Thursday, September 29, 2022

Short Stories I Read In August

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

Questions For The Fallen by Omodero David Oghenekaro (Strange Horizons; Issue: 1 August 2022)

The only piece I got to in the month of August was a poem called Questions For The Fallen by Omodero David Oghenekaro. The title gives a good idea of what it’s about. I loved this poem so much. It was short, metaphorical, and beautifully written.

From around the web…

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

I Listened To: August Music Roundup

In August, I bounced between two albums: Beyoncé’s Renaissance and Megan Thee Stallion’s Truamazine. They’re two very different albums—in terms of sound, theme, and genre—but I appreciate them for what they are.

Renaissance
  • When I read about what kind of album Renaissance was supposed to be, I had high expectations. And every single one of them was met. The range in sound made every track feel different than the last, but the strong themes and genre influences—dance, house, R&B, and more—made the album feel cohesive. I mean, even the transitions between each song were smooth. Its music you can move to. Renaissance is a treat.
Traumazine
  • Moving on, Traumazine was another excellent album to come out in the July-August months. It had its foot firmly in hip-hop and rap. The title is indicative of what you’ll get with this one, and the complexity and depth of the lyrics is what keeps drawing me back to this album. Traumazine features some of my favorite songs by Megan Thee Stallion. It also had a handful of interesting features including Rico Nasty, Latto, and Jhené Aiko among others.

What have you been listening to?

Monday, September 26, 2022

Music Monday (216): Mariah The Scientist, Leela James, & Wyclef Jean

 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: Over the weekend, I checked out some of the music Mariah The Scientist released in 2022. My favorite song of the bunch is Spread Thin.


Andrea: Hi all! This week I'm listening to Say That by Leela James featuring Anthony Hamilton and 911 by Wyclef Jean featuring Mary J. Blige. I look forward to discovering what everyone is listening to this week. Until then, have an amazing week!




What are you listening to this week?


Friday, September 23, 2022

What I've Been Watching + Upcoming Movies & TV Shows

It’s September, and I thought it was time to talk about some of the stuff I’ve been watching lately. I also wanted to talk about some of the upcoming shows and movies I’m looking forward to. Without further ado, here’s what has kept me entertained. 


Murder She Wrote
  • I’ve seen most of Murder She Wrote, but I still tune in to the reruns. It’s one of my favorite shows.
Agatha Christie’s Marple
  • Speaking of mysteries, I’ve been watching episodes of Marple on Sundays. I like the way this series was filmed, and the casting choices were excellent. One of these days, I will read this particular Christie series.
Svengoolie
  • For the past couple of months, I’ve been into Svengoolie. I like classic movies, especially horror, fantasy, and science fiction. And so far, the selection of movies broadcasted on the program has been really great.
Sonic 1 & 2
  • I finally watched both Sonic movies, and I loved them! One of my favorite series that I used to watch on Saturday mornings when I was a kid, was Sonic. These movies were great. They were fun and funny with enough action to keep me interested. There were so many little details that reminded me of the cartoons too. I liked the casting choices, especially Jim Carrey’s Doctor Eggman, Natasha Rothwell’s Rachel, Tika Sumpter’s Maddie, and James Marsden’s Thomas. And after the end credit scene of Sonic 2, I’m really looking forward to the next one.

Upcoming Shows and Movies
I’m really excited about Abbott Elementary season two. It’s one of the funniest shows I’ve watched this year, and I’m looking forward to what this season has to offer.

Another series I’m waiting on is The Midnight Club, which will be released on Netflix this October. I have my fingers crossed that it turns out good, because the trailer looks amazing.

I’m also looking forward to The School For Good and Evil film (also this October on Netflix). I never read any of the books, but I’m still excited for the movie. Again, the trailer for it seems really good, and I have high hopes for this one too.

Another Netflix movie that is on my list this October is Wendell & Wild. It’s stop-motion fantasy horror, and when I learned that Jordon Peele was involved with the project, well, I can’t wait for it to be released.

There’s also Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio this December, and I’ve waited all year for it so far. So, December can’t get here soon enough.

There's also the next Knives Out film to look forward to. 

What have you watched lately? Are there any shows or movies you're waiting for?

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone

Title: Lakesedge
Series: World at the Lake's Edge #1
Author: Lyndall Clipstone
Source/Format: Bookish First; Paperback
More Details: Young Adult; Gothic Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Henry Holt & Co. (BYR); September 28, 2021

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble    Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...
A gothic fantasy about monsters and magic, set on the banks of a cursed lake.

There are monsters in the world. When Violeta Graceling arrives at haunted Lakesedge estate, she expects to find a monster. She knows the terrifying rumors about Rowan Sylvanan, who drowned his entire family when he was a boy. But neither the estate nor the monster are what they seem. There are monsters in the woods. As Leta falls for Rowan, she discovers he is bound to the Lord Under, the sinister death god lurking in the black waters of the lake. A creature to whom Leta is inexplicably drawn…There’s a monster in the shadows, and now it knows my name. Now, to save Rowan—and herself—Leta must confront the darkness in her past, including unraveling the mystery of her connection to the Lord Under.


When I read the excerpt for Lakesedge over on Bookishfirst, I was intrigued by the story. The beginning is dark and deals with heavy themes, but it offered a good glimpse of the characters, atmosphere, tone, and the setting/lore that would influence the rest of the story. I wanted to keep reading, so the excerpt did its job. And I’m glad I read this one, because it was an entertaining book.

The two sentences that open Lakesedge’s first chapter boldly assert: “There are monsters in the world. There are monsters in the woods.” Pg.1

It’s labeled as gothic fantasy, and for the most part I agree with that description. It did feel like fantasy YA that picked up certain aspects about the gothic genre to add to it—such as decayed wealth, tragic characters, and a curse. The setting—which was dark, isolated, and enigmatic—also helped build the immersive atmosphere. It was a highlight.

I also stuck around to see how their efforts to unravel the curse would turn out. I’m all for a story about dangerous woods—it’s one of my favorite fantasy tropes—and I liked how Clipstone built the history of the curse. It was appropriately horrifying, and it demonstrated the kind of deity the Lord Under actually was.

Even while writing this, I’m still trying to decide how much I liked Violetta Graceling as a main character. On one hand, I appreciated her dedication toward protecting the only family she had left. She’s the sole POV in the story, and she had her moments of witty banter and ingenuity. On the other hand, part of the explanation offered for withholding certain details until it was convenient to know them, left me feeling a little let down. It went from “I know nothing about this,” to “Okay, maybe I did, but that’s beside the point.”

But, the ending was riveting. All the consequences I was waiting for—they happened. The character arcs Clipstone steadily built during the story—those paid off. There were no easy victories, and I loved it.

Lakesedge was a solid story, and the questions that came about as a consequence of its ending presented plenty of options of what could happen next. It was an entertaining read, and I would read the sequel.
About the author....
Lyndall Clipstone writes about monsters and the girls who like to kiss them. A former youth librarian who grew up running wild in the Barossa Ranges of South Australia, she currently lives in Adelaide, where she tends her own indoor secret garden. She has a Bachelors in Creative Writing and a Graduate Diploma in Library and Information Management.

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Henry Holt & Co. [BYR]) via Bookish First in exchange for an honest review, thank you! 

Monday, September 19, 2022

Music Monday (215): Rina Sawayama, Andy Grammer

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 Rina Sawayama's new album, Hold The Girl. I love it, and one of the songs I've had on repeate is Your Age


Andrea: Hi all! This week I'm listening to Saved My Life by Andy Grammer x R3HAB. I heard this song on TV, and I chose it for my Music Monday pick. Have a great week all!



What are you listening to this week?


Friday, September 16, 2022

The Friday 56 (222) & Book Beginnings: Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone

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...
A gothic fantasy about monsters and magic, set on the banks of a cursed lake.

There are monsters in the world. When Violeta Graceling arrives at haunted Lakesedge estate, she expects to find a monster. She knows the terrifying rumors about Rowan Sylvanan, who drowned his entire family when he was a boy. But neither the estate nor the monster are what they seem. There are monsters in the woods. As Leta falls for Rowan, she discovers he is bound to the Lord Under, the sinister death god lurking in the black waters of the lake. A creature to whom Leta is inexplicably drawn…There’s a monster in the shadows, and now it knows my name. Now, to save Rowan—and herself—Leta must confront the darkness in her past, including unraveling the mystery of her connection to the Lord Under.


Beginning: "There are monsters in the world."

56: "The road gives way to a graveled drive, arched by an intricate iron gateway."


Comments: I got a paperback copy of Lakesedge for review from Bookishfirst, and I liked it. What are you reading this week?

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

In The Shadow Garden by Liz Parker

Title: In The Shadow Garden
Series: n/a 
Author: Liz Parker
Source/Format: NetGalley; eARC
More Details: Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Forever; September 13, 2022

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...
Three generations of witches must discover where their magic went wrong as secrets resurface that could solve a twenty-year-old mystery in this riveting debut, perfect for fans of Practical Magic and Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe. 
There's something magical about Yarrow, Kentucky. The three empathic witches of the Haywood family are known for their shadow garden—from strawberries that taste like chocolate to cherry tomatoes with hints of basil and oregano. Their magic can cure any heartache, and the fruits of their garden bring a special quality to the local bourbon distillery. On one day every year, a shot of Bonner bourbon will make your worst memory disappear. But twenty years ago, the town gave up more than one memory for the year; they forgot an entire summer. One person died. One person disappeared. And no one has any idea why. As secrets from that fateful summer start to come to light, there must be a reckoning between the rival Haywood and Bonner families. But the only clue Irene Haywood has is in her tea leaves: a stranger’s arrival will bring either love or betrayal…


When I read the synopsis for Liz Parker’s In the Shadow Garden, it seemed to have everything I like about fantasy set in contemporary times: multiple POVs, magic, a small town, family secrets, grudges, betrayal, and a forgotten summer. There were parts I really enjoyed about In the Shadow Garden, and some that I was a little more lukewarm about.

My main frustration with the story doesn’t detract from how well it was written, because it had a certain flow to it that kept me reading. I was, personally, a little frustrated by Addison. She was fine, but I feel like I spent a lot of time waiting for her to learn from her mistakes. When she did, it was great, and I wish there had been more of those moments. The rest of the characters, however, were good, but it was Kaden and Irene who were my favorites. I really loved what Parker did with them. That was something I have to highlight too: the emotional stakes were just as consequential as the magical ones.

I did like the overall themes and messaging, about family and healing over time as well its foil within the story: how forgetting wasn’t the easy solution (or relief) it was originally portrayed to be. The sinister nature of what was happening was like a weed the town, Yarrow, never realized it needed to get rid of. There was a sense of foreboding connected to it, which steadily built over the course of the story. It made sense too, considering how secrets could stay buried forever when there was no one to remember why they were ever important. It all tied back in with the magic, the garden, the bourbon, and the people who made them a focal point within their lives. I’d describe it as a calling. And it was one of my favorite things about In the Shadow Garden.

All-in-all, In the Shadow Garden was good. Besides a few hiccups, I really appreciated certain character arcs, as well as the give-and-take necessary for the magic of the titular shadow garden to flourish. It was pretty cool. I would definitely read another book by Liz Parker.
   
About the author....
Liz Parker loves gardening, a good cup of tea, and the kind of story that sinks it hooks into you and refuses to let go. She grew up with her time split between Tennessee and northern Nevada, giving her a love of the kind of magic you can only find on a hot summer night when the fireflies float drunk on humidity or beneath a cloudless desert sky lit by stars and possibility. Today, Liz lives in California with her husband, dog, and too many houseplants to name (though she could if you asked).

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

Monday, September 12, 2022

Music Monday (214): Ellie Goulding, Mickey Guyton

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 like Ellie Goulding's new song, Easy Lover. She recently released a solo version. I like it just as much as the original, which featured Big Sean.


Andrea: Hi all! It's been a while. I hope everyone is doing great. This week I'm listening to Somethin' Bout You by Mickey Guyton. 



What are you listening to this week?


Friday, September 2, 2022

The Friday 56 (221) & Book Beginnings: The Paradiso 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 Paradiso, Dante explores the goal of human striving: the merging of individual destiny with universal order. One of the towering creations of world literature, this epic discovery of truth is a work of mystical intensity? an immortal hymn to God, Nature, Eternity, and Love.



Beginning: "The glory of Him who moves all things rays forth
                     through all the universe, and it reflected
                     from each thing in proportion to its worth."

56: "Yet all these were creations! Ought not they--
       if what you said of them before is true--
       to be forever proof against decay?'"


Comments: I finished reading Paradise, so I'm officially done with The Divine Comedy. This was a sweeping epic story, and I enjoyed every second of it. What are you reading this week?

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Blog Tour: ARC Review Daybreak on Raven Island by Fleur Bradley


Welcome to the Our Thoughts Precisely stop for Daybreak on Raven Island!

Title: Daybreak on Raven Island
Series: n/a
Author: Fleur Bradley
Source/Format: Author; E-ARC
More Details: Ghost, Mystery, Middle Grade
Publisher/Publication Date: Viking Books for Young Readers; August 23 2022


Synopsis:
From the critically acclaimed author of Midnight at the Barclay Hotel comes a thrilling new middle grade mystery novel inspired by Alcatraz Prison.

Tori, Marvin, and Noah would rather be anywhere else than on the seventh-grade class field trip to Raven Island prison. Tori would rather be on the soccer field, but her bad grades have benched her until further notice; Marvin would rather be at the first day of a film festival with his best friend, Kevin; and Noah isn't looking forward to having to make small talk with his classmates at this new school.

But when the three of them stumble upon a dead body in the woods, miss the last ferry back home, and then have to spend the night on Raven Island, they find that they need each other now more than ever. They must work together to uncover a killer, outrun a motley ghosthunting crew, and expose the age-old secrets of the island all before daybreak.

Daybreak on Raven Island is Fleur Bradley’s new enjoyable, spooky middle grade novel. It follows a trio of kids, Tori, Noah, and Melvin, as they get stuck on Raven Island and its now defunct prison. It's basically as the synopsis lays it out.

I enjoyed the plot since it was deeply tied to the environment and characters. I also liked the many twist and turns with the ghost hunting and mystery, which I don’t think it was overly scary for young readers. The biggest thing I noticed was the budding friendship between Tori, Noah, and Melvin. We get to know a little of their background, history, and ambitions through the first few chapters. Here you kind of get the idea of how each of them fit into the story later on. Many things became clearer as the story unfolded while they roamed the island looking for clues and bumping into other characters. For instance, how each character realizes and comes to terms with their issues and emotions with the help of each other.  Or like how the complex subject of prison is intertwined in the story. Although some of the story was predictable, that conclusion definitely wasn’t.

Overall, I personally loved Daybreak on Raven Island. If it sounds like it’s up your or your young reader’s alley, you'll want to check this one out.

Thanks for reading!


A Note from the Author

Thank you for your interest in my work! I had so much fun researching and writing my latest mystery for kids, Daybreak on Raven Island; I hope that translates as you’re reading.

Daybreak on Raven Island started with setting, as most of my books do. I was looking for a new (mysterious) place to spark my imagination, and quickly thought of Alcatraz. Alcatraz Island has a such a scary vibe, and as I was doing my research, I also found that there are a lot of unsolved mysteries surrounding the island. Including a prison break in 1962…Three inmates escaped Alcatraz, and no one ever knew if they drowned or made it off the island. I decided to take this real-life story and create my own mystery. I gave Tori, Marvin and Noah the task to solve the case of an infamous prison break from Raven Island, I added a present-day murder mystery, and a few ghosts to make things more complicated. Plus, I added a deep secret to Raven Island itself—you’ll have to read the book to find out what that is.


As I learned more of the terrible conditions of Alcatraz and how things are still not always fair today, I tried to shed some light on this through Tori’s character. I learned that one in 28 kids in America has had an incarcerated parent, which is something kids often keep a secret. And that must be really, really hard. I hope Daybreak on Raven Island sparks some thought or conversation, so those kids don’t feel alone in carrying this burden.


Find out more about me, my books and where to find me at www.fleurbradley.com

All best in reading,

Fleur

About the Author...
Fleur Bradley is the author of the (scary) middle-grade mystery Daybreak on Raven Island, and award-winning mystery Midnight at the Barclay Hotel (Viking/Penguin Random House).

Her story The Perfect Alibi appeared in Mystery Writers of America’s middle-grade anthology Super Puzzletastic Mysteries, edited by Chris Grabenstein (HarperCollins).

Fleur regularly does school and Skype visits, as well as librarian and educator conference talks on reaching reluctant readers. Originally from the Netherlands, she now lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and two daughters, and entirely too many rescue animals.

Where to find her:
Website     Twitter     Instagram     Facebook

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