Book Review Tuesday (4/23/19)-Once and Future

Hey, everyone, and welcome to this week’s Book Review Tuesday!

First things first. Happy World Book Day to all you bibliophiles, first of all!

Second, Happy Birthday (and…death day too, poor guy) to the Bard, William Shakespeare!

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Can’t not mention that. We’ve read Romeo and Juliet and Othello in my English class this year, which I ADORED, and I look forward to getting into even more.

 

Now, onto this week’s review.

 

I went to my favorite bookstore the other day, and as soon as I saw Once and Future on the shelf, I knew that I HAD to buy it. I’d heard SO many good things about it, and what’s not exciting about a retelling of the tale of King Arthur that a) features a poc, LGBTQ+ girl as King (Queen?) Arthur, and b) is set in SPACE? I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

Already, this is one of the best books that I’ve read this year, and even though it’s only April, definitely one of the best YA books of 2019. (Or should I say…20-BI-TEEN???) (Sorry, low-hanging fruit there.)

Enjoy the review!

 

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Once and Future

For all of her life, Ari has known nothing but being on the run. She remembers little of her homeworld, and now lives on a space station with her older brother, trying to evade the clutches of the Mercer Corporation, who control nearly everything they can get their hands on in the galaxy. In a desperate attempt to escape the station and find their kidnapped parents. Ari crash lands her brother’s ship on a place called Earth. Upon arriving, she discovers a sword embedded deep within a stone…

…and pulls it out with little effort.

Ari is the 42nd reincarnation of King Arthur, and she is now tasked with saving her galaxy from the iron grip of the Mercer Corporation. With the help of a backwards-aging Merlin, her brother and friends, Ari must rise to the challenge, and bring peace and unity to a galaxy that desperately needs it.

 

 

Well…this is pretty much how my last two brain cells acted while I read this book…

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I laughed, I cried, I internally AWWWWW’d SO much…all the feels are present here. A fresh, inventive retelling of a classic tale, with a well-executed twist. I loved seeing each and every element pop up in its new form, everything from the Knights of the Round Table to Merlin (God, Merlin…he’s probably my favorite). The characters were lovable in every possible way, the plot kept me at the edge of my seat, and the writing was simultaneously witty and heartwarming. Plus, fabulous representation (poc, LGBTQ+, etc.) in most aspects.  5 stars on Goodreads, and I’d say about 9-9.5 on my rating scale. SOLID A.

 

I believe this is going to be a duology, and the next installment, The Sword in the Stars, is set to be released next year. *excited squealing*

 

Thank you so much for reading this, and have an excellent day!

 

 

 

 

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[tired noises of frustration ensue]

Yeah, sorry, I forgot this week’s Book Review Tuesday. Apologies.

 

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I just had a really busy day yesterday, and I didn’t have too much time at home, so I was unable to crank out a proper review.

Anway, I’ll try to post some more stuff soon.  I’m debating whether or not to review Hellboy (2019) because I’ve got some rather mixed feelings, and I’ve been thinking about a few more Hellboy/Mignolaverse related posts, so hopefully I’ll make up my mind before next week. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

Again, sorry. Have a great day, and please take care of yourselves. 😉

 

 

Book Review Tuesday (4/9/19)-Last of Her Name

Hello, fellow bibliophiles, and welcome to this week’s Book Review Tuesday!

 

I’ve begun to notice that I’m a bit of a sucker for retellings. Most of my library “hauls” include at least one retelling them. Sometimes I read them consciously, sometimes I don’t know that they’re retellings until I read somebody’s review on Goodreads. Some I absolutely adore, some I loathe with a passion. Some are very well executed, and some fall embarassingly flat. You get the idea.

I’ve also begun to notice that I’m immediately attracted to sci-fi retellings of the story of Anastasia. (*coughcough*HEART OF IRON*coughcough*) As far as retellings go, these ones are few and far between, but when they’re good, they’re good. Heart of Iron might just be my favorite book of all time (coming close with Frankenstein, Carry On, A Monster Calls, Neverwhere, To Kill a Mockingbird, and a few others), and Last of Her Name was no exception. Beautifully crafted and action packed, this one left me on the edge of my seat, grinning from ear to ear.

Enjoy the review!

 

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Last of Her Name

 

Stacia has heard the stories many times over; sixteen years ago, the ruling family of the Belt of Jewels were all assassinated, and from the ashes rose the tyrannical government that still stands to this day. Stacia has led a quiet, peaceful life in her parent’s vineyard, with her two childhood friends, Pol and Clio. But that quiet life is soon disrupted when the director of the cruel Union government arrives on her planet, intending to snuff out the loyalists-those who still support the murdered empire. What’s more is that the director claims that the princess of the empire is still alive, and she has gone by Stacia ever since.

Now on the run from the Union, Stacia and Pol mount a daring mission across the galaxy to save Clio–and to discover Stacia’s true identity.

 

 

Oh, where do I begin?

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First off, I ADORED the world-building. The Belt of Jewels is such an intricately-crafted galaxy, with a rich history, and…alright, not quite aliens, but we’ve got a pretty fantastic myriad of “adapted humans”. Although I wish that we’d gotten a more in-depth look at the various species, I loved seeing their individual cultures, planets, and how they fit into the grand scheme of the Belt of Jewels.

Plus, there’s an aquatic species of adapted humans that…okay, yeah, I imagined them all looking like Abe Sapien.

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The characters were all so lovable, and I found myself nearly crying for them-on multiple occasions. I didn’t love some of them at first, but almost every one of them grew on me quickly. The plot was wonderfully fast-paced, intricate, and engaging, with a perfect ending that tied everything together quite nicely, I’ll say. All in all, a solid 4.25/5, which lands at about an 8.5 to a 9 on my book rating scale. Highly recommend it!

Last of Her Name is a standalone (*single tear slides down cheek*), but I think that the ending is satisfying enough. It’s a shame that the galaxy probably won’t be explained in more detail, but I’m happy with what we’ve got.

 

Thanks so much for reading this review, and have a great rest of your day! And for those of you in the path of winter storm Wesley…please stay warm and take care of yourselves.

 

And for those of you who want another retelling and haven’t read this book/review, check out my review for Heart of Iron (see 8/14/18)!

Book Review Tuesday (4/2/19)-Ink, Iron and Glass

Hey, everyone, and welcome to the first Book Review Tuesday of April 2019! No jokes, that was all yesterday.

 

Anyway, this was one of the (many) library books that I devoured in…about a day.

I had too much time on my hands.

This was one of those books where I just glanced on my Goodreads to-read list, saw the pretty cover (aDORE those watercolors), and put it on hold at the library, with absolutely zero expectations. But I must say, Ink, Iron, and Glass was an inventive, unputdownable book!

 

Enjoy the review!

 

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Ink, Iron, and Glass

In an alternate version or our own world, a pen, armed with the right people, words, books, and intellect, can create an entirely new world. These worlds are created with the power of scriptology, and can house bizarre ecosystems, and even populations of unique people. Elsa and her scriptologist mother Jumi are not of this world; they dwell in a world created by other scriptologists; Jumi and Elsa are in charge of making sure their world is a well-oiled machine, with no faults, glitches, or catastrophes. But in a startling turn of events, Jumi is kidnapped, their house is ransacked and destroyed, and Elsa is forced to flee to Earth for answers. Her path of revenge leads her into 19th century Italy, where she teams up with a group of teenage alchemists and mechanists to track down her mother’s kidnapper. Will her mother–and the world that they lived in–be saved before her secrets are uncovered?

 

 

It’s difficult to place a genre on this book. At first glance, it seems as though it might be fantasy. I mean, that’s what the library labeled it as, so I’m not really gonna argue with that…

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But as I got further and further into the book, it seemed to be a mix of science fiction, fantasy, with a little bit of historical steampunk thrown in.

And I know what you’re thinking, oh, dear lord, STEAMPUNK…yeah, those sort of elements were present, but they were a small fraction, and didn’t dominate the book. Don’t worry, no top-hats-gears-and-goggles overload.

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All things considered, I think that’s a really good quality for a book to have. To have a book that can’t automatically be shoved into one genre is to have something made up of many different parts, working well in sync. It is to be something new, something original. And Ink, Iron, and Glass certainly was all of those things–wildly inventive, with fantastic world-building and lovable characters to work with all of the crazy and wondrous inventions and details.

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Whether you’re a fan of sci-fi, fantasy, or something else entirely, I’d most definitely recommend this read. No matter what genre you hail from, you’re sure to enjoy at least something about this book.

 

I just found out, like…ten minutes ago when I googled the cover that yes, there is a sequel! It’s called Mist, Metal, and Ash and it came out in late February of this year. I’ll have to get to that pretty soon. And it seems as though the author has intended for this series to be a duology, so this may be it. Huh.

 

Well, thank you so much for reading, and have a great rest of your day!

 

 

 

Higher, Further, Faster…FANTASTIC! (Captain Marvel review)

Well, I’ve got some good news and some bad news.

Bad news–the roads around Black Canyon of the Gunnison were too snowy, so they closed down the park yesterday, when we had planned to go. 😦

VERY good news–I saw Captain Marvel instead!

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My expectations were…slightly above average for this movie. It looked fun, at least–not as great as Black Panther or Infinity War, but not as much of a disappointment as Thor: Ragnarok (Unpopular opinion, I know). But man, my expectations were GREATLY exceeded! A healthy balance of action, heart, and pure fun that made for some much-needed levity in the MCU, especially after Infinity War. Also…first female-led MCU movie? SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY. COUNT ME IN!

 

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I was a little nervous for how Captain Marvel would turn out. Some of her lines in the trailer were…yes, I’ll admit, they made me cringe. (Namely, her tone of voice when she said “I’m gonna end it.” Oof.) But, lo and behold, overall, Brie Larson did a great job of capturing the ferocity, heart, and independent spirit of the iconic hero. Her chemistry with the other characters (Nick Fury, Maria, the Kree, among others) was obvious and very well-done, and the cast seemed to work very well together as a whole. (Also, no spoilers, but…I’m wholeheartedly shipping Maria and Carol. Couple of the year.) The characters were all very unique, and many of them had pivotal–and sometimes very unexpected–roles in the unfolding of the plot.

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This might have just been me, but I LOVED seeing this suit as well. After seeing it a few times in the comics (and thinking about how AWESOME it looked), I was so happy to see that they pulled it off very well in the movies. Captain Marvel’s Kree suit was also very sleek and well-designed, and–joy of joys–she’s not super scantily clad, either!

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The plot was also very well executed and put-together–unpredictable, detailed, but not so complicated and convoluted that it was difficult to understand. Every little detail had a purpose, many of which factor into the later Avengers films, as well as Endgame, which is coming out…shall I say frighteningly soon. I’m prepared to come out of the theater sobbing again, a la Infinity War…sheeeeeeesh, that was a rough ride.

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Another element that I really loved was the music–both score-wise and soundtrack-wise. The score was very modern and synth-y, reminiscent of the Stranger Things score. It was balanced perfectly, with a fair amount of electronic elements, but not so much that you’d think the movie was an EDM rave. The soundtrack was SPECTACULAR as well; because the movie is set in the 90s, we get to hear everything from Nirvana to No Doubt. I’ll admit that I was bopping my head through some of the fight scenes. 🤘

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And one more thing–can we all take a moment to appreciate this adorable furball that is GOOSE??? What a CUTE KITTY!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!! This guy honestly stole the show, and I’m 100% here for it. Also, you’ve probably heard some rumors about what Goose really is…no spoilers, but I’ve got a little hint:

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…just wait for it…

 

Anyway, an INCREDIBLE film, perfect for old and new Marvel fans, or for anyone who’d like a little fun. PLEASE go see it.

Have a great rest of your day–and, in some cases, your Spring Break! Enjoy it while it lasts! 😉

A Day at Natura Obscura

Surprise, surprise, this ISN’T a book review!

 

Today, I just wanted to take some time to catalogue my recent experience at Natura Obscura, an exhibit in the Museum of Outdoor Art (MOA) in Englewood, CO.

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Natura Obscura is an interactive art exhibit, a combination of sculptures, recycled materials, and technology. Its theme is a bizarre sort of fantastical, nighttime forest, where strange creatures dwell in every nook and cranny. With an app on your phone, you can tour certain parts; the tour is activated by scanning your camera over one of six wooden medallions, which have pictures of  forest spirits carved into them.

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This was an illustration of three of the six spirits. Each one represented something different (ex. mountains, water, plains). I immensely enjoyed how much attention to detail was put in to creating this exhibit.

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We were also given little UV flashlights upon entering the exhibit. When you waved them around, they revealed that many elements in the exhibit were decorated with blacklight-activated paint. Often, the light revealed these tiny little creatures, which were hidden all over the exhibit.

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Other times, the light revealed drawings of leaves and hidden quotes on the floor. I got a few incredible quotes out of that morning.

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Also, the laces of my Converse glow under a blacklight. Go figure.

 

Another path in the exhibit led to the Cabinet of Curiosities. This was a smaller exhibit, but by no means worse than Natura Obscura. It was filled from floor to ceiling with odd, Victorian artifacts, mirrors. There was even an audiobook recording of Alice in Wonderland being played in the background.

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There were loads of classic fairy tale and nursery rhyme Easter eggs thrown in the mix as well–the rose from Beauty and the Beast, a fishtank with a quote from The Little Mermaid, Dorothy’s slippers…even the shattered remains of Humpty Dumpty.

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Lewis Carroll would have definitely gotten a kick out of the whole thing.

 

If you’re in the Colorado area, I highly recommend that you visit this museum! I believe that Natura Obscura is a travelling exhibit, so catch it while you can. You won’t regret it.

Book Review Tuesday (3/26/19)-The Black Coats

Hey, everyone, and welcome to the last Book Review Tuesday of March 2019! I know I’ve said this…oh, thousands of times already, but it feels like this year’s gone by so fast. It feels like yesterday that it was the middle of January, and I was ankle-deep in snow as the wind bit at my cheeks.

Alright, that was an admittedly dramatic description, but that’s Colorado January in a nutshell. Cold, bitter, borderline brutal.

 

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, I’m beginning to realize the treasure trove of feminist YA literature I’ve stumbled upon lately. I’m pretty sure I read this one on International Women’s Day, and boy, it was the PERFECT book for the occasion. Contemporary, with a slight fantasy twist, exploring all sides of feminism in a way that is perfectly suited to this day and age. The Black Coats eternally kept me on the edge of my seat, and I hope that all who read this feel the same way.

 

Enjoy the review! 🙂

 

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The Black Coats

Ever since her cousin, Natalie, was murdered, Thea has been eager to exact her revenge. But with the killer having gone free and the case gone unnoticed, she struggles to find a way to come to terms with it.

But she isn’t alone.

Months after the death of her cousin, Thea discovers a black envelope with an invitation from a mysterious society that call themselves the Black Coats. They are a highly reclusive organization of women, all of whom have been hurt by men, that bring killers to justice and make the guilty answer for their crimes. At first, Thea is eager to join, intent on bringing her cousin’s killer to justice. But the more she delves into the history of the Black Coats, the more she realizes that the line between justice and needless revenge is thinner than ever. Can Thea avenge Natalie’s death without getting herself in too deep?

 

 

I’m really ashamed of how average my expectations were of this book. I expected it to be at least halfway-decent, a nice mystery to satiate myself after my continuous sci-fi/fantasy binge.

In the end, this is what my brain said to me about my assumptions:

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WOW. The Black Coats really has it all–phenomal and heart wrenching  writing, startlingly real characters with heart and emotion, a plot that kept me on my toes, absolutely perfect chemistry, and a relevant theme that not only was necessary to touch on, but wasn’t delivered in a way that was preachy. Whether you’re looking for fiction, mystery, feminism, or even a little romance, The Black Coats is an essential for all of you bookworms out there. Every single one of you. 9/10 on my rating scale, and probably a solid A. Incredible job, Mrs. Oakes, this one’s a gem.

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Well, I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day, and a lovely spring break!  I promise to post more than BRTs in the time that is to come–I’ve got a few ideas, and I’ll probably come back after Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park with some good stories and pictures. See you soon, fellow bibliophiles! 😉