Monday, May 16, 2022

Music Monday (199): Anitta, Oceans of Slumber

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 steadily adding more and more of Anitta's music to my playlist. Another favorite is Me Gusta featuring Cardi B and Myke Towers.


Adri: I'm listening to Oceans of Slumber's new song Hearts Of Stone.



What are you listening to this week?

Friday, May 13, 2022

I Listened to Serpentina by Banks

 
Serpentina is Banks’s highly anticipated fourth studio album. It was certainly one of my most anticipated albums of the year.

The overall feel is a lot different from The Altar (2016) and III (2019). Even so, it’s very much a “Banks” album in all the best ways, with a lot of synth effects, auto-tune, and some experimentation—it’s a blend of genres—but the beats are catchy. They have a certain moody and atmospheric edge that works well with Banks’s vocals, which I’ve come to expect and appreciate. And when it delivers, it delivers.

The lyrics are just excellent. I expected nothing less, but even then I underestimated it. There were way too many lines that I wanted to quote. Some of my favorites come from the songs Skinnydipped, Meteorite, Holding Back, and Birds by the Sea. But, all of the tracks are a solid offering, and it’s hard to choose any one song that stands out as a top favorite when they’re all so good.

Overall, Serpentina has quickly become a favorite. And so far, I’m having a great time listening to it on repeat.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Music Monday (198): Anitta, Alice Francis, and Stromae

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 couple of weeks ago, I caught Anitta's performance on the Coachella livestream. So I checked out her most recent album. One of my favorite songs is Gata featuring Chencho Corleone.


Adri: I have been waiting for something new from Alice Francis in what felt like forever. And yet, I managed to miss the release of their new song, As Long as You Smile, which I am currently enjoyingAnd now I have another album to look out for.


Andrea: Hi all! This week I'm listening to Bonne Journée by Stromae. This is another artists that I discovered by watching the Coachella livestream. Have an amazing week!



What are you listening to this week?

Friday, May 6, 2022

Monsters in the Mist by Juliana Brandt

Title: Monsters in the Mist
Series: n/a
Author: Juliana Brandt
Source/Format: Netgalley; eARC
More Details: Middle Grade; Fantasy; Horror
Publisher/Publication Date: Sourcebooks Young Readers; May 3, 2022 

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...
When Glennon McCue moves into a lighthouse on a mysterious island, he must figure out why those who visit are never heard from again…before he and his family fall victim to the island’s curse. 
After Glennon McCue’s father takes an overseas position, Glennon finds himself relocated from Minneapolis to his uncle’s lighthouse on Isle Philippeaux, smack dab in the middle of Lake Superior. Surrounded by nothing but black, ominous waters, there are many stories about the island, but the worst one is that sailors wash ashore…and are never heard from again. Just before his family is supposed to move home, a storm rocks the isle and a ship crashes outside the lighthouse. The survivors seem off, especially one sailor who acts more like a monster than a person. Suddenly, Glennon finds himself in the middle of a real-life scary story, and unless he can figure out the mystery of the island…he and his family will be lost forever, too.


Monsters in the Mist is probably one of the best middle grade horror books I’ve read this year. It wasn’t only thrills and chills, but it struck a balance between telling a spooky story and a poignant one; where the monsters weren’t only the mystery of what resided in the mist, but could be found in the memory of and about the living as well.

Monsters in the Mist unfolds in the perspective of Glennon. I sympathized with him and understood and appreciated the way the author portrayed how he dealt with the stress of the scarier points of his situation. It was to the point where his doubt in himself made him question what he saw. The story deals with heavy topics, and much of it illustrated the way that grief and fear affect people differently. You don’t need to look any further than Glennon, his sister Leeunah (Lee), and his mother to see what I mean.

The setting didn’t make it any easier for the characters, as Isle Philippeaux didn’t give up its secrets easily. It was a mysterious place with an eerie atmosphere that only intensified as the story headed for its conclusion. I was especially interested in the way lighthouses were used in the story (as indicative by the book’s cover), and it ended up being one of my favorite aspects.

These things were accompanied by some frightening and dangerous instances. And it forced the characters to literally acknowledge all that had happened to them—as well as the predicament they unwittingly found themselves in—before they could move forward.

Monsters in the Mist had a message: feeling somewhat topical in a story that was otherwise a haunting read. All in all, it was great.

About the author....
Juliana Brandt is an author and kindergarten teacher with a passion for storytelling that guides her in both of her jobs. She lives in her childhood home of Minnesota, and her writing is heavily influenced by travels around the country and decade living in the South. When not working, she is usually exploring the great outdoors. Her novels, THE WOLF OF CAPE FEN, and A WILDER MAGIC were both published by SourcebooksKids. Up next is MONSTERS IN THE MIST which will publish in May, 2022. Her writing is represented by Natalie Lakosil of Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Sourcebooks Young Readers) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, thank you! 

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Shadow Grave by Marina Cohen

Title: Shadow Grave
Series: n/a
Author: Marina Cohen
Source/Format: NetGalley; eARC
More Details: Middle-Grade; Horror
Publisher/Publication Date: Roaring Book Press; May 3, 2022

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

This town has a secret it might just kill to keep…

12-year-old Arlo is afraid of the creepy zombie show all his friends watch, of fire, of his own shadow—but most of all he’s afraid of losing his mother to the disease that nearly claimed her life the previous year. While on a Thanksgiving road trip with his mother and sister, Lola, their car hits a strange beast and they become stranded in an old logging town with something unnatural living in its surrounding woods—a dark secret the townsfolk will kill to keep.

Marina Cohen is one of those authors that have books I’ve been meaning to try. A while ago, I had the opportunity to read her latest release, Shadow Grave. I had no expectations going in, other than what was laid out in the synopsis. 

I liked this story. From the start, it seemed like it would be a very spooky read, and I have to admit that it kind of was. There was something going on, and there were moments of tension. Plus, the setting was isolated, which created a sense of being trapped. It certainly had a sense of eeriness and mystery, which was something that the main character, Arlo picked up on. But there was directness to the narrative that limited some of the intensity that could have been there. That being said, when Shadow Grave hit its stride, the story sped toward the conclusion (and stuck the landing) with plenty of twists and turns. Ultimately, it had a strong dark fairy tale kind of vibe to it.

Shadow Grave also proved to be largely about its characters. That was a good thing, as it’s one of the areas where the story excelled. The topics could be heavy—absent parent, illness, accidents, etc.—but I ultimately liked the way Cohen approached them from the viewpoint Arlo. His character was largely shaped by everything he’d experienced prior to the start of the story. There was also his mother’s soothing reassurances, and the broken promises made by…well, someone else (If you want to know, you’ll have to read the story). These things formed the way he tried to handle the situation, while looking out for himself, his mother, and his little sister, Lola.

Overall, Shadow Grave was great. There were a number of good things about the story that I think a lot of readers would enjoy.
About the author....
Marina Cohen is the author of several horror and fantasy books for children and young teens. Her novels GHOST RIDE, THE INN BETWEEN, THE DOLL'S EYE, and A BOX OF BONES have been nominated for various awards in Canada and the United States including, The Sunburst Award, The Ontario Library Association's Red Maple and Silver Birch Awards, The Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, The Rocky Mountain Book Award, The Manitoba Young Reacher's Choice Award, and The Pacific Northwest Library Association Children's Choice Award. THE INN BETWEEN and A BOX OF BONES are also Junior Library Guild selections. Marina loves old castles, hot cocoa, mysterious doors of all shapes and sizes, gingerbread and all things dark and creepy. She spends far too much time asking herself "What if?"

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Roaring Book Press) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, thank you! 

Monday, May 2, 2022

Music Monday (197): Lizzo, Shena, Full Intention

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: Lizzo announced a new album, Special, which is supposed to come out in July (so not too far away). She also released a new single. It's called About Damn Time, and I love it. Luckily for me, there's more Lizzo music on the horizon to look forward to.


Adri: My House / Dance playlist is so large that I end up adding more songs from artists that I already had. And that's what happened with I'll Be Waiting by Full Intention featuring Shena. My second pick is the Lux Sunset Edit.




What are you listening to this week?





Friday, April 29, 2022

Short Stories I Read In March

 

It’s the twenty-ninth of April. So it’s time to talk about the short stories, miscellaneous posts, and podcast episodes I read or listened to in March.

The Pigeon Keeper’s Daughter by Su-Yee Lin (Strange Horizons; Issue: 7 March 2022)

The first short story I tackled in March was The Pigeon Keeper’s Daughter. This was an interesting story. Set in Taipei, it’s about the daughter of a pigeon keeper going about her daily life until she begins to notice strange happenings surrounding her (it involved birds). There were a lot of metaphorical moments as well as political messaging woven into the story alongside the light fantasy parts. I liked this one.

The Kaleidoscopic Visitor by Shaoni C. White (Uncanny Magazine; Issue Forty-Five)

The second and last short story I read in March was Shaoni C. White’s The Kaleidoscopic Visitor. This was another good one. It’s well written with a clear theme, and I liked what they did with the titular Kaleidoscopic Visitor.

From Around the Web…

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

I Listened to Crash by Charli XCX

 

Charlie XCX is one of those artists where I know that whatever they put out, it’s probably going to be a good listening experience. With features including Rina Sawayama, Christina and the Queens, and Caroline Polachek, Crash—Charli XCX’s 2022 album—finds it stride and keeps it as it bops along to beats that can feel somewhat familiar without losing the edge that makes them enjoyable. 

Crash feels like a love letter to Pop and Electro-Pop, reminding me of some hits from the early 2000s. But Charli XCX puts enough of a spin to these sounds that makes the album current while it visits the past. It was a good combination, and it suited the vocals and lyrics.

The titular Crash drops right into the album, while Twice closes out the track list on a memorable note. Some of my favorite songs include Yuck, Lightning, and Beg For You featuring Rina Sawayama. Overall though, I really liked what Crash offered, and I know I’ll have this album on repeat for a while.


Monday, April 25, 2022

Music Monday (196): Banks, Harry Styles

 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: And I'm back from my break. While I've been away from the blog, I've been listening to a lot of music, and some of the new songs on my playlist are from Banks's new album, Serpentina. I really like it, but more on that on a different post. One of my favorite songs is Unleavable.

 

Andrea: Hi all! Over the past couple of weeks, I've spent time listening to Coachella's livestream. That's how I discovered Harry Styles' music. I have to say that Styles' performance was phenomenal, and I absolutely love his song, Sign Of  The Times. Well that's it for now. I hope everyone has an amazing week!



What are you listening to this week?


Monday, April 18, 2022

Break Notice

I'm taking a short break from blogging. I'll be back next week starting with a new Music Monday post. Until then, happy reading! 

Friday, April 15, 2022

The Friday 56 (215) & Book Beginnings: The Purgatorio by Dante Alighieri

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...
In The Inferno, Dante describes his journey to the depths of evil, to the recognition of the true nature of sin. In The Purgatorio, he describes his journey to the renunciation of sin, accepting his suffering in preparation for his coming into the presence of God. This brilliant translation of Dante's soaring canticle crystallizes the power and beauty inherent in the great poet's immortal conception of the aspiring soul.

Beginning: "For better waters no the little bark
of my indwelling powers raises her sails,
and leaves behind that sea so cruel and dark."

56: "That one who comforts him ruled formerly
the land where rise the waters that flow down 
the Moldau to the Elbe to the sea."


Comments: I finally got around to The Purgatorio. I'm officially two thirds of the way through The Divine Comedy, and I'm really enjoying it so far. What are you reading this week?

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross

Title: A River Enchanted
Series: Elements of Cadence #1
Author: Rebecca Ross
Source/Format: Publisher (won); ARC
More Details: Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Voyager; February 15, 2022 

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...
Jack Tamerlaine hasn’t stepped foot on Cadence in ten long years, content to study music at the mainland university. But when young girls start disappearing from the isle, Jack is summoned home to help find them. Enchantments run deep on Cadence: gossip is carried by the wind, plaid shawls can be as strong as armor, and the smallest cut of a knife can instill fathomless fear. The capricious spirits that rule the isle by fire, water, earth, and wind find mirth in the lives of the humans who call the land home. Adaira, heiress of the east and Jack’s childhood enemy, knows the spirits only answer to a bard’s music, and she hopes Jack can draw them forth by song, enticing them to return the missing girls. As Jack and Adaira reluctantly work together, they find they make better allies than rivals as their partnership turns into something more. But with each passing song, it becomes apparent the trouble with the spirits is far more sinister than they first expected, and an older, darker secret about Cadence lurks beneath the surface, threatening to undo them all.

With unforgettable characters, a fast-paced plot, and compelling world building, A River Enchanted is a stirring story of duty, love, and the power of true partnership, and marks Rebecca Ross’s brilliant entry on the adult fantasy stage


A River Enchanted wasn’t really on my radar at the beginning of the year, but the more I learned about it, the more I wanted to read it. I happened to win a paperback ARC of it; although, my copy arrived after the release date, and I’ve just now gotten around to it.

A River Enchanted was everything I was looking for. It was the kind of slow fantasy story heavy on world building details and character backstory, which I’ve been into lately. There was a lot of history, stories, traditions and customs to sink-my-teeth into. And although magic could be put to use in similar but unequal ways on both sides of the isle, there were hefty consequences for the Tamerlaines and the Breccans. It was a thoroughly fascinating world to read about.

And the story, while at its surface appeared to simply be about unexplained disappearances on the isle, Cadence, was weighted by the secrets that ultimately fueled the motivation of the antagonist. Everything—decisions, secrets, magic, etc.—had known and unforeseen consequences to varying degrees of devastation.

Cadence was an isle, which gave the story an isolated feel. The location set the tone as well as the limits/price of magic.

I know Jack and Adaira were at the center of the story as they called on the spirits while trying to figure the situation out. I liked them both, especially when they had their scenes together with the banter and eventual honesty between them. But Torin and Sidra were my two favorite characters in the story, and they seemed to come alive on the page. I liked that their relationship was one that was already established. But they, like Jack and Adaira, experienced emotional turmoil that turned the easiness of their relationship into tension that needed to be resolved. There was no immediate epiphany that magically solved everything for them. The characters had to decide and be honest—first with themselves before others—to get what it was they wanted or needed. The individual character arcs were done really well here, and I appreciated how much it was explored.

The sequel to A River Enchanted is (the last I checked) coming out this December. I’m glad the release date isn’t too far away, because I’m really looking forward to the next one.
 
About the author....
Rebecca Ross writes fantasy novels for teens and adults. She lives in the Appalachian foothills of Northeast Georgia with her husband, their lively Australian Shepherd, and an endless pile of books. THE QUEEN'S RISING, THE QUEEN'S RESISTANCE, SISTERS OF SWORD & SONG, and DREAMS LIE BENEATH are her titles for young adult readers. A RIVER ENCHANTED is her adult fantasy debut, publishing February 15, 2022 with a sequel to follow. When not writing, she can be found reading or in her garden, where she grows wildflowers and story ideas. 

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Harper Voyager) in exchange for an honest review, thank you! 

Monday, April 11, 2022

Music Monday (195): Bree Runway, Andy Caldwell, Gina Rene, Ryan Charles

 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: This week I'm listening to the orchestral version of Somebody Like You by Bree Runway. I really love the way they rearranged the song.

 

Adri: I've been listening to Quiet Nights by Andy Caldwell featuring Gina Rene.


Andrea: I love my boots and this New Boot Goofin song by Ryan Charles. Until next time, I hope everyone has a lovely week!



What are you listening to this week?



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