Audiobook mini review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

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Summary: Introducing an instant classic—master storyteller Neil Gaiman presents a dazzling version of the great Norse myths.

Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales. In Norse Mythology, Gaiman fashions primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds; delves into the exploits of the deities, dwarves, and giants; and culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and the rebirth of a new time and people. Gaiman stays true to the myths while vividly reincarnating Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, the son of giants, a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator. From Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerges the gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to dupe others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

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★★★★

This was my first audiobook EVER and I don’t think I could have chosen a better one to start with. I don’t know how to review myths and stuff but Gaiman’s retelling was so good and it gave life to these silly and scary and traitorous and petty and clever gods.

If you already know your Norse mythology you would probably still enjoy this a lot, but for a complete newbie like me this was amazing and the audiobook format only made everything more right. It reminded me of my mom telling me about the Greek myths when I was a kid, and that’s how myths were originally narrated before people started writing them down.

I’m so so happy to have read this and I cried at the very end because I wished to never finish listening to Neil Gaiman’s voice. I don’t know how you can feel nostalgic of something you’ve finished twenty minutes before, but this book has made me laugh and cry and it has opened a whole new world (or nine) to me and I will always love it and cherish the time I’ve spent with it.


Have you read this or anything by Neil Gaiman? What else should I read by him?

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A look at 2017

I find this kind of post really hard to start writing, so let’s start by looking at numbers because numbers are easy.

I set my reading challenge to 100 books for this year, and I managed to read 120, which is my personal best. However, not all books were full length novels, and some were manga, graphic novels or webcomics. Those still count in my opinion (and in goodreads’ opinion) so I personally don’t really care that some people will be like “oh that’s not really impressive then”.

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I also DNF’d 11 books. I know everyone feels differently about DNF’ing books, but personally I count that as a win. Granted I can say this easily because most of those were ARCs so I didn’t actually waste money on them, but DNF’ing books I’m hating (or even just not enjoying) was one of my reading goals of this year, so I’m really proud of myself for doing that. Of course it still sucks when the book you have to DNF is something you paid for with your own money, but fortunately that has only happened a couple of times this year.

But let’s go back to the books I did read until the end and see what goodreads says.

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Ah, it really is my curse to be reminded of *that*. I talked a lot about all the issues I had with ACOWAR, mostly regarding representation and how I don’t seem to enjoy SJM’s writing so much anymore. I don’t feel like talking about it again but you can read my review here.

I’m not surprised that the average length is so short. As I said, I read a few short stories (mostly ARCs I got) and some comics, so that’s okay. I know I also read a few really long books so *shrug*

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My average rating is something that makes me question the way I rate books. I think I’m happy with my rating system, but I also realize that I give a lot of five stars to books that don’t make it to my “favorite” shelf. I don’t know if this is something I want to change in the future though, because as I said, I think this system works for me. The only thing I would need is an extra star to give to my actual favorites, but we can’t always have what we want.

And while we’re talking about favorites, I think it’s time to finally talk about my reading year in words instead of numbers.

This was a year of reading great books, but it wasn’t a year of life-changing books. Better said: I can point to a lot of books that, because I read them together with many others, contributed to a lot of changes in my life, but I can’t really point at a single one of them and say, “This was it, this changed me.”

And that’s okay, but coming from 2016, which was the year I read truly life-changing books and series, the realization that this year I can’t claim the same made me a little sad.

But even if I can’t point at one book specifically that “changed my life”, I know exactly how each book I read changed me as a reader and as a person, even if just in small ways, and I owe who I am now to the combination of many of the books I read this year rather than to a single one.

In truth, analyzing a single reading year is only a convenient way to split the continuum that is, in this context, our whole reading life, but it’s fun nonetheless.

And, because you can’t end the year without saying which ones are your favorites, here it is:

Favorites read this year (not counting rereads)

 

There are many honorable mentions that I could name but won’t, and there are many (so many) books I wish I had read but I didn’t manage to, in part because I’m a really slow reader and in part because with some kinds of books I really need to be in the right mood in order to fully enjoy them.

This post is a mess and there is so much more that I wanted to say but I’m so scared of getting too cheesy so I’ll just end it by wishing you all a happy 2018, and if you are someone who in the past year has talked to me even with just a little comment, a big shout-out to you 💕🌈

Comic review: Fence #2

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★★★★

Read my review of issue #1 here!

While the first issue was all about introducing the main character, Nicholas, and setting up the rivalry with Seiji, this second issue felt more like a full dive into the world we’re going to be part of for the rest of the comic. I felt like this kind of pacing was perfect for me, because once I get to know the main character and what he stands to lose or gain by achieving his dreams, I am ready to be given more information and I enjoy looking at the tiny but significant details that this comic offers.

And there is really a lot that this issue told us, directly or not. Let me go on a little tangent and say that after this I am truly, 100% convinced that Pacat’s style is absolutely perfect for the comic format. The uniqueness of her writing style in novel format has always been the ability of conveying information in indirect ways, and letting the reader do the math to come up with their own conclusion. This was especially true in Captive Prince, which of course it’s told in a novel format, but it’s plain that the same is happening in Fence, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

*some minor spoilers, don’t read if you want to go in blind*

In #1 we found out that Nicholas and Seiji will be roommates at Kings Row, and in #2 we see how they handle it. Which is: not well. The first part is so funny I literally almost choked on the tea I was drinking lol?? Anyway, we also see how eager and excited Nicholas is to finally be at a proper fencing school, even though Kings Row is far from being an excellence.

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Just like that, you don’t only care about Nicholas’s personal journey, but you also care about the school in itself and you want the fencing team to do well. After all, what’s a good ol’ sports comic if you don’t root for the underdog?

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A lot of characters were introduced and I love every single one of them. We have Harvard, the team captain, Bobby who is simply too cute to be real (yes I know he’s not real, chill), Eugene the jock, Aiden who is too goddamn handsome for his own good (and for Harvard’s), along with the three Bons (lol) and coach Williams (I love her so much, she’s so sly lmao).

Something perhaps more important we get to see here in terms of representation is how casually non-heteronormative the setting of this comic is. There’s no fragile masculinity, no batting an eye if a guy is wearing his hair in a bow and his uniform involves a skirt, and casual flirting and complimenting between schoolmates.

*RANDOM RANTY SPOILERS OF THINGS I LOVED FROM HERE ON* 

– Seiji claiming he doesn’t know Nicholas shrglrshlhs I knew he would and I hate him

– Harvard is such a sly asshole I love him

– “I AM NOT SOME FENCER. MY NAME IS NICHOLAS COX AND I’M GOING TO MAKE YOU REMEMBER IT”

– that height difference tho

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– “the captain shows no remorse” oh Harvard

– THE LINE BETWEEN THE BEDS LMAO THEY’RE SO DAMN CHILDISH

– Nicholas put some clothes on you’re gonna kill Seiji

– THE. DUCK. SHOWER. CURTAIN.

– Seiji’s PJs

– This:

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– “no shower curtain” gslkghldhgdfh

– EUGENE IS A JERK

– BOBBY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

– I WOULD THROW MYSELF OFF A CLIFF FOR BOBBY!!!!!!!

– BOBBY’S CRUSH ON SEIJI I CAN’T HE’S TOO CUTE

– NICHOLAS BEING SUCH A SMOOTH FLIRTER??? everyone is gonna fall in love with him within a week

– Tanner and Kally are the established couple we deserve

– I KNEW IT WAS JESSE WHO BEAT SEIJI FGDHHLDH

– Jesse Coste looks so good y’all

– Coach Williams’ wall of things not to say is THE BEST THING

– “Aiden dumped me”

– Aiden himself holy shit

– The three Bons lol

– Robert Coste went to KR??????????

– THE EXTON TEAM LOOKS SO GOOD OMFG

– I wanna meet the twins

– okay but I care so much about all of them so can we like, idk, change the rules of fencing so that everyone can make the team????????? thx

 

Have you read Fence #2? If so, did you like it? Are you tired of me talking about it? Let me know in the comments 😀

LGBTQ+ webcomic recommendations #1

I promised this post was coming so here it is.

These are all the lgbtq+ webcomics I’ve read this year (but basically in my life since I didn’t read any before) and they’re also the only webcomics I’ve read lmao. They’re not too many and I considered waiting to have more to rec but then it would have ended up being an awfully long post where I couldn’t even spend a few words on each of them so I decided to post it now with the few I have, which I believe are all really good anyway.

I will definitely keep finding more and reading them so I’m guessing I will write a similar post in a few months to update this list, but in the meantime I hope you’ll find this useful.

All of these are free to read and I will leave links so you can easily start them. On their respective pages you can also find out how to support the authors by buying physical copies and/or comic-related merch, so make sure to consider supporting them if you enjoyed the comic they put up for free.

🌈🏳️‍🌈🌈🏳️‍🌈🌈🏳️‍🌈🌈🏳️‍🌈🌈🏳️‍🌈🌈🏳️‍🌈🌈🏳️‍🌈🌈🏳️‍🌈

🏳️‍🌈 Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu 

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I think this was my first ever webcomic and I can’t think of a better way to get started on this genre. It’s a queer sports comic and it’s not only focused on romance but a huge part of it is about friendship. I still need to catch up with the latest update since this is still ongoing but I love it so much and I want literally everyone to read it.

Status: ongoing

Audience: teen and up

Goodreads | Read here | My review

 

🌈 Starfighter by Hamlet Machine 

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I was hesitant about having this in this list because its tone is very different from all the other webcomics I’m mentioning today. It’s much darker and it’s certainly queer because it sees a M/M relationship but it’s not really about that, it’s more of a dark and kind of twisted story and it’s very explicit so it won’t appeal to everyone. It can be a little disturbing and confusing especially at the beginning, and I wasn’t really sure whether I should keep going or not, but the end of the chapters always made me want to read more.

Status: ongoing

Audience: 18+

Goodreads | Read here | My review

 

🏳️‍🌈 The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal by E.K. Weaver

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This is a pretty long webcomic which is already completed so if you don’t like having to wait for updates this is definitely for you. The title says enough about the plot, this is very character driven and it follows the road trip of two strangers who fall in love with each other. I basically loved everything about it and the pacing really worked for me in the sense that I could feel the MCs develop feelings for each other naturally and not because the author decided it. The art is also fantastic and the dialogues are so funny it hurt. It has nsfw scenes but they’re always very well woven into the story and they’re not gratuitous.

Status: complete

Audience: 18+

Goodreads | Read here | My review

 

🌈 Rock and Riot by Chelsey Furedi

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This is easily described as Grease if everyone was queer. Characters are bi, gay, lesbian, trans, genderqueer, demi, aroace. I don’t think I need to add more to this description lol.

Status: complete

Audience: teen and up

Goodreads | Read here | My review

 

🏳️‍🌈 Griefer Belt by Kali de Wild

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This is about bad people. These are criminals and the comic focuses more on their relationships with each other, but it also doesn’t try to justify what they do for a living or to romanticize crime, which is one of my pet peeves. The story is engaging and if you can move past the fact that these are morally grey characters who lean more on the “black” side of the spectrum, then you will definitely like it.

Status: ongoing

Audience: 18+

Goodreads | Read here | My review

 

🌈 Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

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This is basically the cutest thing ever and everyone needs to read it. The author is really talented and if you weren’t aware of it she’s the author of Radio Silence which I still haven’t read but I’ve only heard good things about. She’s also a very good artist and this comic is so funny and relatable you can’t not love it.

Status: ongoing

Audience: teen and up

Goodreads | Read here | My review

 

🏳️‍🌈 Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill

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This is a wlw fairy tale retelling which is written for both a younger audience and an adult one. Kids will see what the story shows, which is two princesses falling in love with each other. Adults will also see that this is a story full of subtext despite its short length, but it’s also not less lighthearted because of it. This is a story that I believe you can read with your child even if they’re younger than the suggested middle grade.

Status: complete

Audience: middle grade (or even younger) and up

Goodreads | Read here | My review

 

🌈 Tripping Over You by Owen White and Suzana Harcum

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This is a slice of life webcomic following Milo and Liam. It’s not too much of a spoiler since it happens pretty early in the comic (if you consider the overall length of it) but the two get together and most of the comic is about their life as an established couple. I really loved it and appreciate the fact that there’s never useless relationship drama and the two characters manage to communicate their issues in a healthy way. I 100% recommend it if you love slice of life.

Status: ongoing

Audience: teen and up

Goodreads | Read here | My review

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And here ends my list for now. Let me know if you’ve read any or if you’re planning to, and I really hope this was useful!

 

#T5W: Books You’re Thankful For

Top Five Wednesday is a book meme that Lainey started and I discovered through the lovely Samantha‘s videos. If you’re interested you can join the goodreads group to get the topics for each week.

This week’s topic:

November 22nd: Books You’re Thankful For
–For whatever reason, big or small.

In no particular order, and not only books because I couldn’t leave my favorite anime out:

Captive Prince

For its love story and all the collateral effects (all positive) that reading it had on my life.

Throne of Glass

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And more specifically Empire of Storms, for a scene that unblocked years of suppressed emotions at the time I needed it.

Harry Potter

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For being my friend in high school.

All for the Game

For telling me I’m not a monster when I was afraid I was one.

Yuri!!! On Ice

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For Yuuri, Victor, Yuri and Otabek, and for more reasons than I could ever write here.

Comic review: Fence #1 by C.S. Pacat and Johanna the Mad

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Original cover by Johanna the Mad and variant cover by Kevin Wada (the photo doesn’t show my SIGNED COPY* because it’s not here yet but thank you Laura for getting me one ♥         *you have to read “signed copy” in a very high pitched voice

★★★★

You might or might not remember this post I wrote when this comic was first announced, and now months later I can’t believe I’m already reviewing the first issue. Most importantly for my ego, I was right on all points.

If you’ve ever read or watched any sports manga or anime, this is a comic for you. If you’re lgbt+, this is for you.

Plot:
Fence follows Nicholas Cox in his dream of making it into the fencing world. His passion is driven by more than just the love for the sport, and this is what helps the reader sympathize with him even if fencing is something completely new to them (like it is for me).

Nicholas is only sixteen but he worked hard for the chance to be taught to fence, and when he finally enters his first tournament he’s introduced to other fencers apparently for the first time. Among them is Seiji Katayama, whom everyone else seems to fear, and for a reason.

Their first encounter leaves Nicholas even more determined to finally enter a fencing school where he can be properly taught, because raw talent won’t get him anywhere. Six months later, he’s shown on his first day at Kings Row, a boys school he’s only able to attend thanks to a scholarship that depends on his making the fencing team, and a surprise is waiting for him there.

Characters:
Nicholas is a very determined character, who will do whatever it takes to achieve his dream. His struggles are relatable and real and they stick with the reader. Even in just around twenty pages it’s impossible not to care about him, also thanks to a couple of flashbacks.

Seiji is quite frankly an asshole so far and I can only love him for it. This is C.S. Pacat we’re talking about, so I’m expecting a hell of a backstory regarding the hard work that got Seiji to be where he is now.

In general:
This a very Japanese-like first issue of a comic that will (hopefully!!!) lead us on a long journey into the fencing world and the main characters’ relationships. It sets the tone for the rest of the series: tension, humor, diversity and queerness.

When it comes to diversity, it’s already very promising even just by looking at the background characters, and even though we still haven’t met them all on the page, we already know from the previews of all the main characters that they’re all diverse and unique.

The queerness isn’t strong in this one yet, but that’s perfect. Think of all your favorite sports comics/anime. I’m thinking Check, Please! and Yuri!!! On Ice. The queerness is just there and it’s just another part of the characters’ lives, just like the sport they love is. These are the kind of queer stories I love to read, and that’s why Fence will appeal to all LGBT+ readers. It promises a broad spectrum of sexualities and gender identities, paired with diversity and a story about passion that we can all identify ourselves with. Its very existence challenges a world of male white allocishetism, as a comic written by a queer and genderqueer person and drawn by a Mexican artist, who have put pieces of themselves into it.

I definitely cannot wait for the next issue to come out and I’m loving how big of a reach this already seems to have. Definitely get on it if you were hesitant because of its hype: the hype was real and it was 100% justified.

Also, make sure to check out Laura’s Q&A with CS Pacat at the launch party for a few extra infos on characters and plot!

 

Talk to me!

Have you read Fence? Will you? Are you excited for it?

#T5W: Favorite SFF Cover Art

Top Five Wednesday is a book meme that Lainey started and I discovered through the lovely Samantha‘s videos. If you’re interested you can join the goodreads group to get the topics for each week.

This week’s topic:

May 3rd: Favorite SFF Cover Art *Booktube SFF Awards Crossover Topic*
— Show off some of your favorite science fiction and fantasy cover art!

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There are many more covers that I love but these were some of my favorite off the top of my head. It’s too bad I don’t own any of them in physical form (they’re all on my kindle and Daughter of Smoke and Bone doesn’t even have that cover but I love that edition). Although I did see The Darkest Part of the Forest in a bookstore the other day and I almost bought it even though it was in Italian and I can’t guarantee I won’t go back and actually buy it since it was one of the best surprises I’ve had this year reading-wise.

Fortunately they’re also all books I loved, except for Flame in the Mist, which was just okay and I’ll review soon.

What are some of your favorite Science Fiction or Fantasy covers? And does the actual content live up to the cover?