The Cephalopod Coffeehouse #Review: Monstress 1 #fantasy #graphicnovel

The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you’ve finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same. In this way, we’ll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers. Please join us below.

“I’m late, I’m late. Late for a very important date.” (or something like that.) ~The White Rabbit

So, all month-long I’ve been reminding myself not to miss this post, and sure enough, that’s exactly what I did. Oh well, I tried. I’ve been doing a self-assigned graphic novel read-a-thon this month and I’m down to wire trying to squeeze in as many books as I can before nightfall on Wednesday. Of course, this would also be the month that my creative juices would start to flow, but I just don’t have enough time in the day. In any case, I’ll tell you what has been my favorite read so far, but I don’t have a full review for you yet. So sorry for that….

Below I’ve listed its stats, blurb, and my overall rating; however, I will say that the artwork in this book is so beautiful that even if the story wasn’t that great, I probably would have given it a 4.5 stars with an asterisk.

Title: Montress, Vol. 1: Awakening
Series: Montress #1
Author: Marjorie M. Liu & others
Artist: Sana Takeda
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Pages: 192
Reading Level: Teen-Adult
Content: R (strong language, violence, brutality, crime, war, adult and mature situations, brief partial nudity, oppression)

Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steampunk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both.

Collects MONSTRESS #1-6

I give this book a 5.

Please stop by and see what others have read. 😀

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

In Too Deep #WEPFF Challenge No. 6 featuring Anybody, Save Me #amwriting #flashfiction

This time around, I took the writing prompt to heart and made sure to actually include the words in my story. I hope you find this piece amusing and will consider the request I’ve posted at the end. So glad to be back in the WEP challenge again. It’s the best writing challenge I’ve come across.

~

Anybody, Save Me

How can my throat be so parched when I’m surrounded by water? No matter how hard I try I keep gulping down pounds and pounds of sharp grains. Throbbing constricts my efforts to push forward. My nostrils blister as the particles scratch and burn my nasal passage. The notion of weightlessness is but a faint, cruel, memory now. My feet are lead; my hands are clawing nubs. Coarseness rushes to my lungs and punches out any remaining air leaving behind only a saline sludge. Stabbing blindness and stinging deafness are also claimed by the sludge and I know now, I’m in way too deep. This must be what it feels like to drown at sea.

But, wait. There’s something pulling me. It’s pulling me down even further than I thought possible, aiding the death that lingers in my final thoughts. No one should have to experience their last seconds of existence so vividly. Why – am – I – not – dead – ye…?

>Ping<

What was that? Where am I? Why aren’t I dead?

>Ping. Ping.<

Wait. I can see. I can hear. What the heck? I can breathe, but I’m still under water. Wonder if I can talk?

Yep. I must still be pretty deep. All the colors are somehow a bit grey. But… it’s not cold. At least I don’t feel cold. He he he. I do feel weightless though. I feel like I could float, maybe even fly. Ha ha he he. There’s no reason I should be feeling this good. Pretty sure I just drowned to death, but …

Whoa, am I seriously bound? What the effen heck is happening? Why am I chained to the – the – I guess, the sea floor?

>Ping. Ping. Glur glur. Glur glur. Wooosssssssshhhhh.<

“Ah, there you are. You’re awake.”

Did I seriously just see a green fish person whoosh up to me? “What the holy heck are you?”

“Oh, my love. My sweet mortal. I am your savior?”

“Uh, no you’re not.” Are its eyes fluttering at me? “You’re some magic welding sea monster who brought me back from a death I was just beginning to accept. Please, I beg you. Send me back to my doom?”

“Aren’t you silly. I know this will be quite an adjustment, but once you acclimate, everything will be fine. You’ll see. You’ll be happy here with me.”

“No. This isn’t right. I died. I should be dead.” I sure as heck shouldn’t be trapped by a sea monster. “I’m guessing you’re a nice sea monster and all, but I’m pretty certain what’s dead is supposed to stay that way.”

“First of all, I’m not a monster; just because I look different from you. Secondly, you died a horrible death and I saved you. Would you really rather go back to being a bloated sinking corpse?

A bloated corpse sounds terrible, but if I’m dead, it’s not like I’ll know. This situation, on the other hand, is downright scary. “Sorry, you’re right. I had no right to call you a monster. It’s just that I’m not used to talking to creatures with scales and green skin. Oh, is creature offensive?”

“No, creature is fine. Besides, you’re my favorite creature in all the world. That’s why I saved you.”

“But, don’t you see. You didn’t save me. You brought me back to life. Why would you do that?”

>Ping. Ping.<

“Oh goodness me. I’m so glad I set these alarms. We’ll be late if we don’t hurry.”

“Late for what? You haven’t told me why you brought me back. And while you’re at it, why can I breathe underwater now?”

“Oh you, silly guppy. We’ll have our whole lives to learn about each other. We really must hurry.”

“What do you mean we have our whole lives? Please, for all that is decent in this crazy world, will you tell me what’s going on?”

“Fine. If you must know, I’m Fae of the sea. I grant wishes from time to time. And your wish was irresistible.”

“My wish? What wish?”

“Your last dying request. ‘Somebody, anybody, save me! My lover’s trying to kill me! Save me, please! Save me! I’ll do anything to repay you!’

“Wait. I didn’t say those words to you. I was pleading for my life. I was being thrown overboard. I wanted someone to pull me out.”

“Well, I heard your plea, and unfortunately I can’t pull people out. I can only pull them down. I also can’t restore human lives, but I can reshape a mortal soul into something else. You have been given a second chance. A new life among the merfolk. A life you will spend wed to me.”

“Wait, merfolk? Wed? What the holy…” I can’t believe a scaly webbed hand just mushed my face.

“Sorry, we don’t look like your human fairy tales. But when you live this deep, what do you expect?

~

816 words in progressAnybody, Save Me 2018 Copyright © Toinette J. Thomas

So, I tried something a little different this time. I wanted to be as descriptive as possible while not using any gender-specific words. I was hoping to tell a story where the reader could decide for themselves the sex/gender of the characters, but I’m not really sure if I pulled it off. I’ve seen other writers try to use gender-neutral pronouns, but most of these efforts have left me feeling disconnected from the story. When I thought I didn’t like romance and could never write it, I challenged myself to dive in and do it. While the work I produced may not be award-winning, it’s not too bad and it’s made me appreciate the genre and those who write it so much more. So that’s what I’m trying today. I’m diving in to see if I can write a gender-neutral story and have it actually make sense. Please let me know if this worked or not; this really is a learning experience for me.

If anyone is interested in the finale to my five-part series, Music My Muse, head over to A Small Gang of Authors to check it out.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse #Review: The Abduction of Rupert DeVille #humor #book

The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you’ve finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same. In this way, we’ll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers. Please join us below.

Title: The Abduction of Rupert DeVille
Series: NA
Author: Paul White
Genre: Humor, Contemporary
Pages: 235
Reading Level: Adult
Content: R (language, violence, crime, adult and mature situations, comedic nudity, strong sexual content)

This is a very British dark comedy and I thoroughly enjoyed it, though I was disturbed a bit at times. This book takes you on an emotional journey, traversing every possible feeling, sometimes with no transitions or segues to ease the mental whiplash. Yet, somehow it all worked together, in the end, to make the story wonderful it a very specifically dark, funny, and unique way. And, don’t get me wrong; the writing is impeccable, almost lyrical at times. It was an easy and engaging read.

This emotional adventure starts with Rupert early in his day, contemplating the step-by-step (literally) plans he’d made for his special evening. Then he’s snatched off the street and the story begins. As the description explains, there’s a girlfriend and an employer worried about Rupert’s disappearance, and after you get to know him, you can totally understand why they’d worry so only after a few short hours.

Attempting to avoid spoilers, none of the characters in this book are quite what they seem. While Rupert is definitely mild-mannered, he’s also calculating, considerate, and most definitely a lover (not a fighter). George is probably my favorite character in this wacky tale of random events that all fit together perfectly, actually making sense in the larger scheme of things. He’s older and calmer than Rupert and Carla, but he might also be a bit scary (in the best possible way). Carla’s a simple girly-girl on the surface, but after taking a peek into her past, you learn that her perfect simplicity is hard-earned.

There are moments in this story that made me blush, made me feel a bit queasy, made me laugh out loud, and even made me feel sentimental. I imagine that it was like reading the screenplay of a Guy Richie modern adaptation of a classic whodunit. There was violence, sex, mystery, and all the complexities of family dynamics.

This is definitely an adult only read; perfect for fans of dark humor, British humor, tales of calamity, and upbeat characters in odd and sometimes violent situations. I hope this author has more stories like this.

I give this book a 5.

Please stop by and see what others have read. 😀


Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse #Review: Armada #scifi #book

The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you’ve finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same. In this way, we’ll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers. Please join us below.

Last month I talked about reading Armada, so this month I’ll post about finishing it. But first…

I finished my reading challenge for the year and might even add to it before January 1st, but we’ll have to see. Since I’ve neglected my YouTube channel for the last few month, and update on what I read and how my challenge went is in the works.

On a completely separate note, I started a new blog series on music and writing over at A Small Gang of Authors. Give it a look, if you are interested.

2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge
Toi has
completed her goal of reading
50 books in
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Title: Armada

Series: NA

Author: Ernest Cline

Genre: Science Fiction, YA

Pages: 368

Reading Level: Teen-Adult

Content: PG-13 (some language, violence, bullying, war, combat, espionage, genocide)

This is a fun story. It’s not the most clever sci-fi story ever written, but coming from the man who gave us Ready Player One, it’s still pretty cool.

The story of Zach Lightman is literally one we’ve heard before, but the changes and twist are still fun to watch unfold. Perhaps you’ve heard of Luke Skywalker, (cough, cough) Wade Watts, heck even Daniel LaRusso aka Daniel Son- well then, in a way, you’ve met Zach Lightman already.

In Ready Player One, Cline showed readers a world where virtual reality was the only reality that mattered. In Armada, he shows how conspiracy theories and art (i.e. science fiction) is a true reflection of reality. By comparison, instead of being trapped in the Matrix, our characters are living in Zion, the last human city, getting ready to learn that the Matrix exists. They’ll have a few brief moments to decide if Zion is worth fighting for or concede to be consumed by the program…

A little dramatic I know, but that’s kind of how this book is. Plus, I’m pretty sure it makes reference to every science fiction book, movie, and TV show to ever be Tweeted about. It’s not an original idea, but the execution is great and the characters are entertaining.

The beginning is slow but humorous and then the sh** hits the fan. There are secrets being kept from all sides and a mystery that only a few are willing to pursue. It’s a good story, but somewhat predictable. Still, I liked every minute of it. I let myself get caught up in all the characters, however brief their stories might have been, ‘cause some didn’t make it very long, and I think that made all the difference.

The ending was a bit unsettling for me. If there’s going to be a follow-up, I think it’s a fantastic ending, if not, I feel it leaves too many unanswered questions; it harkens back to the ending of Childhood’s End (see not so original, but still good). In any case, it’s still a satisfying ending, if not also sad, in some ways.

Recommended to fans of science fiction and video games. For this one, I fear that people who are not into at least one, but probably both of these criteria, may not enjoy or even “get” this book.

I give this book a 4.

Please stop by and see what others have read. 😀

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse #Review: Fairest #scifi #fairytale

Sorry for being late this month. I forgot to schedule my post. For those of you in the US, be safe out there today. If you’re at home, please enjoy this hop.

The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you’ve finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same. In this way, we’ll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers. Please join us below.

Title: Fairest
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3.5
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Science Fiction, Fairytale Retelling
Pages: 256
Reading Level: Teen
Content: PG-13 (violence, brutality, doom, mature and dark themes, adult situations, oppression)

After reading Cress, I wasted no time jumping into this long-awaited backstory into the life of the Wicked Queen, aka Levana. I can barely find the right words to describe how much I enjoyed this book. I’m so afraid of giving away spoilers that I’m purposefully making this a short review.

I will say that, dang is this woman’s life messed up. She is all kinds of damaged, from an early age, and she just spirals into, what I consider, insanity. What she does, what is done to her, what the what…. I just can’t. This is such a sad, and brutal, and terrifying story. You want to feel bad for Levana, but she won’t let you. Her crazy out does any wrong done to her and any sympathy she didn’t ask for.

I absolutely love this villain. I so want her to lose so I can feel bad for her and be completely satisfied all at once… See, just reading her story has made me a little crazy.

Totally recommended to fans of this series, fans of psychological sci-fan, and dark fairy tale retellings.

I give this book a 5.

Please stop by and see what others have read. 😀

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords