Book Review: A Nearly Normal Family

Found on Google Images

Title: A Nearly Normal Family

Author: M. T. Edvardsson, Translated by Rachel Willson – Broyles

My Rating: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…

Summary (Goodreads): “Eighteen-year-old Stella Sandell stands accused of the brutal murder of a man almost fifteen years her senior. She is an ordinary teenager from an upstanding local family. What reason could she have to know a shady businessman, let alone to kill him?

Stella’s father, a pastor, and mother, a criminal defense attorney, find their moral compasses tested as they defend their daughter, while struggling to understand why she is a suspect. Told in an unusual three-part structure, A Nearly Normal Family asks the questions: How well do you know your own children? How far would you go to protect them?”

My Thoughts:

This is what I was looking for when I read You Owe Me A Murder! (You can read the review for that here if you want). I was pulled in fast by the scene in the prologue, where Adam is about to testify at Stella’s trial. Though we know nothing about either character yet, it’s an exciting look at what’s to come.

Edvarsson is able to keep that excitement throughout the novel. The reader slowly gets a picture of what their family looks like and what Stella was like when she was younger, through using flashbacks. This builds up the suspense slowly and well. In addition to the use of flashbacks, there were cliffhangers at the end of nearly every chapter, which made it hard to stop reading.

A Nearly Normal Family is also interesting because it’s written in multiple points of view. Readers get to read from the perspectives of the father, mother and Stella. Given that all read very differently, this made for an intriguing way to tell the story. It slowly shows how each person sees themselves, each other and life in general. This adds to the mystery of the novel, because the reader gets pieces to put together. Additionally, it can be hard to tell what really happened and who is telling the truth, which adds to the feeling of uncovering the truth over time.

The characters in general are well -written. All of them are complex and have qualities about them that are unlikable or negative, and other qualities that are positive, making the characters feel like real people. Each character can be unlikable at times, but that is why they feel like real people going through a crazy event.

Overall, I would really recommend this book for a fun, fast thriller novel.


Playlist:

I didn’t really have any other songs I could think of to make another playlist about murder, so I’m going to use the one from my review for You Owe Me A Murder. Sorry!

  1. Down by the Church – Semler
  2. Hunted Down – Soundgarden
  3. Enter Sandman – Metallica
  4. Eating Simon – Hands Off Gretel
  5. Every Breathe You Take – The Police
  6. Monster – L7

You can listen to the playlist here ๐Ÿ–ค


Thank you for reading! I hope you all had a great October and Halloween ๐Ÿ’€๐ŸŽƒ

My Month in Music – July/August/September (2019)

So this is verrrrrry long. I would have just skipped July and August, but I had a lot of music to share that is different from what I usually post. Some new songs came out, and I listened to more new music than I typically do (let’s see if we can keep that up, but what can I say? I’m a creature of habit). Because of that, I really wanted to share this playlist. Also, I think this is a particularly well put together playlist, so I wanted to share it. I hope you enjoy it! (If you are able to make it all the way through).

You can listen to the playlist here ๐Ÿ™‚


Special Mentions:

I saw Queen and Adam Lambert for the second time in August and they were amazing (obviously). Here are some pictures my friend Timber took:


Thank you for reading! I hope you have a great day โค

Book Review: You Owe Me a Murder

Found on Google Images

Title: You Owe Me a Murder

Author: Eileen Cook

My Rating: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…1/2

Summary (Goodreads): “17-year-old Kim never expected to plot a murder. But that was before her boyfriend dumped her for another girl. Now Kim’s stuck on a class trip to London with him and his new soulmate and she can’t help wishing he was a little bit dead, even if she’d never really do that.

But when Kim meets Nicki, a stranger on the plane who’s more that willing to listen to Kim’s woes, things start to look up. Nicki’s got a great sense of humor, and when she jokes about swapping murders, Kim plays along — that is until Kim’s ex-boyfriend mysteriously dies.

Blackmailed by Nicki to fulfill her end of the deal, Kim will have to commit a murder or take the fall for one.”

My Thoughts:

I had a bit of a rocky start with You Owe Me a Murder. But despite being a bit apprehensive of Kim’s judgmental nature and negative attitude (more on that later), I was pulled into the plot. I kept reading because what started as making fun of Kim’s “I’m not like other girls” attitude turned into a genuine interest in what was going to happen. The other reason I kept reading was because I could tell that I would be able to finish this book quickly. Say what you will about mediocre YA fiction, it makes for fast reading.

Despite much of what I’ve just said, there were multiple good twists and turns in You Owe Me A Murder. I was genuinely surprised a good few times while reading, which is what I wanted. However, there were also moments I think were supposed to be more surprising than they were.

My biggest issue with this book was the characters. The background characters all had about one personality trait each. Jamal is a tech geek, Sophie is nice and Miriam, the theater girl is over-the-top and dramatic all the time. Only a few minor characters were interesting or more than two dimensional. Though the characters were pretty boring, the romance was pretty cute, excusing a few very cringe worthy lines of dialogue as seen here:

I grabbed his hand. “Would you do that? Keep the monsters away?”

He placed his hand over his heart. “I happen to be the master monster slayer.”

p.247

I just involuntarily had a physical reaction to how cheesy that is.

On top of that, the main character, Kim, wasn’t very likable. (This was mostly a problem at the beginning of the book, however). She was so judgmental of other people, which usually came across in a very “I’m not like other girls” way.

Kim’s not like other girls. She likes science and reading. What a nerd! I’ve never met a girl who reads the newspaper! Kim is so different.

Sidenote: Kurtis Conner and Tiffany Ferg both have great videos on why this is a dumb concept that women use to put other women down to feel accepted by men and is caused by internalized misogyny. You can watch their videos here: The “I’m Not Like Most Girls” Phenomenon, “I’m Not Like Other Girls”. But I won’t make this review into anymore of a feminist rant. But before continuing, I did want to include some memes making fun of the “I’m not like other girls” concept.

Okay, now onto my last few points. I want to quickly recognize that these are 100% sort of picky. I feel justified in including them though, because I generally don’t get this nitpick-y with my reviews. First off, I think Cook uses too many similes. When they aren’t necessary, putting in a simile or metaphor is annoying, although this comes down to preference.

My eyes darted around, trying to take in everything at once, like a starving person at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

p.50

It feels like she made the point twice here. But again, maybe it’s just me. (Although this is not the only time she did this).

Secondly, Cook references Henry VIII a few times, and Anne Boleyn at least once in her novel. This is completely understandable, since it’s a bunch of students on a trip to London. However, there’s a moment where Kim compares herself to Boleyn and it just comes across as dramatic and cringey.

Maybe the ghost of Anne Boleyn figured I deserved the answer since we’d both been overthrown by a guy who moved on pretty quickly to the next model. She would have moved on too — if they hadn’t cut off her head.

p.65

As someone who has a great interest in English history, this stood out to me more than it may have other people. I am willing to admit that. But still. Getting dumped is not the same as dying by beheading and the idea that Anne Boleyn would have been afforded the luxury of marrying again? It likely annoys me so much because it so oversimplifies Anne Boleyn’s time as Queen of England and the complex dynamic of not only Henry VIII and Anne but all kings and queens.

Overall, the plot was the only thing that saved this book. But it was fun and very hard to put down, so if you want a fast, easy read, this isn’t a bad choice.


Playlist:

  1. Down by the Church – Semler
  2. Hunted Down – Soundgarden
  3. Enter Sandman – Metallica
  4. Eating Simon – Hands Off Gretel
  5. Every Breath You Take – The Police
  6. Monster – L7

You can listen to the playlist here ๐Ÿ–ค


Thank you for reading! I hope you are all having a great October so far ๐ŸŽƒ

Book Review: The Ship of the Dead

Found on Google Images

Title: The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #3)

Author: Rick Riordan

My Rating: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…

Summary (Goodreads): “Magnus Chase, son of Frey, the god of summer and health, isn’t naturally inclined toward being a brave warrior. Still, with the help of his motley group of friends, he has achieved deeds he never would have thought possible. Now he faces his most dangerous trail yet. Loki is free from his chains. He’s readying Naglfar, the Ship of the Dead, complete with a host of giants and zombies, to sail against the Asgardian gods and begin the final battle of Ragnarok. It’s up to Magnus and his friends to stop him, but to do so they will have to sail across the oceans of Midgard, Jotunheim and Niflheim in a desperate race to reach Naglfar before it’s ready to sail. Along the way, they will face angry sea gods, hostile giants, and an evil fire-breathing dragon. But Magnus’ biggest challenge will be facing his own inner demons. Does he have what it takes to outwit the wily trickster god?”

My Thoughts:

Here are links to my reviews on the other books in the series:

  1. The Sword of Summer
  2. The Hammer of Thor

I’m sad to have finished this trilogy, because it was so much fun to read. No matter how old I get, I still find Riordan’s books so enjoyable. He creates such great characters in such beautiful worlds. But onto why this book specifically was so great! I say some of the same things every time, but he did such a good job with each book in the series.

A part of the book I really loved was the very beginning. Percy and Annabeth are there. I don’t want to spoil too much, but Magnus and Alex forming friendships with two beloved characters from Riordan’s other series made me so happy. (Even though Annabeth has been in this trilogy since the beginning, Percy hasn’t). Jack trying to talk to Riptide was also very entertaining.

As per usual with Riordan’s novels, The Ship of the Dead was funny. The dialogue is so true of each character and so natural, the chapter titles are funny and the way characters interact is funny and interesting. Especially in the Magnus Chase series, because in Valhalla, people come from all different periods of time. One line I liked that introduced the next chapter perfectly was:

“I like my rivers the way I like my enemies — slow, wide and lazy. I rarely get what I want.”

p.55

And I love this bit of dialogue:

“‘You want to come with me to a creepy mansion and look through a dead guy’s stuff?’

Alex beamed. ‘I thought you’d never ask.'”

p.20

One aspect I really loved was Mangus’ friends from floor nineteen in Hotel Valhalla being in this book more. They weren’t super involved in the plot of The Hammer of Thor, so it was fun to read about them more. Also, readers got to learn more about their backgrounds in this book. Magnus knew some information about how they all died, but not the specifics. I loved learning more about T.J, Mallory and Halfborn. They all have such different backgrounds from different time periods, which makes it so interesting to read about.

Overall, I loved this trilogy (even though I read the first one too many years ago to remember too many specifics), and I would highly recommend it!


Playlist:

I decided to make this playlist based on Mallory Keen, a character I love in The Ship of the Dead, and the trilogy as a whole.

  1. Sunday Bloody Sunday – U2
  2. Cherry Bomb – The Runaways
  3. Rebel Girl – Bikini Kill
  4. Ty Cobb – Soundgarden
  5. Set It Off – Audioslave
  6. Don’t Play – Halsey
  7. Heroes – David Bowie
  8. Come Together – The Beatles
  9. Nightmare – Halsey

You can listen to the playlist here โ˜˜๏ธ


Thank you for reading! โค๏ธ

Book Review: The Hammer of Thor

Found on Google Images

Title: The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #2)

Author: Rick Riordan

My Rating: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…

Summary: “‘Magnus Chase, you nearly started Ragnarok. What are you going to do next?’

It’s been six weeks since Magnus and his friends returned from defeating Fenris Wolf and the fire giants. Magnus has adjusted to life at the Hotel Valhalla — as much as a once-homeless and previously alive kid can. As a son of Frey, the god of summer, fertility and health, Magnus doesn’t exactly fit in with the rest of Odin’s chosen warriors, but he has a few good peeps among his hallmates on floor nineteen, and he’s been dutifully training for Ragnarok along with everyone else. His days have settled into a new kind of normal.

But Magnus should have known there’s no such thing as normal in the Nine Worlds. His friends Hearthstone and Blitzen have disappeared. A new hallmate is creating chaos. According to a very nervous goat, a certain object belonging to Thor is still missing and the thunder god’s enemies will stop at nothing to gain control of it.

Time to summon Jack, the Sword of Summer and take action. Too bad the only action Jack seems to be interested in is dates with other magical weapons…”

My Thoughts:

If you want to see my review on the first book (The Sword of Summer), you can read it here.

Until reading The Hammer of Thor this year, I hadn’t read anything by Riordan in a few years, and it was fun to read something by him again. It was also a little hard because I had a little trouble remembering what happened in the first Magnus Chase book. But that’s what the internet is for! So quick shoutout to Wikipedia for having indepth plot summaries!

As is typical of Riordan’s novels, the action starts only shortly after the book begins, and continues at a fast pace through the rest of the book. His pacing is perfect, with never a dull moment, but not moving past scenes too quickly either. The Hammer of Thor also included lots of humor, again as is typical of Riordan. He is great at writing funny scenes and lines that are funny to anyone. Nearly every joke was really funny to me now, even though the novels are aimed at a younger audience. Here are some lines I enjoyed:

…teenage einherjar hung out playing board games or just chillaxing (which is like chilling, except with battle axes).

p. 32

Or just this title with a reference I greatly appreciated:

You Keep Using the Word Help. I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

p. 341

I just always have such a fun time reading books by Riordan, which is why I will read anything he writes. I was also really happy while reading this because of the amount of diversity in this trilogy and his books in general. I’m happy knowing he is showing kids that people are all different and that’s normal. The Magnus Chase series has people of different religions, sexualities and gender identities. Though he isn’t anymore, Magnus was homeless and other characters are shown to have rough childhoods. This is so so so important for kids to see.

Overall, you should go read the first book right now ๐Ÿ™‚ I can’t wait to read The Ship of the Dead!


Playlist:

I made this playlist based on Alex Fierro, by far one of my favorite characters in The Hammer of Thor. Also, I did not mean to have songs by the same artists, but those songs just fit the character the best, so…oops. Lots of Audioslave for you!

  1. Rebel Rebel – David Bowie
  2. Keep on Livin’ – Le Tigre
  3. Bad Reputation – Joan Jett
  4. Jewel of the Summertime – Audioslave
  5. Freaks Like Us – Hands Off Gretel
  6. What You Are – Audioslave
  7. Don’t Play – Halsey
  8. Live to Rise – Soundgarden
  9. Changes – David Bowie
  10. Be Yourself – Audioslave

You can listen to the playlist here ๐Ÿ™‚


Thank you for reading this review! ๐Ÿ“– โค

My Month in Music – June (2019)

I hope you are all having a great July so far! Here is some music I listened to last month ๐Ÿ™‚

You can listen to the playlist here ๐Ÿ”ฎ


I hope you all have a great July! Happy listening and thanks for reading โค

Book Review: Shout

Found on Google Images

*TW: rape, domestic violence

Title: Shout

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

My Rating: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…

Goodreads Summary: “Bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson is known for the unflinching way she writes about, and advocates for, survivors of sexual assault. Now inspired by her fans and enraged by how little in our culture has changed since her groundbreaking novel Speak was first published twenty years ago, she has written a poetry memoir that is as vulnerable as it is rallying, as timely as it is timeless. In free verse, Anderson shares reflections, rants, and calls to action woven between deeply personal stories from her life that she’s never written about before. Searing and soul-searching, this important memoir is a denouncement of our society’s failures and a love letter to all the people with the courage to say #metoo and #timesup, whether aloud, online, or only in their own hearts. Shout speaks truth to power in a loud, clear voice — and once you hear it, it is impossible to ignore.”

My Thoughts:

The minute I heard that Laurie Halse Anderson wrote Shout I knew I needed to read it. I haven’t read all of her books, but I’ve read a lot of them, and all were fantastic. I loved Speak when I read it, and although it’s been a long time since I read it, I remember how well she handled the complicated conversation around rape. She continuously tackles complex issues like eating disorders (Wintergirls) and PTSD (The Impossible Knife of Memory) so well. Shout is no different.

Anderson wrote in free verse, which I really enjoyed. It allowed her the freedom to write each poem in a different form and length, which kept it interesting. I also liked the mix of memoir (especially at the beginning) with poetry focused on the issue of sexual assault as a whole. Anderson was able to tell her own story while also addressing issues she herself never directly faced.

I really loved this book. There was not a poem I disliked. Of course, I had my favorites, but everything was well written and expressed different emotions and ideas. I’ve always thought Anderson is so talented with word choice and writing poetic lines in her novels, and Shout reinforced that. Some of my favorite lines are below (because quoting an entire poem is a bit much).

The image of my father hitting

my mother picassoed in front of me

like Sunday sunshine slicing

through the church windows, fracturing

and rearranging the truth on the floor.

Another example:

I didn’t speak up

when that boy raped me, instead I scalded

myself in the shower and turned

me into the ghost of the girl

I once was

Shout writes about the violence so many women experience in their lives in such a real way that nearly brought me to tears and filled me with rage. Anderson once again tackled a difficult topic with grace, expressing the anger and hurt so many women feel due to their experiences and the experiences of others. I cannot say enough that this book is excellent and everyone should read it.


Playlist:

This is a playlist of angry women (one of my favorite genres of music):

  1. Asking for It – Hole
  2. Nightmare – Halsey
  3. Can I Run – L7
  4. Oh Bondage Up Yours! – X-Ray Spex
  5. Seneca Falls – The Distillers
  6. World Against She – Hands Off Gretel
  7. Suck My Left One – Bikini Kill

You can listen to the playlist here ๐Ÿค˜๐Ÿป


Thanks for reading! โค

My Month in Music – May (2019)

I hope you all had a good May! I finished my first year of college and it’s been very nice not to have homework. I haven’t written down what I’ve been listening to as well since coming home, so I apologize if the playlist is a bit repetitive! Anyway, onto the music ๐Ÿ™‚

You can listen to the playlist here ๐Ÿ™‚


Special Mentions:

I saw L7 on the 19th and they were amazing! We were standing in the 3rd – ish row and it was a lot of fun!


Thank you for reading! I hope your summer is off to a great start ๐Ÿ™‚

Chris Cornell Songs You Need to Know

Two years ago today, we lost Chris Cornell, an irreplaceable musician. He wrote beautiful lyrics and had an even more amazing voice to sing them with. (I have a much more personal post on the strong connection I feel to Cornell’s music here if you want to read it). Over his long career he was in Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Audioslave and had a solo career. I’m going to showcase some of his lesser known songs and his wonderful performances today. (But I of course love Cochise and Outshined as much as the next person).

Playlist:

Here are some excellent songs in chronological order of when each album came out. I limited myself to two songs per album…but he had a lot of albums, so…it’s looooong…probably too long…oops.

You can listen to the playlist here โค

Additional Performances:

Here are some amazing performances I didn’t have linked above but felt needed to be included:


If you want to share, I would love to hear your favorite songs by him or how his music has impacted you.

Loud Love โค

For Chris

You sang in a way that demanded attention,

with a voice that could fill any room, no matter the size.

You, an acoustic guitar and a mic were made for each other,

your voice soft, comforting, yet raspy like a blanket caught in a thorn bush.

But you were equally made for pounding drums and guitar solos.

Your screams shattered glass and shook buildings,

knocking the wind out of everyone.

Your lyrics painted dark skies splashed with bright stars,

consoled many people, brought them joy.

If only you were still here to make the world a little easier to take, one song at a time.

But your darkness, your disease, your demons won in the end.

Thank you, Christopher John Cornell for all you gave us.