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read: zodiac starforce, volume 1: by the power of astra by kevin panetta & paulina ganucheau

I don’t remember how this series came to my attention but I’m glad it did.

Zodiac Starforce Volume 1: By the Power of Astra

A group of teenage girls were granted powers and became Zodiac Starforce. They haven’t been needed lately and their friendship has fallen by the wayside. But when their leader, Emma, gets sick and monsters return, they reunite to save the world!

I loved this! It is very reminiscent of Sailor Moon but the characters are very modern and fun. Emma’s going through a lot but she doesn’t let anyone down. Kim is hilarious. Savi is so so great. And sadly, I didn’t connect to Molly? But it’s super colorful and the artwork is stunning. My only complaint is that a Sagittarius was not represented at this time. I know there’s one more volume so I pray it’s rectified but also, I’m angry we don’t get more than that. It’s such a great story for young girls! Why do the comic gods hate me?

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read: this is how it always is by laurie frankel

This Is How It Always Is

I somehow missed when this was a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick (but it’s rare that I get to read those anyway…) but the PopSugar Reading Challenge selected it for May. It was cheap enough at Target so I bought it. (Side note: I really need more stability so I can get a library card. I miss the library)

This is a story about a family. Rosie and Penn met in college and instantly fell in love. They have five boys and have a pretty nice life but then, their youngest son Claude announces he wants to be a girl when he grows up. They are thrown but try their hardest to give their child the life she wants.

I really liked this book. It reminded me a bit of This is Us as it is not always told in a linear fashion and the family aspect is very strong. But the overall message was so important and it’s definitely something to read for Pride Month. The strongest parts were the first two; telling Rosie and Penn’s love story as well as their family life. All of the boys are so different and I loved reading about them. And how they reacted to the change in their family dynamic.

It is such a modern story too. She never flinches from hard conversations and the constant push and pull from both Rosie and Penn about Claude, or his chosen name, Poppy, was insightful. Claude/Poppy was the lead character and a lot broke my heart regarding the story arc. While it ended quite beautifully, the final part was not the best. It took Rosie and Claude away from the family and though it ended up working, I missed the presence of Penn and the other boys. It was a bit of a radical departure and I couldn’t see where it was going. But that was pretty much my only complaint. It was such a well-written story and it genuinely moved me.

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read: sidney chambers and the shadow of death by james runcie

It’s been a while since I did a proper review! I found this show, Grantchester, on Masterpiece in 2015 and instantly loved it. I wanted to see if the book was just as good as the show.

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death (The Grantchester Mysteries #1)

It follows Sidney Chambers, a priest, who helps out detective Geordie Keating. The book is separated into six different mysteries, which include murder and theft.

So, the show can basically be described as “hott priest who solves mysteries and has sex”. It’s an interesting premise especially as it takes place in the ’50s. I was hoping the book would go a bit more in depth of the characters so it was slightly disappointing in that aspect. However, it is a series of some cozy mysteries. Sidney is such a lovely character and I’m very invested in his friendship with both Geordie and his sister’s friend, Amanda. And since I had watched the show, I remembered how some of the cases ended. But it’s still a solid read.

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read: daisy jones & the six by taylor jenkins reid

It’s hard to imagine any other book right now that is so hyped. It was part of two book clubs I follow! It’s honestly everywhere I look and I broke down to buy a copy. This is extremely unusual for me.

Daisy Jones & The Six

One of the hottest bands in the ’70s was Daisy Jones & The Six. They split up after their most successful album and it’s finally time to find out what happened. Told in an interview format, the band members discuss how they formed, their lives in the band, and why they broke up.

Fun fact about me: my parents didn’t want me and my sisters watching MTV when we were younger. They blocked the channel and it took until the late ’90s for my older sister to crack the code. This led to us watching a lot of VH1. I think this explains my love of ’80s music and some of my other musical tastes. And one of VH1’s best shows as I was growing up was Behind the Music. I don’t remember how many of these I watched but I definitely saw the Fleetwood Mac episode multiple times around the release of “The Dance”.

That’s what this book reminded me of, an episode of Behind the Music. And it was perfect. There are definitely similarities between this fictional band and the absolute craziness of Fleetwood Mac (seriously, read how “The Chain” was actually recorded). It had all the hallmarks of pretty much every band in the ’70s: sex, drugs, alcohol. But the characters felt so real.

Daisy Jones was a fantastic character as she dealt with her addictions and crazy love life. I was always sympathetic to what she was going through and that really helped sell this whole thing. Billy Dunne, on the other hand…he was harder. I understood where he was coming from but man, what an asshole! I also loved the less popular members of the band, especially keyboardist Karen. All the side stories from those members were always as interesting as whatever Daisy was up to. And the differences in opinion to the events that were unfolding!

It’s an incredible book. I definitely want to read more of Reid’s work (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was already on my list). But most of all, I wish the songs she wrote were real. They were gorgeous and the way they explained the recording process of the songs, they really do sound like they could have been massive hits. I will probably never get over this book.

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read: where’d you go, bernadette by maria semple

One of the many book clubs I follow picked this book for March to coincide with the film adaptation’s release. The movie was pushed back until August. *shrugs* Still, the trailer was interesting and I’m kind of reversing my usual by reading a book BEFORE seeing the movie! What a concept!

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Told through letters, documents, and articles, it follows Bee Branch, an intelligent girl who is trying to figure out what happened to her mother, Bernadette Fox. As the family prepares to travel to Antarctica, Bernadette seems to become unhinged and it seems to cause problems with everyone around her.

Overall, I did not love the book. I absolutely adored how it was told and the mystery involving Bernadette’s disappearance was fun but the characters were all awful! Except Bee. Bee was pretty cool but she wasn’t the focus. Audrey was pretty unhinged, Bernadette was pretentious and terrible (except to Bee and some of it made sense after a while), and don’t get me started on Elgin. I thought it wrapped up pretty well though I do not know how the movie is going to play out as it jumps timelines and such. The cast should make it worthwhile.

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read: to all the boys i’ve loved before by jenny han

I watched the movie when it came out on Netflix last summer (review here) and really loved it. But I always want to read the book if I haven’t done so prior to watching.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before

When Lara Jean Covey falls in love, she writes a letter to her beloved and keeps them in a hatbox in her closet. When the letters are sent out, she is thrown into a mess of a situation involving her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh, and her childhood crush, Peter Kavinsky.

It is as adorable as the film. As expected, I know. However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. I actually am not the biggest fan of first-person narration so hearing more of Lara Jean’s thoughts was a little irritating. I love that she’s the middle child and also doesn’t like driving (mentioned in my movie review) but her constant harping on Margot was depressing. I feel like she doesn’t think of herself as her own person and that’s sad. But what works is whenever Peter appears. I lit up reading about their fake relationship even though I knew everything! Also, can Josh just go away? He was annoying. It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger so I need to buy the sequels and hopefully read them before the next one hits Netflix.

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read: the glass spare by lauren destefano

I tried to participate in OwlCrate’s OwlCrateAThon, which ran from February 9th to the 22nd. I’ve never done a readingathon before and I liked the criteria. It was to read three books total, your oldest OwlCrate book on your TBR, and the shortest OwlCrate book on your TBR. It’s to encourage people (like me) who receive the books but don’t immediately read them. Unfortunately, I was only able to read one book but it was my oldest so I feel less guilty! My very first OwlCrate came in November 2017 (review here!) and in it was The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano.

The Glass Spare (The Glass Spare, #1)

Wil Heidle is the only princess in the Northern Kingdom. She has three older brothers and is kept mostly hidden from the world so her father can use her as a spy. One night, she discovers she has the power to turn living things into gemstones and her world changes after a tragic accident.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I had heard some mixed things but I knew I would eventually read it. It’s got a confusing setting, like a mix between medieval but there’s also some crazy technology so that took some getting used to and the story is kind of typical YA fantasy. But the characters! I loved Wil so much and trying to figure out how she got this power was interesting. I also adored her relationship with two of her brothers, Owen and Gerdie. Gerdie is a precious angel and I definitely need more of him. She winds up meeting the prince of the Southern Kingdom in her travels, Loom, and he’s a decent YA love interest. There are sparks but his partner, Zay, may get in the way and you don’t want to mess with her. The ending felt a little abrupt but thankfully, there’s only one other book to hopefully close all the threads. I’m glad I read it.

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read: the calculating stars by mary robinette kowal

I know I talk about Sword & Laser constantly but I really am glad that I found this book club almost seven years ago. The amount of sci-fi I’ve gotten into is insane and it’s all thanks to them.

The Calculating Stars cover image

In 1952, a meteor strikes Earth and decimates the entire Eastern seaboard. Elma York and her husband, Nathaniel, survive and become members of the International Aerospace Coalition as a mathematician and engineer, respectively. They are both instrumental in trying to get the space program up and running so that the people of Earth can make their way to the moon before the planet because uninhabitable. Elma hopes to break a few barriers along the way as well, namely becoming an astronaut herself.

I loved this book. Loved it so much. From the first page, I was hooked. I don’t think I’ve read that much alternate history but it’s definitely a fun genre to imagine how things could be different from any type of event. I immediately connected to Elma and it grew more and more throughout the book when she described her anxiety. She is so smart but still struggles and it’s not only from sexism, but rather conditioning to be a good little Southern girl. It was also rad that she was a pilot and also had a husband to support her through everything. Their relationship was one of the best things about the book. It was such a strong partnership (though one plot point constantly made me worry that she wouldn’t actually achieve her dream).

After Hidden Figures, I wanted to read more stories from that era in time and this was perfect. Kowal did tons of research and while the events don’t take place, women were training to be astronauts and got to work in this field but history doesn’t mention them. Another great thing about this book was discussing the differences in opportunity due to race. Elma kept forgetting about her privilege but instead of shrugging her shoulders, she worked even harder to get recognition for the women in her life that were not white. I also really, really enjoy space stories, even if a majority of this book takes place on Earth.

I will be raving about this book to everyone who will listen for the time being. I cannot wait to get my hands on the second one.

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read: a room of one’s own by virginia woolf

I am always trying to read more classics. This one was a bit of a surprise.

The only Virginia Woolf I’ve read was Mrs. Dalloway and I thought it was beautifully written. I had always heard A Room Of One’s Own was special and assumed it was fiction. Turns out I was very wrong.

A Room of One's Own

This is a literary criticism about why there aren’t many female writers. It’s incredibly researched and it’s the type of criticism I have always wished I could write. She posits that it’s due to lack of money and their own space. It was fascinating and I nodded throughout a majority of it.

I will always struggle with reviewing nonfiction, I apologize. I was blown away by this essay as it was unexpected but ultimately, very wise and true. I wonder what she would have to say now with the overabundance of female writers.

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journey to episode ix: star wars, vol. 1: skywalker strikes

While I’m definitely following the canon timeline for the movies and TV (sans Resistance which I’m watching as it airs), there is way too many books and comics for me to do the same. So I’ll talk about them when I get to them (I don’t predict myself getting through that much).

Star Wars, Vol. 1: Skywalker Strikes

Set after A New Hope, Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, C-3P0, and R2-D2 are sent to destroy an Imperial weapons base for the Rebellion.

That’s the start of it and it gets wild after this mission. Darth Vader finds out, fights Luke again, and also injures pretty much everyone else. It’s funny, I never really was scared of Vader as a kid but that one scene in Rogue One terrified me and this is the Vader shown here. He is brutal and technically, I should be reading his comic series at the same time as this but due to time constraints, I’m not. It should be fun getting into his mind.

After the mission, Luke returns to Tatooine to find out if Obi-Wan left him anything. Vader sends bounty hunters after Luke. Han’s being tracked by someone (and that someone is quite the surprise!) It’s a great start to this series. I feel like all the characters are acting like they should and the adventures could be shown on screen. There’s a lot of shocking moments and some character returns that are unexpected. And the artwork is pretty good as well.