2020: Week 1 Reading Roundup

Sunday.29.December.2019 – Saturday.4.January.2020 

The first week of 2020 is over and I’ve managed to read 3 amazing books, making progress on my personal AOC challenge.

FINISHED READING: 3

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story by Debbie Tung


This is a wonderful little book. It made me feel so completely understood. It features a college-aged Debbie making her way through college and feeling a bit like an outsider. The comics are lovely and really capture the introvert life {5*}

Book Love by Debbie Tung


Another Debbie Tung comic! This one resonated with my bookish life. The comics are once again lovely, but there is a certain something lacking in this book. There was no “aha” moment. So while I really did like this book, I am not head over heels in love with it. Still enjoyable though {4*}

Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller

If there is one book that should be required reading this year, this is it. Everyone needs to experience this book. Chanel Miller is Emily Doe, the Stanford rape victim. Her story is harrowing. I cried through pretty much the whole audiobook (that she narrates!). Her writing is thoughtful and eloquent. I was heartbroken, angry, empowered. As a fellow gaucho alum, I may be a little biased. But seriously, I cannot recommend this book enough. Read it, read it, read it. {5*}

CURRENTLY READING: 2

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

An ARC I received through BookishFirst. As soon as I saw Marie Lu’s name, I knew I had to have it. The cover is stunning. And the story is so good!! Ahh, my heart is happy.

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I’m only half an hour into this audiobook and I am already enjoying it. It is just so incredibly relevant. 

UPCOMING READ: 

Um, I’m not sure! I’m not that far into my current reads so who knows what book I’ll be in the mood to read after.

PUBLISHED POST(S): 1

The one where I make my blogging return: New Year, New Bookish Resolutions

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 😀

New Year, New Bookish Resolutions

It’s been about 6 months since I last posted. Half a year. That was… unplanned. 

LIFE UPDATE
At the time, I talked about struggling with disordered eating due to my anxiety. I am very proud to say that I’m doing so much better now. I am at a healthier weight. Still not where I’m supposed to be, but fairly close. I’m still in therapy, seeing a nutritionist, taking meds, working, and reading to my hearts content.

READING CHALLENGES

Goodreads

According to Goodreads, in 2019 I read 142 books. That’s a lie. I read 145. Audiobooks make all the difference haha. I don’t set a number goal because I already read a lot of books as is. Don’t need the pressure. 

Popsugar

Last year, I worked on the POPSUGAR reading challenge for the second time. In 2018 I completed it. Last year? Nope! I had 6 prompts left. I’m planning to roll them over to this year’s challenge. Which I’m doing differently. Going to use one book for multiple prompts. Let’s see how that works out. 

Back to the Classics

Failed this one too! Had one prompt left, which I will roll over to this year’s

Reading Women

Another fail! Even though more than half of my 2019 reads were written by women, I still had 3 prompts left. And yes, these are getting rolled over as well. 

Bookish

Fail! I had 3 prompts left over. Yeah, you know the drill. Getting rolled over. 

2020 RESOLUTIONS
Besides working on all the reading challenges listed above, I will also be working on my own personal challenge. This year, I am only reading books by POC. I realized that even though I am Latina, I don’t read diversely. In 2017, 5% of the books I read were written by POC. In 2018, that number slightly increased to 14%. And 2019 was 22%. Yeah, I need to change that. It’s for my own personal growth. 

IN CONCLUSION

So that’s where I’m at right now. Continually working on myself. Healthy, happy, and reading. 

Thank you for all of your kind words. I’ve missed all of you and will see you around the blogosphere again soon! 

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 😀

In at the Deep End by Kate Davies

A wonderful tale of a woman’s sexual awakening. It’s equal parts raunchy, funny, and genuine.

DESCRIPTION:

A fresh, funny, audacious debut novel about a Bridget Jones–like twenty-something who discovers that she may have simply been looking for love — and, ahem, pleasure — in all the wrong places (aka: from men)

Julia hasn’t had sex in three years. Her roommate has a boyfriend—and their sex noises are audible through the walls, maybe even throughout the neighborhood. Not to mention, she’s treading water in a dead-end job, her know-it-all therapist gives her advice she doesn’t ask for, and the men she is surrounded by are, to be polite, subpar. Enough is enough.

So when Julia gets invited to a warehouse party in a part of town where “trendy people who have lots of sex might go on a Friday night”—she readily accepts. Whom she meets there, however, is surprising: a conceptual artist, also a woman.

Julia’s sexual awakening begins; her new lesbian life, as she coins it, is exhilarating. She finds her tribe at queer swing dancing classes, and guided by her new lover Sam, she soon discovers London’s gay bars and BDSM clubs, and . . . the complexities of polyamory. Soon it becomes clear that Sam needs to call the shots, and Julia’s newfound liberation comes to bear a suspicious resemblance to entrapment . . . 

In at the Deep End is an unforgettably frank, funny, and racy odyssey through the pitfalls and seductions we encounter on the treacherous—and more often, absurd—path to love and self.

     – Goodreads


Genre(s):
Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, LGBTQIA+

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Expected Publication Date: June.4.2019

*Thank you Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing an ARC through a Goodreads Giveaway. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW: 

Julia, the protagonist, embraces her new lesbian identity and never looks back. She is very quickly introduced to BDSM and polyamory and tries to determine whether either is for her. She falls head over heels for her new girlfriend Sam, an artist. 

I absolutely loved this book. The writing is full of quips and humor. And at first glance, you get the impression everything is happy/go-lucky. But Davies subtly brings in real relationship issues and does a superb job of handling it. 

Julia is an interesting character. She is smart, anxious, and open. Watching her character develop was a journey. One I would gladly go on again. 

RATING: 4/5 stars

RECOMMEND: YES! Just keep in mind it’s sexually graphic haha 😉

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 😀

Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

A lovely, romantic tale featuring horrid first impressions, a Bollywood-style wedding, and so much more! 

DESCRIPTION:


A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.

Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself. 

     – Goodreads

Genre(s): Romance, Fiction, Contemporary, Retelling

Publisher: Berkley Books

Expected Publication Date: June.4.2019

*Thank you First to Read for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:

 As far as Pride and Prejudice retellings go, this is a fairly decent one. If you’re familiar with the original, then its easy to see the parallels between the two. Which isn’t a bad thing. It was entertaining trying to figure out how the big plot points of the original would unfold. Besides, there were moments where I was so completely engrossed, that I forgot it was a retelling! 

What I particularly liked was the dual viewpoint. We see what Ayesha is up to, how she feels, we understand her. We also get Khalid’s view! So his horrible first proposal? Completely makes sense because we’ve come to see how and why he acts the way he does. 

A big part of this story weaves religion (Islam) into the narrative. Both Ayesha and Khalid are devout Muslims, which is crucial to the way they interact with one another. I really liked how that was explored. 

The overall tone of the story is pretty upbeat and light-hearted. But there are moments where things got really real. It is a modern-day retelling so prejudice towards Muslims does appear. The way it was handled is important. Especially as hatred spreads through our society like wildfire. 

One thing I did not like? Lydia’s (okay, that’s not her name in this book, but I am not spoiling the story by telling you who she is) happily ever after. Ugh! Why?? She’s so annoying! :/

RATING: 3.5/5 stars

RECOMMEND? Yes! This is such a refreshing take on a classic tale. Plus, that cover! Googly heart eyes forever ❤

2019: Week 21 Reading Roundup

Sunday.May.19 – Saturday.May.25

AKA: Honor a veteran and remember the sacrifice of those no longer with us ❤

FINISHED READING: 5

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

​A quick audiobook listen. Written in verse, the book is an incredibly relatable story of Xiomara, a teen girl in New York. The hype is real! [5*]

Travels With Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck

​Steinbeck and his dog, Charley, embarked on a cross-country trip across America. It’s beautifully perceptive. [3.5*]

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (read by Philip Franklin)

​A cautionary tale. At least, that’s the way I choose to interpret it. A young man wanders off to the Alaskan wild. Months later his emaciated body is found by a hunter. What happened, and why did he leave everything behind? [3.5*]

Native Son by Richard Wright

​Societal critique with overt Communist ideals. It’s graphic and harrowing. This book is a lot. [3.5*]

In at the Deep End by Kate Davies

​Sexually explicit, but oh so good haha! [RTC]

CURRENTLY READING: 1

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

Currently 42% through the audiobook. It’s, um, interesting. 

UPCOMING READ: 1

I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan

I need a horror book in my life right now haha

BOOK HAUL: 1

Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Won this in a Goodreads Giveaway! I waited almost 2 months for this book to arrive. Can’t wait to finally read it! 

PUBLISHED POST(S): 1

Let’s Get Personal: Mental Health Month

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 😀

Let’s Get Personal: Mental Health Month

There’s a reason why I haven’t been active around the blogosphere a lot lately so this being Mental Health Month and all, I figured this would be a good time to address why 🙂

All the way back in March, I paid my  doctor a visit. Just for a general check-up with a new physician. All was fine and dandy. Now, my new doctor is in the same network as my therapist. So he looked at my file and asked if I had ever had my thyroid checked. My anxiety coupled with “my small frame” (his words not mine) might be due to that. I said no, it had never been checked and scheduled some blood tests. My blood tests came back normal. Yay! 

Now, a bit of background. I’ve been underweight pretty much my whole life. I eat a lot of unhealthy food but don’t put on weight. So my being thin, isn’t new. The thing is, I saw my weight. That first day I saw my doctor, I saw the scale and it scared the shit out of me. So when my doctor and I discussed my blood tests and my mental health he asked me if I thought I had an eating disorder. I replied no (the truth), because I’m not looking to lose weight I’m trying to gain weight. He said good, that’s what I wanted to hear, added a note to my file for my therapist, and prescribed me some anti-anxiety medication.

At my next session, my therapist and I talked about my doctor’s appointment. She ended up referring me to a nutritionist. Great! My first meeting with the nutritionist was basically another therapy session. It was intense. She told me there was a difference between an eating disorder and disordered eating. Apparently I fall into the latter category. The good news is that I left with a lot of information and a plan. 


And that’s what’s been going on. To deal with my anxiety disorder, panic disorder, mild depression and disordered eating, I have regular therapy once a month, nutritional therapy every 2 weeks, and medication to be used sparingly. Its been an adjustment. I fought medication for so long but I see that what I was doing before obviously wasn’t working. I told myself I was fine, because I wanted to be okay. And the medication has actually been helping me. I follow my meal plan as well as I can. I want to be healthy, both mentally and physically. I’m basically a work in progress. Aren’t we all? 

What does this have to do with blogging? Well, with all of this going on I’ve stopped commenting on all of your lovely posts, replying to comments and just been a terrible blogger. The funny thing is, I have been reading your posts! I read the emails every morning and throughout the day and they put a smile on my face. Sometimes (very rarely), I even do comment and like a post! [Check out Brianna’s post on books with mental health rep HERE & read Sophia’s wonderful take on Daenerys after that one episode HERE]. But because my mental health isn’t at its best, I’ve found it really difficult to engage with all of you. It’s me, not you!

I am reading tons of books though. Lately, I have been feeling a bit of a reading slump coming on, so I’ve been sticking to short books. Or books that I know I’ll enjoy. Writing long reviews has been overwhelming so mini-reviews have been great. 

So that’s it. That’s what I’ve been dealing with these last few months. Every day brings its own challenges, but I’m pleased by the progress I’ve made. I am relatively happy. Still scared shitless (Because seriously. It’s frightening ya’ll). But I’m sort of happy. And I think that’s a pretty good place to be. I’ll take sort of happy over not happy any day of the week! 


If you read this all the way through THANK YOU! You beautiful patient soul haha. You are much appreciated ❤ 



HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE!
😀

2019: Week 20 Reading Roundup

Sunday.May.12 – Saturday.May.18

AKA: The week I saw a coyote roaming my neighborhood which pretty much took 10 years off my life because why is it so far away from the mountains???

FINISHED READING: 3

Truly Devious (#1) by Maureen Johnson

​I so enjoyed this book! The mystery is well-plotted and interesting. A true crime obsessed teenage girl is accepted to a prestigious academy with an old, unsolved murder mystery. The cliffhanger though!!! [4*]

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

​Not for me. The basic message is your thoughts control the universe and the universe will give you whatever you want (no work/effort on your part necessary) *major eye roll* [2*

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (read by Josephine Bailey)

​I listened to the audiobook and was thoroughly impressed by the narration. Each character had their own distinct voice. The story itself is dramatic. Think fairytale, evil stepmother and rebellious stepsister and all. BTW there is no ending! Gaskell passed away before the novel was completed 😥 [4.25*]

CURRENTLY READING: 2

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

My current audiobook. Loving the narration and the story! About 32% through the book.

Travels With Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck has quickly become one of my favorite authors. There’s just something about his writing that really gets to me. It’s simple but deep. Currently about 68% through this novel.

UPCOMING READ: 

Um, idk… probably the ARC below…?

BOOK HAUL: 1

In at the Deep End by Kate Davies

​I won an ARC of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway!! I’m really lucky when it comes to winning books haha

PUBLISHED POST(S): 1

My review of The Song of the Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning can be found HERE

IN OTHER NEWS:

Ahhhhhh!! There is a Nancy Drew television adaptation coming this fall!! OMG!! I am equal parts excited and nervous!! 

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 😀

The Song of the Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning

A heartbreaking dual-narrative story set in WWII Shanghai and modern-day Australia about survival, family, and love.

DESCRIPTION:

Kirsty Manning makes her US debut with this gripping historical novel that tells the little-known story of Jewish refugees who fled to Shanghai during WWII.


1939:
Two young girls meet in Shanghai, also known as the “Paris of the East”. Beautiful local Li and Jewish refugee Romy form a fierce friendship, but the deepening shadows of World War II fall over the women as they slip between the city’s glamorous French Concession district and the teeming streets of the Shanghai Ghetto. Yet soon the realities of war prove to be too much for these close friends as they are torn apart.


2016:
Fleeing London with a broken heart, Alexandra returns to Australia to be with her grandparents, Romy and Wilhelm. Her grandfather is dying, and over the coming weeks Romy and Wilhelm begin to reveal the family mysteries they have kept secret for more than half a century. As fragments of her mother’s history finally become clear, Alexandra struggles with what she learns while more is also revealed about her grandmother’s own past in Shanghai.

After Wilhelm dies, Alexandra flies to Shanghai, determined to trace her grandparents’ past. Peeling back the layers of their hidden lives, she is forced to question what she knows about her family—and herself. 


The Song of the Jade Lily
is a lush, provocative, and beautiful story of friendship, motherhood, the price of love, and the power of hardship and courage that can shape us all.

     – Goodreads


Genre(s):
Historical Fiction

Publisher: William Morrow

Expected Publication Date: May.14.2019

*Thank you William Morrow for providing an ARC through a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:

I absolutely loved this book. Books that teach me something new, stick with me for quite a long time. And this one, taught me a lot. 

So what exactly did this book teach me? History! The focus of this book is on Jewish refugees in Shanghai. Those who escaped Hitler’s regime during WWII. It’s incredibly eye-opening. An aspect of the war I had never considered was revealed to me.

The story itself is told through two timelines. There is the WWII narrative where we see one young girl (Romy) and her family scraping a life together in Shanghai after experiencing such horror in Europe. Then there is the modern-day narrative (set in 2016), where we learn what happened to the young girl and her family. 

It’s a tearjerker, this book. It’s one bad thing after another. But there are instances of love and so much strength and resilience. Which is what made me fall for this book. That through it all, people were still fighting, and resisting. Empowering. 

RATING: 4.5/5 stars

RECOMMEND: YES!! Most definitely! It’s not your typical WWII novel, in that it doesn’t focus on the European theater.

2019: Week 19 Reading Roundup

Sunday.May.5 – Saturday.May.11

AKA: the week of shiny new ARC’s + HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!! ❤

FINISHED READING: 3

Farewell, My Lovely (Philip Marlowe #2) by Raymond Chandler

​A good mystery but Philip Marlowe’s characterization felt off for some reason. Plus, the ending was neatly tied up. [3.5*]

Trump and Me by Mark Singer 

​A short and funny book about one journalist’s experience with whatshisface [3*]

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

​SO DAMN GOOD!!! It was unexpectedly funny. Very insightful. Perfection. My favorite parts were the blog posts (they were real thinkers!) [4.5*]

CURRENTLY READING: 2

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell

My current audiobook. Really enjoying it. About 42% through.

Truly Devious (#1) by Maureen Johnson

I’ve been wanting to read this YA mystery for a while now. Barely started it so I don’t really know how I feel about it yet.

UPCOMING READ:

Idk!

BOOK HAUL: 2

Twenty-one Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks

An ARC I won through a Goodreads giveaway! 😀

The Virtue of Sin by Shannon Schuren 

An ARC I received from BookishFirst! I actually used my points to claim a copy of this book 😀

PUBLISHED POST(S): 1

My review of How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox can be found HERE

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE!! 😀

How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox

A haunting story of one young woman’s struggle to stay sane. A perfect read for Mental Health Month!



DESCRIPTION:

Biz knows how to float. She has her people, her posse, her mom and the twins. She has Grace. And she has her dad, who tells her about the little kid she was, who loves her so hard, and who shouldn’t be here but is. So Biz doesn’t tell anyone anything. Not about her dark, runaway thoughts, not about kissing Grace or noticing Jasper, the new boy. And she doesn’t tell anyone about her dad. Because her dad died when she was six. And Biz knows how to float, right there on the surface–normal okay regular fine.

But after what happens on the beach–first in the ocean, and then in the sand–the tethers that hold Biz steady come undone. Dad disappears, and with him, all comfort. It might be easier, better, sweeter to float all the way away? Or maybe stay a little longer, find her father, bring him back to her. Or maybe–maybe maybe maybe–there’s a third way Biz just can’t see yet. 

Debut author Helena Fox tells a story about love and grief, about inter-generational mental illness, and how living with it is both a bridge to someone loved and lost and, also, a chasm. She explores the hard and beautiful places loss can take us, and honors those who hold us tightly when the current wants to tug us out to sea.
     – Goodreads

Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health

Publisher: Penguin Teen

Expected Publication Date: May.7.2019

*Thank you BookishFirst for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:

This is a great book. The story, set in Australia, is so relevant and relatable. Biz can’t control her thoughts. At times, they get the better of her. As her mental health begins to unravel, we get a firsthand look at how she experiences the world. 

What I really liked about this story was how accurate the portrayal of mental illness is. Biz’s thoughts, feelings, and actions, are authentic. And you just don’t read about it, you feel it. The writing mimics the unwinding of Biz’s thoughts. This style has triggered me before and I was worried that this book would do the same. Thankfully, it didn’t. So I was able to enjoy this read somewhat at ease. But it just goes to show how incredibly well-written, and lyrical this novel is. 

The book delves into aspects of inter-generational mental illness. It does this in a subtle way. As the reader only becomes aware of it as Biz begins to learn about it herself. And it’s something that Biz struggles with. We see the effects of it throughout the novel.

In a nutshell, this an emotional journey. It is a book about loss and grief, first love, family/support. And a story that leaves you with many questions. As a reader, I was left wondering whether Biz’s experiences were real or imagined. Once again reinforcing the idea, that mental illness isn’t as clear-cut as it seems.

A beautiful book. 

RATING: 4/5 stars

RECOMMEND? YES! Especially if you enjoyed Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman! (The writing styles are similar).