Saturday, June 30, 2018

Another 52 - June Edition

art by Stellaarts

Another month has gone by and I am really enjoying this whole summer vacation thing. That being said, I can't wait to go back to school in the fall, but I will take the time to relax and read while I have it. Here's what I read this month:

by Rhiannon Thomas

422 Pages (10:30 Hours)

Freya was never meant to be queen. Twenty-third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of the court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne. She may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don't respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, she knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom-and her life. Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she can't trust anyone. Not her advisers. Not the king's dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father, who always wanted the best for her but also wanted more power for himself. As Freya's enemies close in and her loyalties are tested, she must decide if she is ready to rule and, if so, how far she is willing to go to keep the crown.

This was a lovely book that I truly enjoyed. Only in fantasy can you find an awkward girl who loves science and has severe anxiety who becomes queen simply because she couldn't stand to be social. I love it! As soon as I finished it I went to look for the next book in the series, only to find out that it was a stand alone book! Don't see much of that these days. It's kind of nice that it can stand on it's own, although I would totally read more about this amazing woman trying to do her best to be queen and still be herself.

by Philippa Rice

108 Pages

True love isn’t always about the big romantic gestures. 
Sometimes it’s about sympathizing with someone whose tea has gone cold or reading together and sharing a quilt. When two people move in together, it soon becomes apparent that the little things mean an awful lot. The throwaway moments in life become meaningful when you spend them in the company of someone you love. 
SOPPY is Philippa Rice’s collection of comics and illustrations based on real-life moments with her boyfriend. From grocery shopping to silly arguments and snuggling in front of the television, SOPPY captures the universal experience of sharing a life together, and celebrates the beauty of finding romance all around us.

This is a very sweet book and I see a lot of reflection of this love in my real life, which is super nice. It reminds you that love is in the little things and that we all show our love differently. I had always loved when I came across some of these comics online, so I was thrilled when I found the whole collection of them.

by Kathleen Grissom

369 Pages

When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family. Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. 
Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk.

A masterfully written book that really hits you in the heart. This was one of my LLB for the year and I'm really glad that I finally decided to pick it up. It's one of those books that discuss race, gender and the terrible treatment of each in the past. For people that loved The Help, The Secret Life of Bees, The Invention Of Wings and other similar books that break our hearts and remind up that we need to do better.

by Amy Ewing

100 Pages

In The Jewel and The White Rose, we follow Violet in her servitude under the Duchess of the Lake. Now we’ll hear the Duchess’s son, Garnet’s, story in this digital novella—a companion story to the New York Times bestselling Lone City trilogy.
Garnet, the son of the Duchess of the Lake, has always been a spoiled playboy. But now, for the first time, Garnet is beginning to realize the horrors that his family, and the ruling community, have perpetrated. And he just may be ready to do something about it.

Unlike the other short stories for this series, I actually really enjoyed this one. Yes, it is a reiteration of the other book, but is a totally different, unique story. I really enjoyed watching Garnet and the beginning of his transformation. 

by Ryan North, Braden Lamb & Shelli Paroline

128 Pages

It's ADVENTURE TIME! Join Finn the Human, Jake the Dog, and Princess Bubblegum for all-new adventures through The Land of Ooo.
The totally algebraic adventures of Finn and Jake have come to the comic book page! The Lich, a super-lame, SUPER-SCARY skeleton dude, has returned to the the Land of Ooo, and he’s bent on total destruction! Luckily, Finn and Jake are on the case...but can they succeed against their most destructive foe yet? Featuring fan-favorite characters Marceline the Vampire Queen, Princess Bubblegum, Lumpy Space Princess and the Ice King!

Adventure Time... come on and grab a friend...
This was pretty much what you would expect from an Adventure Time comic. I think my favorite part was that they introduced a new princess; desert princess, who is a cupcake who had sand powers. Love it.

by Ruby Elliot

256 Pages

IT'S ALL ABSOLUTELY FINE is a darkly comic, honest and unapologetic illustrated account of the daily struggles with mental health. Ruby Elliot, aka Rubyetc, is the talent behind the hit tumblr account, 'Rubyetc', which has over 220k followers and growing. Taking readers on a journey through the ups and downs of life, the book will encompass everything from anxiety, bipolar disorder and body image to depression and identity, shining a light on very real problems - all framed with Ruby's trademark humour and originality.
Ruby balances mental health with humour, making serious issues accessible - and very funny. With the superb talent to capture the essence of human emotion (and to make you laugh out loud), this book is as important and necessary as it is entertaining. IT'S ALL ABSOLUTELY FINE will include mostly never-before-seen material, both written and illustrated, and will be an empowering book that will make you laugh, make you think, and make things ok.

This is another of those comics that I always loved when I saw online, but wow was this book intense. I wasn't quite expecting that. Her comics can be too real and really hit you when you aren't expecting it and her writing gives you a look into her sometimes gritty reality that she tries to deal with through her humor. That be said, the humor is great, but not something to read to cheer yourself up. I made that mistake.

by Gabriella Pierce

320 Pages (9:28 Hours)

What if your mother-in-law turned out to be an evil, cold-blooded witch . . . literally?
Ever since fabulously wealthy Malcolm Doran walked into her life and swept her off her feet, fledgling architect Jane Boyle has been living a fairy tale. When he proposes with a stunning diamond to seal the deal, Jane can't believe her incredible luck and decides to leave her Paris-based job to make a new start with Malcolm in New York.
But when Malcolm introduces Jane to the esteemed Doran clan, one of Manhattan's most feared and revered families, Jane's fairy tale takes a darker turn. Soon everything she thought she knew about the world—and herself—is upended. Now Jane must struggle with newfound magical abilities and the threat of those who will stop at nothing to get them.

This is the other LLB for the month. Yes, I am trying to catch up, since I am already so far behind with these. I tried to read this book a few times and kept putting it back down in favour of something better. Finally I found a copy of the audiobook on the Library and decided to listen to it instead. MUCH better idea. That being said, it still wasn't a great book. There were so many red flags going on that it was hard not to grimace through most of it. I'm glad it ended like it did, but I'm not going to pick up the next book.

by Rhiannon Thomas

337 Pages (8:42 Hours)

A spinning wheel.
A prick of a finger.
A Terrible curse.
One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.
Her family is long dead. Her "true love" is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept. Everyone expects Aurora to marry her betrothed and restore magic and peace to the kingdom before revolution tears it apart. But after a lifetime spent locked in a tower for her own safety, Aurora longs for the freedom to make her own choices. When she meets a handsome rebel, she is tempted to abandon everything for a different kind of life.
As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.
A Wicked Thing is a surprising, spellbinding reimagining of what happens after happily ever after.

I enjoyed Long May She Reign (see above) so much, I looked to see what else she had written and came across another series by her that was right up my ally. What? A retelling of Sleeping Beauty after she wakes up waaaay in the future! Yes! Gimme gimme gimme....
I inhaled this book, listening to it as often as I could and finding excuses to have it on in the background. I would've gone right into the second book (yes, this one has a second book!) had I not had a few other audiobooks waiting in my auto-checkout. But I can't wait to get back into it.  

by David Roberts

128 Pages

2018 marks a century since the first women won the vote in the United Kingdom, and Suffragette tells the story of their fight. This is a tale of astounding bravery, ingenuity, and strength. 
David's conversational style is accessible and his artwork full of rich detail, bringing to life the many vivid characters of the Suffragette movement - from the militant activist Rosa May Billinghurst to the world-famous Emmeline Pankhurst. Covering the whole range of suffragette experiences - from aristocrats to the middle and working classes, as well as a look at the global struggle for universal suffrage, Suffragette is a fantastic introduction to a fascinating topic.

This book was really neat; part book and part comic. History always seems to skip over these brave and crazy women that got us the vote and it was really neat to get to know more about them. Wow, some of them were super intense with their methods and suffered awful consequences. The one thing that I was sad about was that the last couple of pages were dedicated to women of colour who had helped in their own countries, but there was almost no acknowledgement of the fact that WOC fought along side these other women and were relegated to the back of the parades and congregations. 

by Joshua Palmatier & Patricia Bray

294 Pages

It’s frustrating when a gadget stops working. But what if the gadget is working fine, it’s just “temporally” out of order? What would you do if you discovered your cell phone linked you to a different time? Or that your camera took pictures of the past? 
In this collection, seventeen leading science fiction authors share their take on what happens when gadgets run temporally amok. From past to future, humor to horror, there’s something for everyone. 
Join Seanan McGuire, Elektra Hammond, David B. Coe, Chuck Rothman, Faith Hunter, Edmund R. Schubert, Steve Ruskin, Sofie Bird, Laura Resnick, Amy Griswold, Laura Anne Gilman, Susan Jett, Gini Koch, Christopher Barili, Stephen Leigh, Juliet E. McKenna, and Jeremy Sim as they investigate how ordinary objects behaving temporally out of order can change our everyday lives.

I pick up this book because it had a Seanan McGuire story in it and not really realizing that it was a bunch of short stories. As all collections like this, they can be super hard to read. I'm not a huge fan of short stories and I find very few people can tell them well. There were only a few that I really enjoyed and they others ranged from okay to (when will this be over) terrible. The authors I did like I ended up looking up to see if I could find other books by them, so if nothing else, I did find more books to read.

by Kate Leth, Megan Levens, Marissa Louise, Jen Bartel & Nate Piekos

136 Pages

A road trip story. A magical revenge fantasy. A sisters-over-misters tale of three witches out to get back what was taken fom them.
Andy, Jolene, and Claire aren't your average twenty-somethings. They're legacy witches making their way through a modern world. When a jealous nonmagical ex breaks into their home and steals a spell that could awaken potentials with magical powers, the witches plan their revenge. Traveling down the East Coast, they must retrieve their powerful stolen artifacts and strengthen their friendship... the big bad is even worse than they imagined.

I need more of this. Why isn't there more of this? This comic was so fun and fabulous that I couldn't put it down. I want more stories about these 3 women. I want novels about them; full series of them. Or at least more comics if you please.

by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis & Brooke A. Allen

27 Pages

The girls have a lot more to worry about than crazy creatures and supernatural events...they have FIELD DAY. It's a competition between the Lumberjanes and the Genteel boy camp next door that's going to be filled with surprises!

I love this gaggle of girls who are ready for crazy adventures. I really wish that these comics had been out when I was younger. It's nice to see. In this volume they come across a secret cave full of magical traps and pit falls and it will take all of them working together to make it through.

by Mercedes Lackey

91 Pages

Kidnapping Persephone should have been an easy task. But in the Five Hundred Kingdoms, nothing's ever simple—and the wrong blonde goddess is stolen by mistake, leaving Prince Leopold without his new bride. At least until he braves the realm of the dead to get her back...

I think I've mentioned over the last couple of years that I've been disappointing in the material that Mercedes Lackey has been putting out. But I remembered loving this series of fairy tales turned on their head and couldn't wait to read this short story about Persephone. I shouldn't gotten my hopes up. It wasn't very good. The story takes place on Olympus and in the Underworld, which was interesting, but none of the characters had any life to them. Some of the main characters are secondary characters from the book before, but I can't recall them at all. It spends half the book trying to remind you of their adventures from before (which I am still coming up blank on. 2010 was a long time ago) and doesn't really go into the story that it's in. The only flipping of the story is that these 2 other people are involved in helping and that Persephone knows who Hades actually is from the beginning. 

by Kristen Gudsnuk

304 Pages

Mary Posa hates her job. She works long hours for little pay, no insurance, and worst of all, no respect. Her co-workers are jerks and her boss doesn't appreciate her. He's also a supervillain. And her parents... well, they're the most famous superhero couple in Crepe City, along with her sister. Cursed with a conscience, Mary would give anything to be something other than a Henchgirl, but no matter what she does her plans always seem to go awry.

This was a really fun comic. Sometimes it's nice to read about the bad guy or his henchpeople. This comic takes a lot of wacky twists and turns that I wasn't expecting and has a great cast of heroes and villains. I also love all the little pop culture Easter-eggs that keep popping up. This is another series that I want more of.

by Kate Leth & Jake Myler

27 Pages

When the water supply of Fraggle Rock mysteriously runs dry, the Fraggles have to journey deep into the caves of Fraggle Rock to find the fabled Everspring where adventure awaits and no Fraggle has gone before! It's the beloved characters of Fraggle Rock in their biggest story yet!

I thought this would be another fun volume to read, but it turned out to only be the first comic. It's very cute and reminded me how much I use to love the Fraggles. I actually had to stop and think about what each of them sounded like so I could get a better sense of them in the comic I wandered around for the next few days with the theme song stuck in my head... and there it is again....
Dance your cares away. Worry's for another day. Let the music play. Down in Fraggle Rock

by Kendare Blake

333 Pages (10:28 Hours)

Old Gods never die…
Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.
Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god. 
These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning. 
Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out. 
Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.
The Goddess War is about to begin.

I picked this book up because I really enjoyed Blake's Three Dark Crown series. But the 3rd one isn't out in audio form yet, si I though I would give this one a go. Like a lot of Urban Fantasy, the first book of the series didn't start out very strong. It's not that it was bad, it just seemed to be ramping up. As in setting the stage for the later books. The Olympians were interesting and I loved reading about them, but Cassandra and her posse were down right boring most of the time. Again, I realize that not much can happen until they find her and get her on their team. I will read the next book for sure, hoping that it will follow the trend of always getting better.

by Kendare Blake

112 Pages

Three black witches, born to a descending queen. One would rise to become queen in her place. Perhaps the strongest of the three. Perhaps the cleverest. Or perhaps it would be the girl born under the best shield of luck.
Katharine, Arsinoe and Mirabella - three young queens born to fulfil their destiny - to fight to the death to win the crown. But before they were poisoner, elemental and naturalist, they were children, sisters and friends . . .

I find it strange that there seems to be a trend of writing these novellas that fir in between other books. I mean, I get it, but I just find that most of them aren't very good and don't really fill my need of them. This was one such book. It was ripe with possibility, but the mark was totally missed. She could've written the entire thing about Arsinoe's attempted escape from the island, but she just skipped over it entirely. I don't get it. It was okay, and I liked reading about the Black Cottage and the old Queen, but the rest fell flat for me. 

by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis & Brooke A. Allen

27 Pages

After a lot of convincing, the girls are able to agree to get Jen to take them on a hike. Making their way up to the tower and hoping to finally get some answers, they make their way closer only to be stopped by the neighboring boy camp! April, Mal, Molly, Jo, and Ripley have to figure out how to get to the tower, even if they have to use Jen as a distraction to do it.

Another great comic! I still really love this story line. Sadly this was the last comic I had so I have to go out and get the rest so that I can find out what happens next.

by Mato

147 Pages

One day something emerges from high school girl Kaho’s refrigerator—an emperor penguin, the largest of all penguins! When this emperor joins the household, fun and wacky antics with family and friends ensue!

When I was a little girl, I used to dream about one day having a pet penguin and all the fun things that we would do together. This comic made me long for those dreams again. I've got to admit, I've been looking a little longer and harder into the fridge every time I open it. Can't wait to read more.

by Sarah Andersen

108 Pages

Adjusting to life as a world-famous cartoonist isn't easy. Terrifying deadlines, piles of junk-food wrappers under a glowing computer screen, and an ever-growing horde of pets....umm, never mind--it's pretty much the same.
With characteristic wit and charm, Sarah Andersen's third collection of comics and illustrated personal essays offers a survival guide for frantic modern life: from the importance of avoiding morning people, to Internet troll defense 101, to the not-so-life-changing futility of tidying up. But when all else fails and the world around you is collapsing, make a hot chocolate, count the days until Halloween, and snuggle up next to your furry beacon of hope.

This book wasn't long enough. I loved it so much and I want it to go on forever. This comic always finds the right spot of funny, sad and relatable that I love so much. I hope she puts out more books in the future.  

by Seanan McGuire

358 Pages

For once, it seems like the Kingdom of the Mists has reached a point of, if not perfection, at least relative peace. Queen Arden Windermere is getting settled on her family's throne; no one's going to war with anyone else; it's almost like everything is going to be okay. Even October "Toby" Daye is starting to relax her constant vigilance, allowing herself to think about the future, and what it might entail.
And then Simon Torquill comes back, and everything begins to fall apart. In Faerie, nothing stays buried forever. No matter how much you might want it to.

After 8 books, I finally thought all of my questions would be answered. Turns out only some of them were. I need more answers! I guess I'll just have to keep reading. Good thing I've got the next book sitting on my shelf just waiting for me. As always, it was hard to put this book down at any time. Usually it was because my eyelids were getting too heavy and I kept reading the same paragraph over and over.

by Claudia Gray

409 Pages (9:53 Hours)

Sixteen-year-old Princess Leia Organa faces the most challenging task of her life so far: proving herself in the areas of body, mind, and heart to be formally named heir to the thrown of Alderaan. She's taking rigorous survival courses, practicing politics, and spearheading relief missions to worlds under Imperial control. But Leia has worries beyond her claim to the crown. Her parents, Breha and Bail, aren't acting like themselves lately; they are distant and preoccupied, seemingly more concerned with throwing dinner parties for their allies in the Senate than they are with their own daughter. Determined to uncover her parents' secrets, Leia starts down an increasingly dangerous path that puts her right under the watchful eye of the Empire. And when Leia discovers what her parents and their allies are planning behind closed doors, she finds herself facing what seems like an impossible choice; dedicate herself to the people of Alderaan--including the make she loves--or the galaxy at large, which is in desperate need of a rebel hero.

I wanted this to be amazing. It wasn't. It was still pretty good though. My main concern with it was that Leia didn't feel like Leia. She didn't have that cockiness and temper that makes her who she is. She felt a little more like a generic fantasy heroine in a Star Wars novel. This book is more about her "coming of age" and felt a little young at times. I loved that Amilyn Holdo (aka the kick-ass purple-haired Vice-Admiral from The Last Jedi) was a character in it and that her and Leia were friends, but at times she felt like she was just Luna Lovegood in a different skin. 

Books that I am currently reading

by Rohinton Mistry
65 of 603 Pages

by Sally Armstrong
150 of 320 Pages

by M.J. Scott
 155 of 352 Pages

by Sue Monk Kidd
50 of 368 Pages

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Meeting Ashley Eckstein!!

Guys, I met Ashley Eckstein! OMFG!!!

So, not too long ago, Ashley wrote a book! (You can see my review of it here)
It was not only an autobiography, but a guide to help you find and pursue your own dreams and it's chocked full of Disney and Star Wars references.

my copy of the book and the pin given out at Hot Topic

Well, Hot Topic (who know owns Her Universe) decided that it would be great if she did a book tour across the US, with one stop in Canada. Toronto, my fair city, to be exact.
I had been pumped about this for months, but when the day finally arrived, I was feeling less than stellar. My anxiety was acting up and everything just seemed to be going wrong. Had I needed to do anything else that day, I probably would've bailed and stayed home in my pj's, binge watching Dear White People. But this was Ashley we were talking about. If you've been a follower of my blog for awhile now, you will know that she is one of my idols!
So I pulled myself together and headed to the Eaton's Centre to wait in line. 
But what's this? I had to buy something if I wanted to be in line? Booooo. Money was tight and I had already bought a copy of the book and brought it with me. So I settled on something fun and cheap (as far as HU goes)

That's right, I bought lightsaber lipstick (something that the HU fandom as been asking for since the company opened) They're not really my colours, but I love the packaging.
I finally ended up in line, but I was behind a group of fanboys who were quite obnoxious. They had no idea what HU was and had in depth conversations about how SOLO didn't follow the cannon closely enough. An hour and a half of listening to them talk about what comic they wanted the Boba Fett movie to follow and making the other fans around them feel stupid when they said anything, I was ready to quit the line and go home. But that is when she came out and I managed to hold on a little bit longer.
When I got near the front, I realized someone else was with her. It turns out that it was E.K. Johnston, the author of the Ahsoka novel I had just finished listening to!!

totally worth reading! You can read my review here
2 amazing women for the price of one!

Look at meeee! I'm with E.K. Johnston and Ashley Eckstein!!!

I spoke with E.K. first and told her how much I enjoyed her book (and how awesome Ashley was at narrating it) and she was so kind and funny and happy that her book was so well received.

I don't have a physical copy of this book, but she gave me an insert page in case I ever do get one.
I had just started to talk about how much fun it was to gear Ashley reading the Ahsoka novel when she turned to me and said hello. That's when E.K. noticed my Ahsoka/Plo Koon shirt from waaaay back in the day and pointed it out to Ahsley, who gasped and was suddenly ecstatic that I had been a fan for so long. I told her that I was a first day customer when HU opened and she got so emotional that she had to get up and hug me! I told her that not only am I a fan of Ahsoka, but even more so of her. That she is my idol for what she has done for the fangirls of the World. 

I told her that I had bought her book when it came out and that I had already read it cover to cover and how wonderful I thought it was. She asked me what my dream was and I told her that I wanted to open the Braekery (my bakery) and that I had recently gone back to school to pursue my dreams. She told me that when I get it up and running to let her know so that she can come support me! How sweet is that? She even added me to her Instagram so that she could follow my progress!

I floated away on a happy cloud. How did I ever think that this was a bad idea? It was worth every bad fanboy, every unexpected purchase, every minute of waiting in line.

Thanks Ashley