Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles, and happy Women’s History Month! Can’t believe it’s March already…
I got hooked on the Goddess in the Machine duology back in 2020, and I stuck around for how creative and suspenseful Goddess in the Machine was. Devil in the Device came out last August, but I hadn’t been able to get around to finding it/reading it until last week. It was a little rocky at first, given that I didn’t remember parts of book 1, but once it got going, it was a wild and twist-filled ride!
Now, tread lightly! This review may contain spoilers for book 1, Goddess in the Machine, so if you haven’t read book 1 and intend to do so, proceed with caution.
thought I reviewed book 1 but apparently not oops 😵💫
In hiding underground, Andra grapples with her new identity and the secrets that she has uncovered. The rest of her fellow colonists, still in cryosleep, are relying on her to get off of their dying planet. But the further she gets on her mission, the more Andra realizes that the situation is far more complicated than she could have ever comprehended.
Aboveground in Eerensed, Zhade grapples with ruling the people while in disguise as Maret. His power holds tempting amounts of influence, but his people are in chaos, overrun by rogue Angels and unruly magic. Can he take control of the situation—and find out what became of Andra?
TW/CW: murder, loss of loved ones, blood/gore, substance abuse (alcohol), violence, grief, mind control, mild sexual content/innuendos
wordpress please stop autocorrecting “Zhade” to “Shade” challenge
Even without remembering…oh, at least half of Goddess in the Machine, I enjoyed reading Devil in the Device quite a lot—not quite as strong as book 1, but still endlessly twisty!
Getting into a sequel without a proper re-read or recap is always rocky; that was the case with Devil in the Device, especially the fact that I completely forgot about the weird, future Eerensed dialect of English that Zhade’s POVs were written in. I have mixed feelings on that part in general, but although it read in a very cringy way, it makes sense. I could have done without “certz” and “for true” and all that, but just like those corny Star Wars alien idioms that make no sense without context, they’re a necessary evil.
But once I got my memory jogged of book 1, Devil in the Device was a great sequel! Having the characters split up usually isn’t something I go for in sequels, but since there were only Andra and Zhade to deal with, it worked a lot more smoothly. Their split POVs gave a broader insight onto different parts of the worldbuilding, and beyond that, they created a lot of tension; most of the major revelation on Andra’s end of the line, and having Zhade be completely ignorant of almost all of it created a lot of suspense and buildup.
The fast pace was also a highlight of Devil in the Device, and with the amount of curveballs that Johnson throws throughout the course of the book, it makes for a very tense and exciting read! Secrets, deception, and betrayal all ran rampant through this book, and every page invited a new revelation. There are twists aplenty, but in the case of Devil in the Device, it turned out to be a double-edged sword; most of the twists were mind-boggling and earthshattering (@ Dr. Griffin WHOA CHILL JEEZ), but almost all of them were crammed into the last quarter of the book. All of those twists one after the other bordered on overstuffing, but overall, it had the effect of appropriately amping up the tension.
One other aspect that I’ll always appreciate about the Goddess in the Machine duology is its casual diversity—Andra is mixed-race and plus-sized, and there are consistently lots of queer secondary characters. Kiv, one of the secondary characters, is also Deaf, which I loved to see as well! The fact that he’s shown in a happy relationship makes me even happier—more disabled characters in loving relationships, please! (Plus, Kiv and Lilibet are so cute I CAN’T)
All in all, a sequel that wasn’t quite as strong as its predecessor but excelled in the plot twist department. 4 stars!
Devil in the Device is the second and final book in the Goddess in the Machine duology, preceded by Goddess in the Machine.
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Might as well make use of some of these new emojis…interesting bunch we’ve got here
And sorry for the lack of a book review this week, I just didn’t have the energy for it once the afternoon/evening came (first day after spring break, am I right or am I right).
The beginning of March was a bit of a slog, what with all my classes trying to cram a bunch of stuff in before spring break. I finally have that big research paper out of the way though, and we did loads of fun projects in creative writing!
My reading month was good, I’d say; very few books that I didn’t like (no 1-stars and only one 2-star!), my first 5-star read of the year, and indulging in a Smoke Thieves trilogy re-read. I finally got into Heartstopper after all these years of having it on hold at the library too! Worth the wait.
This month was also the month that I finally, finally started sharing my WIP with people! I’ve sent it to some family and friends, and…not gonna lie here, my hands were shaking whenever I put it out there, but I’m proud of myself for getting over the initial hurdle after clamming up about my writing for so many years. Baby steps.
Other than that, I went to see the new Batman (AMAZING!), re-watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show, continued with Raised by Wolves and started Severance, and went to the museum and played guitar there. They have a guitar exhibit at the Denver Museum right now, so I put on a one-man show for my dad and the security guard. The very short setlist consisted of “Trimm Trabb” and “Savior Complex.”
And yesterday, I hit 500 followers!! I’m going to make a longer post later, but for now, thank you all so much for your love and support. 💗
READING AND BLOGGING:
I read 20 books this month! I thought I’d read less for some reason…it feels like I haven’t had as much time to read this month, but I suppose I did read some short books.
Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.
This week’s been another sort-of-slog, what with even more quizzes to study for and homework to get out of the way. I’ve been whittling away at an eight-and-a-half page research paper for AP Lit, and I finished the rough draft, so at least I have that out of the way. We’ve also been training little Ringo, and the fact that I’ve already given him the nickname “menace to society” should say everything about how it’s going. He’s a good boy, though.
I’ve had a string of great books this week, so I’ve got plenty of choices for my review next week! Incidentally, several of them were sequels, so it was nice to have closure for a handful of duologues that I’ve been enjoying. I’ve been going through my library books and some of the books I got from my English teacher’s decluttering, so that’s been lots of fun. I got some more books at the library yesterday; one of them was the first volume of Heartstopper, which I’ve had on hold for almost two years (yep, that’s how long the wait was), so it better be good…
Other than that, I’ve been drawing a little, enjoying the handful of warm days we had this week (of course, we just got dumped with snow again), playing guitar, and catching up on Raised by Wolves (hhHHHEHSAHASHD WHAT).
Also I’m almost to 500 followers?? HOW DID THAT HAPPEN
February’s been a little chaotic, but again, in comparison to last year, it was a good month. I’m leaving it feeling a little tired, but I’m excited for spring!
I’ve had a lot of studying to do this month…feels like I’ve had a quiz or a test every week to every other week. Yeesh. But at least I can say that I’ve done well on all of them, so I suppose there’s that going for me.
As far as reading goes, I started the month out with a week-long slump, but once I found some better books, the month improved so much! I read a lot of great books for Black History Month and discovered some new authors that I’d love to read more of. I ended up re-reading a little, and it felt lovely to immerse myself back into the Pioneer duology.
Writing-wise, I’m nearly done editing my second draft! I got in lots of good editing time and polished up a whole lot of my WIP. I haven’t been able to write much in the past few days, but we’re getting to short stories in my creative writing class, which I’m super excited about!
But by far, the highlight of the month was getting Ringo, our new corgi puppy! He’s 8 weeks old, and he’s just the SWEETEST LITTLE GUY 😭
READING AND BLOGGING:
I read 21 books this month! More re-reads than I expected (I forgot to connect my Kindle to the wifi while I was away in Florida so I read some of my old books), but a good bunch for the most part. I read a lot of books for Black History Month as well and discovered some new authors!
Make another Black History month list—I’ve read so many amazing books by Black authors since last February!—did that! See “Some posts I’m proud of”
Review some of the albums that are coming out next month!! (So many!!) rip to Everything Was Beautiful getting pushed back, but both my album reviews from this month can be found under “Some posts I’m proud of”
Actually post some art here, if I get the time…it’s about time
GOALS FOR MARCH:
Read at least 20 books
Spend some time with Ringo (of course)
That’s it for this month in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Happy Monday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.
I’ve had a bit of a chaotic week; I visited family in Florida over the long weekend, and we got back home on Tuesday—2/22/22 (happy Twosday, everyone!) My routine was all thrown off for the rest of the week, but now I’m settling back down.
I forgot to connect my Kindle to the wifi while I was away, so most of my reading this week was re-reads—the Pioneer duology and Memento, all of which were just as good as they were when I first read them. I got some more books from the library, and I’m looking forward to reading them all! I also had an unexpected book haul because my English teacher was cleaning out his room and was giving out some of his extra books. Got some poetry and Ray Bradbury in there…
I did a lot of editing while I was in Florida, and I’m in the final stages of cleaning up my second draft! I wasn’t able to do much later in the week because of all the homework I had to make up from the week before, but I think I’m making good progress.
Other than that, I’ve just been bundling up for the freezing weather (nothing like coming from 87 degree weather to 0 degree weather amirite), listening to Think Tank (great stuff!), and eating leftover Valentine’s Day cookies. And we have a new addition to the family—meet our corgi puppy Ringo!
I was introduced to Soccer Mommy via the car radio around a year ago, and I’ve been hooked on her music ever since. From listening to all of Clean to seeing her open for Vampire Weekend in October (!!!), Sophie Allison has always had such a signature sound that, no matter the subject matter, strikes a chord with me (no pun intended)–not quite in the lyrics as much, but most definitely in her masterful guitar work. color theory was just as good–if not better–than its predecessor, diving even deeper and finding beauty in vulnerability and grief.
Alright, let’s get this review started…
Track 1: “bloodstream”–7/10
Though not as emotionally potent as some of the other album’s tracks, “bloodstream” combines catchy, indie-pop riffs with lyrics yearning for the innocence of the past as Allison struggles to grapple with her present. The video’s pretty weird, but it definitely fits with the aesthetic that all of the album art/merch has been trying to go for. Not bad!
Track 2: “circle the drain”–8/10
What began with “bloodstream” has been effectively elevated to the next level. Allison is the master of the deceptively upbeat song; these lyrics, along with much of the rest of the album, deal with struggling with mental illness and grief. And yet, without listening to the lyrics, those two things wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. Absolutely catchy and lyrically potent.
Track 3: “royal screw up”–7.5/10
I’m not gonna lie here: the up-front metaphor of being the “princess of screw-ups” is a bit cheesy for me, personally. But sometimes, these things are necessary to get your point across after you dive into the more complex songs on the album. Aside from that, Allison’s bare guitar work shines on this track. And it’s an earworm in the best way possible. Mission accomplished.
Track 4: “night swimming”–9/10
Without a doubt, one of the best songs on the album, and a unique piece in the grand scheme of Allison’s work. Atmospheric, ethereal, and dreamlike, I feel as though I’ve been transported to a secluded lake illuminated by moonlight every time I listen to this song. Gorgeous in every sense of the word.
Track 5: “crawling in my skin”–9/10
Reminiscent of the punchy riffs of Clean, this one’s another favorite of mine. After the beauty of “night swimming”, “crawling in my skin” feels more refined, more thought out than tracks like “bloodstream” and “royal screw up”. Even if you’ve never felt this way, it perfectly portrays the feeling of being trapped in your own mind, and the fear of being left to your own devices at the wrong time.
My only complaint is that it always makes me think of this…
Track 6: “yellow is the color of her eyes”–9.5/10
Though it was one of the early releases, “yellow is the color of her eyes” still holds up for me as the most masterful song on the album. An emotional, 7-minute ballad of grieving, this is where the album reaches the height of its emotional potency, deftly balancing prose with up-front expressions of grief and emotional collapse. What a masterpiece.
Track 7: “up the walls”–7/10
Though it’s just as lyrically potent as most of the album, and certainly very catchy, “up the walls” feels as though there’s something missing. The instrumentation sounds purposefully bare, but it doesn’t work quite as well as “royal screw up”. But nonetheless, the slight discordance is, in its own way, a testament to the feeling of falling apart.
Also, I’ll keep telling myself that the title/first line is a reference to this…
I mean, there’s a veeeeeery slim chance that it is, but I’ll just go back to my fantasy world now.
You fools, you didn’t think that you could escape this post without a Radiohead reference? [maniacal laughter]
Track 8: “lucy”–8/10
This one was the first single to arrive, out of the four that came out before color theory was released in its entirety. When it first came out, I wasn’t keen to it–I’m not sure what it was, but something just…put me off. But after a few more listens (and seeing her perform it live), I’m definitely hooked.
When I saw her live, she said that this was “a song about the devil,” and I’ve just now figured out that Lucy might be a pun on Lucifer…
…aaaaaaand now I hate myself for not catching that earlier.
But either way you interpret it, “lucy” is wonderfully catchy and the slightest bit discordant.
Track 9: “stain”–8.5/10
With every somber note, “stain” is the feeling of crumbling at the foundations set to music. Haunting and potent, Allison boasts another example of how a few lines of music can alter your mood for the rest of the day. I can’t decide whether I’m in awe or whether I want to go into my room and cry.
Track 10: “gray light”–6/10
Though the lyrics are almost as potent as “yellow is the color of her eyes” and “stain”, “gray light” feels unfinished: decent, but a mishmash of different effects overshadowing the haunting lyrics. Kind of a disappointing ending to the album, but it didn’t ruin it, not by any stretch of the imagination.
I averaged all of the ratings, and it came out to a solid 7.95, so I’ll just round it up to an 8/10 overall. Just as luscious and potent as Clean, color theory is a musical exploration of grief that should not and will not be forgotten. Long live Sophie Allison. 💗
I’ll omit a song for today because…well…this entire post is a “Today’s song”…
That just about wraps up this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves! (And listen to/stream/buy color theory while you’re at it!)
Can a homeless teen from New York City, armed mostly with deli foods, save an alien race from extinction? The answer is not what you might think.
Orphan, product of the foster care system, Welfy is a homeless runaway struggling to survive, uncertainly navigating the streets of New York City with his only friend Harlan Mills. Soon after he finds work at Gramercy Deli, he stumbles into an alternate universe where he’s believed to be “The One in a dirty apron” prophesied to lead the Brundeedle race out of Woe Time. Understandably, Welfy has his doubts.
“Reach into your apron pocket!” urges Princess Nnnn of the Brundeedles, as Ceparids—a violent species bent on Brundeedle destruction—surround them. More than a little perplexed, Welfy swivels, rears, miraculously avoids getting killed by Ceparid missiles as he fumbles in his apron’s front pocket, and pulls out—a slice of baloney.
I mean, it sounds pretty fun, but I feel like I missed my chance; I might’ve enjoyed this one a lot more when I was younger.
VERDICT: LET GO
2. The Fires Beneath the Sea (The Dissenters, #1), Lydia Millet
Cara’s mother has disappeared. Her father isn’t talking about it. Her big brother Max is hiding behind his iPod, and her genius little brother Jackson is busy studying the creatures he collects from the beach. But when a watery specter begins to haunt the family’s Cape Cod home, Cara and her brothers realize that their scientist mother may not be who they thought she was—and that the world has much stranger, much older inhabitants than they had imagined.
With help from Cara’s best friend Hayley, the three embark on a quest that will lead them from the Cape’s hidden, ancient places to a shipwreck at the bottom of the sea. They’re soon on the front lines of an ancient battle between good and evil, with the terrifying “pouring man” close on their heels.
Hmm…I’m not sure about this one. I’ve read a few books in this vein, and they’ve all been pretty mediocre, and this doesn’t seem much different.
VERDICT: LET GO
3. Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, Jordan Sonnenblick
Thirteen-year-old Steven has a totally normal life; he plays drums in the All-Star Jazz band, has a crush on the hottest girl in the school, and is constantly annoyed by his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey. But when Jeffrey is diagnosed with leukemia, Steven’s world is turned upside down. He is forced to deal with his brother’s illness and his parents’ attempts to keep the family in one piece. Salted with humor and peppered with devastating realities, Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie is a heartwarming journey through a year in the life of a family in crisis.
God, this one seems like a pretty rough ride, but I think I’d still like to read this one.
4. Blackbringer (Faeries of Dreamdark, #1), Laini Taylor
When the ancient evil of the Blackbringer rises to unmake the world, only one determined faerie stands in its way. However, Magpie Windwitch, granddaughter of the West Wind, is not like other faeries. While her kind live in seclusion deep in the forests of Dreamdark, she’s devoted her life to tracking down and recapturing devils escaped from their ancient bottles, just as her hero, the legendary Bellatrix, did 25,000 years ago. With her faithful gang of crows, she travels the world fighting where others would choose to flee. But when a devil escapes from a bottle sealed by the ancient Djinn King himself, the creator of the world, she may be in over her head. How can a single faerie, even with the help of her friends, hope to defeat the impenetrable darkness of the Blackbringer?
Now that I’ve read (and been disappointed by) Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I’m not sure if I’m willing to try out any more Laini Taylor. Eh…
Anya could really use a friend. But her new BFF isn’t kidding about the “Forever” part.
Of all the things Anya expected to find at the bottom of an old well, a new friend was not one of them. Especially not a new friend who’s been dead for a century.
Falling down a well is bad enough, but Anya’s normal life might actually be worse. She’s embarrassed by her family, self-conscious about her body, and she’s pretty much given up on fitting in at school. A new friend—even a ghost—is just what she needs.
Or so she thinks. Spooky, sardonic, and secretly sincere, Anya’s Ghost is a wonderfully entertaining debut from author/artist Vera Brosgol.
Oh, yeah. This one’s been on my TBR for three years, and I’m still on board with this sarcastic spookiness.
6. The Emerald Ring (Cleopatra’s Legacy, #1), Dorine White
Ordinary tween life turns upside down when Ancient Egypt intrudes on modern middle school life. Twelve year old Sara Guadalupe Bogus reads about adventures, but unexpectedly is drawn into one when a mystical emerald ring that once belonged to Cleopatra becomes stuck on her finger.
A series of burglaries spook Sara’s small Ohio hometown. Concluding that the root of all the crimes is the emerald ring, Sara realizes it’s up to her and her friends, Heidi and African exchange student Kainu, to save the town and protect Cleopatra’s legacy. Filled with magic, the ring thrusts Sara into a world filled with nightmares, allows her to shape shift into an Egyptian cat and battle assassins.
As with Welfy Q. Deederhoth, I would’ve enjoyed this one tons when I was younger. But unlike the former, I’m still on board with it today. I could use a dose of some good ol’ Egyptian mythology right about now.
The Shifter is an immortal creature bound by an ancient spell to protect the kings of Samorna. When the realm is peaceful, she retreats to the Mistwood.
But when she is needed she always comes.
Isabel remembers nothing. Nothing before the prince rode into her forest to take her back to the castle. Nothing about who she is supposed to be, or the powers she is supposed to have.
Prince Rokan needs Isabel to be his Shifter. He needs her ability to shift to animal form, to wind, to mist. He needs her lethal speed and superhuman strength. And he needs her loyalty—because without it, she may be his greatest threat.
Isabel knows that her prince is lying to her, but she can’t help wanting to protect him from the dangers and intrigues of the court . . . until a deadly truth shatters the bond between them.
Now Isabel faces a choice that threatens her loyalty, her heart . . . and everything she thought she knew.
[strokes imaginary beard] fascinating…I could go with this…
Cata Cordova suffers from such debilitating insomnia that she agreed to take part in an experimental new procedure. She thought things couldn’t get any worse…but she was terribly wrong.
Soon after the experiment begins, there’s a malfunction with the lab equipment, and Cata and six other teen patients are plunged into a shared dreamworld with no memory of how they got there. Even worse, they come to the chilling realization that they are trapped in a place where their worst nightmares have come to life. Hunted by creatures from their darkest imaginations and tormented by secrets they’d rather keep buried, Cata and the others will be forced to band together to face their biggest fears. And if they can’t find a way to defeat their dreams, they will never wake up.
Oh, yeah, definitely still on board…
9. Search for Senna (Everworld, #1), Katherine Applegate
There is a place that shouldn’t exist. But does. And there are creatures that shouldn’t exist. But do. Welcome to a land where all of your dreams and nightmares are very real—and often deadly. Welcome to Everworld.
David’s life was pretty normal. School. Friends. Girlfriend. Actually, Senna was probably the oddest aspect of his life. She was beautiful. Smart. But there was something very different about her. Something strange.
And on the day it began, everything happened so quickly. One moment, Senna was with him. The next, she was swallowed up by the earth, her screams echoing from far, far away. David couldn’t just let her go. Neither could the others. His friends—and hers. So, they followed. And found themselves in a world they could have never imagined.
Now they have to find Senna and get home without losing their lives. Or their minds. Or both…
Oof…”I’m not like other girls” characters AND a girl being used as nothing more than a plot device? (I mean, I could be wrong, but…) Count me out.
Caitlyn Davis always cruised through life, not being the type to ruffle feathers or involve herself in high school drama. That is, until a chance encounter with a strange, homeless man changes everything.
Suddenly, Caitlyn has the ability to see behind people’s masks. She discovers that her life isn’t as simple as she imagined and high school is filled with secrets…some very sinister ones.
Unable to ignore her new gift, Caitlyn embarks on a mission to learn why one of her friends suddenly appears terrified, but masks her fear with a bright, smiling veneer. Will Caitlyn’s new ability lead her into hot water? Or is her new found vision a blessing that will expose her friends’ true colors?
Her quest will lead Caitlyn to lose friends, stand up for those in need, and even find love.
At Palisades High School every face tells a story…
Hey, this could be pretty interesting. I’m still in, I think.
BOOKS KEPT: 6
BOOKS LET GO: 4
Weeeeell…not perfectly balanced, but nicely balanced all the same.
Thus ends my first successful TBR culling!
Today’s song, in honor of what would have been David Bowie’s 72nd birthday (January 7), and the 4 year anniversary of his death return to Mars:
[cries in the corner] [cries even more when I realize that they’re going to release a song per week for six weeks, all redone versions of earlier Bowie songs]
That just about wraps up this post! Have a lovely rest of your day!