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.
My pick for today’s Goodreads Monday is a semi-earlier pick; I put it on the list almost a year ago, but it’s only about a third of the way through my (massive) TBR. I don’t read many mysteries or thrillers, but this one sounds like a lot of fun–with a feminist twist!
Let’s begin, shall we?
GOODREADS MONDAY (9/7/20)–THE ATHENA PROTOCOL by Shamim Sarif
Jessie Archer is a member of the Athena Protocol, an elite organization of female spies who enact vigilante justice around the world.
Athena operatives are never supposed to shoot to kill—so when Jessie can’t stop herself from pulling the trigger, she gets kicked out of the organization, right before a huge mission to take down a human trafficker in Belgrade.
Jessie needs to right her wrong and prove herself, so she starts her own investigation into the trafficking. But going rogue means she has no one to watch her back as she delves into the horrors she uncovers. Meanwhile, her former teammates have been ordered to bring her down. Jessie must face danger from all sides if she’s to complete her mission—and survive.
So why do I want to read this?
BLACK WIDOW VIBES, I REPEAT, BLACK WIDOW VIBES–
[ahem] besides that, the first comparison that I thought of after re-reading the blurb was The Black Coats—another feminist mystery that deals with morally gray themes and vigilante justice. The Athena Protocol seems more spy-oriented while The Black Coats is more contemporary, but I have a feeling that the former might be just as good.
As a (very) infrequent consumer of mysteries and thrillers in general, I’m always looking for books that put twists on it. I’m excited to see how Sarif deals with some of the morally gray themes that seem to be lurking about the plot. Plus, I’m all for a super-team of female spies putting misogynists and creeps in their places, so of course I’m on board. And having just come out of seeing Tenet (which was amazing, by the way), I could definitely use this twist on the traditional thriller.
And according to Goodreads, there’s some LGBTQ+ representation too! Sarif said that Jessie is “a young woman who is LGBT,” and some of the reviews have said that she’s definitely sapphic, so I’m so excited!
All in all, maybe I need to read more thrillers. But mostly the feminist ones.
That’s it for today’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
All things considered, the first week back to online school wasn’t too bad. Not much homework, but lots of google meets. At least classes end at noon everyday…
I ended up posting a lot more than I anticipated this week, and I’ve had a nice and productive week as far as blogging and reading my eARCs goes. (Expect my reviews of Jelly and Mary next week!) I finished off my library haul, and I loved the last two, and I enjoyed all of my eARCs. And I’m certain that I’ll have another great reading week next week; I got a gift card to my favorite bookstore on my birthday, and I got to spend it on three of my most anticipated releases of the year! (See “Currently Reading/To Read Next Week” below for said reads.)
Other than that, I got some new art supplies, ate lots of good food, watched Prometheus (ABSOLUTELY PHENOMENAL! Michael Fassbender can do no wrong…), and did a lot of drawing and writing. I’ve fallen a bit behind on the latter, but now, I’m nearing 300 pages, and I have a better sense of where it’s going, so that’s a plus.
This book came on my radar via Edelweiss over the summer, and I bought it on my kindle before my trip to Vail, right around its release date. I’d seen it garner comparisons to Guardians of the Galaxy, The Lunar Chronicles, and the Aurora Cycle, so naturally, I was ITCHING to read it. Sadly, it lived up to none of its comparisons–but that certainly doesn’t mean that it wasn’t fun.
Cora Saros belongs to one of the most formidable crime families in the galaxy. Her role? The family disappointment. A heist gone awry lands her in prison, without any hope and with the eyes of all her family on her. Her only way out of the mess she’s in is through a deal with the shady prison warden–if she retrieves a long lost relic rumored to grant immortality, he’ll wipe her records.
With the help of Elio, her robot companion with a knack for baking cookies, Wren, a chipper pickpocket, and Anders, a warrior with a tough exterior, Cora sets off to clear her name–but soon realizes that she’s in over her head. Will she and her crew be able to live up to the task?
Imagine a mashup of Guardians of the Galaxy and Indiana Jones. Add in some of the charm of Heart of Iron and the Lunar Chronicles, and make all of the characters secretly ENFPs. Mix it all together, and you’ve got The Good for Nothings. But although all of the books and films that I mentioned should have made something I would love with every inch of my body, it was…decent, for me. Not bad, but not spectacular, for me.
I’ve mentioned GotG twice already, so I’ll attempt to make this quick: this novel certainly drew a lot from it, but with varying degrees of success. On one hand, it succeeded in making a classic, irreverent found-family sci-fi, filled with great treasures, banter, and reluctant friendships. But there were some portions that seemed to rip it off almost to a T–remember the “nothing goes over my head, my reflexes are too fast, I would catch it” scene with Drax, anyone?
Even though it’s been a solid four years since I’ve seen that movie, it was easy to see that Banas ripped off this gag with lines of Anders’ dialogue. Several times, too. I’m all for drawing inspiration from media, but don’t…y’know, borderline plagiarize it. As much as I love that scene, it fell flat for me with The Good for Nothings.
Now, onto my favorite part…found family! Though it’s not nearly as well-executed as, say, Aurora Rising or the Honors trilogy, I still liked some of the chemistry between Cora, Wren, Elio, and Anders. I wasn’t overly attached to any of them, but they were decent characters. All of them had moments of being funny or lovable. However…well, remember how I said in the first part of the review to make all of them secretly ENFPs? Now, nothing against ENFPs, but at their cores, all four of the main characters had the same personality. On the surface level, they had a few distinguishing traits to their names (Wren is cheerful, Anders is secretive and tough, etc.), as we got to know them better, their personalities were startlingly similar to one another.
With that aside, I’d say that The Good for Nothings was entertaining, if nothing else. The writing was decent, and the humor fell flat more often than not, but the world-building had moments of being fascinating, and I liked all of the different settings that Cora and the rest of the gang got thrown into. It’s a very light-hearted and feel-good novel, so if you’re looking for something to take your mind off the state of things (which I’m sure a lot of you are), The Good for Nothings would be a great pick for you.
Overall, a YA sci-fi that leaned too much on some of the material that it may have been based off of, but was still a fun, feel-good novel at heart. 3 stars!
It appears that The Good for Nothings is a standalone, but Danielle Banas has two other books out: Once Upon Now and The Supervillain and Me.
(Happy birthday, Jeff Tweedy!)
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
I got a notification this morning, and apparently I’ve had this blog running for…5 years? WHOAAAAA, OKAY, I FORGOT ABOUT THAT
I didn’t start semi-seriously book blogging until about a year ago, but thank you to everybody who has supported me along the way! (And for those of you who had to witness what this blog was like when I was in middle school…I’m terribly sorry for the horrors you experienced.)
ANYWAY, I figured I should start doing writing-related posts more frequently, so here’s my first(ish?) stab at it.
Many members of the writing community use music in a number of ways in the process of creating their WIP, be it picking specific songs or albums to listen to while writing, or creating book or character playlists. Music is an integral part of my life, and I’ve managed to weave it into my writing life as well. I always listen to music when I write, so I thought that I would first share some songs, albums, and scores that I like the most to get me writing my WIPs.
I think there’s been several studies about how instrumental scores help with studying, but for a lot of people, music without lyrics is helpful to focus on their writing, and is less distracting than music with lyrics. I use a mix of music with and without lyrics in writing, but for those of you who are strictly instrumental, here are some of my favorite albums–mostly film scores, mind you–that I use when writing:
Hellboy II: The Golden Army original score–Danny Elfman
Yes, yes, I know I blab about this masterpiece quite a lot, but hey, it’s Danny Elfman doing the score–what’s not to like? The score ranges from whimsically spooky to action-packed to tear-jerking, so it’s perfect for writing scenes of all kinds.
Russo has such a wide range, composition-wise, and every single score I’ve come across by him is nothing short of stellar. Some of my favorites include his scores for Legion (FX), and The Umbrella Academy (Netflix), but he’s also scored everything from Cursed to Lucy in the Sky and Fargo (the TV show)
NON-INSTRUMENTAL SONGS AND ALBUMS
I cram loads of music onto my writing playlists, but there’s several particular songs and albums that get me more focused/motivated/immersed in my writing than others, so here goes nothing…
Besides the fact that one of my WIPs features a character who is obsessed with this album, the sheer range of emotion in this album is stunning. Though it’s chiefly electronic, I’ve used these songs from everything from battle scenes to a funeral scene.
Another very emotional album, this one’s always great for writing scenes associated with any form of love, whether it’s the promise of it, being in the throes of it, or being apart from it. Then again, you’re talking to somebody who has had zero (0) experience with any sort of relationships, so take this as you will.
Apparently they called this album “the American Kid A” when it came out, so…did I cheat and put Kid A on here twice? If so, I don’t regret it.
Ranging from punchy, classic rock songs and dreamlike, melancholic hazes of emotion, I highly recommend this album for scenes charged with emotion–doesn’t matter what emotion we’re talking about, because there’s easily a song or two on here for everything.
I saw a piece of advice the other day about making two writing playlists: listen to one of them while writing it, and a different one when you’re editing or making the second draft, so that you’re put into a different mindset while re-reading it.
For making the playlists themselves, I usually just dump several songs I like, and go through songs as I write. If there’s a song that takes me out of the writing or has been in circulation for a few times too many, I take it off and replace it.
Just for fun, here are snippets of mine:
(Or, alternatively, “the one that I accidentally dumped all the Weezer on” and “the one without any Weezer at all”)
I also like to cobble together playlists for each of my WIPs: here, I include songs with lyrics that relate to the story, or that just have the general vibe of the WIP. For some of them, I also create character playlists going off of the same rule. For my sci-fi book, there are six different perspectives (or, I’m going to make it that way once I get around to editing it), so I have a playlist for each of them. For my current WIP, however, there’s only one perspective, so I just keep it at the protagonist.
What do you think? What are your musical techniques for writing? What’s your favorite music to write to?
Since there’s a boatload of music in this post, consider the entire thing “today’s song.”
That’s it for this writing post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
I’ve had this one on my TBR for about a year and a half, and I finally got to read it last week after having it on hold for…a good month or so? It was one of the most hyped YA fantasies of last year, and though it wasn’t a perfect novel, I’d say that it mostly lived up to it!
In Cesarine, witches are feared. The only thing that may be feared more, however, are the Chasseurs–the Church’s personal witch-hunters who will stop at nothing to burn their prey at the stake.
Lou is on the run, struggling to keep her powers–and her infamous witch heritage–under wraps. But after being caught by the Chasseurs, she is presented with an ultimatum: be killed for her crimes, or marry Reid, the captain of the Chasseurs. Stuck with the second option, she is forced to live with him, but she soon realizes that, despite their backgrounds, she has feelings for him–and they might even be mutual.
Alright, right off the bat, I noticed something…
Did anyone else find it funny that we have two characters named Lou and Reid that were in a romantic relationship?
[ahem] yeah, probably just me, carry on…
Overall, Serpent & Dove was a hysterical thrill ride of a fantasy novel! Not without its flaws, to be sure, but a whole lot of fun all the same.
My main issue with the novel was the world-building. At best, it felt…very messy. The setting is clearly inspired by 18th-19th century France, and uses tidbits of French in some of the dialogue. But even though it’s a fantasy world apart from our own, the predominant religion (and the religion pushed by the Chasseurs) is Christianity? Additionally, though some of the dialogue is hilarious, it often felt…a bit too 21st century? I mean, there’s no “yeet” or “vibin'” or anything, but mostly on Lou’s part, it didn’t mesh well with the historical-inspired setting. Reid’s dialogue felt appropriately stuffy, but that definitely threw off some of my suspension of disbelief.
But that’s where most of my issues end. I LOVED the characters–they were all completely over-the-top, but IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE. From the beginning, I loved Lou and Coco–they were both wonderfully sassy and spirited, and I loved their friendship dynamic. Reid has a lovely beginning to his character arc, and honestly? I love him just as much as the others, especially since he got over some of the prejudice he held in the first part of the novel. And since I’m a total sucker for enemies-to-lovers romances, I enjoyed every bit of Lou and Reid’s relationship. Hey, opposites attract.
And with the theme of witch-burning and whatnot, Serpent & Dove not only presents messages of shedding previous prejudice, but it’s morally grey as well. There’s a great depiction of sides that are most definitely blurred when it comes to morality–and neither one can be pinned as the “hero” or the “villain.” A lot of novels get this wrong, but this managed to portray it deftly.
All in all, a simultaneously thought-provoking and gut-busting fantasy novel, with a romance to die for and no shortage of witty banter. 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4!
Serpent & Dove is the first in a trilogy, which continues with the forthcoming Blood & Honey, and an untitled third book.
Okay but the point at 5:26 where Jeff Tweedy starts hitting those higher notes PERFECTLY
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
All things considered, it’s been an…alright week. There hasn’t been anything super eventful, other than J.K. Rowling testing me ([screams] TRANS RIGHT ARE HUMAN RIGHTS, WHEN WILL YOU LEARN–). I’ve received a few more eARCs (more reviews to come next week!), but I checked Edelweiss yesterday, and I’d gotten declined 4 (four) eARCs all at once…whee…
But hey, I’ve just started out. And plus, I still have a bunch of pending requests, so things could start looking up next week.
My reading week’s been fairly hit-or-miss–it’s swung between four star and two star reads, for the most part, but I’ve found a few that I enjoyed. As far as writing goes, I’ve just finished writing the climax for my WIP (!!!), and I’m close to 300 pages! It’s the most I’ve ever written, so that’s been crazy. I’m also working away at an Iron Giant puzzle, which has given me a primal urge to go back and watch it again.
If there’s one thing I love as much as books and reading, it’s probably music. I was raised in a family of wonderful music nerds, and as a result, music has grown to be an integral aspect of my life.
And so, it always brings me a rush of joy whenever I find music references hidden inside books I love, and by proxy, authors with similar musical taste. I thought I might compile a few of my favorite books with music references in them, just for fun.
Artists referenced: David Bowie, brief joke about Wilco/Jeff Tweedy
I mean, one can sort of tell from the get-go that this book is very Bowie-centric; The title itself (a reference to a lyric from “Changes”), and the Aladdin Sane lightning bolt in the ‘I’ in “Fascinations”. (On another edition, it shows Noah with the bolt across his face, just like the Aladdin Sane album cover!) Other than that, there’s a continual respect for Bowie throughout the novel. Other than the general wondrousness of the novel, I’m just glad to see that someone else holds Hunky Dory as highly as I do.
Also, the mention of Wilco is very brief, but it was still pretty funny to see. Even if it was poking fun at them.
Artists referenced: The Beatles, Nirvana, T.Rex, (!!!), David Bowie
Though music doesn’t play (no pun intended) as big a role in The Hazel Wood as it does in some of the others in this post, there’s wonderful references aplenty in this one, from a minor character being described as reminiscent of David Bowie to a discordant, chaotic scene in which the main villain sings an off-key rendition of “Yellow Submarine”. Also, I’m frankly so impressed that Albert slipped in a T.Rex reference in there. COME. ON. That’s the deep cut to end all deep cuts!
Weirdly enough, though I’d heard Radiohead here and there before reading The Final Six, but seeing the reference was ultimately what convinced me to listen to Radiohead! This is easily some of the best utilization of references I’ve seen in a novel, period. First off, in The Final Six, there’s a particularly chilling scene in which Beckett, the main antagonist, glimpses Naomi sneaking around, and after a tense conversation, he sings part of “Paranoid Android.” (“When I am king, you will be first against the wall/With your opinion, which is of no consequence at all…”) Already veeeery spooky, but the song’s title hints that Beckett knows more than what he let on. (No spoilers)
In The Life Below, Monir also uses “Sail To The Moon”–in particular, its musical structure–as the center point of one of the main subplots in the novel. And boy, it’s FASCINATING.
Artists referenced: St. Vincent, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac (I don’t really care about the latter at all, but hey)
Another dip into the realm of magical realism!
Music plays a semi-important role in this one, as part of the novel is set on a road trip; there’s a running joke where Sylvie’s friend’s brother (I can’t remember his name for the life of me) listens to one specific artist in the car for the month. His pick of the month is Fleetwood Mac; there’s a line (which I can’t find) where Sylvie makes a remark something along the lines of “why can’t we listen to something good, like David Bowie?” to which the other character responds that he’d already listened to him for all of April. And though the St. Vincent reference was brief, McNally perfectly captures the nature of her music.
Again, another Bowie-centric book. I related to this one in particular because Bowie is Jonathan (the main character)’s hero; the book is set in 1973, so it’s at the heyday of his Ziggy Stardust era. As someone who similarly worships him, this novel hit the sweet spot for me. There’s also a wonderful scene where Jonathan and Web soundtrack a school presentation with Pink Floyd’s “Time”, easily my personal favorite of their songs.
Oooh…hard decision, but if I had to pick, I’d go with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I read it a little under two years ago for the first time, and it’s never left my thoughts since.
FAVORITE BOOK FIVE YEARS AGO
The entire Search for WondLa trilogy captured my heart around middle school, but my favorite of the three was the beautifully written (and illustrated) and shocking finale, The Battle for WondLa.
Hands down, Ashley Poston’s masterful Heart of Iron duology. Both books are so lovable in every sense of the word.
LAST BOOK YOU READ
I’ll be reviewing this one later, but I just finished up Supernova, the last installment in Marissa Meyer’s Renegades trilogy. Such a stunning end to the series!
LAST POETRY BOOK YOU READ
I bought a collection of Tennyson’s poetry in April, I think. Such remarkable and heartstring-tugging words…In Memoriam was probably my favorite.
WHAT BOOK MOST INFLUENCED YOUR LIFE?
Alright, sorry, I know I keep coming back to this, but The Search for WondLa was not only my gateway to my favorite genre, science fiction, but what inspired me to be an author. Tony DiTerlizzi will never stop being my hero, just for that series alone.
BOOK THAT MADE YOU UGLY CRY
Yeeeeeeeesh, A Monster Calls SLAYED me when I first read it. I had to re-read it over twice, and both times, I ended up bawling my eyes out at the end. GOD. 😭
BOOK THAT MADE YOU LAUGH
Good Omens, without a doubt. I don’t think a book has made me laugh as much as that in a very long time.
CHARACTER YOU’D LIKE TO BE FOR A DAY
Hmm…the first character that came to mind was Alosa from Daughter of the Pirate King duology.Oh, to be a fearsome pirate queen on the high seas (with fabulous hair)…
BOOK SO GOOD YOU DREAMT ABOUT IT
I can’t quite think of any books that come to mind other than WondLa, and I’ve already mentioned that one in two of the questions, so…sorry about that.
BOOK YOU DNF’D
Oh, there’s a long, long list…
But the most recent book I DNF’d was Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters. Such an interesting concept for a plot, but the dialogue made it crash and burn. Curse you, deceptively gorgeous cover…
WHAT BOOK ARE YOU EXCITED TO READ?
I loved The Hazel Wood, and I just found out that the sequel, The Night Country, will be released on January 7th! REJOICE!
That just about wraps it up! If you’d like to do the tag, feel free to do so. Please be sure to link back to this post if you do so 🙂
Today’s song: “One and a Half Stars”–Wilco (listening to this as I wrap up this post!)
Have a lovely rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
I found this tag on A Little Haze Book Blog, and I thought it would be a super fun tag to participate in! Hopefully this’ll make up for my lack of a Book Review Tuesday (But hey, Wilco was a religious experience, sooo…) 😉
Adaptation Snob: Do you always read the book before you see the film?
I try my best to. If there’s a film adaptation of a book that I want to see, I usually try to see if I can read the book first, but all too many times, I’ve fallen into the trap of seeing a movie and not realizing that there’s a book adaptation. (Lookin’ at you, Jojo Rabbit…)
Format Snob: You can only choose 1 format in which to read books for the rest of your life. Which one do you choose: physical books, eBooks, or audiobooks?
Is that even a question? PHYSICAL. WITHOUT A DOUBT.
Though the Kindle is pretty convenient for travel and such, there’s just some, unreplicatable magic about having a physical book in your hands. I’ve only listened to…maybe one (1) audiobook in the course of my life, and though the aspect of different narrators is an influential factor, I’m not keen on getting full-on into audiobooks anytime soon. Also…book page smells. Can’t beat that.
Ship Snob: Would you date or marry a non-reader?
Weeeeeeeeeeeell…it would depend on if their other characteristics would make up for their non-reading. Okay, never mind. I don’t think I’d be able to bring myself to do that. I’m awful, I know. It’s just…reading is such an integral part of my life, and I need that sort of connection to a loved one, you know?
Genre Snob: You have to ditch one genre – never to be read again for the rest of your life. Which one do you ditch?
Yowch, these are hard questions…
I mean…if anything, mystery. Sci-fi and fantasy mean too much to me (though sci-fi far more so), and contemporary/realistic fiction can be an essential medium for portraying the ins and outs of daily life, as well as the woes of society. So…sorry, mystery.
Uber Genre Snob: You can only choose to read from one genre for the rest of your life. Which genre do you choose?
This question: THIS ISN’T EVEN MY FINAL FORM…
But, yes. Sci-fi, hands down. The amount of possibilities hidden within space, superpowers, and everything in between are endless, and I thoroughly enjoy exploring every single one.
Community Snob: Which genre do you think receives the most snobbery from the bookish community?
Fantasy, but particularly fantasy novels with a female protagonist.
Time after time, book after book, I see reviewers absolutely tear apart characters that, god forbid, aren’t the Oh So Docile™️ girls that our society seems to value. She’s too headstrong. She’s flawless. She’s annoying. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…
And while some of these qualities do come true, sure, I see it in at least ten reviews per fantasy book. I suppose it could apply to any sci-fi/fantasy book with a female protagonist. And while yes, there’s plenty of books where reviewers ramp on the male protagonists, I feel like in recent novels, the girls have gotten the brunt of the overexaggerated scrutiny and scorn.
Whew, went into a little rant there, but hey…
Well, that just about wraps it up! Thank you to A Little Haze Book Blog for posting this tag, and have a lovely rest of your day!