Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (12/22/20)–DOUBLE REVIEW–The Thorne Chronicles (How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse / How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge)

Hey there, bibliophiles! Happy Tuesday! I’m so glad I’m off school for a few weeks…

Jeez, try saying the title of this post three times fast…

Now [cracks knuckles]…today’s gonna be a special review day, because today, you’re getting not one, but two reviews in the same post! And that, if you’re wondering, is solely because I read both books in K. Eason’s Thorne Chronicles, and I’ve been itching to get my thoughts out.

I’d all but forgotten that I’d put book 1 on my TBR until the random number generator picked it for a recent Goodreads Monday. Luckily, it was available at the library, so I checked it out and proceeded to gobble it up in between studying for my finals. And man, I’m glad that I checked out both books in the duology–a sarcastic, wittily written space opera that pokes fun of every trope imaginable.

Enjoy this double review!

First things first…

Amazon.com: How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse: Book One of the Thorne  Chronicles eBook: Eason, K.: Kindle Store

How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse (The Thorne Chronicles, #1)–K. Eason

Rory Thorne was born into royalty, the first baby girl in the family line in two centuries. When she was a baby, she was blessed by the gifts of thirteen fairies, gifts that would help her grow into a woman well-loved by the court. But the most important of all was given to her by the thirteenth fairy–the gift of seeing behind people’s words and discovering their truth intentions.

After her father is assassinated, she’s swept off-world, only accompanied by her royal tutors, and is immediately arranged to marry a prince she’s never met. Rory isn’t happy about it in the least–but the situation grows dire when she discovers that this prince is at the heart of an attempt to usurp her family’s throne.

Nadine Wilmschen's review of Kissing the Boss

The Goodreads synopsis pegs this one as The Princess Bride meets Princess Leia, and I’m happy to say that it mostly lives up to both comparisons! How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse is basically the phrase “this princess saves herself” in book form, and it’s so much fun from start to finish!

What really stood out for me about Rory Thorne is the writing style. There’s an anecdotal, tongue-in-cheek quality about it, peppered with witty little tidbits about the universe. Not only does it poke fun at the tropes of fairytales, fantasy, and space opera, it presents a feminist rebuttal of all of them, particularly in the form of Rory herself. I loved following her across the galaxy, with all of her wit, sass and tenacity. She’s a wonderful heroine, and the perfect fit for this story.

And of course we have to talk about all of the supporting characters! I loved Grytt and Messer Rupert, and as Rory’s royal tutors and caretakers, they had the funniest chemistry, not only bouncing off of each other well, but presenting a hilarious contrast to the disobedient, willful Rory. Each character was distinct, making for the perfect gang of misfits to traverse the universe with.

The worldbuilding was definitely interesting, too; at worst, some of the politics got a little bit convoluted, but I liked all of the little anecdotes about the different philosophies of the universe. For all of the alien species that were mentioned, though, I wish we’d actually…y’know, seen some of them, but alas, mostly humans.

Overall, though, a sarcastic and feminist tale of resistance and disobedience. 4 stars!

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And now, for book 2…

How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge by K. Eason: 9780756415310 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge (The Thorne Chronicles, #2)–K. Eason

After upending her royal life and sparking a revolution in the galaxy, Rory Thorne has taken up life as a space pirate, along with her former bodyguards and royal allies. When the crew finds a wrecked spacecraft, they discover something sinister within–an innocuous plant that not only might possess intelligence, but could have been manufactured as a biological weapon. Thrown into the beginnings of an intergalactic war, Rory and her crew must find their way out of harm’s way–and wrangle a killer rose, while they’re at it.

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How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge came out in early October of this year, and so far, it’s been getting fairly average reviews (the Goodreads rating for this one is currently 3.66, as opposed to book 1’s rating of 3.91). And…I just don’t understand why, because somehow, Multiverse was even better than book 1!

Okay, first off, SPACE PIRATES. I couldn’t think of a more fitting profession for Rory after abandoning her royal ways. I loved the chemistry and banter between her and her crew, and the whole plot line with the sinister rose managed to be both hilarious and tense. And even though they were separated from the rest of the gang, I loved seeing Grytt and Messer Rupert again, especially the latter. (I just…MESSER RUPERT MUST BE PROTECTED AT ALL COSTS, OKAY? 🥺)

Oh, and my whole complaint about not seeing many aliens in book 1? RESOLVED! We’ve got a whole host of interesting species in Multiverse, and I loved seeing some of them. Admittedly, Eason fell into the trap of the “aliens, but basically humans with slightly differing appearances” trope with one species, but they actually acknowledge that it’s unusual in the grand scheme of the galaxy, so at least there’s that. Plus, the other two alien species that were focused on made up for it.

The plot for this one was super fast-paced, and with the cast of characters, it meshed perfectly. Multiverse honestly just sucked me in to the point that I put off studying for my (godforsaken) AP Bio final just so I could see what happened. Again, the politics of the world(s) are still a tad convoluted, but it was still well-thought-out, and a whole lot of fun at that.

My only major complaint is the ending. It was just…unsatisfying? I wish we would have had a bit more certainty, and maybe…y’know, having some of the characters reunite? My space children deserved it, c’mon.

All in all, a heartstring-tugging and thrilling sequel that was more than worthy of its predecessor. 4.5 stars!

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The Thorne Chronicles is a duology, consisting of How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse and How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge. K. Eason is also the author of the On the Bones of Gods trilogy, consisting of Enemy (book 1), Outlaw (book 2), and Ally (book 3).

Today’s song:

I always get the beginning of this song confused with “Levitation” by Beach House…

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

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 (9/29/20)–The Black Kids

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Just a heads up before I begin, and probably one that’ll apply for the next few months. Now that I’ve been in school for a month, my schedule and workload are both getting more demanding, and so I won’t be able to post quite as much. This week in particular, I probably won’t be able to post much after this review–partly due to the slew of exams and quizzes I have later this week, but I’m also going to be gone for a few days. I’ll probably still be able to visit everyone else’s posts, but my posting schedule will be a bit more lethargic–Goodreads Mondays, Book Review Tuesdays, my Weekly Updates, and sometimes Top 5 Saturdays can probably be expected, but other than that, I won’t post as much per week. So just a heads up.

Now, back to our scheduled program…

I don’t read much historical fiction, but The Black Kids was such a stunning novel! All at once relevant to our past and our present, this book is brimming heart and the universal (I hope) desire for justice and equality in marginalized communities.

Enjoy this week’s review!

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

The Black Kids–Christina Hammonds Reed

1992. Ashley Bennett’s life has been a sheltered one, nearly finished with high school and hanging out with her friends in Los Angeles. Her older sister took up the cause of advocating for racial justice years ago, but Ashley always preferred to stay on the sidelines.

But as riots begin to spread across the country after the brutal beating of Rodney King, she tries to continue to live her life as she always has, staying on the sidelines, not caring what goes on around her. Her friends have begun to isolate themselves from her, and she accidentally spreads a rumor about a classmate that could make or break his future. Ashley soon realizes that the world is bigger than the bubble she’s confined herself to–and that unity is the key to righting her personal wrongs.

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Historical fiction isn’t a genre that I readily pick up, most of the time. But instances like these remind me of the sheer possibility of the genre, to not just tell a story about our past, but to inspire change and to encourage readers to better examine themselves and the world around them. I’m glad to say that The Black Kids was one of these great novels–brimming with heart and with a message that will resonate for decades to come.

At the time I’m writing this review, it’s been about a month and a half since The Black Kids‘ release (August 4), and I must say, what better time than this to publish a novel like this one? Even though it’s set almost 30 years in our past, the themes of racial justice and police brutality resonate as though this book was set a year ago. (Which…okay, it’s absolutely disgusting that police brutality, racism, and everything related to that is still rampant today, but what I’m trying to say is that it’s timely and brilliantly timed.) Whether or not readers experienced the Rodney King riots or felt its repercussions, its sure to inspire a wide range of the audience.

The Black Kids boasts a dynamic cast of characters, and even better, no shortage of great character development, mostly on Ashley’s part. Her transformation from someone so sheltered to someone who genuinely cares about the world around her was beautiful to see, and Reed’s heartfelt writing fleshed it out even more so. There’s some relatable themes of letting go of toxic friendships and finding those who you truly connected with, which is something that I connected with the most.

On the subject of her writing, Reed’s prosed managed to be simultaneously authentic and poetic, a mix of brutal realities and immersive language that made me feel as though I was living in the novel. I’m not a 90’s kid, but I loved all the little music and pop culture references that were slipped in there as well.

All in all, The Black Kids boasts nearly all the hallmarks of a good historical fiction–facing the harsh realities from a fresh perspective, but making you feel immersed and invested in the setting and characters as though they were from the present day. 4 stars!

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The Black Kids appears to be a standalone, and it’s Christina Hammonds Reed’s debut novel. (I can’t wait to see what else she writes in the future!)

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!