Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, Recommendations, Signal Boost

Review: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Hey all, Dani here.

We all have certain themes, tropes, or story elements that generally turn us off from picking up certain books/movies/shows. For me, I am not a big mystery or thriller reader, though I am okay with watching those kind of stories. I also typically don’t reach for zombie stories. But I will say that as long as a story sounds interesting, I am totally willing to give it a try. And that is totally the case for the book I’m talking about today.

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Summary

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

Let’s start with the cover. I love how badass Jane looks holding her sickle and that is a cool and powerful stance. It gave me expectations for how the story within the covers was going to go. Thankfully the story matched up with beauty of the outside.

Jane has spirit. Her spunk was great, even though her sass quite regularly got her in trouble. But she did also go out of her way to help others, even ones who hadn’t been the nicest to her at school.

The alternate history laid out in this book was well done and so interesting. It really makes you look at the sanitization of history, how often we try and bury the unfair treatment and blatant racism of the past. Actually if we’re being honest many in society today don’t seem to recognize the racism of modern times. Based on the notes in the back of the book, there were industrial schools where Native children were sent and “civilized” based on the accepted white culture of the times. Many of the comments made by white characters towards people of color in this book made me cringe; it was pretty atrocious and despicable.

Jane handles it in stride, though. Sometimes she even uses their expectations against them, by pretending to be less intelligent or civilized. Even Jane’s classmates don’t expect Jane to be as smart as she is, though she can read and write, while most of them can’t.

But this was a pretty adventurous story, and I am so glad that I gave it a chance. The zombies, or shamblers as they are known in the book, are not really romanticized in any way. They are mindless savages and a group of them approaching can be a terrifying situation.

Where to Buy

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

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Book Review, Books!, Recommendations, Signal Boost

Top Ten Reads of 2018 — So Far

Hey all, Dani here.

The wait is over. My list of favorite reads from the first six months of the year is here at last. Before I jump into which books made it, I first want to go over the rules that I set for myself when it comes to what can or cannot be considered for this list. As a book blogger, I do receive early copies of books for review, but it wouldn’t be fair to include books that have not been released to the general public. I also don’t include rereads on this list, because obviously I enjoyed the book enough to read it again, so those books have an unfair advantage.

The ten books that make up this list are ones that I read in the months of January through June in 2018. Overall I ended up reading 59 books in that time, so narrowing down to ten was something I thought was going to be difficult…but I read some books that just really stood out for me. As always, I am placing these books in the order I read them in, not any sort of last to first ranking order or anything. Oh, and if I have a review up for the book, I will also include the link, in case you would like to check out more of my thoughts.

Let’s get started.

  1. The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco
    I am so glad that I was able to read an ARC of this book, because this series continues to blow me away. I love diving into Tea’s world, and seeing how her story unfolds. Overall I did not want to put this book down, and I am so looking forward to the third book.
  2. Love & War: An Alex & Eliza Novel by Melissa de la Cruz
    Well, the first book of this series made my list last year, so is it any surprise that my Hamilton obsession is still going strong? This YA version of Alexander Hamilton’s romance and relationship with Eliza Schuyler Hamilton continues to keep me hooked…even when certain elements of history have to be altered slightly to make for a better story. I’m not reading this for a 100% historically faithful tale. I can read Hamilton’s writings or any number of nonfiction books on Hamilton if I want the facts.
  3. Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen
    Now that I have read this book, I am so sad that I didn’t try and snag a copy in 2017 at BookExpo. It was completely outstanding. I loved the magic system and the overall setup. Plus the characters were so interesting…even the ones that were so awful that I hoped for their death. I am very much looking forward to the second book.
  4. Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
    Based on the way this book was described, I was sure I was going to enjoy it, but it ended up completely sucking me in, and I didn’t want to stop reading until I reached the end. I enjoyed the descriptions, the action, the character development…it was all so good. The only thing that upset me is that I feel like the ending wrapped up a bit too quickly. But there is apparently a companion novel coming (probably next year), so we’ll see what happens next.
  5. Now a Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy
    I need to get a review written for this one, so I am adding that to my to-do list. But this was such a cute contemporary story, with a nice dash of fantasy since it was based on a movie adaptation of a beloved book series…and a romance between one of the film’s stars and the grand-daughter of the series’ author.
  6. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
    Why haven’t I written a review for this one yet? I read it during a 24 Hour Readathon, but I would have read it super quickly anyway. It was such a deeply fascinating series, with an amazing set of characters, a cool adventure, and an intriguing magic system. Needless to say, I am already counting down until the release of the sequel.
  7. The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde
    Jen Wilde makes my list again, with another cute and diverse contemporary novel, one that features cameos from characters who were in her debut novel. I loved following the three members of the band The Brightsiders, and seeing all the drama and issues that seemed to follow their lives. And the romances were pretty cute too.
  8. Furyborn by Claire Legrand
    Another fantasy book with great world-building and magic systems. This was also another book that I absolutely flew through. I admit that the cover design caught my eye, and then I read up on the book. I am so glad that I did, because it was an outstanding read, even at the hefty number of pages it contained. Seriously, I loved it.
  9. Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody
    Amanda Foody has written another wonderfully atmospheric and interesting fantasy read, and I can say that I also flew through this book. I read The Brightsiders, Furyborn, and Ace of Shades all in one weekend, and I’m so glad that they were all so interesting that I easily could have landed in a book slump, but they all stood wonderfully on their own merits. Amanda Foody’s characters and writing style have definitely placed her up on my list of favorite new fantasy authors.
  10. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
    The review for this book will be up tomorrow, but this was kind of a surprise favorite for me. While I do like the occasional historical fiction story, I am not as into books (or shows or movies) with zombies in them. But I was immediately drawn in by the narrative voice of our main protagonist, Jane. She was one awesome and spirited young lady, and I loved following all of her mishaps and adventures, all while fighting off the shambler plague.

So far it has been a pretty great year for reading, and I am looking forward to seeing what the rest of 2018 brings. Thanks for reading. I hope you are enjoying some great reads of your own, and I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

Book Releases, Book Review, Book Tag, Books!, Signal Boost

Mid Year Book Freakout Tag

Hey all, Dani here.

As we are at the halfway point of the year, this tag definitely seems appropriate to post up now. I was recently tagged by Katie from Never Not Reading, which is exciting because Katie is awesome, so you should definitely go check out her blog. Anyway, I’m happy to be doing this tag, especially right before I post up my top ten reads of 2018 so far post–which is coming next week.

Okay, the rules for this are simple: answer the prompts. That being said, let’s just get started.

Best Book You’ve Read so far in 2018

Man, this is such a spoiler for my upcoming post. Plus, I don’t like actually ranking my reads. But, if I have to give an answer, my choice is going to have to be Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.

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Best Sequel You’ve Read so far in 2018

I have to go with The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco for this one. I am such a huge fan of this series, and I am prepared to beg for an early copy of the third book, because I need to know what happens next.

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Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year

Hands down, this one goes to Access Restricted by Gregory Scott Katsoulis. It comes out at the end of August, a year after the first book. But I read the first book early thanks to getting an ARC at BookExpo, so my wait has been extra long, and the first book was my absolute top read of 2017, so I am ready to drop everything else I’m reading to dedicate myself to this release as soon as I have it in my hands.

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Biggest Disappointment

Oooh…um, well, I think I’m going to pick two different books for this one, sadly. Those books are Ship It by Britta Lundin and The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara.

Biggest Surprise

I guess this prompt is going to Dread Nation by Justina Ireland. The concept sounded interesting, but the fact is that I’m still not really a fan of zombies in books/TV shows/movies. So this book ended up being an absolute favorite read of mine and I’m glad I just decided to dive in and see what happens.

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Favorite New Author (or new to you)

There have been so many new to me authors this year. For this one, I think I’m going to have to say either Claire Legrand or A.C. Gaughen. I absolutely loved both Furyborn by Legrand, and Reign the Earth by Gaughen.

Newest Fictional Crush

My fiance might take offense to this one. Actually, I jest, because he has known since the beginning of our relationship that I would always have new book boyfriends or book girlfriends popping up into my life. Fictional crushes are totally fine in our relationships. No judgment. Okay, so I haven’t really had many crushes this year, but I will say Eamon O’Brien from Now A Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy is probably the closest to being considered a crush.

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Newest Favorite Character

Some of these are tough. In the interest of talking about more books in this post, I try not to pick something for more than one category, so for this I’m going to pick Cameron from Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner.

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Book That Made You Cry and Book That Made You Happy

Without a question, both of these go to the Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins comic series. I read issues #4-6 in 2018, and these characters will always make me super emotional. I have followed their adventures for a few years now, and I have posters for them in my apartment, and so so many Critical Role t-shirts. So yeah, I’m a huge fan.

Favorite Book to Film Adaptation

In 2018, definitely Love, Simon. I thought that the book was good but not as amazing as the hype made it sound, but I absolutely adored the movie.

Favorite Post You’ve Done This Year

This is a hard one. Most of my posts are wrap-ups or reviews. Well, I guess I’ll go with the Bookish Academy Awards post. I have a lot of fun going through my previous year’s reads, and selecting the winners for each category.

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year

Hmm…I’d have to say the special hardcover release of Hounded by Kevin Hearne. Subterranean Press is doing a limited run special edition for the whole series. I pre-ordered this last year technically, but it just arrived in the mail a week or so ago, so I’m going to count it as a 2018 purchase. They should be doing the pre-order for book two very soon.

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New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

There are so many books that fit this one. I’ll just choose a few.

Book You Need to Read by the End of the Year

So very many books. Have you seen my book hauls and TBRs? I need more time to read all the books. Obviously all of the books I mentioned in the last prompt, plus…I guess I’ll just toss these ones in as well.


If you have not yet done this post, then consider yourself TAGGED. I’d love to see what your Mid Year Book Freakouts look like. That’s all for today, and I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, Recommendations, Signal Boost

Review: Furyborn by Claire Legrand

Hey all, Dani here.

It is review time once again, and today I can actually admit that I’m glad I didn’t get an advance copy of this book, because it would have made the wait for the sequel that much more difficult. This was such a good read and I finished it in a day because I needed to know what was going on and what would happen next.

Let’s just jump into the review.

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Summary

Follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world…or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

The way that this story is weaved together just keeps you intrigued. It jumps back and forth from Rielle’s story to Eliana’s, and both narratives slowly start to weave together as you learn more details and begin to figure out the connections between the characters. Okay, to be fair, yes, I did figure out the connection between the two ladies quite a bit before it was actually revealed, but that did not make it any less enjoyable.

The characters were rather interesting, and both main ladies have their issues and struggles, despite living in completely different circumstances. And both Rielle and Eliana are strong and powerful in different ways, though they both have the same hint of rage issues. But I loved how complex they were because they felt so incredibly real. Their romances and friendships and alliances were all so engaging for me. I did not want to stop reading.

I enjoyed the world-building, especially considering that Legrand had to envision the same word a thousand years apart. It was fascinating to see what changes happened to the politics, the magic, the economy, and the people. This attention to the details is also what made the magic system and the trials so compelling.

Basically, I loved this book and I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy in the next couple of years.

Where to Buy

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

Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, Reading Challenge, Recommendations, Signal Boost

GLBT Book Month is coming!

Hey all, Dani here.

What I love about the online book community, about so many of you amazing readers/reviewers/bloggers/vloggers, is that we have seen this increase in the past couple of years of a desire to read more diversely and to expand our reading habits. We try books outside of our preferred genres and we try books with characters we might not have otherwise picked up on our own. We read more books about different cultures or races and certainly we have seen more books coming out with main characters who are POCs or who have a different gender or sexual identity. And that is great. I love that we can expand our world by taking in the stories of people who are different from us (or the same as us).

It is fantastic, and so once again, I plan on for the most part, focusing my reviews in June to GLBT book month, and highlighting reads that have characters and/or authors who fall on the LGBTQIAP+ spectrum. GLBT Book Month started in the early 1990s as National Lesbian and Gay Book Month. Starting in 2015, the American Library Association branded it as GLBT Book Month, though honestly that name doesn’t quite do the month justice as it excludes many in the community.

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The main point is that it is a celebration of the authors and writings that reflect the lives and experiences of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. I expand that out to aesexual, pansexual, intersex, queer, those who are questioning their identity, and more.

Right now I have two books that I have read in May where I am setting up the reviews to be released in June, as they feature characters who are questioning their sexuality and I think they will be great stories to highlight for GLBT Book Month. And I have a few other books already planned for my June TBR that should also be in the spotlight a bit more.

If you are looking for books that fall on the LGBTQIAP+ spectrum, you can always look up the Rainbow Book List, or the Over the Rainbow Books. There are a lot of great suggestions and recommendations there. I made a recommendations post of my own last year, so you can check that out as well if you’re interested.

Now, to make sure we are all on the same page with my June blog posts, I will still be doing my Manga Mondays review posts, and my What I’m Reading posts on Wednesdays. You’ll just find that at least one day a week–probably Fridays–I’ll be posting reviews for GLBT Book Month reads. I know the reviews for Ship It and Final Draft will be coming on Tuesday June 5th and Friday June 8th.

Other books I’m hoping to get to in the month of June include:

Of course, I will also take any recommendations from all of you wonderful book friends for books that also fit in this amazing and diverse category of reads.

And I do believe that is all I have to say for today. Have you read any great LGBTQIAP+ books this year? Are you planning on reading some in June? Let me know in the comments. Have a fantastic weekend everyone, and I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

Book Review, Books!, Diverse December, Graphic Novel, Reading Challenge, Signal Boost

Review: Lumberjanes – Unicorn Power by Mariko Tamaki

Hey all, Dani here.

Welcome to another Middle Grade March review post. Was this a book I read in March? Well, no. Technically this isn’t even a book I read in 2018, but it is still a Middle Grade book, and I’ve also been trying to play catch up on a rather large stack of to be written reviews, so this will help me out with all of that.

Technically I read this book during Diverse December, a reading event hosted by my buddy Kathy over at Books & Munches. As always, I recommend checking out her blog because she is awesome, and the munches photos she puts on her posts always make me hungry.

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Summary

Welcome to Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. The five scouts of Roanoke cabin—Jo, April, Molly, Mal, and Ripley—love their summers at camp. They get to hang out with their best friends, earn Lumberjane scout badges, annoy their no-nonsense counselor Jen . . . and go on supernatural adventures. That last one? A pretty normal occurrence at Miss Qiunzella’s, where the woods contain endless mysteries.

Today is no exception. When challenge-loving April leads the girls on a hike up the TALLEST mountain they’ve ever seen, things don’t go quite as planned. For one, they didn’t expect to trespass into the lands of the ancient Cloud People, and did anyone happen to read those ominous signs some unknown person posted at the bottom of the mountain? Also, unicorns.

This hilarious, rollicking adventure series brings the beloved Lumberjanes characters into a novel format with brand-new adventures.

My Thoughts

Rating: 4.5 stars

I saw another blogger I follow review this book around the time of its release, and I remember that she raved about how great it was. Even with that glowing review, I was still a bit wary going into the book. Honestly, as someone who loves the comics/graphic novels, I worried that this novel format with the same characters would try to alter them in some way for the middle grade novel.

I don’t know why I worried. It had the same diversity and the same weirdness that I’ve come to expect and love from the Lumberjanes. Not to mention, actually, the adventure the group goes on in this book references earlier adventures from the comics. So this isn’t a reboot or anything like that. No, this is just another way to enjoy the world and the characters, which I really loved and appreciated.

Now for me it was a bit of an adjustment to get used to the format, because I’m so used to the visual experience of a comic, but I think it would still be a fun story for someone who doesn’t already read Lumberjanes, and perhaps this would inspire them to check out the previous adventures as well.

I enjoyed that Ripley was still the fun wild child she typically is–to be honest, Ripley may be my favorite, though I like all of them. And I love how wonderfully distinct each girl is. They all have their own style, their own interests and specialities, their own fears and hopes, etc.

So pretty much I will be waiting to read the next Lumberjanes novel installment, because the second book isn’t set to be released until May. Of course there’s always the graphic novels to keep me busy until then…plus all the non-Lumberjanes reads I have waiting for me.

Where to Buy

You can pick up this Lumberjanes adventure at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.

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Bookish Academy Awards Tag 2018

Hey all, Dani here.

So, last year I did this tag, and I had a fun time with it so I might as well do it again now. The rules are pretty simple. You have a list of categories, similar to those at the Academy Awards, and you choose the winner from the books you read the previous year. So I’ll be going through the 150 books I read in 2017 and trying to pick winners for this.

Oh, and this tag was originated by BOOKadoodles on YouTube, so you can find her video here.

Let’s get started.

Best Actor: Best Male Protagonist

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Tanner from Autoboyography by Christina Lauren is my choice for this category. I adored this book; it was just so cute.

Best Actress: Best Female Protagonist

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Both Kat and Meg from Kat and Meg Conquer the World by Anna Priemaza have to win this category. I so loved their female friendship, and I’m happy to talk about this book again.

Best Cinematography: Best Plot Twist

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Okay, One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus was a story I wasn’t expecting to enjoy as much as I did, and I was only part right in solving the mystery, and there were so many twists and secrets revealed through the book, so I feel confident naming this the winner from my 2017 reads.

Best Costume Design: Best Book Cover

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I absolutely had to put The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty somewhere on this list, and I guess best cover it is, but the inside is just as stunning, so if you have not already, go check out this wonderful fantasy novel.

Best Supporting Actor and Actress: Best Male and Female Sidekick

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I have really enjoyed watching this series and reading the comics, and fine, I think that Sokka is a really fun “sidekick”, and Toph is also one of my favorite characters, so the Avatar comics take this category easily.

Best Original Screenplay: Most Unique Plot/World

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Yep, I definitely had to include The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco as a Bookish Academy Award winner. This was another wonderful surprise to me. Yes, the cover is gorgeous, and yes, the concept sounded intriguing, but I’m also not typically a fan of necromancer characters. However the world, and the descriptions of the cultures and such just completely won me over.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Best Book-to-Movie Adaptation

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I saw the movie and read the series for the first time last year, and technically I did see the movie first, but I just thought it was a great adaptation, so I’m happy that I can include some comics/manga/graphic novels in this post. So, thank you to Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley for being a great read and a great watch.

Best Animated Feature: A book that would work well in animated format

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I couldn’t exactly choose any of the manga I read last year for this category, so this is the next best thing. What is great about watching Critical Role is that I can imagine this being an animated series, but since I don’t think that will happen, so these comics are pretty close to what I would imagine. I absolutely love the Vox Machina: Origins comics because they are a fantastic prequel to the series I adore.

Best Director: A writer you discovered for the first time

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All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis was my favorite read of 2017, so naturally I have to place Katsoulis in the winner’s spot for this category. This was a remarkable story and I am very anxiously awaiting the release of the sequel because oh my goodness…I NEED to know what happens next.

Best Visual Effects: Best action in a book

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So, Warcross by Marie Lu will be my winner here. I really enjoyed the concept and the game of Warcross, and I’m rather looking forward to the sequel later in 2018.

Best Short Film: Best novella or short book

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I do believe this was a shorter read, so it should fit this category. I have been a fan of Nicola E. Sheridan for several years now, so getting to read her newest release, The Magician’s Keeper, was fantastic for me. It is set in the same world as the rest of her stories, so I find that to be really fascinating.

Best Picture: Best standalone

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Pride & Prejudice with dragons, wyverns, hobgoblins and more! Seriously, I cannot rave about Heartstone by Elle Katharine White enough. It is such a wonderful retelling of a classic story, and actually, I probably need to just reread this one soon.

Best Documentary: Best Historical Fiction or Non-fiction

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Of the 150 books I read in 2017, I believe only two were historical fiction, and while I thought The Librarian of Auschwitz was a majorly worthwhile read, my pick for this category is Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz. Yes, my Hamilton obsession rears its head again. I’m almost finished reading the sequel right now, and oh boy, it is such a great series.

All right, that is all for today. If you decide to do this tag, let me know because I would love to check out your answers.

Books!, Recommendations, Signal Boost

Recommendations: Standalones

Hey all, Dani here.

I am so sorry that I missed my regular recommendations post last week. It was actually supposed to be this post, but I didn’t have it completely written up and I was stressed out a bit and my muscles were sore from work so I ended up not getting on my computer at all.

It’s a horrible excuse, and I’m trying to do better.

Anyway, today I want to talk to you about some standalone reads. You know, books that don’t have sequels or spin-offs or companion novels. Just nice simple stories that begin and end in just a single tome.

Let’s get started.

Okay, so do you know what I learned while trying to come up with a list of books to recommend for this particular post? Well, I learned a couple of things. First, most of the standalone books I read tend to fall in the contemporary category. And second, most of the standalones on this list are books I’ve recommended before.

Obviously I find each of these books to be good to read, and if I have a review posted I will go ahead and link to the review so you can learn all of my thoughts and feelings on them, but I’ve talked about each of these books before so I’m sure you don’t want to hear me say the same stuff all over again.

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger

Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Heartstone by Elle Katharine White

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Kat and Meg Conquer the World by Anna Priemaza

Next I have a recent read, but it definitely deserves to be on the list.

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I loved this book. It was so good, and you can find my review here, so I’ll try not to gush about it or rehash my thoughts in this post, but I think this one definitely set the bar pretty high for other contemporary and/or diverse reads in 2018.

Then I have a more classic recommendation to add to the list, and this is good in both novel or movie form. Actually, I’m feeling like I need to reread and rewatch this one because it has been quite some time since I last visited this world and these characters.

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I just love the way that this one is written. The Princess Bride is a classic for a reason. This book is set up as if someone came through and pretty much edited the book. So you’ll have this editor make commentary about removing 8 pages of text about the items a character is packing for a trip, and then two pages later there is another comment about removing 6 pages that detailed unpacking the things that were just packed a few pages earlier. It is just a wonderfully amusing read. (From what I remember anyway…it has been several years since I last read it).

Finally, I personally don’t really consider these ones to be standalones, but they technically are, so I’ll just briefly mention them here.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. Both of these (and the upcoming third book Record of a Spaceborn Few) take place in the same setting and may mention the same characters and such, but they are technically self-contained stories. They are listed as part of the Wayfarers series, but are marketed as standalones. Still, they are wonderful and diverse, and I do very much recommend them.

Then there’s Every Heart a Doorway and Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (I can’t add the third book–Beneath the Sugar Sky–yet because I haven’t read it). These books are collectively part of the Wayward Children series, but they follow different characters and can be read as standalones.

So there you have it…my standalone recommendations. As always, thanks for reading, and if you have any books to recommend for this particular topic, feel free to tell me about them in the comments.

I’ll see you tomorrow with my January Wrap Up 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 Tag, Books!, Inspiration, Signal Boost

Sunshine Blogger Award (3)

Hey all, Dani here.

I feel so honored to have been selected for the Sunshine Blogger Award again, this time by Amanda over at Peaks and Pages. Honestly what is awesome about this tag is that you can do it multiple times because the questions change each time. Also, go check out Amanda’s blog because she is wonderful and has some awesome posts.

sunshine-blogger-award-logo

What is the Sunshine Blogger Award?
This award is given to those who are creative, positive, and inspiring, while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.

How does it work?
-Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and link back to their blog.
-Answer 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
-Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
-List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your blog.

1. What were your favorite books growing up?

Oh man, that is a tough question. I read soooo many books when I was growing up, and I’m sad that I can’t remember them all because I didn’t have something like Goodreads to keep track of my reading progress. I wish I had filled a notebook with what I read, but I didn’t think about wanting a record of everything I’d read.

Anyway, I absolutely was obsessed with the Animorphs series, and I still own every single one of them. Obviously Harry Potter was a staple of my time in high school-college. There are probably so many more answers that I’m just not thinking of right now, so I’m going to stop with those.
2. Where is your favorite place to read?

I suppose right now my favorite place to read is on my couch, all curled up with a blanket, with a drink and maybe some snacks on the side table.
3. Which genres do you read the most?

Fantasy is still my favorite genre, though paranormal and sci-fi are also good. I guess lately I’ve also been reading more contemporary than I used to.
4. Who is your favorite author?

Y’all know I don’t like picking favorites. There are so many amazing authors I love. Just to name some of my faves: Rachel E. Kelly, Jim C. Hines, Brandon Sanderson, Richelle Mead, Morgan Rhodes, Adam Silvera, Renee Ahdieh…the list could go on and on.
5. What’s a trope or cliché that you’re tired of seeing?

I’m tired of seeing love triangles, which mostly seem to consist of one person who can’t decide which of two others they like. How about more books that focus on strong relationships that don’t have the drama of one possibly cheating on the other? You can find the excitement/drama in other aspects of the story.
6. Who is your OTP?

Hmm…most of the time I’m good with who characters choose to partner with in stories, but I guess I’ll say that I’ve always wished that Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood had ended up together.
7. What is your favorite book-to-screen adaptation?

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I suppose is the one I’ll say for this question. You don’t get a better adaptation than one that was written and directed by the book’s author.
8. What is your reading beverage of choice?

I really like drinking a good sweet tea. Though a nice caramel cappuccino (hot or frappuccino) is also good.
9. What’s the most disappointing book you’ve read this year?

Well, this year just started, so I haven’t really had any disappointing reads yet, but the lowest rated reads for me so far have been Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking, and The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West, both of which I gave 4 stars to, so by no means disappointing.
10. What is a sequel you’re highly anticipating?

The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco, More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer, Love & War by Melissa de la Cruz, The Emerald Sea by Richelle Mead, Access Restricted by Gregory Scott Katsoulis, The Towering Sky by Katharine McGee, and The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden, just to name a few.
11. What are some diverse books you’ve read and loved?

Why don’t you go check out my Diverse Reads recommendations post for the answer to that question. Of course, I can now absolutely add Love, Hate & Other Filters to that list.


My nominations

Okay, well now I’m supposed to nominate 11 people. Oh boy–I don’t think I’ll be able to rattle off that many right now. I guess here we go:


I guess that just leaves the 11 questions for me to ask you.

  1. What is a bookish goal you have for 2018?
  2. If you could have any 2018 ARC in your hands right now, what would you want most?
  3. What are your favorite kinds of posts to write?
  4. Do you plan out what posts you want to write in a particular week/month/etc or do you just write them up when you get an idea?
  5. How long have you been book blogging?
  6. How do you balance work/school/etc with reading and blogging?
  7. What is your favorite book to TV series adaptation?
  8. How often do you try and read?
  9. What is your reading and reviewing process like?
  10. I know it’s still really early in the year, but what has been your favorite read of 2018 so far?
  11. What are some books you want more people to read? (Give me your book recommendations!)

All right, well that’s all for today, and I’ll see you guys soon (hopefully) for another post.