Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tunage Tuesday - A Tribute to Carrie Fisher

Back at Star Wars Celebration this year, fans were treated to this beautiful, funny tribute to our favorite Space Mom, Senator, General and Princess.

I can't think of a better way of honoring this amazing woman

I'm not crying... you're crying....

Thanks to Geekologie for crying along with me

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Thursday Threads - Hot Topic Build-A-Bear Collection

Every once in a while, two companies that you would never expect, merge together to make something amazing....
weird.... but amazing.

This seems to be the case with Hot Topic and Build-A-Bear's Furry N' Fierce collection

 Yes folks, this is real. You can really buy this bear and dress to match it, with not one, but THREE different outfits!

I'm in love with the bear skulls all over all of these outfits

Are you ready to show off your Build-A-Bear Punk Pride?

P.S. anyone else think they should make a little backpack or purse to go with these so you can carry your bear around with you?

Friday, June 30, 2017

Newfangled 52 - June Edition

I was absolutely swamped this month. Adam was in a motorcycle accident (don't worry, he's okay for the most part) and I spent the month taking care of him as he healed. This left me with little time to read as I was either too busy or too tired to do so. Surprisingly I still managed to finish off a bunch of books that I had started and just hadn't gotten around to finishing.

Here's what I managed to read this month: 

by José Saramago

307 Pages

On election day in the capital, it is raining so hard that no one has bothered to come out to vote. The politicians are growing jittery. Should they reschedule the elections for another day? Around three o' clock, the rain finally stops. Promptly at four, voters rush to the polling stations, as if they had been ordered to appear.
But when the ballots are counted, more than 70 percent are blank. The citizens are rebellious. A state of emergency is declared. But are the authorities acting too precipitously? Or even blindly? The word evokes terrible memories of the plague of blindness that hit the city four years before, and of the one woman who kept her sight. Could she be behind the blank ballots? A police superintendent is put on the case.
What begins as a satire on governments and the sometimes dubious efficacy of the democratic system turns into something far more sinister. A singular novel from the author of Blindness.

Years ago I read the book Blindness and it was spellbinding! It was dark and gritty and really gave you and understanding of the evils of society. I've been looking for the sequel to it for years, but could never find it. My Mom came across it at a book sale and picked it up and I was thrilled.
But this book isn't like Blindness, not at all. In fact, they have so little in common, it's hard to understand why this sequel was written at all.
And like all Saramago books, it's incredibly difficult to read. As I wrote in my last review of his  book Death With Interruptions : There are a few reasons for this. It's translated from Portuguese and sometimes looses a bit in translation. The writing structure is super confusing, but I'm pretty sure that is just how the writer writes. An entire conversation will take place in one long, run-on, sentence. The only way you can tell that the speakers have changed are with commas and a Capital letter. Unless you are paying close attention, it's really hard to follow what's going on. This is especially true in the first half of the book, where there is no main character. - 
The second half of the book again focuses in on characters, the Police Inspector and the Doctor's Wife. That's it, that's their names... as if it wasn't confusing enough.
This is very much a political satire and even though it was written back in 2004, it is especially significant in light of the current political clime. It's worth reading just for that, but I would still recommend Blindness as an introduction to his work

by Gary Poole

416 Pages

RESIST THE ZOMBIE PLAGUE! Top authors bring new perspectives to John Ringo's Black Tide Rising universe, in which humanity fights back against the hordes of infected.
The news that humanity had been dreading for ages had come true. Zombies are real. Worst of all, we created them. The apocalypse was upon us, and every man, woman and child had to answer a simple question of themselves: “What do we do now?” For a group of neighbors in the Chicago suburbs of Northern Indiana, it was “work together or die”...and figure out how to live on top of oil storage tanks to keep the zombies at bay. For the Biological Emergency Response Teams in New York City, it was “how long can we fight off the infected before it's too late” . . .as well as having to fight other groups all out to claim a dwindling stock of supplies and safety. And for a group of cheerleaders, it was about the end of their world. And about what happens when you get a group of physically fit young women with guns really, really angry.
Featuring original stories from some of the brightest stars in the science fiction universe: John Ringo; Eric Flint, John Scalzi & Dave Klecha, Sarah A. Hoyt, Jody Lynn Nye, Michael Z. Williamson, Kacey Ezell, and more.

I picked this book up because I was looking for something junk foody (terrible, tasty and easy) after reading Seeing. Apocalypses cheerleaders seemed just the thing. Sadly I didn't realize that it was a book of short stories. I've never been a big fan of anthologies as I never really feel like I get enough out of short stories. I'm always left wanting more (or less, depending on the author)
Some of these were fun and zany, as you would expect from this genre and others took it in weird directions. I was happy with the amount of women main characters (and tried to ignore the few badly written ones)
There was an apocalypse cheer-leading story, it wasn't about kick-ass cheerleaders doing back flips with Uzis, but about an ex-military woman turned cheer coach trying to protect a squad of cheerleaders. Although not what I wanted, it was still a pretty good story and ranks up there as one of my favorites. Maybe I'll just have to write my own kick-ass cheer squad book, or maybe I'll just go re watch Sucker Punch

694 Pages (26:16 Hours)

Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo are thrust into the middle of an impending civil war - and discover the shocking truth behind the rumored resurrection of the dead Admiral Thrawn. For a beleaguered Empire, desperate times call for desperate measures. Sowing discord among the fragile coalition of The New Republic, remnants of the once powerful Empire make one last play for victory. Having implicated the Bothans in the genocide of the Caamasi, they now plan an attack on Han and Leia that is also to be blamed on the Bothans. If they are successful, the New Republic will be torn asunder. To prevent inevitable disaster, Luke, Leia, Han, and their friends must prove the Bothans innocent and reveal the Empire's treachery. But time is running out.

I've been trying to read this book since last year and just couldn't do it. It was actually on my TBR list from last year and the only book I didn't finish. I finally gave in and bought it as an audiobook. Best choice I'm made in awhile. It actually turned out to be rather entertaining as an audiobook.  SWU doesn't do anything half-assed. This book has sound effects and a narrator that can manage pretty solid impression of most of the characters (except for the women, they all sound the exact same)
It sounded much more like a radio drama than your typical audio reading.
The story itself wasn't great, but then again, no SW story ever is, but Zahn does tend to be better than the rest. It really didn't need to be a 2 part book.
And one more spoilery thing; did anyone else think the marriage proposal from Luck to Mara Jade was a little abrupt? I mean you literally just realized that you liked each other, maybe try dating first? Oh well, it's not like it's cannon anyone anyway.

by Jules Verne

396 Pages

French naturalist Dr. Aronnax embarks on an expedition to hunt down a sea monster, only to discover instead the Nautilus, a remarkable submarine built by the enigmatic Captain Nemo. Together Nemo and Aronnax explore the underwater marvels, undergo a transcendent experience amongst the ruins of Atlantis, and plant a black flag at the South Pole. But Nemo's mission is one of revenge-and his methods coldly efficient.

So I finally managed to get through this. Growing up you here about this book and the movie and the ride at Disney World and you think that it must be something extraordinary. I mean, how exciting it must be to travel down that deep into the sea....
Well it took me most of the book, but I finally realized that 20000 leagues doesn't apply to depth in this book, but length. Yes, they travel 20000 leagues across the sea. Saddening.
Also this book is written from a scientific perspective. He spends chapters explaining the sea life in such a text book fashion that it makes these fascinating creatures positively boring. Even the epic battle with the giant squid wasn't all that interesting. 
When I first realized that this was just one book in a huge series of Extraordinary Voyages, I thought that I might just try and read all of them, but after trudging through this, I think I've had enough excitement from Jules Verne

by Jim Butcher

352 Pages

Harry Dresden -- Wizard
Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations.
Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or
Other Entertainment.
Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things — and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a — well, whatever.
There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get… interesting.
Magic. It can get a guy killed.

I've been hearing about this series for a long time. It always seems to be recommended based on the other books that I read, so for $3 I decided to give it a chance.
I'm going to assume that since this is the first book in the series and there are like a bazillion of them, that he just hasn't hit his stride yet. That said, it wasn't a bad book, it just wasn't great and I couldn't really put my finger on why. Perhaps his use of female characters? I don't know. Will I give his other books a try? Maybe if I find them cheap or am out of other things to read.
I guess that's the problem with having high expectation for a book.... it's easy to get let down

by Sarah J. Maas

699 Pages (25:08 Hours)

Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the number-one New York Times best-selling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.
Feyre has returned to the Spring Court determined to gather information on Tamlin's maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so, she must play a deadly game of deceit - and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre but for her world as well.
As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust among the dazzling and lethal High Lords - and hunt for allies in unexpected places.
In this thrilling third book in the number-one New York Times best-selling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

I've been looking forward to the next edition of this great series and I was not disappointed. 
It continues to deal with all the issues of PTSD and how they affect everyone differently. It's one of those things that I'm very grateful for. So few books actually deal with the aftermath of traumatic events.
I'm actually surprised that this wasn't the last book in the series, since it ended on such a closing note. Not that I'm complaining, I'm actually really excited that she plans on taking the series further. She's quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. And I'm satisfied with where it left off. It'll make it much easier to wait for the next installment, which doesn't even have a name yet.

The Undying Legion (Crown & Key #2)
by Clay Griffith & Susan Griffith

316 Pages

With a flood of dark magic about to engulf Victorian London, can a handful of heroes vanquish a legion of the undead?
When monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane comes across the gruesome aftermath of a ritual murder in a London church, he enlists the help of magician-scribe Simon Archer and alchemist extraordinaire Kate Anstruther. Studying the macabre scene, they struggle to understand obscure clues in the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics carved into the victim’s heart—as well as bizarre mystical allusions to the romantic poetry of William Blake. One thing is clear: Some very potent black magic is at work.
But this human sacrifice is only the first in a series of ritualized slayings. Desperate to save lives while there is still time, Simon, Kate, and Malcolm—along with gadget geek Penny Carter and Charlotte, an adolescent werewolf—track down a necromancer who is reanimating the deceased. As the team battles an unrelenting army of undead, a powerful Egyptian mummy, and serpentine demons, the necromancer proves an elusive quarry. And when the true purpose of the ritual is revealed, the gifted allies must confront a destructive force that is positively apocalyptic.

Time for more junk food. I enjoyed the first book in this series enough that I decided to pick up the second and give it a go. It was much better than the first one. It fixed a lot of the problems that the first one had and characters were written better. I appreciate when that happens. I really like Imogen's character development in it and was happy that they actually did something with her instead of just writing her off.

Books that I am currently reading

by Anthony Ryan
425 of 602 Pages (24:39 Hours)

by Rohinton Mistry
30 of 603 Pages

Ascent of Women
by Sally Armstrong
32 of 320 Pages

The Wind in the Willows
by Kenneth Grahame
90 of 228 Pages

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Thursday Threads - Happy Harry Potter-versary

Can you believe that Harry Potter came out 20 years ago? That seems crazy. That's a lot of time to spend in the Wizarding World, but I would argue that it would be time well spent.

When they first made Harry Potter and the Philosopher's (Sorcerer's) Stone into a movie and everyone was getting excited about it, I found it super annoying. 
Give me a break. I was a teenager and teenyboppers were annoying as Hell. Anything they like, I immediately hated, as any teenager can attest to. My mom had borrowed the first few books from a neighbor kid and told me I wasn't allowed to judge it until I had read them for myself. So I picked up the first book, convinced that I would hate it and was swept away into a magical World and have never looked back since.

And I'm certainly not the only one who's had this experience.
Lots of people are celebrating this anniversary, including two of my fave geeky clothing boutiques. Let's check out what they are offering for this momentous occasion.

Can I just say how much I want to own these House leggings? All of them, not even the houses I'm loyal to.... I just want all of them. 

 And this cloak of invisibility poncho.... yes please...

Hedwig or Bertie Botts? I can't decide. I want both sets

Living Dead tends to offer the best in cosplay dresses and shirts and it makes me so happy that they've added this House collection

This dress makes me head over heels for Hedwig

So how will you be celebrating this occasion?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tunage Tuesday - Final Fantasy Music

I'm not sure if you know or not, but Final Fantasy XIV (14) has just released a new expansion called Stormblood

and it is awesome!!!

Adam and I have been playing for over a year now and it's become an everyday part of our lives. The Final Fantasy games have always been a big part of our lives (even if we differ on which ones are the best) and it's nice that it can continue to do so for us as a couple.
So in honor of Stormblood, here are some lovely songs for you, because who doesn't love FF music?

This Devin Super Tramp film, arranged by Stephen J. Anderson, features non other than our favorite violinist Lindsay Sterling

This medley and the video are absolutely gorgeous! Not to mention that Lindsay brings our favorite characters to life so easily.

So I mentioned that Stormblood is out, but I'm going to go back to the previous expansion for a moment to feature this next song. Heavensward was a great expansion that had a sad story about a woman and a dragon who fall in love and how it ended in disaster for them.  
They even included a song about it. 

It's called Dragonsong

Adam asked me to learn it for him, so I've been working at it slowly. I found this great piano karaoke version of it that lets me practice.

you know, in case you want to learn it to

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to be the most adorable BLM ever

Roxie Sky will kablamo your ass and look adorable doing it

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Newfangled 52 - May Edition

Spring colds turn to viral pneumonia, always fun. I spent most of May sick, hanging out on my couch and binge watching Netflix. And when I couldn't stand to watch anymore crappy movies, I turned to the solace of audiobooks. How wonderful they are. 

Here's what I read and listened to this month:

by Kiera Cass 

342 Pages (8:48 Hours)

Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won Prince Maxon’s heart. Now the time has come for Princess Eadlyn to hold a Selection of her own. Eadlyn doesn’t expect her Selection to be anything like her parents’ fairy-tale love story. But as the competition begins, she may discover that finding her own happily ever after isn’t as impossible as she always thought.

Audible had a sale and I managed to pick up a bunch of books to complete series that I was working on. When I started this, I didn't realize that it was going to be taking place 20 years in the future. Although I was glad that America's story was over, as I couldn't figure out where the story would go from there, I wasn't thrilled with their snotty daughter and redoing the selection all over again. Yet as the book went on, I found myself really getting into it and watching the characters grow in a way that they didn't in the first part of this series. By the end, I couldn't wait to start the next book so I could find out what would happen. 

by Jim C. Hines

389 Pages

When Isaac Vainio helped to reveal magic to the world, he dreamed of a utopian future, a new millennium of magical prosperity. One year later, things aren't going quite as he'd hoped. 
An organization known as Vanguard, made up of magical creatures and ex-Porters, wants open war with the mundane world. Isaac's own government is incarcerating "potential supernatural enemies" in prisons and internment camps. And Isaac finds himself targeted by all sides. 
It's a war that will soon envelop the world, and the key to victory may lie with Isaac himself, as he struggles to incorporate everything he's learned into a new, more powerful form of libriomancy. Surrounded by betrayal and political intrigue, Isaac and a ragtag group of allies must evade pursuit both magical and mundane, expose a conspiracy by some of the most powerful people in the world, and find a path to a better future. 
But what will that futures cost Isaac and the ones he loves?

This series just keeps getting better and better and it's getting harder not to justify buying it in hardcover just so I can find out what comes next. Now that magic is out in the open, the game has totally changed. People are up in arms about the uses of magic both good and bad and many are angry that they've been kept in the dark about it for so long. But while magic can heal the sick and save lives, it can also create new weapon and new destructive armies of magic wielders. It's a pretty neat look at magic that you don't usually get. I also really love libriomancy and the thought of magic coming out of books. So cool.

by Kiera Cass

278 Pages (7:12 Hours)

When Eadlyn became the first princess of Illéa to hold her own Selection, she didn’t think she would fall in love with any of her thirty-five suitors. She spent the first few weeks of the competition counting down the days until she could send them all home. But as events at the palace force Eadlyn even further into the spotlight, she realizes that she might not be content remaining alone.
Eadlyn still isn’t sure she’ll find the fairytale ending her parents did twenty years ago. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and soon Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more impossible—and more important—than she ever imagined.

Who do you think is going to win? It's amazing that with these Bachelor type books, you really do pick a favorite and hope that they win. For me, I was right and super happy about it. This book actually had moments where I found myself getting really emotional. Wasn't expecting that to happen at all. Maybe it was a side effect of being sick. :P
I'm glad this series is over, as I don't think they could've added anything else to complete it more that it already is. I'm looking forward to reading some of her other books.

by Maggie Stiefvater

391 Pages (10:03 Hours)

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.
The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost.
Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

I was glad to pick this series up again, since It's been awhile since I read the last one.
I'm going to say, without a doubt, that this was my favorite out of all of them. 
I really loved that as everything finally started to come together that it all started to fall apart as well. It also had one of the best villains in the series in it.

by Seanan McGuire

354 Pages

October "Toby" Daye is finally doing all right—and that inevitably means it's time for things to take a turn for the worse. Someone has kidnapped the sons of the Duchess Dianda Lorden, regent of the Undersea Duchy of Saltmist. To prevent a war between land and sea, Toby must not only find the missing boys, but also prove that the Queen of the Mists was not behind their abduction. She'll need all her tricks and the help of her allies if she wants to make it through this in one piece.
Toby's search will take her from the streets of San Francisco to the lands beneath the waves. But someone is determined to stop her—and whoever it is isn't playing by Oberon's Laws. As the battle grows more and more personal, one thing is chillingly clear. When Faerie goes to war, not everyone will walk away.

Oooooh..... so good! This month seemed to really be full of the best of the best of series and I'm very happy about that. This one was no exception. I love this series so much.
I always love the descriptions of faerie and the trip to the undersea kingdom knocked my socks off. I am a sucker for a good undersea kingdom. It's hard to imagine the stakes being even higher than usual for Toby and her friends, but somehow they always are. Having to stop a war takes the story telling to new heights and I love it (and hate it for pulling at my heart strings)
Must read more....

by Terry Pratchett

283 Pages

On Discworld, a dying wizard tries to pass on his powers to an eighth son of an eighth son, who is just at that moment being born. The fact that the son is actually a daughter is discovered just a little too late. The town witch insists on turning the baby into a perfectly normal witch, thus mending the magical damage of the wizard's mistake. But now the young girl will be forced to penetrate the inner sanctum of the Unseen University--and attempt to save the world with one well-placed kick in some enchanted shins! 

Adam has really gotten me into Discworld lately, so this became my RBA book for the month. You can tell that this book is early in the Discworld Universe because it doesn't quite have the same flow or level of sass that his later books have. That doesn't make it any less fun though. I love the fact that even early on he's challenging gender roles and "how it's always been"
This book truly great for someone like me.

by Maggie Stiefvater

448 Pages (11:51 Hours)

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love's death. She doesn't believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.

It's always hard to come to the end of a series, but at the same time, it's nice when it's over. That's how I felt about this book. There were some great revelations (and I'm totally shipping it!), but I wasn't overly thrilled about how it ended. I found it to be a little anti-climactic after all the hype surrounding it. Maybe it's just me. I loved everything else about it though.

by Glen Cook

319 Pages

Some feel the Lady, newly risen from centuries in thrall, stands between humankind and evil. Some feel she is evil itself. The hardbitten men of the Balck Company take their pay and do what they must, burying their doubts with their dead.

This was my original RBA for the month, but with being sick and this book being heavy and awkward, it's one of those huge soft cover books that are hard to hold, and me being sick and weak, I put it aside for a lighter paperback. It's also 3 books in one, so it's extra big and clunky. It was a hard book to get into. The writing style is awkward and takes some getting use to, but once you do, the story is quite interesting. Being part of a mercenary guild is difficult, especially when you realize you might be on the wrong side. It also takes a neat look at magical warfare and puts a bit of a more modern spin on it. I will be reading the rest of the books later this year 

by Mitchell Hogan

80 Pages (2:15 Hours)

Ten years before A Crucible of Souls…
In the bustling capital city of the Mahruse Empire, Felicienne Shyrise spends her days as a talented investigator, taking on stolen goods and missing person cases, and the occasional murder the city guard are too incompetent, or too lazy, to resolve.
During nights, she hones her skills playing Dominion, a board game almost as complicated as life itself. She dreams of making a name for herself, and becoming the richest woman in the Empire.
But when she’s roped into a murky investigation by a First Adjudicator to the immortal Emperor himself, her life is thrown into disarray. Will this be the perfect opportunity to showcase her skills and make valuable connections, or will her future now be in the hands of political powers that can never be denied.
Working against her will, and afraid of the consequences of refusing the commission, she uncovers evidence that points to an attempt on the Emperor’s life. Felicienne rapidly finds herself a target, and must use her considerable wits to uncover the plot of an unseen enemy who always seems to be one step ahead of the game.
This is a standalone novella of 20,000 words. No prior knowledge of the Sorcery Ascendant Sequence is required to enjoy it, which means it's a perfect introduction for new readers or a chance for Sorcery Ascendant veterans to spend a little more time with Felicienne Shyrise.

So, on top of being sick, my phone went wonky for a few days when the new iPhone update came out and got stuck in an endless loop of updating. So not being able to get to my current audiobook, I booted up my old phone and listened to a short story that I had yet to get to. It was a prequel to an already established story, but I was able to to still follow along just fine. It was okay. I'm sure if you knew the characters and the universe, it would be more interesting, but on it's own it wasn't anything impressive. I might look into the others later on, but we'll see.

Books that I am currently reading

by Timothy Zahn
341 of 694 Pages (12:59 of 26:15 Hours)

by Anthony Ryan
425 of 602 Pages (24:39 Hours)

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (Extraordinary Voyages #6)
by Jules Verne
228 of 394 Pages

by Rohinton Mistry
30 of 603 Pages

Seeing (Blindness #2)
by José Saramago
237 of 307 Pages