Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.
I’d say it’s been a nice week for me. Homework has been light, and the weather’s been cooling down a little where I am. (We did get some hail the other day, though – definitely caused a bit of a racket during Stats class…)
Reading-wise, I went into a slight slump, but by the middle of the week, I’d broken out of it. I got a bunch of promising library books as well, and I’m confident that I’ll continue my good streak! Related, we had my first meeting for my school’s book club on Friday, and I’m so happy about the turnout! We gained lots of new members, and they all seem very passionate about books, so I’m so glad they’re here now.
Writing has been on-and-off in terms of progress, but I finished up the climax and…now I’m onto a particularly sad scene, and it’s not completely done yet, so…[cue my sad playlist]
Other than that, I’ve been petting my cat, listening to loads of music, volunteering at the library, and visiting the Denver Botanic Gardens – yesterday evening was beautiful!
And here we are. August, the end of summer and the start of the school year. My birthday month too, so that’s always a lot of fun. Still can’t believe we’re four months away from 2022 though…
[ahem] that aside…
For the most part, August was a pretty nice month. I didn’t plan on getting bitten by mosquitoes in Florida (okay: not that many mosquitoes, getting bug bites in Florida is kind of a given), but I got to read some good books while I was there. Plus, Kaz cane. Other than that, I just enjoyed summer’s last hurrah, reading, watching movies with friends, and soaking up the last of the warm weather. I had my birthday later in the month as well, and I had a lot of fun celebrating with family!
I started school about two weeks ago, and I’m slowly easing back in, and knock on wood, I’ll be able to keep all the A’s I have so far. 🤞I’m still in mostly honors/AP classes, but I’m glad that I have those classes in the subjects I’m good at. After AP Bio, I don’t think I could take another honors/AP science class…
After getting through Camp NaNoWriMo, I’ve had mostly steady progress in my sci-fi WIP for most of the month! I’m close to the end of the draft, and I’ve gotten to write some of my favorite scenes in the whole story this month. My progress petered out a little bit once I had to adjust to my new school schedule, but I’m getting back on track now. As I’m writing this, I’ve just finished up the climax, so I’m getting close!
Other than that, I’ve just been volunteering at the library, working my way through It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Gravity Falls, and What If?, going to my first live concert since the pandemic started (Wilco!),doodling still more aliens, watching The Suicide Squad, and eating all the cake and candy leftover from my birthday.
READING AND BLOGGING:
I read 20 books this month! I think this month is tied with January and June for the least amount of books read, and I can probably attribute that to a) a few really chunky books and b) getting back into the school routine. Nevertheless, I found some unexpected favorites in the bunch!
Over the weekend, I got to visit my favorite bookstore for my birthday, and I got lots of books! I have my dad to thank for finding the Star Wars section (thank you!!), and I decided to buy Ahsoka because she seems like a super cool character. All in all, though, Ahsoka was a fascinating look into the Star Wars universe immediately post-Order 66 and a good exploration of a character that I wasn’t as familiar with!
After Order 66 caused the assassination of almost all of the Jedi order, Ahsoka Tano is on the run. Alienated by her former mentor, the new Sith Lord Anakin Skywalker, she flees to Raada, a backwater farming moon, with the hopes of laying low and blending in. But when the Empire sets its sights on occupying Raada, Ahsoka faces the choice of risking Imperial rule or escaping and revealing her Jedi identity.
TW/CW: assassination, colonization/occupation, sci-fi violence, descriptions of injury
Okay. Look. I’m a massive fan of Star Wars, and I have been for most of my life. Thing is, I’ve never seen the new Clone Wars series (I adored the 2D one from the early 2000’s, though…that was the stuff) or Rebels, and that’s where Ahsoka primarily shows up. I knew enough about both of them to piece together Ahsoka’s backstory, but she’s still a character that I wasn’t super familiar with. I’ve always liked the idea of her, though, and I thought she was FANTASTIC in The Mandalorian. So I figured I’d give the book a try, both to explore Ahsoka’s character and this part of the Star Wars universe.
For the most part, Ahsoka was a success! There were interludes interspersed throughout that gave a good deal of backstory of Ahsoka’s life as a Padawan, which helped me to piece out everything I’d missed from The Clone Wars and Rebels. I’d say that you can read this without watching either, but this is coming from someone who lives and breathes most things Star Wars, so take that as you will. Even then, Ahsoka’s character was fascinating! For the most part, I liked the way that her character was written, and her arc throughout the novel was well-executed, showing her transition from a Jedi to a full-blown rebel.
There are also a lot of details interspersed throughout that made me giddy as a Star Wars fan – we get details about how Ahsoka gets her lightsabers, several cameos (inside and outside of the flashback interludes) from prequel characters, and…I think the main villain from Rebels? I think? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure it was him? Either way, I had a lot of fun finding all of those Easter eggs.
The writing was decent, but I didn’t find it to be anything special. I found it rather bland, and with such an immersive and extensive universe as this one, the writing style did a bit of a disservice to several aspects of the novel. Some of the dialogue felt too stilted and forced (no pun intended), and I wasn’t a huge fan of Ahsoka’s inner dialogue as well. But it wasn’t anything egregiously bad. It just didn’t stand out for me. Not necessarily well-written, but not badly-written either. Just in the middle for me.
Additionally, the plot moved along a little too quickly. Ahsoka is about the average size for a book (around 370 pages in the paperback edition), but for each plot point, there was usually only a short time spent, and the transitory periods between them were virtually nonexistent. Ahsoka herself also had a bit too easy of a time overcoming many of the obstacles she encountered, but…okay, she’s a Jedi. I wouldn’t say she was written as a Mary Sue, but it was closish. But seeing as, y’know, she’s a lightsaber-wielding being with pseudo-magical powers and friends in high places, it makes a little bit of sense.
All in all, an addition to the extensive Star Wars universe that did some of the universe itself a slight disservice with indistinct writing, but fleshed out a beloved character in an inventive way. 3.5 stars!
Ahsoka is a standalone novel in the universe of Star Wars novels, but E.K. Johnston has also contributed two more Star Wars novels, Queen’s Shadow and Queen’s Peril, both centering around Padmé Amidala. Johnston is also the author of Aetherbound, Exit, Pursued by a Bear, That Inevitable Victorian Thing, and several other novels for young adults.
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you all well.
Well…for me, this week was the last full week of summer before school starts back. (And a related heads-up – I’m starting school next week, so for the next few months, I probably won’t be posting as much, depending on my workload.) But it was a good week, I’d say. I’m back from Florida now, and on Tuesday night, I went to my first live concert since before the pandemic! It was Wilco and Sleater-Kinney – we came for Wilco, and they were INCREDIBLE! Gah, hearing them play “Ashes of American Flags” was so beautiful…
Reading-wise, it was a bit of a hit-or-miss week – I had some great read, but some that were just decent or meh. I got to go to the comics shop this week too, and I picked up some good stuff from there too! And what are the chances…I SAW SOMEBODY IN THE PARKING LOT WITH AN AURORA RISING BUMPER STICKER
Also, moment of silence for the fact that the Runawayscomic ended…
Other than that, I’ve been slowly working my way through my sci-fi WIP, drawing, and getting everything ready for the start of school. It’ll be so good to actually see everybody in-person again…
I was in Florida about a week ago for a quick trip, but as I always do, I brought some books along on my Kindle to get me through the plane rides and the heat. I like doing little mini-reviews of these books when I go somewhere else, so I figured I’d do it again here, since I certainly read a couple of very interesting books while I was in Florida. So here we have three mini-reviews of books I read in Florida.
Following a devastating encounter with an unknown alien ship resulting in the disappearance of her parents as a child, Tamara Cartwright now spends her life scouring the galaxy in the hope of finding the dark force that attacked her father’s ship. Now the Captain of a rescue vessel, The Massey Shaw, she makes a choice, resulting in the destruction of a star in order to save a stricken vessel, a prohibited act while using alien technology. Now, an outlaw, she is entrusted with the fate of a very unusual young girl endowed with special abilities. She must also find the survivors of an ill-fated ship at the hands of a malevolent race know only to the humans as the Ghosts. Driven by the hope of finding the truth of her parent’s disappearance and one last chance to make a difference to those in need of rescue, she must go on one final mission into deep space and deal with the monsters from her past.
TW/CW: human experimentation, loss of loved ones, death, graphic violence
Forgotten Star wasn’t without its flaws by a long shot, but it was such a fun and fascinating piece of space opera! With lots of political intrigue, strange aliens, and mysterious powers, there’s something for every sci-fi fan in here.
I need to start off with my main problem, though: the grammar. It was…inconsistent, at best. This novel definitely needed an extra round of editing (or two) in that respect; there were lots of errors in punctuation (mostly placement of commas), and there were a few misspellings and omissions that could have been fixed. (As well as a misspelling of “berth,” as in “a wide berth,” as “birth” …YIKES) On occasion, the faulty grammar was enough to take me out of the story entirely, but for the most part, I could let it slide. Sometimes.
But other than that, Forgotten Star was a great piece of sci-fi! One thing this novel did incredibly well was the handling of multiple POVs – for a lot of multiple POV books, it takes a while for all of the characters/elements to coalesce, but it didn’t take long for all of the elements here to come together, making for a cohesive and intricate story. I also loved all of the alien races, and the intricacies of their relationships with humans. It’s always a breath of fresh air to see aliens that clearly have some creative design put into them.
Some of the dialogue and characters were a little stiff and inauthentic at times, but for the most part, a lot of the characters were interesting to delve into. I liked Ona and Urhan, in particular – they had very interesting arcs and backstories, and I loved seeing them develop.
My only other major problem was that the ending wrapped up a *little* too nicely? From everything that built up over the course of the story, it seemed like there was a setup for a sequel, but the ending tried to wrap everything up too quickly. I’d like to see more from this universe.
All in all, though, a well-thought-out and intricate piece of space opera. 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4!
‘She loved me as I loved her, fierce as a bloodied blade’
When Lia, an idealistic queen, falls for Xania, her new spymaster–who took the job to avenge her murdered father–they realise all isn’t fair in love and treason.
Lia won’t mourn her uncle: he’s left her a bankrupt kingdom considered easy pickings by its neighbours. She’s sworn to be a better ruler, but if she wants to push through her reforms, she needs to beat the Court at its own games. For years, Xania’s been determined to uncover her father’s murderer. She finally gets a chance when Lia gives her a choice: become her new spymaster, or take a one way trip to the executioner’s axe. It’s an easy decision.
When they fall for each other, their love complicates Lia’s responsibilities and Xania’s plans for vengeance. As they’re drawn together amid royal suitors and new diplomats, they uncover treason that could not only end Lia’s reign, but ruin their weakened country. They must decide not only what to sacrifice for duty, but also for each other.
TW/CW (from Helen Corcoran): off-page suicide, murder, emotional torture
I’m not sure if I would necessarily call Queen of Coin and Whispers a fantasy novel – there wasn’t a whole lot that would distinguish it from a historical setting (no different magic properties/creatures/worldbuilding/etc.). But that’s not to say that it was a bad book – in fact, it was stunning!
There’s plenty of YA fantasy books on the market with protagonists who suddenly ascend to royalty. But Queen of Coin and Whispers addresses what most of those novels don’t – the mental tax of ruling a country at such a young age. Lia goes through endless trials and tribulations and even faces becoming the ruler that her uncle was, all while grappling with love and other relationships. Corcoran wrote her development so well, and it’s so refreshing to see a genuine-feeling story like Lia’s.
Additionally, the romance! Lia and Xania’s relationship was so sweet – sharing books, secret conversations, and all things warm and fuzzy. They go through all the ups and downs of first love, and I love seeing wlw rep like theirs in non-contemporary stories. I love those two. 💗
Other than that, the political intrigue and the depiction of the transition of power was so well-done! Everything was so multi-layered and detailed, making it feel like Lia and Xania’s world was a real and fleshed-out one. Just when you think you know the answers, something new pokes out its head, and you’re left guessing until the very last page.
All in all, a fascinating royal mystery with genuine characters and a sweet sapphic romance. 4 stars!
Parole is still burning. And now the day everyone has been waiting for is finally here: it’s collapsed. A lucky few managed to escape with their lives. But while their city burned, the world outside suffered its own devastating disaster. The Tartarus Zone is a deadly wasteland a thousand miles wide, filled with toxic storms, ghostly horrors, and just as many Eyes in the Sky as ever. Somehow, this new nightmare is connected to Parole. And it’s spreading.
Now Parole’s only hope lies in the hands of three teenagers reunited by their long-lost friend Gabriel – in their dreams. Now they’re on a desperate cross-country race, carrying vital plans that may be Parole’s salvation. First they’ll board the FireRunner, a ship full of familiar faces that now sails through Tartarus’ poison storms. Then, together, they’ll survive Tartarus’ hazards, send a lifeline to lost Parole – and uncover the mystery connecting everyone, inside Parole and out.
The world outside Parole isn’t the one they remember, and it didn’t want them back. But they’ll save it just the same. It’s what heroes do.
(for my mini-review of book 1, Chameleon Moon, click here!)
TW/CW: loss of loved ones, violence, near-death situations
I didn’t like this one *quite* as much as I did Chameleon Moon, but it was still such a fun read!
One of the things I love most about this series is how diverse it is – easily the most diverse series I know! We have an almost entirely different cast of characters in The Lifeline Signal, but among the three main characters, we have a nonbinary (xie/xir pronouns) Native American (Tsalagi) character with Arnold-Chiari malformation, a bisexual Indian-American character, and an aro-ace autistic Vietnamese-American character! Among the side characters, there’s no shortage of queer, POC, and disabled characters, including a Black hijabi woman, a nonbinary character, polyamorous relationships, and more! Books as diverse as this series don’t come along very often, so three cheers for RoAnna Sylver for all this representation!
The worldbuilding outside of Parole was also fascinating – there’s all sorts of weird sci-fi and fantasy aspects, including, but not limited to: superpowers, ghosts, dragons, giant ships, and robotic animals of immense size. As you can imagine, it’s a lot of fun! Between the relationships between all of the characters and the expansion of the worldbuilding, there’s no shortage of interesting elements to chew on. Plus, it was so sweet to see all of the characters from Chameleon Moon come back.
My only major problem was that the plot got a little bit convoluted at times – I found myself thinking “wait, why is all this happening?” several times throughout the novel, but it didn’t take me out of the story itself. Don’t get me wrong – The Lifeline Signal has a great story, but it seemed to get lost in itself at times.
All in all, a sequel that does justice to book one as well as expanding its world, while still providing an original storyline. 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4!
That’s it for these three mini-reviews! 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.
I’ve been a huge fan of Tricia Levenseller for years after how much I adored her Daughter of the Pirate King duology, but I haven’t gotten around to reading anything else of hers. This one came shortly after the duology, but I haven’t read it yet – but given how well she handled fantasy, I bet this one will be just as good!
Let’s begin, shall we?
GOODREADS MONDAY (7/19/21) – WARRIOR OF THE WILD by Tricia Levenseller
As her father’s chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: To win back her honor, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year—or die trying.
So why do I want to read this?
Looking back, I’m really not sure if I would even read this if not for the fact that it was written by Tricia Levenseller. From the synopsis, it looks like your standard YA fantasy – botched coming-of-age ritual, impossible tasks, strange realms. But after how much I enjoyed Daughter of the Pirate King and Daughter of the Siren Queen, I have utmost faith in this novel.
With how well Levenseller handled both her compelling and determined female protagonists to her lush worlds filled with unique characters, Warrior of the Wild would be so exciting in her hands! I’m not sure how Rasmira will measure up to how wonderful Alosa Kalligan was, but I trust Tricia Levenseller enough to make her as compelling as the former.
In short: Tricia Levenseller sold me on this one, but I’ll absolutely see this one through.
That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
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