Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: July 18-24, 2022

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

I suppose this week hasn’t been terribly eventful. I’ve been able to read and draw more often, and I’ve been learning an unexpectedly challenging song on guitar (it’s “Held” by Smog if you’re interested—who knew that 4 chords could be so infuriating) Aside from a weird dream that I had yesterday (and waking up at midnight to screeching foxes in the backyard—welcome to Colorado 😀) that threw me off, I’d say it’s been a nice, peaceful week, one where I could soak up some more summer.

Reading-wise, I’d say it’s been a solid week. I started off with a fantastic book and the first book I’ve ever read with SPD rep (thank you, Not If I Can Help It!!), and while the rest of what I read didn’t get as good as that, I enjoyed the majority of what I read. I came back from the library with a few nice, thick books, so next week should be a promising reading week.

And now I’m a good three weeks into Camp NaNoWriMo! For most of the week, I got to a slower part in the plot of my WIP, and my motivation teetered off a little before I got excited again. There’s something invigorating to me about writing really tense scenes—I feel like my fingers just start speeding across the keys whenever the tension starts to ramp up.

Other than that, I’ve just been drawing, trying to play said Smog song on guitar (insert the sound of my finger squeaking on the high E string here), catching up on the new season of The Umbrella Academy, and listening to the new Superorganism and Jack White albums. (Superorganism was definitely hit or miss, but Jack White…man, as much as I want to hate him, Entering Heaven Alive is just SO GOOD)

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Not If I Can Help It – Carolyn Mackler (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

The Final Strife – Saara El-Arifi (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Follow Your Arrow – Jessica Verdi (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Fortune Favors the Dead (Pentecost and Parker, #1) – Stephen Spotswood (⭐️⭐️.5)

Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling – Lucy Frank (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Breathe and Count Back from Ten – Natalia Sylvester (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

She Who Became the Sun – Shelley Parker-Chan

Man o’ War – Cory McCarthy

The Blood Trials (The Blood Gift Duology, #1) – N.E. Davenport

Ophelia After All – Racquel Marie

Today’s song:

found this in episode 5 of The Umbrella Academy and I love it!!

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

Posted in Book Tags

A to Z Book Tag

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

I was in the mood for a book tag today, so I thought I’d try this one out. I found it over at Birdie’s Book Nook (who you should absolutely follow if you don’t already!). I haven’t been able to find who originally created the tag, so if you know, let me know and I’ll link to their blog.

This one looks like a lot of fun…let’s begin, shall we?

🔠A TO Z BOOK TAG🔠

A – Author you have read the most books from

I haven’t picked up a Warriors book since middle school, but given the sheer volume of books in this series (aren’t there…there’s probably 40 or 50 books now, right? I stopped at the 5th series 💀), I’d say that Erin Hunter is the author that I’ve read the most books from. These books were my childhood…

B – Best sequel ever

the emotional damage that Aurora Burning inflicted on me remains unparalleled…

C – Currently reading

I’m a little over halfway through Follow Your Arrow right now! I’m not super invested in the romance, but the bisexual rep is great.

D – Drink of choice

Definitely tea—hot cinnamon spice is my favorite!

E – E-reader or physical book?

As much as I love my Kindle, physical books always win. Can’t beat the feeling of having a physical book in your hand—plus, a Kindle can’t give you that book smell…

F – Fictional character you would’ve dated in high school

Auri and Kal from Aurora Rising are my ultimate bisexual panic, so I probably would’ve gone for either of them…

G – Glad you gave this book a chance

I don’t usually read historical fiction as often, but The Reckless Kind was an unexpected 5-star read!

H – Hidden gem

The Wide Starlight ended up being my first 5-star read of the year! It doesn’t get nearly as much praise as it should, it’s a stunning book!

I – Important moment in your reading life

Reading and subsequently falling in love with The Search for WondLa in 5th grade. I’d liked sci-fi books before, but I give that trilogy credit for being my gateway into sci-fi literature. Haven’t turned my back since.

J – Just finished

I finished The Final Strife yesterday! Definitely a long haul, but the worldbuilding was great.

K – Kind of book you won’t read

I don’t usually do horror, and I’m also not a huge fan of the kind of romance books with airbrushed, shirtless/scantily clad people on the covers. Again, no shade to the people that enjoy the aforementioned books, but they’re just not my thing.

L – Longest book you’ve ever read

Technically, Invincible: Compendium One is an anthology, but 1,092 pages is still pretty thick.

M – Major book hangover because of…

Aurora’s End WRECKED me…I think I re-read it two or three times before I could pick anything else up…

N – Number of bookshelves you own

Three—two for most of my books, and a smaller one for all my graphic novels and trade paperbacks.

O – One book you’ve read multiple times

I re-read The Kingdom of Back a few weeks back, and I loved it just as much as I did the first time!

P – Preferred place to read

Either the couch, my bed (at night), and when it’s warm enough, outside in the hammock.

Q – Quote that inspires you

For the sake of brevity, I’ll just link it here, but Neil Gaiman’s “Make Good Art” speech never fails to be an inspiration to me. Go read it. You won’t regret it.

R – Reading regrets

Spending any money—even just $4.99—on Off Balance. What an awful excuse for a sequel.

S – Series you’ve started and need to finish

I really enjoyed Surviving the City, I don’t know why I haven’t picked up From the Roots Up!

T – Three of your all-time favorite books

Aurora Rising, Heart of Iron, and Frankenstein have been my steady favorites for the past few years.

U – …I just looked through several iterations of this tag, and it looks like U got skipped somewhere down the line?

moving on…

V – Very excited about this release

I need to pick up Godslayers soon—I think it just came out last month!

W – Worst bookish habit

I read relatively fast, and sometimes it comes back to bite me…I’ve learned to read my school books a little slower, at least.

X – X marks the spot. Pick the 27th book from your top left shelf.

Turns out it’s Nyxia! It’s been years since I’ve read this one, but I remember enjoying it.

Y – Your latest purchase

I bought Adaptation and a few other books on my Kindle for my trip to California in June. This one was my least favorite of the books I bought, but it was still decent. I finished it on the plane ride back.

Z – Z snatcher: book that kept you up way too late

nothin’ like staying up way too late reading The Darkness Outside Us and having a minor existential crisis, am I right

I TAG:

Today’s song:

this album was pretty hit or miss for me, but I like this one—feels like their old stuff!

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 (7/19/22) – Not If I Can Help It

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Ever since I realized that literature has been something I could see myself in, I’ve been looking high and low for books with SPD representation. For years, all I managed to find were help books for parents SPD children (again—not diminishing their value, I was just looking for something else) and hardly any fiction in sight. By some miracle, I ended up coming across this book recently, and I was elated to find a book that finally reflected my disability! I set my expectations hesitantly high, but I ended up adoring Not If I Can Help It; I wish I had it when I was Willa’s age.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Not If I Can Help It – Carolyn Mackler

Willa has Sensory Processing Disorder—she hates the texture of certain foods, tags and seams on clothes irritate her to no end, and she gets overwhelmed easily. With her occupational therapist, she’s been able to manage it—and keep it a secret from her 5th-grade class. But when her dad breaks the news that he’s engaged to her best friend’s mom, she struggles to handle the change—she loves her best friend Ruby, but being her sister would be another situation entirely. As 5th grade draws to a close, can she and Ruby work things out—as best friends, and as sisters?

TW/CW: sensory overload, bullying

I’m going to go so far as to say that Not If I Can Help It is a fairly monumental book for me. It’s the first book I’ve ever read with a protagonist who has SPD, and as somebody with SPD, it fills my heart to see myself in a book like this. I’m so, so, so glad this book exists.

I’ve been trying to find any kind of SPD fiction for years, and Not If I Can Help It surprised me with how realistically and respectfully SPD was handled. I related so much to Willa—even though our specific brands of SPD differed (Willa’s seems to be more tactile, whereas mine are mainly auditory), I related so much to Willa’s experience, from her experience with handling change to the everyday things she does with her parents to cope with her SPD. (I JUST GOT MY OWN BODY SOCK TOO??? we love the body sock in this house) I’ve been going back to OT in preparation for college lately, and I also loved the scenes with Willa and her therapist in the sensory gym—again, so respectfully written and authentic! Mackler mentions in the acknowledgments that Not If I Can Help It was partially based off of her experience with one of her sons, who has SPD, and this is bound to be a book that so many of us with SPD will relate to—I certainly did.

It’s been a while since I’ve read any middle grade, but the gap was a lot easier to bridge than I thought it would be. Mackler’s writing, along with our shared experience, made me instantly feel for Willa. She’s such a unique, determined character, so full of life and spirit. I loved her individual quirks, and her growth over the novel made me wish that I had this kind of book when I was her age—I could’ve used a Willa when I was going into middle school. (Also, kudos to Willa for managing her SPD on top of living in MANHATTAN, wow…)

The story was additionally a super sweet one. I completely related to Willa’s reticence to having change, and all of the changes she experiences (her dad getting married to her best friend’s mom, going to middle school, and her longtime babysitter moving, to name a few) served to help her grow so much as a character. All of the supporting characters were wonderfully unique in their own ways, adding not only to the story, but helping to emphasize the point, to paraphrase Ruby’s mom, that we all have our “things” going on—not everybody is as normal as you may think they are, and that there will be all kinds of people to support you along your journey.

All in all, a book that I sorely wished that I’d been able to read when I was younger, but one that I’m so glad I got to read here and now. This is the first book with SPD rep that I’ve read, and given how authentically it was represented, it will always have a special place in my heart. Thanks so much to Carolyn Mackler and Willa. 💗 4.5 stars!

Not If I Can Help It is a standalone, but Carolyn Mackler is also the author of several middle grade and YA books, including Tangled, Infinite In Between, Love and Other Four-Letter Words, and The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things.

Today’s song:

adding this song to my internal list of songs with god tier intros

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

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: July 11-17, 2022

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

Everything’s been coming into perspective as far as college goes (AAAAAAAAAA) this week, so there have been Feelings aplenty…but I picked out my choices for classes and I’m picking them officially tomorrow, so hopefully I’ll be able to get the ones I want. (There was a whole comics class??? need that) I’ve been able to hike a little bit more this week as well, so that’s always nice to get outside when it’s warm. And not getting mosquito bites this week from said hiking was a relief.

I read a whole bunch last week and my momentum slowed down a little this week. The first two books I read were good, but the last two I’ve read have been underwhelming. I got a big batch of promising looking books at the library yesterday, and I know I say that every single week, but one of them happens to be the only book I’ve managed to find with SPD rep (Not If I Can Help It), so I’m hoping that’s good.

I’m halfway through Camp NaNoWriMo now! It took me an embarrassingly long time to find the stats section of the website, so it turned out I’d gotten behind on my word count; I found it eventually, and I’ve been able to get back on my feet and get back on track.

Other than that, I’ve been drawing, playing guitar, rewatching Raising Arizona (insert John Goodman screaming here) and watching Thor: Love and Thunder (always fun), and continuing to listen to an excess of Peter Gabriel. (I listened to all of So while cleaning the bathroom yesterday…of course I ended up getting choked up listening to “Don’t Give Up” while scrubbing the sink down 💀)

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Mean Little Deaf Queer: A Memoir – Terry Galloway (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The King and the Corpse – Heinrich Zimmer, edited by Joseph Campbell (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Circus Infinite – Khan Wong (⭐️⭐️.5)

The Space Between Worlds – Micaiah Johnson (⭐️⭐️.5)

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Not If I Can Help It – Carolyn Mackler

The Final Strife – Saara El-Arifi

Follow Your Arrow – Jessica Verdi

Fortune Favors the Dead – Stephen Spotswood

Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling – Lucy Frank

Today’s song:

my favorite song on So – lots of sweet memories of my parents playing this in the car when I was little

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

Posted in Books

YA Books for Nonbinary Awareness Week

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles!

This week, July 11-17, is Nonbinary Awareness Week, and today, July 14, is International Nonbinary People’s Day! I’ve done a few specific lists for books with different identities within the LGBTQ+ community, but I don’t think I’ve done a specific nonbinary one. Given that it’s the perfect time to do it, I figured I would shine a light on books with protagonists (and sometimes authors!) with nonbinary and gender non-conforming identities. Representation always, always matters, especially for a community who face scrutiny even from within the LGBTQ+ community. 💛🤍💜🖤

Let’s begin, shall we?

THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA BOOKS FOR NONBINARY AWARENESS WEEK

I Wish You All the Best, Mason Deaver

GENRES: Contemporary/realistic fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

All at once heartbreaking and tender, I Wish You All the Best is an incredibly powerful story of a nonbinary teen’s journey of acceptance and self-love.

Lakelore, Anna-Marie McLemore

GENRES: Magical realism, fiction, romance

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

Anna-Marie McLemore never misses, and this beautiful story of two nonbinary, Latinx, and neurodivergent teens and a secret world beneath a lake is proof.

Mooncakes, Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu

GENRES: Fantasy, paranormal, urban fantasy, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

An absolutely ADORABLE graphic novel about a nonbinary werewolf and a hard-of-hearing witch!

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea, Maggie Tokuda-Hall

GENRES: Fantasy, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea features a powerful genderfluid pirate as one of the main characters! There’s another prominent side character who is nonbinary as well.

The Ghosts We Keep, Mason Deaver

GENRES: Contemporary/realistic fiction

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Though I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I Wish You All the Best, The Ghost We Keep is still an incredibly powerful exploration of grief. It’s also one of the only books I’ve seen that features a protagonist that uses multiple pronouns—Liam uses he/they pronouns!

Under Shifting Stars, Alexandra Latos

GENRES: Contemporary/realistic fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Clare, one of the twins featured at the forefront of Under Shifting Stars, is genderfluid!

Mask of Shadows, Linsey Miller

GENRES: Fantasy, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Mask of Shadows is a super fun fantasy novel featuring a genderfluid assassin!

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these books, and if so, what did you think of them? What are your favorite books with nonbinary and gender non-conforming rep? Tell me in the comments!

Today’s song:

this is so creepy I love it

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (7/12/22) – The Reckless Kind

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

In my endless hunt for books with good disability rep, I found this one recommended in several places. I’m not usually one for historical fiction, but I was glad to see a disability book in a genre other than realistic fiction. To my surprise, it became a rare 5-star read for me—tender, heartfelt, and so unabashedly queer and disabled!

Enjoy this week’s review!

The Reckless Kind – Carly Heath

Norway, 1904. Even though marriage is what traditional society expects of her, Asta has no interest in marriage, and especially not in Nils, the rude boy her mother has set her up with. Her mother sees a life of domesticity as her only path, but Asta is determined to carve her own way. After Nils’ recklessness cements her wish to not marry, she runs away with her two friends, Gunnar and Erlend. They make a life caring for Gunnar’s family farm, but with the money running out and the rest of their village against them, it will take all of their strength to create their own destinies.

TW/CW (from Carly Heath, inside book): ableism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, suicidal ideations, violence, descriptions of injury, references to alcoholism, abuse, and self-harm

what if 😳 I melted down a priceless family heirloom 😳😳 and made it into a prosthetic arm for you 😳😳😳 (and we were both boys)

I picked up The Reckless Kind for the promise of queer and disabled rep, but I didn’t expect it to become a 2022 favorite of mine so quickly! It’s rare that I enjoy historical fiction this much, but this novel was a success on every front imaginable.

The diversity of The Reckless Kind is what drew me in, and it was such a central and beautiful aspect of this novel! This book focuses on not one, but four characters who are disabled—Asta has Waardenburg syndrome (includes single-sided deafness), Gunnar has Brown-Séquard syndrome and has a prosthetic arm, Erlend has an anxiety disorder, and Fred, one of the secondary characters, has Post-Concussion syndrome! On top of that, Asta is asexual, Gunnar and Erlend are in an mlm relationship, and the three of them are in a queerplatonic triad! Does it get any better than that? I think not. Just what I needed as a queer, disabled reader.

Each and every aspect of said diversity is handled so thoughtfully and lovingly; you can tell from the first page just how much love and care Heath put into writing this story. Even though their traditional society looks down upon them for a number of reasons, the journey these characters take to make their own way is heartwarming to read. Everything from the special modifications on Gunnar’s car to the life they carve out for themselves on the farm is filled with such palpable determination and love that only a bunch of outsiders making their own way can make me feel. Found family trope for the win, as always.

All of that would work fantastically on its own, but it’s Heath’s characters that made The Reckless Kind truly shine. Asta was an absolute DELIGHT. Just an absolute sweetheart. Even though the world has beaten her down so much, she has this consistent spunk and contagious kindness to her that she brings everywhere she goes. I loved the way she cared for all of the animals on the farm, and her story is sure to resonate with so many. Gunnar and Erlend were equally wonderful, and they balanced each other out perfectly, what with Erlend’s theatrical charm and Gunnar’s droll, self-deprecating humor. Their relationship made me giddy more than not; I loved how Heath depicted all the messiness of relationships, as well as two characters who did their best to work with each other’s problems. All three of them together made for the recipe for a near-perfect book.

Through it all, Heath presents a story of persistence despite the odds and the love it breeds between outsiders. All three of the characters faced parents, peers, and others who shunned them for parts of themselves, but this book was all about self-love and living in a world that doesn’t love you. It’s fiercely queer and disabled, and it’s the perfect story for anyone who has ever felt like the world is against them.

All in all, a tender, powerful, and heartwarming story of disability, queerness, and making your own way that quickly found its way to my 2022 favorites. 5 stars!

The Reckless Kind is a standalone and Carly Heath’s debut novel.

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 Books for Disability Pride Month (2022 Edition) + my experience with SPD and why representation really, really matters

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

It’s July again, which means—though it’s too often overlooked—that it’s Disability Pride Month here in the U.S.! Even as intersectional as feminism and diversity efforts have become in recent years, the disabled community has been left out of the picture more often than not. YA books are no exception—even now, it’s difficult to find good, solid disability rep, and even harder to find books from disabled authors. So uplifting disabled voices is always important, as with uplifting all kinds of marginalized voices.

I’ve talked a little about good and bad disability rep on this blog, but I haven’t talked about how it affects me—I did put it in my bio a few months ago offhandedly, but I’m disabled as well. I have sensory processing disorder (SPD), a neurological disability that causes me to over-respond to sensory input, mainly sound; My nervous system doesn’t translate stimulus like a neurotypical brain would, making me over-respond to certain sensory input. Big crowds, loud noises (fire alarms, stopping buses, and almost anything that you can find in a city) are major causes of anxiety and discomfort for me, and often cause me to go into a fight-or-flight position or overload entirely.

As a result, being in situations with lots of sensory stimuli, such as school or social gatherings, can be exhausting, what with trying to juggle keeping my cool with said stimuli and participating fully in an activity. It also affects how I go about ordinary tasks as well—driving, for instance, has been a struggle, what with my hypersensitivity combined with my iffy-at-best motor coordination. (Part of SPD is that the nervous system doesn’t fully integrate all of my senses, which is why tasks like these are difficult for me.) SPD makes me feel everything—sound especially—far more intensely than a neurotypical person might, which often overloads my system.

Here’s the thing: although I’ve seen other parts of my identity—bisexuality, being mixed race, or even just personalities like mine—represented in books, I’ve never seen SPD represented in a book. Not on TV, movies, or any other kind of media, either. Never. I’ve been looking for years, but most of the time, what comes up when I search for books with characters that have SPD usually ends up being help books for parents with SPD kids. (Not to dismiss the value of those books—just not what I’m looking for.) There have been a few, but even then, they haven’t been available at the library. (I’ve got one on hold though—let’s hope Not If I Can Help It is good) I could always be missing something (PLS IF ANYBODY KNOWS ANY KIND OF MEDIA WITH GOOD SPD REP DROP SOME IN THE COMMENTS BEGGING YOU), but it’s been frustrating going to google and getting something that decidedly wasn’t what you were going for.

Even though I’ve seen myself represented in other ways, it’s frustrating to not have book characters—even side characters—that have similar experiences to me. Growing up, I had my fair share of not-so-subtle teasing for expressing some of my symptoms, and in that respect, I had no role models, no fictional characters to really look up to in that respect. That’s part of why I’m writing books with protagonists that have SPD—there’s always a kid out there who just needs a fictional character to look up to when they have nobody else. This is why representation matters—for those who never saw themselves represented growing up, and for those to come who may have the chance to feel represented.

So here are my disability pride month recs for 2022—not all of them are from disabled authors, but I’ve done my best to compile a list from a variety of genres, a variety of backgrounds (POC, queer, etc.), and a variety of disabilities.

(for my list from 2021, click here!)

Let’s begin, shall we?

YA BOOKS FOR DISABILITY PRIDE MONTH

One for All, Lillie Lainoff

GENRES: Historical fiction, retellings

REP: MC with POTS (disabled author)

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

A Three Musketeers retelling featuring a swordfighting, chronically ill protagonist!

The Reckless Kind, Carly Heath

GENRES: Historical fiction, romance, LGBTQ+

REP: MC with Waardenburg syndrome, MC with Brown-Séquard syndrome, MC with anxiety, side characters with post-concussion syndrome (disabled author)

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’ll be reviewing this one soon—a beautiful and tender tale of a disabled, queerplatonic triad in 1900’s Norway!

The Weight of Our Sky, Hanna Alkaf

GENRES: Historical fiction

REP: MC has OCD

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A harrowing story of a girl with OCD in the Philippines searching for her mother during the race riots of 1969.

The Night When No One Had Sex, Kalena Miller

GENRES: Contemporary/realistic fiction, romance, LGBTQ+

REP: Multiple POVs; one MC has Lupus (chronic illness)

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

A diverse and funny story of four pairs of teenagers on prom night and a humorously failed sex pact.

The Boy Who Steals Houses, C.G. Drews

GENRES: Contemporary/realistic fiction, romance

REP: MC has anxiety, autistic side character (disabled author)

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

A messy and emotional story of a boy and his brother making their own in a world that turns its back on them.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder, Sara Barnard

GENRES: Contemporary/realistic fiction, romance

REP: MC is selectively mute, Deaf love interest

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

A tender, sweet romance with disability front and center!

Gallant, V.E. Schwab

GENRES: Paranormal, fantasy

REP: MC is mute and uses sign language to communicate

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

Though this wasn’t my favorite V.E. Schwab book, I loved its paranormal atmosphere!

Lakelore, Anna-Marie McLemore

GENRES: Magical realism, fantasy, fiction, LGBTQ+

REP: MC with ADHD, MC with dyslexia (disabled author)

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

Lakelore is one of the most intersectional pieces of magical realism or fantasy that I’ve ever read—both protagonists are nonbinary, Latinx, and neurodivergent!

Meet Me in Outer Space, Melinda Grace

GENRES: Contemporary/realistic fiction, romance

REP: MC has Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) (disabled author)

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

Although I wasn’t as big of a fan of the romance, I loved how Meet Me in Outer Space explored navigating disability in college!

On the Edge of Gone, Corinne Duyvis

GENRES: Science fiction, survival, post-apocalyptic

REP: Autistic MC (disabled author)

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

A gripping post-apocalyptic book featuring a determined, Autistic protagonist!

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these books, and if so, what did you think of them? What are your favorite YA books with disability rep? And please, does anybody have any recs for media with good SPD rep? Kinda desperate over here…

(I can only go with my headcanon that Jean Grey from X-Men has SPD for so long, folks, please…)

Today’s song:

I wanna hate Jack White so bad but HE JUST KEEPS PUTTING OUT SONGS LIKE THIS

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

Posted in Music

Sometimes, Forever – Soccer Mommy album review

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

In a continuation of my assertion that 2022 is the year that the music gods have blessed us, here’s a review of one of my most anticipated albums of the year!

I’ve been a fan of Soccer Mommy since hearing her on the radio years ago, listening to all of her albums and even seeing her live a few times (once opening for Vampire Weekend, the next time headlining—the crowd SUCKED for that one but she was great). So when I heard that she had a new album coming out this June, I was ECSTATIC. Unfortunately, the album ended up coming out on the same day that they announced that Roe v. Wade was overturned, so…yeah, that soured my mood for the whole weekend. But when I was able to get back out of the muck, I listened to this album, and it solidified itself as my favorite album of hers—each one just keeps getting better and better, and Sometimes, Forever was particularly adventurous!

(for my review of the album before last, color theory, click here!)

Enjoy this album review!

SOMETIMES, FOREVER – SOCCER MOMMY ALBUM REVIEW

TRACK 1: “Bones” – 8.5/10

You make me feel like I am whole again,

But I think your heart could use a tourniquet…

Soccer Mommy, “Bones”

Especially with the rest of the album to contextualize it, “Bones” is the perfect opening track for Sometimes, Forever. It feels just enough like classic Soccer Mommy that it feels timeless, but it’s a catchy, familiar-feeling song that eases you into the different direction that the rest of the album goes. On its own, it’s the perfect little indie-pop song: hooky, lyrically witty, and filled with bright guitars.

TRACK 2: “With U” – 9/10

This is where the album starts getting adventurous, and I’m 100% here for it! Lyrically, Allison is sharper than ever, but the addition of the more electronic instrumentals combined with her classic guitar work makes an immersive soundscape that swept me off my feet on the first listen. LOVE IT.

TRACK 3: “Unholy Affliction” – 10/10

This. THIS.

“Unholy Affliction” was the second single to be released from this album, and after “Shotgun,” this is what made me certain that I was going to love the album. My family and I agreed that it sounded like a Chelsea Wolfe song, something completely unexpected—and highly successful—for Soccer Mommy! Dark, immersive, and pulsating, “Unholy Affliction” was an instant favorite on the album, and one of her most daring songs to date.

TRACK 4: “Shotgun” – 8/10

Look at your blue eyes like the stars,

Stuck in the headlights of a car…

Soccer Mommy, “Shotgun”

This was the first single to be released for the album, and while it’s not the best on the album, like “Bones,” it’s an instantly catchy indie-pop song. In comparison to the rest of the album, it almost seems like Allison is playing it safe, but it’s also proof that even when she’s holding back, she can produce something as fun and memorable as this.

TRACK 5: “newdemo” – 7.5/10

Hear the city roar,

A creature that feeds behind closed doors…

Soccer Mommy, “newdemo”

Dizzy and strangely sweeping, “newdemo” strays into new territory like “Unholy Affliction” did. It’s clear that Soccer Mommy and company had fun messing around with different synths and distortions while producing this song; it feels like it’s actively being warped around as you listen to it, veering slightly off-key but bringing itself back together just as swiftly. Not quite as successful as some of its counterparts, but still a success in and of itself.

TRACK 6: “Darkness Forever” – 9/10

Again with the Chelsea Wolfe sounds!! “Darkness Forever” edges close to metal on several occasions, with a creeping bassline and heavy, distorted guitars. Just like “Unholy Affliction,” Soccer Mommy’s experimentations with darker sounds lead to nothing but success—definitely one of her best songs in recent years!

TRACK 7: “Don’t Ask Me” – 8.5/10

With its fast, punchy guitars and Soccer Mommy’s airy, alluring voice, “Don’t Ask Me” has an easy time of cementing itself as one of the highlights on Sometimes, Forever. While it doesn’t delve completely into darkness like “Darkness Forever” or “Unholy Affliction,” it’s unafraid to get heavier, which works completely in its favor. An instant earworm and one of my favorites off this album!

TRACK 8: “Fire In The Driveway” – 9.5/10

Saw it in your blue eyes

When you were just a small child,

Now you’re only ashes of a man…

Soccer Mommy, “Fire In The Driveway”

“Fire In The Driveway” grounds Sometimes, Forever after the fast-paced “Don’t Ask Me,” delving into the nostalgic melancholy that makes Soccer Mommy so memorable. With its instantly memorable lyrics and bright, echoing guitars, this one is an easy standout on an already fantastic album.

TRACK 9: “Following Eyes” – 7.5/10

The lyrics are as potent as the rest of the album, but there’s something about this that puts it lower on the list for me. It’s still a fantastic song, no question, but it’s almost as though it tries to mesh older Soccer Mommy with her newer, darker sound. It’s very close to making it, but there’s some tiny bit missing, something that doesn’t quite piece the whole thing together. Nonetheless, still a great song.

TRACK 10: “Feel It All The Time” – 8/10

Like “Bones” and “Shotgun,” this feels like a timeless Soccer Mommy song—if you had told me that it had been from color theory or even Clean, I would’ve believed you. Yet still, it easily finds its place on this album, deftly adding to the mix of borderline-playing it safe to exploring new territory.

TRACK 11: “Still” – 9/10

I don’t how how to feel things small,

It’s a tidal wave or nothing at all…

Soccer Mommy, “Still”

For the closing track, Soccer Mommy brings it home with a somber acoustic piece laced with ghosts of the strange synths that adorned a good portion of the album. Unlike “Following Eyes,” the blend feels natural, and Allison’s knack for bringing genuine emotion to the forefront creates a beautiful end to the album, and a beautiful song that can stand by itself.

I averaged out my ratings for this album, and it came out to about an 8.6! I’d say that’s right on the mark; with every album, Soccer Mommy gets better and better, and Sometimes, Forever is her best work yet—dark and bold, but unafraid to return to her candid, emotional roots. Love it!

Since this is an album review, consider the whole album today’s song.

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (7/5/22) – Among Thieves

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I forget when or how I came upon this book, but looking back, I sadly wish that I’d passed it by; I put it on hold at the library to have another queer fantasy book to read, but I ended up finishing it in about an hour feeling sorely disappointed. The reviews promised Six of Crows but gayer (of course you have my attention), but what I read ended up being a shameless Six of Crows ripoff.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Among Thieves (Thieves, #1) – M.J. Kuhn

Ryia Cautella is an infamous assassin, earning the name of The Butcher with her axe-wielding tactics. What she hides, however, is her past; after narrowly escaping the Guildmaster, the tyrant ruler of her kingdom, he and his lackeys have been searching all over the city of Callowwick for her. The only way out is to find her way into the Guildmaster’s highly fortified stronghold, and it’s a job she can’t do alone. With the help of Cal Clem, the head of a failing crime syndicate, and a band of criminals and misfits, Ryia may finally have a chance at freedom. But will her search for freedom cost Ryia her life?

TW/CW: slavery, violence, dismemberment, mentions of branding

I’ve noticed a trend over the past few years with YA; after the dystopian craze (mostly) blew over, fantasy heist books in the vein of Six of Crows started becoming far more popular. Unlike a lot of the dystopian books that came after books like The Hunger Games, however, the fantasy heist trend actually produced plenty of really fun, memorable books with a lot of originality. However, with every book trend, there come books that are obvious, blatant ripoffs of their inspiration. I hate to say it, but Among Thieves is one of them.

Now, I try to preface my negative reviews with this: I 100% understand how hard it is to put yourself out there into the book world. And there’s some slack I’m willing to give Among Thieves since it appears to be M.J. Kuhn’s debut novel.

That being said…all I can really say about Among Thieves is that it’s basically a Walmart version of Six of Crows.

Soon after the book started, I noticed all the pieces falling into place for a vague Six of Crows ripoff; apart from a little gender-swapping, most of the characters were nearly carbon copies of the iconic characters from Six of Crows; the only major difference I found was that there was a sapphic romance (sort of?) between Ryia (Inej, basically) and a gender-swapped version of Wylan (Evelyn), and that Cal (Kaz) just stood there on the sidelines. Otherwise, it was almost offensive how much these characters were almost carbon-copies of SoC characters—most notably Ivan, who was so, so similar to Matthias that it nearly gave me a headache. Same appearance, same vaguely-Northern/Western-European fantasy background, same personality…the only difference was that he was a forger. That was it. It’s always great if you take inspiration from certain books when you create your book—in fact, it’s impossible not to take some inspiration from something—but if it becomes as blatant as a ripoff as this, it’s just a steaming, unoriginal pile of garbage.

Nothing made much sense after Cal and Ryia assembled their crew. Granted, as soon as I saw how ripped-off the characters were, I started to lose faith in everything else. That being said, most of the heist made little to no sense, and the progression just felt like being tossed around to random places with seemingly no sense or purpose. They’re trying to break into this stronghold, and…now they’re in a prizefighting ring? Now they’re at sea again? It just felt like “now we’re in an airplane!” kind of nonsensical plot progression without any rhyme or reason.

As for what the reviews described as “Six of Crows but gayer,” I felt…more than a little let down. There was sapphic representation (sort of a will-they-won’t-they romance between Evelyn and Ryia), but they seemed to be the only queer characters. I would’ve liked it more if I was more invested in the characters, but it was…just alright. Nothing groundbreaking, and it wasn’t exactly “gayer” than SoC, since it had the exact same amount of queer rep that SoC did. I love sapphic fantasy any day, but it left me wanting a lot more. Most of the book did, really.

All in all, a half-baked ripoff of Six of Crows that seemed far too obvious for its own good. I slapped on a half star to my rating since Kuhn’s writing style had moments of being good, but that’s about all of the positives I can think of for this book. 1.5 stars.

Among Thieves is M.J. Kuhn’s debut novel, and the first novel in the Thieves series, followed by the forthcoming Thick as Thieves, slated to be published in 2023.

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: June 27 – July 3, 2022

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

Whew, it’s definitely been an eventful week—good and bad. On the bright side, I went shopping for a bunch of stuff for my dorm room, and I had a lot of fun!! I also went to jury duty for the first time (nerve-wracking, to say the least), and I went on a hike on Friday…and we got charged at by a moose calf. Welcome to Colorado. (Don’t worry—it swerved into the woods as soon as it saw us lol)

As far as reading went, I’ve had tons of fun reading in the hammock, and most of what I’ve read has been decent, at least, save for one unfortunate DNF (as much as I enjoyed Gideon the Ninth, Harrow the Ninth was way more convoluted than necessary and just ended up being a chore to read). I got some more great books at the library, and they all look promising. And Camp NaNoWriMo started later this week, so I’ve been chugging along through my newest WIP!

Other than that, I’ve just been drawing, getting caught in the rain, listening to a bit too much Peter Gabriel, and watching the last two episodes of Stranger Things (NO SPOILERS PLEASE I’M WATCHING THE LAST EPISODE TONIGHT)

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea – Axie Oh (⭐️⭐️.5)

The Most Dazzling Girl in Berlin – Kip Wilson (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)

Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster – Andrea Mosqueda (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Atlas Six (The Atlas, #1) – Olivie Blake (⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)

Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #2) – Tamsyn Muir (DNF – ⭐️⭐️)

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Bluebird – Ciel Pierlot

The Ghosts We Keep – Mason Deaver

Alone in Space: A Collection – Tillie Walden

Among Thieves – M.J. Kuhn

Today’s song:

good GOD I’m obsessed with this song

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