Beat the Heat Readthon and Progress Post UPDATE!

Guess what, they extended it a week (til the 18th)! (Good thing to because I haven’t quite finished my goals. -.^) Here’s my update. A new book review will follow tomorrow.

My goals:

  • Finish The Night Circus (DONE!)
  • Read Tiger and Bunny Volume One (DONE!)
  • Read The Alchemist (About halfway through!)
  • Start one of the following: Uglies, LeviathanHeartless, or The Selection
  • Start one of the following: Alice in the Country of Hearts, Bunny Drop, or Maximum Ride
  • Write reviews for The Night Circus, Tiger and Bunny Volume One, and The Alchemist

My Progress:

  • Finished The Night Circus and Tiger and Bunny Volume One
  • Currently reading The Alchemist (on page 80)
  • Keep an eye on my Goodreads tab for the latest updates!

Strawberry Icebox Cake – Beat the Heat with This Cool Refreshing Cake

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Rating: 5/5 – Beat the heat with this cool refreshing cake!

These days I’m finding the weather a bit warm to cook over a hot stove, so the other night I went cold instead trying out a new recipe called a Strawberry Icebox Cake. This is not a recipe I made from scratch, but instead found right here. Which is from theKitchn.com. Great site for cool recipes! — Also I apologize for the tragic photo quality. These were taken with my phone as my camera is out of commission at the moment.

Ingredients:

2 pounds fresh strawberries, washed
3 1/2 cups whipping cream, divided
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon rosewater (optional)
4 sleeves (about 19 ounces, or 24 to 28 whole crackers) graham crackers
2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

Supplies: A 9×13 pan, a bowl to heat up the cream in, a knife, cutting board, a spoon, a hand mixer, a medium sized bowl, a whisk or fork, and a heat microwaveable bowl.

Step One: Hull most of strawberries and slice thinly. Keep a couple extra aside for garnish.

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Step Two: With a hand mixer, whip 3 cups of cream until it stiffens. Add the confectioners sugar, vanilla, and rosewater if you’re using it, and whip to together.

Step Three: Pour a small amount of your whipped mixture onto the bottom of your pan. Then add your first layer of graham crackers.

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Step Four: Add some more of your whipped mixture and then a layer of strawberries. Repeat with the graham crackers again. Do this for four graham cracker layers.

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Step Five: To make the ganache, heat the cream until bubbles form around the edges, then pour over the chopped chocolate. Let it stand for a few minutes, then whisk until the mixture is thick and glossy. Drizzle this over the layered dessert with a spoon.

Step Six: Refrigerate for at least four hours, or until the crackers have softened completely. Garnish with additional berries and serve cold on a hot day!

Thanks for taking the time to read this and happy cooking!

~ Yoku

 

The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel Volume One – A Spoiler Free Review

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Infernal Devices collage (cover and main three characters) thanks to eternally-reading over on Tumblr.

Book: The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel Volume One

Author: Cassandra Clare

Artist: Hyekyung Baek

Age Group: Teen

Genre: Graphic Novel, Action, Adventure, Romance, Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5

Keeping with my steampunk theme we jump right into The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel Volume One, an adaption of one of my favorite series by Cassandra Clare. Surprised it took me this long to pick up? I was never a fan of the art I’d seen of it around. This series was very close to me and my personal imagery of it. I was honestly worried it would be ruined by this graphic novel adaption. I’m here to say that each depiction might have not been exactly to my own personal image, but it was fun and pretty darn close.

I’m a huge fan of REM’s art style, so moving from that to Hyekyung Baek style was a little hard for me. I’ve also been a huge fan of Cassandra Jean’s art style, check her out, and she’s done multiple fan art pieces, so this new artist was harsh on my eyes. The front cover, I find now though, is a bit deceiving of the styling inside the cover. The actual style is pretty soft and smooth, the era based fashion and architecture is pretty spot on. I also love the way that she depicts Jem and Jessamine. The emotions expressed throughout the graphic novel are spot on, and the monster are just gruesome enough to make you cringe, but keep reading. The Silent Brothers made me shiver, as they should, and I can’t wait to see more of them throughout.

My biggest faults with the depiction is the over simplification. The Steles, Angel Blades, and tattoos are all super simplified and I feel like the artist cut corners here. This is also for not with the automans. This actually disappointed me quite a bit as some of my favorite artistic pieces from the series have extreme depictions of the tattoos, muscle definition, clothing, and so much more. I’d link one of my favorite ones at the bottom, but it is a tad risque for polite company. Instead I’ll link a couple other samples. Saying this though, the actual graphic novel has some spectacular splashes such as this one:

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I’ve come to conclude that I believe what turns me off is Baek’s use of color because the black and white splashes are quite stunning.

The dialogue and progression of action is spot-on with the novel and I believe that it stops at a perfectly ominous place. Overall, I highly recommend that fans check this adaption out. I’d love to see this as a TV series, mini-series, or maybe a movie adaption eventually.

As always all opinions and views noted above are my own. If you’re thinking about buying the book then check out other reviews.

Thank you for taking the time to read this,

~ Yoku

PS. One of the following pieces is in fact by Cassandra Jean, can you pick it out?

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Blameless – A Spoiler Free Review

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Alexia Tarabotti / Lady Maccon by ~thor1971 on dA

Book: Blameless

Author: Gail Carriger

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Action, Adventure, Romance, Supernatural

Rating: 3.5/5

As promised, this is the last of the reviews on the Parasol Protectorate for a while, which all in all, I’m pretty happy about as this last installment was not nearly as stellar as the rest.

I found Blameless to be full of a lot of politics and dialogue and not a lot of action. As you all have probably gathered at this point, I’m not a fan of that in my novels. I’ve been told that I wouldn’t enjoy the Game of Thrones novels for this reason and many of times I’ve stopped reading a book right in the middle because of it.

I understood the necessity for a large majority of it, but none-the-less it was presented to me in such a way that I often found myself bored with what I was reading. Thus, I didn’t move through the pages very quickly. Everything I was reading I felt like I’d already read or known before via the series, even if it was new for the protagonist. I also found myself being frustrated by the end of the novel and pretty put off by the way that it sets up that you HAVE to read the next novel in the series to get anything really from Blameless at all. That, in my opinion, is never a good move. I never want to feel forced to read the next novel, instead I want to choose to read it on my own because the previous one is so stellar. Maybe after my small reading break from the Protectorate’s I’ll be able to fall back in love with them, but for now they will sit on my bedside table.

Blameless did tie-up a few loss ends from the previous novel, but it also opened many new ones. Blameless also introduced us to some of the other countries in Europe during this alternative time-period. I felt that that helped with the world-building quite a bit. We learned more about Alexia’s father, Floote, and of course Madame Lefoux, although I still feel like Madame Lefoux is shrouded in mystery. Carriger delivered an installment that I found fairly flavorless, but necessary none-the-less. Hopefully the next novel won’t be quite so dry.

As always all opinions and views noted above are my own. If you’re thinking about buying the book then check out other reviews.

Thank you for taking the time to read this,

~ Yoku

Beat the Heat Readathon and Progress Post

I’ve been keeping my eyes open for a readathon all summer and saw that Briana over at Pages Unbound joined a sweet little two-week one that sounded perfect.

Phantasmic Reads

I’m joining the BEAT THE HEAT READATHON!

Ze Rules! (copied from one of the two host blogs)

  • The Beat the Heat Readathon runs from July 29th through August 11th. What does this readathon entail, you ask? Well, read as much or as little as you want – the main point is to READ! You set your own goal, and for two weeks you read as many books as you can/want to reach your goal!
  • There will be mini-challenges throughout the Readathon for participants, along with a grand prize giveaway at the end!
  • Sign up at Auntie Spinelli Reads or Phantasmic Reads. You may join whenever you like, but to be eligible for our grand prize giveaway, you must sign up by August 5th.
  • To join, all you have to do is make a sign-up post – even if it’s just a “Let’s do this!” thing – and add your post URL to the linky below! You can put your goals and progress (will be required for the final giveaway) in your sign-up post, or you can make it separate. Totally up to you! Feel free to copy and paste this handy little list for your post. We don’t mind. :)
  • In order to enter for the grand prize, you must have a post to keep track of your progress so we can see that you participated.

My goals:

  • Finish The Night Circus
  • Read Tiger and Bunny Volume One
  • Read The Alchemist
  • Start one of the following: Uglies, LeviathanHeartless, or The Selection
  • Write reviews for Blameless, The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel Graphic Novel, The Night Circus, Tiger and Bunny Volume One, and The Alchemist

 

My Progress:

  • Currently on page 107 of 387
  • Keep an eye on my Goodreads tab for the latest updates!

 

I finished up Blameless while one vacation and also read The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel so expect some reviews coming soon!

Soulless Volume Two – A Spoiler Free Review

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Parasol Protactorate by *poisonmilow on dA.

Book: Soulless vol. Two

Author: Gail Carriger

Artist: REM

Age Group: Older Teen

Genre: Graphic Novel, Action, Adventure, Romance, Supernatural

Rating: 4/5

I’m back with another review of Soulless, the graphic novel version, which is hand-in-hand with Changeless, which I just posted a review about. Keeping in mind all my points from my Changeless review, I wanted to state that I loved the REM’s interpretation of Madame Lefoux and Lady Kingair. I felt that they were both extremely fitting for their images. Also, the heartbreaking scene at the end of the novel was, heartbreaking, yet again, in the graphic novel. REM has a strong hold over use of emotions and expressions.

Things I wasn’t super fond of in this, was some of the cutting out of certain scenes. I do realize that they are trying to fit each novel into a single graphic novel, but I did find myself missing some selective scenes and extra bits of information that the novel supplied us.

Her depiction of scene, the castle in the Scotts and the dirigible were fun and authentic to both era and the novel’s descriptions.

Once again a fun and stunning installment of Soulless.

I also wanted to share with you guys this little article I ran across. Gail Carriger went ahead and told people who she thought, as actors and actresses, her characters were modeled after. This influenced not only the picture at the top, but also the graphic novel version. So check it out if you’re interested.

As always all opinions and views noted above are my own. If you’re thinking about buying the book then check out other reviews.

Thank you for taking the time to read this,

~ Yoku

Ps. I plan to finish up Blameless and review it, but then I’ll try to break and review something else for a bit before going back to not overload you guys too much.

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Changeless – A Spoiler Free Review

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A piece showing how they make the front covers. Featured on Orbit’s books.

Book: Changeless

Author: Gail Carriger

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Action, Adventure, Romance, Supernatural

Rating: 4.5/5

“Oh dear, has something untoward ensued? Everyone is gesticulating.”

Why yes indeed it has! We have been introduced to… The Scotts! In this installment of the  parasol protectorate comes a new mystery, a cast of fanatical new characters, and traveling by dirigible.

Following quickly on the tail of Soulless, Changeless starts several days (to weeks) after the wedding when life in the Maccon household is getting into full swing. The troops have returned from fighting in the East, many of which are werewolves returned to the English pack, a new plague has fallen upon the city, and Lady Maccon has been instructed to visit a brand-new hat shop.

As mentioned above, the book is full of new mysteries to be solved — new friends and allies made thus. A cast of wonderful new characters including a lady inventor and some wonderfully hilarious Scottish werewolves and their Lady. As well as Lady Maccon’s first ever trip by dirigible.

Although this story is stand alone, it is also the beginning of a bigger plot and arch set up for the rest of the series. It leaves loose ties at the end of the novel for us to wonder what comes next.

Overall I enjoyed this continuation of Alexia’s story and can not wait to sink my teeth into the next novel, of which I have already begun.

As always all opinions and views noted above are my own. If you’re thinking about buying the book then check out other reviews.

Thank you for taking the time to read this,

~ Yoku