Posted in Monthly Wrap-Ups

November 2022 Wrap-Up 🍽

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

The snow outside my window says December, but mentally, I feel like it’s September, and somehow it’s technically November…time is an illusion huh

GENERAL THOUGHTS:

I’ve probably said this several times before, but I’m still baffled that my first semester of college is almost over! It feels like there should be months, not weeks, left to go through. But no, I suppose not, and my winter break lasts nearly a month! What a relief to not have finals just days before Christmas like in high school…

I’ve had some fun, regardless. As the temperatures have been dropping, I’ve been bundling up and drinking an excess of hot chocolate (big thank you to my mom). I’ve been able to read more frequently now that I’m a bit more settled in, and it’s been a mixed bag, but there have definitely been some hits among the misses. I called off NaNoWriMo for myself this years since I haven’t adjusted all the way, and plus, I usually plan for a while beforehand, and that just…didn’t happen.

Other than that, I’ve just been drawing (getting the hang of digital art, I think), watching Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Wendell & Wild, sleeping in and eating way too much over Thanksgiving Break, and having to wear enough layers to restrict any mobility in my arms. Welcome to Colorado, folks.

READING AND BLOGGING:

I read 17 books this month! Less than I usually read in a month, for sure, but I haven’t been able to read quite as much because I’m still getting used to college and all. Plus, finals season looms…

1 – 1.75 stars:

The All-Consuming World

2 – 2.75 stars:

The Lost Apothecary

3 – 3.75 stars:

Soul of the Deep

4 – 4.75 stars:

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH: The Trouble with White Women: A Counterhistory of Feminism4.5 stars

POSTS I’M PROUD OF:

POSTS FROM OTHER WONDERFUL PEOPLE THAT I ENJOYED:

SONGS/ALBUMS THAT I ENJOYED:

sad girl autumn never ends
the power this song exudes is unparalleled
so so gorgeous, thanks to my brother (and his gf) for this one
I’ve never been the biggest Elton John fan, but the new Antman trailer (however mediocre it was lol) reminded me that I liked this one
YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH
can’t wait for this album!!

Today’s song:

this song makes me so happy 🙂

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

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Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (11/22/22) – The Depths

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I found out about The Depths after Nicole Lesperance’s other YA novel, The Wide Starlight, was my first 5-star read of the year. (For my review of The Wide Starlight, click here!) After it came out, I was excited to read it after how much The Wide Starlight impacted me. I knew going into The Depths that it would be a very different kind of book, and that was certainly the case—compared to Starlight, it was a slight disappointment, but when separated from Lesperance’s other works, it’s a unique horror story with a creative setting.

Enjoy this week’s review!

The Depths – Nicole Lesperance

After a free-diving accident left her medically dead for several minutes, 17-year-old Adeline Spencer has to tag along with her mother and step-father on their honeymoon. In a secluded, nearly uninhabited island, Addie is supposed to stay put while she recovers from her near-fatal lung injury. But Eulalie Island is full of strange secrets—birds that seem to call her name, flowers that bleed bloodred sap, and a 200-year history of mysterious deaths. When she uncovers a centuries-old mystery hidden in a remote cave system , Addie must rescue herself from the same fate before Eulalie Island takes her in as one of its own.

TW/CW (from the author): death, past child death, blood, drowning, venomous insects/arachnids (spiders, centipedes, etc.)

I’m not much of a horror person, but after The Wide Starlight captured my heart, I was willing to give this novel a try. Sadly, The Depths didn’t blow me away like her previous novel did, but it still held its own with its unique take on a spine-chilling ghost story.

What really saved The Depths for me was its unique approach to the genre. Even though I don’t read/watch much horror at all, I’ve seen hardly any horror stories that take place in tropical locations. The secluded setting of Eulalie Island was the perfect, underused setup for a story like this—a chilling history of shipwrecks and sickness, cave systems that are all too easy to get lost in, and plenty of creepy crawlies to go around—not to mention the color-changing flowers that appear to bleed. (If I hadn’t already been dissuaded before, The Depths further convinced me that I’m not going caving any time soon.) Despite the supernatural elements, there were so many elements that felt real, and that’s part of what made it so successful. The Depths is a fantastic case study in using all aspects of your setting to make the most of your story.

I also love how Lesperance wove all of these centuries of history into her mystery; it’s easy to establish recurring events in your story, but the detail that she put into each part of the timeline—plus the presence of the ghosts and each one of their stories—gave the plot a more tangible sense of scale and weight. Even though I’ve repeated that The Wide Starlight and The Depths are two very different novels, when they stand together, you can see how skilled Lesperance is with building history and establishing a clear and well-thought-out timeline.

However, I found several elements of the story to be rather predictable. As detailed as the timeline was, the “plot twists” were often left behind, making for plot points that were easy to see coming—and I’m saying this as someone who hardly ever reads or watches horror. Without spoiling anything, the most obvious was the twist with Sean—I remember seeing that one coming from at least 100 pages before it was revealed. To be fair, it was at least a decently clever twist, but the fact that it was so easy to predict took a little bit away from my enjoyment of the story, even though I’m not the best at maneuvering plot twists.

All in all, a solid horror story that excelled in its unique setting, but fell flat in its predictability. 3.5 stars!

The Depths is a standalone, but Nicole Lesperance is also the author of The Wide Starlight, as well as the middle grade Nightmare Thief duology (The Nightmare Thief and The Dream Spies).

Today’s song:

the single most unexpectedly motivational song I’ve ever heard and I LOVE it

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

Posted in Monthly Wrap-Ups

August/September/October Wrap-Up? (GUESS WHO’S BACK)

Hi again, bibliophiles! Long time, no see. (write?) I’m back from the grave, and I’ll do my best to make this post coherent because I know it’s been a while. My bad.

It’s taken…a while, but I’m feeling like I’m in a good place to blog more regularly for now. College was a jarring experience to settle into, but I’m starting to get the hang of it now. Being away from home for the first time was pretty scary for the first few weeks, even though my college is relatively close to where I am, but over time, I’ve gotten used to it. I’ve gotten a nice routine, I’m liking a lot of my classes (minus the obligatory math credit 🥴), and I’m making friends and…actually socializing? There’s been a lot of fun events on campus already, and I’ve been to a lot of pride stuff (a whole bisexuality day event, complete with cookie decorating and Bohemian Rhapsody) and just recently went to my first book club meeting! Of course, there have been ups (most of the aforementioned stuff), downs (the fire alarm going off at 2 am 😀), and the outright weird (seeing somebody walk into my neighbor’s dorm in a hotdog suit), but I definitely feel like I’ve made the right decision. It’s taken a good amount of Great British Bakeoff binging, but I’m feeling good.

Since this would’ve been impossibly giant if I’d structured it like I normally structure my wrap-ups, I’ll compress it this time since a) I haven’t been able to read as much, and b) a lot of what I ended up reading from August to September ended up being re-reads (the homesickness cure?).

So, here are some highlights!

WHAT I’VE BEEN UP TO LATELY:

  • So! College! I’m taking mostly English stuff for my creative writing major, so that’s been tons of fun to have that as the majority of my material. I’ve only really had tests and quizzes for my math and science credits, and my science credit is at least fun; it’s an anthropology class, so…….monke. (not to mention walking into class one time only to find that “return to monke” was actually part of the title slide of the presentation). Also, I ended up using Twitch for the first time…for the anthropology class? The professor streamed his class there because it got up to almost 100 degrees (oof) way back in September. Somehow that was where I found out about Queen Elizabeth II dying. Anyways…
  • And I’m taking a whole class! About! Comics! Ms. Marvel and On a Sunbeam and Sisters and Watchmen are on the reading list! I WROTE AN ESSAY ABOUT DR. MANHATTAN. FOR CREDIT. WHO WOULDA THUNK.
  • I saw Gorillaz in September! Easily one of the best shows I’ve ever been to. Somebody described Gorillaz concerts as “a big party with Damon Albarn,” and that’s exactly what I got. They played so many of my favorites, and the joy was infectious all the way through. Admittedly, I had just gotten what turned out to be a pretty nasty cold, but being there made me forget about it completely.
a fanmade sign that damon brought onstage
a glorious fanmade sign that Damon brought onstage
  • I’m sort of obsessed with the Great British Bakeoff now… I started watching it as a comfort thing when I was still super homesick, but I just LOVE it now. It’s the perfect feel-good show! I usually watch it before I go to bed now, and I’m going through the newest season right now! (Mexican Week, though…I swear a little piece of my soul shriveled up and died every time Paul Hollywood pronounced “pico de gallo” Like That)
  • I love this campus! I got my dorm all decorated so it’s nice and homey, the hall I live in is really close to my classes, and now that it’s fall, the trees look so beautiful. It was still pretty hot for a while, but we’ve had some beautiful fall days. I went for a walk after class one day just to get coffee and take pictures of the leaves.
leaves for your viewing pleasure

College has definitely been a rocky transition, but nonetheless, it’s starting to feel familiar. It helps that the majority of my classes are more tailored to my interests and that my dorm is nice and cozy.

Since it’s taken a bit to settle in and I’ve had a good amount to read for my classes, I haven’t had quite as much time to free read. But slowly but surely, I’ve been reading more, and I’ve lurked in the library (wonderfully close to my dorm) to find stuff to read. Normally, I list off everything I’ve read for the month, but since this wrap-up encompasses three months, I’ll just narrow it down to the highlights. (Plus, most of the end of August and a good chunk of September were re-reads. I’ll include a few on there, but I don’t want an overly long list.)

SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE LAST THREE MONTHS OF READING:

Call Us What We Carry
  • Re-reading the entirety of the Aurora Cycle (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff): you all saw that coming…and yeah, my Auri & Kal print is now right above the mirror in my dorm. Bi panic from the comfort of your own home! (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
  • Call Us What We Carry – Amanda Gorman: My brother got me this for my birthday (thank you!). I don’t regularly read poetry, but it’d be a crime to rate anything by Amanda Gorman less than 5 stars. Truly astounding. (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
  • The Complete Maus – Art Spiegelman: This was part of a unit in my comics class about the 1986 Trifecta (this, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore’s Watchmen), and I was absolutely floored. It’s raw, it transcends time, and it’s easily the most fleshed-out story of generational trauma that I’ve ever experienced. It wasn’t an easy read, and I didn’t expect it to be in any sense of the word—Maus found me crying at least three separate times. And I’ll stand by the fact that it should be essential reading. (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)
  • The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires – Grady Hendrix: this one had been on my tbr for a little while, but it was one of the picks for book club for October, so I finally got around to reading it. I don’t read a lot of horror, but I’d say this was solid—an interesting spin on the typical perspective, and loads of all the absolutely vile body horror you’d expect from a vampire book, paired with the general horror of…cockroaches trying to crawl in your ear. (this is why I’m glad my parents moved me away from the South at a young age.) Also, pro tip—not the best book to pick up when it’s 2 AM and you can’t fall back asleep. Basically the book equivalent of “Intruder” coming on shuffle while I was trying to sleep. (Which also happened…the night I moved into my dorm, no less. Anyways.) Speaking from experience, both are better enjoyed in broad daylight. (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)
  • The Lost Girls – Sonia Hartl: I was just looking for something campy-spooky to tide me over, and I didn’t expect to like it this much! Spooky and campy it was, and who doesn’t enjoy a team of queer vampires from different time periods hunting down the man who turned them? It got strangely existential at times, which was more than a little jarring, but it was the perfect queer book for spooky season. (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
  • Watchmen – Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons: again, part of my assigned reading for comics class, but this was my second time around reading it. I was ready to not like it when I first read it, chiefly because 95% of the characters were just the most despicable, horrendous, vile characters known to man (which I still stand by, and I still think that a lot of readers sadly didn’t recognize), but it all came around in the last few chapters. Reading it a second time really allowed me to absorb all the details (nothing gives you that sense of “big brain time” like finding every little smiley face and blood-spatter shape hidden in the background), and it made me realize all over again how skilled Alan Moore is at creating a world; I can’t think of another piece of media that realizes its world as fully as Watchmen‘s does. There’s a reason this one is a classic. Now I’m tempted to rewatch the show… (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
if this panel didn’t make your jaw fall to the floor, you’re lying
  • A Prayer for the Crown-Shy (Monk & Robot, #2) – Becky Chambers: the queen of quiet, feel-good sci-fi does it again! I had this one on hold for a while after I finished A Psalm for the Wild-Built, and I’m glad to say that book 2 was just as tender, sweet, and warm-and-fuzzy as its predecessor. This one’s another one that got me choked up, but in an entirely different way—who knew that a robot holding a baby for the first time would make me so emotional? We love Mosscap in this house. (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)
  • I Am the Ghost in Your House – Mar Romasco Moore: never thought that a story about an invisible bisexual girl would hit me this hard, but here we are. I picked this one up entirely on a whim, and for the most part, it floored me—incredible prose and well-thought-out in every aspect, I Am the Ghost in Your House is the perfect example of the sheer potency of magical realism. I’m gonna try review this one soon…hopefully I can keep my promise there. Either way, I’d highly recommend it. (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)

And because it wouldn’t be a Bookish Mutant post without it…

WHAT I’VE BEEN LISTENING TO FOR THE LAST THREE MONTHS OR SO:

Chances are, I’ll probably permanently associate this one with walking to class for the first few weeks of school. Infectiously joyous and catchy.
Petition to slip this into some kind of X-Men project solely because of the title? Anyways, also a “walking to class in August” kind of song, but a weird juxtaposition of calmly walking to the library whilst Joe Talbot screams “I PUT HOMOPHOBES IN COFFINS” in my ears. Love me some IDLES.
I’m not usually the biggest Love & Rockets fan, but this just hooked me instantly—it feels so intoxicatingly trip-hop, so smooth and catchy. According to my brother, the whole album is generally in this vein, so I’ll definitely listen to it at some point.
I’ve said before that Kate Bush is generally hit or miss for me, but when she hits me, she hits me. I’ve realized now that I think I just like earlier Kate Bush better—I ADORE this and “Wuthering Heights,” and I’ve been a fan of most everything I’ve heard off of Lionheart as well. But this…THIS. It’s got such a contagious groove, so reminiscent of David Bowie but also just pure Kate Bush doing her thing. Music video notwithstanding, this one’s a gem.
Dry Food was a no-skip album all the way through! This one was my favorite, though—”Molly” is where this quality shows up the most, but I love how Palehound’s songs aren’t afraid to unravel themselves, completely tearing the structure apart by the end of the song. Plus, who doesn’t love a king-sized dose of fuzzy guitars?
Nothing like a heady dose of bright, bubbly, 70’s pop to brighten the mood. It’s a walking-to-class song, it’s a dancing-alone-in-your-dorm song, it’s a sitting-down-and-doing nothing song, it’s good for everything.
…do I really need to explain this one? Come on.
Last one, I promise, and what a left turn that was from Parliament. Oops. (Rare glimpse into my shuffle?) Chilling, atmospheric, and classic Danny Elfman to the core, it’s easy to see where Big Mess came from after this.

This is probably a good place to cap it off, so here we are. I think I’m in a place where I can return to a semi-consistent version of my old schedule; I’ll definitely try and do my weekly reviews, at the very least, but I’m feeling a lot more settled in than I was when I last posted. Hope you’re all doing well, and lots of love to all of you. And more importantly—happy Halloween! 🎃

Today’s song:

YEEAAAAAAAAH THAT’S RIGHT HAPPY HALLOWEEN FELLAS

That’s it for this monstrously large wrap-up! It’s good to be back. Have a wonderful rest of your day, take care of yourselves, and have a safe and spooky Halloween! 🧛🏼‍♀️

Posted in Monthly Wrap-Ups

July 2022 Wrap-Up 🫠

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles!

As you can see above, the melting emoji represents my slow melting, a la the Wicked Witch of the West, because July in Colorado always threatens to melt me into a slushy puddle. At least we got some rain. (And hail, one time? got enough that it looked like snow in certain parts of the yard…)

GENERAL THOUGHTS:

Hot as it was, I’d say that July was another good month of summer. I’ve had tons more time to read and relax, and even though college is always on my mind nowadays, the time off has been good to collect my thoughts. I’ve gone hiking a few times, seen some fun movies, and tried to exercise a little more.

I got to read tons this month, and although it was generally a mixed bag (a lot more books in the 3-star range than usual), I still found some gems in the mix. For Disability Pride Month, I tried to focus on books with disabled characters, and I’ve found some reads with great disability rep—including the first book I’ve ever read with SPD rep! (Thanks, Carolyn Mackler!!) Camp NanoWriMo is nearly over—it’s had its ups and downs (couldn’t find the stats page for a while and fell behind on my word count, hit command v instead of command b and accidentally pasted the whole Pinnochio trailer into my document), but I’m so close to 45,000 words now!!

Other than that, I’ve just been playing my guitar, recovering from the last two episodes of Stranger Things (OW), seeing Thor: Love and Thunder (pure Taika Waititi fun), drawing, and listening to an excess of Peter Gabriel.

Also, I figured I’d give everybody an update on Ringo, since I haven’t posted about him much since we got him; he’s 7 months old now and even more of a menace to society, but he has the sweetest face…

the face of a serial foot biter

READING AND BLOGGING:

I read 25 books this month! This is probably gonna be the most books I’ll be able to read in a month, since it’s the middle of summer. It was a mixed bag, as always, but I found a few amazing 5-star reads in the bunch.

1 – 1.75 stars:

Among Thieves

2 – 2.75 stars:

Fortune Favors the Dead

3 – 3.75 stars:

Breathe and Count Back from Ten

4 – 4.75 stars:

Not If I Can Help It

5 stars:

The Reckless Kind

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH: The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects – 5 stars

The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects

POSTS I’M PROUD OF :

POSTS FROM OTHER WONDERFUL PEOPLE THAT I ENJOYED:

SONGS/ALBUMS THAT I ENJOYED:

yeah spoiler alert I did listen to more Peter Gabriel
Kate Bush is hit or miss for me but when she hits it for me she HITS it
going through an 80’s period this month I guess??
HOOOOOOOOOOOWEE time go to back to my sad girl roots
I haven’t listened to much Japanese Breakfast but I fell in love with this one INSTANTLY
MORE PETER GABRIEL BC I LOVED SO
I really need to listen to more IDLES bc I’ve loved every song I’ve heard of theirs

DID I FOLLOW THROUGH ON MY JULY GOALS?

  • Read at least 20 books: 25!
  • Get through Camp NaNoWriMo: We’ll see about that later tonight…

GOALS FOR AUGUST:

  • Get through the first few weeks of college (AAAAAA)
  • Enjoy my birthday (which also happens to be on the first day of classes…yeehaw😀)

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (7/19/22) – Not If I Can Help It

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Ever since I realized that literature has been something I could see myself in, I’ve been looking high and low for books with SPD representation. For years, all I managed to find were help books for parents SPD children (again—not diminishing their value, I was just looking for something else) and hardly any fiction in sight. By some miracle, I ended up coming across this book recently, and I was elated to find a book that finally reflected my disability! I set my expectations hesitantly high, but I ended up adoring Not If I Can Help It; I wish I had it when I was Willa’s age.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Not If I Can Help It – Carolyn Mackler

Willa has Sensory Processing Disorder—she hates the texture of certain foods, tags and seams on clothes irritate her to no end, and she gets overwhelmed easily. With her occupational therapist, she’s been able to manage it—and keep it a secret from her 5th-grade class. But when her dad breaks the news that he’s engaged to her best friend’s mom, she struggles to handle the change—she loves her best friend Ruby, but being her sister would be another situation entirely. As 5th grade draws to a close, can she and Ruby work things out—as best friends, and as sisters?

TW/CW: sensory overload, bullying

I’m going to go so far as to say that Not If I Can Help It is a fairly monumental book for me. It’s the first book I’ve ever read with a protagonist who has SPD, and as somebody with SPD, it fills my heart to see myself in a book like this. I’m so, so, so glad this book exists.

I’ve been trying to find any kind of SPD fiction for years, and Not If I Can Help It surprised me with how realistically and respectfully SPD was handled. I related so much to Willa—even though our specific brands of SPD differed (Willa’s seems to be more tactile, whereas mine are mainly auditory), I related so much to Willa’s experience, from her experience with handling change to the everyday things she does with her parents to cope with her SPD. (I JUST GOT MY OWN BODY SOCK TOO??? we love the body sock in this house) I’ve been going back to OT in preparation for college lately, and I also loved the scenes with Willa and her therapist in the sensory gym—again, so respectfully written and authentic! Mackler mentions in the acknowledgments that Not If I Can Help It was partially based off of her experience with one of her sons, who has SPD, and this is bound to be a book that so many of us with SPD will relate to—I certainly did.

It’s been a while since I’ve read any middle grade, but the gap was a lot easier to bridge than I thought it would be. Mackler’s writing, along with our shared experience, made me instantly feel for Willa. She’s such a unique, determined character, so full of life and spirit. I loved her individual quirks, and her growth over the novel made me wish that I had this kind of book when I was her age—I could’ve used a Willa when I was going into middle school. (Also, kudos to Willa for managing her SPD on top of living in MANHATTAN, wow…)

The story was additionally a super sweet one. I completely related to Willa’s reticence to having change, and all of the changes she experiences (her dad getting married to her best friend’s mom, going to middle school, and her longtime babysitter moving, to name a few) served to help her grow so much as a character. All of the supporting characters were wonderfully unique in their own ways, adding not only to the story, but helping to emphasize the point, to paraphrase Ruby’s mom, that we all have our “things” going on—not everybody is as normal as you may think they are, and that there will be all kinds of people to support you along your journey.

All in all, a book that I sorely wished that I’d been able to read when I was younger, but one that I’m so glad I got to read here and now. This is the first book with SPD rep that I’ve read, and given how authentically it was represented, it will always have a special place in my heart. Thanks so much to Carolyn Mackler and Willa. 💗 4.5 stars!

Not If I Can Help It is a standalone, but Carolyn Mackler is also the author of several middle grade and YA books, including Tangled, Infinite In Between, Love and Other Four-Letter Words, and The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things.

Today’s song:

adding this song to my internal list of songs with god tier intros

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