2019 Reading Challenge: COMPLETE!

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Woo! A few days ago I officially completed my reading challenge for the year! ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Well, that’s it for me, but how has YOUR reading challenge been going this year? ๐Ÿ™‚ What was your reading goal? How’s it going? Let’s talk books! โค

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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? ๐Ÿ˜€ Let’s talk books!

 

 

Gentleman Jack: Season 1 Review

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Wow, did this show ever draw me right in. I absolutely loved it. โค The series is inspired by the nineteenth century coded diaries of Anne Lister, a landowner and industrialist who basically said “Take your patriarchy and shove it” all while looking for love, which obviously wasn’t the easiest thing to do for a lesbian living in the 1800s. The series premiered in April and just wrapped up this week with a very powerful season finale.

The show is a historical drama, but it has plenty of laughs as well. I love the way Anne’s character breaks the fourth wall from time to time. It’s done seamlessly and adds a humor and lightness to this period piece I wasn’t expecting. I also thought it served as a nice reminder of Anne’s diaries that gave life to this series to begin with.

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I really enjoyed the characters and their relationships with one another throughout the show. Each of them has their own obstacles they face throughout the season, and the relationships are just as often complex as they are touching. Anne and her sister (who you may recognize as the actress who played Yara Greyjoy in Game of Thrones) could not be any less alike, often butting heads and scoffing at one another, but when it comes down to it they are there for one another and truly do care. Anne is a tough badass who doesn’t take crap from anyone, but she also has a soft side and a strong love and devotion to those she cares about, be it or family, friends, or romantic interests.

Binge-watching this during Pride Month was just a happy coincidence but it was nice reflecting on how far we’ve come since the days Anne was around to now. โค Humanity still has a long way to go, but every step forward is moving us in the right direction to a better, happier and more loving world. ๐Ÿ™‚

Did any of you guys watch this? I absolutely adored it! Cannot recommend it enough. โค What shows are you currently invested in?

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! ๐Ÿ™‚ 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!) ๐Ÿ˜› 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. โค It gets a solid 5/5 stars from me the second time around as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I enjoyed this book bit by bit, savoring all the information over many, many cups of coffee.ย  โค 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.ย  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! ๐Ÿ˜€

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! โค

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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

Great Maps – a look at cartography throughout the ages!

Biology: An Illustrated History of Life Science – Woohoo! Science! ๐Ÿ˜€

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Witch Hammer – Ya know, I’m really beginning to notice a theme here . . .ย  ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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! โค Have you read or are interested in reading any of these titles? Get any awesome new books yourself?

 

Joan of Arc, The Maid of Orlรฉans (Women’s History Month Post #3)

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For my third entry for Cupcakes & Machetes’ Women’s History Month Blog Event I’ve decided to go with none other than Joan of Arc. (Be sure, if you haven’t already, to check out C&M’s postsย here andย here to see all the amazing posts about women people have been posting for the month!)

Joan of Arc is a woman who became many things despite her life ultimately being cut so short. She was born a French peasant, but would go on to become a military leader and a hero to her people. Sadly, she also ended up becoming a martyr. Eventually she would be deemed a saint and go down in history, her name and her legend living on for centuries.

Joan outlined military strategies for the French army against the English during the Hundred Years’ War, and directed troops in several victories, including breaking the siege the English had been holding over the city of Orlรฉans for months. She became a hero to her country, and helped lead Charles VII of France to the crown.

Reputation has always been something of importance, and it was Joan’s very reputation in 1429, upon her victory atย Orlรฉans, that inspired what is known as the Bloodless March. This historic military campaign was one that stretched through English occupied territory from Gien to the Reims Cathedral (where Joan would witness the coronation of Charles VII). Along the way, Joan captured every English occupied city and fortress that barred the road, and she did it all without shedding a single drop of blood and relying only on her reputation.

Although she ultimately met a tragic end, being burned at the stake for multiple charges including witchcraft, heresy, and wearing men’s clothing, her strength and courage still lives on and inspires others to this day.

JOAN OF ARC QUOTES:

“I am not afraid… I was born to do this.”

“All battles are first won or lost, in the mind.

โ€œThe poor folk gladly came to me, for I did them no unkindness, but helped them as much as I could.โ€

 

Harriet Tubman (Women’s History Month Post #2)

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For my second Women’s History Month illustration, I chose to draw the ever-inspiring Harriet Tubman. I’ll be continuing to post drawings I’ve done of women who have helped shape history throughout the month as part of Cupcake & Machetes’ Women’s History Month Blog Event. (Be sure to check out her post to learn all about it and maybe even join in on the fun if you haven’t already!) ๐Ÿ˜‰

If you’re familiar with U.S. History, you’ve no doubt heard this heroic woman’s name. If you haven’t, or even if you just want to possibly learn more about her, let me fill you in a little on Harriet Tubman and her amazing legacy.

Harriet Tubman cemented her place in American history by fighting back against slavery and freeing not only herself, but many other enslaved people through her work with the Underground Railroad. Her awesomeness does not stop there, though. She even became an armed scout, recruiter, and Union spy during the American Civil War. She became the first woman in United States history to lead a military expedition. And she managed to do all of this after being born into slavery in 1822, in a time when not only her race, but also her gender, were things that would be exploited and used against her.

She was a leading abolitionist, and devoted her entire life to fighting for the freedom of others. Her work was far from done upon the end of the Civil War. She then proceeded to put all she had into helping former slaves, as well as the elderly. Seriously, is it even possible for this woman to get any more inspiring? โค

HARRIET TUBMAN QUOTES:

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“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

“I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t cay; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.”