Posted in Music

Little Oblivions – Julien Baker album review

Julien Baker → Little Oblivions

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles! I suppose this isn’t a bookish post, but I’ll keep my normal greeting, because hey, most of what I post is about books. But here’s something a little different.

So here I am, finally reviewing Little Oblivions!

I got into Julien Baker late last year, starting with Sprained Ankle after hearing her distinct voice as part of the supergroup boygenius (with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus). I was immediately hooked on Sprained Ankle, liked but didn’t love Turn Out the Light (Sprained Ankle > Turn Out the Lights, fight me Pitchfork), and so of course I was excited to see that she was coming out with something new. What stands out most to me about her music is the raw emotion of it; Baker never hesitates to explore the darker side of everything, and does so with such intense, palpable motion. Even with just a guitar or a piano, she can make a shrieking ballad of grief or heartbreak out of anything.

And I’m glad to say Little Oblivions is no exception. While Baker experiments with bigger, brighter sound, she stays true to the emotional aspect that defines her body of work, making a whole new set of resonant and soaring music.

So let’s begin this review, shall we?

Julien Baker is a queer, Christian, socialist — we had to talk to her by  Religion and Socialism Podcast

JULIEN BAKER LITTLE OBLIVIONS (album review)

TRACK 1: “Hardline” – 9/10

Say it’s not so cut and dry,

Oh, it isn’t black and white,

What if it’s all black, baby,

All the time?

– Julien Baker, “Hardline”

NOW THIS IS WHAT I CALL AN AMAZING OPENING TRACK! Baker’s foray into new, more electronic sound proves an immediate hit, paired with her signature raw lyricism. Plus, we’ve got an amazing stop-motion music video to match!

TRACK 2: “Heatwave” – 7.5/10

The last single to be released before the whole album, “Heatwave” is reminiscent of the boygenius EP. There’s a deceptively upbeat tone and composition to it, hiding some of Baker’s darkest lyrics. The instrumentation almost reminds me of Wilco.

TRACK 3: “Faith Healer” – 9/10

This one was the first single to be released before the whole album, and it has been a consistent earworm for MONTHS, let me tell you…

Such beautiful, concise instrumentation, a steady beat, and even the effects overlaid over Baker’s unique voice fit right in with the almost spacey keyboards. A completely new direction for her musically, but one I’m ADORING.

Wooohoooo!!! — Marvel Contest of Champions

TRACK 4: “Relative Fiction” – 9/10

‘Cause I don’t need a savior,

I need you to take me home…

– Julien Baker, “Relative Fiction”

It would be a bit of a stretch to call this a love song, but that’s almost how I interpreted it on the first listen. “Relative Fiction” delves into Baker’s quieter, more musically sparse roots for a tender and poignant song of grappling with emotions and questioning one’s own self worth, and the meaning one might hold for others.

TRACK 5: “Crying Wolf” – 7.5/10

Continuing “Relative Fiction”‘s trend of quieter and sadder introspection, “Crying Wolf” presents a piano ballad reminiscent of Turn Out the Lights that soars to a resonant conclusion. (That “OOOOOO” that starts at about 2:33…[CRIES])

TRACK 6: “Bloodshot” – 7/10

There’s no glory in love,

Only the gore of our hearts…

– Julien Baker, “Bloodshot”

The song where we get the album cover’s gorgeous lyricism, “Bloodshot” toes the line between the two musical themes of Little Oblivions so far, oscillating between the electronic experimentation and the sparser, quieter ballads. Another deceptively upbeat song, telling of messy emotions and shaky relationships.

TRACK 7: “Ringside” – 6.5/10

I still enjoy this one, that’s for sure, but it felt a little bit like a lull in the middle. The lyricism is still stellar, but something about it doesn’t pack as much of a punch as the rest of the album so far has.

TRACK 8: “Favor” – 8.5/10

You pulled a moth out

From the grill of your truck,

Saying it’s a shame,

How come it’s so much easier

With anything less than human,

Letting yourself be tender?

– Julien Baker, “Favor”

As with “Graceland Too” on Phoebe Bridgers’ Punisher, this boygenius collaboration truly shines. The combination of the voices of Baker, Bridgers and Dacus never fails to make my heart soar to the clouds, and paired with such poignant lyrics, “Favor” is absolutely a highlight of this album.

TRACK 9: “Song in E” – 10/10

My favorite song on the album, hands down. This one again harkens back to Turn Out the Lights, but something about both the piano and Julien’s vocals takes it to all new heights. It’s just…[sniffles]

And something about the way she says “name” at about 0:40 just makes my heart go 🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺

TRACK 10: “Repeat” – 9/10

Ocean of strip malls,

I help you swim across

To the other side…

– Julien Baker, “Repeat”

Another example of Julien’s decision to go more electronic with her sound paying off 100%. Catchy, but continually poetic in its lyricism, this was one of my favorite songs that wasn’t released as a single before the album’s released. Again, can’t put my finger on it, but I love the way Baker sings all of the words past the 3/4 mark with the long ‘e’ sound (ex. means, speak, street, dream, repeat). My brain can’t be troubled for a concrete reason, but it’s so beautiful.

TRACK 11: “Highlight Reel” – 7.5/10

Not my favorite on the album, but the instrumentation itself is what shines for me. I love the drums, the guitar, the…well, the everything. I can’t quite pick out what instrument (probably keyboard?) it is, but the part from about 3:21 to the end reminds me a bit of St. Vincent’s “Teenage Talk.”

TRACK 12: “Ziptie” – 6.5/10

Not the best ending for this album and a lower point overall, but still lovely. The lyricism is still painfully beautiful, but it just seems to wander about almost aimlessly. A good listen, but maybe something like “Repeat” or “Bloodshot” would have been a better end to the album.

Julien Baker is just being honest | EW.com

I averaged out all of the scores for each track, and they came out to almost exactly 8! I’d say that’s accurate; Little Oblivions wasn’t without its occasional low points, but even those were songs that I’ll surely come back to. A stellar album, and a bold new direction that payed off with every song.

And even though this wasn’t on the album, I can’t not talk about this…

I–

I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. This is a transcendental cover. And hey, Julien Baker and Radiohead: two of my favorite things.

Since this post is full of songs, consider this whole album today’s song.

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (3/2/21) – The Punch

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

The novel I’ve decided to review this week came in my last library haul. This is only my second foray into Noah Hawley’s novels after I fell in love with Before the Fall last month, but I can tell from just these two novels that he’s become an auto-buy/borrow/read author for me.

Enjoy this week’s review!

The Punch by Noah Hawley | Grand Central Publishing

The Punch – Noah Hawley

Joe Henry is dead, but what he leaves behind is a dysfunctional family in tatters. His wife Doris, has all but given up on life, his eldest son David struggles to keep two separate relationships (and his constantly teetering emotional state) afloat, and his youngest son Scott grapples with paranoid cynicism and a luckless love life. The three surviving members of the Henry family are brought together to scatter Joe’s ashes, bringing to light everything that Joe kept in check while he was alive and leaving all but chaos in their wake.

Shared by SexyTrash04. Find images and videos about gif, scene and series  on We Heart It - the app to get lost in w… | Umbrella, Under my umbrella,  Future boyfriend
I know I just put this gif in a book tag but the opportunity was too good not to miss

TW/CW: loss of loved ones, description of illness, substance abuse (mainly smoking), mild physical violence (hence the title), cheating

As I mentioned earlier, this is only my second Noah Hawley novel, but judging from this one and Before the Fall, he’s easily earned a spot as one of my favorite authors. The Punch had a very different feel to it than the latter, though; all at once tragic and laugh-out-loud funny, a superbly written story of the trials and tribulations of a dysfunctional family.

Let me just start off by saying…I think The Punch boasts one of the best opening scenes/images that I’ve ever seen in a book; the story of the Henry family begins/ends in a hospital on Valentine’s Day, with sickly and injured patients being wheeled about amidst cheery heart decorations and a pianist playing “Wonderwall” in the background. It’s hysterical, it’s so well-crafted, and in one scene alone, the mood of the entire book is encompassed–equal parts tragedy and comedy.

Having a novel with a cast of unlikable characters is usually hit-or-miss for me; I had a hard time getting through Watchmen for the first half or so because of how despicable most of the characters were. (and on that note, PLEASE 👏 STOP 👏 ROMANTICIZING 👏 RORSCHACH 👏 HE’S 👏 AWFUL 👏 [ahem] I digress), for example. The difference between my being able to enjoy a novel with an entire cast of characters like this is usually a mix of whether or not you’re supposed to like the characters and how well-written they are. (And no, that’s not a dig at Watchmen – it ended up being a four-star read for me in the end.) Clearly, the cast of The Punch are all deeply, deeply flawed people, but they’re not framed as the “good guys,” but simply protagonists. That, coupled with Hawley’s stellar writing, made me stick around even when the characters were at their all-time lows (which were…pretty low, not gonna lie.)

What also made a difference with the characters was the familial chemistry that they had with each other. They all bounced off each other so authentically, behaving exactly how you’d believe a dysfunctional family would, producing no shortage of weird occurrences and plenty of quotes that made me laugh out loud. (I can’t seem to find the quote, but there was this one that made me just WHEEZE…it was something along the lines of “It’s like it says in the Bible. All is full of love.” “No, I think that’s a Björk song…”) (I wish I’d written it down, I borrowed a copy from the library…)

But in its (tragically) short entirety, The Punch was a perfect blend of tragedy and comedy, a story of family, dysfunction, and a whole lot of miscommunication and shaky relationships. Clever writing, memorable imagery, and hysterical quotes – this one really has it all. 5 stars!

martin freeman Fargo caro's edit wgifs billy bob thornton lester nygaard  THE FIFTH GIF..HIS FACE OH LORD wonderlandinmymind •

The Punch is a standalone, but Noah Hawley is also the author of Before the Fall, Other People’s Weddings, The Good Father, and A Conspiracy of Tall Men. He is also the creator of FX’s TV adaptations of Fargo and Legion, the latter of which in association with Marvel Television.

Today’s song:

okay I was yesterday years old when I realized that this was a cover this whole 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 (2/16/21) – A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

And now, onto another book that I bought with my Christmas gift card and loved!

I’ll admit to being a bit jaded with most YA fantasy novels at present (even though I still read them in droves), but the cover and the mythology of this novel convinced me to buy myself a copy, and I’m so glad I did! A novel that simultaneously felt nostalgic and something wholly new and original.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Image result for a song of wraiths and ruin

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin (A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, #1)–Roseanne A. Brown

My copy ft. a cool filter and one of my bookshelves

In the wealthy city of Ziran, it is a time for celebration, many days of carnivals and competition at the Solstasia Festival. This year, however, the lives of two very different teens with cross in ways that could change their world forever.

Malik came to Ziran to escape, but at a price; as an entrance fee, an evil spirit captured his sister, and the only way that he can get her back is to kill Karina, the crown princess of Ziran.

Karina yearns for a life outside the palace, but after her mother, the Queen, is assassinated, she begins dabbling in dark magic to bring her back. Her magic, too, has a price–it requires a king’s beating heart, and the only way she can get that is to sneak her way into the Solstasia competition–where Malik has entered in order to get closer to her.

Their destiny is to kill each other–but their feelings for each other cannot be ignored, and they may have to twist fate itself to find their way out of this conundrum.

Image result for dark magic aesthetic gif

TW/CW (from Roseanne A. Brown, at the front of the book): self harm (magic ritual), violence, abuse (emotional and physical), anxiety/panic attacks, loss of loved ones, animal death

Wow, it’s been so long since I’ve read a fantasy that I’ve loved as much as I did this one! A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is truly a treasure.

What stood out most for me was the writing style. There’s something about Brown’s writing that’s evocative of so many things that bring joy to me; there’s an almost Marvel sensibility about it, maybe a little bit of Disney (normally, I’m not the biggest fan of Disney, but this made it work)…it’s hard to quite put my finger on it, but the style was delightfully cinematic, calling to mind a classic, feel-good adventure movie. This would translate to well to the big screen, I’d love to see a movie adaptation of this one…

The characters were wonderful as well! Karina was such a lovable protagonist, and I adored her free spirit and determination. (Plus, the image of her standing on top of a table and aggressively serenading an entire restaurant…immaculate) Malik was the perfect character to balance her out, more of a calming and grounded presence. Both of their traumas felt very authentic, and it’s always good to see male protagonists that not only have mental illnesses (Malik seems to have some form of anxiety), but are openly sensitive and express their feelings. Together, they created such a captivating, enemies-to-lovers romance! Yeah, yeah, I know the whole “they’re both trying to kill each other, BUT HEY, THEY’RE MADLY IN LOVE NOW” trope has been done before, but Karina and Malik are both such well-written characters that I can make an exception. What can I say, I’m a total sucker for enemies to lovers.

And the worldbuilding! Brown’s world was so lived-in and full of resonant magic. My favorite aspect was the mythology surrounding all of the different deities and spirits, and I had such a fun time discovering the world piece by piece as the plot progressed. Like I said, I haven’t read a fantasy novel that’s filled me with *this much joy* in quite a while. GAH!

Image result for oh it's beautiful gif
I think I used this gif when I did a Goodreads Monday on this one…I’m coming full circle

All in all, an adventurous and well-written fantasy that filled me to the brim with joy. Maybe I’m not so jaded with YA fantasy after all. 4 stars!

Image result for wholesome cat meme gif

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is the first novel in Roseanne A. Brown’s A Song of Wraiths and Ruin duology, followed by A Psalm of Storms and Silence, which is scheduled to be released on August 31, 2021. Wraiths is Brown’s debut novel.

Today’s song:

rewatching of Season 2 is well underway…the strings at the end of this give me Sparklehorse vibes and I love it

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

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 Books, Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (12/21/20)–Elysium Girls

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

WHEW, I’m out of school for the semester! I SURVIVED AN ENTIRE SEMESTER ONLINE! And to everyone else who has done the same, pat yourself on the back! You did it!

Pat On The Back GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Anyway, Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

I’ve had this book on my TBR for almost exactly a year, and it sounds like an exciting mashup of YA fantasy and…Western vibes? I think? We’ll see, but it definitely looks like something new…

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (12/21/20)–ELYSIUM GIRLS by Kate Pentecost

Amazon.com: Elysium Girls (9781368041867): Pentecost, Kate: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

In this sweeping Dust Bowl-inspired fantasy, a ten-year game between Life and Death pits the walled Oklahoma city of Elysium-including a girl gang of witches and a demon who longs for humanity-against the supernatural in order to judge mankind.

When Sal is named Successor to Mother Morevna, a powerful witch and leader of Elysium, she jumps at the chance to prove herself to the town. Ever since she was a kid, Sal has been plagued by false visions of rain, and though people think she’s a liar, she knows she’s a leader. Even the arrival of enigmatic outsider Asa-a human-obsessed demon in disguise-doesn’t shake her confidence in her ability. Until a terrible mistake results in both Sal and Asa’s exile into the Desert of Dust and Steel.

Face-to-face with a brutal, unforgiving landscape, Sal and Asa join a gang of girls headed by another Elysium exile-and young witch herself-Olivia Rosales. In order to atone for their mistake, they create a cavalry of magic powered, scrap metal horses to save Elysium from the coming apocalypse. But Sal, Asa, and Olivia must do more than simply tip the scales in Elysium’s favor-only by reinventing the rules can they beat the Life and Death at their own game.

So why do I want to read this?

Rey Big Secret GIF - Rey BigSecret Classified - Discover & Share GIFs

Okay, waaaaaaaaait, wait wait–

We’ve got:

  • Demons?
  • Girl gangs of witches?
  • False prophecies?
  • Alternate history of the Dust Bowl?
  • Robot horses?
  • AND DID I MENTION DEMONS?

Elysium Girls definitely has something of a bold premise, and there’s quite a lot of elements crammed into it; alternate histories are hard to get right, and harder still when there’s a whole host of fantasy elements in it, like this one has. But that’s exactly what hooks me in–from the synopsis, it’s unafraid, it’s daring, it’s bold, and man, it sounds like a whole lot of fun. Also, I REALLY like the premise of the whole plot being the result of a decade-long game between Life and Death. That seems promising.

This one’s available at the library, so I might have to put it on hold soon…

General Kenobi. You Are A Bold One GIF | Gfycat

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Uncategorized

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. 😉

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 𝕷𝖎𝖘 𝕮𝖑𝖎𝖔𝖉𝖍𝖓𝖆

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.

That Could Have Gone Better GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

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 ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: Things That Grow

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

Whew, I’m so glad the school week’s over! I might not be able to do Top 5 Saturday tomorrow because I’ve got some studying to do…plus, I haven’t been able to come up with anything for this week’s prompt…🤣

Either way, I recently got this eARC, and right after finishing something as long and dense as Dune, this novel was just what I needed. Darkly humorous and full of heart, Things That Grow is a lovely piece of contemporary fiction.

Enjoy this review!

Amazon.com: Things That Grow eBook: Goldstein, Meredith: Kindle Store

Things That Grow–Meredith Goldstein

Grandma Sheryl was seventeen-year-old Lori’s whole world, her anchor when her absent mother wasn’t there to care for her. So when she passes away, Lori’s world is thrown off-center–not only is her beloved grandmother gone, but in her absence, she’ll have to move back in with her mother and start her senior year in Maryland, without her old friends and the peaceful life she led.

But Grandma Sheryl left Lori and her family one final mission–a list of four gardens to travel to and spread her ashes. Along with her uncle Seth and her best friend Chris, Lori sets off on a chaotic journey that will change her life–and the way that she sees her grandmother.

The Big Lebowski (1998) - Scattering Donny's Ashes GIF | Gfycat
This is exactly the kind of darkly hysterical vibe that the book gave off

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and HMH Books for Young Readers for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

I really haven’t read much contemporary fiction lately; it’s one that I try to read frequently, but I always end up gravitating more towards sci-fi or fantasy. But Things That Grow reminded me of what happens when the genre is executed right–it tugged at all the right heartstrings and made me crack up at the same time.

This novel certainly tackles some heavy topics, grief being the most prominent of them. I expected it to be a more somber novel, but Goldstein imbues a grimly humorous aspect that had me cracking up every few pages. It struck the perfect balance between honestly addressing grief and its consequences and having moments of being comedic and lighthearted. This is my first exposure to Goldstein’s work, but I can already see her clever writing shining through.

The other aspect that I enjoyed the most was the characters. Lori, Seth, Chris and all the rest were such distinct and lovable characters, and they all had lovely chemistry–part of what made a lot of the jokes I mentioned earlier land. They were all so authentic and well-developed, and I loved delving into their individual stories. I loved Chris and Lori’s friendship–the romance seemed a bit half-baked at its worst times, but I loved their whole backstory with his art and her stories.

That being said, Things That Grow wasn’t without its flaws, certainly. The conflict between Lori and Seth was interesting in concept, but felt very rushed and poorly executed; we only get introduced to the plot line maybe…3/4 of the way through? After that, they touch on it once or twice before it’s too-neatly resolved. That certainly left something to be desired, but it didn’t take as much away from the novel for me.

All in all, Things That Grow was a memorable contemporary novel that hit just the right balance between serious and hilarious. 4 stars!

Anime butterfly garden gif - GIF - Imgur

Release date: March 9, 2021

Today’s song:

I haven’t listened to this in years…I haven’t even seen this movie, but this cover brings back so many memories… ;_;

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

Posted in Books, Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (9/14/20)–A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

First off, thank you all so much for 250+ followers! I really appreciate all the love. 🙂 And I just realized that it’s been a little over a year since I started doing Goodreads Monday…WHOA…

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

I put this one on my TBR at the very beginning of the year, and it sounds like a fantasy novel that is not to be missed! We’ll see…

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (9/14/20)–A SONG OF WRAITHS AND RUIN by Roseanne A. Brown

Amazon.com: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin (9780062891495): Brown, Roseanne A.:  Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.

But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.

When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?

The first in an fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore in which a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction.

So why do I want to read this?

catalyst | War stories, Tv spot, Star wars fans
Me looking at THAT COVER

…[ahem] Not gonna lie here, most of what drew me into A Song of Wraiths and Ruin was that GORGEOUS cover. I saw an EpicReads video where they went behind the scenes of the cover shoot, and there was so much attention to detail in every possible aspect.

Now, onto the actual content of the book, right?

Even though we’ve fallen into the trap of another YA x of y and z title, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin sounds like a fascinating fantasy! I love the kind of plots where we have two or more characters in different positions, and the book follows how their individual journeys merge together into a collective story. And it sounds like there’s some enemies-to-lovers romance as well–it’s an easy trope to screw up, but when it’s done well, it’s my favorite romantic trope. Plus, with such a prevalence of fantasies that draw from Western/European mythos, it’s great to see more African (West African, in this case)-inspired fantasies on the market!

Overall–I’m hoping that the book itself is just as compelling as the cover is.

Joe Biden Lets See What Happens GIF by GIPHY News - Find & Share on GIPHY

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: July 20-26, 2020

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope you’ve all had a lovely week, and that you and your families are all safe and healthy.

[dons a pair of sunglasses] IT’S LEO SEASON…

Zodiac Sign Cat Sticker by Pusheen for iOS & Android | GIPHY

Aaaaaaanyway, I’d say that it’s been a nice week. I can’t believe July is almost over already…

I’ve been practicing with putting on my new contact lenses with…[ahem] varied results, but hey, I suppose these things take time. Even though my reading week started off disappointing, I got around to reading two good eARCs (I’ll review the other one next week). I’m SO CLOSE to being finished with my Iron Giant puzzle, and I finished my short story for Camp NaNoWriMo! It’s nearly 10,000 words, and I think I made it appropriately depressing. I’m still working my way towards telling people coherent summaries of my various WIPs, but I will say that it’s a bit of a fairytale, and one that involves quite a lot of bad luck and an unexpected, amphibious child.

I also finished the Netflix adaptation of Cursed (expect a review of that soon), and I’m SO excited for season two of The Umbrella Academy!

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

The Burning Page (The Invisible Library, #3)–Genevieve Cogman (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: The Burning Page (The Invisible Library Novel Book 3 ...

Serpent and Dove–Shelby Mahurin (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Serpent & Dove eBook: Mahurin, Shelby: Kindle Store

FORESHADOW: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading & Writing YA (Anthology)–Emily X.R. Pan et. al. (eARC) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Foreshadow: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading ...

Dustborn–Erin Bowman (eARC) (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Dustborn by Erin Bowman

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Children of Virtue and Vengeance (Legacy of Orïsha, #2)–Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Virtue and Vengeance (B&N Exclusive Edition) (Legacy ...

Goddess in the Machine–Lora Beth Johnson

Amazon.com: Goddess in the Machine eBook: Johnson, Lora Beth ...

Honor Lost (The Honors, #3)–Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine

Amazon.com: Honor Lost (Honors Book 3) eBook: Caine, Rachel ...

Into the Crooked Place–Alexandra Christo

Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo

Monday’s Not Coming–Tiffany D. Jackson

Amazon.com : [by Tiffany D Jackson] Monday's Not Coming Paperback ...

Today’s song:

Okay, I know that I’ve said that The Beatles should rarely be touched when it comes to covers, but THIS GIVES ME ALL THE CHILLS. LISA HANNIGAN AND JEFF RUSSO CAN DO NO WRONG, I SWEAR…

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

Posted in Books, Top 5 Saturday

Top 5 Saturday (7/18/20)–Books You Own 📚

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles!

Time for another Top 5 Saturday! This was originally started by Devouring Books, and it sounded like such a fun post to take part in. Today’s topic is books that you own. (Probably shouldn’t have done a book tag based on books I own yesterday…whoops…) I’ll try to pick some that I don’t talk about as much.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE FOR JULY: 

7/4/20 — Coming of Age

7/11/20 — Hyped Books

7/18/20 — Books You Own

7/25/20 —  #OwnVoices Books

Rules!

  • Share your top 5 books of the current topic– these can be books that you want to read, have read and loved, have read and hated, you can do it any way you want.
  • Tag the original post (This one!)
  • Tag 5 people

Let’s begin, shall we?

TOP 5 SATURDAY (7/18/20)–BOOKS YOU OWN

Zodiac (Zodiac, #1), Romina Russell

Zodiac by Romina Russell – quirkyandpeculiar

I got this one a few years back, and though my memory’s shaky on it, I remember it being fun. (I mean, I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads, so that must count for something…) I only got up to book 2, but I’ll think I’ll start back up again because I NEED some good sci-fi in my life…even though I don’t remember what happened in book 2…

The Hawkweed Prophecy, Irena Brignull

Book Review: "The Hawkweed Prophecy" by Irena Brignull | The Young ...

I got this one as an Easter gift a few years back.

The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus, #1), Jonathan Stroud

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud - The Literary Phoenix

At some point in middle school, my class did some sort of book exchange; each one of us brought in a book, and we closed our eyes, passed the books around, and ended up with one of our classmate’s books to read. I got this one from an old friend, and it’s an autographed copy, too!

Doll Bones, Holly Black

Doll Bones: Black, Holly, Wheeler, Eliza: 9781416963998: Amazon ...

I bought this one for an overnight trip with my school, and I have fond memories of reading it.

Monstrous (Monstrous, #1), MarcyKate Connolly

Monstrous: Connolly, MarcyKate, Young, Skottie: 9780062272720 ...

SUCH an underrated middle grade series. Maybe this is why I love Frankenstein so much now–that, and the undeniable influence of Frankenweenie.

Frankenweenie GIF - Find on GIFER

I TAG ANYONE WHO WANTS TO PARTICIPATE!

Bookshelf GIFs | Tenor

Today’s song:

(I love how his YouTube playlists are divided into “Radiohead covers” and “not Radiohead covers” 🤣)

That’s it for this week’s Top 5 Saturday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!