Review: Lona Chang

Dear blog friends: hello!

Today, I get the privilege of participating in another blog tour, and this is one that I’ve been looking forward to for SO LONG.  I’ve passed up some recent blog tour opportunities because I’m in the process of buying my first house (truth be told – we’re closing TODAY… WAT), as well as working vigorously on some short stories and a novel, but as soon as I heard Lona Chang was coming out, I told myself that I would jump on that blog train ASAP.

So I did.

So here we are.

If you’ve met me in real life or been to my apartment (house! today!), I’ve probably brought up Awesome Jones to you.  I happily stumbled upon Awesome Jones after stumbling upon AshleyRose Sullivan’s My Year of Star Trek blog (and reading years’ worth of posts in three days… oops).  Oh, what luck.  Just call me Lona, I guess ❤

ANYWAY.  Gosh.

(Also SPOILERS for Awesome Jones – if I mention characters are in Lona Chang, they obviously didn’t die in book 1… you’ve been warned.)


Long Chang: A Superhero Detective Story is the sequel to Awesome Jones: A Superhero Fairy Tale.  Sequels get a bad rep, but y’all – this one delivered.LonaChangCover_1200x800

So many of the same great characters are back – Awesome, Neima, Julia, Andy, Roy, and of course, Lona.  Oh, and Tulie!  Yessss for great dogs who make it to book 2!  These characters are dynamic and fun and real.  They feel things deeply, and they all bring something special to the story, as do the new characters that we meet this time around.

We get face time with many more superheroes/super-humans, which is sweet, and we get more back story about the world and Arc City and the Guild.  And I absolutely eat up origin stories.

All of this is packaged beautifully in a mystery – one that teases you and keeps you guessing.  I couldn’t put this book down.  And of course, AshleyRose Sullivan’s graphics were sprinkled throughout the book.  Her art is clean and whimsical and unique.

Also: AshleyRose Sullivan has such a knack for physical details – in her art and her writing both.  She has a way of making scenes come alive by perfectly describing the shrug of a shoulder, or Tulie’s nose touching Lona’s hand, or the coffee dripping slowly down a mug.  It’s atmospheric in a light, never heavy, sort of way.  Much like Ann Leckie does in her Ancillary trilogy.

So if you like superheroes, mysteries, graphic novels, or underdogs, or if you’re looking for a fun book that has you rooting for the characters SO HARD, check out Lona Chang (or Awesome Jones first if you haven’t yet!  Do it!).

Check out more info on AshleyRose and the blog tour below!


NewAuthorPhoto_LatestAbout the author: Originally from Appalachia, AshleyRose Sullivan lives, writes, and paints in Los Angeles with her husband and their many imaginary friends. Her work has been published in places like The Rumpus, Barrelhouse, and Word Riot and her novels, Awesome Jones: A Superhero Fairy Tale and Silver Tongue are available from Seventh Star Press. She can be found at


Tour Schedule and Activities

3/7   Book in the Bag  – Interview

3/9   Jordan Hirsch – Review

3/10  Sheila’s Guests and Reviews – Guest Post

3/11  MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape – Interview

3/12  Book in the Bag – Review

3/12  Jorie Loves A Story – Review

3/13  deal sharing aunt – Review


Review: The Princess Diarist

Hey, friends.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been trying to listen to more audiobooks, and the first one that I stumbled upon this year (and then promptly forgot to write a review for because I finished it at the same time as another book which I DID write a review for…) was The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher.

I was pretty devastated when Carrie Fisher passed away.  As you probably know, I’m a HUGE Star Trek fan, but believe me, I have plenty of love for Star Wars, too.  I’ve loved Princess Leia since I first saw the movies when I was… 7, I think?  I’ll never forget the first time I was introduced to the Star Wars universe.  It was the summer when I was 7 years old – it must have been around the 4th of July, because I’d gone to a carnival that was in a neighboring town that weekend every year.

I came home, and my dad’s youngest brother was visiting from Washington (I grew up in southern Illinois – have I ever told you that?).  Anyway, he talked my dad into watching it, and I stuck around in our family room, mostly just to spend time with my super fun uncle.

I’m so glad I did.  It was a magical experience.

Anyway.  I loved Princess Leia, and as I got older and got to know more of who Carrie Fisher was and what she’s done, I loved her, too.  So I was really excited to listen to this book – especially because she and her daughter read it.

carrie-fisher-the-princess-diarist-is-the-perfect-book-to-read-over-the-holiday-ftrThe Princess Diarist was fun and hilarious and vulnerable and smart.  It provided such a unique, behind-the-scenes perspective of the filming of Star Wars, all from Carrie’s point of view.

She was honest and harsh and forgiving and honest.  She opened up about getting the part of Leia, about trying to figure out who she was, about her relationship with Harrison Ford, about friendships on set, about drugs, and so much more.

It was incredibly enjoyable, and Carrie did a fabulous job reading her work, adding flair in the way that only she could.

I also really loved that her daughter, Billie Lourd, read the old journal entries that Carrie had found from her time on Star Wars.  So cool.  And the journal entries were amazing.

Anyway.  If you like Star Wars or memoirs or the movie business, or if you’re just looking for an easy, fun, real read, check out The Princess Diarist.  It’ll make you grieve Carrie Fisher all over again.

Review: Bonhoeffer

Hey all.

So this year, I’m trying to get into audiobooks.  I spend a lot of time in my car, and in looking for a way to redeem that time, I’m trying out books instead of music.

I started off with The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher (and I JUST realized I never wrote a review for that – I’m on it!), then moved to something much weightier – Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas.

Bonhoeffer tells the story of the life and death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer – a German Evangelical pastor who was part of the plot to assassinate Hitler.  As I’ve mentioned in my posts before, I’m a Christian, and the idea of trying to reconcile one’s Christian beliefs with seeking to murder someone for the greater good was fascinating to me.

The size of this book was pretty daunting – I was going to spend over 24 hours listening to this beast of a biography.  Thankfully, the reader (who did a GREAT job, by the way) read slowly, so I was able to increase the audio speed of my app and cut that baby down to 21-22 hours.  Slightly more manageable.


Eric Metaxas does a great job of leaving no stone unturned.  Bonhoeffer starts with Dietrich’s ancestors – it took longer to get to his birth than I was expecting.  But Metaxas draws on Bonhoeffer’s family history throughout the story, so it definitely wasn’t in vain.

He then takes us through Bonhoeffer’s entire life: his childhood and schooling, his time in America and multiple countries in Europe, his theological journey and convictions, and how he became a part of the Hitler assassination attempt.

Metaxas does a marvelous job of weaving in details and context, helping the reader to understand why each little piece matters.  He writes matter-of-factly but not so much that we don’t care about Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  On the contrary, I found myself caring very much.

The one negative thing I’ll say is that I found the author’s interpretation of the religious climate in Germany a little… how do I say this?  Disappointing.  Or I guess, more accurately, I found myself doubting the validity of what he was saying due to many of his comments the past year regarding Evangelicals in America today and the Trump administration.  His comments have come across as very nationalist, so when I read his criticisms of the German church’s harmful nationalism and how it affected the Jews, I had to roll my eyes just a bit – it seemed hypocritical in light of his defense of many of Trump’s nationalist, racist, and prejudiced comments and policies.

I struggle with trying to understand how an author’s actions outside of their work affects my enjoyment of their work.  More on that another time, maybe.

It was a good biography – thorough and engaging.  I would recommend it if WWII interests you, if Christian ethics interest you, or if you want to think more about today’s political climate through a new lens.

Review: Provenance

Hi, y’all!

So, this was a HIGHLY anticipated book for me.  I met Ann Leckie in October where she signed my copies of the Ancillary Trilogy, which I LOVED and look forward to re-reading soon.  That was right after the book came out, and meeting her amped me up even more for its release!

Have I told you that I strive to have very low expectations in most areas of my life?  That way I’m rarely disappointed and often pleasantly surprised?  It works most of the time (except for with the Hobbit movies… that’s a whole other conversation, unfortunately).  Anyway, highly anticipated and high expectations are two different things, but I had problems keeping the latter under control this time.

provenanceProvenance by Ann Leckie started out a little slow for me.  I wasn’t crazy about the main character, Ingray, at first, but there were plenty of other characters to love.  If you decide to read this book and have a similar experience in the first 50 pages, Ingray gets better, I promise.  Her character grows and learns and makes mistakes along the way, and it’s great.  Besides, if you loved every main character on page 1, how boring would that be?

BUT.  (Or and?  I’m not sure what interjection/conjunction I want to use here.)

Let me just say: plot-wise, Ann Leckie knocked it out of the park.  There were layers upon layers of intrigue and manipulation, and it had me wondering who in the universe we could actually trust.  The plot is simple yet nuanced in a way that Ann Leckie does best.  It was fun and accessible while still remaining truly science fiction.

It was also really enjoyable to read a novel set in the same universe as the Ancillary Trilogy but with no crossover of characters at all.  It was a (slightly) different a time and a totally different location.  I love that!

Overall, I’d highly recommend Provenance if you’re looking for a cozy science fiction mystery; it’s an easy read and definitely a gem.

Review: Ender’s Shadow

Okay, so, I’m back on the Ender train.

You might remember that last year, I FINALLY read the rest of the Ender Saga after loving Ender’s Game for years.  One of my best friends has been raving about the Shadow Saga, and then my new boss couldn’t believe I’d never read them.

So, this is me succumbing to peer pressure (but also doing exactly what I want to do because I love all things Ender…)51v2dtbLePL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Ender’s Shadow takes place at the same time and covers many of the same events as Ender’s Game but from Bean’s perspective.  I was a bit skeptical that it would be boring, and I’m here to admit that I was very wrong.

Orson Scott Card does a great job of showing the reader the events from Ender’s Game from a different angle.  We get to know many of the beloved (and not-loved-at-all) characters a bit more: Petra, Alai, Carn, Bonzo, Colonel Graff, and of course, Bean.  We get more backstory on many of the decisions made at Battle School, which interested me a ton, and we get to see where Bean comes from and what contributes to many of his peculiarities.

What occurred in Ender’s Shadow changed the way I thought about the events and characters in the other books, so much so that it almost made me uncomfortable.  I found myself wondering if people were who I’d originally thought they were – was Ender wrong about them or was Bean?  It reminded me of when you have an opinion about a person and then someone you know/trust has a COMPLETELY different view of them.  A bit disconcerting.

The one criticism I have about Ender’s Shadow is that it often had long paragraphs of description about events – there was less dialogue and action than Ender’s Game, and it read more like Speaker for the Dead or Xenocide.  Not a bad thing, I guess.  Just different.

My friend and my boss weren’t wrong – Ender’s Shadow is a great addition to this series, and I can’t wait to see what happens next in Shadow of the Hegemon!

Review: Barrayar

Surprise, surprise.  My first book post-Summer Reading is a Vorkosigan.

But y’all: I missed these characters while I was away (reading amazing things, don’t get me wrong).  So I happily found my way back to them quickly.

Barrayar picks up shortly after Shards of Honor left off and follows… Ugh SPOILERS.  If you’re worried about spoilers for parts of the Vorkosigan saga, get out now.  I’ll keep ‘em to a minimum, but I can’t keep this review completely free of spoilers for parts of the series.  Particularly Shards.


I’ll wait while you make your decision…





Okay.  Since you’re still here, I’m assuming you’re okay with having at least minor details spoiled for you.

6089607._UY200_Now, where was I?  Right.  Barrayar picks up shortly after Shards of Honor and follows Aral and Cordelia Vorkosigan through figuring out marriage, figuring out pregnancy, and figuring out Aral’s new position in the Barrayaran government.  This work is typical Bujold in all the best ways: mystery, sabotage, politics, emotion, and humor, all wrapped up in a highly accessible piece of science fiction.

We get to see more of Cordelia, which is amazing.  Such a great, intense, well-rounded character.  I’m excited to jump back to where I was in the timeline and read Brothers in Arms soon.  Hopefully she makes an appearance in that (and/or the subsequent books) because now that I know more about her character, older Cordelia’s actions and thoughts have so much more depth to them.

Oh, and Aral… I never thought he was swoon-worthy until these earlier books.  But he is.  He SO is.

Ivan, Elena, Gregor, and Miles all make appearances, and we get more background on their families – most of which are sad.  But while reading, it helped to know how things turned out… just one benefit of prequels, I guess.

And in true Lois Bujold fashion, Barrayar explores ethical questions and moral dilemmas.  That’s one of my favorite parts to Bujold’s writing – she weaves magnificent characters, engaging plots, fantastic worlds, and thought-provoking scenarios together seamlessly and somehow manages to keep her work short-ish (for SF).  She’s amazing.

You could jump into the Vorkosigan saga anywhere, really, but I wouldn’t recommend Barrayar as your first.  Maybe Shards of Honor or The Warrior’s ApprenticeThe Warrior’s Apprentice.  But regardless of where you jump in: do it.  So good.

Summer Reading 2017: Wrap-Up

Sadly, Summer Reading 2017 has come to an end.  This year’s theme was for my reading list was books by people of color – and I’m so glad it was.

I chose the summer’s theme this spring after realizing that I’d gone on quite the streak of only reading books by white women.  This was by no means intentional – I was bingeing the Vorkosigan saga by Lois McMaster Bujold, as well as reading Melissa Hartwig’s Whole30 books.  But just because it wasn’t intentional doesn’t mean it was a good thing.

So I decided to only read books written by people of color for 3 months.  And friends: I found some real gems.

I can’t tell you about every single one of them – you can check out past reviews for that.  But here are the top two books I read each month (which started in July… because I was a bit behind… because life and work and life).


The Fifth Season by N.K Jemisin

The Obelisk Gate by N.K Jemisin

  • Maybe this cheating, but I don’t care.  I make the rules for this wrap-up, and I say it’s good.  These two books are AMAZING.  They’re engrossing and challenging and beautiful and heart-breaking.



Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

  • Nnedi Okorafor writes in ways I’ve never experienced before.  Her settings are magical, she pushes the envelope, and she dives right in to hard topics.  The world of Who Fears Death was captivating.

The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu

  • This sequel to The Three-Body Problem wouldn’t let me go.  I liked book one of the trilogy just fine, but the questions that book 2 raises are haunting.  This trilogy (which I haven’t finished yet… almost there!) is epic science fiction like I’ve never read before.



The Stone Sky by N.K Jemisin

  • Are you surprised?  Such a great finale to the trilogy.

Hunger by Roxane Gay

  • This memoir was so moving, so powerful, and so needed.  Goodness.


There were plenty of other books that I read that were great, but these six took the Summer Reading cake.

There were also many books on the list that I didn’t get to, and they’ve happily been transferred to my overall To Be Read list.  Be looking for these reviews (and more) coming soon!

  • Death’s End by Cixin Liu
  • The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
  • 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
  • Nostalgia by N.G Vassanji
  • Santa Biblia by Justo Gonzalez