Posted in Book Tags

5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 Book Tag

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles!

I’m having a nice, relaxing weekend at home (seeing the new Black Panther tonight too!!), so I figured I’d do another tag! I found this one over at Becky @ Becky’s Book Blog, and I haven’t been able to find the original creator, so if you know who it is, please let me know so I can credit them.

Let’s begin, shall we?

🔢 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 BOOK TAG 🔢

5 BOOKS YOU LOVE

If I had to narrow down my favorites to *just* 5, I’d have to pick Frankenstein, Aurora Rising, Heart of Iron, Madman Yearbook ’95, and On a Sunbeam. Maybe. I think. The first three are fairly certain, but it gets hazy from there, but I still love every single one of these books with all my heart.

4 AUTOBUY AUTHORS

At this point, all of these authors—Amie Kaufman, Becky Chambers, Maggie Tokuda-Hall, and Rainbow Rowell—are ones that I immediately preorder from (or at least put on hold at the library) if they’re coming out with anything new. (anybody else excited for Isles of the Gods???)

3 FAVORITE GENRES

Anyone who’s followed this blog for a while knows that I’m a complete sci-fi fan to the bone. Absolute favorite genre!! After that, I’d say fantasy and magical realism; fantasy was my favorite genre before I got really into sci-fi, but I still love it. I’ve gotten into magical realism more recently, but I’ve read some incredibly memorable books in the genre.

2 PLACES YOU READ

During the day, I tend to read on the couch, and at night, I love to read while cozy in bed.

1 BOOK YOU PROMISE TO READ SOON

I’ve been meaning to read Vicious for a while after loving the Shades of Magic trilogy, and I just downloaded it on my Kindle, so I’ll be reading this as soon as I can!

I TAG:

Today’s song:

big thank you to my mom for introducing me to lush on the car ride home yesterday

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

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Posted in Book Tags

Fall into Fall Book Tag 🍁

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles!

Still fall, so I might as well do this tag, right? Doesn’t *feel* very fall-like—we just got our first big snow on Thursday night, and it’s mostly melted now, but it’s still pretty chilly. We’ve still got a few straggler leaves, though, albeit very damp ones now.

Anyways, this tag was created by Silver Button Books, and I found the tag over at Classy x Book Reviews. I’m always up for a seasonal tag, especially if it’s my favorite season!

Let’s begin, shall we?

🍁FALL INTO FALL BOOK TAG🍁

APPLE PICKING: A bright, shiny book on your shelf

My copy of A Song of Wraiths and Ruin has the most GORGEOUS gilded spine, and it always catches the light whenever I come into my room!

PUMPKIN SPICE: A book that everyone loved that just didn’t sit well with you

Everybody seemed to love The Space Between Worlds, but it left me wanting so much more—with such an expansive concept, I feel like there were so many more creative directions it could’ve taken, but alas…

FALL LEAF TOUR: A gorgeously written journey

I Am the Ghost in Your House not only presented an incredibly compelling piece of magical realism, but it gave us the poignant journey of Pie, an invisible girl grappling with how the world sees—and doesn’t see—her.

PUMPKIN PICKING: A book that reflects the pumpkin you always pick

My main criteria for pumpkins is just a) being light enough for me to pick up, and b) not super beaten up, so I’ll pick The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Seaa solid length, and almost flawless.

HALLOWEEN COSTUME: A book with a character whose style you admire

Asta from The Reckless Kind is not only an absolute delight in personality, but also in her cheeky sense of style—nothing like split-dyeing your hair in the 1900’s to match your heterochromia!

FALL BEVERAGE: A book that reflects your favorite fall drink

I’d probably pick hot chocolate or cinnamon tea for my favorite fall drink, even though I technically drink cinnamon tea no matter the weather. Both of them make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, and the same can be said for Heartstopper!

CORN MAZE: A book you can get lost in

The expansive, colorful world of Tillie Walden’s On a Sunbeam is one that I love to get lost in.

HOT FOOD: A book you waited all summer to read

Alright, technically, A Prayer for the Crown-Shy came out in July, but it was on hold so long that I only got around to reading it this October. Worth the wait, though!

I TAG:

Today’s song:

welcome back to this season of sad girl autumn, I’ll be your host—

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

Posted in Books

YA Books for Nonbinary Awareness Week

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles!

This week, July 11-17, is Nonbinary Awareness Week, and today, July 14, is International Nonbinary People’s Day! I’ve done a few specific lists for books with different identities within the LGBTQ+ community, but I don’t think I’ve done a specific nonbinary one. Given that it’s the perfect time to do it, I figured I would shine a light on books with protagonists (and sometimes authors!) with nonbinary and gender non-conforming identities. Representation always, always matters, especially for a community who face scrutiny even from within the LGBTQ+ community. 💛🤍💜🖤

Let’s begin, shall we?

THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA BOOKS FOR NONBINARY AWARENESS WEEK

I Wish You All the Best, Mason Deaver

GENRES: Contemporary/realistic fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

All at once heartbreaking and tender, I Wish You All the Best is an incredibly powerful story of a nonbinary teen’s journey of acceptance and self-love.

Lakelore, Anna-Marie McLemore

GENRES: Magical realism, fiction, romance

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

Anna-Marie McLemore never misses, and this beautiful story of two nonbinary, Latinx, and neurodivergent teens and a secret world beneath a lake is proof.

Mooncakes, Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu

GENRES: Fantasy, paranormal, urban fantasy, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

An absolutely ADORABLE graphic novel about a nonbinary werewolf and a hard-of-hearing witch!

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea, Maggie Tokuda-Hall

GENRES: Fantasy, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea features a powerful genderfluid pirate as one of the main characters! There’s another prominent side character who is nonbinary as well.

The Ghosts We Keep, Mason Deaver

GENRES: Contemporary/realistic fiction

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Though I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I Wish You All the Best, The Ghost We Keep is still an incredibly powerful exploration of grief. It’s also one of the only books I’ve seen that features a protagonist that uses multiple pronouns—Liam uses he/they pronouns!

Under Shifting Stars, Alexandra Latos

GENRES: Contemporary/realistic fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Clare, one of the twins featured at the forefront of Under Shifting Stars, is genderfluid!

Mask of Shadows, Linsey Miller

GENRES: Fantasy, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Mask of Shadows is a super fun fantasy novel featuring a genderfluid assassin!

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these books, and if so, what did you think of them? What are your favorite books with nonbinary and gender non-conforming rep? Tell me in the comments!

Today’s song:

this is so creepy I love it

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

Posted in Book Tags

Queer Book Tag 🏳️‍🌈

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

I figured I’d do another book tag for pride month, and this one looked like so much fun! I found this one over at Laura @ The Corner of Laura, and the tag was originally created by Anja Xuan.

Let’s begin, shall we?

🏳️‍🌈QUEER BOOK TAG🏳️‍🌈

QUEER FAVES: What’s your favorite queer book that you’ve read this year?

I know I haven’t shut up about this one since I came back from California, but The Raven and the Reindeer is easily one of my favorite queer reads from this year so far.

LESBIAN: What’s your favorite f/f book?

On a Sunbeam is one of my favorite queer books, and probably one of my favorite books, period. One of the most beautiful graphic novels I’ve ever read, and it’s super diverse as well!

MLM: What’s your favorite achillean/mlm book?

The Darkness Outside Us has stuck with me ever since I read it last August—it’s mind-boggling, it’s heartstring-tugging, and it’s a must-read.

BISEXUAL: What’s your favorite book with a bisexual main character?

Darcy from Perfect on Paper is bisexual, and this book had some of the best bisexual rep I’ve read in ages!

TRANSGENDER: What’s your favorite book with a trans main character?

Dreadnought is a fantastic book about a trans superhero!

QUEER: What’s your favorite #ownvoices queer book?

Once & Future is tons of fun and boasts tons of diversity and queer rep!

ARO-ACE: What’s your favorite book with an aro-ace main character?

Nathaniel from Tarnished are the Stars is aro-ace, and he has an incredibly sweet coming-out scene in this book!

PANSEXUAL: What’s your favorite book with a pansexual main character?

Ciela from The Mirror Season is pansexual, and this book is just another example of how Anna-Marie McLemore never misses the mark with their books!

QPOC: What’s your favorite book with a QPOC main character?

Both of the main characters from The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea are QPOC, and their romance is tender and absolutely lovely!

What queer books are you looking forward to for the rest of this year and/or the next year?

I just realized that Godslayers comes out TOMORROW (!!!!), and I’m so looking forward to it after how much I loved Gearbreakers!

I TAG:

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Books

🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️YA Pride Months Recs (2022 Edition) – Fantasy🏳️‍⚧️🏳️‍🌈

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles!

Continuing with this year’s pride month recs (click here for this year’s queer YA sci-fi recs), this post’s focus is on fantasy! Some of the different books that I’ve grouped here fall into magical realism and paranormal fantasy, but they all have one thing in common: they’re all LGBTQ+! And as you read through, it’s always important to remember: don’t just diversify your reading for a month: read and uplift queer voices 24/7!

Let’s begin, shall we?

🏳️‍🌈THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S 2022 YA PRIDE MONTH RECS: FANTASY 🏳️‍🌈

The Raven and the Reindeer, T. Kingfisher

LGBTQ+ REP: Queer (bi/pan?) MC, sapphic love interest, wlw relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

A beautifully poignant retelling of “The Snow Queen” that doubles as a queer coming-of-age story. Highly recommended!

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea, Maggie Tokuda-Hall

LGBTQ+ REP: Genderfluid MC, Bi/pan MC, queer relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

This isn’t the first time you’ve seen me sing praises of this book and it won’t be the last—you truly don’t want to miss it!

The Mirror Season, Anna-Marie McLemore

LGBTQ+ REP: Pansexual MC, lesbian side character/past wlw relationship, side mlm relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25

A searingly beautiful tale of solidarity, accountability, and recovery from sexual assault.

Squad, Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle

LGBTQ+ REP: Sapphic MC and love interest, wlw relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25

Another win from Maggie Tokuda-Hall with sapphic werewolves on the hunt for rapists who’ve gone scot-free!

A Snake Falls to Earth, Darcie Little Badger

LGBTQ+ REP: Asexual MC

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A witty piece of magical realism that was a delight to read from start to finish! I haven’t read or seen a whole lot of LGBTQ+ characters that are also Native American, so books like this are always a breath of fresh air.

Extasia, Clare Legrand

LGBTQ+ REP: Sapphic MC, wlw relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

(is it just me, or does the cover look sort of like young Winona Ryder?)

A haunting and gripping tale of post-apocalyptic witchcraft and mystery!

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are your favorite queer YA fantasy books? Any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments!

Today’s song:

listened to this album (great all the way through) and forgot how much I love this song

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

Posted in Book Tags

Pride Recommendations Book Tag 🏳️‍🌈

Happy Monday, bibliophiles, and more importantly, happy pride month!! 🏳️‍🌈

Sorry for the unexplained absence for about a week there—I was on vacation in California, and I had tons of fun! We were in Yosemite and then San Francisco, and I enjoyed myself in both places. It was lovely to be in San Francisco during pride month and seeing all the pride flags…having them everywhere made me so happy. 💗

Now, onto the book tag! I was tagged last pride month by the wonderful Hundreds & Thousands of Books, and the tag was originally created by Ally @ Ally Writes Things. I’m definitely going to do a pride recommendation post of my own, but since I would never turn down the opportunity to recommend queer books, I figured I’d participate in this lovely tag!

Rules

  • Tag Ally @ Ally Writes Things so I can see your recommendations!
  • Give at least one recommendation for each of the prompts below
  • If you don’t have a recommendation, talk about a book you want to read
  • Tag as many people as you want!

Let’s begin, shall we?

🏳️‍🌈PRIDE RECOMMENDATIONS BOOK TAG🏳️‍🌈

A BOOK ABOUT FRIENDSHIP

The Chandler Legacies centers around a group of unlikely friends, and I loved seeing their relationships develop over the course of the book!

A FAST-PACED BOOK

Victories Greater Than Death is a fiercely queer space opera, and if you’re looking for lots of action, this one moves at a breakneck pace!

A DIVERSE ROMANCE

Nope, I’m never gonna stop recommending Sick Kids in Love—I’m not usually a rom-com person, but this was one of the biggest standouts of my reading last year! Isabel has rheumatoid arthritis, Sasha is bisexual and has Gaucher’s disease, and both of them are Jewish! So refreshing to see not just disabled rep, but queer disabled rep!

AN UNDERRATED MEMOIR

Gender Queer is a beautiful graphic memoir about exploring gender and sexuality!

A NONFICTION OTHER THAN MEMOIR

What’s Your Pronoun?: Beyond He and She was a super fascinating read—I’d highly recommend it for anyone interested in the history of gender-neutral pronouns or linguistics in general.

A BOOK WITH FEWER THAN 10,000 RATINGS ON GOODREADS

I just read The Raven and the Reindeer while I was on vacation, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a crime that this book doesn’t get as much attention. One of the best queer fairytale retellings that I’ve read recently!

A BOOK WITH AN LGBTQ+ PROTAGONIST

weeeeeeeeell, all of these books are queer, but I wanted to highlight Perfect on Paper in particular. As a bisexual woman, this is some of the best bi rep I’ve ever read!

A BOOK WITH MORE THAN 500 PAGES

Any Way the Wind Blows clocks in at a dizzying 640 pages, and while it was the weakest book of the trilogy for me, it was still worth it for Rainbow Rowell’s excellent writing and character-building.

A TRANSLATED BOOK

I haven’t read many translated books at all, and the only queer one that I can think of (Here The Whole Time) is one that I’m not a fan of, so I’ll have to leave this one blank. 🫥

BOOK YOU WANT EVERYONE TO READ

Ever since I discovered it last summer, I’ve been trying to push The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea on everybody that I can; it’s been so long since I’ve read a book with such beautiful themes, writing, and romance! Plus, if that doesn’t entice you—queer pirates and mermaids. Enough said.

A SHORT STORY COLLECTION

All Out features tons of great short stories from a group of amazing queer authors!

A BOOK BY A TRANS OR NONBINARY AUTHOR

Iron Widow is by a nonbinary author, and it’s a fiercely queer and feminist story of breaking free of the gender binary and and dismantling patriarchy and rape culture!

I TAG:

Today’s song:

over the moon obsessed with this right now, won’t be able to think of anything else for the next 3-5 business months

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

Posted in Books

YA Books for AAPI Heritage Month (2022 Edition)

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

For those of you who didn’t know, in the U.S., May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage month! I made a list of YA reads for the occasion last year (click here if you’d like to parse through), but since I’ve read so many more incredible books by AAPI authors since last May, I figured I would make another list. These are books from all genres, but all of them are from authors of AAPI heritage. And with all of these kinds of posts, I always want to impress the following: reading diversely should never be confined to one part of the year. That being said, it’s always important to uplift marginalized voices—AAPI in this case—and reading is a key way to do so.

Let’s begin, shall we?

THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA BOOKS FOR AAPI HERITAGE MONTH (2022 EDITION)

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea – Maggie Tokuda Hall

GENRES: Fantasy, romance, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

One of my favorite reads of last year, The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea was a raw and tender read filled with pirates, mermaids, and resonant love. Highly recommended!

The Weight of Our Sky – Hanna Alkaf

GENRES: Historical fiction, fiction, mental illness/disability

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A searing and powerful read that follows the story of a sixteen-year-old girl with OCD in the midst of the Malaysian race riots in the late sixties.

Gearbreakers – Zoe Hana Mikuta

GENRES: Science fiction, dystopia, romance, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Gearbreakers is no ordinary YA dystopia—filled with mechs, found family, and fierce feminism and queerness, this is a must-read!

The Ones We’re Meant to Find – Joan He

GENRES: Science fiction, dystopia, mystery

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Mind-bending and endlessly thought-provoking, The Ones We’re Meant to Find is a unique and unforgettable tale of sisterhood in the darkest of times.

Rise of the Red Hand – Olivia Chadha

GENRES: Science fiction, dystopia, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Rise of the Red Hand certainly wasn’t perfect, but it’s best element was its representation; it’s one of the only dystopias that I’ve seen that’s set in South Asia!

Forest of Souls – Lori M. Lee

GENRES: Fantasy, high fantasy

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A rich and spooky fantasy that’s perfect for readers who like their traditional fantasy with a dash of necromancy, vengeful souls, and spiders.

Iron Widow – Xiran Jay Zhao

GENRES: Dystopia, science fiction, LGBTQ+, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Raw, fierce, and relentless, Iron Widow is a searing ode to those who are unafraid to take down the status quo—no matter the stakes.

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know – Samira Ahmed

GENRES: Contemporary, fiction, historical fiction

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A love letter to all of the women that history erases, Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know is a sharply feminist story set in alternating timelines.

Summer Bird Blue – Akemi Dawn Bowman

GENRES: Contemporary, fiction, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A powerful and unforgettable story of grief and starting over. Akemi Dawn Bowman’s writing never fails to stir up all kinds of emotions in me.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think of them? What are your favorite YA books by AAPI authors? Let me know in the comments!

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (12/28/21) – Squad

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

After finishing and loving The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea, Squad immediately came on my radar—with the details of the Mermaid sequel being hazy at best, I needed more of Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s writing in my life. I found it in Squad, a punchy and timely graphic novel with bright colors and inner darkness.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: Squad: 9780062943149: Tokuda-Hall, Maggie, Sterle, Lisa: Books

Squad – Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle

In her junior year, Becca moves to a new high school, thinking that she’ll have to settle with not fitting in. To her surprise, she’s taken under the wings of the three most popular girls in school, and soon, she is swept up into a world of new clothes and rowdy parties. But these three girls have a secret—they’re werewolves, and their prey are the predatory boys they find at their parties. But as the police investigate their most recent killing, Becca must decide if she still wants to be a part of their werewolf Squad.

Squad : Tokuda-Hall, Maggie, Sterle, Lisa: Amazon.ca: Books
art by Lisa Sterle

TW/CW: attempted rape, misogyny, racism, graphic violence, gore/blood

With its juxtaposition of a bright color palette and the darkness of werewolves out for blood, Squad is the perfect graphic novel for this day and age, and presents a timely theme—when does justice become purely revenge?

I’ve been a fan of Tokuda-Hall’s since The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea, but I hadn’t seen anything of Lisa Sterle’s before this. Now, I can definitively say that they make a fantastic graphic novel team! The combination of Tokuda-Hall’s dark and witty writing and Sterle’s bright colors and distinctive faces (both human and wolf) meshed so well together, making the storytelling all the more cohesive. Sterle’s art style is one that I really liked, and it’s the perfect style for this story. I’d like to see something else from this team—their respective writing and art styles were perfect for the aesthetic of Squad!

Right off the bat, I loved the concept of this novel and the implications it had. The idea of a clique of werewolves preying on rapists at parties already had my attention, and this part was executed so well! But beyond this, Squad asks us the question that’s become so prevalent with #MeToo and the growing movement to hold rapists accountable: when does getting back at the perpetrator become pure revenge and not accountability? Seeing all of this through the eyes of Becca—the newest in what we find out is a long line of werewolves—is a perfect way to show these themes from the perspective of a newcomer.

Becca’s perspective also serves as a wonderful way to show how dangerous trying to fit in can be. Over the course of Squad, a rift begins to form between these four girls, especially with Arianna, who has begun to break all the rules set by their previous “alpha,” and Amanda, who seems to be the only one willing to stick to their original plans. All of this threatens to tear Becca apart, even when her own mother pushes her to continue climbing the social ladder. It presents a great dilemma for Becca—is it worth it to go against what she feels is right for a chance at power?

However, there were a few things that I didn’t quite like about Squad. First off, the ending felt very abrupt and unresolved. It went from point A to point B with no real correlation, and it simply…ended. From reading two of her works now, I’d say that endings aren’t Tokuda-Hall’s strong suit; I didn’t mind the ending of The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea as much as I did this one (although my friends in book club would probably say otherwise lol), but it still felt rushed. Squad’s ending was still sweet, but it lacked a cohesive resolution.

In addition, while I loved the idea of a sapphic werewolf romance, the relationship between Becca and Marley was very rushed. Like the ending, I loved what little I saw of it (especially that last scene!), but it felt crammed into the last third of the story and bordered on insta-love. Plus, I have mixed feelings about Becca being paired with Marley; it made sense in concept, since they were both caught up in the conflict of the rest of the squad, but given some of the offhand comments that Marley makes about Becca in the beginning, it didn’t make sense that Becca would immediately tolerate all that and fall in love. Maybe if we’d seen if Marley had a change of heart or at least apologized about some of those comments, it might have made sense. But the romance ended up being sweet, but sloppily done. Almost an afterthought.

All in all, a biting (no pun intended) and important tale of the line between accountability and revenge. 4.25 stars!

Squad : Tokuda-Hall, Maggie, Sterle, Lisa: Amazon.ca: Books

Squad is a standalone, but Maggie Tokuda-Hall is also the author of The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea. Lisa Sterle is also the illustrator of Witchblood and the creator of the Modern Witch Tarot Deck.

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday, and the last Book Review Tuesday of 2021! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Books

My 5-star Reads of 2021

Image about love in ᵐᵒˢᵗˡʸ wholesome 🥺💗 by 𝐈 𝐧 𝐟 𝐢 𝐧 𝐢 𝐭 𝐲

Happy Friday, bibliophiles, and merry Christmas Eve for those who celebrate!

2021 was a tough year for me and for so many of us. But through every tough time, books are always there for us, and every once in a while, those special books come along and brighten our days or change our lives just that much more. Those are the only books that I bestow the 5-star rating upon—the ones that really, truly change something inside of me for the better.

So as this (sucky) year comes to a close, I decided to look back at the best of the best that I read this year. (Note: the books that I rated 4.75 stars and rounded up to 5 appear on here as well! However, I’m not including re-reads of books that I previously rated 5 stars.)

Let’s begin, shall we?

⭐️THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S 5-STAR READS OF 2021⭐️

Among the Beasts & Briars – Ashley Poston

Among the Beasts & Briars by Ashley Poston

Technically, I read this one on New Year’s Eve 2020, but I didn’t include it in my 5-star list from last year, so it gets the honor of making the list this year. Among the Beasts & Briars is solid proof that no matter the genre, Ashley Poston never misses.

Read my review here!

Zero Repeat Forever – Gabrielle S. Prendergast

Amazon.com: Zero Repeat Forever (1) (The Nahx Invasions): 9781481481854:  Prendergast, G. S.: Books

This one had been on my TBR for ages, and I’m so glad that I picked it up! A beautiful and tender story of love in the darkest of times.

Read my review here!

Before the Fall – Noah Hawley

Amazon.com: Before the Fall eBook : Hawley, Noah: Books

I got into Noah Hawley as an author this year after loving Fargo and Legion. I’m glad to say that this book is a masterpiece as well, and this is coming from somebody who reads hardly any crime thrillers!

Read my review here!

The Punch – Noah Hawley

Amazon.com: The Punch: 9781538746530: Hawley, Noah: Books

Very different from Before the Fall, but just as good. I think this book has my favorite opening scene in any book, period.

Read my review here!

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

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

This one needs no explanation. Amanda Gorman is such an inspiring woman.

Internment – Samira Ahmed

Amazon.com: Internment: 9780316522694: Ahmed, Samira: Books

Samira Ahmed is another fantastic author that I discovered this year! I’m glad I read this one post-Trump, but it’s such a gut-wrenching call to action. This needs to be required reading.

(an aside—Samira Ahmed is writing the next run of Ms. Marvel soon, and I DIDN’T KNOW I NEEDED SOMETHING LIKE THIS IN MY LIFE. I can’t wait to see how she handles it!)

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

Amazon.com: Sword in the Stars: A Once & Future Novel (Once & Future, 2):  9780316449298: Cory McCarthy, Capetta, A. R.: Books

I finally got to read this sequel after waiting a year to try and find it, and I was not disappointed! Just as off-the-walls and lovable as book 1.

Read my review here!

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

Rule of Wolves - Leigh Bardugo | Author

The King of Scars duology is Leigh Bardugo at her very best. Feelings were had.

Mike Mignola: The Quarantine Sketchbook – Mike Mignola

Amazon.com: Mike Mignola: The Quarantine Sketchbook: 9781506724270: Mignola,  Mike, Mignola, Christine: Books

It’s a collection of quanrantine-era sketches from one of my favorite comic writers/artists, why wouldn’t I rate it 5 stars?

The Darkness Outside Us – Eliot Schrefer

Amazon.com: The Darkness Outside Us eBook : Schrefer, Eliot: Kindle Store

This one was an unexpected favorite! It started out like any other sci-fi thriller, but it soon morphed into a beautiful meditation on mortality and love. Highly recommended!

Read my review here!

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

Amazon.com: Aurora's End (The Aurora Cycle): 9781524720889: Kaufman, Amie,  Kristoff, Jay: Books

It’s poetically fitting that the last book in this post is my favorite of these favorites, as well as the closer to my favorite trilogy. This was such a transcendental and resonant ending to a series like no other. Squad 312 forever. 💫

Read my review here!

HONORABLE MENTIONS (4.5 stars):

Today’s song:

That’s it for my favorite reads of 2021! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Tags

2021 Book Tag

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles! Finally back here! Today’s my first day of winter break, and I’m SO relieved. I got through finals with straight A’s (first time!!), so I’m proud of myself! Exhausted, though. But now I have a few weeks of rest.

Anyway, here’s a book tag for you! It’s an original tag by Phoenix @ Books With Wings. I loved doing her 2020 Book Tag, so I though I’d participate in this year’s tag since this year was…trash.

RULES:

  • Link back to the original creator, Phoenix @Books With Wings
  • Thank the person who tagged you
  • Answer all the questions
  • Tag at least 3 people
  • While the events covered in this tag are mainly centered around the going-ons in the U.S.A., if you live in another country feel free to add another question or two to this tag that you think goes with an important event that happened elsewhere!
  • PLEASE NOTE: While this tag discusses events that happened in 2021, it does not at all need to be completed in 2021. This is NOT a time-restricted tag and you may do it whenever you want. (you also do not need to talk about books that you read in 2021! It can be books you read whenever!)
  • Some of these questions are rather vague; these are totally up for interpretation!

Let’s begin, shall we?

2021 BOOK TAG

  1. A sequel that didn’t live up to expectations
A Gathering of Shadows: A Novel (Shades of Magic, 2): Victoria Schwab:  9780765376473: Amazon.com: Books

A Gathering of Shadows was still entertaining for me, but not nearly as good as books 1 or 3. Lila gets on my nerves.

2. A book where everything immediately went badly

Amazon.com: Ace of Spades: 9781250800817: Àbíké-Íyímídé, Faridah: Books

Ace of Spades comes right out of the gate with everything immediately starting to crumble around Chiamaka and Devon. I went on an unexpected mystery/thriller kick this month (the results of which were hit-or-miss), but this one was a standout—so cleverly written and consistently suspenseful!

3. A book where things seemed to change for the better

Amazon.com: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea eBook : Tokuda-Hall,  Maggie: Kindle Store

Most of The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea was rough for everyone involved, but Evelyn and Flora got their happy ending eventually, and I thought it was beautiful. I know I’ve blabbed a lot about this one, but it’s such a lush and tender story!

4. A book where some kind of science/sci fi plays a major role

Amazon.com: The Darkness Outside Us eBook : Schrefer, Eliot: Kindle Store

[scours my sci-fi shelf on Goodreads for a sci-fi book that I haven’t already talked about endlessly]

The Darkness Outside Us is such an intricate masterpiece of a book—sure, you’ve got the setup for a typical space mystery with a little romance sprinkled in, but it becomes such a resonant song for cherishing every moment of life and love.

5. A book where the characters get a reprieve

Tea And 'A Psalm for the Wild-Built' On The Moon - Book and Film Globe

I struggled to find a book that would fit this prompt, but I’d say that both Sibling Dex and Mosscap get a reprieve of sorts in A Psalm for the Wild-Built. A walk in the woods musing about the unknown facets of life tends to do that for a person. (Or a robot.)

6. A book about sports/centered around competition

Amazon.com: Crownchasers (Crownchasers, 1): 9780062845160: Coffindaffer,  Rebecca: Books

Crownchasers certainly has a lot of high-stakes competition—with deadly consequences. I really need to pick up book 2, I’m excited to see what happens next!

7. A book with a terrifying plot twist

I'm Thinking of Ending Things: A Novel (Packing may vary ): Reid, Iain:  9781982155841: Amazon.com: Books

Honestly? I could’ve put Ace of Spades OR The Darkness Outside Us here too…

Even though I’d already seen the movie adaptation of I’m Thinking of Ending Things (shhh I didn’t know it was a book back then), the twist at the end still hit me like a freight train. Such a masterful, genre-bending, categorization-defying book!

8. A book with awesome behind-the-scenes characters (eg side characters) (THANK YOU ESSENTIAL WORKERS)

Amazon.com: The Outside eBook : Hoffmann, Ada: Kindle Store

There were so many background characters in The Outside that I found myself wanting to know more about, especially all the different angels and aliens! I hope we see more of them in book 2.

9. A book where there were HUGE consequences to an event/decision/etc.

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

Chekhov’s gun? Nope, this was straight-up Chekhov’s war cannon. (Chekhov’s Weapon, if you will…yeah, I’m the only one laughing at that one)

Everything building up to Aurora’s End had unimaginable consequences. It all amounted to the last 100 pages of the book, which were unbelievably stressful, but built to such a beautiful and fitting ending for Squad 312. I love this series with my whole heart.

I TAG:

Today’s song:

I know you’re probably all tired of the Blurposting BUT I finally listened to all of Parklife last night!! Such a fun album

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