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Book Review: Monstress

Monstress

Title: Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

Genre: Fantasy/Graphic novel

Rating: 4.5 stars

TL;DR: Monstress was fantastic. A dark and gritty story offset by absolutely gorgeous artwork.


Monstress follows the story of Maika Halfwolf, a woman who is half-human and half-monster with powers lurking inside her beyond compare. For this, she is hunted mercilessly because to possess her is to possess a power that could rebuild or destroy the world.
At first glance, Monstress might appear to be a traditional anime/manga style human-monster hybrid, but it’s so much more complex than that. The world is rich with detail, and the asides at the end of each chapter help to fill-in the gaps that the authors couldn’t cram into the storyline, which frees them up to focus on the action, world-building, and characters.
We meet Maika, who is, to put it simply, very pissed. Her memory is spotty, everyone is trying to kill her, and there’s a monster inside her threatening to take over. I’d be pissed too, but Maika is more than the usual tsundere type. She’s strong physically, but what future books will focus on her emotional growth. To balance Maika’s blind rage, we have a bubbly, naively optimistic fox-child and a calculating cat who keeps them together.
What I love about Monstress involves more than just the main characters. I am in love with the world. There’s a richness to it, a complexity beyond the surface not often seen in graphic novels. This richness arises from the political and historical background that informs the actions of the characters in Monstress and carries through in the art style. Sana Takeda’s art is beautiful. It is a mixture of art nouveau, art deco, and Japanese mechanica all interwoven with a thread of the traditional manga aesthetic. After reading the book, I know I will go back and examine every picture for details I missed. There’s also an added layer of diversity in the story. I don’t think I’ve seen so many female characters in roles of power, and in this story, it works without seeming odd or forced. Witches and monstresses have been part of literature and mythology for centuries, and they are usually worse than their male counterparts. Monstress is no different. You’ll also find that characters are diverse in terms of ethnicity, species, and sexuality.
I can’t wait to read volume 2 when it comes out. If you like graphic novels that are not only beautiful but stuffed with action, then Monstress is for you.

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Books, Birthdays, and Word Counts

So Saturday was my birthday, and that means an outing of my choice with my family, cake, and way more food than our guests could eat. Most of my family came over, and while my beloved dog was beside himself with so many people over, we all seemed to have a good time. This also means… BOOKS! GLORIOUS BOOKS!

birthday booksI am pitifully excited about this, and the lit-related clothes and goodies I got too. Currently, I am reading Cold Fire, but I cannot wait to get through everything else. Of course, I cannot wait to color as well. I’m dying to color. Also, one of my friends, who is a fabulous artist (look her up on Deviant Art or Facebook at Fi-Di or Fiammetta De Innocentis) drew a picture of Hadley from The Earl of Brass and sent it to me on my birthday. I was beyond surprised and could not stop showing it off because I was thrilled to get more art of my characters.

Hadley by Fiammetta De Innocentis

Shockingly, through all of the festivities, I have been writing. This may not be shocking to others, but for me, I haven’t always been the most consistent author in terms of writing. One of the things I am trying to achieve this month is getting into a schedule and having some discipline. This week I also hit the 10,000 word mark for my writing goal, which means The Earl and the Artificer is now over 25,000 words, and it should be between 30,000 and 35,000 words by the end of the month.

nanowrimoSucceeding with Camp Nanowrimo has made me see that I am a goal-oriented person, and I really ought to use that to my advantage. I have decided to give myself a word count goal each month that I should be able to meet. Keep in mind that these are modest for a reason. When I don’t hit the goal, I tend to get discouraged and abandon the idea. If I set myself modest goals at first, I can build my confidence in the process and eventually stretch my goals out progressively. These are the goals I have decided to set for the rest of the year:

Jul 30,000 (15K) [484/day]
Aug 45,000 (15k) [484/day]
Sep 55,000 (10K) [334/day]
Oct 65,000 (10K) [323/day]
Nov 75,000 (10k) [334/day]
Dec 85,000 (10k) [323/day]

More than likely, I will probably exceed these goals each month (hopefully), but it gets hard during the semester when I have school work, textbooks to read, my graduate assistantship on top of my writing. Overall, these goals seem more than manageable. What I hope to do is finish The Earl and the Artificer by January 1st, and have it edited and ready to go by March. If I can get it out earlier than that, I will be thrilled, but I don’t want to push it too far yet. I’m hoping that with a steady-stream of inspiration with my reading material and encouragement from my fellow readers and writers, I will be able to push through and get it done.

I hope you are all having a good July, and I will check-in again soon. Until next time, Awkward Authoress out.

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Art Inspired by the Books

One of the things I love about having artwork commissioned is seeing my characters come to life. You imagine them in your mind, but no one but you has a clear understanding of what they look like. Over the past year, I have commissioned artist Fiammetta De Innocentis to draw Eilian, Hadley, Adam, and Immanuel, and I absolutely love her work. She has captured my characters perfectly, and I just had to share them with the world.

Eilian and Hadley from The Earl of Brass.

Eilian and Hadley from The Earl of Brass.

Adam and Immanuel from The Winter Garden.

Adam and Immanuel from The Winter Garden.

couplesketches___happy_b_day_kara____by_fi_di-d7qipel

Adam and Immanuel from The Winter Garden. My best friend commissioned this for my birthday

A Valentines Day sketch of Adam and Immanuel.

A Valentines Day sketch of Adam and Immanuel.

Adam and Immanuel a year or two after the events of The Winter Garden, strolling along the beach.

Adam and Immanuel a year or two after the events of The Winter Garden, strolling along the beach.

I hope you have enjoyed them as much as I do! Commissioning artwork is a great way to support an artist AND get some fabulous artwork of your characters.


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