Posted in Books, Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (11/12/19)–Crier’s War

Hi again, fellow bibliophiles, and welcome to this week’s Book Review Tuesday!

After dithering about whether or not I wanted to read Crier’s War, I bought a signed copy a few weeks ago, complete with the John Hancock of book signatures on the inside. (Go big or go home, Ms. Varela. Thanks for making my day.) Though I had average expectations, Crier’s War defied expectations, with an intricate and immersive world, and a forbidden romance to die for (and not to mention, a ✨very gorgeous and shiny cover✨. )

Enjoy this week’s review!

 

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Crier’s War (Crier’s War, #1)

Many years ago, man made the first Made being, an automaton with independent thought. They grew more intelligent as the years went on, and soon, they had overthrown the human race, settling in gold-laced palaces, while the humans were banished to the streets.

Crier is Made royalty, a princess with hidden potential and a tenuous betrothal in her future. Ayla is a human servant, selling her wares in the street while harboring a deep hatred for the Made, after the massacre of her family. In a chance meeting, Ayla saves Crier from certain death; They both know that their relationship cannot continue, but the days go by, and the unlikely pair find themselves drawn to each other. Both knowing that their romance can never be, they must come to terms with their fates, while navigating the political turmoil that threatens to topple the worlds of the human and the Made.

 

 

Forbidden romance, forbidden romance, forbidden romance. It’s not like it hasn’t been done before, hundreds, if not thousands of times. Lucky for us, we’ve got ourselves a well-executed, emotional, and LGBTQ+ romance in Crier’s War. Who could ask for more?

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And beyond the romance, Crier’s War has several, fantastically executed aspects. I particularly loved the rich worldbuilding, complete with a lovely map, a timeline, and an intricate history, as well as an in-depth look at how the Made government works. For the most part, Varela successfully did this without excessive infodumping, so that’s a big YES from me. There were, however, some little excerpts from Made histories in between chapters; I personally found only 25% of them to be relevant, but hey, that’s just me. They seemed a bit extraneous and unnecessary, but they did add to the prospect of the rich cataloguing of the tumultous history that this book exhibited.

But the ending. That did NOT feel like an ending. I get cliffhangers, but that felt far too abrupt. At least give us some sense of finish, some sense of continuity, I beg you…but I must admit, it does leave me hungering for the sequel, so I guess that it did its job.

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A lovely melding of science-fiction and fantasy, Crier’s War garners a solid 4 stars from me: romance to root for, and a world to lose yourself in.

 

Crier’s War has been confirmed to be part of a series; the only knowledge we have of its sequel, since this book came out a little over a month ago, is that it’s been titled Iron Heart, and it’s expected to come out in 2020. Brace yourselves, folks…

 

I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day! Stay tuned for more nerdy content later in the week! 🙂

 

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Posted in Books, Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (11/11/19)–The Orphan Queen

Happy Monday, fellow bibliophiles!

I’d like to take a moment before we begin on this Veteran’s Day just to honor those who served. Thank you for putting your lives on the line for the greater good of your country. ❤️

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.

Whew, I just checked, and I’ve had this one on my Goodreads TBR for two years…man, I really do need to clean out my TBR…

Let’s ignore that for now, though. Though I feel as though I may have enjoyed it more at a time sooner to when I put it on my TBR, The Orphan Queen sounds like a halfway-decent fantasy, at best.

 

Here goes nothing…let’s get this week started, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (11/11/19)–THE ORPHAN QUEEN by Jodi Meadows

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

 

So why do I want to read this?

Hmm. I could go with this.

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I have almost all of Jodi Meadows’ works on my TBR (The Newsoul Trilogy and the Fallen Isles series), so it seems that she isn’t producing so much work for nothing–she has to be a pretty talented writer. And I’m willing to bet that she is. Fingers crossed, anyway. Could be garbage, for all I know. Oh, the bookworm’s gambit…

Anyway, I’m intrigued by the concept of the Ospreys; if done well, it could create some amazing character chemistry. And though I’ve seen ideas/creatures similar to what the Wraith seems to be in what both fantasy and science fiction, I’m willing to jump in and see how Meadows executes it.

Either way, fingers crossed that this won’t be a waste of my time. Again, bookworm’s gambit. I hope you weren’t too wrong about this one, 2017 self. [opens an ambiguous time portal and fist bumps 2017 Madeline]

 

I hope you enjoyed this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and stay tuned for more content this week!

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Posted in Music

Thoughts on Covers

The Bookish Mutant? Writing a post about something other than books? It’s more likely than you think.

 

I’ve been a music nerd for much of my life, and though most of this blog is dedicated to more bookish content, I do like to ramble about songs. In particular, there’s one topic that I’ve been wanting to talk about, and that is the topic of covers.

So, I’ve tried to outline some examples of covers that I find particularly significant, whether that be in a positive or negative way.

 

First, let’s address the nearly universal (and mostly good to follow) rule of covers: Don’t cover the Beatles.

I’d say…I agree about halfway with that. I’ve heard more butchered covers of Beatles classics than I can count on my fingers, but at times, artists have been able to cover the iconic band so well, to the point where they nearly–but never completely–surpass the original.

Case in point, Throwing Muses’ cover of “Cry Baby Cry”.

 

They’ve managed to create a cover that converts the original into an almost gothic, and at times atmospheric composition. Kristin Hersh’s etheral voice only adds to the dreamlike effect, making for an unforgettable rendition of the song.

But at the same time, I feel as though it loses the warm, almost nostalgic air that the original carries. With the Beatles, it feels like someone fondly telling a story; with Throwing Muses, it almost has the feeling of someone reflecting on a childhood that they thought was full of joy, but had darkness hiding within it all along.

 

 

Sometimes, though, a cover can completely nail the original feeling of the song, while still making it their own. Take Nirvana’s cover of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World”.

 

As with “Cry Baby Cry”, both versions of “The Man Who Sold the World” sound like the words of a raconteur, recounting a particularly odd acquaintance of theirs from ages ago. Even with something as simple as a key change, Cobain transformed the classic song into something darker, more desperate. (As he did with…well, most all of his songs, but that’s beside the point.)

Nirvana’s version does seem to lack the inherently alien quality that’s always hidden below the surface of any David Bowie song. To be fair, however, I don’t think anybody could ever come close; that’s just David Bowie. Nobody can be David Bowie but David Bowie.

 

 

Another source of interesting covers can always be found in the soundtracks of film and television. More often than not, it produces bland attempts at making songs into something “edgy” or “gritty”. But on rare occasions, gems are born from already polished crystals.

Personally, the best example of this is…well, all three seasons of FX’s Legion.

I mean, you have to have some serious talent to make “Rainbow Connection” sound creepy, turn “Behind Blue Eyes” into the pulsating score for what’s easily the best action scene ever to air on television, and “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding?” into a heartstring-pulling, tender moment between the whole show’s cast. And Noah Hawley, without a doubt, has that talent by the boatload.

(Spoilers for seasons 2 & 3 of Legion in the last two, especially the last one.)

And that’s not even all of it. Man, I can’t wait another second for the Season 3 soundtrack to come out…

 

And then, there’s those rare, once in a lifetime covers that transcend the original.

Alright, let’s back up. This is completely subjective, mind you, but I think there is some degree of truth to it. Maybe.

Think for yourselves, but we need to talk about girlpool’s unforgettable cover of Radiator Hospital’s “Cut Your Bangs”.

 

With something as simple as removing the drums and slowing down the tempo, girlpool has morphed the original into something far more tender, deeper, and overflowing with emotion. There’s no doubt that Radiator Hospital’s songwriting is stellar, but girpool made it shine even more, telling a raw, bitter, and tear-jerking story.

As I said, I’m definitely biased around the original. It’s probably just Sam Cook-Parrott’s voice that mainly gets on my nerves, but in it’s faster form, it feels more like pulling off a bandaid than telling a story.

 

And then there’s covers with lovely intent, but that fail to capture the original meaning.

Remember what I said earlier about nobody being David Bowie but David Bowie?

 

[heavy sigh] Well…

Alright, let me be clear. There’s no doubt that Lady Gaga is a talented musician, but this does not feel like a tribute. Nor does it feel like a cover.

This just feels like commercialization, capitalizing off of Bowie’s legacy by trying to be him. And I get it, so many of us–myself included–were beyond heartbroken at the news of his death, but I don’t think that this is the proper way to pay tribute to somebody. Make the content your own, at least a little, don’t try to be somebody you’re not. And I mean that in the least harsh way possible, but…at the time, this just felt like salt on the wound. Still does. This pretty much ruined Lady Gaga for me. I still admire her as a person, but I don’t think I’ll be able to forgive her for this one.

 

 

Hopefully you found this interesting! I just wanted to pour out some of my nerdy thoughts here (as I always do), so I hope you liked this post. See you tomorrow for Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and keep on being your wonderful selves.

 

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Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (11/5/19)-We Hunt the Flame

Happy Tuesday, fellow bibliophiles!

 

I’ve been meaning to read this one for a little while, and I had fairly average expectations, what with a boatload of hype after its publishing in May of this year. I’ve had it on hold for a while, but it finally arrived recently, and I must say, We Hunt the Flame defied all of my expectations! With lavish writing and spectacular world-building, We Hunt the Flame is sure to please.

 

Enjoy this week’s review!

 

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We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya, #1)

A reknowned Hunter, an infamous Prince.

The livelihood of Zafira’s village rests on her shoulders; she is the revered Hunter, crossdressing as a man to avoid detection while hunting for her people in the forests of Arz, which have been put under a deadly curse for as long as she can remember. Nasir is the crown prince, and the ruthless assassin of all those who dare speak out against his father, the king. Their paths collide on a distant island, where the curse of the Arz originated, both in search of a fabled treasure, but only one in search of the Hunter himself. As war brews, the two inherent enemies must band together to keep Arawiya off of the brink of collapse.

 

 

Over the years, I’ve started to lean more towards science fiction than fantasy, and while I still read a fair amount of the genre, it’s not as often that I enjoy it. I’ve come across plenty of halfway-decent ones and a plethora of mediocre and downright awful ones, but the four and five star-ers are more difficult to find. Lucky for us, We Hunt the Flame exists!

Though it was a little slow to start (the first 150 pages or so, and this book clocks in at 472 in total), We Hunt the Flame was an absolute dazzler by the end. With rich and magical worldbuilding, steeped in the roots of Arabian mythology and folk tales, a cast of unique and likable characters with stellar chemistry, and  witty and enchanting writing worthy of a timeless fairy tale, this novel is not one that I’ll forget easily. Solid 4.25 stars for me.

It looks like there’s already a sequel on the way, set to be published in May of 2020, We Free the Stars, and from what Hafsah Faizal has revealed, it looks like it’ll be a duology. Man, I think duologies are slowly but surely overthrowing trilogies in YA…

 

Before I go, let me remind you all that the Goodreads Choice Awards are here! We’ve got tons of worthy contenders for the win, so PLEASE go and vote! (Especially *coughcoughcoughAURORA RISINGcoughcoughcough*)

 

Have a wonderful rest of your day, and stay tuned for more content later in the week!

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Posted in Books, Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (11/4/19)–Glitch

Happy November, fellow 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.

As with most of the novels beyond the first five or so pages of my TBR (it’s piled into the hundreds over the past few years…whoops…), I’d completely forgotten about the existence of Glitch. The reviews seem semi-polarizing, and it’s from the era where everybody hung off the back of Suzanne Collins’ massive bandwagon (thank God those days are over…mostly…), so I’m not sure if I’ll keep this one.

Whether or not that’s going to happen, I’ll go ahead and give you all the rundown. Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (11/4/19)–GLITCH by Heather Anastasiu

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Blurb from Goodreads:

In the Community, there is no more pain or war. Implanted computer chips have wiped humanity clean of destructive emotions, and thoughts are replaced by a feed from the Link network.

When Zoe starts to malfunction (or “glitch”), she suddenly begins having her own thoughts, feelings, and identity. Any anomalies must be immediately reported and repaired, but Zoe has a secret so dark it will mean certain deactivation if she is caught: her glitches have given her uncontrollable telekinetic powers.

As Zoe struggles to control her abilities and stay hidden, she meets other glitchers including Max, who can disguise his appearance, and Adrien, who has visions of the future. Both boys introduce Zoe to feelings that are entirely new. Together, this growing band of glitchers must find a way to free themselves from the controlling hands of the Community before they’re caught and deactivated, or worse.

In this action-packed debut, Glitch begins an exciting new young adult trilogy.

So why do I want to read this?

 I put this on my TBR over a year ago, definitely at a stage where I hadn’t become quite so jaded with all of the “dystopia devoid of all independent thought” trope that has plagued the YA genre for almost a decade. The cover’s gorgeous and beautifully designed, no doubt, but judging from some of the reviews, this seems to be the bait that ultimately hooked several readers into eating a fish that gave them food poisoning the following night.

Glitch seems to have been written earlier in the Dystopian YA era, so perhaps there’s a glimmer of hope for some originality. At the same time, though, we’ve got the classic, overdone tropes all laid out: a “special girl” with INDEPENDENT THOUGHT (gasp) and POWERS (another gasp), who has to fight against a UNIFORM SOCIETY and CONTROL SAID SPECIAL POWERS.

Now where have I heard that before? Oh, that’s right, everywhere. 

Okay, maybe I’m being a little harsh, but I’m kind of sick of this kind of book. If done well, as people like Suzanne Collins and Marie Lu have done, it could be amazing. If not, well…it’s almost guranteed that it’ll be a steaming pile of unoriginality. I might have to oust this bad boy from my TBR. Sigh. I need to clean it out, anyway.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this meme, bibliophiles! Stay tuned tomorrow for a Book Review Tuesday, and more content later in the week!

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Posted in Book Tags, Books

Fall Festival Book Photo Tag

Happy November, fellow bibliophiles!

I was tagged by A Little Haze Book Blog to take part in this tag. The tag itself is part of Clo and Fictionally Sam’s Bookending Autumn 2019, and this tag was originally hosted by PoetryBooksYA.

 

I’m pretty excited to take part, so let’s begin! 🙂

 

CHILLY–BOOK WITH A WHITE COVER (Sad story/plotline)

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Michael Belanger’s The History of Jane Doe is well-written, but be warned: it’s definitely a  rough ride, and it deals with teen suicide.

 

SWEET–BOOK WITH AN ORANGE COVER (A favorite contemporary novel)

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I couldn’t find many contemporary books that I really loved (much less ones with completely orange covers), but this is my most recent read in that category: Michelle Andreani and Mindi Scott’s exploration of romance and grief, The Way Back to You

 

SPICY–BOOK WITH A RED COVER (Action/Fast-paced setting)

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Ohhhhhhhh yeah.

I could go on for days about the The Demon World. The whole series (that’s come out), for that matter.

 

DARK–BOOK WITH A BLACK COVER (Dark, twisted theme)

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The entire Three Dark Crowns  series is pretty rife with violence, disturbing sibling rivalries, and all manner of spooky stuff. All four books had me on the edge of my seat…

 

GREEN–BOOK WITH A GREEN COVER (Makes you feel jealous)

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This was a hard one…I mean, green cover? Easy. Makes me feel jealous? Now that’s another story…

I suppose that Robert Beatty’s Willa of the Wood  doesn’t inherently make me jealous, but I’m definitely jealous of Beatty’s world-building and descriptive writing. (He’s also the author of the Serafina trilogy, which, excluding book 2, I adored in middle school.)

 

Well, that just about wraps it up!

I tag:

 

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Posted in Random

Renovations Complete (…for now…)

Hi there, everyone!

I mentioned in Renovations that I would be cleaning up the look of this blog, and here we are!

I experimented with a handmade header image, but I didn’t feel like it translated well to this format. (Also, the top ended up being partially cut off, and it was a tad bit pixelated.) I played around with a few themes, and I’ve decided that this one works best for the blog.

Also, now we’ve got an actual name for the blog. Wouldja look at that, folks.

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I’ve also added a new set of header images, starring a few of my favorite books and a certain cat lamp.

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I hope you’re as satisfied as I am with the new look of this blog! As always, stay tuned for more nerdy content soon!

 

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