Monday, August 31, 2020

Music Monday (129):Zella Day, Disclosure, Fatoumata Diawara, Jack Harlow

  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 

Breana: There has been so much good music released in the past week, so it's hard to pick one song. That being said, I'm going to go with one of my favorite songs from Zella Day's new EP (Where Does The Devil Hide), My Game

Adri: This week I'm listening to Disclosure. I forgot they were having a new album, but I did get around to listening to it. I love all the songs and it felt very energetic. I mean it is called Energy after all. Anyway, I'm only choosing two songs. The first one is Douha (Mali Mali) featuring Fatoumata Diawara. I thought it sounded familiar to Ultimatum before I realized it was the same artist.

And my second pick is Thinking 'Bout You (Interlude), which reminds me so much of Lo-fi.

Andrea: I hadn't heard of Whats Poppin until I saw the teacher's remake of this song. I love the original and the remake. You can listen to the original song below. You can check out the teacher's remake HERE

Is there any new music you're listening to? If so, leave your recommendations in the comments. 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Short Stories I Read in July

Today is the 29th of August, so it’s time for me to discuss the short stories, miscellaneous posts, and podcast episodes I read and listened to in July.

The Husker by Jessica P. Wick (Strange Horizons; Issue: 1 June 2020) 

The first short story I read in July was The Husker by Jessica P. Wick. It was very short, but it was still a great read. And I enjoyed it. The writing was straight to the point, and it was the kind of haunting story that read like it belonged as a story told over a campfire or as some local legend.

Once More Unto the Breach (But Don’t Worry, the Inflatable Swords are Latex-Free) by Tina Connolly (Uncanny Magazine; Issue Thirty Five, July 7, 2020)

By the title, I didn’t know what to expect from Once More Unto the Breach (But Don’t Worry, the Inflatable Swords are Latex-Free). I had some idea, but it wasn’t what I got. I’m happy about that too, because this was a fun read. The story was kind of dramatic and unpredictable—I mean it was set at a birthday party. There also happened to be monsters, inflatable swords, axes, and hammers. Overall, Connolly did an excellent job, and I’m looking forward to reading more work by this author.

The Parts That Make Us Monsters by Sheree Renee Thomas (Strange Horizons, Issue: Fund Drive 2020)

The Parts That Make Us Monsters was another story I read in July that was more on the short side. I had to think about what I read, and I also had to let the story digest before I could think of what I wanted to say about it. Some stories are just like that, and this was one of them. I enjoyed The Parts That Make us Monsters. It was written well, and it was a very immersive story. Parts of it could be vague, but the overall intent of the story was clear. I honestly enjoyed Thomas’s approach to the themes and characters.

From Around the Web…

Friday, August 28, 2020

The Friday 56 (184) & Book Beginnings: The Case Study of Vanitas volume 2 by Jun Mochizuki

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.

32856005. sy475 Synopsis from Goodreads...
Now installed at a hotel in Paris with the help of Count Orlok, Noé and Vanitas take their awkward partnership on the a vampire masquerade ball! The order of the evening may be small talk and hobnobbing with fellow guests, but the mystery of the curse-bearers is never too far behind. The intrigue swirls as quickly as the dancers twirl, a blue moon ascends upon the guests...and all hell breaks loose!

Beginning: "After Noe left him behind in chapter 3......Murr went back to Orlok."

56: "Borders are believed to have been generated all over the world by the experimental accident known as "Babel." Only vampires, who were created by Babel, are able to cross them."

Comments: I read volume 2 of The Case Study of Vanitas a while ago, but I forgot to do a Friday 56 for it. Volume 2 is one of my favorites so far, because it covers the vampire masquerade ball. The art is totally gorgeous, it kept the story moving, and it revealed more of the vampires side of the story. What are you reading this week? 

Monday, August 24, 2020

Music Monday (128): The Spiritual Machines, Oceans of Slumber, Nao, Mariah Carey

  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: Recently, I returned to one of my all-time favorite albums: Saturn by Nao. I've mentioned this one before, but I was listening to it again and marveling at how fantastic it is. Saturn is such an excellent album, and it's some of the best music Nao has released so far. It's hard to narrow it down to one song, so for my picks this week I'm going to choose two. The first one is Orbit. I can't describe how much I enjoy listening to this song.

My second pick is Drive and Disconnect. It's another one of my top-favorite songs from Saturn.

Adri: Rock incoming! My first pick is a little darker, it's A Return to the Earth Below by a band I stumbled onto called Oceans of Slumber.

My second pick is Spiritual Machines' newer song Flood it All. I've had both on repeat these past few weeks.

Andrea: This week, I'm sharing new music by Mariah Carey. She released a single called Save The Day, and her new album, The Rarities, will be released soon. 

Have an amazing week!

What are you listening to this week?

Friday, August 21, 2020

Blog Tour: ARC Review Midnight at the Barclay Hotel by Fleur Bradley

Title: Midnight at the Barclay Hotel
Series: n/a
Author: Fleur Bradley
Illustrator: Xavier Bonet
Source/Format: Author; E-ARC
More Details: Mystery, Middle Grade
Publisher/Publication Date: Viking; August 25 2020

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
When JJ Jacobson convinced his mom to accept a surprise invitation to an all-expenses-paid weekend getaway at the illustrious Barclay Hotel, he never imagined that he'd find himself in the midst of a murder mystery. He thought he was in for a run-of-the-mill weekend ghost hunting at the most haunted spot in town, but when he arrives at the Barclay Hotel and his mother is blamed for the hotel owner's death, he realizes his weekend is going to be anything but ordinary.

Now, with the help of his new friends, Penny and Emma, JJ has to track down a killer, clear his mother's name, and maybe even meet a ghost or two along the way.

Midnight at the Barclay Hotel is Fleur Bradley’s most recent middle grade novel. It features beautifully crafted illustrations by Xavier Bonet. Five people are selected to enjoy a weekend stay at the Barclay Hotel. However, everyone ends up pulled into a murder mystery. When We saw the synopsis, we knew we would be into it.

Adri: The beginning got to the point, introducing the reader to all the important places and characters –like JJ, Penny, and Emma among others. Not too long after, I found myself sucked into the story and had a hard time putting it down. I wanted to get to the end to find out what was really going on at the Barclay Hotel. Even though I did predict a few things, it did not take away my enjoyment. I still found myself guessing with each reveal.

Andrea: I absolutely love Fleur Bradley’s writing style. She does an amazing job of writing middle grade books with just the right amount of suspense and adventure. I was first introduced to her work when I reviewed the Double Vision series, which was an exciting adventure that I highly recommend. As for Midnight at the Barclay Hotel, it didn’t disappoint. Each character’s profile added a layer of suspense. Although the story seemed predictable, it just wasn’t that simple.

Adri: The next thing I really like was the chemistry between the characters. JJ has a dislike of reading but loves ghost hunting; Penny loves reading but is skeptical of ghost; and Emma just wants kids her age to hang out with. This created a nice balance of personalities. And I can’t forget the relationship that that JJ has with his mother and Penny her grandfather. I have my reasons but I think they’re kind of spoiler-y, so…

Andrea: I have to agree with you the characters had amazing chemistry. JJ’s sense of adventure, Penny’s insecurities, and the fact that Emma was simply peculiar created an amazing team of Junior sleuths. I also liked the characters’ growth as the story progressed.

Andrea & Adri: Anyway, Midnight at the Barclay Hotel was a fun read. We recommend checking it out if it sounds interesting to you. We especially recommend it if a young reader is interested in murder mysteries and paranormal/ghost hunting.

Thanks for reading.

About the author...
Fleur Bradley is passionate about two things: mysteries and getting kids to read, and she regularly speaks at librarian and educator conferences on reaching reluctant readers. Originally from the Netherlands, Fleur now lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and two daughters, and entirely too many cats.

For more information on Fleur and her books, visit, and on Twitter @FTBradleyAuthor.

Follow along with the Midnight at the Barclay Hotel blog tour: 

Aug. 3rd: Book review at Always in the Middle

Aug. 11th: An interview at MG Bookvillage

Aug 14th: Book review at Charlotte’s Library

Aug. 16th: Guest post: Fleur talks about reaching reluctant readers at Unleashing Readers

Aug. 17th: Review at Secret Files of Fairday Morrow blog

Aug. 18th: Review and giveaway at MG Mojo

Aug. 19th.: Interview and giveaway at From the Mixed-Up Files

Aug. 21st: Book review at Our Thoughts Precisely.

Aug. 23rd: Interview and giveaway at Spooky MG

Aug. 24th: Interview at YA Booknerd

Facebook Live Book Launch on Aug. 25th!

Aug. 25th: Writer's Digest Author Spotlight

Sept. 4th : Fleur talks about getting out of your comfort zone on Kirby Larson’s blog
Sept. 8th: Fleur outlines how to develop a compelling MG concept at Writer's Digest

Disclaimer: This E-copy of the book was provided by the Author for this review, thank you!

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

ARC Review: The Hidden Life of Ice by Marco Tedesco with Alberto Flores D'Arcais; forward by Elizabeth Kolbert

49150932. sy475 Title:The Hidden Life of Ice: Dispatches From A Disappearing World
Series: n/a
Author: Marco Tedesco with Alberto Flores D'Arcais; forward by Elizabeth Kolbert
Source/Format: Netgalley (publisher); eARC
More Details: Nonfiction; Science
Publisher/Publication Date: The Experiment; August 18, 2020

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
One of the least known and least inhabited parts of the world, Greenland is a singular place on Earth from which to look for the future of our planet and question its history. Glaciologist Marco Tedesco, a world-leading expert on ice and on climate change, takes us along as he and his fellow researchers conduct all-important measurements to understand the dramatic changes afoot on the immense polar ice cap. Following the arc of a typical day as a working scientist, Tedesco tells us about improbable “polar camels,” cryoconite holes (the only place where life grows in the icy expanse), and gigantic meteorite debris. We also learn of the epic deeds of the great Arctic explorers (both men and, perhaps surprisingly, women) and about legends of the rare local populations. A Day at the Top of the World offers a vantage point on the future from a place in which temperatures are rising at double the average rate of the rest of the planet.
The Hidden Life of Ice is a short and fascinating—and cautionary—look at, well, ice. Specifically Greenland’s ice sheets and how the changes to it can be applied to the situation happening to the other, coldest parts of Earth, like the Artic. The book was more of the author’s personal experience of his time spent studying the ice. It was interspersed with historical facts, some mythology from Greenland, and the science behind the ice and the changes happening to it—caused by global warming and other natural climate changes and factors.

There are so many different parts of The Hidden Life of Ice that interested me. As a whole, I liked it. What I greatly enjoyed was the parts of the book when Tedesco dug his heels into the topic and really got into the science about ice. His enthusiasm about this subject was easy to read. It was present on the page, especially in the way he talked about his and others work in the field. There were also photos in the book, and it was pretty cool getting a look at some of the locations described by Tedesco.

Among my favorite chapters in the book, was the one on the color of ice. I already knew about the general concept of white surfaces being more reflective, due to personal experience with walking on a ground paved with white stones—it was extremely bright in comparison to, say, grass or concrete sidewalks. I can imagine what it was like to be surrounded by ice and snow. So it was interesting to learn about the way they studied the light (“spectral fingerprint”). I also enjoyed the chapters about the microscopic organisms, the polar camels, ice abyss, and the one about the lakes as well.

Given how timely the topic of climate change is, this book was well worth the read. It offered a direct look at the changes happening to ice, and what could result from it. While also taking a look at how these environments are studied. Overall, The Hidden Life of Ice was a fantastic read.

About the author...

Marco Tedesco is a research professor of Marine Geology and Geophysics at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, located in Palisades, NY. Originally from Italy, he received his Laurea degree and PhD in Italy from the University of Naples and the Italian National Research Council. He went on to join the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center as a postdoc and later a professor and became the founder and director of the Cryosphere Processes Laboratory. Tedesco has been featured in Science and has spoken as a climate change expert for The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, Wired, and others.

About the author...

Alberto Flores d'Arcais was born in Rome and graduated from the University of Rome with a degree in philosophy. He wrote for newspapers and magazines during the 1970s and became editor-in-chief of Frigidaire in 1980. He has reported on topics like civil wars, drug trafficking, the Arab spring, wars in the Balkans, and collapses of dictatorships since the 1980s; he is also well known for his interviews with world leaders and culture icons. In 2002, Alberto Flores d'Arcais earned the John S. Knight Fellowship for Journalism from Stanford University, and authored New York in 2007. He now spends his time between New York and Rome.

About the author....

Elizabeth Kolbert has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1999. Her journalism has garnered multiple awards, including a 2006 National Academies Communication Award for her three-part series "The Climate of Man," which investigated the consequences of disappearing ice on the planet. She is author of The Prophet of Love, Field Notes from a Catastrophe, and The Sixth Extinction, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction in 2015. She received the Blake-Dodd Prize, from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, in 2017.

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (The Experiment) via Netgalley for this review, thank you!

Monday, August 17, 2020

Music Monday (127): Grace Jones, Rina Sawayama, Bree Runway, and Ciara

  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 

Breana: I'm currently listening to music by Rina Sawayama. One of my favorite songs is this remix of XS featuring Bree Runway. It reminds me of a pop song from around 2006 or 2007.

Adri: Today I'm listening to music by Grace Jones. My first pick is the first song I ever heard by Grace Jones, Slave to the Rhythm. My second pick is I've Seen That Face Before (Libertango).  

Andrea: This week I'm listening to Rooted by Ciara Featuring Ester Dean.

Have an amazing week!

What are you listening to this week?

Friday, August 14, 2020


Comments: It’s been a few months since I last picked up a brush with the intention of painting with acrylic paint. Recently, I was looking to improve on my use of lighting, so I painted this teapot. Acrylic is still one of my favorite mediums to use, because I prefer water soluble paints—like watercolor. For this one, I didn’t use a reference, because I wanted to see what I could do from memory. Arguably, my favorite part I worked on were the two random cherries at the bottom of the teapot. I like how they turned out, and I’ve thought about doing another painting of cherries or some other food related subjects. I have a few older photographs that immediately come to mind including a rough pastry I made years ago, as well as bacon. This piece taught me a lot and I hope to do more paintings like it in the near future.

What have you been working on lately?

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

53152636. sx318 sy475 Title: Mexican Gothic
Series: n/a
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Source/Format: Purchased; Hardcover
More Details: Historical Fiction; Gothic Horror; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Del Rey; June 30, 2020

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository     Target

Synopsis from Goodreads...
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER; An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets... 
After receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find - her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region. Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom. Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness. And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.
Mexican Gothic is one of my most anticipated book releases of 2020. After reading Gods of Jade and Shadow, my expectations for it were pretty high. Mexican Gothic is an unsettling story about a socialite who goes to save her cousin from what is at first thought to simply be a bad marriage. With the isolated and mist-shrouded setting, the horror steadily built up as the story unfolded. Moreno-Garcia’s writing was positively atmospheric, and there was a lot I liked about Mexican Gothic.

The first part of the book was spent laying the groundwork for the rest of the story. The tone of it shifted once Noemi traveled to High Place, which was a somewhat strange and brooding house on top of a hill. There were plenty of descriptions about it and its history, as well as the people who lived in it. Right away, I enjoyed Noemi’s perspective. Her character was refreshing, and her attitude was one of defiance throughout much of the story. She enjoyed spending her time on music, parties, and dates among other things—so she preferred fun and vibrant things. It was in stark contrast to the dreary silence and danger of High Place. Virgil Doyle, Catalina’s husband, seemed fine on paper. So did the house. However High Place was a house ruled by rules and secrets, and the Doyle family seemed beholden to its strict traditions. There were few characters to like from High Place, and they were among some of the most unsettling parts of Mexican Gothic.

Overall, I liked the story. It was a little slow in the beginning, but I think it was necessary to really set up the atmosphere that would come into play later on. I did like the more mysterious parts of the story. Everything seemed to have some kind of hidden meaning, so nothing was quite as it seemed and I mean that quite literally. The story is best described as a puzzle. All the pieces were there, it just took time to put it all together. Along with what I liked about the book, I do have to talk about some of the other elements in the story. Mexican Gothic is very dark. The horror outweighed any romantic notions that Noemi and Catalina might have had, and that’s pretty much conveyed on page. What romance there was seemed second to the rest of the story; although, I did like the way it was gradually developed. There was also no shortage of family drama and distorted relationships here, and the threat of harm to Noemi was near constant. It also featured a lot of gothic horror conventions in the same vein as Crimson Peak, with body horror imagery that had a similar gross-out factor to some parts of Dracula and Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion.

Mexican Gothic was the kind of story with a gradual build toward the end. What made it scary was the kind of close-quarters, claustrophobic, feeling it evoked. Needless to say, I will definitely read more work by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Music Monday (126): Mythos, Avant, Victoria Monét, Salaam Remi, Teedra Moses & D-Nice

  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 

Breana: This week, I'm listening to Victoria Monét's new album, Jaguar. I love the album (more on that on a different post), and one of my favorite songs from it is Go There With You.

Adri: In the midst of trying to find a particular song, I stumbled onto a lot of different artists. One of them was Mythos and their album The Reality of a Dreamer. I haven't finished listening to it because I've been stuck on a couple of tracks. My two picks for today are Vision I and Vision II. Both are same song except the later has lyrics, which I find myself humming. Basically, I can't find the words to express how much I like them.

Andrea: This week I am listening to Avant's new album, Can We Fall In Love. I love all of the songs on this album, which makes it hard to select one song to share this week. So, I've decided to take the easy way out and share the album's titular song Can We Fall in Love

I'm also listening to Black Love. I realize that I shared Black Love by Salaam Remi, Teedra Moses & D-Nice last Monday; however, I wanted to share the official video, which was released at the end of last week!

Have an amazing week and stay safe!!!

What are you listening to this week?

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