Monday, 27 June 2016

Musing Mondays - Book I Bought & Book Covers

Musing Mondays - June 27, 2016

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

I bought the following book in the past week:

Oh man! Howard the Duck is in this HAH!
Last week I did an unboxing post for my June Marvel #collectorcorps box. In that post I mentioned that one of the items I got was a Funko!POP of Squirrel Girl who I've always been very interested in but have never actually gotten around to investigating and reading. So this past Saturday when I decided to have a Bond marathon I realised that I needed to replace my copy of Casino Royale which meant a visit to Amazon. In order to get free shipping though I needed to add a few things to my order, so I added another season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to go along with the 3 seasons that Angie bought for me, and I also purchased The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 1: Squirrel Power. I got an email from Amazon this morning saying it has shipped so I am now eagerly awaiting it's arrival so that I can finally read about Doreen Green and her squirrels.

I suspect that I am going to really really like this particular super hero. From what I know of her she definitely seems like my kind of character. Summary from Amazon:

New series, New Avenger! With her unique combination of wit, empathy and squirrel powers, computer science student Doreen Green - aka the unbeatable Squirrel Girl - is all that stands between the Earth and total destruction. Well, Doreen plus her friends Tippy-Toe (a squirrel) and Nancy (a regular human with no powers). So, mainly Squirrel Girl. Then what hope does the Earth have if she gets hurled back in time to the 1960s and erased from history? At least Nancy will never forget her friend, but what invincible armored Avenger can she call on to help, through the magic of social media? Decades apart, can they avert doom, or will everything go wrong forever? Howard the Duck hopes not...he has an appointment for a crossover!

COLLECTING: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 1-6, Howard the Duck 6

          THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What is/are your favourite book cover(s)?

This was actually a really hard question for me to answer. There are so many, so very many book covers that I love. The original Bloomsbury editions of Harry Potter, the cover of Alma Katu's freaky book The Taker, and Deborah Harkness's A Discovery of Witches for example, are all among the many. Overall favourite covers though I think the win has to go to Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles, all 4 of them. They are just the most fantastic and fun covers and some of my absolute all time favourite books to read too.

Dealing with Dragons on the left is the first book in the quartet. What I like best about this cover is that you have 2 of the main characters, Princess Cimorene and Kazul the Dragon and that what you can't tell is weather Cimorene is going for plucky and standing up to the dragon here or if she's trying to be a diva, you find out when you turn the book around and read the summary, but the cover is drawn in such a way to keep you guessing. To me the best detail on the Searching for Dragons cover is something you can't really perfectly see in this image, the expressions on Cimorene and King Mendenbar's faces; Cimorene is a true warrior princess here looking very Wonder Woman or Xena in her fierceness and then the King's just back there all like "Wot?" looking like he has no clue how they got into this situation. Calling on Dragons has to be the best cover in the history of covers thought IMHO. It's got everything, a witch, a winged blue donkey and a badass pregnant heroine. Seriously what more could you ask for here??? The cover for Talking to Dragons was actually what pulled me into this series because it was the first of the books that I saw and I really wanted to know why the adorable dragon has an elf in his mouth, really though it's not my favourite of the 4 but I think I have been pretty clear on which one is...


Thursday, 23 June 2016

Unboxing - Marvel #collectorcorps - June 2016 - Women of Power box

I've been a subscriber to the Marvel Collector Corps since the first box that was put out to coincide with the theatrical release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, anyone who knows me knows I only very recently, within the last year/year and a half started getting into reading comic books other than Archie comics and I've mostly been reading a mix of Marvel or DC. That being said I've been a fan of the MCU since the first Iron Man came out so that and wanting to learn more about comics were what drew me to the Collector Corps. It's a bi-monthly subscription block and it always has either a tie-in to a movie release or a specific theme. This month's theme, for June 2016, was Marvel's Women of Power. I was hoping against hope that there was going to be a Peggy Carter item because MCU Peggy is totally my hero.

The box arrived on Tuesday and I eagerly opened it up and photographed the contents. Every box comes with an iron on patch and a collector pin. This month the patch featured the new Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan. I have the first volume of her series but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet, I really should. The pin is Spiderwoman which pleased me to no end because of a conversation I had just had earlier that day with my coworker Melanie. I'd been scanning a chapter from a book called Spider Woman's Granddaughters and I said to Melanie that it sounded like the perfect name for a Marvel comic series, especially now that Spiderwoman actually does have a kid; so now all I can do is picture in my head these three little girls with various spider related powers and spider-related nicknames forming a superhero team in a series called Spiderwoman's Granddaughters and now I really want to see it happen. But that is totally another topic. I am happy with both of these items and have added them to my little growing collection of 8 of each.There's always a card that describes the items in a given box. In this case the card described each of the final items and also what they looked like in their prototype phase.

The next item in the box is the standard comic. There's always a comic with a variant cover. The June box contained a copy of the first issue of Civil War II with a variant cover that features Funko!POP versions of Marvel's women of power. I'm excited for this even though I still haven't read the first Civil War saga, but I keep meaning to so I am hopeful having this issue waiting for me will motivate me to actually get around to reading it. I had wanted to read it before I saw Civil War in theaters, oops.

You know come to think of it I don't think I've cracked into any of the comics that have come in my boxes yet, I keep reading the ones I've got from the library. I'll have to get on that!

Next up is the customary t-shirt, another thing each of the boxes has. A good 85-90% of my tshirt wardrobe at Disney last month consisted of shirts that I've gotten out of either Nerd Block boxes or Collector Corps boxes. This month's tshirt didn't disappoint, it features another character I am excited about, and in a trend you'll probably notice by now, whose series I haven't yet gotten around to reading. The star of the women of power tshirt is none other than Spider-Gwen! Spider-man is probably one of the 3  marvel heroes I actually know the most about from the comics, and I've read a few of them, including Death of the Stacys which was what made me like the potential of the Gwen Stacy character, which is why I am excited for a timeline where she's the one who gets the spidey powers.

Another thing that's always present in the Collector Corps boxes, since they're powered by Funko, is an exclusive Funko!POP. I am somewhat obsessed with these things, they are adorable and a fun collectible. My collection started with the flying monkey from the Wizard of Oz  and now I'm starting to run out of space for them between the MCC ones, the ones in my Nerd Blocks, and the ones I buy for myself at Hot Topic. Like with all of the other items so far this one too features a character that I am intensely interested in reading about but haven't yet, Squirrel Girl. I LOVE everything about this pop, all of the little details on it amuse me to no end. Look at those little acorn earrings! And the little squirrel companion!! I have this head cannon now that Squirrel Girl and Luna Lovegood would be amazing friends if they ever found themselves coexisting.

The last two items in this month's box were a couple of not-at-all-mysterious Funko!Mystery Minis. The best part about the mystery minis for me is that they are supposed to be blind boxes and you have a chance of getting certain ones. The anticipation and excitement surrounding that inherent nature is the best. Vinylmations at Disney are blind boxes and when I was there I bought three and of the 2, and Angie bought me a 3rd, 2 of which were the exact ones I had been wanting which was exciting because they were some of the less common options. In this case though the boxes were not blind and therefore there was no mystery to be had, boo! I am not complaining about the figurines themselves because She Hulk and Captain Marvel are both absolutely awesome. I am just complaining about the manner in which they were presented.

So sadly and much to my dismay, no Agent Peggy Carter items, boooo, there was so much potential there. They could have done a Zero Matter covered Whitney Frost Pop, or a Boxing!Peg one. An SSR shirt with a Peggy Carter name bad. I want Peggy stuff dangit! That being said overall I enjoyed this box and I am happy to have it and now that I have these pieces of merch I DEFINITELY need to get around to actually reading the comics they are in. And also the Lady Thor storyline because I have a pop of her too from a previous collector corps box.

The next block, in August, is going to be Spider-Man. I am looking forward to that one too, but I always look forward to them if only for the mystery of seeing what's in them.


Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Musing Mondays - What I'm reading & falling in love with reading

It's time again for Musing Monday! Courtesy of Jenn at Books and a Beat.

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…


Obligatory romance cover pecs of doom!
I have two books on the go at the moment. Three technically because I did start the Chamber of Secrets audio book but I haven't listened to it for about a week now, oops. I should really stop re-watching the same DVDs over and over and actually get on that again. I decided that if I'm going to complete the PopSugar and Book Riot challenges I'd have to start reading two books at once because there are books I want to read that don't fit the challenges. For example the first book I am reading now, Jewel of Atlantis by Gena Showalter, it's the second book in her Atlantis series. Back in January with the knowledge that the newest book in the Lords of the Underworld series was coming out in May (and knowing I also hadn't read the previously most recently published one yet) I decided I'd re-read the entire Lords of the series. This however meant I also needed to read the entire Angels of the Dark trilogy by Gena because the two series are intertwined. As I got to the end of LOTU and AOTD I decided what the heck I'll just read everything paranormal that Gena Showalter has written, so that's why I'm reading Atlantis now while I wait for the most recent LOTU book to come out in paper back so it matches my other books.

That willy nilly silly ole' bear <3
The other book that I'm currently reading is one that satisfies one of the challenge requirements. One of the required reads for the Book Riot read harder challenge is a book either fiction or non-fiction about religion. Back last year at work I had to put this book on reserve for a class and so I put it on my Amazon wish list hoping someone would buy it for me as a gift, and that someone ended up being my lovely bestie Angie. Once she bought it for me though it just sat on my too be read shelves waiting for me to get around to it, and now I have. I am reading The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff. It's about how Winnie the Pooh can actually be used as a really good way to explain the concepts of Taoism. As a Disney fan this appeals to me because I have always loved Pooh and his friends, especially after the 100 Acre Woods levels in the Kingdom Hearts games, but I digress. Also, as someone who studied religions and cultures in University, learning more about Taoism, which I never took a class on at school, has always been appealing to me and this book is putting it into a fun a relatable context for me. So far I am really enjoying it, so thanks for buying it for me Angie!

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What made you fall in love with reading?

It feels like I've always loved reading actually and I think my mum would back me up on that. I honestly feel like I can say it's in the genes. My dad was a big reader right up until the time he passed and my mum still is, so when I was growing up I was always surrounded by books and reading. My mum started reading to me out loud while she was still pregnant with me, she enjoys reminding me that the first book she read out loud to me after I was born was War and Peace I am equally fond of telling her that that is probably why I abhor Russian literature. I had a whole whackload of those read-along books with cassette tapes when I was a toddler in the late 80s, and I could actually read by myself by the time I got to junior kindergarten at the age of 4, the only kid in my JK class who could if I remember correctly. By SK I was up to those children's novels. My love of reading just seems like it's always been there and always will be and that makes me happy.


Saturday, 18 June 2016

Video account of our trip

So, I am a vlogger more than I am a blogger so most of my work is posted on You Tube but I thought I would post a link to some of my videos relating to Lauren and mine's recent trip to Disneyworld.

First off is a selection of vids I made in the run up to my trip over to Canada.

Whats in my suitcase?

What's in my hand luggage? (excuse the mad smile on the thumbnail here)

And seeing as how we were too busy geeking out and having fun over there to actually do any vlogging as such, I decided to throw together a montage of all those photos we took over there (about 400+)

I did do a little filming over there, namely the Electric Light Parade, the Gringotts dragon bellowing flames and the Star Wars Jedi Training show

We did have the most amazing time and photos, videos and blog posts just don't do justice to the sheer thrill of being there in the moment.  I sometimes wonder if I dreamt it all but the whole holiday was so much better than I could have ever dreamed of.

And finally, if you can sit through it (it is over an hour long), my verbal account of our trip

Reading Challenges (2016 edition)

Every year since 2010 I have set myself a goal for the amount of books I am going to read and then track them. I used to do it on my livejournal back in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and then I discovered Goodreads so since 2013 I do the Goodreads reading challenge annually. I decided back in 2014 to just set my annual goal at 52 books a year, which translates to 1 book a week. I chose that number because I know that that is the base line minimum for how many books I'll read, so the challenge for me is to see how many books ahead of schedule I can stay and see how many more above 52 I can read. It makes me feel good when I see numbers above 100% on the widgets. You can see my 2013-2015 widgets on the right hand side of my last blogging attempt: Novel Concepts. Also in 2014 I tried to do Random House's book bingo and I did pretty good at it. I never got around to properly discussing my reading challenges for 2015 on Novel Concepts but I did post an update about them in November where I talked about how I had replaced book bingo with PopSugar's reading challenge and that I'd managed to complete about half of their list.

That brings us to 2016. This year I am sticking to my same goal, 52 books for the year, and I'm also doing PopSugar's challenge again. I have also added a third challenge. One of my favourite book and reading blogs in Book Riot and they do an annual read harder challenge, so in the spirit of broadening my reading horizons I have decided to add that challenge to my plate this year as well. I wanted to share an update on my progress in all three challenges here, so let's start with my 2016 Goodreads shelf; here's a sample of it, the most recent 5 books I've read:

My 2016 Reads

Clouded Vision
liked it
tagged: books-in-2016 and thriller
Heart of the Dragon
liked it
tagged: books-in-2016, mythology, romance, paranormal, and fantasy
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
it was amazing
tagged: favorites, middle-years, ya, books-in-2014, fantasy, and books-in-2016
Demigods & Magicians: Percy and Annabeth Meet the Kanes
it was amazing
tagged: books-in-2016, favorites, ya, mythology, and fantasy
The Hidden Oracle
it was amazing
tagged: books-in-2016, favorites, middle-years, mythology, ya, and fantasy

Next up I'll show you my progress on the PopSugar challenge. There are 40 categories of book to be read as part of this challenge. As you can see from my Goodreads challenge widget over on the right I'm already 54% done my challenge, I've read 28 books so far, and out of those 28 books 10 have fulfilled PopSugar's challenge, which means I'm 25% done this one.

Needs more green Xs though...
Here's the list of books that I've read that fit those checked off categories:

1. A YA bestseller - Black Widow : Forever Red
2. A book from the library - Blood Lite III : Aftertaste
3. A book that is guaranteed to bring you joy - Feel the burn
4. A book set in Europe - The Darkest Night
5. A book with a blue cover - The Darkest Kiss
6. A book you can finish in one day - The Darkest Pleasure
7. A book and its prequel - book: The Darkest Night
                       prequel: The Darkest Fire
8. A book that is published in 2016 - The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo #1)
9. A classic from the 20th century - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
10. A book that's under 150 pages - Clouded Vision (77 pages) [Hah, I just noticed I forgot to cross this one off on the challenge sheet!]

My last challenge for 2016 as mentioned above is Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge. This one's only got 24 items on it but I feel like it's going to be the harder of the two category challenges for me personally. So far this year only four of the books I've read fulfill challenges in this one, which means I'm 1/6th done it.

Some of these seem very intimidating to me...

As you can see, on this one I've already added a couple of books that I plan to read to the categories that they apply to. This past Wednesday I printed off both challenge sheets and sat down in front of my two to-be-read bookcases and tried to match the categories to books that I already own (or have borrowed from the library I work at) and plan on reading; for the most part it's going to work out there aren't  many I'm going to have to bring in from either the library I work in or the public library so that's good! Means I'll be clearing off my to-be-read shelves nicely. Which means I'll get to refill them with more books :D.


Monday, 13 June 2016

Musing Mondays (a weekly book blogging meme)

I found out about this meme last night through a blog I just started reading called Flavia the Bibliophile which I found out about last week through a blog post on one of the blogs published by the institution where I work. Flavia posted last night about the daily memes she sometimes does and Musing Mondays from Books and a Beat caught my eye so I figured today being Monday that it was timely and I would give it a go!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What book have you wanted to read for a long time, but still haven’t?

Maybe one day I will finally read you.
Inheritance is the fourth and final book in the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. It's one of the books from my personal library, one of the MANY books that I have had sitting on the shelves for a long time waiting for me to get around to. This one specifically has been hanging around waiting for me since it was published in November 2011.

Why has this one been waiting so long for me? Because I kept saying that I needed for reread the first three books in the series before I read this one. And then I promptly never got around to rereading them. Partly out of sheer laziness and partly out of distraction. Other new books that didn't require rereading books I had already read for example, or if they did the series was shorter/more interesting to me at the time. The last part of the reason, because I was never in the mood for them.

I choose what I'm going to read next based on my mood/what I'm really interested in reading next. Like right now I am on an alternating Rick Riordan/Gena Showalter/JK Rowling kick so I am alternating between Rick's books, Gena's books and listening the the HP audio books (figured I've read them so many times myself at this point I may as well let Jim Dale read them to me this time.). Maybe once I'm off this kick I'll finally be in the mood for rereading Paolini's books, who knows, the idea does sound appealing to me right now though.


Saturday, 11 June 2016


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Friday, 10 June 2016

Unbirthday Adventures at the Big D - aka Lauren & Angela do Disney

You've just gotta have a Main Street USA photo done.
As you saw from the last post that Angie wrote on May 16th: we went to Disney together last month! This trip was a super big deal for both of us, several years in the making as she mentioned. Angie's life long dream has always been to go to Disney and I knew that that was a thing that I could make happen for her. So my Mum and I set out to pull it off and we succeeded. We decided on this year for it so that it could be a joint Unbirthday celebration for Angie and I for our BFD 30th and 40th birthdays which are only 11 days apart in January. We chose to go in May instead of January for two main reasons: better weather and it being easier to get time off work in May.

Angie flew from the UK to Canada on May 17, and then on May 18 we started our two and a half day road trip to Orlando, we decided on a road trip because it was Angie's first time in the US period. Our route took us through New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia on the first day. West Virginia is all up in the mountains and as the day went on we ended up surrounded by more and more clouds. The effect was magnified the next day by the awful weather as we made our way through the rest of West Virginia, into Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and finally into Florida where we spent the second night in Jacksonville. We were at Disney from May 20-27 when we started the two and a half day drive back to my house (the only change in the route is that we had to cross into Ohio on the second night for the hotel because finding one in Pennsylvania on Memorial Day weekend didn't work out for us), and then Angie flew out on May 30 and arrived back in the UK on May 31. We stayed on Disney property at a non-Disney resort called Wyndham Bonnet Creek, which is located near enough to Disney's Hollywood Studios park that we were able to watch the Star Wars fireworks display they have there from our patio.
Mad women on a motorbike!

Angie and I both being HUGE Potterheads we took one day off from Disney to head over to Universal Studios and visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter which was absolutely fantastic! I've always said I wouldn't even think of going to the Wizarding World of HP (WWHP from here on out so I don't have to keep retyping it) without Angie so I made good on that. While we were at Disney and WWHP a good time was had by all three of us (my lovely Mum came with us) and we did all sorts of fun things. On our first full day at Disney, the 21st, we started the day off right by having breakfast with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto at Chef Mickey's. Because really what better way is there to start a trip at Disney than having breakfast with the Mouse himself?

After breakfast it was off to Magic Kingdom again (we'd popped in the night before for the parade, fireworks and dinner), where we took that first photo you see up there. We took A LOT of photos, according to Angie's facebook album, at least 429. We decided to shell out for the Memory Maker Package (about $150USD) so that we could have digital copies of all of the professional Disney Photo Pass photos. The second day, Sunday May 22, Angie and I headed to Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park while my mum relaxed at the resort. We spent most of the day mucking about in the wave pool there, and ended up getting horrible sunburns even though we'd reapplied out sunscreen, we were the lobster queens. My sunburn even extended into my scalp so I had to wear my baseball cap the rest of the trip instead of my awesome Maleficent Mickey ears that I picked up on the 21st. The 23rd was the day that we went to the WWHP where Angie and I's geeking out increased exponentially. We bought wands (I got Sirius's and Angie got Draco's), and Wheezes's products (shirts & candy), and chocolate frogs among other things; we rode the Hogwarts Express twice because the interactive trip is different in each direction. We weren't brave enough to do the dragon roller coaster there but we did the other 3 rides, the Gringotts one was definitely my favourite.

The faces of fear ladies & gents - the Dark Side had no cookies...
The 24th found us at EPCOT where I geeked out over Figment before we took a trip around the World Showcase, and then we tried to ride Test Track but got absolutely fed up of waiting in the line after the ride got stopped due to technical difficulties so we decided to go back to Magic Kingdom again so we could ride Space Mountain a second time (Space Mountain is my Mum's favourite ride and one of my favourites at Magic Kingdom.). On the 25th we headed to Hollywood Studios the home of all things Star Wars related at Walt Disney World. We rode Star Tours twice because we had read/heard that there were like 50 different possible tours, and our second tour ended up being better than our first. We also decided to go and meet Kylo Ren which was a horrible idea because OMG he was so intimidating!!! He was probably laughing at us behind his mask.

Our last day at Disney was on the 26th and it was a full day, we spent most of the day at Animal Kingdom where we all got super soaked riding the Kali River Rapids and where I made the mistake of taking my poor Mum and poor Angie on a roller coaster that they both absolutely hated (Primeval Whirl). Animal Kingdom has an old school carnival games area where you can win stuffed animals (dinosaurs and such) so I forked out $20 to get the three of us 7 tickets. I won both the games we played, I won a sea horse plushie for my dog and a purple dinosaur that I gave to Angie because purple is her favourite colour. We left at around 4-4:30 because we had an 8:00pm dinner reservation for the Hoop-de Doo Musical Revue and we wanted to relax first. It's a good thing we left the park when we did because as we were relaxing I decided to read the reservation confirmation again and noticed that we would have to pick up our tickets at the box office first an hour prior to the show AND that from the parking lot at the resort there was a 20 minute bus ride to the back of the resort property where the box office and show were located. I noticed that at 6:30 so the minute I noticed that we all kicked into high gear and got ready super fast. It was a fun show to end our time in Disney on.

We'd already started planning our next trip by the time Angie flew home.