Teenage Anthems

Howdy, howdy! How is everyone doing? What kinds of things have you found to help you pass the time during the quarantine? I’ve been listening to a lot of older music. Stuff from my teen years. I hate to call it old, but late ’90s to 2004ish is 16+ years ago. I’m getting old. I know. It’s before I got into Japanese and Korean music. It’s before I even got into Lifehouse and James Blunt and other groups that lean more towards the soft and sappy. These are my depressed and angry teenage anthems. The songs that made me feel less alone. And they still make me feel better. I think they always will. Anyway, I don’t have much to talk about on the writing front, so I thought I’d share some music with you.


1. “I Feel Fine” by the Riddlin’ Kids. It was released in 2001. I never really got into any of their other music, but I really liked this particular song. Maybe it’s because I felt alone a lot.

2. “Sympathetic” by Seether. I first heard it when I bought Disclaimer (2002). It quickly became one of my favorites. A lot of Seether songs still rank among my favorites. “Fine Again” and “Broken” from the same album. “The Gift” and “Truth” from Karma And Effect. “Like Suicide” and “Walk Away from the Sun” from Finding Beauty In Negative Spaces. I could go on, but I think that’s enough of them.

3. “Unwell” by Matchbox Twenty from More Than You Think You Are (2002). They’re one of the more poppy bands I liked back then and a lot of their songs just made me happy. “Disease” from the same album. “Mad Season” and “Bent” from Mad Season. “Long Day” and “Push” from Yourself Or Someone Like You. But “Unwell” will always be number one.

4. “A Quiet Mind” by Blue October from History For Sale (2003). I don’t even know where to begin with them. Their music got me through a lot. Aside from “A Quiet Mind” there’s also “Inner Glow” from the same album. “She’s My Ride Home” and “Into the Ocean” from Foiled. “Picking up Pieces” and “Jump Rope” from Approaching Normal. The list goes on, but I’ll stop here.

5. “Pieces” by Sum 41 from Chuck (2004). I enjoy a lot of their music, but this song is by far my favorite. They didn’t exactly play my favorite genre, so I never got attached to them the same way I did other bands. Mostly I got attached to specific songs from similar bands. “Adam’s Song” by Blink182 for example. But I won’t dive too far into those songs.


So, yeah. I’m spending a lot of time doing the same stuff I did as a teenager: listening to music and reading. It might not be productive, but it makes me feel better and that’s all that really matters. What makes you feel better these days? What are some of your teenage anthems or songs that got you through those years? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or comments here or on my social media pages!


Hello, hello! It’s only the first week of March, but I have another book review for you. It’s the last minute approval I got for February’s ARC requests. Don’t worry. The next one won’t be until the end of March because I have no more ARC requests out (except one for April’s review). Anyway, the book is called The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow. It’s a sci-fi fantasy YA novel because I was looking for something different. Inkyard Press released the book on February 25th. As usual, I must thank the publisher and NetGalley for access to the ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get on with it.

Gorgeous cover. You can probably guess why it caught my eye as I was browsing. So much purple.

The Sound of Stars follows Janelle “Ellie” Baker, a seventeen-year-old jaded human, as she struggles to cope during an alien invasion by lending out contraband (books) to others imprisoned in the same center. When she’s caught by one of her alien overlords (an attractive guy called M0Rr1s), she knows she’s dead, but in return for his silence, he just wants music (also forbidden). Little do they know that this give-and-take will lead to big adventures as they escape across the country together. And it might even lead to more than that if they can survive.

Sounds pretty standard and fun, right? It is! There’s romance and danger and misunderstandings and personal revelations and all that. Plus, there are some weird musicians sprinkled in for fun. It’s definitely a YA novel that pulls out all of the emotional stops. There’s teenage angst in all its glory threaded around a lot of deeper and more difficult topics. It makes for a nice rollercoaster ride if you open yourself up to it.

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That being said, I did feel like some of the diversity issues that the book deals with were far too heavy handed at times. Which is common and annoying in all forms of media these days. And before you get on your soapbox and give me a lecture about the importance of representation in the media, please remember that I’m a wheelchair-bound female with a questionable sexuality. I don’t get represented in media very often outside of inspiration porn. Cool your jets. I’m just saying that I don’t need to know the gender identity of every throw away character in the story. There are at least two characters who literally just open doors then disappear, but I know they’re nonbinary. Why? It feels trite. Especially when there are plenty of lovely fleshed out characters who are nonbinary or ace/demi or bi/pan, etc. And I love those characters. I hope to see more of them. I kind of understand it with the aliens because it’s how they are, it’s part of their social standards to announce their gender. With the humans it felt forced. Especially when a kid in Texas (who by all indications hasn’t had any contact with the aliens in order to learn this behavior) asks if M0Rr1S is a boy, a girl, or nonbinary. If the book was set in the future more than two years, I might be able to believe a kid here would ask that, but it doesn’t seem to be, so it came off as awkward.

Tl;Dr? I love learning about characters and seeing things from other perspectives, but when you tell me intimate details about characters I don’t get to see for more than a sentence or two, it’s weird and forced.

There’s a spoiler in the next paragraph.


Moving along to character development. It’s fantastic. Ellie and M0Rr1S are superb. Even the backup characters are awesome. I love Avi and Alice and the Starry Eyed. Even Brixton gets his moment in the sun. We’re told he’s basically a bad guy, but when he finally shows up he has this really adorable backstory that turns super creepy by human standards the more you think about it. He wanted to be a part of his little brother (M0Rr1s) and have a connection with him, so when their mother created M0Rr1S (who is a labmade, which is exactly what it sounds like) with her genetic material, Brixton added some of his own when she wasn’t looking. It’s sweet until you start thinking about the daddy-bro implications. But they’re aliens, so it’s okay! And it’s those kinds of details that make the story interesting and fun.

No more spoilers from here.

The writing was a little repetitive at times, but smooth enough to let me fly through the story. I read 430 pages in 12 days, which is super fast for me. Plus I love the inclusion of song lyrics and all of the references to music and books. I even discovered a couple of titles I can look into for fun reading.

Ultimately, I loved The Sound of Stars. It was left open-ended, so I have high hopes that future books will come out. If not, I’ll still pick up whatever Alechia Dow publishes next and hope it’s just as good.

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Overall, I gave it four out of five stars. If you’re into YA sci-fi/fantasy, I definitely recommend picking it up. It’s definitely worth a read and it would be beautiful on any library shelf or nightstand.

Thoughts On HALF PAST

Hello, hello!  Welcome to the first monthly installment of book reviews!  A friend recently introduced me to NetGalley, a site through which publishers offer ARCs (advance reader copies) in exchange for honest and unbiased reviews.  While going through their options, I came across Half Past by Victoria Helen Stone, which came out September 19th, 2017, and decided to give it a shot.  First and foremost, I have to thank NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the ARC.  Here’s my review.

The cover is nice.

I originally chose to read Half Past because it sounded interesting.  Hannah Smith, the 45-year-old protagonist, has returned home to rural Iowa in order to take care of her ailing mother and recover from a divorce and being let go from her job.  She discovers that she might be adopted and decides to go on a journey of self-discovery in the hopes of finding out about her origins.  The back blurb hints at a dark story, so even though it’s not something I would normally pick up, I tried it.

The whole premise of the novel turned out to be flawed.  Hannah is O- blood type and she discovers that her mother who has dementia is AB+.  The narrator mentions that anyone who took high school biology knows this isn’t possible, and a brief Internet search seemingly supports that, but I happened to have a doctor’s appointment while reading this book and she said it technically was possible.  So, I dug a little deeper (it wasn’t even a difficult search) and discovered articles by a geneticist who teaches at Stanford that explain that while it’s extremely rare, there are a few ways an AB parent can have an O offspring.  And if it was just Hannah assuming she knew everything, I could overlook this, but a doctor tells her she must be adopted instead of telling her she needs to consent to more tests to be positive.  The whole thing tainted my view of the book, but I kept reading.

Facepalm was an accurate reaction throughout the book.

Then there was Hannah herself.  Honestly, she acted more like a fifteen-year-old than anything.  Everything was a major drama that she couldn’t handle, so she constantly ran away and blamed everyone else.  She complained about never fitting in, but she never made an effort to do anything about it.  And I’m sorry, but at 45 years old, you should know that the woman who raised and loved you (because her childhood was a happy one) is your mom.  You don’t run away from her in her time of need to search for your “mom.”  I had no way to connect to Hannah until the very end when she finally takes a little responsibility for everything, but by that point I already disliked her.  If she were younger and this was a story about her finally becoming an adult, I probably would’ve enjoyed it a lot more.  As it is, she came off as a flaky, annoying, crybaby.

The story itself was a quick, easy read.  It felt a little predictable, but my mind goes to the dark places a lot easier than other people.  I did think it was a little too drawn out.  If I found out I was adopted and the only lead I had was a strange birth certificate, the first thing I would’ve done was look for the witness listed on it.  Maria Diaz ends up being an afterthought when nothing else pans out.  I think Hannah conveniently forgot the name so she could go on a vacation.  That’s what it felt like anyway.

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This was the look that accompanied the facepalm while I was reading.

I will say that I enjoyed the writing style.  It was comfortable and kept me reading despite my issues with the story and with Hannah.  While I wouldn’t put it on my list of favorites by any means, I wouldn’t tell people not to read it.  It simply wasn’t my cup of tea, but other people might enjoy it.

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Ultimately, I’d give it three out of five stars.  I wasn’t a fan and I think some things should’ve been better researched, but beyond that it was well written.