Friday, May 25, 2018

The Friday 56 (132) & Book Beginnings: Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.


30955863Synopsis from Goodreads...

Once upon a time, Aveda Jupiter (aka Annie Chang) was demon-infested San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine, a beacon of hope and strength and really awesome outfits. But all that changed the day she agreed to share the spotlight with her best friend and former assistant Evie Tanaka—who’s now a badass, fire-wielding superheroine in her own right. They were supposed to be a dynamic duo, but more and more, Aveda finds herself shoved into the sidekick role. Where, it must be said, she is not at all comfortable. It doesn’t help that Aveda’s finally being forced to deal with fallout from her diva behavior—and the fact that she’s been a less than stellar friend to Evie. Or that Scott Cameron—the man Aveda’s loved for nearly a decade—is suddenly giving her the cold shoulder after what seemed to be some promising steps toward friendship. Or that the city has been demon-free for three months in the wake of Evie and Aveda’s apocalypse-preventing battle against the evil forces of the Otherworld, leaving Aveda without the one thing she craves most in life: a mission. All of this is causing Aveda’s burning sense of heroic purpose—the thing that’s guided her all these years—to falter.

In short, Aveda Jupiter is having an identity crisis.

When Evie gets engaged and drafts Aveda as her maid-of-honor, Aveda finally sees a chance to reclaim her sense of self and sets out on a single-minded mission to make sure Evie has the most epic wedding ever. But when a mysterious, unseen supernatural evil rises up and starts attacking brides-to-be, Aveda must summon both her superheroine and best friend mojo to take down the enemy and make sure Evie’s wedding goes off without a hitch—or see both her city and her most important friendship destroyed forever...


Beginning: "I love being a superhero."

56: "It flashed red."


Comments: Sarah Kuhn is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. Heroine Complex was already an amazing read, and I was more than excited to read the followup, Heroine Worship. This book didn't disappoint. Now I'm just waiting for book three. What are you reading this week?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Review: Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

27209443Title: Heroine Complex
Series: Heroine Complex #1
Author: Sarah Kuhn
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library; paperback
More Details: Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: DAW; July 5, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Being a superheroine is hard. Working for one is even harder...

Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco's most beloved superheroine. She's great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss's epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants. Unfortunately, she's not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea. But everything changes when Evie's forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest comes out: she has powers, too. Now it's up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda's increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right... or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion...
I’m being completely honest when I say that the cover is what initially drew me to Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn. Then, once I started reading up about it, I knew that it was a book I eventually wanted to read. Well, I’ve read it, and I can say that I absolutely loved the story. I don't know why this hasn’t been made into a movie or TV show, because there’s a lot to love about this book.

I haven’t read anything with superheroes in a while, and I liked Kuhn’s approach. Her treatment of the story and characters took something like superheroines and demon villains and made it feel refreshingly new. There was a perfect balance between mystery, action, supernatural, and even a little romance. The story was just good. I also have to give Kuhn props for how she developed the platonic and romantic relationships. The characters talked to each other to work out issues even if the subject was a tough one, and it was glorious.

I liked that Kuhn decided to make the focus of the story the superheroines personal assistant, Evie Tanaka. Reading from Evie’s perspective showed a lot of the behind the scenes aspects of Aveda Jupiter’s crew for example the upkeep of the signature costume, support if an emotional crisis arose, and even something as simple as who’s going to buy the groceries. Evie was a wonderful character. She was good at her job, but I also liked the growth she went through once she reached her breaking point. There was also a day-to-day feel to parts of the story, and I liked those moments because it showed what life was like for Evie outside of working for Aveda.

There are more books to this series, and after the all the twists and that ending, I’m really looking forward to Heroine Worship....



Monday, May 21, 2018

Acrylics #2: The Day

For my second foray into painting with acrylics, I decided to work on the sketch I mentioned in the last post—nicknamed the day. So just for reference, I’m going to show it again....

Overall, I’m happy with how this painting turned out. I was a more comfortable with the medium—I don’t even know why I was stressed out about it in the first place—which partly contributed to how much fun I had while working on it. One of the things I was most excited about was the color choices I’d picked for it.
Last time, I mentioned that I wanted a smoother transition between light and dark. I wanted the shadows to be deep, and the lightest spots to standout. And that meant adding more shades to bridge the gap between the light and dark extremes. I love how the colors turned out, particularly how the blues look against the rest of the painting. I don't know about anyone else, but I like working with blues because its a color that's easy to match with others. I love the coolness of lighter shades as well as the richness of darker ones. I also made a few minor tweaks to the sketch, and while the focus remained squarely on the face, this time around I wanted more detail. With the night, the headband was just a kind of, well, random lines that I added as sort of an afterthought. For the day, I wanted the veil/headpiece/clothes to have a specific look where the details were vague enough to fit my preference, but precise enough for them to be immediately recognizable

Acrylic is a pretty forgiving medium. Unlike watercolor, it's easy to go back and make little tweaks without having to choose a different medium—like colored pencil, gouache, gel pin, ink, etc.— to make corrections. However, my biggest takeaway from this is that I’ve learned more about my own process, and some of the immediate changes I made were focused on how I approached the painting at the start. For the night, I worked from the center before moving out to the edges. That worked out okay, but when I paint using traditional mediums, I noticed that I prefer my first layer to start from the background before then working my way in, leaving finer/finishing details for last. While working on the day, I kept that in mind and found that I wasn't frustrated with the progress with this piece as I added more and more to it. 

It's easier to see what I'm talking about when the two paintings are shown together. So for comparison purposes, here they are side by side. Going forward, I have a couple more projects in mind. I won’t mention the exact details yet, because I don’t have any sketches prepared and my plans aren’t set in stone. That being said, I look forward to using acrylic paint again....

Have you used acrylic paint before? If so, what do you like or dislike about it? If not, would you try it?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

26042767Title: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
Series: Wayfarers #1
Author: Becky Chambers
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Paperback
More Details: Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Voyager; August 18, 2015

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

A rollicking space adventure with a lot of heart...

When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The patched-up ship has seen better days, but it offers her everything she could possibly want: a spot to call home, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and some distance from her past. And nothing could be further from what she's known than the crew of the Wayfarer. From Sissix, the reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the chatty engineers who keep the ship running, to the noble captain Ashby, life aboard is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. That is until the crew is offered the job of a lifetime tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet. Sure, they'll earn enough money to live comfortably for years, but risking her life wasn't part of the job description. The journey through the galaxy is full of excitement, adventure, and mishaps for the Wayfarer team. And along the way, Rosemary comes to realize that a crew is a family, and that family isn't necessarily the worst thing in the universe… as long as you actually like them...
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is one of those books I’ve been hearing about seemingly for forever—even though, in reality, it was only a few years, but you get the point. So, I’ve heard about it, seen a lot of praise for it, and now I’ve finally read it for myself. I adored this book. And it’s a little hard to accurately describe because it’s not the usual kind of science fiction/ space opera that I'm a huge fan of, but it also kind of is in a way. That’s not a very good way to say it, so let me at least try to explain what I mean...

If you pay close attention to the synopsis, it does an accurate job of describing how the book actually reads. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is very day-to-day and closely follows the life of the crew of the Wayfarer, a patchwork but stable ship. There was something about it that reminded me of how literary fiction feels when I read it, and might have something to do with how it was written or how character-driven the book was. There was a lot of travel, daily activity, and exploration of the characters (including backstory, current events, and relationships) that, at times, took over the story. The setup worked because the characters were awesome. Everyone from Rosemary to the rest of the crew was interesting in their respective ways. That’s one thing I have to note. Chambers’s did a spectacular job of creating truly alien races that didn’t mirror one another. There were distinguishable cultures and languages that went hand in hand with their unique appearances and differing societal norms. I thought it was creative and interesting to read about.

That brings me to my second point: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is definitely science fiction. It was a long (and dangerous) way to a small and angry planet. On one hand, this book featured many planets and cultures, giving an expansive feel to the setting. But it was also limited in the sense that the primary setting was the Wayfarer, which had obvious space constraints (it was a ship). Still, there was never a moment when the story seemed narrow. There was a sense of life to the characters and how they interacted and reacted to the things and places around them. There was always something that reminded me that, yeah, there was a broader world outside the Wayfarer. It was one of the things that made the book an engrossing read.

There was, of course, the technology. In particular, I thought it was cool to have ships that specialized in creating wormholes.

So, all that being said, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. It was something a little different but a thoroughly interesting story. I have high hopes for the second book.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Music Monday (44): Kimbra, Kehlani, & David Bowie

   Rules:
  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: Okay, I know I keep talking about Primal Heart by Kimbra, but I love the album a lot and have basically been listening to it on repeat. My first pick is Like They Do On The TV. I love everything about this song... 


I'm also listening to Kehlani's album again. I've mentioned it before on the blog but never talked about any of my favorite songs from the album except for In My Feelings. So, here's another good one: Undercover....



Adri: I often attend the tapings of TV shows. One of my favorite shows is Jimmy Kimmel Live, especially the outdoor concerts. Before the concert starts, while the audience is entering, they often play music.  Well, Let's Dance by the late David Bowie was playing at one. Ever since then it's been stuck in my head....




What are you listening to this week? 



Friday, May 11, 2018

The Friday 56 (131) & Book Beginnings: Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.


27209443
Synopsis from Goodreads...

Being a superheroine is hard. Working for one is even harder...

Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco's most beloved superheroine. She's great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss's epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants. Unfortunately, she's not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea. But everything changes when Evie's forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest comes out: she has powers, too. Now it's up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda's increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right... or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion...


Beginning: "I am not a superhero."

56: "Her gaze swept over me and I could practically see the gears whirring in her brain, cataloging every bit of my body that was rejecting the corset. We could wear the same clothes, but they hung a little differently on me."


Comments: This book was so much fun to read! It's one of the best super hero books I've read, and I'm really looking forward to the next book in the series. What are you reading this week?

Thursday, May 10, 2018

We're Gonna Talk About Romance Tropes (Featuring The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory)...

**Quick note before I get started:  I’m going to be using Jasmine Guillory’s The Wedding Date as an example. I read it as an ARC a few months ago, and it’s a great example of putting a fresh spin on some familiar tropes. So, before you read on, be warned that there may be minor spoilers even though I will try to keep talk of specific situations to a minimum....**

If you think about it, fiction utilizes some kind of trope or another to tell a story, whether it’s in the backstory of a character, setting, whole magic systems, or even the type of character arc a MC goes through—think heroes journey. Tropes are everywhere and they’re not going away. It all comes down to the details. I think romance novels are a good example of this because the tropes in and of themselves are so recognizable. So, I decided to talk about two of my favorite romance novel tropes: accidental meetings and fake wedding dates.

Accidental meetings put two people who might not have otherwise met into the same space for an extended length of time. It essentially forces them to hold a conversation. In the case of The Wedding Date, Alexa Monroe and Drew Nichols get trapped in an elevator, and have a somewhat humorous conversation that involved good old fashioned cheese and crackers—the cheese apparently being the good kind too. They might not have crossed paths. Why? One, they were total strangers. Two, their respective careers kept them in different cities. So, they hung in different circles but happened to be in the same place at once. There was a lot to love about how Alexa and Drew were characterized—professional life and interactions.

What could possibly go wrong at a wedding? To elaborate, I like this trope because it makes the characters talk to each other while they concoct elaborate stories to keep the charade rolling. Such as establishing how they met, how long they’ve been dating, and simple facts that couples should know about each other all in an attempt to fool friends, family, and sometimes an ex.

When you put those tropes together you get chemistry. Or, theoretically, that’s how it should work anyway. What’s true with a lot of romances is that chemistry can be rediscovered or entirely spontaneous. So, with the accidental meeting and fake wedding date tropes it’s kind of spontaneous and works best for me when it’s evident in the interactions and not repeated (told). In the case of The Wedding Date, the chemistry between Drew and Alexa was there. And the rest of the book was a lot of seeing where that early chemistry would lead.

Like I said above, tropes are everywhere. I have my favorites and there are others that I can’t really stand in romance and in other genres as well. What it comes down to is whether they’re used effectively to further a story rather than hinder it, and of course personal preference. The latter is a big factor in what books I ultimately enjoy or DNF and move on. And I just happen to be a fan of fake wedding dates.

What are some of your favorite romance tropes that appear in any genre?

Monday, May 7, 2018

Music Monday (43): St. Vincent

   Rules:
  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 

Breana: Lately, I’ve been trying to expand my (music) horizons by broadening the list of musicians I’m currently listening to. And that is precisely why I’ve been listening to St. Vincent’s latest album, Masseduction. As a whole, I like the album a lot. I think St. Vincent has something going here, and I’m not going to lie, I’m a total fan of the guitar riffs. The first song I want to talk about is Los Angeles. Gosh, I love this song a lot! It encompasses what I like about St. Vincent’s music with its lyrical strength, and again, those guitar riffs...


My second pick is Pills, also by St. Vincent. This is another one of my favorite songs from Masseduction. I like the almost cheerful tone the song takes on during the chorus. All around, it’s a good song…


What are you listening to?

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