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 Music

Valentine – Snail Mail album review

Snail Mail: Valentine Album Review | Pitchfork

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles! Probably just gonna dispose of the “this isn’t a bookish post, but screw it, I’m still gonna use the bibliophile greeting” joke at this point. It won’t be missed.

Those of you who’ve followed this blog for a while know how much Snail Mail means to me. Her music soundtracked the strange transition from middle to high school, filled with raw, genuine emotion and unforgettable guitar riffs. Especially during the summer of 2018, her music meant so much to me. I even got to meet Lindsey Jordan at a show that year; she was such a sweet human being, and she even gave me her guitar pick at the end of the show! She’s one of the reasons why I play electric guitar now.

Fast forward to the past few years. We hadn’t gotten anything besides a cover single since 2019, and from the jokes she made at the last show about her manager overbooking her on the last tour, I started to get worried. I distinctly remember several conversations with my mom that ended with “well, hopefully she’ll feel better soon, and then she’ll make an album about it.”

And, surprise, surprise, an album she made! Valentine made me remember all over again how much I love Snail Mail while marking a natural evolution into a newer sound.

So let’s begin this review, shall we?

Snail Mail Shares Video for New Song “Madonna”: Watch | Pitchfork

VALENTINE – SNAIL MAIL (album review)

TRACK 1: “Valentine” – 9/10

Getting this unexpected news on a cold September morning instantly brightened my day. It was what made me remember how much I loved Snail Mail. Even though Jordan’s voice has shifted to a deeper, raspier tone, this could have easily come off of Lush, with its soaring guitars and angsty declarations. And yet, it provides the perfect, most natural bridge from Lush to Valentine. It was the perfect first single, and it’s the perfect album opener.

TRACK 2: “Ben Franklin” – 8.5/10

Knowing that “Ben Franklin” got its name from the “presidential-type beat” memes adds a whole new layer to the song. It’s a good layer, for sure. Brings back memories of the night before taking my APUSH exam.

After the wondrous familiarity and “Snail Mail’s back!”ness of “Valentine,” “Ben Franklin” provided an organic segue into a newer, synth-dominated sound. Sultry and smooth, it’s the perfect blend of guitar, piano, and synth, all set to an instantly catchy beat. It’s a new direction for a musician who normally dominates her sound with guitars, but it feels just as genuine as anything from Lush or Habit.

TRACK 3: “Headlock” – 7.5/10

Though “Headlock” doesn’t wow me as much as some of the other tracks on this album, it’s solid proof that after all this time, Lindsey Jordan is just as much herself as she was in 2018. The evolution of Jordan’s voice shines in this song; her voice is just as raw and beautiful, but now it’s deeper, fuller. Combined with catchy guitars and pianos, this makes for a solid Snail Mail song.

TRACK 4: “Light Blue” – 9/10

Wanna wake up early every day

Just to be awake in the same world as you…

Snail Mail, “Light Blue”

In an album consisting almost entirely of songs about the ugly side of romance and breaking up, “Light Blue” provides a single spark of hope and pure love. Acoustic guitars and soft strings make for a heartwarming declaration of love, enough to make even the coldest heart melt. Leave it to Snail Mail to deliver genuine emotion in all its forms.

TRACK 5: “Forever (Sailing)” – 8.5/10

Whatever you decide,

I’ll chase you from the city to the sky,

And lose myself for you a thousand times…

Snail Mail, “Forever (Sailing)”

Like “Ben Franklin,” “Forever (Sailing)” contains so few of the guitars that became a hallmark of Snail Mail’s music. But even without them, it provides a glimpse into the evolution of her sound, making a steady, catchy beat out of a story of a relationship doomed to fall apart.

TRACK 6: “Madonna” – 9.5/10

Without question, my favorite of the three pre-released singles, and one of my favorite tracks of the album! The thrumming bass-line introduces a one-of-a-kind song, cleverly telling a story while seamlessly transitioning between heavy guitars and smoother, synth-driven slow points. I truly adore this song, everything about it just makes me so happy that Lindsey Jordan is back to making music?

(Also, the bass-line immediately made me think of this song…if I knew how, I’d try and make a mashup…)

TRACK 7: “c. et. al.” – 9.5/10

I went into this album hoping that I’d find the song that Snail Mail played live at the show I went to in 2019, one that she said “wouldn’t be out for a while.” After a few listens (the key change threw me off the trail), I found the famed “Baby Blue” song!

And it’s just as beautiful and raw as it was when I saw it love. Like with Lush, it segways into the sadder, more hopeless side of Snail Mail’s discography, providing a worthy companion to songs like “Deep Sea” and “Anytime.” The acoustic guitar accents Jordan’s voice perfectly, making for the perfect recipe for tugging at my heartstrings.

TRACK 8: “Glory” – 10/10

You owe me,

You own me,

Couldn’t even look at you straight on,

Shining in your glory…”

Snail Mail, “Glory”

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! Without a doubt, my FAVORITE song on the whole album. Everything about this song makes me so giddy, and it’s so wonderfully Snail Mail…GAH. The driving beat that ticks along in the chorus, Jordan’s soaring voice and clever lyrics, and the strong guitar throughout. Everything, down to the way that Jordan’s voice rings out on the final “glory,” makes for a perfect song. And can we appreciate the subtle “you owe me/you own me” turn of phrase? Golden.

TRACK 9: “Automate” – 8/10

I wouldn’t say this one quite matches how good the rest of the album is, but that in no way means it’s a bad song. At this point, the concept of a bad Snail Mail song is about as likely as the sun not rising tomorrow.

Oddly, my first thought upon hearing the intro was “SPOON.” It particularly reminded me of something like “The Beast and Dragon, Adored” or “The Way We Get By.” I don’t even know if Spoon is an influence of hers, but that’s what immediately came to mind. Either way, “Automate” is a song where you can almost see the beat pushing forward in front of your eyes. Compared to the rest of the album, there’s something that’s missing from it that I can’t place, but it still holds up in the grand scheme of it. Plus, guitars.

TRACK 10: “Mia” – 9/10

Mia, don’t cry,

I love you forever,

But I’ve gotta grow up now

No, I can’t keep holding on to you anymore,

Mia, I’m still yours…

Snail Mail, “Mia”

“Mia, don’t cry…” no, I’m crying. And there’s nothing you can do to stop me.

Sad cat meme

Like “Anytime,” “Mia” serves as the perfect melancholy closer for a near-perfect album. The solitude of Jordan’s voice, an acoustic guitar, and a string section brings out the somber tone of the song, making the lost love within it all the more heartbreaking. It’s hard to surpass “Anytime,” but I believe that “Mia” barely does just that.

Shoot, now I’m getting all sad…lemme just go back to “Glory” for a minute…

Snail Mail shares new track "Madonna" - 91.9 WFPK Independent Louisville

I averaged out all my ratings for each track, and it came out to an 8.9, which I’ll round up to a 9. Valentine, though rife with stories of love gone wrong, lifted my spirits and restored my hope in Snail Mail. There’s nothing that Lindsey Jordan can’t do, both as a songwriter and a musician, and this album is a beautiful, emotional testament to the fact. I’m so excited to see her live again in April!

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

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

Posted in Monthly Wrap-Ups

September 2021 Wrap-Up 🍂

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles!

September started out a little stressful, but now I feel like I’m in a better place than I’ve been for most of this year. I can neither confirm nor deny that this is because it’s finally fall and it’s cold enough for me to wear my favorite jackets.

Let’s begin, shall we?

GENERAL THOUGHTS:

ɦσµรε || αɳเɱε | •Anime• Amino

September has been my first full month back in school; it started out more than a little stressful, thanks to getting my college applications all sorted out, but now that I’m (somewhat) over that hump, I’m feeling a lot better. I’ve managed to keep my grades in a good place, so I’m happy about that!

I also managed to finish draft 2 of my sci-fi WIP!! I’m super proud of myself for that one–I cut down a whole lot of filler, and I feel a lot better about it as a whole. I’m going to let it sit for a few months before I go back and edit it, but I feel great about it. In the meantime, I’ve been poring through a draft I abandoned in 2019 that was…surprisingly good, given that it was written almost two and a half years ago. I’ve been outlining on and off, but I’m going to try and actually get this writing business back in motion soon.

As for the rest of the month, it’s been peaceful. We got the book club back up and running at my high school, I spent the weekend in Vail, and I went to two fantastic concerts–Spoon and St. Vincent! They were both great, but the latter will always have a special place in my heart. St. Vincent was a major hero of mine in middle school, and she’s still a hero now, and seeing her live made all my dreams come true.

And now it’s almost October! I’m so excited–Halloween season, loads of good movies coming out (The French Dispatch, Dune, etc.), fall in general…good times.

Wes Aderson's new film is very popular in Cannes, the director of "Virgo"  is back - iNEWS

READING AND BLOGGING:

I read 21 books this month! More than I expected, given that I haven’t had as much time to read this month, but I did read a lot of shortish books, so…

2 – 2.75 stars:

Namesake (Fable, #2) by Adrienne Young
Namesake (Fable, #2)

3 – 3.75 stars:

Amazon.com: Our Bloody Pearl (These Treacherous Tides): 9781721833412:  Bryn, D. N.: Books
Our Bloody Pearl

4 – 4.75 stars:

Amazon.com: The Mirror Season: 9781250624123: McLemore, Anna-Marie: Books
The Mirror Season

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH (NOT COUNTING RE-READS): Curses4.25 stars

Curses by Lish McBride

SOME POSTS I’M PROUD OF:

POSTS I ENJOYED FROM OTHER WONDERFUL PEOPLE:

SONGS/ALBUMS I’VE ENJOYED:

I just LOVE the first 8 seconds of this song (and the whole thing, for that matter) for no particular reason
ridiculously catchy
okay I really need to listen to this whole album
can confirm now that I’ve seen these guys live twice that they are SPECTACULAR in concert
SHE’S BACK
seeing her live was simply magic
note to self: listen to more Andrew Bird

DID I FOLLOW THROUGH WITH MY SEPTEMBER GOALS?

bradpittstain | Damon albarn, Blur band, Britpop
  • Read at least 20 books: 21!
  • Don’t stress too much about college stuff oof: yep! Now that I know how things work, I feel a lot better.
  • Take care of yourself: well, I listened to “Girls & Boys” on repeat on Bisexual Visibility Day, so I’ll count that as self-care.

GOALS FOR OCTOBER:

Best Coraline Cat GIFs | Gfycat
IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN
  • Read at least 20 books
  • Post more than just Goodreads Mondays/Book Review Tuesdays (schoolwork permitting, of course, schoolwork first)
  • Celebrate SPOOKY SEASON accordingly

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: September 6-12, 2021

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

I’d say it’s been a pretty fantastic week! Things are definitely looking up…I just wish that I could travel back a few months and tell my January-May self that everything would turn out okay in math after all.

Reading-wise, I got a great haul from the library! There was only one book that didn’t do it for me, and I enjoyed the rest. I couldn’t visit the library this week because it happened to be on the same day that I took my senior pictures (which were also lots of fun!!), so I’ll probably just mooch off the Kindle library this week. (And maybe re-read The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea…SHH I know it’ll be two re-reads in less than a month BUT IT’S FOR BOOK CLUB I SWEAR)

Writing’s been great too – I FINISHED MY SECOND DRAFT OF MY SCI-FI WIP!! It ended up at about 105,000 words and just under 400 pages! I’ll let it sit for a few months before I go ahead and edit it again, but I’m pretty proud of myself. Two drafts. Good for you, self.

I SAID HEYYEYAAEYAAAEYAEYAA - Album on Imgur

Problem is, now I don’t know what to write now…I have at least three unfinished drafts of other projects and dozens more unwritten story ideas…

Same As It Ever Was David Byrne GIF - Same As It Ever Was David Byrne Once  In A Life Time - Discover & Share GIFs
now look where my hand was

Other than that, I’ve just been getting my drawing inspiration back, eating ice cream, and watching more What We Do in the Shadows. Also, I saw Spoon live on Tuesday night!! Such a fantastic show, Spoon is an amazing live band

Oh, and I also had the experience of seeing a spider descend from the ceiling of my car while I was driving to school at 6:50 am…needless to say, that woke me up.

guh…

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Tell the Machine Goodnight – Katie Williams (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Tell the Machine Goodnight by Katie Williams

Come On In: 15 Stories about Immigration and Finding Home – Adi Alsaid et. al. (anthology) (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: Come On In: 15 Stories about Immigration and Finding Home:  9781335146496: Alsaid, Adi, Bajaj, Varsha, Andreu, Maria E., Morse, Sharon,  Sugiura, Misa, Azad, Nafiza, Goo, Maurene, Charaipotra, Sona, Méndez,  Yamile Saied,

Kindred – Octavia Butler (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Kindred: 0046442083690: Octavia E. Butler: Books

The Taking of Jake Livingston – Ryan Douglass (⭐️⭐️)

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass

Harley in the Sky – Akemi Dawn Bowman (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Harley in the Sky: 9781534437128: Bowman, Akemi Dawn: Books

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Utopia – Sir Thomas Moore (for school)

Utopia (Dover Thrift Editions) by Thomas More (1997) Paperback: Amazon.com:  Books

Lagoon – Nnedi Okorafor

Lagoon | Book by Nnedi Okorafor | Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea – Maggie Tokuda-Hall (re-read FOR BOOK CLUB SHH)

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

eARC Review: Night Owls and Summer Skies

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles!

Ah, what a beautiful, sunny day. It’s days like these that kids like you should be ranting about bad eARCs.

Anyway, I know I posted in last week’s weekly update that I read a different eARC before this, but I figured I should probably post this review sooner, since I managed to get it the day before its release, this June 30. Plus, I need to get some feelings out, because Night Owls and Summer Skies was, for lack of better words, a complete train wreck.

Enjoy this eARC review!

Amazon.com: Night Owls and Summer Skies (9781989365250): Sullivan ...

Night Owls and Summer Skies–Rebecca Sullivan

Emma Lane is set to spend the summer with her mother, eager to try and mend their broken bond after her parents divorced. But without warning, she dumps Emma at Camp Mapplewood, the very same camp that sparked many of her long-standing anxieties that still linger to this day. Bitter and frustrated, she reconnects with Jessie, a childhood friend, and begins falling for Vivian, the young camp counselor. Will she be able to face her fears and find new love?

The Office Jim Yikes GIF by hewenttojared23 | Gfycat

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Wattpad Books for giving me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Whew. There’s a lot to unpack here.

First off, the Goodreads synopsis was rather misleading; Night Owls and Summer Skies was billed as more of a coming-of-age story about facing one’s fears. However, what we got was…zero character development, toxic relationships, and sloppy handling of the topics that the book promised to touch on.

Let’s start off with these characters. First off, Emma is EXTRAORDINARILY unlikable. I feel like the author was trying to make her give off a Sassy and Sarcastic Protagonist™️ vibe, but she’s nothing but a self-centered jerk. She pushes away every attempt the other characters (namely Gwen and Jessie) have at friendship, and she’s incredibly disrespectful at every turn. Vivian is similarly problematic; Sullivan was clearly going for some sort of enemies-to-lovers romance, which I normally love, but it crashed and burned quickly. Vivian wasn’t just sarcastic, she actually derided Emma in negative ways, which we were supposed to interpret as…banter? No, no, NO. All kinds of no. That’s not humor, that’s just straight-up toxicity.

Red flag - Album on Imgur

Additionally, the antagonists had zero redeeming qualities. Lauren, the main bully in the story, was not only a cardboard, run-of-the-mill pretty/popular antagonist bent on bending the world to her will, she’s a genuine CREEP. There’s even instances where Lauren sexually harasses Emma, which, like most other aspects of the novel, was handled veeeeeeeery poorly. Not only does it not seem to have a lasting effect on Emma herself, Lauren receives no punishment for anything that she does. NOTHING that anybody did in this book has consequences. NOTHING.

And to top it all off, the writing is utterly childish. The prose–if you can even call it that–is dry and lifeless, and the dialogue is not only unrealistic, but deeply cringe-y. Every part of this book desperately needed an editor–or a better editing job, at least. Even though I ended up blowing through Night Owls and Summer Skies in about an hour and a half, it was such a pain to read all the way through.

Overall, Night Owls and Summer Skies is quite like its characters, in that there’s hardly any redeemable qualities for both. 1.5 stars.

Awful GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Release date: June 30, 2020

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Music

My Favorite Songs of 2019 (So Far)

I promised a whiiiiile ago that I’d post some non-BRT content, and here you are! I’ve been putting this one off for an embarrassing amount of time, but what matters is that it’s here now, okay? 😉

 

Anyway, it seems like 2019 has been a really good year for music! Whether it’s newer artists perfecting their craft, or established ones polishing off some of their best work, we’ve gotten a slew of great songs this year. For once, I had a hard time choosing which five to put in this post; normally, I have a hard time picking out more than three. (And then, of course, the year passes, and then I find even better music from that year. Oof.)

So, without further ado, my favorite songs of 2019 (so far)!

 

1: “No Bullets Spent”-Spoon

 

I’ve always had a special spot for Spoon, especially after seeing them live (opening for the Shins about two years ago). They’ve always been able to deftly create near-perfect rock songs, with catchy basslines and poetic lyrics.

“No Bullets Spent” is certainly no exception. It was released as a single, and later added to a Best Of album that they put togehter recently. I have no doubt that it will become a classic, with it’s mesmerizing instrumentation and fascinating lyrics.

 

2: “Shine the Light On Me”-The Raconteurs

 

 

Much of Help Us Stranger was an interesting departure from the Raconteur’s usual style–and for the most part, in a good way. “Shine The Light On Me” is, hands down, my favorite song off of the album; deeply reminiscient of Queen, with introspective and wistful lyrics paired with a beat that sticks with you instantly.

 

3: “The 2nd Most Beautiful Girl in the World” (cover)-Snail Mail

 

If I didn’t know that this was a cover, I totally would’ve passed it off as one of Lindsey Jordan’s masterful creations. I haven’t listened to the original (I haven’t been able to find it, for some reason), but I can already tell that this cover does it justice, or even surpasses it. With her heartstring-tugging vocals and raw guitar, Jordan makes “The 2nd Most Beautiful Girl in the World” not only stick in your head, but in your heart, too.

God, that sounded really sappy. But that’s just what happens when you listen to Snail Mail.

This is your brain.

This is your brain on Snail Mail. 

 

4: “Traffic”-Thom Yorke

 

Whooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooa.

I initially listened to this song because of Anima (which you should all watch, I’M BEGGING YOU). The scene that it played in really stuck with me; the sets and costumes were simple yet ethereal, and the choreography…I could go on for days about the choreography…

The hook refused to get out of my head until I downloaded the song. A creepy, electronic masterpiece, with just the right amount of Thom Yorke’s signature style.

 

5: “Cell”-Calpurnia

 

Alright, I’ll admit it. I got into Calpurnia because of Stranger Things and Finn Wolfhard.

Unlike several other artists/bands that stemmed from acting careers, Calpurnia is destined to be an indie classic. With wailing and unforgettable guitar riffs and punchy lyrics, they’ll always be the band that makes you want to get up and dance. I’m really looking forward to them releasing an LP at some point…hopefully soon. Fingers crossed. 🤞

 

 

Aaaaand that just about wraps it up! Thanks so much for reading, and have a great rest of your day! 🙂