Friday, July 29, 2022

Short Stories I Read in June

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

Mycelysis by G.G. Diniz; Art by C.A.P. Ward (Strange Horizons; Issue: 30, May 2022)

Mushrooms/fungus and speculative fiction/SFF seems to go hand in hand. The first of the two short stories I read this month was Mycelysis by G.G. Diniz. It was a fantastic work of flash fiction. The story can be a little haunting, as it talks of gods coming and going, and a nameless narrator who goes to a temple and joins a group of disciples. It was short but exceptionally interesting, especially with the imagery painted by the writing and the overall point of the story. (The little note at the beginning was an interesting look at how the illustration correlated with the story, and I recommend reading that as well.)

The Fruit of the Princess Tree by Sage Tyrtle (Apex Magazine; May 17, 2022)

The second and last story I read in June was Sage Tyrtle’s The Fruit of the Princess Tree. There’s no shortage of fiction that challenges that princess and prince charming narrative, and this story falls into that category. What makes it unique is its approach to it, by adding a fantasy aspect into the fray with princesses that grow on the titular tree. There was an undeniably somber tone to the story, but it was fitting. I also enjoyed the ending. This was a good one.

From around the web…

Monday, July 25, 2022

Music Monday (209): Angel Haze, Lauv & Chapel Hart, Alice Francis


  • 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 was listening to Angel Haze's Ep, Girl With The Gun. One of my favorite songs is Bullet. I always enjoy music that's influenced by funk, and I really love what Angel Haze did with this song.

Adri: I've been listening to Alice Francis' recent album Club Noir. My pick for today is the titular track.

Andrea: Hi all! This week I am listening to Who (feat. BTS) & All 4 Nothing (I'm So In Love) by Lauv. Is everyone familiar with Dolly Parton's song, Jolene? If not you can click on the link to listen to it. This is one of my favorite songs by Dolly Parton. Now there's a new song entitled You Can Have Him Jolene by Chapel Hart. I really enjoyed this take on dealing with Jolene. Have an amazing week!

What are you listening to this week?

Friday, July 22, 2022

The Friday 56 (219) & Book Beginnings: Clash Of Steel by C.B. Lee

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... 

Two intrepid girls hunt for a legendary treasure on the deadly high seas in this YA remix of the classic adventure novel Treasure Island.

1826. The sun is setting on the golden age of piracy, and the legendary Dragon Fleet, the scourge of the South China Sea, is no more. Xiang has grown up with stories about the Dragon Fleet and its ruthless leader, a woman known only as the Dragon Queen, all her life. Xiang desperately wants to set sail and explore—mainly to find her father, a presumed dead crew member of the Dragon Fleet. Her only memento of him is a pendant she always wears, a simple but plain piece of gold jewelry.
But the pendant's true nature is revealed when a mysterious girl named Anh steals it, only to return it to Xiang in exchange for her help in decoding the tiny map scroll hidden inside. Rumor has it that the legendary Dragon Queen had one last treasure—the plunder of a thousand ports—hidden away on an island shrouded in mist that only can be seen once in a blue moon.
Xiang is convinced this map could lead to the fabled treasure. Captivated with the thrill of adventure, she joins Anh and her motley crew off in pursuit of the island. But the girls soon find that the sea—and especially those who sail it—are far more dangerous than the legends led them to believe.

Beginning: "The wild storm seems to have no end, the heavens above unleashing a relentless torrent as the sea rises and falls in response."

56: "I'm alone, and I whisper the city's name to myself like a promise."

Comments: Hello, I'm taking over The Friday 56 & Book Beginnings this week! I loved of Clash of Steel so much that I end up speeding through it. I especially loved getting to know the world and the main (and many side) characters. So what are you reading this week?

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Meet Me by the Fountain: An Inside History of the Mall by Alexandra Lange

Title: Meet Me by the Fountain, An Inside History of the Mall 
Series: n/a
Author: Alexandra Lange
Source/Format: Publisher; Paperback ARC
More Details: Nonfiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Bloomsbury; June 14, 2022

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
Few places have been as nostalgized, or as maligned, as malls. Since their birth in the 1950s, they have loomed large as temples of commerce, the agora of the suburbs. In their prime, they proved a powerful draw for creative thinkers such as Joan Didion, Ray Bradbury, and George Romero, who understood the mall's appeal as both critics and consumers. Yet today, amid the aftershocks of financial crises and a global pandemic, as well as the rise of online retail, the dystopian husk of an abandoned shopping center has become one of our era's defining images. Conventional wisdom holds that the mall is dead. But what was the mall, really? And have rumors of its demise been greatly exaggerated?

In her acclaimed The Design of Childhood, Alexandra Lange uncovered the histories of toys, classrooms, and playgrounds. She now turns her sharp eye to another subject we only think we know. She chronicles postwar architects' and merchants' invention of the mall, revealing how the design of these marketplaces played an integral role in their cultural ascent. In Lange's perceptive account, the mall becomes newly strange and rich with contradiction: Malls are environments of both freedom and exclusion--of consumerism, but also of community. Meet Me by the Fountain is a highly entertaining and evocative promenade through the mall's story of rise, fall, and ongoing reinvention, for readers of any generation.

When I saw Meet Me by the Fountain on offer for review, I thought “why not?” It seemed like a fascinating subject to delve into—it’s also far outside the nonfiction books I usually gravitate towards, but I went into it with an open mind. And I’m pleased to say that my initial assessment was right on the money. I loved the book.

Meet Me by the Fountain was an incredibly interesting look at the ways malls went from concept to reality; from cultural hubs to asserting more restrictions; and then into decline during something that can only be described as a boom-and-bust cycle. Lange expertly laid out the long history—well into more recent years too—in succinct and engrossing chapters. They delved into everything from layout, anchor stores, and the (often) narrow scope of who these places were meant to cater to. It was an interesting dichotomy between expectations and the actual needs of the community it was placed within—especially in urban areas.

There was a heavy emphasis on architecture and interior design throughout Meet Me by the Fountain. Many of the malls were described as using design to create an experience to entice shoppers to stay for longer periods of time.

I also appreciated the wide array of architects and development firms that were mentioned. Most of them I just never bothered to look up, but reading so many quotes about the process behind developing a project of the size of a mall was interesting. So there was a lot to learn from this book.

Meet Me by the Fountain is, hands down, one of my favorite nonfiction reads of 2022.
About the author....
Alexandra Lange is a journalist and an architectural historian. She is a contributing editor at New York Magazine and writes articles about architecture, design and urban planning for Metropolis, Domino and The New York Times. She received her PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and has contributed essays and articles to peer-reviewed publications such as the Journal of Design History and the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. Alexandra has taught architectural criticism at New York University and delivered papers on her research at the Society of Architectural Historians 59th Annual Meeting and the 2005 Buell Dissertation Colloquium at Columbia University.

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

Monday, July 18, 2022

Music Monday (208): Lizzo


  • 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 Lizzo's long awaited new album, Special. One of my favorite songs is 2 Be Loved (Am I Ready). I could go on and on about how good it is. Instead, just give it a listen!

Adri: Since my co-bloggers are listening to Lizzo, I decided to join in. My pick for today is Coldplay.

Andrea: Hi all! I'm listening to Special too, and my pick is the title song. Have an amazing week!

What are you listening to this week?

Friday, July 15, 2022

I Listened to The End of the Beginning by Les Friction

Like anyone, I love a good story. But today I’m talking about music, or more specifically: Les Friction’s recent album, The End of The Beginning. If you check out you’ll see how this newer release’s story ties into Les Friction and Dark Matter.

Plot aside, The End of the Beginning is still in line with Les Friction’s sound, but a little more on the mellow end. However, that could just be me. Of course, there’s still the emotional, powerful, and buildup songs. All That Mattered (featuring Emily Valentine), The End of the Beginning, and Game Ender respectively, to name a few.

Above all, I thought The End of the Beginning had an otherworldly, ethereal flair about it. And I enjoyed all the sounds and melodies that came along with it. In the end, I really liked this one.


Thursday, July 14, 2022

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Title: The Daughter of Doctor Moreau 
Series: n/a
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Source/Format: NetGalley; eARC
More Details: Historical Science Fiction; Reimagining
Publisher/Publication Date: Del Rey; July 19, 2022

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic and Velvet Was the Night comes a dreamy reimagining of The Island of Doctor Moreau set against the backdrop of nineteenth-century Mexico.

Carlota Moreau: a young woman, growing up in a distant and luxuriant estate, safe from the conflict and strife of the Yucatán peninsula. The only daughter of either a genius, or a madman. Montgomery Laughton: a melancholic overseer with a tragic past and a propensity for alcohol. An outcast who assists Dr. Moreau with his scientific experiments, which are financed by the Lizaldes, owners of magnificent haciendas and plentiful coffers. The hybrids: the fruits of the Doctor’s labor, destined to blindly obey their creator and remain in the shadows. A motley group of part human, part animal monstrosities. All of them living in a perfectly balanced and static world, which is jolted by the abrupt arrival of Eduardo Lizalde, the charming and careless son of Doctor Moreau’s patron, who will unwittingly begin a dangerous chain reaction. For Moreau keeps secrets, Carlota has questions, and in the sweltering heat of the jungle, passions may ignite.

THE DAUGHTER OF DOCTOR MOREAU is both a dazzling historical novel and a daring science fiction journey.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia has this way of spinning tales—whether fantasy, historical, or noire—into truly engrossing stories. I’ve read a number of her books—Mexican Gothic, Gods of Jade and Shadow, Velvet Was the Night, The Return of the Sorceress—and now I can check The Daughter of Doctor Moreau off my TBR list.

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau was one of my most anticipated 2022 releases, and it was everything I was hoping it would be. I read it in almost one sitting.

This isn’t the first time I’ve read a retold version of The Island of Dr. Moreau, but this is one of the best. It was a loose reimagining, but the hallmarks of the classic tale were there. At times, it read like a family drama with plenty of secrets. And yet, there was always that underling intensity and apprehension from the hybrids, friction with Moreau’s benefactor, and the isolated and enigmatic atmosphere.

Carlota Moreau was a character who disliked change. But with her upbringing, change wasn’t something that came often. But as the story progressed, the earlier periods of contentment became harder to maintain. Carlota had an interesting character arc, and I enjoyed the moments when she stepped outside the role of a dutiful daughter.

Doctor Moreau was a somewhat malevolent figure in the household—a stern father, a devoted scientist. He had his secrets, and the mystery surrounding the nature of his experiments was one of the reasons I kept reading.

Montgomery Laughton was a tragic character who was prone to indulging in his habits, but his chapters were some of my favorites from the novel.

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau was another good one.
About the author....
Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the author of Velvet Was the Night, Mexican Gothic, Gods of Jade and Shadow, and many other books. She has won the Locus and British Fantasy awards for her work as a novelist, and the World Fantasy Award as an editor.

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

Monday, July 11, 2022

Music Monday (207): Men At Work , Jungle, & Tiera Kennedy


  • 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: My pick this week is one of my favorite classic songs: Who Can It Be Now by Men At Work.

Adri: This week I'm listening to Good Times / Problemz by Jungle.

Andrea: Hi all! This week I'm listening to Found It In You by Tiera Kennedy. She's an artist that's new to me, and I hope you enjoy. Have an amazing week!

What are you listening to this week?

Friday, July 8, 2022

I Listened to Dawn FM by The Weeknd

I’ve listened to The Weeknd on and off over the years. I’ve certainly had my favorite songs. With the release of Star Boy (2016), I started following his music more closely. I enjoyed that album, especially for the collaboration with Daft Punk. After Hours (2020) produced some of my favorite tracks: Blinding Lights, Save Your Tears, Too Late, Hardest To Love, the titular After Hours, etc. It felt reflective, and it was also a tonal shift.

I finally got around to listening to The Weeknd’s 2022 album, Dawn FM. There are no words to describe how much I’ve been enjoying it. I’ve replayed it in full too many times to count, before I finally decided to dedicate a post to it.

The Weeknd does retro pop so well, and each track was precise in its messaging and consistently good in its lyrics and backtracks. All the hallmarks of dance and synth were present, but the album excels at feeling fresh and current. I really can’t name a single song that’s greater than the other, because Dawn FM was just one of those albums where I enjoy every track on its list.

I loved the concept here, as well as the delivery. It was styled after the experience of listening to the radio. Jim Carrey narrates the album, acting as a guide through The Weeknd’s version of purgatory. And the dark imagery I’ve come to associate with his style was present in the music videos that were released in support of Dawn FM.

All that to say: Dawn FM is one of my favorite albums of 2022.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Death by Bubble Tea by Jennifer J. Chow

Title: Death by Bubble Tea
Series: LA Night Market #1
Author: Jennifer A. Chow 
Source/Format: NetGalley; eARC
More Details: Cozy Mystery
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley Books; July 5, 2022

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
Two cousins who start a food stall at their local night market get a serving of murder in this first novel of a delicious new cozy mystery series by Jennifer J. Chow, author of Mimi Lee Gets a Clue.

When Yale Yee discovers her cousin Celine is visiting from Hong Kong, she is obliged to play tour guide to a relative she hasn't seen in twenty years. Not only that, but her father thinks it's a wonderful idea for them to bond by running a food stall together at the Eastwood Village Night Market. Yale hasn't cooked in years, and she hardly considers Celine's career as a social media influencer as adequate experience, but because she's just lost her job at her local bookstore, she feels she has no choice. Yale and Celine serve small dishes and refreshing drinks, and while business is slow, it eventually picks up thanks to Celine's surprisingly useful marketing ideas. They're quite shocked that their bubble tea, in particular, is a hit--literally--when one of their customers turns up dead. Yale and Celine are prime suspects due to the gold flakes that Celine added to the sweet drink as a garnish. Though the two cousins are polar opposites in every way, they must work together to find out what really happened to the victim or the only thing they'll be serving is time.

It’s been a minute since I last picked up a cozy mystery, but I was instantly intrigued by Jennifer J. Chow’s Death by Bubble Tea. Set in LA and featuring two cousins (Yale and Celine), the book had the look of a promising beginning to a new series. It met all my expectations.

Death by Bubble Tea was the perfect weekend read to get lost in. There was plenty of talk about food (which made me hungry while reading), and I liked the setting and the overall way the plot unfolded. 

The characters, particularly Yale and her family, were developed well from basically page one, and I liked the sense of community that was established early on. The characters weren’t without their troubles, and that was explored alongside the other aspects of the story.

The mystery had a great introduction, and the portion of the story dedicated to sleuthing was relatively fun to follow along to. It was trial and error for Yale and Celine—something that was complicated by the fact that they were considered suspects where, theoretically, there should have been an ample amount of witnesses who had to have seen something. Untangling what happened that night was an interesting journey.

Death by Bubble Tea was a lot of fun. I will definitely check out the sequel.

About the author....
Jennifer J. Chow is the Lefty Award-nominated author of the Sassy Cat Mysteries and the forthcoming L.A. Night Market Mysteries (Berkley/Penguin Random House). The first in the Sassy Cat series, Mimi Lee Gets A Clue, was selected as an Overdrive Recommended Read, a PopSugar Best Summer Beach Read, and one of BuzzFeed’s Top 5 Books by AAPI authors. Her upcoming Mimi Lee Cracks the Code was listed in BookRiot’s Best Upcoming Cozy Mysteries for the Second Half of 2021. She is the current Vice President of Sisters in Crime and is active in Crime Writers of Color and Mystery Writers of America.

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

Monday, July 4, 2022

Music Monday (206): FKA Twigs, Louie Vega, Caron Wheeler Jimmie Allen


  • 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: One of my favorite songs from FKA Twigs' Caprisongs is her collaboration with The Weeknd. It's called Tears In The Club.

Adri: This week I'm enjoying A New Day by Louie Vega featuring Caron Wheeler.

Andrea: Hi all! This week I'm listening to Jimmie Allen's Down Home. Have a great week!

What are you listening to this week?

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