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!

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

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

Today’s song:

AHAHAHAAAAAAAA THIS IS SO GOOD

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

Posted in 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!

Posted in Music

Daddy’s Home – St. Vincent album review

St. Vincent - Daddy's Home Bronze Vinyl Edition - Vinyl LP - 2021 - EU -  Original | HHV

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I’m ELATED that school’s over. Junior year online was awful, good riddance. I’m eagerly anticipating chucking all my math homework into the recycling.

And here I am with one of these album reviews that I only do once in a blue moon!

Ever since elementary school, St. Vincent has been a personal music hero of mine. From falling in love from tracks off of Actor, Strange Mercy and the self-titled St. Vincent, her music was a sanctuary for me during a time when, more than ever, I felt like an outsider. Her music shaped me, and seeing a confident queer woman quickly becoming the 21st century’s answer to David Bowie (and having her own line of signature guitars!!) was nothing short of empowering.

I lost a little faith in her after how much MASSEDUCTION disappointed me – the music was well-played, for sure, but the direction she went in just didn’t feel natural for her.

But I’m excited to say that I’ve completely forgiven her for MASSEDUCTION. I didn’t think I ever could, but Daddy’s Home is some of her best work to date, drawing inspiration from the early 70’s as she shifts into a darker, Young Americans-esque persona.

So let’s begin, shall we?

(NOTE: I’ll probably leave out reviews for “Humming (Interludes 1-3)” just because they’re only about 30 seconds long each)

St Vincent – Daddy's Home | Album review – The Upcoming

ST. VINCENT – DADDY’S HOME (album review)

TRACK 1: “Pay Your Way in Pain” – 10/10

[JOYOUS SCREAMING]

The first track of the album and the first single released, this song was almost singlehandedly responsible for my regaining faith in St. Vincent. From the opening notes of the piano to Clark hitting the high notes, repeating “I wanna be loved,” this song is perfection, pure and simple. 100% a highlight of the album, but there’s never a dull moment with this one.

TRACK 2: “Down And Out Downtown” – 8/10

GAAAAH. This is just one of those songs where the music makes you feel like all soft and warm and melt-y, but in the best way possible. Clark’s voice truly soars with this one, and the tempo seems perfect for driving with the windows down. The drums are incredible too! What a perfect beat.

TRACK 3: “Daddy’s Home” – 9.5/10

Where can you run

When the outlaw’s inside you?

– St. Vincent, “Daddy’s Home”

VERY NEARLY FLAWLESS. What’s not to love about this song? Some of Clark’s best lyrics, in my opinion, and the most 70’s vibes concentrated into a song since…y’know, a song that’s actually from the 70’s. I’m almost convinced that she’s a time traveller. And I’m not normally very enthusiastic about saxophones, but the ones in this one SOUND SO COOL?? WHAT THE HECK

TRACK 4: “Live In The Dream” – 10/10

Next to “Pay Your Way in Pain,” this is, hands down, my favorite song on the album. It has a very Pink Floyd sensibility about it, like the music of “Us and Them” and the lyrics of “Comfortably Numb” got together, which, as you can probably guess, is appropriately depressing.

IT IS.

It’s hard to listen to, but somehow, I can’t seem to stop listening to it. This feels like what “Young Lover” could have been on MASSEDUCTION – a dark tragedy of near-death and overdoses, drifting in and out of consciousness. It’s harrowing and haunting, but god, it’s beautiful.

TRACK 5: “The Melting of the Sun” – 7/10

To quote somebody in the YouTube comments section: “I don’t remember this Schoolhouse Rock episode…”

Out of the three singles that were released before the whole album, this was my least favorite, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t adore it. (Definitely the best music video of the bunch, though.) It feels a little slower, but it’s no less catchy and immersive, speaking to a lifetime of comparing oneself to others.

TRACK 7: “The Laughing Man” – 7/10 (shhh didn’t skip a track there was just a humming interlude in between)

[quietly] ohhhh ok so these are the lyrics on the sleeves of my hoodie

Next to “Daddy’s Home,” “The Laughing Man” dives headfirst into the 70’s aesthetic, and hits the mark perfectly. Warm, sultry and slow, it feels like slipping in and out of a dream. I can’t put my finger on why I don’t like it quite as much as the others, but it’s lovely nonetheless.

TRACK 8: “Down” – 8/10

Now this was a welcome reward for finishing my AP World exam…

My second favorite of the pre-released singles! Rhythmic and catchy, this is almost as cinematic and raw as “Pay Your Way In Pain.” No doubt that I’ll be playing this one on repeat quite a lot. AND THE GUITAR SOLOS! THE CLASSIC ANNIE CLARK GUITAR SOLO!

TRACK 10: “Somebody Like Me” – 9/10 (shh no worries there was another humming interlude)

Does it make you an angel

Or some kind of freak

To believe enough

In somebody like me?

– St. Vincent, “Somebody Like Me”

For some reason, the combination of the drums and the sample of laughing children at about 0:08 always sticks with me…

Even though the 70’s influence is clear, this feels like it could’ve fit just as well on Actor, Strange Mercy or even something as early as Marry Me. Delving further into haunting self doubt, Clark’s ethereal voice, combined with dreamlike instrumentation, backing vocals, and a steady drumbeat, this song just makes me feel so strangely good inside. I feel myself smiling as I’m listening right now…

TRACK 11: “My Baby Wants A Baby” – 9/10

But I wanna play guitar all day

Make all my meals in microwaves

Only dress up if I get paid

How can it be wrong?

– St. Vincent, “My Baby Wants A Baby”

This has to be one of her most personal songs in recent years; as the song progresses, we not only see her grapple with not wanting children, tenuous relationships, and moving away from self-reliance, but with being remembered only as “a woman in music.” It’s a classic tragedy, the injustice that is having “no legacy/Won’t have no streets named after me…they’ll just look at me and say/’Where’s your baby?'” There’s not a single lyric that doesn’t stand out in this one. LOVE IT.

TRACK 12: “…At The Holiday Party” – 6.5/10

(Did anyone else think that the title was a continuation of “My Baby Wants A Baby” just because of the ellipse at first? Like “My Baby Wants A Baby…At The Holiday Party?” No? Just me?)

Kind of like “The Laughing Man,” I can’t quite put my finger on why I don’t like this one at much, but it just doesn’t feel quite as potent as most of the others. I like the backing vocals and the steady beat, though.

TRACK 13: “Candy Darling” – 9/10

The perfect closing track to the album. Too short, but I guess that could be said about all of the songs on this album…

It feels like a bittersweet goodbye, a final descent into the dreamlike realm that the album consistently slipped in and out of. The musical equivalent of a hug goodbye and a kiss on the forehead.

(shh there’s one more interlude but that’s ok)

St. Vincent Teases New Single 'Pay Your Way In Pain'

I added up my ratings for the 11 tracks I reviewed, and it averaged out to about an 8.5. Which…huh? That can’t be right…

Nah. This isn’t an official review, right? And nobody here cares about how I round things, right? So I’ll just bump it up to a solid 9. It’s only 2021, but I think I already have my favorite album of the decade. All at once haunting, cinematic, and warm, it’s everything that I missed from St. Vincent: fantastic guitar solos, a soaring voice, and dark and clever lyricism. I just wanna give this album a hug.

In conclusion, FIGHT ME, PITCHFORK.

St. Vincent gets a new signature guitar model ahead of new album release

Since there’s a whole album packed in here, consider this entire post today’s song.

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (5/18/21) – Victories Greater Than Death

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Whoops…I’ve been meaning to review this for…oh, about a month? But studying for AP tests and finals just said “no you won’t :)” so here we are now

And this is also the first review I’ve written in a month, so…

Awkward Look Monkey Puppet | Know Your Meme

[ahem] now back to our scheduled program

I found out about this book via Edelweiss, and the more I heard about it, the more excited I got; Star Wars-inspired sci-fi with tons of queer characters, found family, and a gorgeous cover? SIGN ME UP. So I preordered it at the beginning of this year, and it came in the mail last month. And although it wasn’t exactly everything that I wanted it to be, it was still a lot of fun!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders

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

My copy feat. some pretty flowers

On the surface, Tina Mains is an ordinary teenage girl, but she hides an earth-shattering secret: she’s the secret clone of a great alien general. When she comes of age, her destiny is to reunite with her old crewmates in order to defeat intergalactic evil.

No pressure.

So when her beacon finally activates, Tina and her best friend are launched into space, joined by a myriad of aliens and an enlisted squad of self-proclaimed nerds from Earth. As Tina struggles to grapple with her transformation, she realizes that it’ll take more than just inherited wisdom to save the galaxy from annihilation.

I'm new to this sub. Would this Kahoot quote be a possible usable template?  : MemeEconomy
me @ the first half of this book

TW/CW: violence, transphobia, racism, mentions of abuse (past), eugenics

The more I found out about this one, the more excited I got, because…yeah, I’ll pick up anything that’s billed as a “queer space opera.” (Hey. I’m a woman of simple tastes.) But although it wasn’t without its flaws, Victories Greater Than Death was SO much fun!

My major criticism was the pacing. Most space opera is generally pretty fast-paced, but this was…far too much so. I like for things to move along quickly, but for the first half of Victories, everything seemed to happen in mere seconds. We’re on Earth? Nope. WHAM. Weird stuff’s immediately happening. Next page? Different weird thing. WITHOUT MERCY. The pacing made my head spin a bit, but luckily, this was my only major criticism.

Otherwise? GAAAH THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN! The world needs more sci-fi like this; diverse, and with a balanced tone juggling light-hearted fun and grave action. Tina’s struggle as she was thrust into a completely unfamiliar world of aliens and intergalactic politics (and not to mention her newfound legacy) was wonderfully relatable, and I had so much fun tagging along with her adventures across the galaxy. The representation was also incredible: Tina herself is bi/pan, her love interest is a Black trans woman who is also bi/pan, there’s Black, Chinese, and Indian side characters, and many of the alien crewmates have a variety of pronouns. And I’m always up for normalizing asking for people’s pronouns in introductions, and there’s lots of that.

One of the unique aspects of Victories Greater Than Death is that Anders took some pitfalls that most books handle poorly and used them to her advantage. There’s quite a lot of infodumping, but there’s a good reason for it – as Tina is making the transition from her human self to her original alien form, her brain is filling in the gaps as the information from her old life is returning to her. Normally, I absolutely despite infodumps (don’t we all, though?), but this was a genius way to make it work! There was also a huge cast – Tina, Rachel, the rest of the humans, plus all of her alien crewmates; it was tough to remember all of them for most of the book, but weirdly enough, the high body count…helped? Most of the alien characters were fairly underdeveloped, but the ones that we knew almost nothing about were killed off by the end of the book, which…morbidly enough, made things a bit less confusing. Morbid, I know, but I think there had to be at least 20 characters in all. (Same deal with season 4 of Fargo, if you think about it – super wide cast of characters, but at least 80% of them die by the end, so…)

Through it all, though, Victories Greater Than Death made me feel a little warm and fuzzy inside; even though these characters face unbeatable odds, they’re consistently there for each other. No matter their backgrounds or beliefs, they stuck together no matter what. It’s such a sweet found family story.

All in all, a YA sci-fi that was messy and a bit *toooooooo* fast at worst, but diverse, light-hearted, and colorful at best. 3.5 stars!

the next world | Guardians of the galaxy, Marvel cinematic universe, Marvel  cinematic

Victories Greater Than Death is the first in the Unstoppable trilogy, followed by two untitled (as of now) books set to come out in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Charlie Jane Anders is also the author of All the Birds in the Sky, The City in the Middle of the Night, and several other novels.

Today’s song:

no I’m not gonna shut up about this album

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

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (5/17/21) – Sisters of the Snake

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

(whew, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these…ap tests, man…)

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.

For the remainder of the month, I’m going to feature some #OwnVoices AAPI books from my TBR for Goodreads Monday, starting with this one! I forget exactly how I came across this one, but it sounds like so much fun – I really need to read more mistaken-identity stories!

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (5/17/21) – SISTERS OF THE SNAKE by Sasha and Sarena Nanua

Amazon.com: Sisters of the Snake (9780062985590): Nanua, Sasha, Nanua,  Sarena: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

A lost princess. A dark puppet master. And a race against time—before all is lost.

Princess Rani longs for a chance to escape her gilded cage and prove herself. Ria is a street urchin, stealing just to keep herself alive.

When these two lives collide, everything turns on its head: because Ria and Rani, orphan and royal, are unmistakably identical.

A deal is struck to switch places—but danger lurks in both worlds, and to save their home, thief and princess must work together. Or watch it all fall into ruin.

Deadly magic, hidden temples, and dark prophecies: Sisters of the Snake is an action-packed, immersive fantasy that will thrill fans of The Crown’s Game and The Tiger at Midnight.

So why do I want to read this?

Kermit Vs. Constantine (Dark Kermit) GIF | Gfycat
I can’t not put this gif in somewhere

First off, how cool is it that this book was written by twins? Something about that just makes the already amazing premise of this book even more amazing.

Mistaken identity is a trope that shows up quite a lot in fantasy, to varying degrees of success. But I love the concept of Rani and Ria’s situation here: two entirely different backgrounds, chaos ensues, reluctantly working together. I haven’t had much luck with YA fantasy lately, so I’m thinking this one will be great! I shouldn’t get my hopes up too high, though…

Eh, when has that ever stopped me?

Cat Shelves GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Sisters of the Snake is set to come out on June 15, 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: 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!