Posted in Books

YA Books for AAPI Heritage Month

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

I’m (almost) back! Today marked my last AP exam of the year (had four exams this week…hhhgh…), so now that I have most of the big tests out of the way, I can start getting back on a more frequent blogging schedule. Of course, I’m not *quite* done with the school year just yet, but the only finals I have left are for my easy classes, so I don’t think there’s anything terribly strenuous on the immediate horizon. 🙂

But I wanted to make this post because here in the U.S., the month of May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month! So for the occasion, I decided to compile some of my favorite #OwnVoices AAPI YA novels of all genres. As always, it’s essential to diversify your reading pool 365 days a year, but especially with the tragic hate crimes and harmful stigmas surrounding AAPI people in the U.S. and elsewhere, it’s especially important to uplift AAPI voices.

So let’s begin, shall we?

Aapi Aapi Month GIF - Aapi AapiMonth AapiHeritageMonth - Discover & Share  GIFs

YA BOOKS FOR AAPI HERITAGE MONTH

Girls of Paper and Fire – Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire (Girls of Paper and Fire Series #1) by Natasha  Ngan, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

GENRES: High fantasy, romance, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s been a few years since I’ve read this one, but I’ll never forget the impact it had on me. Raw, unapologetic, and resonant, Ngan builds such a rich world, unforgettable characters, and a plot that kept me at the edge of my seat. The sequel was a disappointment, unfortunately, but I think I’ll stick it out for book 3.

This Time Will Be Different – Misa Sugiura

Amazon.com: This Time Will Be Different eBook: Sugiura, Misa: Kindle Store

GENRES: Contemporary, fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

For anyone who seeks to make change in their community, this one’s a must-read! A beautiful story of family, history, and everyday resistance.

Love, Hate & Other Filters – Samira Ahmed

Love Hate & Other Filters - Social Justice Books

GENRES: Fiction, contemporary, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

After reading two of her books and a short story, I can now say that Samira Ahmed might just be a new favorite author of mine! She never misses, and her debut is no exception; a raw and beautiful tale of love, family, and fighting back against bigotry.

These Violent Delights – Chloe Gong

Amazon.com: These Violent Delights (9781534457690): Gong, Chloe: Books

GENRES: Historical fiction, fantasy, retellings (Romeo and Juliet), romance

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

I tried (and failed) to set my expectations at a reasonable level after all the hype this one got, but I must say, this one is worth a good portion of it! A fresh and original spin on Romeo and Juliet set against the background of 1920’s Shanghai, complete with warring gangs and strange monsters.

Warcross – Marie Lu

Amazon.com: Warcross (9780399547966): Lu, Marie: Books

GENRES: Science fiction, romance, dystopia

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Marie Lu’s one of my favorite authors, and it was hard to pick just one of her books for this post, but I ended up on this one because a) it was my first exposure to her AMAZING writing and b) I don’t talk about it an awful lot, so why not give it some more love?

Besides that gorgeous cover, there’s something for everybody here: futuristic Tokyo, a clever and lovable heroine, mysteries within competitive video games, and secret plots.

Almost American Girl – Robin Ha

Amazon.com: Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir (9780062685094): Ha,  Robin, Ha, Robin: Books

GENRES: Graphic novels, autobiography

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

GAAAH, this one’s beautiful! This one’s an autobiography in the form of a graphic novel, centering around the author’s experience as a Korean immigrant to the U.S. and the transformative power of art and comics.

Ash – Malinda Lo

Ash by Malinda Lo

GENRES: Retellings (Cinderella), fantasy, romance, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Amid the bountiful Cinderella retellings out there, this one truly stands out, with lush writing reminiscent of the narration of Pan’s Labyrinth and classic fairytales, and a warm and resonant sapphic romance. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a retelling worth reading!

The Gilded Wolves – Roshani Chokshi

Amazon.com: The Gilded Wolves: A Novel (The Gilded Wolves, 1)  (9781250144546): Chokshi, Roshani: Books

GENRES: Fantasy, historical fiction, LGBTQ+, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

If you’re a fan of Six of Crows, I AM ONCE AGAIN ASKING YOU TO DROP WHATEVER YOU’RE DOING AND READ THIS BOOK. Lovable and authentic characters, a complex world and system of magic, heists for famed artifacts, and political intrigue – this one has it all.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns – Julie C. Dao

Amazon.com: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress Book 1)  eBook: Dao, Julie C.: Kindle Store

GENRES: Retellings, high fantasy, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

If you love antiheroes, corruption arcs, or stories from the perspective of the villain, than this book is for you! Rich, dark and compelling, this is a must-read duology for any YA fantasy fan!

Descendant of the Crane – Joan He

Descendant of the Crane (9780807515518): He, Joan: Books - Amazon.com

GENRES: High fantasy, mystery

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I know I never stop blabbing about this one, but this is a prime example of genre-bending done right: a stunning blend of fantasy and murder mystery! I’m so surprised that more people haven’t read this one, I highly recommend it if you haven’t. (And I can’t wait for The Ones We’re Meant to Find! It looks amazing, but I can’t find it at my library…[impatient screeching])

The Henna Wars – Adiba Jaigirdar

The Henna Wars — Adiba Jaigirdar

GENRES: Fiction, romance, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2020, and I’m so glad to say that it delivered! A diverse, sapphic enemies-to-lovers romance with important discussions about cultural appropriation, the immigrant experience, and sexuality.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these books, and what did you think of them? What are your favorite YA books by AAPI authors?

Aapi Heritage Month GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Today’s song:

Ok I think I can officially forgive her for MASSEDUCTION because THERE IS NOT A BAD SONG ON THIS ALBUM! Expect a review soonish…

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

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: April 26 – May 2, 2021

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

April’s over now, and I didn’t get to post as much as I wanted to this month, but…I had to study. For several things. And I have several more things to study for, so I’ll probably be back to a more fun schedule by the last week of May. But for now, AP exams loom. Should be okay, though. (I feel okay about World History and English, but Bio should be…interesting…) I had the day off on Friday though, so that was a nice break.

I’ve had a great reading week though! I finished a (mostly) good library haul, and most of them were in the 3-4 star range, save for two. I’ve got a good one waiting as well, plus a great hold on my Kindle that I’m currently getting through.

Other than that, I binged the rest of Shadow and Bone, watched Blade Runner 2049 (better than the original, but the bar is low…), and stuck my head out the window on several occasions just to smell the rain. I missed rain so much.

Top 30 Rain On Window GIFs | Find the best GIF on Gfycat

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Tales From the Hinterland (The Hazel Wood, #2.5) – Melissa Albert (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Tales from the Hinterland (The Hazel Wood) (9781250302724):  Albert, Melissa: Books

Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky, #1) – Rebecca Roanhorse (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky): Roanhorse, Rebecca: 9781534437678:  Amazon.com: Books

A Conspiracy of Tall Men – Noah Hawley (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: A Conspiracy of Tall Men (9780671038243): Hawley, Noah: Books

This Golden Flame – Emily Victoria (⭐️⭐️.5)

This Golden Flame by Emily Victoria

Finding Yvonne – Brandy Colbert (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Finding Yvonne by Brandy Colbert

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within (Wayfarers, #4) – Becky Chambers (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: The Galaxy, and the Ground Within: A Novel (Wayfarers Book 4)  eBook: Chambers, Becky: Kindle Store

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Love, Hate & Other Filters – Samira Ahmed

Amazon.com: Love, Hate and Other Filters (9781616958473): Ahmed, Samira:  Books

Aug 9-Fog – Kathryn Scanlan

MCD | Aug 9-Fog

Wings of Ebony (Wings of Ebony, #1) – J. Elle

Wings of Ebony (Wings of Ebony, #1) by J. Elle

The Prison Healer (The Prison Healer, #1) – Lynette Noni

The Prison Healer (The Prison Healer, #1) by Lynette Noni

Elysium Girls – Kate Pentecost

Amazon.com: Elysium Girls (9781368041867): Pentecost, Kate: Books

Today’s song:

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

Posted in TV

Shadow and Bone – Netflix review 🐐

Shadow and Bone (TV Series 2021– ) - IMDb
all images credit to Netflix

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles!

I’ve always preferred sci-fi to fantasy, but all of the series in the Grishaverse (Shadow and Bone trilogy, Six of Crows duology, Nikolai duology) have consistently been some of my favorite YA fantasy novels. Packed with lush prose and complex worldbuilding that can’t be matched by much else, it truly stood out amongst the vast field of YA fantasy.

So naturally I was excited, but more than a little nervous that Netflix was developing a show based off of Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows. I haven’t enjoyed much of Netflix’s original shows other than Stranger Things and The Umbrella Academy, and I hadn’t heard of any of the actors. But the more they revealed, the more excited I got. And now that I’ve watched it, I think it restored some of my faith in Netflix. Shadow and Bone is, for the most part, every bookworm’s dream: an adaptation where the love for the source material shines through in every line and episode.

So let’s get into it, shall we? Bc I’ve got some THOUGHTS

But be warned! This review contains some spoilers for both the show and the books, so tread lightly!

Shadow and Bone: fans saying same thing about Netflix's new show | HELLO!
T H E M

THE GREAT:

  • The casting: As I said earlier, I hadn’t heard of any of the actors in the show prior to watching this. (Not even Ben Barnes…apparently he was in one of the Narnia movies? I wouldn’t know, I think the only one of the movies that I watched was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe…) (EDIT: no wait apparently Baghra was also Madam Hooch??? I knew I recognized her from somewhere) But the vast majority of them were INCREDIBLE. Not only did quite a few of them stay true to the characters, but they felt like the perfect actors for these characters. Some of my favorites in particular were Freddy Carter as Kaz Brekker, Jessie Mei Li as Alina Starkov, Amita Suman as Inej Ghafa, Daisy Head as Genya Safin, and Kit Young as Jesper Fahey. (Also, David was precious. I forgot how wonderful he was. And HELNIK. HELNIIIIIK.)
Shadow and Bone' Trailer: Can Alina Bring the Light to Save Everyone?  (VIDEO)
The perfect Alina. Gaaaaaaah

And on that subject…

  • Mal is actually likable now? I just found him…so bland in the books, and Archie Renaux’s portrayal seemed to flesh him out a little more. Still not my favorite, but I get more classic hopelessly-romantic-idiot vibes from him now. What a guy.
Shadow and Bone | Netflix Official Site
d’awwwwww

  • Faithfulness to the source material: I didn’t take the time to re-read everything before binging all this, but even then, there were so many iconic lines that made their way into the show that I noticed. The show’s character’s were so wonderfully true to the novel’s, and all the details about the world made the show radiate such love and respect for the original Grishaverse novels. I mean, part of that’s definitely because Leigh Bardugo had a fairly prominent role in the show, but still.

  • Sets and costumes: EVERYTHING LOOKED SO. SO. BEAUTIFUL. The decor and keftas (can we talk about THE DETAILS IN THE KEFTAS???) in the Little Palace were especially gorgeous, and I loved all the landscapes that we got to see, especially in Ravka. Ketterdam was definitely a favorite of mine as well.

  • CGI: For the most part, the special effects were great! The Fold must have been such a pain to animate, but it was 100% worth it: just as terrifying as I imagined it! (And, by extension, the volcra. Guuuuuuh.) All of the Grisha magic looked amazing too.

  • Diversity: One thing I will say in Netflix’s favor: a lot of their original shows do a good job of having a variety of characters of different races, sexualities, and gender identities, and this one was no exception! Most of the characters who were POC/LGBTQ+ in the books were rightfully so here, and the decision to make Alina mixed-race and Mal POC was great! Say what you want about Chosen Ones, but isn’t it pretty cool that we have a mixed-race Asian character as our chosen one here? I think so.

  • Milo the goat: self-explanatory.
Why Milo the Goat Is the Best 'Shadow and Bone' Character - Thrillist
the look of love
  • The Leigh Bardugo cameo: tears. TEARS.

But, of course, the show wasn’t *entirely* without its flaws, which I’ve been itching to discuss…

THE NOT-SO-GREAT:

  • The Darkling: okay, unpopular opinion time. Ben Barnes’ acting was fine, yeah, but he just…was not a good fit for the Darkling. His voice is great and he’s clearly a talented actor, but he was barely menacing. He just looked like a pretentious hipster in a big furry cape. I guess that made him easier to hate (because, y’know, the Darkling is a nasty manipulator), but…nah. I loved him as the villain in the original novels, so that was a major letdown.
Which of Leigh Bardugo's Books is The Netflix Show Based On? -
nope

And on that subject:

  • WHY, WHY WHY DID THEY BRING IN THE ALEKSANDR REVEAL IN SO EARLY? I’M STILL SO MAD ABOUT THIS. UGH. We got the information that he’s Baghra’s son/the Black Heretic/all that jazz in book 1, but we didn’t get his name until the end of Ruin and Rising, and it was an appropriate bombshell of a reveal. I suppose they wanted to “humanize” him and all (please S T O P ), but if you already have the Black Heretic/Baghra reveals at the ready, then what’s the point? To whoever’s idea this was, I just wanna talk…

  • Nina not being plus-sized: for the most part, like I said, the show stayed pretty close to the characters, but not Nina? COME ON. Danielle Galligan was fine, but there’s plenty of plus-sized actors they could’ve chosen for the part. It just doesn’t sit right with me that they erased that part of her character. Ugh.

  • The new Six of Crows subplot felt a little rushed: okay, I’ll admit that it was probably hard to incorporate SoC into the Shadow and Bone timeline when the original books happened after all this. But even though I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Kaz, Inej, Jesper, and the rest of Ketterdam, their new subplot just felt…flimsy. Shoehorned in. I did like the bit with the Conductor, but it just didn’t have the care and weight put into it that the other parts of the show did.
Shadow and Bone' Fans Debate Who Will Be the 'Star' of the Netflix Original  Series

All in all though, this made my stupid little Grisha bookworm heart so happy. This is the kind of love that should be put into every novel to TV/film adaptation: respect for the source material, but adding in some fresh twists, but not enough to make it unrecognizable. I was a little scared for this one, admittedly, but I’m so glad that none of my fears came to pass.

Except for the Darkling, of course. :/

MY RATING: ★★★★☆

TW/CW: racism, sexism, graphic violence, blood, body horror, animal death

Today’s song:

this just came on shuffle and I had to listen to it on repeat again…I FORGOT HOW MUCH I LOVED THIS SONG

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

Posted in Monthly Wrap-Ups

April 2021 Wrap-Up ☔️

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

Whew, April was definitely…a month…

So let’s elaborate:

GENERAL THOUGHTS:

I didn’t get to blog as much as I wanted to this month, but I did have (and still have) lots of tests to study for, so you can probably expect a similar amount of activity next month as well. I got the SAT out of the way, though! Pretty proud of myself for that. I just got an email saying that the scores are coming next week, so…

Mr. Krabs Mad Blank Template - Imgflip

And I’m so done with precalc. SO DONE. ONE MORE MONTH…

But other than that, I’ve had a pretty good reading month! I didn’t get to read as much as I wanted to, but I got to read a whole bunch of my most anticipated reads of the year, and found a whole bunch of 5-star reads! All of my preorders seemed to arrive in the middle of the month, I’m happy to say.

I watched a whole bunch of good stuff this month as well, movie and TV-wise; we watched Ex Machina and Shin Godzilla (hands down the scariest version of Godzilla, my mind will not be changed), I finished up Falcon and the Winter Soldier (hit or miss, but it got good in the end), and last but certainly not least, Shadow and Bone! I’m super excited about the latter; I finished it last night, and it was so faithful to the book, for the most part! I’ll try and do a review soon, because man, I have some Thoughts™️

no mourners, no funerals in 2021 | The grisha trilogy, Six of crows, Crow
Everyone’s favorite bisexual sharpshooter supreme

Also, this will come in later in the post, but I think I’ll start doing a fixture in these wrap-ups with songs or albums I’ve listened to over the course of the month, so see below…

READING AND BLOGGING:

I managed to read 21 books this month! Just barely, though…like I said, not as much reading time as I wanted to have (why, why, WHY did I take THREE AP classes this year), but I read so many amazing novels!

2 – 2.75 stars:

Amazon.com: This Golden Flame (9781335080271): Victoria, Emily: Books
This Golden Flame

This Golden Flame – Emily Victoria (⭐️⭐️.5)

3 – 3.75 stars:

Amazon.com: You Should See Me in a Crown (9781338503265): Johnson, Leah:  Books
You Should See Me in a Crown

Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky, #1) – Rebecca Roanhorse (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Salvaged – Madeleine Roux (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Empress of All Seasons – Emiko Jean (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Victories Greater Than Death (Unstoppable, #1) – Charlie Jane Anders (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Verona Comics – Jennifer Dugan (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Finding Yvonne – Brandy Colbert (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

These Violent Delights – Chloe Gong (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75)

You Should See Me in a Crown – Leah Johnson (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75)

Heartless – Marissa Meyer (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75)

4 – 4.75 stars:

Amazon.com: Sword in the Stars: A Once & Future Novel eBook: McCarthy,  Cori, Capetta, A. R.: Kindle Store
Sword in the Stars

Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun – Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Iron Heart (Crier’s War, #2) – Nina Varela (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Tales From the Hinterland (The Hazel Wood, #2.5) – Melissa Albert (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

A Conspiracy of Tall Men – Noah Hawley (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Record of a Spaceborn Few – Becky Chambers (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)

Sword in the Stars (Once & Future, #2) – A.R. Capetta and Cory McCarthy (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.75)

5 stars:

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

The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country – Amanda Gorman (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Internment – Samira Ahmed (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Rule of Wolves (King of Scars, #2) – Leigh Bardugo (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Mike Mignola: The Quarantine Sketchbook – Mike Mignola (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Aurora Burning (Aurora Rising, #2) – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (re-read FOR BOOK CLUB I SWEAR SHH) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH (NOT COUNTING RE-READS): Rule of Wolves5 stars

Amazon.com: Rule of Wolves (King of Scars Duology, 2) (9781250142306):  Bardugo, Leigh: Books

SOME POSTS I’M PROUD OF:

POSTS I ENJOYED FROM OTHER WONDERFUL PEOPLE:

SONGS/ALBUMS I’VE ENJOYED:

This whole album is INCREDIBLE, depressing but there’s some top-tier sci-fi vibes going on
Another album from one of my favorite artists that I listened to in its entirety
I CAN’T WAIT TO HEAR THIS ALBUM NEXT MONTH
Yet another album that I’m very excited for
Discovered them through Consequence and I think I’m hooked!
Listened to this for most of this week, major Sparklehorse vibes

DID I ACTUALLY FOLLOW THROUGH WITH MY APRIL GOALS:

  • Read at least 20 books: 21!
  • Take some time to study for the SAT (you got this!): Did that! Of course, now I need to do the same for AP exams…

GOALS FOR MAY:

GIF studying - animated GIF on GIFER
  • Take some time away for the AP exams and finals
  • Take care of yourself!

One more month, and then it’ll be summer…

That’s it for this monthly wrap-up! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (4/20/21) – Sword in the Stars (Once & Future, #2)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

After falling in love with Once & Future two years ago, I knew I had to get my hands on book 2 as soon as possible. Unfortunately, after having to wait a year for its release, I couldn’t find it at the library or my favorite bookstore. But lucky for me, I managed to find it at Barnes & Noble over break, and I didn’t hesitate to buy a copy! While this sequel wasn’t as good as its predecessor, it was still a fantastic ending to a one-of-a-kind duology.

🗡BE WARNED! This review may contain spoilers for book 1, Once & Future, so tread lightly! 🗡

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: Sword in the Stars: A Once & Future Novel (Once & Future, 2)  (9780316449298): McCarthy, Cori, Capetta, A. R.: Books

Sword in the Stars (Once & Future, #2) – A.R. Capetta and Cory McCarthy

My copy ft. Once & Future, a section of my bookshelf, and the same filter I use every time

A near miss has landed Ari, Merlin and their ragtag band of intergalactic knights back in time. All the way back to the Middle Ages, to be exact, the time of the very first King Arthur. There, they are faced with an impossible task: to steal the grail of King Arthur and end the Arthurian cycle once and for all. Faced with the obstacles of blending in, dodging the…shortcomings, shall we say, of the time and its people, and not messing with the canon, Ari and the others must look to the past in order to save their future.

great, thanks. — imperio

TW/CW: racism, mentions of misgendering, fantasy/sci-fi violence, colonialism, pregnancy/labor, blood, near-death experiences

Everything’s more fun when you throw your characters in space, but throwing them in the Middle Ages is…tricky. Sword in the Stars was lacking in some of the elements that I loved most about book 1, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. I did enjoy it, as a matter of fact. IMMENSELY!

It’s clear how much fun Capetta and McCarthy had with throwing a slew of characters suited to life in a progressive (mostly), technologically advanced future into the Middle Ages. There’s no shortage of weird, strange, and downright hilarious hijinks that ensue on their quest for the Holy Grail, and through it all, there’s nods to Arthurian legend and its many retellings aplenty. Once again, Ari and the other characters had wonderful chemistry, bouncing off of each other well while still maintaining their distinct personalities.

That being said, the Middle Ages part was also a bit of what dragged this book down for me. Coming right on the heels of a novel that was almost purely sci-fi, it didn’t quite fit with the mood that the duology tried to maintain. They do return to the future eventually, but as someone who was particularly hooked on the “King Arthur retelling in SPAAACE” part of the premise, that part was a little bit of a letdown. That’s just the raging sci-fi fan in me, I guess.

That’s where my criticism ends, really, because Sword in the Stars was just as action-packed, fast-paced, and downright fun as book 1. Daring escapes, supernatural forces, knights, space dragons, dismantling corporate greed…you want it, this duology probably has it. I laughed, I very nearly cried, and I felt myself overflowing with joy, just like I did with book 1, and man, I’m so glad this story exists.

But beyond that, what truly shone about Sword in the Stars was its message. Throughout the whole book, there’s a resonant theme of breaking free of a cycle of conformity and injustice to become your true self. The whole story is focused on individuality and changing narratives, and especially seeing as it’s a cast of almost entirely queer characters and written by two queer authors, it really hit the right note in me. The Once & Future duology is lots of action and fun, for the most part, but at its heart, it’s a story of resistance. It’s a story of finding yourself. It’s a story of defining yourself in the face of a world that wants you to do the opposite. And for that, this novel was truly special. I’m firm in the belief that this book will save somebody’s life someday. And I don’t say that for every book.

All in all, a phenomenal ending to an action-packed, inclusive, sci-fi fantasy duology.

And bonus points for the Prince references, the Monty Python quote at the beginning, and successfully breaking the fourth wall.

4.75 stars, rounded up to 5!

Sword in the Stars is the final book in the Once & Future duology, preceded by Once & Future. A.R. Capetta is also the author of Echo After Echo and The Lost Coast, and Cory McCarthy is also the author of Now a Major Motion Picture and You Were Here.

Today’s song:

This has a combination of Sparklehorse and Fruit Bats vibes and I am HERE for it

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 Review Tuesday

Weekly Update: April 12-18, 2021

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope you’ve all had a good week.

This week has simultaneously felt momentous and relaxing, what with finishing the SAT and getting my first dose of the COVID vaccine all in one day. But my classes let up on the homework after last week and I had a day off after the SAT, so I had a bit of time to relax and gather my thoughts.

I finally got around to all of my Barnes & Noble books I bought over break, and they were all great! I just finished Rule of Wolves too, and what more is there to say than [AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH]

The Good Doctor 1x06 recap: A life altering situation shakes Claire

I got another preorder in the mail yesterday (Victories Greater than Death), so it’s shaping up to be a good reading week next week!

Other than that, I did some more library volunteering (is there anything more meta than shelving your own hold?), drew some more, and watched Ex Machina. The latter of which, I have to say…good sci-fi really makes you think, and this movie ABSOLUTELY did. Highly recommended. (Also, seeing bald Oscar Isaac was so surreal on its own…)

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Empress of All Seasons – Emiko Jean (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: Empress of All Seasons (9780544530942): Jean, Emiko: Books

Iron Heart (Crier’s War, #2) – Nina Varela (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Iron Heart (Crier's War, 2) (9780062823977): Varela, Nina: Books

Sword in the Stars (Once & Future, #2) – A.R. Capetta and Cori McCarthy (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Sword in the Stars: A Once & Future Novel (Once & Future, 2)  (9780316449298): McCarthy, Cori, Capetta, A. R.: Books

Rule of Wolves (King of Scars, #2) – Leigh Bardugo (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Rule of Wolves (King of Scars Duology, 2) (9781250142306):  Bardugo, Leigh: Books

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Mike Mignola: The Quarantine Sketchbook – Mike Mignola

Mike Mignola: The Quarantine Sketchbook by Mike Mignola: 9781506724270 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

Record of a Spaceborn Few (Wayfarers, #3) – Becky Chambers

Amazon.com: Record of a Spaceborn Few (Wayfarers, 3) (9780062699220):  Chambers, Becky: Books

Victories Greater Than Death (Unstoppable, #1) – Charlie Jane Anders

Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders

Today’s song:

Big thank you to my dad for putting this on in the car and triggering an onslaught of childhood nostalgia

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

Posted in Book Tags

How I Choose My Books Tag

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles! I have the day off school today and not much homework, so I thought it would be a good day to do one of the many book tags I need to do. It’s snowy and chilly outside (we’re still not out of snow season yet in Colorado), so all the better reason to stay inside…

I found this tag over at ohsrslybooks (Joy has a lovely blog that you should absolutely check out!), and the tag was originally created by thebookishunderdog.

Let’s begin, shall we? This looks like a lot of fun!

📚HOW I CHOOSE MY BOOKS TAG📚

Find a book on your bookshelves with a blue cover. What made you want to pick up this book?

Amazon.com: The Kingdom of Back (9781524739010): Lu, Marie: Books

Marie Lu is one of my favorite authors, and I knew I needed to pick this one up because she’s never failed me. I picked up The Kingdom Back at my first trip back to the bookstore after the pandemic started.

Think of a book you didn’t expect to enjoy, but did. Why did you read it in the first place?

Crier's War (Crier's War, #1) by Nina Varela

For some reason, I was initially hesitant to read Crier’s War, but I ended up picking it up for the sci-fi/fantasy blending and the sapphic romance. Oh, and that GORGEOUS COVER. And I enjoyed it so much! At the time I’m doing this tag, I’m reading the sequel 🙂

Stand in front of your bookshelf with your eyes closed and pick a book at random. How did you discover this book?

Amazon.com: Honor Among Thieves (Honors Book 1) eBook: Caine, Rachel,  Aguirre, Ann: Kindle Store

I think I found Honor Among Thieves from Goodreads and EpicReads, and picked it up because I’m always hungry for sci-fi. I eventually bought it at Barnes & Noble, and it paid off 100% – one of my favorite sci-fi trilogies now!

Pick a book that someone personally recommended to you. What did you think of it?

The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox: 9780593296738 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

I picked up The Absolute Book after a family friend recommended it to me. And…man, I feel really bad about it, but this was just not for me. Way too many characters, concepts, and plotlines to keep track of, and it simultaneously felt like everything and nothing was happening. I was pretty sick of it by the halfway mark, but…it’s 640 pages long. Not that I have a problem with that, but it was confusing all the way through.

Pick a book that you discovered through booktube/bookstagram/book blogs. Did it live up to the hype?

Amazon.com: These Violent Delights (9781534457690): Gong, Chloe: Books

These Violent Delights was easily one of the most hyped books of last year, and after reading it last week, I’m glad to say that it lived up to a good portion of it! Such a fascinating Shakespearean retelling.

Find a book on your shelves with a one-word title. What drew you to this book?

Scythe — California Young Reader Medal

I think what drew me to Scythe was its highly original take on your typical YA dystopia, with an inventive concept that was executed beautifully over all three books! I’ll always recommend this one.

What book did you discover through a film/TV adaptation?

I'm Thinking of Ending Things: A Novel (Packing may vary ): Reid, Iain:  9781982155841: Amazon.com: Books

I watched the Netflix adaptation of I’m Thinking of Ending Things last year and adored it, and I finally got around to picking up the book earlier this year. I loved the book as well – definitely had a more horror sensibility than the movie, but still thought-provoking and chilling all the same.

Think of your all-time favorite books. When did you read these, and why did you pick them up in the first place?

Lemme go back and look at my big three…

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: 9780141393391 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

I read Frankenstein for a project in my English class freshman year. There were a lot of factors that went into picking it up – there’s a song I liked (and still love) that referenced it, I’d seen the National Theatre adaptation, and a lot of what I’d read/seen at the time was influenced by it.

Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle, #1) by Amie Kaufman

I read Aurora Rising right at the end of my freshman year, and I specifically remember re-reading it three times in a row after buying it. (That’s how much it stuck with me!) I picked it up because of how much I loved the Illuminae Files, by the same authors.

Amazon.com: Heart of Iron (9780062652850): Poston, Ashley: Books

And last but not least, I read Heart of Iron while I was on the plane to Chicago for a vacation a few years back. (I finished it in about a day, once we were in the hotel room.) I picked it up because it sounded like a fascinating and super fun sci-fi retelling…and because the Kindle edition was cheap, so it couldn’t go wrong, right?

I TAG:

late night reading

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 (4/13/21) – These Violent Delights

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

A bit of good news before I begin; for one, I got the SAT over with today! I actually feel fairly confident on the math portion, for once. And this afternoon, I got my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine! I’ll be getting dose 2 in a few weeks, and I’m so relieved.

Anyway, this book has been on my radar for a while, what with it generating mountains of hype before and after its November 2020 release. It finally came to the library recently, and I’m so glad I got to read it! Not 100% worth the hype, but a truly inventive retelling.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: These Violent Delights (9781534457690): Gong, Chloe: Books

These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights, #1) – Chloe Gong

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

Shanghai, 1926. A war between the Scarlet Gang and the White Flowers is brewing, and a gruesome illness and rumors of monsters run amok in the city. Caught in the middle are Juliette Cai, heiress of the Scarlet Gang, and Roma Montagov, her ex-lover and sworn enemy. As members of both gangs fall ill to the gory malady, they must set aside their pasts and work together before they fall prey to it.

Fever Ray Rose GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

TW/CW: graphic violence, body horror, abuse, gruesome descriptions of illness, substance abuse, blood

The hype made my expectations for this one pretty high, but I’m glad to say that These Violent Delights lived up to a good portion of it! Not a perfect novel, but one I enjoyed a whole lot.

First off, can we give a round of applause to Chloe Gong for putting such an inventive twist on Romeo & Juliet? I LOVED the setting, first off; it’s both a time period and a place that don’t usually turn up in YA, and the descriptions made me feel as through I was walking in Juliette’s footsteps. The discussions of racism and colonialism gave another layer of darkness to the setting as well, which made it feel a lot more authentic, especially when we saw it through Juliette’s eyes. The gang rivalry set the perfect scene for an R&J retelling, and a lot of the related scenes gave me some slight Fargo (Year 4) vibes, which is always a resounding YES in my book. And to top all that wondrousness off, supernatural vibes! The fantasy element of the plague and the monster in the river were woven in seamlessly with the historical setting, making for a world that felt lush and wonderfully fleshed-out.

As for the characters, Juliette was probably my favorite; she had a refreshing amount of agency, and she was full of drive and wit. I didn’t like Roma quite as much, but his backstory seamlessly fed into his character and made him feel more authentic. And I LOVE LOVE LOVED Benedikt and Marshall! They had such lovely chemistry, and Benedikt especially (my favorite behind Juliette) had such distinct qualities that truly set them apart in this story. It was also loads of fun to make connections back to Shakespeare’s original work, although…I had one problem: Tyler. I get it that he was supposed to be the Tybalt-surrogate, but…Tyler doesn’t seem like a 1920’s name at all. I get it that most of the Chinese characters in the novel had Westernized names, and I get that Tyler and Tybalt are very similar, but when I think of the name “Tyler,” I think more of 1990’s-2010’s, not 1920’s. I looked it up, and it seems like it was a fairly uncommon name at the time, but I could suspend my disbelief a little bit.

My other problem with the novel was with a certain aspect of the writing. For the most part, it was stellar; like I said, lush descriptions, gripping action, amazing prose. Thing is, there were a lot of metaphors that got stretched out far beyond their use. If some of the metaphors remained at one sentence, it would’ve been fine. However, some of them got dragged out to…entire paragraphs, which…mmm, nope, not my cup of tea. [gets out a pair of gardening shears to trim the purple prose down] Lots of drama in the writing department, but it fit with the story, for the most part. It was a lot to handle sometimes, but given…well, everything about the plot, I can see the point of most of it.

All in all, a high-stakes, high-drama retelling of Romeo and Juliet full of action and authenticity. 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4!

rabbi milligan Tumblr posts - Tumbral.com

These Violent Delights is Chloe Gong’s debut novel, and is the first novel in the These Violent Delights duology. Its sequel, Our Violent Ends, is slated for release in November 2021.

Today’s song:

NEW DANNY ELFMAN ALBUM IN JUNE THIS IS NOT A DRILL

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 (4/12/21) – A Dark and Hollow Star

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.

I found this one via Edelweiss and have seen several of my fellow bloggers give it amazing reviews, so I’m so excited to read this one! Plus, what’s not to love about a queer urban fantasy?

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (4/12/21) – A DARK AND HOLLOW STAR by Ashley Shuttleworth

Advanced Review: A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth | Fangirlish

Blurb from Goodreads:

Choose your player.

The “ironborn” half-fae outcast of her royal fae family.
A tempestuous Fury, exiled to earth from the Immortal Realm and hellbent on revenge.
A dutiful fae prince, determined to earn his place on the throne.
The prince’s brooding guardian, burdened with a terrible secret.


For centuries, the Eight Courts of Folk have lived among us, concealed by magic and bound by law to do no harm to humans. This arrangement has long kept peace in the Courts—until a series of gruesome and ritualistic murders rocks the city of Toronto and threatens to expose faeries to the human world.

Four queer teens, each who hold a key piece of the truth behind these murders, must form a tenuous alliance in their effort to track down the mysterious killer behind these crimes. If they fail, they risk the destruction of the faerie and human worlds alike. If that’s not bad enough, there’s a war brewing between the Mortal and Immortal Realms, and one of these teens is destined to tip the scales. The only question is: which way?

Wish them luck. They’re going to need it. 

So why do I want to read this?

Secretos.. Familia... Venganza.. Poder.. Por siempre y Para siempre #detodo  # De Todo # amreading # books #… | Magic aesthetic, Elemental powers, Fire  manipulation
Challenge for myself: go through every single post and do a pushup every time I find a Hellboy gif

I think we’re all sick of the “x and y z”/”x of y and z” titles, but I’ll make a happy exception for this one, because MAN, it sounds AMAZING.

It doesn’t seem like there’s a huge market for urban fantasy in the world of YA, but this sounds like a welcome addition to the pantheon! There’s also a wide variety of LGBTQ+ main characters – according to the author, there are lesbian, questioning/later pansexual, bisexual, gay, and genderfluid characters! [EXCITEMENT INTENSIFIES]

It’s also great to see an urban fantasy that isn’t set in the U.S. or the U.K.; I haven’t run into a lot of Canadian literature/books set in Canada, so it’ll be fascinating to see what Toronto looks like under a grittier, fantasy lens.

And the synopsis is giving me all the found family vibes, and I’m HOOKED.

painting peaceful forest animation animated gif photoshop stream Digital  Painting animated painting elaine chen eec10 •

Today’s song:

so uhhhh guess who just listened to In Rainbows in its entirety

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: April 5-11, 2021

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

As you *probably* noticed, I was fairly absent posting-wise this week; I just had a whole lot of homework this week getting back from break and preparing for all my exams. It’ll probably be a similar story until the end of May or so, but I’ll just post whenever I have time. So the schoolwork was kind of exhausting.

But at least I had a great reading week! I’m nearly finished with last week’s library haul, and I even managed to find a 5-star read in the mix! Between that and everything I bought over break, I’ll have lots to review soon.

Other than that, I’ve gotten to draw a little bit more, and we watched Godzilla vs. Kong last night, which, faulty science notwithstanding, was a whole lot of fun. I’ve been outlining my sci-fi WIP on and off (which has caused a lot of weird google searches), but I’m getting excited to be back in that world.

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

These Violent Delights – Chloe Gong (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: These Violent Delights (9781534457690): Gong, Chloe: Books

You Should See Me in a Crown – Leah Johnson (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

December | 2020 | The Book Nut

Heartless – Marissa Meyer (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Heartless (9781250044655): Meyer, Marissa: Books

Internment – Samira Ahmed (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Internment: 9780349003344: Amazon.com: Books

THE ONE, LONELY POST I MADE THIS WEEK:

THE ONE, LONELY SONG THAT WENT ALONG WITH IT:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Empress of All Seasons – Emiko Jean

Amazon.com: Empress of All Seasons (9780544530942): Jean, Emiko: Books

Iron Heart (Crier’s War, #2) – Nina Varela

Amazon.com: Iron Heart (Crier's War, 2) (9780062823977): Varela, Nina: Books

The Sword in the Stars (Once & Future, #2) – A.R. Capetta & Cori McCarthy

Amazon.com: Sword in the Stars: A Once & Future Novel (Once & Future, 2)  (9780316449298): McCarthy, Cori, Capetta, A. R.: Books

Rule of Wolves (King of Scars, #2) – Leigh Bardugo

Amazon.com: Rule of Wolves (King of Scars Duology, 2) (9781250142306):  Bardugo, Leigh: Books

Today’s song:

Today on: random things that got stuck in my head after I didn’t think about them for a while

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