Bout of Books Day 1: Fictional Travel!

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Today’s challenge is to list 3 to 6 books of fiction that take place in countries other than the one you currently reside in. Some countries are easy to find books set in them, but possibly the more challenging of picks will be the ones that intrigue the most. All you need to do is list the books of choice on your blog, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, etc., and display them how you wish. BE CREATIVE! Then come back here and link up your results, and then visit other participants’ blogs and social media link-ups and see what books they chose for the challenge.

Challenge is hosted by Between Library Shelves

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My choices are:

*Stormdancer by Jay Krostoff (Japan)
*The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop (Terreille, Hell and Kaeleer Fantasy realms)
*Bride of the Water God by Mi-Kyung Yun (Korea)
*Nightwatch by Sergei Lukyanenko (Russia)
*A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (England and cross dimensional worlds)
*Something From the Nightside (Alternative London)

Bout of Books 14: Day 1 Goals.

I’m so excited to be participating in my first ever Bout of Books. I’m really looking forward to all the challenges and twitter talks and connecting with other bloggers as we all get together to do this read-a-thon.

My main goals:

1. Participate in the daily challenges.
2. Take part in the twitter talks (I’ve set alarms on my phone since we’re in different time zones)
3. Read 7 books off of my August TBR pile.

Read:
What’s Left of Me Kat Zhang
The Iron Thorn Caitlin Kittredge
Sweet Home Tillie Cole
Deep Blue Jennifer Donnelly
Bared to You by Sylvia Day
Sweetest Treat by A.R. Von
Stardust by Rue Volley

4. Read the following manga:

Drug & Drop by Clamp
Gangasta. v. 5 by Kohske
Dogs: Bullets and Carnage v. 9 by Shirow Miwa

I’m really hoping I can get everything accomplished. I know I may have set the bar a little too high, but I want to challenge myself.

Comic Talk: Morning Glories

Title Morning Glories Vol 1: For a Better Future.

Publisher: Image comics

Writer/Artist: Spencer, Eisma, Esquejo

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064akasa_zpsdf6a064akasa_zpsdf6a064akasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis: One of the most prestigious prep schools in the country…But behind it’s hallowed doors something sinister and deadly lurks. When six brilliant but troubled new students arrive, they find themselves trapped and desperately seeking answers..and escape from a place where nothing is what it seems to be.

picadillypink This was a little bit of a different read for me. I’m drawn toward stories like this, but usually in standard novels, not so much the comic book/graphic novel world (though most of my manga run along this type of story as well). I really like this volume, and I’m going to read more of this series, I had just gotten distracted by some of the DC story lines. Now that I’m pretty much caught up with the ones that I’m seriously following, I’m going to go back to looking at a few Marvel lines, and some Image.

Morning Glories is a pretty wild ride. The story in this first volume is a little jumpy, often back tracking on itself and twisting into various little side teasers of things to come. The main arc is pretty dense and convoluted–the kids show up at a boarding school, all for different reasons, all having some seriously weird tendencies and all having the same birthday. When they contact their parents, its as though they were never born–one character’s parents end up dying. There’s a lot of layers stuffed into this one volume, and it took me a little while to get into the groove.

What saved this comic for me though, and what made me give it a five star rating is the cast. The characters are well thought out, well drawn and distinguishable from one another, despite being a large ‘main’ cast. Each character has a brilliant flaw, a little (or a lot) messed up, and they’re compelling with really clear motives. We don’t get the full reason why each one is there, but hinted back story of a few of the characters, I’m thinking of two in particular, are freaking awesome. They’re edgy without throwing it in the reader’s face. I LOVE the female characters, they’re intelligent and strong, and often take the lead in group situations. The art is phenomenal inside the volume, I’m not particularly fond of the trade cover.

Overall: pink4 This is not your typical “bad guys v. Good guys’ comic book where the hero swoops in and saves the day. Right now? There’s no hero, just a bunch of flawed teenagers stuck in a really messed up place. I’ve seen a lot of comparisons to Lost (which I didn’t read) but that should give you an idea as to how layered/convoluted this is. Pick it up and read it with an open mind, and resist the urge to spoil yourself. Just read and and go with it.

Flowers for Algernon (Throw Back Thursday)

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Title: Flowers for Algernon
Author:Daniel Keyes
Published: 1966

Synopsis:
With more than five million copies sold, Flowers for Algernon is the beloved classic story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. In poignant diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. As the experimental procedure takes effect, Charlie’s intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment seems to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance until Algernon begins his sudden, unexpected deterioration. Will the same happen to Charlie?

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I first heard of this book in sixth grade when part of it was printed in our language arts books. It was in the back of the book meaning that we’d never ever get to it during the school year, so I did what any book loving sixth grader would do, and read it after I was doing homework. I was hooked, not fully understanding the scope of the story. It wasn’t until later, when I re-read it for high school that it really just struck a chord with me. This novel is so beyond the time period it was written, that even now, in this day and age it’s so complex and profound. I don’t normally get around calling books profound, but this book really is. It takes the scope of human intelligence, and what defines intelligence and turns it around, really making the reader focus on what they consider valuable in humanity and that’s a really harsh pill to swallow.

This book breaks my heart into eight million tiny pieces. From the first paragraph, Charlie who wants so desperately to do nothing but gain intelligence so he ‘can have lots of friends who like him.’ is something spectacular. Later on during the novel he calls himself extraordinary, which is interesting because the word encompasses both his extraordinary mental handicaps and then his extraordinary intelligence as he progresses after the surgery. I really like how the author shows us the rise and fall of the man named Charlie. When we first meet him, he can’t even spell his name correctly, and as his world knowledge grows, you see that not only his knowledge of superficial things, but the way human minds work, to when he starts to regress. Something interesting that I noticed is that he had better interpersonal relationships when he was handicapped then when he was considered a ‘functioning member’ of society.

It might sound a little silly, but this book inspired me to take more patience with special needs people. I’ve discovered that love working with them, as I’ve had lots of opportunities to volunteer and work on a one-on-one basis with some extraordinary kids and adults.

This book…this book guys it just breaks my heart. It’s beautiful and poignant, smart and well written. It’s something that has stood against the ages, and it will always be something that I will hold dear to me.

Tell me about a book that even now grips you by the heartstrings and doesn’t let you go.

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Wednesday Briefs

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Wednesday Briefs is a weekly flash fiction feature on my blog. I’ll write 500-1000 words based on a prompt, share it with you and then link you to other bloggers doing the same thing.

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Dark Rights Chapter 1 part 2

The heavy wooden door slammed shut behind me when I stepped over the threshold. The interior of the building was as I remembered it. A welcoming hall, two glass doors that lead into a sanctuary—still lined with moth chewed pews. There was a woman hunched over in one of the pews, her hands clasped together, resting on the back of the pew in front of her. Gray didn’t run it as a church, but he respected the need for a place to talk to whoever may be listening.

“Your room is in the back.” He handed me the backpack. “You know the way. Drop your stuff and I’ll get you something to eat.” His eyes landed on me, studied me in a way he hadn’t in the glaring light of the late afternoon sun. “Change your clothes.” With that he wheeled past me, through the glass doors to sit next to the woman in the pew.

Continue reading

Comic Talk: Gotham Academy v. 1

Writer/Artist: Becky Cloonan, Branden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl.
Trade includes: Issues 1-6, alternative cover art, character design sketches.
Released: June 17, 2015 by DC Comics.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:

Gotham City’s most prestigious prep school is a very weird place. It’s got a spooky campus, oddball teachers, and rich benefactors always dropping by…like that weirdo Bruce Wayne. But nothing is as strange as the students!

Like, what’s up with Olive Silverlock? Is she crazy or what? Where did she go last summer? And what’s the deal with her creepy mom? And how come that Freshman Maps is always following her around? And is she still going out with Kyle? P.S. Did you hear the rumor about the ghost in the North Hall?!

picadillypink: Stop what you’re doing right now, get yourself to the local comic shop, or the library and pick this up. It is a departure from the dark, heavily inked lines of the classic DC lines, the art here being bright and splashy with a watercolor overtone. Day scenes are bright and vivacious, with night scenes still maintaining that fresh burst of color, but being rich and deep in tone. The art alone had sold me on this comic before I even started to read the volume.

Then I read it. The characters are well rounded, vibrant and interesting. The main character is Olive Silverlock, a second year student who is tasked to show her ‘not boyfriend’s’ little sister around campus and be her mentor. Maps (or Mia) is one of the most refreshing characters I’ve seen in a long time. Overly excitable, a giant raging nerd–most of her time is spent creating her ultimate role playing team, and follows Olive with so much adoration that it’s hard not to love her. She and Olive stumble across a mystery that lurks in the shadows of the academy and decide to investigate further. Teaming up with the girl wonder team, is a kid who can get you anything you need for the right price, and a couple of bullies (who are later redeemed). The rag tag team which is a blend of Nancy Drew and the Scooby Do gang get into a bit of trouble, get in over their heads, and manage to save the day within the last few pages. I really love how each character has clear, distinct motives that differ from on another. Something that really stood out for me with this series is the drastic varying shades of gray that exist in the characters’ eyes. Things in Gotham are so often set in shades of black and white (I’m talking morality here right v wrong). It’s very fluid and an interesting addition to the Gotham/Batman verse. The villain that is introduced here has a very different side than what is presented in the main Bat verse. Not to mention Olive’s interaction both with Bruce Wayne, and Batman–not that I’m going to give any spoilers, but it’s really neat.

Overall: pink5 Beautiful art, great story with mystery, comedy and a bit of horror. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.

Bout of Books 14 Sign Up!

I’ve been curious about Bout of Books since round 12 when it started showing up in my twitter feed/blog feed, however I missed the sign ups for it. I did the same thing with round 13–BUT I am signing up this time! Here’s some more information about it.

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The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 17th and runs through Sunday, August 23rd in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 14 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team.

Bout of Books

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I’m adding my link. Are you going to sign up? Let’s be reading buddies!

Comic Talk: Superman Wonder Woman (New 52)

Writer/Artists: Charles Soule, Tony S Daniel

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis: The Man of Steel and the Warrior Princess. An alien and a goddess. They come from two different worlds. But together, Superman and Wonder Woman have teamed up THIS world from all who would harm it.

And they’ve fallen in love doing it.

SO far, they’ve kept their relationship a secret, worried that the world isn’t ready to find out that its two most powerful super heroes are more than just teammates. But secrets have a way of escaping. And the very different worlds that the world’s greatest couple have inhabited are about to collide.

Wonder Woman’s actions on Earth have angered the gods of Olympus, and Superman makes for the perfect target for their revenge. And Superman is not the only being to survive the destruction of his home planet Krypton–the Phantom Zone prison houses an entire dimension full of criminals, killers and worse, yearning to break free.

Gods and monsters alike threaten not just Superman and Wonder Woman, but everyone and everything they care about. Will their love spell doomsday for planet Earth?

picadillypink I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS. I could not put it down, and I’ve got it on order from my local comic shop (I picked this up initially from the library) and the monthlys are on my pull list, because I don’t want to wait for the trades to come out. Their relationship built on respect and mutual respect/affection. The characters of Wonder Woman and Superman for me have always made sense together and I like the draw between them in this series–despite it being set up rather quickly. They gravitate toward each other and round each other out really well. Superman is a little brash/younger in this relaunch and Wonder Woman balances him out. I love that while their chemistry is off the charts–they do argue, and it’s done really well. So much so that Batman (who may or may not steal the comic, but we all know I’m a Batman fanatic) comes in and lays down some hard logic, and is the voice of reason.

Like all good secret relationships, the cover is blown, in a rather cliched way but it doesn’t bother me as much as it normally would. Their response to it is flawless, both Supes and Wonder Woman taking it in stride. Batman on the other hand has a temper tantrum and blows up a monitor broadcasting the ‘reveal’ again and again. As much as I like the relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman, I really like how they both look to Batman as a friend, and for guidance. The power play between the three icons is something that fascinates me and it’s really nice to see them in a positive light here and working together.

There is outside conflict with Zod showing up, and Doomsday making his presence known. But beside this, this trade really is all about the relationship between the two powerhouse superheroes. They struggle to find time to themselves, and for each other. I really loved this.

Overall: pink4 I cannot get enough of this series. The art is BEAUTIFUL, the story really interesting and engaging. I’m curious to see where it goes.

August TBR pile!

One of my goals for this month is to really get back into the swing of reading and blogging about what I read. So I figured the best way to start that out is to pick a few books as a pre-assembled to read list and work off of that rather than staring at my overloaded shelves and thinking “I have nothing to read so I’m going to go buy another book”.

This is my list for August (hopefully to be completed by August 31st) and if I read more, I’ll certainly blog about them and bring them up again in my monthly wrap up.

1. What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang. I bought this for a swap partner, and then I ended up falling in love with the synopsis–and I received it as book mail as well.

2. The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge. I had this on my wishlist for the ninjabook mini summer swap, and I got it and the two companions.

3. Love Fortunes and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius. I won this off of a blog contest and I’m really excited to read it. The blogger had nothing but great things to say about it.

4. Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. One that was on my wishlist forever and a swap partner got it for me.

5. Countdown City by Ben H. Winters. I bought this and The Last Policeman at the same time, and I loved The Last Policeman—I just hadn’t gotten around to Countdown City.

6. Sweet Home by Tillie Cole. I actually met Tilly at the Emerald City Author Event 2014, and she signed this for me (I’ll show the inscription when I post the review), and I really want to read it. I’m in love with the cover.

7. Gangsta volume 5 by Kohske. I’m a few volumes behind and I need to get caught up because I love this series so much.

8. Dogs Bullets and Carnage vol 9 by Shirow Miwa. I was in B&N last night and saw that volume 10 had finally been released, so I really tossed this on here so I can get caught up.

9. Drug and Drop Vol 1 by Clamp. Again, I saw that volume 2 was out and I really needed to read volume 1.

10. Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly. This is another one that I picked up for a swap partner and ended up on my own wish list.

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That is my TBR list for August. Please share yours with me! I’d love to see it. If you’ve read anything on my list, let me know how you liked it.