Posted in Monthly Wrap-Ups

May 2023 Wrap-Up 🌂

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles! Hope this month has treated you well.

How is it already the end of May? It feels like I was trying to get dust bunnies out of the corners of my dorm room just a few days ago…(so many dust bunnies 😭)

Let’s begin, shall we?


Whew! May has been pretty busy, but everything’s…temporarily winding down. I finished up my finals and managed to make straight A’s this semester—I just found out I got on the dean’s list, too! Still can’t believe I’m already finished with my first semester of college; it was such a scary and jarring experience at first, but I’m already finding myself missing parts of it. What a weird and wonderful year it’s been. Now that I’m back home for the summer, I’ve just been trying to soak it all up—I’ve had a few quiet weeks, but I’ll be going back to the library soon, which I’m so excited about!

My reading and blogging have both still been slower, with all of the bustle of finishing…everything, but I’m starting to get back on track now that summer’s started. I’m slowly trying to get back on a writing schedule as well—I ended up deciding to write the sequel to my main sci-fi WIP, and once I finish outlining it (which I’m in the middle of right now), I’ll get back on my writing schedule. That’ll probably be what I end up working on for Camp NaNoWriMo in July…

Other than that, I’ve just been drawing more, playing guitar, watching Kindred (Octavia Butler deserves a better adaptation), committing to binge-watching my way through Taskmaster (there’s strength in arches, y’know), and enjoying being home. We’re still in the “summer, but not disastrously hot yet” stage here in Colorado, so I’m enjoying that while it lasts…

And more importantly, I’m going to a virtual Q & A with the one and only AMIE KAUFMAN tonight!! I CAN’T WAIT!!


I read 18 books this month! My reading’s still a bit slowed down after finals and moving out (!!!), but I still feel like I read a good amount. It was a really mixed bag, though—two 1 star books (one was a DNF, the other would’ve been had I not been trying to wait out a lightning storm before going to sleep 🥴), but THREE 5-star (one rounded up from 4.75) books! Can’t remember the last time the former happened. Either way, I found a ton of great reads for AAPI heritage month, and finally got my hands on some of my most anticipated reads of the year!

If this month’s 1 star reads are any indication, maybe the word “monster” is the problem…?

1 – 1.75 stars:

Only a Monster

2 – 2.75 stars:

This Is Not a Personal Statement

3 – 3.75 stars:

The Art of Prophecy

4 – 4.75 stars:

The Isles of the Gods

5 stars:

A Thousand Steps into Night

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH: The Stonewall Reader 5 stars




[castanet insanity ensures]
Kindred was a disappointment but this cover is great
I don’t know if I’m completely committed to listening to this album all the way through yet but I WILL EVENTUALLY IT’S JUST LONG

Today’s song:

I have not felt peace since this was uploaded to bandcamp on Sunday night

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

Posted in Sunday Songs

Sunday Songs: 5/28/23

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

This is gonna be a fun one. By coincidence, the fault lines of Palehound Panic™️ and my recently reawakened Blur Breakdown™️ have collided in the span of a week. Let’s hope the results won’t be cataclysmic.

Enjoy this week’s songs!


“Black Friday” – Palehound

I’ve finally finished my quest to catch up on Palehound (the albums, at least) before Eye on the Bat. Over the past week or so, Black Friday has been in heavy rotation—it feels like El Kempner’s most cohesive and lyrically strong album, and it might just be my favorite of theirs so far. It was a feat to pick just one song from this album—“Worthy,” “Aaron,” and “Killer” were all strong contenders (GO LISTEN THEY’RE ALL SO GOOD)—but the title track, “Black Friday,” stuck out to me in so many ways.

Palehound often leaves the introspection for a handful of songs at the end of each album, but the personal threads run deep throughout the entirety of Black Friday. This song in particular hits a particularly emotional note—it’s a continued story of catching up with old friends, all the while having a nagging feeling that they don’t care about you now, and that they never cared much about you before, either. Yet somehow, you still feel tied to them by some kind of desperate obligation, a lingering thought that maybe things can change, but knowing they won’t; Kempner sings that “I’ll take being the last one that you call/You’re Black Friday and I’m going to the mall.” The chorus of “Before you said we’d keep in touch/I don’t hear from you too much/If you need to call me, I’m too weak to hold a grudge,” with Kempner’s layered harmonies, glitter like the edges of stars and ring out like a faint sound of a jet flying overhead. It was a song that felt like a punch in the stomach, all while I was just trying to give myself a nice manicure. Afterwards, I had to sit back for a minute…there will always be those songs that hit a little too close to home for comfort, and they always come when you least expect them to. But songs like “Black Friday” give a voice to the feelings that we think, in our darkest moments, are isolated only to only us. So thank you for that, El Kempner. Here’s to making friends with people who really do care, and not chasing after people who don’t.

“The Narcissist” – Blur

All is right in the universe. Nature is healing. We’ve got a new Blur album out in July…everything’s okay again…

…and this song is testing my ability to spell the word “narcissist.” I could’ve sworn that there was another ‘c’ in there somewhere…

I’ve got to hand it to Damon Albarn at this point—he’s having not one, but two of his projects (this and Gorillaz) releasing albums this year, and even if Cracker Island was a bit of a disappointment, the sheer creativity and talent is all there regardless. Knowing that the forthcoming The Ballad of Darren was a spur-of-the-moment kind of reunion makes it all the more impressive—they didn’t plan on making another album in the first place, and then they come out with this?

That being said…I’m not sure if it’s Blur’s best, but it’s still a great song. I didn’t listen to it on repeat while cleaning out my closet last week for no reason. It’s such a catchy tune—the instrumentals are a little understated, but it’s clean, it’s smooth, and it’s proof that Blur have mastered the art of a polished Britpop tune. My only problem, as much as I’ll sing praises for Damon Albarn, is that there’s too much Damon Albarn. It’s not something that I’d ever picture myself saying, but we live in strange times. “The Narcissist,” delightful earworm that it is, feels more like a solo Damon Albarn effort than a Blur song. Even though we do get Graham Coxon’s backing vocals, I find myself missing his captivating, intricate riffs. You can hardly hear the presence of Alex James’ iconic basslines. And Dave Rowntree’s precise drumming is still there, but again: understated. I just want more Blur, less Damon Albarn.

All that is to say that, for once, the fact that we’re getting a whole new Blur album overshadows most of the nitpicks I have about “The Narcissist.” I have a feeling that I’m gonna enjoy Hot Blur Summer.

“I Need Some Fine Wine and You, You Need to Be Nicer” – The Cardigans

If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought this was a Giant Drag song—it’s got a very similar kind of bite. I’ve only listened to First Band on the Moon, but this song has me wondering what happened between that and their final record, Super Extra Gravity. I wouldn’t call it a sea change—it’s still got the pop sensibility that Nina Persson perfected to a science, but there’s an undeniable roughness to the song that pushes it more towards the edges. Persson’s voice, although it retains her signature, dainty tone, curls into a rasp as the song begins with half-spoken dog commands—”Sit/good dog/stay/bad dog/down/roll over.” The rest of that song is as bitter as the intro suggests, singing of a relationship gone sour, dulled by alcohol and fleeting visions of lost love. The Cardigans have toyed with these kinds of songs, but this one really makes the feel come through—it’s still a pop song through and through, but the sharpening of the guitars on this one make the image really come to life. “I Need Some Fine Wine” is, in short, Nina Persson’s hairdo in most of the video—it coexists as the neatly braided crown and the spiky hairs coming out all at once.

“Sinnerman” – Nina Simone

Full disclosure: I hoard reaction images. Too many. But even a refined reaction image connoisseur such as myself knows that some images are only suited for very specific, sacred times. You can’t go about wasting them willy-nilly, even if they are just…well, sitting on your phone. It’s not every day that something can evoke the feeling contained in this image, for instance:

But that’s how “Sinnerman” feels. All the way through.

Every TV show and film that this song has been featured in has cut it tragically short; and no, I don’t mean to call Gerard Way and Taika Waititi cowards, because they clearly aren’t, but also…if you’re going to include this song in anything, you have to go the whole mile—the 10:19 mile, to be exact. And if there’s any song that commands the listener to sprint through its entire length, it’s this one.

I can take longer songs, but there’s a specific art to crafting them: for me, if a song goes past the 6 or 7 minute mark, there has to be something that keeps me listening—that applies to any song, technically, but if you have that long of a song that mostly consists of repetition, you’ve started to lose me (lookin’ at you, LCD Soundsystem…you can pull it off sometimes…). Oingo Boingo’s sprawling, nearly 16 minute long swan song “Change,” for instance, has plenty of recurring musical motifs, but it keeps you on your toes, whether that be with artfully-placed oddball instrumentation or bizarre samples. But there’s a way that long song repetition can be done—my favorite song of all time, in fact, does just that; Blur’s “Tender” has a somewhat tidier format, but they bypass the LCD Soundsystem syndrome not just with breaks for Graham Coxon’s bluesy riffs and choir, but by fueling it with nothing but Emotion with a capital E—”love’s the greatest thing,” after all.

“Sinnerman,” however, does both of those things—it’s essentially the mother of every epic, extensively long song that you can think of. Even knowing the years that Nina Simone was active, it still amazes me that this was released in 1965. I could almost understand it if it had been the late sixties, when everybody started to realized how freeing musical experimentation was. Simone’s musical career was defined by pushing against so many barriers, from her protest music to her incredible piano skills, but this song pushed the envelope in such a wildly different way. Through all 10+ minutes, there’s an energy that seems to live and breathe and never stop—even when the music begins to die down in favor of Simone’s piano and a chorus of clapping. It’s a song on a desperate mission, one that takes no prisoners and never stops to catch its breath. Even though the song is an amalgamation of scattered 50’s songs, gospel, African spirituals, and remnants from her own religious upbringing, it can be easily reduced to a single word, one that Simone famously belts out near the song’s climactic ending—”power.” I can’t think of many other songs that grab you by the shirt collar and keep you hanging there quite like this—nothing comes close to how propulsive Simone is, with how purely propulsive both her voice and her piano playing are. Again—take my word with a grain of salt, but this really is a masterpiece. And knowing that she used to end her live shows with this song…WHEW. What a song.

“Sea of Blood” – Palehound

Whether or not it was intentional, it’s fitting that this song shares space with a song called “YMCA Pool.” Two dubious bodies of liquid on one single.

With some songs that end up as singles after the released of an album, you’re left wanting—what could’ve changed if that track was on the album, as originally intended? (see: “Bicycle”) But some songs were made to be tiny, standalone packages, never leftovers for works past or teasers for what’s to come. “Sea of Blood” works exactly this way—it’s got the sprightly beats and guitar work of something circa Dry Food or even Bent Nail – EP, but there’s something about the short, snappy atmosphere of it that doesn’t confine it to any of Kempner’s previous works. It might fight the catchier, brighter side of Dry Food, but it doesn’t quite match the introspection. It’s got the experience that Bent Nail hadn’t fully achieved yet. And yet it still sounds like a home demo, but so fully realized—a neat drum machine accompanies Kempner’s signature rasp, sharp lyrics, and climbing guitar fingerings all come together in what has the sound quality just above an iPhone voice memo, but the polish that comes from nurturing a tune like this for a long time. And leave it to Palehound to name a song something like “Sea of Blood,” a title you’d expect to come with throat-burning, heavy metal screaming, but start off the song with a line as innocuous as “I’m every bit as fragile as a baby bird.” You sly dog, you…hound?

Since this post consists entirely of songs, consider all of them to be today’s song.

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

Posted in Uncategorized

Sunday Songs: 4/9/23

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles, and happy Easter for those celebrating! 🐣

I’m still riding the boygenius high, and I will most certainly be riding it for much longer (that is a threat), but I promise I’m listening to a few more songs…maybe…

Enjoy this week’s songs!


“Cool About It” – boygenius

Never in a million years would I have predicted having a song with banjo in it constantly on repeat, but life is full of surprises. All the better if said songs are delivered by the likes of boygenius.

I’ll surely be raving about boygenius’ recently released full-length debut the record for the next month, but this song, after their first four singles, is taking center stage in my head constantly. With a melody inspired by Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” and sparse, gentle instrumentation that lets each member of the supergroup bathe in the spotlight, it’s a quiet, introspective highlight. Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, and Phoebe Bridgers take turns reflecting on the mixed emotions of painful, strained reunions with exes and old friends, hidden lyrics shine through in not-so-hidden lyricism—”I can walk you home and practice method acting/I’ll pretend that being with you doesn’t feel like drowning,” in Bridger’s final words. boygenius have let their joint talents meld together in a handful of different structures, but somehow, this neat, boxed-in sections where one singer takes the lead per verse make for a song that truly feels like all of them. And as gently as bubbling water in a creek, their harmonies rise as one for each chorus—my heart can’t help but leap a little when each of them harmonize to the final line of each verse: “even though we know it isn’t true…”

[fanning face] The power they have, I swear…

“You & I” – Graham Coxon

I’ve been meaning to get more into Graham Coxon’s solo work ever since my 2021 Blur frenzy, and through the nuggets of song titles that I seem to remember completely at random, I’m getting more and more excited about it. The only song of his that I know that isn’t a cover or from the soundtrack of The End of the F***ing World (which I still need to watch…), it’s an unadulterated dose of tight, anxious Britpop straight to the veins; even without Blur and all of the detriments that came with its fame, it’s clear that this is the kind of music that Coxon was meant to play. And he plays it well. Each punchy chord feels laid out on a precise grid, and from what I can gather about him, it seems like something he would do. “You & I” is a distinctly polished song—not in the way that an over-produced, Top 40 hit is, but polished in the way that every edge has been meticulously sanded down to perfection, not a note out of line. These nervous, uptight white guys know their stuff sometimes…

“Everybody Wants To Love You” – Japanese Breakfast

I’ve gotten bits and pieces of Japanese Breakfast over the years—I remember being in the car all the way back in middle school and hearing a piece of NPR about her debut album, Psychopomp, and being interested, but I don’t think I ever got around to listening to it then. With all the buzz around Jubilee and her acclaimed novel Crying in H-Mart, I figured I might get around to giving Michelle Zauner and company a listen. Like “You & I,” I remembered the title of this song at random, and I’m so glad I did!

“Everybody Wants To Love You” feels like the 2010’s, indie rock answer to a poppy love song of the 50’s or the 60’s. Everything about it feels cheery—the bright, practically glittering guitar tones, the sharp pep of Zauner’s voice, and the starry synths that seem to leave sparkling trails over every second of the song. Add a wonderfully catchy guitar riff and package it into the pop-standard 2 and a half minutes, and you’ve got something that feels like it could come out of any era. Well…maybe not any era—some of those lyrics definitely would not have flown in the mainstream before the 60’s, but that’s not the point. It’s just 2 and a half minutes of joy, purely and simply.

“A Quiet Life” – Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld

Over break, I went through the first season of Netflix’s Dark with my family, and ever since, I’ve ripped a solid half of the songs from that show and slapped them haphazardly into my music taste. Seems like that’s largely the case for a lot of the commenters on this video too (all of the Dark references have passed the vibe check with absolutely flying colors), and, among other things, Dark reminds me how good it feels to be so invested in every part of a show—not just the story itself, but every little detail that goes into it. Like the music.

I won’t go into how perfectly this song melds with the overall themes and the last episode of season 1 of Dark for fear of spoiling something so wonderfully intricate, but it’s chilling on its own as well. Blixa Bargeld boasts such a rich voice—it reminds me a lot of Jarvis Cocker, with that same rasp at the edges of the resonance you can feel in your chest. Just like Dark’s absolutely disturbing score, Bargeld’s vocals seem to buzz in moments, turning from something human into the hum of putting your ear next to a beehive. There’s a deeply poetic feel to everything in this song’s atmosphere, with the orchestral composition forming in the background and the gloom that seems to settle over every note like fog. It creeps along like frost, painted in the same grays as the album cover. What I’m trying to say here is this: whoever was in charge of the music direction for Dark—I SALUTE YOU. BLESS YOU.

“Demi Moore” – Phoebe Bridgers

Phoebe Bridgers is a distinctly 2020 artist in my musical canon. I first listened to Stranger in the Alps in the early months, before everything went…y’know, and Punisher came out that summer. But unlike Punisher, an album that’s a no-skip for me to this day, some of the songs on Stranger in the Alps didn’t do it for me on the first few listens. It’s understandable—Stranger was her debut, and with Punisher, she had more time to hone her craft and sound. But I’ve recently come back to some of those songs that I didn’t warm up to the first time; some of them still don’t impress me, but “Demi Moore,” along with the harrowing “Killer,” took a while to grow on me.

With a title borne from a misheard lyric (“I don’t wanna be stoned anymore” became “stone Demi Moore,” this song, like many of her others, lingers in the hazy, middle-of-the night lairs of vulnerability. Especially on Stranger, the instrumentals often take a backseat to Bridgers’ singing, letting the emotional side speak for itself amidst quiet synths that flicker like satellites in the night sky. Phoebe Bridgers’ voice floats along like misty fog over a creek, all at once thin and full of emotion.

And again—normally I can’t stand banjos, but these somehow work because of how…quiet they are? Sorry for the banjo slander here, but…I can’t help it, I’m sorry. I was forced to learn in 7th grade for school, but I didn’t enjoy much of it, save for trying to pluck out a rendition of “It’s A Wonderful Life” from memory. I’ll begrudgingly admit that it did help me get a bit of head start on playing guitar, but I still have a vendetta with the instrument. I digress.

Since this post consists entirely of songs, consider all of them to be today’s song.

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

Posted in Monthly Wrap-Ups

February 2023 Wrap-Up ⛷

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I’m running out of winter emojis for these wrap-ups…what else am I supposed to do when this month has been so consistently cold and miserable? Totally can’t tell how ready for spring and summer I am, can you? Nuh uh, no way…

The snow has made for some pretty beautiful scenery, though. I will say that.


February’s been a quiet month for the most part (although the high winds last week made me feel like I was in The Wizard of Oz, and not in a good way), which I alway appreciate. The great thing about taking mainly humanities classes is that midterms are a lot less stressful—most of my classes just have papers, so they’re far less daunting. And it’s been great to have comics and sci-fi as my reading material—even though my science fiction class has had its ups and downs, I loved re-reading All Systems Red and re-watching Blade Runner 2049 for homework.

I felt like my reading slowed down, but looking at the numbers, it really didn’t. School reading has started to make up a significant portion of what I read now that I’m in more English classes, but I’ve read a lot of interesting novels and graphic novels—Bitch Planet, Monstress, and now re-reading Kindred, to name a few. But I did read a bunch of great novels for Black History Month in my free time, and I’ve discovered so many wonderful books! I just finished The Fifth Season, and I’m kind of invested in the series now…

Other than that, I’ve been watching Only Murders in the Building (✨fabulous✨), Our Flag Means Death (not as funny as people made it out to be, but the last two episodes HURT), and Flight of the Conchords (THEY CALL ME THE HIPHOPOPOTAMOUS, MY LYRICS ARE BOTTOMLESS…[cough]), drawing, playing guitar, skiing for the first time in over a year (so much fun, but also so much soreness), and listening to new music from Black Belt Eagle Scout and Gorillaz. So much new music out (that’s on my radar) already…


I read 20 books this month! I feel like school reading has taken up a good chunk of what I’ve read this month, even if it’s been re-reads, but what I’m loving about college is that I’m reading more novels that I’m interested in (with the exception of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?…ew), so that’s a plus.

2 – 2.75 stars:

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

3 – 3.75 stars:

Ms. Marvel: Fists of Justice

4 – 4.75 stars:

The Fifth Season

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH (NOT COUNTING RE-READS): Nothing Burns as Bright as You4.5 stars




the first half of this month was nothing but Super Furry Animals, and that’s not a complaint at all
and when the dust settled after said Super Furry Animals, all that was left but two older St. Vincent singles that I put on repeat
“Panopticom” was pretty good, but THIS has me really excited for i/o
such a lovely album!!!
you thought you could escape Blur on this blog? fools

Since I’ve already posted once today, check out this week’s Book Review Tuesday for today’s song.

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

Posted in Music, Sunday Songs

Sunday Songs: 2/19/23

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles!

Another week, another snow, and another wish for just a little bit warmer weather. Just because I’m used to it doesn’t mean I’m a fan of snow until May…but I think these songs are more fit for spring or summer. At least the colors are.

Enjoy this week’s songs!


“Fancy Dance” – Black Belt Eagle Scout

I talked about The Land, The Water, The Sky more in depth in my album review a few days ago, but out of the newest songs, “Fancy Dance” was an immediate standout. As short as it was—one of the shortest tracks on the album, in fact—it immediately snagged my by the shirt collar on the first listen, so much so that I didn’t notice that my water bottle that I’d been filling had started to overflow. This song is what I’ve been wanting from Black Belt Eagle Scout for so long—Katherine Paul letting loose, unleashing a bite-sized package of driving, alternative rock joy. Paul’s air-light voice juxtaposes with their lightly-fuzzed guitars, making for a summery, upbeat, and carefree hit that instantly makes me want to get up on my feet. The whole album was fantastic, but this was one of the best songs I’ve seen her do in recent years.

“Meet the Parents” – Jim Noir

Back with another lovely, upbeat tune, here’s one from an artist who I’ll never stop describing as criminally underrated. “Meet the Parents” comes from Jim Noir’s debut EP, A Bird Sings in Wool, and man, all I can think is that if I publish something as good as this right off the bat, I could honestly die happy. The whole EP is nothing short of brilliant, but this song always pops back out at me. “Delightful” really is the best word to describe it—as I hear the lines “If I had to meet your parents/I would probably lose my head/And my legs would fall off/And my eyes would fall out,” “delightful” isn’t exactly the word I’d use right off the bat, but the whimsical, Britpop delivery of it gives me a more cartoonish image of little googly eyes tumbling out of flat, 2-D sockets and bouncing around like rubber balls. There’s a consistently lighthearted feel to it all; A Bird Sings in Wool is the musical equivalent of a light spring rain—not the kind that ruins your day and makes you gloomy, but the kind that makes you want to run out on the lawn and spin around in the dewy grass.

+ if you have the means, I’d highly recommend supporting the wonderful Jim Noir on Patreon! He’s been putting out several EPs over the past few months which will eventually grow into an album, so if you want to hear new music from him firsthand, look no further!

“Sing” – Blur

The fates (read: that list randomizer website) picked Blur’s debut album, Leisure, for my listen this week, and for the most part, it was a good album; I wouldn’t say that there are any bad songs on it, but it did tend to err on the side of repetitiveness (they even had a song called “Repetition,” funnily enough). It’s the clear product of a monumental band first trying to find their feet and create a signature sound, but only dipping their toes in the pool water where the album cover’s swim cap lady is resting beside. I’d only heard “She’s So High” and “There’s No Other Way” before listening, and now I can add “Bang” and “Wear Me Down” to some of my album favorites, but musically, “Sing” is the most unique of them all. Clocking in at just over six minutes long, “Sing” is like drifting through a haze, windmilling your arms around as you try and fan away the fog. Over the droning melodies, the harmonies of Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon create a dizzying, proto-shoegaze atmosphere that envelops you until the final grinding of the last 10 seconds. It’s so radically different than anything else on the album, and even here, at the very start of their career, you can already hear the forebears of some of the more experimental tracks on Blur, 13, or even Think Tank, a magnifying-glass glimpse into what Blur would eventually become. It’s comforting to know that they were always a little weird from the start.

“Shy” – Hether

A chance encounter on an old friend’s Instagram story led me to this bright and summery song, and it’s been on repeat ever since. It has all of the sweet simplicity of a 50’s love song, translated into modern terms with punctuated record scratches and woozy vocals. Everything about “Shy” seems bright—the tones of the barely-faded electric guitars, the hazy cloud of electronic background noise, and the acoustic guitar strums—the clearest thing to come through in this song, like a lighthouse beacon in the middle of a misty sea. The bright, lime green of the cover of the Hether Who? EP only increases the feeling of carefree summertime that this song emanates in waves. Right down to the last distorted notes, it’s a perfect example of the persistence of a simple, 3-minute pop song, just barely translated into indie. It’s a time-tested formula. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

“Fate Is…” – Wednesday

After hearing about Wednesday on NPR and listening to “Cody’s Only,” I ended up snagging a few other songs of theirs from Apple Music on a whim. “Fate Is…” immediately stood out, coming in strong like a punch in the face with a tidal wave of grungy guitars and percussion and Karly Hartzman’s relentless, persistent voice. It’s a song that grabs you by the shirt collar and never lets go, especially when Hartzman’s voice rises past the point of cracking along with the edges of the instrumentation. Even when the momentum dips down in the chorus, it’s brought back up screaming, never letting go until every instrument seems to vanish into thin air in the last seconds in the song, winking out of existence in a smoky cloud, leaving only remnants of the fuzz behind. This is only one of my first few Wednesday songs, but I hope they don’t lose their guitar-heavy sound. Maybe I need to give I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone a listen too.

Since this post consists entirely of songs, consider all of them to be today’s song.

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (2/14/23) – Son of the Storm (The Nameless Republic, #1)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles, and happy Valentine’s Day! I’ve got no plans other than eating cookies, but I’m all for spreading the love. 💗

Son of the Storm has been on my radar for…about 6 months? A year? I’m not sure, but either way, I’m glad I picked it up. Usually, long, epic fantasy books like this make me lose interest, but Suyi Davies Okungbowa has written a tale that had me hooked almost all the way through.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Son of the Storm (The Nameless Republic, #1) – Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Danso is well on the way to becoming a renowned scholar, but despite the path set before him, he seeks more in life than what his university can teach him. He knows that the city of Bassa has sinister secrets woven into its history, walling itself away from the rest of the world and making every immigrant swear to secrecy. Danso’s bravado catches up with him when he discovers Lilong—and along with her, a type of magic that he never knew existed. A magic that bonds to him, and a magic that could determine his fate and the fates of Bassa itself.

TW/CW: graphic violence, racism/colorism, immolation, blood

These days, it’s rare for an epic fantasy over 500 pages to keep my attention; to pull it off, you have to not only have great worldbuilding, but you have to buoy it with some kind of action and character building, and more often than not, many will lean on one to propel the page count. I was hoping that Son of the Storm wouldn’t fall into that trap, but to my relief, it gave us all of those elements and more, making for a compelling fantasy that hooked me on the rest of the series!

It’s clear to me that so much care was put into the characters of Son of the Storm, but Danso stood out the most to me. He’s refreshingly fleshed out—he’s lovably cocky, he’s determined, and he can talk his way out of any situation. Beyond that, there was so much nuance to him that made the plot all the more compelling; the wrongs within Bassa had a personal connection to his own family history, and that drove him to discover more about the outside world. It’s a low bar, I know, but I’m so used to epic fantasy having issues that are only tangentially related to their protagonists, and giving Danso a more personal, tangible connection to the plot made the story all the more interesting to read.

And that’s in no small part thanks to Okungbowa’s fantastic writing! His prose hit the perfect balance of fantastical and grounded, making the human aspect of the story shine through. The moments of humor are balanced with moments of meditation on systemic issues and personal biases, and there wasn’t a moment that I thought that either were too much or too little. Although the plot did have brief moments of lulling, Okungbowa easily revived the suspense and action to keep the story moving in ways that made sense and were integral to the journeys of each character. In my experience, it’s difficult to keep up that pace for over 500 pages; usually, something gets lost in the worldbuilding or somewhere else, but Son of the Storm was, for the most part, consistently action-packed.

Back to the characters, however, is where my major problem came in: the multiple POV structure. Normally, I’m a sucker for multiple POVs when they’re done well, giving the reader a chance to see the story through the eyes of several, fleshed-out characters. It’s clear that Okungbowa loves his characters, but maybe he loved them…a little too much. During the last half of the book, we got the POVs of a few side characters that only had relevance in a certain section of the book, taking away the spotlight from the development of the main characters, such as Danso, Lilong, and Zaq. A lot of the time, these characters’ voices didn’t even come through, making the fact that the chapter is from their POV nearly pointless. Having the POVs consistently switch between Danso, Lilong, Zaq, and maybe Esheme would have made the story flow so much better, and it would have made sense to focus on their development rather than a passing side character.

All in all, an action-packed piece of fantasy with lovable characters and a plot that kept me guessing. 4 stars!

Son of the Storm is the first in the Nameless Republic series, followed by Warrior of the Wind, which is slated for release in November of this year. Suyi Davies Okungbowa is also the author of David Mogo Godhunter and several other short stories.

Today’s song:

listened to this album (Leisure) yesterday, and it was a lot of fun!! this one’s a standout

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

Posted in Monthly Wrap-Ups

December 2022 Wrap-Up 🧣

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles, and happy New Year’s Eve!

Whew. This strange, chaotic year is coming to a close, but what matters most is that despite everything, we’re still here. Whoever you are, I’m proud of you for making it through another year. You did it!


December was certainly a little stressful at the beginning, what with my first finals season in college. Most of my classes were fine, seeing as all of my English *finals* were mostly essays and portfolios, but stats and bio anth were a little tougher. But in the end, I got out with good grades, and I won’t have to take a math class again in my college career. You have no idea how happy I am about that.

The great thing about being in college (in my case, at least) is that we have a really long winter break! After the chaos of finals, I’ve had a lot of time to settle down, relax, and spend the holidays with family. I’ve been in a major reading slump since finals, but the combination of some finds from my dad’s comic shelf, some Christmas gifts, and the haul from my Barnes & Noble gift card, I’m back into my regular reading rhythm! I’m so excited to read the rest of my haul!!

Other than that, I’ve been drawing more, putting together a puzzle (of David Bowie, who else would it be), watching Andor (SO GOOD), Glass Onion (I cannot stress enough how wonderful this movie is), and Decision to Leave (I still don’t completely know how I feel about this one), seeing The Smile live (CRYING CRYING CRYING), and enjoying spending time at home with my family over the break.

And yes, I know it’s New Year’s Eve, but there is a MUCH more important holiday going on today, and that’s Ringo’s first birthday!! My boy turns 1 today!! Everybody say happy birthday to Ringo

Also, I figured it might be fun to share some highlights from my apple music wrapped, sorry, replay—I’ve always wished that apple music had a wrapped equivalent, so, uh, Christmas miracle, I guess?

unsurprising, given that I spent a 2-hour plane flight listening to “Metal Guru” on repeat and nothing else 🥴
I am nothing if not predictable (David Bowie was #6 and Radiohead was #7 lol)
Do I get Welsh street cred for this one?


I read 15 books this month! It was my worst reading month as far as reading goes, but it was also finals week, so it’s all fine. I completed my reading challenge of 200 books and read 224 books in all this year!

2 – 2.75 stars:

Aces Wild: A Heist

3 – 3.75 stars:

Hellboy: On Earth as it is in Hell

4 – 4.75 stars:

House of Hollow

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH: Gleanings: Stories from the Arc of a Scythe – 4 stars




fantastic on its own, but it was incredible to hear live with The Smile!!
unpopular opinion—this is my least favorite Blur album that I’ve listened to so far, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. this is certainly the best track
I never thought I’d say this in my lifetime, but new Sparklehorse just dropped?? and it’s not sad??????
again, this was so much fun live, but it’s great to finally hear the album version!!
I stumbled upon this one while trying to cite On a Sunbeam for my final comics paper—according to Tillie Walden, this is the song that inspired the title! fits the vibe of the comic for sure
SUCH a creative cover, wildly different from the original but in the best way possible
a great album to end the year on!

It’s been a scary and jarring year, but it’s been wonderful too. I graduated high school and started college, and I pushed myself out of my comfort zone more than I have in ages. I made new friends, I went to so many amazing concerts and read so many fantastic books. It’s been weird and uncertain (and I cried a lot), but in the end, what matters is that we got through it. No matter how good or bad of a year you had, I hope 2023 brings hope, love, and good things to each and every one of you. We got this.

Have a wonderful new year. Spread love, be kind to each other.

— madeline

Today’s song:

came for the Gorillaz, stayed for the Suzuki flashbacks

That’s it for this month in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, take care of yourselves, and have a happy new year!

Posted in Monthly Wrap-Ups

November 2022 Wrap-Up 🍽

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

The snow outside my window says December, but mentally, I feel like it’s September, and somehow it’s technically November…time is an illusion huh


I’ve probably said this several times before, but I’m still baffled that my first semester of college is almost over! It feels like there should be months, not weeks, left to go through. But no, I suppose not, and my winter break lasts nearly a month! What a relief to not have finals just days before Christmas like in high school…

I’ve had some fun, regardless. As the temperatures have been dropping, I’ve been bundling up and drinking an excess of hot chocolate (big thank you to my mom). I’ve been able to read more frequently now that I’m a bit more settled in, and it’s been a mixed bag, but there have definitely been some hits among the misses. I called off NaNoWriMo for myself this years since I haven’t adjusted all the way, and plus, I usually plan for a while beforehand, and that just…didn’t happen.

Other than that, I’ve just been drawing (getting the hang of digital art, I think), watching Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Wendell & Wild, sleeping in and eating way too much over Thanksgiving Break, and having to wear enough layers to restrict any mobility in my arms. Welcome to Colorado, folks.


I read 17 books this month! Less than I usually read in a month, for sure, but I haven’t been able to read quite as much because I’m still getting used to college and all. Plus, finals season looms…

1 – 1.75 stars:

The All-Consuming World

2 – 2.75 stars:

The Lost Apothecary

3 – 3.75 stars:

Soul of the Deep

4 – 4.75 stars:

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH: The Trouble with White Women: A Counterhistory of Feminism4.5 stars




sad girl autumn never ends
the power this song exudes is unparalleled
so so gorgeous, thanks to my brother (and his gf) for this one
I’ve never been the biggest Elton John fan, but the new Antman trailer (however mediocre it was lol) reminded me that I liked this one
can’t wait for this album!!

Today’s song:

this song makes me so happy 🙂

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (11/29/22) – The All-Consuming World

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I never learn, do I? Every few weeks, I always start craving sci-fi again, and when there’s nothing readily available at the library or on Kindle, I just sift through the dust bunnies in my TBR until I find something interesting. And to be fair, The All-Consuming World did sound interesting. I was willing to give it a chance despite the pitifully low ratings it’s been getting (a 3.28/5 on Goodreads, as of now), but it turned out to be exactly the disappointment that the reviews promised.

Enjoy this week’s review!

The All-Consuming World – Cassandra Khaw

Maya’s glory days are over. After being resurrected dozens of times, she’s slowly outgrown the Dirty Dozen, the galaxy’s most infamous criminal group, and decided to make her own way. But when the galaxy’s ruler, an all-powerful, sentient AI, threatens to hold their realm in a chokehold, it’s up to Maya to recruit the disbanded bunch of cyborgs, clones, and lowlives to save the galaxy from complete control.

TW/CW: body horror, sci-fi violence, amputation/emergency medical procedures, suicide

DNF at 35%.

I genuinely can’t think of a book with a more jarring writing style than this one. Jarring can sometimes be good, but in the case of The All-Consuming World, it seemed like a case of vast stylistic indecision, and this indecision dragged the entire book down with it. I really wanted to like this book—queer space opera is always up my alley, and I always want to try and support queer authors—but it ended up being a sore disappointment all the way through. (What I could stand to read before I gave up, anyway.) As I always say with my negative reviews: I completely understand. Putting yourself out there as an author is an immensely hard thing to do, and I always admire the work put in. But this book just did not click with me at all.

The writing style is what, for me, made The All-Consuming World crash and burn. Maya was clearly supposed to be a rough-around-the-edges character, battered and bruised, and all around Tough and Gritty™️, and at least half what I read seemed to try and get that voice…with at least 15 f-bombs dropped within rapid succession of each other on each page. Now, I don’t have a problem with swearing at all, and I appreciate the art of a well-placed, well-timed swear. But the excess of ill-placed cusses (along with more f-bombs than there are leaves on the trees in the Amazon Rainforest)—half of which were in combinations that made absolutely no sense at all—made for writing that read more like a middle schooler trying to be edgy than a tough and hardened criminal.

But on the other hand, the other half of what I read was some of the wordiest, floweriest prose I’ve ever read. And some of that had moments of being good—I’ll give Khaw some credit for that—but it was such a jarring contrast. Sometimes, juxtaposition like this works, but the two, distinct voices that Khaw was trying to go for had such a vast gulf in tone between them that it lacked any sense of cohesion whatsoever. I really wanted to stick it out to see what happened, but it was just giving me such a headache to try and weather the writing, so I had to quit.

I stopped at 35% of the way through, and I still don’t have a clue what was going on, plot-wise. I seriously can’t remember if there was a plot beneath all of the flashbacks and exposition, impenetrable prose, and multitudinous f-bombs. From the synopsis, I was told that Dimmuborgir was supposed to be a central plot point, but I only remember it being mentioned a single time. Yes, 35% of the way in isn’t all that far, but that close to the halfway point, I would’ve thought that the characters would have at least moved the slightest bit towards their destination. It was all very…vague. Vague sense of rebellion towards a vague concept of an omniscient, ruling AI with a vague set of characters that fell into either AI or Hardened Criminal™️ boxes. And the worldbuilding? Left the building before the book had even begun. Trying to read The All-Consuming World felt like trying to dig through a messy closet, and emerging an hour later without having found the thing you needed to find in the first place.

All in all, a book that it pains me to rate so low, but crashed and burned in almost every conceivable aspect. 1 star.

The All-Consuming World is a standalone, but Cassandra Khaw is also the author of the Persons Non Grata series (Hammers on Bone and A Song for Quiet), Nothing but Blackened Teeth, These Deathless Bones, and several other novels and novellas.

Today’s song:

BACK TO BLUR AGAIN!! so far, this is my least favorite album of theirs that I’ve listened to, but it’s still a fantastic listen—take this song, for instance

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

Posted in Music

A (Possibly Mutable) List of my Top 10 Favorite Albums

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles!

I’ve been meaning to semi-solidify this list (for now) for quite a while, but I think it was looking back through Hundreds & Thousands of Books’ post about her top 10 albums that sparked the idea in me to make a post about it, so thank you!

Even though this blog is primarily about books, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that music has had an equally profound effect on my life. Raised by two music nerds, I grew up listening to tons of Beatles and Bowie, and as I grew older, I began to mark periods of my life by the music I listened to. But there are always certain albums that leave an unmistakable mark on our lives. Some of mine have been steadfast favorites, and others I’ve only discovered in the past few months. All of them, however, have had a profound effect on me, whether it’s just been the experiencing something that’s just so, so good or marking a specific period in my life. So here are, right now, my 10 favorite albums.

Let’s begin, shall we?


10. Snail Mail – Lush (2018)

The summer of 2018 was a strange one for me—the summer before high school, and the summer I started seriously questioning my sexuality. I have Lush to thank for getting me through a lot of it, with Lindsey Jordan’s soaring guitar riffs and searingly vulnerable lyrics shining through in a debut like no other. Snail Mail is partially what inspired me to pick up the guitar—and I definitely think meeting her at a show that summer when I was a wee bisexual did something to my pubescent brain that I wouldn’t recover from…💀

Favorite Track: “Heat Wave”

9. Super Furry Animals – Rings Around the World (2001)

I remember hearing tracks like “Sidewalk Serfer Girl” and “(Drawing) Rings Around the World” from when I was about 5, but it wasn’t until this March that I appreciated this masterpiece of an album in its entirety. Something that makes me love a piece of media—be it a book, a movie, an album, or anything else—that much more is that if there’s clear evidence of how much love and care was put into it. And it’s blatantly evident here—Rings Around the World is brimming with creativity, and through all of the genres of music they explore, there isn’t a single miss. There’s something so fully-formed about it, like it just came into the world like Athena bursting forth from the skull of Zeus.

Favorite track: “No Sympathy”

8. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2001)

This album’s one that’s been a constant in my life; Wilco is one of my dad’s favorite bands, and I’ve been hearing them for so long that they’ve become inextricably linked to my personal history. (Wilco was my first concert, at the age of 8!) But this album in particular is the most special of theirs to me; like Rings Around the World, I’ve been listening to isolated songs from it for years, but the whole album is a true work of art, sonically and lyrically immersive and always emotionally moving and potent.

Favorite track(s): oh, man, this is hard…

I’ve settled on a three-way tie between “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” “Ashes of American Flags,” and “Reservations.”

7. Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial (2016)

Another gem from the summer of 2018, this one always brings to mind dozens of fond memories—seeing Car Seat Headrest live (and subsequently tainting all of my concert videos from my off-key scream-singing), repainting my room, going on vacation in Chicago. Car Seat Headrest have been a favorite of mine since around 8th grade, but the more I think about it, the more Teens of Denial in particular stands out as my favorite album—clever, vulnerable, raw, and perfect for 14-year-old me to scream along to.

Favorite track: “Cosmic Hero”

6. The Beatles – The White Album (1968)

I guess I’ve got a theme going with the red and white album covers? I don’t think it holds up later in the list…

As I said earlier, I was undoubtably raised on the Beatles; some of my earliest memories are of hearing songs like “Good Day Sunshine” and “Yellow Submarine” in the car, and I’ve adored them ever since. I’ve flip-flopped between albums for a favorite Beatles album for years, and it feels like it changes with my mood; some days, it was Revolver, other times it was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. But between having some of my favorite Beatles songs of all time and the solace it gave me in the early days of quarantine, The White Album takes the top spot for me—I think “I’m So Tired” is my most played song on my whole iTunes library. (somehow I’ve played it over 2,500 times?? didn’t even know I was capable of such a thing 💀)

Favorite track(s): tie between “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “I’m So Tired”

5. Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space (1997)

I fell in love with Spiritualized, as a lot of people seemed to do, after hearing the title track, “Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space.” Ever since then, they’ve held a truly special place in my heart; I rediscovered them in quarantine, and this album in particular has held a top spot for me ever since. Despite all the abject heartbreak, addiction, and general melancholy present through this album (and all of J. Spaceman’s music), there’s a cosmic, immersive quality to his music that swallows me like a wave with every song. Listening to Spiritualized is more than just music—it’s an experience in and of itself.

Favorite track: “Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space”

4. Blur – 13 (1999)

another heartbreak album comin’ atcha…

Like Super Furry Animals, I’ve been hearing scattered Blur songs throughout my childhood, “Song 2,” “Coffee & TV,” and “Charmless Man” being standouts. But it wasn’t until last summer that I got back into Blur—really into Blur. (You all witnessed the Blurification of this blog last year…) There’s something instantly hooking about their songs—the clever lyrics, the punchy guitars that seem to burst out of your headphones. But 13 is uniquely special to me; it was my musical companion in a strange, transitionary period of my life (the beginning of senior year and being a legal adult…somehow?). Beyond that, it’s so clear that so much time and love went into this record—through every high and low, there’s a consistent resonance that you can feel in your chest. It’s a masterpiece. It’s an album that I’ve come back to ever since when I’ve felt low—there’s a healing quality to it.

Favorite track: “Tender”—also my favorite song of all time, at the moment

3. St. Vincent – St. Vincent (2014)

adding another white album cover to the mix, I guess?

St. Vincent, without a doubt, is responsible for shaping some of my most formative years. Middle school was a weird time for me—I was struggling with friendships, forming my identity, and getting teased for the things I loved so passionately. And here was St. Vincent, this confident, ridiculously talented musician who wielded her guitar like a sword into battle. So you can imagine how I got attached to her. Even if MASSEDUCTION made me lose a little faith in her for a few years, she’ll always remain as a hero of mine, and St. Vincent in particular will always be a daring, fierce masterpiece that sweeps me off my feet every time—and the album that got me through 6th grade.

Favorite track: “Bad Believer” (on the deluxe edition), “Severed Crossed Fingers” (on the original edition)

2. Radiohead – OK Computer (1997)

and another white album cover? sort of?

Yeah, okay. I fully admit that my toxic trait is genuinely enjoying certain kinds of male manipulator music. But Radiohead will always be an immensely special band to me. “The Daily Mail” was my first exposure to them (thanks, Legion!), but OK Computer opened my eyes to something I’d never experienced before—or, something that I’d overlooked before, but now fully appreciate. Like Spiritualized, every Radiohead song is a fleshed-out landscape, an experience that lifts you off your feet, even when the lyrics are unbearably heartbreaking. OK Computer is an album that I wish I could listen to for the first time again—it’s an unforgettable, dystopian masterpiece, and it’s proved itself to stand the test of time.

Favorite track: “Paranoid Android”

  1. David Bowie – Hunky Dory (1971)
I guess there’s a slight pattern on here with tan album covers too?

And here it is: my favorite album of all time.

David Bowie has been a constant companion in my life; one of my earliest memories that I can think of is hearing “Kooks” in the car. He’s been another hero of mine for years—again, he came to me in middle school, at a time when I was an outsider and unsure of myself, and stood as a glaring reminder to be myself—no matter what. This album in particular is, in my opinion, a perfect album; there isn’t a single bad song, and each one is a world of its own, spinning lyrical tales that span from the cosmic to the tender and everything in between. It’s an album I always come back to, and one that I’ll always hold close. Some of the other albums lower on the list may change or switch orders over the course of my life, but I doubt I’ll ever come across something quite as stellar as this.

Favorite track(s): Tie between “Quicksand” and “Life On Mars?”

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you listened to any of these albums, and if so, did you like them? What are some of your favorite albums? Let me know in the comments!

Today’s song:

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