Whew. It’s hard to believe that 2022 starts tomorrow, but I’m more than ready to start over. It’s been a Year™️.
December was rough at times, but I’m glad I got through it. What with that big AP Gov project and finals, I was exhausted by the time winter break rolled around, but I’m so glad to have some time off to myself. And we didn’t get the snow we wanted on Christmas, but we got…one or two snows here in Colorado, so at least there’s a little moisture. We’re supposed to get a big storm…right about now, though, so…
I took some time off from writing after finishing NaNoWriMo up so I could a) get some rest and b) focus on schoolwork, but after finals ended, I started looking back through the second draft of my main sci-fi WIP! It’s so strange how different the experience has already become from when I did this for draft 1; I’m relieved to say that I’ve improved a whole lot as a writer since then.
Other than that, I’ve been listening to the Beatles and Blur (well…more than usual), playing Minecraft, watching Hawkeye (eh, probably my least favorite Marvel show but the disability rep is nice to see), and going to see Nightmare Alley (is it really a Guillermo del Toro movie without babies in jars?)and Spiderman: No Way Home (AAAAAAAAAA). Christmas was lovely too, and I had a wonderful time spending a day with my family.
READING AND BLOGGING
I read 21 books this month! I probably only got there because I re-read Madman all over again—most of the month leading up to break felt a lot slower, reading-wise. However, I passed my Goodreads goal of 250 and read 258 books this year!
Survive that AP Gov project [heavy breathing]: I DID IT! Got a great grade, too!
End 2021 on a good note: well, I’m sitting comfortably and watching snow fall outside my window right now, so I’ll call that good.
JANUARY 2022 (!) GOALS:
Set a reasonable Goodreads goal
Start 2022 on a good note!
2021 was a tough year for me. Online learning, grieving, the pandemic, applying to college…all of it got to me. But what matters is that I’m still here, all in one piece. And that’s what matters most for all of us. I imagine that 2021 was tough for each and every one of us on some level, but what matters most is thatwe all got through it. We’re beaten-up and bruised, but we’re here. And that, to me, is the purest form of resilience, of resistance. And if we got through 2020 and 2021, we can get through next year too.
There were good things about 2021 for me too—I went to Glacier National Park, I got straight A’s for the first time in high school, I had a super fun birthday, and I discovered some great books, music, and movies! This is the light that always burns in the darkness—the little things that make us happy. And as long as we have each other, the light will never go out.
And with that, there are only hours left to go in 2021. Good riddance.
Wear your masks, get vaccinated (and get that booster!), don’t spread hate and fear, love each other.
That’s it for this month—and this year—in blogging! Have a wonderful last day of the year, and take care of yourselves.
Happy Friday, bibliophiles! Man, I’m so glad to have a few days off…
Brianna @ Brianna’s Books and Randomness tagged me (thanks so much!), but unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find who created the tag. (If you know, please let me know!) I thought it sounded like a lot of fun, and the results were definitely interesting…
Pick 8 books off your shelves (try to not pick just your favorites!)
Arrange them into a random order (randomizers are good for this).
In the order they are arranged, open them to a random page and write down the first name you see. Don’t mix up the names!
In the last book, find the name of an animal/pet and write it down.
Put the names in the right category.
Tag people (spread the love) copy and paste these rules in your post, or write them out yourself.
Okay, so this tag leaves a lot to be desired in the fictional parent category (shoutout to my actual parents for being the most amazing and supportive people), but KADY WOULD BE AN AMAZING SISTER. SHORT GIRLS UNITE!
And on that subject, WHO’S EXCITED FOR MEMENTO? I preordered it, I can’t wait to read it!
I haven’t done one of these in a little while, and I figured that I’d take another dip into the vast ocean that my TBR has become. I can’t quite call it spring cleaning anymore, but no matter the season, I need to clear out some of the dust. I’m honestly surprised that my Goodreads doesn’t lag whenever I go through it…
1. Go to your Goodreads To-Read shelf
2. Order on ascending date added.
3. Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books.
Elouise (Lou) Parker is determined to have the absolute best, most impossibly epic summer of her life. There are just a few things standing in her way:
* She’s landed a job at Magic Castle Playland . . . as a giant dancing hot dog. * Her crush, the dreamy Diving Pirate Nick, already has a girlfriend, who is literally the Princess of the park. But Lou’s never liked anyone, guy or otherwise, this much before, and now she wants a chance at her own happily ever after. * Her best friend, Seeley, the carousel operator, who’s always been up for anything, suddenly isn’t when it comes to Lou’s quest to set her up with the perfect girl or Lou’s scheme to get close to Nick. * And it turns out that this will be their last summer at Magic Castle Playland–ever–unless she can find a way to stop it from closing.
Jennifer Dugan’s sparkling debut coming-of-age queer romance stars a princess, a pirate, a hot dog, and a carousel operator who find love–and themselves–in unexpected people and unforgettable places.
Though the Goodreads rating is on the lower side (3.49), I’ve seen plenty of good reviews for this one, and it sounds absolutely adorable.
Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. She rolls her eyes instead of screaming when they blatantly favor her brother and she dresses conservatively at home, saving her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don’t know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.
But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Only through reading her grandmother’s old diary is Rukhsana able to gain some much needed perspective.
Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life?
A year on my TBR, and this one DEFINITELY still holds up for me–sounds like an amazing, POC/LGBTQ+ novel!
Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her boyfriend—before she’s banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.
Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance—and the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.
As Nikki’s time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s queen.
As much as I love Greek mythology retellings, the love triangle came very close to making me want to throw up in my mouth…
Henry Denton has spent years being periodically abducted by aliens. Then the aliens give him an ultimatum: The world will end in 144 days, and all Henry has to do to stop it is push a big red button.
Only he isn’t sure he wants to.
After all, life hasn’t been great for Henry. His mom is a struggling waitress held together by a thin layer of cigarette smoke. His brother is a jobless dropout who just knocked someone up. His grandmother is slowly losing herself to Alzheimer’s. And Henry is still dealing with the grief of his boyfriend’s suicide last year.
Wiping the slate clean sounds like a pretty good choice to him.
But Henry is a scientist first, and facing the question thoroughly and logically, he begins to look for pros and cons: in the bully who is his perpetual one-night stand, in the best friend who betrayed him, in the brilliant and mysterious boy who walked into the wrong class. Weighing the pain and the joy that surrounds him, Henry is left with the ultimate choice: push the button and save the planet and everyone on it…or let the world—and his pain—be destroyed forever.
This one sounds rough, but deeply profound. Still in.
Kitty dreams of a beautiful life, but that’s impossible in suburban London where her family is haunted by her father’s unexpected death. So when her mum suggests moving to Amsterdam to try a new life, Kitty doesn’t take much persuading. Will this be her opportunity to make her life picture perfect?
In Amsterdam she meets moody, unpredictable Ethan, and clever, troubled Theo. Two enigmatic boys, who each harbour their own secrets. In a beautiful city and far from home, Kitty finds herself falling in love for the first time.
But will love be everything she expected? And will anyone’s heart survive?
Despite the title, this one really doesn’t sound awfully compelling–or original, for that matter. Aaaaaaand of course we’ve got another love triangle.
When Miranda Black’s mother abandoned her, she took everything—the sun, moon, and stars—and Miranda found shelter in her friendship with Syd, who wore her own motherlessness like a badge of honor: Our mothers abandoned us. We won’t go begging for scraps.
When Syd runs away suddenly and inexplicably in the middle of their senior year, Miranda is abandoned once again, left to untangle the questions of why Syd left, where she is—and if she’s even a friend worth saving. Her only clue is Syd’s discarded pink leopard print cell phone and a single text contained there from the mysterious HIM. Along the way, forced to step out from Syd’s enormous shadow, Miranda finds herself stumbling into first love with Nick Allison of all people and learning what it means to be truly seen, to be finally not missing in her own life.
Hmm…I’d completely forgotten about this one. I was on the fence when I first re-read the synopsis, but I think this one could be interesting.
The end of the world happens in the blink of an eye.
When The Snap sweeps the globe, everyone can instantly hear everything that everyone else is thinking. As secrets and lies are laid bare, suburbs and cities explode into insanity and violence. What might have been an evolutionary leap instead initiates the apocalypse.
Sixteen-year-old Danby Armstrong’s telepathy works very differently. She can tune into other people but they can’t tune into her. With only this slender defence, Danby must protect her little brother and reach the safety of her mother’s mountain retreat. But it’s 100 kilometres away and the highways are blocked by thousands of cars and surrounded by millions of people coming apart at the psychic seams.
Danby’s escape is made even more dangerous by another cataclysm that threatens humanity’s extinction. And her ability to survive this new world will be tested by a charismatic young man whose power to save lives may be worse than death itself.
The Snap, huh? Sounds familiar…
[ahem] Anyway, the concept of the end of mankind being caused by a deluge of telepathy actually sounds fairly original and compelling.
It’s been four years since a meteorite hit Perdido Beach and Everyone disappeared. Gone. Everyone, except the kids trapped in the FAYZ – an invisible dome that was created by an alien virus. Inside the FAYZ, animals began to mutate and teens developed dangerous powers. the terrifying new world was plagued with hunger, lies, and fear of the unknown.
Now, four years later, meteorites are hitting Earth with a virus that is even deadlier. Humans will mutate into creates with power…and the whole world will be exposed.
But power corrupts. As some teens begin to morph into heroes, they will find that others become dangerously out of control and that the world is on the brink of a monstrous battle between good and evil.
And there is only one thing more terrifying than the fear of the unknown: when history repeats itself.
In this first of a trilogy, Michael Grant has created a stunning follow-up to the globally bestselling Gone series.
Oops, I’m an idiot, I need to read another trilogy before I can understand what’s going on in this one…
Eden has always had two loves: her best friend, Lacey, and her crush, Will. And then, almost simultaneously, she loses them both. Will to a car accident and Lacey to the inevitable growing up and growing apart.
Devastated by the holes they have left in her life, Eden finds solace in an unlikely place. Before he died, Will set up an account with In Good Company, a service that uploads voices and emails and creates a digital companion that can be called anytime, day or night. It couldn’t come at a better time because, after losing Lacey–the hardest thing Eden has had to deal with–who else can she confide all her secrets to? Who is Eden without Lacey?
As Eden falls deeper into her relationship with “Will,” she hardly notices as her real life blooms around her. There is a new job, new friends. Then there is Oliver. He’s Lacey’s twin, so has always been off-limits to her, until now. He may be real, but to have him, will Eden be able to say goodbye to Will?
Eh? Something about this doesn’t sit right with me. Sounds like an exploration of the role of the internet in our lives, but I’m not sure if I’m completely on board.
Parvin Blackwater has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside.
In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the crooked justice system. But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence.
What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out.
I mean…the concept of how one would live one’s life if they knew when they were going to die is interesting, but at this point, it’s been done so many times that it’s gone stale. Nope.
VERDICT: LET GO
LET GO: 5
Another 50-50 split for today’s Down the TBR Hole…
Though this one wasn’t quite as productive as some of my other ones, I certainly found a lot of books that I’d forgotten about that sound fascinating. Here’s hoping that I can find a few of these on the Kindle library…
I’d almost forgotten about how good this song was…
That’s it for this week’s Down the TBR Hole! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
I’ve decided to start doing a weekly Top 5 Saturday! This was originally started by Devouring Books, and it sounded like such a fun post to take part in. Today’s topic is books with plants/flowers–it can be in the plot, the cover, or the title.
Share your top 5 books of the current topic– these can be books that you want to read, have read and loved, have read and hated, you can do it any way you want.
Hey, gotta fit that in a few times a year…my sacred duty as a Star Wars fan…
Aaaaanyway, I finished this one up not too long ago. It had been on my TBR for a while, and I mentioned it in one of my Down the TBR Hole posts a few months back. In my endless search for quality sci-fi, I often push fantasy and other genres aside, so I figured that Roar would be a good change of scenery. And overall? A well-imagined and well-written fantasy!
Enjoy this week’s review!
Roar (Stormheart, #1)
In a ruthless land where violent storms rule all, Aurora is next in line to inherit the throne of Pavan. Forced into an arranged marriage and lacking in the storm-controlling powers that define Pavan royalty, she is unsure of her next move. But before she can resort to lying, her betrothed, Cassius Locke, sweeps her into the underbelly of Pavan, telling her of the black market business of buying and selling Stormling powers. Now, Aurora–under the alias of Roar–thinks she has all of her problems solved. But what is the cost of stealing something that is rightfully earned?
Overall, Roar didn’t overtly exceed or fall below my expectations; my expectations were adequately met. The worldbuilding, as well as all of the lore surrounding the Storm magic, was fascinating to dig into. There was clearly a lot of time put into developing the mythology around the magic system, and although the use of gems as a plot device is vastly overdone, I…sort of think it works? I guess? I dunno. Could’ve been a bit more creative.
As far as the character department goes, I didn’t feel a great attachment to any of the characters, but I loved the misfitty team dynamic that they began to have about a third of the way through. Once Roar and Locke got together with the rest of *the gang*, they had wonderful chemistry, and played off of each other with ease. However, the romance was what mainly made me feel iffy. Locke was chock-full of tropes, and the fact that he and Aurora/Roar start getting all heart-eyes for each other MERE HOURS AFTER MEETING… a) Insta-love, the bane of my existence, and b) uh, Locke? Ever hear of something called CONSENT? HMM? So that was…very weird. Not ideal. I suppose it got the teensiest bit better after they got to know each other better, but still veeeery uncomfortable for the first 100-ish pages of the book.
In conclusion, Roar had some well-executed elements and an interesting magic system, but fell flat (almost problematically so) in some respects. 3.5 stars, but the .5 mostly comes from the team dynamic that comes later on in the book.
Roar is the first book of the Stormheart trilogy, which also includes Rage (book 2, released 2019) and Reign (to be published this August). Not sure if I like it enough to continue with the trilogy, but I’ll think about that.
One of those rare covers that surpasses the original material. More on that here…
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
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 ethereal 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.