Posted in Books, Mini Reviews, Movies

Back from the void! (Mini reviews of some books I read on my hiatus + general updates)

Hey bibliophiles! Thanksgiving break is here, and that means I’m back to posting semi-regularly!

You betcha - GIF on Imgur

Luckily, after the absolute dumpster fire that October was, November really picked up for me! I’ve started getting my grades up, Biden won the election (!!!!!), and my general mood and mental health have just gotten a lot better.

But before I begin, I’ll just start off with this: I’ll probably start being a little bit more fluid with my posting. I’ll still stick to weekly updates and reviews and such, but depending on how I am that week, I might not do Top 5 Saturdays as much. We’ll see how December goes, anyway. School’s 100% remote now, and everything’s starting to close down again here in Colorado, so I’m fairly certain of another lockdown.

And so this post is for all of the notable novels I read in hiatus, as well as some movies and TV I’ve been enjoying. (Of course, the time I take a break is when I get all the 5-star books…)

Let’s begin, shall we?

WHAT I ENJOYED WHILE I STEPPED INTO THE VOID FOR A FEW WEEKS

BOOKS

Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything–Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

Amazon.com: Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything  (9781534448636): Gilliland, Raquel Vasquez: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

It’s been three years since ICE raids and phone calls from Mexico and an ill-fated walk across the Sonoran. Three years since Sia Martinez’s mom disappeared. Sia wants to move on, but it’s hard in her tiny Arizona town where people refer to her mom’s deportation as “an unfortunate incident.”

Sia knows that her mom must be dead, but every new moon Sia drives into the desert and lights San Anthony and la Guadalupe candles to guide her mom home.

Then one night, under a million stars, Sia’s life and the world as we know it cracks wide open. Because a blue-lit spacecraft crashes in front of Sia’s car…and it’s carrying her mom, who’s very much alive.

As Sia races to save her mom from armed-quite-possibly-alien soldiers, she uncovers secrets as profound as they are dangerous in this stunning and inventive exploration of first love, family, immigration, and our vast, limitless universe.

WOW. I was excited to read this one, but I didn’t expect it to pack as much of a punch as it did. This is the prime example of a genre-bending novel–all of the sci-fi, contemporary, and magical realism elements blended seamlessly, and even if I separated the different parts, I enjoyed each little cog in the machine just as much as the other. I found myself rooting for Sia at every step of the way, and her journey and struggle were so heartfelt and painful. Add in some #ownvoices representation and no shortage of timely themes, and you get this novel–unexpected, seamless, and nothing short of a joy to read.

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph, Brandy Colbert

Amazon.com: The Revolution of Birdie Randolph (9780316448543): Colbert,  Brandy: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

Dove “Birdie” Randolph works hard to be the perfect daughter and follow the path her parents have laid out for her: She quit playing her beloved soccer, she keeps her nose buried in textbooks, and she’s on track to finish high school at the top of her class. But then Birdie falls hard for Booker, a sweet boy with a troubled past…whom she knows her parents will never approve of.

When her estranged aunt Carlene returns to Chicago and moves into the family’s apartment above their hair salon, Birdie notices the tension building at home. Carlene is sweet, friendly, and open-minded–she’s also spent decades in and out of treatment facilities for addiction. As Birdie becomes closer to both Booker and Carlene, she yearns to spread her wings. But when long-buried secrets rise to the surface, everything she’s known to be true is turned upside down.

This one was on my TBR for almost two years, and I’m so glad I picked it up now! The Revolution of Birdie Randolph was one of those rare books that manages to discuss a myriad of issues, but in a way that doesn’t make any of them sound preachy. The struggles of all the characters felt refreshingly real and dealt with in a way that serves to raise conversations. Everything about this novel felt so authentic, which brought me immeasurable joy.

And at the same time, tackling all these issues, Colbert didn’t make it overly heavy–there’s certainly parts that are hard to read, but I didn’t leave it feeling sick to my stomach. At times, it even felt like a slice-of-life story, but I enjoyed that 100%. There’s POC and LGBTQ+ representation aplenty too! All in all, a beautiful and diverse piece of contemporary fiction.

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Are You Listening?, Tillie Walden

Amazon.com: Are You Listening? (9781250207562): Walden, Tillie, Walden,  Tillie: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

Bea is on the run. And then, she runs into Lou.

This chance encounter sends them on a journey through West Texas, where strange things follow them wherever they go. The landscape morphs into an unsettling world, a mysterious cat joins them, and they are haunted by a group of threatening men. To stay safe, Bea and Lou must trust each other as they are driven to confront buried truths. The two women share their stories of loss and heartbreak—and a startling revelation about sexual assault—culminating in an exquisite example of human connection.

At this point, every time I read something by Tillie Walden, I’m guaranteed to rate it in the 4.5-5 star range, and Are You Listening? is no exception. A family friend recommended this one to me a few months back, and it wasn’t available at my library at the time, so I ended up reading On a Sunbeam and Spinning beforehand.

I ate this one up in the span of a few hours, and I enjoyed every panel of every page. It’s a story of bonding in the toughest of situations, of sticking together no matter what, of trust. Walden’s artwork is as stunning as ever, turning an unexpected road trip through rural Texas into a strange, desolate, and trippy landscape where nothing is as it seems. And we have two queer women at the wheel–what’s not to love? And a CAT! A CAT!

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Crownchasers, Rebecca Coffindaffer

Amazon.com: Crownchasers (9780062845160): Coffindaffer, Rebecca: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

Alyssa Farshot has spent her whole life trying to outrun her family legacy. Her mother sacrificed everything to bring peace to the quadrant, and her uncle has successfully ruled as emperor for decades. But the last thing Alyssa wants is to follow in their footsteps as the next in line for the throne. Why would she choose to be trapped in a palace when she could be having wild adventures exploring a thousand-and-one planets in her own ship?

But when Alyssa’s uncle becomes gravely ill, his dying wish surprises the entire galaxy. Instead of naming her as his successor, he calls for a crownchase, the first in seven centuries. Representatives from each of the empire’s prime families—including Alyssa—are thrown into a race to find the royal seal, which has been hidden somewhere in the empire. The first to find the seal wins the throne.

Alyssa’s experience as an explorer makes her the favorite to win the crown she never wanted. And though she doesn’t want to be empress, her duty to her uncle compels her to participate in this one last epic adventure. But when the chase turns deadly, it’s clear that more than just the fate of the empire is at stake. Alyssa is on her most important quest yet—and only time will tell if she’ll survive it.

“Perfect for fans of Aurora Rising” [SLAMS THE WANT-TO-READ BUTTON]

This was one of my most anticipated reads for the second half of the year, and I was…a little bit disappointed, not gonna lie. It wasn’t bad, per se–I liked it, but it left me wanting a little more.

There’s no doubt that it was super fast paced and threw me right into the action–a blessing and a curse; a blessing because it kept me reading for a while, on the edge of my seat, and a curse because…we’re given very little information about the world(s) we’re in. I liked the banter between Alyssa, Hell Monkey, and the others, and they had decent chemistry. (Also, there’s quite a lot of LGBTQ+ characters, including Alyssa herself–I’m not sure if she’s bi, pan, or another identity, but she’s definitely shown to like several genders! Woohoo!)

The breakneck speed definitely had me forgetting where everybody was, why x and y was so important, etc. But for a debut novel, I’d say that this is a solid start on Coffindaffer’s part! Not my favorite, but I think I’ll tag along to see what book 2 holds.

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

MOVIES/TV:

Fargo: Year 4 (2020)

Fargo' Season 4 to premiere Sept. 27 on FX - UPI.com

Yep, it’s settled: Fargo is officially my favorite show. Noah Hawley is a true mastermind of storytelling, and every ounce of his creativity truly shines through in this season. I’ve always loved his characters, but this is the first season where I’ve really gotten attached to some of them (which, given the rate at which characters are killed off in this show, is…not good…). Episode 9 (East/West) is, hands down, my favorite of the season so far–the characterizations of Rabbi and Satchel, all the weird Wizard of Oz references…I haven’t been so invested in a show in such a long time. There’s only two episodes left in this season, so you can expect a review in a few weeks’ time…

Alien: Covenant (2017)

Alien: Covenant | 20th Century Studios

Nobody:

David: GUESS WHO’S BACK

[ahem] Anyway…

Prometheus is definitely one of my favorite movies now, but Covenant wasn’t quite as good. I still enjoyed it though, don’t get me wrong–I love some good, old fashioned sci-fi action, and the twists were so well-executed (though the big one was a tad predictable…I still loved it, though. No spoilers.). I didn’t get attached to any of the characters, but I still adored David, and the creepy little workshop he had going. Everything felt a little rushed, but with where the movie ended, I’m excited to see what else Ridley Scott’s going to pull out of his hat.

Blood Simple (1984)

Blood Simple (1984) - Watch on HBO MAX, HBO, Cinemax, and Streaming Online  | Reelgood

My family’s Fargo kick has made me put a whole bunch of Coen Brothers on my list. We watched this one last night, and…WHOA. I ASPIRE TO HAVE A DEBUT AS GOOD AS THIS. Sure, it took a while to pick up, but it had that signature tension that makes you get invested in so many of their films. Also, even though I’ve never been to Texas, it definitely captured that weird vibe you get when you’re in the South at night, and you’re super tired, and there’s all this humidity and weird ambience floating around…

Today’s song:

So that’s what I’ve been up to while I was gone. As always, thanks for stopping by! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (10/27/20)–The Other Side of the Sky

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Whew, my week went from “relaxing snow day” to “dear god I have at least 4 different tests and projects due next week” in the span of 24 hours…it’s only Tuesday, have mercy on my poor soul…

Hence why I’m writing this review a little later than usual. I’ll probably be a bit less frequent with my posting in the upcoming weeks, but I can do the usual memes and reviews, at the very least. ✌️

Anyway, I preordered this book back in July, mostly just on the basis of a) Amie Kaufman and b) THAT PRETTY COVER. It came in the mail with Skyhunter a few weeks back, and I’m pleased to say that The Other Side of the Sky was a genre-bending success!

Enjoy this week’s review!

The Other Side of the Sky by Amie Kaufman

The Other Side of the Sky–Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

My copy feat. Rey

North and Nimhara are from worlds that couldn’t be more different than each other. But a twist of fate will bring them together, with possibly disastrous consequences…

North is the prince of his domain in the sky, a floating city fueled by advanced technology. A tragic accident with his aircraft causes him to crash, thrusting him into the world below. The world that, legend has it, is uninhabitable.

The legends were wrong.

In the lands below lives Nimhara, anointed at a young age as the living vessel of the divine. But her people are suspicious of her–every god and goddess has a unique aspect. Nimhara has yet to summon hers.

North’s crash landing thrusts them both headfirst into the words of an ancient prophecy, once that may spell the end of both of their worlds. Will Nimh and North be able to join forces and save their homes?

Social - CLOUD CITY CANTINA (20.0) The Force Ghost Party! | Page 51 | Jedi  Council Forums

Melding opposing worlds of science in magic is uncommon in literature, and it may be for good reason. Both of the times I’ve read books with such concepts (see The Wrinkled Crown, Story Thieves), it’s fallen disappointingly flat. But never fear–The Other Side of the Sky is the shining exception to that rule! Though most of the book is set in Nimh’s terrestrial, magic-oriented home, the fantasy and science worlds both felt seamlessly fleshed out–and packed with lovely imagery, at that.

Going off of that…this is honestly worldbuilding that I could–and want to–lose myself in. Every inch of this fantastical realm felt so lived-in and authentic, and there wasn’t any instances where I felt like information was being unceremoniously dumped over my head. The imagery only accentuated the fact–rich, vivid, and immersive, it made reading this novel not just a way to take a break from my (overwhelming) reality, but an experience in and of itself.

And the characters! I really haven’t read much by Meagan Spooner (save for These Broken Stars and Unearthed, which are others that she co-wrote with Kaufman), but Amie Kaufman (or, at least *partially* Amie Kaufman) never misses the mark with every aspect of the characters, from their individual personalities to their chemistry. Nimh was not only intelligent and resourceful, but she had an authentic vulnerability to her as well. Anyone with a big responsibility on their shoulders (even though I don’t know anybody who’s actually a living/god/goddess/goddexx…hello?) will absolutely relate to her. North was similarly cunning, but it was kind of funny to see how bumbling he first was upon landing in Nimh’s world and seeing how he coped with knowing nothing at all about his surroundings. Made for some great character development, too.

Oh, and the representation! Both Nimh and North are implied to be POC, and North not only has two moms, but was in a polyamorous relationship with a girl and another boy, so he’s poly and bi (or pan or omni? not entirely sure, but I’m here for it either way)! 🙂 (Sidenote…I kind of imagined North like Hunter from Raised by Wolves…random, but I thought it was worth noting…)

Raised by Wolves, Part 4 – Weird Getting Weirder (Season 1 Episodes 8 & 9)  | 25YL
Hunter’s the one on the left in this picture, for reference. There’s very few pics of him when I google him, for some reason…I guess it’s bc the show’s newish…EH I digress

All in all, a vividly designed and lushly written melding of science fiction and fantasy. 4 stars!

Beautiful 8-bit Color Cycling Pixel Art - Imgur | Pixel art background,  Pixel art, Vaporwave art

The Other Side of the Sky is the first in a duology, followed by an untitled second book set to be released next year (2021). Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner together are also the authors of the Starbound Trilogy and the Unearthed duology. Kaufman and Spooner have also written several series on their own, including the Elementals trilogy (Kaufman), the Illuminae Files (Kaufman, cowritten with Jay Kristoff), the Aurora Cycle (Kaufman, cowritten with Jay Kristoff), the Skylark trilogy (Spooner), Hunted (Spooner), and Sherwood (Spooner).

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Books

YA Reads for Asexual Awareness Week

Hi again, bibliophiles!

I’m so glad that we have a snow day…I was trying to find a good day to fit this post in, and now we have the perfect opportunity!

As some of you know, this week, October 25-31, is Asexual Awareness Week, or Ace Week for short! The whole week is meant to celebrate everyone on the asexual spectrum (asexual, aromantic, demisexual, and more) and spread awareness about the community. All too often, this community is unjustly discriminated against, even in LGBTQ+ spaces, which never fails to break my heart. Well, if I haven’t made myself clear enough, I’ll just go out here and say that everybody on the asexual spectrum is so loved, so valid, and so beautiful!

For more information about all this, check out the official website for Ace Week!

Positive Love GIF - Positive Love Asexual - Discover & Share GIFs

So for the occasion, I decided to compile a list of YA books with characters all over the asexual spectrum–among them on this list are characters who are asexual, demisexual, aromantic, and more. Thing is, SHAME ON ME FOR NOT READING ENOUGH ASPEC LITERATURE. I try my best to, and I found some examples, but not enough ones that I’ve actually read to make a substantial list. So, the first half of this post is ace books that I’ve read, and the other half is ace books that are on my TBR.

Let’s begin, shall we?

THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA READS FOR ASEXUAL AWARENESS WEEK

BOOKS THAT I’VE READ:

The Sound of Stars, Alechia Dow

Amazon.com: The Sound of Stars (9781335911551): Dow, Alechia: Books

GENRE: Science fiction, dystopia, romance

REPRESENTATION: Ellie (protagonist) is demisexual and biromantic, in a straight-passing relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Sound of Stars is one of my favorite reads of this year–POC/LGBTQ+ representation, lots of references to YA literature and music, and fighting against the patriarchy!

Elatsoe, Darcie Little Badger

Amazon.com: Elatsoe eBook: Little Badger, Darcie, Cai, Rovina: Kindle Store

GENRES: Fantasy, mystery, paranormal

REPRESENTATION: Elatsoe (protagonist) is asexual

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’m so lucky to have gotten an eARC of this one over the summer. Besides having great asexual representation, the author is Lipan Apache, and so is Elatsoe! A wonderful paranormal murder mystery with lots of lovely ghost critters.

Sawkill Girls, Claire Legrand

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

GENRES: Horror, paranormal, fantasy

REPRESENTATION: Zoey (one of three protagonists with alternating POVs) is asexual

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Another five-star read of mine this year. There’s no shortage of great LGBTQ+ representation from this one; beyond Zoey’s asexuality, and the other two protagonists (Val and Marion) end up being in a wlw relationship.

Tarnished Are the Stars, Rosiee Thor

Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor

GENRES: Science fiction, fantasy, romance

REPRESENTATION: Nathaniel (one of two protagonists with alternating POVs) is aromantic/asexual

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Another lovely sci-fi with a bluish purple color scheme on the cover! There’s a beautiful scene where Nathaniel discovers his identity, and it’s so tenderly beautiful. Plus, there’s a wlw relationship between the other protagonist (Anna) and another secondary character as well!

Radio Silence, Alice Oseman

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

GENRES: Contemporary, fiction

REPRESENTATION: Aled (not the main character, but plays a central part in the story) is asexual

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I just finished this one up on Sunday night. It’s a rough ride, to be sure, but it’s a powerful novel.

And look at this adorable character art by the author, Alice Oseman!

Alice Oseman on Twitter: "with minutes to spare, here's a final Pride Month  drawing - the Radio Silence five at Pride together! Daniel wasn't sure  whether he wanted to go because he

Dare Mighty Things, Heather Kaczynski

Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski – quirkyandpeculiar

GENRES: Science fiction

REPRESENTATION: Cassandra, the protagonist, is asexual

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25

A tense, thrilling and diverse sci-fi that will have you on the edge of your seat!

BOOKS ON MY TBR:

Loveless, Alice Oseman

Loveless by Alice Oseman

GENRES: Contemporary, fiction

REPRESENTATION: Georgia, the protagonist, is aromantic/asexual

(Sidenote: why does “aromantic” keep autocorrecting to either “romantic” or “aromatic?” The audacity…)

I’ve had most of Oseman’s novels on my TBR for quite a while (Radio Silence was my first exposure), and this sounds like a lovely aro-ace coming of age story!

Beyond the Black Door, A.M. Strickland

Amazon.com: Beyond the Black Door (9781250198747): Strickland, A.M.: Books

GENRES: High fantasy, romance

REPRESENTATION: Kamai, the protagonist, is biromantic/asexual

I have this one on hold at the library, and it should be coming soon…🤞

Royal Rescue, A. Alex Logan

Royal Rescue by A. Alex Logan

GENRES: High fantasy, romance

REPRESENTATION: Gerald (protagonist) is aromantic/asexual

I’ve been meaning to read this for a while, and it sounds like a great LGBTQ+ fantasy! And while I’m on the subject of this book, I’ll direct you to Alex Logan’s amazing blog, Almost, Almost, where they review LGBTQ+ books of all kinds!

Summer Bird Blue, Akemi Dawn Bowman

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

GENRES: Contemporary, fiction

REPRESENTATION: Rumi (protagonist) is aromantic/asexual

I read one of Bowman’s other novels, Starfish, a few years back and I remember it being powerful, so I hope that this one might be even better!

Daughter of the Burning City, Amanda Foody

Amazon.com: Daughter of the Burning City (9780373212439): Foody, Amanda:  Books

GENRES: High fantasy, mystery

REPRESENTATION: Luca (secondary character who is supposed to play a major role) is demiromantic/asexual

I put this on my TBR over the summer and completely forgot about it, so hopefully I can read it soon…

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these novels? What are your thoughts? Any other books with ace rep that you recommend?

Overwatch Pride Flag Icon Requests 🏳️‍🌈 | Wiki | Overwatch Amino

Oh, and one more thing: I just found out a few hours ago that today is also Intersex Awareness Day! I hardly see any intersex rep in literature, so if any of you have good intersex book recs, don’t hesitate to tell me about them in the comments!

Intersex Pride Heart Gif - Album on Imgur

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

That’s it for these ace week recommendations! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (10/20/20)–Skyhunter

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I’ve been a fan of Marie Lu’s for a good three years, and since first reading Warcross, she’s been one of my favorite authors. So of course I had to preorder Skyhunter over the summer (and who wouldn’t, with that gorgeous cover?).

It came in the mail the Sunday before last, and by the time I finished my library holds, I realized that I never knew how much I needed this book in my life right at that time. Last week was an incredibly taxing and emotional week for me, and immersing myself back into Lu’s lush prose was just the thing I needed to get me crawling back out of the pit of despair I’d fallen into. And even if I hadn’t been in such a dark place last week, I’m positive that I would have loved Skyhunter just the same.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Skyhunter (Skyhunter, #1) by Marie Lu

Skyhunter (Skyhunter, #1)–Marie Lu

My copy, ft. Rebel, Wildcard, a cool filter, and a metal bookmark I got from the preorder offer 🙂

Talin has lived a life of turmoil. Her home country of Basea was swallowed by the Karensa Federation, and she and her mother were forced to flee to Mara, the only nation who hasn’t been choked by their iron grip. But the warfront shrinks every day, and hordes of Karensa’s Ghost–captured humans that have been mutated and trained to kill–encroach on Mara’s territory every day. Fighting against them are the brave Strikers, Mara’s league of warriors trained to keep the Ghosts at bay.

When a defector is brought from the Karensa Federation, Talin knows that he hold secrets far beyond what Mara and the Strikers could have possibly imagined. Assigned to keep watch over him, Talin soon learns that his name is Red–and that he may hold the key to turning the tables on the Karensa Federation. But should she go against the Strikers based solely on faith–or leave Red to die?

Brice Jale's review of Temptation and Tights

Skyhunter came into my life during a rough patch (which still hasn’t entirely faded), so that may or may not put a bit of bias on my high rating. But then again…it’s Marie Lu, of course I’m going to adore it. Over the past few years, Lu has proven herself to be a true master of her craft, and Skyhunter is no exception–a tale of resilience and resistance in a time where we all need just that.

I’ll spare you all from my blabbing about the cover, but seriously, I could go on for DAYS about it–the minimalist style, the blending of the colors, the figures…the EVERYTHING?

Now then…

Marie Lu was one of the first pioneers of YA Dystopia with her Legend trilogy, and with Skyhunter, she proves once more that she is a wordsmith to be reckoned with. Every detail–be it in the worldbuilding, the characters, or the plot–made me love the story ten times more, and there’s clear evidence on every page that Lu truly poured her heart and soul into this tale.

As with most of her novels, the characters are what stood out the most to me. Talin is such a stubborn yet resilient heroine, and her determined nature drove the story into fantastic places. Red was my personal favorite–he had wonderful chemistry with Talin and the rest, and I loved all of his little quirks and his sarcastic mannerisms. (Also, his mouse deserves a medal–that poor thing’s probably traumatized from riding around in his pocket while Red just…does his thing.) Jeran and Adena had wonderful chemistry with them, and Lu did an incredible job of making them feel fleshed-out and authentic. Also, even though I could go for Talin and Red being a thing, I appreciated that Lu didn’t throw them headfirst into insta-love or a forced romance. Again–there could be an ADORABLE possibility for some classic enemies-to-lovers romance by the time book 2 rolls around, but it could honestly work either romantically or platonically.

Skyhunter has plot twists aplenty, most of which I didn’t see coming. Combined with the fast-paced plot and gripping action, I just could NOT put this book down–every time I had to set it down, I found myself anticipating getting to read more of it later on. There’s no shortage of vivid imagery, and I felt immersed in the story in a way that I haven’t felt in quite some time. The worldbuilding helped the latter fact as well–the different cultures of each country that the characters visited had such well-thought-out cultures, and everything felt wholly real, like I could just walk through the pages, and I’d be in Talin’s mother’s house, or on the middle of the warfront. My favorite aspect of the worldbuilding, as far as the Karensa Federation goes, was that of the Ghosts. I’m just a sucker for any kind of freaky, Mike Mignola-style monsters in stories, so…(I kind of imagined them how the wendigos are drawn in B.P.R.D.)

TW FOR THE IMAGE BELOW: Blood

For me, this is the most perfect example of the nature and atmosphere of  Hellboy and everything he stands for. : Mignolaverse

And through it all, there’s themes of fighting back–against colonialism, against discrimination and prejudice, and against all odds. It’s just the right blend of resourceful determination that we need in these troubling times, and even though most of us have grown tired of dystopias as a whole (seeing as we’re currently living in one…[ahem]), it’s a must read for all.

All in all, another stunning gem of a novel to add to Marie Lu’s near-flawless repertoire, and a tale of resistance and resilience that will stand the test of time. 4.5 stars!

6 Things We Know About 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' So Far

Skyhunter is the first book in the Skyhunter duology, followed by an untitled, forthcoming second novel set to be published in 2021. Marie Lu is also the author of the Legend series (Legend, Prodigy, Champion, and Rebel), the Young Elites trilogy (The Young Elites, The Rose Society, and The Midnight Star), the Warcross series (Warcross and Wildcard), and the standalone The Kingdom of Back.

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Books, Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (10/19/20)–Ghost Wood Song

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

Before I begin, thank you so much for 300 followers! Thank you so much for sticking around, tagging me in things, and spreading the word and the bookish love 💗

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’m back with another paranormal read for this fine spooky season. This one just came out this July, and all it took for me to put it on my TBR was the comparison to Sawkill Girls in the description. (Again–I’m a woman of simple tastes 🤣)

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (10/19/20)–GHOST WOOD SONG by Erica Waters

Amazon.com: Ghost Wood Song (9780062894229): Waters, Erica: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

Sawkill Girls meets Beautiful Creatures in this lush and eerie debut, where the boundary between reality and nightmares is as thin as the veil between the living and the dead.

If I could have a fiddle made of Daddy’s bones, I’d play it. I’d learn all the secrets he kept.

Shady Grove inherited her father’s ability to call ghosts from the grave with his fiddle, but she also knows the fiddle’s tunes bring nothing but trouble and darkness.

But when her brother is accused of murder, she can’t let the dead keep their secrets.

In order to clear his name, she’s going to have to make those ghosts sing.

Family secrets, a gorgeously resonant LGBTQ love triangle, and just the right amount of creepiness make this young adult debut a haunting and hopeful story about facing everything that haunts us in the dark.

So why do I want to read this?

number seven, ellen page, the white violin and gif - image #6945843 on  Favim.com

Ooo, hornets and pythons on the cover? Could’ve put this one on last week’s Top 5 Saturday…

There’s only one thing that I love more than a good paranormal story…and that’s an LGBTQ+ paranormal story! I just checked, and Erica Waters has confirmed that the protagonist is bisexual, and there are two lesbian characters as well!

In the description, there’s several common YA tropes that I spotted (a YA heroine with an [ahem] interesting name and a love triangle), but at least Ghost Wood Song sounds like it at least puts a fresh twist on some of them. I may despise love triangles, but hey, this one isn’t where the two love interests are two white boys that are identical in everything but hair/eye color and personality. So I think it’ll do me some good to stick around.

Also, I love the connection to music! The premise of calling the departed from their graves with the power of music is such an inventive idea, and I have my fingers tightly crossed that Waters will execute it well.

All in all–bi protagonist and spooky vibes? Say no more.

White Light – a poem – Fallen Angel On the Run

Today’s song:

I’ve been thinking about this song quite a lot in the past few weeks…

I always make playlists for my WIPs, but this one’s snaked its way into the outline for the story I’m working on for NaNoWriMo. Desperately hoping to channel some weird, Legion-esque vibes for a certain scene to channel this kind of energy…

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

Posted in Books, Top 5 Saturday

Top 5 Saturday (10/17/20)–Books with Animals on the Cover 🐝 🦅 🦋 🐍 🦌

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles!

It’s time for another Top 5 Saturday! This was originally started by Devouring Books, and it sounded like such a fun post to take part in. Today’s topic is books with animals on the cover. I’ve decided to mix it up a little bit today and pick some books from my TBR.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE FOR OCTOBER: 

10/3/20—Intimidating Books

10/10/10—Feminist Themes

10/17/20—Animal on the Cover

10/24/20—Wishlist

10/31/20—Vampires 

Rules!

  • Share your top 5 books of the current topic– these can be books that you want to read, have read and loved, have read and hated, you can do it any way you want.
  • Tag the original post
  • Tag 5 people

Let’s begin, shall we?

TOP 5 SATURDAY (10/17/20)–BOOKS WITH ANIMALS ON THE COVER

The Raven and the Reindeer, T. Kingfisher

The Raven and the Reindeer by T. Kingfisher

Do animal skulls count? I mean, even if they didn’t, at least we’ve got this little raven…

This one’s been on my TBR for ages, maybe I should pick it up soon…

Panther in the Hive, Olivia A. Cole

Panther in the Hive by Olivia A. Cole
25 Easy DIY Ways To Help Save The Bees | Bee, Funny gif, Save the bees

I’m a huge fan of Cole’s Faloiv series, so hopefully this one won’t disappoint!

Beyond a Darkened Shore, Jessica Leake

Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake

YA as a whole seems to have quite the affinity for crows and ravens…

A Thousand Perfect Notes, C.G. Drews

Amazon.com: A Thousand Perfect Notes (9781408349908): Drews, C.G.: Books

I have almost everything of Drews’ on my TBR, so I should probably get around to reading this or The Boy Who Steals Houses sometime soon…

Viper, Bex Hogan

Isles Of Storm And Sorrow Viper: Hogan, Bex: 9781510105836: Amazon.com:  Books

Most of the pirate-related books I’ve read recently have been rather disappointing, but hopefully this one will change things. Plus, that cover…

I TAG ANYONE WHO WANTS TO PARTICIPATE!

7 Impressive Facts About Bees | Papa John's

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Top 5 Saturday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Tags, Books

Fictional Family Book Tag

Happy Friday, bibliophiles! Man, I’m so glad to have a few days off…

Brianna @ Brianna’s Books and Randomness tagged me (thanks so much!), but unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find who created the tag. (If you know, please let me know!) I thought it sounded like a lot of fun, and the results were definitely interesting…

Rules:

  • Pick 8 books off your shelves (try to not pick just your favorites!)
  • Arrange them into a random order (randomizers are good for this).
  • In the order they are arranged, open them to a random page and write down the first name you see. Don’t mix up the names!
  • In the last book, find the name of an animal/pet and write it down.
  • Put the names in the right category.
  • Tag people (spread the love) copy and paste these rules in your post, or write them out yourself.

Let’s begin, shall we?

PARENT #1

The Final Six | Alexandra Monir

Leo–The Final Six (Alexandra Monir)

I guess I could go with this? I suppose his more devoted/determined qualities might make him a decent father? I guess?

PARENT #2

Amazon.com: Crier's War (9780062823946): Varela, Nina: Books

Queen Junn–Crier’s War (Nina Varela)

UMM…I REALLY DON’T KNOW HOW TO FEEL ABOUT THIS DEVELOPMENT…

SIBLING #1

Defy the Worlds (Constellation, #2) by Claudia Gray

Abel–Defy the Worlds (Constellation, #2) (Claudia Gray)

Okay, things are definitely starting to look up. Abel would be such a wonderful sibling to have–he’s such a lovable character, and I think he’d be a super supportive sibling.

SIBLING #2

Amazon.com: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files) (9780553499117): Amie Kaufman,  Jay Kristoff: Books

Kady–Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff)

Okay, so this tag leaves a lot to be desired in the fictional parent category (shoutout to my actual parents for being the most amazing and supportive people), but KADY WOULD BE AN AMAZING SISTER. SHORT GIRLS UNITE!

And on that subject, WHO’S EXCITED FOR MEMENTO? I preordered it, I can’t wait to read it!

COUSIN

Amazon.com: The Poet X (9780062662804): Acevedo, Elizabeth: Books

Xiomara–The Poet X (Elizabeth Acevedo)

Xiomara would be such a cool cousin! I feel like we could have so much in common, with myself as an aspiring writer and her as a budding poet.

BOYFRIEND/GIRLFRIEND/SIGNIFICANT OTHER

Amazon.com: Wild Blue Wonder (9780062563996): Sorosiak, Carlie: Books

Elliott–Wild Blue Wonder (Carlie Sorosiak)

It’s been a few years since I’ve read Wild Blue Wonder and I remember next to nothing about Elliott, so…uh… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

BEST FRIEND

Amazon.com: Wildcard (Warcross) (9780399547997): Lu, Marie: Books

Zero–Wildcard (Warcross, #2) (Marie Lu)

Ooh…Zero might be an interesting best friend to have, but not exactly the most trustworthy one…

PET

Amazon.com: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's  Peculiar Children) (9781594746031): Riggs, Ransom: Books

Addison–Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs)

Addison Quotes | Peculiars Amino

AHAHAAAAAAA YES

I’m more of a cat person, but I wouldn’t say no to having Addison at my side.

I TAG:

Season 2 Cheers GIF by Pose FX - 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 Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (10/13/20)–To Sleep in a Sea of Stars

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I think…I think I’m one of the few people that didn’t pick this up after The Inheritance Cycle? My brother loved them, but I never got around to reading them. Hence why I bought this book in the first place–as a birthday present for him. It ended up arriving a good month before his birthday, so I figured I’d read it before I wrapped it up for him. (I was intrigued, anyway–Prometheus vibes, anyone?) The first half was painful to read at points, but it picked up at the halfway mark by a long shot.

Enjoy this week’s review!

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars - Christopher Paolini - Paolini.net

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars–Christopher Paolini

Kira Navárez, a budding xenobiologist, has just uncovered an artifact that could determine the fate of the galaxy. When the coating of dust surrounding it grows a mind of its own, she knows that something is awry. What she didn’t anticipate was to be thrown into the beginnings of interstellar war, and approaching first contact with a potentially hostile species. Can she face the gravity of her consequences alone, or will she succumb to the war inside and outside of her?

BadSciFilm: Prometheus | The Other Sociologist

Let’s just start off with something I’d like to discuss: weaving pop culture references into literature. I’m 100% for it, most of the time–I love finding those hidden Easter eggs and discovering that the author may have a like mind. But there’s a certain art to slipping them in–drawing them from a variety of sources, spreading them out, making them subtle; placing them in a way that works for the story, but making them just noticeable enough to pop out in a way that makes the reader go “oh hey, That Thing!” without it being wholly distracting. I’ve read a variety of novels where this works, and lots that haven’t.

Remember how I said that I was initially drawn to reading this from the likeness to Prometheus?

Well…

Can we talk about the first half of the book? For lack of better words, and I hate to say this…it feels like Alien/Aliens fanfic. And it’s almost…self-aware of the fact? There’s no shortage of similar plot lines, and even the references scattered throughout only emphasize the fact. In the first 200-300 pages alone, we have:

  • Kira’s homeworld, Weyland
  • A ship AI called Bishop
  • Several references to a minor character (I think?) named Geiger
  • Kira using Ellen as a fake name (as in Ellen Ripley)

(I may have missed a few, but these are the ones that most prominently stood out for me.)

Paolini’s clearly drawn quite a lot of inspiration from the mythos of Ridley Scott and James Cameron–and I don’t blame him–but it really isn’t subtle. At all. There’s several little threads that felt veeeeeeeery similar to said films…

…And then the second half came along!

For me, the second half saved the novel, really. Whether or not that was influenced by the quote from David Bowie’s “Blackstar” at the beginning of Part 3 is up for debate. (Hey, I’m a woman of simple tastes.)

From there, Paolini’s originality and fast-paced plot truly shone through, making for a tense and riveting sci-fi.

My favorite aspect of the novel was absolutely the Jellies/Wrannui (wait, did I spell that right?). Their design, all of the little intricacies of their culture and society were so well thought out, and I had such a blast getting to know all of the ins and outs of them. I liked Itari a lot, even though they had a fairly small role.

As far as the characters go, I didn’t get super attached to any of them, but they all had at least a decent amount of personality and development. There’s a pretty diverse cast as well, so kudos to Paolini for that as well. The romance between Kira and Falconi definitely felt like an afterthought and didn’t add anything to the story, but all of the other interactions between the characters were alright. But on that subject…is it weird that my favorite character was a ship AI? I LOVED Gregorovich–he was the most fascinating out of all of them for me, and I loved the psychological aspect that Paolini explored with his character. Reminds me a bit of a Kaufman/Kristoff type of AI–a slightly more unstable Magellan, or a far more calmed down and sane AIDAN? You decide!

This is my first exposure to Paolini’s writing, and it was…hit or miss for me? It tended to be quite choppy and terse, which was both a blessing and a curse. (Whoops, did I just rhyme? Would ya look at that…) Sometimes it had the effect of making a scene appropriately tense, but it occasionally erased some of the emotion in the character interactions. The dialogue had a similar quality to it–not quite authentic, but not so bad that it made the characters feel/sound cardboard.

A lot of the reviews I’ve skimmed through have complained about some of how drawn out the scientific aspects of the novel were, but they didn’t bother me at all; in fact, they had the opposite effect on me. The research made the world feel fully fleshed out, and while it did have moments of sounding jargon-y, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment. Apparently Paolini spent years researching the science behind some of this novel’s aspects, and it’s clearly evident in every word. (And yes, it’s a really long novel, but I think that the battle scenes went on longer…maybe parts of those should have been cut out as opposed to all of the aforementioned content.)

All in all, a well-thought-out sci-fi that suffered from too much borrowing in the first half, but rocketed to a tense and gripping second half. 3.25 stars.

Prometheus Gif - ID: 75033 - Gif Abyss

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is confirmed to be a standalone, but will be the first in Paolini’s future Fractalverse. He is also the author of the Inheritance Cycle, consisting of Eragon (book 1), Eldest (book 2), Brisingr (book 3), and Inheritance (book 4).

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Books, Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (10/12/20)–Kingdom of Souls

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.

Continuing the theme of paranormal and horror novels for this lovely spooky season, here’s one that I’ve been meaning to read for a good year and a half. It seems to have gotten quite a lot of hype last year, and it looks fascinating! I don’t see many books that deal with witch doctors, and Kingdom of Souls looks amazing!

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (10/12/20)–KINGDOM OF SOULS by Rena Barron

Amazon.com: Kingdom of Souls (9780062870957): Barron, Rena: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

Magic has a price—if you’re willing to pay.

Born into a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval.

There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, and Arrah is desperate to find the culprit.

She uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees… unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him. 

So why do I want to read this?

Soul GIFs | Tenor

Okay, first off, can we talk about the cover? No, coverS–plural–THEY ALL LOOK GORGEOUS. And the typeface on this cover…I JUST…AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

It's so beautiful - GIF - Imgur

[ahem] anyway…

Now, for the actual plot…I mean, COME ON, what’s not to love? Witch doctors, demons, POC rep, and impending paranormal doom? Of COURSE you have my attention! I also like the idea of a reverse Chosen One, if that makes any sense; instead of showing [ominous thunderclaps] Great Power™️ at a young age and being destined from birth to save the world and all that, we have a more relatable character who struggles to make her magic surface. I really wish we had more books like this–not only is it a bit more relatable (for me, at least), but it also makes for some great character development, if handled in the right way.

In short–I’m so glad I dug this up from my TBR. Excuse me while I see if it’s available at the library…

Bill Murray Christmas Movies GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Today’s song:

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

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: All These Warriors (Monsters, #2)

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

After finishing All These Monsters recently, I remembered that I’d seen the sequel floating around Edelweiss. I finished and loved book 1, so of course I had to request book 2–and I was approved for it! I read it last weekend, and while it didn’t quite pack as much of a punch as book 1, it was still a decent conclusion to the duology.

Enjoy this eARC review!

WARNING: This review contains some spoilers for book 1, All These Monsters, so tread lightly!

For my review of book 1, click here!

Amazon.com: All These Warriors (All These Monsters) eBook: Tintera, Amy:  Kindle Store

All These Warriors (Monsters, #2)–Amy Tintera

Grayson St. John is dead. Julian has revealed his true intentions. And Team Seven is in shambles.

Without any leadership, Clara, Madison, Edan and the others are stranded in scrab-infested London, harboring a dark secret–scrabs are being trained in secret facilities, and if they fall into the wrong hands, they could become an unstoppable army. Scrambling for a foothold, Team Seven must beat the odds once more, facing not only the consequences of this revelation, but the pasts that they thought they’d left behind forever.

CrissColfer RPH — Below there are 50 gifs of ballroom dancing, as...

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and HMH Books for Young Readers for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

All These Warriors marks the end of the Monsters duology. It’s only been a week and a half since I read book 1, but I know that it’ll have a special place in my heart, what with a mixed race/Latinx protagonist and the best kind of monster fighting in YA. All These Warriors was a bit of a disappointing sequel, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy it.

With everything that built up in book 1, I expected this duology to go out with a bang–and it certainly had the potential to, but didn’t quite hit the mark. Granted, it focused more on the human aspects than the monster-fighting that I enjoyed so much in book 1, so my mind was just going “haha monsters go brrrrrrr.” And while the aforementioned aspects were still just as well-written, it still made for a sequel that didn’t live up to the first book.

Let’s start off with the good stuff: just like in book 1, Tintera stuns with her authentic characters, and all of their individual developmental paths. I loved seeing Clara grow beyond who she was before and face her past traumas. There’s a lot of focus on the toxic relationship with Julian (EW), and Tintera does a great job of making me loathe him even more than I did in book 1, which is definitely saying something.

When He Couldn't Help but Tell the Truth | 25 Downright Brutally Honest  David Rose GIFs From Schitt's Creek | POPSUGAR Entertainment Photo 2
Me every time Julian showed up

All These Monsters had a lot of promise for a riveting, fiery conclusion, but personally, it ended up being a lot of scrambling all over the place, with some galas and scattered monsters in between. There were several instances that got me excited, but that ended up going out with a whimper and not the bang that I expected. Namely, there was an AMAZING plot twist about the origins of the scrabs (which I won’t spoil, for everyone’s benefit), and I was so excited to see the motive behind it, but it just…wasn’t resolved? It just floated there for a few pages and was never expanded upon further, which made me terribly sad. That was the most notable of said instances, but I feel like there were a few more.

And the ending? It wasn’t awful or amazing for me, it was just…there. It wasn’t quite satisfying, but I wanted a little bit more. I just wished that All These Warriors was on the level of its predecessor, but…sigh…

No Luke Skywalker GIF - No LukeSkywalker - Discover & Share GIFs

All in all, a sequel that didn’t live up to the stunning gem of its predecessor, but was entertaining all the same. 3.5 stars.

Rogue One Verge Of Greatness GIF - RogueOne VergeOfGreatness - Discover &  Share GIFs

Expected release date: July 13, 2021

Today’s song:

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