Posted in Books

Undercover LGBTQ+ Books for Closeted Readers

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

I’ve seen lists like this floating around on some bookish Reels on Instagram, and I figured that I wanted to make a list of my own for the blogosphere.

What I mean by “undercover” is this: if you’re a closeted reader and you’re in a homophobic space/community, you can read these books without anyone else knowing that you’re LGBTQ+, but you can still get the LGBTQ+ rep that you want to see. These are books that have great queer representation, but aren’t explicitly queer from the cover or synopsis. That way, if you’re in an unsupportive/homophobic space, you can still seek out good LGBTQ+ books without outing yourself. These are mostly YA books, but we’ve got several genres in the mix. I know I’m lucky to have supportive family and friends, but it sadly isn’t the reality for all queer people, so I thought I’d provide this list for others in that situation.

And as always, never forget: you are loved, you are valid, you are beautiful, and nobody has any say in your identity except for you. 💗

Let’s begin, shall we?

🌈UNDERCOVER LGBTQ+ BOOKS FOR CLOSETED READERS🌈

Dare Mighty Things – Heather Kaczynski

Amazon.com: Dare Mighty Things: 9780062479860: Kaczynski, Heather: Books

GENRES: sci-fi, thriller

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25

Cassandra, the main character, is asexual, and there’s also a secondary character who is bisexual! This one’s a must read if you love high-stakes competitions and sci-fi mysteries and thrillers.

Fire With Fire – Destiny Soria

Fire with Fire by Destiny Soria

GENRES: fantasy, paranormal, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I got this one as an eARC last year, and it was such a fun fantasy! Dani, one of two POV protagonists, is bisexual as well as mixed-race (white/Latine), and frankly, there’s not much better than queer girls and dragons, so this one’s a must-read.

Spellhacker – M.K. England

Amazon.com: Spellhacker: 9780062657701: England, M. K.: Books

GENRES: sci-fi, urban fantasy, fantasy

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

There’s no shortage of great LGBTQ+ rep in this novel – Diz is queer, her love interest is nonbinary (as well as the author!), and there’s several wlw and mlm couples interspersed throughout. I’ll always recommend this one for fans of both sci-fi and fantasy – it’s a great blend of the two genres!

Victories Greater Than Death – Charlie Jane Anders

Victories Greater Than Death | Charlie Jane Anders | Macmillan

GENRES: sci-fi, space opera

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

This one’s sure to please all the YA space opera fans – lots of strange aliens, sudden powers, and intergalactic battles. There’s no shortage of good queer rep in this one – Tina is bi/pan, her love interest is a Black trans woman, and there’s a wide variety of pronouns used for the many (MANY) characters!

On a Sunbeam – Tillie Walden

Amazon.com: On a Sunbeam: 9781250178138: Walden, Tillie: Books

GENRES: graphic novels, sci-fi, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I don’t use masterpiece lightly, but On a Sunbeam absolutely is one. With simplistic but stunning artwork and a multiracial wlw relationship told in alternating timelines, there’s no excuse to pass this one by.

Sawkill Girls – Claire Legrand

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand – The Hub

GENRES: horror, paranormal, fantasy

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I don’t normally go for horror, but this was an unexpected 5-star read for me! All three protagonists are queer – Marion is bisexual, Zoey is asexual, Val is a lesbian, and there’s a wlw relationship!

Other Words for Smoke – Sarah Maria Griffin

Amazon.com: Other Words for Smoke: 9780062408914: Griffin, Sarah Maria:  Books

GENRES: paranormal, horror, magical realism

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

None of Sarah Maria Griffin’s books are talked about enough – Other Words for Smoke is hauntingly beautiful and well-written in every sense of the word. There’s a lesbian relationship in this one, and it’s unrelentingly feminist as well.

Wild Beauty – Anna-Marie McLemore

Buy Wild Beauty: A Novel Book Online at Low Prices in India | Wild Beauty:  A Novel Reviews & Ratings - Amazon.in

GENRES: magical realism, fantasy, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I highly recommend anything of Anna-Marie McLemore’s – their novels always have the most gorgeous prose, combined with fairytale-like fantasies and Latine culture and mythology. Their books always include queer characters, but this one in particular features an entire cast of queer sisters and a genderqueer love interest!

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Did you like any of these books? Do you have any undercover LGBTQ+ recommendations? Tell me in the comments!

Books to Celebrate Pride Month | Penguin Random House Canada

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Books

Sci-Fi Tropes: Cryosleep, Unhinged AI, and everything in between 🪐

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

I’ve been trying to think of more original posts to do, and I figured that this one would be something really fun to explore. I’ve seen a lot of posts talking about tropes, but genre-specific ones are always interesting to think about/discuss, and in much of the YA book fandom, I feel like sci-fi doesn’t get as much love. So I decided to look at six tropes that are specific to sci-fi (for the most part). Sci-fi is my favorite genre, so I got super excited thinking about all of these different tropes, and some (mostly) YA books that use them in different ways.

So let’s begin, shall we?

These Are Not The 130 "Star Wars" GIFs You Are Looking For | Star wars gif,  Star wars characters, Star wars episodes

WARNING: This post may contain some book spoilers (Aurora Cycle & Dare Mighty Things series), so read at your own risk!

🛸SCI-FI TROPES🛸

CRYOSLEEP, BUT FOR WAY TOO LONG

Quiz: Ripley, Our Lady of Survival | Bookmans Entertainment Exchange

Ellen Ripley – and Aliens in particular – probably set the blueprint for this one, but as the trope gets more popular, authors have started to push the limits on this one, which I think is a really cool move.

It’s most often the protagonist that this happens to – our hero, on the eve of something great, is put into cryosleep for an interplanetary mission, only for something to go terribly awry and stay in cryosleep for longer than they were supposed to. Ripley got an accidental 50 years, Auri from Aurora Rising got 200 years, and Andra from Goddess in the Machine got a whopping 1,000 years.

This trope presents two main advantages for writing: a vehicle for exploring the novel’s world through fresh eyes, and internal conflict within the character. If your cryosleep character is completely unfamiliar with the world, seeing it through their eyes gives the reader a more in-depth look at the world than they’d get with a character that’s already familiar with it. They’ll inevitably notice more things and fixate on different things than another character might, which gives the reader more insight about what’s unique about the world that the author has crafted.

As for the internal conflict piece, this part’s always touched on, but in most of the novels I’ve read with it, it’s a lot more shallow than you’d think. There’s the existential crisis that inevitably occurs when the character realizes that everything they know and love is all but gone, but beyond the first few chapters from their POV, they get over it…relatively quickly? It seems like the kind of trauma that would leave lasting psychological scars, and probably physical health repercussions as well. I’ve yet to read any book that explores all that in depth, but it seems like the perfect setup for a sci-fi novel.

So this one’s a trope that can make for a lot of creative choices, but often has a lot of untapped potential.

BOOKS WITH THIS TROPE: Aurora Rising (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff), Goddess in the Machine (Lora Beth Johnson)

GOTTEN INTO A SITUATION YOU CAN’T GET OUT OF? TIME TRAVEL!

Best Avengers Endgame GIFs | Gfycat
“Time travel!”

Apparently this one is a lot more common than I thought, but I’ve only started to see it in YA more recently. (Well, there’s Avengers: Endgame, but it took me a while to realize how common of a trope it is…)

This trope has the possibility of ENDLESS freaky hijinks whilst traversing through time. Sometimes it’s just pushing the events of the past so that everything lines up a little bit nicer, and sometimes it’s rocketing back to another time period entirely. It usually happens only with the last book in a trilogy or duology, just so everyone can fix the mess they got into in the first books.

I have mixed feelings on this one; one the one hand, there’s never a dull moment – time travel jokes, fitting VERY badly into a different time period, and very high stakes, most of all. If the first books have followed a similar formula, it might be good to try for something else to end the series with a bang.

On the other, though, something about it almost feels…lazy to me. Often, this trope arises from The Gang™️ getting a situation so bad that there may not be a feasible way out of it, but…maybe they could? If done wrong, it can feel like lazy writing – an easy way out, and one that provides instant comic relief. And often, the means of said time travel are vague, and often reduced to technobabble from The Smart Character™️, which, hey, I don’t know much about the science of it either, but maybe at least put a little time into it?

So this one’s a double-edged sword: instant plot, or lazy writing? The choice is yours!

BOOKS WITH THIS TROPE: Sword in the Stars (Once & Future, #2) (A.R. Capetta and Cori McCarthy), Aurora’s End (Aurora Cycle, #3) (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff)*

*this one doesn’t come out until November [screams] but we know that time travel will play a big part in this one, so…

ALIENS THAT BASICALLY JUST LOOK LIKE HUMANS (BUT WITH A FEW MINOR DIFFERENCES)

Pin on Asteria Academy
I know Jean Grey isn’t an alien, but most of the aliens mentioned below have similar powers to her, so…

Most of the other tropes I’m going to be discussing in this post are ones that I like on some level, but…this one gets on my nerves. For the most part.

Far too many times, I’ve fallen into the trap of picking up a sci-fi book that promises aliens, only to discover that the aliens just look like humans, but with either a) unusual eye colors, b) some sort of powers, or c) a combination of both. And of course, they have to be ✨ridiculously attractive✨ as well. 🙄

Now, I completely get making your aliens humanoid (hey, I’m doing it with some of my aliens for my sci-fi WIP), but there’s a certain point where it feels a bit lazy. Unless there’s some way you can back it up, it seems weird to me that in this entire universe, the only other intelligent beings, by some cosmic chance, are similar to us in almost every way.

But I’ve seen some authors use it to their advantage – in particular, One Giant Leap (the sequel to Dare Mighty Things) does this especially well. The main alien civilization there look exactly like humans, but it’s because of genetic modifications performed so that they could survive on Earth. See? That’s actually a really good way of turning the trope on its head, and doing so in a practical way!

For the most part, this trope never ceases to bug me, but there’s a few ways to turn it on its head.

BOOKS WITH THIS TROPE: One Giant Leap (Dare Mighty Things, #2) (Heather Kaczynski), Amid Stars and Darkness (Chani Lynn Feener)

UNHINGED A.I.

David - Prometheus --- ah! DON'T TELL ME THAT!!! (lol) | Michael  fassbender, David 8, Sebastian moran
BREAKING: Michael Fassbender Sustains Fatal Back Injuries from Carrying all of the Alien Prequels

For me, at least, this trope is the most fun – and it presents some of the scariest and most formidable antagonists in sci-fi.

Villainous AI are some of the most fascinating characters to explore – they have unmatched power, in some cases, and whether they’re a pre-installed ship AI or an android, it’s always interesting to hear their perspective on all of us puny mortals.

Given that humans trust AI a bit *too* much in most sci-fi novels, they often have a fearsome amount of power at their disposal. AI installed inside of a ship? Access to all the security footage, navigation, communications, and controls of the ship. They know their crew up and down, and have the possibility to play everybody’s weaknesses against each other. They have the power to sabotage anything and everything, and more often than not, they do. WITHOUT HESITATION. A corrupt AI often harbors a hatred or jealousy of human beings, and if it’s not that motivating them, it’s some sort of technologically-stemmed god complex, which is always terrifying to watch play out. (Lookin’ right at you, David…) It’s even more of an interesting development if their moral compass shifts over the course of the series – if there’s one thing I’ve learned from sci-fi, it’s that benevolent robot overlords never stay benevolent for very long.

Corrupt AI as antagonists are often more compelling than human or alien ones (for me, at least) partly because so much is left up to the imagination about the inner workings of their minds. We’ve never developed any kind of artificial intelligence that’s become intelligent enough to have devious tendencies like many sci-fi villains, so a lot of it is the author’s personal choice. There are endless possibilities – but more often than not, they’re all terrifying.

And even if they aren’t main antagonists, the addition of a slight unstable AI as a character is always amusing; for all of its flaws, I loved Gregorovich’s existential musings in To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, and his character added some much-needed flavor to the rest of the cast.

TL;DR: There’s nothing more terrifying than a villain that knows everything about everything, and uses that power for its own gain at whatever the cost.

BOOKS WITH THIS TROPE: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars (Christopher Paolini), Illuminae (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff), Scythe (Neal Shusterman)

HIGH-STAKES COMPETITIONS TO GO TO SPACE…WITH SOME SERIOUS ULTERIOR MOTIVES

artoo, that way

Scared to send your experienced, highly intelligent scientists to space? Send some teenagers instead!

This one tends to crop up the most in YA, as it’s primed for a book that has a primarily teenage cast. The ones I’ve read do tend to follow a formula, but for the most part, it’s one that’s actually a lot of fun!

The worldbuilding/motives behind it are always a little bit messy (again: sending teenagers into space! What could possibly go wrong?), but often times, you just have to hang in there; it’s a given that whatever program is funding the competition is doing something astronomically shady. (No pun intended.) Part of the fun with this trope is the mystery of it; slowly but surely, the competition starts dropping like flies, and things go very wrong very quickly.

More on the mystery aspect – the mystery that often occurs in these types of novels is very slow-burn, building on itself before the heartstopping reveal at the end (often a cliffhanger). From program superiors lying to scheming androids to deaths under mysterious circumstances, there are endless possibilities for many, many things to go wrong. Add in the not-so-friendly rivalries between the competitors (also scheming, along with everybody else), and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a nail-biting sci-fi mystery.

And once/if they get to space? Everything gets way worse. There’s bound to be aliens, but whether they’re intelligent or just parasitic, things are bound to go way, way south. But there’s never a dull moment – there’s no shortage of suspense, and our protagonist is often at a loss as to how to escape their situation.

Plus, for reasons I’ve yet to figure out, these ones always tend to have the most clever pop culture references. (See: all of the Radiohead songs in the Final Six duology)

BOOKS WITH THIS TROPE: The Final Six (Alexandra Monir), Dare Mighty Things (Heather Kaczynski)

EXPLORING OTHER PLANETS GOES VERY, VERY WRONG (Or, “Don’t do intergalactic colonialism, kids”)

Large yacht passes by gargantuan yacht - boing - Boing Boing BBS

Here’s another common – but by no means overdone – trope that’s always open to endless possibilities!

Because our planet was never enough, apparently (or if we destroyed it…probably), there’s a whole host of sci-fi stories that are set on entirely new planets, with the sole goal of making them a new home for humankind. But just like with our planet, it’s always unpredictable, whether you’re dealing with a foreign contagion, carnivorous wildlife, or superiors who aren’t what they seem.

I’m always a nerd for creature design in sci-fi, and life on other worlds presents all sort of possibilities for creatures lurking in the bushes. Whether it’s flora or fauna, exploring these sci-fi worlds along with the characters is an adventure, especially if the author is particularly creative. Of course, most of the wildlife ends up being carnivorous, or malicious on some level, so there’s all sorts of danger lurking.

But beyond that, this trope is often a great commentary on colonialism. Human history is rife with frightening periods of raping and pillaging land that wasn’t ours to begin with at the cost of those who originally lived there; telling the same story on alien planets serves as a particularly potent comment on the malicious tendency of our species to overstep and overstay our welcome. Books like A Conspiracy of Stars and The Pioneer explore what happens when humanity comes in contact with intelligent life and unlawfully sets foot on their land; both of them do an amazing job of exploring the intricacies of the political implications, as well as the tense conflict that results. I think sci-fi as a genre is one of the best mediums for raising commentary on this kind of thing. Exploring new frontiers in space is bound to happen once we get the technology, but we must always ask ourselves if it’s the right thing to do. Just because we can doesn’t necessarily mean that we should. (Let’s be real: I would be SO excited if we found evidence of life elsewhere in the universe, but…let’s not have a repeat of all of human history, okay?)

BOOKS WITH THIS TROPE: The Pioneer (Bridget Tyler), A Conspiracy of Stars, (Olivia A. Cole), Tangled Planet (Kate Blair)

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are your favorite/least favorite tropes in sci-fi? Have you read any of the books I listed, and what were your thoughts? This’ll probably be one of several posts on the subject, so I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Another Happy Landing GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Book Tags

Zodiac Book Tag ♌️

Happy Friday, bibliophiles! Man, I’m so glad it’s spring break…

I found this tag over on Ashmita @ the fictional journal and it looked like so much fun! I’m not 100% into zodiac signs, but I do believe there’s a lot of truth to it, and plus, it’s a whole lot of fun. (And the birth chart I got a few years ago was startlingly spot-on…) This tag was created by Just Dreamland.

RULES:

  • Link back to the creator, Just Dreamland
  • Link back to the person who tagged you!
  • Answer all the prompts.
  • Use the original graphics and credit the creator
  • Tag at least 5 bloggers and provide links to their blogs.
  • Name your Zodiac sign!
  • Don’t forget to add #ItsAZodiacThing tag.
  • You can either do the zodiac book tag /the zodiac music tag or both of them. Graphics for separate tags should be given at the end.
  • Enjoy!

This one’s the book tag, but I definitely want to do the music tag at some point as well!

So first things first, I’m a Leo! (Barely, though…if I’d been born a day later, I’d be a Virgo, so…still feel like a Leo though)

(EDIT: I had to take some of the graphics out bc they weren’t showing up…)

What's Your Zodiac Sign? The 12 Zodiac Symbols

🌌THE ZODIAG SIGN BOOK TAG🌌

ARIES: A wild and powerful book, compelling from start to finish. Every page intoxicated your heart with incredible imagery.

Among the Beasts & Briars by Ashley Poston

Ashley Poston is a favorite author of mine, and Among the Beasts and Briars absolutely fits the bill for this prompt – lush imagery, lovable characters and a gripping plot!

TAURUS: A heart-wrenching story of a forbidden love that could tear a family apart

Girls of Paper and Fire eBook: Ngan, Natasha: Amazon.in: Kindle Store

Lei and Wren’s romance in Girls of Paper and Fire was one of the aspects that truly shined. Book 2 was a bit of a disappointment, but I’m still willing to see what book 3 holds…

GEMINI: A book that is cheeky, quippy, and witty

The Punch by Noah Hawley, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

The Punch CRACKED ME UP. It’s such a shame that I haven’t been able to dig up any of the quotes online, because there’s plenty of witty and hilarious quotes in this one.

CANCER: A bittersweet book that spoke to your sensitive heart

Amazon.com: To Be Taught, If Fortunate eBook: Chambers, Becky: Kindle Store

I recently read To Be Taught, if Fortunate and it was such a tender and bittersweet piece of quiet sci-fi.

LEO: A book with drama, love, fancy wear, and hope

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

[EXCITED LEO NOISES INTENSIFY]

A mix of lush fantasy and historical fiction, The Kingdom of Back is one of my favorite of Marie Lu’s novels. I’m so glad I bought a copy!

VIRGO: A tender story of self-love, self-determination, self-discovery, perseverance, romance, friendship, and family

Amazon.com: Sparrow (9781338032581): Moon, Sarah: Books

Sparrow was a novel that resonated with me so much, with themes of outsiderness, sensitivity, and finding your people. HIGHLY recommended!

LIBRA: A book that has a remarkably refreshing and frank outlook on life. One of the realest books you’ve ever read.

Amazon.com: Fox 8: A Story (9781984818027): Saunders, George, Cardinal,  Chelsea: Books

Fox 8 GUTTED me. Short and tender, but also a tragic reminder of how much humans can suck sometimes.

SCORPIO: A book with a good plot twist. A book that is psychologically thrilling and emotionally chilling, and haunted you from the first page to the last.

Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

To this day, I still kind of go into shock whenever I think of the plot twist that came hurtling at us out of left field from Dare Mighty Things.

SAGITTARIUS: An adventurous, summer read

Amazon.com: Skyhunter (Skyhunter Duology, 1) (9781250221681): Lu, Marie:  Books

Back at it again with more Marie Lu…

Anyway, I didn’t read Skyhunter during the summer, but it’s such a lovely adventure, and it got me through a really hard time in my life. I’ll always be grateful for this one.

CAPRICORN: A book that has everything to do with friendship

Lifel1k3 (Lifelike) - Jay Kristoff - 9781760295691 - Allen & Unwin -  Australia

Even though some of the friendships in LIFEL1K3 don’t necessarily end well, they’re still so warm and tender while they last.

AQUARIUS: A quirky and unique book

Text Publishing — The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, book by Elisabeth

Who knew that I’d fall in love with a nonfiction book about a bedridden woman and the snail that kept her company…that’s The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, I guess.

PISCES: A book that bewitched and enchanted you with its lyrical words, and transmuted your imaginative mind

Amazon.com: Wild Beauty: A Novel (9781250124555): McLemore, Anna-Marie:  Books

I could have put any of Anna-Marie McLemore’s novels on here because they’re all so beautifully written, but Wild Beauty was the novel that made me fall in love with their lyrical prose.

I TAG:

The Ridiculous Genius of Co-star – Words by Emily

I’ll probably do the music tag sometime over break, but we’ll see…

Today’s song:

The melody reminds me of “All the Umbrellas in London” by the Magnetic Fields…🥺

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

Posted in Book Tags

2020 Book Tag

Hi again, bibliophiles! I’m back, from the looks of it!

Finals week was this week, and even though I still have one final left to go before the semester ends [trembles in fear at the thought of my AP Bio final], I only have one final to study for as opposed to, well, y’know, four. So that allows me to get back on my normal blogging schedule, because my break starts next Tuesday! So here I am.

Anyway, this tag was originally created by Phoenix @ Book with Wings. It looked super fun and creative, so I had to give it a go! (And if you don’t follow Phoenix already, I suggest that you do!)

Here are the rules for this book tag:

  • Link back to the original creator, Phoenix @Books With Wings
  • Thank the person who tagged you
  • Answer all the questions 
  • Tag at least 4 people
  • At the bottom, talk about some other books you read in 2020! (this isn’t required, just suggested!)

Please note: Just because this is a book tag about 2020, the books you talk about do not have to have been read by you in 2020

Let’s begin, shall we?

John Oliver Faces Off With Adam Driver And Takes Vengeance Upon 2020

PART ONE: BEGINNING OF THE YEAR

  1. A book you were really excited for
Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle, #2) by Amie Kaufman

Aurora Burning, of course! Unlike this year, luckily, this was an amazing sequel.

2. A book that started out really well

Amazon.com: Elatsoe (9781646140053): Little Badger, Darcie, Cai, Rovina:  Books

I got Elatsoe as an eARC over the summer, and even though there was a lull in the middle, it had a great beginning and ending.

PART TWO: THE WORLD GOES ON HOLD

3. A book that had an unexpected plot twist

Dare Mighty Things (Dare Mighty Things, #1) by Heather Kaczynski

Dare Mighty Things definitely had a shocker of an ending. I’d highly recommend this one!

4. A book where you felt like nothing happened

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick: 9780345404473 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

Okay, unpopular opinion time: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was PAINFULLY boring–even more so than Blade Runner, which is really saying something. I guess Philip K. Dick just really isn’t my thing, but I stand by my opinion that hardly anything happened.

5. A book where two main characters were separated

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

Everybody got split up in Blood & Honey, but neither of the subplots seemed to accomplish much…[pained sigh]

PART THREE: THE WORLD TRIES TO REOPEN (AND BEGINS A SECOND WAVE OF THE PANDEMIC)

6. A book in which the characters made a bad decision

Amazon.com: The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life (9781772601213): Jansen,  Dani: Books

The Year Shakespeare Ruined my Life was another eARC I got this year. I didn’t like it all that much, and most of my low rating could be chalked up to how self-destructive Alison was.

7. A book with an impatient/overly eager character

In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

In Other Lands was a DNF for me, and a lot of that ended up being because Elliott SERIOUSLY got on my nerves.

PART FOUR: THE WORLD ADJUSTS (SORT OF)

8. A book in which the character’s goals change midway

Amazon.com: On a Sunbeam (9781250178138): Walden, Tillie: Books

Ooh, this was a hard question…

I guess On a Sunbeam would work? I suppose Mia goes from wanting to reunite with Grace to wanting to rescue her.

PART FIVE: THE END & LOOKING FORWARDS

9. A book whose sequel you really anticipated/are anticipating

Amazon.com: TRUEL1F3 (Truelife) (LIFEL1K3) (9781524714000): Kristoff, Jay:  Books

TRUEL1F3 was one of my most anticipated releases this year, and I’m glad to say that it 110% delivered!

10. A book whose sequel was better than the original

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

Despite the average reviews it seems to be getting, How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge was even better than book 1! I loved them both, though. I’m thinking of doing a review of the whole Thorne Chronicles duology next week, so stay tuned…

11. A book you read just to finish it (didn’t like it but wanted to finish anyway)

Amazon.com: Kingdom of Souls (9780062870957): Barron, Rena: Books

It really pains me to say it, but Kingdom of Souls was really a chore to read. Maybe my expectations were too high, but it felt like hardly anything happened.

I don’t think I’ll put it here, but if we’re talking about 2020 reads, I’ll just say this: I’m planning on doing a post on my 5-star reads of 2020 near the end of the month, so stay tuned!

I TAG:

2020 GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Today’s song:

Why yes, I have been watching The Queen’s Gambit, why do you ask? (UNPOPULAR OPINION: for me, the show is super overrated so far. Everything feels so flat and forced, I’m really struggling to see the appeal. At least Anya Taylor Joy is lovely.)

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

Posted in Books

YA Reads for Asexual Awareness Week

Hi again, bibliophiles!

I’m so glad that we have a snow day…I was trying to find a good day to fit this post in, and now we have the perfect opportunity!

As some of you know, this week, October 25-31, is Asexual Awareness Week, or Ace Week for short! The whole week is meant to celebrate everyone on the asexual spectrum (asexual, aromantic, demisexual, and more) and spread awareness about the community. All too often, this community is unjustly discriminated against, even in LGBTQ+ spaces, which never fails to break my heart. Well, if I haven’t made myself clear enough, I’ll just go out here and say that everybody on the asexual spectrum is so loved, so valid, and so beautiful!

For more information about all this, check out the official website for Ace Week!

Positive Love GIF - Positive Love Asexual - Discover & Share GIFs

So for the occasion, I decided to compile a list of YA books with characters all over the asexual spectrum–among them on this list are characters who are asexual, demisexual, aromantic, and more. Thing is, SHAME ON ME FOR NOT READING ENOUGH ASPEC LITERATURE. I try my best to, and I found some examples, but not enough ones that I’ve actually read to make a substantial list. So, the first half of this post is ace books that I’ve read, and the other half is ace books that are on my TBR.

Let’s begin, shall we?

THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA READS FOR ASEXUAL AWARENESS WEEK

BOOKS THAT I’VE READ:

The Sound of Stars, Alechia Dow

Amazon.com: The Sound of Stars (9781335911551): Dow, Alechia: Books

GENRE: Science fiction, dystopia, romance

REPRESENTATION: Ellie (protagonist) is demisexual and biromantic, in a straight-passing relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Sound of Stars is one of my favorite reads of this year–POC/LGBTQ+ representation, lots of references to YA literature and music, and fighting against the patriarchy!

Elatsoe, Darcie Little Badger

Amazon.com: Elatsoe eBook: Little Badger, Darcie, Cai, Rovina: Kindle Store

GENRES: Fantasy, mystery, paranormal

REPRESENTATION: Elatsoe (protagonist) is asexual

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’m so lucky to have gotten an eARC of this one over the summer. Besides having great asexual representation, the author is Lipan Apache, and so is Elatsoe! A wonderful paranormal murder mystery with lots of lovely ghost critters.

Sawkill Girls, Claire Legrand

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

GENRES: Horror, paranormal, fantasy

REPRESENTATION: Zoey (one of three protagonists with alternating POVs) is asexual

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Another five-star read of mine this year. There’s no shortage of great LGBTQ+ representation from this one; beyond Zoey’s asexuality, and the other two protagonists (Val and Marion) end up being in a wlw relationship.

Tarnished Are the Stars, Rosiee Thor

Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor

GENRES: Science fiction, fantasy, romance

REPRESENTATION: Nathaniel (one of two protagonists with alternating POVs) is aromantic/asexual

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Another lovely sci-fi with a bluish purple color scheme on the cover! There’s a beautiful scene where Nathaniel discovers his identity, and it’s so tenderly beautiful. Plus, there’s a wlw relationship between the other protagonist (Anna) and another secondary character as well!

Radio Silence, Alice Oseman

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

GENRES: Contemporary, fiction

REPRESENTATION: Aled (not the main character, but plays a central part in the story) is asexual

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I just finished this one up on Sunday night. It’s a rough ride, to be sure, but it’s a powerful novel.

And look at this adorable character art by the author, Alice Oseman!

Alice Oseman on Twitter: "with minutes to spare, here's a final Pride Month  drawing - the Radio Silence five at Pride together! Daniel wasn't sure  whether he wanted to go because he

Dare Mighty Things, Heather Kaczynski

Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski – quirkyandpeculiar

GENRES: Science fiction

REPRESENTATION: Cassandra, the protagonist, is asexual

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25

A tense, thrilling and diverse sci-fi that will have you on the edge of your seat!

BOOKS ON MY TBR:

Loveless, Alice Oseman

Loveless by Alice Oseman

GENRES: Contemporary, fiction

REPRESENTATION: Georgia, the protagonist, is aromantic/asexual

(Sidenote: why does “aromantic” keep autocorrecting to either “romantic” or “aromatic?” The audacity…)

I’ve had most of Oseman’s novels on my TBR for quite a while (Radio Silence was my first exposure), and this sounds like a lovely aro-ace coming of age story!

Beyond the Black Door, A.M. Strickland

Amazon.com: Beyond the Black Door (9781250198747): Strickland, A.M.: Books

GENRES: High fantasy, romance

REPRESENTATION: Kamai, the protagonist, is biromantic/asexual

I have this one on hold at the library, and it should be coming soon…🤞

Royal Rescue, A. Alex Logan

Royal Rescue by A. Alex Logan

GENRES: High fantasy, romance

REPRESENTATION: Gerald (protagonist) is aromantic/asexual

I’ve been meaning to read this for a while, and it sounds like a great LGBTQ+ fantasy! And while I’m on the subject of this book, I’ll direct you to Alex Logan’s amazing blog, Almost, Almost, where they review LGBTQ+ books of all kinds!

Summer Bird Blue, Akemi Dawn Bowman

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

GENRES: Contemporary, fiction

REPRESENTATION: Rumi (protagonist) is aromantic/asexual

I read one of Bowman’s other novels, Starfish, a few years back and I remember it being powerful, so I hope that this one might be even better!

Daughter of the Burning City, Amanda Foody

Amazon.com: Daughter of the Burning City (9780373212439): Foody, Amanda:  Books

GENRES: High fantasy, mystery

REPRESENTATION: Luca (secondary character who is supposed to play a major role) is demiromantic/asexual

I put this on my TBR over the summer and completely forgot about it, so hopefully I can read it soon…

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these novels? What are your thoughts? Any other books with ace rep that you recommend?

Overwatch Pride Flag Icon Requests 🏳️‍🌈 | Wiki | Overwatch Amino

Oh, and one more thing: I just found out a few hours ago that today is also Intersex Awareness Day! I hardly see any intersex rep in literature, so if any of you have good intersex book recs, don’t hesitate to tell me about them in the comments!

Intersex Pride Heart Gif - Album on Imgur

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

That’s it for these ace week recommendations! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Books, Top 5 Saturday

Top 5 Saturday (6/27/20)–Books with Morally Grey Characters 🌫

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 have morally gray characters. This one was a bit harder than the rest–I’m trawling my brain for all the antihero-ish books I can think of…

UPCOMING SCHEDULE: 

6/6/20 — Books Set Near/On the Sea

6/13/20 — Books with One Word Titles

6/20/20 — Books You’d Give a Second Chance

6/27/20 —  Books with Morally Grey Characters

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 (6/27/20)–BOOKS WITH MORALLY GREY CHARACTERS

The Young Elites, Marie Lu

The Young Elites (Young Elites Series #1) by Marie Lu, Paperback ...

My favorite of Marie Lu’s works has morally gray all over the place…and maybe not so gray in many others…

Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein

Stranger in a Strange Land: Heinlein, Robert A.: 9781442005839 ...

There’s always the possibility for moral grayness when you’ve got a naïve extraterrestrial who has powers beyond imagining, but has no idea of the consequences…(oh, and goes and forms his own religion, as one does…[ahem])

Scythe, Neal Shusterman

Scythe (Barnes & Noble YA Book Club Edition) (Arc of a Scythe ...

Now THIS series is just CRAWLING with moral grayness…part of what makes it such a memorable series, really. Scythe truly makes you think.

The Final Six, Alexandra Monir

The Final Six | Alexandra Monir

The morally gray aspects are more expanded on book 2, but The Final Six certainly has a prominent, well-done series of subplot that explores the motives of the different parties involved.

One Giant Leap (Dare Mighty Things, #2), Heather Kaczynski

Amazon.com: One Giant Leap (9780062479907): Kaczynski, Heather: Books

As with The Final Six, there’s a significant exploration of moral grayness in book 2 (here); it’s one of the highlights of the book for me–it encourages the reader to think about the different sides of war, and whether or not there is truly a “good”/”bad” side, and that there may be neither hero or villain in the conflict.

I TAG ANYONE WHO WANTS TO PARTICIPATE!

Go Ahead Go On GIF - GoAhead Go GoOn - Discover & Share GIFs

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Book Tags, Books

Six of Crows Book Tag

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Hi again, bibliophiles!

I figured that today would be a good day for a tag, and in lieu of the announcement that the Netflix Shadow and Bone/Six of Crows show has wrapped up filming, I figured this one would be fun to do. (I’m kind of scared for how the show will turn out, because some of the Grishaverse books are kind of my babies, but that’s a story for another time). I found this tag over at SMELLFOY CAN READ?

Since I should probably give this post a little pizzazz, here’s some Six of Crows art from one of my favorite comic artists/book cover artists, Kevin Wada. (Same guy who drew the covers for Carry On and Wayward Son, actually!)

Image result for six of crows kevin wada

Let’s begin, shall we?

 

The Thief • Kaz Brekker: A Layered or Complex Character

One of my first thoughts here was Art from Like a Love StoryDefinitely someone who presents a tough exterior, but is deeply wounded on the inside.

Image result for like a love story

 

The Wraith • Inej Ghafa: A Book With a Twist You Didn’t See Coming 

Without question, the end of ThunderheadThe ending came out of nowhere…I think I still bear the scars from having to wait almost two years to see how it all turned out…

Image result for thunderhead neal shusterman

 

The Sharpshooter • Jesper Fahey: An Author that Never Misses the Mark

Though I haven’t read any of his adult works, Jay Kristoff has never disappointed me. With his signature wit and heartrending writing, I’ve never read any book by him that I didn’t like.

 

The Heartrender • Nina Zenik: A Book that Broke your Heart or Gave you All the Feels

There’s a long list, and since I’ve already spoken about the aftereffects of A Monster CallsI’d have to say To Kill a MockingbirdFeels were had. Tears were shed.

Image result for to kill a mockingbird

 

The Convict • Matthias Helvar: A Character Caught Between Two Worlds

My first thought here was Abe Sapien from the Hellboy and B.P.R.D. comics. I mean…the guy’s amphibious…talk about being literally and figuratively being caught between two worlds…

Image result for abe sapien the drowning

 

The Explosives Expert • Wylan Van Eck: A Book that Went Out with a Bang or a Cliffhanger 

Yikes, can I put Thunderhead on here twice?

Just kidding. Dare Mighty Things certainly ended with a bang AND a major cliffhanger. Talk about another ending that absolutely wrecked me.

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I tag any fellow Six of Crows fans who’d like to participate!

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Since I’ve posted twice today, head over to this week’s Book Review Tuesday  for even more Radiohead  today’s song.

That just about wraps up this tag! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Book Tags, Books

What Cats Do Book Tag

book tags header.jpeg

Hey there, bibliophiles!

As you can all probably guess from my icon, I love cats, and this tag instantly caught my eye! I found this on Time for Tales and Tea, and the tag was originally created by Kate@ meltingpotsandothercalamities.

First off, I’ve seen most other people who’ve participated put in some pictures of their cats, so I thought it would be fitting to put mine in here as well.

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This is Padmé; she’s incredibly chatty, and has an affinity for clinging to people’s left shoulders. Doesn’t matter who’s shoulder it is, so long as it’s the left shoulder. Don’t question her.

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Here’s Anakin, Padmé’s younger cousin. He and Padmé are inseparable. He’s also an itty bitty little cat, even at about 11 years old.

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Finally, here’s Hobbes, the newest of the bunch. Most of the time, she acts too dignified to be petted, but when she’s affectionate, she’s the sweetest little cat around. (In fact, she’s sleeping right above me as I write this out.)

Now, onto the tag…

RULES: 

 

PURR – As cats do this when they’re happy or relaxed, what is the book that makes you happiest or relaxed?

Image result for pumpkinheads

Pumpkinheads never fails to give me all the warm and fuzzy feels, no matter how I’m feeling.

SLEEP – What is a book that put you to sleep or was just boring?

Image result for the light between worlds book

Though the cover was deceptively gorgeous, The Light Between Worlds very nearly put me to sleep.

TWITCH WHILE DREAMING – Have you ever dreamt of a book you read?

Image result for the search for wondla cover

An after-product of having read this innumerable times (“I lost count at 50,” as I used to say), I’ve definitely dreamt about The Search for WondLa series more than one time.

SEEMS TO PLAY NICE UNTIL THE CLAWS ARE OUT – Which book had the biggest plot twist(s)?

Image result for dare mighty things

As far as Dare Mighty Things goes…two words: Brace yourself.

CUDDLES – Which book character would you give a hug to?

Image result for the smoke thieves fan art

Without question, March from the Smoke Thieves duology. After all that he’s been through, he’s fully deserving of it. 💖

CAT BREEDS – What are your favorite books?

Frankensteinthe Arc of a Scythe trilogy, the Heart of Iron duology, anything by Ray Bradbury, and Like a Love Storyto name a few.

GETTING THE CAT – How did you find your favorite book(s)?

Most of my favorite books have been recommendations from Goodreads, but just as often, I’ll find them hidden between the shelves in libraries or advertised in the back of other books.

Image result for it varies from moment to moment gif

THE VET’S OFFICE – Your least favorite book:

I know I’ve talked ranted about Smokeless Fire, Red Queenand The Witch of Blackbird Pond innumerable times, and I don’t wish to be redundant, so I’ll try out one of my much-loathed DNFs…

Image result for earth girl janet edwards

OH. OH. I forgot this book existed for a minute there…

YIKES. The corny names. The cringy, fake slang. The timeline. God, Earth Girl really was something of a train wreck…

BEING IN PLACES THEY SHOULDN’T – Least favorite cliché:

If I had to pick…most definitely love triangles. Much of the time, they only serve to muddy the existing plot with unnecessary angst and bickering. I won’t be sad to see them phase out of YA literature. I sure hope they do.

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THE GOOD OLD CARDBOARD BOX – Most underrated book series?

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AAH! Without question, the Faloiv series! (consisting of A Conspiracy of Stars and An Anatomy of Beasts) I doubt I’ll ever find another series with this amount of attention to detail in the worldbuilding.

 

I tag anyone who wants to participate! 

Image result for do it palpatine gif

 

Today’s song:

 

That just about wraps up this tag! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (2/18/20)–One Giant Leap (Dare Mighty Things, #2)

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Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Ever since I finished up Dare Mighty Things about a year ago, I’ve been absolutely ITCHING to read the sequel. I’m excited to say that One Giant Leap was almost better than its predecessor, delving deeper into complex themes while still retaining everything that made book 1 so spectacular.

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Dare Mighty Things, so if you haven’t read it (and plan to), I suggest you turn away right now. In the meantime, click here for my review of book 1! 

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Enjoy this week’s review!

 

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One Giant Leap (Dare Mighty Things, #2)

The competition that landed Cassandra Gupta on an exclusive mission into the vast reaches of space is finally behind her. But before her is an extensive mass of trouble.

What appeared to be a mission to explore extraterrestrial life on other worlds turns out to be humanity’s entrance into an intergalactic war. Luka, the one other cadet chosen to accompany the more experienced astronauts on the mission, is not who he seems: he is one of the few, extraterrestrial survivors of an unprecedented, near-extinction attack on his species. Now, Cassandra and the others must grapple with their newfound truths, and take action against the vrag, the perpetrators of this intergalactic war. But is it all so black and white?

 

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After the absolute whopper of a cliffhanger that Dare Mighty Things left us on, One Giant Leap was a smooth transition into an entirely new novel. Kaczynski dealt with a wildly different subject matter, and her storytelling proved to be just as deft–if not more so–that the previous novel.

Cassandra and Luka had the best chemistry, and I immensely enjoyed spending more time with them. Plus, I’m all for male-female friendships that don’t automatically end in romance. Cassandra’s asexual, anyway, and though they only touched on this in book 1, I’m still giddy about that representation. 🏳️‍🌈

Kaczynski’s handling with the aliens was equally deft. I was worried at first, because we’ve stumbled onto yet another trope that I positively despise in YA sci-fi…aliens that look exactly like humans, but with a few minor changes in eye color/powers that make them oh-so-special.

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I was so afraid that One Giant Leap had fallen into this trap, but Kaczynski explains it an inventive way: Luka’s species (I forget what they’re called, though I believe it started with an ‘M’…oops…) gave themselves genetic modifications in order to blend in with humans on Earth, and therefore look just like them. (Permanently.) So thank you for that reprieve, Mrs. Kaczynski! The vrag as well were very well designed, making for some stunning and gorgeous imagery that I might just want to draw. I’ll get back to you all on that one.

Beyond that, One Giant Leap explored the theme of the gray areas that exist during war; in this instance, both species had their reasons for going to war with one another, and one had trouble grappling with who was the “hero” and who was the “villain”. And truly, that’s how things are in real life; as my teachers have said countless times during my various history classes, history is written by the victors of these wars, and therefore, they’re painted as heroes. The losers might have equally reasonable motives, and have gone to similar lengths to get their way. And in reality, there are no clear heroes and villains. So kudos to Kaczynski for tackling this subject matter.

If nothing else, come for the POC/LGBTQ+ representation, stay for the aliens in book 2. All in all, an incredibly satisfying end to a masterful duology. 4.5 stars for this one. 

 

Today’s song:

I watched The Life of Brian on Sunday night, and it was an absolute RIOT. This song’s been stuck in my head ever since. Easily the best end to a film in cinematic history.

 

That just about wraps up this review! Have a lovely day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Books, Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: February 3-9, 2020

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Happy Sunday, bibliophiles!

It’s been an interesting week, to be sure. We got DUMPED with snow here, and we had a 2-hour delay AND a snow day, all in the same week. WHOA.

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I finally finished up the Watchmen TV series (AAAAA), got through a much better library haul than last week, saw Birds of Prey last night (super fun!), got to a really fun spot in my main WIP (almost 70 pages now), and as a result of all the snow delays, got to post a lot more! Pretty good week, I’d say.

 

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: 

The Order of Odd-Fish–James Kennedy (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

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Kiss Number 8–Colleen A.F. Venable and Ellen T. Crenshaw (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

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One Giant Leap (Dare Mighty Things, #2)–Heather Kaczynski (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

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Lizard Radio–Pat Schmatz (⭐️⭐️)

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POSTS AND SUCH: 

 

SONGS: 

 

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

You in Five Acts-Una LaMarche

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All the Impossible Things–Lindsay Lackey

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Nights at the Circus–Angela Carter

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Roar–Cora Carmack

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Rogue Princess–B.R. Myers

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Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, vol. 2–Hayao Miyazaki

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Today’s song:

 

 

That just about wraps up this week in blogging! Have a great rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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