Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: A Dark and Starless Forest

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles! I can’t believe it’s almost March…

Last week, I got approved for not one, but three eARCs (!!!) which are all loaded up on my Kindle at present. I recently got around to reading the first of the three, and I’m SO EXCITED to see it go out into the world! A Dark and Starless Forest is just the kind of diverse dark fantasy that we all need.

Enjoy this eARC review!

A Dark and Starless Forest by Sarah Hollowell

A Dark and Starless Forest – Sarah Hollowell

Derry is one of eight magical lost children living in the woods. Though they are not related by blood, they all possess different types of magic, and they all live under the roof of their caretaker, Frank, who helps them hone their Alchemist abilities. But when Jane, the oldest of the siblings, goes missing in the dark woods beyond their home, Derry is determined that she’s still alive. As she tries to get to the bottom of Jane’s disappearance, she and her siblings confront dark secrets about their upbringing, and that their caretaker may not be the kindly man he makes himself out to be.

Spectacular Time-Lapse GIFs of Flowers Blooming

TW/CW: Death/disappearance of loved ones (siblings), fantasy violence, body horror, frightening situations

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and HMH Books for Young Readers for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

I was intrigued by the premise of this one, but wow, I didn’t expect to be blown away as much as I was! A Dark and Starless Forest was such a rich and dark fantasy, and a page-turner in every sense of the word.

First off, I was so glad to see all of the representation in A Dark and Starless Forest! Derry, our protagonist, is plus-sized, and among her siblings, there’s several Black and Latinx characters, a nonbinary (they/them pronouns) character, a trans girl, and several Deaf characters; and beyond that, it’s implied that most of them (if not all of them) are queer, and two of them were confirmed to be on the asexual spectrum. It was such a joy to see such a diverse and unique cast of characters as the stars of the show in this novel, and I’m sure that I’ll be recommending this one to lots of people!

What also stood out to me was the unique relationship shared by all of the siblings. Most of them aren’t related by blood (save for two sets of twins), but they’re such a tight-knit community, in tune with each other’s comings and goings no matter what. Each of the characters had such distinct personalities, and there was clearly so much care put into each and every one of them. They were all so caring towards each other, and they stuck together until the end.

Beyond the characters, I loved the dark fantasy aspect of A Dark and Starless Forest! It’s more of an urban fantasy (real-world, but with fantasy aspects woven in), but there’s no shortage of gripping suspense and creepy plot twists. Without spoiling anything, there was definitely a sensibility about it that reminded me of some of the darker X-Men storylines, and I loved seeing how the story unravelled. (I guess the X-Men parallels go beyond that – the relationship that the siblings have is certainly akin to the denizens of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Mutant and proud.) Hollowell hits a perfect balance between showing the tender side of the siblings’ magic and showing the darker, more body-horror side to it.

At its heart, A Dark and Starless Forest is a story of sibling-hood, a story of resistance and uncovering hidden truths, and a story of sticking together against all odds. It’s a beautiful found-family story, and even though the ending was more bittersweet, it made me feel so warm inside at some points.

All in all, a dark but tender story of family and magic that’s sure to enchant so many readers. 4.25 stars!

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* and one nonbinary sibling

Expected release date: September 14, 2021

A Dark and Starless Forest is Sarah Hollowell’s debut novel, but her work has also been included in The (Other) F-Word: A Celebration of the Fat and Fierce anthology.

Today’s song:

OKAY LITTLE OBLIVIONS IS SO GOOD AND I PROMISE I’LL REVIEW IT SOON

That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Tags

The Umbrella Academy Book Tag

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

I figured that I haven’t done many book tags this month, and I’ve been in the mood to do one lately. This one’s been sitting in my sticky note for a bit and I figured it would be a lot of fun since I love the Umbrella Academy graphic novels & the Netflix show!

I found this tag over at Elli @ Ace Reader, and the tag was originally created by  It’s My Birth Write.

Let’s begin, shall we?

the umbrella academy | Tumblr | Umbrella, Under my umbrella, Academy

☂️THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY BOOK TAG☂️

HELLO: Name the best first book in a series

Amazon.com: Honor Among Thieves (Honors, 1) (9780062570994): Caine, Rachel,  Aguirre, Ann: Books

I mean, it’s impossible to choose just *one* best start to a series, but for the sake of not putting down Aurora Rising or Heart of Iron again, I’ll put Honor Among Thieves, because this was a SUPER strong start to the Honors trilogy!

THE HARGREEVES CHILDREN: Name a big book family. (Dysfunctional is optional)

Shared by SexyTrash04. Find images and videos about gif, scene and series  on We Heart It - the app to get lost in w… | Umbrella, Under my umbrella,  Future boyfriend
Amazon.com: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's  Peculiar Children) (9781594746031): Riggs, Ransom: Books

I suppose the cast of characters from Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children aren’t family by blood, but they’re as close to a family as one can possibly get. And dysfunctional? Absolutely.

THE WORLD ENDS IN EIGHT DAYS: If you only had 8 days left, which book would you choose to be your last read?

ODERINT DUM METUANT; — —everything's left in the ashes;
Looks from Books: Fashion Inspired by Frankenstein - College Fashion

Frankenstein, for two reasons: it’s probably my favorite book, and just so I can have the possible luck of being resurrected. Pragmatism, folks, pragmatism.

SPACEBOY: Name a character who plays the leader, but may not be cut out for it.

Astronaut Spaceman GIF - Astronaut Spaceman TomHopper - Discover & Share  GIFs
Amazon.com: Abandon (9781503946194): Crouch, Blake: Books

BAJSDHFSJDHFSJDHF THIS PROMPT WAS WAY HARDER THAN I’D LIKE TO ADMIT

I just finished this one a few hours ago, and Abigail from Abandon just…wasn’t the best leader. I mean, most of the characters were [coughs] a wee bit interchangeable, but did you really think that going to a supposedly haunted mining town in the middle of nowhere was a good idea?

THROWING KNIVES: What literary weapon would you like in your arsenal?

HONEY ; Mulitfandom Gif Series - Diego Hargreeves ; The Umbrella Academy -  Wattpad

MAN WHY ARE THESE PROMPTS SO H A R D

okay no I’m super stumped for this one, might just have to skip…shame on me

I HEARD A RUMOR: Name a book that has a misleading plot line.

Ellen Page Aidan Gallagher GIF by The Umbrella Academy - Find & Share on  GIPHY
Amazon.com: Night Owls and Summer Skies (9781989365250): Sullivan, Rebecca:  Books

I guess the case with Night Owls and Summer Skies was more of a misleading synopsis, but I was lead to believe that it would be a sort of coming-of-age story about overcoming anxieties and first love. Instead, the anxiety part was barely touched on, and it was honestly just a toxic dumpster fire. Would not recommend.

KLAUS: Name a book that involves the dead/ghosts/etc.

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY GIFS — 🎂
Amazon.com: Cemetery Boys eBook: Thomas, Aiden: Kindle Store

Cemetery Boys has plenty of ghosts and supernatural shenanigans!

THE BOY: Recommend a book that plays with time (whether it be dual timelines, time travel, etc.)

The Umbrella Academy 1×07 ~ The Day That Was on We Heart It
Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson

Um? I guess? Goddess in the Machine sort of deals with time travel…I mean, not really, but Andra wakes up from cryosleep after 1,000 years, so…

VANYA: Name a character who has buried potential.

bargalaxies:“ we hope that you choke,that you choke.“the umbrella academy[1.07]  the day that was” ” | Academy, Umbrella, Movies showing

Zila from Aurora Rising definitely fits in here; a bit of her potential was shown in Aurora Burning, but I

can’t wait to see what else she has up her sleeve, because she absolutely has smarts and prowess to spare.

LUTHER & ALLISON: Name a questionable book couple, and why you do or don’t like them.

Umbrella Academy Netflix GIF - UmbrellaAcademy Netflix AllisonHargreeves -  Discover & Share GIFs
Amazon.com: Spinning Silver: A Novel eBook: Novik, Naomi: Kindle Store

It’s been a bit since I’ve read Spinning Silver, but the relationship between Miryem and Mirnatius raised SO many red flags for me – toxic, abusive, manipulative, and…wasn’t there a significant age gap between them?

HAZEL & CHA-CHA: Pick a deadly book duo.

left-handed capricorn — [muffled screaming]
Amazon.com: How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse: Book One of the Thorne  Chronicles eBook: Eason, K.: Kindle Store

This was another hard one, but Thorsdottir and Zhang from How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse are certainly a force to be reckoned with.

GOODBYE: What’s the best finale?

The Umbrella Academy Gifs [Discontinued] - Gif 24: Vanya - Wattpad
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising was the best installment of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, hands down.

I TAG:

Just A Small Girl In A Big World.

Today’s song:

That’s it for this book tag! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (2/23/21) – Game Changer

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Those of you who’ve followed this blog for a long time know how big of a fan of Neal Shusterman I am; I fell in love with the Arc of a Scythe trilogy, then discovered Everlost, Dry and Challenger Deep. So when I found out that he was coming out with a new book, of course I had to preorder it! I got around to reading it last week, and while the masterful writing and world-building is still present, Game Changer was a lower point in Shusterman’s body of work for me. (Still entertaining, though.)

Enjoy this week’s review!

Game Changer by Neal Shusterman
this cover: “MR. STARK I DON’T FEEL SO GOOD”

Game Changer – Neal Shusterman

My copy ft. a cool filter and my new Nightcrawler Pop! figure, because why not

Ashley – Ash for short – lives and breathes football, scoring for his high school’s team. But an unexpected injury on the field leads to consequences that he never could have dreamed of: the hit sent him into another dimension. Each time he collides with another player, he’s launched into different dimensions, each one stranger than the last. His only clues to this bizarre occurrence are the Edwards, a group of multi-dimensional trickster entities who multiply every time he hops through dimensions. Will he be able to return home – and take the knowledge he gleaned from the other dimensions with him?

starfallingstims | Tv static, Overlays transparent, Aesthetic gif

TW/CW: descriptions of injury, racism, homophobia, hate crimes, sexism, abuse, attempted murder, substance abuse

Neal Shusterman is clearly a master storyteller (one of the greatest in YA today, I might go so far as to say). And I’m so glad that he tried to make Game Changer as a response to all of the hatred and prejudice that’s going on in the world today, to make something that inspires people to make change in their communities. But while there’s clearly good intentions behind this book, Game Changer definitely missed the mark in several respects. At its heart, it was still a decent sci-fi story, though.

Let’s start with the good stuff. Shusterman’s prose continues to be incredible, chock-full of clever metaphors and authentic descriptions. There were passages that made me laugh out loud and passages that sent a chill down my spine in equal parts, making for a well-written story. And the worldbuilding was similarly stellar! The inter-dimensional mythology that Shusterman created in Game Changer was fascinating and so well-thought-out. I loved the concept of the Edwards as well – they added an element of simultaneous comic relief and suspense, and they were such an original addition to the novel.

The plot was also very fast-paced and suspenseful, and I loved seeing all of the inter-dimensional elements build up along with the mystery and Ash’s struggle to get back home. So at its heart, Game Changer was a great sci-fi story. Thing is, everything started to get…not-so-good the further into the dimensions we hopped.

The main problem presents itself in three of the dimensions that Ash encountered; In one, segregation is still legal, he’s gay in another (he’s straight in his “normal” dimension), and in one of the final dimensions, he’s a girl in an abusive relationship. Now, the message Shusterman was trying to get across with these dimensions was certainly well-intentioned, and I thought it was a great one, the fact that you can’t solve everything that’s wrong with the world, but you should still make an effort to learn/change things. But seeing as Ash is a [Bo Burnham voice] straight white male, the message didn’t come across in the best way.

My main problem was with the dimension in which Ash is gay; the narrative mainly focuses on him coming out and the reception following it. I saw a quick video on this the other day and reading Game Changer made me think of it; in a lot of straight-made LGBTQ+ media, the narrative is highly centered around the coming-out experience. And while that’s certainly an important aspect of queerness for a lot of people, it doesn’t encompass the entirety of the queer experience. This part in Game Changer largely fell into the same trap, and even beyond that, it felt rather contrived. So that whole section of the story didn’t quite sit right with me.

And then there’s the deal where Ash enters a dimension where not only is he a woman, but he’s also in an extremely abusive relationship with one of his teammates. Again, as with the dimension where Ash is gay, Shusterman definitely employed some sensitivity readers and tried to tackle a very important issue, but still missed the mark. It’s nice that Shusterman’s trying to raise awareness for these kinds of issues, but…again, straight white male character experiencing it, male author writing it, so it didn’t translate super well. It felt a bit like Quentin Tarantino trying to have a message about motherhood in Kill Bill vol. 2 (and missing the mark by miles), but not quite as drastic. Again, did not sit right with me as a woman, but…at least he tried? I dunno…

I Just Dont Know How I Feel GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

All in all, a book that was well-written and well-intentioned, but missed the mark in trying to depict issues of racism, homophobia, sexism and abuse. 3.5 stars.

Not Quite GIFs | Tenor

Game Changer is a standalone, but Neal Shusterman is also the author of the Arc of a Scythe trilogy (Scythe, Thunderhead & The Toll), Challenger Deep, the Skinjacker trilogy (Everlost, Everwild & Everfound), and many other novels and series. He also coauthored the standalone Dry with his son, Jarrod Shusterman.

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (2/22/21) – Sorrowland

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

Here’s my final Goodreads Monday pick for Black History Month here in the U.S., as February is coming to a close. (Still can’t believe it’s almost March). At this point, I’ll read anything that Rivers Solomon writes, so this was a novel that I immediately added to my TBR when I found out about it!

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (2/22/21) – SORROWLAND by Rivers Solomon

Amazon.com: Sorrowland: A Novel (9780374266776): Solomon, Rivers: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

Vern – seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised – flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world.

But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman. Forced to fight back against the community that refuses to let her go, she unleashes incredible brutality far beyond what a person should be capable of, her body wracked by inexplicable and uncanny changes.

To understand her metamorphosis and to protect her small family, Vern has to face the past, and more troublingly, the future – outside the woods. Finding the truth will mean uncovering the secrets of the compound she fled but also the violent history in America that produced it.

Rivers Solomon’s Sorrowland is a genre-bending work of Gothic fiction. Here, monsters aren’t just individuals, but entire nations. It is a searing, seminal book that marks the arrival of a bold, unignorable voice in American fiction.

So why do I want to read this?

Gardens of the night GIFs - Get the best gif on GIFER

First off, THAT COVER! I just love the color scheme, the plants, the typeface…🥺

I started getting into Solomon’s novels last year. The Deep and An Unkindness of Ghosts were masterpieces, so of course I’m jumping at the chance to read something else that they’ve written! Their prose is consistently powerful, unique and gripping, and it’s clear that they’re a master storyteller.

The synopsis describes this one as gothic fiction, and I think Solomon’s writing style would translate perfectly into that kind of story! I’m always up for paranormal tales of the woods and strange monsters, and the fact that we’ll soon see Solomon’s take on it is so exciting for me!

Sorrowland is expected to come out this May, so I’ll see you all then…

Flower Opening GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Today’s song:

That’s for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: February 15-21, 2021

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well, and for everyone in the Texas area, stay safe out there. Lots of love. 💗

Reading-wise, I’d say it’s been a bit of a hit-or-miss week. A lot of what I read fell in the 3-star range, but I did find another 5-star read! I still have some of my library haul from this week left to read, as well as some Hellboy books my dad lent to me (thank you!) and 3 eARCs I got approved for. So expect a lot of reviews in the next few weeks!

Writing-wise, I’m nearly done with my sci-fi outline, but I switched gears later in the week because my mom found this writing contest that I’m interested in. I’m now shifting over to outlining/writing a short story, and I’m really excited to get into it!

Other than that, I just drew a bit, rewatched more Fargo, got caught up on WandaVision (OH MY GOD THAT LAST EPISODE), volunteered at the library, and drank a whole lot of hot chocolate.

Also, I thought that the new Julien Baker album came out today, but no, not until the 26th…[cries]

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

The City We Became (Great Cities, #1) – N.K. Jemisin (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Image result for the city we became cover

The Kinder Poison – Natalie Mae (⭐️⭐️.5)

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Game Changer – Neal Shusterman (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Image result for game changer neal shusterman

The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Image result for the song of achilles cover

The Punch – Noah Hawley (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Image result for the punch noah hawley cover

Happily Ever Afters – Elise Bryant (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Image result for happily ever afters by elise bryant

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Mooncakes – Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu

Image result for mooncakes suzanne walker

Abandon – Blake Crouch (for book club)

Image result for abandon blake crouch

Felix Ever After – Kacen Callender

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Hellboy: Odd Jobs – Christopher Golden et. al.

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A Dark and Starless Forest – Sarah Hollowell (eARC)

Image result for a dark and starless forest

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (2/16/21) – A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

And now, onto another book that I bought with my Christmas gift card and loved!

I’ll admit to being a bit jaded with most YA fantasy novels at present (even though I still read them in droves), but the cover and the mythology of this novel convinced me to buy myself a copy, and I’m so glad I did! A novel that simultaneously felt nostalgic and something wholly new and original.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Image result for a song of wraiths and ruin

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin (A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, #1)–Roseanne A. Brown

My copy ft. a cool filter and one of my bookshelves

In the wealthy city of Ziran, it is a time for celebration, many days of carnivals and competition at the Solstasia Festival. This year, however, the lives of two very different teens with cross in ways that could change their world forever.

Malik came to Ziran to escape, but at a price; as an entrance fee, an evil spirit captured his sister, and the only way that he can get her back is to kill Karina, the crown princess of Ziran.

Karina yearns for a life outside the palace, but after her mother, the Queen, is assassinated, she begins dabbling in dark magic to bring her back. Her magic, too, has a price–it requires a king’s beating heart, and the only way she can get that is to sneak her way into the Solstasia competition–where Malik has entered in order to get closer to her.

Their destiny is to kill each other–but their feelings for each other cannot be ignored, and they may have to twist fate itself to find their way out of this conundrum.

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TW/CW (from Roseanne A. Brown, at the front of the book): self harm (magic ritual), violence, abuse (emotional and physical), anxiety/panic attacks, loss of loved ones, animal death

Wow, it’s been so long since I’ve read a fantasy that I’ve loved as much as I did this one! A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is truly a treasure.

What stood out most for me was the writing style. There’s something about Brown’s writing that’s evocative of so many things that bring joy to me; there’s an almost Marvel sensibility about it, maybe a little bit of Disney (normally, I’m not the biggest fan of Disney, but this made it work)…it’s hard to quite put my finger on it, but the style was delightfully cinematic, calling to mind a classic, feel-good adventure movie. This would translate to well to the big screen, I’d love to see a movie adaptation of this one…

The characters were wonderful as well! Karina was such a lovable protagonist, and I adored her free spirit and determination. (Plus, the image of her standing on top of a table and aggressively serenading an entire restaurant…immaculate) Malik was the perfect character to balance her out, more of a calming and grounded presence. Both of their traumas felt very authentic, and it’s always good to see male protagonists that not only have mental illnesses (Malik seems to have some form of anxiety), but are openly sensitive and express their feelings. Together, they created such a captivating, enemies-to-lovers romance! Yeah, yeah, I know the whole “they’re both trying to kill each other, BUT HEY, THEY’RE MADLY IN LOVE NOW” trope has been done before, but Karina and Malik are both such well-written characters that I can make an exception. What can I say, I’m a total sucker for enemies to lovers.

And the worldbuilding! Brown’s world was so lived-in and full of resonant magic. My favorite aspect was the mythology surrounding all of the different deities and spirits, and I had such a fun time discovering the world piece by piece as the plot progressed. Like I said, I haven’t read a fantasy novel that’s filled me with *this much joy* in quite a while. GAH!

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I think I used this gif when I did a Goodreads Monday on this one…I’m coming full circle

All in all, an adventurous and well-written fantasy that filled me to the brim with joy. Maybe I’m not so jaded with YA fantasy after all. 4 stars!

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A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is the first novel in Roseanne A. Brown’s A Song of Wraiths and Ruin duology, followed by A Psalm of Storms and Silence, which is scheduled to be released on August 31, 2021. Wraiths is Brown’s debut novel.

Today’s song:

rewatching of Season 2 is well underway…the strings at the end of this give me Sparklehorse vibes and I love it

That’s it for this book review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (2/15/21) – Dear Haiti, Love Alaine

Happy Monday, bibliophiles! Wow, can’t believe we’re halfway through February already…

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

Continuing with novels by Black authors for Goodreads Monday this February, here’s one that’s been sitting on my TBR for *way* too long. I’m always up for novels with different formats, and this one, paired with a distinct-sounding writing style, sounds like such a good book!

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (2/15/21) – DEAR HAITI, LOVE ALAINE by Maika & Maritza Moulite

Image result for dear haiti love alaine

Blurb from Goodreads:

When a school presentation goes very wrong, Alaine Beauparlant finds herself suspended, shipped off to Haiti and writing the report of a lifetime…

You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything?

Actually, a lot.

Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I’m spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret.

All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse.

You know, typical drama. But it’s nothing I can’t handle.

So why do I want to read this?

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There aren’t enough books in the world that are bold enough to be told in an almost exclusively epistolary way; it’s hard, absolutely, but the payoff, if done well, is something that’s truly unique. (See: The Illuminae Files). Dear Haiti, Love Alaine seems to consist of articles, diary entries, emails, and letters, so I’m excited to see how that format weaves into the story! Judging from the description, it looks like a perfect fit.

Also judging from the description, the writing sounds wonderfully tongue-in-cheek, and I’m looking forward to some laughs and misadventures! Alaine sounds like a reasonably flawed protagonist, but just the kind of heroine you’d want to root for. Plus, THAT COVER…THE RED…

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Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: February 8-14, 2021

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles, and happy Valentine’s Day, if that’s your thing! I’m not *super* into it or anything (I guess it’s more worthwhile when you’re…y’know, actually dating somebody), but regardless, I’m down for any kind of holiday that celebrates love of all kinds, be it romantic, familial or platonic. So love each other today and every day of the year, okay?

Image result for happy valentimes gif 30 rock

This week’s been kind of hit or miss; there hasn’t been a whole lot of schoolwork, thankfully, but precalc just continues to make my mood go 📉 so…yep. Let’s hope that statistics next year will be more merciful…

I accidentally got a whole bunch of shorter books on my library haul last week, so I read a lot more than I expected! Again, hit or miss, but I did find a few great ones, for sure. And blogging-wise, I loved doing my review this week! Writing-wise, I’ve been steadily outlining, and I got around to organizing my favorite scene in my sci-fi WIP. 🥺 (Again, details are largely undisclosed, but I will say that there are quite a lot of tender feels and a certain Beatles song.)

Other than that, I’ve been drawing a bit, I finished rewatching season 1 of Fargo and started rewatching season 2, and I finally got around to watching The New Mutants, which I was so excited for, but…gah, if you looked up the entry for the word “disappointment” in the dictionary, the movie poster would be there. So much wasted potential…they did my poor X-Men so dirty…😔👊

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

If It Makes You Happy–Claire Kann (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Image result for if it makes you happy claire kann

Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1)–Octavia E. Butler (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Image result for dawn octavia butler book cover

The Dark Matter of Mona Starr–Laura Lee Gulledge (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

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Escaping Exodus (Escaping Exodus, #1)–Nicky Drayden (⭐️⭐️)

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Color Outside the Lines–Sangu Mandanna et. al. (anthology) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

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POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

The City We Became (Great Cities, #1)–N.K. Jemisin

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Game Changer–Neal Shusterman

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Today’s song (sort of Valentine’s Day edition):

That’s it for this week in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Books

YA Reads for Black History Month

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

Phew, I’m so glad to be on a long weekend…we have the day off school today and next Monday, so I think I’ll have some much needed time to wind down…

As some of you may know, here in the U.S., the month of February is Black History Month! So for the occasion, I decided that it would be a good idea to make a post full of my favorite YA reads from #OwnVoices Black authors. Now more than ever it is critical to share stories from marginalized voices, and in the current climate that much of the world is in, uplifting POC voices should be at the forefront of creative endeavors.

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I’ve made a list of YA reads of all genres for this post, all of them 4-5 star reads for me. So let’s begin, shall we?

THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA READS FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH

The Sound of Stars – Alechia Dow

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GENRES: Sci-fi, dystopia, LGBTQ+, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Sound of Stars was one of my favorite reads of 2020! A diverse cast, a tender romance, and no shortage of music and book references. Other than the ending, it’s pretty much everything I could want in a book.

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph – Brandy Colbert

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GENRES: Contemporary, romance, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph is one of those special novels that simultaneously touches on a myriad of important issues, but still retains a lighter, slice-of-life mood. Romantic, sweet, and so inclusive!

Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now – Dana L. Davis

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GENRES: Contemporary, fiction

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s been a few years since I’ve read this one, but Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now has stuck with me ever since. A resonant story about family, mental health and grief.

A Song Below Water – Bethany C. Morrow

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GENRES: Magical realism, contemporary, fantasy

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’m always on the hunt for good mermaid books, and I’m glad to say that A Song Below Water was such a unique novel! It certainly isn’t without its flaws, but this was a solid piece of magical realism.

Punching the Air – Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam

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GENRES: Poetry/Novels in verse, contemporary, fiction

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I don’t read an awful lot of poetry, but Punching the Air hit me so hard. This was a truly powerful novel about the corruption of the justice system and the transformative power of art.

Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi

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GENRES: High fantasy, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s been a few years since I’ve read this one and my memory of it’s a bit hazy (oops), but from what I remember, Children of Blood and Bone was such a well-written and well-crafted fantasy! (Plus, that gorgeous cover…)

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them – Junauda Petrus

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GENRES: Contemporary, fiction, LGBTQ+, romance, magical realism

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This was one of my first reads of the year, and wow, such a beautiful novel! I loved the relationship between Audre and Mabel, and the writing was so tender. Highly recommended.

Monday’s Not Coming – Tiffany D. Jackson

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GENRES: Mystery, thriller, contemporary

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Mystery isn’t my go-to genre, but Monday’s Not Coming was truly astounding. Haunting, gripping and suspenseful–everything a mystery novel should be, really.

The Black Kids – Christina Hammonds Reed

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GENRES: Fiction, historical fiction (1990s)

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Even though it’s set in the 1990’s, The Black Kids has no shortage of timely themes, and stands out as a powerful and immersive historical fiction novel. Highly recommended!

Raybearer – Jordan Ifueko

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GENRES: High fantasy, fantasy, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I have a distinct memory of looking through reviews for Raybearer before I picked it up; it was a struggle to find any sort of reviews with ratings below 4 stars (I usually try to read reviews in the 3-2 star range before reading most books), and everybody and their mother seemed to be gushing about it. But I’m glad to say that Raybearer absolutely lived up to that hype, and I now count myself among the legions of 4-star ratings!

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin – Roseanne A. Brown

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GENRES: Fantasy, high fantasy, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I just finished this one last week (bought it with a gift card I got for Christmas!), and I must say, absolutely worth buying! Complex protagonists, and a writing style that all at once felt nostalgic and wonderfully fresh and unique. (I’ll try to review this one next week!)

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these novels, and what did you think of them? What are your favorite YA novels from #OwnVoices Black authors? Any recommendations?

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Today’s song:

That’s it for this list of recommendations! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (2/9/21) – Before the Fall

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Me? Reviewing non-YA books two weeks in a row? I’m in rare form…

I just have to review this one, though. I’ve been a massive fan of Noah Hawley’s work on television for years; Fargo is my favorite show, and Legion follows very close behind. So you can imagine my excitement when I found out that he’s written several books!

I spent some of my Christmas gift card money for a local bookstore on this one, and man, I’m so glad that I did. I’m not usually one for mystery, but Before the Fall is a slow-burning but visibly intricate novel that I’m sure I’ll never forget.

Enjoy this week’s review!

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Before the Fall – Noah Hawley

One night in August, an unknown disaster causes a private plane to crash into the ocean with 11 people onboard, including the crew. Most are powerful media giants or their companions, some soon to be convicted of crimes, others on the road to even more fame and fortune. The only exception is that of Scott Burroughs, a struggling painter on his way to New York.

Scott, along with the four-year-old son of a powerful newscaster, are the only survivors.

Now in the midst of a national conspiracy, Scott finds his privacy tumbling down around him as the media attempts to decipher the cause of the plane crash–malfunction, terrorism, or something else entirely?

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TW/CW: Plane crash/resulting trauma, loss of loved ones, death(s) (adults and children), substance abuse

[chanting to myself in front of the mirror] “stop talking about Fargo…stop talking about Fargo…STOP TALKING ABOUT FARGO…”

My first 5-star read of 2021, ladies, gentlemen & others! I’ll admit that my expectations were absolutely through-the-roof high, but I’m delighted to say that Before the Fall 110% met them.

This was my first exposure to Noah Hawley’s novels, but I’ve adored his work ever since falling in love with Fargo and Legion. But even though there’s a significant gap between experiencing a TV show and a book, this still felt just as cinematic. It really felt like I was watching an episode of Fargo; the writing did meander a bit and linger on things for too long, but it felt like drifting through plot points as we get more information on the characters. Something that I always value in any good novel is a clear care for even the smallest of details, and Before the Fall was exemplary in that department.

Now, I read fast. It’s a problem, at this point. But it’s not every book that makes me actively think “man, I can’t wait until I have a break so I can pick this up again!” And Before the Fall built up such a suspenseful and gripping story that I found myself looking forward to the times in my day when I could kick back and read it. Hawley’s writing instantly pulled me in and didn’t let me go until the final page. Everything in this novel felt deliberate, placed just so to make for a plot that kept me guessing all the way through.

Normally, writing that tends to ramble bothers me sometimes; it feels like the author’s going off on random tangents that have no pertinence to the central plot. And maybe I’m biased, but Hawley made it work in such a way that I looked forward to all of the little digressions throughout the novel. Throughout Before the Fall, backstory and suspense are built through a series of thorough snapshots–obituaries, days in the lives of the dead passengers, and more. Even Scott’s paintings–the subject matter of which is far more important than I would’ve thought at first–help to make the mystery unravel. (As well as help Scott’s reputation unravel…oops…) Every single character, even the side characters that seldom make an appearance, felt astoundingly authentic, someone you could pass by on the street, so fleshed-out they were.

All in all, a stunning and intricate mystery from one of my favorite creative minds. I’m 100% going to read Hawley’s other novels now. 5 stars!

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Before the Fall is a standalone, but Noah Hawley is also the author of The Good Father, A Conspiracy of Tall Men, The Punch, and Other People’s Weddings. He is also the executive producer/writer/director of the TV adaptations of Fargo (FX) and Legion. (FX/Marvel television)

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!