Two Hearts (Peter S. Beagle Short Story Review)

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Peter S. Beagle’s whimsical fantasy tale The Last Unicorn is a classic. It’s one of my favorite books of all time, so when The Shameful Narcissist recently read and provided a link to a short follow-up to the story, of course I was eager to return to Mr. Beagle’s rich and enchanting world of magicians, unicorns and other mythical beasts.

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The original tale is a clever and spellbinding journey all its own, so I was very hopeful that this newer adventure would be able to capture some of the magic woven in the first book. I was obviously hopeful, but I had to wonder, could Two Hearts manage to match the charm and whimsy of its legendary predecessor? Well, as Captain Cully would say: sit down, have a taco, and let’s talk about Two Hearts.

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Although this short story features multiple characters we came to love in The Last Unicorn, you may be surprised to learn that the main character is someone new entirely. Sooz, a young girl from a small village plagued by a child-eating griffin, is done waiting for the king to send more knights who all seem to fall prey to the very beast they’ve been sent to slay. She’s decided to take matters into her own hands and runs away from home to seek the king out for herself, to get his help specifically. Young Sooz, you see, has heard all about brave King Lir and the dragons and giants he’s slain, the impossible riddles he’s solved, and the maidens he’s saved.

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Unfortunately, no matter how noble the hero, the one thing they may never vanquish is time, and the king is now in the later years of his life, his mind often failing him. On her way to seek the king, Sooz befriends the infamous Molly Grue and Schmendrick the magician from the first tale. Although King Lir is frequent to forget and lose himself as he admits to Sooz, the mention of a familiar character always manages to bring him back, if even for only a matter of time.

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Lir’s bravery and kindness propel him to agree to help Sooz and her village, but will the best intentions of an aging hero be enough to finally bring an end to the griffin? You’ll have to find that one out for yourself. šŸ˜‰

I will tell you, however, that Peter S. Beagle definitely captured the enchantment of his original tale once more, much to my delight. Especially in the last third or so of the story. We finally get to see what has become of the characters he introduced us to so many years ago, and he introduces us to a brave young girl who would do anything to protect those she cares for against a hungry monstrous creature. For fans of The Last Unicorn, I would definitely say this one is easily worth the read. I enjoyed it and it made me want to re-read the original book again.

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Monstress, Vol. 3 (No Spoiler) Review

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Marjorie Lui and Sana Takeda’s gorgeously rendered epic Monstress is back with its third volume, Haven. If you’ve read and recall my reviews for Volume 1 and Volume 2, it will come as no surprise that this is something I’ve been eagerly awaiting all year.

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Throughout the story of Monstress, our main character Maika Halfwolf has seen some shit. Potty-mouthed poet cats, crazy-ass witch-nuns with a deadly agenda, ancient gods that hunger for flesh, and bipedal shark people to name just a small few. Really, that is only the smallest of tastes for the complex and layered world presented to readers throughout the series. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Monstress has the most detailed and fleshed out worldbuilding I’ve ever seen in comic form. The more you read of the series, the more things begin to come together and take shape, especially in volume 3.

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The kind of villain I can get behind: knows how to rock an all black outfit, loves a good book, and cuddler of dogs!

The artwork, as always, continues to shine in the third installment, and the characters are being forced even more out of their comfort zones (well, what little bit of comfort they were previously able to cling to in their war-torn world, anyway). Kippa is finding direction in her life and becoming stronger, Ren is forced to make a difficult decision, and Maika might even have to start playing nice(er) and make . . . dun dun dun . . . friends! GASP! šŸ˜› Even the ever-growing, ever-hungry god Maika constantly struggles with is taking shape, both literally and figuratively.

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Although we get more answers, there are still plenty more questions you’re left with by the end of Volume 3, but it only makes me look forward to Volume 4 that much more. Especially with such a doozy of a cliffhanger.

Three Things Tag!

It’s taaaaag tiiiiime, guys! Big thanks to Random Melon Reads for tagging me for the Three Things Tag! šŸ˜€ If you haven’t yet ventured on over to their blog, I suggest you rectify that and experience their humorous and entertaining posts for yourself. šŸ™‚ Now, onto the tag at hand:

3 Read Once & Loved Authors:

Well, might as well start with my most recent newly loved author! šŸ™‚ After hearing so many good things about V.E. Schwab, I’ve finally begun my first venture into one of her books, A Darker Shade of Magic! I’m loving her writing and fully intend on reading more of her stories in the future. ā¤

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V.E. Schwab

Of course I would have to include Leigh Bardugo on this list. Her writing is always a treat for me, but it just seems to keep getting better and better. She’s definitely one of those insta-buy authors for me.

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This list wouldn’t be complete for me without mentioning George RR Martin.

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3 Titles I’ve Watched But Haven’t Read:

I mentioned in a recent blog post that I happened upon 2 of the books in the Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz. I enjoyed watching the film version and am definitely looking forward to reading the books that inspired it, starting, of course, with the first one.

Another set of books I would really love to sink my teeth into, would be Diana Gabaldon’sĀ Outlander series. ā¤ I love the show and have only heard amazing things regarding the books.

Although I wasn’t too crazy about the third and final season of Hemlock Grove on Netflix, I did really enjoy the first 2 seasons and would definitely love to check out the source material some time. It’s been on my TBR list for a while, so maybe I’ll make this a priority on my reading list for October. It certainly seems like a fitting time to give it a go! šŸ˜‰

3 Characters You Love:

Lazlo Strange from Strange the Dreamer. He’s just such a good character overall. šŸ™‚ I can’t wait to read more about him and the other amazing characters when Laini Taylor’s Muse of Nightmares hits the scene in October!

I’ve always loved the Cheshire Cat from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. From his crazy grin right down to the very way he speaks.

It’s always been difficult for me to narrow down my favorite character from GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, so I’m calling it a tie between Tyrion Lannister and Arya Stark.

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3 Binged Series:

I binge-read George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books after having the first one literally thrust upon me by Cupcakes & Machetes years ago. Still waiting (and waiting) on the last 2 in the series to come out, but those two books will no doubt be binge-read as well upon release. šŸ™‚

If memory serves right, I think I also binge-read Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy a while back. I’m pretty certain I read the three books very quickly.

And, in the graphic novel arena, I definitely conquered Joe Hill’s Locke & Key series in quick succession. It was an excellent and imaginative series I just couldn’t seem to put down.

3 Unpopular Bookish Opinions:

Prologues don’t bother me. I know a lot of people seem to hate them, and I understand why to an extent, but as long as it is at least interesting, I’ve got no beef with a good prologue. šŸ™‚

If I’m studying a certain topic, and I’m reading an informative book about it, I bust out the highlighters and cover those pages in neon streaks. It’s quicker than writing the notes out by hand, makes for a quick reference, aaaand it’s my book so I do what I want with it! šŸ˜› Oddly enough, though, you’ll never see me dog-ear a page. I mean, I’m not a complete monster. šŸ˜‰

Call me crazy, but I hate book jackets (or dust jackets if you prefer). I know they’re to protect the book, and I get it, but they’re just so bothersome to me for some reason. I’ve gotten better about dealing with them in recent years, but they still tend to irk me just a bit. Plus, I always like the way the actual book looks underneath.

3 Current Favorite Book Covers:

Leigh Bardugo’s books are always lovely to look at, but I really like the cover for The Language of Thorns.

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Another book I just love the cover artwork for is My Life as a White Trash Zombie. The colors, the badass look of the character, it just all works for me.

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I had a really tough time picking three covers for some reason, despite always drooling over new cover art. I dunno, for some reason when I’m put on the spot my mind goes blank and I flounder about. But, I had to give some love to The Girl From the Other Side, with a cover and internal artwork that gives me the warm fuzzies. It blends two of my favorite aesthetics, monsters and cute shit.

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3 Goals For The Year:

Hmmm . . . well, there isn’t a whole lot of 2018 left at this point, it being September and all. That said, I really want to spend the remaining months of the year writing my ass off. NaNoWriMo is in the not-so-distant-future, so I definitely plan to participate in it again, but I also want to push myself to make more time for writing in general.

I’m also still working on my goal of reading 50 books/graphic novels for the year. With so little free time I’ve fallen a bit behind where I’d like to be by this point in the year in terms of my reading goal, buuuuuuut I’m confident I can catch up in the months to come. šŸ™‚

Aaaand my third goal is to continue being a boss bitch and getting shit DONE! šŸ˜› Haha and by that I mean to keep attacking my goals head on for the rest of the year. No sense losing momentum now. šŸ˜‰

Now, for the tagging! Mwa hahaha! If you’re reading this still at this point, consider yourself TAGGED! (Or not . . .) No pressure or anything. You know the drill, do it if you think it looks fun! šŸ˜€

Barrier (Brian K. Vaughan’s New Mini-Series!)

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One of the comics I had been most excited to get my hot little hands on during Free Comic Book Day was the first issue to Brian K. Vaughan’s new miniseries, Barrier. I literally knew almost nothing about it other than that it is written by BKV, and that was good enough for me given how much I (along with the rest of the universe) have been loving Saga. ā¤

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I started reading the first issue to Barrier this morning, assuming it would be a very quick read, and that I would soon be on my merry way doing other things with my day. Boy, was I wrong. This proved to be a much longer read, because I spent about half of it using Google’s translator so that I could understand all the parts in Spanish. Which is fine, I just wasn’t expecting it. And because I’m a Super Pal, I even wrote down the translations in case anyone else *cough cough Cupcakes and Machetes cough* or my boyfriend also wanted to read it, but didn’t feel like doing the leg work to translate it. šŸ˜›

(Or if any of you guys are planning on reading it and don’t want to go through and translate it yourself, let me know and I’ll hook you up!) šŸ˜‰

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ANYWAY, onto the story itself. Barrier follows two main characters from two very different walks of life. On one hand, we have Liddy, an American rancher who feels threatened after finding one of her horse’s decapitated heads, skinned and missing its eyes. Talk of “El Chupacabra” and even UFO-related cattle mutilations is quickly dismissed by Liddy who is confident that this is a warning from the cartel that plans on using her land to run their drugs. On edge, she begins exploring her options to protect her land, her animals, and herself. Our other main character, Oscar, is a Honduran young man who is attempting to make his way over the border into the United States. We don’t learn a whole lot about him in the first issue, but we do get a hint that he has something very important in his notebook, and that he may know more about what’s really going on than it originally seems.

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The two cross paths on Liddy’s property when Oscar is injured and she is armed and ready to shoot as their respective languages create a barrier (heh, I see what they did there) between them. Just then, SOMETHING pretty crazy happens, but we’ll leave that on a fairly vague note. Let’s just say, that I am definitely ready to check out the rest of this miniseries that will be released in single issues throughout the month of May in five total installments. šŸ™‚

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I look forward to seeing these two characters forced together by bizarre circumstances will interact with one another, how they will be able to communicate, and what is going to happen to them. I also want to learn more about what Oscar seems to know already. Brian K Vaughn is amazing at creating characters who you want to keep reading about, so I am really looking forward to seeing what he does with Liddy and Oscar the more we get to know them. Marcos Martin (the artist) and Munsta Vicente (the colorist) do a great job bringing the story to life with their illustrations and vivid colors, from the characters themselves to the rough landscapes. I can’t wait to see what they do in the next installments since I think things are really about to take a turn for the crazy.

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I know some people may be put off by not being able to understand part of the dialogue if they don’t speak Spanish or are unwilling to look up translations, but I think the language barrier actually adds to this story. BKV knows what he’s doing as a writer, so I trust what he has in mind for this project. Blending science fiction with the often-debated topic of immigration, I think we’re in for a really interesting story. Like Saga, this one is for mature readers only. I heard some parents getting pretty heated during Free Comic Book Day because there’s some adult content in this, so just something to keep in mind. This one is not intended for the kiddos! šŸ˜‰

Free Comic Book Day 2018 Haul

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Woo!!! It’s Free Comic Book Day, guys! Hopefully those of you who partake in this holiest of holy days already got to go raid and pillage (and also support, of course) your local comic book shop! I got off to my earliest start ever for FCBD and was the second person to hop in line outside the store.

I had to make the expedition all by my lonesome today since my boyfriend couldn’t go until much later in the afternoon, so he urged me to go on without him and collect all the bounty FCBD had to offer. And quite the bounty it was, so let’s get into all the sweet deetz of this year’s Free Comic Book Day Haul! šŸ˜€

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Part of this year’s haul. šŸ™‚

From the glorious table of freebies, we (between my morning visit and the boyfriend’s afternoon visit to the store) were able to snag some really cool stuff. Aaaand, this particular morning warrior (yours truly) was the main bread winner in bringing home the goods today. *flexes*

Barrier #1 (Brian K. Vaughan’s launch to his new miniseries!)

A Brief History of Tank Girl

Attack on Titan Anthology

Marvel Rising #0

Bob’s Burgers

DC Nation #0

Suicide Squad #1

Invader Zim: Floopsy Bloops Shmoopsy

Catalyst Prime: The Event

Lady Mechanika: The Demon of Satan’s Alley

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And, of course, Free Comic Book Day is not only a day to receive, but also to give, so I was damn sure going to support my local comic shop and purchase some goodies. šŸ™‚ I’ve been hearing really good things about the graphic novel I Kill Giants, so I purchased a copy of that.

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Aaaand, they had a limited number at the counter of these adorable little Free Comic Book Day Exclusive Harley Quinn vinyl figures, so you bet I got one. šŸ˜‰

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When my boyfriend ended up getting to go later in the afternoon, he also picked us up some volumes of Lady Mechanika which I’ve been wanting to check out for some time, so that was really exciting. šŸ˜€

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All in all, this FCBD was definitely a good one for us, even if we didn’t get to go check things out at the same time. It was a lot of fun, and the weather was gorgeous. Did you partake in any Free Comic Book Day goodness today? If so, I’d love to hear how it went and what sort of loot you got! šŸ˜› And if not, feel free to just bring up any good comics you’ve read lately or anything special you’ve got on your radar. Have a great weekend, everyone!! ā¤

TBT: Old B&W Comic Fan Art

Haven’t done a Throwback Thursday art post in a while, so let’s go way the hell back and check out some of my old comic-related fan art, shall we? šŸ™‚

Up first is a piece I made specifically for a contest Roman Dirge was doing for his Lenore comics. I did not win, but it was certainly a fun drawing to do.

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Next, sticking with fan art for comics from SLG publishing, here’s a couple different characters from the comic series Gloomcookie.

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Aaaaand last but not least, is Harley Quinn. I’ve been a fan of Harley for a long time, so of course she was bound to pop up here and there when I was looking through some of my older drawings. šŸ™‚

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As a TBT post would imply, these are all pretty old drawings, but I personally enjoy looking back on the old stuff, flaws and all, just to remember what I enjoyed drawing at that point in my life and to see how my style has changed and evolved over the years. šŸ™‚ All of these were done with pencil, pen, and sharpie, my old go-to tools of the trade!

Saga, Vol. 8 (No-Spoiler) Review

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Woo! First review (and post) of the New Year! I hope everyone had a fantastic New Year’s Eve and an amazing start to 2018 so far. ā¤ My boyfriend helped assure that much for me by stopping by our local comic book store New Year’s Eve and picking up this delightful title that just came out at the end of December. Needless to say, I about screamed with joy when he pulled into the parking lot and revealed his master plan.

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Brian K. Vaughan (the writer) and Fiona Staples (the illustrator) continue to weave their outlandish space opera of epic proportions in this volume, but add in some of the fun of the Old Wild West along the way. I don’t want to get into any spoiler territory, so we’ll keep things fairly vague as I talk about my feelings on this volume. And trust me, I got plenty of the feels for this series. ā¤

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One thing I really like about the series as a whole is that it has a lot of heart, but not in a corny, mushy, or preachy sort of way. This volume is no exception. It continues to explore the theme of family, and what exactly family means when you really get down to it. It challenges convention at every turn and makes no apologies, and I utterly love it for that. ā¤

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We see old and new faces alike in this volume and are presented with some pretty interesting “what-if” moments. It confronts deep-rooted feelings of both tragedy and hope head-on and still continues to surprise the reader with just about every turn of the page. This is a series that can make you cry one moment and then laugh another.

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Volume for volume, Saga makes for a quick, intense and often-times hilarious and utterly random emotional roller coaster. The characters are so well-written and full of their own troubles and flaws that it makes them feel completely human despite, ya know, the whole televisions for heads, and having horns and/or wings thing.

I honestly feel that just about everyone can find SOMETHING they can relate to somewhere in this series. So, if you have yet to hop on the Saga bandwagon, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???! Do yourself a favor and GET. ON. THAT.

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5/5 Stars.