Posted in Books

Nobody’s perfect, but that doesn’t excuse privilege: Carve the Mark, Mosquitoland, and being a more conscious and careful reader

Happy Friday, bibliophiles! I’ve been writing out this post in my head since Tuesday night, so here goes nothing…

The other day, I was reading Aditi’s post about 20 of the most popular YA books on Goodreads. Veronica Roth’s Carve the Mark was among the ranks, and she mentioned that there had been several reviews saying that it had some racist elements, and had a problematic depiction of chronic illness. I had to do a bit of a double take; I read that book at least two years ago, but I didn’t remember anything like that. My whole memory of the book was hazy, really, and even though I’d given it a four star rating back then, it was probably one of those books I just sped through because I was just thinking something along the lines of “haha sci-fi go brrrrrrrrrrr”

Carve the Mark eBook by Veronica Roth - 9780062348654 | Rakuten Kobo United  States

And so I read some reviews–some from bloggers that I follow, some from strangers, and there were indeed a lot that pointed out several problematic elements and stereotypes. I found myself being incredibly ashamed of my past self for not noticing them. I’ve been going back and forth between removing my rating, and I never got to the sequel and thought Divergent was overrated, so I doubt I’ll be picking up a Veronica Roth book in the future. But I ended up putting myself between two spaces:

First off, nobody’s perfect. As much of an intersectional feminist that I strive to be, I still make mistakes. We all do. I’m sure everybody’s had an instance like this one.

But secondly, I still must acknowledge that I have privilege, and that this privilege is part of why I didn’t spot the highly questionable elements there. And since I am privileged, I have to do my best to better myself, and read more carefully, and become better at spotting and making note of problematic elements.

Amazon.com: Mosquitoland (9780147513656): Arnold, David: Books

I’d like to think that I’ve gotten better at reading carefully since I read Carve the Mark, but this example also jumped out at me as something that’s controversial. I read Mosquitoland a few months back; I thought it was a well-written novel, but there is some highly questionable–and I mean HIGHLY questionable and offensive representation of Down syndrome, and some problematic elements regarding the depiction of Native American characters, as well as some poor handling of sexual assault. I still hold the writing highly, but I know that I have to also recognize that Mosquitoland, though powerful, is still a deeply flawed novel. No matter its impact, there is NO excusing some of the content of this novel. (if you’re interested in someone else’s thoughts on the matter, I’d highly suggest checking out The Inside Cover’s Mosquitoland, Three Years Later: A Coda.)

All this got me thinking about reviews. Part of what’s key to reading/picking your reads more carefully is reading reviews before you dive in. Of course, you have to be careful to avoid reviews that have been paid to get a 4-5 star rating (for bias); the 3-2 star range is usually the most reliable source for me, as they usually cover the good and the bad in equal amounts. (1 stars tend to dive into rants, which I fully admit to doing, but it’s better to see both the pros and cons, personally.) It’s just like checking your news sources: seeing both sides of the argument, and getting perspectives from reviewers who have lived some of these experiences. It’s what made me take The State of Us off my TBR, and a few others.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: A Novel (The Carls): Green, Hank:  9781524743444: Amazon.com: Books

And sometimes, there’s no way out of it. I went into An Absolutely Remarkable Thing expecting a read as great as everybody seemed to say it was, but I ended up being infuriated by how poorly the bisexual representation was handled. (Personal opinion, here) Hardly anyone (except for one reviewer, so shoutout to them) noted the bury-your-gays trope, as well as the killing off of most of the POC characters (all but one or two) in Four Dead Queens. There will always be times when we’re roped into something problematic, even if we’ve read a variety of reviews.

Four Dead Queens - Astrid Scholte - 9781760524418 - Allen & Unwin -  Australia

The bottom line? Don’t beat yourself up about reading a problematic book, but don’t brush the problematic parts aside like they don’t exist. If you see something uncomfortable depicted in a novel, talk about it, whether it’s in the comments of a review or in a review of your own. Let your voice be heard, but recognize that all of us have at least a little bit of privilege.

Alright, let me step off the soapbox for a minute. I also have a short announcement: I have A BUNCH of books that I’d like to review soon, so as well as my Book Review Tuesdays, I’ll be packing several books into mini-reviews, starting next week. So stay tuned…

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (9/8/20)–Cinderella is Dead

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

It’s been a bit of a chaotic day for me–I couldn’t get into one of my zoom meetings for one of my classes, and it’s snowing. The latter is deeeeefinitely kind of worrying–here in Colorado, it usually doesn’t start to snow until mid to late October, and persists until late May.

IT’S THE SECOND WEEK OF SEPTEMBER. Yep, friendly reminder that climate change isn’t just global warming, but unpredictable weather patterns like this. Climate change is still very real, folks.

Anyway, I’ll step off that soapbox for a minute…only to get right back onto another one.

Ever since I found out about it in May, Cinderella is Dead was one of my most anticipated releases of this summer. A Black, sapphic protagonist, a multiracial wlw relationship, and a dystopian society based on the tale of Cinderella? I was FASCINATED. And while this novel did deliver in the aforementioned aspects, it was dragged down by the poor execution of nearly everything else.

Prepare for a rant review, folks…

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: Cinderella Is Dead (9781547603879): Bayron, Kalynn: Books

Cinderella is Dead–Kalynn Bayron

Everybody knows the tale of Cinderella, the dismissed orphan who was visited by a fairy godmother and lived happily ever after with the dashing Prince Charming. But do you know what happened 200 years later?

In Sophia Grimmins’ world, the tale of Cinderella is now the backbone of every tradition in town. Every year, all of the eligible girls must attend the Annual Ball, to be picked and chosen by the men. But for as long as she can remember, Sophia has never wanted a man–she’s wanted a woman. She flees the ball with her life, only to find herself in the tomb of Cinderella herself. There, she finds Constance, the last surviving descendant of Cinderella, who seeks to help bring down the patriarchal kingdom. Sophia and Constance join forces, and sparks soon fly between them–but the truths they thought about Cinderella are far from true…

Seriously Disappointed GIF by The Resident on FOX - Find & Share on GIPHY
My range of emotions through the course of this book

Let me be perfectly honest: it truly pains me to give this book such a low rating. It’s such a joy to see #OwnVoices books outside contemporary and historical fiction with POC/LGBTQ+ leads, and we certainly need more of those out in the world. But even though Cinderella is Dead boasted great representation all around, it failed to meet my expectations in almost every other aspect.

I’ll start off with the good before the bad: representation! This dystopian fantasy is absolutely an #OwnVoices book, with a Black, lesbian protagonist, a lesbian love interest, and a gay side character who has a semi-prominent role. Throughout the book, there’s themes of contradicting patriarchal tradition, abuse, and misogyny, and it’s always wonderful to see a sapphic couple kicking sexist butt, so that’s always a win. But even then…Sophia wasn’t a very distinct character. I struggle to find any traits that would make her much of an individual, other than the desire to smash the patriarchy. (Don’t we all, though? Can’t go wrong with that.) I liked Constance a little bit better, but their relationship felt very rushed and glossed over. And the themes I just talked about it? They felt very forced, relying more on telling than showing. There wasn’t very much subtlety or creativity in the ways that they were tackled, making the commentary…almost not worth it. I appreciate Bayron’s attempt to discuss these issues, but there are so many ways that they could have been handled better.

All of the Cinderella mythos had SO MUCH potential, from the punchy title to the concept itself. It was still reasonably spine-chilling in execution, but other than the fact that the tale has been weaved into the world’s operating system, the worldbuilding was…wait a minute…[picks up a telescope] wait a minute, where’d it go? A little help here?

…okay, that was probably harsh, but it was RIDDLED with holes.

Coming Lets Go GIF by The Detour - Find & Share on GIPHY
Me @ the worldbuilding

[spreads out a sheet of paper] Okay, let’s see. We’ve got a country ruled by a monarchy, with some forests around it, presumably. It’s hinted that it’s a bit more antiquated technology-wise, but we don’t get any sense of where society has gone as far as technology, transportation, all of that. There’s a little bit of evidence to suggest that magic exists, but the only wielder we know of is the Fairy Godmother. (So is there some sort of ban on magic? Has nobody else been able to find it? Who knows…) The character’s names range from ones that were popular in the 19th century to those in the 21st century, but most of them fall into the latter. (ex. Liv, Isla, Sophia) So…wait, what? It’s been a good two and a half weeks since I’ve read Cinderella is Dead, and I STILL have no idea what’s going on there. I NEED ANSWERS. PLEASE. THIS IS A MESS.

Confused Screaming | Filthy Frank | Know Your Meme

The worldbuilding is my main criticism, but other than that, my issues are a little more nit-picky. Things like Sophia having very few defining traits (if any) and the telling method of tackling the issues, the villains had very lackluster, overdone motives and no redeemable qualities to speak of. The dialogue also had a tendency to be overly stiff, and nobody had a distinct voice.

Again, I feel so bad for giving this book such a low rating. #OwnVoices books are so pertinent and important in this day and age, but…there are so many better ones that you could be reading than this one. I could chalk this rating up to my high expectations, but other than the representation and concept, Cinderella is Dead was such a mess. Amazing concept, terrible execution. 2.5 stars, but the half star is likely just for seeing a multiracial wlw couple smashing the patriarchy. [sad harmonica noises]

Let Down GIF - LetDown Disappointed YouHaveLetMeDownALot - Discover & Share  GIFs

Cinderella is Dead is Kalynn Bayron’s YA debut, but she has several other adult and nonfiction works. Cinderella is Dead is likely a standalone, but I’ve heard a rumor about spin-offs set in the same universe, but I haven’t been able to confirm their validity.

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! I promise that the next reviews I write will be more positive. Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Books, Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (9/7/20)–The Athena Protocol

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.

My pick for today’s Goodreads Monday is a semi-earlier pick; I put it on the list almost a year ago, but it’s only about a third of the way through my (massive) TBR. I don’t read many mysteries or thrillers, but this one sounds like a lot of fun–with a feminist twist!

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (9/7/20)–THE ATHENA PROTOCOL by Shamim Sarif

Amazon.com: The Athena Protocol (9780062849601): Sarif, Shamim: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

Jessie Archer is a member of the Athena Protocol, an elite organization of female spies who enact vigilante justice around the world.

Athena operatives are never supposed to shoot to kill—so when Jessie can’t stop herself from pulling the trigger, she gets kicked out of the organization, right before a huge mission to take down a human trafficker in Belgrade.

Jessie needs to right her wrong and prove herself, so she starts her own investigation into the trafficking. But going rogue means she has no one to watch her back as she delves into the horrors she uncovers. Meanwhile, her former teammates have been ordered to bring her down. Jessie must face danger from all sides if she’s to complete her mission—and survive.

So why do I want to read this?

Black Widow Avengers GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

BLACK WIDOW VIBES, I REPEAT, BLACK WIDOW VIBES–

[ahem] besides that, the first comparison that I thought of after re-reading the blurb was The Black Coatsanother feminist mystery that deals with morally gray themes and vigilante justice. The Athena Protocol seems more spy-oriented while The Black Coats is more contemporary, but I have a feeling that the former might be just as good.

As a (very) infrequent consumer of mysteries and thrillers in general, I’m always looking for books that put twists on it. I’m excited to see how Sarif deals with some of the morally gray themes that seem to be lurking about the plot. Plus, I’m all for a super-team of female spies putting misogynists and creeps in their places, so of course I’m on board. And having just come out of seeing Tenet (which was amazing, by the way), I could definitely use this twist on the traditional thriller.

And according to Goodreads, there’s some LGBTQ+ representation too! Sarif said that Jessie is “a young woman who is LGBT,” and some of the reviews have said that she’s definitely sapphic, so I’m so excited!

All in all, maybe I need to read more thrillers. But mostly the feminist ones.

gal gadot gifs | WiffleGif

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: August 31–September 6, 2020

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles!

With the second week of school now under my belt, I’ve started to get used the schedule. Of course, our school has the option of either hybrid (online and in-person) or 100% online, and everybody’s going to hybrid next week, so the schedule’s changing yet again…whee…

But this week has been alright. I have now inherited the role of the president of my school’s book club (!!!), so I’ve been trying to rope all of my bookish friends into joining now that all of the seniors have graduated. There’s a strange kind of power in moderating a google classroom…

My reading week hasn’t been *as* productive, but I went through my whole birthday book haul (I loved TRUEL1F3, but it just took me a while to read), and I loved them all! Expect lots of reviews soon 🙂 The same has been true of writing–I’ve been struggling with stretching out the plot a bit, but we’re nearly at 300 pages, so I suppose that’s a plus. I also went back to the library in-person for the first time, finished Devs [loud screaming], started Raised by Wolves, and later today, I’m going to the movies for the first time since February! (Safely, of course) I can’t wait to see Tenet!

devs hulu | Tumblr

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

The Burning Kingdoms (The Smoke Thieves, #3)–Sally Green (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

The Burning Kingdoms by Sally Green

A Song Below Water–Bethany C. Morrow (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: A Song Below Water: A Novel (9781250315328): Morrow, Bethany  C.: Books

TRUEL1F3 (Lifelike, #3)–Jay Kristoff (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

TRUEL1F3 (Truelife) by Jay Kristoff: 9781524714000 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Four Dead Queens–Astrid Scholte

Amazon.com: Four Dead Queens (9780525513926): Scholte, Astrid: Books

The Black Kids–Christina Hammonds Reed

The Black Kids | Book by Christina Hammonds Reed | Official Publisher Page  | Simon & Schuster

The Good Neighbors, vol. 1: Kin–Holly Black and Ted Naifeh

The Good Neighbors: Black, Holly, Naifeh, Ted: 9780439855655: Amazon.com:  Books

Raybearer–Jordan Ifueko

Amazon.com: Raybearer (9781419739828): Ifueko, Jordan: Books

The Spaceship Next Door–Gene Doucette

Amazon.com: The Spaceship Next Door (9781328567468): Doucette, Gene: Books

The Infinite Noise–Lauren Shippen

Amazon.com: The Infinite Noise: A Bright Sessions Novel (The Bright  Sessions Book 1) eBook: Shippen, Lauren: Kindle Store

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 Books, Book Tags

Would You Rather? Book Tag

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles!

As you might have noticed, I haven’t done Top 5 Saturday today. As of now, the creator hasn’t released the prompts for September, and I didn’t know how I felt about creating my own, so I decided to do a book tag today instead.

Anyway, I was tagged by One Book More (thank you!). I’m not sure who the creator of the tag is, so please let me know if you know. 🙂

RULES:

  • Thank the nominator.
  • Answer the questions given to you by the nominator.
  • Make your own questions.
  • Tag others to join in on the fun!

ONE BOOK MORE’S QUESTIONS:

  1. Would you rather meet your favorite author or your favorite character?

Oooh…this is a tough one…

Either way, it’s almost guaranteed that I might get choked up and embarrass myself, but either would honestly be amazing for me.

Wilfred Mott All Choked Up GIF by happmacdonald | Gfycat

2. Would you rather only read series or only read standalone?

Only series, absolutely. Unless they’re ridiculously long, I always like to see storytelling spanning over the course of several books, especially trilogies and duologies.

3. Would you rather read one book at a time or multiple books?

One book, without question! I used to be able to read several at a time when I was younger, but these days I find it hard to focus my attention on more than one book at a time. I’m also a very task-oriented person, so that’s likely part of it.

4. Would you rather only read physical books or only read ebooks?

Even though ebooks are convenient, I doubt there’s anything that can really beat the feel of a physical book in your hands. Plus, ebooks don’t have that amazing book smell. So physical books, absolutely.

Happy Illustration GIF by Aishwarya Sadasivan - Find & Share on GIPHY

5. Would you rather live in one of the factions from Divergent or one of the districts in the Hunger Games?

Um? I really didn’t get much into the Divergent mythos, but both of them sound like…not the best options? But I suppose one of the Hunger Games districts, I guess.

Hunger Games Salute GIFs | Tenor

6. Would you rather have your favorite hero’s powers or your favorite villain’s powers?

Hmmm…it’s hard to pick a favorite hero/villain out of…well, every piece of media I’ve consumed, but I do think that teleportation would be a lot of fun, so I guess I’d go with the powers of my favorite hero.

Kodi Smit-Mcphee Angel GIF by X-Men Movies - Find & Share on GIPHY

7. Would you rather never read a new release or never be able to re-read a book?

I suppose it if was a new release, I’d just have to wait a year or two until it’s not considered “new” anymore, so I’d go with never reading new releases. Loopholes, loopholes!

8. Would you rather live in your favorite character’s world or have your favorite character live in your world?

Option two! Most of my favorite characters that come from situations that…[ahem] definitely suck, and even though this world still sucks, at least it doesn’t suck as much as say…being on the run from an intergalactic government or waking up from cryosleep after two centuries and realizing that everybody you previously knew is dead.

9. Would you rather have every story start with “once upon a time” or have every story end with “and they lived happily ever after?”

I feel like having the second option in series would get redundant very quickly, so I’d go with “once upon a time.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BEAUTIFUL! HAPPY BIRTHDAY JULIE HUTCHINGS! @HutchingsJulie –  Jolene Haley

10. Would you rather never be able to buy a book again or never be able to borrow a book again?

YIKES, this one’s tricky…

I mean…even though borrowing them is free, it’s nice to have books to add to your shelf…so I guess I’ll go with never borrowing a book again…

MY QUESTIONS (for everybody I tag):

  1. Would you rather change the cover of a book or change its synopsis?
  2. Would you rather only read books by your favorite author, or be able to read books by any author, but only one per author?
  3. Would you rather live in a sci-fi novel or a fantasy novel?
  4. Would you rather have dragons in our world, or know of the existence of a Fae realm?
  5. Would you rather be in a love triangle or be the Chosen One?
  6. Would you rather have all book titles be three words, or only one word?
  7. Would you rather have your favorite book be adapted into a film or adapted into a graphic novel?
  8. Would you rather add a book to your favorite series, or subtract a book from it?
  9. Would you rather lose a copy of a book altogether or have it ruined/stained in some way?
  10. Would you rather change the plot or the characters of your favorite book?

I TAG:

Reading Read GIF by Alexandra Dvornikova - Find & Share 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 ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley’s Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaughter

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

Two eARC reviews? In one week? It’s more likely than you think.

Everything about this graphic novel makes me wish that I’d read it in October. Whether or not you’re familiar with Mary Shelley, Mary is a spooky delight from start to finish.

Enjoy this eARC review!

Amazon.com: Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley's Great-Great-Great-Great- Great-Granddaughter (9781644420294): Grant, Brea, Li, Yishan: Books

Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley’s Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaugthter–Brea Grant and Yishan Li

Family legacies are always a chore to live up to. Just ask Mary, a surly girl who comes from a long line of women writers–starting with the one and only Mary Shelley, the mother of science fiction and the author of Frankenstein. But Mary has no intention of becoming a writer, despite her mother’s persistence. But she soon discovers that there’s more than one career runs in the Shelley family; not only was Mary Shelley a masterful writer, she also had the ability to heal monsters.

For the rest of her family, it’s a curse. But for Mary, it might present some new opportunities.

When a strange, pale boy shows up on her doorstep asking for aid, Mary must put her abilities to the test. With the help of Rhonda, her best friend (and proud witch), Shirley, a ghost trapped inside a stuffed bunny, and Polly, a disgruntled harpy, Mary must master her newfound ability–and pass all her classes, while she’s at it.

Art by Yishan Li

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Ingram/Six Foot Press for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Ever since reading Frankenstein freshman year, Mary Shelley has been something of a personal hero for me. So when I saw this graphic novel pop up on Edelweiss, I knew I had to at least take a chance on it. I was afraid that they might deal with the concept sloppily, but to my delight, Mary pulled out all the stops to make a darkly funny and spooky graphic novel!

Let’s start off with the art: SO CUTE! I loved Li’s art style, and it translated well to all of the people and the various strange creatures that we encounter throughout the story. I had no idea that she had previously worked on B.P.R.D., which got me so excited, not gonna lie. The muted color scheme also meshed flawlessly with the general atmosphere with the story.

I can’t stress enough how perfect it is that Mary will be released in October. It’s the perfect Halloween graphic novel, filled with all sorts of spooky goings-on–and more than a little goth. It simultaneously manages to be a lighthearted, fun story and a poignant tale of living up to family legacies, handling both with aplomb. The cast of characters was absolutely delightful; Mary was the perfect, angsty goth without being overly whiny, and I loved Rhonda, Shirley, Adam, and the rest of the gang. I especially loved Polly. Her lines always made me snicker.

All in all, Mary was a joy to read, with a lovable cast of characters and a poignant story–perfect for SPOOKY TIME! 4 stars!

Art by Yishan Li

Expected release date: October 6, 2020

Today’s song:

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

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: Jelly

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has been treating you well.

This eARC was one of several that I received about a week and a half ago, and it’s definitely a unique one. A bizarre and inventive twist on both your traditional survival story and post-apocalyptic dystopia.

Enjoy this eARC review!

Jelly by Clare Rees

Jelly–Clare Rees

Martha is stranded. Stranded, that is, on the back of an enormous jellyfish. She and several other people have been, in fact, for such a long time that the concept of time has all but escaped them. And despite many attempts to escape, they may be permanently stuck.

But land is in sight, and with it may come new opportunities. Will Martha and the others be able to get to dry land–and survive the trip?

155 Jellyfish Gifs - Gif Abyss - Page 8

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and ABRAMS/Amulet Books for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

At the present moment, Jelly has quite a low Goodreads rating–about 3.31. Though I thought it was decent, I really don’t think it deserves a rating like that. Even though the execution was largely flawed, this was a novel with such an inventive premise.

First off, LOOK AT HOW GORGEOUS THE HARDCOVER EDITION IS. It’s the edition that came on my eARC as well, and it’s just…so beautiful. I love all the vibrant colors!

Before I get to the positives, however, let’s start off with my major problem with this novel–the characters. There’s a wide cast of characters stranded on the gigantic jellyfish, and while Rees does a good job of keeping track of all of them, most of them were either caricatures, or not memorable at all. We got a few characters that boasted one (1) personality trait each (ex. James was obnoxious and immature, Kate was sensitive, Lana was snarky, Dr. Jones attempts to turn everything into a learning opportunity, etc.), but the rest had nothing that distinguished them from the others. Jelly is told from the POV of Martha, but by the end of the novel, we know next to nothing about her. So that aspect took away from my enjoyment of some of the novel. And beyond that, the humor of the comic relief characters fell flat more than not.

However, other than that criticism, this was a fascinating novel! I was instantly hooked by the premise of a survival story set almost entirely on the back of a giant jellyfish. Jellyfish are such fascinating creatures, and Rees deftly weaves bits of their biology into the story without info-dumping anything.

We later learn that the reason why it’s even possible for jellyfish to grow to such a size is due to them evolving to climate change; there’s even some other marine animals that have done the same–some species of crabs (now dubbed “kriks”) have crawled out of the sea, grown huge, and terrorized the human race, which is hinted to being part of the reason why humanity is nearly extinct in Jelly. There’s some interesting worldbuilding going on here, and it’s definitely the kind of cautionary tale we need about climate change and the rising oceans. (Stop climate change or the crabs will exact their revenge on us, kids!)

All in all, while Jelly lacked authentic characters/character development, it partially made up for it with a fresh and original concept. 3 stars!

Mila kunis that 70s show GIF on GIFER - by Medal

Expected release date: May 18, 2021

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (9/1/20)–On a Sunbeam

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles! I can’t believe it’s already September! All the better, the sooner we get 2020 over with, the better…

But to take your mind off of everything, here’s a review of my most recent 5-star read! I had piled most of Tillie Walden’s graphic novels on my TBR a year or two ago, but after a family friend mentioned Are You Listening?, I looked for everything on my library. On a Sunbeam was available, and I jumped at the chance to check it out. Though I had high expectations, I didn’t expect for it to be such an emotional and atmospheric graphic novel.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: On a Sunbeam (9781250178138): Walden, Tillie: Books

On a Sunbeam–Tillie Walden

My library copy ft. Abe Sapien and a crystal, because I NEEDED to make all that lovely teal pop

Mia has her reasons for joining the crew of the Sunbeam. It’s an easy job–hopping through the galaxy and restoring structures of all kinds to their original glory. But Mia isn’t here for the money–not completely, anyway.

Her main objective? Find Grace, her long-lost love who she was separated from five years ago. When a job lands Mia and the rest of the crew on Grace’s secretive homeworld, she jumps at the chance to reunite with her girlfriend. But will the rest of the crew be willing to go to such lengths?

Tillie Walden on | Aesthetic art, Art drawings, Cool art
Art by Tillie Walden

On a Sunbeam is the comic equivalent of a Radiohead song; hauntingly beautiful and atmospheric, with a story that will never truly leave your mind. It is “Motion Picture Soundtrack,” it is “Sail to the Moon,” it is “Videotape,” and it is very nearly everything I could ever want in a graphic novel.

I’m not normally a fan of more simplistic art styles like Walden’s, but she makes it work in all the best ways. The character’s facial features are simple, but are able to show such a wide range of expression. There’s so much detail and care put into the backgrounds and settings, with carefully picked color schemes that make for an immersive, lived-in sci-fi world. I kid you not, both the desktop wallpaper of my laptop and the home screen of my phone are both panels from On a Sunbeam now. That’s how much I loved it.

The design of the vast reaches of Walden’s universe is beautifully atmospheric, a sci-fi with a fantastical twist. Each planet that the crew visits is so unique, and I ADORE the design of all of the ships–all inspired by fish! What’s not to love?

On a Sunbeam is a Beautiful Love Story in Space | A Place to Hang Your Cape
WHERE. CAN. I. BUY. ONE.

Beyond the beautiful artwork, On a Sunbeam boasts a tender romance that spans across the stars. It alternates between the past and present fluidly without any confusion, and through both, you come to love the whole cast of characters. And speaking of that cast–there is diversity aplenty here! In the group of main characters, there is not one but two multiracial wlw relationships (including Mia and Grace). Most of the Sunbeam crew is POC (Black, Latinx, etc.), and there’s also a nonbinary character who plays a crucial role. There’s also several background wlw relationships and…not a single man in sight? I simultaneously love that but also recognize that it raises a few questions. Walden makes her cast effortlessly diverse, making On a Sunbeam a tale for the ages.

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…FOUND FAMILY VIBES! The chemistry between Mia and the rest of the crew is impeccable, and I can’t help but adore every single character we come across. Grace was wonderful as well. They were all so distinct, and I managed to love every single one of them.

All in all, On a Sunbeam is a graphic novel that hits all the right spots, whether it be in the worldbuilding, the art, or the characters. Seriously, if you haven’t already read it, you are missing out. 5 stars!

Orson Krennic Star Wars GIF - OrsonKrennic StarWars ItsBeautiful - Discover  & Share GIFs

On a Sunbeam is a standalone, but Tillie Walden has several other graphic novels out, including Are You Listening?, I Love This Part, The End of Summer, A City Inside, and her graphic memoir, Spinning.

Today’s song:

Also, because this was in a meme that brought immeasureable joy to this grim year…

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, Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (8/31/20)–Sea Sirens

Happy Monday, bibliophiles! I can’t believe that it’s almost September…

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.

This one is a more recent addition to my TBR that I’d forgotten about (I added it in early February), and it sounds like an incredible middle grade graphic novel! And I’m always eager for a good mermaid story, and I think this one might just deliver…

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (8/31/20)–SEA SIRENS by Amy Chu and Janet K. Lee

Sea Sirens (A Trot & Cap'n Bill Adventure): Chu, Amy, Lee, Janet K.:  9780451480170: Amazon.com: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

Dive into this middle-grade graphic novel about a Vietnamese American surfer girl and her talking cat who plunge into a fantasy world of oceanic marvels . . . and mayhem!

Trot, a Vietnamese American surfer girl, and Cap’n Bill, her cranky one-eyed cat, catch too big a wave and wipe out, sucked down into a magical underwater kingdom where an ancient deep-sea battle rages. The beautiful Sea Siren mermaids are under attack from the Serpent King and his slithery minions–and Trot and her feline become dangerously entangled in this war of tails and fins.

This graphic novel was inspired by The Sea Fairies, L. Frank Baum’s “underwater Wizard of Oz.” It weaves Vietnamese mythology, fantastical ocean creatures, and a deep-sea setting.

So why do I want to read this?

Sea Sirens by Amy Chu
Art by Janet K. Lee

Sea Sirens looks like it has all the elements for a graphic novel I’d love! It’s #OwnVoices, it’s set in an underwater realm…and how could I ever say no to a talking cat sidekick? The literary world needs more talking cats.

I’m not familiar with The Sea Fairies (though The Wizard of Oz was read to my class in elementary school), but it sounds like a fascinating retelling of it. I love the incorporation of Vietnamese mythology as well. The art style looks lovely too!

This one’s available at my library, so I might have to check it out soon…

Surfing GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Today’s song:

Inexplicably stuck in my head this morning…

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: August 24-30, 2020

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles!

All things considered, the first week back to online school wasn’t too bad. Not much homework, but lots of google meets. At least classes end at noon everyday…

I ended up posting a lot more than I anticipated this week, and I’ve had a nice and productive week as far as blogging and reading my eARCs goes. (Expect my reviews of Jelly and Mary next week!) I finished off my library haul, and I loved the last two, and I enjoyed all of my eARCs. And I’m certain that I’ll have another great reading week next week; I got a gift card to my favorite bookstore on my birthday, and I got to spend it on three of my most anticipated releases of the year! (See “Currently Reading/To Read Next Week” below for said reads.)

Other than that, I got some new art supplies, ate lots of good food, watched Prometheus (ABSOLUTELY PHENOMENAL! Michael Fassbender can do no wrong…), and did a lot of drawing and writing. I’ve fallen a bit behind on the latter, but now, I’m nearing 300 pages, and I have a better sense of where it’s going, so that’s a plus.

Prometheus - David in the Orrery on Make a GIF

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

An Unkindness of Ghosts–Rivers Solomon (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: An Unkindness of Ghosts (9781617755880): Solomon, Rivers: Books

Magnificent Ms. Marvel, vol. 2: Stormranger–Saladin Ahmed and Minkyu Jung (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: Ms. Marvel by Saladin Ahmed Vol. 2: Stormranger (Magnificent Ms.  Marvel (2019-)) eBook: Ahmed, Saladin, Vazquez, joey, Petrovich, Eduard,  Vazquez, Joey, Jung, Minkyu, Ahmed, Saladin: Kindle Store

Michigan vs. the Boys–Carrie S. Allen (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Michigan vs. the Boys | Kids Can Press

Fire With Fire–Destiny Soria (eARC) (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Fire with Fire by Destiny Soria

Jelly–Clare Rees (eARC) (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Jelly by Clare Rees

Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley’s Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaughter–Brea Grant and Yishan Li (eARC) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley's Great-Great-Great-Great- Great-Granddaughter (9781644420294): Grant, Brea, Li, Yishan: Books

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

The Burning Kingdoms (The Smoke Thieves, #3)–Sally Green

The Burning Kingdoms by Sally Green: 9780425290279 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

A Song Below Water–Bethany C. Morrow

Amazon.com: A Song Below Water: A Novel (9781250315328): Morrow, Bethany  C.: Books

TRUEL1F3 (Lifelike, #3)–Jay Kristoff

TRUEL1F3 (Truelife) by Jay Kristoff: 9781524714000 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

Today’s song:

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