Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week treated you well.
April’s over now, and I didn’t get to post as much as I wanted to this month, but…I had to study. For several things. And I have several more things to study for, so I’ll probably be back to a more fun schedule by the last week of May. But for now, AP exams loom. Should be okay, though. (I feel okay about World History and English, but Bio should be…interesting…) I had the day off on Friday though, so that was a nice break.
I’ve had a great reading week though! I finished a (mostly) good library haul, and most of them were in the 3-4 star range, save for two. I’ve got a good one waiting as well, plus a great hold on my Kindle that I’m currently getting through.
Other than that, I binged the rest of Shadow and Bone, watched Blade Runner 2049 (better than the original, but the bar is low…), and stuck my head out the window on several occasions just to smell the rain. I missed rain so much.
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…
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™️
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!
This first review of April 2021 is one of a movie adaptation. It had been on my TBR for for a good two years beforehand, but I finally got to watch the movie, Pan’s Labyrinth, last summer. And cried like a baby. But that’s not the point.
Anyway, when I went to Barnes & Noble, I knew I had to pick it up! I’m glad to say that I liked it almost as much as I did the movie – a bit lacking in the writing department, but still managed to capture much of the dark, fairytale allure that Pan’s Labyrinth had in droves.
Thirteen-year-old Ofelia has always lived through fairytales, especially those in the books she carries around. But when she and her mother move to live with her new husband, the cold and murderous Capitán Vidal, it seems all of the magic has faded away. But when fairies appear to her in the night, Ofelia realizes that the tales in her storybooks may be real after all – and more sinister than she could have ever imagined.
Now, led through a dangerous set of tasks by an enigmatic faun, Ofelia grows closer to the fairytale world that she may be the key to. But the deeper she ventures, the more dangerous they become. The Faun may not be trustworthy – but is the alternative any better?
TW/CW: graphic violence, torture, fantasy violence/body horror, blood, childbirth complications, past death of parent, death of children
I’ve been skimming through some of the reviews from people who haven’t seen the movie who thought that this was middle grade just because the protagonist was 13…and no judgement, none at all, I don’t blame you all, but man, I’m SO, SO SORRY.
I’m a huge fan of all things Guillermo del Toro (after all, he’s responsible for my comfort movie, Hellboy II: The Golden Army), so naturally, after watching this movie for the first time over the summer, I knew I had to pick this up soon. Now, I’m so glad I have a copy of my own – though it wasn’t without its flaws, this was a beautiful adaptation of a truly remarkable film.
Let’s start out with my only criticism: the writing. Of course, I’ve read some of Guillermo del Toro’s short stories and adored his style, but I think my main problem was with Cornelia Funke’s part of it; I read Inkheartsome time ago and it wasn’t my thing, and I think some of those feelings resurfaced while reading this. For source material as brimming with faeries and dark magic as this, her prose didn’t fit at all. There’s a lot of telling as opposed to showing, a lot of “[they] felt” and “[they] knew” and similar phrases. While it wasn’t egregiously bad, some of the telling parts took me out of it.
Other than that? I don’t have any critiques at all! For the most part, this novel absolutely did justice to the book, and both del Toro and Funke clearly had a careful eye to make sure that this adaptation was as close to the film as possible. I loved revisiting the simultaneously dark and beautiful world of the fairies, and the human element was just as poignant and tear-jerking. Though the sting of…well, y’know, everything was dulled a bit by knowing the outcome (having seen the movie), everything was still so potent and gripping. Allen Williams’ beautiful illustrations also added a new layer to the novel, with renderings of Ofelia, the Pale Man, the Faun, and others in simple but striking pencil artwork.
I also loved the short stories woven within the chapters, and I loved seeing how interconnected they all were. Each one added a new thread of lore to an already intricate and detailed story, and it was fascinating to see how each and every short tale came together to flesh out an already well-fleshed-out world.
All in all, a beautiful adaptation of an even more beautiful dark fantasy film. 4 stars!
Guillermo del Toro is most famous for his many films, which include the Oscar-winning The Shape of Water,Hellboy & Hellboy II: The Golden Army, and Crimson Peak. Cornelia Funke is also the author of the Inkworld trilogy, the Dragon Rider series, and the Mirrorworld series.
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourself!
Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you all well.
The pseudo-almost-reading slump that I had last week started to continue into this week, but some of my library holds picked up significantly after that, as well as some of the holds that came in on my Kindle. Now I have my haul from my Christmas gift card to look forward to, and I’m so excited for that!
Outlining for the second draft of my sci-fi WIP has been pretty slow going, but I’d say that I’m making steady process. (The fact that I’ve had another light school week has certainly helped.) I left a whole bunch of comments during the initial edits I did on the first draft, and occasionally I’ll just find one that cracks me up.
Other than that, I drew a bit, caught up on WandaVision (OKAY EPISODE FOUR DEFINITELY PICKED UP), and watched The Hunt for the Wilderpeople with my family. The latter made me cry like a baby, but it was 100% worth it. Also, I’m learning “Quicksand” by David Bowie on the guitar 🥺 what a beautiful song
Hi there, bibliophiles, and welcome to the last Goodreads Monday of 2020! (Whoa…)
Anyway, 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.
Here we have yet another book that I put on my TBR this year and completely forgot about until a week ago…but hey, it’s nice to remember those kinds of books again. Plus, I’m always up for some good sci-fi.
Let’s begin, shall we?
GOODREADS MONDAY (12/28/20)–UNDER FALLING SKIES by Kate MacLeod
Scout Shannon’s whole family died the day the Space Farers dropped an asteroid on their domed city. Now she lives alone, out in the wild with only her dogs for company. She prefers it that way.
But Scout finds herself at a crossroads. One road leads back to a quiet life snug under the protective dome of a city. The other road leads to a life in the rebellion, a life of adventure and excitement but also danger. Dare she try to find the rebels hiding in the hills?
Then a chance encounter with a stranger from the other side of the galaxy threatens to derail what remains of Scout’s life. The entire galaxy awaits her, if she survives the next four days.
SO WHY DO I WANT TO READ THIS?
As of now, Under Falling Skies has a fairly low average rating on Goodreads (3.39), but that’s only from…28 ratings and only six reviews? And it came out in 2017? Jeez…
This novel is advertised as not only having a sci-fi appeal, but having an “Old West” vibe too, so that could have an interesting execution. I’m certainly drawn in by the premise of Scout, alone (save for her dogs) and trying to hunt down the last fragments of a rebellion in an unforgiving wasteland. Kind of Dustbornvibes, but with more space opera appeal.
It looks like this one’s self-published, and it’s always good to boost the voices of indie/self-published authors, so maybe in doing this blog post (and hopefully reading it soon), I can get the word around and get some more readers. Plus, it’s only $0.99 for the Kindle edition on Amazon at present…
That’s it for the last Goodreads Monday of 2020! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Yeah, everybody has a different definition of happiness, but can we really deny the universal giddy joy of finding out that your preorder has reached the shipping department? SKYHUNTER WILL BE IN MY HANDS VERY, VERY SOON…[incoherent screaming]
Anyway, I put this on my TBR at the beginning of this year, but remembered it from Amie Kaufman’s recommendation of it in an episode of Amie Kaufman on Writing. Since it was available on the Kindle library, I decided to check it out, and I am SO glad I did! I didn’t think that anything would ever fill up the B.P.R.D.–shaped hole in my heart, but All These Monsters very nearly did it.
For nearly a decade, the Earth that Clara knows has been decimated by the Scrabs, burrowing monsters that have popped up in cities all over the world and prey on any humans that stumble into their paths.
Clara feels confined in her home, considering dropping out of high school and trapped by her abusive father and absent mother. But when an opportunity to join an international scrab-fighting task force arises, she sees it as exactly the kind of escape she needs. Leaving her home behind, she joins the fight, but soon realizes that fighting monsters is more deadly–and lifechanging–than she ever imagined.
After B.P.R.D. came to a close last year, I thought that there wouldn’t be anything that could ever measure up to it. I didn’t even go into All These Monsters thinking that the two were all that similar, but somehow, this novel partially filled up the B.P.R.D.-shaped hole in my heart–and seeing how close those comics are to my heart, that’s seriously high praise coming from me.
First off, All These Monsters has some great representation–our protagonist Clara is half white, half Latinx [INTENSE HAPPY NOISES], and we have Black, Asian American, and Indian-American side characters. I loved Clara, and the team dynamic Tintera creates with her, Patrick, Edan, and all the rest is lovely! Those of you who have been following my reviews for a bit know that I’ll take found family any time of day, and All These Monsters portrayed it wonderfully.
And monsters. MONSTERS! I loved the scrabs–they gave me major Hell on Earthvibes, and I had so much fun going along for the ride with Clara and the rest of the gang. Not only does Tintera give us baseline physical descriptions of the scrabs, she goes in-depth to explore the international/political implications of them laying waste to the world. It’s certainly a lived-in kind of setting, so…come for the monsters, stay for the worldbuilding.
Beyond that, All These Monsters isn’t just about misfits fighting monsters–it’s a very raw exploration of abuse and toxic relationships. I’ll be clear–it’s not an easy read, but Tintera handles all of these tough topics with grace and aplomb, making you sympathize with some of the characters and hate some of the others with an appropriately fiery passion.
All in all, a dystopian sci-fi that delivers in both diversity and good old fashioned monster fighting. 4 stars!
All These Monsters is the first in the Monsters duology, concluding with the forthcoming All These Warriors, which is scheduled to come out in July 2021. (I got an eARC of it and read it over the weekend, so expect that review soon!). Tintera is also the author of the Ruined trilogy (Ruined, Avenged, and Allied) and the Reboot series (Reboot and Rebel).
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
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!