Posted in Monthly Wrap-Ups

June 2021 Wrap-Up ðŸŒˆ

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles! I hope this last Wednesday of June has treated you well.

It’s finally summer, and now we’re halfway through 2021! Crazy to think about, but honestly? Good riddance. Online school was horrendous. But now that’s all done for, and I still have a bit more free time before I go back to school.

Anyways…

GENERAL THOUGHTS:

Summer has freed up a lot more time to blog, which I’ve enjoyed! Even though I took a break with my vacation, I had time to make a lot of posts that were loads of fun to write.

And my vacation! Being in an airport for the first time since mid-2019 was…weird, to say the least, but Glacier National Park was beautiful! Being back in nature for a solid week definitely mended up some of the pieces that learning from a screen broke down.

Somehow, June has been one of my lowest reading months, though. I think it’s partly because while I was reading on vacation, I spread the three books I bought out a little bit more, but hey, I’m officially halfway to my goal of 250 books for the year! (I’m at 132 right now.) I also read a lot of great queer stuff for pride month, and I found some amazing books as a result. (But hey! Read queer all year long!) I hope you all had a lovely pride month. As always, here’s a reminder: you are loved, you are valid, you are beautiful, and nobody has a say in your identity except for YOU. ❤️🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️

Pin on Gif

I’ve made some good progress with my sci-fi WIP as well! I had a nasty case of creative block for a few days after getting back from Montana, but with a little help from sci-fi Pinterest and my sketchbook, I’m back on track. I just passed 100 pages yesterday!!

Other than that, I’ve just been drawing little aliens, getting back to volunteering at the library, watching Loki and Invincible, and enjoying the warmer weather.

i had a few
[sniffles]

Also, I changed my profile picture to Rabbi Milligan from Fargo on a whim…hey, why not?

We live with the choices we make. Consequences.”... - Tumbex

READING AND BLOGGING:

I managed to read 20 books this month! Not as many as I would’ve liked to, but at least I got to make some trips to my favorite bookstore. Didn’t have any 5-stars that weren’t re-reads, but I have a few 4.5-star reads that I adored!

2 – 2.75 stars:

Here the Whole Time by Vitor Martins – ARC Review – Books Real When Shared
Here the Whole Time

The Orphanage of Gods – Helena Coggan (⭐️⭐️)

The Obsidian Tower (Rooks and Ruin, #1) – Melissa Caruso (⭐️⭐️)

Here the Whole Time – Vitor Martins (⭐️⭐️.75)

3 – 3.75 stars:

Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh
Every Body Looking

The First Sister – Linden A. Lewis (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Upside of Unrequited – Becky Albertalli (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

The Hidden World of the Fox – Adele Brand (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Hot Dog Girl – Jennifer Dugan (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Off Planet (Aunare Chronicles, #1) – Aileen Erin (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

The Light of the Midnight Stars – Rena Rossner (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

A Chorus Rises (A Song Below Water, #2) – Bethany C. Morrow (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75)

Every Body Looking – Candice Iloh (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75)

4 – 4.75 stars:

Amazon.com: The Ones We're Meant to Find (9781250258564): He, Joan: Books
The Ones We’re Meant to Find

The Falling in Love Montage – Ciara Smyth (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Chameleon Moon (Chameleon Moon, #1) – RoAnna Sylver (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Juliet Takes a Breath – Gabby Rivera (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Instructions for Dancing – Nicola Yoon (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Sasha Masha – Agnes Borinsky (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Between Burning Worlds (System Divine, #2) – Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)

The Ones We’re Meant to Find – Joan He (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea – Maggie Tokuda-Hall (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

5 stars:

Heart of Iron: Amazon.co.uk: Poston, Ashley: 9780062652850: Books
Heart of Iron

Heart of Iron (Heart of Iron, #1) – Ashley Poston (re-read) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH (NOT COUNTING RE-READS): The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea4.5 stars

Amazon.com: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea (9781536204315):  Tokuda-Hall, Maggie: Books

SOME POSTS I’M PROUD OF:

POSTS I ENJOYED FROM OTHER WONDERFUL PEOPLE:

SONGS/ALBUMS THAT I’VE ENJOYED:

I haven’t listened to Neighborhood #3 but #1 and #2 are just gorgeous
This might just be my favorite song right now?? So many childhood memories of being in the car…big thank you to my dad for putting this on the playlist while we were in Glacier
The new Danny Elfman was hit or miss for me but I loved this one
SOPHIE RETURNS
this whole album is incredible
AND NEW CAR SEAT HEADREST! The remixes EP wasn’t that great but I loved this covers EP

DID I FOLLOW THROUGH ON MY JUNE GOALS?

Download Girl Reading B GIF Status, Shayari, Quotes | Nojoto
  • Make a list with some Pride Month recs: see the SOME POSTS I’M PROUD OF section!
  • Read at least 20 books: 20!
  • Enjoy the first month of summer: absolutely!
  • ACTUALLY start that first draft of the sci-fi WIP: done, and I’ve made lots of progress since then!

GOALS FOR JULY:

Unf its getting hot in here GIF on GIFER - by Oghmalis
July in Colorado is ✨way too hot✨ and we already had a heat wave recently…wheee…
  • Read at least 20 books
  • Get into Camp NaNoWriMo for the sci-fi WIP
  • Don’t melt into a puddle from the heat

First month of summer? I’d say it’s been a success.

Today’s song:

guess I’m on a Blur kick hehe

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

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Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (6/29/21) – The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

So first off, I owe a huge thank you to Phoenix @ Books With Wings for introducing me to this book (and sharing that great interview with Maggie Tokuda Hall!), because otherwise, I’m not sure if I would’ve heard of it! And man, I am SO glad that I picked this book up last week – such a beautiful queer story full of characters with heart and tender romance.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea (9781536204315):  Tokuda-Hall, Maggie: Books
G A H THIS COVER

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea – Maggie Tokuda Hall

After being plucked off the streets by a ruthless pirate captain, Flora disguises herself as a boy, Florian, to pass amongst the crew of the pirate ship Dove. Life aboard the Dove has hardened her, but when the captain strikes a deal to transport a group of Imperials to the floating islands, she meets Evelyn, who is set to be married to a man she doesn’t even know. The two bond in secret, and they soon fall in love, but when the crew captures a mermaid, the Dove invokes the wrath of the Pirate Supreme and the Sea itself. Flora and Evelyn must escape the ship – or face the curse of the unforgiving Sea.

GIF starz 03x02 tele - animated GIF on GIFER - by Bluestone

TW/CW: torture, graphic violence, racism, imperialism, alcoholism, blood, rape/sexual assault (off-page), death

Pirate fantasy is one of my favorite types of fantasy, but in the YA department, most of the ones I’ve found have been bitter disappointments. But The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea was exactly the opposite – a fantasy tale that was all at once brutal and beautiful that filled my heart up with tender joy.

For me, the characters were the part that shone the most in this novel. Flora and Evelyn were both incredible protagonists – multi-layered, and with distinct personalities that riffed adorably well off each other. I loved their romance, and their bonding over books and the captured mermaid was so sweet. Besides them, Rake had to be my favorite character – I adored his POVs! It’s clear that he’d been through so much before and during the novel, but all he wanted was to make sure that Flora and Evelyn broke free of the cruel life aboard the Dove. He got his moment in the spotlight too, and I loved seeing him come into his own near the end of the novel. (He reminded me a bit of Rabbi Milligan from Fargo, too… [aggressively goes through a box of tissues])

fargo season two | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumgir
MY B O Y

Beyond the protagonists, I loved how complex the relationships between all of the characters; Maggie Tokuda-Hall didn’t shy away from making them more than black and white, and I felt like it was a very realistic situation for Flora, in particular, having to eke out a living on the Dove. Much of the crew (minus Rake and Alfie) were deplorable people, but for Alfie in particular, he’s their brother; even though Alfie’s a deeply flawed person, Flora still had a sense of responsibility for him.

The queer rep in The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea also made me so happy! Over the course of the book, Flora realizes that they’re genderfluid, and while I can’t speak to how accurate or inaccurate the rep is (as a cis person), it was certainly a beautiful journey of identity and a supremely well written piece of character development. It’s also implied that Evelyn is bi/pan/queer (though her label is never specified), and she loves Flora no matter how they presented. The infamous and all-powerful Pirate Supreme, though we didn’t get to see as much of them, also used they/them pronouns, which was pretty cool! I love a good casually queer fantasy story, and this novel 100% delivered.

And speaking of queerness in fantasy, I loved all of the different fairytales woven into the Witch’s part of the story; they were all fascinating in their own right, but it was amazing to see casual queer rep in all of the tales that the Witch told to Flora. The Witch as a character (Xenobia) was more of a vehicle for Flora’s development than anything, but that part of the story was still critical for Flora.

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea also served as a good commentary on imperialism; although this all occurs in a fantasy world, it’s focused primarily on Japanese imperialism, which is a perspective I don’t often see in literature, period. The plotline of the Pirate Supreme and the Sea was the most well-developed of the commentaries; there’s a clear and important message of not encroaching on places that were never yours in the first place, both in the respects of neighboring countries and on nature itself. However, I do wish the world were a little more developed; the worldbuilding was good on the surface, but I wish we’d gotten a little more of the history behind the imperialism and some of the other countries.

However, I’ve seen this in a few reviews and thought it was worth noting – it didn’t quite sit right with me that Flora, who was a Black-coded character, works on a slave ship; given…well, much of world history, really, that doesn’t seem terribly thoughtful. The reviews I’ve seen mention this were from non-Black readers, and I haven’t been able to find any Black reviewer’s thoughts (on Goodreads, at least). They don’t really elaborate the concept that the Dove is a slaver ship beyond the prologue (which I just chalked up to iffy worldbuilding), to a degree where I pretty much forgot that it was a slaver ship in the first place, but it’s still something to keep in mind.

I swallowed this novel almost all at once – it was a little bit slow to start, but once it got going, man, it really got going! After about the 25% mark (I read this on my Kindle), the plot kept me hooked until the very last page. I especially loved the final showdown of the Dove, the Pirate Supreme, and the Sea – the action scenes were incredible, and though parts were hard to read (RAKE 😭😭😭), it was lovely to see the characters get their justice.

But GAAAH, for the most part, THIS BOOK MADE ME SO HAPPY. Finally, I’ve gotten my hands on a pirate fantasy that actually delivers – in anti-imperialism commentary, in queer rep and romance, and in lovable characters and action. 4.5 stars!

wholesome cat memes hearts - Google Search | Cute cat memes, Cute love  memes, Heart meme

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea is the first in a series; however, no information has been released other than the fact that there will eventually be a sequel. (GIMMEEEEE) Maggie Tokuda-Hall is also the author of the forthcoming YA novel Squad (2021), as well as several picture books.

Today’s song:

AHAHAHAAAAAAAA THIS IS SO GOOD

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, TV

“If I don’t come back, I’m dead or in jail.” (Fargo: Year 4 review)

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All images in this post credit to FX Networks

Happy Friday, bibliophiles! I suppose that the bibliophile greeting doesn’t *quite* fit for this post, but hey, you probably followed this blog for books, right? Today, we’ve got something a little bit different–but at least I kept my promise, didn’t I? I hinted at doing a review for at least a week prior to today…

At the beginning of quarantine, my brother and my parents had just started binging Fargo. So like so many of us have done with different shows in the last 6 months, I starting doing some serious binge-watching. I’d already been exposed to Noah Hawley’s masterful storytelling through Legion, but Fargo never ceased to wow me. I forgot about it for a few months after finishing up season 3, and then the trailer for season 4 came out in September. I didn’t see it coming, but little did I know that this newest season would be my favorite yet!

Chris Rock Leads the Future in New Fargo Season 4 Teaser

Here’s the special thing about Fargo: each season follows a plot that, chances are, you’ve seen before: murder mysteries in small towns, sibling rivalries escalated to astronomical proportions, dysfunctional crime families; this season, in particular, centers around the politics of rivaling Italian and African-American gangs in 1950s Kansas City, and a mortician’s family who unwillingly gets caught up in the action. But every season, without fail, Noah Hawley spins it into something that you’ve never seen before, be it with the characters, the cinematography, and the plot twists (and there’s a LOT of plot twists). Fargo is all about the unexpected, and season 4 brings the factor of the unknown and unseen up to levels that I haven’t seen since…well, I guess that season 3 ending…(no spoilers.)

And maybe I’m biased for this one. October was one of the hardest months I’ve had in quite a while, and Fargo was, without a doubt, one of the things that kept me going through it. As the season came out, my days started to revolve around the Monday nights that would inevitably bring another episode to fuel me with enough dopamine to keep me going through the rest of the week. But I genuinely believe that this show embodies what storytelling should be–what good TV should be, really. And this season has truly cemented Fargo as my favorite show. (And considering that I don’t readily jump for murder mysteries/historical fiction, that’s definitely saying something. That’s just the power of Noah Hawley, folks…)

Now, TREAD LIGHTLY! This review may contain some minor spoilers, but for your benefit, I’ll try to keep it light on them. But even so, be warned…

Fargo" season 4 has spun a complex, compelling American fable of race and  crime | Salon.com

I…can’t really find anything major that I didn’t like about this season, so consider this review a breakdown of most everything that I loved.

THE GREAT:

  • Characters/casting/acting: With every Fargo season, there’s no shortage of complex characters and masterful actors (for previous seasons, see: Martin Freeman, Bokeem Woodbine, Jean Smart, Ewan McGregor, David Thewlis, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, etc.), but season 4 in particular had them in no short supply. I loved all of the (HUGE) main cast and many of the supporting characters, but for one reason or another, this is the first season where I’ve gotten really attached to more than one character. And considering that Fargo is one of those shows that 75%-80% of the main cast is killed off by the time the finale rolls around, it…didn’t go over well with my emotions. But in all seriousness, THESE CHARACTERS!

Let me just digress to talk about my three favorites in this season:

Fargo Season 4 Episode 5 Review: The Birthplace of Civilization | Den of  Geek
  • Doctor Senator (Glynn Turman): let’s be honest, what’s not to like? He consistently has some of the best lines/general dialogue in this season, he’s strategic, he’s clever, and he’s instantly likable. I’ll get more in depth on the morally gray theme of the whole season later on in the review, but leave it to Fargo to make us AGGRESSIVELY sympathize with all manner of mobsters and criminals…anyways, this guy’s the best.
In 'Fargo' Season 4, All the Cops are Bad — Noah Hawley Explains Why |  IndieWire
“I am Ethelrida Pearl Smutny. And I am one of a kind.”
  • Ethelrida Smutny (E’myri Crutchfield): LOVE HER! She’s one of the few characters in this season who’s morally right and seeks to do the right thing, and she is such a lovable character in every way. She’s frequently underestimated by most of the adults in this season, but she shows herself to not only be smart–smarter than them, in some cases–, but compassionate and determined to do the right thing. The world needs more people like Ethelrida.

And last but most definitely not least…

Fargo' Season 4 Character Guide: Who's Who in the New Series
“If I don’t come back, I’m dead or in jail. Do your lessons.”
  • Patrick “Rabbi” Milligan (Ben Whishaw): [SCREAMS AND CRIES INTO THE VOID]

Out of the three I just mentioned, he’s absolutely my favorite. He’s endured so much tragedy and trauma over the course of his life, but all he wants is for Satchel to have a better life. Again, no shortage of clever and insightful lines, and objectively one of those characters that just needs a big hug and a mug of hot chocolate. Just…just trust me on that one. You’ll see.

FX Postpones Fargo Season 4 After Production Delays Due to Coronavirus |  Consequence of Sound
I hate myself for thinking about that “What do you have? A KNIFE! NO!” vine when I saw this scene…

But as far as characters, it doesn’t stop there. Everybody, from Chris Rock (Loy Cannon) to Jason Schwartzman (Josto Fadda) to Jessie Buckley (Oraetta Mayflower) truly shines in season 4. Each character is distinct, complex, and it was an absolute joy to see all of their stories unfold. (Also, it’s worth it just to see Jason Schwartzman just SNAP…that scene of him just pretending to hold a gun and just go “HAGAGAGAGAGHGHAGSDHAGHGHGH” just lives rent-free in my mind now…)

(Plus…THE GAYS WON 2020, EVERYBODY! Can we just talk about how Zelmare and Swanee INVENTED “be gay, do crime?”)

Preview — Fargo Season 4 Episode 8: The Nadir | Tell-Tale TV
[intense sapphic happiness ensues]

Whew, that went on for a while. BUT WAIT–THERE’S MORE, BECAUSE THIS SHOW IS VERY NEARLY FLAWLESS:

  • Score and soundtrack: At this point, I think it’s just impossible for Jeff Russo to ever make a bad score for a movie or a TV show. Besides all of the remixes of the music from previous seasons, I loved all of the new songs. I particularly liked Odis (Jack Huston)’s theme (somehow it almost sounds like a car alarm? But in a good way) and the Legion-y song with the shootout with Zelmare and Swanee at the train station. And I loved all of the other songs that were slipped in. No spoilers for the context of the Johnny Cash song in the finale, but when I tell you that I SOBBED…
  • Timely themes: One of the main complaints I’ve seen about this season is that it’s “too woke,” (🙄) which I think is utterly idiotic. This season’s set in 1950, but it’s more timely than ever–there’s discussions of race, police brutality, immigration, and what it means to be an American. And it’s all handled quite well, I think. One thing I’ve always appreciated about the show as a whole is how it depicts the American police system–for the first three seasons, there’s usually 1-2 cops that actually know what they’re doing, but they’re frequently dismissed by a largely unbelieving and sexist police force. This season is the first where we have both of our main cops as largely corrupt, but we still sympathize with one of them (PTSD relating to WWII). Most of the characters are morally gray as well (I mean, most of the main cast are members of separate gangs), and that contrast was also well-done.
  • That classic, Noah Hawley weirdness: in every season, there’s at least one episode or plot point that’s highly out of the ordinary, and lucky for us, we got that in the form of episode 9. Besides having a whole episode of Rabbi and Satchel after not seeing them for two episodes, there’s an amazing Wizard of Oz theme with the whole episode. I’ll shamelessly admit to thinking about it for a solid WEEK.
Fargo' Season 4, Episode 9 Recap: And a Little Dog, Too - The New York Times
  • All the Coen Brothers references, of course: Treehorn? The Raising Arizona screaming? Everything that I missed? LOADS OF FUN.
Chris Rock Says Irish Actress Got Best Part on 'Fargo,' Evil Nurse Oraetta
“Ya like pie?”

All in all, this was a masterful show from start to finish. My favorite season out of the four, by far, although I love them all. I’m already rewatching the whole season over again…

MY RATING: ★★★★★

TW/CW: Graphic violence (mostly gunshot wounds, but there’s some parts that definitely made me queasy), racism, xenophobia, police brutality, some brief racist/homophobic/ablelist slurs, poisoning, loss of loved ones, alcoholism/substance abuse

EDIT: Whoooooooa, apparently this is my 500th post! Dang…😳

Today’s song:

I haven’t heard this song in so long…the memories…😭

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