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. 😉

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! 😛 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.

Whirlwind of a Month: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of August

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Well, well, well . . . look who finally stumbled her way back onto WordPress. This old gal! It may have seemed like I dropped off the face of the earth, but it was only due to the frenzy of chaos I like to refer to as August 2018. Sooo, yeah, totally ready for this month to be DONE.

Monday is Labor Day here, so that means a nice three day weekend. While some of the people I work with are going on trips for the holiday weekend, the only trip I shall be taking is straight to the Oral Surgeon this Saturday morning. Yaaaaay. Wisdom teeth, amirite?

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Quit being such dickheads, Wisdom Teeth. Seriously, go home. You’re clearly drunk, growing in all sideways and shit. Get your act together.

Anywhoo, that sums up “the ugly”, leaving “the bad” as all the other stressful stuff that just never seemed to come to an end this month, so enough of all that, let’s get to the FUN stuff, THE GOOD:

August’s Book Haul:

After watching and enjoying the movie Odd Thomas, I’d been pretty interested in reading the book series that it came from. I was pretty pumped to discover two of the books in the series at a recent used book sale and so I promptly snatched those babies up. I’ve never actually read any Dean Koontz books, so I’m curious to see what I think.

Another author I’ve never ventured into reading yet is Laurell K. Hamilton. Not sure if it’s a wise or risky move diving into a collection of her short stories rather than an actual novel, but we shall see what happens! 😀

I’ve not really even dipped so much as a toe into the pool of mystery literature out there, but the Detective Lavender Mysteries series caught my attention when it popped up for sale on the kindle recently. Gonna give it a shot.

More volumes of Giant Days is always a plus, so getting volume 6 as a surprise definitely lifted my spirits on a particularly rough day this month. 🙂 Don’t be fooled by the whole “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” load of silliness. Sometimes, comics will prove to do just fine. 😉 It’s all about the thoughtful gesture, not the extravagance of it.

The Resurrectionist caught by attention just from that snazzy cover quite some time ago. Caught it on a good deal via the Kindle and am looking forward to giving it a go!

And although I haven’t gotten to see the film version of The Meg like I’d have liked to by now, I did obtain the book, so yay for that! Will it be outlandish and probably ridiculous? Of course. Will I probably love it even more so because of that?? Most definitely.

I got some other books this month thanks to that used book sale I mentioned, but these are the six I’m most intrigued about.

Anywayyy, just wanted to pop in and say that I’m still kicking, just been busier and more stressed than normal lately. September is shaping up to be a busy month as well, but I hope to be able to squeeze in more blog time than I was able to in August. 🙂 You guys are awesome and I’ve missed getting to see what adventures you’ve all been up to. I’m going to try to catch up some this weekend, but it may take a while. Especially since I don’t know what to expect after oral surgery (except a swollen face and a healthy dose of hurting). If you’ve had any recent exciting news or anything and wanna chat about it please comment it up so I can read all about it. Feel free to even link me some of your spiffy posts I may have missed. 🙂 It’s always great catching up with you guys! ❤ Have a happy weekend, everyone! ❤ ❤ ❤

 

 

Book Club, Buddy Reads, and Vegan Chocolate Mousse– OH, MY!

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This weekend has been a blast. We had some good friends over to the house for the first time, which was very exciting. I hosted this month’s book club get-together, and my boyfriend and Cupcakes and Machetes‘ husband went out to one of the nearby breweries so we ladies could have the whole place to ourselves. Which basically involved a lot of snacking, inappropriate conversation, a tour of the house (the reading nook and giant bean bag were both a hit!) and more snacking. Most of the girls in our book club are strictly vegan, so I made a variety of vegan dishes for everyone to nom on and everything turned out great. The chocolate mousse was definitely a success, so I’ll share the recipe at the bottom of this post in case any of you are interested. 😉

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C&M and her hubby brought us an amazing bundle of goodies, which was so sweet and thoughtful. Aaaaand she and I decided to do a buddy read for Kevin Hearne’s A Plague of Giants in August, so there’s that to look forward to as well.

3 Ingredient Vegan Chocolate Mousse Recipe:

This recipe is SO EASY. You just need 3 ingredients:

  • 2 small boxes of Jello brand instant chocolate pudding mix
  • Chocolate almond milk
  • “So Delicious Dairy Free” coconut whipped topping

In a large mixing bowl, whisk your pudding mix and chocolate almond milk together, adding enough almond milk so that it gets to a cake batter consistency. Then, using a rubber spatula, fold in the coconut whipped topping so that it is fully blended but not over-whipped. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.

I served ours with graham crackers for dipping and it was seriously addicting. I think it would be great for dipping strawberries or sliced banana into, too, though. The great thing about this mousse, is how versatile the recipe can be. If you want to use vanilla or plain almond milk instead of chocolate, the pistachio, banana cream, vanilla, and lemon flavors of Jello instant pudding are also vegan-friendly, so you could make a mousse in any of those flavors just as easily. The mousse is also great for filling or topping cupcakes, or even just eating plain or parfait-style, so you can really do a lot of different things with it.

And, if you are not interested in making it vegan, just use regular milk and a tub of regular whipped topping instead, and you can use whatever flavor of instant pudding mix you want, so the possibilities are unlimited. Go crazy, this stuff is so easy and delicious.

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June Update Time!

Wow, it’s still hard to believe we’re already SIX MONTHS into the year. Luckily, 2018 has been a great ride so far, so I really can’t complain. (Although, to be fair, there is some occasional whining before/after work.) 😛

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My spirit animal

The biggest change for me so far in 2018 has been moving in with my boyfriend to our very first house. It was a big, scary leap, but it’s been great. We make a good team and he always inspires me to push myself toward bigger and better things, so I’ve got some fun projects/ideas I plan to really get going on in the days to come. Next month my little blog will be turning 2 years old, and I’m planning some fun stuff as this Ignited Moth begins her terrible twos. Mwahaha!

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I’m having some friends over this upcoming weekend (my first non-family visitors since I moved in) for my book club’s June meeting. I can’t wait for them to come see the new house and hang out. 🙂 Aaaand, speaking of books . . .

Here are the books I’ve bought so far in June:

The City of Lost Fortunes

Currently reading this one for book club. I’m enjoying it so far, I just wish I had more time to really dig into it. I was struggling to stay away the other night while reading this and wound up succumbing to sleep, thus letting my kindle slip from my grasp and bash me in the face. Not the nicest way to wake up. Profanities ensued.

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A Plague of Giants

I cannot wait to get to read this one! I’ve been enjoying The Iron Druid Chronicles, so I can’t wait to read Kevin Hearne’s first big epic fantasy. He’s been great in the urban fantasy department, but I am looking forward to seeing how he really turns his brain loose for this one.

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Godblind

Like the book above, this was a recent buy due to a fantastic deal pointed out to me by Cupcakes and Machetes. Not only does she make killer book suggestions, but she also points out great deals when she finds them. She’s like a fairy godmother of all things literature, waving her magic wand around and making good books appear on your TBR list. 😛 I’d heard good things about this one, and with such a great deal how could I possibly pass it up?

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In other news, I bought some fantastic watercolor markers just recently. I’ve gotten to tinker around with them a little bit, but I’m really looking forward to going wild and getting the hang of them soon. With some encouragement from the always-awesome Imperial Rebel Ork, I’ve decided to post more of my scribbles, doodles, and artsy stuff on the blog. Which, of course, made me want to get some new tools of the trade to make it happen. 🙂

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I feel like there are a thousand other things I could babble on about right now, but I’ll keep this brief. Just know: all is well, I’m feeling inspired, and there is plenty of fun new stuff coming to the blog in about a month. In the meantime, it’s business as per usual (AKA: random, unfiltered chaos.) 😀

I hope everyone had a great weekend! ❤ What’s been going on in your little corner of the world lately? Feel free to let me know what recent excitement you’ve had going on or what neat stuff you’ve been working on lately.

 

I Kill Giants (No-Spoiler Graphic Novel Review)

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Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Niimura’s I Kill Giants is a graphic novel that tells the tale of a young girl with a chip on her shoulder named Barbara Thorson, who just so happens to be an accomplished killer of giants. Or so she claims. The eccentric loner of her town, Barbara does all that she can to keep giants at bay, reputation be damned.

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Barbara is a complicated character (as most humans are.) She’s got her points that will have you rooting for her, but she also has qualities and views that make her come across like an angsty little jerk-face at times. Given everything she has going on (real and/or imagined) she may just have her reasons, though. The more you read of her story the more it will come to make sense. Barbara makes mistakes and things get messy, which just makes her feel like a real human. She’s angry and jaded, but has her soft moments, too, where you just want to scoop her up like a little chipmunk (a chipmunk that will promptly bite the shit out of you the moment you let your guard down.)

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This is a coming-of-age story, complete with its emotionally heavy moments, but it also has a lot of silliness and fun to it as well. There’s more to this one than meets the eye, but I’m not gonna get all spoiler-y on you. 🙂

As is often the case with graphic novels, this one makes for a quick read, but it packs an emotional punch within its pages. After reading this, it definitely made me want to check out the film adaptation that came out earlier this year. I could see this translating wonderfully on film if in the right hands.

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Upcoming June Book Club Read: The City of Lost Fortunes

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Last month I read a really good review from none other than the fantastic Kim over at From Hook or By Book, and I just knew I wanted to read the book. Her excitement about The City of Lost Fortunes made me excited to read it as well. 🙂 So, I promptly added it to my towering, ever-growing mountain of TBR books, and I nominated it for my book club’s June meeting which I will be hosting. Votes were initially split between The City of Lost Fortunes and Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but eventually The City of Lost Fortunes won the vote.

Here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:

The fate of New Orleans rests in the hands of a wayward grifter in this novel of gods, games, and monsters.

The post–Katrina New Orleans of The City of Lost Fortunes is a place haunted by its history and by the hurricane’s destruction, a place that is hoping to survive the rebuilding of its present long enough to ensure that it has a future. Street magician Jude Dubuisson is likewise burdened by his past and by the consequences of the storm, because he has a secret: the magical ability to find lost things, a gift passed down to him by the father he has never known—a father who just happens to be more than human.

Jude has been lying low since the storm, which caused so many things to be lost that it played havoc with his magic, and he is hiding from his own power, his divine former employer, and a debt owed to the Fortune god of New Orleans. But his six-year retirement ends abruptly when the Fortune god is murdered and Jude is drawn back into the world he tried so desperately to leave behind. A world full of magic, monsters, and miracles. A world where he must find out who is responsible for the Fortune god’s death, uncover the plot that threatens the city’s soul, and discover what his talent for lost things has always been trying to show him: what it means to be his father’s son.

You had me at “gods, games, and monsters”. 😀 I’m greatly looking forward to reading this book soon. It only came out in April of this year, so it’s still pretty new. Is it one you’ve read yet? If so, I’d love to hear what you thought of it. Maybe it will make its way into your TBR list like it did mine. What current books are you most excited to read right now? 

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