Books!, Inspiration, NaNoWriMo, Signal Boost, Writing

NaNoWriMo 2018 Update 1

Hey all, Dani here.

So am I just going to keep doing NaNoWriMo posts on Sundays? Well, yes, I suppose I am. They may not always be 500+ word posts, because obviously it is November and I need to be focusing my words on my novel, but I also need the accountability of talking about my progress.

Today is the fourth day of November, which means that going by the NaNoWriMo goal of writing 1,667 words per day, I should be at a total of 6,668 words by the end of the day. But since this post will be going up in the morning, to be on track so far this month, I need to be at 5,001 words right now.

Let’s talk about how I’ve done so far this month with my writing.

Day 1 – November 1 – Well, I woke up at 4:30 am to get ready for work, and then I worked from 5:30 am until 4:00 pm. Oh, and it rained all day. It has actually been raining for most of the last few days. Did I mention that rain has a tendency to make me sleepy? So by the time I got home, made dinner, and then settled down to write, I was pretty darn tired. I think I wrote a grand total of 142 words. So, not the best start to NaNoWriMo, but not the worst either.

Day 2 – November 2 – I woke up at 7:00 am, because I get 3 day weekends every week, so Friday is not a work day. Oh, yeah, and the continued rain let me sleep for pretty much 8 hours, which doesn’t happen all that often. I’m still looking for my story notebook. It has my list of the scenes I need to write to finally finish one of my books, and I decided to work on that before focusing on my new writing project. But after cleaning the apartment yesterday, not everything is where I remember it. So yeah, I need to find this notebook so I can get writing.

End of day update…still no luck finding the notebook. Oh, and there was that five hour chunk of time where we went to our local nerd store to run our bi-weekly D&D sessions.

Day 3 – November 3 – Woke up around 6:30 am today. Still no notebook, but there is blog prep work to do, so let’s get to writing some of those. If only I could count blog words towards my monthly total. My November Calendar Girls post is well over 1000 words. Sadly I can’t do that.

The other bi-weekly D&D session we are in is today, and one of our fellow players likes to come over two hours before the session begins. So, he’s here at like 10:30 am. He and one other player stay after the session to just talk and stuff too. They don’t leave until 8:30 pm. That is a huge chunk of my day gone, especially since the sessions are supposed to be from noon to maybe 5:30/6:00 pm.

Still no actual novel writing accomplished. Three days in and I have 142 words. This is really starting to suck. I think this may be my worst start for NaNoWriMo…and this is my 13th year doing it.

Day 4 – November 4 – Again, I wake up at 6:30 am. Well the clock says 6:30, but we just did the whole Daylight Savings thing, so the clocks fell back an hour at like 2:00 am, so really, my body feels like it is 7:30 am.

For the record, my Calendar Girls post stands currently at 1355 words. Yeah, that is almost what I would need for one day’s worth of writing.

Okay, we went to my mom’s house and I managed to find a backup notebook with my outline so I think I can finally get into writing. I have a lot of catching up to do. It’s time to get writing.

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Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, Graphic Novel, Manga, NaNoWriMo, NetGalley, Signal Boost, Writing

October Wrap Up and November TBR

Hey all, Dani here.

I had to mostly pre-write this post, because it is now (or will be when this post goes live) November and I need to prioritize writing my novel over writing my blog or reading for fun. So I don’t know if I’m going to have a huge TBR for this month. But that’s okay, because my wrap-up for October should show that I did plenty of reading.

Endless Quest: Big Trouble by Matt Forbeck (5 stars)

Endless Quest: To Catch A Thief by Matt Forbeck (5 stars)

Fierce Fairytales: Poems and Stories to Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill (5 stars)

Wild Embers: Poems of Rebellion Fire and Beauty (4 stars)

My Hero Academia, Volume 15 by Hideo Horikoshi (5 stars)

My Hero Academia Vigilantes, Volume 2 by Hideyuki Furuhashi (5 stars)

Fairy Tail Zero by Hiro Mashima (5 stars)

Fairy Tail, Volume 3 by Hiro Mashima (5 stars)

Rule by Ellen Goodlett (4.5 stars)

The Girl from the Other Side: Siuil a Run, Volume 1 by Nagabe (5 stars)

The Girl from the Other Side: Siuil a Run, Volume 2 by Nagabe (5 stars)

The Girl from the Other Side: Siuil a Run, Volume 3 by Nagabe (5 stars)

The Girl from the Other Side: Siuil a Run, Volume 4 by Nagabe (5 stars)

The Girl from the Other Side: Siuil a Run, Volume 5 by Nagabe (5 stars)

All the Feels by Danika Stone (5 stars)

Black Clover, Volume 2 by Yuki Tabata (5 stars)

Black Clover, Volume 3 by Yuki Tabata (5 stars)

Estranged by Ethan M Aldridge (4 stars)

The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell (4 stars)

The Monster of Selkirk: The Duality of Nature by C.E. Clayton (4.5 stars)

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa (5 stars)

Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel (4 stars)

Make a Nerdy Living: How to Turn Your Passions Into Profit, with Advice from Nerds Around the Globe by Alex Langley (4 stars)

Whew…that was a nice list of books finished this month. I am also trying to prep up a bunch of reviews from all of these reads so they can be posted throughout the month and beyond. I actually have a huge list of reviews I need to write, so I may have quite a few posts coming for the rest of the year.

Okay, now onto what I’ve watched this month. Honestly, not nearly as much as everything I’ve read. So let’s just jump into the list: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl — 4.5 stars, The Magicians, season 2 — 5 stars, Hocus Pocus — 5 stars, Halloweentown — 5 stars, Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge — 5 stars, The Spiderwick Chronicles — 4.5 stars.

Obviously I have my usual ongoing watches, namely Fairy Tail and Critical Role Campaign 2. The Fairy Tail watch has slowed down a little bit, because I watch it with my fiance and he has recently been distracted by the new Spider-Man video game.

It’s book haul time!

Oh, and if I’m talking about my book haul from October, I guess I should also briefly mention my unhaul from October as well. I ended up removing 94 books from my library.

Now this is where my wrap-up post usually features my monthly Owlcrate unboxing…but my post office delivered my Owlcrate to another apartment in my building, and the package was apparently stolen from that other apartment’s doorstep. I was so excited about the October box too. It featured exclusive Owlcrate editions of both Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa and Pride by Ibi Zoboi. So I have filed a stolen package claim because the package was insured, but since the box was sold out, I’m betting I won’t be able to get the lovely signed editions anymore.

Finally, it is time for my November TBR. This is definitely a tentative TBR, because I should spend more time focusing on writing than reading. But the next round of the Manga Madness readathon is coming up next week, and I still have a decent stack of books I’d really like to read, so…these are books that I may or may not get around to this month.

Okay, well that is all for today, but I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

Books!, Conventions, Graphic Novel, Manga, Signal Boost

Gen Con Wrap Up

Hey all, Dani here.

So you might be asking, “hey Dani, wasn’t Gen Con at the beginning of the month? Why do a wrap up now?” Well, I had one of my blog buddies say she would love to read about my time at Gen Con, especially as she wants to start trying to diversify her conventions, but she also wanted more information first.

Plus, when you get a little removed from an event (or a book/movie/etc), it is easier to distance yourself from any super happy or super upset feelings you might have had at the time, and you can write a more factual and balanced review of everything. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Gen Con is a gaming convention, and it features hundreds of game developers and companies, as well as business that sell game accessories. Now when I say gaming convention, the easy assumption is that I am talking about video games, but I don’t think I have seen any sort of video or console type game there. No, this is a gaming convention for tabletop gaming, which means board games, card games, dice games, and tabletop RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons.

This year was the 51st Gen Con and it was even bigger than the previous year. The photos don’t even come close to showing how large or crowded this convention is, because there are just so many wonderful geeks in the world, and events like this really help you to see how not alone in the world you are. It is currently held in Indianapolis, Indiana, and it is an amazing experience. The convention itself takes up the entire Indiana Convention Center, plus they have also spread out into several of the nearby hotels, and Lucas Oil Stadium (which is the arena where the local NFL team, the Indianapolis Colts, are based). What I love about having part of Gen Con in the football stadium is that they house the gaming library there, and if you have purchased a pass to use the library, then you can go there 24 hours a day through the four day convention and borrow a game to play. Yes, a bunch of lovely geeks swarm through this holy house of jock-dom for four whole days.

We actually went to Indianapolis a day early, on August 1st, so we wouldn’t have to wake up at 5am the next day to make the three hour drive. It ended up being the best decision we could have made. We were able to pick up all of our tickets that day, and also just relax a bit. Okay, so we also went to an Irish pub (O’Reilly’s Irish Pub) for my birthday, which then turned into the Irish pub and then a Scottish pub (MacNiven’s). So I had a Shepard’s Pie, and then we had bread pudding for dessert. At the Scottish pub we had Scotch Eggs. Then we went to a comic book store (Downtown Comics) too, so naturally I picked up a few things.

And that’s just all the fun from the day before the convention. Now let’s get to the actual first day of Gen Con. It was a mad house, and we went straight for the Critical Role booth, because there was some cool merchandise that we were hoping to get, and we waited for a good half-hour or so to actually make it to the booth. But I ended up with dice and shirts and even a map for the current campaign, so I am super pleased.

I’m not going to lie guys…we spent most of our money on day one. There are just so many cool games and accessories and costume pieces. It is a geek wonderland. The first day of the convention was also a cool day because we got to meet Joe Mangianello. Now most people will probably recognize Joe from being in the show True Blood, or possibly from the Magic Mike movies. What you may not know is that he is a massive geek, loves D&D, and actually has a really cool gaming dungeon in his home. We waited for almost an hour to meet him, but it was totally worth the wait…and I got him to sign my Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Player’s Handbook, so that is also pretty awesome. Oh, and the game pictured below is A Song of Ice and Fire, and it is sort of a battlefield strategy game based on Game of Thrones. We watched it being playtested and it seemed pretty interesting. Of course neither my fiance nor our other buddy who went with us has seen the show (or read the books) so it was just a cool looking game to them.

Day two of the convention we spent a lot of time just running around and checking out some of the games. At most of the game developer booths, you can sit down and play the game before you buy it. Okay well if it is a shorter game you can play through the whole game, but longer games they pretty much prefer you to just play a few rounds to get an idea of how the game works. There are a lot of other people around who would also like to try playing the games. The highlight for day two of the convention for us was actually that evening after the convention center closed. We met up with the owners of our hometown game store and they actually bought us dinner at this bar (The Yard House). My fiance and I run a couple D&D campaigns for them and they wanted to thank us for everything we’ve done for the store. Free food is definitely the way to do that. But after that, we had tickets to go see Critical Role live. It was my second time going, but my fiance’s first, and I was so glad I got to share the experience with him. Oh, and there was a surprise guest star for the episode of Critical Role…Khary Payton, an actor some people may recognize from the Walking Dead.

We had an extremely lazy day for day three of the convention. Critical Role Live ended around 1 am, and then we had to walk back to the parking garage where our car was parked (only to discover that the parking garage had closed for the night, so we had to run around to figure out who to contact to get to our car). By the time we made it back to the hotel we were staying at, it was around 2:30 am. Because we were also low on spending money, we just decided to hang out at the hotel, enjoy the pool, watch some TV, and play some of the games we had purchased. The only convention event we had on our schedule for the day was going to Dungeon Master, which is a live interactive show. It ended up being a very entertaining show, but the real reason I got tickets for this particular show was that it was being opened with a concert by The Library Bards, and they are a geek parody band who makes covers of Top 40 hits by making them into geeky songs–for example “Zombie” by the Cranberries becomes a song about Deadpool and Harley Quinn cosplayers called “Black and Red”, and Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” becomes a LOTR/Hobbit song called “Gandalf.”

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Finally, we made it to day four, the last day of the convention. We played a couple more games, and made a couple more purchases with the little spending money we had left. I will be completely honest everyone. I hate the last day of a convention. The last day means that I have to go home and return to my regular day-to-day schedule. It means leaving a place where I am surrounded by thousands of people who like a lot of the same stuff I do, and going back to a place where only a small percentage of people actually understand me. Leaving a convention after having such a great time is always difficult. But on our way back to our car before the three hour drive back home, I decided that we needed to get something to eat, and after walking past this pizza shop over a dozen times, we finally stopped into Giordano’s to get some Chicago Style Deep Dish pizzas.

I guess I should talk about this last picture. There are a lot of booths at Gen Con that give out these little ribbons that you can attach to your convention badge. For many attendees at the convention it becomes a scavenger hunt to collect as many as possible. I have seen people with enough ribbons hanging from their badge to make a long scarf or sash. It is impressive. We only went to Gen Con for one day in 2017, so I think we got one or two ribbons. Obviously this year I did much better, but I’m still hoping for a more impressive collection next year.

Next year I also plan to attend a few panels and/or workshops, because we didn’t really do that this year. There is a whole section of the convention that is a Writer’s Showcase, and they have some great industry professionals there to hold classes on worldbuilding or magic or editing, etc. The guests of honor this year were the duo behind S.A. Corey, author of The Expanse series. Previous years have had Patrick Rothfuss in attendance. Margaret Weis was there this year as well. So next year I definitely want to spend a little more time in the bookish side of Gen Con–though I did walk through that entire area on the show floor, and I will show off everything I purchased in my August Wrap-Up post.

Wow, okay, this post got pretty long. I hope you all enjoyed this look into our time at Gen Con. If you want me to talk more specifically on the games that we playtested and/or purchased, let me know. Because we found quite a few really fun games, and I like talking about more than just books. I’m your average geeky girl, with many geek hobbies.

Anyway, that’s all for today, and I will be back soon with more bookish content.

Book Review, Books!, Signal Boost

Comic Review: Vox Machina Origins Issue #5

Hey all, Dani here.

I am finally back with a review. I know that I’ve been very sporadic with posts lately, and I really need to do better with that. I will do better, because part of my issue is organizing and scheduling my time. We are doing a huge spring clean of our apartment, and then I won’t have any more excuses. Hopefully.

Anyway, as per my usual, I have to review the latest issue of this lovely comic, because I am sincerely hoping that Dark Horse gives the green light for more of the early adventures of Vox Machina. This current arc is only set to be 6 issues, so it is almost over.

Let’s just jump into the review.

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Summary

Vax—alone on the Myriad’s floating fortress galleon, The Mockingbird—fights his way to freedom with nary a weapon or ally around save his wits and agility to escape his captors.

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

For those who aren’t already aware, this is a prequel to the web series, Critical Role, which follows a group of nerdy voice actors as they sit around and play Dungeons & Dragons. Originally they played at home, but they were invited to start live streaming their sessions online, and 3 years ago yesterday the first episode aired. Since then, millions of ua have joined in to watch the adventures and discover what will happen next.

This comic series takes us back to before the characters were saviors of the world, back when they hadn’t even joined together as a group. We get to watch in the comics as they meet and their paths begin to intertwine. It is honestly fantastic.

One of my favorite characters joins the story in this issue, Vex’s bear companion, whose name is Trinket. He is an awesome bear.

Anyway, we get to see more of the characters interacting with each other and starting to band together to stop a town that is being poisoned.

I genuinely look forward to seeing what happens in issue 6, but it makes me sad as well, because I’m not ready for it to be over. I want more awkward Keyleth, and more Scanlan quips, and bumbling Tiberius. I really want to see both Percy and Pike in the story, and I know that Percy joins the group in a later adventure.

The artwork is still really cool. I like that they chose their artists from the Ceitter community. It just helps to showcase how truly amazing the fan base of this show/these characters/the actors are.

Where to Buy

You can pick up this issue, as well as all previous issues from Amazon, Comixology, or Dark Horse.

Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, Graphic Novel, Signal Boost

What I’m Reading

Hey all, Dani here.

Today’s post is going to be a shorter one, but that’s because I pretty much want to spend my afternoon/evening reading. I have a couple books I’m reading right now and I’m really enjoying them, and I have a couple ARCs that I really want to get to soon.

So I’m going to talk about the books I’ve finished recently, the books I’m reading currently, and the books I’m hoping to start next.

My most recent reads were both comic books. One was Saga, Volume 8 by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples, and the other was The Wicked + The Divine, Volume 6 by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matt Wilson. I’ll have to do a comic review for them soon, but I really enjoyed them.

I am currently reading a few books right now. The book I’m currently taking with me to work is Homeland by R.A. Salvatore. It is the first book in the Legend of Drizzt series of books (you know, because 20 hours of D&D each weekend isn’t enough for me apparently. I need to read fiction set in the D&D universe as well).

The other books I am currently focusing on are The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco, and Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I loved reading The Bone Witch last year so I was extremely excited to receive an ARC of the sequel, and I will totally have an early review up soon. As for book two of the Illuminae Files, I paused halfway through reading it because I had heard from so many people that the cliffhanger was a big one…and I didn’t want to have to deal with that wait. As the third book is out next month, I think I can finally finish reading it.

Finally, for the books I’m really hoping to read next: well, I have Daughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins to read thanks to early approval from NetGalley, More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer, also because of NetGalley, and then Phantom Pains and Impostor Syndrome by Mishell Baker.

So pretty much I have a lot of great books to read and review coming up for all of you.

And now I’m off to work on reading some more. I’ll see you tomorrow for my next recommendations post.

Book Review, Books!, Graphic Novel, Signal Boost

Comic Review: Vox Machina Origins Issues #3-4

Hey all, Dani here.

I know, what is this awesomeness…three posts in three days. I actually am starting to somewhat feel like a book blogger again. Hopefully I can keep going with more posts. Transitioning back to my old job has not been as easy as I had hoped it would be.

Anyway, obviously I have reviewed every issue of this comic series so far (find my reviews here: issue 1, issue 2, and issue 3–hmm, so apparently I didn’t review that one. I guess I’ll do that now too), so there was no way I was going to skip reviewing the latest installment.

Let’s just get started.

 

Summary

Keyleth and Tiberius find themselves in unsavory company, but that’s the only kind of company to be found in Stilben. Paid by the Clasp to stop the attack on the peasants, our heroes follow their noses and uncover an alchemical laboratory hidden in the city’s sewer.
They arrive to find a pair of half-elves fighting a gnome and a half-giant. With all the people tracking her in one place, the architect of the swamp curse springs her trap…
• Based on the hit show from Geek & Sundry!

The sinister Iselda has captured Vax, and Vex must swallow her pride to ask for aid from other heroes. But when they refuse, Vex decides to retrieve a friend outside of town … but not before Keyleth catches up to her and pledges to help.

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

These comics are just so darn good, especially since the new campaign has begun and we have started with a bunch of all new characters who are only at level 2. It pretty much makes you think back on the early days of Vox Machina, which we never got to actually see on the show, but these comics definitely cover those times.

They aren’t even a group yet. They are three separate groups, but I am really seeing the beginnings of them coming together to become the awesome heroes of Tal’Dorei that they eventually become.

Okay, for those of you who aren’t already aware, this comic series is based on the pre-campaign tales of the group Vox Machina from the web series Critical Role, which is a show where “a group of nerdy ass voice actors sit around and play Dungeons & Dragons.” It has been airing on Geek & Sundry for a couple years now, and it is probably the geek hobby/show/whatever that I’m most passionate about.

I could honestly say so much about what Dungeons & Dragons has done for me or meant to me the past couple years, but that is a whole separate post. Instead, I’ll say that this is a fun way to learn about the characters, and if you give these comics a try and you enjoy what you read, perhaps you should either check out the episodes on Geek & Sundry’s YouTube (there are now 118 of them, and they are typically 3-5 hours each), or you can also get them in a more condensed podcast form (I have heard they are more like 1 hour per episode) found wherever you can listen to podcasts.

Anyway, back to the comic. All the amazing, humorous, and witty dialogue just makes my day. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve chuckled at something one of them says (typically Scanlan, but he’s the bard so it makes sense that he would say some spectacular things). And I actually also really enjoy having Tiberius around; it has shown me how much I miss the early days of the show, though I love all the little story points that happen because Tibsy eventually left.

There are so many great moments in these issues, and then you partner that with fun writing, and wonderful art, and it just makes for a fabulous reading experience…for the roughly 25 pages or so of content that we get in each issue.

Issue #4 is absolutely my favorite of the group so far, but I feel like I say that each time a new one comes out. We get to see Keyleth wild shape into her Minxy form (seen on the cover of Issue #4), and there are some lovely moments with Scanlan and Vax, and Scanlan and Grog. Plus we finally get a wonderful mention of one of my favorite missing members of Vox Machina…namely Vex’s companion animal, who just happens to be a brown bear, though that hasn’t been revealed in the comic yet. It simply ends with her saying she needs to go out to the woods to pick up a trinket she left behind. What is clever about that is that her bear’s name is Trinket, and he is awesome.

So I’m really looking forward to Issue #5 because we’ll get Trinket involved. Though I’m still wondering if we’ll actually get to see Percy in this story arc, because he’s only really been in the intro part of like Issue #1.

I honestly hope that Dark Horse comics decides to give us more than just the 6 issue arc we’re in the middle of currently. There are so many more early adventures for Vox Machina that could be covered, and obviously we Critters will pretty much buy anything related to Critical Role.

Where to Buy

You can pick up this lovely single issue comic (or any of the previous issues) at Amazon, Dark Horse, and Comixology. After the whole 6 issue arc is completed, there will be a bound release available as well.

Book Releases, Book Review, Book Tag, Books!, Conventions, Cover Reveal, Graphic Novel, Manga, NaNoWriMo, NetGalley, Readathon, Reading Challenge, Recommendations, Signal Boost, TBR Purge, Writing

The Road So Far (2)

Hey all, Dani here.

Why mess with the tradition I started last year? I might as well keep using the awesome “Supernatural” reference for my retrospective over the last year. You can find my overview of 2016 here.

Today also happens to be my 2 year blogaversary. I started this blog in 2016 to help me cope with my paternal grandmother’s death. Well, technically that was the catalyst for starting it; I had been thinking of starting up a blog again for a while because I needed to talk about books with someone.

2017 was such a rollercoaster year for me, and yet, looking back I wouldn’t change any of the lows I went through. Not only because the highs really kept me afloat, but also because the lows allowed me to fully understand how great the highs were.

Anyway, in January I found out that I was approved for the vacation days from work that would allow me to go to Book Expo and BookCon. Though I knew I was going alone, I knew that I would have a fun time surrounded by other book lovers and getting to check out a bunch of upcoming releases.

Also in January, my parents separated after 30 years together, and started the process of getting a divorce. The drama and issues from this event would send shockwaves through roughly 2/3 of the year.

I lost myself in books, both reading them and buying them. I pushed myself to work more on my blog, and to start interacting more with other members of the book community. It was the start to me really feeling like a good book blogger. But in those early months it was also the way I had to cope with what was happening in my life. Well, my books and Dungeons & Dragons.

It was Dungeons & Dragons that introduced me to the man who I would start dating in April. As it turns out this would be the event that helped me get through everything else. Admittedly, I know some people in my real life got annoyed with how much I gushed about my guy and how great things were. I can’t help it that my life started to feel like I was part of a romance story.

After my trip to NYC for Book Expo and BookCon, my blog really started to take off. I reached 100 followers, and later in the year 200. I’m not sure when follower 250 came around, but it might have been just before 2017 ended. So thank you to each and every one of you who has joined me in this process. You are all amazing.

Even with my work and my relationship, I somehow managed to still keep up with all of my reading and blogging, and actually I started having posts go up every single day, something I never would have thought I would be able to do.

I participated in quite a few readathons over the course of the year, from both sessions of Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathons, to a few other assorted events. All in all I think those helped me connect with more of you, and to read a bunch more books. The 24 Hour events always seem much more successful to me than the week long events, but I still keep trying with them. Hey, any excuse to read more, right?

I rekindled my fondness for manga in 2017, and I can honestly say that I am devouring so many of them. My list of manga reviews waiting to be written up is getting decently long.

Oh, and my boyfriend and I were able to go to Indianapolis in August with another friend of ours for a one day pass to Gen Con, which is a gaming convention. There we were able to get a lot of books, dice, and games, as well as to meet the cast of Critical Role. It was a really fun day.

For the 12th time I participated in NaNoWriMo, and managed to earn my 12th win, but I realize that the novel that came out is mostly incoherent. With any luck I’ll be able to start from scratch and re-write the book in 2018. I’d actually love to be able to share it with the world. And it would be nice to really get back into writing (and possibly publishing) again.

And I managed to do a TBR purge and go through a list of well of 800 books on Goodreads, taking it down to just over 400 books. I imagine this will be something I’ll have to do again soon, but I still feel pretty good with where I’m at now.

But, the greatest event of 2017 was towards the end of December. On Friday, December 22nd, on a day when we thankfully had a shutdown day at work, my boyfriend and I went shopping at Barnes & Noble where he both bought more books than me and spent more money than me. You guys, that rarely happens. You’ve seen my typical book hauls. I usually get a heck of a lot of books.

After that shopping trip, we made our way to the zoo, where we walked around for a couple hours, looking at all of the animals and then also checking out the massive holiday light display they put up each year. And it was while sitting on a bench overlooking Conservation Lake at the zoo, that my wonderful boyfriend sank down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was honestly just like a scene out of a Hallmark channel holiday movie, and I so look forward to seeing what our future will be like.

I hope you all had some moments of 2017 that were really nice as well, and I hope that we all have a very nice 2018.

Books!, Inspiration, NaNoWriMo, Readathon, Signal Boost, Writing

Goals for 2018

Hey all, Dani here.

Well, here we are, a whole week into the new year already, and I am just now getting a post up where I talk about my goals for the year. Normally I would have had the post up already, but with the schedule I had figured out a month or so ago, this was the best I could do.

Last year I had a similar post, but I called it my 2017 Bookish Resolutions. So it seems fitting that I just continue that trend and talk about things I want to continue doing or improve on over the next twelve months.

First up: Reading. Obviously this is a big and important part of my life each and every year, which is probably why I list it first. Typically I started my reading goal at 75 books, but the past few years I have always increased the goal a couple times or so after reaching it with months left in the year. I still think this is a very doable goal, and I look forward to sharing my reading experiences with all of you. And part of sticking to this goal will be doing readathons. Right now I am already doing the Manga Madness Readathon, which is happening this week. I also plan to keep an eye out for 24 Hour Readathons from both Zoe Herdt (@readbyzoe on Twitter and YouTube), and @24Hourathon on Twitter. Then, of course, there is Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon in both April and October.

Second: Blogging. Another big part of my life the past couple of years is this blog. 2016 may not have been a super popular year for my blog, but I felt like I grew a lot in 2017 and I started posting a lot more and interacting even more than that. So I look forward to seeing what is to come in 2018. I’m working on creating a book tag, and I hope you will all enjoy that. Plus, I am continuing my weekly recommendation posts, and as always, throw out more suggestions for themes/topics/etc for these posts. Also, I have a nice backlog of book tags and other post ideas that I’m hoping to get to, so I’m hoping to continue having lots of nice content on here for all of you.

The third item on my list of goals is: Writing. This has been the hardest resolution or goal to stick to the past couple years. Yes, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo and continued to win, but I know I could and should be doing more. There is a book inside of me that I’ve been wanting to get out for the past year, so I’m honestly hoping I can get a decent draft of it finished in 2018. I’ll keep you guys posted on how I’m doing though. And honestly, a little motivation could help me out too. So, if you think about it randomly throughout the year, ask how the writing is going for me in the comments. I used to do some of my most regular writing back when I posted it online chapter by chapter using fictionpress. And it goes without saying, though I will say it now anyway, that I will definitely be participating in NaNoWriMo again this year.

Finally: Bookstagram. I only posted to Instagram a handful of times in 2017, and I feel really bad about that. Taking photos, particularly of books, is something I have enjoyed, so I need to try and get back into that again. Though, I suppose part of that would include bringing some of my Bookstagram photo props to my apartment instead of abandoning them at my mom’s house. I will start to post more on there; I promise. You can find me @danielle.thamasa on Instagram.

Okay, okay, so I guess technically I have a fifth category and that is goals for my non-bookish life. Because, let’s be honest, 2017 was a pretty good year for me away from this blog as well. My guy and I met, started dating, and moved in together. Now we are making more and more plans for the future, and it is kind of awesome. Right now we are definitely planning to attend all four days of Gen Con in August 2018, so that will be fun (it will also be my 30th birthday weekend so yay!), and we may even be going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter this fall. We have to see if it will fit in the budget. So I am looking forward to a year of more board games, anime, video games, Dungeons & Dragons, and just cuddling up on the couch with my favorite guy.

I know there’s not a whole lot of concrete goals for this post. I’m not saying that I’m going to post a certain number of times each week, or that I’m going to write a certain number of words or for a certain length of time each day for my novels. I’ve been doing pretty good at having around 5 posts each week on the blog, but there could be times when work or life keep me from posting that much. At the very least I know that I will have a post or two up each week, but as much as possible I’m going to try and maintain my current posting schedule. Hopefully. And for my writing, I think it’s enough to say that I would like to have a whole draft finished for the book I’ve been wanting to write. It doesn’t set me up with a word count goal, but I still have a general idea of how much work I need to put in to achieve it.

What about you guys? What goals do you have for 2018? I would love to hear all about them in the comments, or even a link back to your own post (if you’ve already written one up).

Book Review, Books!, Recommendations, Signal Boost

Review: All’s Faire in Middle School

Hey all, Dani here.

Today I bring you a Middle Grade review, because though I am 29 years old, I still enjoy reading MG books. Plus, this one was really good.

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Summary

The author of Roller Girl is back with a graphic novel about starting middle school, surviving your embarrassing family, and the Renaissance Faire.

Eleven-year-old Imogene (Impy) has grown up with two parents working at the Renaissance Faire, and she’s eager to begin her own training as a squire. First, though, she’ll need to prove her bravery. Luckily Impy has just the quest in mind–she’ll go to public school after a life of being homeschooled! But it’s not easy to act like a noble knight-in-training in middle school. Impy falls in with a group of girls who seem really nice (until they don’t) and starts to be embarrassed of her thrift shop apparel, her family’s unusual lifestyle, and their small, messy apartment. Impy has always thought of herself as a heroic knight, but when she does something really mean in order to fit in, she begins to wonder whether she might be more of a dragon after all.

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

Okay, so I have to start off this review by saying that this is a graphic novel, and I didn’t realize that when I bought it. I still would have bought it regardless, because I like to read comics and graphic novels, but it was a bit of a surprise to flip past the title page and see all the cute art and speech bubbles, etc.

The premise of the story intrigued me. We follow a girl who has been homeschooled her whole life, and her parents work at the Florida Renaissance Faire. Impy has been waiting for the day when she gets to become a squire and do more than just work in her mom’s shoppe. When the queen calls for her and asks what quest she will undertake to prove her bravery so that she may be a squire, Impy decides that it is time to give up homeschooling and try going to middle school.

There she feels a bit out of sorts, and I connected with her as she tried to navigate the school and the cafeteria, and as she tried to make friends. So many times this story made me smile or made me feel upset for certain decisions made by the characters. The pressure to fit in and the pressure to impress friends is one I understood. There is the struggle to keep up with all the schoolwork and the fashion trends and all of the schoolyard gossip. Plus bullying is definitely a factor in this story as well.

More than that is also the family element. Impy doesn’t just have her mom, dad, and little brother. A lot of the regular cast members of the Renaissance Faire are also like family, and I liked how they were around to give Impy advice and to help her with her education, and to scold her when she needed it, but they also supported her at the same time.

I would actually be totally fine if Victoria Jamieson decided to do a sequel to this book. Does Impy stick with middle school or go back to homeschooling? How have things changed after the end of the story?

Personally I thought this was a cute, wonderful, and somewhat geeky story and I devoured it in a little more than an hour. I’m really glad I picked it up, and I’ll definitely look for more reads I might enjoy by the author in the future.

Where to Buy

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

Book Review, Books!, Readathon, Signal Boost

Readathon Wrap Ups

Hey all, Dani here.

Because of having two 24 hour readathons two weekends in a row, I thought it would be easiest to just do one wrap up post to cover everything. This is probably actually going to be slightly shorter than my normal posts, but that’s because I don’t have a lot to really talk about. But let’s just go ahead and get started.

Okay, first up, on October 14, I participated in Readathon by Zoe. I may have mentioned before that my plan originally was to read while my boyfriend went off to the regular Pathfinder session he has with his friends, but then the session was cancelled, and so the plans changed. Instead it was decided that we would go paintballing and then that evening we would have a D&D session.

So I picked up my first book shortly after I woke up, and that was Monstress, Vol 1 by Marjorie Liu. I figured graphic novels would be a good way to start the day. Well, between reading, eating breakfast, and cuddling up on the couch with my boyfriend, it took me a little longer to read than normal, but I finished my first read just before we had to leave to go paintballing. I have my review up for this read here.

On the way to paintball and then on the way home, I managed to read my second book of the day/readathon: The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur. Again, this was one that I knew I could read quickly, which makes it perfect for a readathon. Plus, it had just been released. I already have a review up for it here.

So, of the 6 books I had selected for my Readathon by Zoe TBR, I only managed to read two during the day because of all the other activities I did. Still, I guess two books is pretty good.

Then, this past weekend, I once again participated in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. Originally I had thought I would do pretty well with reading, even with having work scheduled on Saturday. But then the mandatory Saturday was cancelled and it was decided that I would run a session of my D&D campaign. So I knew I would be once again limited in my reading. But I thought with D&D starting at 2pm that I would be able to read probably two books before the session, and then I thought we would play until around 8pm, and then I would still have several hours left to read.

That…did not happen the way I planned in my mind.

So I did wake up a little bit before my alarm clock and took a quick shower. Then I brewed myself a large mug of tea before taking a few prep photos to post on Instagram periodically.

My first read for the day was The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash. I made it about halfway through my book before my boyfriend was up and ready for breakfast. Not feeling like we wanted to cook, we made a quick trip to Taco Bell. Okay, and then we sat and watched some Netflix for an hour or so. I finished up my book and it was an okay read. I enjoyed the geeky references, but the whole unrequited romance pining did get a tiny bit annoying. I still give it 4/5 stars.

Next I picked up The Twenty Sided Sorceress, Vol 1: Level Grind by Annie Bellet. This is an omnibus collection of the first four stories in the series. I knew with the time I had remaining, I could maybe read the first story. And I did. It’s a solid geeky start to a paranormal romance/urban fantasy series. But it felt a bit short to me (spoiler alert: it was only 83 pages). So I gave it 4/5 stars as well.

I had hoped to either read another of the Twenty Sided Sorceress stories or pick up something else after D&D…but, D&D ended up going from 2pm until 2am, and by the time everyone left I was tired and ready for bed. I also knew that I would not wake up before the readathon ended for me at 8am Sunday morning, so I just called it quits at two books.

So, there you have it. Over the course of two weekends, I read 4 books. I plan to have a review up for Level Grind, but not until I read all four stories in the omnibus. So look for that in a few weeks.

Oh, also, I think I have all of my hardcovers up on my bookshelves, though there is still some reorganization to come. I still have a few more bookcases to assemble and then I can decide how I really want to organize the library. But I figured I could give you guys another photo update.