Breaking Up With the Book Community

It’s certainly been a while since we just talked about life and the internet – which these days are nearly the same things. But as I’ve expressed, everything makes a certain sort of sense now. We’ll take that as indisputable proof that the road to success looks vastly different to everyone.

Some people’s paths are paved in gold jewels and a nice rest stop along the way that looks suspiciously like a Panera bread.

Some people’s paths are sunny and all they have to do is keep on keeping on and make sure they have plenty of water.

Mine just so happens to be a briar patch of bullshit and every single one I hack out of my way is through pure force of will.

The densest and thorniest part of the patch that simply will not let me cut it the hell down is the Book Community. I’ve never been in a place where I was so paranoid about being myself in my entire life. It’s been a hindrance and very stifling, despite how many wonderful people I’ve connected with there.

And it all had to do with me Allowing it to be.

So, we’re going to talk about my role in the toxicity of the Book Community and how the best way to improve my experience in it… is to not be apart of it.

Side note: I know you guys love tea videos and want to hear all of what’s good, but unfortunately for your thirsty selves – this is the Cerebral Hedonist. We drink coffee here.

So, what’s wrong with the Book Community?

To begin with, the Most straight forward answer I can offer is that the book community has absolutely no identity.

Unless one can identify as pure vitriolic chaos.

The community presented to me on Twitter and Booktube, especially in YA circles – and this is my experience with it – is like a child trying any and everything until something sticks and so far, nothing has. It tries it best to converge into a meaningful place of positivity and support while also regularly shifting into a monster of negativity, harassment, and policing.

Its quite a messy little sandbox that once you enter becomes quicksand. Suddenly you’re trapped in it for a year a two and slowly assimilate into the absolutely foolish fantasy that it is. I say fantasy because once you reconnect to the real world of books – or the real world in general, you’re reminded that the majority of it all is just a blip on some obscure conspiracist radar that no one listens to anyway.

The weird entrapment that is booktube and book twitter, for me, begins and ends with a certain level of dishonesty and, more importantly, disrespect. This is namely because there is no minding your own business in the book community. Even when you’re minding your own business, someone who doesn’t know what yours or even their own business is, feels entitled to mind yours as well simply because you’re standing in the same space together. And slowly I started to become one of those people.

I realized I got sucked into it. I would hear about something absolutely trashy and wrong and log in, want to see the bonfire, give my unasked for two cents…. And then feel utterly unsatisfied afterwards.

Because absolutely nothing changes.

This can be said about many fandoms, but the book community is where I seemed to get trapped in it because I never was a discourse hound in any other fandom space. All of the virtue signaling, all the calling-out, and mobbing and policing, and guilting? It felt like a very alien world that damn near changed me. But then I remembered, anything people do on Twitter or their channels or even their Instagram and Tiktoks, any of it has absolutely nothing to do with me. I’m not bored enough to care and I have far too much on my plate to make my life about it. My escape from real life is not seeing what’s going on social media, but actual progress and… books.

The book community doesn’t know what sort of community it wants to be. I realize I don’t have to stick around waiting for it to find out what it wants to be. I don’t have to help it either. I don’t want to.

I understood my parts in it: calling out what I considered very obvious lies; picking apart people’s excuses for being bigoted or whatever; bitching about what’s being read and what isn’t – which is done more than actually propping up the things you think people should be reading. All the confronting, attacking, harassing…

I don’t know… it just feels like bullying after a while. It all feels like bullying.

I guess when I got there, I finally checked myself. All of that stuff truly didn’t matter. In the grand scheme of it all, its not my culture. This is not my language. I don’t speak the language of abuse or aggression as a default. Oh, I will defend myself when provoked, but none of this stuff, the floundering of the book community…

Anything good I could do in the world, anything amazing I could build, anything better I can be, I can achieve without the approval and scrutiny of others. I don’t need someone’s validation to think and feel something or to even just be kind. No one is entitled to what I chose to do and don’t do and I’m not entitled to others.

I’ve always been quiet. I’m not as loud and rambunctious as I act on livestream with the crew. I’m not boisterous or hard. I get excited and overly passionate about what I know and what I believe in, but I am a believer in solving a problem and unfortunately, the book community has no solutions that aren’t a cyclical performance of prop-up, callout, and deplatform. No real solutions other than destroying people. It’s just not in me to be apart of that and it certainly isn’t worth it in what I have set for myself.

So upward and onward.

The Cerebral Hedonist – my beloved passion project – encompasses everythign I want and believe in. I have no desire or ideations of being an influencer, of being this huge personality who has a bunch of people excusing and defending everything I do. Nor am I an activist. I’m not here to fight everyone’s battle and I’m saying its okay I don’t.

The Cerebral Hedonist is something better than a following and fans. It’s a curated community. Everything about us is collaborative from the point of creation to the point of appreciation. Having so many to appreciate this alongside us is more than I could have ever dreamed of. We’re trying to build up people who are building us up. Feedback, ideas, and propping up others who take the time to prop us up and appreciate what we do. This is the community I desire. Where if you love something, you are free to support it.

I’m curating a space of mutual respect.

A respect for the lives, feelings and minds of the people who find their way into my quiet place. It says that I have not forgotten that behind these keyboards, phones, screens, you are all just people. You’re people with your own personal aspirations and dreams who don’t deserve to be treated as a number and have no obligation to be part of something that doesn’t put you in a good place of mind and help you excel.

This is slowly expanding shared universe. Everything you create and put out there is a world, star, galaxy, and sometimes a whole other universe that we all share. We are growing together, each working on our individual pieces and I think somewhere in trying to keep up with the book community and all that made me forget.

Whelp, I couldn’t find what I was looking for in any fandom I dipped my toe into, so I chose to build my own. The Shoal is something I want to keep growing, making it bigger and better with each new heavenly body until it spans into its own cosmos. Now I have people ready to take that journey with me and its awesome. We’re all here on the path of success and they all lead to the stars.

So, in conclusion, I don’t really need the book community anymore. I made own and we got each other. From now on all my book talk will be just for me and I will continue to hopefully lead by example in my little corner of the world.

And with that cathartic statement. I’ll see you guys next time with some new creations.

If you guys want to help me on this journey, check the description box below and explore the universe I’m building and if you want to support it, join my Patreon or donate to ko-fi. Every little bit helps me build and focus! Thank you for listening.

Stay Well Read

-The Scholarly Squid-

The Story So Far – Way Down We Go

We got a very late start in March but we’re chugging along. If you’ve been following along on twitter you’ll have seen that the Squid had to slow down. Nothing serious, just the marks of our favorite squid getting old! Everything else has been a slow and steady race that we haven’t stopped winning since the year started. As always, we owe that thanks to you all for keeping up. That being said, we’re going to drop a few updates in our continuous evolution and fluxation. So let’s get to it and see where we are.

Inks Spills and Commissions

From this week forward, our public gallery and all commission galleries will be through Ko-fi where we will finally be making some available for purchase! With the new redesign of the Well-Read/Scholary Squid Avatar, they’re about to get some family and friends. The Shoal Squad is coming and we can’t wait to show them all off and how they itneract with our content.

We’ve also streamlined our commission process as well.

You want your innerself to look as good as ours or just have your characters brought to life? Check out our new commission sheet on Ko-fi where you can simply order a commission slot with just a click. Our Payment Plans are still available on Full Color work, you need only ask! Do pay attention because our prices have shifted with the Squid’s skill. We’ve simplified everythign for the convineience of our beloved Shoal.

Of course, the best way to support us and help us do what we do is still our Patreon. By becoming a Patron for only $5 a month, you become a valued member of the Shoal and gain access to all sorts of exclusive goodies and content! That includes free prints and commission discounts for higher tiers, plus access to our more involved posts and artwork! So if you would like to regularly support us, definitely get on The Cerebral Hedonist Patreon!

The Cerebral Hedonist Channel

Unfortunatley, due to the Squid’s weak-ass bones they will have to be cut to twice a week. These will be our Shoal Session lives which will still remain publically available as well as secret, quiet Art Streams. The Shoal Sessions will continue to be on Tuesday and Wednesdays but the time slot will be 4pm CT – 8pm CT, though the ending time will vary based on if the Squid is under the weather. Those will still consist of work sessions but will also vary with reading sessions, chats, and art streaming.

As for overall channel content, much of it will be made available here on the website. Original Content such as Curating Quiet, Connecting Worlds, and Indigo Inc. — while listed as public — will primarliy be advertised and hosted here. This will allow for a more centralized platform where all you wish to find will be within the Shoal. While there is no set schedule, Media Content will always be posted on Sundays. Think of it as a surprise every sunday!

The Content schedule will be revised and updated upon the posting of this update!

An Important EndeavorPlease Read

As you all know, the Squid suffers from Schizoaffective Disorder and thus has, in the past, made use of Mental Health Facilities. Because of this, we made a personal endeavor to help raise a bit of money for 4 particular MH Workers who have made it possible for people like them to have a safe and clean place to recover and get back on our feet. This GoFund Me’s goal is to raise 2k for four workers who were stiffed on their hazard pay during the Texas Ice Storm. They were given a meager amount despite being trapped at work, facing damages to their homes, and having to sleep on mattresses on the floor at the facility and yet STILL they worked their asses off and did what they needed to in order to take care of the people there and ensure they had what they needed. For this reason we wanted to try and do something. We don’t have a huge platform, but we feel it matters enough that we can earn something for them! So anything you give — $1-$100 — it doesn’t matter, your help will be very much appreciated.

Please Consider Donating and Helping by Clicking Here!

There is much in the pipeline, but remember we are a limite crew for now, so this will always be done slowly but surely. We appreciate your patience and are always looking ahead. Thank you guys and remember–


-The Shoal Squad-

Support Us:


Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Facebook ~ Squid’s Instagram ~ Discord ~

Content | Upload Schedule

With 2021 being a period of growth and focus for the Cerebral Hedonist, we’ve reached a point where our Scholarly Squid can’t afford to just sporadically spew out content and hope it lands where it needs to! Therefore, after much kicking and screaming, we have finally drafted, prepped and polished a complete and comprehensive content schedule! This is both for your convenience and the sanity of our stubborn creator as we’re seeking to create a very interactive community. Especially since we’re giving something we all have needed: Structure!

Beginning of April 1, 2021, The Cerebral Hedonist will be working towards a specific posting and upload schedule. Of course it will correlate to the limitations of our Scholarly Squid as needed. This will include the Cerebral Hedonist Website, YouTube Channel, and Patreon!

It will be structured as follows:


~ Commissions | Art ~

Website: The Story So Far | Updates | Announcements

Patreon: Updates | Art Progress


~ Writing | Worldbuilding ~

Website: Tentacle Files

YouTube: Shoal Sessions (Live) @ 4pm CT

Patreon: Personal Blog


~ Writing | Worldbuilding ~

Website: Lore Teasers | Secret Project (June 2021)

YouTube: Shoal Sessions (Live) @ 4pm CT

Patreon: Lore Notes | Epic Character Histories


~ Books | Movie | Games ~

Website: Reviews

Patreon: Secret Project (June 2021)

YouTube Upload Schedule

Starting March 1, 2021, The Cerebral Hedonist will be posting finished videos with a few things we know you’ve been waiting to have back!

1st Sunday – Vlogs | Discussions

2nd Sunday – Indigo Inc

3rd Sunday – Connecting Worlds

4th Sunday – Curating Quiet

Each video as they are is finished will be scheduled for Sunday. If any Sundays are missed, do not fret, they will return the following month. I hope this gets you geared up for the coming year because we sure are!

In the meantime, take the time to explore previous content to get a feel for everything! Also show us some support by sharing and following all out social media! Join our Discord Community as well!!!

Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Facebook ~ Squid’s Instagram ~ Discord ~

Cosmos – Solar Flare

Unwatermarked Image available on Patreon

“In the quiet abyss, the golden egg cracks and she rises. Her fearful motion ripples out in the beat of wings, ending worlds with not a scream but a sigh of inevitability.”

The first in the 6 piece Print Series “Cosmos”. Thank you guys for hanging around. Let this be the start of something beautiful!!! 

-Harli V. Park-

((Join the Patreon for Unwatermarked))

Connecting Worlds – Blood in the Water w/ Amelie Wen Zhao

Welcome my Squidlies!!!

Connecting Worlds is back and sparkling more than ever!

This time we have the extremely talented and far too powerful Amelie Wen Zhao, author of the titular Blood Heir which was one of my absolute FAVORITE books last year. Best of all, we’re just in time for the release of its sequel, Red Tigress on March 2nd!!!

So come, experience the world of Amelie Wen Zhao and the deeply personal connectin she has to her world. Connect with us on life experience, career woes, and navigating strange new worlds!

Thank you for your patience as always! Let’s make her sophmore release a great one.

I hope you come, I hope you stay, and I hope you connect with us!

((Close Captioning Coming Soon!))

I hope you enjoy! Follow Amelie Wen Zhao on Instagram! If you haven’t already enjoyed Blood Heir, get on it! If you have, there’s still time to preorder Red Tigress! Do it!

To those who have yet to join our shared universe, here are the ways you can support The Cerebral Hedonist:

PATREON! – Where you will recieve all sort of gifts, behind the scenes contents, free Prints, and secret Galleries. Tiers start at $2 so give us a click!

PAYPAL.ME! – Where you can make a one time donation to The Cerebral Hedonist and help us continue to do what we do!

COMMISSION! – And of course, who can forget the Ink Spills! If you’re feeling highly generous and want to own some unique, personalized art from yours truly and stamped with the TCH Seal, then by all means check out our commission sheet and contact us! We’re willing to do the work for your support and we’ll do it in bright vivid hues and lines!!! Check our Ink Spills Gallery if you’d like to see our past work.

Thank you so much guys! Let’s make Black Success Month real and vibrant. Let’s show the world that we are willing to band together and support each other with this community The Cerebral Hedonist has been currating for us and for you! Join us!

Stay Well-Read!

Harli V. Park

The Scholarly Squid

Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Facebook ~ Squid’s Instagram ~ Discord ~

The Story So Far: Black Success Month!

January was a beautiful, encouraging success. We are feeling something along the lines of positive, hopeful, and affirmed! Quarantine/Lockdown does some interesting things to the psyche. Havin that turn out to be something successful, or at the very least on its way to be, is a self-fulfilled blessing. Keeping the attitude of “not my culture” has allowed us to keep our heads down, mouths shut, and fingers working. This particular method was very conducive for the Squid’s creative needs and finally you will begin to see the results yourself!

So we’re making Black History Month mean something a little different this go around. It’s all about Black Success this month! The content on The Cerebral Hedonist all through February will reflect the Will, the Power, and the Success of Blackness through our creations in the best way possible. So here’s what to expect!

Black Success Special!

In honor of Black History, Black Present, and Black Future, The Cerebral Hedonist and your favorite artistic Squid are running a two-week special to celebrate Black Success! We want to give everyone a fair chance to put their money where their mouth is and support a black creator and business!

Starting February 1st – 14th, all Commissions from the Cerebral Hedonist will be 20% off! That’s right! 20% off but 100% Black!

Celebrate Black Success and Progress with us by supporting this little endeavor to create and elevate! But you have to act quickly. February only has 10 Commission Slots available! So get in while you can!

Commission Options and Details can be found here:

Tentacle Files – The Peace and the Power

An upcoming rumination on progress in the wake of 2020 from the Squid as a black creator! In the meantime, check out our past Tentacle Files by clicking the banner above and hype yourself up with some food for thought!

We Were Gods – A Review of Wings of Ebony

A Review and Reflection on Wings of Ebony, the wonderful and unapologetic debut by J. Elle whom will be featured in a future Connecting World Interview! Click the Banner and Check out our other reviews and thoughts in the meantime!

Curating Quiet – The Phantom Pain

Many of you have been awaiting the return of the “Curating Quiet Series” and we’re proud to say that it is BACK! At the end of the month, we will return to our safe quiet place to reflect on all that was lost, all that was gained, and all that will be obtained. An offer to center yourself with The Cerebral Hedonist community so that your year — no matter how late you started — will lead you somewhere beautiful! If you’ve never found your quiet with us before, now’s your chance! Click the Above Image to become acquainted with us.

Upcoming Curiosities!

On Sunday, February 7th, we will be posting a new, cohesive content schedule for the Cerebral Hedonist Platforms! Yes, that includes a YOUTUBE posting schedule. There’s going to be posts, reviews, Lives, ART!!!, and so much more at regular intervals on the site. So stay tuned and BE PREPARED!!!


We have worked hard and done so much to give you all of what’s coming your way this year and I am a proud Squid Papa! I appreciate each and every donation, patron, like, share, follow, subcribe, ALL OF IT! You have kept our motivation and carried it pridefully on your shoulders since June 2020 and I’m so humbled by that devotion. Remember, we could not have done this without you!

Now, to those who have yet to join our shared universe, here are the ways you can support The Cerebral Hedonist:

PATREON! – Where you will recieve all sort of gifts, behind the scenes contents, free Prints, and secret Galleries. Tiers start at $2 so give us a click!

PAYPAL.ME! – Where you can make a one time donation to The Cerebral Hedonist and help us continue to do what we do!

COMMISSION! – And of course, who can forget the Ink Spills! If you’re feeling highly generous and want to own some unique, personalized art from yours truly and stamped with the TCH Seal, then by all means check out our commission sheet and contact us! We’re willing to do the work for your support and we’ll do it in bright vivid hues and lines!!! Check our Ink Spills Gallery if you’d like to see our past work.

Thank you so much guys! Let’s make Black Success Month real and vibrant. Let’s show the world that we are willing to band together and support each other with this community The Cerebral Hedonist has been currating for us and for you! Join us!

Stay Well-Read!

Harli V. Park

The Scholarly Squid

~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Facebook ~ Squid’s Instagram ~ Discord ~

The Face of 2020 Staring at the Back of 2021

As I stare at the back of 2021, ready to follow it into something new — whether that be good or bad, I can’t help but look back at a year that everyone labels as the worst year of their lives. I look back, right into its face with the privilege and blessing of hindsight, and I realize that 2020 was a very special year.

Now, I won’t pretend 2020 wasn’t the most traumatizing year for some of us. I won’t pretend my experience is universal or much different from the average person. However, my beloved Shoal, you’re all here and therefore you must be morbidly curious about where this is going. Still, in this, I won’t be so delusional as to focus on the positives only. Oh no. I need the negativity. I need all those catastrophes and disasters to be right here where everyone can confront them. That way, I can be clear and truly tell you the value of it all.

All around us, we have been forced to face harsh truths. Some we’ve never seen. Some we tried to pretend weren’t real, and some we already knew and shouted so loudly about from the beginning of our lives all the way to this crossroad. it was only when the truth spilled over into our homes, into our jobs, and into our families that suddenly we couldn’t pretend to be deaf, dumb, and blind. The schism those truths caused ran so deep that many of us fell in and can’t seem to climb back out. Meanwhile, others fight on either side of the gap over whether or not it’s their responsibility to do something at all, much less help. We’ve watched our leadership fail, our heroes fall, and our most treasured creators/influencers come out as only human and thus subject to selfishness, greed, and apathy. These are things that were backbreaking to some, and just dishearteningly expected to others. Yet, no matter what — new or old hat — it is still a suffering we have all witnessed and undertook. The disruption of our preciously currated normalcy in such a grandoise fashion is nothing to laugh at, even if it damn near feels satirical. Most of all, we’ve learned a hard lesson. We can no longer be solely individualistic. We’ve learned that in order to survive and to live, we have to take care of each other.

And that, my Squidlies, is where the truth of 2020 flooded my part of our shared universe with so much light! So much energy and so much power that it may as well been the abrupt eruption of a gama ray blast.

The sheer uncanniness of 2020 gave us something more valuable than we could ever know and probably never will fully appreciate. It gave us Quiet. In the aftermath of the blast, there was a pause. A pause in which people — for bette or worse — began to take deliberate action to cause change. Words caught fire in the homes, schools, and streets in a way we haven’t seen in a long while. There was a re-evaluation on what was and wasn’t valuable to us anymore. What made sense and what didn’t. The dissatisfaction. The upheaval. And then, the willingness to move forward, proving once again that when given the opportunity, we will not devolve into savagery. We will choose to make something happen. We will help. In the end, despite our stubborn and our detractors, we chose empathy.

I saw so many movements in kindness that it made much of the negativity, the lack of accountability, and the aggression in which people approach nearly everything seem like a few drops of rain in a tempest of forward motion. GoFundMes. Donations. Signal Boosting. This network of positivity. This beautiful display of what many will do, despite the few who won’t. This is the Face of 2020 that I am looking back at as I take tentative steps towards 2021.

This face was so often distorted by the widespread myth that if society breaks down, we become evil. Lost in the sea of disaster after disaster and the complancency of our leaders. But that face never went anywhere. It never changed or diminished. The true face of 2020 as a year, in its solidarity and empathy, can only be described in one word: Community.

Like all gatherings, there is hatred, lack of self-awareness, and sheer ignorance that can make things seem impossible and absolutley not worth it. It can’t be helped when so many different people occupy a space. Yet, here at the Cerebral Hedonist, in our small but growing shared universe, the sense of community has been strong. It formed, it spoke, and it bonded. It solidified itself by allowing for other stars, planets, and galaxies to become a massive collective with a mutual desire for more and better.

That is what The Cerebral Hedonist – the pursuit of intellectual pleasures — is meant to embody. That is what all of you who have given, participated, and shared have created for us. I thank you for showing us that in this most trying time, you are willing to be a solution and a quiet refuge. You all have given true value to what we are trying to do and what we are now starting to acheive. Doing our best and sticking to our purpose is truly what is most value and I’m happy to see you believe in it as much as I do.

So, I look into the battered, but kind face of 2020 and tip my chin as I turn my back with the memory of its smile imprinted on our universe. I keep it as I look to the back of 2021 and follow it into the next stage.

Join us.

Join the discussions. Join the creations.

Be what makes storytelling so wonderful and so very integral to our success and evolution. Be with us and be a quiet sanctuary for any and everyone who needs it.

Be a part of the story.

Welcome to the Cerebral Hedonist… Let’s grow this universe together!

-Harli V. Park-







The Story Continues! 2021!

WELCOME TO 2021!!!

We hope that your New Year will be quiet and bright and successful! Make sure this year you’re working towards making things work out! We have a lot coming down the pipeline so 2021 is shaping up to be exciting! But let’s start with the big one!!!!

Click to see Details, Pricing, and Terms & Conditions

That’s right. The Cerebral Hedonist is opening Commissions to EVERYONE today!

If you get in between Jan 1st and Jan 7th, you get the NEW YEAR; NEW SQUID DISCOUNT! Patreon Patrons get payment plan options as well! So, its a new year, let us create a new YOU! Check it out below!!!

Beautiful Character Designs!

Have them conceptualized, fleshed out, and fully realized how you’ve always envisioned them.

Favorite FanArt!

Have your best girl, best boy, husbando, waifus, and more all rendered uniquely just for you!

Custom Avatars

Imprint yourself and your platform with a beautiful render of yourself that reflects who you are and what you love!

You like what you see? Then what are you waiting for? Get in while we’re open and available!!!

Click the Banner Below!

Thank you guys for supporting us thus far! There will be more updates for January as things get rolling and we hope you stick it out with us for another year!!!!

Look forward to more Tentacle Files, more Reviews ( NOT JUST BOOKS!!!! YEAH!)) and more hearfelt creations from the very heart. We’re here to build a community, so let’s do it!

If you’d like to help us build the Shoal, join our discord! THE SHOAL – Official Cerebral Hedonist Discord

If you’d like to support us in any way, but can’t commission currently, come on through:


Support us month to month and get wonderful rewards directly from the Squid and become integral in building our shared universe. There will be major updates to the tiers to further give back to the community that gives to us!


Drop a one time donation and help us create this universe, one world and star at a time!!!

Also show us some love by following this website and following all our platforms and sharing your favorite aspects of the Cerebral Hedonist!




Thank you for coming through for us during the one of the hardest years of all our lives! So now lets work together and get through the next!!!

Connecting Worlds – Across the Universe w/ Alechia Dow

Welcome my Squidlies!

I present to you the debut of Connecting Worlds!

Today we reach out and make our first step in building a brand new universe with the woman that inspired it all, Alechia Dow.

With each question, we’ll come together through life, mental health, and FOOD as we lay a foundation for a new world and a new home.

Thank you for joining us.

I hope you come. I hope you stay, and I hope you connect with us…

((Close Captioning and Full Transcription Coming Soon!!!!))

I hope you enjoy! Follow Alechia on Twitter and Check out Her book “The Sound of Stars”!

#ENDSARS: Please support and help our people in Nigeria.

Ways to support:


Relevant Articles:

If you enjoyed this and want to help us continue to do what we do, please consider becoming a patron or supporting us in one of these avenues:

Merchandise: Where you can purchase artwork and merch

Patreon: Where you can get exclusive access to all sorts of goodies starting at only $2 per month! That includes Bonust Content for Indigo Inc!

Ko-Fi: where you can buy us a coffee to help us get through the next piece

All forms of support are welcome and remember to check out the Cerebral Hedonist YouTube Channel for more content and follow us on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with the latest news.

We’ll see you in the next one!

Nothing’s Gonna Change My World (The Sound of Stars)

I read a lot of heavy things, mostly in research. For a while, doing so placed me in quite a slump that I’ve had a hard time getting out of. It’s mostly just academic texts and folklore for writing research and inspiration, so leisurely reading has been difficult to get into. And yet, while I was still working at the bookstore in receiving, I stumbled across a beautiful color of skyscrapers and stars, and a premise that began and ended with music.

Welcome to the Cerebral Hedonist! I’m your Scholarly Squid and here comes a stellar thought on:


The Sound of Stars is a sweet and fun little story of Janelle “Ellie” Baker, a young girl living in the aftermath of a massive alien invasion. All humans have been pushed into interment installations and all of our creative media have been confiscated and destroyed. Art in any form is illegal and anyone discovered with it face death by hanging as a demonstration. Having to navigate this dark new world, Janelle chose to become a rebel in her own way as her building’s secret librarian. She loans her personal collection of books in order to offer relief to others in these dark times and knows that if caught, her life would end. However, Janelle could just do nothing, living by the moto of “they can control how we die, but now how we live!”

Enter M0Rr1S, a manufactured version of the invaders meant to look and feel like the subjugated race in order to better conquer it. He discovered Janelle’s secret library and falls in love with a book of hers. Thus, he feels a meaningful connection with her spirited, yet subtle rebellion and enlists her to help him in obtaining his secret love: Music.

Through unfortunate mishaps, Janelle and M0Rr1S embark on a cross-country road trip to save humanity, never realizing that saving the earth doesn’t lie at the end of their journey, but in the connection, they form with stories and catchy tunes!


Alechia Dow is literally too pure for this world and so are her ideas. While originally from America where she worked as a librarian and has a detailed background in culinary, Alechia currently resides in Germany with her adorable daughter and husband. You can catch her tweeting and instagraming her delicious creations, participating as a mentor in #pitchwars, and writing a sequel as well as delving into Food Fantasy! She’s a big nerd and the sweetest little cosmonaut I’ve ever had the pleasure to interview. Not to mention her daughter is adorable. She hopes to bring happiness and some fun to the world she writes, keeping things lighthearted for those in dark times! It’s good goal to have when you’re competing with all the things wrong in the world and I believe she can do it!

Personal Thoughts

I didn’t realize this was something I needed until I read it. The right type of simple, the right type of sweet, and the right type of hopeful! The Sound of Stars provided a kind, light hearted journey of discovery between Janelle and M0Rr1S as they learned each other and I learned them. While it did show some racial and social justice issues, they were delivered in a way that showed why Janelle became the young woman she is. It did well to show how even in the most dire of circumstances, the nature and inner prejudices of others are not guaranteed to suddenly change. Janelle feels true-to-life as a girl growing up in Brooklyn suddenly thrust into upperclass high-society area. The prejudice she and her family faced and the affect it had on them before the invasion. It embittered Janelle and makes her question if she truly wants the old earth and old humanity back.

On the other side M0Rr1S’s perspective – cleverly written in 3rd person – grants a voyeuristic quality to his narrative. He has no privacy due to his connection to what is essentially a hivemind. Showing emotion is dangerous for him, to the extinct that he could be “terminated” should he say or do the wrong thing under all those eyes. Often, he is not allowed a choice as other can simply press into his mind and thoughts at any time they please without his permission. His only solace is the music he has collected illegally from earth. He only solace is his love of the music of earth he managed to secretly collect. He allows himself to fall in love with the sound of earth and nurtures his desire to save the planet in any way that he can. His character is refreshing as many times the male protagonist is designed to be stoic, aloof, and often standoffish. M0Rr1S is the most happy-go-lucky guy I’ve ever read. He wears his heart on his sleeve where all can see. It actually can be a bit overwhelming, especially for poor Janelle who is trying to reconcile her vision of the alien overlords and… well this ball of sunshine and sparkles in front of her. However, M0Rr1S is very determined and carries a heavy burden to the end of the world. He is happy to have someone to share it with and help strength his resolve to do what he must.

Janelle and M0Rr1S are the products of their environments and share a resistance in letting it control them. Each of their perspectives are beautifully unique and cutely written. Everything about this story is very character-driven and positive foot forward. It’s easy to tell that the focus was never on the horrible future Janelle and M0Rr1s may face at the end, but on the connections and empathy that can be shared between two people even if they’re literally from different worlds! It pts pleasurable read that can be cleared in a couple days (one if you’re like the wife) and it leaves you with a fluffy, floating feeling like perfectly whipped meringue.


Honestly, I don’t have many complaints. It is very much a teen novel in its purest form and reading level. Fast paced read as the focus is on the story than trying to impress with metaphor. Dow’s crème puff personality shows vividly in through her word choices, descriptors, and references. You can tell which scenes are very important or loved by how much more goes into them. My only wish was that the novel had actually been a bit slower in its pacing. As it is a quick read, the event go by a bit faster and would’ve loved a bit more of a slow down and vibe in some scenes as well just tiny bit more introspection in others. Surprisingly, I would’ve wanted more screen time for 0rsa and Br1xton and wished I’d gotten more scenes or at least a bit more to them – perhaps I will in the next book! Overall, character development, romance, and structure are good. I feel Dow will get better and improve with each word and book she’s allowed to write, and I want more than anything for that woman to be allowed to write. The positivity in her writing is something we need.

Final Thoughts

I loved this book. I think there will be some who find it not to their taste because of the strange notion that Scifi requires a lot of science and action – especially in alien invasion type stories. In reality, it gave me the nice chill down I needed from all that academia reading as well as instilling me with a very new light and warm sense of hopefulness. To describe it, this book is fucking adorable! It brought me back to appreciating the Young Adult category and gave me just what I needed among all the serious fiction and allegories about blackness and suffering. Dow gave me a black girl who wasn’t in a state of constant suffering. Where her skin color, her experience, her traumas made her who she was, but did not define her and did not take away her happiness and will to do good for her world. Having black characters in sweet, hopeful narratives, having them be happy are so, so important and it hurts that these are not the stories that publishers want? That they want more of the Hate U Give. That they want more COBABs, that they want more Dear Martins, etc, etc. That they want more of our anger and our hurt.

That’s why I will hype the living hell out of this book as well as its sequel and any others that for once just let a black protagonist have an adventure that doesn’t end and begin with a metaphor about their skin color. I want to see more stories like this where even if things aren’t quite okay, the love and happiness are not just bittersweet interludes between pain on pain on pain and taking on the world. But rather just something that we can escape into that doesn’t look so much like our reality already. I think anyone who reads The Sound of Stars will be filled with the same warmth and sweetness that Dow poured into it. I hope the sequel gives that and much more.

So! I’m asking from the bottom of my heart to check it The Sound of Stars (( LINK )) and give it a chance. She deserves some attention as the debut of this gem was buried by COVID. It’s been out less than a year, so let’s turn it around. Make it so we can show that happy black adventures sell too!

Stay Well-Read


I do have a Connecting Worlds interview coming up with Alechia on October 25th! So mark your calendars so you can enjoy this wonderful person as much as I did!!!

For More Reviews: The Well Read Squid

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