Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Newfangled 52 - January Edition

art by Risa Rodil

January was a good month to curl up with a blanket and a good book. Instead of going out into the cold World, I lost myself in other Worlds instead. Listened to other people's stories of rebellion and love and adventure. With the chaos that's happening right now, it was wonderful to read about people standing up to oppressors, fighting back and winning.
These stories remind us what it is to dream, to fight and they give us strength. 

Here's what I read for the Challenge this month:

by Kiera Cass

327 Pages (8:07 Hours)

The first book in the captivating, #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series! Discover a breathless fairy-tale romance with swoon-worthy characters, glittering gowns, fierce intrigue, and a dystopian world that will captivate readers who loved Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Ally Condie’s Matched, and Lauren Oliver’s Delirium.
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape a rigid caste system, live in a palace, and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her, and competing for a crown she doesn’t want.
Then America meets Prince Maxon—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

The Hunger Games meets Cinderella meets the Bachelor.
That pretty much sums up this book. The Prince must find a woman to be his Queen, so a Bachelor style contest is held so that he can meet girls from all over his kingdom and of different castes. America (an eye-rolling name) is from one of the lower castes and gives the Prince a look into her World. But things are not as they seem in the kingdom. There is rebellion on the outskirts of the city and tension is growing as attacks keep coming. I'm not overly fond of the "Choose your bride" story and I could've done without the love triangle and scheming girls, but the growing unrest in the background makes me want to pick up the next book 

by Marissa Meyer

582 Pages

Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together they're plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.
Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker; unfortunately, she's just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.
When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

This is such a great story and I continue to enjoy every book that I pick up in it. Although this book is still focused on Cinder's story, the larger introduction to Cress and her Rapunzel-like tale is also fun and worth reading. I enjoyed the nod to the original story when her and the temporarily blind Thorne are lost in the desert together.
This is another great series about fighting the wrong in the World and refusing to stand down when everyone else seems willing to give into the evil's demands.

by Hans Christian Andersen

381 Pages

For over one hundred years, Hans Christian Andersen's beloved fairy tales have charmed and entertained audiences around the world. Blending the old folk tales told to him as a child with a mixture of colloquial speech and fantasy, Andersen's stories reveal a vision rich in humor, sharp with irony, and reflect both the sadness and joy of living.  But whether we are marveling at the fragile porcelain palace of the Emperor of China or weeping for the poor little match girl, every tale shocks us into recognizing a human truth - as clear as the nakedness of the Emperor in his new clothes, or the final beauty of the Ugly Duckling. As generation after generation of readers has discovered, and as Pat Shaw Iversen notes in a splendid Afterword, Hans Christian Andersen is a story teller who ranks as "one of the greatest literary geniuses the world has ever known."

Since I've been on a fairy tale retelling kick, I figured I would go back and read some of the originals. I found this work by Hans Christian Anderson in Serial Reader and thought I would give it a go. All I can say is that fairy tales are weird. I mean, I realize that some are to teach us morals, but most of them are "they did a thing and then they died" People just up and die for no reason other than it wraps things up nicely.  I know a lot of people snub their noses at Disney and their take on fairy tales, but I'm rather glad that they took over these retellings and gave us some god damned hope instead.

by Sarah J. Maas

404 Pages (12:47 Hours)

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien. 
The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

It was kinda fun to read this so soon after The Selection, because it has that same game show type feeling, but instead of wooing the prince, they are trying to outdo other assassins. Much more fun. I hadn't realized that this was the same author as A Court of Thorns and Roses (a series that I LOVE!) so I was happy to realize that I had more to read by her and I wasn't disappointed.
Although there is a budding love triangle in this, it was kept to a minimum and focused more on the contest and the mysterious happenings in the castle that are slowly killing off the players one by one.
I can't wait to read the next few books in this series.

by Anna Godbersen

389 Pages

The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: Flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.
Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York's glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star....
Cordelia is searching for the father she's never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined — and more dangerous. It's a life anyone would kill for...and someone will.
The only person Cordelia can trust is ­Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia's brother, Charlie. But Astrid's perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.
Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the ­illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls' fortunes will rise and fall — together and apart. From the New York Times bestselling author of THE LUXE comes an epic new series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age.

I really enjoyed the last series by this author, so I was hoping that I would find a great new series in this. But it just wasn't what I wanted. The characters in the last series all knew what they wanted and would do whatever they could to get it. But the girls in this series are just flying by the seat of their pants, not really knowing what they want at all. There just wasn't the same conviction to them. The story itself wasn't great and I'm not overly interested in finding out what happens and that saddens me.

by Carrie Fisher

275 Pages (5:10 Hours)

The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie. 
When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a (sort-of) regular teenager. 
With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.

As soon as I found out that Carrie Fisher had written another book, I knew I had to have it. Sadly it was nowhere to be found. When she sadly past away, (drowned by moonlight, strangled by her own bra) It became even harder to find.
I was glad when Audible released it and even more glad when I discovered that it was read by her and her daughter Billie.
Carrie Fisher was a hilarious woman, and it comes through loud and clear read in her own voice. It was great to hear more fun tidbits about her time filming A New Hope. It's also the first time she's spoken aloud about her affair with Harrison Ford.
Her journal entries are mostly poetry and prose written about loving Harrison and not being loved in return, her struggles with not liking herself and feeling very lost. While Carrie reads with humor, Billie, who reads her journal entries brings a melancholy sound that has your heart breaking right along side her. It reminded me of my own writing when I was that age, trying to figure out who I was and dealing with my own heartbreaks.
I really do feel that this was Carrie's goodbye gift to the World and if you can listen to it, you should.

by Victoria Aveyard

383 Pages (12:40 Hours)

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn't know she had. Except . . . her blood is Red.
To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.
From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.

On the tails of The Selection and Throne of Glass, this is a mix between the two. Princesses are chosen by showing their skills in combat and magic instead of just looking pretty. Mare accidentally disrupts this marshal display and discovers her own talent. Instead of being killed, they pretend that she's a long lost silver and she become betrothed to one of the princes. But she know's as soon as her usefulness is done, she will be disposed of. Instead of sitting back and enjoying the royal life, she contacts the resistance and becomes a spy within the castle.
I'm really loving these books about resistance and standing up for what you believe in. I'm looking forward to seeing where this resistance goes.

by Paul Dini & Bruce Timm

172 Pages

The sexy, madcap super-villain duo of Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy plan to take down Batman once and for all in this uproariously funny volume. But first, Harley has to convince Ivy that she has what it takes to be a villain in Gotham City! This volume features a fantastic 3-chapter story written by Paul Dini and illustrated by Bruce Timm, the award-winning producers of Batman: The Animated Series, plus a story by superstars talents Judd Winick and Joe Chiodo.
Collects the miniseries Batman: Harley and Ivy #1-3; Harley and Ivy: Love on the Lam, and a story from Batman: Gotham Knights #14.

Who doesn't love Harley and Ivy? They are a great (now canon) duo that's funny and full of attitude. I love reading about their adventures together. I wasn't too fond of the fact that every single comic had them in their underwear or in the shower or in other states of undress. It seemed like the artist thought that no straight male would read the comic unless they could get some titillation out of it. Guess they never thought of marketing it to girls instead. Anyway, it was a fun read and a nice break from the other depressing book that I was reading at the time. 

by Catherynne M. Valente

352 Pages

Koschei the Deathless is to Russian folklore what giants or wicked witches are to European culture: the villain of countless stories which have been passed on through story and text for generations. Valente's take on the legend brings the action to modern times, spanning many of the great developments of Russian history in the twentieth century.
Deathless, however, is no dry, historical tome: it lights up like fire as the young Marya Morevna transforms from a clever peasant girl to Koschei's beautiful bride, to his eventual undoing. Along the way there are Stalinist house elves, magical quests, secrecy and bureaucracy, and games of lust and power. All told, Deathless is a collision of magical history and actual history, of revolution and mythology, of love and death, that will bring Russian myth to life in a stunning new incarnation.

This was the depressing book that I mentioned above. It's also the first book from my RBA list. Adam recommended it to me because he knew that I had been on a fairy tale kick. This story is based on Russian folklore, a subject I know little about, but want to learn more. I'm better acquainted with Russian history, so I had a better understanding of what was happening in that time period than the more magical aspects of the story. I loved both parts, although lacked the knowledge to interlace the two together.
This was a very sad book, with no happy endings for anyone, but worth reading all the same.

by Tim Pratt

226 Pages (9:20 Hours)

Marla Mason, ousted chief sorcerer for the city of Felport, is languishing in exile on the island of Maui with her best friend, the psychic (and rather hedonistic) Rondeau. She's making a living of sorts as an occult detective, but for the most part, she's just marking time. Driven from the city she loves, Marla is adrift, nearly friendless, and stripped of almost all her power and resources. Obviously, it's the perfect time for old enemies to try and kill her.
A group of sorcerers, all with their own reasons to want Marla dead, assemble and prepare to attack her while she's at her most vulnerable. The members of this Marla Mason Revenge Squad include the one-armed witch Nicolette, the cheerfully murderous psychopath Crapsey, a criminally insane shapeshifter, a man who hunts werewolves for fun, and a master of anti-magic, among others. But they aren't taking chances with an enemy as formidable as Marla. They hire the world's most notorious - and deadly - chaos witch, Elsie Jarrow, to lead their assault. But Elsie is impossible to predict and just as hard to control, and may well have an agenda of her own. Besides, Marla isn't as helpless as they think - she's still got a few friends in high (and low) places, including a god or two. And no matter how bad her life is, there's nothing Marla loves more than a good fight. There's bound to be trouble in paradise.

I love that this series is still going and still as much fun as the first books. They've been mentioning Elsie Jarrow in the background of the other books for so long that when I heard that they were going to let her free, I think I may have cheered out loud. She was just as crazy and fun as I'd always imagined her to be. This was a fun mash-up of Marla's B list villains, who aren't strong enough to take her on their own, so they make a team to take her down. Love it. I can't wait to read the rest of these books.

by Clay Griffith & Susan Griffith

300 Pages

They are the realm’s last, best defense against supernatural evil. But they’re going to need a lot more silver.

As fog descends, obscuring the gas lamps of Victorian London, werewolves prowl the shadows of back alleys. But they have infiltrated the inner circles of upper-crust society as well. Only a handful of specially gifted practitioners are equipped to battle the beasts. Among them are the roguish Simon Archer, who conceals his powers as a spell-casting scribe behind the smooth veneer of a dashing playboy; his layabout mentor, Nick Barker, who prefers a good pub to thrilling heroics; and the self-possessed alchemist Kate Anstruther, who is equally at home in a ballroom as she is on a battlefield.

After a lycanthrope targets Kate’s vulnerable younger sister, the three join forces with fierce Scottish monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane—but quickly discover they’re dealing with a threat far greater than anything they ever imagined.

This was a new series that I picked up, hoping beyond hope that it would be something worth reading while I wait for my other series to come out in paperback. To be honest, it didn't start off too well. The first female character that showed up was fridged in the first 6 pages and then never really mentioned too much afterwards. I almost put it down after that, but I persevered and it did get better. I quite liked the other 2 female characters (Kate and Penny, not Imogen) and was surprised that it passed the Bechdel-Wallace test. I can almost forgive it's other damsel-in-distress problems.
It was entertaining enough that I might actually pick up the next book in the series at some point.

Books that I am currently reading

by Timothy Zahn
59 of 694 Pages

by T.A. Pratt
54 of 244

by Leigh Bardugo
105 of 358 Pages (8:55 Hours)

by Jacob Grimm & Wilhelm Grimm
277 of 518 Pages

by Anthony Ryan
98 of 602 Pages (24:39 Hours)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tunage Tuesday - Sailor Moon Videos

art by Daekazu

I've been on a bit of a Sailor Moon kick recently (okay, I'm always on a Sailor Moon kick) and I fell down the rabbit hole of YouTube one day and came across all these awesome videos, so I thought I'd share.

I love this video by Wildcats. It very much sums up Tuxedo Mask in the funniest way possible. Does he ever help? Not really. He's usually just there for encouragement.

art by Arcade Quartermaster

Moonage Kingdom is an awesome group of Burlesque Dancers who were putting on a Sailor Moon Burlesque show in Vancouver. They made this amazing video as a promo for it. Man, I wish I could've seen the show

Cartoon Hangover gives us 107 facts that you may or may not have known about Sailor Moon

Animation Domination High-Def made this sad video about Sailor Pluto not being a planet anymore. It makes me laugh but makes me sad at the same time

These 2 great videos by Moon Animation Make-Up are the collaboration of many different artists redoing the stills to old Sailor Moon cartoons in their own style. They are incredible!

This is a fun cosplay video by JDP Media where the Scouts take on Sailor Iron Mouse and her snapping Goons. Yes, it's that good.

I've featured Saturday Morning Slow Jams on here before, but here is their take on the Sailor Moon theme song

Or maybe you're more into the classical take on Sailor Moon music like SERASYMPHONY produces.

I love this rule 63 cosplay video by Paolo Tuci. Just goes to show you that Sailor Moon is for everyone

I don't even know what to say about this video from STREETSTAR 2013 other than you need to watch it NOW!

So, have you had your Sailor fill for the day?

Thanks to fuck ya pretty soldiers for sending me down this moon rabbit hole

Monday, January 2, 2017

Newfangled 52 Book Challenge

It's 2017 and you know what that means! 

Another year of Book Challenges!!

That's right. I'm going to start all over again at 1 and see how many books I can read this year.
I've signed up both here and here for the challenge and you can too
Or if you're more interested in just following what I read, I will continue to update every month on what I've read and you can look to the bottom right of my blog (you may have to scroll down) where I will be keeping a list of what books I've finished, links to Goodreads and a bar of my challenge progress.
Will I beat my 106 books from last year or just barley beat the 52? Only time will tell

Since the last few years have pretty much caught me up on my TBR (that's To Be Read) pile, I decided to do something a little different this year.

I'm going to read 12 books that my handsome boyfriend recommended to me.

My RBA (Recommend By Adam) List Challenge

6. Deathless (Leningrad Diptych #1) - Catherynne M. Valente 

11. Equal Rites (Discworld #3) - Terry Pratchett

yup, just a little bit of light reading