Saturday, April 29, 2017

Stacking the Shelves: April Haul

A weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews

Let's stop pretending like I'm on a book buying ban, shall we. I mean not to say I wasn't good this month and that I bought a ton of books, no that was last month. But I just think pretending I'm on a ban is silly because I'm not really (more on this next week). But I did get some exciting books this month both from purchase and from publishers. So here you go, all the books I got.


The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli - My Review
My one preorder of the month. I really loved Becky's debut, Simon Vs, so I was excited for her second book. I was a little nervous because it sounded more heavy on the romance but Becky did not disappoint.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor - Add to Goodreads
And so begins my audiobook purchase binge of the month. I picked this one up because not only did it sound amazing but the audio is narrated by Steve West who is the dreamiest.

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick - My Review
Audible was having a 50% off the entire website sale and I needed a little retail therapy so I spent some money. I picked this one up because I've been really enjoying celebrity memoires lately and I very much enjoy Anna Kendrick.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander (really J.K. Rowling)Add to Goodreads
They recently released this on audio because of the movie with Eddie Redmayne narrating it. I was super interested and then the sale knocked the price down to a can't miss price.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab - My Review
I have a few rereads that I am trying to do this summer and fall to prepare for new releases and this is one of them. I wanted to buy one reread for the Audible sale and I picked this one.

For Review

Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee - Add to Goodreads
Let's start with the exciting ones and not beat around the book. I received a copy of this one through the publisher and I don't really know how. I wish I did so I could repeat the process. I think because the author asked who wanted to be put on the list and I jumped on that so fast.

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco - Add to Goodreads
I may have gone a bit overboard here and emailed both the main publicity email address and also the publicist listed on the author's website. But it worked and I am insanely happy that it did. This book is so pretty and I can't wait to read it.

Sleeper by Mackenzie Cadhenhead - Add to Goodreads
I picked this up because it's pitched as Heathers meets Inception. But either way, it sounds like a really interesting science fiction book.

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica Add to Goodreads
I am a very big fan of Mary Kubica. I have read and enjoyed all of her books. She knows how to do a great mystery. That's really all I need to want a book but this one says it's her "most chilling thriller to date." Which is like so exciting!

The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook - Add to Goodreads
I really enjoyed With Malice which was my first Eileen Cook book. When I saw she had a new one coming out I snagged it. Plus this is about a fake psychic who gets asked by police to help solve a mystery she has details on. How freaking amazing does that sound?

The Night Ocean by Paul La Forge Add to Goodreads
A few days ago I mentioned I can smell a historical mystery a mile away and I smell one here. Plus I love these kinds of books when they involve authors or artists, and this one the author is Lovecraft. Yup, this sounds great.

Strangers in Budapest by Jessica Keener - Add to Goodreads
I think this is straight up historical fiction but it sounds pretty interesting and like it's part coming of age story and maybe part mystery. We'll see. It sounds good though.

Those are the books that I got in April. What books did you get? Are you excited for any of these? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Audiobook Review: Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Title: Scrappy Little Nobody
Written by: Anna Kendrick
Published: November 15, 2016 by Touchstone Books

(Amazon / Goodreads / Audible)

Synopsis: A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect

 Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.” 

 At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations. 

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.” 

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).

I recently reminded myself how much I enjoy celebrity memoirs on audiobook so when I saw that Audible was having a site wide sale I decided to pick up a copy of this book. And while I did enjoy it, it didn't blow me away.

I have been a big fan of Anna Kendrick for quite some time. I have never not loved her in a role and I feel like any time I see her in an interview I think how relatable and funny she is. That is exactly what I was expecting here, a relatable and funny memoir. And yes, there were some funny moments and I did find myself thinking that I've experienced that but if I'm being entirely honest, it felt a little basic as far as the stories went.

Most of this book revolved around Anna's career. This is one of the things that I really like about celebrity memoirs, they often give you a peak into the behind the scenes of your favorite movies or TV shows. There were a few interesting moments here, and interesting takes on what it means to be a child star, a starving artist, and a success while still barely making ends meet. I particularly liked the story of Anna's Oscar nomination and how surreal that felt just as her career was beginning. She has a great way of making Hollywood not seem as glamorous as some people make it out to be.

But if you came to this book for the laughs, I'm not sure you will be satisfied. Yes, there are funny moments and I was laughing but those are not the majority of the stories. At times the book is more serious and sentimental. At other times it's introspective and complex. It really gives you a full spectrum of emotions. But isn't that life for you. And I mean this is someone's life so it kind of makes sense.

As I said, I listened to the audiobook and I did really like that aspect. Hearing directly from the author added a lot of clout and emotion to the story. Anna has a really great way of grounding the story while still making it seem interesting and engaging. It's a short audiobook coming in at just under 7 hours and it's easy to finish that in just a few days.

I did enjoy this autobiography more than I thought I would. I would suggest going into it expecting just that, an autobiography. It's not humor like some of these celebrity memoirs, it's more the story of a person's life but it is interesting.

I give Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick 8 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. If you are a fan of the actress then I would pick up this book. It is an engaging look inside her life and her head. I would definitely recommend the audiobook though. If you can get it from your local library it's worth a listen.

Have you read Scrappy Little Nobody? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and  HAPPY READING!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

ARC Review: Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Title: Geekerella
Written by: Ashley Poston
Published: April 4, 2017 by Quirk Books

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Cinderella goes to the con in this fandom-fueled twist on the classic fairy tale. 

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom. Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first. 

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

I have heard nothing but great things about this book and so when I was looking through my Kindle library for what to read next I decided to change things up a bit and read this contemporary Cinderella retelling. I'm glad I did because it was a sweet and fun read.

I have read my fair share of retellings and my favorite are always the ones that pay homage to the classic story but totally change things up. That is exactly what Geekerella did. It wasn't a perfect shot for shot remake but it was obviously the Cinderella story. The author did a great job of making it her own story however and bringing it into a modern setting. There were great references to the classic with things like a magic pumpkin, an evil stepmother, a curfew, and a missing shoe but they were all so creative. As far as retellings go, this was a creative one.

Part of what I think made this book so unique and interesting was the setting the author decided to put the book in. It was a Cinderella story about fandom. The characters were nerdy (more on them later), the experiences were geeky, and the ball was a Con. Plus on top of that there was this great story in the story with Starfield. As a fellow geek myself I appreciated the setting and the choices she made with them. The book is full of geek culture and references that I love but it also made its own fandom which was just as interesting.

As far as the characters go, I really like them. The Cinderella story is a well-played trope and therefore you wouldn't think there is a lot of growth when it comes to the titular character and her Prince Charming, but Poston managed to do just that. She created charming and likable characters who you rooted for and wanted to get together but she also created unique and complex characters who had their own growth throughout the story. It was kind of a coming-of-age story disguised as a fairy tale retelling and the characterizations added a good amount of depth to the book.

And you can't talk about a Cinderella story without talking about the romance. What I appreciated most about this take on the story is that it wasn't the classic instalove. It was a relationship that grew over time. And even when you thought it was going to finally come together there was a snag or something happened to prolong things. I surprisingly enjoyed that. It made a story that could have been basic much more interesting. But this was also a story about family and friendship. There were a lot of layers to it.

My only frustration was with the pacing. Despite the fact that it was a short read and it moved at a pace that ended with an exciting climax, I did feel like it moved a bit slowly. The amount of drama and challenges were entertaining but it did feel like they were just preventing the eventual ending from arriving. Plus it's the kind of book that is a little bottom heavy. Most of the good stuff happens in the last third of the book and I would have just liked it a little more spread out.

But all in all a really good contemporary. It was entertaining and fun with a sweet romance and surprisingly complex characters. But it was an even better retelling with a fun and unique spin on a classic fairy tale.

I give Geekerella by Ashley Poston 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you haven't read this book and you're looking for a good retelling or a cute and fluffy story with some real heart then pick this up. I definitely recommend it.

Have you read Geekerella? WHat did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: The Dire King by William Ritter

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: The Dire King
Series: Jackaby #4
Author: William Ritter
Published: August 22, 2017 by Algonquin Young Readers 

Synopsis: The thrilling conclusion to the New York Times best-selling series the Chicago Tribune called “Sherlock Holmes crossed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer” sends the eccentric detective and his indispensible assistant into the heart of a war between magical worlds. 

The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push Earth and the Otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve the daily mysteries of New Fiddleham, New England — like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why zombies are appearing around. At the same time, the romance between Abigail and the shape-shifting police detective Charlie Cane deepens, and Jackaby’s resistance to his feelings for 926 Augur Lane’s ghostly lady, Jenny, begins to give way. Before the four can think about their own futures, they will have to defeat an evil that wants to destroy the future altogether.

The epic conclusion to the New York Times best-selling Jackaby series features sly humor and a quirky cast of unforgettable characters as they face off against their most dangerous, bone-chilling foe ever.

Why I'm Waiting:

They recently released the cover and synopsis for this book and I am so DESPERATELY in need of it. I mean, let's just take a second to look at that cover. Not only is it freaking gorgeous and fits in so well with the other covers because of the silhouette, but it's red. RED. LIKE BLOOD! Oh man, I need this book. But also, who is that the silhouette of? It can't be Jackaby, that's him on the inside with Abigail. Is it Charlie? The Dire King? WHO IS THE DIRE KING?

Okay, well now I want to talk about that synopsis, oh man I am excited and terrified about what comes next. I mean I am all for the supernatural mysteries. Zombies, yes please. More magical creatures, other craziness, CAN'T WAIT! I mean I have so many questions and theories about these things. Like will Douglas stop being a duck? And WHO IS THE DIRE KING? Is it someone we have already met? I NEED THIS BOOK!

But seriously, Jackaby books are some of my all-time favorites. Every year a book in this makes its way on my favorite books of the year. They're such amazing mysteries and are just really fun stories at the same time. I'm expecting this book to be no different. I'm guessing there will be plenty of laughs, tears, and surprises. It's going to wreck me but I will still love every minute of it.

I recently emailed the publisher to ask about review copies and they informed me that this book will not have an ARCs, which kind of makes sense. It's the last book in the series, but I still really wish I could read an advance copy. I guess I'll just have to wait until I can get myself a copy. *preorders*

What about you? What are you waiting for this Wednesday? Are you waiting on The Dire King along with me? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: What Makes Me Not Want To (And Want To) Read A Book

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Okay, so I didn't do a Top Ten Tuesday last week because I was traveling and super busy at work. SO this week I want to do both lists. This week it is about things that will make me instantly not want to read a book (which was surprisingly hard) and last week's was things that will make me want to read a book (which was surprisingly easy).

Ten Things That Will Make Me Not Want to Read A Book

1.) Aliens (especially invasions or abductions) - I have an irrational fear of aliens (especially if they are slimy and reptilian) so nope.
2.) Suicide/Dealing With Loss/ Most Serious Topics - I read books as an escape and I just don't want to read something super serious that will bum me out and make me cry.
3.) Road Trips - I want to go on one not read about one.
4.) Fae/Faeries - I only super rarely like books with faeries and they have to be dark murderous faeries.
5.) People almost kissing on the cover - This is a not so subtle cue that it's a romance and not my thing.
6.) Beauty and the Beast retellings - unpopular opinion, I seriously hate this romantic trope. It's a lazy hate to love if you ask me. #sorrynotsorry
7.) Good girl falls for a bad boy - see above. But also, ugh! Can the good girl be rebellious without dating someone who is a total jerk? Like why is this so popular? 
8.) Manic Pixie Dream Girl - if I even get a whiff of the girl saving an awkward or unpopular boy. Admit it. it's the reverse of the above trope and it's stupid.
9.) Books that say that they are "the next Harry Potter, Hunger Games, or Game of Thrones." - First of all those are big shoes to fill, second of all you are probably just a cheap knock off. 
10.) Overly special/perfect MC or romantic leads for no reason - this just screams annoying love triangle. Also characters who are perfect and good at everything are boring.
Bonus: A bad review from a blogger I trust - if my blogger friends or people who have the same opinions as me didn't like it I probably won't read it.

Ten Things That Make Me Want to Read a Book

1.) Mystery in the past/or anything that mentions the past and present - These are always the most me books. I love a good historical mystery and I can smell them a mile away.
2.) Unreliable narrators - I don't care how or why but if the main character and narrator doesn't remember or chooses not to be honest I am all aboard.
3.) Villains/Thieves/Rogues - I am a huge fan or main characters who subvert the law or conventions in some way. If the synopsis mentions that I'm in.
4.) Superpowers - These are always my favorite kind of magical systems. Plus I love books about superheroes or people with powers because it often explores good and evil.
5.) Magical lands/mysterious lands/alternate dimensions - I love these kinds of fantasies. World within a world, time travel, alternate dimensions. It leads to drama and fish out of water stories.
6.) Nerdy/Geeky Main Characters - These are the characters who it is easiest for me to relate to and if there is a book about them, especially a romance I'm interested.
7.) Historical fiction during specific time periods - I love historical fiction and if I see something that is set in Victorian, Edwardian, Regency, WWI, WWII late 18th century, early 20th century I will probably read it.
8.) Space Opera - Yeah, I know. I don't like aliens and road trips but I like space operas. It's weird, I don't get it either but I like Star Wars and Firefly and space operas are great.
9.) Revolution/Politics - This is mostly for fantasies but basically any genre fiction that mentions any kind of political intrigue or revolution that means drama and themes that I love. 
10.) Boarding schools - I love any kind of boarding school, magical or otherwise. But I am particularly excited if it is magical or weird in any way.

Bonus: A good review from a blogger I trust. if my blogger friends or people who have the same opinions as me love it, I probably want to read it.

There you have it. All the things that make me not want to read a book and want to read a book. What makes you not want to and want to read a book? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, April 24, 2017

ARC Review: The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence by Alyssa Palumbo

Title: The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence
Written by: Alyssa Pa
Published: April 25, 2017 by Quirk Books

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: A girl as beautiful as Simonetta Cattaneo never wants for marriage proposals in 15th Century Italy, but she jumps at the chance to marry Marco Vespucci. Marco is young, handsome and well-educated. Not to mention he is one of the powerful Medici family’s favored circle. 

Even before her marriage with Marco is set, Simonetta is swept up into Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici’s glittering circle of politicians, poets, artists, and philosophers. The men of Florence―most notably the rakish Giuliano de’ Medici―become enthralled with her beauty. That she is educated and an ardent reader of poetry makes her more desirable and fashionable still. But it is her acquaintance with a young painter, Sandro Botticelli, which strikes her heart most. Botticelli immediately invites Simonetta, newly proclaimed the most beautiful woman in Florence, to pose for him. As Simonetta learns to navigate her marriage, her place in Florentine society, and the politics of beauty and desire, she and Botticelli develop a passionate intimacy, one that leads to her immortalization in his masterpiece, The Birth of Venus.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

When I received an email from St. Martin's Press asking if I would be interested in reading an advance copy of this book, I of course said yes. Not only do I love historical fiction set in the Renaissance, especially if art is involved, but I also love the city of Florence. And this book was an absolute delight.

For one thing, the author does a great job establishing the historical setting. You can tell she did her research into the time period, and the historical figures. Renaissance Florence definitely comes alive in this book with the art, the politics, and the themes or religion and marriage. Fans of historical fiction will definitely appreciate the way the author explores the time period in an interesting and entertaining way.

But more than that, I appreciated the way that the author establishes the physical setting. I am a great admirer of the city of Florenece. It's beauty, it's history, it's culture, I love it there. In college I spent a semester abroad there and it has been so long ago now that I am desperately missing the city and want to go back. And while this book did nothing to assuage those feeling, that was kind of a good thing. I'm not sure if it was my wanderlust or the writing but the city definitely came alive for me. I could see the Duomo, the Arno, the churches, the narrow streets, and the red roofs. This book is definitely a love letter to Florence and I loved that.

As far as the plot of the book goes, it is definitely a character-driven story. It is about Simonetta and her interactions with the elite of Renaissance Florence. And that made for kind of a basic storyline that was made a little more interesting by exploring some deeper themes of the time. It was more about what it means to be a wife and a beautiful woman in the time than it was about art work or artists. It was interesting, but still kind of simple. I read the book in just a few days, which honestly is totally okay. After not finishing a book I was excited about, it was nice to read something simple and still engaging.

But that being said, I didn't really love the characterizations here. So much of the book needs to be carried by the main character of Simonetta. She is supposed to be the most beautiful and intelligent woman who is so sought after by all the men, but it felt like I was being told this as a justification for their actions instead of being shown it. But I did appreciate that she thought for herself and stood by her convictions. There were just times I get like the fawning over her was a bit over the top. And certain aspects of her relationships I definitely saw coming. She was an interesting and arguably complex character, I just didn't connect with her for some reason.

But I did really like the way the author took real life characters and expanded on their stories. This is the perfect example of historical fiction. I absolutely know who the Medici's are, and of course Botticelli but I feel like I learned much more about them in this book. And I have never heard of Simonetta Vespucci before this book but now I am definitely fascinated by her. She was indeed a real person and it was great learning about her and thinking of her as the inspiration behind some of Botticelli's most famous works. That is the best kind of historical fiction to me, the kind that takes real people and events and explores them in interesting and engaging ways.

On the whole this was a really good read. I loved being able to explore the beauty and art of Renaissance Florence and even though I didn't totally connect with the characters it was interesting to see the lives of real people explored in a complex and engaging way.

I give The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence by Alyssa Palumbo 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. I liked this book and would recommend it. If you are a fan of historical fiction and are looking for something quick and engaging to read, especially if you are interested in Renaissance Florence, then read this book.

Have you read The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Beautiful Places in Florence Inspired by The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence by Alyssa Palumbo

When I received an email from the folks of St. Martin's Press to ask if I wanted to read a copy of The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence by Alyssa Palumbo I was so excited. For one thing, I am a big fan of historical fiction and some of my favorites have been published by St. Martin's and even more of them have dealt with art or artists. But mostly it was because I absolutely love the city of Florence.

When I was in college (I don't really want to admit to you how long ago that was but it was a substantial period of time, like it's in double digits). I spent a semester abroad in Florence. There really wasn't a good reason as to why other than I wanted to go there. I did study history and political science but I did focus more on the recent era which isn't exactly when Italy and Florence was the most important place in the world. But it is still a city full of history.

And it's gorgeous. I've been really wishing I could go back lately. A few friends (I'm looking at you Pili) have gone lately and it makes me jealous af of them. But while I can't make that happen I can live vicariously and remember some of my favorite places and all the beautiful places to go and things to see in the city. So I wanted to share with you all some pictures with you as I prepare to start the book.

I mean seriously, look at how gorgeous that view is. But this picture was also taken from my all-time favorite within the city...

Boboli Gardens

Giardiano di Boboli are the grounds of the Pitti Palace, which were the main seat of the Medici when they controlled Tuscany. They're a sculpture garden full of roman antiquities and of course renaissance sculptures by the like of Stoldo Lorenzi and Guilio and Alfonso Parigi. There are lots of walking trails and little nooks to stop and read or do your homework.

My favorite thing about the Boboli Gardens is how quiet it is. It's on the southern side of the Arno which is mostly removed from the touristy part of the city and when you are up there you almost forget that you are in one of the largest cities in the country/world. It's like being in the wilderness.

Il Duomo

No, that doesn't stand for dome but it does have one. Duomo basically means catherdral. Every city in Italy has one. The one in Florence is pretty well known though. I used to know all kinds of facts about Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Catherdral of St Mary of the Flower) because when I was living there I became a Duomo Tour Guide for a work study job. I didn't give many tours but like it was still a pretty dope job. (Yes, I said dope).

But it started as a Gothic design by Arnolfo di Cambio and the dome was designed by Brunelleschi. It has the fifth largest free standing dome in the world but at the time it was the largest. On the interior of the church the dome is painted with a huge fresco of The Last Judgement (a very common ceiling painting at the time). Outside there is the campanille (bell tower) which was designed by Giotto and I would suggest climbing if you want a good view of the city center because it's cheaper and less popular than the dome. It also has the Baptistery which has Lorenzo Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise which have these gorgeous bronze reliefs on them.

Seriously, if you are in Florence you cannot avoid the Duomo and you shouldn't. It's huge and beautiful and worth a visit.
Piazza della Signoria

This was my favorite place to people watch in Florence. It's sort of tucked away but it is also the location of Palazzo Vecchio which is the old town hall of Florence. The piazza also is where the Loggia dei Lanzi is located which has bunch of really gorgeous sculptures. It's also the entrance to the Uffizi, the main art museum in Florence. What I'm saying is that it's really well trafficked.

But it's also very popular because Palazzo Vecchio is also the location of the original Michelangelo's David. It used to stand outside at the entrance (you can see it on the left-hand side of the image on the right). Now they have a replica because I think it caused too many crowds blocking the Uffizzi. There is also a sculpture there called lovingly "Big White Guy," which totally sounds bad and is not at all specific because like every sculpture is white because it's made out of Carrara marble/

And just before you get to Piazza della Signoria is one of my favorite gelaterias in Florence. It's called Perche, No which means why not in Italian. So yeah, why not get gelato and then go hang out in the piazza watching tourist go by taking pictures of the David.

Ponte Vecchio

No I'm really only including Ponte Vecchio because it's super well-known. I mean don't get me wrong, it's super well-known and really pretty. It is the last surviving Medieval bridge in Florence. They used to all look like this but over time floods and earthquakes took care of the other bridges but not this one.

The bridge is full of different shops and stalls which you can see on the sides there. It used to be where the butchers would set up shop but now it's just really expensive jewelers and other artisans along with tourist traps.

I used to cross the Arno at Ponte Vecchio all the time because my friends lived across the river and also there is a really good gelateria just on the other side of the river called La Strega Nocciola.

There you have it, some popular and gorgeous places in Italy. Today I am starting reading The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence and I will make sure to keep an eye out for all these locations. I'm sure a few of them will be mentioned. And if you happen to read the book and you see them you will know what to look for.

Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to come back on Monday for my review of The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence by Alyssa Palumbo. HAPPY READING!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Comics I've Read Recently: Spring 2017

It seems like every couple months I go through a cycle where I read a ton of comics, and in the past few months I have done just that. I tend to go through entire periods where I read no comics and then suddenly I will read four in the span of a month. I don't know why, maybe I have to be in the mood or maybe I just read other things. So I thought I would share some of my thoughts on them for you all.

Batgirl, Vol. 1: Beyond Burnside by Hope Larson and Raphael Albuquerque 
(Amazon / Goodreads / Comixology)

Synopsis: A part of DC Universe: Rebirth! 

 Barbara Gordon looks to add a new bullet point to her already impressive Batgirl resume: travel agent. Having just (barely!) survived the Battle of Burnside and verging on an Arkham-worthy breakdown, the star pulls a Kerouac and gets on the road to find herself.

Follow Babs on her worldwide quest in Batgirl, Volume 1: Beyond Burnside, with New York Times best-selling author Hope Larson and award-winning artist Raphael Albuquerque leading the way! 

Collecting: Batgirl 1-6

My Thoughts:

I have to say, I was a little nervous about reading this comic. Now not because I don't like Batgirl, because I do. Hell, my phone lock screen is Batgirl reading a Wonder Woman comic. No, I was nervous because I do love Batgirl. And I really loved The New 52 Batgirl. I didn't want a new iteration of the character, I wanted the Babs I had just grown to love. But this was a great extension of that story.

I think they did do a good job of connecting the classic character with that of her modern incarnation. It wasn't a total departure or retcon which was but if I am being entirely honest I didn't enjoy it as much. Story wise it was interesting enough with a good plot that took over most of the book and interesting smaller storylines for each issue. And the art was fantastic and colorful which I really enjoyed.

What I think I didn't like as much was the character. I do appreciate that they didn't completely throw out the previous run which, let's be real, happens a lot with comics but I still didn't like it as much. Barbara didn't feel as much like the fun and modern twenty-something like she did in the New 52 run. She was still kickass and snarky but I was still missing something.

Only the whole, this was a good comic that I think fans of the character will enjoy but it get very much like a bridge book. I'm curious for what is next for the DC Rebirth version of the character and I'm glad to hear she's back in Burnside. If you like Batgirl or you are a fan of any of DC's superheroines, check this out, but if you are new to the character, start with The New 52.

Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: The Lies by Greg Rucka and Liam Sharpe

Synopsis: A part of DC Universe: Rebirth! 

New York Times best-selling writer Greg Rucka returns to Wonder Woman! After suffering an unimaginable loss, Diana must rebuild her mission as Earth's ultimate protector and champion. However, in the midst of her grief, her Lasso of Truth stopped working! Start down the rabbit hole as dark secrets from Wonder Woman's past unravel her present!

 From the ashes of DC Universe: Rebirth, critically acclaimed writer Greg Rucka along with illustrator Liam Sharpunveil a tale that will forever alter the DC icon in Wonder Woman, Volume 1: The Lies!

Collecting: Wonder Woman 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, Rebirth

My Thoughts:

Okay so remember how I said I loved The New 52 version of Batgirl? Well I never read The New 52 Wonder Woman. At least not as extensively as I read Batgirl. I read a few volumes but I wasn't as connected with that version of the character. So that being said I was interested to see the direction they would take the character in with the movie coming up.

And while I enjoyed it a great deal, I wasn't totally blown away. This is a really good example of what I think that DC Comics is trying to do with Rebirth, the characters have been retconed and had their stories changed so many times that it's hard to know what is canon. And honestly, Wonder Woman is just as confused as we are. And while I appreciate that levity, it doesn't make for a great story.

And yes, there were some good elements and some classic Wonder Woman playing peacemaker and kicking ass when necessary, but on it's own it wasn't a great comics volume. I think when the series continues and we are able to move past this volume it will be much better.

If you are a Wonder Woman fan maybe check this one out, but if you are reading the character for the first time, do not start here. I would also maybe suggest waiting until you have volume 2 and reading them together. I have that one now so we shall see how I feel.

Rat Queens, Vol 3: Demons by Kurtis J. Weibe and Tess Fowler
(Amazon / Goodreads / Comixology)

Synopsis: Having survived the end of the world, the Queens follow Hannah back to where it all began: Mage University. A long perilous journey awaits the Rat Queens as they attempt to find out what happened to Hannah’s father while battling their own demons.

 Collects RAT QUEENS #11-15, RAT QUEENS SPECIAL: BRAGA #1, plus extras!

My Thoughts:

Oh I totally love this comic. Rat Queens is absolutely one of my favorites and one of the main reasons that I got into comics a few years ago. I've been dragging my feet in reading the next volume but when I saw it was on sale on Comixology I picked it up and read it almost right away.

And while I don't think this is my favorite in the series, it was a really amazing next installment. This volume is absolutely, without a doubt, about Hannah. Hannah has to come to terms with her past and face literal and figurative demons in this book. I think maybe the reason I didn't love it as much is because I didn't love Hannah's development. Yes, I am all about her becoming who she is deep down but it lost some of it's heart. I don't want to give too much away but I didn't like the way it ended.

But I seriously love these characters. After three volumes I have become so attached to them and their stories. Violet is probably my favorite and she wasn't a very big part of this one so that could have added to my thoughts of it. I also really love the fantasy or sword and sorcery vibe to it. It's a comic I think fantasy fans will appreciate even if you aren't a fan of comics.

Ms. Marvel Volume 4, Last Days by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
 (Amazon / Goodreads / Comixology)

Synopsis:From the moment Kamala put on her costume, she's been challenged. But nothing has prepared her for this: the last days of the Marvel Universe. Lucky she's got the help of Carol "Captain Marvel" Danvers! Between teaming up with her personal hero to rescue her brother and trying to keep her city from falling into an all-out frenzy, Kamala has barely had time to come to terms with the fact that the world is literally collapsing around her. But the truth will catch up to her, and soon. When the world is about to end, do you still keep fighting? Kamala knows the answer. Let's do this, Jersey City.

Collecting: Ms. Marvel (2014) #16-19, written by G. Willow Wilson and illustrated by Adrian Alphona, plus material from Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #7-8

My Thoughts:

Ms. Marvel is another one of those comics that got me excited about comics a few years ago. Actually, she might have been the first one I read. And similar to Rat Queens, I have been dragging my feet in finishing the series because I don't want it to end. But again I saw that it was on sale on Comixology and I couldn't pass it up.

And this next installment was just as good as the previous ones. Kamala Khan is a fangirl and a superhero rolled into one and as a nerdy female comics fan I can't help but relate. I feel like Kamala is all of us and seeing her popularity rise in and out of the comic is hugely satisfying. But she also still maintains the heart of the character. She's far from perfect and I liked seeing her succeed and mess up at the same time.

The best part of this comic however is the art. In other comics and graphic novels I find myself thinking that they are kind of boring or simple designs and I think it's because I was spoiled by the likes of Ms. Marvel. Seriously, the art is so intricate and if you look closely you will notice some really fun and interesting things,

My one criticism, and this is the case I think for a few other Marvel comics that came out around the same time (see Squirrel Girl just below), but it was really short. I mean it had it's own storyline but it felt like it was just a means to an end, that end being Civil War and Ms, Marvel becoming an Avenger. Which I'm cool with but I just want more Kamala.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 2: Squirrel You Know It's True by Ryan North and Erica Henderson
(Amazon /Goodreads / Comixology)

Synopsis: The breakout character of 2015 continues her one-woman crusade against injustice and jerks! These TAILS of the Squirrel Girl will show you the Marvel Universe's most powerful super hero from a bunch of brand-new perspectives, several of them Quite Astonishing.

Collecting: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 5-8, material from GLX-Mas Special, The Thing 8, Age of Heroes 3

My Thoughts:
I read the first volume of Squirrel Girl in my last comics binge and I loved it so much that I wanted to read more. So Comixology again was having a sale and I got the next two volumes for just under $10, which was very exciting because I needed some Squirrel Girl in my life.

And yes, like Ms. Marvel, this was a very short volume of the character. I mean it was even shorter because it only had a few actual volumes of this version of the character and then it had a few other versions at the end. It was just not enough for me.

That's because I really like Squirrel Girl. She doesn't take herself too seriously and she is the kind of superhero who really honestly loves what she does in fighting crime and helping people. It's great to see such an upbeat and inspiring hero. I also love that she tries to solve problems without fighting, and often succeeds, but isn't afraid to use her fists. Like I said, inspiring.

Things have been really stressful lately and it was really nice to take a break and have a lighthearted and fun comic and character like Squirrel Girl. I really enjoyed this volume and I can't wait to read the next one.

And those are all the comics I have read in the past few months. Have you read any of these comics? What did you think? Do you have any comics or graphic novels that you would recommend to me? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!