Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: January 17-23, 2022

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.

How is it that this week still felt so tiring even when I had a day off and a two-hour delay?

It’s been an alright week, though. Very cold. We got two snows in the span of two days, and it feels very much like January right now. Of course, my art teacher made us go on a walk to collect reference pictures…in 20 degree weather on a slippery path. I suppose I did get a good picture of the lake with a thin ice sign.

It’s been a slightly slower reading week, but I got through all of my library books and liked a good portion of them! Anthem was a rough ride, but most of the other books managed to lift me up a little. I haven’t been able to edit my WIP as much this week, but I finished my initial read through! Now I just need to run through and fix all the continuity errors (that I can catch) and flesh out some things that need to be fleshed out.

Other than that, I’ve just been drawing some X-Men characters (I should really post some of my art here at some point…I’ve been saying that for at least two years and haven’t done anything oof), studying, learning “Trimm Trabb” on guitar, and trying to stay warm. I also re-watched Edward Scissorhands last night, and needless to say, Felt Things

🥲

Edward GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Anthem – Noah Hawley (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Anthem: Hawley, Noah: 9781538711514: Amazon.com: Books

Railhead (Railhead, #1) – Philip Reeve (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Railhead: 9781630790486: Reeve, Philip: Books

Not Your Sidekick (Sidekick Squad, #1) – C.B. Lee (⭐️⭐️)

Not Your Sidekick (Sidekick Squad, #1)

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – Edward Albee (read for school) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Albee, Edward: 0071162004991: Amazon.com:  Books

The Cost of Knowing – Brittney Morris (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: The Cost of Knowing: 9781534445451: Morris, Brittney: Books

Batman: Nightwalker – The Graphic Novel – Marie Lu, adapted by Stuart Moore and Chris Wildgoose (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: Batman: Nightwalker (The Graphic Novel): 9781401280048: Moore,  Stuart, Lu, Marie, Wildgoose, Chris: Books

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Tides of Mutiny – Rebecca Rode

Tides of Mutiny by Rebecca Rode | Jimmy Patterson

Landscape with Invisible Hand – M.T. Anderson

Amazon.com: Landscape with Invisible Hand eBook : Anderson, M. T.: Kindle  Store

The Traitor’s Kiss (The Traitor’s Circle, #1) – Erin Beaty

Amazon.com: The Traitor's Kiss (Traitor's Trilogy, 1): 9781250117946:  Beaty, Erin: Books

Who I Was with Her – Nita Tyndall

Amazon.com: Who I Was with Her: 9780062978387: Tyndall, Nita: Books

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 Uncategorized

Book Review Tuesday (1/18/22) – Anthem

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I went on a kick of Noah Hawley’s books in the first half of 2021, and I managed to read all of them. I’d already been exposed to his writing through Fargo and Legion (my two favorite shows), and my experience of his books ranged from just good to masterful. So naturally, I was excited to hear that he had a new book coming our way in 2022! I preordered it and read it last week, and…well, it was hard to read. Great writing, as always, but god, it was heavy.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Anthem: Hawley, Noah: 9781538711514: Amazon.com: Books

Anthem – Noah Hawley

my copy ft. my bookshelf (including the other two Noah Hawley books I own) & a cool filter

Our world is in shambles. The political chasm between the American people is widening more with each day, the oceans are rising, and now, teenagers are committing suicide by the thousands each day.

One such teenager was Claire Oliver, the daughter of a reviled pharmaceutical mogul. After her death by an overdose, her parents send Simon, her younger brother, to a rehab center in Chicago to make sense of her passing. There, he meets a strange figure who only goes by The Prophet. The Prophet’s enigmatic visions lead Simon and his fellow patients out of the rehab center and on the road to a shadowy man known only as the Wizard, whose downfall may be their only means of salvation.

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TW/CW: suicide (overdosing, hanging, jumping from bridges, etc.), racism, descriptions of rape/sexual assault, graphic violence, anti-semitism, climate change, brief descriptions of genitalia, blood

Anthem, in its essence, is Noah Hawley’s megaphone for existential dread. But given the times, it’s understandable.

Let me be crystal-clear about this: it’s a bad idea to read this book if you’re not in a good headspace. A lot of what Anthem deals with is a worst-case scenario of the future: near anarchy, the political divisions of the U.S. with the volume turned up even more so, mass suicide, climate change, and every other bit of dystopia you can possibly imagine. This is Hawley’s vision of the worst that could possibly be, and he does it well. What’s really scary about it, though, is that some parts were almost plausible. I’m not cynical enough to call it realistic, but I’m scared enough to call it partially feasible. It’s scary. enough that Noah Hawley flat out apologizes for the world he created—like the horrific worst case parenting scenario of The Good Father, it’s the most pessimistic outcome on the spectrum, but it’s well-written.

As always, Noah Hawley has a unique way with words that paints the near-future in a number of ways. There’s the main plot, in which a band of disillusioned, teenage rehab patients go on a cross-country road trip based solely on a 14-year-old who claims to have visions from God and encounter everything from gangs of gun-toting clowns to lions. But interspersed within are anecdotes from a wide cast of characters—most of which are unlikeable, as per Noah Hawley standards—that add to the genuinely disturbing feel of the world he’s created.

However, Hawley’s vivid descriptions often gave way to portions of flat-out rambling—about the state of the world, the nature of the darkest parts of the human species, the possibilities of a world like the one of Anthem. This part was what bogged me down the most; as a young person who would theoretically be maturing into this dystopia, it…well, it freaked me out, to put it plainly. I’d been on a stint of finishing books in a day, but this one took me almost four just because I couldn’t swallow all of the statistics and existential doom at once. Even so, at least it was well-written; Hawley’s talent for spinning words and stories, combined with all manner of allusions, made it slightly easier to palate.

Through it all, Hawley presents a strange, pseudo-fantasy quest throughout a changed America, and every bit of it hooked me. Every little detail made for a landscape that felt tangible enough to touch. I’ll have to go back and read some of his other books to see if this is really a hallmark of his, but in Anthem, at least, all of the sensory details were what made the world seem so frighteningly real: the paintings on the side of the van, the music on the car radio, the interior decor of the Wizard’s sadistic mansion. Without them, a book like Anthem might not have succeeded for me—if you’re going to make commentary on what the future might turn out to be, tell us what this future looks like.

Most of my other problems were more nitpicky; some of the dialogue, especially with the teenaged characters, felt at times very unrealistic. (sir, I’m aware that you have gen z kids but I, also a gen z kid, can assure you that nobody, nobody, says “LOL” out loud.) That part was inexcusable. There were some minor threads that weren’t resolved all the way (ex. the whole “these memes are driving our children to suicide” subplot—the meme is explained, but given that it was the first line of the synopsis, I expected it to play a bigger role), and the ending, although it also was explained, felt rushed. There’s hope in the resolution, but the resolution was so glossed over that it couldn’t be felt all the way.

But through it all, one thing was clear to me—this felt like a pandemic book. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. Anthem just seems like one of the first in a new wave of dystopian novels, books that speak to the fear, chaos, and violence of the past six years. Anthem feels like the kind of book that will be remembered as distinctly “21st century”: post-Trump, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and appropriately frightened for what the future might hold not just for America, but for us as a species.

All in all, a frightening vision of the future from one of my favorite literary masterminds, but not quite coherent enough to his best work. 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4!

fargo fx | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumgir

Anthem is a standalone novel, but Noah Hawley is also the author of Before the Fall, The Punch, The Good Father, Other People’s Weddings, and A Conspiracy of Tall Men. Hawley has also adapted the Coen Brothers’ Fargo and Marvel Comics’ Legion for TV on FX and 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!

Posted in Book Tags

The Best Books of 2021 Book Tag

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

Happy MLK Day as well; we are always indebted to the incredible work he has done for this country. But as the day goes on, it’s important to reflect on the fact that his definition of nonviolent protest was different than the one that most people remember him with. Look no further than his Letter from Birmingham Jail if you want to read more. And as always, the path to racial equality in America isn’t done—for those of you in the U.S., please click on this link to contact your senators about passing key voting rights legislations.

Although I’ve mostly stopped wrapping up 2021, I figured that I would participate in this wonderful original tag by Hundreds & Thousands of Books! She has a fantastic blog, so check it out when you can!

THE RULES:

  • Link back to the original creator, Hundreds and Thousands Of Books
  • Thank the blogger who tagged you
  • Share your favorite books of the year! And have a great new year 🙂

Let’s begin, shall we?

THE BEST BOOKS OF 2021 BOOK TAG

THE START (January-March)

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

It was a hard pick between this and The Punch, but Before the Fall was a masterpiece!

THE MIDDLE (April-June)

Amazon.com: The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country:  9780593465271: Gorman, Amanda, Winfrey, Oprah: Books

This period was hard because I had several 5-star reads in April, but I’d be making a grave mistake if The Hill We Climb didn’t make the cut on this post.

While you’re at it, watch this video of Amanda Gorman performing this poem at Biden’s inauguration last year. So incredibly moving.

THE MIDDLE, BUT WITH BETTER WEATHER (July-September)

Amazon.com: The Darkness Outside Us: 9780062888280: Schrefer, Eliot: Books

The Darkness Outside Us was an unexpected favorite for me—deeply moving and far more than the sum of its parts.

THE END (October-December)

Aurora's End (The Aurora Cycle, #3) by Amie Kaufman

“I didn’t expect an Aurora Cycle book to appear on this tag,” said nobody ever…

Aurora’s End was an obvious pick here—the best ending I could have asked for to cap off my favorite series.

THE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

See above—Aurora’s End!

I made another post about my favorite books of 2021, so if you’d like to see more of my 5-star reads from last year, look no further!

I TAG:

New Year 2022 GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: January 10-16, 2021

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.

This week was my first week back to school, and it hasn’t been all that bad in that respect. Homework is still light at the moment, so I’m enjoying my last vestiges of time where I come home without anything I need to do.

Reading-wise, it’s been a mixed bag. I’ve been going through a combination of my preorders, my library haul, and my comics from last Friday. I had a lot of time to read this week, but my ratings have been all across the board, so…yep. It’s all over the place.

I’ve been getting back into editing my WIP, and I managed to knock out a few of the most important scenes last night! I’m nearly done with the initial run-through, but I need to go through it again (probably several times) for consistency issues and things I want to add in or subtract, so we’ll see how it goes from here.

Other than that, I’ve just been playing Minecraft, drawing when I can, listening to a whole bunch of new singles (Spoon! Mitski! Guerilla Toss! SPIRITUALIZED!!) and playing guitar. I also went to see Danny Elfman perform with the Colorado Symphony on Friday night!! Absolutely magical. I count myself pretty lucky to have seen Danny Elfman live twice in one year.

Snapchat all your friends at schools with warm weather. | Nightmare before  christmas, Christmas animated gif, Jack skellington gif

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

The Kindred – Alechia Dow (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Kindred by Alechia Dow

I’m Not Missing – Carrie Fountain (⭐️⭐️.5)

I'm Not Missing by Carrie Fountain

The Fallen (The Outside, #2) – Ada Hoffmann (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Fallen: Hoffmann, Ada: 9780857668684: Amazon.com: Books

Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1) – Rosaria Munda (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1) by Rosaria Munda

Lightless – C.A. Higgins (DNF – ⭐️)

Lightless (Lightless, #1) by C.A. Higgins

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Anthem – Noah Hawley

Anthem: Hawley, Noah: 9781538711514: Amazon.com: Books

Railhead – Philip Reeve (thanks for the rec, Sabrina!)

Amazon.com: Railhead: 9781630790486: Reeve, Philip: Books

Batman: Nightwalker – Marie Lu (adapted by Stuart Moore, illustrated by Chris Wildgoose)

Amazon.com: Batman: Nightwalker (The Graphic Novel): 9781401280048: Moore,  Stuart, Lu, Marie, Wildgoose, Chris: Books

The Cost of Knowing – Brittney Morris

Amazon.com: The Cost of Knowing: 9781534445451: Morris, Brittney: Books

Not Your Sidekick – C.B. Lee

Amazon.com: Not Your Sidekick (Sidekick Squad): 9781945053030: Lee, C.B.:  Books

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 (1/11/22) – The Kindred

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Ever since I read The Sound of Stars back in 2020, I’ve been eagerly anticipating Alechia Dow’s next book. I preordered The Kindred last year knowing that I’d love it, and although I didn’t enjoy it as much as The Sound of Stars, it was a wonderfully sweet and rollicking novel.

Enjoy this week’s review!

The Kindred by Alechia Dow

The Kindred – Alechia Dow

my copy ft. some more purplish sci-fi books & a cool filter

After a violent, class-based revolution ravaged the Monchuri system, the Kindred program is introduced to quell the chaos; in order to ensure equal representation within the kingdom, mind pairings between citizens from all over the system.

Felix and Joy are paired by the Kindred, but their backgrounds couldn’t be more different; Felix is the Duke of the Monchuri system, while Joy is a commoner in the poorest planet in the system. But when the rest of the royal family is assassinated and Felix is put under suspicion, they escape together—only to crash-land on Earth. With the galaxy hunting for them and targets on their backs on Earth, the two must find a way to return home and prove Felix’s innocence.

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TW/CW: violence, racism, fatphobia/bodyshaming, murder, kidnapping

The Kindred wasn’t quite as potent as The Sound of Stars was for me, but in no way does that mean that I didn’t enjoy it. In fact, it’s solid proof that if I see Alechia Dow’s name on a book, I’ll probably read it.

Despite the trigger warnings I listed, The Kindred is fairly light-hearted; even with all of these topics discussed (all with aplomb), it still manages to be a feel-good, tender read throughout. The themes of racism and fatphobia (mostly with regards to Joy) are handled in a sensitive way that doesn’t dull their importance, but the book is consistently light-hearted and warm. It hits the perfect balance of not diminishing these themes and keeping levity within the book, and it’s the perfect book if you want sci-fi that will cheer you up!

Everything I loved about The Sound of Stars was in The Kindred in spades! Felix and Joy were such endearing characters, and their chemistry together was perfect. They had conflicting personalities on the surface level (with Felix being the more reckless one and Joy being more sensible and reserved), but as they bonded, their relationship became the textbook example of “opposites attract” done well! Plus, it’s always wonderful to have queer couples like them front and center. Joy is demisexual/asexual, and I believe Felix is pansexual or queer? (Felix’s sexuality wasn’t specified, but it’s mentioned that he’s been in romantic relationships regardless of gender so I’ll say queer for now.) Alechia Dow never fails to give us the diverse stories we need.

As far as the plot goes, I wasn’t invested in it as much as I was the characters. Most of it was a bit predictable—not much subtext, surface-level political intrigue, a neat and tidy end to the conflict, and all that. But I didn’t mind this time; the focus was supposed to be on Felix and Joy’s romance, after all. The Earth part of the story was funny most of the time; I didn’t get as many of the music references this time, unlike with The Sound of Stars (definitely not a Swiftie here haha), but the fact that there’s a black cat named Chadwick sold me. BEYOND CUTE.

My other main problem with The Kindred was the aliens themselves. It’s one of my main pet peeves in sci-fi in general: aliens that look like humans, but with a few very minor differences. Although there were some side aliens that were described as non-human, Joy and Felix and their species were just…humans with better technology? Eh…I will say though, at least they’re not white this time. In particular, Joy is plus-size and Black-coded, which was a vast improvement from the white-coded aliens that usually end up in the aforementioned trope. I’m willing to let it slide this time (sort of) because a) Alechia Dow is a great writer and b) diversity.

All in all, a romantic, diverse, and all-around feel-good sci-fi from an author that I’ll be sure to watch in the future. 4 stars!

Thor 3 Ragnarok : Le film de tous les changements pour Thor ? | melty
The Kindred summed up in a single gif

The Kindred is a standalone, but it is set in the same universe as The Sound of Stars, Alechia Dow’s debut novel. You don’t have to read one to understand the other, but there are nods to The Sound of Stars throughout The Kindred. Alechia Dow is also the author of the forthcoming Sweet Stakes (expected to be released in 2023), and contributed to the anthology Out There: Into the Queer New Yonder.

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 Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: January 3-9, 2022

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this first full week of 2022 has treated you well.

I thought my school was off for winter break for another full week, but as it turns out, school started this Wednesday…oof

We had a 2-hour delay because of the snow though, so at least I got to sleep in on Thursday. And it’s been an easy week—I have a creative writing class now too!

Reading-wise, I’ve just been trawling books from the Kindle library, with varying degrees of success. Two of them I loved, and two of them were books that I had highly anticipated but ended up being disappointed by. (Oh, Persephone Station and Sisters of the Snake…how you’ve let me down…)The latter resulted in, sadly, my first DNF of the year…[heavy sigh]

Slowly, I’ve been getting through the editing stage of draft 2 of my WIP. I got through my favorite scene, though, so that was fun to revisit. I got to write some fun blog posts this week too, so that’s been good.

Other than that, I’ve just been watching The Tragedy of Macbeth (so so SO good) andThe Book of Boba Fett (ehh?? I have mixed feelings but I’ll stick around), waiting for my preorders to arrive in the mail (1 down, 1 to go…even though they came out on the same day?), getting comics, volunteering at the library, and skiing for the first time since…probably 2019?

Oh, and happy (belated) birthday, Bowie. Miss you always. ⚡️

RIP Miranda - No more Sex and City movies - GIF on Imgur

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Sorcery of Thorns – Margaret Rogerson (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Sorcery of Thorns eBook : Rogerson, Margaret: Kindle Store

Only Mostly Devastated – Sophie Gonzales (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Only Mostly Devastated: A Novel: 9781250315892: Gonzales,  Sophie: Books

Persephone Station – Stina Leicht (⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Persephone Station: 9781534414587: Leicht, Stina: Books

Sisters of the Snake (Ria & Rani, #1)Sasha Nanua and Sarena Nanua (⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Sisters of the Snake: 9780062985590: Nanua, Sasha, Nanua,  Sarena: Books

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

The Kindred – Alechia Dow

The Kindred by Alechia Dow

The Fallen (The Outside, #2) – Ada Hoffmann

The Fallen: Hoffmann, Ada: 9780857668684: Amazon.com: Books

I’m Not Missing – Carrie Fountain

Amazon.com: I'm Not Missing: A Novel: 9781250132512: Fountain, Carrie: Books

Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1) – Rosaria Munda

Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1) by Rosaria Munda

Lightless – C.A. Higgins

Lightless (Lightless, #1) by C.A. Higgins

Today’s song:

this album cover is so cursed I’m sorry

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 (1/4/22) – Rise of the Red Hand

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Since I haven’t been able to go to the library lately, I’ve been going through some books on my wish list at the Kindle library. I found this in the sci-fi section, and despite a lot of mediocre to bad reviews, I figured that I would give it a try. And yes, it was a little messy at times, but it presented a unique addition to the YA dystopia genre.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Rise of the Red Hand (The Mechanists, #1) by Olivia Chadha

Rise of the Red Hand (The Mechanists, #1) – Olivia Chadha

25 years after a devastating nuclear war, Ashiva ekes out a living in the slums of the South Asian province. While the rich gorge on new technology, the poor barely get by on secondhand tech and scarce food and water.

Ashiva works for the Red Hand, a revolutionary organization with the goal of dismantling the oppressive government of the South Asian province. As a new sickness ravages the province, Ashiva is forced to ally with Riz-Ali, a rich uplander who may hold the key to exposing a dark conspiracy within the government.

ohapplejuice.tumblr.com - Tumbex

TW/CW: human experimentation, pandemic, graphic violence, emergency medical procedures, death, blood, faked disability, attempted murder

Rise of the Red Hand was more than a little messy, but it had enough unique takes on the average dystopia to pull it through.

What sets Rise of the Red Hand apart from most everything else in the YA dystopian genre is its setting; it’s set in a futuristic South Asia, which is really cool to see, especially since 90% of the dystopias I’ve read are set somewhere in the U.S.! That, along with the atmosphere of the future world that Chadha created and the interspersed South Asian culture and slang, was a breath of fresh air.

Along with that, the highlight of Rise of the Red Hand is that it made dystopia feel…human. There were slices of life that the reader witnesses amidst the horror and destruction—the last real-food vendor in the market, a group of children putting a “kick me” sign on a government robot—that made the setting feel genuine. Dystopias are supposed to be bleak and horrible, of course—that’s the definition of a dystopia in the first place—but elements like these are what make it believable. No matter the circumstances, little pockets of life always thrive. Or, in the words of Jeff Goldblum, “Life finds a way.”

I have mixed feelings about the worldbuilding. On the one hand, Chadha did a good job of making a thorough buildup to the current state of her world, and I didn’t feel as though I were missing anything as I read it. On the other hand, this information was delivered in chunks that were often hefty and distracted from the present dialogue. Good worldbuilding, but ruined by getting dropped on the reader’s head like cinderblocks. Also, on the subject of the provinces…if Asia was divided into the South Asian province and the Asian province, why were North America, South America, and Africa just provinces on their own? It made sense for Europe and Australia, since they’re both fairly small as far as continents go, but…North and South America and Africa are huge. How could that be one province?

The plot itself wasn’t terribly unique; Chadha’s writing made it compelling enough, but underneath all its trappings, it was your garden-variety “take down the oppressive government (that is oppressive for very vague and unspecified reasons) kind of dystopian plot. It’s not to say that it isn’t bad, just overdone. Take away the thorough worldbuilding and unique setting, and this could have been something from 10 years ago, post-Hunger Games. However, I will say that at least it was specified why the government was so oppressive—and a lot of it’s horribly sinister. But again, the setting was the saving grace here—not much else.

Other than that, the characters were decent—not terribly interesting, but not cardboard either. The romance between Ashiva and Riz-Ali felt very rushed and insta-love-y, and was ultimately very unnecessary. Taru’s chapters didn’t feel very necessary, and her voice bothered me. And on the subject of Taru—why exactly did they fake her having brittle-bone disease? Not only are we supposed to be rooting for Ashiva, who conspired to do this, how is that even a solution? That part just felt…weird.

Overall, a dystopia that boasts a unique setting, humanity and atmosphere—but not a lot else. 3 stars.

Dystopia GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Rise of the Red Hand is the first book in the Mechanists duology, and it is followed by an untitled sequel set for release this year. Olivia Chadha is also the author of Balance of Fragile Things.

Today’s song:

the harmony at the very end is so pretty 🥺

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

Posted in Books

The Curse of Book 2: Why Does the Second Book in the Trilogy Sometimes Fall Flat?

Hi again, bibliophiles!

Trilogies are a tried and true length for so many good book series. Having three books in the series makes for a larger three-act story overall, and it sits in the happy medium between a quick duology and a longer, more drawn-out saga. But even so, the trilogy often falls prey to a sometimes fatal curse: a middle book that doesn’t hold up to the rest of the series. Just like in a single novel, a lull often happens in the middle of the trilogy, and that lull almost always happens to land in book 2. It’s like Pulp Fiction—the first and last third are fantastic, but the middle seems to drag on and on without any consequence to the plot, or in this case, the series as a whole.

I’ve read plenty of trilogies—good, bad, and just decent. But a lot of them fall into this pattern of having great first and third books, but not-so-great second books. So I decided to look into what makes middle books fail—or succeed. I’ve gathered up three examples of lagging middle books and three fantastic middle books, and from there, we can determine some of the root causes of a sagging middle.

Now, keep in mind before I dive in—this is a very, very subjective analysis. These are examples of books that I personally think fit the bill of good or bad middles, but it’s not true for everyone! Think for yourselves. Now, let the ranting investigation begin…

Let’s begin, shall we?

THE CURSE OF BOOK 2: WHY DOES THE SECOND BOOK IN THE TRILOGY SOMETIMES FALL FLAT?

They Had Us In The First Half Not Gonna Lie GIF - They Had Us In The First  Half Not Gonna Lie - Discover & Share GIFs

MIDDLE BOOKS THAT WENT WRONG

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2) – V.E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows: A Novel (Shades of Magic, 2): Victoria Schwab:  9780765376473: Amazon.com: Books

I got into the Shades of Magic trilogy last year and loved it—except for this one, which was still decent, but nowhere near the others in terms of quality. My main issue was that the plot was almost entirely filler; the Elemental Games were entertaining, sure, but they were inconsequential in comparison to everything else that moved the plots of A Darker Shade of Magic and A Conjuring of Light forward. The only thing tying A Gathering of Shadows to its predecessor and successor was the main villain—brought back by the resurrection trope, no less. What made A Gathering of Shadows so lackluster was that it emphasized the worst aspect of its predecessor—the weak plot—and amplified it into 500 pages of filler.

Blood & Honey (Serpent & Dove, #2) – Shelby Mahurin

Amazon.com: Blood & Honey (Serpent & Dove, 2): 9780062878052: Mahurin,  Shelby: Books

I wasn’t attached to Serpent & Dove as much as I was to A Darker Shade of Magic, but I recognize blatant filler when I see it. The sad part about Blood & Honey is that the Serpent & Dove series was originally supposed to be a duology, but it got so popular that the publishers pushed Shelby Mahurin to make it a trilogy. So in the grand scheme of things, the pitfalls of Blood & Honey could have been prevented.

Even though this was a 3-star read for me, it was still a major slog. I’ll say this in A Gathering of Shadows’ favor—it may have been filler, but at least it was entertaining. Blood & Honey was just 500 pages of the characters being separated and then hemming and hawing as they attempted to find their way back to the main plot. And then it had to end with a ridiculous cliffhanger.

However, the case of Blood & Honey isn’t exactly like all the other trilogies in this post—it wasn’t the worst book in the series, but after Gods & Monsters, this was the signal of what I felt was the nosedive in quality of this series. Gods & Monsters was even worse. My advice? Just stick with Serpent & Dove and then let it be.

Kingsbane (Empirium, #2) – Claire Legrand

Kingsbane (Empirium, #2) by Claire Legrand

Apparently I’m in the minority for this one; a lot of people really seemed to like the direction that Kingsbane took the Empirium trilogy. For me, though, it lacked the emotional weight that made Furyborn and Lightbringer so impactful. Though I liked it a lot more than I did A Gathering of Shadows and Blood & Honey, this one was also a lot of rushing around. By the time the cliffhanger came, its impact was dumbed down for me. And this one was 600 pages long, so it was easy for the important parts of the plot to get bogged down with what occurred in the interim. (That’s not to say that all long books are unnecessarily lengthy—ever read Dune?)

Now, let’s take a look at the flip side.

MIDDLE BOOKS THAT WENT RIGHT

Aurora Burning (Aurora Cycle, #2) – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Amazon.com: Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle): 9781524720926: Kaufman,  Amie, Kristoff, Jay: Books

Maybe I’m a little biased since this is my favorite series, but I truly think Aurora Burning is a textbook example of book 2 done right. The key here is consistency: while it still took the plot to new heights and directions, it kept a similar pace, tone, and emotional weight throughout. What I mean by “consistency” isn’t that this was just Aurora Rising 2: Electric Boogaloo, but that it stayed on the same path set out by book 1, and kept the pace flowing as though it was all the same book. Unlike Blood & Honey and Kingsbane, this consistency of pacing is what helped build the tension and give weight to the infamously devastating cliffhanger.

Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe, #2) – Neal Shusterman

Amazon.com: Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe): 9781534417861: Shusterman, Neal:  Books

(I think this is the only book cover in this post that doesn’t have a warm color scheme lol)

Like Aurora Burning, Thunderhead’s saving grace was that it kept the pacing and tone consistent with that of Scythe while also introducing new and very consequential plot points along the way. Thunderhead drops a whole host of bombshells over the course of 500 pages, which forces the reader to constantly be on their toes. This slow building of tension and suspense is what made Thunderhead’s cliffhanger as bleak, horrifying, and painful as it was. And that was a real gut-punch of a cliffhanger…I don’t think I’ve fully recovered in the 4 years since I’ve read it…

The Demon World (The Smoke Thieves, #2) – Sally Green

Amazon.com: The Demon World (The Smoke Thieves): 9780425290248: Green,  Sally: Books

Although it employs the same tools as Aurora Burning and Thunderhead, the unique thing about The Demon World was that it managed to be the highlight of the whole trilogy. This book is the black sheep in my general middle book theory—instead of being the low point between books 1 and 3, it manages to overshadow them altogether. With a new threat introduced at the end of The Smoke Thieves, The Demon World had a perfect setup for building tension and increasing the gravity of the conflict. It was emotional, it was action-packed, and it delivered another whopper of a cliffhanger.

So with all that said, what is it that makes the middle book stumble and fall?

  • Filler plots: whether it’s a product of the author not knowing how to bridge the beginning to the end or publisher pressure, filler plots often result in a sequel that lacks the same emotional weight or consequence as book 1.
  • Inconsistent pacing and tone between books: this is often a byproduct of a filler plot; if the story itself isn’t as monumental as the first book, the pacing slows down where it was once sped up. This often results in a feeling that whatever happens in this book isn’t as important as what happened previously or what will happen next.

Both of these end up leading to:

  • Cliffhangers with unnecessary twists: this is where the aforementioned inconsistent pacing and tone culminate. Although bombshell cliffhangers can be a valuable tool in catching and keeping the reader’s attention, if the book already has less emotional weight, the cliffhanger feels like a lazy attempt to tie the events of the book to the series as a whole.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are some middle books that you didn’t like? What are some middle books that you thought were fantastic? Let me know in the comments!

My Disappointment Is Immeasurable And My Day Is Ruined | Know Your Meme

Since I already posted once today, check out this week’s Goodreads Monday for today’s song.

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

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (1/3/22) – Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves

Happy Monday, bibliophiles! I thought I had another week of winter break, but it turns out that I start back to school on Wednesday after all…[sad harmonica solo] I got my booster shot today though, so I’m relieved about that.

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme originally created by Lauren’s Page Turners, but has since moved to Budget Tales Book Blog. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

This one comes out a week from tomorrow, and I’ve seen it all over the blogosphere! It’s been compared to Star Wars more often than not, and I’m always up for a good sci-fi read!

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (1/3/22) – COLD THE NIGHT, FAST THE WOLVES by Meg Long

Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long

Blurb from Goodreads:

After angering a local gangster, seventeen-year-old Sena Korhosen must flee with her prize fighting wolf, Iska, in tow. A team of scientists offer to pay her way off her frozen planet on one condition: she gets them to the finish line of the planet’s infamous sled race. Though Sena always swore she’d never race after it claimed both her mothers’ lives, it’s now her only option. 

But the tundra is a treacherous place, and as the race unfolds and their lives are threatened at every turn, Sena starts to question her own abilities. She must discover whether she’s strong enough to survive the wild – whether she and Iska together are strong enough to get them all out alive.

A captivating debut about survival, found family, and the bond between a girl and a wolf that delivers a fresh twist on classic survival stories and frontier myths.

So why do I want to read this?

ATOMIC CHRONOSCAPH — The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Regular survival books? I could take them or leave them. Sci-fi survival books? I’M IN.

All of the aspects in the synopsis of Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves sound so compelling—wolf races, gangsters, and a frozen planet! Ice/tundra planets are somewhat common in sci-fi, but it’s a nice change from the umpteen desert planets that occupy so many sci-fi and space opera books. (Sorry, Dune.) And the prospect of a sci-fi frontier myth of sorts—almost a Call of the Wild callback—instantly hooked me. Plus, it’s cool that it’s casually mentioned that Sena has two moms!

I put this one on hold at the library last week, and I think it’s still on order, but I eagerly await its arrival…

Today, my heart swings

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: December 27, 2021 – January 2, 2022

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles, and happy new year! 🎉

Pros? We finally got some good snow.

Cons? Shoveling said snow.

The last week of 2021 was a peaceful one for me; mostly just staying inside and doing nothing, which is nice for a change. We saw Spiderman: No Way Home on Sunday night, and it was AMAZING. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day were quiet, and I watched Wes Anderson movies (The French Dispatch, Isle of Dogs, and Fantastic Mr. Fox) with my family until midnight.

The fantastic mr fox GIFs - Get the best gif on GIFER

I’ve had a lot more time to read over break, which I’ve been so grateful for! Unfortunately, all of my usual volunteer days at the library have fallen on days when the library’s closed for the holidays, so I’ve finished the last of my library holds. For now, I’m scouring the Kindle library until I can go back to the library, but I have two books that I preordered that both come out in two days, so… 😳

I kind of hit a wall with editing my WIP—I just felt unsatisfied with a lot of it and just went and played Minecraft for several days instead of looking at it. I looked back over some of it yesterday and tried to come up with solutions, but it’s gonna be a long editing period…

Other than that, I’ve just been drawing, petting my cats, watching Get Back (how is it that the MINUTE George leaves, EVERYTHING devolves into chaos?), and doing my best to stay warm.

Just some GIF's from the "Let it Be/Get back" Sessions. : r/beatles

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity – Ray Bradbury (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity: Bradbury, Ray:  9718777410946: Amazon.com: Books

Our Violent Ends (These Violent Delights, #2) – Chloe Gong (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: Our Violent Ends (These Violent Delights): 9781534457720: Gong,  Chloe: Books

The Night When No One Had Sex – Kalena Miller (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

The Night When No One Had Sex by Kalena Miller

Thronebreakers (Crownchasers, #2) – Rebecca Coffindaffer (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Thronebreakers (Crownchasers, #2) by Rebecca Coffindaffer

Rise of the Red Hand (The Mechanists, #1) – Olivia Chadha (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Rise of the Red Hand (The Mechanists, #1) by Olivia Chadha

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

(uncertain—since I’m reading off the Kindle library, I don’t know exactly what I’m reading next, so I’ll slip in the two books I preordered that come out on the 4th)

Sorcery of Thorns – Margaret Rogerson

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

The Kindred – Alechia Dow

The Kindred by Alechia Dow

Anthem – Noah Hawley

Noah Hawley Keeps Changing Lanes - The New York Times

Today’s song:

I feel like I’ve posted this song at least twice on here before but it came on shuffle today and DANG

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