Happy Saturday, bibliophiles, and more importantly, HAPPY NEW YEAR! 🎆
This tag’s been *patiently* waiting in a little sticky note on my computer since the beginning of quarantine, so I figured that it would be good to start the year off with a cute book tag. I watched most of Schitt’s Creek in 2019, but I finished up the last season at the very beginning of quarantine, and it’s so consistently funny and feel-good!
MOIRA ROSE: An over-the-top character you can’t help but love
Jax from Heart of Iron steals the show in both books in the duology–no shortage of witty quips and HEAPS of sass. He’s the best.
DAVID ROSE:A book that represents your aesthetic
Tillie Walden’s On a Sunbeamperfectly fits the bill for this prompt–a quiet, atmospheric sort of space opera with an interstellar romance woven in.
ALEXIS ROSE:Best character growth/arc
I recently finished Among the Beasts and Briars (which was PHENOMENAL, by the way), and I loved Fox’s growth throughout the book. I guess being accidentally transformed into a human against one’s will just does that to the brain.
STEVIE BUDD:A book with a favorite ride or die friendship/group
I love all of the chaotic space misfits in Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine’s Honors trilogy, especially in book 3, Honor Lost. They’re all just so distinct in personality and bounce off each other so well, and they’re all just so sweet together.
TED MULLENS:Favorite book with an animal on the cover
Definitely not my favorite book, per se, but The Storm Crowhas quite a few animals on the cover.
COMMUNITY SERVICE: A book you read for school/buddy read/readathon challenge you had low expectations for but ended up being amazing
I read All Out of Prettyfor my school’s book club a few years ago, and it blew me away! Difficult to read, for sure, but raw and powerful. I’d highly recommend it.
“EWW, DAVID!”: A book you DNF’d because the content was too much for you
I wouldn’t say that Infinity Sonwas “too much” for me, per se, but it was just a steaming mess. I just couldn’t put up with it after about the 25% mark or so.
“LOVE THAT JOURNEY FOR ME”: Best series ender/overall series progression
TRUEL1F3was my absolute favorite of the Lifelike trilogy, and such an explosive end to a trilogy like no other.
“EAT GLASS”: An author/series you broke up with
I got through the first four books in the Shatter Meseries (definitely hit-or-miss, but book four was great), but then Defy Mecame along with all these flat-out RIDICULOUS twists that made no sense at all, so I gave up.
“VERY UNINTERESTED IN THAT OPINON”: A popular opinion that you disagree with
Alright, let me just say it out front: I did NOT enjoy The Cruel Prince.The worldbuilding was great and I liked the little illustrations, but none of the characters were likable. At all. And Jude and Cardan’s relationship is all kinds of toxic. (HOW AND WHY DO SO MANY PEOPLE LIKE HIM?)
I TAG ANYONE WHO WANTS TO PARTICIPATE! And if you haven’t watched Schitt’s Creek yet, I highly recommend it!
That’s it for this book tag! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
As this dumpster fire of a year comes to a close, I thought it would be nice to reflect on what made it bearable: books. Reading was what kept me going through good times and bad this year, and while I read a whole lot, there were a select few books that stood out from the rest, from new-to-me authors and authors I’ve been following for years.
(NOTE: this list also contains books that I rated 4.75 stars and rounded up to 5.)
Hi again, bibliophiles! I’m back, from the looks of it!
Finals week was this week, and even though I still have one final left to go before the semester ends [trembles in fear at the thought of my AP Bio final], I only have one final to study for as opposed to, well, y’know, four. So that allows me to get back on my normal blogging schedule, because my break starts next Tuesday! So here I am.
Anyway, this tag was originally created by Phoenix @ Book with Wings. It looked super fun and creative, so I had to give it a go! (And if you don’t follow Phoenix already, I suggest that you do!)
Okay, unpopular opinion time: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?was PAINFULLY boring–even more so than Blade Runner, which is really saying something. I guess Philip K. Dick just really isn’t my thing, but I stand by my opinion that hardly anything happened.
5. A book where two main characters were separated
Everybody got split up in Blood & Honey, but neither of the subplots seemed to accomplish much…[pained sigh]
PART THREE: THE WORLD TRIES TO REOPEN (AND BEGINS A SECOND WAVE OF THE PANDEMIC)
6. A book in which the characters made a bad decision
The Year Shakespeare Ruined my Lifewas another eARC I got this year. I didn’t like it all that much, and most of my low rating could be chalked up to how self-destructive Alison was.
7. A book with an impatient/overly eager character
In Other Landswas a DNF for me, and a lot of that ended up being because Elliott SERIOUSLY got on my nerves.
PART FOUR: THE WORLD ADJUSTS (SORT OF)
8. A book in which the character’s goals change midway
Ooh, this was a hard question…
I guess On a Sunbeamwould work? I suppose Mia goes from wanting to reunite with Grace to wanting to rescue her.
PART FIVE: THE END & LOOKING FORWARDS
9. A book whose sequel you really anticipated/are anticipating
TRUEL1F3was one of my most anticipated releases this year, and I’m glad to say that it 110% delivered!
10. A book whose sequel was better than the original
Despite the average reviews it seems to be getting, How the Multiverse Got Its Revengewas even better than book 1! I loved them both, though. I’m thinking of doing a review of the whole Thorne Chronicles duology next week, so stay tuned…
11. A book you read just to finish it (didn’t like it but wanted to finish anyway)
It really pains me to say it, but Kingdom of Soulswas really a chore to read. Maybe my expectations were too high, but it felt like hardly anything happened.
I don’t think I’ll put it here, but if we’re talking about 2020 reads, I’ll just say this: I’m planning on doing a post on my 5-star reads of 2020 near the end of the month, so stay tuned!
Hey bibliophiles! Thanksgiving break is here, and that means I’m back to posting semi-regularly!
Luckily, after the absolute dumpster fire that October was, November really picked up for me! I’ve started getting my grades up, Biden won the election (!!!!!), and my general mood and mental health have just gotten a lot better.
But before I begin, I’ll just start off with this: I’ll probably start being a little bit more fluid with my posting. I’ll still stick to weekly updates and reviews and such, but depending on how I am that week, I might not do Top 5 Saturdays as much. We’ll see how December goes, anyway. School’s 100% remote now, and everything’s starting to close down again here in Colorado, so I’m fairly certain of another lockdown.
And so this post is for all of the notable novels I read in hiatus, as well as some movies and TV I’ve been enjoying. (Of course, the time I take a break is when I get all the 5-star books…)
Let’s begin, shall we?
WHAT I ENJOYED WHILE I STEPPED INTO THE VOID FOR A FEW WEEKS
It’s been three years since ICE raids and phone calls from Mexico and an ill-fated walk across the Sonoran. Three years since Sia Martinez’s mom disappeared. Sia wants to move on, but it’s hard in her tiny Arizona town where people refer to her mom’s deportation as “an unfortunate incident.”
Sia knows that her mom must be dead, but every new moon Sia drives into the desert and lights San Anthony and la Guadalupe candles to guide her mom home.
Then one night, under a million stars, Sia’s life and the world as we know it cracks wide open. Because a blue-lit spacecraft crashes in front of Sia’s car…and it’s carrying her mom, who’s very much alive.
As Sia races to save her mom from armed-quite-possibly-alien soldiers, she uncovers secrets as profound as they are dangerous in this stunning and inventive exploration of first love, family, immigration, and our vast, limitless universe.
WOW. I was excited to read this one, but I didn’t expect it to pack as much of a punch as it did. This is the prime example of a genre-bending novel–all of the sci-fi, contemporary, and magical realism elements blended seamlessly, and even if I separated the different parts, I enjoyed each little cog in the machine just as much as the other. I found myself rooting for Sia at every step of the way, and her journey and struggle were so heartfelt and painful. Add in some #ownvoices representation and no shortage of timely themes, and you get this novel–unexpected, seamless, and nothing short of a joy to read.
Dove “Birdie” Randolph works hard to be the perfect daughter and follow the path her parents have laid out for her: She quit playing her beloved soccer, she keeps her nose buried in textbooks, and she’s on track to finish high school at the top of her class. But then Birdie falls hard for Booker, a sweet boy with a troubled past…whom she knows her parents will never approve of.
When her estranged aunt Carlene returns to Chicago and moves into the family’s apartment above their hair salon, Birdie notices the tension building at home. Carlene is sweet, friendly, and open-minded–she’s also spent decades in and out of treatment facilities for addiction. As Birdie becomes closer to both Booker and Carlene, she yearns to spread her wings. But when long-buried secrets rise to the surface, everything she’s known to be true is turned upside down.
This one was on my TBR for almost two years, and I’m so glad I picked it up now! The Revolution of Birdie Randolph was one of those rare books that manages to discuss a myriad of issues, but in a way that doesn’t make any of them sound preachy. The struggles of all the characters felt refreshingly real and dealt with in a way that serves to raise conversations. Everything about this novel felt so authentic, which brought me immeasurable joy.
And at the same time, tackling all these issues, Colbert didn’t make it overly heavy–there’s certainly parts that are hard to read, but I didn’t leave it feeling sick to my stomach. At times, it even felt like a slice-of-life story, but I enjoyed that 100%. There’s POC and LGBTQ+ representation aplenty too! All in all, a beautiful and diverse piece of contemporary fiction.
This chance encounter sends them on a journey through West Texas, where strange things follow them wherever they go. The landscape morphs into an unsettling world, a mysterious cat joins them, and they are haunted by a group of threatening men. To stay safe, Bea and Lou must trust each other as they are driven to confront buried truths. The two women share their stories of loss and heartbreak—and a startling revelation about sexual assault—culminating in an exquisite example of human connection.
At this point, every time I read something by Tillie Walden, I’m guaranteed to rate it in the 4.5-5 star range, and Are You Listening? is no exception. A family friend recommended this one to me a few months back, and it wasn’t available at my library at the time, so I ended up reading On a Sunbeam and Spinning beforehand.
I ate this one up in the span of a few hours, and I enjoyed every panel of every page. It’s a story of bonding in the toughest of situations, of sticking together no matter what, of trust. Walden’s artwork is as stunning as ever, turning an unexpected road trip through rural Texas into a strange, desolate, and trippy landscape where nothing is as it seems. And we have two queer women at the wheel–what’s not to love? And a CAT! A CAT!
Alyssa Farshot has spent her whole life trying to outrun her family legacy. Her mother sacrificed everything to bring peace to the quadrant, and her uncle has successfully ruled as emperor for decades. But the last thing Alyssa wants is to follow in their footsteps as the next in line for the throne. Why would she choose to be trapped in a palace when she could be having wild adventures exploring a thousand-and-one planets in her own ship?
But when Alyssa’s uncle becomes gravely ill, his dying wish surprises the entire galaxy. Instead of naming her as his successor, he calls for a crownchase, the first in seven centuries. Representatives from each of the empire’s prime families—including Alyssa—are thrown into a race to find the royal seal, which has been hidden somewhere in the empire. The first to find the seal wins the throne.
Alyssa’s experience as an explorer makes her the favorite to win the crown she never wanted. And though she doesn’t want to be empress, her duty to her uncle compels her to participate in this one last epic adventure. But when the chase turns deadly, it’s clear that more than just the fate of the empire is at stake. Alyssa is on her most important quest yet—and only time will tell if she’ll survive it.
“Perfect for fans of Aurora Rising” [SLAMS THE WANT-TO-READ BUTTON]
This was one of my most anticipated reads for the second half of the year, and I was…a little bit disappointed, not gonna lie. It wasn’t bad, per se–I liked it, but it left me wanting a little more.
There’s no doubt that it was super fast paced and threw me right into the action–a blessing and a curse; a blessing because it kept me reading for a while, on the edge of my seat, and a curse because…we’re given very little information about the world(s) we’re in. I liked the banter between Alyssa, Hell Monkey, and the others, and they had decent chemistry. (Also, there’s quite a lot of LGBTQ+ characters, including Alyssa herself–I’m not sure if she’s bi, pan, or another identity, but she’s definitely shown to like several genders! Woohoo!)
The breakneck speed definitely had me forgetting where everybody was, why x and y was so important, etc. But for a debut novel, I’d say that this is a solid start on Coffindaffer’s part! Not my favorite, but I think I’ll tag along to see what book 2 holds.
MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
Fargo: Year 4 (2020)
Yep, it’s settled: Fargo is officially my favorite show. Noah Hawley is a true mastermind of storytelling, and every ounce of his creativity truly shines through in this season. I’ve always loved his characters, but this is the first season where I’ve really gotten attached to some of them (which, given the rate at which characters are killed off in this show, is…not good…). Episode 9 (East/West) is, hands down, my favorite of the season so far–the characterizations of Rabbi and Satchel, all the weird Wizard of Oz references…I haven’t been so invested in a show in such a long time. There’s only two episodes left in this season, so you can expect a review in a few weeks’ time…
Alien: Covenant (2017)
David: GUESS WHO’S BACK
Prometheus is definitely one of my favorite movies now, but Covenant wasn’t quite as good. I still enjoyed it though, don’t get me wrong–I love some good, old fashioned sci-fi action, and the twists were so well-executed (though the big one was a tad predictable…I still loved it, though. No spoilers.). I didn’t get attached to any of the characters, but I still adored David, and the creepy little workshop he had going. Everything felt a little rushed, but with where the movie ended, I’m excited to see what else Ridley Scott’s going to pull out of his hat.
Blood Simple (1984)
My family’s Fargo kick has made me put a whole bunch of Coen Brothers on my list. We watched this one last night, and…WHOA. I ASPIRE TO HAVE A DEBUT AS GOOD AS THIS. Sure, it took a while to pick up, but it had that signature tension that makes you get invested in so many of their films. Also, even though I’ve never been to Texas, it definitely captured that weird vibe you get when you’re in the South at night, and you’re super tired, and there’s all this humidity and weird ambience floating around…
So that’s what I’ve been up to while I was gone. As always, thanks for stopping by! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles! I can’t believe it’s already September! All the better, the sooner we get 2020 over with, the better…
But to take your mind off of everything, here’s a review of my most recent 5-star read! I had piled most of Tillie Walden’s graphic novels on my TBR a year or two ago, but after a family friend mentioned Are You Listening?, I looked for everything on my library. On a Sunbeam was available, and I jumped at the chance to check it out. Though I had high expectations, I didn’t expect for it to be such an emotional and atmospheric graphic novel.
Mia has her reasons for joining the crew of the Sunbeam. It’s an easy job–hopping through the galaxy and restoring structures of all kinds to their original glory. But Mia isn’t here for the money–not completely, anyway.
Her main objective? Find Grace, her long-lost love who she was separated from five years ago. When a job lands Mia and the rest of the crew on Grace’s secretive homeworld, she jumps at the chance to reunite with her girlfriend. But will the rest of the crew be willing to go to such lengths?
On a Sunbeam is the comic equivalent of a Radiohead song; hauntingly beautiful and atmospheric, with a story that will never truly leave your mind. It is “Motion Picture Soundtrack,” it is “Sail to the Moon,” it is “Videotape,” and it is very nearly everything I could ever want in a graphic novel.
I’m not normally a fan of more simplistic art styles like Walden’s, but she makes it work in all the best ways. The character’s facial features are simple, but are able to show such a wide range of expression. There’s so much detail and care put into the backgrounds and settings, with carefully picked color schemes that make for an immersive, lived-in sci-fi world. I kid you not, both the desktop wallpaper of my laptop and the home screen of my phone are both panels from On a Sunbeam now. That’s how much I loved it.
The design of the vast reaches of Walden’s universe is beautifully atmospheric, a sci-fi with a fantastical twist. Each planet that the crew visits is so unique, and I ADORE the design of all of the ships–all inspired by fish! What’s not to love?
Beyond the beautiful artwork, On a Sunbeam boasts a tender romance that spans across the stars. It alternates between the past and present fluidly without any confusion, and through both, you come to love the whole cast of characters. And speaking of that cast–there is diversity aplenty here! In the group of main characters, there is not one but two multiracial wlw relationships (including Mia and Grace). Most of the Sunbeam crew is POC (Black, Latinx, etc.), and there’s also a nonbinary character who plays a crucial role. There’s also several background wlw relationships and…not a single man in sight? I simultaneously love that but also recognize that it raises a few questions. Walden makes her cast effortlessly diverse, making On a Sunbeam a tale for the ages.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…FOUND FAMILY VIBES! The chemistry between Mia and the rest of the crew is impeccable, and I can’t help but adore every single character we come across. Grace was wonderful as well. They were all so distinct, and I managed to love every single one of them.
All in all, On a Sunbeam is a graphic novel that hits all the right spots, whether it be in the worldbuilding, the art, or the characters. Seriously, if you haven’t already read it, you are missing out. 5 stars!
On a Sunbeam is a standalone, but Tillie Walden has several other graphic novels out, including Are You Listening?, I Love This Part, The End of Summer, A City Inside, and her graphic memoir, Spinning.
Also, because this was in a meme that brought immeasureable joy to this grim year…
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
I feel like I haven’t done a book tag in a while, so I figured that I’d have some fun and do one today. I found it over at Leigh Hecking’s blog, and the tag was originally created by Life is a Page Turner. This looked like such a fun tag to do–and since my sweet tooth is out of control, of course I had to do it.
Let’s begin, shall we?
CUPCAKES: Name a collection of short stories, poems, or anthologies where you couldn’t read just one section and had to go back for another.
LEMON POUND CAKE: Name a book that has 400 pages or more that you considered a comfort read and a classic.
Scytheis 435 pages long (the last two books are even longer), and ever since finishing book 3, I can say with certainty that this is one of my favorite series!
RED VELVET CAKE: Name a book that you thought was one thing, but ended up being something completely different.
I went into Descendant of the Crane thinking that it would be more fantasy-oriented, but it turned out to be a blend of the former, political intrigue, and a touch of murder mystery. Highly recommended!
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE DOUGH: Name a book or a book series that you can read over and over again even though you know that it’s bad for you.
I need a running tally of how many times Aurora Rising‘s snuck into my book tags…
But truly, I could never get tired of this masterful series, and book 3 can’t come soon enough…
APPLE PIE A LA MODE: Name a book that was really good but could have been better with a little bit of ice cream.
I finished The Weight of the Starsyesterday and liked it, but almost the entire cast of characters were self-destructive jerks (on some level), so that aspect took away a little of my enjoyment.
GINGERBREAD COOKIES: Do you like your gingerbread cookies crunchy or soft?
Soft, all the way!
IF YOU LIKE YOUR COOKIES SOFT: Name a book that was squishy in the middle, but the beginning and end were really good
IF YOU LIKE YOUR COOKIES CRUNCHY: Name a book that you wanted to throw at the wall/snap
I loved Elatsoe, but there was a lull in the middle; luckily, it picked up by the end. I got an eARC of this one, and it comes out in a matter of days!
BROWNIES: Are you a middle piece or a corner piece?
Middle piece! Can’t say no to the soft texture…
IF YOU’RE A CORNER PIECE: Name a book that started off strong and then all came apart
IF YOU’RE A MIDDLE PIECE: Name a book that kept you in the feels the entire time
On a Sunbeamabsolutely fits the bill for my middle piece–I was already excited for it, but I had no idea how gripping and atmospheric it would be!
BIRTHDAY CAKE: Name a book series or an author that you feel like keeps coming out with a book, short story, or novella every year
My first thought here was Amie Kaufman; at this point, she’s become such a prolific author, what with all of her YA and MG series. (Anybody else excited for The Other Side of the Sky?I preordered it!)
CARROT CAKE: Name a book that sounded healthy for you but ended up being unhealthy, either with content or by putting you in a reading slump
I had my expectations high for When We Were Magic, but though it was entertaining, it was…decent. Not bad, but not spectacular for me. I have distinct memories of staring at the cover, but thinking that the book wasn’t nearly as gripping…
I TAG ANYONE WHO WANTS TO PARTICIPATE!
That’s it for this book tag! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! (How are we halfway through August already? What’s going on?)
This week has been one of those weeks where quarantine has really felt like…Quarantine, you know? Not quarantine, but Quarantine. There’s plenty to do around the house, but I felt so weird, listless, and down for no identifiable reason for the first half of the week. Things started to pick up by Thursday, but it was still an odd kind of week. On the upside, I went on a short hike with my mom, did some drawing, watched North by Northwest, and took a tour of a museum (for everybody in the Colorado area, I HIGHLY recommend the Morrison Museum!)
Writing-wise, I’ve kind of been stumbling through my current WIP, so I probably need to get back to outlining…thing is, I have no idea what to put in before the climax, which should be coming…soon? So at the moment, I’ve just been tripping over my own feet in that respect. I really need to outline more.
Luckily, I got a great library haul, for the most part–I even got a 5-star read in the bunch, so expect a review in the next few weeks! I haven’t read much MG this year, so it was fun to have a few of such books to get into.