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Beauty by Robin McKinley


After reading Sunshine and seriously loving it, then finding out the same author wrote a story on the classic (and my absolute favorite) Beauty and the Beast, I knew I had to read it. Robin does a great interpretation of this story. In it, Beauty (her real name is Honor but she didn't like it as a child and everyone started calling her Beauty) has two sisters, Grace and Hope, and they live with their father and brother-in-law. On his way back from a trip into the city, Beauty's father gets lost and seeks help and shelter in what turns out to be the Beast's castle. On his way out, the father takes a rose from the Beast's garden. The Beast stops him and he is NOT happy. The Beast demands one of his daughters (or him) to come back in one month's time as repayment.

I really like this version of the spell places on the Beast's castle. Instead of turning everyone into objects, they are invisible. With a bit of magic thrown in for good measure.

5/5 Stars

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo


 I was very surprised at how much I liked Shadow and Bone. I downloaded the audio book when audible had a really good sale going on and started it soon after. I had just finished Beauty by Robin McKinley and I was being stubborn about starting a new book, as one is after finishing a really good one. So I started listening, digging my heels in at the beginning. Before I knew it, I was so into the story.

Alina grew up an orphan and was serving in the King's army as a map-maker when her powers awoke, instantly rocketing her from lowly soldier to a revered Grisha. The only additional thing I'll say is it involves two men and all the right decisions. Seriously, with Alina I didn't have any, "Noo! Don't do that you stupid wanna-be heroine!!!" moments. She is brave and strong and will do so much to survive.

As much as I loved this book, I don't plan on reading the other two books in the trilogy. I really like where this book ended and I think stand-alone books are seriously underrated. If you do end up listening to the audio book, keep an ear out for the narrator to say "prown crince" instead of "crown prince!"

5/5 Stars

Currently, Currently

January always feels so... new. I also have my birthday at the end of the month so it is one big time for new beginnings for me. Instead of resolutions, I like to choose new directions I would like my life to go in. Sometimes they're big, sometimes they're small, and sometimes small decisions lead to big life changes.

My main goal this time last year was to get a new job, and I finally found one in July. The second smaller goal was to do things that I always wanted to do "one day." I think I did a pretty amazing job of it if I do say so myself.

I dyed my hair a fun color. In February I had my hair dyed teal, inspired by Keiko Lynn's dye job. In the process of getting my hair did, I made a new friend.

I got a tattoo. Much to my mother's dismay, I finally took the plunge and got what I wanted for more than twelve or so years: a tattoo! So what does one get as their first tattoo? Something you will not regret, so I choose to get my little furry BFF. Yes, it hurts, but the memory of the pain seems to fade over time and I already want another.
In November, just after getting it touched up.

I got a new job. Already mentioned this, but it really made such a difference on my quality of life. I no longer dread waking up every day. I made more hourly, work fewer hours, and have less stress. Score.

I went to ECCC for three days. Yup, I went to Emerald City Comicon for three beautiful days. In 2014 I went for only 1 day, actually part of one day. I was super overwhelmed and didn't know what I was doing but knew I wanted more. I had no idea it would happen, but going basically changed my life. Prior to going, I had read Saga Vol 1, Rat Queens, the Autumnlands, and Shutter, and I didn't really know what I was doing other than the fact that I really enjoyed them. At ECCC, I met so many awesome people (Kurtis Wiebe recognized me from twitter and KNEW MY NAME; and I met Benjamin Dewey, who is so impossibly nice and gave me a free sample of his book after I told him I was new to comics) and found so many awesome comics that I just couldn't stand it.

I couldn't seem to get any of the friends I already had into reading comics to talk about them with me, so I decided to start a ladies comic book club to find other girls to talk about them with. The first meeting had 5 attendees (and we still do stuff together, the 5 of us) and now, less than a year later, have 30 people RSVP'd to come to the next meeting. We have comic creators talk to us at our meetings and I have submitted an application to have our own panel at ECCC this year.

Basically, I created this thing that has brought people together and other members have thanked me for doing and it feels really good. I now have something to talk with people about besides, "blah, I hate my job, I hate my life, cats."

I started taking private French lessons. I have always, always been a Francophile and eventually wanted to be fluent in French. I'm far from fluent but I'm having so much fun and look forward to homework for the first time in my life.

So those are the big things that I already knew ahead of time that I wanted to do and did, but some unexpected exciting things were done that I hadn't planned on.

I started a book-review blog. In 2015, I received my first book for free. Well, by that I mean a company sent me a book for free. And I learned about NetGalley and Blogging for Books and eventually I found the call from Ace Roc books for people to join their new book-review street team. I applied, was accepted, and now they send me advanced books for free to review. How cool is that!?

I went to New Orleans. Technically, the trip had been planned since the end of 2014, but by going with two girl friends of mine and having an awesome time, we ended up making it a yearly tradition to take a trip together. This year we're going to Savannah and I cannot wait for some Southern food and sunshine. And to see the Atlantic again. And my parents! They're 2 1/2 hours away in Florida and are coming up for lunch while I'm there.

A cemetery in New Orleans.

I became an aunt. Again, something I found out about right at the end of 2014, but something that has turned out to be a big deal and totally awesome. I had no idea but when you become an aunt it's almost like a rite of passage, like getting engaged or going to Europe. Suddenly your range of topics opens up and you can talk with other aunts about how awesome your nieces and nephews are. This is the first baby I have ever liked so that's a big deal too.

My sister and horrifically cute nephew.

TL;DR: Do what makes you happy or work in the direction of things that make you happy and your life will be/get awesome. If you're like me and had so many things on your "I wanna do" list you didn't know where to start, just pick something. You have to start somewhere.

2015 Books in Review

Taken in the Washington Park Arboretum when the skies were still blue.

Well, I took an unexpected holiday break from the blog. I've still been reading and still writing reviews, hoarding them ^.^ I also have a post coming on what's been going on and what I have coming up, but in the mean time here's a recap of my reading last year:

I really put the pedal to the metal as far as reading books go. My goal was to read 60 books and I ended up with 163 total; this includes 66 science-fiction/fantasy, 51 comic trades, and 18 French memoirs.

My top 10, roughly in order, are:

10. Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter. Book 1. Technically I read books 1 and 2 in 2014, but I ate through the rest of the available series in no time. This is the absolute best Urban Fantasy I have ever read and I eagerly await the rest of the books in the series. The audio book narrator is OUT OF THIS WORLD.

9. The Blud Series (4 novels, 4 novellas) by Delilah S. Dawson. Book 1. I ended up reading all of Dawson's books this year (minus her sexy lumberjack books) and she has definitely earned a spot as one of my top 5 favorite authors. Her blog and twitter are super inspirational for writers.

8. Prudence by Gail Carriger. Hilariously fun steampunk written by my most favorite author.

7. Court of Fives by Kate Elliot. A YA novel that dares to give you scary and deep feelings while reading.

6. The Autumnlands by Kurt Buisek & Benjamin Dewey. It's a good story, but you don't even have to read this one. Just look at Dewey's perfect anthropomorphic illustrations. It's also worth noting that this is the only comic/graphic novel on my top 10 list.

5. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. This was the first book I read in 2015 and my first Neil Gaiman book. I've since read several and am convinced he is either a genius or a mad man. Maybe both? PS I read this book in one sitting.

4. Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen AKA Delilah S. Dawson. Dawson is the only author with two books on my list! Can you tell I love her? She has a magical way of writing that, one, makes me want to write, and two, throws the reader so effortlessly into the story. From the first page of all her books I feel like I woke up to another exciting day in the story and I know exactly what is going on. I don't know how she does it but she's awesome.

3. Krampus by Brom. I am so sad that it took me a year to read this after I bought it. This is a severely thought-provoking book that covers the history of Krampus and Santa as well as poking fun at christianity. Delicious.

2. Seven Letters from Paris by Samantha Verant. This is one of my most favorite books of all time. This book gets happier and happier and happier until you finally explode with romantic French joy.

1. Golden Son by Pierce Brown. I feel like every book I've ever read before this book was to get me to the point of reading this one. It is the second book in a trilogy and if the third book is to the second book as the second book is to the first book, I am afraid for February 9th.

For 2016 I'd like to slow it down a bit. I want to re-read some old favorites and maaaybe explore a few new genres. What are you looking forward to reading this year?