Review Friday: And the Ocean Was Our Sky

36979356And the Ocean Was Our Sky by: Patrick Ness and Rovina Cai

Released: September 4 2018

Pages: 160

Rating: * * * * *

Goodreads

Amazon

 

 

With harpoons strapped to their backs, the proud whales of Bathsheba’s pod live for the hunt, fighting in the ongoing war against the world of men. When they attack a ship bobbing on the surface of the Abyss, they expect to find easy prey. Instead, they find the trail of a myth, a monster, perhaps the devil himself…

As their relentless Captain leads the chase, they embark on a final, vengeful hunt, one that will forever change the worlds of both whales and men.

Patrick Ness is one of my all-time favorite authors. He has such an amazing way of crafting the most intricate and thought provoking stories, and the most memorable and complex characters. He blows me away every time. So when I saw that he was writing a new book, one that took an interesting spin on one of my favorite classics, AND had beautiful illustrations? I didn’t waste any time getting my hands on it.

This retelling flips Moby Dick upside-down. Literally. We follow a young whale, Bathsheba, and her hunting pod as they attempt to track down, and destroy, the notorious whale killer – Toby Wick. It explores the complexity of what it means to survive in a world where it’s hunt, or be hunted. It delves into what separates us, from our enemies. It’s phenomenal. I expected nothing less.

As I’ve said before in reviews of Ness’s work: he’s a genius when it comes to writing humans. And I guess now, whales. He understands on such a deep level how complex people are, and he always makes an effort to explore that in great detail in his work. I truly think that this is his best work, when it comes to that. The way that we never truly knew where to stand in this novel – we were never sure who was “right” – was absolutely fantastic. Also, the way that power, in it’s many shapes and forms, was tackled in this novel was also brilliant. The way that physical prowess and might, and the power of rumor, myth, and prophecy, come to a head in this novel, is just beautiful.

Now, I’m reviewing an ARC of this, so much of the artwork within is incomplete. But from what little is present in the ARC? It’s going to be out of this world. Cai’s illustrations have such an ethereal quality to them, one that matches the tone that Ness adopts to tell this tale, so well. I just know that, when the artwork is completed, it’s only going to take this already amazing story, to an even more amazing place.

A gripe I have about this book is with Toby Wick. I understand that he’s supposed to be an embodiment of all these abstract ideas. But I felt like he, himself, was too abstract? Maybe this will change when the final version, with all the completed artwork, comes out, but I just had a hard time grasping what he was, which made the climax of this novel kind of hard to follow. Another thing I found a little bit of an issue with was Demetrius. We see that, over time, Bathsheba grows this very deep connection to this boy, but we don’t really get to know him all that well. It kind of makes the connection feel a little forced, or like it’s just, too much. I wish we had just gotten to see his character fleshed out a bit more.

Really, I believe that Ness is saying amazing things with this novel. Moby Dick was always a classic that I loved to cover in school because of how many interesting and complex themes and messages it covered. Ness takes one of those themes, and really runs away with it here, and it’s stunning.

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Top 5 Wednesday: Books You Want to Read Before the End of the Year

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Thoughts on Tomes and created by Lainey @ Gingereadslainey with different bookish topics for each week.

If you’re interested in joining in, see the Goodreads group!

Halfway through the year, and it’s time to evaluate our reading goals and take a look at our TBRs for the second half of the year!

1.) An Ember in the Ashes by: Sabaa Tahir.

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2.) The Wrath and the Dawn by: Renee Ahdieh.

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3.) The Female of the Species by: Mindy McGinnis.

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4.) The Night Circus by: Erin Morgenstern.

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5.) The Assassin’s Blade by: Sarah J. Maas.

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Tag Tuesday: Pride Flag Book Tag

Blah blah blah. Wasn’t tagged. Blah blah blah. HAPPY PRIDE EVERYONE!!! I’m here to live my queerest life, and I actually learned some stuff from this tag (which is freakin’ cool), so here we are! This tag was created by Spencer @ Common Spence, and you should totally go check him out and subscribe! Okay, lets-a-go!

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1. Red (Life) – A book with a spirited protagonist totally proud of who they are. Someone who gives you LIFE.

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I’m going to go with Tiny from Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by: David Levithan. Tiny is just so unabashedly OUT and PROUD and it is the BEST. He really is just out there living his gayest life and loving every second of it, and it’s so beautiful to see. He is an inspiration and an icon. We all need to stan.

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2. Orange (Healing) – A book that made you, as the reader, find a deeper meaning or catharsis in your own life.

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I have to go with The Raven King by: Maggie Stiefvater. In this book, Adam has a moment that really speaks to an experience I went through while coming to terms with my own sexuality. It’s something that, even yearrrrs later, still bothered me. And seeing him go through THAT SAME EXPERIENCE, and coming out of it JUST LIKE I DID, was so freakin’ validating, and it meant so much to me. I’ll always be grateful to Maggie for giving me that, and Adam.

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3. Yellow (Sunshine) – A book that fills you with so much joy it could brighten even your darkest day.

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The Answer by: Rebecca Sugar. Hands down. IT’S A CHILDREN’S BOOK ABOUT THE GALAXY’S MOST ADORABLE, LESBIAN COUPLE. HOW CAN THAT NOT MAKE YOU SQUEE IN PURE DELIGHT? HOW??? ARE YOU MADE OF STONE?!?!

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4. Green (Nature) – A book that is set out of this world — a reality different to our own.

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For this I’m totally stealing Spencer’s answer and going with Timekeeper by: Tara Sim. I absolutely ADORE this series and am so upset that I haven’t talked about it on my blog until now! Hence the answer stealing. It’s such a fun and fast-paced story! And Danny and Colton are my precious babies, and they need to be given ALL THE GOOD THINGS. And Spencer is right: this series is UNDER-HYPED AF, so pleeeeeeease go check it out!

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5. Blue (Peace) – A book where one of the characters finds peace with a difficult truth.

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I’m going to go with The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by: Mackenzie Lee. In flashbacks, we see Monty go through some really hard times regarding his sexuality. The moments were so heartbreaking that they brought me to literal tears more than once. But, we can see over the course of the novel that, while those experience still hurt, he hasn’t let them stop him from trying to be happy, or being who he is. Which is such a powerful thing, and I loved seeing it on the page.

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6. Purple (Spirit) – A book that deals with LGBT+ themes and religion.

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Gotta go with The Dream Thieves by: Maggie Stiefvater. Yet again Maggie manages to NAIL one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to grapple with in regards to my sexuality. How do you simultaneously be Catholic, and queer? This is something we see Ronan struggle with SO MUCH over the course of this series, but especially in this novel, and it just meant so much to me to see this struggle be addressed, and see where he ends up by the end of it all.

Woohoo! And that is it for this tag! That was a gay ‘ole time! See what I did there? Now, what about y’all? How would you answer any of these questions? Tell me about it in the comments! Hope y’all are having a fantastic Pride Month! If you love rainbows: you’re tagged! Go forth! Do the thing!

Sunday Fun-day: Reading Progress Bookmarks

I think that, in this day and age, most people have a way of keeping track of how many books they read. Whether it be Goodreads, a journal, excel sheet, etc. But, how many people have an actual, physical, representation of the number of books they’ve read?

Since July of 2014, I have been collecting bookmarks for every book I’ve read. Don’t ask me why I started doing this; I couldn’t give you an answer. But during my very first Booktube-A-Thon, I started keeping track of the books I was reading with these little bookmarks I picked up at BooksAMillion. From then, it just, continued, and continued, and continued.

As you can see, I eventually ran out of the orange BooksAMillion bookmarks, and was reluctant to purchase more, as I saw that this was going to be an ongoing endeavor, and realized it was going to cost quite a bit of money. This lead me to a very cheap (FREE!), colorful, and fun alternative: paint samples. They are very conveniently already sectioned off, as the orange bookmarks were, which make it easy to list the: book title, author, start and finish date, and some comments about the book.

This has had a very positive affect on my reading habits. Often, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the numbers we see floating around on social media of the number of books we see our peers reading. It’s very easy to start to compare yourself to them, and start feeling inadequate. But this? This is a physical representation of MY work. Of what I have accomplished. It’s not some data point that I have to measure to anyone else’s. This is mine alone. Something I can hold, and feel, and actually see with my own two eyes. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but it’s been really helpful to me over the years, and I highly recommend it to everyone to try out.

I have a video that goes into slightly more details about this on my channel, which you can check out here. And, as always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask away in the comments!

Review Friday: Giant Days

39507199Giant Days by: Non Pratt

Released: August 12 2018

Pages: 288

Rating: * * * *

Goodreads

Amazon

 

 

Based on the hit graphic-novel series from BOOM! Studios, the publisher behind Lumberjanes, Giant Days follows the hilarious and heartfelt misadventures of three university first-years: Daisy, the innocent home-schooled girl; Susan, the sardonic wit; and Esther, the vivacious drama queen. While the girls seem very different, they become fast friends during their first week of university. And it’s a good thing they do, because in the giant adventure that is college, a friend who has your back is key–something Daisy discovers when she gets a little too involved in her extracurricular club, the Yogic Brethren of Zoise. When she starts acting strange and life around campus gets even stranger (missing students, secret handshakes, monogrammed robes everywhere . . .), Esther and Susan decide it’s up to them to investigate the weirdness and save their friend.

I read the first Giant Days graphic novel around a year ago, and loved how absolutely charming it was. The story was funny and light, the artwork was beautiful, and the characters were just delightful. So, imagine my excitement when I heard that a novelization of the comics was coming out! I was excited to see how much more fleshed out the characters, and the story, and the setting could be when given an entire novel to play around with, instead of just one comic issue, and I was not disappointed.

The story focuses on three best friends, and their first year at university. Esther is the goth queen of darkness (but with a heart of gold), Daisy is the sheltered, sweet, and shy one, and Susan is the sarcastic, prickly-pear of the group (but she’ll cut you if you mess with her friends). We follow each of the girls as they struggle to find their place at school, all the while dealing with everything that do, and maybe a few things that don’t, come with living on campus, and being a freshman in college.

The real star of this show is the characters. Each girl is very unique in her own way, and her voice is very distinctive from the other. Considering how each of the girls can be classified into typical archetypes (the goth, the hippie, and the feminist), they never felt like an archetype, or a trope. Each girls personality really popped off the page, and made them stand out. And even though they are all so very different, you find yourself relating to each one so much. The things that each girl went through and struggled with, even though they were doing so in their own little niche group, are something that any young adult, going out into the world on their own for the first time, can relate to. College is hard. Making brand new friends, in a brand new environment, is hard. Finding a place where you feel like you belong, when you’re not even entirely sure who you are, is hard. And these girls really get to the heart of that.

Another thing that really made the girls stand out, was their flaws. All of these girls had me shaking my head, cringing, and feeling disappointed in them, at some point in the novel. Like I said earlier, college is all about finding out who you are, and where you belong. It’s inevitable: you’re going to mess up. You’re going to hurt your friends. The important thing to remember is to fix your mistakes. The girls all mess up and hurt each other, but they manage to correct themselves, and make it right with each other. And even when they are messing up, it’s still easy to understand how they got there. Even when they’re not being their best selves, it’s still easy to relate to them. Which is always a good sign of a great character.

As for the plot? It’s just really fun. Sure, some of it might be lost on people who’ve never experienced the very surreal experience that is College Life, but I think that’s to be expected. And even still, it’s a fun ride to watch, and might even prepare future university students to what is awaiting them in the land of Higher Education.

Also: McGraw. Just, everything about McGraw. Just, yes. People, if you manage to get a McGraw in your life: sink your claws in and never let go. This has been a PSA.

While it’s not necessary to read the comics before reading this novel, I think I would recommend it. If only because you get such a good feel of what the characters look like, and what their cute, little, physical quirks are, which really just make them feel that much more real. Also, the comics are just great.

I really loved this book. It’s not often that I come across a YA book that focuses on college-aged protagonists, and even rarer that it’s done so accurately. This book will have you feeling so many different things, each one hitting the heart-strings in just the right way. It’s just a really fun, funny, wholesome story about friendship, and self-discovery, and who doesn’t love that?

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite LGBTQ+ Books That Don’t Feature Cis M/M Relationships

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Thoughts on Tomes and created by Lainey @ Gingereadslainey with different bookish topics for each week.

If you’re interested in joining in, see the Goodreads group!

This may seem oddly specific, but in honor of Pride being this month, I wanted to have a topic to celebrate LGBTQ+ books. But, the book community tends to, when given the chance, lift up cis m/m pairings the most. And while those books are still important and valued (we’ve even had topics covering m/m relationships earlier this year, which featured many cis m/m pairings), I wanted to shine the spotlight on some of those lesser known, recognized, and celebrated books.

Not sure if this is exclusively for books about LGBTQIAP+ topics, or books with LGBTQIAP+ characters, so I’m going to do a mixture of both.

232646711.) Godsgrave by: Jay Kristoff. Mia and Ashlinn are probably my second favorite wlw couple right now. Both girls are such badass, self-sufficient, confident women. And the slow-burn of their relationship is SO GOOD. And Ashlinn is kinda the love of my life sooooo, she kinda had to be on this list.

 

 

299579412.) The Answer by: Rebecca Sugar. If I can find a way to work Steven Universe and Rebecca Sugar onto a list, I AM GOING TO. Rebecca Sugar is a BOSS. Everyone needs to bow down to this woman, and the AMAZING thing she is doing for Queer representation in media. I mean this a a lesbian love story, FOR CHILDREN, written by a Queer, Jewish woman……THAT’S FRICKEN AMAZING!!! And Ruby and Sapphire’s love story is just, EVERYTHING!!! Just, ugh. I love this woman, and I adore her work.

311787383.) The Pearl Thief by: Elizabeth Wein. Are y’all done hearing me talk about my undying love of Elizabeth Wein, Code Name Verity, and Julie yet? WELL TOO BAD!!! Ya see, I thought I couldn’t love Julie any more after I read Code Name Verity, and then I read The Pearl Thief, and saw Julie go through her journey of self-discovery, which included questioning her sexuality, and OH MY GOD! Just, ugh. Julie is just, the best. Her journey in this book is, so relatable, and touching, and….I’m just, out of words. If you want to see more of my words about Elizabeth Wein, and this series, check out the in-depth post I did about it here!

130699354.) Ask the Passengers by: A.S. King. Astrid’s struggle to, not only stand up to how heterosexuals want her to behave, but also how Queer people want her to behave, is such a refreshing thing to see in YA. The LGBTQIAP+ community has an issue with gatekeeping, and identity policing, and it’s A PROBLEM. One that needs to be addressed more, and talked about more. So I really appreciate that A.S. King decided to make it a major plot point in this novel.

 

251643045.) Of Fire and Stars by: Audrey Coulthurst. This story is just so fluffy, and sweet, and happy. Watching these girls fall in love was just, such a treat. If you want to see more of my thoughts on this book, check out my in-depth review here!

Tag Tuesday: The Anything But Books Tag

Y’all know the routine by now, don’t you? You know that I wasn’t tagged to do this, right? Good. Glad we’re all on the same page. I saw ReadorRot create this tag on Booktube forever ago, and thought it was a cool idea. After all, there are OTHER THINGS we care about besides books. Maybe not as much, but still! So, without further ado, let’s go!

1.) Name a cartoon(s) that you love.

Cartoons are literally my favorite form of television. So, that being said, I have quite a few favorites. Here are the top four:

I even made book tags for Steven Universe and Gravity Falls! Check ’em out and let me know if you actually do them!

2.) What is your favorite song right now?

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The song I’m constant jamming out to right now is First Burn by: Lin-Manuel Miranda. For those of you who don’t know, First Burn was the first draft of Burn from Hamilton. And it is a JAM. Like, ugh, yes. I am all here for angry, bitter Eliza Hamilton. Please go check it out? It’s amazing!

3.) What could you do for hours (that isn’t reading)?

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So, not many people know this but: I’m a HARDCORE Pokemon Go player. Like, not kidding. At least 5 hours a day. AT LEAST. It’s pretty crazy. And what’s even crazier? I’m not NEAR as hardcore of a player as my mom. She’s a Beast-mode player. Lemme know if y’all still play? I love finding other players!

4.) What is something you love to do that your followers would be surprised by?

Well, I kinda already answered this with #3, but another thing that surprises a lot of people is: I’m a Disney Pin collector. I haven’t been at it long, only been collecting since 2016, but it’s quickly become an addiction. I’ve already got two entire lanyards full, and am working on a third! I’ve even gotten some of my friends addicted too! I’m a bad influence.

5.) What is your favorite unnecessarily specific thing to learn about (this can do with books, I guess)?

History. History history history. Pretty sure I’ve made this clear by now. I’m most interested in WWII/Holocaust, American Revolutionary War, Salem Witch Trials, and Industrial Era of Europe. Ancient Greece and Egypt is cool too. And I’m also really interested in Florida’s history, as it’s my home state. Really, I’m just a big ole history nerd.

6.) What is something unusual you know how to do?

Ummm, I can tie knots one handed? I think that’s the only unusual thing I know how to do? Everything I know how to do is pretty ordinary. Guess I’m pretty boring.

7.) Name something you’ve made in the last year (and show us, if you can).

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Like I said in my Paper Corner Bookmark post, which you can check out here, I’m always making these things.

I also made my Defaced Raven King this year. You can read my post about that here!

8.) What is your most recent personal project?

Really, this blog is my most recent personal project. But I’m also hoping to get to deface more books soon, and maybe make another Harry Potter wand. What can I say? When the craft-bug bites me, I get the itch to MAKE ALL THE THINGS!!!

9.) Tell us something you think about often (maybe while staring out of windows).

WHY DOES THE GOVERNMENT THINK IT’S SAFER FOR BIKE-RIDERS TO RIDE ON THE ROADS, THAN ON THE SIDEWALK??? WHY!?!?!? WHAT SENSE DOES THAT MAKE?????? A PEDESTRIAN GETTING HIT BY A BIKE IS FARRRR BETTER THAN A BIKE GETTING HIT BY A CAR!!!! THAT’S JUST BASIC, COMMON SENSE!!!! WHY ARE THE LAWS LIKE THIS?!??

10.) Give us something thats your favorite, but make it something oddly specific, not like your favorite food, but like your favorite food when you’ve been studying for hours and forgot to eat. Or, you know, something like that.

Sapphires are my favorite gemstone to wear in jewelry (even though it’s not my birthstone), but my favorite color is green. So you’d think emeralds would be my favorite, but they’re not? I don’t know. It’s weird. I’m weird. Whatever.

 

Whelp, that was a lot of fun! Now, what about y’all? How would you answer any of these questions? DOES THE BIKE THING BUG YOU TOO? Tell me all about it down in the comments! And I tag anyone that just wants a break from writing about books! Go forth, do the thing!