The Happiest Reading Challenge: Updates

Just call me Scatter Brain McGee over here, because I’ve been meaning to (and forgetting to) talk about what I thought of Six of Crows after I read it! Oops! Shame on me, I know. As I’d mentioned before, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo was my May book selection for the Happiest Reading Challenge I’m taking part in, started by super-friendly blogger, The Happiest Pixel.

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Cover and Author of Six of Crows.

Despite what my lack of a timely review might indicate, I was absolutely head over heels infatuated with this book! It was seriously never a dull moment with criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker and his crew. From start to finish this book kept me intrigued and guessing as it surprised me time and time again with twist after delightful twist.

As is a very important thing for me when reading a book, I also loved the characters. They’re quite the mixed bag, and Bardugo manages to hop from POV to POV effortlessly throughout the tale in a way that never seems jarring or off-putting in the slightest. I myself have absolutely no problem with books with multiple POV shifts throughout the chapters, but I know some people who do, and I doubt even they would have minded in this book. It flows very nicely.

I’ve talked before about how beautiful I think the actual book is with its black-edged pages and gorgeous cover, so I won’t get much into that, other than to say that the writing is just as lovely as the book itself.

I could just keep on going on about how enjoyable of a read this was, but I’m gonna keep it brief and say: If you like a good heist story and want to read a book that lives up to all the hype, this is a damn good one to go with. Can’t wait to read the next one.

So, that covers May’s part of the challenge, but what about June so far? I mentioned already that I would be reading The Lies of Locke Lamora for this portion of the challenge, but believe it or not, I cannot find where I put the book!! *GASP* Like, what the hell? Did it just sprout legs and bound off somewhere? There is a possibility that I may have taken it to my boyfriend’s and left it there, but as my brain has been busy forgetting to post about Six of Crows it also took on the task of forgetting to ask my bf about the M.I.A. book as well. Sigh . . . one day I’ll get it all together, but today is not that day.

In the mean time, I’ve begun reading Gail Carriger’s first book in The Parasol Protectorate series, Soulless.

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Cover and Author of Soulless.

I’ve already read andΒ reviewed the manga trilogy based off of this series of paranormal steampunk novels, so I knew what I was getting into already. And that is a witty historical fiction series set in Victorian England. I’m interested to see how the manga series (which was only three volumes) will compare and differ to the source material, which is five novels.

Those are my updates for the reading challenge so far. How’s your reading going at the moment? Into any interesting books right now?

Wonder Woman (No-Spoiler Review)

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“You fight like a girl” is an all-too-often-hurled insult in school yards, but Wonder Woman is a classic icon of female empowerment, busting through these sorts of stereotypes and taking names. I’ve been excited to see the new WW film since the first trailer came out and it instantly gave me chills. After the long wait, the film finally hit theaters yesterday.Β  I was beyond excited when, by some lovely twist of fate, my boyfriend got out of work early on Friday, allowing us to visit the theater midday before the crowds came flooding in.

First thing’s first, I love Gal Gadot in this role. She nailed her performance in my opinion. Everything from Diana first being exposed to “polite society” in London after being raised and trained among only Amazons, to her refusing to back down from what she believes in and not being afraid to get into the thick of things in order to do so. She did a great job, and was someone you want to root for and believe in.

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This movie is Diana’s origin story, before the world would come to know her as Wonder Woman. The events unfold under the backdrop of WW1, in war-torn Europe. Having grown up in the Amazonian paradise that is Themyscira, Diana has no idea of the ugly reality of war she is stepping into when she decides to go into battle.

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I really enjoyed Chris Pine as Steve Trevor and what they did with his character throughout the movie. Even though the movie is called ‘Wonder Woman’ he doesn’t fall into some lame sidekick role with no ambitions of his own. All the actors did a good job in my opinion.

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I don’t want to go into too many more details because it’s more fun to just go see the movie for yourself. πŸ˜‰ I thought the film was really good, though, and I’m hoping to see more like this from DC with their upcoming films. *cough cough and maybe a Batwoman movie would be nice, too. cough cough* Just sayin’.

Review- DC Bombshells, Vol. 2: Allies

Wow, it’s hard to believe it’s been nearly five months since I finished readingΒ Volume 1 of DC Comics Bombshells! I absolutely loved the first volume so I was pretty excited to finally get around to reading the second volume.

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You know how sometimes you read something and it just really resonates with what is going on in the world around you? I definitely had this feeling while continuing the Bombshells’ saga. Between the current political climate and a particularly frustrating 48 hours where I had not one, not even two or three, but FOUR personal reminders of the importance of feminism, I was more than ready to see these female heroes kick some Nazi and misogynistic asses. πŸ˜›

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Volume 2 takes us all over the globe to locations like Berlin, London, and Greece as WWII continues to rage on. Even on the home front in Gotham City, tensions rise and danger looms. One thing I really like about DC Bombshells is that it touches on both soldier and civilian life during the war. No one goes unaffected by the horror going on in the world.

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As if the Axis Powers weren’t enough to contend with, a sinister supernatural influence continues to grow in power, bringing a horde of undead soldiers with it.

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The art continues to stun in this volume and the characters are fantastic. (Batwoman is still, of course, my fave!) Strong female relationships aplenty in these pages, both platonic and romantic alike. Also, just strong, kick ass females in general. The characters are believable with their own motivations, insecurities, weaknesses and strengths.

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The biggest bummer for me was that I was missing my girls, Harley and Ivy in this one. They were nowhere to be seen in volume 2. *Proceeds to pout in the corner.*

But, hey, at least we get more of Zatanna and Bunny Constantine!

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All in all, I really enjoyed volume 2. I think I enjoyed volume 1 a little bit more, but I’m still looking forward to reading the third volume very much.

Book Club Options- Waiting on the Votes to Roll In

I recently volunteered to host June’s night-out-on-the-town for the book club I’m in, which means I got to pick the book options! So as I wait for Wednesday night to roll around so I can tally up the votes I figured I would share the options I put out there with you guys. πŸ™‚

Option #1: The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts

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Phew! That is one lengthy title, but it definitely gets a person’s attention, so well done.

To save precious centuries-old Arabic texts from Al Qaeda, a band of librarians in Timbuktu pulls off a brazen heist worthy of Ocean’s Eleven.

Yup. Sign me up for this one. I’m sold. We’ve got several hardcore nonfiction lovers in our book club so I figured this was a good choice. πŸ™‚

Option #2: An Ember in the Ashes

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β€œAll the beauty of the stars means nothing when life here on earth is so ugly.”

I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about this one, so of course I had to include it in the list. (And if it doesn’t win I’m reading it anyway at some point!) πŸ˜‰

Option #3: In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom

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This is my other nonfiction selection. After listening to Yeonmi Park’s emotional and heartbreaking speech for One Young World I felt really compelled to read this book. Here’s the video of her moving speech if any of you are interested in listening. (Trigger Warning: topics such as intended suicide and rape are brought up in this video, among other tragic and unjust things, so just warning you guys).

 

Option #4: Red Sister

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It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Sister Thorn of the Sweet Mercy Convent, Lano Tacsis brought two hundred men.

Here’s another book I’ve been hearing amazing things about. If this book wins it will be my first venture into the works of Mark Lawrence. (Honestly, even if it doesn’t win it probably still will be with all the great reviews I’ve been reading about it.) πŸ˜›

Option #5: Stalking Jack the Ripper

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A fictional tale involving Jack the Ripper. I enjoy historical fiction so this one seemed interesting.

So, those are my choices I selected for my fellow book club ladies to vote on. I’m very curious to see the winner once all the votes are in. So far it’s kind of all over the place, so I’m hoping the remaining two votes will nail down a concrete winner.

Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think? πŸ™‚

The Nightingale- No Spoiler Book Review

As Book lovers, many of us are well acquainted with those nights when we know we should get to bed, but we just can’t put down the book we’re reading until we’ve finished it. This was me last night while reading the last quarter of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

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I don’t even know how to do this book justice in a review, but I’m going to try my best just the same. This novel is a great example of what historical fiction as a genre can accomplish. It takes what we know of history but gives us as readers the ability to step into the shoes of the characters who are living through the events that happened before many of us were even born. It shows us parts of day to day life that we might otherwise not consider while reading about the overall big picture presented in our history books.

The Nightingale follows the lives of two very different sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, as they do what they must to survive in France during WWII. Vianne is the older of the two, a wife whose husband is being held prisoner in a Nazi war camp, but also a mother who wants more than anything to keep her daughter as safe as she can while struggling just to keep them fed. Isabelle is the young and impulsive sister with a rebel’s spirit, a girl who wears her heart on her sleeve. In German occupied France, these are dangerous times. Throughout the story the two sisters are forced to make choices time and time again that could be the difference between life and death, not only for themselves, but for those around them.

Several times while reading this I thought back to people I’ve met and cared for who were there in the thick of things during WWII. In previous jobs I’ve had I have taken care of people from different walks of life, born in different countries, but who all had lived during the same war. Soldiers, civilians, holocaust survivors. I’ve seen firsthand the numbers that were forcibly tattooed onto a person’s arm in their youth that they had to carry with them into their old age long after the war was over. I’ve seen how something seemingly as simple as helping someone to undress and take a shower even decades later can trigger a horrible flashback that mentally takes them right back to the horrors of life in a concentration camp. As I read The Nightingale I couldn’t help but be reminded of these people I once knew. I was moved to tears several times as I read this book.

There is a quote from the book that I think is very relevant now, much as it would have been back then. “What good is safety if she has to grow up in a world where people disappear without a trace because they pray to a different God?” Wars like WWII don’t happen overnight, and I think this book illustrates that very point. Hate, ignorance, and intolerance are all ugly things that can only build in momentum if we let them. This happened then, and one can’t help but feel it happening now. It makes another, older quote come to mind: Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. It is a disturbing thing to consider, but we as people have to learn from the mistakes of the past if there is ever to be any hope of us moving forward. As another quote from the book explains, “love has to be stronger than hate, or there is no future for us.”

The Nightingale shines a light on the ugliest parts of humanity as well as the beauty and compassion we are capable of if only we choose to do the right thing and be there for one another. It shows that love comes in many forms, not all of them perfect or easy.Β  This book gets a solid 5/5 stars from me.

Rapid Fire Book Tag

I came across this tag done by none other than The Shameful Narcissist Speaks and just had to give it a go! Yay, books! Anyone is welcome to join in on the fun and do this themselves as well. πŸ™‚

EBOOKS OR PHYSICAL BOOKS?

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That’s right, I like both. I love going into book stores and libraries. I love how a collection of books looks displayed with pride on one’s bookshelves. I just love books! That said, I’ve been on the kindle bandwagon since the first kindle came out. I love the convenience of being able to take a bunch of books with me wherever I go without having to worry about damaging them. I love being able to download sample chapters for free to see if I like the writing style of a new author before I purchase it. And I love having access to countless stories at any given time without even having to leave the house. Plus, there are a lot of money-saving perks to getting books on the kindle.

PAPERBACK OR HARDBACK?

Paperback. Don’t get me wrong, hardback books can be gorgeous and all, but this one simply comes down to cost in the long run. Paperback is cheaper.

ONLINE OR IN-STORE BOOK SHOPPING?

In-store. I know I said I dig the convenience of being able to buy books on the kindle without having to leave the house, but that is just for the convenience. I absolutely love book stores. Used book stores, thrift shops, big chains and independent book stores. (This pertains to comic book shopping as well.) I have my mother to blame for this. We always went book shopping together when I was growing up. It was like an unspoken oath that if we went out for a girls’ day out, there were going to be book shopping adventures. This is a love I share with my best friend, and our ideal BFF dates always include books AND coffee or ice cream. Point being, amazing adventures and memories are to be had in book stores, so get out there and revel in your bibliophile ways!

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TRILOGIES OR SERIES?

Doesn’t matter to me. Take as many books as you need to tell your story so long as you tell it well and keep me invested in it as a reader.

HEROES OR VILLAINS?

Villains, duh. Though I love me a good antihero, too. πŸ˜‰

A BOOK YOU WANT EVERYONE TO READ?

I’m one of those sadists that always tells people they should read A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin. Like the little devil on their shoulder, I urge them into it and when they finally give in and read it I sit back and wait with a smile on my face for them to thank me while simultaneously hating me for the emotional turmoil they go through while reading it. Same thing applies to the show, Game of Thrones. But, hey, I’m only paying it forward though, since Cupcakes and Machetes did it to me first. πŸ˜›

RECOMMEND AN UNDERRATED BOOK.

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Dweller, by Jeff Strand. A book that stirred such a range of emotion in me while I was reading it. This tale of a bullied boy who befriends a literal monster he encounters in the woods is definitely more than meets the eye. It manages to disturb you at times and then touch your heart at others. I actually cried a couple times while reading this book. This novel was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel in 2010, so it has received recognition, but I feel like it’s still one that not a lot of people I have encountered have read or heard of so I included it here as an “underrated” book.

THE LAST BOOK YOU FINISHED?

Well, the last novel I finished was Clovenhoof by Heide Goody and Iain Grant. The last comic book I finished was volume 2 of Saga.

WEIRDEST THING YOU USED AS A BOOKMARK?

Oh, jeez. lol What haven’t I used as a bookmark at this point? Hmmm . . . I’m going to say the floppy disc coasters at my boyfriend’s place. He got a set of them on his coffee table and I’m always using them in lieu of an actual bookmark when I’m over there.

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kind of like these ones from ThinkGeek.

 

USED BOOKS, YES OR NO?

Sure, why not? I have plenty of great used books. πŸ™‚

TOP THREE FAVORITE GENRES?

Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Horror, and any blend of the three and their sub-genres. I also like science fiction, I just haven’t read all that much of it (yet).

BORROW OR BUY?

Either or. I would love to be able to buy every single book I read to support the authors writing them, but it just isn’t practical for me at this point in my life. But I regularly borrow and lend out books with my friends, check them out from the library, and purchase them when I can.

CHARACTERS OR PLOT?

Ooooh, tough question. I love a great plot but I’m going to say characters if only for the fact that I can deal with a book that is sort of lacking in the plot department as long as the characters are done very well, but I can’t stand flat, boring characters that I don’t find myself caring about as a reader. If the reader don’t care about the characters it doesn’t really matter what peril the writer puts them in, does it? That said, I love a brilliant plot, too. Give me a great plot AND great characters and you’ll have a fan for life. πŸ™‚

LONG OR SHORT BOOK?

I’d probably say a long book if I’m really drawn into the story. There’s nothing worse than being so into a book and then noticing that there just aren’t enough pages left for all the things that you know still need to happen in the story. But if they can leave you with a satisfying ending, a short book is fine too.

NAME THE FIRST THREE BOOKS YOU THINK OF.

Well, the first books I think of are the ones I’ve just discussed in this post so far, so for the sake of not being redundant I’ll ignore those and pick the first book to come to mind from each of my top genres I previously listed. So, a book that springs to mind in the fantasy genre: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor. For historical fiction, of course the one I am currently reading comes to mind: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. And for horror, House of Corruption, by Erik Tavares.

BOOKS THAT MAKE YOU LAUGH OR CRY?

Well, I already mentioned that Dweller made me cry several times. I think it also made me laugh too if I remember properly (it’s been a while since I read it). There’s a particular scene in George RR Martin’s A Dance with Dragons that made me tear up a bit. Other than that, none particularly come to mind.

OUR WORLD OR FICTIONAL WORLDS?

Depends on the world. lol There are a LOT of problems in the real world today, but I wouldn’t want to add zombies or demonic beings to the mix. Some fictional worlds are awesome though, so yeah, depends on the book.

AUDIOBOOKS: YES OR NO?

I’ve listened to a few, but I usually read books rather than listen to them. I appreciate the fact that I can multitask while listening to an audiobook, though. That’s pretty awesome. It also really depends on the narrator of the audiobook though. If they just drag the story along at a slug’s pace in a monotone drone or just can’t keep my attention then I quickly lose interest and zone out.

DO YOU EVER JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER?

Yup! lol I know we shouldn’t, but I think that’s just how it goes sometimes. We see something that draws our attention or we find attractive and it causes us to pick it up off the shelf and look into it. That doesn’t mean I won’t read a book with a plain, or even ugly, cover though. I’m just more likely to notice a flashy cover.

BOOK TO MOVIE OR BOOK TO TV ADAPTATION?

I’ve really been digging book-to-TV adaptations. They tend to be less rushed and more detail oriented when done properly. But films can be done really well too, so it just depends on the series and the creators/cast/budget/etc.

SERIES OR STANDALONE?

There’s something special about reading a series. You get to fall in love with the characters, the world, and the story and not have to say goodbye once you finish the last page. You get to revisit these things in the sequels and build on them. Standalone books can be great too, but I’m going to say series for this.

Review- DC Bombshells, Vol. 1: Enlisted

Okay, first thing’s first: I Absolutely LOVED this!

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The art is stunning and the story of how some of our most iconic female DC characters enter the fray of WWII pulled me in right off the bat. (That may or may not have been a pun. I make no apologies.)

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I love historical fiction, and this is, in my opinion, pretty damn good historical fiction.
There were multiple fun surprises (including some DC characters I absolutely did not expect to make appearances) throughout the first volume and I definitely look forward to reading the second.

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