Posted in Books, Mini Reviews

Triplet Mini Reviews: A Song Below Water, The Infinite Noise, & Raybearer

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles! Such a relief that the week is almost over…

I mentioned last week that I’m starting to do some mini review posts, so this is my first stab at it. I have a little sticky note function on my laptop where I organize all my blog-related post ideas and such, and I realized that I had WEEKS worth of books to review for my Book Review Tuesdays, and I wanted a way to review more of them without stretching everything out too long. (If I do, I tend to forget certain details of the books.) So, I have a solution: this won’t be on a schedule, but I’ll put three or more books into one review when the mood strikes me, or if I’ve just been reading lots of good content. Without further ado, here’s my first batch of mini reviews–books that have nothing to do with each other, but ones that I rated all 4 stars!

Let’s begin, shall we?

  1. A Song Below Water, Bethany C. Morrow
My copy, ft. some shells that I’ve collected from beaches over the years (kind of proud of this pic skdfhshf)

For their whole lives, Effie and Tavia have felt like it’s them against the world. Living as Black girls–and sirens, at that–in the middle of Portland is no easy task, and the world is set to subdue them by all means. In the midst of a siren trial and a celebrity’s revelation, the girls are forced to keep their identities under wraps–but the resurfacing of Effie’s past and a fatal accident from Tavia may put their lives in jeopardy.

This was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, and one of the books I bought for my birthday. There’s hardly any quality YA mermaid/siren literature out there, and I’m glad to say that we can add this to the pantheon of siren books that deliver! Of course, it isn’t without its flaws; I liked both Tavia and Effie as characters, but their voices writing-wise felt nearly indistinguishable. The writing was casual and conversational, which was both a blessing and a curse–it made the world feel genuine, but it had a tendency to drag some of the prose/plot down at times. Morrow does such a wonderful job of incorporating all these mythical creatures into our world, and she combines both Western European and Central African mythos in terms of them, which I loved.

And without spoiling anything, I LOVED the twist with Effie. No rhyme or reason, just loved it. All in all, a timely piece of magical realism!

GENRE: Fantasy, urban fantasy, magical realism, contemporary

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

2. The Infinite Noise (The Bright Sessions, #1), Lauren Shippen

My library copy ft. a few issues of Giant Sized X-Men (1975 & 2020)

Caleb Michaels has it all–good grades, a stable home life, and he’s the star of the football team. But something is shifting inside of him; not only has he become incredibly attuned to the emotions of others, he can see them as they appear. He thinks he’s crazy, but Dr. Bright, his new therapist, has the correct wording–Caleb is an Atypical, someone born with abilities far beyond the normal human being.

As he grapples with his newfound powers, he meets Adam, a loner with magnetic emotions. They grow closer together and begin to fall for each other, but can Caleb keep his Atypical secret?

Dr. Bright has INTENSE Professor X vibes, and I am 100% HERE FOR IT.

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Even if you aren’t familiar with The Bright Sessions podcast (like myself), this a superpowered romance that is not to be missed! The writing instantly hooked me, and I blew through the first 100 pages in no time, enjoying every bit of it. Much of the dialogue felt authentic and genuine, and Shippen does a wonderful job of developing Caleb and Adam as characters, as well as their romance. It’s just such a feel-good, heartfelt gem of a contemporary sci-fi novel. I can’t wait to read A Neon Darkness now!

All in all, The Infinite Noise is a must read for fans of both LGBTQ+ romance and superhero sci-fi!

GENRE: LGBTQ+, contemporary, romance, science fiction

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

3. Raybearer, Jordan Ifueko

My library copy, ft. my backyard and a cool filter

Up until the age of 11, Tarisai has led a sheltered life, shielded from the outside world in an enclosed mansion with only servants and tutors–and her mother, if she’s lucky–for company. But when her mother sends her off to compete for a place on the council of Aritsar’s Crown Prince, she realizes that she bears a powerful curse–if she is chosen, she will have no choice but to kill the Prince in cold blood.

Tarisai finds the family she never had in the council, but the curse continues to haunt her. Will she give into the curse, or be able to forge a path for herself?

I absolutely didn’t expect to like this novel as much as I did! Raybearer really has it all–rich, African-inspired mythology, detailed worldbuilding, political intrigue, actions, demons, you name it. The best aspect for me was the cast of characters–though some were not developed as much, Ifueko has created a cast with impeccable chemistry that you can’t help but root for. Sanjeet was my personal favorite character–he reminded me so much of Kal from Aurora Rising 🥺

The Lady is also a very compelling antagonist, and I loved the morally gray turn that the book takes in the last third or so. There’s some important themes about assimilation and family, making it for a timely fantasy.

All in all, a multilayered and compelling fantasy with a lovable found family!

GENRE: Fantasy, high fantasy

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Today’s song:

NEW EELS

BOTTOM TEXT

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

Posted in Music

Me and Music Tag

Happy Friday, everyone!

I know I’m *primarily* a book blog, but most of what I post outside of bookish content is music related, as apart from being a bibliophile, I’m a major music nerd as well. I found this tag over at Margaret @ Weird Zeal , and the tag was created by  Sophie @ Me & Ink.

Earphones GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Rules

  1. Link back to original so she can see your answers and listen to the tunes
  2. For every prompt you choose to do, name 1-5 songs (you can use my graphics)
  3. Have fun and play your music LOUD

Let’s begin, shall we? (I skipped a prompt or two because I couldn’t find anything for some of them, but here we go…)

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Ooh, lots to choose from…

“Beautiful Freak”–Eels: Aside from the Hellboy II nostalgia, I want this to play at my wedding. VERY badly.

“It’s Oh So Quiet”–Björk: Nostalgia! NOSTALGIA!

“Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space”–Spiritualized: I mean, what more could you add to a song other than a choir singing “Can’t Help Falling in Love”?

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“Shove It (feat. Spank Rock)”–Santigold: AAAAAAAAA

“Idioteque”–Radiohead: I just listened to all of Kid A the other day…OH MAN…

“Antmusic”–Adam & The Ants: CLASSIC.

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“While My Guitar Gently Weeps (cover)”–Regina Spektor (from “Kubo and the Two Strings”): There’s no way that anyone could come close to the mastery of The Beatles, but this cover always gives me chills.

“Cop Car”–Mitski (from “The Turning”): Honestly, I couldn’t care less about this movie, but man, they got some great artists to do the soundtrack…

“The Moon Song”–Ezra Koenig & Karen O. (from “Her“): Again, another movie that I haven’t even seen, but this song brings back such good memories.

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“I Think You’re Alright (Jay Som cover)”–Soccer Mommy: This song has the sweetest vibes…

“No Surprises”–Radiohead: [ahem] Excluding the subject matter, this one always makes me feel at peace.

Scott Street”–Phoebe Bridgers: Again, depressing subject matter, but beautiful.

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“Kooks”–David Bowie: I think one of my first memories is of being in the car as a baby and hearing the tail end of this song play.

Strange Love”–Karen O.: This was my favorite song for a while… 😭 It’s from one of my favorite childhood movies (Frankenweenie), and the lyric video TOOK ME BACK…

“Bad Believer”–St. Vincent: Unfortunately, I associate this song with middle school, but hey, it’s an awesome song.

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“Declare Independence”–Björk: If I actually took the time to listen to music while I “worked out,” this would be the perfect song.

(Also, I saw a video of her playing this live and saying something along the lines of “here’s a quiet little song to help you go to sleep :)” and then they just started BLARING THIS)

“Oh! You Pretty Things”–David Bowie: This one always motivates me to write. Also, it’s basically the theme song for the X-Men. Just saying.

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Hmmm, I listen to a fair amount of older music, so let’s see…

“Blowin’ in the Wind”-Bob Dylan: This one’s another one that I remember fondly from my childhood 🙂

“I’m So Tired”–The Beatles: I love most of The Beatles’ work, but this one is criminally underrated.

“Sympathy for the Devil”–The Rolling Stones: On an unrelated note, my brother and I tried slowing this one down in iMovie as a joke, and Mick Jagger sounded ABSOLUTELY CURSED IN THE BEGINNING

IT WAS GREAT

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Oh boy, I listen to a LOT of depressing music…I’ve been thinking about making a post about it, but we’ll see…

No Conclusion”–of Montreal: PLEASE, I AM BEGGING YOU, ONLY LISTEN TO THIS ONE IF YOU’RE IN A GOOD MOOD. 10 SOLID MINUTES OF DEPRESSION.

“Class of 2013”–Mitski: mAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

“Street Spirit (Fade Out)”–Radiohead: I mean, most of their catalog is incredibly depressing, but this is one of their saddest, in my opinion.

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“Dedicated to the One I Love”–The Mamas & The Papas: I’m quite a few decades late on this bandwagon, but a friend of mine recommended this one to me, and I adore it.

“Rabbit Habits”–Man Man: Another one that I had on repeat a week or two ago…

“Cool Waves”–Spiritualized: I went on a huge Spiritualized kick about two weeks ago, and I haven’t completely recovered…

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“Impostor Syndrome”–Sidney Gish: All of her songs are so well-written…

“Nervous Young Inhumans”–Car Seat Headrest: [screams] “EARLIER IN THE SONG I USED THE TERM ‘GALVANISTIC’…”

“Anytime”–Snail Mail: Some of the most well-written sadness I’ve ever come across.

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“Lazarus”–David Bowie: The day that David Bowie died, I remember my dad driving my brother and I to school in silence as this song played.

“Day Go By”–Karen O.: I listened to this whole album while I was in Canada last year, and I remember listening to this one in a hotel in Drumheller.

“Exit Music (for a Film)”–Radiohead: I discovered OK Computer last year, and I remember being curled up at the entrance of the cafeteria, reading a collection of Tennyson’s poems while blasting this through my headphones. (Yes, I am That Kid™️)

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“Hunky Dory”–David Bowie: My favorite album of all time, hands down. Perfection.

“Twin Fantasy”–Car Seat Headrest: WHAT AN ALBUM…OH MAN…

“OK Computer”–Radiohead: See above. Pure genius.

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Hmm, let’s see…

“Once in a Lifetime”–Talking Heads: …just watch the video. You’ll see what I mean.

“Life on Mars?”–David Bowie: This was my halloween costume last year…

“It’s Oh So Quiet”–Björk: Sorry to repeat a song, but this video always cheers me up 🙂

I TAG ANY OF MY FELLOW MUSIC NERDS WHO WANT TO PARTICIPATE!

Since this tag is all about music, consider this entire tag today’s song…

That’s it for this tag! Hope you enjoyed this dip into the weirdness that is my taste in music…

Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Books, Geeky Stuff, Movies

I Am Mother (Movie Review)

Not sure if I should start out this post with my usual bibliophile greeting, since this isn’t the most bookish of posts, but hey, we’re all bibliophiles here, aren’t we?

Last night, I finally got around to watching I Am Mother, a movie that caught my attention when it came out last summer. I won’t detail the main reason why until around the end of the post, but needless to say, I put off watching it for a while. I’m not sure where my expectations were, but I was pleasantly surprised (and a bit freaked out, not gonna lie) from the results. An incredibly tense and well-done film that’s lingered in my thoughts since the moment I switched the TV off.

BE WARNED: I’m not sure if or how I’ll go about reviewing this without substantially spoiling the film, so for those who haven’t seen I Am Mother and intend to, you may not want to read this. 

 

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Also…this poster…*chef’s kiss*

 

The film follows Mother, a caretaker droid with one task: to nurture the next generation of humanity after an extinction-level event wiped out much of the human race. In her lair, she raises her female child, referred to only as “Daughter,” teaching her about her species as she grows. But when she enters her teenage years, Daughter begins to grow suspicious that Mother may be hiding something from her. Her suspicions are confirmed when a woman shows up outside of her dwelling. She and Mother take the injured woman in; while Daughter is eager to care for her, Mother is more hesitant, almost reluctant to help her in any way. The woman (who also goes unnamed…nice…) is also reluctant of the droid’s help, claiming that it was a droid just like Mother who caused her injury.

Conflicted by the opposing truths of Mother and the woman, Daughter begins to delve deeper into her situation, spurred on by the woman, who claims that it was droids, not the contagion that Mother claimed, that wiped out the human race. A delve into the laboratory where the other embryos are kept leads Daughter to the discovery that Mother’s intentions are far more sinister; the droids intend to make a new human race, one less fallible than the humans of old, and the children who do not live up to the droid’s standards are terminated.

After the disturbing revelation, the woman convinces Daughter to go back outside with her, where they discover that the droids have already begun to lay the groundwork of their plan, making the air and ground fertile. But the woman has been withholding secrets as well–though she spoke of more humans, she appears to be the only one left in the vicinity. Betrayed by both sides, Daughter returns home with the intention of rescuing her newly born brother, who is currently under Mother’s care. Reluctantly, she shoots the droid who raised her from birth, saving her baby brother as she breaks down into tears. The film ends with her beginning to raise her brother, and staring hopefully into rows of unborn embryos in Mother’s laboratory.

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Nearly every scene in I Am Mother is beautifully shot; the director clearly has a penchant for symmetry, which shone through in every camera angle, from simple landscape shots of Mother’s dwelling, to a particular shot of Daughter staring at the woman through the infirmary window, the glass pane separating them an on-the-nose portrayal of their moral divisions. For the most part, the FX were well done, though Mother herself, though smooth in design and execution, didn’t seem quite as computerized as she was intended to be, mostly in the way she ran, however tense some of those scenes were.

As a whole, I enjoyed the acting a fair amount. The best of the cast, in my opinion, was Clara Rugaard (Daughter); she stunningly portrayed Daughter’s naïvete and eventual growth into an independent young adult. I didn’t particularly care for Hillary Swank (the woman from outside) as much, but she did an excellent job of making her pain seem all too real.

Now, for the most part, I feel that Rose Byrne was a good fit for the voice of Mother, though she did add to the feel of her not being mechanized quite enough. Though the writing shone through, her voice didn’t feel as though it belonged to a robot, though it was on its way to being there. I haven’t seen her in much other than her role as Moira McTaggert in the newer X-Men films, but I’d say she did a good job with Mother other than that.

Other than some political undertones (possible anti-abortion weirdness; I’m personally more pro-choice myself, but the undertones weren’t blatant, and I may have misinterpreted them. They don’t align with my personal beliefs, but hey, think and believe whatever you want, as long as you’re not hurting anybody) and a few more nitpicky aspects, my only problem with this film was the second-to-last scene. In it, we see the woman in her dwelling on the outside. It is revealed earlier that Mother is part of a hive-mind who is working to “repair” the human race, and her consciousness exists in all of the droids that we see throughout the film. One of these droids, not so unlike Mother herself, approaches the woman, makes a remark about how she’s surprised that she’s survived this long, and hints that it’s “almost as though she has a purpose.”

The scene is the last that we see of the woman and this droid, and goes unresolved for the rest of the film.

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What? WHAT? What exactly are they hinting at? If they have the audacity to leave such a cliffhanger unresolved, is there going to be a sequel???

I dunno. Anyway.

 

Before I end this review, I’d like to address one more question I’ve had about I Am Mother since the trailer was released. The plot, or at least the first third of it, almost resembled a favorite series of mine, almost to a T.

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Yep. That’s right. GUESS WHO’S BACK…

Regardless, the first novel follows a strikingly similar plot–that of an adolescent girl, raised by a robot called M.U.T.H.R. in an underground facility. As she grows, M.U.T.H.R. continually tells her that she is not ready to go to the surface world, and that her being human is “special”.

Sound familiar?

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Though I Am Mother takes a far more sinister turn, it shares some major similarities to the series, what with WondLa ending up as a journey on an unfamiliar Earth, now colonized by alien life forms while humans dwell in the shadows. The later books do take several dark turns, but not quite in the way that I Am Mother did. So why all these similarities? I’ve done a bit of digging on the internet, but all I’ve found is that either the (tiny but mighty) WondLa fandom just came out of its hole and said “Hey waaaaaaait a minute, that’s kinda funny…”, or that the film is “loosely based” on the novel. And if the latter is true, it’s very loosely based. Very. It went from “Sheesh, did they just paraphrase the dialogue from the first few chapters?” to “[glances at book] THIS is what it’s based off of?” in a split second. Even the outside view of Mother’s dwelling likened to the illustrations of the abandoned Sanctuaries in WondLa. I’m still scratching my head on this one, but either way, a very different interpretation, if that’s what it was.

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Though it wasn’t without its flaws, I Am Mother was certainly a well-done and thought-provoking movie that continually kept me on the edge of my seat. I’d give it a solid 8/10.

 

Today’s song:

(This one’s been lodged in my head since this morning…)

 

That just about wraps up this review! I hope you enjoyed this deviation from my normally bookish content…

Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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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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