Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (4/28/20)–The Life Below

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Happy Tuesday, everyone!

After re-reading The Final Six recently, I knew I had to get my hands on the sequel. Though I was worried that it wouldn’t be as good as book 1, The Life Below ulimately surpassed its predecessor, making for a complex sci-fi novel that had me on the edge of my seat!

WARNING: THIS REVIEW IS LIKELY RIFE WITH SPOILERS FOR THE FINAL SIX. 

If you haven’t read The Final Six and plan on doing so, I suggest you don’t yet read this review. For now, if you want to read my review of book 1, click here! 

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Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: The Life Below (9780062658975): Monir, Alexandra: Books

The Life Below (The Final Six, #2)

After the tumultuous choosing of the contenders for the Final Six, Naomi is set on a course for space, heading to Europa with five other contenders–including her archrival, Beckett. Bemoaning the fact that she may never see Leo again, she boards the ship with suspicion. But as they fly closer to Europa, she discovers that there may be even more secrets that the International Space Training Camp may be hiding. Secrets that may mean the difference between life and death.

Crestfallen at losing his place on the Europa mission, Leo is summoned by Greta Wagner, a scientist responsible for constructing the backbone of the Europa mission–that was fired before the Final Six fought for a place on the mission. Her intel on the mission and the ISTC puts Naomi and the others in danger, and they only have one option to save her and the other five crew members–and that’s running their own Europa mission.

Will their paths collide in time for the truth to be revealed?

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Fresh off of reading The Final Six, I was worried about book 2 for the first third of the novel, or so. The plot seemed to be going nowhere, and I was desperately worried that $11 had hopelessly gone down the drain. But lucky for us, The Life Below picks up in a heartbeat, cranking up the volume and turning the stakes up to the next level. In the end, it was even better than book 1–a positively pulse-pounding, intergalactic thrill ride.

First off, CHARACTERS. Now that the Final Six had been narrowed down, I was fascinated to get a glimpse at some of the characters that were just background noise in book 1. I liked Sydney, in particular–she had a vital place on the mission, and she was generally just a very human character. I liked returning to the minds of Leo and Naomi, and though their romance still felt a bit forced at times, it was ultimately a good choice.

Now that everyone’s been thrown out in space, the stakes are ten times higher. This was where the book picked up for me; the results of everything from the Athena supply run to exploring the RRB bacteria had often frightening repercussions and conclusions, making for a novel that had me on the edge of my seat.

My personal favorite part was one of the main subplots, in which Naomi and the rest of the crew figure out a decoded message in the form of the musical structure of Radiohead’s “Sail To The Moon”. Besides the fact that I’m a total nerd for Radiohead, it was such an inventive way to make and figure out a cipher. Honestly, a heartfelt thank you to Mrs. Monir for blessing us with all these Radiohead references.

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All in all, a thrilling sequel with all of the elements of a solid sci-fi novel. 4.5 stars for me! 

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The Life Below is the second in the Final Six series. From what I can tell, it’s a duology, but…ugh, the ending made it seem like there would be another book…CURSES! 🤬

Anyway, we’ll see how that goes…

Today’s song:

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

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Posted in Books, Geeky Stuff, Music

My Favorite Music References in YA Literature

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If there’s one thing I love as much as books and reading, it’s probably music. I was raised in a family of wonderful music nerds, and as a result, music has grown to be an integral aspect of my life.

And so, it always brings me a rush of joy whenever I find music references hidden inside books I love, and by proxy, authors with similar musical taste. I thought I might compile a few of my favorite books with music references in them, just for fun.

THE BLACK BEAST LIVES! - HalfGuarded

 

  1. The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik, David Arnold

Amazon.com: The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik ...

Artists referenced: David Bowie, brief joke about Wilco/Jeff Tweedy

I mean, one can sort of tell from the get-go that this book is very Bowie-centric; The title itself (a reference to a lyric from “Changes”), and the Aladdin Sane lightning bolt in the ‘I’ in “Fascinations”. (On another edition, it shows Noah with the bolt across his face, just like the Aladdin Sane album cover!) Other than that, there’s a continual respect for Bowie throughout the novel. Other than the general wondrousness of the novel, I’m just glad to see that someone else holds Hunky Dory as highly as I do.

Also, the mention of Wilco is very brief, but it was still pretty funny to see. Even if it was poking fun at them.

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2. The Hazel Wood, Melissa Albert

Amazon.com: The Hazel Wood: A Novel (9781250297327): Albert ...

Artists referenced: The Beatles, Nirvana, T.Rex, (!!!), David Bowie

Though music doesn’t play (no pun intended) as big a role in The Hazel Wood as it does in some of the others in this post, there’s wonderful references aplenty in this one, from a minor character being described as reminiscent of David Bowie to a discordant, chaotic scene in which the main villain sings an off-key rendition of “Yellow Submarine”. Also, I’m frankly so impressed that Albert slipped in a T.Rex reference in there. COME. ON. That’s the deep cut to end all deep cuts!

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3. The Final Six and The Life Below, Alexandra Monir

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Artists referenced: Radiohead

Weirdly enough, though I’d heard Radiohead here and there before reading The Final Six,  but seeing the reference was ultimately what convinced me to listen to Radiohead! This is easily some of the best utilization of references I’ve seen in a novel, period. First off, in The Final Six, there’s a particularly chilling scene in which Beckett, the main antagonist, glimpses Naomi sneaking around, and after a tense conversation, he sings part of “Paranoid Android.” (“When I am king, you will be first against the wall/With your opinion, which is of no consequence at all…”) Already veeeery spooky, but the song’s title hints that Beckett knows more than what he let on. (No spoilers)

In The Life Below, Monir also uses “Sail To The Moon”–in particular, its musical structure–as the center point of one of the main subplots in the novel. And boy, it’s FASCINATING.

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4. The Looking Glass, Janet McNally

The Looking Glass - Janet McNally - Hardcover

Artists referenced: St. Vincent, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac (I don’t really care about the latter at all, but hey)

Another dip into the realm of magical realism!

Music plays a semi-important role in this one, as part of the novel is set on a road trip; there’s a running joke where Sylvie’s friend’s brother (I can’t remember his name for the life of me) listens to one specific artist in the car for the month. His pick of the month is Fleetwood Mac; there’s a line (which I can’t find) where Sylvie makes a remark something along the lines of “why can’t we listen to something good, like David Bowie?” to which the other character responds that he’d already listened to him for all of April. And though the St. Vincent reference was brief, McNally perfectly captures the nature of her music.

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5. Ziggy, Stardust, and Me, James Brandon

Ziggy, Stardust and Me by James Brandon: 9780525517641 ...

Artists referenced: David Bowie, Pink Floyd

Again, another Bowie-centric book. I related to this one in particular because Bowie is Jonathan (the main character)’s hero; the book is set in 1973, so it’s at the heyday of his Ziggy Stardust era. As someone who similarly worships him, this novel hit the sweet spot for me. There’s also a wonderful scene where Jonathan and Web soundtrack a school presentation with Pink Floyd’s “Time”, easily my personal favorite of their songs.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS: 

 

So what do you lovely people think? What are some music references in literature that you love? Tell me in the comments! 

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Since I’ve already posted today, head over to today’s Goodreads Monday to see today’s song.

 

Have a wonderful day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Book Tags, Books

The Flower Book Tag

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Happy Wednesday, my dudes bibliophiles!

I found this tag over at Devour Books with Dana, and the tag was created by Wordy and Whimsical. I figured it would be the perfect tag to get me back into the feel of Spring! *desperately tries to ignore the fact that it’s going to snow AGAIN tomorrow*

Big Fish (7/8) Movie CLIP - Field Of Daffodils (2003) HD GIF | Gfycat

Let’s begin, shall we?

ROSES: Roses are traditionally given as an expression of love. What’s your favourite romance in a book?

Rose Petals - The Creative Cafe

There’s a lot for me to choose from, but if I had to pick, I’d have to say the relationship between Jax and Rob in the Heart of Iron duology. WINNER OF COUPLE OF THE YEAR FOR TWO CONSECUTIVE YEARS

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STARGAZER LILIES: Stargazer Lilies are named for their blooms that face toward the sky. Who is your favourite ambitious character?

How to Grow and Care for 'Star Gazer' Lilies

Boy, there’s quite a few to choose from, but I’d have to say Jo from the Pioneer duology. It takes a certain type of bravery to take on an entire alien species that’s turned against you, and to do it with skill and grace.

Amazon.com: The Pioneer (9780062658067): Tyler, Bridget: Books

 

PEACE LILIES: Peace Lilies are known for being one of the easier houseplants to care for. What is a book you think anyone could love?

Peace Lilies: How to Care for Peace Lily Plants (Spathiphyllum ...

I’d have to say Kids of Appetite for this one. I don’t think there’s anyone who couldn’t relate to the characters–or the themes. Plus, there’s no denying David Arnold’s writing prowess.

Amazon.com: Kids of Appetite (9780451470782): Arnold, David: Books

 

CHRYSANTHEMUMS: Chrysanthemums are given on Mother’s Day in Australia. Who is your favourite fictional mother?

Is that even a question? Molly Weasley, hands down.

Molly Weasley | Harry Potter Wiki | Fandom

 

SPIDER PLANTS: Spider Plants are easy to propagate. What is a hyped-up book that you love?

Spider Plant Care: Tips on How to Care for a Spider Plant

I just read Sawkill Girlsand I must say, it lived up to ALL the hype! Five stars for me!

Sawkill Girls - Claire Legrand - Hardcover

 

LILY OF THE VALLEY: Lily of the Valley is pretty but poisonous. Share a book with a beautiful cover that was actually disappointing!

Grow Lily-of-the-Valley Flowers | Garden Design

Oh god…Lifestyles of Gods and Monsterswhy did you have to let me down?

Amazon.com: Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters (9780374310622 ...

 

ORCHIDS: Orchids are one of the oldest flower types known to man. What’s your favorite classic novel?

Plant Care: Hydroponic Feed Schedule for Growing Orchids Indoor

Frankenstein‘Nuff said.

frankenstein book cover - Google Search | Frankenstein book ...

 

PEONIES: Peonies require lots of care. Share a bookish friendship that was caring and supportive!

Peonies: Planting, Growing, and Caring for Peony Flowers | The Old ...

The entire squad of Aurora Rising. My favorite bunch of space misfits.

Amazon.com: Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle) (9781524720964 ...

 

HYACINTHS: Hyacinths have a sweet, lingering fragrance. What’s the sweetest novel you’ve ever read?

Planting Hyacinths Tips | DIY Network Blog: Made + Remade | DIY

Another bookish friendship I love…Lily and Dunkin was a rough one, but the friendship between the main characters is one of the sweetest and most human that I’ve ever read.

Lily and Dunkin: Gephart, Donna: 9780553536744: Amazon.com: Books

 

TULIPS: Tulips are bright, popular, and showy. Who’s your favorite larger than life character?

Tulip Strawberry Fields Collection - Tulip Bulbs | DutchGrown Official

Holden Caulfield, though he’s certainly riddled with flaws, was the first to come to mind. The Catcher in the Rye is nothing short of timeless.

Amazon.com: The Catcher in the Rye (9787543321724): J.D. Salinger ...

 

WATER LILIES: Certain types of Water Lilies are difficult to eradicate. What is a novel that has stood the test of time, and remained your favorite through the years?

Water Lilies Are the Gorgeous Aquatic Blooms Anyone Can Grow ...

Though my favorite books have changed through the years, I’d say that To Kill a Mockingbird will remain one of them for years to come.

To Kill a Mockingbird | Summary, Characters, Movie, & Facts ...

 

LAVENDER: Lavender has many uses, from landscaping and food to cosmetics and essential oils. Name a book you love that fits in more than one genre!

How to Care for Lavender in Winter | Indoors & Outdoors | The Old ...

The Looking Glass could fit as fantasy, magical realism, and *almost* realistic fiction. Whatever the genre you put it in, it’s still an incredible novel.

The Looking Glass - Janet McNally - Hardcover

 

I tag anyone who wants to participate!

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Today’s song:

I just finished up with a book where this song played a significant role…more on that later…

 

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

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