Posted in Music

A (Possibly Mutable) List of my Top 10 Favorite Albums

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles!

I’ve been meaning to semi-solidify this list (for now) for quite a while, but I think it was looking back through Hundreds & Thousands of Books’ post about her top 10 albums that sparked the idea in me to make a post about it, so thank you!

Even though this blog is primarily about books, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that music has had an equally profound effect on my life. Raised by two music nerds, I grew up listening to tons of Beatles and Bowie, and as I grew older, I began to mark periods of my life by the music I listened to. But there are always certain albums that leave an unmistakable mark on our lives. Some of mine have been steadfast favorites, and others I’ve only discovered in the past few months. All of them, however, have had a profound effect on me, whether it’s just been the experiencing something that’s just so, so good or marking a specific period in my life. So here are, right now, my 10 favorite albums.

Let’s begin, shall we?

🎵THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S TOP 10 FAVORITE ALBUMS🎵

10. Snail Mail – Lush (2018)

The summer of 2018 was a strange one for me—the summer before high school, and the summer I started seriously questioning my sexuality. I have Lush to thank for getting me through a lot of it, with Lindsey Jordan’s soaring guitar riffs and searingly vulnerable lyrics shining through in a debut like no other. Snail Mail is partially what inspired me to pick up the guitar—and I definitely think meeting her at a show that summer when I was a wee bisexual did something to my pubescent brain that I wouldn’t recover from…💀

Favorite Track: “Heat Wave”

9. Super Furry Animals – Rings Around the World (2001)

I remember hearing tracks like “Sidewalk Serfer Girl” and “(Drawing) Rings Around the World” from when I was about 5, but it wasn’t until this March that I appreciated this masterpiece of an album in its entirety. Something that makes me love a piece of media—be it a book, a movie, an album, or anything else—that much more is that if there’s clear evidence of how much love and care was put into it. And it’s blatantly evident here—Rings Around the World is brimming with creativity, and through all of the genres of music they explore, there isn’t a single miss. There’s something so fully-formed about it, like it just came into the world like Athena bursting forth from the skull of Zeus.

Favorite track: “No Sympathy”

8. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2001)

This album’s one that’s been a constant in my life; Wilco is one of my dad’s favorite bands, and I’ve been hearing them for so long that they’ve become inextricably linked to my personal history. (Wilco was my first concert, at the age of 8!) But this album in particular is the most special of theirs to me; like Rings Around the World, I’ve been listening to isolated songs from it for years, but the whole album is a true work of art, sonically and lyrically immersive and always emotionally moving and potent.

Favorite track(s): oh, man, this is hard…

I’ve settled on a three-way tie between “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” “Ashes of American Flags,” and “Reservations.”

7. Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial (2016)

Another gem from the summer of 2018, this one always brings to mind dozens of fond memories—seeing Car Seat Headrest live (and subsequently tainting all of my concert videos from my off-key scream-singing), repainting my room, going on vacation in Chicago. Car Seat Headrest have been a favorite of mine since around 8th grade, but the more I think about it, the more Teens of Denial in particular stands out as my favorite album—clever, vulnerable, raw, and perfect for 14-year-old me to scream along to.

Favorite track: “Cosmic Hero”

6. The Beatles – The White Album (1968)

I guess I’ve got a theme going with the red and white album covers? I don’t think it holds up later in the list…

As I said earlier, I was undoubtably raised on the Beatles; some of my earliest memories are of hearing songs like “Good Day Sunshine” and “Yellow Submarine” in the car, and I’ve adored them ever since. I’ve flip-flopped between albums for a favorite Beatles album for years, and it feels like it changes with my mood; some days, it was Revolver, other times it was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. But between having some of my favorite Beatles songs of all time and the solace it gave me in the early days of quarantine, The White Album takes the top spot for me—I think “I’m So Tired” is my most played song on my whole iTunes library. (somehow I’ve played it over 2,500 times?? didn’t even know I was capable of such a thing 💀)

Favorite track(s): tie between “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “I’m So Tired”

5. Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space (1997)

I fell in love with Spiritualized, as a lot of people seemed to do, after hearing the title track, “Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space.” Ever since then, they’ve held a truly special place in my heart; I rediscovered them in quarantine, and this album in particular has held a top spot for me ever since. Despite all the abject heartbreak, addiction, and general melancholy present through this album (and all of J. Spaceman’s music), there’s a cosmic, immersive quality to his music that swallows me like a wave with every song. Listening to Spiritualized is more than just music—it’s an experience in and of itself.

Favorite track: “Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space”

4. Blur – 13 (1999)

another heartbreak album comin’ atcha…

Like Super Furry Animals, I’ve been hearing scattered Blur songs throughout my childhood, “Song 2,” “Coffee & TV,” and “Charmless Man” being standouts. But it wasn’t until last summer that I got back into Blur—really into Blur. (You all witnessed the Blurification of this blog last year…) There’s something instantly hooking about their songs—the clever lyrics, the punchy guitars that seem to burst out of your headphones. But 13 is uniquely special to me; it was my musical companion in a strange, transitionary period of my life (the beginning of senior year and being a legal adult…somehow?). Beyond that, it’s so clear that so much time and love went into this record—through every high and low, there’s a consistent resonance that you can feel in your chest. It’s a masterpiece. It’s an album that I’ve come back to ever since when I’ve felt low—there’s a healing quality to it.

Favorite track: “Tender”—also my favorite song of all time, at the moment

3. St. Vincent – St. Vincent (2014)

adding another white album cover to the mix, I guess?

St. Vincent, without a doubt, is responsible for shaping some of my most formative years. Middle school was a weird time for me—I was struggling with friendships, forming my identity, and getting teased for the things I loved so passionately. And here was St. Vincent, this confident, ridiculously talented musician who wielded her guitar like a sword into battle. So you can imagine how I got attached to her. Even if MASSEDUCTION made me lose a little faith in her for a few years, she’ll always remain as a hero of mine, and St. Vincent in particular will always be a daring, fierce masterpiece that sweeps me off my feet every time—and the album that got me through 6th grade.

Favorite track: “Bad Believer” (on the deluxe edition), “Severed Crossed Fingers” (on the original edition)

2. Radiohead – OK Computer (1997)

and another white album cover? sort of?

Yeah, okay. I fully admit that my toxic trait is genuinely enjoying certain kinds of male manipulator music. But Radiohead will always be an immensely special band to me. “The Daily Mail” was my first exposure to them (thanks, Legion!), but OK Computer opened my eyes to something I’d never experienced before—or, something that I’d overlooked before, but now fully appreciate. Like Spiritualized, every Radiohead song is a fleshed-out landscape, an experience that lifts you off your feet, even when the lyrics are unbearably heartbreaking. OK Computer is an album that I wish I could listen to for the first time again—it’s an unforgettable, dystopian masterpiece, and it’s proved itself to stand the test of time.

Favorite track: “Paranoid Android”

  1. David Bowie – Hunky Dory (1971)
I guess there’s a slight pattern on here with tan album covers too?

And here it is: my favorite album of all time.

David Bowie has been a constant companion in my life; one of my earliest memories that I can think of is hearing “Kooks” in the car. He’s been another hero of mine for years—again, he came to me in middle school, at a time when I was an outsider and unsure of myself, and stood as a glaring reminder to be myself—no matter what. This album in particular is, in my opinion, a perfect album; there isn’t a single bad song, and each one is a world of its own, spinning lyrical tales that span from the cosmic to the tender and everything in between. It’s an album I always come back to, and one that I’ll always hold close. Some of the other albums lower on the list may change or switch orders over the course of my life, but I doubt I’ll ever come across something quite as stellar as this.

Favorite track(s): Tie between “Quicksand” and “Life On Mars?”

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you listened to any of these albums, and if so, did you like them? What are some of your favorite albums? Let me know in the comments!

Today’s song:

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

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Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: November 15-21, 2021

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

Most of this week has just been “getting through to Friday because break starts after that,” but it hasn’t been a bad week. In fact, I’d say it’s been a good one—chiefly because I got to finally read Aurora’s End! Even though some of the books I read this week weren’t as good, Aurora’s End brightened everything, and my heart is so, so full for Squad 312. As always. But more than usual.

I’ve been chugging along through NaNoWriMo as well; it’s felt a little more like a slog this week, but I’ve still been able to reach my daily word count every day. [knocks on wood]

Other than that, I’ve just been volunteering at the library, drawing some aliens, and notifying everybody I know who’s into the Aurora Cycle that my school library stocked two copies of book 3. I am nothing if not extremely predictable. And now it’s Thanksgiving Break! It’s nice to have a week off here.

Finding Nemo Todays The Day GIF - Finding Nemo Todays The Day The Sun Is  Shining - Discover & Share GIFs

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

City of Shattered Light – Claire Winn (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

City of Shattered Light by Claire Winn, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

Aurora’s End (Aurora Cycle, #3) – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (read twice) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Aurora's End eBook by Amie Kaufman - 9781524720902 | Rakuten Kobo Canada

The Ghost Seekers (The Soul Keepers, #2) – Devon Taylor (⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: The Ghost Seekers (The Soul Keepers, 2): 9781250168337: Taylor,  Devon: Books

Gender Queer – Maia Kobabe (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Gender Queer: A Memoir : Kobabe, Maia: Amazon.in: Books

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton (for book club)

The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Six Wakes – Mur Lafferty

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

Gods & Monsters (Serpent & Dove, #3) – Shelby Mahurin

Gods & Monsters by Shelby Mahurin | Hardcover | Epic Reads

Death Prefers Blondes – Caleb Roehrig

Amazon.com: Death Prefers Blondes: 9781250155825: Roehrig, Caleb: 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 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 Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (9/27/21) – Each of Us a Desert

Happy Monday, bibliophiles! I can’t believe September’s almost over 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.

This book came out a little over a year ago, and I’ve seen it pop up on more than a few “best of the year” lists. It sounds like a unique sort of fantasy novel, and I’m excited to give it a try!

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (9/27/21) – EACH OF US A DESERT by Mark Oshiro

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

Blurb from Goodreads:

Xochital is destined to wander the desert alone, speaking her troubled village’s stories into its arid winds. Her only companions are the blessed stars above and enimagic lines of poetry magically strewn across dusty dunes.

Her one desire: to share her heart with a kindred spirit.

One night, Xo’s wish is granted—in the form of Emilia, the cold and beautiful daughter of the town’s murderous mayor. But when the two set out on a magical journey across the desert, they find their hearts could be a match… if only they can survive the nightmare-like terrors that arise when the sun goes down.

So why do I want to read this?

LittlePawz - The daisies my friends are blowing in the wind, ...

I haven’t read anything by Mark Oshiro before, but his take on YA fantasy sounds so refreshing!

Putting aside the beauty of this cover (gAH), I’m looking forward to see the setting shine in Each of Us a Desert! Deserts are very volatile environments, especially when there’s a plethora of fantasy elements woven in; having a setting like it in fantasy almost guarantees that there will always be something to move the plot along. Plus…”nightmare-like terrors?” Of course you have my attention.

On top of that, the rep! There’s a sapphic relationship at the forefront, as well as many other queer side characters, and the novel itself is Latinx-inspired and from a Latinx author! In conclusion: I am very excited.

INSEPARABLE (Jikook) [finished] - *More Than Life Itself* - Wattpad

Today’s song:

normally I don’t coordinate my songs with my content buuuuuuuuuuut

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

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: September 20-26, 2021

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

I’ve been having a bit of a mediocre streak with my reading after my Mermaid re-read…I haven’t had as much time to read this week, and everything I’ve read has been in the 3-2 star range. The latest book I read picked up a bit, but otherwise, it’s been a bit of a slump. But I got a preorder in the mail, plus a few new library books, so I think this week will be better.

Other than that, I’d say it’s been a good week! I’ve been outlining for an unfinished draft that I’m looking to complete, and that’s been a lot of fun, though it was a rocky start. School’s been getting a little busier, but I’m glad I’m doing well in most of my classes. I finished up the new season of Sex Education (FANTASTIC), caught up on What If, watched The Nowhere Inn, and I’ve steadily been doodling more aliens. I also spent the weekend in Vail, and the autumn leaves were beautiful.

Sex Education Clarinet GIF - Sex Education Clarinet Netflix - Discover &  Share GIFs
their friendship is the best friendship in the whole show and I will die on this hill

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

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

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

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe – Raquel Vasquez Gilliland (⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)

Amazon.com: How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe: 9781534448667:  Gilliland, Raquel Vasquez: Books

What Big Teeth – Rose Szabo (⭐️⭐️.5)

What Big Teeth : Rose Szabo : 9780374314309

Our Bloody Pearl – D.N. Bryn (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

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

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Final Draft – Riley Redgate

Final Draft by Riley Redgate

Namesake (Fable, #2) – Adrienne Young

Namesake (Fable, #2) by Adrienne Young

Witches of Ash and Ruin – E. Latimer

Amazon.com: Witches of Ash and Ruin: 9781368052252: Latimer, E.: Books

Iron Widow – Xiran Jay Zhao

Amazon.com: Iron Widow: 9780735269934: Zhao, Xiran Jay: 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

Book Review Tuesday (9/21/21) – Harley in the Sky

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I’ve been a fan of Akemi Dawn Bowman ever since I read Starfish around three years ago. This is the latest of her books that I’ve read, and I’m glad to say that it doesn’t disappoint – just as poignant and gut-wrenching as her other novels!

Enjoy this week’s review!

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

Harley in the Sky – Akemi Dawn Bowman

Harley Milano grew up surrounded by vibrant costumes and trapeze artists in her parents’ circus. Her dream has always been to join the circus, but her parents want her to go to college for computer science instead.

After a fight on her eighteenth birthday, Harley goes against everything that they’ve ever wished for–she runs away and joins the Maison du Mystère, the rival traveling circus. There, she is thrust into the world of the circus, quickly falling in love and rising to the top of the hierarchy as one of its lead trapeze artists. But Harley’s past is catching up to her, and she must grapple with the people she betrayed in order to see her dreams come to fruition.

WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR dot COM

TW/CW: depression, racism, emotional manipulation, suicidal ideation

I think all of us have read plenty of books about characters running away to pursue their dreams and leaving everything they knew behind. But very few discuss the consequences–the people they leave behind and the emotional wounds that they may open up. Harley in the Sky is one such book, and man, it was just as heart-wrenching as Akemi Dawn Bowman’s other novels. All at once tender, heavy, and messy, it grapples with all sorts of hefty emotions and handles them all with aplomb.

Harley was, by all means, a very unlikeable character. She has a plethora of issues that she leaves undealt with when she takes off in search of her circus dreams, but you can’t help but root for her. I will say that I related to her on one plane: that of her mixed-race identity. Both of Harley’s parents are biracial, and as a result, she feels as though she doesn’t fit in anywhere. As a mixed-race person myself, Bowman handled her identity in a way that really resonated with me. And despite how tangled of a character Harley is, she displays some significant growth over the course of the novel, and by the end, she begins to reconcile with everything that she’s done and everything she’s left behind.

The rest of the characters also shone! There was such a unique and diverse cast, and the circuses that Bowman created felt like ones that might travel cross-country in the real world. Each character was refreshingly distinct, all with unique backstories and personalities. I especially loved Vas–yeah, yeah, I’m a sucker for the brooding British guys who play instruments, but he was such a well-fleshed-out character, both standing on his own and as a love interest for Harley.

As with all of Akemi Dawn Bowman’s novels, Harley in the Sky deals with some heavy topics. I won’t lie–it was a hard book to read at times, but Bowman handles all of these topics, from undiagnosed mental illness to toxic relationships, with incredible skill. All of her books stir up such profound emotion in me, and this one was no exception.

All in all, a novel that was all at once tender and heartbreaking that will leave a permanent mark on your heart. 4 stars!

circus gifs Page 12 | WiffleGif

Harley in the Sky is a standalone, but Akemi Dawn Bowman is also the author of Starfish, Summer Bird Blue, and the Infinity Courts series, which includes The Infinity Courts, and the forthcoming The Genesis Wars.

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!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: September 13-19, 2021

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

Another solid week! I’ve started a few projects in school, but they’re all going smoothly. I’m definitely proud of myself for where I am in the semester!

Reading-wise, I haven’t been able to stop by the library lately, so I’ve just been dredging the Kindle library for what’s available (and trying to find Latinx and bisexual books for September), which has yielded a few decent reads, but also some fantastic ones! I’m re-reading The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea for my school’s book club as well.

Also, my middle school (and current) dreams came true on Thursday night–I got to go to a St. Vincent concert!! It was such a phenomenal show–even the songs of hers that I didn’t like as much (read: MASSEDUCTION) were performed so well. Thank you, Annie Clark. 🎸

Strumming St Vincent GIF - Strumming St Vincent The Melting Of The Sun Song  - Discover & Share GIFs

Other than that, I’ve just been doodling aliens, looking back through my unfinished drafts for writing inspiration, playing Minecraft, and catching up on What We Do in the Shadows and the new season of Sex Education. Oh, and Snail Mail’s back!! And her new album is coming in November!! AAH!

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Utopia – Thomas More (for school) (⭐️⭐️)

Utopia (Book, 1997) [WorldCat.org]

Lagoon – Nnedi Okorafor (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre – Robin Talley (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre eBook : Talley, Robin: Kindle  Store

Prime Meridian – Silvia Moreno-Garcia (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Prime Meridian by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

The Mirror Season – Anna-Marie McLemore (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)

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

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea – Maggie Tokuda-Hall (re-read for book club)

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

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe – Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

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

Book Review Tuesday (9/14/21) – Tell the Machine Goodnight

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I have my dad to thank for finding the book I’m reviewing today, so thank you! It was in an NPR article that he sent me a month back that talked about the ways that sci-fi literature has changed in the past decade. I’d read or shelved a book or two from the list, but I added Tell the Machine Goodnight after reading it because of how fascinating it sounded. I’m glad to say that I wasn’t disappointed!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Tell the Machine Goodnight: A Novel: Williams, Katie: 9780525533122:  Amazon.com: Books

Tell the Machine Goodnight – Katie Williams

In a near-future world, the secret to happiness can be obtained with the click of a button. Apricity is a company that has created a machine that can, with startling accuracy, predict exactly what someone needs to be happy.

Pearl has worked for Apricity for many years, earning her notoriety from her coworkers and her manager. But as she looks out into her life–particularly her teenage son, who rejects happiness above all else–she questions the purpose of the machine. Is “happiness” truly what she sells?

Bee Honey GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

TW/CW: substance abuse, eating disorders, stalking, violence, emetophobia

Tell the Machine Goodnight feels like what would happen if Noah Hawley sat down and tried to write a Ray Bradbury novel from scratch. Which is to say, I loved this book.

Everything about this novel felt like a dazzling callback to all of my favorite sci-fi classics. It’s set around 14 years from now, and everything is more or less the same, but there are just some aspects that are fundamentally off. It’s mainly Apricity, among other things, but Katie Williams did a fantastic job of making a world that was simultaneously familiar and unsettling, like something that could feasibly emerge in the next few decades.

I’ve read a lot of reviews that said that they felt that Tell the Machine Goodnight had no plot, but for me, the lack of structure added to the appeal of the narrative. It’s presented as a series of interconnected vignettes of life in Williams’ near-future world, and what society looks like when personalized, surface-level happiness dominates all else. One in particular stood out to me; in one thread, Pearl’s ex-husband creates modern art out of the Apricity suggestions. (One of them was to eat honey, and so he made an art form out of eating honey in excess and then vomiting it out.) Little quirks and stories like these made the world feel all the more fleshed out for me, and I enjoyed every page of it.

To top it off, I firmly believe that good sci-fi should make the reader think, and Tell the Machine Goodnight nails this right on the head! A lot of sci-fi media these days tends to tout that they “comment on the role of technology in our lives,” but I’ve found that very few books/movies/etc. that are advertised as such actually hit the mark. That’s not the case with this novel–it explores some very relevant themes, and does them in creative ways. Throughout the novel, there are themes of the meaning of true happiness, relationships, and our growing reliance on technology that does everything for us. Is computer-generated, temporary happiness truly happiness? It got me thinking, and I’m sure that I’ll be thinking back to it for years from now.

All in all, a modern sci-fi novel that has the feel of a classic and is sure to become a modern classic. 4 stars!

Bbc scales vie GIF on GIFER - by Thorgahuginn

Tell the Machine Goodnight is a standalone, but Katie Williams is also the author of Absent and The Space Between Trees.

Today’s song:

I’M SEEING HER ON THURSDAY NIGHT I’M SO EXCITED

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

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!

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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 Monthly Wrap-Ups

May 2021 Wrap-Up 🦊

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

May was equal parts relaxing and stressful (scratch that – more stressful, definitely), but it was a better reading month for sure, so let me elaborate…

GENERAL THOUGHTS:

As with April, I didn’t get to blog as much as I wanted to because of finals and AP testing. Doing three of the latter in the span of only a week turned my soul to mush, but I think I’m more of a sentient being now. And I’m finally done with school! Online was nothing short of a soul-crushing experience, but I’m proud of myself for weathering an entire year of it.

Reading-wise, I actually managed to have a better month! A whole bunch of holds from the library came that I’d been waiting a while for came, and I caught up on a lot of nice sequels. I had a lot of fun re-reading the Six of Crows duology as well. 🙂

Unfortunately, I also had my first 1 star book of the year… [sad harmonica noises]

I really hate to say it, but Wings of Ebony was a big letdown for me. I don’t think I’ll do a full review, but my quick thoughts are as follows: I really appreciated the unapologetic approach to colonialism and racism (which is why I added on the half-star), but the worldbuilding was sloppy at best, the time jumps were too frequent and made no sense, and the writing felt like it desperately needed an editor. Yikes.

Other than that, I’ve continued to do my volunteer work back at the library, and we’re starting to slowly go back to normal! Mask-wearing around there is encouraged but not required for fully vaccinated people (I still wear mine, don’t worry), and we’ve gotten rid of these little stickers we used to track the amount of patrons in store. Oh, and all three seasons of Fargo that have come out on DVD are all on the shelf…nature is healing…

Nicole Canada - Librarian – Alicia Canada – Tomball Junior High

And if you’re wondering about the fox emoji, I put it on to commemorate the fact that we found a family of foxes near our house! We saw all five fox kits on Mother’s Day 🥺

READING AND BLOGGING:

I managed to read 23 books this month! I don’t think I had any 5-star reads this month, but I did read several that came close!

1 – 1.75 stars:

Wings of Ebony (B&N Exclusive Edition) by J. Elle, Hardcover | Barnes &  Noble®
Wings of Ebony

Wings of Ebony (Wings of Ebony, #1) – J. Elle (⭐️.5)

2 – 2.75 stars:

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas
Lost in the Never Woods

Scavenge the Stars (Scavenge the Stars, #1) – Tara Sim (⭐️⭐️)

Lost in the Never Woods – Aiden Thomas (⭐️⭐️.5)

3 – 3.75 stars:

Broken Wish (The Mirror, #1) by Julie C. Dao
Broken Wish

Aug 9 – Fog – Kathryn Scanlan (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Hellboy: The Lost Army – Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Velocity Weapon (The Protectorate, #1) – Megan O’Keefe (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Prison Healer (The Prison Healer, #1) – Lynette Noni (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Hellboy: The Bones of Giants – Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Broken Wish (The Mirror, #1) – Julie C. Dao (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Be Dazzled – Ryan La Sala (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

4 – 4.75 stars:

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed
Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within (Wayfarers, #4) – Becky Chambers (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Elysium Girls – Kate Pentecost (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Let the Great World Spin – Colum McCann (read for school) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

I Love You So Mochi – Sarah Kuhn (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Summer Bird Blue – Akemi Dawn Bowman (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Magnificent Ms. Marvel, vol. 3: Outlawed – Saladin Ahmed and Minkyu Jung (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

We Free the Stars (Sands of Arawiya, #2) – Hafsah Faizal (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Infinity Courts (The Infinity Courts, #1) – Akemi Dawn Bowman (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know – Samira Ahmed (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)

Love, Hate & Other Filters – Samira Ahmed (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1) – Leigh Bardugo (re-read) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) – Leigh Bardugo (re-read) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Sanctuary – Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH (NOT COUNTING RE-READS): Love, Hate & Other Filters4.5 stars

Amazon.com: Love, Hate and Other Filters (9781616958473): Ahmed, Samira:  Books

SOME POSTS I’M PROUD OF:

POSTS I ENJOYED FROM OTHER WONDERFUL PEOPLE:

SONGS/ALBUMS THAT I’VE ENJOYED:

This whole album (Green) is PHENOMENAL. the sheer power that the first four tracks hold…
There’s not a single bad song on this album, but this is hands down one of my favorites
(FIRST OFF: PLEASE DON’T WATCH THIS MUSIC VIDEO IF YOU HAVE PHOTOSENSITIVE EPILEPSY) I think I like this even better than the Oingo Boingo version…
I still don’t like this one as much as the other tracks on this EP, but it’s been growing on me big time
I forgot that this song existed?? And I love it???

DID I FOLLOW THROUGH ON MY MAY GOALS?

  • Take some time away for the AP exams and finals: that I did. Barely posted until the second half of the month, so…
  • Take care of yourself: …I think I did, at least.

GOALS FOR JUNE:

Bannerboy.com by Erik Brunner | Dribbble
  • Make a list with some Pride Month recs!
  • Read at least 20 books
  • Enjoy the first month of summer!
  • ACTUALLY start that first draft of the sci-fi WIP

At last! Summer!!

Today’s song:

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