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! ๐Ÿ˜› 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.

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I’m Alive! Spring Updates

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Hey, guys! โค It’s been a while, but I’m still kicking. Despite what my recent absence in the blogosphere would suggest, I was not eaten by a pack of rogue land sharks. (Just slightly mauled is all.)

I’ve had a lot of stuff going on lately and even less free time than usual because of it, but it’s paying off, so I’m not complaining. Merely explaining why I’ve been such a no-show around here lately. I’ve missed chatting with you guys, though, and I’m really looking forward to catching up on everyone’s blogs. ๐Ÿ™‚

So, let’s get to the good stuff and let the updates commence! ๐Ÿ˜€

BLAH #1: I’ve just been promoted at work and will be getting my own classroom and team. The position recently opened up and I decided to go for it. I was so excited when I heard I’d gotten the position, and I can’t wait to begin planning my room’s weekly activities and outings. I start in my new role as team leader in a week. ๐Ÿ™‚

BLAH #2: I’ve mentioned house hunting and moving in the blog recently, and tomorrow is the signing for the house, so I am beyond thrilled about that. So, new job AND new house. My boyfriend was recently promoted at work, too, so although things have been busy as hell and a bit stressful at times, it feels good having all these exciting new changes in our lives.

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BLAH #3: Haven’t had much time for reading lately, but I did read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (I’ve been reading some of the old books my grandma owned for nostalgia reasons.) I’m also currently reading The Great Alone and am hoping to finally start Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues pretty soon. (Assuming I’m not too busy with working on the house/painting this week after work.) April is going to be another extremely hectic month, so we’ll see how much reading I actually get done.

BLAH #4: Easter with the fam was nice and relaxing. This weekend was packed full of doing stuff to get ready for the house, so Easter was a nice chance to just relax and nom on some delicious food. I was in charge of mashed potatoes (my grandma’s recipe and a holiday staple.) My dad and I had a mini Ash vs. Evil Dead marathon, which was all sorts of gory and hilarious fun.

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So, those are my recent updates. How about you? Got any exciting news? I hope everyone’s been doing well and had a great weekend. โค

Found Some Old Drawings

I love finding old and forgotten drawings. ๐Ÿ™‚ I recently unearthed a couple old charcoal illustrations I did several years ago and figured I’d share them with you guys. It’s no secret that I love horror movies, and I’m pretty sure I did these as quick Halloween pieces, but I scanned them in together as a single image, so here we have Frankenstein’s Monster and the Bride of Frankenstein!

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A Smattering of Mini-Reviews

How in the heck is the first month of the new year already almost over?? Where is the time thief that is responsible for this madness? I demand answers! Seriously, though, every year that goes by makes me feel like time just keeps slipping by quicker and quicker.

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I noticed that I’ve been slacking a bit in posting reviews for some of the stuff I’ve been reading and watching lately. Time’s really been getting away from me with everything that’s been going on, but I still want to shine a little spotlight on some of the stuff I’ve been enjoying in the past few weeks, so I bring you this post of mini-reviews! ๐Ÿ˜€ It’ll be like a little sampling rather than a full course of reviews, but I think it’ll certainly get the job done. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Plucker, by Gerald Brom:

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This illustrated novel was a real treat. I’ve been a fan of Brom’s work for quite some time. Growing up, my mom had multiple books featuring his artwork and I was hooked from a young age. I loved the dark and twisted aesthetic he had going on. One of the things I like about Brom’s novels, is that he carries over his wonderful artwork and includes tons of illustrations, sketches, and paintings to accompany the story he is telling.

When a young boy’s father unwittingly brings him a gift containing an evil spirit known as the Plucker, it quickly makes itself at home and decides to claim the boy’s life for its own. It begins its reign of terror by going after the boy’s toys, the very things the child has poured so much of himself and his love into. Thus, the toys in this book have a life force all their own, one the Plucker is keen on taking to build up the needed strength to claim the soul of the boy and take over his body. What the Plucker has no way of realizing, is that aside from his toys, the boy also has one badass little old lady for a nanny. One who knows some things about magic herself. It’s a good story with fantastic artwork. I gave it 4/5 stars.

Stranger Things 2, on Netflix:

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Remember when I mentioned how busy I’ve been and how fast time has been flying by? That’s the only explanation I have for why it took me sooooo long to finallyย  finish watching the second season of Stranger Things. I (and countless others) love this show and the awesome 80’s dose of nostalgia it’s been rocking. Season 2 was awesome. We met some new characters, got to see older characters continue to grow, and learn some more about “the Upside Down”. The horror element of the show continues to grow in a really satisfying slow-burn sort of way, but it never feels dull and boring because you love the characters so damn much. This was a solid second season to a great show, and I may have even liked it more than I liked the first season, which is really saying something. I would give it 5/5 stars. Can’t wait for season 3!

Phantasmagoria and Other Poems, by Lewis Carroll:

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One of my reading goals for this year is to read more poetry books since it isn’t really something I’ve read a whole lot of. Since I have always been a fan of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, I definitely wanted to check out this book of poems from Carroll. I’ll admit, I wasn’t as smitten with this as I thought I was going to be. I liked the titular poem Phantasmagoria the best of the lot, finding that it had the most character to it. It tells the tale of a little ghost who has mistakenly come to haunt the wrong house. Carroll has a certain easy-to-read quirky charm to his poems, but this book wasn’t my favorite of his works. 3/5 stars for this one.

Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur:

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Another book of poems! ๐Ÿ™‚ This was a quick and moving read. I admire Rupi Kaur’s ability to pour her soul out onto the pages of this book. Divided into different categories, the poems contained cover topics like love and loss, surviving after trauma, and the power and unity of femininity. I think many of us will be able to find something they can identify with or relate to somewhere in Milk and Honey. 4/5 stars.

The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden:

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I can’t believe I somehow never got around to reviewing this one. I read The Bear and the Nightingale with my book club ladies in December, and it made for the perfect winter read. It was both enchanting and addicting. Much like how the main character Vasilisa is enthralled with the fairy tales she is told growing up, you will become enthralled by the one she winds up living. Russian folklore and mythology enrich the story, and the backdrop of winter is capable of being both cruel and kind, with moments that are cozy and heartwarming, and others that are harsh and bitter. 4/5 stars.

 

Books + Winter = BLISS.

As much as I grumble about the bitter cold and snow and ice of winter, even I can admit that there is a special kind of coziness to winter reading. Being all bundled up with plenty of blankets and something warm to drink while you read makes for a pretty cozy bit of relaxation.

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I’m juggling a few different books/comics at the moment. One I’ve slowly been chiseling away at is Strange the Dreamer, and it is utterly amazing. I tend to read it before work every day (as long as I haven’t wasted too much time rebelling against adulting that particular morning by refusing to get out of bed.) It’s the kind of book that could easily be devoured quickly, but I’ve been enjoying picking at it here and there and savoring the experience. I love Laini Taylor’s writing and indulging in this beautifully imaginative story each day before work helps start my morning off on the right foot. โค

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Another thing I’ve been reading as of late is the comic series Low. It’s one I had been really excited to get into, and since my boyfriend is a fan of Rick Remender’s writing, he went ahead and bought the first 4 volumes for us to read. I’ll admit, I wasn’t really feeling this series upon finishing volume 1. In fact, if my boyfriend hadn’t already purchased volumes 2, 3, and 4, I probably would have stopped reading it. However, I decided to continue on and it is slowly getting better. Some of my major complaints have been resolved mostly (for now at least). We’ll see how it goes as I continue reading these first 4 volumes. Because of my conflicted feelings regarding the series so far, I’ve decided to wait and do a review of the first four volumes rather than doing them 1 at a time. I hope it continues to improve the further I get into the story because there are several elements to it that I do really enjoy.

The other story I’m currently reading is Gerald Brom’s book,ย The Plucker. First off, this book is a pretty one, so we have to talk about that. It’s a big lovely hardcover book filled to the brim with Brom’s dark and twisted artwork with a story to match. At first glance, one may take it for a “children’s book” since it is full of illustrations, but with the swearing, crass humor, and elements of horror throughout, it is certainly not intended for children. Unless the children involved are literal demons. Then maybe. The story is centered around a young boy and his toys and the dangerous predatory spirit now plaguing them. It’s sort of like if you mixed Toy Story or The Nutcracker with Evil Dead 2 and The Exorcist. ๐Ÿ˜› It’s a fun read so far.

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Other recent reads of the new year include Saga, volume 8 (which I just recently reviewed), and Lewis Carroll’s Phantasmagoria and Other Poems. This weekend I intend to start reading Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, which I am really excited about.

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So, what recent books have you been enjoying? Have you read any of these stories yet? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on them!

Getting Festive

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Happy Holidayyyys! โค Today is Christmas Eve and with all the recent and upcoming festivities I wanted to squeeze some time in to pop in and say Merry Christmas since I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to tomorrow. ๐Ÿ™‚

Last night we met up with my boyfriend’s family’s for their annual bake-a-thon, where we baked and decorated an arsenal of Christmas cookies. Shapes ranged from reindeer to unicorns and everything in between. Seriously, I mean everything in between. We also had an armadillo-shaped cookie and a penis-shaped cookie because inappropriate baked goods are funny. His mom also made these delicious pastries called Rugelach.

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We’re celebrating tonight’s Christmas Eve at my boyfriend’s parents’ house, and Christmas over with my family so I’m pretty excited. I feel like I did a lot of holiday stuff this year. More than I think I usually do, so while all the running around can be stressful and tiring at times, it did make for a particularly festive holiday season so far. ๐Ÿ™‚

Some of the holiday highlights included:

Visiting a historical villageโ€™s Holiday Nights event. It was really cool walking around after dark, learning some interesting stuff and seeing the rambunctious โ€œmurmurersโ€ in action. I didnโ€™t know anything about this old โ€œmurmuringโ€ holiday tradition, but apparently it involves revelers of the season dressing up in disguises to go house-to-house for food and drink and partying it up. So, itโ€™s kind of like Halloween at Christmas for adults, except you get booze instead of candy. Not too shabby, in my opinion. Why the heck did we do away with this awesome tradition?

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Goings to an outdoor Kringle Market and shopping around for lots of goodies, including my new favorite dessert, The Christmas Kronut. This was my second year going, and although the crowd can be a bit much, I plan on going again next year. It was a lot of fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

Christmas shopping for my loved ones is always a fun thing to do. I love when you find someone the perfect gift and then seeing the look on their face when they open it. I will say, though: I normally quite dislike wrapping the presents. It’s just tedious. lol My attention span has never been in it. I moaned and groaned the whole way through it, but I think I actually did a decent job wrapping gifts this year. I’m not known for my wrapping skills, in fact, I’m known for purposely wrapping the gifts in a manner that makes it look like a toddler did it. Or a drunk uncle. One or the other.

The work holiday party was also a lot of fun. I’ve mentioned before that I work as a program instructor at a day program for adults with special needs. I love my job every day, but seeing all their faces light up when they got to meet Santa Clause and taking our room caroling around the entire building was just so nice. We sang fun, upbeat songs like Jingle Bell Rock, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, etc. and had a bunch of fun instruments for everyone to play. We did a big potluck and since I baked a bunch of stuff for the last couple work parties I decided to take it easy on myself for this one and brought in rolls and made a some delicious Garlic Parmesan Butter to go with them.

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Minus some stressful family medical issues that have luckily since been improving, the last month of 2017 has been a pretty good one. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m excited to see what the new year will bring. I hope you guys all enjoy what’s left of the holiday season and have plenty of festivities of your own! โค

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My Name in TBR Books Tag

This tag seemed so cute and fun when I saw thebookcorps do it. I haven’t done a book tag in a wee bit so I figured I’d take a stab at it! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ll be using my blogging name instead of my real name just as my own personal preference, but if this looks fun to you, do it whichever way you like. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m also going by alphabetizing rules that would dictate you drop the first word in the title if it is something like “The” or “a”. ๐Ÿ˜› That said, let’s get this tag underway!

I – The Ice Dragon

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Although George RR Martin’s other stories featuring dragons (cough cough, you know, those books in that little series known as A Song of Ice and Fire) are full of violence, incest, foul language and other adult themes, The Ice Dragon is actually one intended for younger readers. I’ve heard it is enjoyable for all age groups, though, and would love to read it.

G – Gather the Daughters

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I’ve had several friends read this recently, including fellow blogger and my personal BFF Cupcakes & Machetes who posted aย review about this horrific dystopian read. I’ve heard it’s the sort of read that you won’t soon forget after reading it.

N – Night of Cake & Puppets

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A novella linked to Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. ‘Nuff said.

I – In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom

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After seeing Yeonmi Park’s moving speech regarding life in North Korea and what it took to escape it, I had to add her story to my TBR list.

T – Tin Stars (Descender, Vol. 1)

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I actually picked this one up recently from my local comic shop, but have yet to read it. I’ve heard marvelous things about it, though. It’s supposed to be a really good science fiction read.

E – An Ember in the Ashes

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Another book I’ve been hearing wonderful things about. I feel like this would wind up being one of those reads that winds up being devoured.

D – A Darker Shade of Magic

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I’ve heard this author specializes in good, dark reads. Sign. Me. UP.

M – A Monster Calls

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I suspect this book will make me cry my eyes out, but I hear it’s amazing. I hear the story itself and the illustrations blend this book into a memorable read that will definitely give you the feels.

O – Odd & True

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A blend of historical fiction and paranormal fantasy that I’ve seen several of you review favorably.

T – Traitor to the Throne

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Okay, I’m cheating with this one because I don’t have a whole lot of books starting with ‘T’ in my TBR list, and this is the second book in a series I really want to read as a whole, Rebel of the Sands. But, hey, it’s my blog and I can cheat if I want to! ๐Ÿ˜›

H – Hemlock Grove

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I (mostly) enjoyed the Netflix series of the same name, so I’ve been wanting to check out the book for a while now to see how they compare. ๐Ÿ™‚

So, there we have it, guys! This was actually pretty neat to do since it made me have to reexamine my TBR list. Some of these titles have been on there a long time. As for tagging, it’s no pressure here as per usual. If this looks fun to you, have at it! Hope everyone’s having a great weekend! โค