Review: Geek Ink by Emanuele Pagani

Monday, March 5, 2018
Title: Geek Ink: The World's Smartest Tattoos for Rebels, Nerds, Scientists, and Intellectuals
Author: Emanuele Pagani
Genre: Art and Photography
Pages: 224
Published: Expected March 20, 2018
Source: publisher
Rating: 3.5/5
Exhibiting cutting-edge designs from the most sought-after and acclaimed contemporary tattoo artists worldwide, Geek Ink presents magnificent ideas for tattoos on themes from science fiction and fantasy, as well as a wide range of topics across science, mathematics, literature, and philosophy.

With commentary from creators of the Inkstinct project--which connects people with the finest tattoo art from 380,000 studios worldwide and has an Instagram fan base of more than 1 million--as well as interviews with world-renowned masters like Eva Krbdk (460K followers), David Cote (232K followers), and Thomas Eckeard (169K followers), this is the definitive tattoo inspiration sourcebook for hipsters, bookworms, scientists, academics, engineers, and, of course, geeks!
I've never reviewed an art book on APR before, but when I was offered an ARC of Geek Ink, I was over the moon. Geek tattoos are something very close to me and mine. The artist of my Bradbury piece also did a full geek sleeve for my sister, featuring Warhammer 40k, Psychonauts, Phantom of the Opera, Legend of Zelda, and Supernatual. (She also has separate Repo the Genetic Opera and a Fatal Frame pieces.) The seventh wedding anniversary gift is traditionally copper, so I sent my husband to a very nice sadist to stab a Terry Pratchett inspired "copper" badge into his arm.

The book is set up in two sections. The first is a brief profile of 25 artists from around the globe. These feature a one paragraph bio, links to their instagram and inkstinct pages, a quote from them about their art, and 8-10 samples from their portfolios. The layout and photography are high quality and do a wonderful job framing the tattoos as art.  The only problem with the samples chosen is many of the pieces are featured in the book twice, both here and either in one of collages at the beginning and end of each section or in the gallery itself.

Standouts for me were Frank Carrilho's Nikola Telsa, David Cote's Neon Vader, (the color work to make something actually appear made of neon tubing, I'm in awe,) literally every single piece by Inez Janiak, Andrea Morales' Killer Robot and The Golden Snitch and Hogwarts, PisSaro's Bejeweled Elephant, and Hugo Tatooer's entire aesthetic.

I have good taste. Morales and Carrilho appear on the cover and Cote appeared on the previous version.

The gallery was less successful. Its table of contents consists of animals, anime, astronomy, biology, botany, conceptual, cult classics, fantasy, geography, geometry, literature, psychology, science fiction, surrealism, technology, and television. Large sections like animals and botany are further divided, though not in the table of contents so you have to flip to the first page and then scan through. Animals are split into vertebrates and invertebrates, and then vertebrates are split into classes: aves, cetacea, proboscidae, reptilia, mammalia, then order: carnivora, and finally family: canidae, felidae. All this seems like an artificial way to make animal tattoos, the most popular tattoo type, seem geeky. All sciences, zoology included, are pretty geeky, but a lot of the included tattoos look like someone's pet.

The classifications are arbitrary and made it harder to look up the subjects. For example, Rob Carvalho's Fox and Rose (inspired by The Little Prince) is on page 170, Cult Classics. Meanwhile, Nora Lyasko's The Little Prince piece, The Fox and the Prince is on page 190, Literature. (Page numbers from the PDF ARC and may be changed in the final printing, of course.) A replica of Starry Night is in Surrealism, of all places. Wolverine's in Cult Classics, but Darth Vader's in Sci-Fi.

It also feels like a lot of geek culture is missing. There are only six TV tattoos, none of which are the big hitters I'd expect. No Doctor Who or Star Trek. There is an X Files, but again it's back in Cult Classics.  There are no games, video, board, or tabletop represented. Not even anything that really says hard sciences, except one representation of a caffeine molecule, (in biology, next to a skull and two stylized hearts.) There are a few under the featured artists, but if you're using the gallery to browse for ideas, you're going to have a hard time.

It's a beautiful coffee table book, but I don't know if you'll find your new ink in it.

Winter Bingo Wrap Up

Thursday, March 1, 2018
It's time to say goodbye to winter and I, for one, welcome our groundhog overlords to end this madness.

Black Author: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (12/3)
Wintry Title: Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt (12/12)
Trees on Cover: Love You Like Christmas by Keri F Sweet (12/21)
Holiday Theme: A Scottish Lord for Christmas by Lauren Smith (12/23)
Romance: The Christmas Cowboy Hero by Donna Grant (12/25) 
Sci-Fi: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (12/26)
Green Cover: Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant (12/27)
Buddy Read: The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen (12/30)
Snow or Ice on Cover: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust (12/30)
Romance: The Christmas Cowboy Hero by Donna Grant (12/26) 
Villainous: War of the Cards by Colleen Oakes (1/5)
DeathA Tangled Web by Mercedes Lackey (1/17)
Winter ReleaseThree Sides of a Heart ed Natalie C. Parker (1/18)
Numbers in TitleThe Five Brothers Next Door by Nikki Chase (1/18)
Light Blue CoverImaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma (1/27)
2018 Debut: Everless by Sara Holland (1/31)
2017 Release MissedThe Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo (1/31)
Friend's FaveCheck Please! Year One by Ngozi Ukazu (2/2)
Red Cover: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory (2/2)
Fae, Faeries, Fair FolkChimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire (2/9)
LGBT+: Ringside: Kayfabe by Joe Keatinge (2/20)
Cold Setting: The Colors of Cold by J.M. Sidorova (2/27)


Red Cover: Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen (Untitled #1)
Spinoff: Wires and Nerve Vol. 1 by Marissa Meyer
Black Author: A Hope Divided by Alyssa Cole (The Loyal League #2)
Buddy Read: The Wicked and the Divine: the Faust Act by Kieron Gillen
2018 Debut: Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk
Scifi: New Pompeii by Daniel Godfrey (New Pompeii #1)
Light Blue Cover: Marco Impossible by Hannah Moskowitz
LGBT: Into the Drowning Deep by Seanan McGuire
Wintry Title: The Lost Season of Love and Snow by Jennifer Laam

Book Tour Review: Blood of a Thousand Stars by Rhoda Belleza

Monday, January 29, 2018
Title: Blood of a Thousand Stars
Author: Rhoda Belleza
Genre: science fiction
Series: Empress of a Thousand Skies #2
Pages: 344
Published: expected February 20 2018
Source: ARC from publishers for review
Rating: 4/5

With a revolution brewing, Rhee is faced with a choice: make a deal with her enemy, Nero, or denounce him and risk losing her crown.

Framed assassin Alyosha has one goal in mind: kill Nero. But to get his revenge, Aly may have to travel back to the very place he thought he’d left forever—home.

Kara knows that a single piece of technology located on the uninhabitable planet Wraeta may be the key to remembering—and erasing—the princess she once was.

Villainous media star Nero is out for blood, and he’ll go to any means necessary to control the galaxy.

Vicious politics and high-stakes action culminate in an epic showdown that will determine the fate of the universe.

The second book in Rhoda Belleza's politics and revenge-driven YA science fiction series, Blood of a Thousand Stars offers more of what made the first so much fun: fast-paced action, interesting characters of diverse backgrounds, clever plots, and general mayhem in space.  This time around the stakes are higher and the plots are thicker, the villain more devious -- the author pulls no punches with her sophomore offering. Galactic war threatens everyone and everything, and the Ta'an sisters and their allies have to scramble to find their place in everything and try to stop a tyrant.

Empress of a Thousand Skies was undoubtedly Rhiannon's story, and Blood of a Thousand Stars belongs to Kara/Josselyn's struggle and evolution. While there are still three pivotal rotating POVs --  this time: Kara, Rhee, and Alyosha -- it is Kara that dominates the narrative. Hers is the POV that stood out the most because her choices are the most crucial to the plot of the novel. The other characters have become steadily more real and defined people over the course of both books, and they again play essential roles, but Kara remains the linchpin of the narrative. Rhiannon is a strong supporting main character; she still grows and learns about herself; Alyosha finds himself once again in unexpected but dire straits and complements Kara in more ways than one.

Belleza features a lot of action and assassination attempts and political maneuvering in her second novel. There are some high stakes and high adventures as each character fights -- for the throne, for their people, for themselves. At times the pacing of essential scenes can feel almost frenetic; with a lot happening and different narrators covering various events, it can be confusing to keep straight. There can be clarity issues when it comes to the fight scenes, especially, but it's an improvement from the same situation in book one. There also is a third-act plot reveal which feels like a bit of a retcon from key events that took place  in Empress of a Thousand Skies -- <spoiler>now Veyron is revealed as loyal and his ill-fated assassination attemped was timed perfectly so Dahlen would save Rhee? But then who would have saved Julian from Nero because Rhee was alive?....</spoiler>  -- but tied in neatly with how Julian was involved in this book's plot. I'm not sure it entirely works but I did appreciate how Julian complicated Rhiannon's narrative and made her reflect on her past choices and actions.

While there is still room and space in this galaxy to explore further stories, there is a definite feel of finality to at least this particular arc of Kara and Rhee's stories. There's bittersweet resolution that fits the harsh events that preceded it. Blood of a Thousand Stars was quickly-moving and and engaging; it may be on the lighter side of scifi but doesn't lack for imagination or for a death toll. The plotting could use a little more finesse, the universe feels a tad bit small (why are all these journeys over so fast? Space is huge!) but overall, a surprising and entertaining sequel and an improvement on its predecessor.

Guest Post: Blood and Sand's C.V. Wyk

Thursday, January 25, 2018
Title: Blood and Sand
Author: C.V. Wyk
Genre: historical fiction
Series: Untitled #1
Pages: 320
Published: expected January 16 2018
Source: review copy from publisher


The action-packed tale of a 17-year-old warrior princess and a handsome gladiator who dared take on the Roman Republic―and gave rise to the legend of Spartacus...

For teens who love strong female protagonists in their fantasy and historical fiction, Blood and Sand is a stirring, yet poignant tale of two slaves who dared take on an empire by talented debut author C. V. Wyk.

Roma Victrix. The Republic of Rome is on a relentless march to create an empire―an empire built on the backs of the conquered, brought back to Rome as slaves.

Attia was once destined to rule as the queen and swordmaiden of Thrace, the greatest warrior kingdom the world had seen since Sparta. Now she is a slave, given to Xanthus, the Champion of Rome, as a sign of his master’s favor. Enslaved as a child, Xanthus is the preeminent gladiator of his generation.

Against all odds, Attia and Xanthus form a tentative bond. A bond that will spark a rebellion. A rebellion that threatens to bring the Roman Republic to its end―and gives rise to the legend of Spartacus...

Today I am happy to have C.V. Wyk here talking about favorite Romans and how they influenced the story in Blood and Sand.

Most of my favorite Roman figures didn’t make it directly into the book by name, but rather exerted their influence on the characters, plot, and events in BLOOD AND SAND in a subtler way. For instance, the general Gaius Marius was a brilliant tactician who was responsible for making the Roman army the infamous fighting force it was as early as 100BC. The concepts of a standing army and soldiers by trade were introduced under Marius and allowed for non-Romans to earn citizenship and acclaim. Without giving away spoilers, this is…important haha.

Other men like Marcus Aurelias and Tiberius Gracchus inspired the character of Lucius and how a young Roman patrician might have viewed the flagrant inequality and brutality of ancient Rome. Gracchus was well-known for his disdain of social inequality and spent his life trying to fight the tyranny of economic and political oppression. The death of Marcus Aurelias, who is often referred to as the Philosopher Emperor, signaled the end of the Pax Romana and ushered in the decline of the Roman empire.

A few of historical figures who are mentioned in BLOOD AND SAND by name are rather villainous inmy adaptation, specifically the members of the House of Flavius. Crassus was not a Flavian (his real name was Marcus Licinius Crassus), but he was a true Roman general whose greatest accomplishment was defeating Spartacus during the Third Servile War, or The Gladiator War, in 73BC. Titus Flavius was a real emperor after his father Vespasian, but according to historical documents, he was benevolent and well-loved. In the book however, much of his story arc is influenced by two figures: Lucius Aurelius Commodus (the dictatorial son of Marcus Aurelius), and the first true Roman Emperor, Augustus, who ruled as early as 27BC. Augustus was also the adopted son of Julius Caesar and later worked with Mark Antony to bring Caesar’s assassins to justice. Moreover, these men later influenced the Shakespeare quotes that appear at the beginning of BLOOD AND SAND. One line of that quote, in particular, shaped the narrative of this book: O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth! I imagine it was Attia’s lament as she cursed herself for not saving her father or her people.

My last few favorites include Boudicca and Livy. Boudicca was actually Celtic queen who fought against the Roman invasion of Britain. She was a fiery character with a tragic past who really helped shape the histories and personalities of Xanthus, Attia, and Lucretia. Livy, whose full name was Titus Livius, was a well-renowned Roman historian who died in approximately 12AD. His massive history of Rome, Ab Urbe Condite Libri (Books from the Foundation of the City), were incredibly useful during my research for BLOOD AND SAND.

And, of course, there is Spartacus, perhaps one of the most famous Romans of all time. Even here, in his list of my Roman historical figures who influenced the book, there are nearly no women save for the queen of a distant kingdom. But more than any other figure, Spartacus—who had no verifiable or recorded history—was someone open to interpretation, to borrowing and twisting and reconfiguring the facts as we know them. Spartacus not only found a way into this book, but completely took over. But what else would you expect from the slave who defied an empire?

Thank you so much for stopping by and talking ancient Romans with me, C.V.!

December 2017 Recap

Sunday, December 31, 2017

So, hey, 2017 is over. I am glad to see it go and hopeful for what 2018may bring us. I didn't do much on the blog (surprise) but Dani has been killing it.

End of Year Survey
Review: Immortal Souls edited by Joamette Gil
Review: My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
Two Minute Review dump
Review: Fierce Reads' Kisses and Curses edited by Lauren Burniac
Two Minute Reviews Boogaloo 

Danielle and Jessie's 2017 Year End Survey!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Welcome back my loves to the year end survey! This is our fifth year participating with Jamie and Perpetual Page Turner and for some real laughs at terrible predictions and choices that haven't aged well, here are the links to our previous lists.


This is one of my favorite things we do as a blog and as a bookish community and I always look forward to it, so without further ado: 
Note: The Survey is for books you read throughout the year, no matter when they were published, and is not limited to just books that came out in 2017!!

Number Of Books You Read:

Dani: 148

Jessie: 455 - an all-time record

Number of Re-Reads:

Jessie: 73!

Dani: 12 (who am I?)

Genre You Read The Most From:

Dani: Fantasy - 24%

Jessie: Fantasy at 31.1%

1. Best Book You Read In 2017?

(If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2017 release vs. backlist)

Adult Fantasy: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson. This one took a bit more time to mature but it was an excellent third addition to the Stormlight Archive. The interconnected plot crescendos into the expected Sanderson epicness and more revelations and plot twists thicken the ever-complicated plot.
Adult, Non-Fantasy: Taylor Jenkins Reid wins this for the second year in a row. This time it's for The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, proving that no matter what she chooses to write, it ends up being amazing.

YA Fantasy: In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan. Weird and hilarious and clever and subverts so many  tropes in delightful ways.
YA, Non-Fantasy: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia. I really loved this one.

I read 28 new five star books and reread seven. So uh, fuck me.

Contemp: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Thriller/Horror: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Comic/Graphic Novel: Injustice, Gods Among Us: Year One by Tom Taylor
Poetry/Verse: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Romance: A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole
Fantasy: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust/ Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Dani: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger. So many of my friends, including my rec'ing ball Dahlia liked this one and I thought it was kind of a mess. The main character hated every other woman in the book and that's such a bad look.

Jessie: Romancing the Throne by Nadine Jolie Courtney. This had the potential to be a fun read, reminiscent of The Royal We. Instead it is an aggressively average contemp set in England with characters who somehow talk like Californians (calling the Crown Prince "dude"?). The plot is formulaic, the characters stick to their expected roles and easily predicted outcomes. Disaappointed.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

Jessie: Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George is a retelling of Much Ado About Nothing set in a Long Island Prohibition-era speakeasy. It felt like a real representation of society and was shippy and banter-y and so much fun. 

Dani: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma. Oh my god did I go into this book with the expectation that it wasn't a "me" read and left with an obsession. 

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Jessie: Mira Grant's Rolling in the Deep and Into the Drowning Deep. These books about carnivorous mermaids are now my favorite Mira Grants of them all. (Yes, that's including all/any of the Newsflesh series.) The 120+ page novella that launched this series was impressive but the full-length sequel is even better. It's inclusive and reflective of life in so many ways; the disparate group of characters the narrative is centered around are awesome and awful and various mixtures of both.

Into the Drowning Deep has the usual great prose and premise and execution I've come to expect from this multitalented author. She can be counted on to be creatively and horribly plausible when it comes to building and expanding her stories. It's true again here, as it was in Newsflesh and in the Parasitology books. There is so much attention to detail in how Grant approaches the idea of modern mermaids -- there's a lot of thought built into this monster story.

5. Best series you started in 2017? Best Sequel of 2017? Best Series Ender of 2017?


Started: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
Sequel: Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray (Diviners #3)
Ender: The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth May (The Falconer #3)

Dani: Series Started - Motor Crush by Breden Fletcher
          Sequel - Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #2)
          Ender - I...did not finish a single series in 2017 

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?

Dani: Alyssa Cole. She's been on my radar for a few years but it wasn't until the back to back punch of Hamilton's Battalion and A Princess in Theory that I found the usurper to my romance throne.

Jessie: C. Robert Cargill. His book Sea of Rust was a fascinating, fresh new scifi read for me. It left me desperate for a sequel just to see how else he could imagine the robocalypse.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Jessie: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry and Death by Blackhole, both by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. I definitely don't read a lot about astrophysics but this cover, title, and author made me curious enough to try.


8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Dani: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. I can't read 320 pages in a day, much less a sitting but it turns out, that's no longer true.

Jessie: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Couldn't stop from page one until the end of the acknowledgments. It's also the book I've lent out the most this year, which is awesome. I make sure I get it back soon each time, though.

9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Jessie: An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard. I hope its because there's a sequel out soon and I need to refresh my memory of these awesome characters and their magic dueling system.

Dani: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I don't know what it is about this series, but I never get tired of rereading it.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?


What do I have to do to get this indie comic anthology tattooed directly onto my eyeballs?

Jessie: Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel. The second of the Themis Files series may have slightly disappointed with its contents but the cover definitely didn't.

11. Most memorable character of 2017?

Jessie: The Violinist of Venice's titular character of Vivaldi. I've always been drawn to historical fiction and I played the violin for years -- but Palombo really captured the feeling of Venice and the Red Priest and what makes music so integral to some people's lives. I've been listening to Four Seasons since March with no plans to stop.

Dani: Dimple Shah of When Dimple Met Rishi fame. I fell so head over heels for this girl.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017?

Dani: Long Way Down. I could have finished it in half the time if I'd stopped highlighting stanzas to read to my partner.

Jessie: Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi. Her descriptive, lyrical style lends so well to Alice's story. Gorgeous. Though it was a reread to prepare for the sequel Whichwood, Mafi can't quite top the original story set in her magical lands.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017?

Jessie: As always: no answer for life-changing books? I don't really think any book changed my life this year. I read a lot more nonfiction this year (15, which was more than my goal of one per month) and most of them were fascinating and thought-provoking. Mary Beard's SPQR is a must for anyone who enjoys learning about ancient Rome. Game of Queen is about powerful female rulers in Europe during the 16th century.

Dani: Bitch Planet. This series makes me so angry, so passionate, so...feminist in this current climate. It's no coincidence that Kam finds a note "nolite te bastardes carborundorum" because this book gives me the same rush The Handmaid's Tale did, only so much more.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read?

Dani: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. I thought Percy Jackson was just an HP ripoff, but guess who has egg on her face?

Jessie: Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Granted it was publishe donly a few years ago but it's such a unique book. Definitely stands out.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?

Jessie:  Two from Into the Drowning Deep:

"There were appetites to be sated, no matter how cold the water became, no matter how strange the sea turned. As long as there were bellies, they would need to be fed. As long as there was life in the sea there would be teeth."

"This was not where she belonged. This had never been where she belonged. Humanity had chosen the land over the sea millennia ago, and sometimes -- when she was letting her mind wander, when she was romanticizing what she did and how she did it -- she thought the sea still held a grudge. Breakups were never easy, and while humanity was hot and fast and had had plenty of time to get over it, the oceans were deep and slow, and for them the change had happened only yesterday, The seas did not forgive and they did not welcome their wayward children back."

 Dani: Mine is also by Seanan McGuire (who writes as Mira Grant for her horror work), though mine is from Down Among the Sticks and Bones. 

The moon worries. We may not know how we know that, but we know it all the same: that the moon watches, and the moon worries, and the moon will always love us, no matter what.

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?

Dani: Shortest: Six Months, Three Days at 33 pages
Longest: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (752 pages)

Jessie: Shortest was The Ghost Line by Andrew Neil Grey and J.S. Herbison at 115 pages
Longest: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson at 1243 pages.

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

Jessie: The Dragon's Legacy by Deborah A. Wolfe went down some veeery unexpected paths. I was surprised and impressed. And in desperate need of The Forbidden City sooner than ASAP.

Dani: Let's see, I was shocked Injustice was good and that The Epic Crush of Genie Lo was not and that A Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is a fantasy and not historical fiction. But I think the biggest shock of the year was the time Fred Flintstone committed genocide.


18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Dani: I'm shipping Rose and Dimitri from Vampire Academy like whoa.

Jessie: The Tiger's Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera. "Moon chases sun, so would I chase you." I also loved the various ships in the alternate American historical fiction River of Time. Hippos and inclusive casts and capers!

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Jessie: The siblings from Robin Benway's fabulous Far From the Tree. The found family feels are just so much and uuugh I loved it. I cared so much about each of those kids and about them as a unit -- it was so well done.

Dani:When I think of unwavering friend support, I think of The Lumberjanes. What I wouldn't have gave to spend my summer with them.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Dani: 15% of my five star reads were by Seanan Mcguire who's quietly become my favorite author. In addition to the Wayward Children series, I also loved two Toby Dayes: Late Eclipses and One Salt Sea and her Newsflesh short story compilation, Rise. 

Jessie: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo. Darkly beautiful compilation of fairytales from within Bardugo's invented Grisha fantasy world. Three stories included in the anthology were new to me (Ayama and the Thorn Word, The Soldier Prince and the last, When Water Sang Fire, is the particular standout), and three were familiar stories happily reread (Too Clever Fox, The Witch of Duva, and Little Knife all used to be available on; all of them are also gorgeously illustrated.

Readalike to Laini Taylor's Lips Touch: Three Times.

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Jessie: The only answer is the book I wouldn't have known I needed were it not for twitter and my friends: In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan. It is thanks to Christina and Meg and Gillian and Morgan that I bought and read this and I AM SO HAPPY I DID PLEASE GIVE ME A SEQUEL I NEED MORE ELLIOT AND LUKE AND SERENE.

Dani: Again, it's The Walls Around Us. Bekka talked me into it, it was available at the library and I was like, it's so not going to work but I'll try it for her...oh wait, I love this.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?

Dani: Rysand

Jessie: I don't seem to recall too many new additions to the list this year, outside of the reread givens (Akiva, Adolin, Gwenna, Kiaran, etc.) Serene from the just listed In Other Lands, Pyrre from Skullsworn, and the extremely polite, capable, handsome Parrish from Hidden Sea Tales series.

23. Best 2017 debut you read?

Jessie: Is there another answer besides the book that truly conquered 2017 from the moment it was released? THUG by Angie Thomas.


24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?


(Down Among the Sticks and Bones)

Jessie: Brian Stavely's Skullsworn. this prequel/standalone concentrates narrowly on the seething city of Dombâng, a city long-conquered and always primed for rebellion.

The world Brian Stavely has created has always felt very real and very big with parts unknown, with lots of room for further exploration. His gift for creating new worlds and cultures is readily apparent in all aspects -- even cursing has its own rhyme and reason, relevant to how the various cultures within it view hell/damning (aka in-world curses like "'Shael-spawned", etc.) One reason for reading  is that he creates fantasies that don't feel like pseudoEurope mid 1200s; they don't feel like a tired retread of something already done.

 Skullsworn and particularly Dombâng, its environs, its history and culture, and the plot centered around the city are wildly different. Staveley is an ambitious author but he's also inventive and rigorous enough that his reach doesn't exceed his grasp.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Jessie: Both Geekerella by Ash Poston and The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee were incredibly fun reads. I had a great time with Poston's modern nerdy Cinderella and Genie Lo is action-packed and memorable.

Dani: Slouch Witch by Helen Harper. This book is hilarious. Ivy just wants to go home to her talking cat and instead she's stuck investigating a series of missing artifacts with Winter, a hotshot witch with a stick up his butt, after a case of mistaken identity. God am I Ivy. Just let me go home to my apartment and my pizza.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?

Dani: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Old Man's War by John Scalzi
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
Rise by Mira Grant
Morning in the Burned House by Margaret Atwood
Beyond: The Queer Sci-Fi Fantasy Comic Anthology ed Sfe R. Monster

Jessie: "Nearly", lol. I've become so weak in my old age.

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu (when the anonymity ends)
Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (the entire last... 100 pages?)
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum (yes, even tho I was warned - I still was not prepared)
Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray (this book hurt me, please go read it)
The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth May (such a bittersweet but perfect finale for this series)
Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios (the ACT day killed me)
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (whooo boy Zappia continues the hit parade)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix/Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling (every time, forever)
The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord (Lords best yet - a great balance of sad and hopeful, humor and pain)

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Jessie:  Since I'm still in a world without a sixth Kate Morton novel, the genuine closest I've found was Nicola Cornick's House of Shadows. Several stories tied together and centered on a central location with hidden connections between. I enjoyed it very much and bought another book of hers as soon as I finished.

Dani: I haven't seen much in the comic community, but I LOVED Motor Crush. It has some of the best art of the year and the sci-fi setting is beautifully realized. Plus it's hella gay, kids.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Dani: Long Way Down. I'm broken.

Also the time I had to read KFC's romance novel.

Jessie: Jay Kristoff's Godsgrave probably came the closest to doing so. How dare. HOW DARE. I mean I know Kristoff is the same kind of author as GRRM --- no one and nothing is safe but... damn. ON MULTIPLE LEVELS.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?

Jessie: I still don't think that there's any other answer besides Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. It is weird and definitely unique. So unique I'd say it conquered this premise and we don't ever need to explore it further. He won it.

Dani: Long. Way. Down. 

Are you even listening to me at this point?

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Dani: Fuck you Hallmark and fuck your stupid cash grab attempt to break into the romance market. Love You Like Christmas is terrible and you should feel terrible.

Jessie: I was not too impressed with Godblind. It had a decent synopsis and a lot big name blurbs but it was a waste of time and paper in my opinion. It was generally overhyped with a generic world ( there's literally a place called "Cattle Lands") and a transparent, often convenient plot. There are too many POVs, mostly indistinguishable that muddy the progress. Pass.

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017?

Jessie: I think I pretty much kept the same readership as I had in 2016. I read a fair number of blogs but there are a core few I trust to check before a purchase.

Dani: Same. I did watch a few more booktubers, but unfortunately the blogosphere seems to be dying a bit.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2017?

Dani: I'm really, truly proud of my review of The Flintstones. It's one of the most intelligent, in-depth looks I've ever taken at a book and yes, I think there's some humor in the combination of that and the bizarre book itself.

Jessie: I was a fan of my review for The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis. It's a steampunk novel set during a Napoleonic Wars-type era with a female airship captains. It's funny and full of battles and political intrigue. I think more people should read it and then wait impatiently for the sequel with me.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

Jessie: For once I have a year in which I posted discussions! I liked all of them, actually but I had a lot of fun on the one where I reminisce about hazily-remembered favorite books from childhood that I now want to recollect and reread.

Dani: I loved the TTT: Books for my Coblogger. And in looking it over, we both read one of them!

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Jessie: Ummm... I can't say I did too much this year. No BEA or ALA, but that should be different for the survey I will complete in 2018!

Dani: Same. It was a hard year. We did a secret santa with a small group of bloggers?

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?

Jessie: It's been a quiet year on here for me, with some unintended slumps but hey, I'm still around, still get to blog with the best coblogger that exists, we have sparkle deer, etc. I am just happy to still be around and active in this hobby I love. It will be 7 years in January so I think that's pretty good.

 Dani: I think it might have been seeing our dear friend Gillian's success in PitchWars. While I don't have pub dreams of my own, I was so excited to champion her and I can't wait to see where she goes from here.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Dani: My husband almost died.

That's...really hard to type but I would not have made it though the last three months without the girls above and Jessie most of all. Unfortunately it's really fucked up our blogging schedule, something I'm still trying to repair, and I can see in the views that we've lost reader faith. I hope we can make that up to you in the new year.

Jessie: hahah I feel like I could c/p the above answer here pretty much. But no apologies -- I blogged when I could and didn't guilt myself too much when I couldn't.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Dani's Most Viewed: Winter Review Wrap-Up

Most Comments: The time a washed up MG author forgot to look at which blogger wrote the post.

Jessie's Most Viewed: Ageless Discussions: Genre Phases

Most Comments: Top Ten Books to Reread in 2017

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Jessie: I loved when Dani and I did a Top Ten Tuesday about the books we would recommend one another. It was a fun thing to do as cobloggers and see what the other thinks would be a hit.


9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Dani: We got a new local indie that's super cute!

Jessie: I am a creature of habit and thus I do not have any new discoveries to list. I still frequent the same sites and outlets and blogs. #oldperson

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Dani: I didn't. My goal was 150 and as of 9 pm on 12/31, I am tapping out at 148. I read 18 books this month and SIX in the last 36 hours, but I'm spent and also if I don't finish typing this, I might be killed.

Also I did not publish something on the blog every week. PastDani, you were so funny.

Jessie: I originally wanted to read 280 books. I then set it at 300, and then 350. I finally ended my year at 455 books. I can say I hit this all-time high because of a friendly but tenacious race with Christina from A Reader of Fictions. Our competitive natures kept us both reaching for the next book and to stay in the race. Cheers, Christina!

I wanted to read more nonfiction as well. I wanted to read at least one a month and I exceeded it by reading 15. I think in 2018, I am going to attempt to read two nonfiction books a month.

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018?

Dani: So many. I'm a disaster. I still haven't read Nevernight and Empire of Storms. I didn't read Strange the Dreamer or Oathbreaker. I OWN ALL OF THESE? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

Jessie: Oh man there's a lot, just speaking of ARCs: Furyborn, To Kill a Kingdom, Let's Talk About Love, Tess of the Road, Shadowsong,

Non ARCS: The Girl in the Tower, The Valiant, Library of Fates, etc. There are literally dozens I could and should list here.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2018 (non-debut)?

Jessie: Oh man there are a lot I am eager for. Honor Among Thieves, Smoke and Iron, Space Opera, Rejected Princesses 2 and more I know I am forgetting because my TBR is expansive and I am merely human.

Dani: OBSIDIO!!!!!

Also, From Twinkle, with Love, The Heart Forger, Toil and Trouble, White Rabbit, the last Throne of Glass

3. 2018 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Jessie: I am so bad at tracking this... The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory! It sounds so cute and fun, I love the cover and gives me some serious The Hating Game-type vibes. And, of course, Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone.

Dani: DEFINITELY Children of Blood and Bone. American Panda by Gloria Chao. Gunslinger Girl (one of the best covers, omg), Sea Witch, Love, Hate, & Other Filters, Tyler Johnson Was Here. Next year looks good.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2018?

Dani: Beneath the Sugar Sky and whatever gifts Brandon gives me. Surely he must have three or four Mistborns about done.

Jessie: As always I will continue to hope and wish and cross my fingers that this next year will finally be the year that the Winds of Winter comes home from the war. 2018, let it be so. Let it be the year -- seven years later -- that we get a new ASOIAF book.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018?

Jessie: get back into the swing of things and maybe post a review or two and some TTTs and WoWs. To still have fun with this hobby :)

Dani: This, but also ALA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

6. A 2018 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

Dani: A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole! Oh my god you guys are going to love Ledi. A kickass girl in STEM and a secret princess yesssssssss

Jessie: Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk! FEMALE SPARTAACUS.

Review: Immortal Souls ed Joamette Gil

Monday, December 18, 2017
Title: Immortal Souls
Editor: Joamette Gil
Genre: graphic novel, paranormal
Series: N/A
Pages: 120
Published: November 30, 2017
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3/5
A comics anthology about queer witches for teens and adults ages 14-and-up. The book is over 110 pages long, black and white, and contains 10 original stories by women and non-binary creators of color. In this special installment of the POWER & MAGIC SERIES, queer witches of color delve into the darker sides of magic: astral planes, necromancy, visions of death, and communion with the spirits of our world... and the beyond.

This book is the immediate follow-up to POWER & MAGIC: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology, an award-winning collection of fantasy stories exalting the witch as an archetype of feminine power. With IMMORTAL SOULS, we are cementing a series tradition: stories told by women and non-binary creators of color, all starring queer witches of color.

Magical Girl Crisis by Patadag - ***

Very cute little story about a witch fighting against her natural necromancy powers because she’d rather be a cute, lolita magical girl. Unfortunately at six pages, way too short for any real development. We don’t even get a good shot of her final, gothic lolita outfit.

Heirloom by ClaraEm - *

The art is not for me. The characters are very simplistic and there are a lot of perspective choices that I don’t think work, especially in the initial argument and the ghost section. I found the plot flat and straightforward, without any resolution.

Mahk Jchi by Sunny Ochumuk - ****

Very, very pretty art.

At her first meet up of other native women, our main character initially wants to be known as Catherine, but as the day goes, Waanutam discovers parts of her heritage, including her cousin’s dancing which summons beautiful spirits. Rather than end with a romance, which is where I assumed we were going, she embraces her cousin and asks to learn to dance too. A sweet, short look at a culture I never see in graphic novels, I liked this a lot.

Mu by Yeon Kyung Cha - ***

One of my favorite plots, a female shaman who can speak to the dead sets out to seduce and kill men who abused and killed the girls she speaks to. Unfortunately, I felt almost like this was issue two of a book I hadn’t read the first part of. Mu clearly had some link to Ji-Hye and Ji-Hoon but I never understood what it was or why the ghost (Ji-Hye?) stayed.

Art wise, this one starts out super detailed and beautiful, but by the last few pages we’re mostly looking at gray boxes in place of background details. I’m not sure if this was an intentional stylistic choice or not, but it makes the story feel rushed and unfinished.

Admonitions by Amber Huff - ***

The differences in art in the real and spirit realms set this story apart. It’s also the first one that’s felt like it really lived up to the “darker side of magic” theme of the anthology. Again though, I wish this was longer. There’s backstory I’m missing, world building that’s not fully coming through in fourteen pages.

An Unexpected Specter by Francis Quintero - ***********

Cutest thing I’ve ever seen. I need a six season animated series and a movie.

The Woman who Waits by Lira Kraunik and Kyka ****

Really beautiful and haunting with an unexpected twist ending.

Hungry by Joamette Gil - ***1/2

Last line is a real gut punch. Not crazy about this art, it reminds me of like 2002 webcomics.

Requium by Ayanni C Hanna and Melani Tingdahl - ***

Another I wish was a hair longer. A pair of nurses in an unnamed war torn country tend to survivors, until soldiers show up and start shooting. This one does not have a happy end which I don’t knock it for, but I don’t know. The lack of acceptance and abrupt end hurt.

Bon Voyage My Chains
by Sonia Liao - ****

Absolutely the best drawn comic in the book. CW reads: non binary person faces mortal peril. That’s one way to describe an enby character’s father trying to stab them, sure. Probably needs a stronger warning. The length on this one is right, it’s got good world building, a cute romance, and even a last minute beta romance that made me laugh.
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