Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (8/11/20)–Honor Lost (The Honors, #3)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles! I hope you’re all having a lovely week, and that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy.

Those who’ve managed to stick around this blog for a while know how much I’ve loved The Honors trilogy. The world of YA sci-fi–particularly space opera–is a small one, and it’s hard to come by one that has the perfect mix of elements that make for a thrilling joyride through the universe. So you can imagine how excited I was to finally get my hands on the final book in the trilogy (and it wasn’t just because I could finally talk about it with my school librarian, who read it before I did 🤣). And I’m happy to announce that Honor Lost did not disappoint!

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for the two previous books, Honor Among Thieves and Honor Bound, so tread lightly if you have not read them and intend to!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: Honor Lost (Honors) (9780062571052): Caine, Rachel ...

Honor Lost (The Honors, #3)–Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine

My library copy, feat. some more quality sci-fi

Anything that you can imagine in the universe, Zara Cole has likely fought against it. Be it human crime bosses, vengeful Leviathans, or gangs of power-hungry aliens, she, Nadim, Bea, and the rest of their ragtag crew have faced it down. But now, they may have gotten into a war that they can’t escape from.

Lifekiller, an interstellar entity bent on devouring all worlds that fall in its path, is on the hunt. And Zara and her crew are at the top of its Most Wanted list. Can her newfound family defeat this world-swallowing entity–or will they fall prey to it?

The Empire Strikes Back (1980) - Ending Scene GIF | Gfycat

Finishing a series is always bittersweet. There’s a satisfaction of what happens to our beloved heroes, but it’s always followed by the lingering feeling like you’re saying goodbye to a friend. And now that the Honors trilogy has come to a close, I can say with certainty that it will always have a special place in my heart. Aguirre and Caine pull out all the stops to make a blazing firework of a final installment.

You all know how much of a sucker I am for the found family trope, and Honor Lost has made the sweetest, most tender, and lovable gang of space misfits! Besides the original crew of Zara, Nadim, and Bea, we also get to see more of Chao-Xing (absolutely iconic), Starcurrent (MY PRECIOUS CHILD), Xyll (objectively deserves better), Suncross and the rest of his crew (“Cheers, I’ll drink to that, bro”), and all the rest. They each had such distinct personalities and impeccable chemistry, making for a cast of characters that made me feel every feel in the universe.

Now, CAN WE TALK ABOUT ZARA AND BEA? At this point, I think they’re one of my favorite couples in YA sci-fi. Period. Not only do we have a sapphic, multiracial relationship, they bounce so well off of each other, and they have the most caring and beautiful relationship. I just…[happy queer tears]

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Going off of that…this is one of the only aspects I wasn’t a fan of in the novel, but how Nadim factored into the relationship. Let me make myself clear–I’m 100% fine with polyamory, but what makes this kind of odd to me is the fact that one party is…well, y’know, a sentient alien spaceship. A spaceship. There’s obviously a connection between the three of them, but I felt like it could have worked just as well if Nadim’s role was purely platonic. Then again, you’re talking to someone who’s favorite movie is The Shape of Water (and yes, I did think that *the scene* was plenty weird, but it didn’t take away from the film for me), so take that as you will. Like the aforementioned film, though, this didn’t take away from my rating of the novel, mostly because I have a major soft spot for Nadim. Gotta love him.

Even though the Lifekiller is your standard, world-devouring, overpowered sci-fi villain, Aguirre and Caine made it work–he lurks more at the edges of the novel, not truly showing up in full until the climax. Add in some past grudges from Zara, and there’s plenty of heart-pounding conflict to carry the final installment. Through it all, there’s resonant and timely themes of acceptance, family, and individuality, making for a beautiful sendoff for an unforgettable trilogy.

Overall, a thrilling and heartstring-tugging end to a sci-fi trilogy that is not to be missed. 5 stars!

james mcavoy | Tumblr shared by Lux on We Heart It
Will I include an X-Men gif in every post I make this week? Stay tuned to find out!

Honor Lost is the final book in the Honors trilogy, preceded by Honor Among Thieves (book 1) and Honor Bound (book 2). Both Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine have other works in several genres besides this trilogy.

Today’s song:

ALL RISE FOR THE COTTAGECORE NATIONAL ANTHEM

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

Posted in Books, Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (8/10/20)–The Infinite Noise

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

The novel I’m going over today is a far more recent addition to my TBR. Found family vibes and powers? Consider me completely hooked.

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (8/10/20)–THE INFINITE NOISE by Lauren Shippen

Amazon.com: The Infinite Noise: A Bright Sessions Novel (The ...

Blurb from Goodreads:

Caleb Michaels is a sixteen-year-old champion running back. Other than that his life is pretty normal. But when Caleb starts experiencing mood swings that are out of the ordinary for even a teenager, his life moves beyond “typical.”

Caleb is an Atypical, an individual with enhanced abilities. Which sounds pretty cool except Caleb’s ability is extreme empathy—he feels the emotions of everyone around him. Being an empath in high school would be hard enough, but Caleb’s life becomes even more complicated when he keeps getting pulled into the emotional orbit of one of his classmates, Adam. Adam’s feelings are big and all-consuming, but they fit together with Caleb’s feelings in a way that he can’t quite understand.

Caleb’s therapist, Dr. Bright, encourages Caleb to explore this connection by befriending Adam. As he and Adam grow closer, Caleb learns more about his ability, himself, his therapist—who seems to know a lot more than she lets on—and just how dangerous being an Atypical can be.

So why do I want to read this?

Mutant and Proud (Peter Parker x Reader) - Cast🕷Part One | X men ...

I usually cut out the blurbs and such from the Goodreads synopsis, but I figured I would share the one at the bottom of The Infinite Noise:

“What if the X-Men, instead of becoming superheroes, decided to spend some time in therapy?”

-Vox, on The Bright Sessions

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand you had me at X-Men.

This one’s based off of a podcast, which I’ve never previously heard of, but I’m willing to go in completely blind. (I really don’t listen to podcasts much at all, for reasons I can’t place.)

That aside, this novel sounds so exciting! The Infinite Noise sounds like a superhero story with a unique, introspective twist. Not only do we have some great LGBTQ+ representation, I’m excited to see Caleb’s powers; there’s something that makes me so happy to see a male character with powers connected to his emotion. In a society that all too often belittles men for crying and feeling emotion, here we have a character who’s going through the all-too-human struggle of exploring his own emotions–and his superpowers. So that’s a wonderful step, and a necessary one in the pantheon of superpowered literature.

In short: I’m here for a timely, progressive, and romantic superhero story. GIMME ALL THEM X-MEN VIBES!

Charles xavier movies GIF - Find on GIFER

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (8/4/20)–Into the Crooked Place

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I know I’ve been focusing a lot of my reviews and memes on fantasy in the past few weeks, but I promise that I’ll put in some sci-fi and other genres soon(ish). But the novel I’m reviewing today is vastly underrated, so I thought I’d spread the word.

I was browsing Edelweiss for eARCs to request the other day, and I stumbled upon a new book by Alexandra Christo. I’d liked To Kill a Kingdom before, and I figured that I’d give her another try. As it turns out, the book that I found was a sequel, and that book 1, Into the Crooked Place, was available at my library. To my surprise, I liked it even more than TKaK–a thrilling fantasy with a lovable cast of characters!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo

Into the Crooked Place–Alexandra Christo

My library copy feat. the kale plant on our front porch

In a city as filled with crime as it is with magic, four unlikely criminals must join forces to halt an unstoppable evil.

Tavia makes a living as a busker, hawking magic to whoever wants it. Wesley is a feared crime lord, and the right-hand man of a gangster who has the city of Creije tightly clenched in his fist. Saxony is an undercover agent of the resistance, working to take down the crime empire that rules over her city. Karam watches over the worst of the worst, while building her reputation as a formidable fighter.

The four are drawn together after Tavia makes a critical mistake, and a vial of dark magic falls in the wrong hands. What seems like one misstep soon turns into a web of conspiracy and the threat of a magical war.

ShitpostBot 5000
-Tavia, probably

For such a low rating on Goodreads (3.43), I enjoyed nearly every page of Into the Crooked Place! At this point, comparing it to To Kill a Kingdom is like comparing apples and oranges–they’re both fantasies, but they’re very different novels. Either way, I enjoyed this one even more. Boasting a cast of characters with impeccable chemistry, magic, political intrigue, LGBTQ+ representation, and no shortage of witty banter, this novel is a must-read.

Into the Crooked Place is definitely a very character-driven novel, which worked well for the plot. Save for Wesley, who…okay, not gonna lie, was evident that Christo was trying far too hard to make Kaz Brekker 2: Electric Boogaloo, I adored all of the main characters. Tavia had no shortage of hilarious lines and antics, and I loved watching her character develop. Saxony was wonderful as well, but I think Karam is my favorite of the four. She reminded me a lot of a girl version of Kal from Aurora Rising, and she just warmed my heart. She and Saxony had the sweetest relationship, and they’re just [happiness noises] SO CUTE TOGETHER. So props to Christo for not only having a casual wlw relationship, but making it ADORABLE.

Must Be Protected At All Costs Bricky GIF ...

They all had wonderful chemistry, and it made for a wonderful execution of the found family trope.

Like I said, it’s definitely a more character-driven novel. Though the plot was a little bit weak, it almost fully made up for it in the explorations of the individual characters. Want to get to know them? Just put them all in a near-death experience and throw them on a train and see what happens. A good third of the book occurs in a single train car, and Christo managed to make me enjoy every second of it.

The world-building left a little to be desired, but what it lacked in structure, it made up for with the individual, original elements. All the little quirks of the magic system made for an interesting read, especially…BATS. I LOVED THE LITTLE MESSENGER BATS! What can go wrong with that?

Flying Bats GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Overall, an exciting and character-driven fantasy that wasn’t without its flaws, but a fun ride all the way. 4 stars!

Bat GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Into the Crooked Place is the first in a duology, ending with City of Spells, which comes out next March.

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Geeky Stuff

Cursed–Netflix Review ⚔️

Wanneer komt Cursed seizoen 2 op Netflix?

Hello again, bibliophiles!

I don’t do many reviews of movies and TV shows here, but I figured that I would pour out some thoughts for this one. After reading Thomas Wheeler and Frank Miller’s Cursed back in April (and loving it), I figured that I would give the Netflix adaptation a try, since I didn’t have much else to watch save for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (which I’m steadily binging at the moment). I finished the show in about a week, and overall, I liked it–for the most part, a faithful adaptation, but at times, a forgettable one. I don’t regret watching it, but it’s nowhere near my favorite show.

Movie Review: The legend of King Arthur is reenvisioned in ...

In summary: Cursed is a 10-episode adaptation of Wheeler and Miller’s 2019 novel, a retelling of Arthurian legend before King Arthur pulled the sword from the stone. It follows Nimue (Katherine Langford), a Fey girl whose home has just been burned down by the Red Paladins, an army of monks bent on purging the Fey from Europe. Her mother’s dying wish was for her to deliver the Sword of Power to Merlin (Gustaf Skarsgård), and Nimue, fueled by anger at the slaughter of her family and people, sets off to find the famed wizard. Joining forces with Arthur (Devon Terrell), she goes in search of Merlin, only to discover that the sword that she wields may have a darker power than she could have ever imagined.

Alright, folks…below, I’ll break down what I liked and didn’t like, so be prepared for quite a bit of rambling! This review/breakdown may contain some spoilers, so be warned.

THE GREAT:

  • The opening title sequence and transitions: Absolutely GORGEOUS. The watercolor style was so detailed and beautiful, and it meshed so well with the general mood of the show.
  • The instrumental score: I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again: Jeff Russo can do no wrong. Though this score isn’t as notable as the ones he did for TV shows like FX’s Legion or Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy, it was certainly a masterfully composed score, especially in the opening theme and some of the songs from the final two episodes.
  • The sets/filming locations: Every single location that Cursed was filmed in was such a joy to take in. The forest setting made for countless beautiful shots, and even the more fabricated ones, especially in the Fey refugee camp of Nemos, did volumes in immersing the viewer into the story.
  • Cast diversity: Kudos to Netflix for casting a variety of actors from all different backgrounds, from the protagonists to the side characters, for the show! There’s quite a few POC characters both at the forefront (ex. Arthur and Morgana) and in the background, so that was always good to see. There was some LGBTQ+ representation as well, which I’ve been going back and forth about. Morgana, one of the protagonists, is in a sapphic relationship with Celia, but in the first few episodes, Celia is killed when their nunnery burns down. She appears in later episodes, but as an…undead puppet of a spider demon. It’s dangerously close to the horrific “bury your gays” trope, but…yeah, I don’t know. On one hand, it’s set in Medieval Europe, and in a nunnery, no less, so the relationship likely wouldn’t have ended well even if it hadn’t burned down. On the other, Celia didn’t have to be killed off/resurrected for Morgana to have character development–Celia could have run off with her, and there still could have been tension there if she had joined her, Nimue, Arthur, and the rest. I’m still unsure about it, but at least they…tried. And I think there were a few LGBTQ+ couples present in the Fey camp in the background.
  • Faithfulness to the source material: For the most part, the Netflix adaptation followed the book closely, which was great to see! There’s a few tweaked details, but they didn’t bother me much at all.
3 Brand New Netflix Shows You Should Check Out This Month - My ...

Now, some of the characters/performances that I liked:

  • Arthur and Morgana: As brother and sister, they didn’t have the best chemistry, but individually, both their performances were good! Arthur was simultaneously bumbling and steadfast, just like I imagined him in the book. Morgana was similarly endearing, and they way that the show ended, I’m interested in seeing how they *might* continue her arc.
  • Merlin: A lot of the criticism that the book got was about Merlin, specifically about how they had massacred his character, making him a more arrogant man, and more than a bit of a drunkard. But even though I love Arthurian legend as much as the next person, I understood the change–Cursed is supposed to be a prequel to the events of these legends, and it would make sense for Merlin to be a younger, more disillusioned character, before he became the wise mentor figure that we know and love. Skarsgård’s performance was well-translated from the book, and I liked following his character.
  • Uther Pendragon: He’s exactly the kind of character that you love to hate. Pendragon was the perfect, whiny and overtly arrogant and hotheaded king to contrast with the other characters.
  • The Red Paladins: Though Sister Iris was a bit underused, the Red Paladins are just as chilling as they appear in the novel.

THE NOT-SO-GREAT:

  • …Nimue: I liked her character in the book, but Langford’s acting just felt…so flat, so lacking in emotion. I wanted to root for her, but there was such a lack of heart in the character that I could barely muster up any emotion.
  • The romance: They had this in the book as well, but I wasn’t as much of a fan of it there, either. It felt like it was needlessly shoehorned in to appease the Teen™️ audience.
  • The gratuitous violence: Again, I suppose this means that it was faithful to the books, because the book was very violent, but it was definitely a bit much. Some of it felt like it was only added in for the shock value, and could have been cut out in the long run. Also, the effect of the blood splattering onto the camera lens works well in present day/more futuristic media, but it took away from the Medieval European setting.
  • The subplots: At least they got tied up at the end (somewhat), but they didn’t contribute to the story. Pym’s whole arc with the Red Spear felt wholly unnecessary, and just fan service that assumed that everyone would appreciate that they kept their comic relief character alive and giving her a romantic arc. Most of the Red Spear characters bugged me as well (especially the captain). The subplot with Morgana, Celia, and the spider demon was a little bit better, but it didn’t do much to the story, other than giving the allusion that Morgana might become more powerful than Nimue herself.
  • That awful song at the end of episode 9: OH GOD. OHHHH GOD. NOPE. Aside from being blatantly manufactured to be put in the show, it again took me out of the setting. I mean, it’s not like a medieval sea shanty would have worked any better for the scene, but I found myself rolling my eyes sky-high.
  • The acting: Even though I listed some of the good performances above, most of them were…good, but forgettable. Other than the characters listed, nobody quite stood out for me (save for Sister Iris). Decent, but nothing that blew me away.
Cursed' TV Show — Photos – Hollywood Life

Overall, Cursed wasn’t spectacular, but I don’t regret watching it. The filming locations, score, and transitions were gorgeous, and it mostly stayed true to the source material, but it was dragged down by a few unnecessary subplots and forgettable acting. I’d give it a solid 3/5.

★★★⭐︎⭐︎

Would I recommend it? I suppose I would. For all you fantasy lovers and fans of the original novel who don’t have much else to watch, I’d encourage you to give it a watch. As long as you have the stomach for quite a lot of violence, though.

Since I’ve already posted once today, check out this week’s Goodreads Monday for today’s song.

That’s it for this TV review! I hope you enjoyed it. Have a wonderful day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Books, Top 5 Saturday

Top 5 Saturday (7/25/20)–#OwnVoices Books 💞

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles!

Time for another 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 #OwnVoices books!

UPCOMING SCHEDULE FOR JULY: 

7/4/20 — Coming of Age

7/11/20 — Hyped Books

7/18/20 — Books You Own

7/25/20 —  #OwnVoices Books

Rules!

  • 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.
  • Tag the original post (This one!)
  • Tag 5 people

Let’s begin, shall we?

TOP 5 SATURDAY (7/25/20)–#OWNVOICES BOOKS

Elatsoe, Darcie Little Badger

Amazon.com: Elatsoe eBook: Little Badger, Darcie, Cai, Rovina ...

I’m so grateful that I got an eARC of this amazing book! It comes out a month from today (what are the odds?), and I’m so excited for you all to read it!

Girls of Paper and Fire, Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire (Girls of Paper and Fire Series #1) by ...

Despite the disappointment of the sequel, this was such a powerful fantasy!

The Sound of Stars, Alechia Dow

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

Aliens, music, secret libraries…what’s not to love?

Pet, Akwaeke Emezi

Pet: Emezi, Akwaeke: 9780525647072: Amazon.com: Books

Though I didn’t like this novel as much as some of the others listed (three stars for me), this was still an incredibly inventive novel.

Surviving the City (Surviving the City, #1), Tasha Spillett and Natasha Donovan

Surviving the City (Surviving the City (1)) (Volume 1 ... - Amazon.com

Despite how short it is (just under 60 pages), this is a deeply impactful graphic novel. I can’t wait to read volume 2!

I TAG ANYONE WHO WANTS TO PARTICIPATE!

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Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Top 5 Saturday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: FORESHADOW: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading & Writing YA (Anthology)

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles! I hope you’ve all had a lovely week so far.

I changed my icon up a bit–I’m switching from glasses to contacts very soon, and I just had my eye exam yesterday. Even though I’ve only tried them on once so far, I like them a lot! (Even though the experience of getting them on was…[ahem] interesting…)

Smiletotheshadow GIF | Gfycat

Anyway, I recently received this eARC, and for the most part, I enjoyed it immensely! Not only is it a wonderful collection of YA short stories from all sorts of new, #OwnVoices authors, it also serves as a helpful writing guide.

Enjoy this eARC review!

Foreshadow: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading and Writing ...

FORESHADOW: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading and Writing YA–Edited by Emily X. R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma

Stories by: Tanya Aydelott, Tanvi Berwah, Gina Chen, Linda Cheng, Mayra Cuevas, Nora Elghazzawi, Desiree S. Evans, Rachel Hylton, Adriana Malachian, Sophie Meridien, Maya Prasad, Flor Salcedo, and Joanna Truman

Introduced by: Melissa Albert, Becky Albertalli, Laurie Halse Anderson, Roshani Chokshi, Gayle Forman, Heidi Heilig, Jandy Nelson, Jason Reynolds, Adam Silvera, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Sabaa Tahir, and Nicola Yoon

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

Thirteen Short Stories from Bold New YA Voices & Writing Advice from YA Icons

Created by New York Times bestselling authors Emily X. R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma, Foreshadow is so much more than a short story collection. A trove of unforgettable fiction makes up the beating heart of this book, and the accompanying essays offer an ode to young adult literature, as well as practical advice to writers.

Featured in print for the first time, the thirteen stories anthologized here were originally released via the buzzed-about online platform Foreshadow. Ranging from contemporary romance to mind-bending fantasy, the Foreshadow stories showcase underrepresented voices and highlight the beauty and power of YA fiction. Each piece is selected and introduced by a YA luminary, among them Gayle Forman, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jason Reynolds, and Sabaa Tahir.

What makes these memorable stories tick? What sparked them? How do authors build a world or refine a voice or weave in that deliciously creepy atmosphere to bring their writing to the next level? Addressing these questions and many more are essays and discussions on craft and process by Nova Ren Suma and Emily X. R. Pan.

This unique compilation reveals and celebrates the magic of reading and writing for young adults.

⭐︎

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Workman for giving me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Overall, FORESHADOW is a lovely collection of short stories! It’s an incredible vessel to spread the word about several up-and-coming YA voices, and I look forward to see what else these authors put out. Not only that, but each story comes with an example of a technique in the writing craft that the short story exemplifies, be it imagery, mood, or plot twists. For those who seek to write YA, this is a must-read.

Since this is a short story collection, I’ll break down each of the stories and give a mini-review for each.

FLIGHT–Tanya Aydelott (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

A poignant and heartbreaking tale of growing up, and the truly special bond that exists between mothers and daughters. This story brimmed with emotion, and though the 3rd-person/present tense POV took me out of it slightly, it was still a beautiful short story.

RISK–Rachel Hylton (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Wonderfully absurd. A tale of both the powerful friendship bonds between a group of girls, and of transformation, be it emotionally, or, y’know, mysteriously turning into a lobster. As one does.

happy lobster day - Furvilla

SWEETMEATS–Linda Cheng (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)

Without a doubt, one of my favorites of the short stories in this collection. A truly chilling twist on the tale of Hansel and Gretel, with a heady dose of the paranormal. The comparison to Guillermo del Toro was well earned, I must say!

hellboy gifs | WiffleGif

GLOW–Joanna Truman (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Though the writing and the POV left something to be desired, this was a solid, genre bending tale–both a sapphic romance in a small town and a trek in the middle of nowhere to end the world as we knew it.

ESCAPE–Tanvi Berwah (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Another chilling addition to this anthology! Simultaneously a story of family ties (and how easily they might be broken) and a spooky venture into the paranormal. Nothing like a family heirloom that scratches and bites anyone who tries to pry it open to snag your attention.

This Is A Hissing Cat GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

PAN DULCE–Flor Salcedo (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Though it was difficult for me to connect with most of the characters, this was a powerful piece of #OwnVoices historical fiction, tying in themes of growing older and the veneer of childhood slipping away.

SOLACE–Nora Elghazzawi (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

A beautiful, poignant, and at times poetic coming-of-age tale about finding new love and finding your place in the world. Just as lush as the plants that grow in Laila’s garden, without a doubt.

PRINCESS–Maya Prasad (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Though it was entertaining and posed some interesting questions about the role of AI in our lives, I think this may have been my least favorite story in the collection. The pacing jumped around far too much for my liking, but the world-building made for a pretty setting.

C3PO This Is Madness GIF - C3PO ThisIsMadness StarWars - Discover ...

FOOLS–Gina Chen (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)

A lush fairytale of a short story. There were touches of everything from ancient mythology, modern fantasy, and even an X-Men sort of vibe that made it a truly unique tale, filled with themes of family and beautiful imagery.

X Men Apocalypse GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

MONSTERS–Adriana Marachlian (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

With this short story, Marachlian weaves a beautiful metaphor for the feeling of being an outsider. All at once an #OwnVoices story of the struggles of immigration and the desire to fit in and a poignant, paranormal tale.

BREAK–Sophie Meridien (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Absolutely adorable! A mix of a diverse, classic rom-com and a bit of magical realism–and a dash of baking on the side.

RESILIENT–Mayra Cuevas (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Bleak and desolate, but, as the title implies, a heartbreaking tale of resilience and sisterhood. Cuevas’ writing did a wonderful job of making the situation seem exactly as gloomy and hopeless as it was meant to be. A downer, to be sure, but well-written all the same.

BELLY–Desiree S. Evans (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

A striking, #OwnVoices tale that tackles a myriad of tough subject, from sexual harassment to the loss of family, and the resulting traumas that come along with it. I loved the slight magical realism aspect, especially with Jaima’s connection to the river.

All in all, there wasn’t a bad story in this collection! With that and the writing/editing advice added in, I’d give it a solid 4 stars.

Excellent Demi GIF - Excellent Demi Bachelor - Discover & Share GIFs

Release date: October 20, 2020

Today’s song:

I listened to At the Party with my Brown Friends the other day, and for the most part, it was a great album!

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

Posted in Books, Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (7/20/20)–Orpheus Girl

Happy Monday, bibliophiles! Hard to believe that it’s almost the end of July already…

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

I used a random number generator on my TBR shelves to pick this one out, and as with most of the books I pick for these, I’d forgotten about it completely. But if it’s well-executed, this novel looks like a lush, contemporary retelling of the myth of Orpheus.

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (7/20/20)–ORPHEUS GIRL by Brynne Rebele-Henry

Amazon.com: Orpheus Girl (9781641290746): Rebele-Henry, Brynne: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

Abandoned by a single mother she never knew, 16-year-old Raya—obsessed with ancient myths—lives with her grandmother in a small conservative Texas town. For years Raya has been forced to hide her feelings for her best friend and true love, Sarah. When the two are outed, they are sent to Friendly Saviors: a re-education camp meant to “fix” them and make them heterosexual. Upon arrival, Raya vows to assume the mythic role of Orpheus to escape Friendly Saviors, and to return to the world of the living with her love—only becoming more determined after she, Sarah, and Friendly Saviors’ other teen residents are subjected to abusive “treatments” by the staff.

In a haunting voice reminiscent of Sylvia Plath, with the contemporary lyricism of David Levithan, Brynne Rebele-Henry weaves a powerful inversion of the Orpheus myth informed by the real-world truths of conversion therapy. Orpheus Girl is a mythic story of dysfunctional families, trauma, first love, heartbreak, and ultimately, the fierce adolescent resilience that has the power to triumph over darkness and ignorance. 

CW: There are scenes in this book that depict self-harm, homophobia, transphobia, and violence against LGBTQ characters.

So why do I want to read this?

don't look back gifs | WiffleGif

Whew, this definitely sounds like a rough ride…

I’m expecting the need for a box of tissues for Orpheus Girl, but nonetheless, this sounds like a hauntingly beautiful and sapphic retelling of the myth of Orpheus. Even though YA has tackled a few Greek myths, this one isn’t one that I often see retold, and I’m eager to see how Rebele-Henry puts her unique spin on it.

And though YA has made some incredible strides in LGBTQ+ literature, conversion therapy, as tough as subject as it is to cover, isn’t something I often see; it’s a horrific part of history, but in remembering our LGBTQ+ history–and all history in general–it’s imperative that we factor in the bad and the good. So props to Rebele-Henry for tackling such a horrific subject matter. Then again, I don’t know how she’s handled it, but we’ll see.

Either way, I know I’m gonna cry, but I’m 100% in.

Latest Gay Pride GIFs | Gfycat

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Books, Top 5 Saturday

Top 5 Saturday (7/11/20)–Hyped Books ✨

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles!

Anyway, it’s time for another 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 hyped books. I thought I’d mix it up a bit this time, so I’ll pick books from my TBR.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE FOR JULY: 

7/4/20 — Coming of Age

7/11/20 — Hyped Books

7/18/20 — Books You Own

7/25/20 —  #OwnVoices Books

Rules!

  • 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.
  • Tag the original post (This one!)
  • Tag 5 people

Let’s begin, shall we?

TOP 5 SATURDAY (7/11/20)–HYPED BOOKS

Instant Karma, Marissa Meyer

Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer

I mean, it’s Marissa Meyer, of course everybody’s getting excited! I know I am…

Either way, I am so excited to read this superpowered rom-com!

Felix Ever After, Kacen Callender

ReadWithPride: Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender | The Nerd Daily

I was a bit hesitant to put this one on my TBR after how disappointing This is Kind of an Epic Love Story was, but after reading some reviews, I’m definitely willing to give this one a chance.

You Should See Me in a Crown, Leah Johnson

Amazon.com: You Should See Me in a Crown eBook: Johnson, Leah ...

This one came out a little over a month ago, and it sounds like an absolute delight!

Serpent and Dove, Shelby Mahurin

Amazon.com: Serpent & Dove eBook: Mahurin, Shelby: Kindle Store

This seemed to be one of the buzziest YA books of 2019, and it seems to be mostly deserving of it, from what I’ve heard. I had it on hold for a few weeks, and I finally have it on Kindle, so once I finish with my library books, I’ll have to see for myself…

Cinderella is Dead, Kaylynn Bayron

Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Out of all the books on this Top 5 Saturday, this is probably the one that I’m most excited for. Even though we’ve seen a boatload of Cinderella retellings in the last decade or so, this one seems like a fresh and inventive take on it. It came out a few days ago, and I can’t wait to read it!

I TAG ANYONE WHO WANTS TO PARTICIPATE!

Top 30 Thumbs Up GIFs | Find the best GIF on Gfycat

Today’s song:

(About halfway through listening to this album…)

That’s it for this week’s Top 5 Saturday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

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

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

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

Enjoy this week’s review!

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

The Sound of Stars–Alechia Dow

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

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

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

Library images GIF - Find on GIFER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listening Music GIFs | Tenor

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

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Books, Top 5 Saturday

Top 5 Saturday (7/4/20)–Coming of Age Books 🌱

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles, and a happy Fourth of July to my fellow Americans! If I’m being completely honest, most of the country is a disaster, but I believe that dissent and the wish to change one’s country for the better is true patriotism. I celebrate the good parts of the country, and IF YOU’RE OF VOTING AGE, PLEASE VOTE. WE NEED TO GET THE RACIST, MISOGYNIST, HOMOPHOBIC SOGGY CHEETO OUT OF OFFICE AT ALL COSTS.

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Anyway, it’s time for another 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 coming-of-age books.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE FOR JULY: 

7/4/20 Coming of Age

7/11/20 — Hyped Books

7/18/20 — Books You Own

7/25/20 —  #OwnVoices Books

Rules!

  • 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.
  • Tag the original post (This one!)
  • Tag 5 people

Let’s begin, shall we?

TOP 5 SATURDAY (7/4/20)–COMING OF AGE BOOKS

Everything Grows, Aimee Herman

Amazon.com: Everything Grows: A Novel eBook: Herman, Aimee: Kindle ...

A beautiful and underrated novel that follows a new high schooler as she grapples with her sexuality and the suicide of a classmate.

Under Shifting Stars, Alexandra Latos

I recently got this one as an eARC (it’s coming out in late September of this year), and it’s a wonderfully poignant novel of navigating grief, mental illness, friendships, and sexual and gender identity.

Kiss Number 8, Colleen A.F. Venable and Ellen T. Crenshaw (illustrator)

Amazon.com: Kiss Number 8 eBook: Venable, Colleen AF, Crenshaw ...

A relatable exploration of family, friendships, and relationships–plus, the art style is super cute!

Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now, Dana L. Davis

Amazon.com: Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now (9781335994134): Davis ...

A cleverly-written and poignant exploration of family ties.

The Midnights, Sarah Nicole Smetana

Amazon.com: The Midnights eBook: Smetana, Sarah Nicole: Kindle Store

A heart-wrenching tale of grief and finding your voice.

I TAG ANYONE WHO WANTS TO PARTICIPATE!

Cat Fun GIF by Ivo Adventures | Autumn leaves craft, Fall decor ...

Today’s song (bitter Fourth of July edition!)

That’s it for this week’s Top 5 Saturday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!