Howl’s Moving Castle (Book) Review

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I’ll be honest, it wasn’t until last year that I even knew Howl’s Moving Castle was not only a fantastic animated film, but also a book! I found a copy in a 2nd and Charles Free Book Bin and snatched that baby up immediately, and I’m so glad that I did! This book was pure magic. ❀ I feel like if you’re a fan of the Miyazaki film, or if you enjoy light-hearted whimsical stories like The Last Unicorn or Stardust, that Howl’s Moving Castle might just be right up your alley. πŸ˜‰

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β€œIn the land of Ingary where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of the three. Everyone knows you are the one who will fail first, and worst, if the three of you set out to seek your fortunes.”

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Having grown up in a small hat shop and expecting a very uneventful life due to the social stigma of being the eldest, Sophie has her world turned upside down due to a witch’s curse that transforms her into an old woman. But perhaps the Witch of the Waste’s curse is just what Sophie needs to push herself out of the dull fate she had previously accepted for herself. Setting off to find a cure for the curse inflicted upon her, Sophie winds up finding much more than that. Witches and wizards, shapeshifters and fire demons are only a sample of the strange characters she’ll meet as she is forced out of her comfort zone. She’ll venture to moving castles and palaces and more in an effort to undo the Witch of the Waste’s magic, and she’ll do it with a sassy attitude to boot!

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The characters in this story are all so quirky and fun, and the book has a lovely light and humorous tone to it. I think the whimsy of it really made this book one of those special sort of “Feel Good” reads for me. πŸ™‚ I’m not usually a re-read sort of person (only due to there being SO MANY books out there to be read) but this is one I would consider re-reading in the future.

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β€œIt is quite a risk to spank a wizard for getting hysterical about his hair.”

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Diana Wynne Jones weaved quite the enchanting story, so I would definitely like to read more of her work in the future. She was very imaginative and created a lovely fantasy world with entertaining characters to fill it. Apparently there are two other books related to this one, so I plan to check those out one day, too!

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Sniffles & Sci Fi: A Mid-January Update

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Greetings from the land of sniffles and hacked up lungs. ❀ I’ve been bogged down with a pretty wretched cold this weekend. Considering I was sick just two weeks ago, this makes me a fairly grumpy bundle of rage right now. Despite my current germ-stricken state, the weekend hasn’t been a total bust. Having to stay home the whole time let me get a lot of writing done, so yay for that, I suppose. πŸ™‚

Although it wasn’t planned, I kicked the first month of the new year off with a theme of dystopian literature and television. I’m currently reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and I binge-watched the first season of The Shannara Chronicles and half of the second season of Future Man.

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Mr. Moth and I also cuddled up on the couch and finally gave that Bird Box movie a go that everyone has been talking about. I didn’t choose the dystopian life, the dystopian life chose me. πŸ˜‰

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In other news: I’m a bit behind on some of the reviews I need to write for some comics and movies I’ve enjoyed recently, so reviews are on the horizon, folks! πŸ™‚

Reviews to come:

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018 film)
  • Aquaman (2018 film)
  • Locke & Key: Heaven and Earth (2017 Graphic Novel)
  • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Vol. 1: The Crucible (2016 Graphic Novel)

I’ve tried a couple new recipes recently that I also look forward to sharing, particularly my first adventure in cooking cauliflower rice, as well as a lovely ginger sesame stir fry!

I’ve also got my birthday coming up at the end of the month! πŸ˜€ I really can’t wait to celebrate with my loved ones! ❀

How’s your January been going so far, guys?? Anybody else a slacker like me and still have their Christmas tree up? πŸ˜›

Holiday Book Haul (PLUS Exploding Kittens!)

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No worries, my fuzzy little monster Bailey is not one of the titular “Exploding Kittens”, I just really wanted to show off her Christmas photo because I’m a crazy cat mom. πŸ˜› We’ll get to the actual Exploding Kittens later on in this post, but for now let’s get into the excitement that is this year’s HOLIDAY BOOK HAUL!

The Hunger – A horror historical fiction book about the Donner Party that I’ve been very excited for. I’ve already started reading it!

Fire & Blood – The first volume of George RR Martin’s two-part history of the Targaryens.

Remarkable Books: The World’s Most Beautiful and Historic Works – Nonfiction about books and history, which just so happen to be two of my favorite things. πŸ™‚ Already reading this one, too.

History of the World Map by Map – I already mentioned that I enjoy history, well, I also just so happen to enjoy maps. πŸ™‚

Great Maps – a look at cartography throughout the ages!

Biology: An Illustrated History of Life Science – Woohoo! Science! πŸ˜€

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Vol. 1: The Crucible – After watching (and loving) the new Netflix series, along with their holiday special, I’m quite pumped to read this!

Redlands, Vol. 1 – although I’m not very familiar with this comic, I know it has to do with “murder, magic and mayhem” so consider me intrigued. πŸ˜‰

Witch Hammer – Ya know, I’m really beginning to notice a theme here . . .Β  πŸ˜›

Locke & Key: Heaven and Earth – So excited to return to the horrific and magical world of Locke & Key!

Pandora’s Legacy – this one is a total wildcard for me, so I’m curious to check it out. It’s always interesting reading modern takes on mythology. πŸ™‚

Unnatural, Vol. 1 – this series was nowhere on my radar but it was one that was recently highly recommended, so I’m interested to see what it’s all about.

Alisik – This one looks like spooky fun, and I was surprised to discover that the interior artwork is actually much more detailed than the cover, something that more often turns out to be the opposite.

Gotham City Sirens: Book One – Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn shenanigans galore in this collection of issues 1-13.

Gotham City Sirens: Book Two – Now that you can only get this series in these 2 books rather than the singular volumes like I had started collecting a while back, it’s good to finally have the full collection! For some reason I had stopped reading it with just the final volume to go and never got the chance to finish it. Looking forward to seeing how the series wraps up. πŸ™‚

Soooo, that sums up my Holiday Book/Comic Haul. I’m so thankful for all the amazing reading material I’ve been gifted and I can’t wait to read it all! That said, let us finally talk about those Exploding Kittens, shall we??

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Image from The Oatmeal’s shop.

As the box says, Exploding Kittens is a card game for people who are into kittens and explosions. I was fortunate enough to get the NSFW version along with the expansion Imploding Kittens, complete with a “cone of shame” to make sure you feel appropriately terrible about yourself for losing. πŸ˜› The game was a ton of fun and so easy to pick up on. Think Russian Roulette . . . but with exploding kittens!

I hope you guys have been enjoying your holiday season and have had a little time to unwind before the new year starts! ❀ Have you read or are interested in reading any of these titles? Get any awesome new books yourself?

 

Rat Queens: Orc Dave Special and Vol. 2 Reviews

I don’t know WHY it took me so long to return to the awesome and sassy world of Rat Queens, but damn, is it good to be back. πŸ™‚ Although it’s been a wee bit since I reviewed the first volume of the series, don’t let my delay in continuing fool you, I LOVE this series so far. Learning so much more about the characters and their checkered pasts only fuels that love, making me even more eager to continue reading further volumes (and much sooner than last time, I might add.) πŸ˜‰

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The Orc Dave special had my mind blown by the end. I already enjoyed the character but now I love him even more. It was really cool getting to learn so much more about the friendly vegetarian wood orc with blue birds living in his beard. I’m glad I picked up this one-shot special when it had hit my comic store (even if I did take my sweet ass time getting around to actually reading it!) πŸ˜›

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Volume 2: The Far-Reaching Tentacles of N’rygoth kicks up the action with some serious Lovecraftian shenanigans. We get to see a lot more backstory and development within the motley crew of characters, but in a way that manages not to sacrifice any of the fun or action along the way. Booze, sex, displaced-reality-devouring demons, and mushroom people make up only a sampling of the contents contained within Rat Queens‘ second volume. Fighting not only hangovers, but also demons (both metaphorically and literally), the Rat Queens have their work cut out for them. I think if anyone is up for the challenge, it’s these lethal ladies. If not, it’ll only mean the destruction of reality as we know it. So, ya know, no pressure or anything. πŸ˜‰

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Saga, Vol. 9 (No-Spoilers) Review

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Without hinting too much at what goes down in this volume, let me just say it is one you will immediately want to follow up with the next installment upon finishing. Unfortunately, Saga is on a lengthy hiatus for the time being, so be prepared for quite the cliff hanger AND quite the wait.

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This was another solid volume to the series, but daaaaaamn. SO. MANY. FEELINGS.

I swear, if Saga isn’t busy wowing you with its great story-telling, compelling characters, and unique worldbuilding, its preoccupying itself by ripping your heart out and eating it raw. Saga continues to expertly pull the reader up with its highs and plummet them to the hard, cold ground with its crushing lows, and that’s one of the things that makes me love it so. You can never tell what is going to happen, and because of that you are reminded time and time again of the harshness that comes with real life. I think it makes me that much more invested in the characters of this series. Nine volumes deep, and Saga continues to keep readers on their toes and surprise them.

With certain scenes causing many of us to no doubt scream at the sky “Say it isn’t soooo!” or drop to their knees while crying, “NOOOOOOO!” all dramatically and what not, this hiatus is going to be like torture. Please see the below image, to see my mental image of Brian K. Vaughan vs. his readers at this point. I think it should be fairly obvious who is who. πŸ˜‰

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As if there was any doubt, this is another 5/5 star installment from me for Saga.

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. πŸ˜‰

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! πŸ˜› 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.