Posted in Book Tags

Cozy Fall Book Tag 🍁

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

I haven’t done a book tag in quite a while, and I figured I’d do one since I’m on fall break! I found this one over at Brianna’s Books and Randomness, and the tag was originally created by The Book Belle on BookTube. I love fall, so this is the perfect tag…

Let’s begin, shall we?

ANIME — ANIME SEASONS: Fall/Autumn 🍁

🍁COZY FALL BOOK TAG🍁

What book always reminds you of fall/autumn?

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

I read The Bone Houses last fall, and it’s the perfect atmospheric book for this season!

What is your favorite autumnal book cover?

Kingsbane (Empirium, #2) by Claire Legrand

Kingsbane (book 2 in the Empyrium trilogy) has some lovely autumnal colors.

What is your favorite autumnal drink to read with?

Chris Helmsworth GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

I don’t habitually drink while I read, but I can’t say no to drinking some hot cinnamon spice tea while reading.

Do you prefer to read early in the morning or late at night?

Loki Thor Ragnarok GIF - Loki Thor Ragnarok Laufey Son - Discover & Share  GIFs
oop here I go dumping in all the MCU gifs

…uh, both? It depends on the day, really. My internal clock usually wakes me up at about 7 am on the weekends (much to my dismay), so I sometimes read then, if I don’t fall back asleep first. I like to read before bed as well. Both is good.

Halloween is coming! What’s your favorite spooky read?

The anatomy of Frankenstein book covers

Can’t go wrong with Frankenstein, the original spooky read!

What is the ultimate comfort read for you?

Aurora Rising: Amie Kaufman,Jay Kristoff: 9781786075338: Amazon.com: Books

I know I talk about Aurora Rising in almost every single tag I do, but this book really does have such a special place in my heart. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, what with book 3 coming out in about a month…

What is your favorite fall reading snack?

Boo! Bulldog's Top Halloween Candy of 2019 - bulldog yoga

I wouldn’t necessarily call it a reading snack, but believe me when I say that all of my impulse control goes out the window whenever I’m near a bag of candy corns.

What is your favorite autumnal candle to burn whilst reading?

Beautiful Candle Animated Gif Pics - Best Animations

I don’t usually burn a whole lot of candles, but we have a whole bunch of decorative candles from my family’s Halloween decorations that are scattered around the house. They’re pretty cute.

When you’re not reading, what’s your favorite fall activity?

Normal is an illusion." | Autumn scenes, Autumn tumblr, Autumn cozy

Watching Tim Burton movies, taking pictures of the turning leaves, and curling up with a blanket and whatever TV show I happen to be watching at the moment.

What’s on your fall reading list?

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

Um? I never really do concrete reading lists, but I just got A Gathering of Shadows from my school library because I LOVED book 1. This will probably be my next read.

I TAG:

Autumn Aesthetic GIF - Autumn Aesthetic - Discover & Share GIFs

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Books

Popular YA Books I Couldn’t Get on Board With

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

I’ve been wanting to do a post like this for a little while, so here goes nothing…

We all know the feeling. We’ve picked up a book because of the seemingly endless 4 and 5 star reviews and the high praise from friends and fellow readers and book bloggers, and then it turns out to be a steaming disappointment. For me, popular YA books live up to the hype about 50% of the time for me, and the other 50% is either just…not feeling anything from it, or not liking it at all. And there’s plenty of hyped books that I’ve loved! But sometimes, a lot of these books just haven’t worked for me.

And before I start, I just wanted to say this – if you liked any of these books, this post isn’t meant to shame anybody’s reading preferences at all. If you liked them, good for you! These are just my opinions here, and as per the Latin proverb, to each, their own is beautiful. I just wasn’t a fan of these books.

Let’s begin, shall we?

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

😕POPULAR YA BOOKS I COULDN’T GET ON BOARD WITH😕

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1) – Victoria Aveyard

Amazon.com: Red Queen (Red Queen, 1) (9780062310644): Aveyard, Victoria:  Books

MY RATING: ⭐️ (DNF)

It’s been about three years since I’ve read this one, but it was a pretty quick DNF for me. Red Queen felt like every bad YA trope melted into a single book – an unoriginal dystopian world with the “plain heroine that doesn’t realize how beautiful she is and is THE CHOSEN ONE” and gets into an insta-love romance…gah, I forget how long it took before I put it down, but this was just painful.

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1) – Holly Black

Amazon.com: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, 1) (9780316310314):  Black, Holly: Books

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️

Holly Black is a hit-or-miss author for me, but The Cruel Prince definitely fell among the misses for me. The worldbuilding was great here (and I loved the little ink drawings at the beginnings of the chapters!), but all of the characters were astronomically unlikable. Everybody just seemed intent on bullying and backstabbing everybody else, and there wasn’t any balance with a character with a slightly better moral compass. And don’t get me started on Jude and Cardan being a thing…WHY? If I remember correctly, Cardan spends about 3/4 of the book relentlessly degrading Jude, and then gets down on his knees and tells her that he loves her…HUH?

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HOW MUCH MORE TOXIC CAN YOU GET? And somehow, Cardan’s up there with Kaz Brekker and that dude from ACOTAR (I don’t remember his name, I haven’t read the books and don’t intend to) with the brooding YA dudes that everybody fawns over? Makes me lose a little faith in humanity sometimes…

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1) – Sarah J. Maas

Amazon.com: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, 1) (9781599906959): Maas,  Sarah J.: Books

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️

Here’s one that everybody recommended to me…should of listened to that guy in my class in middle school who did a book report on this one and didn’t like it

Okay. Maybe this one’s a little skewed. I read most of Throne of Glass when I was home sick with a stomachache, but even then, I think I wouldn’t have been a fan. The ✨fantasy names✨ were a pain to pronounce, Calaena came off as a very static character with very little development, if any, and everything seemed to worked out a little *too* well for her in the end. The worldbuilding was interesting, though. I guess. Probably not gonna pick this one up, but I don’t think I’ll go for ACOTAR or Crescent City either. Meh.

Spinning Silver – Naomi Novik

Amazon.com: Spinning Silver: A Novel (9780399180989): Novik, Naomi: Books

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️

My main problem was the same one I had with The Cruel Prince – the toxicity of the main relationship. Mirnatius spends about 3/4 of the book being borderline abusive towards Miryem, and then, ✨poof!✨ Happy relationship!

Schitts Creek Excuse Me GIF - SchittsCreek ExcuseMe WeekendVibe - Discover  & Share GIFs | Funny relatable memes, Schitts creek, Relatable

Yeah, no, that’s just weird. Also, wasn’t there a significant age gap between the two of them? Final nail in the coffin, really…

All the Stars and Teeth – Adalyn Grace

Buy All the Stars and Teeth: 1 (All the Stars and Teeth Duology, 1) Book  Online at Low Prices in India | All the Stars and Teeth: 1 (All the Stars  and

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️

This one lured me in with a gorgeous cover and the promise of mermaids, and…well, we got a mermaid, but the rest of the book didn’t make up for it.

All the Stars and Teeth felt very formulaic for me, right down to the conveniently-placed puppet show to explain the worldbuilding. We’ve got a protagonist with dangerous magic, the mysterious love interest…it just felt like every other YA fantasy in the last few years. Not much to distinguish it from the others, if anything at all.

Cinderella is Dead – Kalynn Barron

Amazon.com: Cinderella Is Dead (9781547603879): Bayron, Kalynn: Books

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️.5

Out of all of the books here, Cinderella is Dead is probably the one that I had the highest expectations for. I mean, what could possibly go wrong with a book with a sapphic, POC lead taking down the patriarchy in a world sculpted from the myth of Cinderella?

…several things, as it turned out.

I found the worldbuilding to be full of holes, none of the characters were very distinct, the villain was an irredeemable caricature, and all of the attempts commentary on abuse and misogyny and such relied way too much on telling, as opposed to showing. For me Cinderella is Dead was just a case of a great idea, but poor execution. Shame…

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A Curse so Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers, #1) – Brigid Kemmerer

Amazon.com: A Curse So Dark and Lonely (The Cursebreaker Series)  (9781681195087): Kemmerer, Brigid: Books

MY RATING: ⭐️ (DNF)

This one was another DNF for me about two years ago. I still really appreciate that Kemmerer chose to have a disabled character at the forefront of a YA fantasy (Harper has cerebral palsy – not sure how accurate the rep is, though), but otherwise…meh. On top of the obvious attempt to make this Beauty and the Beast retelling as Dark And Gritty™️ as possible, the love triangle (and both love interests, if memory serves) put me off in the end.

Storm and Fury (The Harbinger, #1) – Jennifer L. Armentrout

Storm and Fury (The Harbinger Series Book 1)- Buy Online in Antigua and  Barbuda at antigua.desertcart.com. ProductId : 134271270.

MY RATING: ⭐️ (DNF)

Ugh, this one was a mess…

This was my first exposure to Jennifer L. Armentrout, and I don’t think I’ll be reading anything of hers after this. Again, this falls into almost every YA trope that I hate – the Chosen One who is so very clearly Not Like Other Girls, the Sarcastic Bad Boy Love Interest (Zayne still makes me squirm)…I forget where I DNF’d this one, but I just could not take another page. Yikes.

Instant Karma – Marissa Meyer

Amazon.com: Instant Karma (9781250618818): Meyer, Marissa: Books

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️

Instant Karma was a sore disappointment…I’ve loved almost everything else of Marissa Meyer’s, but I just didn’t click with this one. I loved the premise of a magical-realism rom-com and all of the Beatles references were great, but Pru really got on my nerves, and the romance never made me feel anything.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What were your thoughts on these books? What’s a popular YA book that you didn’t like?

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Today’s song:

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (5/25/21) – Summer Bird Blue

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles! Hope you’re all doing okay. I’m finally having a little peace after this awful school year…I still have one more day left, BUT I’M FINALLY DONE WITH PRECALC! MY SOUL IS NO LONGER BEING ACTIVELY CRUSHED!

[ahem] anyway

This book was been on my TBR since the dawn of time, added soon after I finished Bowman’s debut, Starfish. I finally got around to picking it up at the library recently, and I’m so glad I did! An immensely powerful portrait of sisterhood, grief, and music.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: Summer Bird Blue (9781481487757): Bowman, Akemi Dawn: Books

Summer Bird Blue – Akemi Dawn Bowman

Music is everything to sisters Rumi and Lea, who write songs together based on spur-of-the-moment wordplay. But when Lea is killed in a car crash, Rumi’s life is upended completely. In a fit of grief, her mother sends her to Hawaii to live with her aunt, hoping that there, she’ll be able to process her emotions.

Instead, Rumi finds herself even more depressed than before, grappling with the absence of Lea and the waning of her creativity. But with the help of a few unexpected neighbors, Rumi begins to realize that her love of music – and the people around her – are the key to overcoming her great loss.

Tweet Roundup | The Most Wholesome Reasons I'm Not Crying, You're Crying |  Flight of the conchords, The wedding singer, Bones funny
me internally while reading this book

TW/CW: car crash, death, loss of loved one (sibling), panic attacks, near-death experiences (drowning)

GAH.

It’s been years since I read Starfish, but what I remembered most was the powerful gut feeling it stirred up in me. But reading Summer Bird Blue made me realize what a profound talent that Akemi Dawn Bowman has, and it’s proof that sometimes, books don’t just make you feel ordinary emotion. Sometimes they make you feel raw emotion right down to your core.

Fair warning: Summer Bird Blue is one of those books that you should probably be in a good and stable place mentally before reading. I probably couldn’t have read it myself at certain (recent) points in my life, so I’m glad I read it when I did. It’s heavy: it’ll make you hurt, it’ll make you feel low, but that’s exactly what grieving feels like. The best part of this novel may be how Bowman handles grief; it’s something that holds you in its jaws and won’t let go until it’s had its fill of you. Rumi’s struggles with coping with her younger sister’s death felt all too real, from the physical symptoms to the creeping self doubt about relationships with the deceased. It’s unflinching and it doesn’t hold back, but that completes the picture of not just Rumi’s grief, but the grief of so many others.

What also stood out to me was how well-executed Rumi was as a flawed character. Even though she’s lost her sister, you don’t feel 100% sympathetic for her – she’s selfish at time, has a tendency to lash out at those she loves, and is more than a bit lacking in the apologizing department. But having Rumi be a less-than-perfect person is part of what made her and her journey all the more authentic. She feels real, fleshed-out. And her representation is also great – not only is she biracial, but she’s aromantic-asexual as well! I don’t see a whole lot of asexuality represented in YA literature (though I’m steadily seeing it increasing), so it’s great to have characters like Rumi out there.

Rumi’s personal journey was nothing short of beautiful – character development at its finest. She experiments, she makes bad decisions, she tries new things, but ultimately discovers the healing power of creativity. For her, music was intrinsically tied to her sister, but creativity was, along with her newfound relationships, was what brought her out of the darkness. And I think that’s just lovely. We love our passions dearly, but we always underestimate their power to truly save us, and that’s what makes our passions our passions.

All in all, a raw and beautiful exploration of grief and healing 4 stars!

gif 1k mygifs beautiful water ocean tropical island hawaii clear water  carribean calming water gifs ocean gifs i-nfatuationnn •

Summer Bird Blue is a standalone, but Akemi Dawn Bowman is also the author of Starfish, Harley in the Sky, and The Infinity Courts; the first two are standalone novels, but The Infinity Courts is a trilogy, with the last two books slated for release in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

Today’s song:

woke up with this song in my head

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

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (2/22/21) – Sorrowland

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

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.

Here’s my final Goodreads Monday pick for Black History Month here in the U.S., as February is coming to a close. (Still can’t believe it’s almost March). At this point, I’ll read anything that Rivers Solomon writes, so this was a novel that I immediately added to my TBR when I found out about it!

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (2/22/21) – SORROWLAND by Rivers Solomon

Amazon.com: Sorrowland: A Novel (9780374266776): Solomon, Rivers: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

Vern – seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised – flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world.

But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman. Forced to fight back against the community that refuses to let her go, she unleashes incredible brutality far beyond what a person should be capable of, her body wracked by inexplicable and uncanny changes.

To understand her metamorphosis and to protect her small family, Vern has to face the past, and more troublingly, the future – outside the woods. Finding the truth will mean uncovering the secrets of the compound she fled but also the violent history in America that produced it.

Rivers Solomon’s Sorrowland is a genre-bending work of Gothic fiction. Here, monsters aren’t just individuals, but entire nations. It is a searing, seminal book that marks the arrival of a bold, unignorable voice in American fiction.

So why do I want to read this?

Gardens of the night GIFs - Get the best gif on GIFER

First off, THAT COVER! I just love the color scheme, the plants, the typeface…🥺

I started getting into Solomon’s novels last year. The Deep and An Unkindness of Ghosts were masterpieces, so of course I’m jumping at the chance to read something else that they’ve written! Their prose is consistently powerful, unique and gripping, and it’s clear that they’re a master storyteller.

The synopsis describes this one as gothic fiction, and I think Solomon’s writing style would translate perfectly into that kind of story! I’m always up for paranormal tales of the woods and strange monsters, and the fact that we’ll soon see Solomon’s take on it is so exciting for me!

Sorrowland is expected to come out this May, so I’ll see you all then…

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Today’s song:

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

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: January 25-31, 2021

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

The pseudo-almost-reading slump that I had last week started to continue into this week, but some of my library holds picked up significantly after that, as well as some of the holds that came in on my Kindle. Now I have my haul from my Christmas gift card to look forward to, and I’m so excited for that!

Outlining for the second draft of my sci-fi WIP has been pretty slow going, but I’d say that I’m making steady process. (The fact that I’ve had another light school week has certainly helped.) I left a whole bunch of comments during the initial edits I did on the first draft, and occasionally I’ll just find one that cracks me up.

Other than that, I drew a bit, caught up on WandaVision (OKAY EPISODE FOUR DEFINITELY PICKED UP), and watched The Hunt for the Wilderpeople with my family. The latter made me cry like a baby, but it was 100% worth it. Also, I’m learning “Quicksand” by David Bowie on the guitar 🥺 what a beautiful song

David bowie tv GIF - Find on GIFER

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Ruinsong–Julia Ember (⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Ruinsong (9780374313357): Ember, Julia: Books

Punching the Air–Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi

Lightbringer (Empirium, #3)–Claire Legrand (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)

Lightbringer (Empirium, #3) by Claire Legrand

Haunting the Deep (How to Hang a Witch, #2)–Adriana Mather (⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Haunting the Deep (9780553539516): Mather, Adriana: Books

I’m Thinking of Ending Things–Iain Reid (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)

I'm Thinking of Ending Things eBook by Iain Reid - 9781501126963 | Rakuten  Kobo United States

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Before the Fall–Noah Hawley

Amazon.com: Before the Fall eBook: Hawley, Noah: Kindle Store

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin–Roseanne A. Brown

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

The Conference of the Birds (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, #5)–Ransom Riggs

Amazon.com: The Conference of the Birds (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar  Children) (9780735231504): Riggs, Ransom: Books

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1)–Becky Chambers

Amazon.com: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, 1)  (9780062444134): Chambers, Becky: Books

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (1/26/21) – Cold Falling White (The Nahx Invasions, #2)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

After adoring Zero Repeat Forever last week, I knew I had to get my hands on the sequel. As luck would have it, book 2 was available at my library, and I was able to get it along with the rest of my library haul. But even though it was still entertaining, Cold Falling White lost the tender spark that made Zero Repeat Forever so memorable.

Now, TREAD LIGHTLY! This review may contain spoilers for book 1, Zero Repeat Forever!

For my review of book 1, click here!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: Cold Falling White (The Nahx Invasions Book 2) eBook:  Prendergast, G. S.: Kindle Store

Cold Falling White (The Nahx Invasions, #2)–G.S. Prendergast

Left for dead, Raven wakes up in an unfamiliar place in clothes that aren’t hers. And she’s not alone. Many of her friends from camp that had been killed by the Nahx are there, but they’re still alive. Aboard a Nahx ship, she must escape with her life, but she may discover secrets about these invaders of Earth. And above all, she must find August.

Xander believes that Raven, along with all of the former campers, is dead. On his own, he flees a refugee camp, only to find August, the Nahx who saved Raven’s life not long ago. Forming an uneasy alliance, the two connect with a rebellious faction of Nahx who may hold the keys to halting the ongoing invasion.

With the odds against them, these three must reunite or fall under Nahx rule.

Will-o'wisp | Will o the wisp, Creature concept art, Rise of the guardians

TW/CW: human experimentation, violence, loss of loved ones, mentions of freezing to death

What in the resurrection trope was this?

I’m glad that I read Zero Repeat Forever right before reading this, because otherwise, I would’ve been so lost. Come to think of it, I was still a bit lost through some of the book, but regardless, Cold Falling White was a rambling mess compared to its predecessor.

One of my main problems with this novel was the new POV. Xander was a character that I sort of liked in book 1; he didn’t bug me, but I didn’t get super attached to him. Having his POV in the book made almost no sense. Not only was his voice rather bland, his subplot dominated the other two POVs for no good reason. The only thing that connected his plot to the rest of the book was the eventual Nahx rebellion, and that part didn’t even come into play until the last half of the book. (For reference, this book is nearly 600 pages.) However, I will say that it’s cool that we have a queer Asian lead as one of the POVs. (Xander’s sexuality is never specified, from what I remember, but we see him in an mlm romance. The romantic subplot definitely felt shoehorned in, but hey, at least it’s decent rep.)

I really wish that Raven’s POV had a more prominent role; her chapters were often shorter than Xander’s, and we didn’t learn much from them. One of my complaints about Zero Repeat Forever that I forgot to mention in my review was that we really didn’t get any context/backstory for the Nahx and why they invaded. We got some interesting stuff on their culture/anatomy/physiology in Cold Falling White, but there’s still no reason given for why they invaded Earth in the first place, or why they started resurrecting and modifying humans at will. The tidbits that we got were interesting, I will say, but as a whole, it felt very rushed and full of holes. (I sort of liked Blue’s species…I forget what they’re called, the little alien will-o-the-wisp things?)

And even though we got some of his chapters in the latter half, I really missed August’s POV. However, somewhere down the line, all of the poetic tenderness and philosophical musings got lost, and I don’t know where they went. I’m not sure if Aurora (from Xander’s POVs, mostly) was an attempt at a female stand-in for him, and I liked her a little, but she just didn’t hit that tender spot like August did in book 1. All of the other rebel Nahx were kind of interchangeable, too. Sigh.

Best Fargo GIFs | Gfycat

That being said, Cold Falling White was still somewhat entertaining. It all went progressively downhill, but the writing was still good, and I liked the harsh setting of the Canadian wilderness. Plus, you’ll always get brownie points from me for peppering in lots of Frankenstein references. Like the Edgar Allan Poe in book 1, I liked how all that tied into the theme of the novel.

And all that for…such a weird cliffhanger? I was under the impression that this was a duology, so what was that all about? [confused screaming]

All in all, a sequel that retained good writing and imagery, but lacked in plot and worldbuilding. 3, sad little stars.

My Disappointment Is Immeasurable, And My Day Is Ruined HD 1080P GIF |  Gfycat

Cold Falling White is the second book in the Nahx Invasions duology, preceded by Zero Repeat Forever. G.S. Prendergast is also the author of the Ella series (Audacious and Capricious), as well as the middle grade novel Pandas on the Eastside.

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 Random

2020

Jenn's Pick: The Very Best of a Very Bad Year [Contributor: Jenn] ~ Just  About Write

A few months back, I was looking through my diary, and I stumbled upon an entry from around early December 2019. I was thinking about all of the movies that were (supposed to) come out this year, and I wrote something along the lines of “2020 is gonna be my year!”

Boy, I had no way of knowing how astronomically wrong I was about that.

But you’ve heard everyone say how unprecedented and generally awful this year was. And a lot of it sucked for me too–grieving, doing school online, general paranoia about the state of the world, and, well, the ongoing global pandemic. So I think we can all agree that 2020 definitely sucked on some level.

i can go lower - GIF on Imgur

But I’m not here to talk about all that. For even though this year was awful for everybody, there were still some bright spots. I read some amazing books, discovered new music, got introduced to some amazing movies, discovered my new favorite show (Fargo!), and I even finished the first drafts of not one, but two of my WIPs!

And in terms of this blog, it’s been a pretty good year, I’d say. This was my first full year doing this whole book blogging (mostly) thing semi-seriously, and now I’m almost at 350 followers! I started getting eARCs through Edelweiss as well, so that’s been an adventure. Along the way, I’ve found so many like-minded souls and discovered so many unique and wonderful blogs. So thank you all for helping me get through this trash fire of a year. Lots of love to all of you. 💗

Now, as with last year, I have a few new year’s resolutions for this blog:

  • I’m going to start putting trigger warnings/content warnings for the books I review. I really should’ve started this earlier, but I think it’s a great way to inform readers of what they’re in for, and if there’s certain elements that they would react negatively to. Again, should’ve started this earlier…whoops…
  • I might do monthly wrap-ups, probably starting at the end of January. I already do weekly updates, but I like the idea of compiling everything I’ve read in the span of a month sounds fun. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how much I actually read in the span of a month…

But other than that, you can probably expect what I usually do here. I’ll try to do more original posts soon (I have one planned, so stay tuned!), but I promise that this blog in 2021 will have lots of bookish (and non-bookish) content and more.

So let’s get through 2021 together. Good or bad, we can all support each other to move past the dumpster fire that this year was. Let’s better ourselves, be kind to others, spread all the love we can, and for the love of all that is holy, PLEASE JUST WEAR YOUR MASKS AND LISTEN TO THE SCIENTISTS. IT REALLY ISN’T THAT HARD.

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[ahem] anyway, I suppose this concludes 2020. We can do this, everybody. As always, lots of love. 💗

you'll be ok gif - Google Search

The final song of 2020:

That’s it for this year! (good riddance…)

As always, have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves. And a happy new year to all.

Posted in Books

YA Reads for Bisexual Visibility Week/Day 💗💜💙

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles, and more importantly, happy Bisexual Visibility Day!

Last week (September 15) was the start of Bisexual Visibility week, which blends with today (September 23), Bisexual Visibility Day. Even though we’ve made great steps as far as LGBTQ+ progress goes, there’s still a plethora of harmful stigmas surrounding bisexual people, and not to mention bisexual erasure in the media and elsewhere. But today is a day to celebrate bisexual love, and to remind ourselves and all our bi friends of this: you are loved, you are valid, and you are beautiful.

So today, I’ve compiled a list of books with bisexual protagonists! Sadly, I wasn’t able to find as many who had #OwnVoices bi authors, but I’m always striving to read and find more.

Let’s begin, shall we?

THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA READS FOR BISEXUAL VISIBILITY WEEK/DAY

Reign of the Fallen, Sarah Glenn Marsh

Amazon.com: Reign of the Fallen (9780448494395): Glenn Marsh, Sarah: Books

GENRE: High fantasy, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

There’s only one thing better than a bisexual protagonist…and that’s a bisexual protagonist who’s a necromancer! Reign of the Fallen will always have a special place in my heart, and I’ll always have a soft spot for Odessa.

The Scorpion Rules, Erin Bow

Amazon.com: The Scorpion Rules (Prisoners of Peace) (9781481442725): Bow,  Erin: Books

GENRE: Science fiction, dystopia, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This was one of my first quarantine reads, and not only is it an original, underrated dystopia, it’s by an #OwnVoices author!

They Both Die at the End, Adam Silvera

They Both Die At The End By Adam Silvera • Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews

GENRE: Contemporary, fiction, science fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

This one bleeds over from my list of Latinx YA reads last week–it’s so nice to see bi representation and a relationship from two Latinx boys!

Otherbound, Corinne Duyvis

Amazon.com: Otherbound (9781419716812): Duyvis, Corinne: Books

GENRE: Fantasy, science fiction, fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Not only do we have bisexual and lesbian characters by an #OwnVoices author, there’s great disability representation here as well!

Aurora Rising, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Amazon.com: Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle) (9781524720964): Kaufman,  Amie, Kristoff, Jay: Books

GENRE: Science fiction, space opera, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Speaking of sci-fi with both bisexual and disability rep…

There’s seven (later six) different POVs throughout this series, two of which are LGBTQ+; and Kaufman and Kristoff confirmed that Finian, one of these POVs, is bisexual! (And honestly? It’s perfect, he is absolutely the OG Disaster Bisexual…)

Queens of Geek, Jen Wilde

Amazon.com: Queens of Geek (9781250111395): Wilde, Jen: Books

GENRE: Contemporary, fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Not only is one of our protagonists biracial and bisexual, it also tackles a variety of issues, such as biphobia, sexism, fat-shaming, and mental health issues. A wonderful read for anyone familiar with the Comic Con scene!

The Disasters, M.K. England

Amazon.com: The Disasters (9780062657671): England, M. K.: Books

GENRE: Science fiction

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Disasters was SO much fun–and the cast is effortlessly diverse in terms of race, gender, and sexuality! Plus, the author is nonbinary as well!

Fire With Fire, Destiny Soria

Fire with Fire by Destiny Soria

GENRE: Fantasy, urban fantasy, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I know I’ve been blabbing about this one for the past month, but what’s not to like about a biracial, bisexual girl and a dragon kicking magic butt?

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these books? Do you have any more recommendations for Bisexual Visibility Day?

Bi Pride GIF - Bi Pride - Discover & Share GIFs

Today’s song:

Do you like girls or boys?

It’s confusing these days,

But moon dust will cover you,

Cover you…

That’s it for these bi reads! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Music, writing

Writing Soundtracks: Songs and albums I listen to while I write, and tips for making writing playlists

Ooh, would you look at that! A new header!

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

I got a notification this morning, and apparently I’ve had this blog running for…5 years? WHOAAAAA, OKAY, I FORGOT ABOUT THAT

I didn’t start semi-seriously book blogging until about a year ago, but thank you to everybody who has supported me along the way! (And for those of you who had to witness what this blog was like when I was in middle school…I’m terribly sorry for the horrors you experienced.)

ANYWAY, I figured I should start doing writing-related posts more frequently, so here’s my first(ish?) stab at it.

Many members of the writing community use music in a number of ways in the process of creating their WIP, be it picking specific songs or albums to listen to while writing, or creating book or character playlists. Music is an integral part of my life, and I’ve managed to weave it into my writing life as well. I always listen to music when I write, so I thought that I would first share some songs, albums, and scores that I like the most to get me writing my WIPs.

INSTRUMENTAL SCORES

I think there’s been several studies about how instrumental scores help with studying, but for a lot of people, music without lyrics is helpful to focus on their writing, and is less distracting than music with lyrics. I use a mix of music with and without lyrics in writing, but for those of you who are strictly instrumental, here are some of my favorite albums–mostly film scores, mind you–that I use when writing:

Danny Elfman - Hellboy 2 (OST) - Amazon.com Music

Hellboy II: The Golden Army original score–Danny Elfman

Yes, yes, I know I blab about this masterpiece quite a lot, but hey, it’s Danny Elfman doing the score–what’s not to like? The score ranges from whimsically spooky to action-packed to tear-jerking, so it’s perfect for writing scenes of all kinds.

Radiohead for Solo Piano | Josh Cohen

Radiohead for Solo Piano–Josh Cohen

Even if you aren’t familiar with Radiohead, this is a spectacular collection of their pieces adapted into instrumental, piano form. I particularly like “Motion Picture Soundtrack” and “Black Star.”

Trent Reznor / Atticus Ross: Watchmen (Music from the HBO Series ...

Watchmen original score–Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Much of this one is electronic, but with a wide range of moods; either way, it’s always catchy, and perfectly cinematic. Also, there’s a gorgeous instrumental cover of David Bowie’s “Life On Mars?”, so of course I’d recommend it.

Anything by Jeff Russo, really

Russo has such a wide range, composition-wise, and every single score I’ve come across by him is nothing short of stellar. Some of my favorites include his scores for Legion (FX), and The Umbrella Academy (Netflix), but he’s also scored everything from Cursed to Lucy in the Sky and Fargo (the TV show)

NON-INSTRUMENTAL SONGS AND ALBUMS

I cram loads of music onto my writing playlists, but there’s several particular songs and albums that get me more focused/motivated/immersed in my writing than others, so here goes nothing…

Kid A Cover - How Radiohead's Most Alienating Album Got Its Cover

Kid A–Radiohead

Besides the fact that one of my WIPs features a character who is obsessed with this album, the sheer range of emotion in this album is stunning. Though it’s chiefly electronic, I’ve used these songs from everything from battle scenes to a funeral scene.

Recommended tracks:

Mitski: Bury Me at Makeout Creek Album Review | Pitchfork

Bury Me at Makeout Creek–Mitski

Another very emotional album, this one’s always great for writing scenes associated with any form of love, whether it’s the promise of it, being in the throes of it, or being apart from it. Then again, you’re talking to somebody who has had zero (0) experience with any sort of relationships, so take this as you will.

Recommended tracks:

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot By Wilco Album Cover Location

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot–Wilco

Apparently they called this album “the American Kid A” when it came out, so…did I cheat and put Kid A on here twice? If so, I don’t regret it.

Ranging from punchy, classic rock songs and dreamlike, melancholic hazes of emotion, I highly recommend this album for scenes charged with emotion–doesn’t matter what emotion we’re talking about, because there’s easily a song or two on here for everything.

Recommended tracks:

Phoebe Bridgers: Stranger in the Alps Album Review | Pitchfork

Stranger in the Alps–Phoebe Bridgers

Though I don’t like every song on the album, I’d say about 3/4 of it is positively stellar. Definitely on the sadder side, but it’s perfect for channeling strong emotion in your writing.

Recommended tracks:

David Bowie - Hunky Dory - Amazon.com Music

Hunky Dory–David Bowie

Besides being, y’know, the pinnacle of music, this one is chock-full of tracks that not only help me bring emotion and heart into my writing, but with songs that motivate me to write.

Recommended tracks:

GENERAL WRITING PLAYLIST TIPS

I saw a piece of advice the other day about making two writing playlists: listen to one of them while writing it, and a different one when you’re editing or making the second draft, so that you’re put into a different mindset while re-reading it.

For making the playlists themselves, I usually just dump several songs I like, and go through songs as I write. If there’s a song that takes me out of the writing or has been in circulation for a few times too many, I take it off and replace it.

Just for fun, here are snippets of mine:

And yes, I did color-coordinate the album covers. It’s fun…

(Or, alternatively, “the one that I accidentally dumped all the Weezer on” and “the one without any Weezer at all”)

I also like to cobble together playlists for each of my WIPs: here, I include songs with lyrics that relate to the story, or that just have the general vibe of the WIP. For some of them, I also create character playlists going off of the same rule. For my sci-fi book, there are six different perspectives (or, I’m going to make it that way once I get around to editing it), so I have a playlist for each of them. For my current WIP, however, there’s only one perspective, so I just keep it at the protagonist.

What do you think? What are your musical techniques for writing? What’s your favorite music to write to?

Since there’s a boatload of music in this post, consider the entire thing “today’s song.”

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (7/7/20)–The Sound of Stars

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I put this one on my TBR almost exactly a year ago (what are the odds?), forgot about it for a little bit, and once I remembered its existence, I got INCREDIBLY excited. I did a Goodreads Monday on it about a month ago, and it seemed like my dream book. (Aliens, secret libraries, music, and LGBTQ+/POC representation? Of COURSE you have my attention!) I recently bought it on my first trip to the bookstore since the pandemic started. And while it wasn’t without its flaws, The Sound of Stars was a beautiful and poignant tale of resistance.

Enjoy this week’s review!

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

The Sound of Stars–Alechia Dow

⭐︎ A mini photoshoot I did with my copy (feat. some similar YA sci-fi books I own, as well as my trusty iPod and David Bowie) ⭐︎

Janelle–Ellie for short–Baker lives in a world not so far from our own, but one ravaged by the aftermath of an alien invasion. The Ilori now have control over most of the population, and have deemed all forms of creative expression, be it art, literature, or music, as dangerous. Ellie ekes out a living in New York City, running a secret library of her personal collection. She knows that if she’s ever discovered, it could mean execution for her and her parents, but her love of books keeps her business going.

M0Rr1s (Morris), an Ilori boy raised in a lab, knows that his differences could also mean the death of him. Unlike most others of his kind, he has the capacity for emotion–and a penchant for music. He finds solace in the old human music, illegally downloading it into his mind to hear. When he stumbles upon Ellie and her secret library, he knows that he should turn her into the authorities. But their shared love of literature and music leads them on a road trip, smuggling their artwork to a safer place, where they may be welcome and accepted. The journey won’t be without its obstacles–namely, the Ilori authorities–but Ellie and Morris will do anything when it comes to the fate of their art–and humanity itself.

Library images GIF - Find on GIFER

YOU GUYS. WHAT. A. BOOK. This is, without a doubt, one of the best books of 2020. And I don’t say that lightly.

The Sound of Stars is a powerful and poignant novel about the power of friendship and resistance–and the uniting power of music and literature.

Let’s start off with the characters. I ADORED both Ellie and Morris. Ellie’s strong will and love of books truly resonated with me, and it’s great to see characters with her representation (Mixed race/POC, demisexual, has anxiety) in literature. Her chapters always have lovely YA references and quotes from classic novels slipped in there, so I enjoyed every minute of her perspective. And MORRIS. MORRIS IS AN ABSOLUTE SWEETHEART. I also resonated with his love of music, and he was just such a tender-hearted character in general. His chapters were laden with GREAT music references–David Bowie, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, all the good stuff. And having Ellie and Morris in a romantic relationship was everything I’ve ever wanted–not only are they super cute together (adorable enemies to friends to lovers dynamic), it’s great to see LGBTQ+ characters in straight-passing relationships. There’s an awful stigma these days with bi/pan/etc. people that if they’re in such a relationship, they “aren’t valid,” and it’s great to see the stigma being broken down in the best possible way.

Beyond that, The Sound of Stars is just the kind of story we need for these times, in an age of bigotry and division. There’s a clear commentary against racism and colonialism, and to have Ellie and Morris fighting back against the system is something I love to see. Some of the more obvious political commentary was a bit ham-fisted at worst, but at this point, it’s probably what readers need to wake up and realize the situation around us. It’s the perfect story for those looking to make a difference in their communities–especially with the power of art.

For the most part, I found this book to be almost flawless–the writing, the characters, the representation, you name it. But I did have one problem, which, judging from the reviews I’ve read, seems to be common–the ending.

It’s…weird. Not in the best way, to be honest. It’s a bizarre, deus ex machina kind of deal, where the characters are on the brink of death, and BAM…well, I won’t spoil it, but it kind of had me scratching my head. The very end was hopeful, at least, but it still left a strange (metaphorical) taste on my tongue.

But all in all, The Sound of Stars was a phenomenal gem of a resistance novel. 4.75 stars, rounded up to 5!

Listening Music GIFs | Tenor

At the moment, it seems like The Sound of Stars is a standalone novel, though it had an open ending that could *potentially* lend itself to a sequel. (I’d be happy either way, honestly.) This novel is Alechia Dow’s debut novel, but as of now, she has another book, The Kindred, scheduled to be published in 2022.

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!