2020: Week 4 Reading Roundup

Sunday.19.January – Saturday.25.January

A sub-par reading week :/

FINISHED READING: 2

In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri

I listened to this on audiobook. It has both the English and Italian versions. Lahiri details her urge to learn italian and how she relates to the different languages she already knows. While I found parts of the book enlightening and relatable, I wasn’t completely captivated. {3*}

The General in His Labyrinth by Gabriel García Márquez

The story is a somewhat romanticized account of General Simón Bolívar’s last months of life. I found the writing disjointed. The reminiscences are mixed in with the “present” which left me confused. There’s a lot about his, ahem, prowess. (AKA how many different girls he slept with and in which towns). Gag. I had to power through this read. {2.75*}

CURRENTLY READING: 1

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson


My audiobook loan finally came through! I am a little over 3 hours into it and oh, my. So much injustice and lack of humanity. 

UPCOMING READ:

I have 6 options from my physical TBR to consider. 

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (The one I’m leaning towards)

Never Grow Up by Jackie Chan

Becoming by Michelle Obama

La casa de los espíritus by Isabel Allende

PUBLISHED POST(S):

My take on American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins can be found HERE

IN OTHER NEWS:

Anyone else watching Sanditon on PBS?? I am so loving it!!

Oh, and Anne With an “E” on Netflix! I know, I’m late. I didn’t like the show when it first came out but I’ve spent the past week binging the last 2 seasons. It grew on me! So sad it was canceled… 

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 😀

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

This is NOT a review of the book. I haven’t read it, and I don’t plan on doing so. This post is to inform you why.


For the past few months, I have seen this book around everywhere. I even thought it had already been published because of the way people have gone on and on about it. At first glance, I wasn’t interested. Even, dare I say, I was uncomfortable. But the hype got to me and I added it to my TBR.

Then I saw something in one of the facebook groups I am a part of that completely validated my original feelings toward this fictional novel. 

According to the book description, the story is about a mother and son that flee Mexico and head for the U.S. Yeah, okay. A book about immigration. That’s cool. The thing is, this white author received a seven figure advance for this story. Millions. For a poorly written book (according to a reviewer at the NYT). 

Look, I’m glad that this book seems to be bringing the immigration issue into the spotlight. What peeves me is that she is making millions off a story that has been written before by #ownvoices authors. If you ever needed proof that we are marginalized, here it is. This book is the proof. We shouldn’t need a gringa to sell a book about immigration. Yet, here we are. 

I am beyond upset. Surprised, no. Disillusioned, greatly so. It just reinforces my goal to only read books by people of color. Because this Latina está cansada. So fucking tired of all this bullshit. Tired of our voices being silenced. 

So, read the book. Don’t read the book. You do you! And if you want to read an #ownvoice book about immigration I have 3 recommendations for you to consider:

Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite With His Mother by Sonia Nazario


The original newspaper series won 2 Pulitzer’s. The book details the journey of a young Hondureño named Enrique as he travels north to the U.S. It is a long and dangerous journey. A harrowing read but one I would recommend.

The Book of Rosy: A Mother’s Story of Separation at the Border by Rosayra Pablo Cruz and Julie Schwietert Collazo


The expected publication is June.1.2020 and for some odd reason not getting the hype it so deserves. Hm, wonder why… Anyway, from the description, the book will detail Rosayra’s trek from Guatemala to the States. And will also cover the forced separation from her young daughter endured at a U.S. border detention center.

We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories From Refugee Girls Around the World by Malala Yousafzai


Analisa is one of the young girls featured in this book. She is Guatemalteca, and talks about how/why she fled her homeland for the U.S. All of the stories in the book are important and should be read. 

Now, there you have it. 3 books by 3 distinguished authors. A Pulitzer Prize winner, an advocate for immigrants, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Highly doubt any of them received such a huge sum of money for their books. Who knows, I could be wrong. But to loosely quote Ta-Nehisi Coates: for Americans to elect a black president, he had to be highly educated and have political experience. All Trump needed was white bluster. 

Let’s be real though. This book wasn’t written for me. It was written with the white gaze in mind. For the “color blind” readers. For the ones that only perpetuate the problem. Es obvio. She doesn’t care about the issue at hand. She’s exploiting it for her own personal gain. 

To Flatiron books, the publisher of this novel, come caca. And thank you for showing the world what we the oppressed already knew. 


Minority voices may not matter to you, but we will continue to scream at the top of our lungs until we are heard!

READ #OWNVOICE AUTHORS!!

I also encourage you to read this post as well. The writer does a waaaay better job of explaining why the latinx community is up in arms…

2020: Week 2 & Week 3 Reading Roundup

Sunday.5.January – Saturday.11.January

Sunday.12.January – Saturday.18.January

So I said I was back and then dropped the ball on blogging. Sorry!! Still trying to get back into the groove of things 🙂


FINISHED READING:
5

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

* Thank you BookishFirst for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the galley provided *

Expected Publication Date: March.3.2020

This is Marie Lu’s first foray into YA historical fiction and I must say, it is fabulous. It follows the story of Nannerl, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s older sister. She longs to be remembered as a composer but knows the reality of it happening is slim. Not because of her lack of talent (she is a child prodigy), but because she is a girl. The story also has fantasy elements, inspired by a fictional world created by the real Mozart children. {4.5*

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


This book is part-memoir. Coates gives brief insight into how/why he was inspired to write various articles, followed by said publication. The article that really got me thinking was The Case for Reparations (which you can read HERE). I found it very thought-provoking and incredibly well-written. {3.75*}

We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories From Refugee Girls Around the World by Malala Yousafzai

The book begins with Malala recounting her own experience with being an IDP (Internally Displaced Person) when the Taliban moved into her hometown. In each subsequent chapter, the reader is introduced to a different young girl from around the world that details her own harrowing experience with being a refugee. A must-read! {4.75*}

Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

* Thank you BookishFirst for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the copy provided. *

A beautiful mix of fantasy and Bolivian culture. The basis of the story is inspired by real events. In Inkasisa, the indigenous Llacsan people have revolted, wresting power from the ruling Illustrians. The new King Atoc, hopes to solidify the legitimacy of his rule by marrying the sole surviving royal, Catalina the Condesa. But since the overthrow when she was 8 years old, the real Condesa’s identity is hidden, being replaced by a decoy named Ximena Rojas. And it is her story that we follow as she wrestles with feelings of loyalty and self. {4.5*}

Ghost (Track #1) by Jason Reynolds


Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw is a troublesome middle school student. Three years before, he and his mother survived a traumatic experience that resulted in his father being imprisoned for 10 years. Now, Ghost joins a track team with a coach that tries to keep him out of trouble. Ghost doesn’t change overnight. He still gets into trouble, but you can see his mentality begin to transform. It’s a relatable read. Reminded me of my thieving days, when I used to steal stuff from the Scholastic Book Fairs. Ha! {4*}


CURRENTLY READING:
2

In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri
I barely started listening to this audiobook. Not even half an hour through it but can already relate to wanting to learn Italian haha.

The General in His Labyrinth by Gabriel García Màrquez
Have only read about 30 pages so far. It’s based on General Simón Bolívar, “The Liberator”. Seems okay so far. 

UPCOMING READ:
Hopefully my audiobook loan of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson comes through! OverDrive has been telling me “Available Soon” for the past week smh.

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.