Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (5/17/22) – Gallant

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I’ve only started reading V.E. Schwab’s books since last year, when I read the Shades of Magic trilogy and loved it (for the most part). Since then, I’ve had most of her other books on my TBR, including this one. It unexpectedly came on hold at the library recently (originally I was probably at…#43 on the waitlist or something💀), and so I jumped at the chance to read it. What I got was a lush and atmospheric fairytale and an ultimately satisfying read!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Gallant – V.E. Schwab

Olivia Prior knows little about her past. All the clues she has are in her dead mother’s journal, which seems to chronicle her descent into indescribable madness. After graduating from the Merilance School for Girls, Olivia has nowhere to go, until she is invited by letter to Gallant, the Prior family home. She is met with hostility by her estranged, distant relatives, but soon discovers a dark secret: every place in the world has its shadow, but the shadow at Gallant may be larger and more unpredictable than any of the Prior family could have expected.

TW/CW: animal death, ableist language (outdated), blood, murder, loss of loved ones, violence

Strange, dark, and atmospheric, Gallant is a lovely gem of a modern, Gothic fairytale. It’s only my third or fourth (though I remember next to nothing about This Savage Song) foray into Schwab’s writing, but it’s enough to almost put her at auto-buy/checkout status for me!

Where Gallant excels is the atmosphere surrounding it. Even though the supernatural aspect of the book isn’t explicitly shown until the last third or so, there was a consistent air of darkness that hung around it. Every description, from Olivia’s experience at the Merilance School to the mystery of the Gallant house, was filled with dark and creeping prose. It called to mind so many pieces of media that I love—I know Coraline (and Neil Gaiman in general) and Guillermo del Toro have been common comparisons, but they absolutely fit the bill. Reminded me a lot of Courtney Crumrin too.

But what created this atmosphere was all V.E. Schwab’s writing. She has such a unique way with words, and her specialty with crafting immersive settings is much of what made Gallant a success for me. Everything from Olivia’s mother’s descent into madness to the supernatural occurrences converging into Olivia and her cousins was described in such an artful, deliberate way that I could almost feel the dark atmosphere like misty fog on my skin. It’s hard to think of a writing style as unique and layered as V.E. Schwab’s.

However, I still had some complaints. From reading the Shades of Magic trilogy, I felt like the plot itself was what dragged some of the books down. The same was true for Gallant; although the setting, characters, and general premise were set up and well-executed, the plot itself felt nebulous at best, clinging to the singular plot thread of Olivia moving from the girl’s school into her mysterious family home. Everything sped up in the last third of the book or so, and the elements of that section were some of the most interesting—I wanted more!

Additionally, I would’ve liked to know when the book takes place in the first place—there wasn’t a concrete establishment of that. From bits of the worldbuilding and some of the language (particularly the outdated language that surrounded Olivia’s mutism), it was implied that it could’ve been anywhere from the 1800s to the early 1900s. Not necessarily essential, but it made some aspects confusing. (Same problem I had with Encanto—no way I would’ve known that it was set in the 50’s if I hadn’t googled it.)

All in all, a dark and immersive fairytale from an author that I’d love to read more from. 4 stars!

Gallant is a standalone, but V.E. Schwab is also the author of several other book series, including the Shades of Magic trilogy, the Villains trilogy, and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.

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!

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Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: February 7-13, 2022

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.

This week has generally been quiet; reading poetry in my English classes, studying for far too many quizzes and tests for my liking, and enjoying four relatively sunny days before we got snowed on again. Just low-key, and I like it that way.

I broke out of my brief reading slump, and I really liked most of what I read! I’ve been continuing to focus on books by Black authors this month for Black history month, and I’ve been finding lots of sequels to books that I’ve been eager to read (Redemptor, Adulthood Rites, etc.). I also got to stop by the comics shop, so I got some single-issues to read as well.

In the writing department, I’ve gotten more serious about the editing process; I’ve gotten into the weeds of re-reading and doing a more comprehensive edit, and I’ve been working on resurrecting a few brief scenes. I’m getting better at snipping out some of these continuity errors, but I got [ahem] sidetracked by deciding my one human character’s birthday, so 🥴

writing drawing gif | WiffleGif

Other than that, I’ve just been studying, listening to Portishead, Mitski, and the new Spoon album, and watching Raised by Wolves. We’re also getting a new puppy soon, and we got to visit the litter yesterday!! THEY WERE SO CUTE 😭 We’ll be taking one home in a few weeks, and I will most definitely post a picture when we get him!

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Noor – Nnedi Okorafor (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Noor: 9780756416096: Okorafor, Nnedi: Books

Redemptor (Raybearer, #2) – Jordan Ifueko (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Redemptor (Raybearer Book 2): 9781419739842: Ifueko, Jordan:  Books

Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves – Meg Long (⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves: A Novel: 9781250785060: Long,  Meg: Books

White Smoke – Tiffany D. Jackson (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK

(fairly sparse this week since I wasn’t able to volunteer at the library, but here’s what’s on the agenda for now)

Adulthood Rites (Xenogenesis, #2) – Octavia E. Butler

Amazon.com: Adulthood Rites (The Xenogenesis Trilogy Book 2) eBook : Butler,  Octavia E.: Kindle Store

The Road – Cormac McCarthy (for school)

The Road (Oprah's Book Club): Cormac McCarthy: 9780307387899: Amazon.com:  Books

Today’s song:

SUCH A GOOD ALBUM DANG I’ll try to review it soon

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

Posted in Music

Laurel Hell – Mitski album review

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

2022 is shaping up to be a year full of highly anticipated albums—Spiritualized, girlpool, Spoon (THIS FRIDAY AAAH), and so many others. Mitski’s Laurel Hell was the first of these; I’ve been a fan of Mitski since around 2019 after hearing “Washing Machine Heart” on the radio. Since then, I’ve delved more into her catalogue, but I’d say that 75% of what I’ve heard of hers, I’ve liked—hit or miss, but mostly hits. Bury Me at Makeout Creek was a near perfect album for me, but I haven’t listened to any of her other albums in their entirety.

So when I heard that Mitski was coming out with a new album, I was excited to take another dive into her catalogue. What I got, however, was an album that simultaneously stayed true to her past and branched out in new directions—with varying degrees of success.

Let’s begin, shall we?

Mitski: Laurel Hell Album Review | Pitchfork

LAUREL HELL – MITSKI ALBUM REVIEW

TRACK 1: “Valentine, Texas” – 7/10

“Valentine, Texas” is a sparse and eerie album opener. It slowly creeps along with only faint synths and Mitski’s breathy vocals, but eventually sprawls out into bright piano chords and a steady drumbeat. For me, it’s the musical equivalent of wading through pitch-black water—a beautifully atmospheric song and a great start to this album!

TRACK 2: “Working for the Knife” – 8/10

The fact that “Working for the Knife” was the first single released for Laurel Hell is a blessing and a curse—a blessing that it’s such a fantastic song, and a curse in that…well, it’s the highlight of the album for me, and it got released before everything else and raised my expectations. Nevertheless, this is classic Mitski at her best, with steady instrumentals and raw, biting lyricism aplenty.

TRACK 3: “Stay Soft” – 6/10

Open up your heart

Like the gates of Hell…

Mitski, “Stay Soft”

What Laurel Hell has revealed to me is that Mitski has begun to lean in the direction of poppier material. After the success of songs like “Washing Machine Heart” and “Nobody,” her songs have become more synth-dominated and upbeat (…well, musically upbeat) while still retaining their signature lyrical vulnerability. “Stay Soft” is just that, but for me, it didn’t reach the level of the latter two songs; the lyrics are some of Mitski’s best, but musically, it feels…strangely weak. Restrained, almost. Mixed feelings.

TRACK 4: “Everyone” – 8/10

And I left my door open to the dark,

I said, ‘Come in, come in, whatever you are,’

But it didn’t want me yet…

Mitski, “Everyone”

Although this isn’t *quite* as strong as “Working for the Knife,” it’s doubtlessly one of my favorites from this album. Like “Valentine, Texas,” its instrumentals are sparse, but it’s just as powerful and moving a ballad as any of her previous works. The imagery the lyrics evoke are especially strong, almost like dark fairytales in their sensibilities.

TRACK 5: “Heat Lightning” – 7.5/10

Sleeping eyelid of the sky

Flutters in a dream…

Mitski, “Heat Lightning”

By now, everyone’s made this comparison, but “Heat Lightning” REEKS of The Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs”—and it’s great. There’s a feeling of quiet helplessness to it, a reluctant lament accented by pianos and synths. It adds to the feeling I’m getting from most of the album—a distinctly nighttime atmosphere, nighttime in a forest clearing with a lake.

TRACK 6: “The Only Heartbreaker” – 6/10

Out of the four pre-released singles for Laurel Hell, “The Only Heartbreaker” was my least favorite. It was still enjoyable and catchy, but the synths felt bland to me. The fact that it was only co-written by Mitski detracted from it as well; Mitski is her best when the lyrics are all hers, and for a Mitski song, these lyrics bordered on simplistic. Not that simplistic lyricism is all bad, but for an artist like Mitski, it’s uncharacteristic. Still a decent pop song, though.

TRACK 7: “Love Me More” – 8/10

Out of all of the more pop-oriented songs on Laurel Hell, “Love Me More” is my favorite. Unlike with songs like “Stay Soft” or “Should’ve Been Me,” Mitski throws off all restraints on her vocals, letting her beautiful voice soar along with the synth notes that seem to climb with the lyrics. It’s the happy medium between what Mitski once was and what she seems to be aiming to be—vulnerable, but infectiously catchy.

TRACK 8: “There’s Nothing Left For You” – 6.5/10

Like “Valentine, Texas” and “Everyone,” “There’s Nothing Left For You” shows the quieter, somber side of Laurel Hell with soft vocals and bare-bones instrumentals. Although I still like it, it doesn’t pack the same punch as the latter two songs I mentioned—it does have a “kicking in” moment, but it’s in the middle of the song, and fades away to the same as the first third once the song ends. It’s still good, make no mistake, but not quite as powerful.

TRACK 9: “Should’ve Been Me” – 5/10

“Should’ve Been Me” is where Mitski’s pop direion steers into mixed-feelings territory for me. Strangely, although songs like “Nobody” worked with upbeat music and not-so-upbeat lyricism, the musical pep of “Should’ve Been Me” seems far too peppy for the message it attempts to put out. Part of why it doesn’t succeed is where it sits in the album—right next to one of its quietest moments. The transition from “There’s Nothing Left For You” to this makes for a jarring listening experience—and not in a good way.

TRACK 10: “I Guess” – 7/10

“I Guess” should have been the album’s closer. A haunting refrain soundtracked by strains of muffled pianos, Mitski’s vocals reach their fullest potential in this second-to-last track. The production only adds to the “swimming in a lake at night” atmosphere—it’s a beautiful song.

TRACK 11: “That’s Our Lamp” – 5/10

It’s a shame that this is what closes off this album—the worst song, in my opinion. “That’s Our Lamp” is a strange attempt to create an 80’s-esque pop song, but although the music reaches some crescendos, it’s another instance where it feels as though Mitski is restraining herself vocally. The combination makes for a jarring song and a disappointing album closer.

Mitski's 'Laurel Hell' confronts the wild complexity of feeling : NPR

I averaged out all of the song ratings, and it came out to about a 6.7. That feels accurate for the album—I would still consider it an alright album, but there were songs that dragged it down too much. However, there were some hidden gems in the mix, and those are ones I’ll be sure to treasure. I don’t regret listening to the album, but it wasn’t Mitski’s best.

Review: Mitski - Laurel Hell | RANGE

Since this post is an album review, consider this whole post today’s song.

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

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: January 31 – February 6, 2022

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.

It’s been a bit of a long week for me—very cold, filled with studying, and topped off with a reading slump. But, miracle of miracles, our school district called a snow day on Wednesday AND a 2-hour delay the next day! Freezing as it was (and it got well below freezing in the middle of the week), it was so nice to sleep in.

As far as my reading, I’ve been in a bit of a slump. I ended up having three 2-star reads in a row, so most of the week was a bit of slog. Fortunately, The Grief Keeper seems to have temporarily broken me out, and I’m excited for the books I got at the library yesterday.

Writing-wise, I’ve been getting deep into the weeds of editing, with…varying degrees of success. I’m in the process of both cutting out and resurrecting scenes, which involves trawling through my almost 600-page first draft (OOPS), so that’s been a bit of a struggle. All in the name of making things more coherent.

Other than that, I’ve just been drawing a bit, practicing guitar, watching the new season of Raised By Wolves (interesting start??), listening to the new Lucy Dacus single (SO GOOD) and the new Mitski album (hit or miss…expect a review soon), and hovering around the fireplace to warm up.

hearts&magic

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Binti (Binti, #1) – Nnedi Okorafor (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Binti (Binti, 1): Okorafor, Nnedi: 9780765385253: Amazon.com: Books

Master of Poisons – Andrea Hairston (⭐️⭐️)

Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston

This Is Our Story – Ashley Elston (⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: This is Our Story: 9781484730898: Elston, Ashley: Books

Odd One Out – Nic Stone (⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Odd One Out: 9781101939536: Stone, Nic: Books

The Grief Keeper – Alexandra Villasante (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: The Grief Keeper: 9780525514022: Villasante, Alexandra: Books

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Redemptor (Raybearer, #2) – Jordan Ifueko

Amazon.com: Redemptor (Raybearer Book 2): 9781419739842: Ifueko, Jordan:  Books

Noor – Nnedi Okorafor

Noor by Nnedi Okorafor: 9780756416096 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves – Meg Long

Amazon.com: Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves: A Novel: 9781250785060: Long,  Meg: Books

White Smoke – Tiffany D. Jackson

Amazon.com: White Smoke: 9780063029095: Jackson, Tiffany D: Books

Today’s song:

I CAN’T STOP LISTENING TO THIS

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

Posted in Monthly Wrap-Ups

January 2022 Wrap-Up 🚡

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

2022. It’s gonna be a momentous year for me—I’m graduating high school and starting college, after all! January’s been both fun and stressful, but I’d say it’s been a good start to this year so far.

GENERAL THOUGHTS:

Edward & Kim - Edward Scissorhands Fan Art (22305845) - Fanpop

Better than last January, certainly, but that’s a pretty low standard. I blame precalc.

After a barely snowy December, it’s finally felt like winter here. A little…too much so. I like snow, generally, but after the first few I start to get sick of the ice on the roads and waking up at 6 AM in the freezing cold. But that’s Colorado. At least the snow looks beautiful on the mountains.

My last semester of high school…I still haven’t managed to grasp it. But either way, it started out smoothly, and it’s gradually begun to feel more like…well, School. Lots of tests and quizzes to study for, which I’m not thrilled about, but I’m finally in a creative writing class, and I’m really enjoying it! I’ve gotten to write a lot of interesting poetry, and I feel a lot less nervous about reading it out loud now. I ended up stressing out about college a lot this month, but now that there’s more certainty in the future, I feel a lot better. And I think I’ll be very happy with where I’m going.

Editing the WIP has been on and off, but I’ve gone through the first initial read-through! Now that I’ve identified what needs to be done, I just need to tweak things here and there. I’ve been trying for years to be more open about sharing parts of my story with friends and family, and I’m getting closer, but I’m hoping sharing the story itself will be the next step. Kind of needs to be, anyway, if I want to get it published someday…

Other than that, I spent some time with family, got comics, went skiing for the first time since early 2020 (or was it 2019?), I got to see Danny Elfman live (which was AMAZING!!), watched the first two episodes of The Book of Boba Fett then timed out, re-watched Edward Scissorhands and Felt A Great Many Things, watched The House, and got around to drawing a little more.

I’ve also been getting more into X-Men lately—well, more than usual, at any rate. They’ve been special to me for years, but I haven’t been this much into them since…probably this time three years ago, freshman year. I think reading the newer comics has spurred it on again. There’s something oddly sacred about reconnecting with that part of my past self, of knowing that what gave her joy still gives me joy now. To know that I’ve grown so much since then.

I realized that I’ve never really explained where my blog name comes from—the “Mutant” part of “The Bookish Mutant” is a reference to the X-Men.

X men night call movie quotes GIF - Find on GIFER
well said, Kurt. well said.

READING AND BLOGGING:

I read 21 books this month! I put my Goodreads challenge at 200 books because I’m anticipating a hectic year, what with moving into college and all that. Either way, I’m surprised—and glad—to have gotten around to reading this much, however hit-or-miss this batch was.

1 – 1.75 stars:

Amazon.com: Sisters of the Snake: 9780062985590: Nanua, Sasha, Nanua,  Sarena: Books
Sisters of the Snake

2 – 2.75 stars:

I'm Not Missing by Carrie Fountain
I’m Not Missing

3 – 3.75 stars:

Amazon.com: Railhead: 9781630790486: Reeve, Philip: Books
Railhead

4 – 4.75 stars:

Amazon.com: Beyond the End of the World: 9780062893369: Kaufman, Amie,  Spooner, Meagan: Books
Beyond the End of the World

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?4.5 stars

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Albee, Edward: 0071162004991: Amazon.com:  Books
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

SOME POSTS I’M PROUD OF:

POSTS I ENJOYED FROM OTHER WONDERFUL PEOPLE:

SONGS/ALBUMS I’VE ENJOYED:

this is the only audio of this song that I could find on YouTube for some reason?? anyways I love it & my creative writing teacher put the album cover as the header for his google classroom and it’s awesome
new spoon woo woo woo!!
new Mitski will be in our hands so soon!!! can’t wait!!
one of those songs I heard as a kid but only remembered a tiny bit of
at this point, the score for Edward Scissorhands is easily one of my favorite film scores of all time
a hit-or-miss album overall for me, but the highlights of it were incredible

DID I FOLLOW THROUGH ON MY JANUARY GOALS?

Blade runner GIFs - Get the best gif on GIFER
Colorado January hours
  • Set a reasonable Goodreads goal: yep, 200. Now that I’ve gotten through challenges where I’ve read 250-300 books (I still don’t know how I managed the 300 that one time…), I set it lower knowing that this year will be hectic, what with graduating high school and going off to college in the fall. (!!!!)
  • Start 2022 on a good note! I saw Danny Elfman live, for god’s sakes. If that’s not starting 2022 on a good note, then I don’t know what is.

FEBRUARY GOALS:

Happy Valentine's Day, no one! - GIF on Imgur
shamelessly whipping out this gif every year
  • Make another Black History month list—I’ve read so many amazing books by Black authors since last February!
  • Review some of the albums that are coming out next month!! (So many!!)
  • Actually post some art here, if I get the time…it’s about time

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 Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: January 10-16, 2021

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.

This week was my first week back to school, and it hasn’t been all that bad in that respect. Homework is still light at the moment, so I’m enjoying my last vestiges of time where I come home without anything I need to do.

Reading-wise, it’s been a mixed bag. I’ve been going through a combination of my preorders, my library haul, and my comics from last Friday. I had a lot of time to read this week, but my ratings have been all across the board, so…yep. It’s all over the place.

I’ve been getting back into editing my WIP, and I managed to knock out a few of the most important scenes last night! I’m nearly done with the initial run-through, but I need to go through it again (probably several times) for consistency issues and things I want to add in or subtract, so we’ll see how it goes from here.

Other than that, I’ve just been playing Minecraft, drawing when I can, listening to a whole bunch of new singles (Spoon! Mitski! Guerilla Toss! SPIRITUALIZED!!) and playing guitar. I also went to see Danny Elfman perform with the Colorado Symphony on Friday night!! Absolutely magical. I count myself pretty lucky to have seen Danny Elfman live twice in one year.

Snapchat all your friends at schools with warm weather. | Nightmare before  christmas, Christmas animated gif, Jack skellington gif

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

The Kindred – Alechia Dow (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Kindred by Alechia Dow

I’m Not Missing – Carrie Fountain (⭐️⭐️.5)

I'm Not Missing by Carrie Fountain

The Fallen (The Outside, #2) – Ada Hoffmann (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Fallen: Hoffmann, Ada: 9780857668684: Amazon.com: Books

Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1) – Rosaria Munda (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1) by Rosaria Munda

Lightless – C.A. Higgins (DNF – ⭐️)

Lightless (Lightless, #1) by C.A. Higgins

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Anthem – Noah Hawley

Anthem: Hawley, Noah: 9781538711514: Amazon.com: Books

Railhead – Philip Reeve (thanks for the rec, Sabrina!)

Amazon.com: Railhead: 9781630790486: Reeve, Philip: Books

Batman: Nightwalker – Marie Lu (adapted by Stuart Moore, illustrated by Chris Wildgoose)

Amazon.com: Batman: Nightwalker (The Graphic Novel): 9781401280048: Moore,  Stuart, Lu, Marie, Wildgoose, Chris: Books

The Cost of Knowing – Brittney Morris

Amazon.com: The Cost of Knowing: 9781534445451: Morris, Brittney: Books

Not Your Sidekick – C.B. Lee

Amazon.com: Not Your Sidekick (Sidekick Squad): 9781945053030: Lee, C.B.:  Books

Today’s song:

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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…

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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!