Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Snapshot for the End of March

In Sunday Snapshot, I summarize my week in blogging, reading, puppy dogs, subscription boxes, and movies. Let me know what your week was like!

american flag and mountains
What I'm reading right now:

Didn't get a lot of reading done this week. I did finish The 4-Hour Workweek yesterday. I'm still reading Roulette, and I started The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Warren Adams–supposedly the first British mystery ever published–on Thursday.

Movies watched this past week:

into the woods movie
Into the Woods, starring every person ever.

The first half was fun and delightful and I loved the music. The second half felt really long, boring, and pointless (which also happens to be my opinion of the book), and left a bunch of loose threads. Like, what happened to Rapunzel and her prince? Where did the witch go? Is divorce allowed in the kingdom?

I did love Emily Blunt and Anna Kendrick, though. They were amazing in this.

Reviews in the queue:

Supermind by Mark Phillips and The Gold Bag by Carolyn Wells (I have to complain about this one. I just have to).

Reviews posted this past week:

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud–The fact that the ending of this book made me want to throw myself off a bridge and yet I still recommend it should tell you all you need to know about how great it is.

Subscription boxes received this week:

I don't think I got any boxes this week...

Oh wait! I lied, I did one. haha I got a box of four different artisan coffees from Mistobox.


The coffees were incredibly tasty, but they came in whole bean instead of ground. Since I didn't have a coffee grinder, I had to buy one. UHG. Kinda wish they'd mentioned that on their website. Other than that it was a good experience, although pricey (boxes start at $20 and go all the way up to $200!!).

purple flower

Theme of the week:

This week was actually pretty stressful. I think you can probably figure out why from my Day in the Life post. In addition to dealing with family issues, I was completely blindsided by a deadline. Like: "Oh, we go to print on Wednesday, didn't I tell you? No? Well try to have that 2500-word article in by Tuesday!" Uhhhhg. Good thing I usually start writing articles early anyway.

Reading The 4-Hour Workweek with Princess Sofie. Psssst... if you want to keep up with me during the week, follow me on Instagram @tashabrandstatter!

Two exciting events are starting this coming week, and I hope you all can join in!

the ladies paradise emile zola

The lovely Evangeline from Edwardian Promenade and I are cohosting a readalong of The Ladies' Paradise by Emile Zola. The readalong schedule isn't too onerous–just one chapter every three days starting April 1st. I know several of you have mentioned you want to read this one, too, so give me or Evangeline a shout-out if you're interested!

comics and graphic novel month

Also starting April 1st is Comics, Graphic Novels, and Manga Month at Book Bloggers International. I organized this month and the number of bloggers who wanted to post blew me away! The posts that have come in so far are awesome. You definitely want to keep up with BBI next month.

I'm off to pet sit. Have a great rest of the weekend, everyone!

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Day In the Life of a Blogger

a day in the life
So Trish's A Day In the Life event was yesterday and I COMPLETELY forgot about it until late last night when I started checking my blogs. Sorry about that, guys! I still really want to participate so I wrote a super-long, overly detailed post about my day on Friday, March 27th.

8:00am-Wake up from weird dreams. The dogs are having a bark fest because there's someone at the door. I can hear my dad shouting them back and then a woman starts talking. Uhg. I put in my earbuds and set my phone to a white noise app in the hope I can shut them out and go back to sleep.

9:00am-Wake up again, weird dreams again. My radio alarm's running and so is the white noise from my phone, since I forgot to set it for auto-off. I tug out the earbuds and check Accuweather, Twitter, Facebook, and email, in that order. Boring; no one's messaged me and email is all spam. I set the phone aside and let my mind wander while I listen to music.

9:12am-Dogs start scratching at the door.

9:17am-Decide to google Jackson Hole Vacation Rentals while I'm lying in bed. Was having a conversation on Twitter the other week about a MST blogger meet-up and now I really want to do it. Renting a house for a few days is surprisingly affordable!

cesar millan
The dogs are fans of Cesar Millan.
9:22am-Might as well get up. I put on my pajamas, open the bedroom door, and immediately have three dogs jumping all over me. I sit down and give them all kisses and cuddles. They run off into the living room and I follow them, noticing that 1) the TV's on, and 2) the remote's on the floor. Apparently the dogs turned on the TV in protest of being shushed earlier this morning. Not as strange as the time they set Cesar Millan: The Dog Whisperer to auto-record (this actually happened).

9:28am-I return the remote to the side table and the dogs present me with some toys wearing hopeful looks on their faces, so I toss the ball down the hallway a few times.

9:30am-There's a squirrel outside! OMG, a squirrel! I let the dogs out and fix myself my daily tonic of warm water and lemon juice. According to Facebook, this is supposed to be some sort of amazing cure-all, but so far it's only noticeably added 15 minutes to my morning routine.

9:45-10am-Drink lemon water and contemplate outdoor wildlife.

10-10:15am-Wash my face, brush my teeth, put in my contacts, moisturize, etc.

10:15-10:30am-Breakfast time! Once again, we're out of bread and I've forgotten to defrost the loaf of bread in the freezer. I'm super annoyed with myself, so I write myself a note to TAKE BREAD OUT OF FREEZER TO THAW. Will it work? Who knows. In any case, now I have to make myself an Evol breakfast sandwich since I don't have any bread to make toast. I also pop a Brooklyn Beans k-cup into the coffee maker.

10:30-11am-Eat my breakfast and drink coffee while watching the last half of Booze Traveler. Share a bit of my breakfast with the dogs. Browse through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Timehop.

11am-This is pretty early for me. I decide to spend more time on the phone.

11:15am-12:15pm-Take a shower, dress, do my hair and make-up. I'm planning to meet a guy for drinks after work, so I take extra time with my make-up, clothes, and hair, and put on the jewelry set from Rocks Box that I got. Fancy!

12:15-12:25pm-I grab my purse to go to work. Sofie starts barking because she knows I'm going to leave and she has to tell me things. My mom's awake and is opening the mail to find my grandpa's Discover statements for the last few years. They got these because his (former) caregivers are suspected of charging $11,000+ to his card without his knowledge or permission.

12:25-12:30pm-Time to leave for work! I can't get out of the driveway until my brother moves his car, however, something I only realize after trying to back out.

12:40-ish (??)-I get to the gun store where I work, carrying a gun my dad (a gunsmith) asked me to take back. There's a salad waiting for me at my desk so I settle in to eat. Meanwhile, the store's in chaos because they had a bunch of safes delivered. There are boxes taller than I am stacked the back.

12:50-2:30pm-I start digging into the puzzle of how to automate inventory on the store's new website, which I'm setting up. It involves FTP servers and spreadsheets and reinforces my opinion that Microsoft Office is a pain in the ass.

2:00pm-Two of the gun store employees are out delivering safes, so the owner asks me to help out in the store. I hit the used guns counter and there's a grumpy old guy and a younger guy both looking at guns. I ask them if they want to look at anything. The older guy looks at a Winchester shotgun and the younger guy looks at a SCCY pistol. Older guy is not happy with the shotgun. Then he complains about the price of shells. I'm like, shrug. I literally know nothing about shotgun shells. Nevertheless, older guy's gonna buy some shells and clay pigeons, so I refer him to the checkout counter.

I go over to help the younger guy. He's having a tough time making a decision because his desire to buy a gun is warring with his knowledge that his wife's going to go into a glare-a-thon if he buys another gun. His buddy stops by to help convince him he needs another gun.

2:30pm-Younger guy has decided he has enough cash on him to buy the pistol, which he believes will keep his wife from noticing he bought Another Gun. I get him started on his background check. His friend asks me about gun holsters, and I'm like, "I don't know." I'm like the gun store version of that guy who gave me a blank look at Barnes & Noble when I asked if they had any copies of The Casual Vacancy ON THE DAY IT WAS RELEASED. I will never complain about retail employees who don't know their product ever again.

3pm-The other employees are back from delivering safes, to I return to computer stuff. As I poke around the wholesaler's files, I wonder if automating via FTP uploads will actually save us any time. I need to pull back for a sec and reevaluate.

4:30-5pm-Delete sold inventory from the store's current website. I'm not updating new inventory right now since I'm focusing my energies on the new website.

5:45pm-The gun store owner reminds me it's time to go home and I can't sleep in the store.

5:50pm-Refresh my lipstick for my date before I leave.

5:55pm-Loaded up with a heck ton of guns for my dad to work on, I head to the bar to meet up with my date.

disappointment gif
6:00pm-Date's not there. I check Facebook and he's canceled on me to go to a party with his friends. I guess at least he let me know?

6:10pm-Back at home. I can tell my mom's out because her friend's car is parked out on the street and her car is gone. My dad is sitting with my grandpa out back. I cuddle the dogs while I tell my dad about my day at the gun store.

6:30pm-Go check my email.

7:00pm-Relax time! I am so hungry. My grandpa goes home and I munch on snacks while checking Twitter and letting Grimm play in the background (multitasking FTW). I only now realize I forgot about A Day In the Life even though I reminded myself to do it at least a dozen times.

7:10pm-My grandpa's new GPS tracker goes off. My dad can't figure out if he pushed a button wrong or if he actually needs help, so he goes to my grandpa's house to check on him.

7:30pm-My dad returns with the GPS tracker, which my grandpa cut off his wrist with a bread knife in under an hour. I'm impressed! I thought for sure it would take him at least two hours. My grandpa has Alzheimer's and the GPS tracker was the last resort my parents were willing to try before putting him in a nursing home. My dad is not happy.

7:45-8:10pm-Dinner! We're having grilled chicken thighs, fried noodles and potatoes, and green beans. I loooooove green beans. My dad has many feels about my grandpa.

8:10-8:20pm-I do the dishes.

8:25pm-I break a coupe glass. Bloody fantastic (literally, I cut myself at the base of my thumb when the glass broke and there's blood everywhere). This is the second antique glass I've smashed in two weeks. Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

8:39pm-Nothing on TV. Start working on this post.

9:30pm-Dad objects to the opera/ballet I have playing the background. Understandable, actually-it's pretty boring. We watch Nashville On the Record instead.

10:30pm-Mom comes home. Dad's like, "Say nothing." She told him the GPS tracker wouldn't work.

11:07pm-Time to get in my pajamas, methinks.

11:30pm-Actually get up from the couch to get into my pajamas. Wash my face, take out my contacts, and do my nightly yoga while listening to an audiobook.

11:45pm-Really settle down to watch Grimm.

Sometime after 12:30am-Fall asleep on the couch.

3:30am-Wake up on the couch, surrounded by three black dogs. *cuddles*

4:00am-Get up, brush my teeth, go to my room and try to read for a bit.

4:50am-Nodding off. My brother's going to wake up soon, so I better get to sleep while I can. I get into bed, put in my earbuds, and set my white noise app to run for two hours. Fall asleep.

Wow, that was actually kind of a weird, depressing day now that I read over it, even though at the time it felt normal. This was an interesting exercise; I didn't realize I approach my days quite like this.

Thanks for hosting, Trish! I had fun reading over everyone's Day In the Life.

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Review: THE SCULPTOR by Scott McCloud

the sculptor cover

David Smith is having the weirdest, worstest birthday ever. He just got fired, he's about to be kicked out of his apartment, he's flat broke, and it looks like his dreams of becoming a successful sculptor are about to die a cruel death. Then he runs into his Uncle Harry. Problem: Uncle Harry's dead. Instead, David's talking to the Grim Reaper, who offers him a deal he can't refuse. David will receive the ability to magically manipulate any material with his bare hands, a dream for the down-on-his-luck artist. The catch is, if he accepts the offer, he'll die in 200 days. David agrees eagerly, only to find out that success and ability don't necessarily go hand-in-hand, and 200 days isn't nearly long enough when you're in love.

Scott McCloud is undoubtedly considered an expert on the subject of comics–his book, Understanding Comics, is the go-to comic book about comics, or so I've heard–but The Sculptor is his first graphic novel. I have to agree with Neil Gaiman that it's the best graphic novel I've read in years. But it's also cynical as shit and gives Hamlet a run for its money in depressing endings.

It would be a little too much to call The Sculptor masterful, but it is REALLY well-done, and it's definitely something you should read, especially if you're a fan of Bryan Lee O'Malley. McCloud and O'Malley share a gift for telling a visual story in a very clear, yet expressive way. There are no wasted lines or panels in The Sculptor: everything on the page is drawn economically and is well-composed, with an understanding of how to use negative space for visual impact. As someone who tends to gets headaches reading graphic novels that are visually cluttered, I absolutely loved McCloud's drawing style.

david the sculptor scott mccloud
David discovers his new powers.

The story is very well-told, too, and it's meaty. McCloud takes the typical art historical tale of the hero-genius and turns it on its head, questioning why we create art, why we buy it, why we lionize it, and what the definition of success should be. I loved that David's sculpture develops over the course of the novel. I have to admit, when I saw his first sculptures, I thought they were borderline terrible. But by the end of the book he's actually doing things that are very original and interesting.

That said, I'm not sure The Sculptor is really about art per se. It's more about ego and legacy and forming connections. As in some of the greatest heroic journeys, David has to be stripped of absolutely everything, even his promises to himself, before he can recreate himself and change his life.

I also loved the main female character, Meg. Talk about a fully-realized female character. Even though her role in the book is basically as David's love interest, she has her own things going on and a complex backstory with a believable, unidealized personality that McCloud does a fantastic job of expressing both visually and through dialog.

the sculptor scott mccloud
David checks out his competition for an important art prize.

I would absolutely give The Sculptor five stars and list it as one of my favorite books... if it wasn't for the ending. Look, The Sculptor's obviously going to be a tragedy, that's clear very early in the novel. But the cynicism of the conclusion and the way it played out completely blindsided me. Life has no meaning and we all die and there's no afterlife. Oh, and no one gives a fuck about art and nothing matters. I've felt more cheerful after watching Romeo & Juliet. I'm not saying McCloud should have changed the ending–it made sense with the story–just that I can't fully get behind something that unrelentingly cynical.

I still think The Sculptor is very much worth reading, though. And you've been warned about the ending, so you can prep with some whiskey to brace yourself.

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Snapshot and Spring is Here!

Sunday Snapshot is a summary of my weekly exploits, bookish and non. What's your week been like?


This week was better than last, productivity-wise. The reason will become apparent post-haste!

What I'm reading right now:
The 4-Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferriss (library book)
I started this book very skeptical, but there's tons of great advice here. It's not so much about making money as working as efficiently as possible so that you can do what you want and have fun. I'm a proponent for having fun.
Roulette, by Megan Mulry (ebook)
I know a bunch of bloggers love this book, even though I can't remember who specifically recommended it at the moment. Anyway, the recommendations are on target-it's pretty good!

Movies watched this past week:
The Gunman, starring Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, and Jasmine Trinca
Three thoughts: 1) Sean Penn's been working out. Way, way too much. 2) I love it when there's one female character in the whole movie and she's basically a bone for the hero and villains to fight over. That's my favorite. 3) Hand wounds are lethal! I kept waiting for someone to mutter, "Out, out damn spot."

Subscription boxes received this week:

rocks box

I got my Rocks Box on Monday and I have to say I'm pretty happy with it! I think this service is totally worth it. The jewelry items are ones I'd never pick out for myself but I've fallen in love with them, and the necklace goes with so many of my outfits.

bulu box

I also got my Bulu Box, which I'd totally forgot about ordering. This is a sign I should pull back on the subscription boxes, no doubt. Bulu was better than I thought it would be-I like the Allergease, which are basically fancy Ricolas. Haven't tried any of the other stuff yet but it all looks healthful and useful.

Reviews in the Queue:
Supermind by Mark Phillips

Theme of the week:
A few weeks ago, I decided I wanted to lose five pounds. A measly five pounds. This is the first time in my life I've actively tried to lose weight and it's infuriating! I lost three pounds the first week-great-but now I've gained it all back and I've been doing the exact same things. WTF?!

I've been thinking a lot about my favorite songs this week. There are a half dozen songs that I think of almost like talismans: Tequila Sunrise, What's New, Besame Mucho, Poncho and Lefty, U Got it Bad, and Coming Up (which is my personal theme song). What are your favorite songs?

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Review: THE HOOKER AND THE HERMIT by LH Cosway and Penny Reid

hooker and the hermit cover

Annie Catrel, secret celebrity blogger and social media expert, loves making fun of stars' poor fashion choices. But when she posts a pic of someone who may or may not be Colin Farrell (he's not), the real celebrity–Irish rugby hooker Ronan Fitzpatrick–blows a gasket and sends her a VERY nasty email. Annie would love to respond by posting it online and publicly shaming him, but she can't. Because he's just hired the PR firm she works for to improve his image, and she's been put in charge of his account. Will Ronan figure out Annie's "the Socialmedialite," and will Annie come out of her shell enough to let him in? #willthesetwocrazykidsgettogether

This review is going to have some mild spoilers. It just is. If you want to read The Hooker and the Hermit completely free of any plot reveals, go and do that, and THEN come back and read my review, okay? I'll wait. Take your time.

Are you back? Okay, let's do this thing.

The Hooker and the Hermit is LH Cosway and Penny Reid's answer to Fifty Shades of Grey. You've got your young, lip-biting female who isn't very confident; and you've got your stalkery rich guy who wears nice suits, drives fast cars, and whose "deep dark secret" is that he's into BDSM (or, as Ronan takes care to point out, technically it's just bondage and dominance... like in FSoG, really). But since this is Cosway and Reid writing, the characters are quirky yet sympathetic, the story is fun, and the bondage thing makes sense.

I have to admit The Hooker and the Hermit had me from the word go because I'm pretty sure Annie's my fictional doppelgänger. This was my mom's face when I told her Annie reminded me of myself (my mom and I occasionally read the same books):

uhhh yeah

For example, Annie strategically picking a seat next to the exit so she can leave as quickly as possible, if necessary. This is something I do ALL THE TIME. Also: refusing to make eye contact in order to avoid being drawn into conversation with strangers. I wouldn't say I do that all the time, maybe more like 80% of the time, and mostly at Walmart. In any case, I immediately identified with Annie and found her adventures in the first part of The Hooker and the Hermit to be pretty hilarious.

Then I got to the middle of the book and things started falling apart. First of all, I found the fact that Annie let Ronan's mom bully her into breaking up with him–in less than three minutes, no less–irritating. For the past fifty pages these two have been like a couple out of the sweetest, sappiest romcom in history; and then suddenly she walks out on him in the middle of lunch just because his mom, who is CLEARLY trying to manipulate her, throws some shade? Eye roll. You just lost me. THEN, three pages later, Annie's tells Ronan, "Oh, I knew she was just being a bitch and you're nothing like that, but I still think we belong in different worlds and it's better for us to stay apart." Wha-huh? Obvious deus-ex-machina to keep the characters from having sex even though there is no logical reason why they wouldn't at this point is obvious.

Secondly, in the second half of the book Annie's hermit-like ways are treated as a symptom of her psychological problems and fucked up childhood. UHG WHY. I know it brings some dramatic tension to the story, but drawing a correlation between being a hermit and having something be wrong with her was just lazy plotting, in my humble opinion. It reduces that aspect of her personality to little more than a gimmick.

On the plus side, though, at least Cosway and Reid didn't imply BDSM was a good substitute for psychotherapy, or that Ronan was into bondage because was abused as a child. So I guess one of these characters got a free pass.

The ending felt like it dragged on interminably and I almost lit my Kindle on fire when I saw there was an epilogue; but for the most part, The Hooker and the Hermit was a very enjoyable, successful collaboration between two authors whose work I really enjoy. I hope Cosway and Reid decide to write another novel together in the future (unless it stars the secondary characters from this novel, that would be annoying).

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sunday Snapshot for the Ides of March

If you're new here, Sunday Snapshot is a feature where I ramble on about basically nothing. I know you want to read it now!

How is it that an entire week can pass with me getting nothing done? This is madness. I feel super busy but I get no reading done, no writing done, the laundry is still unfolded (and will remain so for at least a month, if history is anything to go by). Uhg. The only thing I got done this week were my taxes, and that took literally the entire day.

Anyway, enough whining.

What I'm reading right now:
I didn't read anything this week (see above), so it's the same books as last week with one exception: I finished Supermind by Mark Phillips on audio and started The Gold Bag by Carolyn Wells, which I'm honestly finding pretty boring but will probably finish anyway.

Movies watched this past week:
Night At the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, starring Ben Stiller and Robin Williams
Fun and entertaining (no surprise there), although the epitaph for Robin Williams and Mickey Rooney at the very end gutted me.
Run All Night, starring Liam Neeson and Ed Harris
Kind of an odd movie. On one hand, you have a mob drama √† la Heat (excellent movie, incidentally); and on the other hand you have these absolutely ridiculous, over-the-top escape/shooting scenes. Neither side of the movie was entirely successful.

Subscription boxes received this week:
This week I got my Hello Fresh box and it was actually really good. They send you all the raw ingredients for three meals, portioned out, and recipes to match. The ingredients were all nice and fresh, the recipes were easy to follow, and there was very little clean-up at the end. Plus the meals themselves were healthy and generously portioned.

I forgot to take pics of the first two meals we made, but here's one of the Spanish steak salad. Very tasty!

hello fresh meal

I also got my March Glam Bag from Ipsy. I only care about the lipstick and highlighter, but that's the good thing about Ipsy–those two things together are probably worth about $10, anyway. And I love the bag this month.

ipsy march glam bag

I also got Love With Food, which is a snack subscription that's curated by famous chefs, foodies, bloggers, etc. I had major expectations for this one, but the box items felt really random. The theme was supposed to be healthy snacks, but why is a packet of herbs de Provence included? Yeah I can roast potatoes with it, but that's hardly a snack. I can't eat chocolate, so the chocolate items (most of the box) are wasted on me, AND my dad ate all the chips and then told me he didn't like them. So.

love with food snack box

Reviews in the queue:
No reading, no writing, no new reviews. I would like to write a review of Dutch's American Era bitters for my cocktail blog if I find a moment, though.

Theme of the week:
I think you can all guess that one.

need more time

This is the best thing I saw all week:

firth things firth

I would love this Benedict Cumberbatch coloring book. I wouldn't even need to color it.

benedict cumberbatch coloring book

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sunday Snapshot

Hey cool cats! I was in the middle of writing a review and got the idea for this weekly feature, basically giving a quick update on what I've been up to. Hopefully this will help with the radio silences that tend to happen around here when I'm not reading much or am buried by deadlines.

What I'm reading right now:

Supermind by Mark Phillips (audiobook)
This novel is like urban fantasy meets The Maltese Falcon. I'm enjoying it quite a bit, despite the endless dialog tags.
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (ebook)
I started this one last night and am only one chapter in. Loved the first sentence.
Green: The History of a Color by Michel Pastoureau (hardback)
Having trouble getting into this one, although I love the concept. The book doesn't seem to have a strong central thesis.

Movies watched this past week:

Focus, starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie
I'm a sucker for caper movies. Focus got a little too artsy and touchy-feely at times, but there were at least two fantastic scenes, and overall I liked it a lot.
The (One?) Hundred Foot Journey, starring Helen Mirren and Manish Dayal
I really wanted to love The Hundred Foot Journey, but there were several things that just didn't make sense. It also felt like it went on for a REALLY long time.

Somewhat obsessed with:

Subscription boxes. It all started with Ipsy (makeup). Damn you, Facebook! Anyway, as of today I've tried True & Co. (bras), Taste the World (food), Stitch Fix (clothes), Nature Box (snacks), Loot Crate (gamer and geek stuff), Bark Box (dog treats and toys), and Zockster (socks). I'm waiting on Rocksbox (jewelry), Bulu Box (nutrition and vitamins), and Hello Fresh (meals). I think I might need a spreadsheet to keep track of all these.

Edited to Add: Here are some pics from my adventures in unboxing recently:

bark box
The dogs don't know what to think of their Bark Boxes and are more interested in napping.

Bamboo socks from Zockster. Was hoping for something a little more quirky and colorful, but they are nice socks.
loot crate
The Loot Crate box–this was fantastic. Not only did I get Ready Player One, but the box unfolded into a game board! Also there's a mechanical bug I can now use to terrorize the dogs, win.
stitch fix
My five clothing items from Stitch Fix. I decided to send two of them back, but I was on the edge about it.

So far Ipsy is the best deal in terms of what you get for an affordable $10, but I also really like Loot Crate and think it's a good bargain at $13 (admittedly, this is mainly because they included a book). The downside to Loot Crate is that they charge shipping. Stitch Fix was a bit pricey, but fun and everything fit perfectly. Bark Box was also super fun–who doesn't enjoy playing with their dogs?–but at $30 a month I think it's overpriced. I'm still on the lookout for a foodie box to fall in love with.

Reviews in the queue:

The Hooker and the Hermit by LH Cosway and Penny Reid
The Sculptor by Scott McCloud

Theme of the week: I need more sleep.

I came down with The Crud this week, and that was only exacerbated by the fact that I'm going through one of my insomnia strikes and we switched to Daylight Saving Time this week, the evil bastard. The only saving grace is I can sleep in since I work at home most days.

Bonus: Two hilarious Facebook Quizzes

These quizzes were super funny. I love the bizarro options on the inkblot one.
Inkblot Personality Test
Can We Guess Your Age Based On How You Use the Internet? (I got 35)

That's all I have the energy to focus on today. Let me know how you're week's going and if you know of any subscription boxes I absolutely need to try!

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Review: KISS OF THE ROSE PRINCESS by Aya Shouoto

kiss of the rose princess vol 1 cover

Anise Yamamoto's father has warned her that if she removes her rose choker, she'll be cursed by a terrible punishment, which is why she always wears it even in defiance of her school's dress code. But when the choker mysteriously disappears, Anise is suddenly confronted with four Rose Knights, who insist that she's their sovereign. Oh, and they happen to be the four hottest boys at school. Most girls would think this a dream come true, but Anise can't help but wonder if having to put up with these guys is her punishment.

It's been a while since I reviewed a manga, probably because it's been a while since I enjoyed one enough to finish it. Kiss of the Rose Princess is a very promising start to a series, with a great twist on a vampire romance storyline.

Essentially, the Rose Knights are vampires, in that they need to draw blood from Anise in order to wield their powers. At least one of them isn't human, although I'm not sure if that's true of all of them or not.

My favorite of the Rose Knights is Kaede Higa, who's more or less a regular teenage boy. He and Anise are friends... of a sort. If you consider their constant bickering a form of friendship (I love it when the hero and heroine fight in romance novels, by the way).

rose knights kiss of the rose princess

The other Rose Knights include Mitsuru Tenjo, the class president and most handsome and popular boy at school; Seiran Asagi, a gentle and sweet kid who has allergies (yup, roses... ironic); and Mutsuki Kurama, he of the non-humanness. He's also rumored to be an otaku, but I'm not exactly sure what that's supposed to mean in the context of this book. Whatever it is, it's not good.

Anyway, Kiss of the Rose Princess feels surprisingly modern, mainly because of Anise. She's very independent, good at sports, not interested in putting up with any of Kaede's crap, and quick on the uptake that more penises mean mo' problems. She's not some beautiful and passive princess type.

kiss of the rose princess anise

As for the artwork, I sometimes find graphic novels a little headache inducing, and there are times when the visual storytelling could flow better and be less confusing. But overall it wasn't too bad. I really liked the title pages.

Definitely a promising manga to keep an eye on! The second volume was only just published (in the US, anyway) and a third one is on the way in May, I believe, so it's early days yet, but I can see this series developing into something as addicting as Vampire Knight in future installments.

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