Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: May 10 – 16, 2021

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

The last week and a half has been [ahem] something…I had three AP exams and a final all this week, so there was quite a lot of studying, sitting for hours on end, and pen stains on the sides of my hands this week. I feel pretty good about two out of the three exams, at least (@ ap bio why must you hurt me in this way), and I got a good score on that final, so I’m just hoping that the others pay off.

Top 30 Exercise Sesame Street GIFs | Find the best GIF on Gfycat
my last brain cell trying to comprehend the ap bio FRQs

I haven’t been able to read as much as I wanted to, but I had loads of fun re-reading the Six of Crows duology! The show made me want to go back and read them, and I love them even more than I did when I first read them.

And somehow I just surpassed 100 books! I’m almost halfway to my goal of 250 by the end of the year…

Other than the endless studying, I haven’t done a whole lot, but I had a bit of time to draw, and I’ve been listening to a whole lot of R.E.M., and as of Friday, the new St. Vincent album. (To both: GAAAAAAAAH AMAZING)

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

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

Six of crows Book 2: Crooked kingdom – Estoril Books

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

Amazon.com: Hellboy: The Bones of Giants Illustrated Novel eBook: Golden,  Christopher, Various: Kindle Store

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

Let the Great World Spin: A Novel: McCann, Colum: 9780812973990:  Amazon.com: Books

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

Hellboy: The Lost Army: Golden, Christopher, Mignola, Mike, Mignola, Mike:  9781840235692: Amazon.com: Books

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

Amazon.com: I Love You So Mochi (9781338302882): Kuhn, Sarah: Books

THE ONE, LONELY POST I MADE THIS WEEK:

THE ONE, LONELY SONG THAT WENT ALONG WITH IT:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

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

Amazon.com: Scavenge the Stars (Scavenge the Stars, 1) (9781368051415):  Sim, Tara: Books

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know – Samira Ahmed

Amazon.fr - Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know - Ahmed, Samira - Livres

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

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

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

Velocity Weapon (The Protectorate, 1): O'Keefe, Megan E.: 9780316419598:  Amazon.com: Books

Summer Bird Blue – Akemi Dawn Bowman

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

Today’s song:

That’s it for this (very short) week in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Books

YA Books for AAPI Heritage Month

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

I’m (almost) back! Today marked my last AP exam of the year (had four exams this week…hhhgh…), so now that I have most of the big tests out of the way, I can start getting back on a more frequent blogging schedule. Of course, I’m not *quite* done with the school year just yet, but the only finals I have left are for my easy classes, so I don’t think there’s anything terribly strenuous on the immediate horizon. 🙂

But I wanted to make this post because here in the U.S., the month of May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month! So for the occasion, I decided to compile some of my favorite #OwnVoices AAPI YA novels of all genres. As always, it’s essential to diversify your reading pool 365 days a year, but especially with the tragic hate crimes and harmful stigmas surrounding AAPI people in the U.S. and elsewhere, it’s especially important to uplift AAPI voices.

So let’s begin, shall we?

Aapi Aapi Month GIF - Aapi AapiMonth AapiHeritageMonth - Discover & Share  GIFs

YA BOOKS FOR AAPI HERITAGE MONTH

Girls of Paper and Fire – Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire (Girls of Paper and Fire Series #1) by Natasha  Ngan, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

GENRES: High fantasy, romance, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s been a few years since I’ve read this one, but I’ll never forget the impact it had on me. Raw, unapologetic, and resonant, Ngan builds such a rich world, unforgettable characters, and a plot that kept me at the edge of my seat. The sequel was a disappointment, unfortunately, but I think I’ll stick it out for book 3.

This Time Will Be Different – Misa Sugiura

Amazon.com: This Time Will Be Different eBook: Sugiura, Misa: Kindle Store

GENRES: Contemporary, fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

For anyone who seeks to make change in their community, this one’s a must-read! A beautiful story of family, history, and everyday resistance.

Love, Hate & Other Filters – Samira Ahmed

Love Hate & Other Filters - Social Justice Books

GENRES: Fiction, contemporary, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

After reading two of her books and a short story, I can now say that Samira Ahmed might just be a new favorite author of mine! She never misses, and her debut is no exception; a raw and beautiful tale of love, family, and fighting back against bigotry.

These Violent Delights – Chloe Gong

Amazon.com: These Violent Delights (9781534457690): Gong, Chloe: Books

GENRES: Historical fiction, fantasy, retellings (Romeo and Juliet), romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I tried (and failed) to set my expectations at a reasonable level after all the hype this one got, but I must say, this one is worth a good portion of it! A fresh and original spin on Romeo and Juliet set against the background of 1920’s Shanghai, complete with warring gangs and strange monsters.

Warcross – Marie Lu

Amazon.com: Warcross (9780399547966): Lu, Marie: Books

GENRES: Science fiction, romance, dystopia

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Marie Lu’s one of my favorite authors, and it was hard to pick just one of her books for this post, but I ended up on this one because a) it was my first exposure to her AMAZING writing and b) I don’t talk about it an awful lot, so why not give it some more love?

Besides that gorgeous cover, there’s something for everybody here: futuristic Tokyo, a clever and lovable heroine, mysteries within competitive video games, and secret plots.

Almost American Girl – Robin Ha

Amazon.com: Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir (9780062685094): Ha,  Robin, Ha, Robin: Books

GENRES: Graphic novels, autobiography

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

GAAAH, this one’s beautiful! This one’s an autobiography in the form of a graphic novel, centering around the author’s experience as a Korean immigrant to the U.S. and the transformative power of art and comics.

Ash – Malinda Lo

Ash by Malinda Lo

GENRES: Retellings (Cinderella), fantasy, romance, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Amid the bountiful Cinderella retellings out there, this one truly stands out, with lush writing reminiscent of the narration of Pan’s Labyrinth and classic fairytales, and a warm and resonant sapphic romance. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a retelling worth reading!

The Gilded Wolves – Roshani Chokshi

Amazon.com: The Gilded Wolves: A Novel (The Gilded Wolves, 1)  (9781250144546): Chokshi, Roshani: Books

GENRES: Fantasy, historical fiction, LGBTQ+, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

If you’re a fan of Six of Crows, I AM ONCE AGAIN ASKING YOU TO DROP WHATEVER YOU’RE DOING AND READ THIS BOOK. Lovable and authentic characters, a complex world and system of magic, heists for famed artifacts, and political intrigue – this one has it all.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns – Julie C. Dao

Amazon.com: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress Book 1)  eBook: Dao, Julie C.: Kindle Store

GENRES: Retellings, high fantasy, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

If you love antiheroes, corruption arcs, or stories from the perspective of the villain, than this book is for you! Rich, dark and compelling, this is a must-read duology for any YA fantasy fan!

Descendant of the Crane – Joan He

Descendant of the Crane (9780807515518): He, Joan: Books - Amazon.com

GENRES: High fantasy, mystery

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I know I never stop blabbing about this one, but this is a prime example of genre-bending done right: a stunning blend of fantasy and murder mystery! I’m so surprised that more people haven’t read this one, I highly recommend it if you haven’t. (And I can’t wait for The Ones We’re Meant to Find! It looks amazing, but I can’t find it at my library…[impatient screeching])

The Henna Wars – Adiba Jaigirdar

The Henna Wars — Adiba Jaigirdar

GENRES: Fiction, romance, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2020, and I’m so glad to say that it delivered! A diverse, sapphic enemies-to-lovers romance with important discussions about cultural appropriation, the immigrant experience, and sexuality.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these books, and what did you think of them? What are your favorite YA books by AAPI authors?

Aapi Heritage Month GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Today’s song:

Ok I think I can officially forgive her for MASSEDUCTION because THERE IS NOT A BAD SONG ON THIS ALBUM! Expect a review soonish…

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

Posted in Monthly Wrap-Ups

April 2021 Wrap-Up ☔️

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

Whew, April was definitely…a month…

So let’s elaborate:

GENERAL THOUGHTS:

I didn’t get to blog as much as I wanted to this month, but I did have (and still have) lots of tests to study for, so you can probably expect a similar amount of activity next month as well. I got the SAT out of the way, though! Pretty proud of myself for that. I just got an email saying that the scores are coming next week, so…

Mr. Krabs Mad Blank Template - Imgflip

And I’m so done with precalc. SO DONE. ONE MORE MONTH…

But other than that, I’ve had a pretty good reading month! I didn’t get to read as much as I wanted to, but I got to read a whole bunch of my most anticipated reads of the year, and found a whole bunch of 5-star reads! All of my preorders seemed to arrive in the middle of the month, I’m happy to say.

I watched a whole bunch of good stuff this month as well, movie and TV-wise; we watched Ex Machina and Shin Godzilla (hands down the scariest version of Godzilla, my mind will not be changed), I finished up Falcon and the Winter Soldier (hit or miss, but it got good in the end), and last but certainly not least, Shadow and Bone! I’m super excited about the latter; I finished it last night, and it was so faithful to the book, for the most part! I’ll try and do a review soon, because man, I have some Thoughts™️

no mourners, no funerals in 2021 | The grisha trilogy, Six of crows, Crow
Everyone’s favorite bisexual sharpshooter supreme

Also, this will come in later in the post, but I think I’ll start doing a fixture in these wrap-ups with songs or albums I’ve listened to over the course of the month, so see below…

READING AND BLOGGING:

I managed to read 21 books this month! Just barely, though…like I said, not as much reading time as I wanted to have (why, why, WHY did I take THREE AP classes this year), but I read so many amazing novels!

2 – 2.75 stars:

Amazon.com: This Golden Flame (9781335080271): Victoria, Emily: Books
This Golden Flame

This Golden Flame – Emily Victoria (⭐️⭐️.5)

3 – 3.75 stars:

Amazon.com: You Should See Me in a Crown (9781338503265): Johnson, Leah:  Books
You Should See Me in a Crown

Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky, #1) – Rebecca Roanhorse (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Salvaged – Madeleine Roux (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Empress of All Seasons – Emiko Jean (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Victories Greater Than Death (Unstoppable, #1) – Charlie Jane Anders (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Verona Comics – Jennifer Dugan (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Finding Yvonne – Brandy Colbert (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

These Violent Delights – Chloe Gong (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75)

You Should See Me in a Crown – Leah Johnson (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75)

Heartless – Marissa Meyer (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75)

4 – 4.75 stars:

Amazon.com: Sword in the Stars: A Once & Future Novel eBook: McCarthy,  Cori, Capetta, A. R.: Kindle Store
Sword in the Stars

Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun – Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Iron Heart (Crier’s War, #2) – Nina Varela (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Tales From the Hinterland (The Hazel Wood, #2.5) – Melissa Albert (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

A Conspiracy of Tall Men – Noah Hawley (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Record of a Spaceborn Few – Becky Chambers (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)

Sword in the Stars (Once & Future, #2) – A.R. Capetta and Cory McCarthy (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.75)

5 stars:

Amazon.com: The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country  (9780593465271): Gorman, Amanda, Winfrey, Oprah: Books
The Hill We Climb

The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country – Amanda Gorman (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Internment – Samira Ahmed (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Rule of Wolves (King of Scars, #2) – Leigh Bardugo (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Mike Mignola: The Quarantine Sketchbook – Mike Mignola (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Aurora Burning (Aurora Rising, #2) – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (re-read FOR BOOK CLUB I SWEAR SHH) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH (NOT COUNTING RE-READS): Rule of Wolves5 stars

Amazon.com: Rule of Wolves (King of Scars Duology, 2) (9781250142306):  Bardugo, Leigh: Books

SOME POSTS I’M PROUD OF:

POSTS I ENJOYED FROM OTHER WONDERFUL PEOPLE:

SONGS/ALBUMS I’VE ENJOYED:

This whole album is INCREDIBLE, depressing but there’s some top-tier sci-fi vibes going on
Another album from one of my favorite artists that I listened to in its entirety
I CAN’T WAIT TO HEAR THIS ALBUM NEXT MONTH
Yet another album that I’m very excited for
Discovered them through Consequence and I think I’m hooked!
Listened to this for most of this week, major Sparklehorse vibes

DID I ACTUALLY FOLLOW THROUGH WITH MY APRIL GOALS:

  • Read at least 20 books: 21!
  • Take some time to study for the SAT (you got this!): Did that! Of course, now I need to do the same for AP exams…

GOALS FOR MAY:

GIF studying - animated GIF on GIFER
  • Take some time away for the AP exams and finals
  • Take care of yourself!

One more month, and then it’ll be summer…

That’s it for this monthly wrap-up! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (3/8/21) – The Dead and the Dark

Happy Monday, bibliophiles, and more importantly, happy International Women’s Day! It’s always crucial to remember that none of us would be here without the work of so many women – literally and figuratively. (Later on, I’m thinking of compiling some feminist YA reads for this Women’s History Month, so stay tuned!)

International Women Day GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

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 novel was a more recent addition to my TBR, as well as a 2021 release. I don’t usually read horror or mystery, but The Dead and the Dark sounds right up my alley–I mean, what could go wrong with a sapphic romance and paranormal investigation?

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (3/8/21) – THE DEAD AND THE DARK by Courtney Gould

The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould

Blurb from Goodreads:

The Dark has been waiting for far too long, and it won’t stay hidden any longer. 

Something is wrong in Snakebite, Oregon. Teenagers are disappearing, some turning up dead, the weather isn’t normal, and all fingers seem to point to TV’s most popular ghost hunters who have just returned to town. Logan Ortiz-Woodley, daughter of TV’s ParaSpectors, has never been to Snakebite before, but the moment she and her dads arrive, she starts to get the feeling that there’s more secrets buried here than they originally let on.

Ashley Barton’s boyfriend was the first teen to go missing, and she’s felt his presence ever since. But now that the Ortiz-Woodleys are in town, his ghost is following her and the only person Ashley can trust is the mysterious Logan. When Ashley and Logan team up to figure out who—or what—is haunting Snakebite, their investigation reveals truths about the town, their families, and themselves that neither of them are ready for. As the danger intensifies, they realize that their growing feelings for each other could be a light in the darkness.

So why do I want to read this?

Flipside Upside Down for Stranger Things ~ A Ticket for Two

I don’t read an awful lot of horror, but I’d certainly say that I’m a huge fan of all things paranormal in literature. (And you have one thing to blame for that: Hellboy.) The Dead and Dark seems like a fascinating take on the genre, though!

Not only did the aspect of a series of bizarre and frightening occurrences following a team of TV paranormal investigators draw me in, I’m so excited to see the sapphic romance! LGBTQ+ representation is always my cup of tea, and I’m 100% on board with the concept of two queer girls teaming up to solve a paranormal mystery.

Perfection Fassbender GIF - Perfection Fassbender Magneto - Discover &  Share GIFs | Michael fassbender, X men, X men evolution

The Dead and the Dark is expected to come out on August 3, 2021, so I’ll see you all then!

Today’s song:

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: March 1-7, 2021

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

I’d say March is off to a decent start. I had a slower reading week this week, but now that I’ve gotten my library haul, it’ll definitely get better/faster soon. I also went to the comic shop (safely, of course) with my family and picked up some single issues and a trade, got a preorder in the mail, and another Kindle hold, so there’ll be lots to read this month, for sure!

I also finished the first draft of my short story! I’ll probably devote next week to self-editing, so we’ll see how it goes. I also finished WandaVision, rewatched another episode or two of season 3 of Fargo, drew a bit, and had my weekly shift at the library. For the past…month or so, I think, it’s snowed either the day before or on the day of my volunteer shift, so it’s always freezing…but hey, at least the library is warm, and it’s always a peaceful image to see snow falling outside the window while I’m surrounded by books.

Minsky the robot from Fargo - GIF on Imgur

Also OH MY GOD ST. VINCENT CAME OUT WITH A NEW SONG AND IT’S S O G O O D I CAN’T STOP LISTENING TO IT

MIDDLE SCHOOL MADELINE IS VERY HAPPY AND PRESENT MADELINE IS VERY HAPPY

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Hellboy: Odder Jobs – Christopher Golden, Mike Mignola et. al. (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Hellboy: Odder Jobs eBook: Darabont, Frank, Various, Golden,  Christopher: Kindle Store

Sisters of the Wolf – Patricia Miller-Schroeder (eARC) (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Sisters of the Wolf (9781459747524): Miller-Schroeder, Patricia:  Books

Hellboy: Oddest Jobs – Christopher Golden, Mike Mignola et. al. (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Hellboy: Oddest Jobs: Christopher Golden, Mike Mignola: 9781593079444:  Amazon.com: Books

A Phoenix Must First Burn (anthology) – edited by Patrice Caldwell (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic,  Resistance, and Hope (9781984835659): Caldwell, Patrice: Books

Roman and Jewel – Dana L. Davis (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Roman and Jewel (9781335070623): Davis, Dana L.: Books

B.P.R.D., vol. 3: Plague of Frogs – Mike Mignola, Guy Davis (illustrator) (read twice) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

B.P.R.D. Volume 3: Plague of Frogs: Mike Mignola, Guy Davis, Dave Stewart:  9781593072889: Amazon.com: Books

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

The Good Father – Noah Hawley

Amazon.com: The Good Father (9780307947918): Hawley, Noah: Books

Remote Control – Nnedi Okorafor

Amazon.com: Remote Control (9781250772800): Okorafor, Nnedi: Books

The Absolute Book – Elizabeth Knox

The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox: 9780593296738 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers, #2) – Becky Chambers

Amazon.com: A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers) (9780062569400):  Chambers, Becky: Books

The Life and Deaths of Frankie D. – Colleen Nelson (eARC)

Amazon.com: The Life and Deaths of Frankie D. eBook: Nelson, Colleen:  Kindle Store

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

Little Oblivions – Julien Baker album review

Julien Baker → Little Oblivions

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles! I suppose this isn’t a bookish post, but I’ll keep my normal greeting, because hey, most of what I post is about books. But here’s something a little different.

So here I am, finally reviewing Little Oblivions!

I got into Julien Baker late last year, starting with Sprained Ankle after hearing her distinct voice as part of the supergroup boygenius (with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus). I was immediately hooked on Sprained Ankle, liked but didn’t love Turn Out the Light (Sprained Ankle > Turn Out the Lights, fight me Pitchfork), and so of course I was excited to see that she was coming out with something new. What stands out most to me about her music is the raw emotion of it; Baker never hesitates to explore the darker side of everything, and does so with such intense, palpable motion. Even with just a guitar or a piano, she can make a shrieking ballad of grief or heartbreak out of anything.

And I’m glad to say Little Oblivions is no exception. While Baker experiments with bigger, brighter sound, she stays true to the emotional aspect that defines her body of work, making a whole new set of resonant and soaring music.

So let’s begin this review, shall we?

Julien Baker is a queer, Christian, socialist — we had to talk to her by  Religion and Socialism Podcast

JULIEN BAKER LITTLE OBLIVIONS (album review)

TRACK 1: “Hardline” – 9/10

Say it’s not so cut and dry,

Oh, it isn’t black and white,

What if it’s all black, baby,

All the time?

– Julien Baker, “Hardline”

NOW THIS IS WHAT I CALL AN AMAZING OPENING TRACK! Baker’s foray into new, more electronic sound proves an immediate hit, paired with her signature raw lyricism. Plus, we’ve got an amazing stop-motion music video to match!

TRACK 2: “Heatwave” – 7.5/10

The last single to be released before the whole album, “Heatwave” is reminiscent of the boygenius EP. There’s a deceptively upbeat tone and composition to it, hiding some of Baker’s darkest lyrics. The instrumentation almost reminds me of Wilco.

TRACK 3: “Faith Healer” – 9/10

This one was the first single to be released before the whole album, and it has been a consistent earworm for MONTHS, let me tell you…

Such beautiful, concise instrumentation, a steady beat, and even the effects overlaid over Baker’s unique voice fit right in with the almost spacey keyboards. A completely new direction for her musically, but one I’m ADORING.

Wooohoooo!!! — Marvel Contest of Champions

TRACK 4: “Relative Fiction” – 9/10

‘Cause I don’t need a savior,

I need you to take me home…

– Julien Baker, “Relative Fiction”

It would be a bit of a stretch to call this a love song, but that’s almost how I interpreted it on the first listen. “Relative Fiction” delves into Baker’s quieter, more musically sparse roots for a tender and poignant song of grappling with emotions and questioning one’s own self worth, and the meaning one might hold for others.

TRACK 5: “Crying Wolf” – 7.5/10

Continuing “Relative Fiction”‘s trend of quieter and sadder introspection, “Crying Wolf” presents a piano ballad reminiscent of Turn Out the Lights that soars to a resonant conclusion. (That “OOOOOO” that starts at about 2:33…[CRIES])

TRACK 6: “Bloodshot” – 7/10

There’s no glory in love,

Only the gore of our hearts…

– Julien Baker, “Bloodshot”

The song where we get the album cover’s gorgeous lyricism, “Bloodshot” toes the line between the two musical themes of Little Oblivions so far, oscillating between the electronic experimentation and the sparser, quieter ballads. Another deceptively upbeat song, telling of messy emotions and shaky relationships.

TRACK 7: “Ringside” – 6.5/10

I still enjoy this one, that’s for sure, but it felt a little bit like a lull in the middle. The lyricism is still stellar, but something about it doesn’t pack as much of a punch as the rest of the album so far has.

TRACK 8: “Favor” – 8.5/10

You pulled a moth out

From the grill of your truck,

Saying it’s a shame,

How come it’s so much easier

With anything less than human,

Letting yourself be tender?

– Julien Baker, “Favor”

As with “Graceland Too” on Phoebe Bridgers’ Punisher, this boygenius collaboration truly shines. The combination of the voices of Baker, Bridgers and Dacus never fails to make my heart soar to the clouds, and paired with such poignant lyrics, “Favor” is absolutely a highlight of this album.

TRACK 9: “Song in E” – 10/10

My favorite song on the album, hands down. This one again harkens back to Turn Out the Lights, but something about both the piano and Julien’s vocals takes it to all new heights. It’s just…[sniffles]

And something about the way she says “name” at about 0:40 just makes my heart go 🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺

TRACK 10: “Repeat” – 9/10

Ocean of strip malls,

I help you swim across

To the other side…

– Julien Baker, “Repeat”

Another example of Julien’s decision to go more electronic with her sound paying off 100%. Catchy, but continually poetic in its lyricism, this was one of my favorite songs that wasn’t released as a single before the album’s released. Again, can’t put my finger on it, but I love the way Baker sings all of the words past the 3/4 mark with the long ‘e’ sound (ex. means, speak, street, dream, repeat). My brain can’t be troubled for a concrete reason, but it’s so beautiful.

TRACK 11: “Highlight Reel” – 7.5/10

Not my favorite on the album, but the instrumentation itself is what shines for me. I love the drums, the guitar, the…well, the everything. I can’t quite pick out what instrument (probably keyboard?) it is, but the part from about 3:21 to the end reminds me a bit of St. Vincent’s “Teenage Talk.”

TRACK 12: “Ziptie” – 6.5/10

Not the best ending for this album and a lower point overall, but still lovely. The lyricism is still painfully beautiful, but it just seems to wander about almost aimlessly. A good listen, but maybe something like “Repeat” or “Bloodshot” would have been a better end to the album.

Julien Baker is just being honest | EW.com

I averaged out all of the scores for each track, and they came out to almost exactly 8! I’d say that’s accurate; Little Oblivions wasn’t without its occasional low points, but even those were songs that I’ll surely come back to. A stellar album, and a bold new direction that payed off with every song.

And even though this wasn’t on the album, I can’t not talk about this…

I–

I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. This is a transcendental cover. And hey, Julien Baker and Radiohead: two of my favorite things.

Since this post is full of songs, 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 ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: Things That Grow

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

Whew, I’m so glad the school week’s over! I might not be able to do Top 5 Saturday tomorrow because I’ve got some studying to do…plus, I haven’t been able to come up with anything for this week’s prompt…🤣

Either way, I recently got this eARC, and right after finishing something as long and dense as Dune, this novel was just what I needed. Darkly humorous and full of heart, Things That Grow is a lovely piece of contemporary fiction.

Enjoy this review!

Amazon.com: Things That Grow eBook: Goldstein, Meredith: Kindle Store

Things That Grow–Meredith Goldstein

Grandma Sheryl was seventeen-year-old Lori’s whole world, her anchor when her absent mother wasn’t there to care for her. So when she passes away, Lori’s world is thrown off-center–not only is her beloved grandmother gone, but in her absence, she’ll have to move back in with her mother and start her senior year in Maryland, without her old friends and the peaceful life she led.

But Grandma Sheryl left Lori and her family one final mission–a list of four gardens to travel to and spread her ashes. Along with her uncle Seth and her best friend Chris, Lori sets off on a chaotic journey that will change her life–and the way that she sees her grandmother.

The Big Lebowski (1998) - Scattering Donny's Ashes GIF | Gfycat
This is exactly the kind of darkly hysterical vibe that the book gave off

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and HMH Books for Young Readers for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

I really haven’t read much contemporary fiction lately; it’s one that I try to read frequently, but I always end up gravitating more towards sci-fi or fantasy. But Things That Grow reminded me of what happens when the genre is executed right–it tugged at all the right heartstrings and made me crack up at the same time.

This novel certainly tackles some heavy topics, grief being the most prominent of them. I expected it to be a more somber novel, but Goldstein imbues a grimly humorous aspect that had me cracking up every few pages. It struck the perfect balance between honestly addressing grief and its consequences and having moments of being comedic and lighthearted. This is my first exposure to Goldstein’s work, but I can already see her clever writing shining through.

The other aspect that I enjoyed the most was the characters. Lori, Seth, Chris and all the rest were such distinct and lovable characters, and they all had lovely chemistry–part of what made a lot of the jokes I mentioned earlier land. They were all so authentic and well-developed, and I loved delving into their individual stories. I loved Chris and Lori’s friendship–the romance seemed a bit half-baked at its worst times, but I loved their whole backstory with his art and her stories.

That being said, Things That Grow wasn’t without its flaws, certainly. The conflict between Lori and Seth was interesting in concept, but felt very rushed and poorly executed; we only get introduced to the plot line maybe…3/4 of the way through? After that, they touch on it once or twice before it’s too-neatly resolved. That certainly left something to be desired, but it didn’t take as much away from the novel for me.

All in all, Things That Grow was a memorable contemporary novel that hit just the right balance between serious and hilarious. 4 stars!

Anime butterfly garden gif - GIF - Imgur

Release date: March 9, 2021

Today’s song:

I haven’t listened to this in years…I haven’t even seen this movie, but this cover brings back so many memories… ;_;

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (9/15/20)–The Burning Kingdoms (The Smoke Thieves, #3)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles! I blatantly refuse to believe that we’re actually halfway through September…nope…

Sorry that this review’s coming a little later than you all are probably used to; I had a ton of homework to do this afternoon, but I’ve got it all done for today, so here I am now! Better late than never, I suppose.

I’ve been following and loving Sally Green’s Smoke Thieves trilogy for about a year, gobbling up books 1 and 2 in weeks flat. It’s one of the most immersive, detailed, and gripping fantasies that I’ve ever read, and now that I’ve read book 3, I can say it’s true for all three books. The Burning Kingdoms came out just under a month ago (August 25), and I was able to snag it a few days after its release when I promptly blew the contents of my bookstore gift card. In short? The Burning Kingdoms was a perfect end to a near perfect series.

WARNING: This review likely contains spoilers for books 1 and 2, The Smoke Thieves and The Demon World, so I suggest you tread lightly if you intend to read them and haven’t yet!

Click here for my review of book 1!

Click here for my review of book 2!

Enjoy this week’s review!

The Burning Kingdoms by Sally Green: 9780425290279 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

The Burning Kingdoms (The Smoke Thieves, #3)–Sally Green

My copy ft. part of my backyard

Catherine, Tash, Ambrose, Edyon, and March dedicated their lives to halt the impending war in its tracks. But despite their efforts, war has come, and it could cost them their lives–and the lives of their nations.

King Aloysius has unleashed his invincible boy army, powered by demon smoke, across all who dare cross his path. There, March finds an opportunity to reunite with Edyon, his beloved, after a betrayal saw them torn apart and him banished. Edyon grapples with his newfound power as the heir to the throne of Calidonia, and Tash must find her way out of the demon world.

Meanwhile, Catherine must grapple with the fate of her country and her secret addiction, while Ambrose is determined to win back her heart at all costs. Their paths will collide in order to avert this great war–but will they make it out alive?

I Did A Bad Thing GIFs | Tenor
– Every single one of the main characters at some point in this book

Admit it: everybody–yes, everybody–who has ever dyed their hair has done the exact same thing as Geratan–dye it, put on a hat, and then dramatically rip it off in front of everybody. The only proper way to reveal your new hair color, if you ask me.

All of my fellow book bloggers and readers know the feeling that comes along with finishing the final book in a series. It’s like reuniting with an old friend, only to have them leave you. No matter what, though, their memory will live on in you forever.

That’s the feeling that finishing a great series gives you, and certainly the one that The Burning Kingdoms gave me. This entire series is criminally underrated, a true force to be reckoned with in the world of YA fantasy, and I’m delighted to say that book 3 is no exception!

The Burning Kingdoms is definitely one of those books where you’re just being dragged along with the character’s bad decisions–five POVs, five times the grave mistakes! (Quite a lot of “March, no–” “MARCH YES” going on). However, it isn’t to the point where you’re internally groaning in frustration, because it propels quite a lot of action, and provides for character development in all five.

As always, I loved seeing how the relationships between the characters developed. March is still my favorite of the bunch, but I had such a blast getting back into all five of their heads and exploring their internal conflicts. Green does such a masterful job of writing both authentic characters, but genuine development for them as well.

The immersive and detailed worldbuilding and politics were as sharp as ever, making for a novel that I could imagine nearly every detail of. There’s plenty of action and drama to spare, and I enjoyed every page. The Burning Kingdoms is a finale that truly has something for everyone–and delivers on every possible aspect.

All in all, a beautiful end to an underrated and immersive fantasy. 4.5 stars!

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Me @ this series

The Burning Kingdoms is the final book in Sally Green’s Smoke Thieves trilogy, preceded by The Smoke Thieves (book 1) and The Demon World (book 2).

Today (September 15) is also the start of National Latinx Heritage Month, so sometime this week, I’ll also be posting a list of Latinx YA reads to celebrate. Stay tuned! 🙂

Today’s song:

Brain: oh, so math is boring you?

Me: yep, you got that right

Brain: so why don’t I get this REALLY DEPRESSING song stuck in your head–

Me: WAIT NO

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

Posted in Books, Geeky Stuff, Music

Pairing Squad 312 with Songs (Aurora Rising)

Aaaand here's the whole squad! AURORA RISING releases May 7. Are ...
Aurora Rising art by @kiranight_art

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles!

I’ve been wanting to do a post for a bit that melds my love for the bookish and my love of music, so this is my first take on that. Aurora Rising, as many of you have figured out, is one of my favorite (if not my favorite) series, and I decided that it would be fun to match the lovable members of Squad 312 to some songs that I like, based on their personalities, relationships, and the events of Aurora Rising and Aurora Burning. I picked two songs per character, and I loved compiling them all. I hope you all enjoy!

(Along with the image at the top, all of the character images in this post are from @kiranight_art.)

🎧 PAIRING SQUAD 312 WITH SONGS 🎧

TYLER

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff | Sheaf & Ink

“Proud”–(Sandy) Alex G: “I’m so proud of you/And everything that you do/Doesn’t matter what they say/They ain’t worth a dollar in change…

Scarlett mentions in book 2 that one of Ty’s most infuriating traits is that he accepts people’s flaws, no matter what, and isn’t there to reprimand anyone if any member of the squad messes up. No matter what, he has always been there for his squad, and sees past everyone’s previous mishaps and accepts them as who they are.

“Half a Million”–The Shins: “Theres half a million things that I’m supposed to be/A shelter in the nighttime/A punk running free…

Tyler’s fame in the Academy, as well as the legacy of his late father, has caused a lot of internal conflict within him, and I thought the chorus of this song paired perfectly with this inner struggle–how he perceives himself versus how others perceive him and how others expect him to be.

SCARLETT

Extras – Amie Kaufman

“Pristine”–Snail Mail: “Don’t you like me for me?/ Is there any better feeling than coming clean?/And I know myself and I’ll never love anyone else…”

Scarlett’s a character who has tried to find herself through various relationships, almost none of them lasting, and I felt that this song captured the nature of some of the hidden doubts that she begins to have.

“Strange Mercy”–St. Vincent: “Oh little one, I’d tell you good news that I don’t believe/If it would help you sleep/Strange mercy…”

A trait of Scarlett’s that comes into light in contrast with her twin, Tyler, is the way they care for others–for most of book 1, Tyler does it more out of duty, while Scarlett truly seeks to protect and care for her fellow squadmates. The nature of this song almost perfectly captures her mentality.

CAT

AURORA RISING desktops - Jay Kristoff

“These Boots Are Made for Walkin'”–Nancy Sinatra: “You keep lying when you ought to be truthing/You keep losing when you ought to not bet…”

I can totally picture this playing in the scene when she ditches the rest of the squad to go to the bar…

But either way, this song kind of expresses her shifting opinions and suspicions about the rest of the squad, especially the likes of Aurora. Unlike most of the squad, she isn’t completely ready to accept her as part of the squad, and suspects an ulterior motive.

“Scorpio Rising”–Soccer Mommy: “I don’t think of my life/Anywhere but in your arms tonight/Won’t say it this time/Can’t even look back in your eyes…”

Throughout book 1, Cat still has lingering feelings for Tyler, even though their relationship has come to a standstill; this song seems to capture her desire to fall back in love.

FINIAN

AURORA RISING character reveal, cadets! Name: Finian de Karran de ...

“Change”–Oingo Boingo: “Don’t you ever wonder why/Nothing ever seems to change?/If it does, it’s for the worse/Guess it’s just a modern curse…”

Simultaneously sarcastic and deeply introspective, this song feels like what Finian seems to have experienced throughout his life, both in grappling with his impaired mobility and his relationships with others.

“Crown”–Jay Som: “Arranging your best words/Tying the knot/A brighter tomorrow/Could you take a shot?”

(Oops…both of these songs start with a C for no apparent reason…)

But either way, this seems like a good song to match his views on being with the Aurora Legion–everything about it, from being in open spaces to *gasp* having to collaborate with others seems like everything he wouldn’t want to do, but he takes the shot anyway, and in the end, it may be for the better.

ZILA

Zila Madran | The Aurora Cycle Wiki | Fandom

“How to Disappear Completely”–Radiohead: “I’m not here/This isn’t happening…”

This seems to mesh well with how Zila has almost become disconnected from herself; due to childhood trauma, she almost loses herself, resigning herself to someone colder, more distant.

“Ice Age”–David Byrne & St. Vincent: “It’s such a shame to see you this way/Freezing it out, your own little ice age…”

Like the previous song, this seems to embody Zila’s distancing from herself, becoming almost a shell of who she might have been as a child.

KAL

Extras – Amie Kaufman

“Killer”–Phoebe Bridgers: “Can the killer in me tame the fire in you?/I know there’s something waiting for us/I am sick of the chase/But I’m stupid in love/And there’s nothing I can do…”

Was…was the chorus made for this guy?

When I first heard this song, I thought it was a beautiful embodiment of both Kal’s conflicting feelings about his nature and heritage and his relationship with Auri, especially given some of the fire-related imagery surrounding their relationship in book 2.

“Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space”–Spiritualized: “I will love you ’till I die/And I will love you all the time/So please put your sweet hand in mine/We’ll float in space, just you and I…”

Look, I don’t ask for much in life, but…if/when the TV show goes through, can we PLEASE put this in the scene where Kal and Auri are in the pollen fields on Octavia III? PLEASE?

I’ve started to associate this song with the whole series, but Kal seems to embody it the most out of all the characters, in his helpless feelings towards Aurora and his personal struggles to better himself, and become more than his past. Plus, the choir singing “Can’t Help Falling in Love…” [cries]

AURI

Extras – Amie Kaufman

“Airbag”–Radiohead: “In an interstellar burst/I am back to save the universe…”

For me, this song perfectly embodies the shock of her waking from cryosleep, and the almost near-death experiences she goes through afterwards while grappling with her destiny and powers.

“Impostor Syndrome”–Sidney Gish: “Every other day I’m wondering/What’s a human being gotta be like?/What’s a way to just be competent?/These sweet instincts ruin my life…”

Now that she’s over two centuries out of her time, Auri’s struggle to fit in and be believed by others is beautifully captured by the nature of this song.

Tell me what you think! Did you like these songs? What other songs do you associate with these characters?

Since this post is more musically oriented, consider this whole post today’s song. 😉

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

Posted in Music

Me and Music Tag

Happy Friday, everyone!

I know I’m *primarily* a book blog, but most of what I post outside of bookish content is music related, as apart from being a bibliophile, I’m a major music nerd as well. I found this tag over at Margaret @ Weird Zeal , and the tag was created by  Sophie @ Me & Ink.

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Rules

  1. Link back to original so she can see your answers and listen to the tunes
  2. For every prompt you choose to do, name 1-5 songs (you can use my graphics)
  3. Have fun and play your music LOUD

Let’s begin, shall we? (I skipped a prompt or two because I couldn’t find anything for some of them, but here we go…)

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Ooh, lots to choose from…

“Beautiful Freak”–Eels: Aside from the Hellboy II nostalgia, I want this to play at my wedding. VERY badly.

“It’s Oh So Quiet”–Björk: Nostalgia! NOSTALGIA!

“Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space”–Spiritualized: I mean, what more could you add to a song other than a choir singing “Can’t Help Falling in Love”?

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“Shove It (feat. Spank Rock)”–Santigold: AAAAAAAAA

“Idioteque”–Radiohead: I just listened to all of Kid A the other day…OH MAN…

“Antmusic”–Adam & The Ants: CLASSIC.

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“While My Guitar Gently Weeps (cover)”–Regina Spektor (from “Kubo and the Two Strings”): There’s no way that anyone could come close to the mastery of The Beatles, but this cover always gives me chills.

“Cop Car”–Mitski (from “The Turning”): Honestly, I couldn’t care less about this movie, but man, they got some great artists to do the soundtrack…

“The Moon Song”–Ezra Koenig & Karen O. (from “Her“): Again, another movie that I haven’t even seen, but this song brings back such good memories.

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“I Think You’re Alright (Jay Som cover)”–Soccer Mommy: This song has the sweetest vibes…

“No Surprises”–Radiohead: [ahem] Excluding the subject matter, this one always makes me feel at peace.

Scott Street”–Phoebe Bridgers: Again, depressing subject matter, but beautiful.

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“Kooks”–David Bowie: I think one of my first memories is of being in the car as a baby and hearing the tail end of this song play.

Strange Love”–Karen O.: This was my favorite song for a while… 😭 It’s from one of my favorite childhood movies (Frankenweenie), and the lyric video TOOK ME BACK…

“Bad Believer”–St. Vincent: Unfortunately, I associate this song with middle school, but hey, it’s an awesome song.

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“Declare Independence”–Björk: If I actually took the time to listen to music while I “worked out,” this would be the perfect song.

(Also, I saw a video of her playing this live and saying something along the lines of “here’s a quiet little song to help you go to sleep :)” and then they just started BLARING THIS)

“Oh! You Pretty Things”–David Bowie: This one always motivates me to write. Also, it’s basically the theme song for the X-Men. Just saying.

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Hmmm, I listen to a fair amount of older music, so let’s see…

“Blowin’ in the Wind”-Bob Dylan: This one’s another one that I remember fondly from my childhood 🙂

“I’m So Tired”–The Beatles: I love most of The Beatles’ work, but this one is criminally underrated.

“Sympathy for the Devil”–The Rolling Stones: On an unrelated note, my brother and I tried slowing this one down in iMovie as a joke, and Mick Jagger sounded ABSOLUTELY CURSED IN THE BEGINNING

IT WAS GREAT

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Oh boy, I listen to a LOT of depressing music…I’ve been thinking about making a post about it, but we’ll see…

No Conclusion”–of Montreal: PLEASE, I AM BEGGING YOU, ONLY LISTEN TO THIS ONE IF YOU’RE IN A GOOD MOOD. 10 SOLID MINUTES OF DEPRESSION.

“Class of 2013”–Mitski: mAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

“Street Spirit (Fade Out)”–Radiohead: I mean, most of their catalog is incredibly depressing, but this is one of their saddest, in my opinion.

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“Dedicated to the One I Love”–The Mamas & The Papas: I’m quite a few decades late on this bandwagon, but a friend of mine recommended this one to me, and I adore it.

“Rabbit Habits”–Man Man: Another one that I had on repeat a week or two ago…

“Cool Waves”–Spiritualized: I went on a huge Spiritualized kick about two weeks ago, and I haven’t completely recovered…

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“Impostor Syndrome”–Sidney Gish: All of her songs are so well-written…

“Nervous Young Inhumans”–Car Seat Headrest: [screams] “EARLIER IN THE SONG I USED THE TERM ‘GALVANISTIC’…”

“Anytime”–Snail Mail: Some of the most well-written sadness I’ve ever come across.

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“Lazarus”–David Bowie: The day that David Bowie died, I remember my dad driving my brother and I to school in silence as this song played.

“Day Go By”–Karen O.: I listened to this whole album while I was in Canada last year, and I remember listening to this one in a hotel in Drumheller.

“Exit Music (for a Film)”–Radiohead: I discovered OK Computer last year, and I remember being curled up at the entrance of the cafeteria, reading a collection of Tennyson’s poems while blasting this through my headphones. (Yes, I am That Kid™️)

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“Hunky Dory”–David Bowie: My favorite album of all time, hands down. Perfection.

“Twin Fantasy”–Car Seat Headrest: WHAT AN ALBUM…OH MAN…

“OK Computer”–Radiohead: See above. Pure genius.

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Hmm, let’s see…

“Once in a Lifetime”–Talking Heads: …just watch the video. You’ll see what I mean.

“Life on Mars?”–David Bowie: This was my halloween costume last year…

“It’s Oh So Quiet”–Björk: Sorry to repeat a song, but this video always cheers me up 🙂

I TAG ANY OF MY FELLOW MUSIC NERDS WHO WANT TO PARTICIPATE!

Since this tag is all about music, consider this entire tag today’s song…

That’s it for this tag! Hope you enjoyed this dip into the weirdness that is my taste in music…

Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!