Hi everyone! I hope 2022 treated you well and that 2023 treats you better. I’m right back with my annual favorites list. I hope you all enjoy this list. It helps me remember everything I enjoyed and gives you all a short list of things you might want to check out in the future. I am wishing you all the best as we move into another new year,
- The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
- Mary B. by Katherine J. Chen
- A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
- Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
- The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
- Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno – Garcia
- The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling
- The Dark Olympus series by Katee Robert
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo
- Winter’s Orbit and Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell
- Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
- Star Wars: Brotherhood by Mike Chen
- The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
- The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
- House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
- The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper
- The Locked Tomb Trilogy by Tamsyn Muir
- What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher
- The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno – Garcia
- Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink
- This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno
- The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
- Horseman by Christina Henry
- A God in the Shed by J-F. Dubeau
- The Alienist by Caleb Carr
- The Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis
- Babel: An Arcane History by R.F. Kuang
- Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
- Nope (dir. Jordan Peele)
- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (dir. Ryan Coogler)
- The Batman (dir. Matt Reeves)
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (dir. Sam Raimi)
- Werewolf by Night (dir. Michael Giacchino)
- Andor: Season 1 (Disney +)
- Ms. Marvel: Season 1 (Disney +)
- Obi – Wan Kenobi (Disney +)
- Moon Knight (Disney +)
- The Sandman: Season 1 (Netflix)
- House of the Dragon: Season 1(HBO Max)
- Our Flag Means Death: Season 1 (HBO Max)
- Interview with the Vampire (AMC +)
- Fleabag: Seasons 1 and 2 (Prime Video)
- The Boys: Season 3 (Prime Video)
- What We Do In The Shadows: Seasons 1 – 4 (Hulu)
- Abbot Elementary: Seasons 1 – 2 ( Hulu)
- Stranger Things: Season 4 (Netflix)
- Dawn FM by The Weeknd (album)
- The Gods We Can Touch by AURORA (album)
- Laurel Hell by Mitski (album)
- Give Me the Future by Bastille (album)
- Are You Happy Now? by Jensen McRae (album)
- Dance Fever by Florence + the Machine (album)
- Preacher’s Daughter by Ethel Cain (album)
- PANORAMA by Hayley Kiyoko (album)
- Hold On Baby by King Princess (album)
- Unholy by Sam Smith feat. Kim Petras (album)
- Swan Upon Leda by Hozier (single)
- Midnights (3am Edition) by Taylor Swift (album)
- Blood Upon the Snow by Hozier feat. Bear McCreary (single)
- Mary On A Cross by Ghost (single)
- MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT by Elley Duhe (single)
- Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers by Kendrick Lamar (album)
- Did you know there’s a tunnel under Ocean Boulevard by Lana Del Rey (single)
- This Is Why and The News by Paramore (singles)
- songs written for piano by Katie Gregson – MacLeod
Hello everyone! I hope you all enjoyed your holidays and are still enjoying your time off. I guess I have one more book review before the end of the year. I was really not expecting to finish this one but I had pretty good momentum. I do plan on posting my annual favorites list before the end of this week, though. For this upcoming year, my goal is to re-read more of my past favorites books so I might not be posting that frequently as I would like a more manageable TBR pile. Now, let’s talk about Sue Lynn Tan’s debut novel, Daughter of the Moon Goddess.
Xingyin has lived a peaceful, idyllic life with her mother on the moon. As she grows older, Xingyin begins to question why she must live in such solitude and finds out that her mother was exiled by the Celestial Emperor, who does not know of Xingyin’s existence. When Xingyin’s magic grows too powerful, she is forced to flee the only life she has ever known. Alone, scared and desperate, she hides her identity and does her best to survive. When the opportunity to become the attendant of the emperor’s son come up, Xingyin seizes the chance. She trains alongside him, learning and growing her powers. She also finds herself falling in love with the prince. In order to free her mother, Xingyin must embark on a dangerous journey full of monsters and forbidden magic. As the threat of war looms over the Celestial Kingdom, Xingyin must complete an impossible task for the Celestial Emperor or lose everything she has fought for.
Since this is a debut novel, I am going to begin out with a few compliments. First of all, I did genuinely enjoy the writing itself. The descriptions were gorgeous and it read like a fairy tale or myth at times. Secondly, the world building was well thought out and the magic elements were really interesting. Lastly, I thought the action sequences were actually quite exciting. Now, let’s get to what I didn’t like. I did see this book pop up on a lot of people’s most disappointing books of this year and, I hate to admit it, but I understand. I normally try to not let other reviews cloud my opinion too much. In this case, it was hard to avoid. I have to begin by saying that I don’t understand why the novel was classified as “adult fiction.” This is very much a YA novel and not just because the main protagonist is a teenager. There is some violence but the novel doesn’t address any heavy or mature topics, if you will. Many people who gave this a low rating also mentioned the pacing and I would have to agree. This book is somehow too fast and too slow at the same time. You aren’t given an opportunity to sit with any of these important events or enjoy any character development. Xingyin is a perfectly fine protagonist and I certainly didn’t mind following her journey. She doesn’t get the necessary character development, in my opinion. I do have a few more opinions on this book but that would involve having to divulge the plot and I don’t want to spoil it too much. I really didn’t dislike this novel as it had a lot of potential, but it simply didn’t reach it for me. I will try to deter you from reading Daughter of the Moon Goddess as I still found enjoyment in it, but I feel as though there might be a better alternative if you want a mythology- inspired fantasy novel.
Hi everyone! I hope you are finding some down time as we wrap up. I was kind of inspired by different social media platforms who were doing similar videos or posts about “un-hauling” or getting rid of books to make room for others. Also many others were talking about books they initially liked but, as time passed, realized they didn’t like them as much any more. I thought to myself “I’ve had this blog long enough and have read enough books that I can participate in this too.” For starters, I got rid of a bunch of young adult/middle grade books that I held on for nostalgia sake. Maybe you’ll be inspired to get rid of some books for the new years (I know, it can be difficult but you can do it!) Note: I am not saying don’t read these books. I am just saying that I don’t think they should be prioritized on your TBR List.
- The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfield – I loved this series in middle school but, as an adult, I realize the entire premise of these books are pretty problematic. It involves people having to get plastic surgery in order to be accepted by society and all of the characters are just weirdly okay with it. This is also the first example of a man who doesn’t know how to write a female character, especially a teen girl. It didn’t age well and there are plenty of better YA dystopian series out there.
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – I initially praised this book for being a fun, nerdy adventure. What I didn’t think about until later is how offensive this book really is. Ernest Cline does not understand how to write women as the few female characters that very one dimensional. The protagonist is kind of a know-it-all who gets a girl just by basically complimenting her once. I heard that the sequel was bad too. Don’t be too bothered if you’ve never read this one.
- the sun and her flowers and milk and honey by Rupi Kaur – This isn’t me saying that Rupi Kaur is a bad poet necessarily as poetry is a pretty subjective form of writing. I do blame her for kicking off the “instagram poetry” trend. As someone who isn’t inherently a poetry fan, I appreciated her brevity. I do think, though, that we should embrace longer poetry. I also found her poems to be a little redundant at times.
- The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger – I read this book for the first time in college actually. Maybe I would have liked this more as a teenager but it didn’t resonate with me as an adult. I found Holden Caulfield to be just insufferable as a character. It’s a short novel but it somehow feels way too long.
- A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Claire – I was initially incredibly excited to read this Hades and Persephone romance, but I got about five chapters in before hating this book. The writing is very juvenile and there were so many typos. I thought the world building was just too weird. All of the characters had horns for some reason. I just knew it wasn’t for me. I haven’t entirely given up on Ms. St Clair, though, as I do have A Game of Retribution on my TBR list. Just read Neon Gods instead.
- The Children of Blood and Bone and The Children of Vengeance and Virtue by Tomi Adeyemi – I still really enjoyed the first book in this series and didn’t enjoy the second. As far as I know, there haven’t been any updates on if there is going to a be a third book. Also, like I said, I am moving away from YA novels.
- The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake – This was a case of me buying into the hype of a book I heard of through Tik Tok. I was sadly let down. It was definitely a case of style over substance in the writing. I know the second novel in this series came out but I think I’ll be okay not reading it.
- The Betrayals by Bridget Collins – Yet another disappointing dark academia novel. I don’t want to give up on Bridget Collins because I did like the writing. The book just felt entirely too anticlimactic to me.
- The Midnight Library by Matt Haig – I realized entirely too late that this was just an over glorified self – help book. I think the premise isn’t terrible, but Haig just completely disregards how complex mental illness can be. There’s definitely better representations of mental health out there.
- The Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series by Ransom Riggs – I am definitely still going to recommend this book series if you want a darker YA series. I just simply lost interest in this series.
- Nick by Michael Farris Smith – I love The Great Gatsby and was so excited for this prequel. Unfortunately, I was let down. Just go read The Great Gatsby.
- In the Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware – I couldn’t tell you what happened in this book without having to look it up. One of my more unmemorable reads; an airport book through and through.
- The Host by Stephanie Meyer – I am not ashamed to admit that I was a big Twilight fan back in the day. Naturally, I had to read this sci-fi novel by her. While it’s definitely written better than any of the Twilight books, it is still not that great. The bar for Stephanie Meyer is in the core of the earth.
- The Bird Box by Josh Mallerman – This was a pretty underwhelming book despite having such a unique premise. I have no intention of revisiting this book any time soon.
I’ll be posting my annual favorites list soon! Be on the lookout for that!
Hello everyone! I managed to squeeze in one more book before the end of the year! I also want to clear something up. I was under the impression that this book was the last in The Witcher series. I now have to rethink my review of the actual last book in the series I previously reviewed. Regardless, I am now truly and officially finished with this series. Now, for all of you fantasy fans, let’s talk about this standalone adventure in The Witcher series.
Content Warning: Violence, Gore, Offensive Language, Some Sexual Content, Torture
After an unfortunate incident, the Witcher Geralt of Rivia is left without his weapons. His swords are crucial in his hunt for monsters. To get his swords back, Geralt accepts a contract to hunt a demon in exchange for his treasured weapons. The contract soon goes very wrong and, with the help of unexpected allies, Geralt must face down a whole host of dangerous characters and deadly force that he might not be able to stop.
I truly love a good, old-fashioned fantasy adventure and Sapkowski continues to prove himself to be a great storyteller. Out of all of the books in the series, this one actually had the best pacing in my opinion. I also particularly enjoyed how much action is packed into this novel, without it being overwhelming. (It can be a little gratuitous at times, though). If you find high fantasy to be an intimidating genre, The Witcher series would be the best choice for you. It isn’t so packed with information and characters that you can’t keep up, but it still has a thoroughly crafted world with interesting characters. There is plenty of action that keeps each story at a pretty good pace. Geralt is a great protagonist, particularly if you like a reluctant hero-type character. Now that I have read the whole series, I can confidently say that I am a fan of The Witcher series. (Note: I am pretty sure if you want to read the series in the correct order then you would read this one before The Last Wish.)
Hello everyone! I hope the holiday season is treating you well so far. I am wrapping up all my Christmas shopping and trying not to stress out over the holidays too much. This will probably be my last review of the year. I have another book that I might be able to finish, but we will just see. I’ve read a lot of intense books this year so it is nice to end this year on a softer note. Let’s talk about Sea of Tranquility.
In 1912, a young man named Edwin St. Andrew travels to Vancouver to start a new life away from his aristocratic family. While exploring a forest, Edwin has a bizarre experience; the most distinct thing he remembers is the sound of a violin. Two centuries later, an author named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour for her critically acclaimed novel about a pandemic. Within that novel is a passage about a mysterious man playing the violin when something strange happens to him. A century after that, Gaspery Roberts is hired by the Time Institute to investigate a strange anomaly that is appearing across time. During his travels, Gaspery encounters various strangers with tragic fates. He realizes, though, that it might not have end that way after all.
While I typically read very action-packed and complex science fiction, it is nice to see an author explore some of the profound questions that arise from the genre. Emily St. John Mandel delivers a poignant, philosophical narrative about fate and free will. Time travel can be a tricky plot device but it is handled wonderfully throughout this book. I enjoyed the delicate balance between hopefulness and existential fear that threads through each character’s life. It is hard for me to properly describe what happens in this novel, but Emily St. John Mandel makes it make sense in her own wonderful way. I would recommend this novel if you want a science fiction read that is both thought-provoking and sentimental in the best ways.
Hello everyone! Finally, I am bringing you this review! I realize that I am very late to the “hype train” with this book, but I would say better late than never. If you are active on any social media platform with a book-centric forum, then you have definitely heard of Babel and all of its praise. The premise is so unique that I really couldn’t say no to this one. There are some heavy topics covered in the book so I will offer a content warning after this introduction. Colonialism is not an unavoidable topic by any means and I think it is important to confront that rather large portion of history in some manner. Now, let’s discuss R.F. Kuang’s Babel.
Major Trigger Warnings: Violence and Gore, Abuse, Discussions and Depictions of Racism, Discussions and Depictions of Sexism, Depictions of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
In 1828, Robin Swift is orphaned in Canton after a disease takes his family. He is soon adopted by the mysterious Professor Lovell, who begins to train Robin in various languages, such as Latin and Greek. These rigorous lessons are to prepare Robin for Oxford’s most prestigious Royal Institute of Translation – also known as Babel. There, students are trained in, not just translation, but silver – working. Silver working involves magic that can only be achieved through the power of words. This silver is what is ultimately used by Britain in its vast colonization efforts. Robin is initially enchanted by Oxford and its seemingly endless supply of knowledge. Soon, however, Robin begins to realize that his serving Oxford is an act of betrayal against his motherland. A shadowy organization, the Hermes Society, recruits Robin to stop Britain’s exploitation of colonized nations. When Britain plans to declare war on China, Robin must decided if he can change Babel or if Babel is even worth saving.
Wow. I just have to say wow. I was so afraid that this book would not live up to the hype, but it certainly did. I am no expert in colonial literary studies, but I know enough to appreciate Kuang’s beautifully crafted, yet painfully real, novel. Kuang seamlessly blends together her unique world-building with historical realities. Robin Swift is a complex and sympathetic protagonist, as are his friends. Kuang at no point tries to simplify the history of British colonialism but points out how deeply entwined it is in the lives of everyone it touches and who ultimately benefits. Her use of the power of language is incredibly profound and points out just how integral language is in the building and shaping of societies. Babel really is a carefully thought-out and exhilarating novel that you should definitely experience for yourself.
Hi everyone! If you are up reading this review, then you should definitely go to bed. If you can’t sleep, then you are welcome here. I have crossed off yet another book I really wanted to finish before the end of the year. My next goal is to finish Babel by R.F. Kuang because that one was so hyped for 2022. I am also reading a shorter book that I will hopefully finish sooner than later as well. That’s enough chit chat for now. Let’s get into Ocean’s Echo.
Tennalhin “Tennal” Halkana has spent his life using his upper-class status and impeccable flirting abilities to cruise through life. Another distinct advantage Tennal has is his ability to read minds. As a “reader,” Tennal is considered a threat and an asset as he can navigate chaotic space. Because of his abilities, he is conscripted into the military by a powerful and scheming relative with no warning. Tennal is promptly placed under the watchful eye of Lieutenant Surit Yeni, a model soldier whose mother was a traitor to the military. Where Tennal can read minds, Surit is an “architect” who has the ability to influence them. He is ordered to “sync” with Tennal’s mind and control him. Unaware that this was the true meaning of his mission, Surit refuses to control Tennal. Instead, they decide fake the sync and help Tennal escape. The plan goes horribly awry when they end up in chaotic space and uncover the truth behind Surit’s mother’s treachery. This discovery upends a power struggle, which threatens to start a civil war unless Tennal and Surit can stop it.
Set in the same universe as Everina Maxwell’s first novel Winter’s Orbit, this particular novel shifts focus from royal politics to military politics in space. I enjoyed the intricacy of world-building in this indirect sequel. Ocean’s Echo reaches out further into the depths of space and the human psyche. While the characters are somewhat similar to the ones in Winter’s Orbit, they follow a different trajectory that will have you rushing to finish this book. I would definitely classify this romance as “slow burn reluctant allies to lovers.” What I really enjoyed, though, was the “reader” and “architect” dynamic that Maxwell introduces. It can be a little bit confusing at times but you do catch on before the thrilling conclusion. If you want a high-stakes sci-fi adventure with an intense romance at the center (or if you liked Winter’s Orbit), then you should absolutely check out Ocean’s Echo.
Hi everyone! I hope you are not too chilly as the winter slowly creeps its way in. I’ve just been up to the usual; reading books and listening to the same five songs over and over until I get sick of them. I have two books that I definitely want to finish before December as well as before I publish my annual favorites list. I like to think at least someone enjoys that list. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I tend to always forget what media I have consumed by the end of the year. Anyway, that’s enough rambling for now. Let’s talk about The Lights of Prague. (Content warnings will be at the bottom).
At night, the streets of Prague are haunted by spirits and monsters of all sorts who are out for blood. Lamplighters are the ones tasked with protecting the citizens from such supernatural threats. Domek Myska has spent most of his life fighting against the pijavice, ruthless vampiric creatures. One night, Domek encounters a spirit known as the White Lady. This leads him to a will-o-the-wisp, a powerful and sentient being, that has been trapped in a strange jar. This discovery leads Domek to a conspiracy amongst the pijavice to walk in daylight and unleash terror on the world. With the help of the beautiful and mysterious Lady Ora Fischerova, Domek must race against time to stop the conspirators from using science and alchemy for their own twisted gain.
Dark and atmospheric, The Lights of Prague is a gripping historical, supernatural thriller with plenty of twists and turns. Nicole Jarvis does an excellent job of creating tension through all parts of the narrative. You don’t have to be an expert in Czech folklore to appreciate how Nicole Jarvis incorporates these stories into her novel. (I do recommend doing some research if you do read this novel. It was very interesting.) I have a soft spot for the vampire genre, particularly vampire novels set in the past. This novel nails the best parts of what makes a good vampire story, while still setting itself in a unique perspective by incorporating different folk tales. Any fan of vampire novels or supernatural stories will be sure to love The Lights of Prague.
Content Warning: Blood and Some Gore, Violence, Sexual Content, Mentions of Domestic Violence, Some Harsh Language