Monstress by Marjorie Liu (DNF)

Title: Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening & Vol. 2, The Blood
Series: Monstress
Author: Marjorie Liu
Artist: Sana Takeda
Date Added: August 9, 2018
Date Started: August 13, 2017
Date DNF: August 16, 2018
Genre: Graphic Novel/Comic, Dark Fantasy, Horror, Dystopian, Steampunk

Pages: 72 & 152
Publication Dates: November 4, 2015 & July 11, 2017
Publisher: Image Comics
Media: Paperback


Set in an alternate world of art deco beauty and steampunk horror, Montress tells the epic story of Maika Halfwolf, a teenage survivor of a cataclysmic war between humans and their hated enemies, the Arcanics. In the face of oppression and terrible danger, Maika is both hunter and hunted, searching for answers about her mysterious past as those who seek to use her remain just one step behind…and all the while, the monster within begins to awaken.


This series is as beautifully brutal as it is convoluted.  It combines Lovecraft mythos with Egyptian mythology and Irish folklore (The Fair Folk) among other things to weave a world of magic and savagery.  Where “there’s more hunger in this world than love” is exemplified by starving slaves eating the contents of a dead boy’s stomach.

Maika Halfwolf has a monster living inside her, and her quest for the truth leads to her enigmatic mother and beyond, while she hides from those who would use her in a land full of political intrigue and betrayal.

Sana Takeda’s artwork is absolutely gorgeous,

Image panel from the first volume Continue reading

Two Hearts by Peter S. Beagle (The Last Unicorn #1.5)

Title: Two Hearts
Series: The Last Unicorn
Author: Peter S. Beagle
Date Added: August 24, 2014
Date Started: July 27, 2018
Date Finished: August 10, 2018
Reading Duration: 14 Days
Genre: Short Story, Fantasy

Cover of Two Hearts by Peter S. BeaglePages: 36
Publication Date: October 2005
Publisher: Online
Media: Website


Coda to The Last Unicorn – a novelette. Available for free on the author’s website.


Do not be ashamed of me because I am old.

If there was one work of fiction or fantasy I would recommend to everyone, it would be The Last Unicorn.  Ahead of its time and meta before meta was cool, it is not your typical fairy tale even though it contains all the elements: a mythic creature, a forlorn quest, an evil king, a hero prince.  Yet, there was an elusive awareness embodied in all of the characters not hitherto seen , as if they, too, were aware they lived in a story, but even with this knowledge, they were still beholden to the rules, tedious though they might be.  Written and published in the late 60’s, Beagle professes it took two years to write, and “it was hard every step of the way.”

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The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg (The Paper Magician #1) (DNF)

Title: The Paper Magician
Series: The Paper Magician
Author: Charlie N. Holmberg
Date Added: June 17, 2016
Date Started: August 9, 2018
Date DNF: August 9, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult (YA)

Cover of The Paper Magician by Charlie N. HolmbergPages: 222
Publication Date: September 1, 2014
Publisher: 47North
Media: eBook/Kindle


Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic… forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined — animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner — a practitioner of dark, flesh magic — invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.


I wished I’d just passed on this based on sample, but I don’t think I read enough to make the correct call.  The beginning is intriguing enough to draw you in, but as I went along the first chapter, I didn’t get much from the MC Ceony except that she’s a good student who wanted to work with metal instead of the paper craft foisted upon her.  Usually students can choose their material, but because Folding is dying out, she was assigned to that.  It’s a pretty common set up for a narrative, and while I did wonder how Holmberg might bend this ubiquitous motif in a unique way, it just didn’t hold my interest, and after rereading the blurb, I felt less of a draw to find out.

I’m not counting the author out though.  I do like her style, and I have Smoke and Summons from her Numina series on my list.

Dolor and Shadow by Angela B. Chrysler (Tales of the Drui #1)

Title: Dolor and Shadow
Series Title: Tales of the Drui
Author: Angela B. Chrysler
Date Added: June 16, 2016
Date Started: July 4, 2018
Date Finished: August 8, 2018
Reading Duration: 35 Days
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology

Cover of Dolor and Shadow by Angela B. Chrysler (Tales of the Drui #1)Pages: 588
Publication Date: May 31, 2015
Publisher: Creativia
Media: eBook/Kindle


As the elven city burns, Princess Kallan is taken to Alfheim while a great power begins to awaken within her. Desperate to keep the child hidden, her abilities are suppressed and her memory erased. But the gods have powers as well, and it is only a matter of time before they find the child again.

When Kallan, the elven witch, Queen of Lorlenalin, fails to save her dying father, she inherits her father’s war and vows revenge on the one man she believes is responsible: Rune, King of Gunir. But nothing is as it seems, and the gods are relentless.

A twist of fate puts Kallan into the protection of the man she has sworn to kill, and Rune into possession of power he does not understand. From Alfheim, to Jotunheim, and then lost in the world of Men, these two must form an alliance to make their way home, and try to solve the lies of the past and of the Shadow that hunts them all.


I had started reading this before and Initially thought it was boring or the characters irritated me for some reason, but as I’d barely finished the prologue, I figured I’d give it another chance.  The beginning quote is directly from The Poetic Edda, which I’d recently finished, and the novel itself if rife with Norse Mythology.

The prologue introduces two characters, a grandmother and her granddaughter who are elves or Alfar (as the story calls them) living on Midgard, and there are mentions of Alfenheim and Jotunheim, which are other locales on Yggdrasil, the World Tree.  Gudrun, the elder, is telling the young Kallan about a war between the Aesir and Vanar with the latter on the losing end.  I’m always down for Norse Mythology, so my hopes were high, but they had been as soon as I saw the title had “dolor” in it, which not only means “sorrow” in Latin, but is also used in the Advent Children version of “One Winged Angel,” which has been stuck in my head since I started writing this review.

“Saevam iram
Iram et dolorum…”

The title translates to “Sorrow and Shadow” so I was pretty stoked.

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The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen

Title: The Faust Act
Series Title: The Wicked + The Divine
Author: Kieron Gillen
Illustrators: Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson & Clayton Cowles
Date Added: June 6, 2017
Date Started: August 2, 2018
Date Finished: August 7, 2018
Reading Duration: 5 days
Genre: Graphic Novel/Comic, Fantasy, Mythology

Cover of The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust ActPages: 176
Publication Date: November 12, 2014
Publisher: Image Comics
Media: Hardback (Library)


Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever. 


The story is fast paced and glamorous in this “gods incarnated into the bodies of youths” metaphor of celebrity culture.  It starts off with Lucifer

standing trial for murder, and the trial itself ending in an unexpected way (yes, even more unexpected than Phoenix Wright, though there is an explosion of sorts…).   It’s clever how once again Lucifer is being thrown under the bus for something he (in shtis case she) didn’t do (as in some interpretations/translations “Lucifer” was erroneously conflated with Satan, but this is something I need to do more research on).

The majority of the characters in this are POC including the main Laura who desperately wants into this world.

Laura Wilson, main character from The Wicked + The DivineThe cycle, or at least who’s chosen, seems perpetuated by Ananke who appears as an old woman.  She infuses people (usually teenagers from what I can tell) with the incarnation per what Luci explains, and this is the main reason Laura was at the Amaterasu concert.  Everyone wants to be a god, but no one wants to deal with the consequences.

The artwork in this graphic novel is absolutely gorgeous; McKelvie, Wilson, and Cowles definitely deserve all the props, but the story is vapid AF.  Before you castigate me and insist “That’s the point!” let me elaborate.  My assumption is that later volumes delve deeper into the reasons for the recurrence, but if this first one is meant as an introduction, it does a poor job at showing them as anything more than one-dimensional caricatures.

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The State of the Writer: 2/23/20

<–The State of the Writer: 2/9/20         The State of the Writer: 3/8/20–>

A post updated every other Sunday discussing my current writing projects and any completed the prior two weeks.

Finished Projects: 3


Project: Story
Title:
The Broken Rose
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Type: Fanfiction
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Length: Novel
Current Word Count: 252,492
Prior Word Count: 252,713
Word Difference: -221
Status: Editing
Progress: First edit of Chapter 22

This chapter has some interesting challenges, and I may end up with two versions of it.  I saw someone do that once on Fanfic.net.  I was talking with The Ink Garden about my wacky timelines/AU scenarios, but it was only scratching the surface.  There are more branches than a tree, which is…kinda fitting when I think about it.  I’m trying to add any additional text in my first edit instead of after, because it just doesn’t make sense to do any kind of editing prior to including additions.

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A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir (An Ember in the Ashes #3)

An Ember in the Ashes

<–A Torch Against the Night

Title: A Reaper at the Gates
Series: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Date Added: August 23, 2017
Date Started: July 2, 2018
Date Finished: August 4, 2018
Reading Duration: 33 days
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopian, Young Adult (YA), Romance

A Reaper at the Gates coverPages: 464
Publication Date: June 12, 2018
Publisher: Razorbill
Media: Paperback


Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister’s life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she’d have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias’s devotion–even at the cost of his humanity.


***Spoilers for all previous books in the series***

Tahir has the gift of making characters on both sides of the conflict sympathetic, even casting some compassion on Keris Veturia.  Though a tortured past doesn’t excuse the horrible things one does, it often provides an explanation.  It is no easy feat to do something like this, and it is one of the better attributes of ASOIAF, as well.  Like Martin, Tahir not only titles her chapters by the character whose viewpoint we follow, but she adds additional ones with each volume.  This is merely logistical, though; what’s more interesting is how Tahir, like GRRM, seems to subscribe (whether consciously or no) to William Faulkner’s philosophy:

The only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself.

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The Books of 2019

Goodreads Challenge: 20
Books Finished: 20
Books DNF: 5

I lowered my challenge from 50 books to 20 in 2019, and I think this was a good idea.  I’m keeping that same energy in 2020, plus it goes with the number.  I still have book reviews from 2018 to write, so the lower number theoretically helps bring that down, too (not…really).

Because I only read 20 books, I’m going to list them all here in no particular order at first then the Top 10 after.


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Classic)

You really have to keep your present sensibilities in check in order to garner what Fitzgerald was after.  It’s not a bad message about how we treat the very young vs. the very old, but it comes with a whole bunch of yikes.

Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare (Classic)

The question of Cleopatra’s betrayal is still up in the air, and the ruminations on the concept are far more fascinating than the answer.

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (Classic)

Oh my fucking god, this was almost laughably bad in so many ways.  I’m glad I read it, but it was dry and plodding for so many chapters.  The most interesting parts involved the Persian who doesn’t even get a name.  Raoul’s character as well as Eric’s were greatly improved by Andrew Lloyd Weber’s musical, which greatly improved upon many aspects of Leroux’s work.

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Black Butler, Vol. 1 by Yana Toboso (Kuroshitsuji #1)

Title: Black Butler, Vol. 1
Series Title: Kuroshitsuji
Author: Yana Toboso
Translator: Tomo Kimura
Date Added: January 8, 2018
Date Started: July 26, 2018
Date Finished: August 2, 2018
Reading Duration: 7 days
Genre: Manga/Graphic Novel, Young Adult (YA), Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror

Black Butler, Vol. 1 coverPages: 192
Publisher: Yen Press
Publication Date: February 27, 2007
Media: Paperback (Library)


In the Victorian ages of London The Earl of the Phantomhive house, Ciel Phantomhive, needs to get his revenge on those who had humiliated him and destroyed what he loved. Not being able to do it alone he sells his soul to a demon he names Sebastian Michaelis. Now working as his butler, Sebastian must help the Earl Phantomhive in this suspenseful, exciting, thriller manga.


This is one of those books where the blurb tells you more than the initial chapters.  I didn’t realize Sebastian was a demon Ciel sold his soul to until I neared the end, though I did peak at the chapter titles and the last one is called “The Butler Most Evil.”  I spent the entire book wondering about the Earl of Phantomhive’s eye patch and wondering if that had anything to do with his dark deal.  Sadly, I doubt I’ll even find out unless I watch the anime or look up the wiki.

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Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson (Lumberjanes #1) (DNF)

Title: Beware the Kitten Holy
Series Title: Lumberjanes
Author: Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, & Faith Hicks
Artists: Brooke A. Allen, Shannon Waters, Kay Leyh, Carolyn Nowak, & Carey Pietsch
Date Added: January 13, 2017
Date Started: July 19, 2018
Date DNF: July 25, 2018
Reading Duration: 6 days
Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult (YA), Fantasy

Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten HolyPages: 128
Publisher: BOOM! Box
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Media: Paperback (Library)


At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together… And they’re not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here.


I feel like this was definitely geared towards a different demographic than yours truly’s, which is why I ended up DNFing it.  So much wacky stuff was going on that I never got much of a sense of the characters, but to be fair I didn’t get much past Chapter 1.  There was a pattern of the girls finding and/or running from three-eyed creatures .  They start off facing three-eyed foxes, run into a three-eyed river monster, and then Ripley tries to get her candy bar back from a three-eyed eagle (believe it or not).  From what I read, the characters seemed pretty interchangeable, except for the one girl who could recite the Lumberjanes pledge by memory.  I’m hoping they became more distinct as the story went on.  There was decent representation, at least in terms of racial diversity, and I can see the appeal; it just wasn’t appealing to me.  Kinda like Mamma Mia lol.