit more bat-ty (Bruce briefly talks about the bat population in the Gotham City and how his dad would take him to their sanctuary), Marie Lu lays out some of the elements  that I assume Bruce will develop as Batman(yes, there is a Batmobile-type vehicle). With Bruce investigating the Nightwalkers and figuring out his relationship with Madeleine, there’s also a lot of discussion about justice and corruption that I think shapes Bruce as a person and will later shape him as a superhero. Some reviews have critiqued the lack of action in the book but I definitely preferred the world building and Nightwalker investigation more. As a reader, I have always had a lot of trouble following action sequences and I’m really not the biggest fan of action or fight scenes either —probably another reason why I tend to reach for contemporary over fantasy/action—but it was easy to pick up on what was happening during and after the action.

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So where does Batman: Nightwalker fit into the DC Icons series for me?

I enjoyed this installment more than Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman: Warbringer. I by no means disliked Wonder Woman: Warbringer and I am definitely more of a Wonder Woman fan than Batman, but I wasn’t too crazy about the mortal world parts of the book — I wish we spent more time in Themscyra and on the superhero and fantasy elements of the novel than in modern society. Additionally, granted that I’ve only read Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology outside of WWW, I felt like I couldn’t really tell that Leigh Bardugo wrote the book (other than how she created a great and humorous dynamic among a larger cast of characters in both series), compared to how I knew that Batman: Nightwalker was truly a Marie Lu book.

I am beyond excited for Sarah J. Maas’s Catwoman: Soulstealer this August and I think I will pick up Matt de la Pena’s take on Superman in 2019, though I know even less about Superman than Batman and Catwoman.

Are you a DC or Batman fan? Have you read Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu? Share in the comments!