Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (1/5/21)–Among the Beasts & Briars

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles! This is my last day before I have to go back to school… :/ so heads up, I’ll probably be posting less frequently in the next few months because of school.

Anyway, this book was one of my most anticipated reads of 2020. Ashley Poston is one of my favorite authors, and I’ll always hold her Heart of Iron duology close to my heart. And although Among the Beasts & Briars didn’t quite hit the level of wondrousness of that duology, it was still a fantasy like no other that I’ll always cherish.

Enjoy the first book review Tuesday of the year!

Among the Beasts & Briars by Ashley Poston

Among the Beasts & Briars–Ashley Poston

Cerys leads a quiet life in the kingdom of Aloriya, working with her father to tend the royal gardens. But behind her life of peace is a haunted past–as a child, the woods surrounding her kingdom stole her friends and her mother. She has never seen them again since. But by some miracle, the woods left Cerys alone, marked only by traces of magic in her blood.

When the woods invade the coronation of Aloriya’s new queen, Cerys is forced to flee. Joined by a familiar fox who followed close behind her in the gardens and a bear hiding momentous secrets, she must journey to the heart of the woods, where it is said that an isolated town has escaped the curse that took her mother and friends. But the woods hold secrets darker than the three could ever know…

Fantastic Mr Fox Animated GIF | Fantastic mr fox, Fox gif, Mr fox
Soul of Stars spoilers without context

TW/CW (from Ashley Poston): Frightening Situations, Secondary Character Death, Trypophobia, Bleeding/Self-Harm (not suicidal), Animal Attack, Blood, Grotesque Transformations

I saw a fox outside my window this morning when I woke up…maybe it was a sign that today was the perfect day to write this review…

I think Among the Beasts & Briars was the last book I read this year, and I honestly can’t think of a better book that I could’ve ended the year on. Ashley Poston’s pulled off another masterpiece, chock-full of lovable characters and lush imagery.

With all of Poston’s novels, what shines the most is usually the characters; I’m delighted to say that Among the Beasts & Briars was no exception! Cerys was such a lovable heroine. I’m always drawn to and relate to characters who don’t possess the typical qualities of traditional heroes/heroines–they’d rather stay on the sidelines, aren’t quite so brave, and are unwillingly forced into strange situations. Like Aurora Rising, I really resonated with the message that you don’t have to be brave or be from a noble background to be the hero of your own story, and Cerys exemplifies that theme in its fullest.

And I can’t talk about characters without talking about Fox! He was such a delightful character, and I loved his development as he grappled with his transformation. There’s no shortage of interesting details in his POV of the shifts between his fox form and the unintentional human form, and he and Cerys had the best chemistry. Vala was also wonderful, and they made for a perfect trio of fantasy misfits. I won’t spoil anything, but Seren was one of my favorites too–REDEMPTION ARCS DONE RIGHT, PEOPLE!

VFX Movies Gallery

I also loved the fantasy world of Aloriya and the woods. Poston’s prose makes for so much lush imagery, making for a world that’s as lived-in as it is fantastical. My favorite aspect was absolutely the Woodcurse–there was clearly so much time spent creating the mythology around it, and it was simultaneously fascinating and creepy. And Hellboy made me a sucker for all sorts of spooky monsters, and everything that got swallowed by the Woodcurse just made the paranormal part of my heart so happy.

As with most of Poston’s novels, Among the Beasts & Briars was reasonably dark, but at its heart, it had such a resonant warmth to it, a glimmer of hope and joy no matter what. With every novel she writes, it clearly shines through how much she loves crafting stories, and it shines through on every page.

All in all, a fresh and unique addition to Poston’s pantheon of masterful literature. 5 stars!

Princess Mononoke gif - GIF on Imgur

Among the Beasts & Briars is likely a standalone, but Poston is also the author of the Heart of Iron duology (Heart of Iron and Soul of Stars) and the Once Upon a Con series (Geekerella, The Princess and the Fangirl, and Bookish and the Beast).

Today’s song:

I’m disappointed that we didn’t get the version with the whole cast on the Legion score, but Noah Hawley has such a gorgeous voice…this makes me cry every single time

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (12/29/20)–Cemetery Boys

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles, and welcome to the last Book Review Tuesday of the year!

I figured this book would be a good note to end a year of reviews on, judging from how much hype it’s gotten this year. I put it on hold a few months back (sometime in the summer, I think?) and it just came into the library a few weeks ago. It’s got a super high average rating on Goodreads (4.41 at present) and no shortage of glowing reviews, but although it didn’t live up to all the hype for me, it was still a cute story of ghosts and #OwnVoices queer joy.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Cemetery Boys–Aiden Thomas

Yadriel’s conservative family doesn’t accept him as a trans boy, but he remains determined to prove himself to them–by any means possible. His means? Summoning the spirit of Miguel, his murdered cousin. Problem is, Miguel isn’t the spirit he summons–by accident, he summons Julian Diaz, his high school’s troublemaker. Julian joins forces with Yadriel and his best friend Maritza to find out how he died–but they might uncover something more sinister in the process.

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This one was easily one of the most hyped YA books of this year, and I was definitely excited for it, even if I tried not to get my expectations too high. I wouldn’t say it was a disappointment for me, but it didn’t live up to the mountain of hype for me. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it, not by any stretch of the imagination.

Let’s start off with the good stuff. First off, the representation! I loved seeing the variety of Latinx representation and culture (and I was especially excited to see that Julian was Colombian-American!), as well as the diversity of gender and sexuality, especially with Yadriel. For some reason, I see hardly any trans boys in YA literature, but I love that we have this fantastic #OwnVoices rep in Cemetery Boys!

And beyond that, this novel managed to be appropriately spooky and lighthearted at the same time. There was definitely a kind of 80’s paranormal vibe to it, which I really enjoyed. I loved the intricacies of the brujx culture, as well as all of the individual laws of what a ghost can/cannot do. It’s always interesting to see each author’s different takes on the limits of ghosts and spirits. Never a dull moment.

However, Cemetery Boys wasn’t without its flaws. My main problem was the writing itself–it seemed to lean too much on telling as opposed to showing, and it felt a bit too bare-bones for my taste. Maybe it’s just me. And even though I love the representation, Yadriel wasn’t the most likable of protagonists, either–he came across as rather entitled and whiny, for me. A bit self-centered.

Also, I feel like there was an opportunity to discuss some of the sexism in Yadriel’s conservative family; I get that the point of the whole “stay behind with the women” scene was to highlight how much of a transphobic jerk Yadriel’s dad was, but especially seeing that Maritza has a significant role in the book, I feel like that could have been addressed instead of ignored completely. Thomas did a great job of highlighting aspects of trans life and tackling transphobia, but there was definitely a missed opportunity to challenge some of the present sexism.

Most of my other issues were more nit-picky though; Yadriel’s dad changed his mind about Yadriel a *bit* too quickly for realism, but honestly? It’s what we need. And you know why? Because queer people need happy endings too. (@ Netflix please tell me you hear me) And Cemetery Boys was the perfect kind of feel-good story of trans joy.

All in all, a feel-good, #OwnVoices tale that struggled in the writing and protagonist department, but made up for some of it with LGBTQ+/Latinx representation and a lighthearted paranormal vibe. 3.5 stars!

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Cemetery Boys is a standalone (and Thomas’ debut), but they are also the author of the forthcoming retelling Lost the Never Woods, slated to arrive in March 2021.

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy this double review!

First things first…

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

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

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

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

Nadine Wilmschen's review of Kissing the Boss

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

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

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

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

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

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And now, for book 2…

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

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

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

love GIFs - Primo GIF - Latest Animated GIFs

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

Okay, first off, SPACE PIRATES. I couldn’t think of a more fitting profession for Rory after abandoning her royal ways. I loved the chemistry and banter between her and her crew, and the whole plot line with the sinister rose managed to be both hilarious and tense. And even though they were separated from the rest of the gang, I loved seeing Grytt and Messer Rupert again, especially the latter. (I just…MESSER RUPERT MUST BE PROTECTED AT ALL COSTS, OKAY? ๐Ÿฅบ)

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

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

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

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

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

Today’s song:

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

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

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Book Review Tuesday (12/8/20)–Blood & Honey (Serpent & Dove, #2)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

After finally getting to Serpent & Dove back in July, I found out that the sequel was slated to come out in September. I put in on hold at the library soon after, and it finally arrived about a week ago. But sadly, although book 1 managed to stay afloat of its messy worldbuilding with a fast-paced plot and lovable characters, Blood & Honey lost momentum–and stretched it out over 500 pages. Disappointing, but still entertaining.

WARNING: This review will likely contain spoilers for book 1, Serpent & Dove.

For my review of book 1, click here!

Enjoy this week’s review!

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

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

After a near-fatal encounter with Lou’s mother and the Dames Blanches, she, Reid, and the rest of their band of misfits are on the run. Under the radar and stranded in the woods, they know that making the wrong move could result in death, or discovery by Morgane, Lou’s sadistic mother. But their paths are forced to separate, and they find themselves going on strange journeys. And as both roads begin to lead to certain doom, they must find each other before time runs out.

black and white coraline gif | Coraline cat, Coraline aesthetic, Coraline  jones

Judging from most of the reviews, Blood & Honey has become very divisive–the reviews are either gushing or utterly disappointed. Sadly, I’m leaning more towards the latter camp, even though this one wasn’t as anticipated of a read for me as it was for a bunch of readers I know. A bit of a letdown for me, but it was still entertaining nonetheless.

From what I’ve heard, Serpent & Dove was originally slated to be a duology, but got turned into a trilogy at the last minute. And it shows–Blood & Honey fell into the unfortunate trap of becoming the disappointing middle book. One of the things that I loved most about book 1 was the plot; it constantly kept me guessing, and I loved going along for the ride with Lou, Reid, and the rest of the gang. But in book 2, the plot felt tragically weak. We’re led up to an anticlimactic event with a series of loosely tied subplots that didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose save for a bit of tension in having the characters separated. And Blood & Honey is a pretty thick book–the hardcover edition that I read was a whopping 528 pages, and a good 80-90% of it felt like filler. I hate to say it, but it almost felt like a chore to read.

Another aspect that shone for me in book 1 was the characters. Luckily, Mahurin stayed true to them for the most part in Blood & Honey. I loved being back with Lou, Reid, Coco, Ansel and the rest of the gang again, and there’s certainly an interesting direction being taken with Lou. There’s…a hint of a corruption arc going on with her? Maybe that was just me? Either way, I liked the almost “descent into madness” plot Mahurin was alluding to with her. (Also, THE WHITE HAIR!) Lou and Reid’s romance was also a joy to see blossom, as always. But some of the characters from book 1–namely Beau and Madame Labelle–didn’t serve much of a purpose. They didn’t have much of a role, and I remembered next to nothing about them from the previous book. The side characters were similarly forgettable, and I didn’t see much point in them aside from fleshing out parts of the world. However, I will say that I LOVED the twist with Claud–but no spoilers, of course. I’m not that heartless. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Even though the worldbuilding is still kind of a mess, I like all of the new aspects that were added to it in Blood & Honey. I mean…blood witches? Werewolves? The possibility of MERMAIDS? OTHER SIMILARLY SPOOKY WOODLAND CREATURES? Oh, and I loved all of the little ghost creatures that tagged along with the gang. (I forget the technical term they had for them.) Absalon has my heart.

Animated gif about gif in Oh my Goth! by ๐•ท๐–Ž๐–˜ ๐•ฎ๐–‘๐–Ž๐–”๐–‰๐–๐–“๐–†

And even though Blood & Honey was certainly a letdown, I think I’ll stick around to see what happens to the gang next. Even though that ending was awful. Nope.

All in all, a sequel that failed to live up to its predecessor, but still provided for some fantasy fun. 3 stars.

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Blood & Honey is the second book in Mahurin’s Serpent & Dove trilogy, preceded by Serpent & Dove (book 1) and soon to be followed by Gods & Monsters (2021).

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 Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (12/1/20)–Six Angry Girls

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles, and happy December! I’m so glad that 2020’s almost over…and it definitely feels like December where I am! There’s been snow falling for a good hour or so, and it looks fittingly wintry outside my window.

Arrested development coffin GIF on GIFER - by Painsinger

And I won this year’s NaNoWriMo yesterday! 35,051 of my goal of 35,000! [pats self on the back]

Well, now then, I guess I should get to the review now, right?

This one is another 2020 release (August 18), and I forget exactly how it came on my radar, but I decided to put it on hold because I wanted a nice feminist book in my life. And…well, the good intentions were all there and the representation’s great, but much of the book ended up being a mess, unfortunately.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Six Angry Girls by Adrienne Kisner

Six Angry Girls–Adrienne Kisner

Raina and Millie have rarely spoken to each other, but they both have one thing in common–a promising senior year that got derailed. For Raina, it’s her boyfriend not only dumping her, but cheating on her, and being ousted as co-president of the Drama Club. For Millie, it’s her being voted out of the all-boys Mock Trial team, and her controlling father growing worse by the day.

After she writes to a romance advice columnist, Raina finds new solace in a knitting circle who specializes in political activism, and soon, she, Millie, and four other girls united to dismantle the patriarchy of their school, piece by piece.

Smh Disappointed GIF - Smh Disappointed HeadShake - Discover & Share GIFs |  Robin, Stranger things wallpaper, Stranger things

My expectations were average for Six Angry Girls, what with being in the midst of a reading slump that I’ve just now managed to emerge from, but I’m sad to say that this novel only stretched the slump out longer.

Let’s start with what I liked, because I should be at least a little positive here. And there were a few things I did like about this book. The cast of Six Angry Girls is a lot more diverse than most contemporary feminist YA I’ve come across–in the main cast of six, we have several sapphic characters (including Millie), a sapphic asexual character, two POC characters, and a trans character who uses both she/her and they/them pronouns. So props to Kisner for including lots of authentic and casual representation! (Plus, I don’t think I’ve seen any characters–if any at all–who use multiple pronouns, like Izzy does, so that’s always a win!) Kisner also handled the subject of Millie’s abusive father well; those parts were certainly hard to read, but they were handled with aplomb and felt (disturbingly) authentic.

Unfortunately, it all went downhill from here…

First off, let’s talk about the writing. My main issue is that none of the teenagers read like authentic teenagers, and it mainly came down to the dialogue. Other than “I’m” and “I’ve,” there were almost no contractions to be found. Anywhere. As a result, the dialogue felt clunky and inauthentic. Additionally, many of the plot points that were built up for most of the books were rushed, and events that had been alluded to for a good chunk of the book were resolved in two pages or left, so I often found myself lost and thinking “wait, that already happened? That quickly?”

There’s also the issue of a main cast of six. Normally, I’m all for casts of this size–IF every single character is used equally. Millie and Raina were the only characters who narrated, but other than Grace, most of the characters were just…there. Izzy, Veronica, and Nikita didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose, other than diversity and positions in the mock trials. We had zero character development for any of them, and we have only the faintest idea of their personalities. Grace has slightly more of a purpose, at least, but I think that’s in part because she was in a relationship with Millie by the 75% mark.

But my main criticism of Six Angry Girls comes down to the depiction of feminism. I LOVE how Kisner tried to portray all of the feminism, patriarchy-smashing, and nonviolent protesting, but it all seemed…somewhat shallow. There were a variety of issues covered (sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc.), but neither of them were discussed beyond the surface level, giving it an almost shallow appearance. The mock trial and knitting plots felt loosely tied together, and almost entirely unrelated, and I found myself wondering why the two plots existed. Raina’s and Millie’s stories could have frankly worked as two separate books, and that would have made for a lot less confusion.

And the motives behind most everything seemed to be revenge, which I really didn’t like as it related to feminism. For me, feminism is about seeing injustices and inequality within a community, and fighting back against it. Sure, some of it is about getting back at the oppressor, but ultimately, it’s about creating an equal playing field. In Six Angry Girls, most of the motivations behind all of the plot points were centered around revenge–against Brandon (Raina’s cheating ex), against the Drama Club, and against the Mock Trial team. I’m sure Kisner’s intentions were good, but having the feminist aspects of the book being portrayed as more of a revenge plot than anything else didn’t sit well with me.

All in all, a light and diverse feminist YA that suffered from stilted dialogue, characters without purposes, and a depiction of feminism that was full of holes. 2.5 stars.

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Six Angry Girls is a standalone, but Adrienne Kisner is also the author of two other novels, Dear Rachel Maddow and The Confusion of Laurel Graham.

Today’s song:

GAAAH…I’ve been listening to this one since I finished the season finale of Fargo last night…when I tell you that this scene made me SOB…(YOU CAN GUARANTEE A REVIEW ON MY END OF THIS SEASON OF FARGO THIS WEEK!)

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (11/24/20)–I love this part

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Ever since I read and adored On a Sunbeam back in August, I’ve had all the Tillie Walden I can get my hands on put on my holds or for later shelf at the library. I figured I needed some more Walden in my life for Thanksgiving Break, so I checked this one out. Even though it only clocks in at about 68 pages, I love this part is filled with so much raw emotion and heart.

Enjoy this week’s review!

I Love This Part: Hardcover Edition: Walden, Tillie: 9781910395325:  Amazon.com: Books

I love this part–Tillie Walden

my library copy, ft. an interesting filter and some gingerbread tea โ˜•๏ธ

Two girls, unnamed in a rural town, realize that they have a shared love of music. They gravitate towards each other, and slowly but surely, their friendship develops into something more. But when their relationship begins to crack, they drift apart–but it may be the thing that brought them together that might mend their relationship once more.

In Review: I Love This Part by Tillie Walden โ€“ downthetubes.net
art by Tillie Walden. This quote hit me really hard.

Now that I’ve read four of Walden’s graphic novels, I can say with certainty that there hasn’t been a single miss in her catalogue so far. I love this part is no exception–it’s not every day that so much authentic love and emotion can fit perfectly in the span of only 68 pages.

Walden’s art is always stunning; normally, I usually don’t gravitate towards styles that are more simplistic, but she proves time and again that facial detail isn’t always necessary to convey a wide range of emotion. Her use of color was what stood out to me most in I love this part. Most of the graphic novel is rendered in black and white, but splashed with purple. What stood out about it, though, was that the purple was almost symbolic; in the times that the girls were in love, the purple was present, and when they fell out of love, it disappeared, fading to black and white. But even in the black and white panels, there were still hints of purple, if you looked closely–hinting their love never truly died.

Beyond that, I love this part maps out every aspect of falling in love–the joy, the fear, the heartbreak, the yearning. It’s the kind of book that makes you mourn relationships you’ve never even had, but in the best way possible. It’s raw, it’s honest, and it’s vulnerable, but it also brims with hope and love. And at the center of it all, to have a multiracial, sapphic couple in the starring roles? True beauty.

My only complaint? It was too short.

All in all, a triumphant and vulnerable tale of queer joy, love, and heartbreak that resonated on levels that I didn’t even know were possible. Five stars!

I Love This Partโ€ โ€“ Multiversity Comics

I love this part is a standalone, but Tillie Walden has several other graphic novels out, including On a Sunbeam, Are You Listening?, A City Inside, The End of Summer, and her graphic memoir, Spinning.

Today’s song:

“Pink Lemonade”–Jim Noir (Bandcamp link)

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! 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. โœŒ๏ธ

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)! ๐Ÿ™‚ (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! ๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’™)

Raised by Wolves, Part 4 โ€“ 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!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (10/20/20)–Skyhunter

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I’ve been a fan of Marie Lu’s for a good three years, and since first reading Warcross, she’s been one of my favorite authors. So of course I had to preorder Skyhunter over the summer (and who wouldn’t, with that gorgeous cover?).

It came in the mail the Sunday before last, and by the time I finished my library holds, I realized that I never knew how much I needed this book in my life right at that time. Last week was an incredibly taxing and emotional week for me, and immersing myself back into Lu’s lush prose was just the thing I needed to get me crawling back out of the pit of despair I’d fallen into. And even if I hadn’t been in such a dark place last week, I’m positive that I would have loved Skyhunter just the same.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Skyhunter (Skyhunter, #1) by Marie Lu

Skyhunter (Skyhunter, #1)–Marie Lu

My copy, ft. Rebel, Wildcard, a cool filter, and a metal bookmark I got from the preorder offer ๐Ÿ™‚

Talin has lived a life of turmoil. Her home country of Basea was swallowed by the Karensa Federation, and she and her mother were forced to flee to Mara, the only nation who hasn’t been choked by their iron grip. But the warfront shrinks every day, and hordes of Karensa’s Ghost–captured humans that have been mutated and trained to kill–encroach on Mara’s territory every day. Fighting against them are the brave Strikers, Mara’s league of warriors trained to keep the Ghosts at bay.

When a defector is brought from the Karensa Federation, Talin knows that he hold secrets far beyond what Mara and the Strikers could have possibly imagined. Assigned to keep watch over him, Talin soon learns that his name is Red–and that he may hold the key to turning the tables on the Karensa Federation. But should she go against the Strikers based solely on faith–or leave Red to die?

Brice Jale's review of Temptation and Tights

Skyhunter came into my life during a rough patch (which still hasn’t entirely faded), so that may or may not put a bit of bias on my high rating. But then again…it’s Marie Lu, of course I’m going to adore it. Over the past few years, Lu has proven herself to be a true master of her craft, and Skyhunter is no exception–a tale of resilience and resistance in a time where we all need just that.

I’ll spare you all from my blabbing about the cover, but seriously, I could go on for DAYS about it–the minimalist style, the blending of the colors, the figures…the EVERYTHING?

Now then…

Marie Lu was one of the first pioneers of YA Dystopia with her Legend trilogy, and with Skyhunter, she proves once more that she is a wordsmith to be reckoned with. Every detail–be it in the worldbuilding, the characters, or the plot–made me love the story ten times more, and there’s clear evidence on every page that Lu truly poured her heart and soul into this tale.

As with most of her novels, the characters are what stood out the most to me. Talin is such a stubborn yet resilient heroine, and her determined nature drove the story into fantastic places. Red was my personal favorite–he had wonderful chemistry with Talin and the rest, and I loved all of his little quirks and his sarcastic mannerisms. (Also, his mouse deserves a medal–that poor thing’s probably traumatized from riding around in his pocket while Red just…does his thing.) Jeran and Adena had wonderful chemistry with them, and Lu did an incredible job of making them feel fleshed-out and authentic. Also, even though I could go for Talin and Red being a thing, I appreciated that Lu didn’t throw them headfirst into insta-love or a forced romance. Again–there could be an ADORABLE possibility for some classic enemies-to-lovers romance by the time book 2 rolls around, but it could honestly work either romantically or platonically.

Skyhunter has plot twists aplenty, most of which I didn’t see coming. Combined with the fast-paced plot and gripping action, I just could NOT put this book down–every time I had to set it down, I found myself anticipating getting to read more of it later on. There’s no shortage of vivid imagery, and I felt immersed in the story in a way that I haven’t felt in quite some time. The worldbuilding helped the latter fact as well–the different cultures of each country that the characters visited had such well-thought-out cultures, and everything felt wholly real, like I could just walk through the pages, and I’d be in Talin’s mother’s house, or on the middle of the warfront. My favorite aspect of the worldbuilding, as far as the Karensa Federation goes, was that of the Ghosts. I’m just a sucker for any kind of freaky, Mike Mignola-style monsters in stories, so…(I kind of imagined them how the wendigos are drawn in B.P.R.D.)

TW FOR THE IMAGE BELOW: Blood

For me, this is the most perfect example of the nature and atmosphere of  Hellboy and everything he stands for. : Mignolaverse

And through it all, there’s themes of fighting back–against colonialism, against discrimination and prejudice, and against all odds. It’s just the right blend of resourceful determination that we need in these troubling times, and even though most of us have grown tired of dystopias as a whole (seeing as we’re currently living in one…[ahem]), it’s a must read for all.

All in all, another stunning gem of a novel to add to Marie Lu’s near-flawless repertoire, and a tale of resistance and resilience that will stand the test of time. 4.5 stars!

6 Things We Know About 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' So Far

Skyhunter is the first book in the Skyhunter duology, followed by an untitled, forthcoming second novel set to be published in 2021. Marie Lu is also the author of the Legend series (Legend, Prodigy, Champion, and Rebel), the Young Elites trilogy (The Young Elites, The Rose Society, and The Midnight Star), the Warcross series (Warcross and Wildcard), and the standalone The Kingdom of Back.

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 Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (10/13/20)–To Sleep in a Sea of Stars

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I think…I think I’m one of the few people that didn’t pick this up after The Inheritance Cycle? My brother loved them, but I never got around to reading them. Hence why I bought this book in the first place–as a birthday present for him. It ended up arriving a good month before his birthday, so I figured I’d read it before I wrapped it up for him. (I was intrigued, anyway–Prometheus vibes, anyone?) The first half was painful to read at points, but it picked up at the halfway mark by a long shot.

Enjoy this week’s review!

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars - Christopher Paolini - Paolini.net

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars–Christopher Paolini

Kira Navรกrez, a budding xenobiologist, has just uncovered an artifact that could determine the fate of the galaxy. When the coating of dust surrounding it grows a mind of its own, she knows that something is awry. What she didn’t anticipate was to be thrown into the beginnings of interstellar war, and approaching first contact with a potentially hostile species. Can she face the gravity of her consequences alone, or will she succumb to the war inside and outside of her?

BadSciFilm: Prometheus | The Other Sociologist

Let’s just start off with something I’d like to discuss: weaving pop culture references into literature. I’m 100% for it, most of the time–I love finding those hidden Easter eggs and discovering that the author may have a like mind. But there’s a certain art to slipping them in–drawing them from a variety of sources, spreading them out, making them subtle; placing them in a way that works for the story, but making them just noticeable enough to pop out in a way that makes the reader go “oh hey, That Thing!” without it being wholly distracting. I’ve read a variety of novels where this works, and lots that haven’t.

Remember how I said that I was initially drawn to reading this from the likeness to Prometheus?

Well…

Can we talk about the first half of the book? For lack of better words, and I hate to say this…it feels like Alien/Aliens fanfic. And it’s almost…self-aware of the fact? There’s no shortage of similar plot lines, and even the references scattered throughout only emphasize the fact. In the first 200-300 pages alone, we have:

  • Kira’s homeworld, Weyland
  • A ship AI called Bishop
  • Several references to a minor character (I think?) named Geiger
  • Kira using Ellen as a fake name (as in Ellen Ripley)

(I may have missed a few, but these are the ones that most prominently stood out for me.)

Paolini’s clearly drawn quite a lot of inspiration from the mythos of Ridley Scott and James Cameron–and I don’t blame him–but it really isn’t subtle. At all. There’s several little threads that felt veeeeeeeery similar to said films…

…And then the second half came along!

For me, the second half saved the novel, really. Whether or not that was influenced by the quote from David Bowie’s “Blackstar” at the beginning of Part 3 is up for debate. (Hey, I’m a woman of simple tastes.)

From there, Paolini’s originality and fast-paced plot truly shone through, making for a tense and riveting sci-fi.

My favorite aspect of the novel was absolutely the Jellies/Wrannui (wait, did I spell that right?). Their design, all of the little intricacies of their culture and society were so well thought out, and I had such a blast getting to know all of the ins and outs of them. I liked Itari a lot, even though they had a fairly small role.

As far as the characters go, I didn’t get super attached to any of them, but they all had at least a decent amount of personality and development. There’s a pretty diverse cast as well, so kudos to Paolini for that as well. The romance between Kira and Falconi definitely felt like an afterthought and didn’t add anything to the story, but all of the other interactions between the characters were alright. But on that subject…is it weird that my favorite character was a ship AI? I LOVED Gregorovich–he was the most fascinating out of all of them for me, and I loved the psychological aspect that Paolini explored with his character. Reminds me a bit of a Kaufman/Kristoff type of AI–a slightly more unstable Magellan, or a far more calmed down and sane AIDAN? You decide!

This is my first exposure to Paolini’s writing, and it was…hit or miss for me? It tended to be quite choppy and terse, which was both a blessing and a curse. (Whoops, did I just rhyme? Would ya look at that…) Sometimes it had the effect of making a scene appropriately tense, but it occasionally erased some of the emotion in the character interactions. The dialogue had a similar quality to it–not quite authentic, but not so bad that it made the characters feel/sound cardboard.

A lot of the reviews I’ve skimmed through have complained about some of how drawn out the scientific aspects of the novel were, but they didn’t bother me at all; in fact, they had the opposite effect on me. The research made the world feel fully fleshed out, and while it did have moments of sounding jargon-y, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment. Apparently Paolini spent years researching the science behind some of this novel’s aspects, and it’s clearly evident in every word. (And yes, it’s a really long novel, but I think that the battle scenes went on longer…maybe parts of those should have been cut out as opposed to all of the aforementioned content.)

All in all, a well-thought-out sci-fi that suffered from too much borrowing in the first half, but rocketed to a tense and gripping second half. 3.25 stars.

Prometheus Gif - ID: 75033 - Gif Abyss

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is confirmed to be a standalone, but will be the first in Paolini’s future Fractalverse. He is also the author of the Inheritance Cycle, consisting of Eragon (book 1), Eldest (book 2), Brisingr (book 3), and Inheritance (book 4).

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 Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (10/6/20)–All These Monsters

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Yeah, everybody has a different definition of happiness, but can we really deny the universal giddy joy of finding out that your preorder has reached the shipping department? SKYHUNTER WILL BE IN MY HANDS VERY, VERY SOON…[incoherent screaming]

Anyway, I put this on my TBR at the beginning of this year, but remembered it from Amie Kaufman’s recommendation of it in an episode of Amie Kaufman on Writing. Since it was available on the Kindle library, I decided to check it out, and I am SO glad I did! I didn’t think that anything would ever fill up the B.P.R.D.shaped hole in my heart, but All These Monsters very nearly did it.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: All These Monsters (9780358012405): Tintera, Amy: Books

All These Monsters–Amy Tintera

For nearly a decade, the Earth that Clara knows has been decimated by the Scrabs, burrowing monsters that have popped up in cities all over the world and prey on any humans that stumble into their paths.

Clara feels confined in her home, considering dropping out of high school and trapped by her abusive father and absent mother. But when an opportunity to join an international scrab-fighting task force arises, she sees it as exactly the kind of escape she needs. Leaving her home behind, she joins the fight, but soon realizes that fighting monsters is more deadly–and lifechanging–than she ever imagined.

hellboy gifs | WiffleGif

After B.P.R.D. came to a close last year, I thought that there wouldn’t be anything that could ever measure up to it. I didn’t even go into All These Monsters thinking that the two were all that similar, but somehow, this novel partially filled up the B.P.R.D.-shaped hole in my heart–and seeing how close those comics are to my heart, that’s seriously high praise coming from me.

First off, All These Monsters has some great representation–our protagonist Clara is half white, half Latinx [INTENSE HAPPY NOISES], and we have Black, Asian American, and Indian-American side characters. I loved Clara, and the team dynamic Tintera creates with her, Patrick, Edan, and all the rest is lovely! Those of you who have been following my reviews for a bit know that I’ll take found family any time of day, and All These Monsters portrayed it wonderfully.

And monsters. MONSTERS! I loved the scrabs–they gave me major Hell on Earth vibes, and I had so much fun going along for the ride with Clara and the rest of the gang. Not only does Tintera give us baseline physical descriptions of the scrabs, she goes in-depth to explore the international/political implications of them laying waste to the world. It’s certainly a lived-in kind of setting, so…come for the monsters, stay for the worldbuilding.

Beyond that, All These Monsters isn’t just about misfits fighting monsters–it’s a very raw exploration of abuse and toxic relationships. I’ll be clear–it’s not an easy read, but Tintera handles all of these tough topics with grace and aplomb, making you sympathize with some of the characters and hate some of the others with an appropriately fiery passion.

All in all, a dystopian sci-fi that delivers in both diversity and good old fashioned monster fighting. 4 stars!

The Mandalorian' 1x04: "Sanctuary" Roundtable | Fangirlish

All These Monsters is the first in the Monsters duology, concluding with the forthcoming All These Warriors, which is scheduled to come out in July 2021. (I got an eARC of it and read it over the weekend, so expect that review soon!). Tintera is also the author of the Ruined trilogy (Ruined, Avenged, and Allied) and the Reboot series (Reboot and Rebel).

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!