2019 Reading Challenge: COMPLETE!

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Woo! A few days ago I officially completed my reading challenge for the year! 😀 And even though I still have six months to go, I plan on sticking pretty much to my original plan. I kept my reading goal low, slashing it in half from last year’s 50 down to an easily attainable 25. The reason I did this was to be able to shift my focus to some of my other goals, the main one being writing. Well, as previously stated, I intend to GET. SHIT. DONE. over the next six months, so I’m ready to pour my all into writing for the rest of the year. Still, I thought it’d be fun to discuss how the reading challenge went. 🙂

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I started the year off on a dystopian/post apocalyptic streak with The Road and The Handmaid’s Tale.

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From there I ventured off into some lighter whimsical fantasy with Howl’s Moving Castle and a re-read / buddy read of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with Cupcakes & Machetes.

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I also squeezed in some good non-fiction with Remarkable Books: The World’s Most Beautiful and Historic Works and the morbid but very interesting The Knife Man: Blood, Body Snatching, and the Birth of Modern Surgery. (The latter of which I intend to do a special review of for blogging buddy and podcast extraordinaire, Imperial Rebel Ork for his and his buddy’s Fly on the Wall Podcast.)

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Eventually I found myself in a total Urban Fantasy binge, devouring two novellas and the third full-length novel of The Iron Druid Chronicles as well as the first installment of the Mercy Thompson novels.

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I’m sorry (not really) but I found this one while looking up memes and I couldn’t resist adding it. The struggle is REAL, I tell you!

Along with these titles were several graphic novels of various genres (horror, slice of life style comics, superhero, action, and comedy). I also read River of Teeth recently which was such a great story that I will probably end up reading its sequel sometime soon despite insisting I’ll not be reading much the next few months. 😉

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Well, that’s it for me, but how has YOUR reading challenge been going this year? 🙂 What was your reading goal? How’s it going? Let’s talk books! ❤

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River of Teeth (Novella Review)

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Ever heard of “Lake Bacon”? No? Thankfully, neither had I, but if some eccentric 20th century Americans had gotten their way, lake bacon (aka: hippo meat) would be just another part of the American cuisine. (Seriously, there’s some pretty bizarre/weird history to read up about regarding this if it strikes your fancy.) This story, written by Sarah Gailey, takes a look at just how introducing hippos to the American frontier could have gone oh-so-very wrong and led to a very different version of our old wild west.

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The job is dangerous, the reward is high, and if you ask Winslow Houndstooth, he’ll be more than happy to remind you that it is not a caper, but rather an “operation” that brings him and his motley crew together. Most of them are willing to take on the risk of going up against feral hippos to seek their fortune, but Houndstooth is driven by something more than just money, and although the cash would be great, it’s revenge that really fuels him.

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This novella was interesting and fun from beginning to end. I loved the characters. They’re all so distinct from one another, and I adored the fact that the author gives each of the characters’ hippo companions loads of personality as well. Also, the interactions between the humans and their hippo steeds feels so real to any of us who have our own animal companions we love and care for. It’s all the little moments of the characters singing funny little songs to their hippos involving their names, feeding them their favorite treats, or just showing them affection that I really enjoyed. It’s how any of us with pets are, even if most of us simply have cats or dogs rather than giant animals with jaws so powerful they can bite a man in half with ease. Even the hippos have their own distinct personalities and it just shows me that Sarah Gailey knows how to write interesting and believable characters. I definitely can’t wait to check out this story’s sequel Taste of Marrow.

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If you’re looking for a shorter read that really packs in the fun, look no further. River of Teeth is not likely to disappoint! I easily would give it 5 out of 5 stars! This was yet another solid recommendation from Cupcakes and Machetes. Have any of you guys read this yet? What is the best book you’ve read recently that was non-stop fun and/or excitement from beginning to end? 😀 Let’s talk books!

 

 

Reading Stats For the Year Thus Far . . .

Wow, can you believe it’s June already? We’ve officially arrived at the sixth month of the year. Seems a good and proper time to discuss how 2019 has been going so far in the realm of books.

At the beginning of the year I knew I wanted to shift my focus to writing, and so I set my reading goal much lower than usual. The ultimate goal was to restrain my inner book worm this year and finish the year off at just 25 books/graphic novels. Well, with over half the year to go I’m already at 20, so ya see how well THAT plan’s going. 😉

So, let’s talk about the books/comics I’ve enjoyed (definitely some more than others) so far in 2019.

I’d say my favorite books I’ve read this year so far go as follows:

Favorite (Fiction) Novel So Far: Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones

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I gave this one 5 out of 5 stars. I loved the whimsical and light feel to it, and although I don’t often re-read books, this is one I could see myself one day re-reading. I enjoyed the author’s writing style very much and the sass of the main character. Witches, wizards, fire demons, hat shops and more come together in this enchanting story about a girl who is forced out of her comfort zone by a witch’s curse.

Favorite (Nonfiction) Novel So Far: The Knife Man, by Wendy Moore

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I recently played hostess for the book club I’m in, so I brought a healthy dose of books about true crime, disturbing history and the like to the table to be voted on. The winning book was The Knife Man: Blood, Body Snatching, and the Birth of Modern Surgery and it was both informative and disgusting. You can definitely expect a review for this one in the near future. 🙂

Favorite Graphic Novel So Far: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

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I enjoyed volume 1 in the beginning of the year, but I just recently got to enjoy the collection of issues 6-8, “Monster-Sized” sort of mini-trade. (I guess there’s been some issues with getting the official second volume out according to my trusted comic book shop lady.) Expect an official review of it soon!

Books That Were Re-Reads: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

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This one was a buddy re-read with Cupcakes and Machetes. Just as fun and enchanting the second time around. ❤

Some of my latest reading choices have come courtesy of recommendations by you guys, so I have to give some shout outs for great suggestions to the following blogging buddies:

Suggestion from Precinct1313:

The Coffin Hill series. Great recommendation! I heeded their advice and snagged all 3 volumes. It was a spooky good time with great artwork.

Suggestion from Virtuanaut:

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Rick Remender’s Deadly Class was another solid recommendation. 🙂 I had found a copy at a re-sale book shop after discussing it briefly with Virtuanaut a while back so I made sure to pick it up. I waited until after I watched season 1 of the show and then gave it a read. I enjoyed it and would absolutely like to continue reading the series! 😀

Suggestion from Cupcakes and Machetes:

Both Moon Called and The Iron Druid Chronicles series came as recommendations from my #1 book pusher, C&M. This girl knows what I like, so if she says read it, I fully intend to do just that (even if it sometimes takes me forever to get around to finally doing it!) 😉

Well, that’s it for my 2019 (so far) Reading Stats post. How’s your year in reading been going so far? What has been your top read so far this year? 🙂

 

 

 

Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles (Review)

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First things first, I really like the cover for this sort of mini-anthology. Secondly, I’m finding myself in the middle of a sudden Urban Fantasy kick at the moment. Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles, as the title would imply, features (you guessed it!) two short stories from Kevin Hearne’s series of UF novels, The Iron Druid Chronicles. Imagine that, huh? 😛

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The first of the two tales, Kaibab Unbound, takes place shortly before the events of the first novel in the series, Hounded. Phew, there’s gonna be links galore in this post, so consider ye self warned. 😉 It’s been nearly five years (half a decade!) since I finished reading the first book in the series, but it was only after recently finishing the third, Hammered, that I decided to start reading Mr. Hearne’s short stories that are woven in a certain order between his various IDC novels.

Kaibab Unbound centers in on our protagonist druid, Atticus, enjoying a day off with his trusted Irish Wolfhound Oberon. Their plans for a relaxing, nature-filled day are sent astray when a befriended elemental is in dire need. Squirrels, shapeshifting druids, nature elementals and witches might sound like a lot to squeeze into a mere 17 page story, but Kevin Hearne manages to make it look easy, all while throwing in the humor and action his tales are known for.

The second short story, A Test of Mettle, takes place during the events of the third IDC novel, Hammered. While Atticus is off taking care of official druid business, Granuaile, a hopeful druid-in-training, is assisting an elemental of her own in a different way, trying to help level out the local ecosystem that is all out of balance thanks to an invasive species. Things do not go as planned though, and Granuaile is suddenly faced with an unnatural attack of sorts.

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I promise this gif makes sense if you read the story. 😛

I enjoyed these quick little stories and plan to continue on with both the novels and the shorter companion tales. Probably not one right after the other, but it is definitely a series I will be continuing to read. 🙂

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I also started reading another UF story last night, Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1). Like I said, I’m definitely on an urban fantasy kick at the moment. Is it a genre you enjoy reading? Any suggestions of other books/series? Let’s talk books! 😀

Book/Comic Mini-Reviews: Part 1

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Since I kind of fell off the bandwagon the past few months as far as posting, I feel like I have some catching up to do on my reading reviews. Since I prefer to write reviews right after having read something (while it’s still fresh in my mind) I decided the best way to go about it was to do a whole smattering of mini-reviews.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone:

This one was a re-read, but it deserves a mini-review just the same! 🙂 Cupcakes & Machetes and I decided it was time to revisit the beloved series with a buddy read back in February (told you I was behind on my reviews!) 😛 The book was just as magical as I remember it, and the second time around you get the cozy, warm fuzzies that come along with the good old feeling of nostalgia. It was like visiting an old friend. I usually don’t do re-reads since I barely have enough time for all the new books I want to get into, but this was definitely worth coming back to. ❤ It gets a solid 5/5 stars from me the second time around as well. 🙂

Remarkable Books: The World’s Most Beautiful and Historic Works

A book about books! What’s not to love?? Crammed full of information on old manuscripts, the evolution of books, how they were made at various points in history and how they shaped the world we live in, this one was just lovely to read. It also makes a rather dashing coffee table book if I do say so myself. 😉 I enjoyed this book bit by bit, savoring all the information over many, many cups of coffee.  ❤ Another fun thing I discovered once I’d finished reading it, is that there is a pocket in the back of the book with four fancy little book marks in it for your future reading endeavors. Very informative, and you get presents in the book! Fantastic! 4/5 stars.

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Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe (Deadpool Killogy #1)

A quick read where you get exactly what the title tells you you’re going to get. After Professor X sends Wade off to an institution of sorts, our beloved Merc with a Mouth goes off the deep end (though his reasoning isn’t exactly wrong in its own twisted way) and takes down our beloved Marvel characters, both friend and foe, one by one. Loads of murder and mayhem fill the pages. And although we’ve all come to expect Deadpool to break the fourth wall by now, he doesn’t just kind of break it in this story, he utterly destroys it. I liked it, but I wouldn’t say I loved it. If you’re expecting really sassy and funny with a healthy dose of violence, this isn’t really the comic you want to go with.  It’s kind of the opposite of that, actually. It’s pretty much ALL bloody murder with only a hint of humor and sass. I’d give it 3/5 stars. That said, I do want to finish reading the “Killogy” (nice wordplay on “trilogy” btw), especially since the second installment sees Deadpool taking on characters in classic literature! 😀

Well, that’s it for today’s installment of mini-reviews. There are definitely more to come, so I’ll probably have 2 more posts similar to this one til I get back on track with my reading/reviews! They were short and sweet, but hopefully you guys enjoyed them. What are you currently reading? Let’s talk books! ❤

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. 😛 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. 🙂 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. 🙂

Great Maps – a look at cartography throughout the ages!

Biology: An Illustrated History of Life Science – Woohoo! Science! 😀

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. 😉

Witch Hammer – Ya know, I’m really beginning to notice a theme here . . .  😛

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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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. 😛 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?

 

Second Week of October/Inktober

Well, we’re halfway through the funnest month of the year, guys and ghouls. 😉 This week I managed to get 2 new drawings done for Inktober. Like I said, I’m going for a no-pressure approach to my first attempt at the art challenge and just trying to partake in the fun and get some practice in. 🙂 Next month is going to be crazy enough attempting NaNoWriMo again, so I’m taking things lightly with this and just enjoying myself.

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Horror/Halloween Movies and Shows Watched This Week:

Re-watched Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Re-watched Ginger Snaps (2001)

Re-watched The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

American Horror Story: Apocalypse (2018)

The Purge (TV Series, 2018)

Horror Reading Throughout the Week:

I started reading The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson. This one was a freebie find in a Free Books bin at a shop I enjoy going to. Seemed like the perfect time of year to snatch this title up. I have been enjoying this Gothic horror novel so far. 🙂

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I also just started reading Mira Grant’s Parasite, the first book in her Parasitology trilogy. This one is classified under Science Fiction/Horror. It’s actually the book club book for next month, but since I am going to be participating in NaNoWriMo I figured I’d start it now to ensure I have time to complete it. 🙂 Especially seeing as it was none other than the spectacular Cupcakes and Machetes‘ pick for the month! As luck would have it, I’m also enjoying this one so far.

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In Other October News:

Mr. Moth surprised me by bringing me home a pumpkin! 😀 Can’t wait to carve this baby up and proudly display it on our front porch!

I got two interesting and tasty sounding seasonal bottles of soda I have yet to try, one being apple cinnamon, and the other being blood orange gingerbread.

Went to the local costume shop by my house to buy some makeup for our Halloween shenanigans this year. I was going to try to experiment with it this weekend but ran out of time. Our costumes are all set, though, and I just gotta practice doing some skeleton face paint to finish our looks. 🙂

Now that we’re halfway through October, what are you looking forward to doing to celebrate as Halloween grows ever nearer? Are you dressing up? Let’s talk October/Halloween! 😀