Watching: Self Made

Just a few days ago me and my family sat down together to watch the amazingness that is Self Made. It’s funny, smart, full of A+ characters and incredible acting and I adored every moment of it.

The show follows a woman named Madame C.J. Walker and her pursuit in a buzzing enterprise of her own making. Based on the real life woman. It tells of her journey to success and being the first female millionaire in the United States.

This show is phenomenal! Me, my mom, and my sister we’re laughing and having a blast with it. Octavia like always was a blessing to watch! Her acting is always impeccable and everything I’ve watched with her in it has been pure gold. She sure did shine in Self Made. What a powerful and incredible woman she is. Her character was strong, determined, and whole in herself. She moved forward and empowered so many women to make something more of themselves. It was so incredible.

By far my favorite character was A’lelia Walker. Her free spirited and joyful nature was a delight to watch! Plus, her reaction to having good reason to divorce her husband had me cackling. It was sooo good.

I loved her relationship with Esther it was so cute and so much fun! They have this genuine connection you can feel and there was a freedom in it that Leia could have never found in her husband.

Another great character Addie who was at odds with Madame C.J. Walker the whole of the story is pretty much the reason for the Walker’s success. As Madame Walker stole Addie’s hair care recipes for herself. Addie’s personality was a bit manipulative at times, but also I understood her too. I both liked and didn’t like her. Having a grey character like her was really interesting.

All in all this show is something that is an absolute must watch. I can’t praise it enough. It was amazing beginning to end!

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Passing Strange: A Review

Passing Strange by Ellen Klages

My Rating: 5 stars!

Cover Rating: 10/10 especially after finishing the novel this is the perfect cover for this book. It seamlessly ties into the story and it’s absolutely stunning!

Publisher: TOR

Publish Date: January 24th, 2017

Number of Pages: 131

Received: the Tor kindle book club!

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

Inspired by the pulps, film noir, and screwball comedy, Passing Strange is a story as unusual and complex as San Francisco itself from World Fantasy Award winning author Ellen Klages, and a finalist for the 2017 Nebula Award for Best Novella

San Francisco in 1940 is a haven for the unconventional. Tourists flock to the cities within the city: the Magic City of the World’s Fair on an island created of artifice and illusion; the forbidden city of Chinatown, a separate, alien world of exotic food and nightclubs that offer “authentic” experiences, straight from the pages of the pulps; and the twilight world of forbidden love, where outcasts from conventional society can meet.

Six women find their lives as tangled with each other’s as they are with the city they call home. They discover love and danger on the borders where magic, science, and art intersect.

Opening Sentence: “On the last Monday of her life, Helen Young returned from the doctor’s and made herself a cup of tea.”

Musings:

Passing Strange is short, but quite beautiful. There was an elegance to it and I also learned a few things about the 1940’s. I would have loved to live in the world of it a little longer, but it was a perfect length for the story told.

What I Loved:

The subtlety of magic. The magic in the book isn’t the most important thing. It’s a part of it, but deep down it’s a tool and nothing more. It’s unique and beautiful in its own way, but it isn’t what makes the novel and I love that!

What it is to be a woman who loves a woman in the 1940’s. I don’t know much about lgbt history. It’s not really taught in school or anything you have to look for it. I love the historical elements in this book. Women in a club entertaining as men. A small safe place for women to be themselves in a society that would never accept them. That regardless of time the lgbt community is as large as it always was. Not a phase. Not a trend. Something that always was and always will be.

Helen Young. Helen is a woman who is dying. She has one last task and at the beginning the reader doesn’t know exactly what that is. She is a witty woman and an all around interesting character and I liked her immediately.

Diego Rivera and his wife Frida. In the book, Haskel is casually friends with Diego Rivera and his wife Frida (yes THE Frida and Diego Rivera). She even slept with Frida once. Anyway, I didn’t know Frida and Diego were really married? I learned about both is school, but this was never told to me and I was shook!

Haskel. Haskel is an incredible pastel artist that gets paid to create horror pulp covers. Yeah those old ones with a very scantily clad women as the focal of it. She’s talented and full of surprises. She is also bisexual and has a husband who she never sees because he couldn’t take that she made more money then him and supported herself (which causes him to go into debt).

Emily. Emily is Haskel’s love interest and confidant. A singer at one of those safe clubs for women who perform as men. She performs as Spike and everyone loves her. Her attraction to Haskel is immediate and I loved their banter and ease with each other.

All in all:

This 1940’s snapshot of women’s friendships, relationships, and deep love is a story I will forever keep close to my heart. It was beautifully written and well researched. I loved every second of it!

About the Author:

Ellen Klages was born in Ohio, but has lived in San Francisco for more than forty years. Her first novel, The Green Glass Sea (2006), won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, the Lopez Award for Children’s Literature, and the New Mexico State Book Award for Young Adult Literature. It was a finalist for the Northern California Book Award, the Quills Award, and the Locus Award. A sequel, White Sands, Red Menace (2008), won the California and New Mexico Book awards in the Young Adult category.

Her novelette, “Basement Magic,” won the Nebula Award in 2005, and her novella, “Wakulla Springs,” (co-authored with Andy Duncan) was a finalist for the Hugo and Nebula awards and won the World Fantasy Award in 2014. Many of her other stories have been on the final ballots for numerous awards, and have been translated into Chinese, Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Polish, and Swedish. The first  collection of her short fiction, Portable Childhoods (2007), was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award.

In addition to her writing, she is a graduate of the Second City Conservatory, the Clarion South Workshop, and served for twenty years on the Motherboard of the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award. She lives in a small house full of strange and wondrous things: lead civilians, odd toys, postcards, and other bits of whimsy that strike her fancy.

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Watching: Carnival Row

Carnival Row is one of the most beautiful and stunning new tv series I have seen in recent years.

This show is part historical, part romance, part fantasy, and part mystery in the best of ways. The setting makes for a darkly beautiful landscape where daily evils both familiar and unfamiliar in our time lurks in the shadows.

The Dark Asher is the main creature our handsome detective Philo is after, but there is a mastermind behind it all pulling the strings.

All the while the plot has two main stories going on, the one that is Philo’s and Vinette’s and the one that is between Imogen and the Puck Agregus. What I loved about the story that unfolded between Imogen and Agregus is the political tension and the very real racism that underlies it all. It’s not hidden by any means and it shows the mind that the upper class has in this film and how it wishes to ‘other’ all who do not share their look. Agregus is a rich puck. He purchases an expensive home and lives in finery. Imogen goes to him after learning her brother has done poorly with finances and she makes a deal with him to bring him into the fold of society in exchange for his financial help. I loved seeing the two realize they weren’t so different and their friendship quickly develop into something more. Especially after how much I began to hate Imogen in the beginning. Seeing her come into her own I started to see her in a new light.

Vinette and Philo’s story starts during war. A time where they came together and fell in love only to have Philo fake his death so that Vinette would not go back for him and potentially lose her life. When they see each other again years later their feelings remain, but Vinette is rightfully pissed at Philo for the choice that made her think she had lost him forever. Eventually, they end up working together as they realize the Dark Asher has a agenda that may have to do with them more then they previously thought.

All in all, what I loved about this show was how it mirrors politics today. The backstories to each character including Vinette being bi-sexual and having that being shown as simply part of her character was really cool. The majority of the show is actually very much politically based with characters making moves for power and the way certain people are accepted while others are not. It discusses immigration and what is done to protect certain identities. Carnival Row is rich and beautiful and at times dark and horrifying. It is everything I love in a good tv show.

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Yesterday’s Wordcount: 139

Escaping from Houdini: A Review

Escaping From Houdini (book 3) By Kerri Maniscalco

My Rating: 5 Stars!

Cover Rating: 6/10 the only reason for this is because this kind of cover wouldn’t typically attract my attention. The dress is pretty, but I typically enjoy a more illustrated style for covers. But, it does fit with the other two in the series, so I understand why it was designed this way.

Publisher: JIMMY Patterson

Publish Date: September 18th, 2018

Number of Pages: 416

Received: My mom got it for me at Barnes & Noble!!!

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis: A New York Times Bestseller! 
Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell find themselves aboard a luxurious ocean liner that becomes a floating prison of horror when passengers are murdered one by one…with nowhere to run from the killer. 

The #1 bestselling series that started with Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula continues its streak in this third bloody installment…. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly. 

But privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow more and more bizarre. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation before more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?

Opening Sentence: “New Year’s afternoon aboard the Etruria began like a fairytale, which was the first indication a nightmare lurked on the horizon, waiting, as most villains do, for an opportunity to strike.”

Musings:

I LOVED THIS BOOK!! I knew I was going to, but Kerri outdid herself with this one. The writing was beautiful. Filled with gorgeous and grotesque imagery. My Thomas Cresswell was perfect as always. Audrey was the same incredible heroine as always. Yet they added Mephistopheles a charming illusionist that even I was falling for.

What I Loved:

Everything about the beginning. The way Kerri wrote the first few chapters was stunning. I felt myself watching the moonlight carnival and being as enchanted and appalled as the passengers were.

Growing tension in Thomas’s and Audrey’s relationship. I love Thomas and Audrey together. The way that they love each other is beautiful. It made me miss the one I had felt that way for. It made me want to hope that i could fully feel that way again. These two would do anything for each other. Plus, the amount of space and freedom Thomas gives is beautiful. Because that’s what love should be. Something blissful and not a cage.

Mephistopheles! I adore this man. Even though I don’t think I’d ever give my heart to someone like this, he has this magic that you can’t help, but be drawn to. The way he sees the world and forms illusions based in science is incredible. I’m not surprised that Audrey was entranced by him as well.

The fact that I couldn’t tell who the killer was. There were several suspects, but really I wasn’t sure who the killer was. I’m not going to say much more because it would spoil it, but there were several people who it could have been and it had me guessing the entire time.

The setting! I loved that it was all set on a ship. A carnival on a cruise where everyone is trapped is an amazing set up. It also made for beautiful imagery which I very much appreciated.

All in all:

I don’t want to say much more other then this was an amazing read. This is a book three so I really don’t like the idea of spoiling anything. This series is one of my favorites so I’m very much excited for book 4!

About the Author:

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.

She is the #1 NYT and USA Today bestselling author of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series and the forthcoming Kingdom of the Wicked.

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Yesterday’s Wordcount: 0

Books of Christmas Future 2018

The future is an enigma. No one can know truly what is to come or what will be. One can only let the universe know their hopes and see if the universe grants what they wish to be.

Maybe the future will grant me a story of lives past

Or maybe the future will be where it’s at

A continuation of a story I started in the past

Or something totally new to keep the imagination something that lasts

Maybe a story to spark love in my heart

Or something where demons live supreme

Maybe something with a bit of tongue in cheek

Or something written a bit uniquely

Maybe something to spark some fear

But you can’t be without a bit of tears

What ever Christmas future brings

I know I’m going to love the adventure they bring

Thanks for reading! Let’s all hope for some great stories in our Christmas futures! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below.

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-Till next time!

Nothing But Sky: A Review

Nothing But Sky by Amy Trueblood

My Rating: 4/5 Stars!

Cover Rating: 2.5/10 I don’t like this cover. Especially because the photoshop is to where I can really tell it was photoshop. Plus I think having a models face here was a poor decision. It could have been a really pretty 1920’s aviation inspired cover.

Publisher: North Star Editions

Publish Date: March 27th, 2018

Number of Pages: 284

Received: Netgalley provided an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

A 2018 Junior Library Guild selection.

“Trueblood’s action-packed first novel explores the post-World War I époque with visceral period detail, and Grace’s ambition carries the story about fighting for one’s dreams, seeking stability in some form, and a team becoming a family.” —Publishers Weekly

Grace Lafferty only feels alive when she’s dangling 500 feet above ground. As a post-World War I wing walker, Grace is determined to get to the World Aviation Expo, proving her team’s worth against flashier competitors and earning a coveted Hollywood contract.

No one’s ever questioned Grace’s ambition until Henry Patton, a mechanic with plenty of scars from the battlefield, joins her barnstorming team. With each new death-defying trick, Henry pushes Grace to consider her reasons for being a daredevil. Annoyed with Henry’s constant interference, and her growing attraction to him, Grace continues to test the powers of the sky.

After one of her risky maneuvers saves a pilot’s life, a Hollywood studio offers Grace a chance to perform at the Expo. She jumps at the opportunity to secure her future. But when a stunt goes wrong, Grace must decide whether Henry, and her life, are worth risking for one final trick.

Opening Sentence:

“Blue sky, perfect day to fly.”

Musings:

Nothing But Sky was a fun feminist read that I for some reason had a hard time putting down. I had to know what was next with this book so I must say the author did her job and did it well!

What I Enjoyed:

The Barnstorming! I loved seeing a book featuring one of the coolest and most dangerous jobs ever! Women of barnstorming are the most badass women you could ever see and it was super cool to read about.

The Love Story. You’re going to read later on the small exception to this, but I really did like the love story this told. I liked that Henry came back from war with PTSD. Something that ends up bringing Grace and him together in a more natural way. There were some sweet moments in there and I loved all of them.

The Twist. In a book like this I was not expecting a twist like the one I got. It threw me for a loop and I couldn’t help but thinking “No way! No way! No Way!!!” Over and over again.

Her friends. Grace has two friends in this novel and their story together was actually one of the parts of this story I enjoyed the most. I loved that they kept trying to style Grace and the fact that Grace kept rejecting it to be herself.

Feminist Grace. I enjoyed Grace as a main character. She believed in herself every step of the way. No matter who was telling her to be careful or that she couldn’t do something she continued to persist. She was brilliant!

What I Did Not Enjoy:

Henry was a jerk at the beginning. I did not like seeing that for a long while Henry was not a guy that I would have liked to see as a love interest. He came off as a bit cocky and in some ways put down Grace and even though that changes later I still didn’t like seeing it happen in the beginning. (This is still a 4 star read this was the one thing I just couldn’t let go of).

About the Author:

I’m Amy Trueblood and I write Young Adult and Adult fiction. I grew up in Southern California and Arizona. After graduating from college with a degree in journalism, I lived in Los Angeles and worked as an NBC page before returning to Arizona to start a career in advertising.

My wild life has allowed me to live in many places including Nashville (for six years), and it’s true what they say, it’s very easy to pick up the accent. While living in Music City, I worked for Ingram Book Group and fell in love with the world of publishing and writing after reading an ARC (advanced reading copy) of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Shortly thereafter, I started writing my first Young Adult novel and I haven’t stopped writing since!

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below.

-Till next time!

And I Darken: A Review

And I Darken by Kiersten White 


My Rating: 5 stars! 

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Published: June 28th, 2016

Recieved: Signed copy from a Giveaway!

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis: 

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.
Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.
But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point. 

Musings: 

This book is not at all what I expected it to be. I thought there would be some violence, I got violence. I thought there was going to be some cool adventures, this was some political, assasination, court intrigue of epicness! What floored me was the complexity and the family drama with some fabulous inputs of humor and complete happy moments. Every piece of plot balanced on top of each other and weighted our two amazing main characters and put them under stress and I loved it! 

I loved going through and living inside of their childhood for such a long time. Seeing them grow made me fall in love with the sibling pair all the more and at the same time, made my heart break for both for so many different reasons. 

Let’s talk about Lada first. Ferocious, ugly, amazing Lada. I had a hard time picturing her ugly though, to me she was simply a really cool person that isn’t afraid to literally take your eyes out if need be. I loved her point of view! Her caring lives deep, deep, deep, deep, deep inside of her, almost to the point where it is impossible for an outsider to tell how much she cares. She has such an incredible protective instinct, even if her protection can be physically and possibly mentally painful to have. No one could ever cause her harm without enduring her wrath ten-fold and it was so cool to see her be simply who she was at all times. 

Then there is Radu. Sad, fluff ball, emotional Radu. He is someone that you always want to protect. However, there is a dark side to him too. A side that I don’t really hear anyone in the Bookish community talk about, because as he gets older and plays his own part in the Ottomen empire he makes some decisions and deceptions that made my eyebrows raise. That is the kinda dark streek that really tied him to being Lada’s sister and a Dracul (though he himself would forever deny it). I was really sad when I found out that he had his eyes set on Mehmed. Not just because I preferred Mehmed’s and Lada’s relationship, but because I really wanted him to find real happiness with another man, and Mehmed and Radu simply don’t work as a pair for me. (Actually now that I think about it Lada and Mehmed as a pair while lovely in the short term did not work for me that well either). I really wish Radu would give other men a chance, but his self-imposed torment will continue breaking my heart for a very long time. 

Another really lovely thing about this book is how authentic to the time it reads (at least for me) I really felt I was there and experiencing a real account of the terrible times they were. The empires are brutal and all the usage of the names, titles, and description of places made me feel like I was there. I’m so curious about how much research went into the writing of this story. I’m absolutely fascinated. 

Overall this book was terrible in the best way. Terrible in the way it rips out the heart and tears your emotions into pieces and fixes it only to rip them to pieces again. I’m so excited to be reading Now I Rise right after this review is over. This book is amazing. If you haven’t read it yet, do so as soon as you can. I recommend it with all my heart (or really what’s left of it). 

Thanks for reading! If you have read And I Darken, please have a chat with me on the comments about it. I’m dying to discuss this book more. 

-Till next time!