Monday, February 12, 2018

Music Monday (37): TLC & Olivia Newton-John

  • 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: Lately, I’ve been in a mood where all I want to listen to is older music. As such, my first pick is Physical by Olivia Newton-John. The one I’m talking about today is her live performance at the Sydney Opera House. It’s a gorgeous version of the song; although, if you haven’t heard the original then I recommend giving it a listen too.

My second pick is No Scrubs by TLC. I cannot accurately describe how much I love this song. Also, the esthetic of the music video is still one of my all-time favorites.

Of course, I’ve been listening to more than just the above mentioned songs including music by Samantha Fox, Pretty Poison, and SOS Band, among many others. What are you listening to this week?

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Friday 56 (124) & Book Beginnings: The Universe of Us by Lang Leav

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.
29431081Synopsis from Goodreads...

Lang Leav presents a completely new collection of poetry with a celestial theme in The Universe of Us...

Planets, stars, and constellations feature prominently in this beautiful, original poetry collection from Lang Leav. Inspired by the wonders of the universe, the best-selling poetess writes about love and loss, hope and hurt, being lost and found. Lang's poetry encompasses the breadth of emotions we all experience and evokes universal feelings with her skillfully crafted words...
Beginning: "I believe we think more deeply about the universe when we're falling in love. I think the mysterious pull draws you to another person is identical to the one that moves our eyes upward to the stars."

56: "I heard it began snowing in the Sahara and I wanted to tell you that I've changed."
Comments: My first poetry read of 2018, and I enjoyed it. The beginning is from the introduction by Lang Leav. And my 56 is part of a poem named Sahrah, and the irony behind it is that recently it actually did snow in the Sahara Desert. And The Universe of Us was released on October 4, 2016. 

What are you reading this week?

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

January Poetry Roundup

After I made my goal to read more poetry in 2018, I came across the problem of trying to figure out how I wanted to talk about them on the blog. And in the end, I decided that rather than doing a full review post for poetry books—many of them are short—that I would do a single monthly roundup of what I’ve been reading.
The Universe of Us by Lang Leav
  • The first poetry book I tackled in January was The Universe of Us by Lang Leav. Prior to this book, I’d never read anything by Leav but have heard a lot of good things about her work. Suffice it to say, I was interested. I’m not the best judge of what’s good or bad poetry—I haven’t read enough of it—but I enjoyed this collection. There were many poems about love and hurt, among other things. Many of them were relatable, such as Ode to Writers on page 93, which was so true that it almost hurt. Among my other favorites were Your Life, Today, the beautiful simplicity of Shooting Stars, and the truths that loudly resonated in Conversations. All-in-all, The Universe of Us wasn’t a bad one to start with....

The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers edited by Hollis Robins and Henry Louise Gates Jr.

  • Moving on, my second read was this collection edited by Hollis Robins and Henry Louise Gates Jr.. The basics: This book includes everything from poetry to fiction, essays, speeches, and personal accounts, among other things. It's a thought provoking and poignant collection that's an essential must read that also inspires further reading. It's history. And it dealt with accounts of slavery, discrimination after the Civil War, and hope and empowerment through religion and education from the viewpoint of African American women. There was work by writers such as Mary Prince, Pauline Hopkins, Julia Collins, and many others. I also enjoyed the fiction and poetry included in this book like the excerpt from Sarah E. Farro’s 1891 novel, True Love, and Mary E. Ash Lee’s poem, Afmerica (1885). As for the the poetry featured in this book, it's best described as intense. These poems often dealt with subjects that directly correlated with African American Women of the time, and acutely reflected their worries, observations, and hope for a better future—subjects that were reflected throughout the entire collection. As such, The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers was one of my favorite reads from January....

Comments + Looking ahead…

In January, I only got to two poetry books. It was a pretty good start on my goal; although, I hope to get to more than two in February. The good news is that more of  my library holds have come in, and I've compiled a list of which ones to read next....

Do you have any poetry recommendations?

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Friday 56 (123) & Book Beginnings: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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.
26032825Synopsis from Goodreads...

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever. And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe...

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King. To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences. In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.
Beginning: "On a drowsy Sunday afternoon, a man in a long dark coat hesitated in front of a house on a tree-lined street."

56: "There is always a moment when it begins to move that I can't help grinning. There is something about the sheer impossibility of it, the magnificence of the woods streaking by and the way the ragwort hooves kick up gravel as they leap up into the air, that gives me an electric rush of pure adrenaline."
Comments: I had high hopes for The Cruel Prince and wasn't disappointed. What are you reading this week? 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Thoughts on the Imperial Radch Trilogy: Review of Ancillary Sword & Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie

About the books...

20706284Title: Ancillary Sword
Author: Ann Leckie
Series: Imperial Radch #2
Source/Format: Gift; paperback
More Details: Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Orbit; October 7, 2014

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

What if you once had thousands of bodies and near god-like technology at your disposal?

And what if all of it were ripped away?

The Lord of the Radch has given Breq command of the ship Mercy of Kalr and sent her to the only place she would have agreed to go—to Athoek Station, where Lieutenant Awn's sister works in Horticulture. Athoek was annexed some six hundred years ago, and by now everyone is fully civilized—or should be. But everything is not as tranquil as it appears. Old divisions are still troublesome, Athoek Station's AI is unhappy with the situation, and it looks like the alien Presger might have taken an interest in what's going on. With no guarantees that interest is benevolent...

Title: Ancillary Mercy
Author: Ann Leckie
Series: Imperial Radch #3 
Source/Format: Gift; paperback
More Details: Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Orbit; October 6, 2015

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

The conclusion to the trilogy that began with Ancillary Justice...

For a moment, things seemed to be under control for Breq, the soldier who used to be a warship. Then a search of Athoek Station's slums turns up someone who shouldn't exist, and a messenger from the mysterious Presger empire arrives, as does Breq's enemy, the divided and quite possibly insane Anaander Mianaai - ruler of an empire at war with itself. Breq refuses to flee with her ship and crew, because that would leave the people of Athoek in terrible danger. The odds aren't good, but that's never stopped her before...

Just a quick note: I will be discussing the second and third book of the trilogy. I will try to be as vague as possible, but there may be minor spoilers. So, if you haven’t read the first book, Ancillary Justice or Ancillary Sword, then stop reading now.

No, seriously, look away.

Well then, you've been warned.

Still here? Alright then, read on... 
During my break from blogging, I planned to get a lot of reading done. And while I didn’t read as much as I wanted to, I did binge the rest of the Imperial Radch trilogy—Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy—because I got the books as Christmas gifts.

As a whole, I enjoyed this series for its core themes and characters. In particular, my favorite part of the both books was the character Breq. I also enjoyed the politics—there was a lot of it—and other parts of Radachaai society outside of the palaces. And, I liked Leckie’s use of technology, and what she did with the AIs prominently featured throughout the trilogy.

Ancillary Sword…

I liked Ancillary Sword, but it was a little weaker than Ancillary Justice. I think the main issue I had was that some of the excitement of the first book was missing in the sequel. Sometimes, the stakes didn’t seem as high despite the danger posed to Breq and crew.

The political side of Radch has always been a focal point of the series, and it was one of the things I was looking forward to. In Ancillary Sword, Breq—former troop carrier, Justice of Torren, and current ancillary—is in a new role: fleet captain, a position given to her by one faction of Anaander Mianaai. However, while the civil war between the differing factions of Mianaai is made mention of, it seemed a little detached from the story because much of the fighting takes place off page rather than seeing parts of the conflict directly through the eyes of Breq—as was the case in Ancillary Justice. There was action in Ancillary sword, but not as much as in Ancillary Justice. But, I didn’t really expect it, given that from early on the narrative tended more toward Radch politics—although localized—and tea. And I mean lots and lots of tea.

But, it was kind of interesting to learn more about the AIs—ships and stations—as well as what different parts of the Radch was like. And Ancillary Sword was still a necessary read, because it set up the plot that continued into the next book.

Ancillary Mercy…

Now, by comparison, I enjoyed Ancillary Mercy more than Sword because the stakes were higher—the danger and conflict were more direct. During some parts, I was actually nervous for my favorite characters, and that only heightened how much of a page-turner Ancillary Mercy ended up being. It was an epic finish to the trilogy. It had all the elements I was missing from Ancillary Justice. There was a perfect blend of character development on all fronts—AI and people—politics, actions, mention of tea, and the conflict between Anaander Mianaai and herself.

One thing I enjoyed about Ancillary Mercy was how vivid the characters were—both familiar and new to the trilogy. Even the AIs had distinct personalities and habits despite being viewed by some as just equipment. I appreciated those little quirks.

The end, while not neat or overly happily ever after—and it certainly didn’t solve everything about the situation with Mianaai and Radch—was still a satisfying conclusion for the characters. And that made the whole series worth it.


As a whole, the Imperial Radch trilogy was something else. I like to describe it simply as awesome. There were a lot of interesting ideas about technology, politics, justice, and the limits of an empire. And Leckie did a good job exploring them.
Would you read The Imperial Radch trilogy?

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