Posted in Book Tags, Books, Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: December 30, 2019–January 5, 2020

Happy Sunday, everybody!

Whew, what a week it’s been, the last week of the decade, and the start of a new one. Also, this is my last day of winter break, so…school starts back up tomorrow…[sad harmonica]

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Hey, at least I soaked it all up. I had a lot of fun–festivities with family, two rounds of TRoS and one of Knives Out, the first ski trip of the year, and LOTS of reading and writing. Success! 😀

 

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: 

Bowie’s Bookshelf: The Hundred Books that Changed David Bowie’s Life–John O’Connell

(⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

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Supernova (Renegades, #3)–Marissa Meyer (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

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Darius the Great is Not Okay–Adib Khorram (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

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Sanctuary (Sanctuary, #1)–Caryn Lix (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

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POSTS AND SUCH: 

 

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK

Half Bad–Sally Green

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Rebel–Marie Lu (Finally bought it!)

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I’ll start posting a list of the week’s songs once I get more of them, but since I only have two, I’ll skip it this time. But this one’s been stuck in my head for a few days this year, and I’ve really taken a liking to it, so here you go…

 

Hope you had a great start to the decade! Have a great rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Random

2019

December 31, 2019. The end of the year, the end of a decade. I normally do end-of-the-year recaps on this blog, but this is the first of this scope, really.

And looking back, I’m honestly baffled about how far I’ve come–not in the span of a year, no, but in the span of 10. I mean, I was toddling into elementary school for the first time when the decade began. Now I’m about halfway through high school, hopefully a bit wiser and more mature. But this decade has been one of many transitions, realizations, and so much growth. [pats self on the back] you did it, kiddo!

Now, let’s zoom in on 2019. Last year was a year of growing into a new skin, of realizing who I was and what I might want to do. This year, for me, was about becoming confident in said skin, and for the most part? I think it was a success. 2019 certainly had its ups and downs, but I’d say it’s a step up from the last…oh, three years or so. Not quite so awful as 2016, and not perfect, but certainly better.

It’s been an amazing year for books, in my opinion. I honestly don’t remember another time when I’ve stacked so many books on my Top 10 list, or given so many books of one year 5 stars (Aurora Rising, The Pioneer, King of Scars, Like a Love Story, etc.) . Of course, this was also a year of new series, so…fingers crossed that Aurora Burning and The Survivor (among others) won’t disappoint. We had a load of amazing movies, and lots of franchises coming to an end along with the decade. (Avengers: Endgame, Dark Phoenix, The Rise of Skywalker), and several other movies that certainly need mentioning (Captain Marvel, Jojo Rabbit, Spiderman: Far From Home, Joker, Knives Out, etc.) I’ve discovered an onslaught of great artists, thanks to Apple Music, and I went to Canada for the first time. I started a WIP that I’ve been neglecting to write for a good three years, and I completed another year of NaNoWriMo. Oh, and Trump got impeached. THANK. GOD. I mean, there’s no way he’s getting removed from office [ahem], but hey, it’s a start. Blegh. Again, 2016. What a dumpster fire.

But one thing that I find fairly notable is that I’ve starting to take this book blogging thing semi-seriously. I’ve started participating in tags, I’ve found a bunch more lovely blogs, and gotten so much insight into this cozy little world. So I’d like to thank all of you reading this, for liking and commenting on my posts, tagging me/following along with tags, and for just sticking around.

With that said, there’s a few improvements that I think I’ll start making to this blog next year:

  • For my Book Review Tuesdays, I’m going to try and start going through books that aren’t in the 3-5 star range; it’s good to review stuff that’s not the best, after all. I’ll start putting my actual star ratings on there, along with some other info.
  • I’ll try and do weekly updates. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep up with monthly, but we’ll see how that goes.
  • At the end of every post, I’ll try and post a link to a song that I listened to/liked as I was writing it. I’m a very music-oriented person, and I thought it would just be a fun little addition. (Currently listening to Wilco’s “Red-Eyed and Blue”)
  • When NaNoWriMo/Camp NaNoWriMo season comes back around, I’ll try and put some updates on that as well.

 

So let’s make this next decade–and year–one of rising beyond, one of growth, improvement, and joy. [holds out lightsaber] Let’s do this.

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And while I’m at it, I’ll start on one of the things I said I’d improve on. Let’s end this post with a song.

I got into girpool in August, and though this isn’t my favorite of their songs, I think it perfectly captures the New Year’s Eve state of mind, and reflecting on how things used to be.

 

So thank you for spending this year with me. Have a great rest of your day…SEE YOU IN 2020

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Posted in Books

My 5-Star Reads of 2019

Hi there, everyone!

As 2019 (and this decade) draws to a close, I’ve decided to make a comprehensive lists of all of my 5-star reads for this year, and, by proxy, my favorite books that I’ve read this year. Most of these are what’d you’d expect, if you’ve scoured my book tags and reviews, but I know there’s a few that I haven’t talked much about. These are in chronological order of when I read them, though their actual rankings vary a fair bit.

Now, without further ado…this year’s 5-star lineup!

 

KING OF SCARS–LEIGH BARDUGO

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Bardugo’s veritable masterpiece, all at once a rollicking adventure and an exploration of internal conflict, was my first 5-star rating of this year. And…Nikolai. ‘Nuff said.

Read my review here!

 

THE ILLUMINAE FILES TRILOGY–AMIE KAUFMAN and JAY KRISTOFF

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I mean, I read all of these in the span of a few months, and I gave all three books five stars…

For good reason, I think. I doubt that we’ll ever come across a trilogy quite like this in a very long time.

Read my review (Illuminae) here!

 

NEVERWHERE–NEIL GAIMAN

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I’ve been a fan of Gaiman’s work for some time, but I chose this one for an English project, and I fell so in love with the fantastic world-building, as well as each and every character.

Find it on Goodreads here!

 

ONCE & FUTURE–AMY ROSE CAPETTA and CORI MCCARTHY

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A feminist, LGBTQ+ retelling of the legends of King Arthur…need we say more? A wonderfully fast-paced space adventure, reminiscent of Captain Marvel.

Find it on Goodreads here!

 

HONOR BOUND–ANN AGUIRRE and RACHEL CAINE

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Even more daring than its predecessor, Honor Bound is a complex space opera to die for.

Find it on Goodreads here!

 

TENNYSON: POEMS–ALFRED TENNYSON

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Yes, I was/still am that kid who sits in the corner reading depressing, 19th century poetry. Do I regret it? Absolutely not.

Find it on Goodreads here!

 

AURORA RISING–AMIE KAUFMAN and JAY KRISTOFF 

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You’ve already sing praise of this one innumerable times, so I’ll just leave it at this: I FOUND MY DREAM BOOK, PEOPLE. THIS IS EVERYTHING.

Read my review here!

 

THE PIONEER--BRIDGET TYLER

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An inventive, heart-pounding sci-fi adventure, The Pioneer was very nearly flawless, and I’m itching to get my hands on the sequel next spring! 😀

Read my review here!

 

AN ANATOMY OF BEASTS–OLIVIA A. COLE

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Delving deeper and growing even twistier than its predecessor, A Conspiracy of Stars, this novel is dazzlingly well-thought out, the prime example of what speculative sci-fi should be.

Find it on Goodreads here!

 

THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES–RAY BRADBURY

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Did I mention how much I love sci-fi? No?

Ray Bradbury is a talent to be reckoned with, able to deftly weave together a thought-provoking story in the span of under 100 pages with ease.

Also, I was today years old when I realized that the hand on the cover has six fingers.

Find it on Goodreads here!

 

SOUL OF STARS–ASHLEY POSTON

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The epic conclusion to the Heart of Iron duology, Poston deftly wraps together a complicated universe of familial bonds and political intrigue. Love, love, love, LOVE…

Read my review here!

 

FAHRENHEIT 451–RAY BRADBURY

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Again, Ray Bradbury. I rest my case.

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Find it on Goodreads here!

 

SPARE AND FOUND PARTS–SARAH MARIA GRIFFIN

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A futuristic Frankenstein for the modern age, this is a grossly underrated writing, atmospheric and poetic.

Read my review here!

 

THE DEMON WORLD–SALLY GREEN

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The pulse-pounding sequel to The Smoke Thieves, Green delivers an even more potent punch of her signature world-building and fantasy action.

Read my review here!

 

HOUSE OF X/POWERS OF X–JONATHAN HICKMAN

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The newest installment in the legendary X-Men mythology, Hickman weaves a mythical and symbolic world, with a hopeful conclusion and the potential of many mutant tales to come.

Find it on Goodreads here!

 

LIKE A LOVE STORY–ABDI NAZEMIAN

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Would you look at that…I think this is the only historical fiction in this post…

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A hearstring-tearing and poignant coming-of-age LGBTQ+ novel. So many feels. INFINITE feels.

Read my review here!

 

THE TOLL–NEAL SHUSTERMAN

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The conclusion to the unforgettable Arc of a Scythe trilogy, this novel is solid proof that Shusterman is a sci-fi author to be reckoned with.

Read my review here!

 

Man. What a year this has been…

 

Have you read any of these novels, and what did you think of them? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!

 

Have a lovely rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Random, Stories

On Writing, and Overcoming Unexpected and Frustrating Obstacles

Two posts? In one day? It’s more likely than you think.

 

The other day, I added a little image to the sidebar of this blog, the winner image for NaNoWriMo 2019. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers post about their progress with it, but I neglected to even think about updating my progress on here, for no apparent reasons other than my inherent laziness. But yes, I did participate in NaNoWriMo 2019 (It’s a lovely program for all you writers/aspiring writers, if you haven’t tried it out). 2019 was my third year participating, and I can speak to the amazing results that it produces. 20,000 words, people, 20,000 words!

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And on that subject…yes, I love to write. I want to be a writer when I get older, and I’ve currently got 3 WIPs in progress…none of them even close to finished, but we’ll just ignore that. Even though I wanted to go into biology until about middle school, I think that my passion for writing’s always been there, it just took me a while to realize that it was more of a passion than a hobby. (*glances at my current grade in Honors Bio* yeeeeesh, okay, goodbye, biology…) Currently, I’m not super comfortable with sharing the premises of said WIPs, but one of my goals in 2020 is to try and overcome that fear, little by little. I mean, I’ve got to do it eventually if I want to get these bad boys published…

Two of my three WIPs are kind of on hold at the moment, as I kind of hit a lag of inspiration for both of them. That, and both of them were written before it dawned on me that I should probably outline things before I write them down.

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[present self glares at past self]
The third one was the one that I started during NaNoWriMo 2019. For now, all I’ll say is that Star Wars was a major, major influence on it, and it involves a lot of patriarchy smashing, rock music, and reluctant familial bonds.

On the subject of said sci-fi WIP, I encountered a problem with it the other day. I had about a half an hour before I was going to leave to see The Rise of Skywalker with my family, and I decided to crank out some writing. I’d gotten to a scene that I’d played over innumerable times in my head, and I was absolutely ecstatic to get back to writing. But…all of my dreams were crushed when I opened up the file and got a series of messages about invalid file formats and Pages not being able to read it. With a little help from my mom (thank you so much for trying to help, by the way) and the internet (thanks for nothing, Mr. “Your file is probably toast”…I mean, you were right, but…), I tried to do technological CPR on my writing, but to no avail. I was considerably frustrated and distraught at the thought of almost 40,000 words, 60 pages, and many long hours of writing had promptly been flushed away.

But after the initial shock (and a healthy dose of Star Wars), I decided to try and turn my attitude around. Maybe this could be a growing opportunity, an opportunity to start all over, but with some different elements. I’d wanted to change my perspective from 1st to 3rd person anyway, right? And so, I polished up what’s done of my outline, (See, past self? It’s not so bad…), and I started the WIP over last night. (And I actually saved the file to my computer and backed it up on my Writing flashdrive, so that’s probably a better idea.) I’m only at about 1 1/2 pages and barely 1,000 words, but hey, you’ve gotta start somewhere.

Moral of the story? Anything can be an opportunity to start anew. Whether or not you’re dealing with an uncooperative Pages file, starting over, though it can be awfully tedious, is not your enemy.

Oh, also, save important documents in more than one place. That’s always helpful.

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (12/24/19)-The Toll (Arc of a Scythe, book 3)

Hey there, fellow bibliophiles, and happy holidays! Whatever it is you celebrate, I hope that you have a lovely holiday season!

 

Now, I know I mentioned reviewing this book weeks ago, but I cancelled those plans abruptly due to a finals hiatus. So, sorry to keep you waiting.

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That aside, I managed to snag a copy of this one, which I’ve been anxiously awaiting since the end of Thunderhead (book 2), and I must say…what a monumental conclusion to an unforgettable series. Without a doubt, one of the best books to come out of this year, and one of the best trilogies to come out of this decade. (Can I get a WOOOHOOOO for Mr. Neal Shusterman?)

NOTE: PLEASE DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW UNLESS YOU HAVE READ BOTH SCYTHE AND THUNDERHEAD, AS IT WILL CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS. 

If you’d like to read my reviews for the previous two books, you can do from these links:

 

Enjoy this week’s review!

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The Toll (Arc of a Scythe, #3)

It has been three years since the Endura disaster, when Goddard orchestrated an attack that killed most of the world’s revered Scythes, and the Thunderhead, the artificial, world-ruling hivemind, has shut itself off to all of mankind.

In MidMerica, the diabolical Scythe Goddard has come to power, declaring himself OverBlade of the entire continent, and gleaning all who stand in his way. But on an isolated island, a Scythe that was thought dead by the world lies in wait, preparing for the opportunity to strike Goddard and his ruthless empire down.

And in the oceans where Endura once sat, a scavenger ship has uncovered a treasure that may mean the difference between restoring the balance and total anarchy.

 

 

Now, let me just say…

OH. MY GOD.

This book is very nearly flawless. The Toll is the prime example of Neal Shusterman’s storytelling prowess, a heart-pounding, dystopian epic for the ages. With even more in-depth explorations of not just the world, but of the moral grey areas in society and the consequences of religion and absolute power, The Toll brings this unforgettable trilogy to a beautiful conclusion, one that leaves the reader thinking, and provides a sense of hope. This book deserves every star in the sky, without a doubt. So thank you, Mr. Shusterman, for providing a trilogy that will stand the test of time, a beautiful spot of light in a sea of mediocrity that has defined the dystopian genre for the latter half of this decade. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Plus, you can’t argue with Jaws references. ‘Nuff said. And, if that wasn’t enough, we’ve got some LGBTQ+ representation from a secondary character who plays a major role in The Toll, how cool is that! (Jeri, who you’ll meet somewhat early on, is genderfluid.) 🏳️‍🌈

 

The Toll marks the end of the Arc of a Scythe trilogy (*wipes single tear from cheek*), but without spoiling anything, the ending *could* open itself for spin-offs, though that isn’t likely. Personally, I’d rather the trilogy be left alone, but I wouldn’t be complaining if Shusterman wrote other novels in the same universe.

 

 

And there you have it! I hope you have a lovely rest of your day, and a very happy holiday season! Stay tuned for more content later this week!

 

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Posted in Books, Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (12/23/19)-Viper

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.

 

At this point, my tactic for picking out books for Goodreads Monday is basically just picking a random number on my TBR, and then finding a book on that shelf. I forgot about this one, but I’ve only had in on my TBR for about a month, and, if all goes well, I think it could be an adventurous, fast-paced fantasy on the high seas.

 

Only one way to find out…

 

GOODREADS MONDAY (12/23/19)-VIPER by Bex Hogan

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Blurb from Goodreads: 

He will make me a killer. Or he will have me killed. That is my destiny.

Seventeen-year-old Marianne is fated to one day become the Viper, defender of the Twelve Isles.

But the reigning Viper stands in her way. Corrupt and merciless, he prowls the seas in his warship, killing with impunity, leaving only pain and suffering in his wake.

He’s the most dangerous man on the ocean . . . and he is Marianne’s father.

She was born to protect the islands. But can she fight for them if it means losing her family, her home, the boy she loves – and perhaps even her life?

 

So why do I want to read this? 

Hmmm. Intriguing.

I’m getting some good vibes from this one…if all goes well, I think it’ll at least be a feminist, swashbuckling, pirate-inspired fantasy, in the vein of Seafire and the Daughter of the Pirate King duology. From the looks of it, there’s some themes of defying one’s family to do what you know is right, which I am 100% for. And, judging from the concept of the Viper, I’m hoping for a rich history behind that. Certainly not expecting Sally Green level worldbuilding, but if handled well, I think this could be an incredibly exciting read.

Viper came out this year, but I haven’t heard about it, sadly. Rather underrated/under-talked-about compared to a few…other fantasy novels that were grossly overhyped. Either way, it’s gotten some good reviews, from the looks of it, (3.87/5 average rating on Goodreads), and I’m hoping that it’ll deliver. I’m sure it’ll be three stars, at least.

 

That just about wraps up this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a lovely rest of your day, and stay tuned for more content later in the week!

 

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Posted in Music

My Favorite Songs of 2019 (So Far)

I promised a whiiiiile ago that I’d post some non-BRT content, and here you are! I’ve been putting this one off for an embarrassing amount of time, but what matters is that it’s here now, okay? 😉

 

Anyway, it seems like 2019 has been a really good year for music! Whether it’s newer artists perfecting their craft, or established ones polishing off some of their best work, we’ve gotten a slew of great songs this year. For once, I had a hard time choosing which five to put in this post; normally, I have a hard time picking out more than three. (And then, of course, the year passes, and then I find even better music from that year. Oof.)

So, without further ado, my favorite songs of 2019 (so far)!

 

1: “No Bullets Spent”-Spoon

 

I’ve always had a special spot for Spoon, especially after seeing them live (opening for the Shins about two years ago). They’ve always been able to deftly create near-perfect rock songs, with catchy basslines and poetic lyrics.

“No Bullets Spent” is certainly no exception. It was released as a single, and later added to a Best Of album that they put togehter recently. I have no doubt that it will become a classic, with it’s mesmerizing instrumentation and fascinating lyrics.

 

2: “Shine the Light On Me”-The Raconteurs

 

 

Much of Help Us Stranger was an interesting departure from the Raconteur’s usual style–and for the most part, in a good way. “Shine The Light On Me” is, hands down, my favorite song off of the album; deeply reminiscient of Queen, with introspective and wistful lyrics paired with a beat that sticks with you instantly.

 

3: “The 2nd Most Beautiful Girl in the World” (cover)-Snail Mail

 

If I didn’t know that this was a cover, I totally would’ve passed it off as one of Lindsey Jordan’s masterful creations. I haven’t listened to the original (I haven’t been able to find it, for some reason), but I can already tell that this cover does it justice, or even surpasses it. With her heartstring-tugging vocals and raw guitar, Jordan makes “The 2nd Most Beautiful Girl in the World” not only stick in your head, but in your heart, too.

God, that sounded really sappy. But that’s just what happens when you listen to Snail Mail.

This is your brain.

This is your brain on Snail Mail. 

 

4: “Traffic”-Thom Yorke

 

Whooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooa.

I initially listened to this song because of Anima (which you should all watch, I’M BEGGING YOU). The scene that it played in really stuck with me; the sets and costumes were simple yet ethereal, and the choreography…I could go on for days about the choreography…

The hook refused to get out of my head until I downloaded the song. A creepy, electronic masterpiece, with just the right amount of Thom Yorke’s signature style.

 

5: “Cell”-Calpurnia

 

Alright, I’ll admit it. I got into Calpurnia because of Stranger Things and Finn Wolfhard.

Unlike several other artists/bands that stemmed from acting careers, Calpurnia is destined to be an indie classic. With wailing and unforgettable guitar riffs and punchy lyrics, they’ll always be the band that makes you want to get up and dance. I’m really looking forward to them releasing an LP at some point…hopefully soon. Fingers crossed. 🤞

 

 

Aaaaand that just about wraps it up! Thanks so much for reading, and have a great rest of your day! 🙂