Friday, April 16, 2021

The Friday 56 (198) & Book Beginnings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R.R. Tolkien

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.


Synopsis from Goodreads...
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkeness bind them

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, The Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell into the hands of Bilbo Baggins, as told in The Hobbit. In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.

Beginning: "When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was mush talk and excitement in Hobbiton."

56: "Gandalf looked at Frodo, and his eyes glinted."


Comments: I have finally read the first part of The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring. I didn't remember much of the movie trilogy, because it's been so long since I first saw them. I had a lot of fun reading this story. What are you reading this week?

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Review: The Case Study of Vanitas Vol. 7 by Jun Mochizuki

Title: The Case Study of Vanitas
Series: The Case Study of Vanitas #7
Author: Jun Mochizuki
Source/Format: Purchased; Paperback
More Details: Alternative History; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Yen Press; July 21, 2020

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Chloe is ready to begin her revenge plot and get what she has always wanted - that is, until Vanitas and the Chasseurs showed up. But without his book, Vanitas can do little to help, so it's up to Noé and his vampire hunter allies to buy some time, so Vanitas can work a little magic...

The battle continues in vol. 7 of The Case Study of Vanitas. This was a fantastic addition to the series. It was a fast moving part of the story—taking place in flashbacks and present time in the series—and it seemed like there were revelations and twists around every corner. This was by far one of the most emotional volumes, as some of the outstanding mysteries were finally revealed along with the truth behind the incident of the story’s version of the Beast of Gévaudan.

This was such a complex issue for the characters to solve, and I appreciated all the little historical facts that managed to get into the story. Mochizuki is a master at crafting these situations where there really wasn’t a simple answer. There were many sides to the conflict, and as such most of the characters came to the table with different motivations that happened to be tangled up into this incident. Some had much closer ties to it than others, but either way around their presence in the story set the stage for an epic confrontation.

As always, there was plenty of action and intrigue in vol. 7, and the last chapter ended on a cliffhanger. So I’m definitely going to pick up the next one when it releases later this year. 

Monday, April 12, 2021

Music Monday (153): Evanescence, Kings of Tomorrow, The Isley Brothers

 

   Rules:
  • 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: Lately it seems like a handful of my favorite artists have new albums or upcoming music. Over the weekend, I finally got around to listening to Evanescence's latest release called The Bitter Truth. I'm really enjoying this album. It feels like classic Evanescence, but with a fresh spin. One of my favorites is Take Cover.

 

Adri: My pick for today is Finally (Original Extended Mix) by Kings of Tomorrow featuring Julie McKnight.


Andrea: Hi all! On Easter Sunday, I spent time watching The Isley Brothers vs Earth, Wind, & Fire on VERZUZTV'S IG page. Since that time, I have been enjoying music by both groups. This week, I'm sharing music by The Isley Brothers, Friends And Family & For The Love Of You, Pts. 1 & 2. Next week, I'll share the music I'm listening to by Earth, Wind & Fire.

Until next time, have an amazing week!




What are you listening to this week?



Friday, April 9, 2021

The Friday 56 (197) & Book Beginnings: The Case Study of Vanitas Vol. 7 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.

Synopsis from Goodreads...

Chloe is ready to begin her revenge plot and get what she has always wanted - that is, until Vanitas and the Chasseurs showed up. But without his book, Vanitas can do little to help, so it's up to Noé and his vampire hunter allies to buy some time, so Vanitas can work a little magic...


Beginning: ""It's all right, Vanitas. I'll win......this time!""

56: "Existence stabilized."


Comments: And I'm finally out of volumes for The Case Study of Vanitas.  This story arc has been a ride, and I'm excited to see how it ends in the next volume. Vol. 8 comes out in May, so the wait won't be too long. My 56 is from a few pages before, since the actual page fifty-six is one big spoiler. What are you reading this week. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

I Listened to 1/f by Laura Mvula

 

 

One artist I’ve wanted more music by was Laura Mvula. Phenomenal Women is still on my playlist, and one of the catchiest songs I’ve listened to. Laura Mvula has returned in 2021 with an EP titled 1/f, in which she reworks three of her previously released songs—Sing To The Moon, Show Me Love, and Green Garden—which were accompanied by a cover of Diana Ross’s hit, I’m Still Waiting

This was a great EP. The sound of the songs was completely reworked, giving a fresh update to tracks that were already lovely to listen to. The original versions of Sing To The Moon, Show Me Love, and Green Garden had a mellow, instrumental sound—like the live performances Mvula’s did with the Metrapole Orkest. They were already powerful songs to begin with and some of my favorites from Mvula. The new versions recorded for 1/f had a much more pop and synth sound, which also suited the lyrics perfectly too. I can’t say that I like one version more than the other though, because they’re equally good and I can’t recommend them enough.

I also enjoyed the cover of I’m Still Waiting. It’s a great song no matter which way you look at it, and Laura Mvula’s cover was excellent.

Overall, this EP was a pleasant surprise, and it leaves a great impression and a need for more. Laura Mvula’s third studio album has been announced, and I can’t wait to give it a listen.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Music Monday (152): Audrey Nuna, Philip Bailey, Phil Collins, Soulstice

 Rules:

  • 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've been listening to music by Audrey Nuna. I stumbled across Space and instantly liked it.


Adri: I have been listening to so many songs that are new to me. I'm currently enjoying Falling into You and Wind by Soulstice. They're both my favorite, but Wind has been on constant repeat.



Andrea: This week I am listening to Easy Lover by Philip Bailey and Phil Collins. Have an amazing week!



What are you listening to this week?



Friday, April 2, 2021

Quarterly Recap: January-March

I feel like this year is flying by, because it’s already time for the first quarterly recap of 2021. I’m going to go over the reviews and other post that have appeared on the blog between January and March, before taking a look at what’s coming up. Before I do, I want to take a little time out of this post to say a couple of words about the blog.

This past month, Our Thoughts Precisely had its 8th blogiversary on March 15, 2021, and it honestly doesn’t feel like that long—but we did the math and it checks out. I just wanted to say thank you to the readers who have stopped by to read our posts and have left blog comments!

Okay, on to the recap.
January Other Posts:
February Other Posts:
March Other Posts:
Looking ahead, I have no set plans right now, but I do have a couple of reviews I’ve been sitting on for a while. The dates for those are coming up, and I’m excited to share them. In May, the review for Jelly by Clare Rees will be on the blog on the eighteenth. On June 16th, I have a review for The Heartbeat of Trees by Peter Wohlleben translated by Jane Billinghurst. I adored this book. It was a fascinating look at trees, and I want to eventually do some further reading on the subject. And finally, last and certainly not least, I’m going to talk about The Brilliant Abyss by Helen Scales in July. Not going to lie, this is one of the best nonfiction books I’ve picked up so far this year, and I can’t wait to finally talk more in-depth about it.



Tuesday, March 30, 2021

ARC Review: To The Greatest Heights by Vanessa O'Brien

Title: To the Greatest Heights
Series: n/a
Author: Vanessa O'Brien
Source/Format: Publisher; eARC
More Details: Nonfiction; Memoir
Publisher/Publication Date: Atria/Emily Bestler Books; March 30, 2021

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository     Target

Synopsis from Goodreads...
This riveting and uplifting memoir by Vanessa O’Brien, record-breaking American-British explorer, takes you on an unexpected journey to the top of the world’s highest mountains.

Long before she became the first American woman to summit K2 and the first British woman to return from its summit alive, Vanessa O’Brien was a feisty suburban Detroit teenager forced to reinvent her world in the wake of a devastating loss that destroyed her family. Making her own way in the world, Vanessa strove to reach her lofty ambitions. Soon, armed with an MBA and a wry sense of humor, she climbed the corporate ladder to great success, but after the 2009 economic meltdown, her career went into a tailspin. She searched for a new purpose and settled on an unlikely goal: climbing Mount Everest. When her first attempt ended in disaster, she trudged home, humbled but wiser. Two years later, she made it to the top of the world. And then she kept going. Grounded by a cadre of wise-cracking friends and an inimitable British spouse, Vanessa held her own in the intensely competitive world of mountaineering, summiting the highest peak on every continent, and skiing the last degree to the North and South Poles. She set new speed records for the Seven Summits, receiving a Guinness World Record and the Explorers Grand Slam, and finally made peace with her traumatic past. During her attempt on K2, she very nearly gave up. But on the “savage mountain,” which kills one out of every four climbers who summit, Vanessa evolved from an adventurer out to challenge herself to an explorer with a high-altitude perspective on a changing world—and a new call to share her knowledge and passion across the globe.

Told with heart and humor, Vanessa’s journey from suburban Detroit to Everest’s Death Zone to the summit of K2 and beyond, is a transformative story of resilience, higher purpose, and the courage to overcome any obstacle.

I've heard of Vanessa O’Brien, so I was excited to get my hands on her upcoming book. To the Greatest Heights was an excellent memoir. O’Brien didn’t sugarcoat the realities of mountain climbing as she recounted her experiences on as many notable mountains as I can think of—just off on the top of my head, think Everest and Kilimanjaro among the many others. She talked about it with a searing honesty, and mentioned her successes as often as she did her failures and the hard learned lessons she gained by experience. The reality was grim, dangerous, and somewhat gross at times. However, I have to admire O’Brien’s determination to continue climbing even when faced with injuries, subzero temperatures, and sweltering heat among other hazards that come with mountaineering. Since this was a memoir, O’Brien also talked about her life, career, and the family tragedies that made her the person she was. It also was often correlated with key moments in the book. So as she would talk about her experiences on a mountain or at the North and South Pole, she would also delve into more personal topics.

To the Greatest Heights was, at its core, about O’Brien and her personal journey with mountaineering. It was as much about the mountains as it was about her life. It was fantastic, and I highly recommend this one.     

About the author....

Vanessa O’Brien is an American mountaineer and a British mountaineer (as a result of her dual nationality), explorer, public speaker and former business executive. Vanessa was named Explorer of the Year in 2018 by the Scientific Exploration Society. She is one of only eight women to achieve the Explorers Grand Slam, having summited the highest peak on every continent and skied the last degree to the North and South Poles in eleven months. Vanessa was the first woman to set a speed record to climb the Seven Summits, entering the Guinness Book of World Records for climbing the Seven Summits in 295 days. Curiosity, determination and a passion for excellence led her to become the first American woman and the first British woman to successfully summit K2 in 2017. Vanessa is a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society and a Member of the Scientific and Exploration Society. She is an advocate for woman’s causes, carrying the UN Women’s flag to the summit of K2. She lives in New York City and London with her husband, Jonathan.


Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Atria/Emily Bestler Books) via Netgalley for this review, thank you!


Monday, March 29, 2021

Short Stories I Read In February

It’s the 29th of March already. So it’s time to talk about the short stories, miscellaneous posts, and podcast episodes I read or listened to in February. 

Judge Dee and The Three Deaths of Count Werdenfels by Lavie Tidhar (Tor.com, February 10, 2021)

I said before that I would read another story about Judge Dee. Well, there’s another one, so here I am. Judge Dee and The Three Deaths of Count Werdenfels moved incredibly fast. The story bounced from one event to the next, with little room for anything else. It wasn’t until the case of Count Werdenfels fell into Judge Dee’s hands that the story slowed down a little, and a bit of a mystery began to unfold. This story was a sequel to Judge Dee and the Limits of the Law with familiar characters as well as some new ones. Count Werdenfels’s death was quite a mystery, since so many people claimed to have a part in it. This was simply good story, and the twist toward the end made for a satisfying conclusion.

A Serpent For Each Year by Tamara Jeree (Strange Horizons, Issue 1 February 2021)

A Serpent For Each Year is as its title suggests in a very literal way—a woman received a snake for each year from her mother—yet it packs into its short length some commentary on grief and mourning with a speculative edge. This was a good one.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Review: Exit Strategy by Martha Wells

Title: Exit Strategy
Series: The Murderbot Diaries #4
Author: Martha Wells
Source/Format: Tor eBook Club; ebook
More Details: Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Tor.com; October 2, 2018

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository     Target 

Synopsis from Goodreads...
Murderbot wasn’t programmed to care. So, its decision to help the only human who ever showed it respect must be a system glitch, right? Having traveled the width of the galaxy to unearth details of its own murderous transgressions, as well as those of the GrayCris Corporation, Murderbot is heading home to help Dr. Mensah—its former owner (protector? friend?)—submit evidence that could prevent GrayCris from destroying more colonists in its never-ending quest for profit. But who’s going to believe a SecUnit gone rogue? And what will become of it when it’s caught?

Note: there may be some minor spoilers for books 1-3. You’ve been warned.

Exit Strategy was the story I’ve been waiting for. It was everything the past two books in the series have been building toward, and the confrontation with GrayCris Corporation was as explosive as I expected it would be, to say the least. It was so good.

Martha Wells excels at building characters and the connections between them. After all, one of the great aspects about Exit Strategy was seeing characters from the first book in the series. It was great to have the Preservation Aux team back again, as I really enjoyed their characters in All Systems Red.

SecUnit is a fantastic character, and the growth it went through was done so well. Part of this series has always been about SecUnit’s journey of personal discovery—plus its extensive collection of media—it’s all part of the character’s charm.

As I said above, Exit Strategy had the confrontation I was waiting on. There was action everywhere, because this was a pretty fast moving and straight forward story. The full scope of GrayCris’s greed and willingness to subvert any rules it found unfavorable to its goals, went deeper than I thought it would. There was a palpable sense of urgency to the story, and it definitely felt like a race against time. There were some twists here, and overall it was an extremely exciting read—I basically read it in one sitting.

Exit Strategy is one of my top favorite reads from the Murderbot Diaries so far, and I’m looking forward to the next installment.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Music Monday (151): Laura Mvula, Cheryl Lynn

 

   Rules:
  • 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 know I mentioned Laura Mvula a couple weeks ago, but I'm really excited about all the new music being released. 1/f was already a great surprise, but then Safe Passage was released too. This is one of my top favorite songs by Laura Mvula, and I'm really looking forward to her upcoming album.


Laura Mvula also released another single from her upcoming album called Church Girl. I like this one as well.

 

Andrea: This week I'm listening to If This World Were Mine by Cheryl Lynn featuring Luther Vandross. I was listening to the original song, because I saw a youtube video of Donnell Cross & Cassandra Nelson singing it in a store. You can check it out HERE.



What are you listening to this week?



Friday, March 19, 2021

The Friday 56 (196) & Book Beginnings: Exit Strategy by Martha Wells

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.


Synopsis from Goodreads...
Murderbot wasn’t programmed to care. So, its decision to help the only human who ever showed it respect must be a system glitch, right? Having traveled the width of the galaxy to unearth details of its own murderous transgressions, as well as those of the GrayCris Corporation, Murderbot is heading home to help Dr. Mensah—its former owner (protector? friend?)—submit evidence that could prevent GrayCris from destroying more colonists in its never-ending quest for profit. But who’s going to believe a SecUnit gone rogue? And what will become of it when it’s caught?


Beginning: "When I got back to HaveRatton Station, a bunch of humans tried to kill me."

56: "I led us off the platform and down the ramp to the building's pods, using my code to delete us from the security cams."


Comments: Exit Strategy was a fantastic installment in the Murderbot Diaries series. It's one of my top favorite books by Martha Wells so far, and I'm looking forward to the next one in the series. What are you reading this week?
 
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