Thursday, February 23, 2017

Thursday Threads - Punk Moon 2.0

art by Courtneyworthit

I love Living Dead Clothing. Their stuff is always awesome. A few months back they came out with a kick-ass Punk Sailor Moon line of dresses and shirts, but only with the Inner Scouts.

Add caption

Now they're back with with the Outer Scouts and they are just as awesome.

Sailor Chibi Moon "Heartbreaker"

Even though I'm not a fan of the Outers (except Pluto)
 [I have my reasons and will argue at length if you let me], I still really want all these dresses

Sailor Neptune "Tidal Idol"

And yes, even the shirts, although they are not my style

Sailor Uranus "Ace of Blades"

All the pictures and phrases on the back are spot on and I love them

Sailor Saturn "Reborn to be Wild"

Sailor Pluto "The Final Countdown"

So, what do you think? Are you and Inner or an Outer kinda scout?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Thursday Threads - Her Universe Is Back Online!

Her Universe is back open and I am excited!  You'd be surprised how much time I spend on that site (or if you're a long time reader, you probably won't be surprised at all)

I'm excited that they will finally be offering bigger sized, as their stuff tend to run on the small side.
I also like that they are improving the international shipping. Maybe that'll mean that it won't cost an arm and a leg to ship to Canada anymore.
It's nice that they're adding stuff for boys too. We can all geek out together

They haven't released much new stuff (including the shirt that she's wearing above that I desperately want), but I'm thrilled with the release of this Carrie Fisher tribute

I like when places really understand the people they are trying to honor. I think Carrie would find the donations a fitting tribute.

So here's to a new year, a better site and sweet geek girl awesomeness 

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

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Brand New 52 - December Edition

art by Neverblue t-shirts

Can you believe that 2016 is over? I can, and thank goodness for it. I know that 2016 seemed all bad, but there were some good things too. Like I, not only, beat my reading record from last year, but I doubled my goal!

Holy shit, that's a lot of reading.

Speaking of which, here's what I read this month:

by Hans Christian Andersen

64 Pages

For love of a handsome prince, the youngest mermaid makes a bargain with the evil sea-witch and endures great suffering in order to become human.

This has always been one of my favorite stories, from the Disney version to the Toei Animation version, I couldn't get enough of it when I was younger. But despite loving it, I'd never actually read the original. Thanks to Serial Reader, I finally got the chance.
And it was good. I really liked it. I can see where both studios pulled their ideas from the book, little things like Ursula's garden full of creatures and her two eels. 
It's a sad tale, of course, with the little mermaid (no name) dies at the end due to the Prince marrying another girl and her hurling herself off the boat and into the water to become sea foam.

by Ann Aguirre

336 Pages

Once Corine Solomon only had the touch—the ability to read an object’s past by handling it. Then she inherited her mother’s magick, and that ended up being a hell of a burden. But if Corine can wrestle a demon queen and win, she can bring back her lover Chance after he’s made the ultimate sacrifice. Can’t she? All Corine knows is that she can’t leave Chance behind if there’s anything she can do about it.
But the clock is ticking—and she still has to deal with debt-collecting demons and a maniacal archangel who’s running a recruitment drive. The stakes have never been so high…and this time it’s truly Corine’s last chance to save the love of her life.

This was the last book in the series, but I was okay with seeing it end. It wasn't the greatest book that she's wrote, but like all her other series, she manages to wrap things up like no one else I've ever read. Little things that are just asides in earlier books get wrapped up. It's incredible. This is another one of her series that is totally worth reading.

by Jude Deveraux

277 Pages

A relentless campaign by phone, letter, and email has persuaded Hollander Latham's parents to purchase the home of her dreams: Spring Hill, a beautiful North Carolina plantation where Holly spent her memorable thirteenth summer. Now a successful architect, Holly is intent on reuniting with Spring Hill's neighbor and her love from that long-ago summer, wealthy heir Laurence Beaumont she dreams of working her way into Lorrie's heart while restoring his historic estate, Belle Chere. But as Christmas fast approaches, Nick Taggert a mysterious stranger who makes her laugh and tempts her with a surprising passion turns her plans upside down. One man can seduce her with fortune and privilege; the other can promise her the simple gift of love. And on a frost-covered Christmas night, Holly's choice will unmask astonishing truths and hidden dangers revelations that will forever change her charmed life and her vulnerable heart.

I waited all year to read this book (tbr). All year..... Yup, I thought it was a Christmas book. I mean, look at the cover and read the blurb. Totally a Christmas book.... Nope, not at all. Not only does most of this book take place in the summer, but Christmas is just an arbitrary day that's thrown in at the end with absolutely no meaning.
Also this book plods along at a nice pace for most of it and then suddenly does a 180' and spirals weirdly from there. I was disappointed in this book

by Sarah J. Maas

662 Pages (23:16 Hours)

Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.
Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.
With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

I really loved this book. I mean, I loved the first one, but this one was sooooo much better. All those things that made me feel icky about Feyre and Tamlin's relationship comes to a head and she realizes that even though she's sacrificed so much for him, their relationship is super unhealthy. This book is very much about healing, both mentally physically and emotionally and that is wonderful. So many authors skip that healing phase, when in fact, it is the most character building phase there is.
I'm so sad that the next book isn't out yet. I want to read it so badly!

by Charles Dickens

117 Pages (3:42 Hours)

This classic story is the second in a series of five Christmas books Dickens was commissioned to write - beginning with A Christmas Carol. A haunting tale set on New Year's Eve, The Chimes tells the story of a poor porter named Trotty Veck who has become disheartened by the state of the world - until he is shown a series of fantastical visions that convince him of the good of humanity. Though much different from and certainly a bit darker than A Christmas Carol, the moral message of The Chimes is equally poignant - touting the importance of compassion, goodwill, and the love of friends and family.

This was a gift from Audible last year as a thank you for being a member. Thinking it was a Christmas story and Christmas already being past, I did the only reasonable thing, I waited the entire year to listen to it before Christmas. Turns out that it's actually a New Years story and I could have listened to it last year. Also turns out that Charles Dickens isn't all that great. This story was an awful mess. It sort of started out as a "treat those less fortunate than you better" and turned into a weird ghost story full of visions (you feeling like you know this story yet?) that are suppose to convince him of humanity's goodness, but it doesn't quite pull it off as well as A Christmas Carol. In fact, I was confused as to the impact the nasty visions were suppose to have.
I guess I did learn not to read Dickens unless you have to

by Joanne Fluke

352 Pages

When it comes to holidays, Minnesotans rise to the occasion—and the little town of Lake Eden is baking up a storm with Hannah Swensen leading the way. The annual Christmas Buffet is the final test of the recipes Hannah has collected for the Lake Eden Holiday Buffet Cookbook.
The recently divorced Martin Dubinski arrives at the buffet with his new Vegas showgirl wife—all wrapped up in glitter and fur. His ex-wife, however, seems as cool as chilled eggnog. And when Hannah’s mother’s antique Christmas cake knife disappears, its discovery in the décolletage of the new—and now late—Mrs. Dubinski puts the festivities on ice.
With everyone stranded at the community center by a blizzard, Hannah puts her investigative skills to the test, using the ingredients at hand: half the town of Lake Eden—and a killer. Now, as the snowdrifts get higher, it’s up to Hannah to dig out all the clues—and make sure that this white Christmas doesn’t bring any more deadly tidings…

Another murder? How do these keep happening at such a regular interval to be conveniently found by our Heroine? Ah, who cares, these are always silly fun and truth be told, I read them for the recipes.  Best thing about this book: It was only 252 pages long and had 100 pages of recipes at the back!!!!
Yay! That's what I call a Christmas miracle! 

by Charles Dickens

112 Pages

In October 1843, Charles Dickens ― heavily in debt and obligated to his publisher ― began work on a book to help supplement his family's meagre income. That volume, A Christmas Carol, has long since become one of the most beloved stories in the English language. As much a part of the holiday season as holly, mistletoe, and evergreen wreaths, this perennial favourite continues to delight new readers and rekindle thoughts of charity and goodwill.
With its characters exhibiting many qualities ― as well as failures ― often ascribed to Dickens himself, the imaginative and entertaining tale relates Ebenezer Scrooge's eerie encounters with a series of spectral visitors. Journeying with them through Christmases past, present, and future, he is ultimately transformed from an arrogant, obstinate, and insensitive miser to a generous, warm-hearted, and caring human being. Written by one of England's greatest and most popular novelists, A Christmas Carol has come to epitomize the true meaning of Christmas.

Wait... did I just say that I learned that I shouldn't read Dickens unless I have to? Yeah, I did. But if you're going to read Dickens at all, this is a pretty good one. I actually quite enjoyed it. I haven't read it since I was a kid, so it was nice to revisit it without having to watch one of the terrible reiterations of it. (which I refuse to watch after nightmares of Uncle Scrooge trying to drag me to hell with him)
This book does have one of my new favorite analogies in it though: 
"Marley's face. It was not in impenetrable shadow as the other subjects in the yard were, but had a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar."
After much laughing and much research, I discovered that when lobsters go bad, the bacteria that eats at it glows slightly in the dark. See? You just learned something. No go out there and make "Like a bad lobster in a dark cellar" a thing

by Bailey Cates

320 Pages

When the bookshop next to the Honeybee Bakery hosts a signing for a Savannah radio celebrity's new self-help book, magical baker Katie Lightfoot is happy to provide some delectable desserts. A big crowd has turned out for the event, curious about the book (and maybe to sample some goodies), but the final chapter comes too soon for the author when she is found dead at the event.
The prime suspect is Angie Kissel, a former witch whose familiar was once Katie’s own terrier, Mungo. Katie is at first hesitant to help, afraid of losing the little dog who has become so important to her. But after a little nudge from Mungo himself, Katie decides to try to conjure up the real killer—before Angie gets served...

A Bakery next to a Book Shop! My dream come true! Not so much the murder, but you know what I mean. The more I read this series, the more I want to have baking magic. It's amazing how much I actually think about it; what I would bake, how it would help people (Don't even get me started about the baking magic in Fantastic Beasts) sigh....
Anyway, this book was fun and I really enjoyed it. I was a little disappointed with the recipes at the back, but they can't all be magical scones (just Greek scones this time... gross..)
Hopefully the next book will be just as good.

by Charles Dickens

108 Pages

Includes A Christmas Tree, What Christmas is, as We Grow Older, the Poor Relation's Story, the Child's Story, the Schoolboy's Story and Nobody's Story.

Remember above when I said you shouldn't read Dickens unless you have to? Well, I didn't listen to myself. I was trying so hard to get in as much Christmas reading that I forced myself to read these awful, awful short stories. Only one of them had anything to do with Christmas at all, and that was A Christmas Tree; where he talks about the decoration on his tree and what they remind him of. This includes Ghost Stories, which he tells 3 or 4 of in the middle of the story. It's really awkward. The other stories only mention Christmas in them but aren't actually about Christmas at all. It's really weird. I don't recommend.

by Leigh Bardugo

462 Pages (15:25 Hours)

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...
A convict with a thirst for revenge
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager
A runaway with a privileged past
A spy known as the Wraith
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes 
Kaz's crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.

I kept hearing great things about this book, so I finally picked it up in an Audible sale and I'm very glad that I did. It was excellent. If you want a great Ocean's 11 style story based in a fantasy universe with crazy magic and fun characters, I suggest picking this up. I enjoyed that they actually hired multiple voice actors for all the different characters, it gave it more life that some other audio books have. Seriously, what are you waiting for? Go get this book.

by Wendy Holden

468 Pages

Four parents-to-be seem ante-natally sorted. Flash Hugo and Amanda have booked a chic private clinic and royal maternity nurse. Right-on Jake and Alice want an all-natural home birth with whale music and tree-hugging nappies. But nothing goes quite to plan. Amanda finds motherhood less glam than the stars make it look and disappears back to her career. Which leaves Hugo with the child and without a clue what to do. 
Alice has problems too. Bringing up baby to Jake’s eco-fascist standards means home-made organic everything and a recycled cardboard cot. Will nappiness bring happiness to anybody? Not before bedhopping spouses, beastly bosses and bitchy nursery mothers have all done their dreadful worst…

I've had this book for years (trb) but never got around to picking it up. I really didn't want to read about parenting, even if it was in Wendy Holden's awesome style. But I'm glad I picked it up because it was great. I shouldn't have been surprised. Wendy Holden always makes he books clever and funny and full of heartwarming characters and horrible people that you love to hate and who always get their comeuppance. I need to find more of her books.

by Leigh Bardugo

560 Pages (18:00 Hours)

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

While you're out buying Six of Crows, you might as well pick up the sequel as well. You're going to want it as soon as you finish the first one anyway. Although not quite as good as the first one, this one has just as much fun and the antics will make you want to keep reading. It's more like Ocean's 12. Still great, but lacking a little bit of the charm and style that the first one had.
After finishing this, I had to look up more books by this author. I'm very excited to know that she has an entire other series based in this land. I may have to head back to the bookstore....

by Terry Pratchett

445 Pages

It's the night before Hogswatch. And its too quiet. 
Where is the big jolly fat man? Why is Death creeping down chimneys and trying to say Ho Ho Ho? The darkest night of the year is getting a lot darker...
Susan the gothic governess has got to sort it out by morning, otherwise there won't be a morning. Ever again...The 20th Discworld novel is a festive feast of darkness and Death (but with jolly robins and tinsel too). 
As they say: 'You'd better watch out...'

Oh Terry Pratchett, you get crazier and crazier with every book of yours that I read. I saved this one for Christmas and it was the best holiday story I read this year.
I already loved Death as a character, but him putting on a red suit and fake beard to take on the mantle of the missing Hogfather made me love him all the more.
There are a lot of different plots going on in this book, which can make it hard to follow sometimes, but it's worth it by the end when you finally figure out what's going on.

So I did pretty good on the challenge this year.
I gave up on Trends While Reading, but only because it was making me depressed I didn't need that.
I finished reading the rest of The Wheel of Time and finished 11 of my 12 TBR pile (and only had to replaced 2 books on it)

Not too shabby if I do say so myself  (and I do)

Books that I am currently reading

by Timothy Zahn
57 of 694 Pages

by Hans Christian Andersen
161 of 343 Pages

by Kiera Cass
3:33 Hours of 8:07 Hours