Posted in Book Tags

The Best Books of 2021 Book Tag

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

Happy MLK Day as well; we are always indebted to the incredible work he has done for this country. But as the day goes on, it’s important to reflect on the fact that his definition of nonviolent protest was different than the one that most people remember him with. Look no further than his Letter from Birmingham Jail if you want to read more. And as always, the path to racial equality in America isn’t done—for those of you in the U.S., please click on this link to contact your senators about passing key voting rights legislations.

Although I’ve mostly stopped wrapping up 2021, I figured that I would participate in this wonderful original tag by Hundreds & Thousands of Books! She has a fantastic blog, so check it out when you can!

THE RULES:

  • Link back to the original creator, Hundreds and Thousands Of Books
  • Thank the blogger who tagged you
  • Share your favorite books of the year! And have a great new year 🙂

Let’s begin, shall we?

THE BEST BOOKS OF 2021 BOOK TAG

THE START (January-March)

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

It was a hard pick between this and The Punch, but Before the Fall was a masterpiece!

THE MIDDLE (April-June)

Amazon.com: The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country:  9780593465271: Gorman, Amanda, Winfrey, Oprah: Books

This period was hard because I had several 5-star reads in April, but I’d be making a grave mistake if The Hill We Climb didn’t make the cut on this post.

While you’re at it, watch this video of Amanda Gorman performing this poem at Biden’s inauguration last year. So incredibly moving.

THE MIDDLE, BUT WITH BETTER WEATHER (July-September)

Amazon.com: The Darkness Outside Us: 9780062888280: Schrefer, Eliot: Books

The Darkness Outside Us was an unexpected favorite for me—deeply moving and far more than the sum of its parts.

THE END (October-December)

Aurora's End (The Aurora Cycle, #3) by Amie Kaufman

“I didn’t expect an Aurora Cycle book to appear on this tag,” said nobody ever…

Aurora’s End was an obvious pick here—the best ending I could have asked for to cap off my favorite series.

THE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

See above—Aurora’s End!

I made another post about my favorite books of 2021, so if you’d like to see more of my 5-star reads from last year, look no further!

I TAG:

New Year 2022 GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Books

The Curse of Book 2: Why Does the Second Book in the Trilogy Sometimes Fall Flat?

Hi again, bibliophiles!

Trilogies are a tried and true length for so many good book series. Having three books in the series makes for a larger three-act story overall, and it sits in the happy medium between a quick duology and a longer, more drawn-out saga. But even so, the trilogy often falls prey to a sometimes fatal curse: a middle book that doesn’t hold up to the rest of the series. Just like in a single novel, a lull often happens in the middle of the trilogy, and that lull almost always happens to land in book 2. It’s like Pulp Fiction—the first and last third are fantastic, but the middle seems to drag on and on without any consequence to the plot, or in this case, the series as a whole.

I’ve read plenty of trilogies—good, bad, and just decent. But a lot of them fall into this pattern of having great first and third books, but not-so-great second books. So I decided to look into what makes middle books fail—or succeed. I’ve gathered up three examples of lagging middle books and three fantastic middle books, and from there, we can determine some of the root causes of a sagging middle.

Now, keep in mind before I dive in—this is a very, very subjective analysis. These are examples of books that I personally think fit the bill of good or bad middles, but it’s not true for everyone! Think for yourselves. Now, let the ranting investigation begin…

Let’s begin, shall we?

THE CURSE OF BOOK 2: WHY DOES THE SECOND BOOK IN THE TRILOGY SOMETIMES FALL FLAT?

They Had Us In The First Half Not Gonna Lie GIF - They Had Us In The First  Half Not Gonna Lie - Discover & Share GIFs

MIDDLE BOOKS THAT WENT WRONG

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2) – V.E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows: A Novel (Shades of Magic, 2): Victoria Schwab:  9780765376473: Amazon.com: Books

I got into the Shades of Magic trilogy last year and loved it—except for this one, which was still decent, but nowhere near the others in terms of quality. My main issue was that the plot was almost entirely filler; the Elemental Games were entertaining, sure, but they were inconsequential in comparison to everything else that moved the plots of A Darker Shade of Magic and A Conjuring of Light forward. The only thing tying A Gathering of Shadows to its predecessor and successor was the main villain—brought back by the resurrection trope, no less. What made A Gathering of Shadows so lackluster was that it emphasized the worst aspect of its predecessor—the weak plot—and amplified it into 500 pages of filler.

Blood & Honey (Serpent & Dove, #2) – Shelby Mahurin

Amazon.com: Blood & Honey (Serpent & Dove, 2): 9780062878052: Mahurin,  Shelby: Books

I wasn’t attached to Serpent & Dove as much as I was to A Darker Shade of Magic, but I recognize blatant filler when I see it. The sad part about Blood & Honey is that the Serpent & Dove series was originally supposed to be a duology, but it got so popular that the publishers pushed Shelby Mahurin to make it a trilogy. So in the grand scheme of things, the pitfalls of Blood & Honey could have been prevented.

Even though this was a 3-star read for me, it was still a major slog. I’ll say this in A Gathering of Shadows’ favor—it may have been filler, but at least it was entertaining. Blood & Honey was just 500 pages of the characters being separated and then hemming and hawing as they attempted to find their way back to the main plot. And then it had to end with a ridiculous cliffhanger.

However, the case of Blood & Honey isn’t exactly like all the other trilogies in this post—it wasn’t the worst book in the series, but after Gods & Monsters, this was the signal of what I felt was the nosedive in quality of this series. Gods & Monsters was even worse. My advice? Just stick with Serpent & Dove and then let it be.

Kingsbane (Empirium, #2) – Claire Legrand

Kingsbane (Empirium, #2) by Claire Legrand

Apparently I’m in the minority for this one; a lot of people really seemed to like the direction that Kingsbane took the Empirium trilogy. For me, though, it lacked the emotional weight that made Furyborn and Lightbringer so impactful. Though I liked it a lot more than I did A Gathering of Shadows and Blood & Honey, this one was also a lot of rushing around. By the time the cliffhanger came, its impact was dumbed down for me. And this one was 600 pages long, so it was easy for the important parts of the plot to get bogged down with what occurred in the interim. (That’s not to say that all long books are unnecessarily lengthy—ever read Dune?)

Now, let’s take a look at the flip side.

MIDDLE BOOKS THAT WENT RIGHT

Aurora Burning (Aurora Cycle, #2) – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Amazon.com: Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle): 9781524720926: Kaufman,  Amie, Kristoff, Jay: Books

Maybe I’m a little biased since this is my favorite series, but I truly think Aurora Burning is a textbook example of book 2 done right. The key here is consistency: while it still took the plot to new heights and directions, it kept a similar pace, tone, and emotional weight throughout. What I mean by “consistency” isn’t that this was just Aurora Rising 2: Electric Boogaloo, but that it stayed on the same path set out by book 1, and kept the pace flowing as though it was all the same book. Unlike Blood & Honey and Kingsbane, this consistency of pacing is what helped build the tension and give weight to the infamously devastating cliffhanger.

Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe, #2) – Neal Shusterman

Amazon.com: Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe): 9781534417861: Shusterman, Neal:  Books

(I think this is the only book cover in this post that doesn’t have a warm color scheme lol)

Like Aurora Burning, Thunderhead’s saving grace was that it kept the pacing and tone consistent with that of Scythe while also introducing new and very consequential plot points along the way. Thunderhead drops a whole host of bombshells over the course of 500 pages, which forces the reader to constantly be on their toes. This slow building of tension and suspense is what made Thunderhead’s cliffhanger as bleak, horrifying, and painful as it was. And that was a real gut-punch of a cliffhanger…I don’t think I’ve fully recovered in the 4 years since I’ve read it…

The Demon World (The Smoke Thieves, #2) – Sally Green

Amazon.com: The Demon World (The Smoke Thieves): 9780425290248: Green,  Sally: Books

Although it employs the same tools as Aurora Burning and Thunderhead, the unique thing about The Demon World was that it managed to be the highlight of the whole trilogy. This book is the black sheep in my general middle book theory—instead of being the low point between books 1 and 3, it manages to overshadow them altogether. With a new threat introduced at the end of The Smoke Thieves, The Demon World had a perfect setup for building tension and increasing the gravity of the conflict. It was emotional, it was action-packed, and it delivered another whopper of a cliffhanger.

So with all that said, what is it that makes the middle book stumble and fall?

  • Filler plots: whether it’s a product of the author not knowing how to bridge the beginning to the end or publisher pressure, filler plots often result in a sequel that lacks the same emotional weight or consequence as book 1.
  • Inconsistent pacing and tone between books: this is often a byproduct of a filler plot; if the story itself isn’t as monumental as the first book, the pacing slows down where it was once sped up. This often results in a feeling that whatever happens in this book isn’t as important as what happened previously or what will happen next.

Both of these end up leading to:

  • Cliffhangers with unnecessary twists: this is where the aforementioned inconsistent pacing and tone culminate. Although bombshell cliffhangers can be a valuable tool in catching and keeping the reader’s attention, if the book already has less emotional weight, the cliffhanger feels like a lazy attempt to tie the events of the book to the series as a whole.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are some middle books that you didn’t like? What are some middle books that you thought were fantastic? Let me know in the comments!

My Disappointment Is Immeasurable And My Day Is Ruined | Know Your Meme

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

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

Posted in Book Tags

Winter Wonderland Book Tag ☃️

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles!

I have a few winter-themed book tags saved in my sticky note, and I wanted to do one of them over break, so here we are! I was tagged by Riddhi @ Whispering Stories (thank you!). However, I’m not sure who originally created the tag, so if you know, please let me know/comment below so I can credit them!

Let’s begin, shall we?

Winter GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

☃️WINTER WONDERLAND BOOK TAG☃️

1. What book is so happy and so sweet that it just warms your heart?

Amazon.com: Tweet Cute: A Novel: 9781250237323: Lord, Emma: Books

I don’t usually gravitate towards rom-coms, but Tweet Cute was just so consistently heartwarming and adorable!

2. What’s your favourite book with a white cover?

Amazon.com: Sword in the Stars: A Once & Future Novel (Once & Future, 2):  9780316449298: Cory McCarthy, Capetta, A. R.: Books

Sword in the Stars has a pretty, white cover! I have it in hardcover, and the details on the metallic parts are very glossy and satisfying…

3. You’re sitting in a nice, comfortable chair with a cup of hot chocolate. What monster book are you reading?

Hellboy, Vol. 2: Wake the Devil: Mignola, Mike, Mignola, Mike:  9781593070953: Amazon.com: Books

I looked through a few other people’s interpretations of this prompt and there wasn’t a definitive consensus as to whether this prompt was about long books or books with monsters, so I just went with the monster book part. And Hellboy is the best paranormal/monster comic known to man, so I wanted to put it in here anyway.

4. It’s snowing outside and you decide you want to have a snowball fight. What fictional character do you want to have this snowball fight with?

Aurora's End (The Aurora Cycle, #3) by Amie Kaufman

I’d do anything to experience a six-way (five-way? four? nvm) snowball fight with Squad 312. I feel like Kal would turn it into a death match, but…y’know. Scarlett and Finian would be worthy snowball fight opponents.

(wait, isn’t there a meme about this?)

(oh, I guess there is…)

Aurora Rising | Book humor, Book fandoms, Incorrect quotes
credit to @miriosface on Tumblr

5. Sadly, your campfire is dying. What last few chapters of a book would you throw in the fire to revive it and keep yourself warm?

As a rule of thumb, I’m not really for burning books, but…okay, maybe I’d let An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, Off Balance, or most of my previous DNFs get toasty.

6. What book do you love so much that you would buy another copy of it to give to someone as a Christmas gift (or any gift really) to inspire them to start reading?

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

Six of Crows isn’t my favorite book (though I love it), but I feel like it hits the rare sweet spot where it’s accessible to both new readers and longtime bookworms. Plus, with all the people that are getting into Leigh Bardugo’s books through the Shadow and Bone show, I bet a lot of people have this on their lists!

7. Who do you tag?

I TAG:

Funny Gifs : charlie brown GIF - VSGIF.com

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Book Tags

Chapters & Melodies Tag 🎵

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

I have so many tags that I’ve been meaning to do for a while, so I figured I’d take some time on my break to do…well, at least one of them. Since I’m almost as big of a fan of music as I am of books, this is the perfect tag for me! The tag was created by Evin @ A Curly Sue’s Ramblings and Diamond @ I Have 12% of a Plan, and I found the tag over at Suhani @ Random Reader’s Rambles.

RULES:

  • Link back to the creators’ posts – I have 12% of a plan & A Curly Sue’s Ramblings
  • Thank the person who tagged you
  • Answer the prompts and use the original graphics
  • Tag 5 bloggers who would enjoy doing this tag
  • Notify them by commenting on their blog
  • Use the tag “Chapters & Melodies Tag” in your post
  • Have fun!

Let’s begin, shall we?

☾ — fantastictvs: Legion S01E06.
here I am cycling through all possible “Syd or Lenny wearing headphones” gifs

🎵CHAPTERS & MELODIES TAG🎵

A SONG AND A BOOK THAT SHARE A TITLE

Supernova: Meyer, Marissa: 9781250078384: Books - Amazon.ca

This prompt took a WHILE of digging through my read books on Goodreads, but I’ve found one: Supernova (Marissa Meyer) and “Supernova” by Liz Phair!

A SONG THAT REMINDS YOU OF A BOOK

Amazon.com: The Final Six: 9780062658944: Monir, Alexandra: Books

At the time that I read The Final Six, I was somewhat familiar with Radiohead, but seeing the reference to “Paranoid Android” is what made me dive deeper into their music—OK Computer in particular. OK Computer is one of my favorite albums now, and Radiohead is one of my favorite bands. So, uh…thanks, Alexandra Monir!

A BOOK THAT FEATURES MUSIC IN IT

Ziggy, Stardust and Me by James Brandon: 9780525517641 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

Ziggy, Stardust and Me gets its name from David Bowie, and his music features prominently in the novel, which I loved! (Bowie’s my favorite) There are also a few Pink Floyd references, from what I remember—I think specifically about “Time.”

A SONG THAT REMINDS YOU OF YOUR OTP

Let Auri Twirl!!!!!! Auri from Aurora Rising #aurorarising #auroracycle  #fanart #sketch #sketchbook #copicmarkers #illustrati… | Aurora rising cat,  Aurora, Fan book
art credit to L004P on Tumblr

Auri and Kal from Aurora Rising are 100% my OTP! They’re the sweetest, most tender pair together, and over the years, both of them—especially Auri—have become such important characters to me. I associate “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space” with them for a few reasons—the lyrics (in this version, at least), fit, and the sweeping, space-y atmosphere fits the feel of the book itself. But if there’s one thing, ONE THING that I would give anything to see in the TV adaptation, it’s this song playing in the scene with Auri and Kal in the pollen fields. THAT’S ALL I ASK.

FAVORITE SONG FROM A MOVIE THAT WAS ADAPTED FROM A BOOK

Dune: Deluxe Edition: Herbert, Frank: 9780593099322: Amazon.com: Books

Technically, this song is a) a cover, and b) was only in the trailer, but for me, it’s a fantastic cover! Gives me chills every time, and it has ever since I first saw the Dune trailer last year. Great book, great movie.

I TAG:

Best Abe Sapien GIFs | Gfycat

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: November 15-21, 2021

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

Most of this week has just been “getting through to Friday because break starts after that,” but it hasn’t been a bad week. In fact, I’d say it’s been a good one—chiefly because I got to finally read Aurora’s End! Even though some of the books I read this week weren’t as good, Aurora’s End brightened everything, and my heart is so, so full for Squad 312. As always. But more than usual.

I’ve been chugging along through NaNoWriMo as well; it’s felt a little more like a slog this week, but I’ve still been able to reach my daily word count every day. [knocks on wood]

Other than that, I’ve just been volunteering at the library, drawing some aliens, and notifying everybody I know who’s into the Aurora Cycle that my school library stocked two copies of book 3. I am nothing if not extremely predictable. And now it’s Thanksgiving Break! It’s nice to have a week off here.

Finding Nemo Todays The Day GIF - Finding Nemo Todays The Day The Sun Is  Shining - Discover & Share GIFs

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

City of Shattered Light – Claire Winn (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

City of Shattered Light by Claire Winn, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

Aurora’s End (Aurora Cycle, #3) – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (read twice) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Aurora's End eBook by Amie Kaufman - 9781524720902 | Rakuten Kobo Canada

The Ghost Seekers (The Soul Keepers, #2) – Devon Taylor (⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: The Ghost Seekers (The Soul Keepers, 2): 9781250168337: Taylor,  Devon: Books

Gender Queer – Maia Kobabe (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Gender Queer: A Memoir : Kobabe, Maia: Amazon.in: Books

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton (for book club)

The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Six Wakes – Mur Lafferty

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

Gods & Monsters (Serpent & Dove, #3) – Shelby Mahurin

Gods & Monsters by Shelby Mahurin | Hardcover | Epic Reads

Death Prefers Blondes – Caleb Roehrig

Amazon.com: Death Prefers Blondes: 9781250155825: Roehrig, Caleb: Books

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (11/16/21) – Aurora’s End (Aurora Cycle, #3)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Wow. The day has finally come, folks. 1 and a half years of waiting, and now I have answers. My favorite series has come to a close, and yet it doesn’t feel like the end. It’s surreal to think that this may be it—the series that changed the course of my life, finally capping off. But if this really is the end, then Aurora’s End is the best conclusion that I could have ever asked for, and a book that I will no doubt cherish just as fervently as the first two books.

Now, TREAD LIGHTLY! If you haven’t read Aurora Rising or Aurora Burning and intend to, beware of spoilers! If you want to read my previous reviews, look no further:

Enjoy this week’s review!

Aurora's End by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff | Penguin Random House Canada
F I N

Aurora’s End (Aurora Cycle, #3) – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

my copy ft. Aurora Burning and Aurora Rising, plus a cool filter and some crystals (not Eshvaren crystals oop)
last picture, I promise—here’s Finny boy with Hobbes, one of my cats

For all intents and purposes, the Battle of Terra was the end for Squad 312. They failed to stop the Starslayer from harnessing the Eshvaren’s Weapon, and intergalactic war is imminent. Meanwhile, the Ra’Haam slips in through the chaos, threatening to cover the entire universe in its spores.

But by a cosmic twist of fate, Tyler, Auri, Kal, Zila, Scarlett, and Finian are unscathed. They’ve been separated by time, and the only chance they have at thwarting the Ra’Haam is turning history itself inside out. Time is not on their side, though, and it may not be enough to save civilization itself from being wiped out.

karlmordo - This is how things are now! You and me. Trapped in...
Aurora’s End without context

TW/CW: graphic violence, mild sexual content, blood, near-death situations, severe allergic reaction, emergency medical procedures, loss of loved ones, death, descriptions of injury, body horror

[WARNING: this review may contain spoilers for Aurora Rising and Aurora Burning!]

I still haven’t come to grips with the fact that this is really the end of the Aurora Cycle. But as someone whose life was permanently altered for the better by this trilogy, I can say with certainty that this is the best end to the series that I could have ever asked for. My heart is so, so, so full of love.

There were so many factors that went into the separate situations that Squad 312 got themselves into, but Kaufman and Kristoff have once again proved that nothing is impossible. Time is distorted, there are future selves to be dealt with, technology and ancient aliens races are as complicated as ever, and of course, Past Pete is here to kill Future Pete. Lucky for us, Kaufman & Kristoff have been rapid-firing Chekhov’s gun, and every detail from the past two books comes full circle. After how mind-boggling the plot and cliffhanger of Aurora Burning were, Aurora’s End brings everything back in superbly clever and surprising ways, making for a trilogy that’s more cohesive than ever before.

And my emotions…MY EMOTIONS! After so long apart, reuniting with Squad 312 felt like reuniting with long-lost friends. Despite this being the last book, the development that many characters got was such a beautiful way to bring them all the way back and display the enormous growth many of them have had over the course of the series. Out of all of them, though, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see Finian and Scarlett’s relationship develop; they’re such an unlikely couple, but the love they have for each other is so consistently tender and heartwarming. Plus, a) NORMALIZE BI PEOPLE IN STRAIGHT PASSING RELATIONSHIPS! STRAIGHT-PASSING RELATIONSHIPS ARE SO VERY VALID!, and b) DISABLED PEOPLE!! IN LOVING RELATIONSHIPS!! WE NEED MORE OF THOSE!! Nothing can top Kalauri, but Fin and Scar come very, very close. I LOVE those two. Power couple. Finian is the once and future disaster bisexual.

Also, Tyler trying to be all “space pirate”-y after an entire lifetime of being Captain America was a train wreck…comedy gold

One aspect of Kaufman and Kristoff’s writing that I haven’t often touched on is how they build tension. Their skill at developing heart-pounding tension is especially evident in Aurora’s End; they did such a masterful job of raising the stakes over the course of these three books, and bringing it all to a nail-biting cataclysm towards the end. The last 100 pages of Aurora’s End had me stressed out to no end, but…in a good way? It made me genuinely worried for everybody involved. Look, I’ve gotten way to attached to my space misfits over the past two years. Let me off the hook this once.

Along with all that, Kaufman and Kristoff once again more than delivered with everything that made the first two books so strong. The universe was expanded upon in surprising ways, the characters were more fleshed out and lovable than ever, the chemistry was impeccable, the action sequences had me clutching the book in a vice grip, and the dialogue hit the perfect balance of levity, tenderness, and solemnity. The found family of Squad 312 is stronger than ever, and my heart is still bursting with love for all of them.

It’s hard to end this review. It isn’t every day that a series changes my life, but the Aurora Cycle truly did. These books taught me so much about moving through this world as an outsider; Auri taught me that I didn’t have to be brave or strong to be a hero, and that people with the fate of the world on their shoulders can have their big feels too. She was the first time I’d really seen a mixed-race hero, and having a character like her means the world to me. I’ve come to see myself in Finian, and he’s taught me that I deserve love just as I am. And Squad 312 has taught me that no matter who you are, there will always be a home for the outsiders. It cemented, more than ever, that even if you think that you are alone in the world, somebody out there loves you, and will give you a home.

All in all, the perfect ending for a series that changed my life for the better. 5 stars for the sake of Goodreads, but realistically, however many stars there are in the known universe.

Squad 312 forever. 💗

never again shall we submit

Aurora’s End is the final book in the Aurora Cycle, preceded by Aurora Rising (#1) and Aurora Burning (#2). Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff have also written the Illuminae Files together; Amie Kaufman is also the author of the Starbound trilogy (co-written with Meagan Spooner) and the Elementals series, and Jay Kristoff is also the author of the LIFEL1K3 trilogy and Empire of the Vampire.

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: November 8-14, 2021

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

Emotionally, it hasn’t been an ideal week, but it’s picked up in the last few days. To make things better, though, I had a string of great books in my library haul (minus one of them), and I had some time to read this week. I also held my school’s book club meeting this month, and everybody seemed really excited about A Darker Shade of Magic!

NaNoWriMo has also been going steadily! I’m at nearly 20,000 words, and my goal is 45,000 by the end of the month. (I’m still in the Young Writer’s Program.) It’s been a lot of fun to give myself time to write every day, and though getting 1,500 words in every day has been a little difficult, I’m getting used to it.

Other than that, I’ve been listening to Snail Mail on repeat, playing my guitar, drawing aliens, and waiting for my package of Aurora’s End to arrive. (!!)

AND IT ARRIVED TODAY

I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF AKAKDAFKHDJFKFSJSAHJK

AAAAAAAAAAA | Motion Blur | Know Your Meme

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardy – C.M. Waggoner (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry: Waggoner, C. M.: 9781984805867:  Amazon.com: Books

The Soul Keepers – Devon Taylor (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: The Soul Keepers (The Soul Keepers, 1): 9781250309136: Taylor,  Devon: Books

The Way You Make Me Feel – Maurene Goo (⭐️⭐️)

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

Trouble the Saints – Alaya Dawn Johnson (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Perfect on Paper – Sophie Gonzales (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Perfect on Paper: A Novel eBook : Gonzales, Sophie: Kindle Store

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

City of Shattered Light – Claire Winn

Amazon.com: City of Shattered Light eBook : Winn, Claire: Kindle Store

Aurora’s End (Aurora Cycle, #3) – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (!!!!!!!!!!!)

Amazon.com: Aurora's End (The Aurora Cycle Book 3) eBook : Kaufman, Amie,  Kristoff, Jay: Kindle Store

Gender Queer – Maia Kobabe

Gender Queer: A Memoir: Kobabe, Maia: 9781549304002: Amazon.com: Books

The Ghost Seekers (The Soul Keepers, #2) – Devon Taylor

Amazon.com: The Ghost Seekers (The Soul Keepers, 2): 9781250168337: Taylor,  Devon: Books

Today’s song:

this song has been stuck in my head since Thursday 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

3 Bookish Things Book Tag

Hi again, bibliophiles!

I was in the mood for a book tag today, so I figured I’d give this one a shot. I was tagged by Riddhi @ Whispering Stories (thank you!), and I’m not sure who created the tag, so if you know, please let me know so I can credit them!

Let’s begin, shall we?

📘3 BOOKISH THINGS BOOK TAG📘

3 READ-ONCE-AND-LOVED AUTHORS

Amazon.com: The Sound of Stars eBook: Dow, Alechia: Kindle Store

Just so I don’t sound like a broken record, here are three that I’ve discovered more recently and loved…

3 TITLES I’VE WATCHED BUT NOT READ

The High Fidelity Cultural Reference Guide, Vol. V: Great Scenes and Lines  -- Dry The Rain | High fidelity quotes, Soundtrack to my life, Pixies songs

3 SERIES I HAVE BINGED

Ooh, I rarely binge series, so this one’s probably a little harder…

Amazon.com: The Young Elites (9780147511683): Lu, Marie: Books

3 CHARACTERS I LOVE

OOH, lots to choose from…I’ll think of some that I haven’t talked much about in other book tags…

Kaliis-768×1060 – Amie Kaufman
character art by @kiranight_art

3 CURRENT FAVORITE COVERS

I wouldn’t say that I have a favorite book cover, but here are a few recent reads that had covers that I ADORED

Victories Greater Than Death | Charlie Jane Anders | Macmillan
Victories Greater Than Death
Amazon.com: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea (9781536204315):  Tokuda-Hall, Maggie: Books
The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea
REVIEW: 'The Ones We're Meant to Find' by Joan He will take readers to a  futuristic world that hits close to home - Bookstacked
The Ones We’re Meant to Find

3 THINGS YOU HAVE USED AS BOOKMARKS

Uh…I just use bookmarks, and I have no memory of using anything else…

3 UNPOPULAR BOOKISH OPINIONS

Amazon.com: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, 1) (9780316310314):  Black, Holly: Books
  • The Cruel Prince wasn’t that good, and Jude and Cardan’s relationship was all kinds of toxic
  • Wings of Ebony wasn’t that great either, but I will say that a) I loved the unapologetic approach to racism and colonialism and b) the cover was really pretty
  • Alina from Shadow and Bone shouldn’t have been paired off with the Darkling or Mal – both options weren’t great, and why did she need to be paired off in the first place? (But if I could pair her off with anyone, I’d say Genya.)

3 BOOK GOALS FOR THE YEAR

Page to Screen: The Handmaid's Tale | Arts | The Harvard Crimson
  • Read at least 250 books (I’m at 130 right now!)
  • Actually get around to reading The Handmaid’s Tale bc it’s been sitting on my Kindle for over a year
  • Don’t cry that hard during Aurora’s End (because it’s a given that I’ll cry at some point)

I TAG:

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

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

Posted in Books, Random

Aurora Rambling, Revisited: AURORA 3 HAS A COVER AND A TITLE AND NOW I’M EXCITED AND REALLY SCARED

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Happy Saturday, bibliophiles!

Back in August, I made a rambly little post about my theories for the cover of the third Aurora Rising book. Of course, back then, I thought I’d get answers by October or November, since that’s what happened with the reveal for Aurora Burning, but alas, it seems the pandemic (I think?) has pushed it back from the May release date I thought it would have to early November. So now I have to let that horrendous cliffhanger fester in my mind for about 7 more months…

Paolo 🩸 on Twitter: "I'M LITERALLY THIS CAT RIGHT NOW… "

But there’s more good news than bad! On Wednesday, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff announced that there would be a cover and title reveal on Friday, and yesterday afternoon, it came! So without further ado…

AAAAAAAAAAA | Motion Blur | Know Your Meme
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Rock the Boat 🌊 (@Rocktheboatnews) | Twitter
via Rock the Boat News

OH

MY

GOD

I CAN’T HANDLE THIS ALL AT ONCE THIS IS SO BEAUTIFUL

FINIAN???? KING OF THE SPACE BISEXUALS??? FINALLY GETTING THE COVER HE DESERVES! AND THE RA’HAAM IN THE BACKGROUND

But can we talk about that title too? I certainly didn’t see it coming, but I guess we were foolish to think that Kaufman & Kristoff would stick to the Aurora [blank]ing formula for the past two books…either way, I am very excited. I’m also very frightened.

So as you can imagine, my brain has pretty much sounded like this since Friday afternoon:

…wait for it

And here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:

The squad you love is out of time. Prepare for the thrilling finale in the epic, best-selling Aurora Cycle series about a band of unlikely heroes who just might be the galaxy’s last hope for survival.

Is this the end?
What happens when you ask a bunch of losers, discipline cases, and misfits to save the galaxy from an ancient evil? The ancient evil wins, of course.
Wait. . . . Not. So. Fast.
When we last saw Squad 312, they working together seamlessly (aka, freaking out) as an intergalactic battle raged and an ancient superweapon threatened to obliterate Earth. Everything went horribly wrong, naturally.
But as it turns out, not all endings are endings, and the team has one last chance to rewrite thirs. Maybe two. It’s complicated.
Cue Zila, Fin, and Scarlett (and MAGELLAN!): making friends, making enemies, and making history? Sure, no problem.
Cue Tyler, Kal, and Auri: uniting with two of the galaxy’s most hated villains? Um, okay. That, too.
Actually saving the galaxy, though? 
Now that will take a miracle
.

The Muppets Screaming Gif - IceGif

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

So let’s see how this all matches up with my cover predictions from my Aurora Rambling post.

My main three contenders for the cover were Scarlett, Finian, and Zila, though Tyler was in the mix there. I also had a dream at some point about Tyler being on the cover, and that it was green.

…well, I’m glad that the green part came true and not the Tyler part.

But anyway, here were some of my original thoughts, circa August 2020:

PERSONALLY? I’d like to have either Scar, Finian, or Zila, but more so the latter two. 

SEMI-LOGICALLY? I think that Zila or Tyler have the best chance of being on the cover, judging from their previous roles. Of course, they’d face the wrath of the Finian side of the fandom, but will that stop them? I doubt it…

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[insert an infinite string of clown emojis here]

Welp. Sort of screwed that up. But let’s revisit what I thought about Finian’s chances:

Finian: At this point, a good 80% of the fandom is willing to hand over their entire life’s savings to Kaufman and Kristoff for the chance to have him on the cover, so the chances here are…interesting. 

And to be honest? I ABSOLUTELY understand the sentiment. Aside from Auri and Kal, he’s my favorite of the Squad, and such a wonderful balance between comic relief and a genuinely complex character. Beyond that, I think he might have an important role to play–after all, we haven’t seen how he uses the ballpoint pen, and how the “tell her the truth” note plays into that. 

Also, as with Zila, wouldn’t it be great to have his representation on the cover? He’s bisexual and has impaired mobility, so that would be amazing to have him front and center.

But hey, now we can rejoice, because we DO have a disabled, bisexual character on the cover! And I think we all adore Finian, myself included. (Plus, I’m glad we didn’t have to see the Finian side of the fandom go feral if he didn’t make the cut…) I’ll fully admitting to freaking out when I saw his face on the cover. I would’ve freaked out either way, but he’s one of my favorite members of Squad 312, so…

Now you can all join me in anxiously trembling and ferociously re-reading until November 9th of this year, I guess…(hey, I actually have an excuse for Aurora Burning…one of my friends suggested it for our my school’s book club and he’s amazing for it…) Also, I’ve preordered a signed copy, because I am nothing if not impatient and predictable.

So there you go. I guess I’m as bad at predicting covers as I am at predicting plotlines. Doesn’t matter, though. All that matters is that we have more Aurora Cycle content coming our way in November!

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Today’s song:

That’s it for yet another rambling, incoherent post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

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

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

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

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

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

Enjoy this week’s review!

The Other Side of the Sky by Amie Kaufman

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

My copy feat. Rey

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

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

The legends were wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(EDIT: Amie Kaufman just confirmed that North is bi! 💗💜💙)

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

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

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

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

Today’s song:

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