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 knowing 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!

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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 (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?

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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 Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (6/16/20)–Ash

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Ash had been on my TBR for quite a while, and I’d read a few of Malinda Lo’s stories in an anthology or two, so I figured that I’d give her solo works a try. I’m glad to say that I wasn’t disappointed in the least–this retelling reads like a true fairytale, and is a wonderfully subversive take on the classic tale of Cinderella. And, it’s a perfect read for Pride month! 🏳️‍🌈

Enjoy this week’s review!

Ash by Malinda Lo

Ash–Malinda Lo

After the death of her parents, Ash’s life changes forever. Gone is the loving family she once knew, replaced by her cruel, domineering stepmother and her two daughters. Her only solace is the book of fairy tales that her mother read to her as a child. A walk in the woods at night, however, makes her realize that her fairy tales are more than tales for children.

Now under a pact with a formidable fairy, she finds herself falling for Kaisa, the king’s royal huntress. As the pair fall in love, Ash must choose between her newfound love and the pact that binds her to the wicked forest.

Cinderella is already plum-full of gilt and brocade and magic; it ...

We all know it–Cinderella has been retold so many times that it has almost become stale. But reading this, I realized that Ash may have been one of the first of its kind–a YA retelling, groundbreaking not only for the higher stakes and subversion of the tale, but with the sapphic aspect of the romance. And without a doubt, Ash is a retelling to be reckoned with.

Lo’s writing reads like a well-loved fairytale, filled with lush prose and the air of a seasoned storyteller. Every description, from the woods outside of Quinn House to Ash’s enchanted gown, is lusciously written. It almost reminded me of the classic style of narration used in films like Pan’s Labyrinth, and other fairytale media.

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Aside from the borderline, almost annoyingly edgy quality of the blurb on the cover and the Goodreads synopsis, Ash is a wonderful example of a fairytale retold in a darker way, staying true to the original tale while having fresh, dark, and lyrical elements that make it stand out from the volley of other retellings on the YA market today.

And can we talk about Ash and Kaisa? I. LOVED. THEM. They were both such relatable characters with poignant struggles, and they had chemistry to die for. SAPPHIC POWER COUPLE SUPREME. BEAUTIFUL.

All in all, a groundbreaking retelling, and one that will surely stand the test of time. 4 stars!

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Ash is a standalone, but there is a prequel set in the same universe, Huntress, which is set many years before the events of this novel.

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, Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (6/15/20)–Dark and Deepest Red

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

Before I begin, here’s a bit of good news amidst all this negativity: the U.S. Supreme Court just ruled that LGBTQ+ people cannot be discriminated against in the workplace because of their sexual or gender orientation! Through all the awful things that have been happening lately, I’m so glad that we at least have this positive decision.

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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.

Continuing with LGBTQ+ books for this meme, anything by Anna-Marie McLemore was an obvious choice. Not only does she write incredible LGBTQ+ stories, but her writing is lush and unique–some of the best on the YA market today.

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (6/15/20)–DARK AND DEEPEST RED by Anna-Marie McLemore

Amazon.com: Dark and Deepest Red (9781250162748): McLemore, Anna ...

Blurb from Goodreads:

Summer, 1518. A strange sickness sweeps through Strasbourg: women dance in the streets, some until they fall down dead. As rumors of witchcraft spread, suspicion turns toward Lavinia and her family, and Lavinia may have to do the unimaginable to save herself and everyone she loves.

Five centuries later, a pair of red shoes seal to Rosella Oliva’s feet, making her dance uncontrollably. They draw her toward a boy who knows the dancing fever’s history better than anyone: Emil, whose family was blamed for the fever five hundred years ago. But there’s more to what happened in 1518 than even Emil knows, and discovering the truth may decide whether Rosella survives the red shoes.

With McLemore’s signature lush prose, Dark and Deepest Redpairs the forbidding magic of a fairy tale with a modern story of passion and betrayal.

So why do I want to read this?

Legion Season 1 Thread - Starts Wednesday 9 CT on FX | Page 10 ...

As I said…I am a simple woman. I see anything by Anna-Marie McLemore, and I am morally obliged to put it on my TBR.

Aside from that, this sounds like some seriously fascinating historical fiction! Witchcraft, the dancing plague, magical families…what more could there possibly be? Knowing McLemore’s nearly unmatched writing prowess, this sounds like it might be one of her best novels to date. Maybe I’m setting my expectations too high, but I just loved Wild Beauty and When the Moon was Ours so much…

You get really excited about lame stuff, like low interest rates ...

Today’s song:

I listened to all of Bury Me at Makeout Creek yesterday, and there is not a single bad song on the album. Phenomenal.

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

Posted in Music

Me and Music Tag

Happy Friday, everyone!

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

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Rules

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

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

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Ooh, lots to choose from…

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

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

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

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

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

“Antmusic”–Adam & The Ants: CLASSIC.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IT WAS GREAT

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

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

“Class of 2013”–Mitski: mAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hmm, let’s see…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: April 20-26, 2020

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Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope today finds you safe and healthy.

Whew…not sure why, but this week just flew by, for no reason in particular. Just…[Thanos snap] like that. Bam. No rhyme or reason to it.

And now, I’m dealing with the consequences of last year’s highly successful reading week. After finishing Hellboy II: The Art of the Movie, I DNF’d not one, but TWO books in a row, and after that, I haven’t read anything higher than three stars this week. Oof…

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Hey, at least we got more new Car Seat Headrest this week, their new album comes out in   less than a week, and Aurora Burning is almost here, too! At least I’ve got that to look forward to in the next few weeks. I’ve also been watching Fargo (almost done with season 1), watched Dogma (ABSOLUTELY HYSTERICAL), and got to 200 pages on my WIP for Camp NaNo WriMo! I now only have 2,000 words left until I reach my goal of 110,000 words!

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WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: 

Hellboy II: The Art of the Movie–Guillermo del Toro, Mike Mignola (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Hellboy II: Art of the Movie by Mike Mignola (2008-06-17): Amazon ...

Infinity Son–Adam Silvera (DNF–⭐️)

Amazon.com: Infinity Son (Infinity Cycle) (9780062457820): Silvera ...

Storm and Fury–Jennifer L. Armentrout (DNF–⭐️)

Amazon.com: Storm and Fury (The Harbinger Series Book 1) eBook ...

Songs from the Deep–Kelly Powell (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Songs from the Deep (9781534438071): Powell, Kelly: Books

Side Effects May Vary–Julie Murphy (⭐️⭐️)

Side Effects May Vary | 2014 Must Reads: The 100+ Best Books of ...

The Tightrope Walkers–David Almond (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: The Tightrope Walkers (9780763691042): David Almond: Books

POSTS AND SUCH: 

SONGS: 

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK: 

Kissing in America–Margo Rabb

Kissing in America by Margo Rabb

Today’s song:

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

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Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (1/21/20)-Half Bad

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Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

 

After reading what’s been released of Green’s Smoke Thieves trilogy, I figured I’d delve farther into her works: namely, the Half Bad series, which I’ve seen get a lot of praise over the years. However, I personally found it a bit of a slog to get through. Green’s signature world-building and attention to detail was still present, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to save the book.

God, I sound like a Chopped judge…

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Sheesh, I haven’t watched this show in ages…

Enjoy this week’s review!

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Half Bad (The Half Bad trilogy, #1)

In a modern, magical London, witches rule the streets. White witches watch over the populace, delivering justice with their healing magic, while the dark Black witches cause chaos.

For as long as he can remember, Nathan has been divided between two worlds. Born of a White witch mother and a Black witch father–and a notorious serial killer, at that–he is on the run from both sides, hunted for his divided identity. Perpetually on the run, he must grapple with his half-and-half identity–and stay alive.

Let’s start with the pros. As always, Green excels with her world-building, creating an intricate society and culture of Witches. The history was thoughtfully explained without much info-dumping. Unfortunately, that’s the one aspect of this novel that I truly liked, other than the descriptive (perhaps a bit too descriptive?) writing.

The plot was largely character-driven. While that isn’t always a negative thing, I wasn’t very attached to Nathan as he grew older. Sure, I felt a great deal of sympathy for the brutal abuse he suffers throughout the novel (that’s what I meant by “too descriptive”), but he didn’t have much of a personality, and I didn’t quite “feel” for him, and I didn’t feel for any of the characters. The side characters, speaking of which, were overtly expendable; they seemed to pass by in a blur, and you only saw them in groups for a good 100 pages or so before they disappeared completely.

But hey. Half Bad is Green’s debut novel. Everyone makes mistakes. Good thing is, she’s come so much closer to mastering her craft since then, producing such gems as the Smoke Thieves trilogy. All in all, I’d give Half Bad two stars. (DNF at about 76%.)

Half Bad is part of a trilogy, followed by Half Wild and Half Lost. There’s also two prequel spin-offs in the Half Bad universe, Half Lies and Half Truths. 

 

Today’s song:

I couldn’t care less about this movie, but I must say, there’s some great stuff on this soundtrack! This, Soccer Mommy (“Feed”), and The Aubreys (“Getting Better [otherwise]”, Finn Wolfhard’s new band)…[happy indie rock noises]

 

That just about wraps up this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a great rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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