Monday, May 31, 2021

Music Monday (159): Twenty One Pilots, DMX, Tye Tribbett

 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'm still listening to Scaled and Icy. I really like this album, and another one of my favorite songs from it is called The Outside


Andrea: Hi all! This week I'm listening to Letter to My Son (Call Your Father) by DMX featuring Usher and Brian King Joseph (one of my favorite violinists) and  We Gon' Be Alright by Tye Tribbett. Have a safe Memorial Day!




What are you listening to this week?


Saturday, May 29, 2021

Short Stories I Read In March & April


In March, I didn’t read many short stories, and the ones I did get to I didn’t have much to say about. So, I’m combining March and April’s short stories post into one. It’s the twenty-ninth of May. And it’s time to talk about all the short stories, miscellaneous posts, and podcast episodes I read or listened to in March and April. 

Las Girlfriends Guide to Subversive Eating by Sabrina Vourvoulias (Apex Magazine; Issue 122, March 2021)

This one was an interesting read to go through. It was all about a specific place with a side bonus of some light magic elements. It read like a menu at times, but mostly it was kind of like a travel brochure. It was fun, and I liked the interactive choose-your-own-adventure style aspect.

Mouth by Sasha Lapointe (Strange Horizons; Issue: 1 March 2021)

The second and final story I read in March was Mouth by Sasha Lapointe. This was a fantastic story. I really don’t want to say too much about it, because it’s better to experience it yourself. What I will say is that I liked how the author approached the themes of the story. It was straight to the point, and well written.

Masquerade Season by ‘Pemi Aguda (Tor.com; March 24, 2021)

To start April, I went back and read one of the short stories I was meaning to read the month prior. Masquerade Season by ‘Pemi Aguda was a beautiful story about masquerades, a boy, and his mother. It explores what it means to be a “good child” and when love and care crosses the boundary into something a little more sinister with opportunistic manipulation. The questions posed by the story of right and wrong, boundaries, and difficult decisions were all around handled well. I can’t recommend this one enough.

Mysteries of Visiocherries/Misteri Visciceri by Rio Johan (Strange Horizons; Issue: April 26 2021)

The second and last short story I read in April was Mysteries of Visiocherries by Rio Johan. Here we have another story with mixed media type content. It was about an incident that took place in a laboratory involving a fire and a disappearance. It reads like a case file put together after the aforementioned occurrence took place, and I liked Johan’s approach to the thematic elements. I mean, for a story about bioengineered fruit, it had some surprisingly eerie moments. And the overall feel was one that leaned towards a somewhat cautionary tone.
 
From around the web…

 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Review: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

Title: The Two Towers
Series: Lord of the Rings part #2
Author: J.R.R. Tolkein
Source/Format: Purchased; Anniversary Edition
More Details: Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: First published on November 11, 1954

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

Frodo and his Companions of the Ring have been beset by danger during their quest to prevent the Ruling Ring from falling into the hands of the Dark Lord by destroying it in the Cracks of Doom. They have lost the wizard, Gandalf, in a battle in the Mines of Moria. And Boromir, seduced by the power of the Ring, tried to seize it by force. While Frodo and Sam made their escape, the rest of the company was attacked by Orcs. Now they continue the journey alone down the great River Anduin—alone, that is, save for the mysterious creeping figure that follows wherever they go.
Reading The Lord of the Rings has been a marathon so far, but I’m making progress on my reading goal and will be done with it before this year is over. Continuing where I left off, I finally got around to The Two Towers, and so much happened in this part of the story. I wouldn’t say that anything rapidly changed, but it did get there eventually. And by the end of The Two Towers, the story does progress quite a bit. 

The scope of the story has always been broad and complicated, with a timeline that spans across years, weeks, and days at any given time. The Fellowship of the Ring was a much more linear story, going from the early days in the Shire to the end of that part. In The Two Towers, each end of the fellowship had their own undertakings. So it was broken down into two parts, Book Three and Book Four, which were individually dedicated to those aforementioned ends.  

The Lord of the Rings is a well-known story, so I won’t surmise too much about the plot. The Two Towers involved a lot of walking, long conversations, and going places by horseback—as well as eating—yet the story maintained a sense of urgency. For instance, it started right after The Fellowship of the Ring ended, and thus it felt as if the pivotal scene was just continuing instead of starting at a different point. And at times, there was some fast paced action, as well as scenes right out of a horror movie (if you’ve read The Two Towers then you know exactly what I’m referring to).

One aspect I truly enjoy about this story is the friendships. Some of them came up in unexpected places, but the one that stands out the most is between Sam and Frodo. They were in-between a rock and a hard place for much of their page time, and there was no better way to show the loyalty between the two than during tough situations.

The Fellowship of the Ring was the beginning of the war, where the threat of it was only a shadow off in the distance. Whereas The Two Towers was where it really began in earnest, and it was here where some of the most notable battles/incidents took place. 

At the end of the day, there were a lot of aspects about the story that I’m having a great deal of fun with. So I plan on reading part three sometime soon.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Music Monday (158): Twenty One Pilots, J. Axel, Astrid Suryanto, Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, and Silk Sonic

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: Twenty One Pilots's new album, Scaled And Icy, is finally out. One of my favorite songs from it is Saturday.


Adri: This week I'm listening to In a Distant Bar by J. Axel and Astrid Suryanto. I just love how chill it is.


Andrea: This week I am listening to Leave the Door Open by Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, and Silk Sonic. Have an amazing week.



What are you listening to this week? 




Friday, May 21, 2021

The Friday 56 (200) & Book Beginnings: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkein

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 darkness bind them...

Frodo and his Companions of the Ring have been beset by danger during their quest to prevent the Ruling Ring from falling into the hands of the Dark Lord by destroying it in the Cracks of Doom. They have lost the wizard, Gandalf, in a battle in the Mines of Moria. And Boromir, seduced by the power of the Ring, tried to seize it by force. While Frodo and Sam made their escape, the rest of the company was attacked by Orcs. Now they continue the journey alone down the great River Anduin—alone, that is, save for the mysterious creeping figure that follows wherever they go.


Beginning: "Aragorn sped on up the hill. Every now and again he bent to the ground. Hobbits go light, and their footprints are not easy even for a Ranger to read, but not far from the top a spring crossed the path, and in the wet earth he saw what he was seeking."

56: "Then he began to hum again, and passed into a murmuring chant."


Comments: I finally got around to reading the second part of The Lord of the Rings. The Two Towers was a great read, and I'm looking forward to the last part of this one. What are you reading this week?

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

ARC Review: Jelly by Clare Rees

Title: Jelly
Series: n/a
Author: Clare Rees
Source/Format: Netgalley; eARC
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy; Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Amulet Books; May 18, 2021

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

The biggest problem with being trapped on a jellyfish isn’t what you’d expect. You get over the fear of death (because you start looking forward to it) and the smell of fish (because it quickly becomes your breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Boredom is an issue, sure, but it’s not the main one; the biggest problem is not being able to get away from everyone. Martha is stuck on the back of the jellyfish and has been for a long time. She and everyone else living there don’t know how exactly they got there or how long they’ve been there or where they’re going—they just remember that something traumatic happened. And they can’t escape. But now, the crew has finally had enough. They’re going to escape the jellyfish—or die trying. (Which probably means dying.) Funny, strange, and completely original, Jelly is an unforgettable young adult
debut.
Jelly is probably one of the strangest post-apocalyptic novels I’ve read to date, but I liked it. From the start, its premise was a point of interest to me, and the end result was as fascinating as I thought it would be. After all, how many stories do you get where the setting is on the back of a giant jellyfish? Not many.

One of the reasons I kept reading was because I wanted to see if the questions I had would be answered. How did they end up on the jellyfish anyway? Why did it keep them alive for so long? And will they ever escape? 

There was a lot I enjoyed about Jelly. The beginning was kind of shaky, but once I got into the story, I was really into it. The time period was set in what could have been a handful of years from now—if giant frightening sea creatures existed—and as such there was a lot of commentary about global warming and rising sea levels woven in with the more fantastical elements of the story.

The setting was limited to the back of a giant jellyfish, and I did like how Rees handled that aspect of the story. There was a bit of a mind game going on here. While there was no authoritarian government to fend off, the jellyfish could almost be taken as a metaphor for one. The characters were in a bad predicament, and they were essentially forced to survive on what trash floated by and the handouts from the jellyfish. Where the mind game comes in, is how close the jellyfish remained to the coast. So it was always in sight, but there was no way to get to it. The sense of isolation and desperation was a common point for many of the characters for much of the story, but there was always that thin sliver of hope. This goes into characterization as well. For example, the narrator, Martha, was often snarky or quietly plotting as a way to pass the time. Her character was a prime example of the ways the isolation of the setting shaped who they were and how they navigated what was a horrifying situation.

Overall, Jelly was a good story. While I would have liked to see more about what was going on in other parts of the world, by keeping the focus of the story limited to one group, the ending proved to be a satisfying conclusion. 


About the author...

Clare Rees is the debut author of Jelly and works as a Head of English. She feels privileged to work with teenagers and loves that she gets to spend her days encouraging reading and writing skills in others. Clare has an MEd and an MA, and has had educational resources published by Pearson, AQA, Teachit and Zigzag. These have included co-authored books, lesson resource collections and teaching units. She has also written education articles for The Independent and ‘Secret Teacher’ blogs for The Guardian.


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


Monday, May 17, 2021

Music Monday (157): Laura Mvula, Troop

 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: Laura Mvula released another song from her upcoming album, Pink Noise. It's called Got Me, and I love it.


Andrea: Hey all! This week I'm listening to music by Troop, All I Do Is Think Of You and Still In Love. I hope everyone has an amazing week!



What are you listening to this week?


Friday, May 14, 2021

I Listened to The Bitter Truth by Evanescence

It’s been a long time since there was a body of work released by Evanescence that contained completely new material. It’s been ten years in fact, but it was well worth the wait. 
The Bitter Truth is a very good album, and it met my expectations and then some. It has the same gothic aesthetic quality and superb lyricism as much of Evanescence’s prior music, while also making the 12 tracks feel fresh and exciting to listen to. Some of my personal favorites include Take Cover, Part of Me, Wasted On You, Use My Voice, and Yeah Right
I truly missed Evanescence during their absence. That being said, The Bitter Truth is a triumphant return for this band. I don’t have anything else to say besides this: if you’re a fan of Evanescence, then I can’t recommend The Bitter Truth enough.     

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Review: Aristocracy by William Doyle

Title: Aristocracy 
Series: A Very Short Introduction #251
Author: William Doyle
Source/Format: Purchased; Paperback
More Details: Nonfiction; History
Publisher/Publication Date: Oxford University Press, USA; November 28, 2010

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Aristocracies or nobilities dominated the social, economic, and institutional history of all European counties until only a few generations ago. The relics of their power, in traditions and behavior, in architecture and the arts, are still all around us. This engaging Very Short Introduction shows how ideas of aristocracy originated in ancient times, were transformed in the middle ages, and have only fallen apart over the last two centuries, following the outbreak of the American and French Revolutions. William Doyle, an authority on eighteen-century European history, here strips away the myths in which aristocracies have always sought to shroud themselves, but he also astutely delineates the true sources of their enduring power. Their outlook and behavior affected the rest of society in innumerable and sometimes surprising ways, but perhaps most surprising was the way in which the centuries-old aristocratic hegemony crumbled away. In this Very Short Introduction William Doyle considers why this happened and what is left today.
I’ve been into history lately, and one of my recent nonfiction reads was Aristocracy by William Doyle. It’s a part of Oxford’s A Very Short Introduction series, which has been publishing since 1995. There are a number of titles I want to read from this series, but my first foray into it was with Aristocracy.

“Aristocracy is a word coined in ancient Greece. Originally it meant not a group of people but a form of government: rule by the best. But who were they?”—pg.1, Aristocracy, William Doyle.

Aristocracy was excellent, and it was way more informative than I originally thought it would be. It was a short book at just one hundred and two pages. Even so, it was a precise summery of the roles, privileges, and powers of the aristocracy through the ages. In its five chapters total, it covered everything from the way titles were obtained (or lost), as well as the eventual decline that came with changes to the public’s perception of the aristocracy.

I honestly had a great time with this read. The compact format didn’t require too much commitment, but it was a fascinating read regardless. 

Friday, May 7, 2021

The Friday 56 (199) & Book Beginnings: Aristocracy by William Doyle

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...

Aristocracies or nobilities dominated the social, economic, and institutional history of all European counties until only a few generations ago. The relics of their power, in traditions and behavior, in architecture and the arts, are still all around us. This engaging Very Short Introduction shows how ideas of aristocracy originated in ancient times, were transformed in the middle ages, and have only fallen apart over the last two centuries, following the outbreak of the American and French Revolutions. William Doyle, an authority on eighteen-century European history, here strips away the myths in which aristocracies have always sought to shroud themselves, but he also astutely delineates the true sources of their enduring power. Their outlook and behavior affected the rest of society in innumerable and sometimes surprising ways, but perhaps most surprising was the way in which the centuries-old aristocratic hegemony crumbled away. In this Very Short Introduction William Doyle considers why this happened and what is left today.

Beginning: "We use the words aristocracy and aristocratic all the time."

56: "Nobility is a tissue of minute differences lovingly treasured, each one affording grounds for a sense of superiority of inferiority."


Comments: Aristocracy was an interesting read, and I plan on eventually reading a few more titles from this series. What are you reading this week?

Monday, May 3, 2021

Music Monday (156): Bree Runway, SWV, Tony Toni Toné

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: A month ago, Bree Runway released a song called Hot Hot, and I like it.

 

Andrea: Hi all! Lately, I've been listening to  Let's Get Down by Tony Toni Toné and I'm So Into You by SWV.  




What are you listening to this week?


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