Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (11/26/19)-Ziggy, Stardust and Me

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

 

When I first saw the premise of this book, I practically leapt for joy.

I mean, not only is it an LGBTQ+ romance, but the main character’s hero is David Bowie. And, of course, being a devotee of David Bowie for most of my life, I just had to read this. And honestly? Ziggy, Stardust and Me certainly had its flaws, but it is a story that absolutely needs to be read.

 

Without further ado, let’s begin this review!

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Ziggy, Stardust & Me

1973. Jonathan Collins is 16, and all around him, the world is shifting. His therapy, meant to cure his homosexuality, only serves to make him feel worse. The bullies are constantly at his back, and his father is relapsing into alcoholism. Jonathan’s only source of comfort lies in his imagination, and in David Bowie, the flamboyant rock god whose music is a source of solace.

Then, Web, the new, openly gay boy at school, tumbles into his life. Web is everything that Jonathan wants to be–confident, tough, and unabashedly unafraid of being himself. As Jonathan begins to fall for Web, he begins to push the boundaries that have confined him for his entire life–but at what cost?

 

Aaaaah, what a book!

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I wasn’t the biggest fan of the writing (I get that it’s from Jonathan’s teenage perspective, but it still felt a little bit sloppy), but my criticism just about ends there.

Ziggy, Stardust and Me deals with a boatload of difficult to talk about topics (namely racism, homophobia, and conversion therapy), but it did so in a way that was perfectly balanced–not glossed over by any stretch of the imagination, but in a way that was showing, not telling, to be sure. A lot of it was absolutely heartbreaking to read, but this is content that people need to know about. Spectacular representation (besides the fact that Jonathan and Web are both gay, Web is Native American), and a beautiful relationship that had me gushing. I cried…several times…but it was all worth it. Solid four stars for me. 💗🌈

And…David Bowie. I’m sold.

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Ziggy, Stardust and Me is a standalone, and James Brandon’s debut novel. Though I haven’t heard any news of him writing anything new, I sure hope we get something from him in the next few years. We certainly need more stories like this in literature.

 

Well, I hoped you liked this review! Have a lovely rest of your day, and stay safe out there! (I almost said “stay warm,” but I don’t know what kind of weather you’re all having…currently looks like a snow globe outside my window, so…🥶)

Stay tuned for more content later this week!

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Posted in Book Tags, Books, Music

OMG This Song Book Tag

Good afternoon (or whatever time it is in your time zone), bibliophiles!

This tag was originally created for YouTube by Kate’s Book Date, and I was tagged by the wonderful A Little Haze Book Blog to take part in it. And honestly, how could I say no? I mean, books and music: two of my favorite things! (So thank you, both of you! 🙂 )

Alright, let’s get started…

1. MY JAM – a song you MUST listen to every time it comes on, no matter how old or how many times you’ve listened to it / a book you’ll never get sick of

This song is, without question, one of my favorites of all time, but it rarely comes on shuffle, and so I absolutely swell with joy when I hear it: David Bowie’s “Quicksand”.

 

The fact that Bowie created a song so profound, yet can also rock me blissfully to sleep like a baby, is sheer genius. If you haven’t listened to this song, PLEASE DO, AS YOUR LIFE WILL BE FAR BETTER FOR IT.

As for books, I’m going with Ashley Poston’s Heart of Iron

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In the 1.5(ish) years since its release, I’ve re-read it…oh, at least six times, and it never ceases to make me feel every possible emotion.

 

2. THROWBACK – a song that reminds you of the cringiest time of your life / a book that also reminds you of this time (or just something you wouldn’t like as much if you picked it up for the first time now)

Cringiest time in my life? 6th grade, here we come…

 

For the longest time, this was my favorite song of all time. I couldn’t stop listening to it, I tried to get my friends into St. Vincent, and…well, I pretty much became associated with St. Vincent among my classmates. (A blessing and a curse.)  Don’t get me wrong, I still love this song, but…man, 6th grade me was a nightmare. And speaking of being associated with certain things…

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This series…

The Search for WondLa  trilogy was my moon, my sun, and all the stars in my sky at that age. And, as with “Bad Believer”, I carried this bad boy around me whenever I re-read it, and that meant getting weird looks from my classmates, because, yet again, it was “that book

I still stand by that it’s a phenomenal series, but man, does it bring back a boatload of memories.

 

3. REPLAY – a recent song you have on repeat right now / a recent favorite book

I’m very, very late to hop on this bandwagon, but I just discovered Pink Floyd’s “Time” a few days ago, and I have not stopped listening to it since.

That surreal, dream-like quality, the poetic and yet blatantly real lyrics…man oh man, I love this song.

As for books, the last book (I believe) that I gave a solid five stars to was Like A Love Story. 

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gAH, TALK ABOUT FEELING ALL THE FEELS KNOWN TO MAN…such an expertly written, heartstring-ripping novel…

 

4. GETS ME – this song IS ME / this book is me in book form

[clicks on YouTube link] [gets flooded with Hellboy II memories circa 8th grade]

 

I’m not sure if this is necessarily me in book form, but I have often felt like an outsider, for several reasons. I’ve struggled to fit in for most of my life, and it’s only been in the past two or so years that I’ve been able to find my tribe. So, in a way, this song gives me hope. Hope that someday, maybe I’ll find true love from someone who sees me for who I truly am.

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As for books, I’d say…yeah, you guessed it, Aurora RisingBut really, the central theme of this book is finding your people, finding those who see you for who you are, and cherish you for the qualities that others abhor.

 

5. WUT – weird but I like it? / a unique book that stuck out to you for whatever reason

I mean, the weirdest part of this song is the title, but Sidney Gish’s music is generally filled to the brim with absolutely lovely, crafty lyrics that not only catch my eye (and ear), but resonate with me on some level.

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Good Omens would be my obvious literary choice for this question. An absolutely madcap gem, this book never fails to make me cry laughing. Same goes for the series, too–I’m only three episodes in, but I adore it.

6. LET’S GO – best pump up song (for workouts or just life) / a book that inspired you

 

This song makes me feel unbelievably powerful, no matter when or where I listen to it. Björk is nothing short of a visionary.

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As for the book, The Martian Chronicles , I’d say. Yeah, I know, not the most inspirational, uplifting collection, but Bradbury’s writing is what makes me want to be a writer, what motivates me to dream, to create. Although I’ve read a few of his works, this is the first of his that I’ve read, and my personal favorite.

 

7. CHILL – fave chill, relaxing song / a book you’d curl up with and read on a rainy day

 

I mean, I could probably put most anything by Frankie Cosmos for this question, but this was the first song of hers that I was introduced to. Mellow, with a warm, nostalgic feel that never fails to make me smile.

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Kindred Spirits  is easily the shortest novel I own, and it’s filled to the brim with adorable, slow-burn romance. Not to mention the fact that it centers around Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Gotta love Star Wars.

8. ADDICTING – guilty pleasure song (one that’s catchy and addicting but not a whole lot of substance) / guilty pleasure/trashy/fast/light read

 

Yeah, pretty simple lyricism here, but I feel little pink hearts forming in my eyes whenever “Johanna” comes on. 💗

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Again with the Rainbow Rowell…you guessed it, folks…

I’ll say it once, and I’ll say it again: Pumpkinheads is the ideal antidote for any of the sadness and troubles in your life.

 

9. NOSTALGIA – throwback you look back on fondly / a book you read forever ago that you look back on fondly or reminds you of a happy childhood time

 

I know, more Hunky Dory era David Bowie. But personally, I stand by my belief that this is easily the best album in the history of music.

“Kooks”, in particular, has a special place in my heart, for the simple reason that it’s the center of one of my earliest childhood memories. I was in the car, probably still a baby, and my whole family was with me. No idea where we were going, but “Kooks” was playing.

 

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Most of Roald Dahl’s novels have a special place in my heart, but Matildain particular, has the most vibrantly fond memories for me. My teacher read it to my class in third grade (we were on a Roald Dahl kick, as this followed both of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory books), and I got it as a gift later that year.

 

I tag:

And you! If you want to do this book tag, feel free to give it a go! Have at it, fellow nerds!

 

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Posted in Music

Thoughts on Covers

The Bookish Mutant? Writing a post about something other than books? It’s more likely than you think.

 

I’ve been a music nerd for much of my life, and though most of this blog is dedicated to more bookish content, I do like to ramble about songs. In particular, there’s one topic that I’ve been wanting to talk about, and that is the topic of covers.

So, I’ve tried to outline some examples of covers that I find particularly significant, whether that be in a positive or negative way.

 

First, let’s address the nearly universal (and mostly good to follow) rule of covers: Don’t cover the Beatles.

I’d say…I agree about halfway with that. I’ve heard more butchered covers of Beatles classics than I can count on my fingers, but at times, artists have been able to cover the iconic band so well, to the point where they nearly–but never completely–surpass the original.

Case in point, Throwing Muses’ cover of “Cry Baby Cry”.

 

They’ve managed to create a cover that converts the original into an almost gothic, and at times atmospheric composition. Kristin Hersh’s etheral voice only adds to the dreamlike effect, making for an unforgettable rendition of the song.

But at the same time, I feel as though it loses the warm, almost nostalgic air that the original carries. With the Beatles, it feels like someone fondly telling a story; with Throwing Muses, it almost has the feeling of someone reflecting on a childhood that they thought was full of joy, but had darkness hiding within it all along.

 

 

Sometimes, though, a cover can completely nail the original feeling of the song, while still making it their own. Take Nirvana’s cover of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World”.

 

As with “Cry Baby Cry”, both versions of “The Man Who Sold the World” sound like the words of a raconteur, recounting a particularly odd acquaintance of theirs from ages ago. Even with something as simple as a key change, Cobain transformed the classic song into something darker, more desperate. (As he did with…well, most all of his songs, but that’s beside the point.)

Nirvana’s version does seem to lack the inherently alien quality that’s always hidden below the surface of any David Bowie song. To be fair, however, I don’t think anybody could ever come close; that’s just David Bowie. Nobody can be David Bowie but David Bowie.

 

 

Another source of interesting covers can always be found in the soundtracks of film and television. More often than not, it produces bland attempts at making songs into something “edgy” or “gritty”. But on rare occasions, gems are born from already polished crystals.

Personally, the best example of this is…well, all three seasons of FX’s Legion.

I mean, you have to have some serious talent to make “Rainbow Connection” sound creepy, turn “Behind Blue Eyes” into the pulsating score for what’s easily the best action scene ever to air on television, and “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding?” into a heartstring-pulling, tender moment between the whole show’s cast. And Noah Hawley, without a doubt, has that talent by the boatload.

(Spoilers for seasons 2 & 3 of Legion in the last two, especially the last one.)

And that’s not even all of it. Man, I can’t wait another second for the Season 3 soundtrack to come out…

 

And then, there’s those rare, once in a lifetime covers that transcend the original.

Alright, let’s back up. This is completely subjective, mind you, but I think there is some degree of truth to it. Maybe.

Think for yourselves, but we need to talk about girlpool’s unforgettable cover of Radiator Hospital’s “Cut Your Bangs”.

 

With something as simple as removing the drums and slowing down the tempo, girlpool has morphed the original into something far more tender, deeper, and overflowing with emotion. There’s no doubt that Radiator Hospital’s songwriting is stellar, but girpool made it shine even more, telling a raw, bitter, and tear-jerking story.

As I said, I’m definitely biased around the original. It’s probably just Sam Cook-Parrott’s voice that mainly gets on my nerves, but in it’s faster form, it feels more like pulling off a bandaid than telling a story.

 

And then there’s covers with lovely intent, but that fail to capture the original meaning.

Remember what I said earlier about nobody being David Bowie but David Bowie?

 

[heavy sigh] Well…

Alright, let me be clear. There’s no doubt that Lady Gaga is a talented musician, but this does not feel like a tribute. Nor does it feel like a cover.

This just feels like commercialization, capitalizing off of Bowie’s legacy by trying to be him. And I get it, so many of us–myself included–were beyond heartbroken at the news of his death, but I don’t think that this is the proper way to pay tribute to somebody. Make the content your own, at least a little, don’t try to be somebody you’re not. And I mean that in the least harsh way possible, but…at the time, this just felt like salt on the wound. Still does. This pretty much ruined Lady Gaga for me. I still admire her as a person, but I don’t think I’ll be able to forgive her for this one.

 

 

Hopefully you found this interesting! I just wanted to pour out some of my nerdy thoughts here (as I always do), so I hope you liked this post. See you tomorrow for Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and keep on being your wonderful selves.

 

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Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (1/8/18)-The Bone Witch

Hi everyone, and welcome to this week’s Book Review Tuesday!

First and foremost, happy happy birthday to David Bowie, the Man who Fell to Earth. Thank you for bringing your joy, creativity, and music to this planet.

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(Currently listening to my all-Bowie playlist. I just finished re-watching the “Life On Mars?” music video, and I’ll admit that I got choked up. GAH. 💔 )

 

Aaaaaanyway, time for me talk about books and try not to cry.

 

The Bone Witch was recommended by a good friend of mine about a month or so ago. I trusted her judgment and checked it out at the library, hoping to be pleasantly surprised. And? AMAZING fantasy novel. With a world and lore that nearly rivals that of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse, this book really packs a punch.

Enjoy the review!

 

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The Bone Witch

In Tea’s world, witches protect the people from the forces of evil. Each one harnesses a different power, connecting to different elements and forces of nature. Tea has yet to discover her powers, but when she unintentionally resurrects her brother Fox, she realizes that she’s a Bone Witch, capable of various feats of necromancy.

Bone Witches are feared and their powers frowned upon, and Tea becomes ashamed of her powers. But under the tutelage of a mentor in the city, she learns to control her unusual abilities. She must face not only the criticism of the other witches, but also the true evils that threaten to change her world for the worse. Can Tea figure out her budding powers-and learn to face down the forces that could destroy her world?

 

 

See above, my friend has great taste.

The Bone Witch is an expertly crafted fantasy, with a world that I’d willingly get lost in and beautiful writing to match. So much time and attention to detail is put into the world-building, and it truly shows through in this novel. I adored all of the lore and history with the witches, and it reminded me a lot of the Grishaverse (type “Grishaverse” into the search bar, and all of my reviews for them should come up) . The characters were incredible, and they were each very unique and fit well into the enchanting world. Overall, I highly recommend this to all you YA fantasy fans out there, especially fans of the Grishaverse. 🙂

 

I’m preeeetty sure this is a trilogy, but I haven’t quite looked into reading the rest of the series just yet. I’ll have to add the sequel(s) to my TBR, regardless.

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Thank you so much for reading this week’s review! Have a fantastic day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (1/1/19)-The Hazel Wood

Hi, everyone, and welcome to the FIRST BOOK REVIEW TUESDAY OF 2019! WE MADE IT! HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!!!

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This book was one of my last reads of 2018, and part of my *sniffle* last library haul of that year as well. I’d heard some rave reviews (mostly from EpicReads), and I almost bought it at Barnes and Noble, but, alas, still in hardback, and therefore, more expensive than a book of that size really should be. I finally got around to checking it out last week, and I was AMAZED. My expectations were average, but The Hazel Wood was well above-average.

Enjoy the review!

 

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The Hazel Wood

Alice Proserpine has lived her whole life on the run. Her grandmother is a recluse, the author of a renowned fairy tale book, Tales from the Hinterland, and her mother seems to run into bad luck wherever they roam. But when Alice receives news that her grandmother has passed away, she decides to set off to uncover the truth about why she really hid herself away. The Hazel Wood, the secluded house where she lived out most of her adulthood, has never been found by the public, but with the help of some of her grandmother’s most devoted fans, she finds some vital clues about its location. But what she finds there is stranger than she could have ever imagined…

 

 

WOW.

The Hazel Wood was immensely better than I expected it to be. The mix of realistic fiction and fairytale fantasy blended together perfectly, making for a chilling, masterfully crafted gem of a book. Incredibly creative, with unique and fierce characters and a twisted plot to match. Not only that, but there were a bunch of wonderful and hilarious pop culture references thrown in at the most perfect of times-everything from Star Wars to David Bowie to Nirvana to T. Rex.

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We know there’s a sequel coming some time this year, but it has yet to be titled or have a cover reveal. The author has also hinted at the release of Tales from the Hinterland somewhere down the line, too…OOH…

 

All in all, spectacular book. Would probably land a solid 9 on my book rating scale.

 

Well, I hope you all have a happy, happy new year, and a great rest of your day! Thanks for reading this post, and take care of yourselves! (And for those of you in temperatures like the one’s I’m in, please stay warm. It was -2 degrees around midnight last night.)

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Music

Book Review Tuesday (11/6/18)-The Looking Glass (PLUS a bonus apology!)

Hi, everyone, and welcome to the first Book Review Tuesday of November 2018! (Dang, this year has simultaneously gone by so slowly and flown by…)

First and foremost, my apologies for not only forgetting last week’s BRT (caught up in Halloween preparation and homework.,,), and forgetting to acknowledge this before today. So, sorry about that, one less review this year. 😦

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But hey, I’ve got a great book to review today!

 

I honestly forget where I first found out about The Looking Glass. All I can remember is that I had it on hold at the library for a while, and when it was finally available, I just…flat out forgot what it was about. So my expectations were semi-low. Fast-forward to when I actually got to reading it, and I must say, The Looking Glass exceeded all expectations!

 

Enjoy the review!

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The Looking Glass

Sylvie has looked up to her older sister, Julia, for as long as she can remember. They shared a love of ballet, went to the same prestigious ballet school, and treasured a shared book of fairy tales, which Julia renamed “Girls in Trouble”. That was before Julia disappeared.

A grieving Sylvie knows that her disappearance was no coincidence, and is determined to find her and bring her back home. She begins her search with a package, sent to her by Julia, with “Girls in Trouble” inside. But written in the back of the book is a sort of map, drawn by Julia herself, with clues that will lead Sylvie to her. With the help of an unlikely ally (and a playlist of nothing but Fleetwood Mac), will Sylvie find out the truth about her missing sister?

 

I expected to be intrigued by this book, but nothing more. But man, I’m glad to say that I was AMAZED! Such a beautifully written, powerful book about the forces of love and sisterhood. Realistic fiction, imbued with a little bit of magic, combined with characters so well written that I felt as though I could meet them in real life, made for an unforgettable read. Plus, I loved all of the music refereces scatterered throughout the novel-besides Fleetwood Mac (who I’ve never really listened to, but have heard from a person or two that they’re worth it), David Bowie, St. Vincent, and a few other quality artists. I highly recommend it to all of you. 🙂

 

 

Well, that’s it for this week’s BRT! Again, sorry about the absence of a review last week, and I hope that this one made up for it. Have a great rest of your day!

 

 

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (9/25/18)-Sky in the Deep

Hi, everyone, and welcome to the last Book Review Tuesday of September 2018!

Before I begin, I have an announcement to make-this very site that you are scrolling through turned three years old last Wednesday! So, happy birthday, madelinetodd.com!

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Now, back on topic.

 

The book I’m reviewing today was actually the 200th book that I’ve read this year! (I’m taking the challenge on Goodreads, I’m now at 220 books.) According to the blurb on the back, its “part Wonder Woman, part Vikings, all heart”. So, as you can *probably* guess, the whole Wonder Woman part had me hooked.

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And I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed. An intense, action-packed novel, brimming with rich storytelling and fervor.

Enjoy the review!

 

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Sky in the Deep

Eelyn lives a life of grief and war. Day in and day out, she fights with her fellow warriors of the Aska clan to drive back their rivals, the Riki. The lines between good and evil seem to be as clear as day, until Eelyn finds her brother, who was thought to be dead for five years, fighting with the rival clan. Captured by her enemies and forced to spend the winter under surveillance by the Riki, she discovers that a threat even bigger than the Riki could shatter the lives of both clans forever, and the only way to stop it in its tracks is to unite with one another. Will she return to Aska in time to warn them of the coming storm?

 

 

This book almost borders on historical fiction, in a way. Though the world, clans, and people are all works of fiction, the author has clearly borrowed from Viking lore, among other things, to fabricate a rich and lifelike world. That, along with the incredible writing, realistic characters, and vivid descriptions, made for a fantastic book. I’d say that it would land a 7.5 to an 8 on my rating scale.

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Thus concludes this week’s review! I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day, and stay tuned for more next week!