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

The Grishaverse Book Tag 🐐

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles!

Before I get going with this tag, I thought you’d all appreciate this…I’m currently in Florida helping my grandma clean out her house, and we’ve found all sorts of weird things lying around. But yesterday I found something great that I figured my fellow bibliophiles would appreciate…

…it appears Kaz Brekker left his cane in Florida. (My friend suggested that it was Inej’s revenge for him calling her an investment SKDJFHSKJDFHSKDJFH)

We’re shipping this back home soon, so I might just have a Halloween costume for this year…😳

Now for the book tag! I found this over at Kira Jeanette’s blog, and the tag was originally created by Rebecca McPeake on YouTube. I’m a huge Grishaverse fan, so I had to give this one a go!

Let’s begin, shall we?

🦌THE GRISHAVERSE BOOK TAG🐉

KAZ BREKKER: A book you shouldn’t judge by its cover

be kind. — FREDDY CARTER IN SHADOW AND BONE EPISODE...
Amazon.com: Zero Repeat Forever (1) (The Nahx Invasions) (9781481481847):  Prendergast, G. S.: Books

UHHH THIS PROMPT WAS REALLY HARD –

Anyway, even though the cover for this edition of Zero Repeat Forever doesn’t make a whole lot of sense before reading the book, but I assure you, this one’s a treasure. (Maybe just stick with book 1, though? Book 2 was…weird, to say the least…)

NINA ZENIK: A book that made you feel empowered

Words Are Life — fairytcpia: NINA ZENIK AND MATTHIAS HELVAR...
Amazon.com: Sawkill Girls: 9780062696601: Legrand, Claire: Books

Sawkill Girls was a PHENOMENAL book – not only was the paranormal aspect amazing, but I loved the themes of sisterhood and feminine empowerment throughout. Highly recommended!

INEJ GHAFA: A book with a good balance of character and plot

Just leaving in 2021 | Six of crows, The grisha trilogy, Shadow
Gearbreakers (Gearbreakers, #1) by Zoe Hana Mikuta

Gearbreakers hit the perfect notes for me – I loved the plot, I loved the characters, and those two aspects were balanced so neatly! I am a little partial to all the characters interactions, though, because the chemistry between Eris and the rest of the Gearbreakers was so sweet…🥺

ALINA STARKOV: A unique book, one that is unlike anything you’ve ever read

shadow and bone gif on Tumblr
Amazon.com: Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything  (9781534448636): Gilliland, Raquel Vasquez: Books

I’ve seen a lot of genre-bending books out there, but rarely do ones like Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything come along – a seamless mix of sci-fi, contemporary and magical realism that tugged at all my heartstrings!

MAL ORETSEV: A book that always sticks with you

burns, babble & books
Amazon.com: The Darkness Outside Us eBook: Schrefer, Eliot: Kindle Store

Okay, I only finished this one on Tuesday, but MAN. THIS BOOK. The Darkness Outside Us is my most recent 5-star read as of now – it started out like any other sci-fi thriller, but it quickly took a turn for simultaneous darkness, philosophical musings, existential crises, and a little bit of hope. I could not stop thinking about it, and I still can’t. (Expect a review next week!)

THE DARKLING: A book with a dark plot/storyline

general kirigan on Tumblr
ew
I'm Thinking of Ending Things | Book by Iain Reid | Official Publisher Page  | Simon & Schuster

There’s a lot of dark things about I’m Thinking of Ending Thingsthis one could’ve fit with the last prompt as well, since it’s stuck with me for quite a while too…(the movie’s amazing as well!)

JESPER FAHEY: A book that people always seem to leave out

Jesper Fahey Is The Best Character In "Shadow And Bone"
HEHE the giddy grin on my face when I found this gif –
Amazon.com: Heart of Iron (9780062652850): Poston, Ashley: Books

Okay, okay, I know I put this book in every single book tag I do, but HEAR ME OUT…

As I’m starting to see Ashley Poston’s books get the recognition they deserve, it feels like Heart of Iron is left out of a lot of the discussion, which is such a shame, seeing as it’s everything you could ever want in both a space opera and a retelling…

WYLAN VAN ECK: A book that wasn’t what it seemed at first

Amazon.com: Invincible Compendium Volume 1 (8601420907461): Robert Kirkman,  Cory Walker, Ryan Ottley: Books

I’m just gonna slap this one in here and count the show in too…without spoiling anything, Invincible starts out like most every superhero origin story, but it gets a lot darker VERY quickly, trust me…

MATTHIAS HELVAR: A book that was bad at first but turned out good

SUOMI FINLAND PERKELE — Hello! May I ask for a song prompt for Matthias...
Amazon.com: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea (9781536204315):  Tokuda-Hall, Maggie: Books

This one was another hard one, so this is the closest I could find…

I wouldn’t say The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea started out badly, per se – it was just a little slow to start. But once it got going, it turned out to be one of my favorite reads of this year so far!

NIKOLAI LANTSOV: A witty book

Amazon.com: How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse: Book One of the Thorne  Chronicles eBook: Eason, K.: Kindle Store

How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse had no shortage of sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek parody, and I loved every minute of it!

I TAG:

shadowandbonedit | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumgir

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Monthly Wrap-Ups

January 2021 Wrap-Up 🌨

Hi again, bibliophiles!

I figured this year that monthly wrap-ups would be a fun way to track my reading progress. This is my first stab at it, so we’ll see how it goes…

GENERAL THOUGHTS:

Screaming Thom Yorke GIF | Gfycat

January was…an interesting month? Definitely had its ups and downs, I’d say. The school year started out super stressful and overwhelming, and I had to take a week and a half off blogging. But after getting over that initial hump, the workload started to get more manageable, and it’s stayed that way, for the most part, knock on wood.

As far as writing goes, I finished the initial edits on my first draft of the sci-fi WIP I’ve been steadily chipping away at since November 2019 (or thereabouts). I’ve now started outlining it before moving onto draft two; the filler chapters…why did I write so many filler chapters…

Reaction Gif

I found a lot of good music though! I’ve been listening to loads of Julien Baker lately (I can’t wait for the new album in February!), and I thoroughly enjoyed getting into the scores for Fargo and Legion. I just got into Lucy Dacus too, and No Burden was a good album, for the most part.

And it’s generally just a relief to have Joe Biden in office. Hey, he’s not perfect, but it’s quite a nice change to not have to worry about my basic human rights being taken away on the daily. 🙂

READING AND BLOGGING

My Goodreads challenge is for 250 books at present (I lowered it in anticipation of schoolwork), and I read 20 books in January! (Not counting a few single-issue comics.) This is the first year where I’ve been paying attention to how many books I’ve actually read in a month, so it’ll be interesting to see how my progress waxes and/or wanes.

So without further ado, here’s everything…

2 – 2.75 stars:

Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather: 9780553539547 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books
Haunting the Deep

3 – 3.75 stars:

The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves, #2) by Roshani Chokshi
The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves, #2)

4 – 4.75 stars:

I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
I’m Thinking of Ending Things

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH: Zero Repeat Forever – 4.75 stars, rounded up to 5

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

I’m too lazy to list every single post that I’ve made this month (and I think that it’d be rather tedious to go through, anyway), so here are some of my highlights.

SOME POSTS I’M PROUD OF:

POSTS I ENJOYED FROM OTHER WONDERFUL PEOPLE:

I Believe In You All GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

GOALS FOR FEBRUARY:

Film Animated GIF | Beetlejuice movie, Beetlejuice, Michael keaton  beetlejuice
  • Read more books by Black authors for Black history month! (And make a post about it!)
  • Listen to & review Little Oblivions (Julien Baker) when it comes out!
  • Read at least 20 books
  • Finish my initial outline for my sci-fi WIP?

Since I already posted today, check out today’s weekly update for today’s song.

And that wraps up my January! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (1/26/21) – Cold Falling White (The Nahx Invasions, #2)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

After adoring Zero Repeat Forever last week, I knew I had to get my hands on the sequel. As luck would have it, book 2 was available at my library, and I was able to get it along with the rest of my library haul. But even though it was still entertaining, Cold Falling White lost the tender spark that made Zero Repeat Forever so memorable.

Now, TREAD LIGHTLY! This review may contain spoilers for book 1, Zero Repeat Forever!

For my review of book 1, click here!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: Cold Falling White (The Nahx Invasions Book 2) eBook:  Prendergast, G. S.: Kindle Store

Cold Falling White (The Nahx Invasions, #2)–G.S. Prendergast

Left for dead, Raven wakes up in an unfamiliar place in clothes that aren’t hers. And she’s not alone. Many of her friends from camp that had been killed by the Nahx are there, but they’re still alive. Aboard a Nahx ship, she must escape with her life, but she may discover secrets about these invaders of Earth. And above all, she must find August.

Xander believes that Raven, along with all of the former campers, is dead. On his own, he flees a refugee camp, only to find August, the Nahx who saved Raven’s life not long ago. Forming an uneasy alliance, the two connect with a rebellious faction of Nahx who may hold the keys to halting the ongoing invasion.

With the odds against them, these three must reunite or fall under Nahx rule.

Will-o'wisp | Will o the wisp, Creature concept art, Rise of the guardians

TW/CW: human experimentation, violence, loss of loved ones, mentions of freezing to death

What in the resurrection trope was this?

I’m glad that I read Zero Repeat Forever right before reading this, because otherwise, I would’ve been so lost. Come to think of it, I was still a bit lost through some of the book, but regardless, Cold Falling White was a rambling mess compared to its predecessor.

One of my main problems with this novel was the new POV. Xander was a character that I sort of liked in book 1; he didn’t bug me, but I didn’t get super attached to him. Having his POV in the book made almost no sense. Not only was his voice rather bland, his subplot dominated the other two POVs for no good reason. The only thing that connected his plot to the rest of the book was the eventual Nahx rebellion, and that part didn’t even come into play until the last half of the book. (For reference, this book is nearly 600 pages.) However, I will say that it’s cool that we have a queer Asian lead as one of the POVs. (Xander’s sexuality is never specified, from what I remember, but we see him in an mlm romance. The romantic subplot definitely felt shoehorned in, but hey, at least it’s decent rep.)

I really wish that Raven’s POV had a more prominent role; her chapters were often shorter than Xander’s, and we didn’t learn much from them. One of my complaints about Zero Repeat Forever that I forgot to mention in my review was that we really didn’t get any context/backstory for the Nahx and why they invaded. We got some interesting stuff on their culture/anatomy/physiology in Cold Falling White, but there’s still no reason given for why they invaded Earth in the first place, or why they started resurrecting and modifying humans at will. The tidbits that we got were interesting, I will say, but as a whole, it felt very rushed and full of holes. (I sort of liked Blue’s species…I forget what they’re called, the little alien will-o-the-wisp things?)

And even though we got some of his chapters in the latter half, I really missed August’s POV. However, somewhere down the line, all of the poetic tenderness and philosophical musings got lost, and I don’t know where they went. I’m not sure if Aurora (from Xander’s POVs, mostly) was an attempt at a female stand-in for him, and I liked her a little, but she just didn’t hit that tender spot like August did in book 1. All of the other rebel Nahx were kind of interchangeable, too. Sigh.

Best Fargo GIFs | Gfycat

That being said, Cold Falling White was still somewhat entertaining. It all went progressively downhill, but the writing was still good, and I liked the harsh setting of the Canadian wilderness. Plus, you’ll always get brownie points from me for peppering in lots of Frankenstein references. Like the Edgar Allan Poe in book 1, I liked how all that tied into the theme of the novel.

And all that for…such a weird cliffhanger? I was under the impression that this was a duology, so what was that all about? [confused screaming]

All in all, a sequel that retained good writing and imagery, but lacked in plot and worldbuilding. 3, sad little stars.

My Disappointment Is Immeasurable, And My Day Is Ruined HD 1080P GIF |  Gfycat

Cold Falling White is the second book in the Nahx Invasions duology, preceded by Zero Repeat Forever. G.S. Prendergast is also the author of the Ella series (Audacious and Capricious), as well as the middle grade novel Pandas on the Eastside.

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: January 18-24, 2021

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you all well.

After how overwhelming last week was academic-wise, I had a blessedly light homework week. So I felt a whole lot better overall. I spent the day off on Monday not doing a whole lot other than reading, which was a good break.

As far as my reading week…is there a word for a book slump that’s momentarily interrupted by one (1) 5-star read, and then goes back to being a string of meh reads? Because that’s what happened this week…I didn’t enjoy The Novice (for my book club), then had a 5 star read, then the last two books I read this week were a 2 star and a disappointing sequel. Sigh…

But hey, things might be looking up! I got another great library haul on Friday afternoon, and my digital hold on I’m Thinking of Ending Things (I’ve wanted to read it ever since I watched the movie), and I was finally able to pick up the three books I bought with the gift card I got for Christmas! So hopefully my reading will pick up from there…

Other than that, I’ve steadily been outlining the second draft of my sci-fi WIP, listening to a lot of 6ths, and eating pizza and fried rice. It’s been a peaceful week, I’d say. And Joe Biden’s in office now! Good news! (Also, I CAN’T NOT ACKNOWLEDGE THE BERNIE MEMES…they never seem to get old…)

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

The Novice (Summoner, #1)–Taran Matharu (⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: The Novice: Summoner: Book One (The Summoner Trilogy, 1)  (9781250080059): Matharu, Taran: Books

Zero Repeat Forever (The Nahx Invasions, #1)–G.S. Prendergast (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Read Online Zero Repeat Forever (The Nahx Invasions #1) by Gabrielle  Prendergast Book or Download in PDF - madison-elijah56746

Winterwood–Shea Ernshaw (⭐️⭐️)

Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

Cold Falling White (The Nahx Invasions, #2)–G.S. Prendergast (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Cold Falling White by Gabrielle S. Prendergast

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Ruinsong–Julia Ember

Amazon.com: Ruinsong (9780374313357): Ember, Julia: Books

Punching the Air–Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

Amazon.com: Punching the Air (9780062996480): Zoboi, Ibi, Salaam, Yusef:  Books

Lightbringer (Empyrium, #3)–Claire Legrand

Amazon.com: Lightbringer (The Empirium Trilogy, 3) (9781492656685): Legrand,  Claire: Books

Haunting the Deep (How to Hang a Witch, #2)–Adriana Mather

Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather: 9780553539547 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (1/19/21) – Zero Repeat Forever

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles! (And hey, Trump is out of the White House tomorrow, so that’s certainly cause for celebration! Won’t to worry about my basic human rights being taken away for a while…[relieved sigh])

Anyway, I read this one in close to one sitting yesterday on my day off. I expected it to take me a few days to read (close to 500 pages long), but I gobbled it up at alarming speed. Zero Repeat Forever had been on my TBR for almost exactly two years, and I had no idea what was in store for me. A diverse dystopia that was all at once tense and tender!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Read Online Zero Repeat Forever (The Nahx Invasions #1) by Gabrielle  Prendergast Book or Download in PDF - madison-elijah56746

Zero Repeat Forever (The Nahx Invasions, #1)–G.S. Prendergast

Raven and her friends were away at summer camp when a legion of heavily armored aliens invaded Earth, laying waste to cities and leaving almost no survivors. After one of the aliens–dubbed the Nahx–kills her boyfriend Tucker, her friends flee, eking out an existence in the Canadian wilderness.

Eighth, a member of the Nahx, has no name–only a rank. After his companion is killed by a human, he sets off on his own. An encounter with a young human leaves him questioning his mission to kill all humans in sight, and he makes it his quest to find her and bring her to safety.

Chance brings Eighth and Raven together, both separated from their friends and fending for themselves. They soon realize that their situation may not be so black and white–and that there may be a chance to turn the tides.

Flower white wind GIF - Find on GIFER

TW/CW: Graphic violence, descriptions of injury/sickness (fever, broken bones, etc.), racism, loss of loved ones, loss of parents (off page), substance abuse (smoking, drinking)

WOW. I didn’t even have any expectations for this one–I just picked it up because I needed some more sci-fi in my life. But Zero Repeat Forever was such a powerful novel–a tale of setting aside differences in the midst of division that threatens to split the world in two, and the relationships that define our lives.

First off, there’s some amazing diversity in this novel. Raven, our protagonist, is mixed race (half white/half Black–Black mother, white father, and she also had an Indigenous stepfather), and there’s several other POC characters present. As a mixed-race person, it always makes my heart so happy to see mixed-race characters starring prominently in their own stories. 💗

There’s also a gay couple that features in the first part of the novel, but the thing about them is a bit complicated–they’re the only explicitly LGBTQ+ characters in the novel, but they both end up getting killed, which would fall into the bury-your-gays trope. However, these characters weren’t harmfully stereotyped, and it really doesn’t seem like killing off the gay characters was intentional in a homophobic way. (Plus, by the end of the novel, most of the main characters are dead–we’re talking Fargo levels of main character deaths.) Even so, it didn’t sit completely right with me. Again, it didn’t seem intentional and it’s a small part of the novel, but I think it’s important to take that into account. (Most of the reason why I didn’t rate this one the full five stars–see my rating below.)

Zero Repeat Forever is a special kind of dystopia–sure, there’s plenty of dark and bleak material, but it manages to balance that with tenderness and hope, making a beautifully poetic kind of novel. One way that this novel really shone was in the portrayal of human emotion, and how different people deal with different things. Each character is distinct in dealing with the horrific subject matter, and the interactions between all the different personalities were executed in a refreshingly authentic way.

I especially loved the relationship between Eighth/August and Raven. Their dynamic did have an unusual tendency to be a bit mercurial (Raven’s feelings about him seemed to change at a startling frequency, but it makes sense to some degree), but at its heart, it was so poetic. Messy, but poignant and tender. It called to mind everything from The Iron Giant to The Shape of Water, and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t get a little bit choked up. I love those two.

And the cherry on top? EDGAR ALLAN POE REFERENCES, OF COURSE! Can it possibly get better than that? I think not.

All in all, a truly unique dystopia that yields the perfect balance of darkness and tender love. 4.75 stars, rounded up to 5!

Dark Creations | Fairy Tail Amino

Zero Repeat Forever is the first book in G.S. Prendergast’s Nahx Invasions duology, which ends with Cold Falling White. She is also the author of the Ella series (Audacious and Capricious) and the middle grade novel Pandas on the Eastside.

Today’s song:

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