Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, Signal Boost

Comic Mini Reviews: Vox Machina Origins and Bitch Planet

Hey all, Dani here.

So, I don’t do a lot of mini reviews on here, but I’m making a bit of an exception today. Though I could probably rave and ramble on about both of these intriguing stories, if I did so who knows when I would be able to squeeze them onto this blog. I’m supposed to only be posting 5 days each week, giving myself basically weekends off, but I’ve had a lot of things I’ve wanted to talk about lately, so bonus posts are happening. Anyway, let’s just jump into these reviews.

Summary (Vox Machina Origins)

Roguish twins Vax’ildan and Vex’ahlia investigate a curse afflicting the impoverished citizens of the port city of Stilben. Things are not what they seem for the adventurous siblings…between fighting shark-riding fish men and black-clad assassins, they meet an antlered half-elven druid with her own theory about the curse.

Summary (Bitch Planet)

Eisner Award-nominated writer Kelly Sue DeConnick (Pretty Deadly, Captain Marvel) and Valentine De Landro (X-Factor) team up to bring you the premiere volume of Bitch Planet, a deliciously vicious riff on women-in-prison sci-fi exploitation.

In a future just a few years down the road in the wrong direction, a woman’s failure to comply with her patriarchal overlords will result in exile to the meanest penal planet in the galaxy. When the newest crop of fresh femmes arrive, can they work together to stay alive or will hidden agendas, crooked guards, and the deadliest sport on (or off!) Earth take them to their maker?

Collects BITCH PLANET #1-5.

My Thoughts

Rating: Vox Machina Origins (5 stars) Bitch Planet, Vol 1 (4 stars)

Here’s a fun fact…there is actually a connection between both of these comics, and it happens to be actress Ashley Johnson. She plays gnome cleric Pike Trickfoot in the web series Critical Role, which I have gushed about on this blog a couple times already, and then when she did an episode of Signal Boost on Geek & Sundry, Ashley recommended Bitch Planet as something to read.

As a huge fan of Critical Role because of the epic storyline (seriously I have watched all 113 episodes of the show and they are typically 3-5 hours long each–so basically I’ve invested a lot of time for this), the announcement of a prequel comic greatly excited me. This was a fantastic story detailing part of an early adventure before Vox Machina truly formed. This particular issue focuses on Vex and Vax, though there is a decent amount of Keyleth in it as well. Go Team Half-Elf. The artwork was great, and it was actually done by a Critter (what we fans of the show call ourselves), so that’s even cooler. Matt Colville manages to capture the personalities and attitudes of the characters so well, and this 27 page comic issue was over too quickly. There will be 6 issues in this original run, with one issue being released each month, so I am eagerly awaiting the next installment.

Moving on to Bitch Planet. First off, please note that this graphic novel is tagged as for mature (age 16+ readers). There is violence and nudity and more within the pages. This one takes place on a prison planet where women who are considered non-compliant are sent. If a woman is too fat, too outspoken, too ugly, etc. etc. she gets sent out to this prison to live and work, and they are not treated well here. But man, the diversity within this graphic novel is outstanding. The variety of sizes and shapes and colors and everything displayed by the group of women we follow is absolutely wonderful. In some ways this feels like a sci-fi version of “Orange is the New Black”…kind of. Add in the politics of something like The Handmaid’s Tale and you’re probably pretty close to what is portrayed within the pages. I am greatly intrigued by this series, and I’m hoping to learn more about the core group of women, because so many of them were introduced in the first few issues that I actually had to reread some parts to make sure I knew who was who. Thankfully I already purchased Vol 2, so I’ll be reading that very soon.

Where to Buy

Vox Machina Origins: Amazon, Dark Horse, Comixology

Bitch Planet, Vol 1: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository

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Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, Signal Boost

Review: One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

Hey all, Dani here.

Last year the hype around Three Dark Crowns was massive…with so many people gushing about how utterly amazing and dark the story was. And yes, while I enjoyed the book and read it fairly quickly, I was not quite as excited. The concept was interesting and the final chapter was outstanding, but most of the book just felt a bit flat and uneventful to me. I talk about it a little in this post. Thankfully, I was still intrigued enough to continue with the series–and I’m so glad that I did.

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Summary

The battle for the Crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?

With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

In this enthralling sequel to Kendare Blake’s New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns, Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must face the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other.

My Thoughts

Rating: 4.5 stars

With the first book I thought that the first 85% of it was rather uneventful and I didn’t connect with the characters. I am so pleased to say that with this one I was just pulled into the story and I didn’t want to stop until I reached the final page. There was more plotting and planning yes, but also actual moves were made.

The triplet Queens seemed a little darker and more prepared to do what they needed to do. I liked Mira a little more in this book, and Katharine got intriguingly dark, but I still think Arsinoe is my favorite of the three.

Speaking of favorites, Billy totally won me over in this book. I believed the connection he had with Arsinoe, and I even appreciated the time he spent with Mirabella.

Arsinoe figuring out more about her poisoner gift was interesting, and I liked that it brought up complications, like when she forgot about poison coating objects or that she just ingested something. And since only a couple others knew her secret, they worried about a potential poison attack from Katharine.

Oh, and I’m also excited about what is happening with Jules, and I am so looking forward to seeing how this particular plot line develops through the next book.

So basically this was a huge improvement over the last book, at least for me. I devoured it so quickly and am now sad that I have to wait a whole year for the next installment. I can safely say that if you loved the first book, then this one will also be a great read. And if you were like me and thought the first book was just okay, I am telling you, give this one a chance, because it’ll probably impress you.

Where to Buy

You can pick up your own copy of One Dark Throne from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.

Books!, Inspiration, Recommendations, Signal Boost

Banned Books Recommendations

Hey all, Dani here.

It is still Banned Books Week, and today I want to talk about some banned books that I think people need to read. Also, because there are some books that have been very prominent and influential in recent months, I’ll have a few of those listed at the end. I’m pretty certain that some of them will end up being on the list of 2017 Banned Books when it is released next year.

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Okay, honestly, I think that books should be read period. When it comes to books that are challenged or banned though, I feel like people are trying to lock up some idea and keep it from the public eye. This puts it on my radar even more, practically labeling the book as a must read. What concept in the book has made people so afraid that they want to prevent people from reading it?

Any of the books I mentioned in my last post are definitely worth a read, as are any and all of the other books on the lists of challenged books from the past couple decades.

  • Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples (anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group)
    • This is a graphic novel series, and yes there is nudity, offensive language, and sexual content within most issues. This is not a series targeted at youth. In fact, when I saw Saga being talked about and sold at BookExpo, the guy at the booth was sure to inform readers/consumers that it is targeted at an adult audience. The series follows a couple who just happen to be part of opposing races, and they fall in love, which causes all sorts of issues. They are hunted down by both of their people, and even by their families. But they form a new family of sorts. I think it is worth the read. I think it is about people from different places finding common ground despite the prejudices they grew up believing.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”)
    • One of the things I like to say about this book is that the movie adaptation has to be one of the best adaptations I have seen. Yes, that is because the author wrote the screenplay and directed the movie. It does not get adapted any better than having the author in such prevalent roles in the process. But I think this book is one that everyone should read. It is actually a shorter read too, so it doesn’t take that much time, and it is written in letters/journal entries. But seriously, everyone should read Charlie’s story.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (offensive language, racism)
    • Isn’t this one just a classic that basically everyone reads anyway? I remember reading it and watching the movie in school. It is one of those classics that shows us the reality of a time in the past of the USA, that actually does not feel all that different from the current reality, with the exception of a vast advancement in technology.
  • His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman (political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, violence)
    • I devoured these books as a kid, and am hoping to complete a reread of them soon, but when I was a kid I didn’t pay attention to any political or religious undertones or overtones in the books. I was so wrapped up in Lyra’s adventures. I’m curious to see what I pick up now reading these as an adult.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood (Profanity; lurid passages about sex; statements defamatory to minorities, god, women and the disabled; violence; hopelessness; age-inappropriate; graphic sex; vulgar; offensive to Christians; violently graphic and morally corrupt.)
    • Okay, so technically I have yet to read this one, but I’m still including it on this recommendations list. With the way the world is going nowadays, this seems like a scary possibility for the future, so I think more people need to read it (myself included–I promise, I have it on my TBR)
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank (sexual content)
    • Seriously, this book has been challenged and banned because at one point Anne details the fact that she is maturing and so is her body. That is the reason why people think that this book should be taken out of schools and libraries. Not because of all the historical violence by the Nazis or the treatment of Jews and others. No, because a young woman talks about puberty, this book shouldn’t be read. Wow, just wow. I have this one on my TBR again, because I feel that I need a reread.
  • 1984, by George Orwell (pro-communist, explicit sexual matter)
    • Here’s another classic book that eerily predicted how society would be in the future. But instead of focusing on the government watching and monitoring every move, no let’s challenge this book because it could be promoting the communist agenda. Both George Orwell books on this list have been challenged because people suspected the author of being a communist.
  • Animal Farm, by George Orwell (political theories, pro-communist)
    • This book was also challenged because of having anthropomorphized animals in the book. I think the segregation of the animals based on what kind of animal they are is very similar to how nowadays we try and separate people by gender, or race, or religion, or sexuality. We need to have more conversation on the topic of division within the world today, and I think books like this can help get the conversation really moving

Okay, so now I’m going to include a few recommendations for books released this year, in 2017. They have not hit any challenged or banned lists (yet) but I imagine we’ll see them there when the 2017 list is released next year.

  • The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
  • All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis
  • Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
  • The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
  • Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Both The Hate You Give and Dear Martin deal with the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality, which are issues that definitely need more discussion and time in the spotlight. Again, yes, I need to read both of these, though to be fair the novel by Nic Stone will be released on October 17th.

Moxie and The Nowhere Girls are more focused on the issues of sexism and how girls are treated even within our schools during their formative years. Whether it is the dress code, or allegations of rape, or anything of that nature, we need to be bringing these issues into the spotlight. Oh, and The Nowhere Girls will be released on October 10th.

Finally there is All Rights Reserved, which is one of my top reads of 2017. It focuses a lot on issues surrounding freedom of speech, and I cannot recommend this book enough. I have my review up here, and just order yourself a copy or borrow it from the library. Please, just read these books, and then make your voice heard.

Well, that’s all for now. But, this is sort of a start for a series I’ll be running for the next few months wherein I recommend different books based on a theme or genre. Next Thursday I will be back with a LGBTQ+ Recommendations post. But I wanted to ask all of you what list you would like to see after that. Here are the options I have right now (but if you have others suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments):

  • Contemporary
  • Fantasy
  • Sci-Fi
  • Paranormal
  • Romance
  • Historical
  • Poetry
  • Memoir
  • Classics
  • Diverse
  • Graphic Novel
Books!, Inspiration, Signal Boost, TBR Purge

TBR Purge #7

Hey all, Dani here.

So I’m starting to get more posts up, whether they are tags, reviews, or recommendations, so I’ll be reducing the number of purge posts. They will be posted only on Wednesdays now, instead of sometimes happening twice a week.

But I saw several people doing Down the TBR Rabbit Hole posts over the past couple months and I was inspired to do something similar myself. Instead of looking at 5-10 books within each post, I decided that the best way to get all the way through my Goodreads TBR list was to do 30 books with each post.

As I start with my 7th purge post, my TBR list stands at 715 books. And I’ve been telling myself that I can’t add any books to this list until I’ve finished my purge, so that is sort of motivating me to work ahead on these posts as much as I can.

Anyway, let’s just jump into this.

Death Masks, Dead Beat, Small Favor, Blood Rites, Proven Guilty, White Night, Turn Coat, Changes, Ghost Story, and Cold Days by Jim Butcher. Yes, I know with most of the series I have on the list, I’ve been trying to only keep the next book that I need to read on the list and getting rid of the others. However, I also know without a doubt that I’ll end up reading the entire Harry Dresden series of novels so I’m just going to save myself the time and keep them all here on the list.

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett. I don’t even remember why I added this book. I’m sure it was recommended by a fantasy or sci-fi author or blogger or something, and I’m sure it could still be an interesting read, but for now I need to stick with books that I can remember without needing to look them up.

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier. A couple years ago I think I tried to read the first couple chapters of this one, but I never progressed past that point. And I don’t actually remember much of anything from what I read. So I can probably remove this one from the list for now.

Ironskin by Tina Connolly. This one does sound interesting, and I did buy it off BookOutlet, so at some point I may pick it up and read it, but for now I think I can take it off the list.

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone. I’ve head a lot about this one and people seem to really like it. If I remember correctly then this is also a book I bought cheap off BookOutlet, but for now I’m crossing it off the list.

Geist by Philippa Ballantine. Again, this is another one that I vaguely remember hearing about on some article recommending books or something of that nature, but I can’t really remember anything about it. Sorry book, but goodbye.

Codex Born and The Snow Queen by Jim C. Hines. I can’t believe after how much I loved Libriomancer that I didn’t read the rest of the series. Also, I read the first three books in the Princess series, so I really need to read the last one. And I adore Jim C. Hines’ books, so I am absolutely keeping this books on the list.

Caliban’s War, The Butcher of Anderson Station, Gods of Risk, and Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey. It took me such a long time to get through Leviathan’s Wake, and I did like it, but I now know I have to really be in the mood to read the next book, because they are quite sizable. I’m going to keep Caliban’s War on my list, because it is the next book in the series, but the two stories and the third book in the series will all be taken off the list (for now).

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter. I added this to my to-read list because I like Gena Showalter and I was considering giving this one a try. But let’s be honest, I’m not much of a fan of zombie related books/TV shows/movies so I’m going to pass on this one.

Troubadour by Mary Hoffman. I have loved every Mary Hoffman book I’ve read, and I’m sure I would love this one too. And this may be a weird reason to say farewell to this book, but I own all of her books in paperback, and this one only seems to be in hardcover.

Mind Games by Kiersten White. I’m not really interested in this one right now. Perhaps someday if the mood strikes I’ll give it a try but right now it’s a no.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I want to read this book soon. Obviously it is staying on the list–though technically soon it will be moving over to my Currently Reading list.

Elegy by Amanda Hocking. So, I read the rest of the series, and while I read it quickly and wanted to know what would happen next, I also wasn’t quite as invested as with her other series. So here I am not reading the last book in the series. At least for now.

Frey by Melissa Wright. Why did I have this one on my list? I’m sure it sounded like something I would want to read, and if the urge struck, I would probably enjoy reading it, but I have to be a bit more selective with my choices right now, so farewell.

A Soul for Chaos by Crista McHugh. I have read a large majority of books by Crista McHugh, and I read the first book in this series and it was pretty good, but I just never got around to reading this one, and I just don’t know that I’m in the mood to continue this series.

Year Zero by Rob Reid. The concept for this book is intriguing, and I do want to try and read a bit more sci-fi. Also, I already have this book on my shelves. So I’m going to keep it for a while.

The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams. Okay, I added this one to my list because of the Sword & Laser Book Club. And I do own it in e-book, so someday I may get around to it, but for now I’m just not really feeling like picking it up.

Well, eliminating 15 out of the 30 isn’t too bad. I still have 700 books left on my Goodreads “Want to Read” list, but I still have another 500 I need to look through and make decisions on. Sometimes it feels like this list is neverending. But I am determined to finish this purge.

Who else is participating in a TBR purge? If you are, how is it going? Are you making progress? Let me know in the comments.

Books!, Inspiration, Signal Boost

Why Are Books Banned?

Hey all, Dani here.

It is Banned Books Week, and that means I’m going to have a couple of posts talking about some of these books that have been challenged and/or banned. As in, people have filed complaints suggesting that certain books be removed from libraries and/or schools for varying reasons.

Today I’m talking about those reasons, while also mentioning a few popular books that have made it on the challenge lists and banned lists in places. You may be surprised at some of these books, but then again, maybe not.

Anyway, the important part of all of this is that we need to speak out for the freedom to read and against censorship. If there is a book that has certain themes or ideas that go against your beliefs then it is your right to choose not to read them. If you are a parent and you don’t want your child to read a certain book because of what you think is contained within the pages, it is your right to make that choice for your child. What is not okay is then thinking that you need to remove the book from the shelves so that nobody can read it.

As readers we know that we have varied tastes and not all books are going to appeal to every reader. What I have experienced through all these blog posts and all the different comment conversations with so many of you, is that we are capable of accepting that someone else feels differently about a book than we do.

Which means that honestly it is up to us, as well as librarians, teachers, and other book industry professionals to speak up about the issue of banning books and to fight against those who are trying to censor what the public has access to when it comes to reading materials.

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Here is part of an infographic taken from the American Library Association (ALA). It is a nice little word cloud that talks about some of the main reasons why people file challenges against books. I find a number of these ridiculous when you consider that a great deal of these reasonings are on the television news or brought up in TV shows or movies on a consistent basis.

Violence, profanity/offensive language, racism, nudity, death, drugs, political viewpoint, abortion, sex education, excessive police force, lgbt…these are all parts of the reality of society today. It does us no good at all to try and bury our heads in the sand or put on blinders. Ignoring the reality of the world helps nobody.

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This is from that same ALA infographic and it has a list of the top ten challenged books in the year 2016, as well as why they were challenged. As you can see LGBT content is mentioned in half of the books, and half are because they are “sexually explicit.” Then you have a book by Bill Cosby that was challenged simply because of the criminal allegations against the authors.

Here are some other books that have been challenged over the years, as well as the reason for the challenge.

  • The Holy Bible (religious viewpoint)
  • And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell (anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”)
  • Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples (anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group)
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”)
  • Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey (offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence)
  • The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group)
  • Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher (drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (offensive language, racism)
  • Twilight (series), by Stephenie Meyer (religious viewpoint, violence, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group)
  • The Color Purple, by Alice Walker (offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group)
  • His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman (political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, violence)
  • Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling (anti-family, occult/Satanism, religious viewpoint, violence)
  • Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck (offensive language, racism, violence)
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain (offensive language, racism)

Now, I remember discussing Banned Books during some of my library science courses, and not all that surprising is the fact that a lot of the people filing challenges about books have actually not read any of the book they are challenging. They challenge Harry Potter because the characters are witches and wizards, and they claim that the series is about the occult and Satanism, but those of us who have read the books know better.

Books like The Color PurpleTo Kill a MockingbirdOf Mice and Men, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn all detail how life was in earlier times of history, and yet people want to challenge them for offensive language and racism. The fact is that these books give us modern readers a better understanding of what life was like then. I remember in the past few years there was a big hoopla around both Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, wherein new versions were being printed. These new versions were “sanitized” by removing every instance where the word “nigger” appeared. Now I admit that I am not exactly a fan of that word, but that doesn’t mean I want to try and erase it from history or the reality of society.

Obviously, the topic of banned books is one that we need to keep bringing up, and not just during Banned Books Week. If you would like more information about this week, you can go to the ALA’s page on the topic. You can even find lists of frequently challenged books here. There are numerous resources to be found on the ALA page and I highly recommend checking all of them out.

Thanks for reading and I’ll have another Banned Books Week post up in a couple days.

Books!, Inspiration, Signal Boost, Writing

I Finally Got To Go To A Renaissance Festival

Hey all, Dani here.

So sometimes it’s fun to break away from the normal pattern of blog posts. I like to do this when I have to talk about some other wonderful and geeky event happens. Today I just have to talk about my adventure to the Ohio Renaissance Festival yesterday, because it was actually my first time.

To sum it up…I’m ready to go back again! I had such a lovely time.

And okay, so I started my time at Ren Fest wearing basically a peasant sundress I ordered off Amazon, but by the time I was done I had added a cloak and a staff to my outfit. Next time around I’ll skip the dress and be in pants and a tunic to continue building my ranger outfit. I can also say that it was a rather warm day, with a high of 88 degrees Fahrenheit, but surprisingly wearing a cloak did not overheat me. I may have actually felt cooler after putting on the cloak. I’m happy with my choice there anyway, because my cloak is reversible, so depending on the situation I can have either the black or the green side visible.

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My wonderful boyfriend also got me a boffer sword, a foam sword that is approved for most LARPs. Naturally he saw the Doctor Who one and had to get it for me. Then at the very end of the day he got me this really cool potion pouch that I can put on my belt.

Of course, he also built up his own outfit, though he’s going for more of rogue vibe. So he bought a shirt, pants, a cloak, a small potion case, gauntlets, and a pipe (just because it is a cool pipe–he plans to keep the pipe as decoration). We are talking about dyeing his shirt black to better fit his outfit concept. He is going for black attire with darker blue accents.

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We spent a great deal of our time exploring the shops, which were filled with wonderful hand-crafted clothes, weapons, jewelry, and more. Though, we did spend some time watching the jousting, which was really cool. Sadly, I was also eating lunch at that time so I did not manage to take any photographs of that. I will say that my bourbon chicken was delicious though. As was the giant dill pickle I bought shortly after that.

Anyway, I sadly also did not get any photos of myself or the rest of our adventuring party as we threw knives or axes. Surprisingly I actually did enjoy throwing knives, and I was pretty okay at it, though more practice will be necessary to ensure more consistency. The axes seemed a little more than what I was prepared to try. If I was going to put everything into a Dungeons & Dragons stat block, my Strength score is pretty much average, but I have a decent Dexterity score. So basically archery, knives, light swords and such are up my alley, but axes, hammers, and bigger swords are a bit out of my realm of specialization.

I did get a few photos of my boyfriend and a couple others at the archery range, which was fun.

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We only spent about six hours at the festival, but our day was a bit longer thanks to something like 4 and a half hours on the road getting to the festival and then driving home. It was a pretty long day, but I’m already planning on making the next trip to the Renaissance Festival next year a weekend trip.

Okay, one last photo to share…my boyfriend and I together in our outfits.

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All in all, it was excellent and I am already counting down until our next geeky excursion.

Book Review, Books!, Signal Boost

Review: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Hey all, Dani here.

Okay, so for those of you who were around a couple months ago, Lucky in Love was my first novel by Kasie West and I enjoyed the cutesy contemporary. The one I’m talking about today had interested me for about a year, but I just now decided to give it a try. Again, another Kasie West novel I can say I enjoyed. So…for those of you who are fans of this author, what book should I check out next: The Fill-In Boyfriend, On the Fence, By Your Side, The Distance Between Us? I trust your opinions on this matter.

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Summary

Signed, sealed, delivered…

While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

This was such a cute book! Okay, so yes, I totally figured out who was going to be Lily’s letter writer pretty early on, but that did not reduce my enjoyment of the story at all. In fact, I may have enjoyed it more that way.

Lily’s family was also a high point for me, though I understood her frustration over a lack of solitude or privacy, and having family responsibilities and obligations somewhat control her life. But I’ve known people whose families are that way, so this rang so true for me. I loved the realism of it all.

So basically I read this book so quickly. If I put it down, it was not long before I picked it up again. I just needed to know what was going to happen next. I guess this is the kind of book I needed to get out of my slow reading period I’ve been stuck in the past couple weeks. I wouldn’t fully call it a slump, because I was reading, and I really wanted to be reading more…but, you all know what it’s like sometimes. Life can get in the way of what we want to do.

This book was the perfect little escape, and now hopefully I’m going to be reading a few more books this week. I wouldn’t call this book the most complex characters or complicated plot, but it is a solid (if a bit predictable) read, and it is perfect for something like a readathon or to help you out of a slump.

Where to Buy

You can pick up P.S. I Like You from Amazon, Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.

Book Tag, Books!, Signal Boost

Who am I? Tag

Hey all, Dani here.

I have been seeing a number of fun looking tags floating around the book community recently, so there may be some bonus blog posts appearing here on the blog in the coming weeks. I don’t want to wait too long to do these tags and then completely forget about them.

I saw this tag posted by the lovely Harini over on her blog Books and Readers, so you can check out her answers here.

What does my name mean?

Well, okay, so if I’m answering these questions based on my birth name, I remember looking it up years ago and discovering that it was a Hebrew name meaning “told by God.” But really I think my mom just liked the name, regardless of what it could mean. Now, for the name I use on this blog, which is also the name I use when publishing books, I jumbled up the letters of my birth name and rearranged them to create something new. Apparently looking up Danielle on babynames.com, it is also a Hebrew name and it means “God is my judge.” I am not so religious as to continually choose names for that reason. I just liked the name Danielle.

What is my Myers-Briggs personality type? link to quiz

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The Campaigner personality is a true free spirit. They are often the life of the party, but unlike types in the Explorer Role group, Campaigners are less interested in the sheer excitement and pleasure of the moment than they are in enjoying the social and emotional connections they make with others. Charming, independent, energetic and compassionate, the 7% of the population that they comprise can certainly be felt in any crowd.

Campaigners are curious, observant, energetic and enthusiastic, excellent communicators, and know how to relax. However they can also find it difficult to focus at times, have a tendency to overthink things, can be independent to a fault, can get stressed easily, and sometimes are highly emotional.

What is my Zodiac sign? link to info

leo

I’m a Leo.

Strengths: Creative, passionate, generous, warm-hearted, cheerful, humorous
Weaknesses: Arrogant, stubborn, self-centered, lazy, inflexible
Leo likes: Theater, taking holidays, being admired, expensive things, bright colors, fun with friends
Leo dislikes: Being ignored, facing difficult reality, not being treated like a king or queen

What is my Hogwarts house? link to quiz

According to Pottermore, I am a Ravenclaw (and my Ilvermorny house is Pukwudgie).

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Your in-depth results are:

Ravenclaw – 13
Hufflepuff – 12
Gryffindor – 10
Slytherin – 10

That is way higher on the Hufflepuff score than I would have thought. I usually tend to be a bit higher in Gryffindor. (Actually Gryffindor was my original Pottermore house).

What are my learning styles? link to quiz

Your scores were:

Visual 3
Aural 3
Read/Write 7
Kinesthetic 3

Okay, when I did a learning styles quiz about 11 years ago, I was pretty even across the board. I guess now I just prefer to read about stuff myself and learn from that.

Am I left or right brain dominant? link to quiz

This was another quiz type that I took about 11 years ago during an education course and it resulted in a 50/50 split, so let’s see where I end up now.

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Well, not much change there. I am 53% left brained and 47% right brained.

What is my blood type?

I am O Positive. I learned my type back in high school when I donated during a blood drive. Based on the two blood drives that I was eligible for at school I also learned that even if I am prepared by making sure I am hydrated and have eaten, I will still pass out after donating.

What career am I meant to have? link to quiz

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Well, I suppose that isn’t a surprise either. I feel like a lot of the quizzes about jobs tend to place me as a writer or some other creative position. I would love to make a living writing, but I’m also aware that I am not quite good enough to live off of my writing, so I need a job that will pay my bills and writing will continue to be a small side job.

What Divergent faction do I belong in? link to quiz

I think I took one of these quizzes around the time the movies were starting to come out, and then it said I was Divergent, though a couple of them said Dauntless or Erudite, so I guess let’s see where I am now.

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Okay, so this time around it said that I am in Erudite. I do admit that I am fond of learning and think knowledge is very important. I have a habit of carrying several writing utensils, a notebook, and a book or two with me just about everywhere.

What does my birth order say about me? link

The Firstborn

Stereotype: Natural leader, ambitious, responsible.
Why it’s true: The eldest, for a while, has no competition for time (or books or baby banter) with Mom and Dad. “There’s a benefit to all of that undiluted attention. A 2007 study in Norway showed that firstborns had two to three more IQ points than the next child,” says Frank J. Sulloway, Ph.D., the author of Born to Rebel. Firstborns tend to be surrogate parents when other siblings arrive, hence their protective and responsible nature.
When it’s not: Parents can set high expectations for a first (or only) child. “When he feels like he has disappointed his parents or can’t measure up, he may veer off in another direction,” says Kevin Leman, Ph.D., a psychologist and the author of The Birth Order Book.

This is fairly accurate. I know I did tend to help with taking care of my brother, and even now I find myself in big sister or mom mode in several of my friend groups.


Well, that is it for this tag. I actually did enjoy taking all of the quizzes. If this sounds like a tag you’d like to do, then by all means, consider yourself TAGGED! And I would love to see your answers, whether you do a post of your own or just jot them down in the comment section.

 

Books!, Inspiration, TBR Purge

TBR Purge #6

Hey all, Dani here.

I promise that I am trying to up my reading count a bit more so I can start filling my posts again with reviews, but during this slow reading time I am also finding it important to declutter as much as possible.

Oh, and in other news, today my boyfriend, my mom, and I should be making a trip to the local IKEA so I can pick up the bookcases for the library/study in the apartment my boyfriend and I share. So, if all goes well and I get the bookcases assembled and filled with my books, I should be able to have a library tour post up soon. That should be pretty fun.

Okay, so at the start of this sixth TBR purge my list on Goodreads had 732 books on it. Let’s just go ahead and jump into the next 30 books of the list and see how many I can eliminate from my list.

Two Weeks’ Notice by Rachel Caine. I already got rid of the first book, and I was leery of this trilogy anyway, as it is zombie-esque, and I’m not a big zombie fan (with the exception being iZombie) so this is an easy goodbye.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. I heard a lot of great buzz surrounding this book when it came out, and it sounded interesting so I added it to the list. At one point I even started to read it and got a few chapters in. But then I put it down and walked away to read other books. I honestly can’t tell you what happened in those early chapters; it didn’t hold my interest. And yes, perhaps giving it another chance would mean me actually finishing it, but right now I just have so many books I really want to read, so I can say farewell to this for now. I do own it in ebook if I ever change my mind.

Steelheart, The Alloy of Law, The Rithmatist, Words of Radiance, and Legion by Brandon Sanderson. I plan to read all things Sanderson at some point (hopefully soonish). Keep.

Forsaken, A Kiss Before the Apocalypse, Dancing on the Head of a Pin, Where Angels Fear to Tread, A Hundred Words for Hate, and In the House of the Wicked by Thomas E. Sniegoski. As I pointed out in an earlier post, I’m just not really in the mood for angelic character novels. At one point I absolutely loved these books–well the YA ones, and was going to try the adult ones but then it just never happened. For now I’m still walking away.

The Old Races: Year of Miracles, The Old Races: Origins, The Old Races: Aftermath, and Mountain Echoes by C.E. Murphy. I loved the Negotiator trilogy, and the Old Races stories go along with those books, expanding the universe and detailing more tales and more beings, so I’m obviously keeping these.

A Raging Storm, A Bloody Storm, Storm Season, and Frozen Heat by Richard Castle. I have tried to read mystery/thriller novels and most of the time I just can’t do it. I tried with these ones since they tied into the show Castle and I loved the show. But now that the show is over, I’m finding my enthusiasm for attempting these books is fading.

Magic Without Mercy, Magic for a Price, and Tin Swift by Devon Monk. I already eliminated the rest of the Allie Beckstrom novels by Devon Monk so it is easy to say goodbye to these as well. However, I did enjoy reading Dead Iron and would like to keep reading on, so for now I will keep Tin Swift on my list.

Frost Burned and Fair Game by Patricia Briggs. Much like the earlier books in both of these series by Patricia Briggs, for now I’m saying farewell for now.

Dark Vow by Shona Husk. When I added this book to the list it sounded interesting and I had planned to get around to it fairly soon. But that never happened, and now my mind is focused on so many of my more recent acquisitions, so it wouldn’t be fair to keep this on the list if I’m just going to keep pushing it aside for other books.

Fool Moon, Grave Peril, and Summer Knight by Jim Butcher. I really enjoy the narrative voice of Harry Dresden, and I’d like to read the whole series, so this is an obvious keep.

Whew, another 17 books cut from the TBR list. That’s pretty good, and if I keep eliminating about half of each section I go through, I should end up with a more manageable reading list (though it will still probably be around 400 books long). I’ll just have to try and be better at working my way through the list instead of continuously getting distracted by new releases.

Book Review, Books!, Signal Boost

Review: Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Hey all, Dani here.

Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey…stuff. Okay, now, with that “Doctor Who” reference out of the way, I can get started on this review. This is one of the books I picked up while at BookExpo this year, and I was lucky enough to get it signed by author Ryan Graudin. So I was really happy to get this book early, though I made myself hold off until closer to release day to read it.

Anyway, I had purchased Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin about a year ago because I had heard a lot of great reviews for it…but as happens a lot sometimes with us book readers, I put it up on the shelf and have not picked it back up since. So, really, reading this ARC was my introduction to Ryan Graudin’s writing.

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Summary

Time flies when you’re plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

My Thoughts

Rating: 4 stars

This was an interesting premise, and I really did enjoy reading it. The setup was interesting, with the gladiators and the historical setting. And of course Far’s birth on a time machine. It makes him a unique individual as he technically does not have a birth date; at the time of his birth the ship was traveling from Rome 95 AD to 2354 AD. However it also complicates Far’s life as well, especially when dealing with med robots and the like who want you to give a birth date to confirm identity.

Anyway, Far is presented as a fairly cocky young man. He almost seems to brag about his high scores in his lessons and the simulations they go through to prove that they are ready to graduate and become a Recorder. This arrogance leads him to toe the line…or rather cross it…of what is safe for someone who is basically supposed to be a silent observer. His final exam is a disaster and Far is failed and expelled from the school. But Far knows that it wasn’t his fault, that in fact the sim was hacked.

So begins a time traveling “pirate” adventure with Far and a few friends, who are hired for a black market operation. Far has managed to negotiate a nice profit and benefits to the job, and everything seems pretty good…until the Titanic mission goes wrong and the crew are joined by Eliot, who indeed is quite mysterious.

I’m not really going to say much more than that, because as much as possible I try to avoid talking about spoilers. Now, I will say that I read this book fairly quickly but it also felt quite slow to me. That happens sometimes with time travel stories. But I was interested in what was going to happen, and when the crew would be traveling to next. I wanted to know what was going to happen next.

I was really enjoying myself and then I realized that the story was wrapping up and nearing its conclusion. The sad part about that is that Invictus is a stand-alone novel. This is what happens when reading a good book: it ends and we somehow always want more. I suppose this means I should just go to my bookshelves and pull down one of Graudin’s other books. Or just start reading the next book on my TBR pile.

Where to Buy

You can pre-order this book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore. It will be released soon, September 26, 2017.