Monday, January 30, 2023

Music Monday (228): SZA, MAJOR.


  • 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: SZA's SOS has a lot of great songs on it. Another one of my favorites is Seek & Destroy.  

Andrea: Hi all! This week I'm listening to MAJOR., an artist that's new to me.  This song is called Why I Love You. Enjoy! Until next time, have an amazing week!

What are you listening to this week?

Friday, January 27, 2023

I Listened To: December Music Roundup

Well, it’s been a minute since I wrote about the music that’s kept me entertained. But, it’s a new year, and I thought it would be a good idea to do a roundup of what I was listening to in December.

Of course, there are the usual holiday favorites, as well as some new additions to my playlist—which were my Music Monday picks during the month.

Besides the holiday stuff, I collected a few more individual tracks as well. One of the songs that made it onto my playlist was Girlfriend by Hemlocke Springs. It’s quirky. But, it has a really good sound, and it’s also incredibly catchy. Another newish artist I want to see more from is Adanna Duru. I’m a fan of what I’ve heard so far, particularly with the song that introduced me to Duru’s music, POP. Then, there was the song—Heads Will Roll—from the Gotham Knights trailer. I haven’t played the game and have no plans to. I just kept getting the trailer as an ad, and when I was searching around for the song, I stumbled onto the original. It’s by a band called Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I really can’t pick between the original and the cover, because both are great in their respective ways. Then, of course, there was Doechii’s live performance (for Billboard and Honda), which is one of my favorite versions of Stressed. The set design is topnotch, and Doechii nailed that performance.

In December, I mainly revisited a lot of music, since the year was winding down and I was due for my annual break from the blog. And, as a consequence, there was only one new album I listened to: SOS by SZA. I wasn't expecting it in 2022, but, as soon as it was announced (which was relatively close to its release date), I was more than excited. SOS is a long album, but I love every second of it! SZA does R&B so well, with unique sounds, creative lyrics, and her signature vocals. And it makes the wait time between each album, single, or feature worth it. Some of my favorites from it were Seek & Destroy, Kill Bill, Good Days, and Too Late. I can’t recommend it enough!

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

Title: Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries
Series: Emily Wilde #1
Author: Heather Fawcett
Source/Format: NetGalley; eARC
More Details: Historical Fantasy; Romance
Publisher/Publication Date: Del Rey Books; January 10, 2023

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
A curmudgeonly professor journeys to a small town in the far north to study faerie folklore and discovers dark fae magic, friendship, and love, in this heartwarming and enchanting fantasy.

Cambridge professor Emily Wilde is good at many things: She is the foremost expert on the study of faeries. She is a genius scholar and a meticulous researcher who is writing the world's first encyclopaedia of faerie lore. But Emily Wilde is not good at people. She could never make small talk at a party--or even get invited to one. And she prefers the company of her books, her dog, Shadow, and the Fair Folk to other people. So when she arrives in the hardscrabble village of Hrafnsvik, Emily has no intention of befriending the gruff townsfolk. Nor does she care to spend time with another new arrival: her dashing and insufferably handsome academic rival Wendell Bambleby, who manages to charm the townsfolk, get in the middle of Emily's research, and utterly confound and frustrate her. But as Emily gets closer and closer to uncovering the secrets of the Hidden Ones--the most elusive of all faeries--lurking in the shadowy forest outside the town, she also finds herself on the trail of another mystery: Who is Wendell Bambleby, and what does he really want? To find the answer, she'll have to unlock the greatest mystery of all--her own heart.

One of my most anticipated releases of January 2023 was Heather Fawcett’s Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries. I was instantly intrigued by the synopsis and couldn’t wait to start reading it.

This story was delightful and written as if recounted in the titular character’s journal. It was a little like the Veronica Speedwell books crossed with The Invisible Library series. But, instead of a mystery or crime, there was a focus on faeries, folklore, and research. After all, the point of the story was Emily Wilde’s attempt to gather more material for her encyclopedia. Set during winter and its approach, and focused on the area in and around a village called Hrafnsvik.

I enjoyed the academic aspect about Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries. There was a lot of effort put in to building the field the characters worked within, and the many footnotes added an extra layer of detail.

Emily Wilde was a thorny and analytical character who was serious about her research, which offset Wendell Brambleby’s eccentric (and suspicious) charms and penchant for avoiding actual work. For much of the story, Wendell is seen from Emily’s perspective, and, while she might be against the idea of him interrupting her trip and thus her research, the two had an undeniable chemistry. They were two characters who understood each other, and their verbal sparring (and Emily’s sometimes dry observations and methods of seeking information) ensured there was never a dull moment. It was so entertaining, and I loved every second of it.

As for the romance, it was on the lighter side. It definitely felt like the beginning of something.

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is a new favorite.

About the author....
Heather Fawcett is a Canadian author of books for adults, kids, and teens, including the Even the Darkest Stars series, Ember and the Ice Dragons, The Language of Ghosts, Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries, and more. Her books have been translated into more than ten languages and somehow all include dragons in one form or another. She has a Master’s degree in English Literature and a Bachelor’s in Archaeology. She lives on Vancouver Island.

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

Monday, January 23, 2023

Music Monday (227): SZA + Phoebe Bridges, Giveon


  • 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 mentioned last week that I had a bunch of music that I wanted to talk about for Music Monday. Well, here is another song: Ghost In The Machine featuring Phoebe Bridges. It's from SZA new album, which released early in December. At the time, I was only doing holiday music, so I delayed writing about this one. Ghost In The Machine is one of my favorites from SOS.

Andrea: Hi all! This week I'm listening to Heartbreak Anniversary by Giveon. I really like his sound. Have a great week!

What are you listening to this week?

Friday, January 20, 2023

Hello, I'm Back + Some 2023 Stuff I'm Looking Forward To...

Hello, I’m back from my annual break from blogging. As usual, some posts—like Short Stories—will return to a more regular schedule in February as I get back into the swing of things. To start out this new blogging year, I wanted to do a brief recap of the stuff that kept me entertained through December and early January, as well as the books and albums I’m waiting for in 2023.

On my break, I didn’t read as much or watch as many movies and TV shows as I thought I would. The main series I watched was Harry & Megan on Netflix. As for books, I won’t mention them here, since I have upcoming reviews for them.

What preoccupied much of my attention was: I got into a couple of indie games. Nintendo was having a great sale on some of the titles I’ve had my eye on, and I couldn’t pass them up. The first was Ooblets. It’s a cozy life-simulation with a cute style, which had the creature collecting aspect of Pokemon with the farming and decorating features comparable to games like Animal Crossing. But, it also has mini games as well as fun dance battles, which you conduct with your Ooblets and their special dance moves. Jokes aside, that aspect is basically a strategy card game. It’s not very hard to get the hang of it and start leveling up, but the deck had a measure of unpredictability to the moves that are dealt each turn. And, it kept it interesting. The other titles I picked up were Going Under, an action-rpg set in an office building, and Lost In Random, an action adventure game with a card/chance aspect to part of the battle mechanic—which reminded me of the dance battles from Ooblets (just a little more complicated and with a focus on defeating enemies to progress in game). I’m still in the early stages of those games, and I like them so far. The only drawback for Lost In Random that I’ve come across, is that it lacks a manual save function. I have to pay especially close attention to when the game is auto saving, before I go back to the main menu. Other than that, I like the style of the graphics, as well as the story (at least to the point where I’m at).

And, now for some of the stuff I’m looking forward to. My list is, of course, never concrete, and it evolves as the year goes on and more stuff finally gets announced. What I have now is very short.


Ellie Goulding’s Higher Than Heaven. This album is slated for an early February release (the third, to be exact). I’ve been an on-and-off follower of Goulding since her 2010 album, Lights. The singles released in support of Higher Than Heaven, has set a certain expectation for me, since I’ve liked everything I’ve heard so far.

Kimbra’s A Reckoning. Slated for a January 27th release, A Reckoning is one of my most anticipated albums of the year. I’ve been waiting for another full body of work by Kimbra since as far back as 2018. That was the year Primal Heart released, and, to this day, it’s one of my favorite albums.


**Note: As a reminder, the Harpercollins Union is still on strike. So, no Harpercollins titles will be mentioned here today.**

The books I’m currently looking forward to include: Cinnamon Twisted by Ginger Bolton, Four Parties and a Funeral by Maria DiRico, and Hot Pot Murder by Jennifer J. Chow. I also want to get back into the Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourn. And as far as classics go, I’m planning to tackle The Iliad and The Odyssey. 

So, that’s about it for today. I look forward to another year of blogging!

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

The Keeper's Six by Kate Elliott

Title: The Keepers Six
Series: n/a
Author: Kate Elliott
Source/Format: NetGalley; eARC
More Details: Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date:; January 17, 2023

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...
There are terrors that dwell in the space between worlds.

It’s been a year since Esther set foot in the Beyond, the alien landscape stretching between worlds, crossing boundaries of space and time. She and her magical travelling party, her Hex, haven’t spoken since the Concilium banned them from the Beyond. But when she wakes in the middle of the night to her son’s cry for help, the members of her Hex are the only ones she can trust to help her bring him back from wherever he has been taken. Esther will have to risk everything to find him. Undercover and hidden from the Concilium, she and her Hex will be tested by dragon lords, a darkness so dense it can suffocate, and the bones of an old crime come back to haunt her.

I was intrigued by the summary for The Keeper’s Six by Kate Elliott, particularly Esther Greene’s quest to save her abducted son. Overall, I liked the story. The writing had a certain flow to it, which made reading the novella easy. The story just wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.

The Keeper’s Six had a great start though. I liked that the story featured a Hex—essentially a motley crew—who had gone their separate ways, and were reunited. And the opening chapters had all the tension I expected as the scenario unfolded. Esther’s anxious inner-monologue and attempts to view the situation in an analytical light—to find as many clues as possible—were fantastic. However, an early reveal sort of removed some of that nail-biting tension from the narrative. And the story took a turn that I was, ultimately, lukewarm toward in the end.

The world building and setting were by far one of my favorite aspects about The Keeper’s Six. It was complicated, and it had all the hallmarks of a sprawling portal fantasy world. The particular rules about the Beyond provided a rigid structure the characters were knowledgeable about and followed to the best of their ability, while also supplying enough environmental obstacles and some not-so-friendly dangers to fulfil the promise of action made by the summary. It was the kind of setting I want to linger with, to catch all the details it had to offer. It was so fascinating, and by the end I wanted more time with it, since the story was bursting with references to prior incidents that had occurred there.

Overall, I liked the Keeper’s Six.
About the author....
As a child in rural Oregon, Kate Elliott made up stories because she longed to escape to a world of lurid adventure fiction. She now writes fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction, often with a romantic edge. She currently lives in Hawaii, where she paddles outrigger canoes and spoils her schnauzer.

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

Monday, January 16, 2023

Music Monday (226): Doechii, India Arie


  • 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 back from my break (more on that on a later post), and I hope everyone had a great New Year's day! During the holidays, I collected some music that I wanted to mention, since, in December, I was only talking about holiday music. To start, one of my favorite live performances from the latter end of 2022 was Doechii's Stressed, for Billboard and Honda. I love everything about this video including the set design and Doechii's vocals and stage presence.


Andrea: Hi all! I hope everyone is having an amazing New Year.  This week I've been listening to Little Things by India Arie while I built an aquarium stand with my son. Have an amazing week! 


What are you listening to this week?

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year! It's 2023. We're not back to blogging just yet, but there are some posts scheduled for early January. We're still around on Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, etc too. See you all after our break is over! Happy reading!

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