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! 😀

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! 😀

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! 😀

2019: Week 15 Reading Roundup

Sunday.April.7 – Saturday.April.13

(AKA: The week I fell behind on writing ARC book reviews smh)

FINISHED READING: 3

Puddin’ (Dumplin’ #2) by Julie Murphy

​Just as amazing as Dumplin’. I loved the writing. I loved the way female friendship is portrayed. I loved all the diversity. I loved getting to know Millie and Callie. I loved this book! I want more books within this beautiful universe!!! [4*]

How It Feels to Float
by Helena Fox

​About a teenage girl struggling with her mental health after the death of her father many years before. Really liked this book. RTC! (Eventually…)

As Kismet Would Have It
by Sandhya Menon

​A short story sequel to When Dimple Met Rishi. Honestly, it was pointless. But I still liked it more than the actual book lmao [3*

CURRENTLY READING: 3

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

Still making my way through this as part of a 30-Day buddy read on Instagram. About 53% through and it still hasn’t really hooked me. The husband’s secret is scandalous though…

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

This audiobook is long but so good! It’s a nice crash course on early U.S. History. I am about 47% of the way through and absolutely enjoying it. Just worried my OverDrive loan will expire before I finish listening to it…

Del amor y otros demonios (Of Love and Other Demons) by Gabriel García Márquez

My monthly spanish read. I am completely invested in this little girl’s story but am really finding the language difficult. Whomp, whomp. 56% done. 

UPCOMING READ

No clue!

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 😀

2019: Week 8 Reading Roundup 

Sunday.February.17 – Saturday.February.23

AKA the week it snowed in LA, thus further proving that climate change is real…

FINISHED READING: 2

The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

​The book is so much better than the Disney film! A moralistic children’s story that still has some wisdom in it for adults. [4*

Slayer (#1) by Kiersten White

​A good spinoff but it kind of fell short for me. Didn’t care much for any of the characters. I did love the fact that the MC has a Redheads in Literature book collection.  [3.5*]

CURRENTLY READING: 3

The Complete Collected Poems by Maya Angelou
About 83% through my month-long read of this collection.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
About 85% through this audiobook. Very informational but I keep zoning out of it. 

Lucky: A Memoir by Alice Sebold
I am currently about 65% through the book. Sebold recounts the details of her rape when she was a freshman in college. It is… brutal. Graphic. And full of wit. Will probably finish this book tonight. 


UPCOMING READ:

Queen of Air and Darkness (The Dark Artifices #3) by Cassandra Clare
I’ve been waiting for this book FOREVER! Snatched it up as soon as I saw it was available on OverDrive. I am excited and so ready to move on from the Shadowhunter world. 

BOOK HAUL: 5

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

See Me by Nicholas Sparks

Homage to Barcelona by Colm Tóibín

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence

​So it happened. I actually managed to make it to the library while their bookstore was open! I only had 10 minutes to browse though. But I think I did okay 🙂

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 😀

That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger

Lee has put together her thoughts, notes, and letters by her and other survivors of a school shooting to fix the media’s (and others’) narrative of the event.

This is an interesting book. It’s been a few years since the shooting and the survivors have banded together, united by the same trauma. Well, all but one. Kellie. Kellie and her family were chased out of town when everyone took her truth for a lie.

I read this book because the synopsis reminded me of Cassie Bernall and Valeen Schnurr. After Columbine, it was widely rumored that Cassie declared her faith before being killed. That story took off and made a martyr out of the teen. Except, it wasn’t Cassie. It was Valeen. And she survived the massacre. This book doesn’t make mention of Columbine or the two girls. Not in the acknowledgments or anything. If you weren’t familiar with the Columbine story, then you would believe the book is fictional. Which it is. But it is inspired by true events. 

Now, to the book itself. Like I said, it is interesting. Lee’s best friend, Sarah, has been made a martyr. Lee knows the truth of what happened but in an attempt to not hurt Sarah’s parents, she keeps quiet for 3 years. Then Sarah’s parents decide to write a book and Lee knows she must finally tell the truth.

At times, I didn’t like Lee. She was pushy. Forcing the other survivors to speak about the tragedy even though they continually told her they didn’t want to. But she pushed and pushed and they eventually gave in and it was cathartic for all blah blah blah. What bothered me was that just because Lee is finally trying to take ahold of her narrative, it doesn’t make it okay for her to force the others to do so as well. If they’re not ready, they’re not ready! She’s no better than the people who were trying to shut her up. Ugh. 

A quick, read. There are little tidbits about those killed interspersed within Lee’s manuscript. The book also gets you thinking a lot about truth. Truth and all its nuances. An overall, okay read.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander

I was watching the movie and realized I hadn’t read this book. So after I finished watching the film, I quickly found the audiobook and started to listen. 

The book itself is a Hogwart’s textbook on magical beasts found throughout the world. It’s full of information that in the movie, Newt was working on gathering. 

The audiobook is narrated by Eddie Redmayne. Since I went from watching him on my television to listening to him, it really was like Newt was there, reading aloud to me. I could distinctly picture Newt’s excitement as he talks about his favorite subject. The beastly sound effects were pretty great as well. It was all-around, a wonderful listening experience. 

A lovely way to jump back into this magical universe. 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (original screenplay) by J.K. Rowling

Ah, I loved this! It’s the movie’s screenplay and oh my it’s just as magical. I didn’t think it would translate as well, but it did! See, this is what I wish Cursed Child would have been. Sigh. 

It’s fairly quick to get through this book. And as I read along, I could instantly recall the movie. It was like watching the film all over again. 

Fingers crossed the screenplay for The Crimes of Grindelwald comes out soon!

* Yesterday was Veteran’s Day! Thank a service member. Remember their sacrifices…

A Book About a Problem Facing Society Today

I tried to narrow this down to one problem. But I couldn’t. I simply couldn’t. Our society has one too many issues. And these books do a good job of sparking a discussion.

RACE RELATIONS
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

What can I say about this book that hasn’t been said before? This is an incredibly powerful book. My top read this year. No doubt about it. The hype is legit with this one.

Starr is an African-American teen from “the ghetto” attending a predominantly white private school. One night, her best friend is murdered by a cop right before her eyes. What ensues, is heartbreakingly real and poignant.

This book is real. Cannot stress that enough. I cried, I laughed, I was angered, I reminisced and I cried again. Look, I grew up in the hood. And I felt this novel perfectly encapsulated that part of my life.

All I know, is that if I were to fall victim to a crime today, my name and reputation would probably be dragged through the mud because I lived in the projects and may therefore have “possible gang affiliations”. Despite the fact that I live in the suburbs, graduated from a decent university and have a steady job. But in today’s America, those details get lost as soon as someone’s skin color is seen.  

My review of The Autobiography of Malcolm X


SEXUAL ASSAULT

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer


A look at the prevalent number of alleged campus rapes/sexual assaults in Missoula, Montana by college athletes. The book presents interviews with the victims and the accused and their parents, friends, etc. It is an in-depth look at certain cases, some that made headlines. 

Wow wow wow. A myriad of emotions. I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by Mozhan Marno and every morning I was upset. I’ve always been on the “believe the victim” side (I’ve known people who were roofied, sexually assaulted and raped). So to listen to these young women in the book go through what they did in detail. It was a lot. My blood boiled. And it scared the shit out of me. At the end of the day though, it didn’t really surprise me. That’s the heartbreaking part. That I knew justice wouldn’t be served in these cases. In one instance, it actually is. It shocked me and I cheered and cried. Why? This shouldn’t be something out of the norm. But, it is. 

The way the prosecutors and detectives went out of their way to help the accused football players makes me see red. Seriously Kirsten Pabst?! She was in charge of one of the cases but refused to file charges. She then resigned, her boss decided to file charges, so she joined the guy’s defense team! I mean, what kind of bullshit is that?! 

And the trials themselves! Good Lord! You confess to rape and still deserve a lenient sentence because you’re a good person? The fuck?! NO! Raping “your little sister” proves otherwise! “I have suffered enough and have a bright future”. Excuse me?! You’re the one that raped someone and have caused years of emotional damage. Do not play victim when YOU have committed a crime. 

Reason #37293629 why I don’t trust the justice system. I am a woman and if I were the victim of sexual assault I wouldn’t get Oliva Benson or Eliot Stabler. I’d get some asshole that would blame me for falling asleep in a friend’s house in the first place. How dare I expect people to act like decent human beings? Haha, silly me. 



SCHOOL VIOLENCE

Columbine by Dave Cullen

An in-depth look at the school shooting that rocked the United States. This book is written by one of the many journalists that initially covered the massacre. My one pet peeve: the writing format. Bounced back between something that happened pre-massacre to one of the survivors. It seemed a bit unstructured to me.

I remember life before Columbine. After? Big changes. My sister was in high school and my mom worried about her constantly. I went from having regular earthquake/fire drills in school to active shooter/lockdown drills. Although to be completely transparent, my elementary school was in a rough neighborhood and we had drive-by drills. Um, yeah. 

Look, I don’t know what the root of these incidents is. Gun control? Mental health? Bullying? I honestly, have no clue. One of the Columbine killers was a psychopath, the other was severely depressed. So again, I don’t know. I do know that whatever is driving this phenomenon has gone on too long. 

I thought after Sandy Hook some kind of change would occur. Those babies were slaughtered. Yet, nothing happened. Sending your kids to school shouldn’t be a daunting task. 

Here’s a loose list of mass shootings that have happened in the last 20 years. Full disclosure: my alma mater is on the list. (Sort of). IV ❤ 

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

Prompt: a book about a problem facing society today

Challenge Update: 44/50

Series Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

I won an ARC of the third book in this series from a Goodreads Giveaway! Not having read the previous books in the series, meant I had to go back and read them. So, here we are 🙂

Stalking Jack the Ripper (#1)

It is the 1880’s and Audrey Rose is a seventeen year old girl that comes from a prominent English family. In her spare time, she is learning forensic science from her uncle Jonathan. Her father, of course, disapproves. But the Ripper murders are rocking Whitechapel and nothing is going to stop Audrey Rose from investigating. 

Thomas is another young student from a wealthy family apprenticed to Audrey Rose’s uncle. They actually both became interested in forensics for similar reasons. And I loved him. He’s so damn cocky but he somehow won me over? It was his charm, I think? Plus he’s brilliant. Sherlock Holmes brilliant.

Anyway, watching Audrey Rose stand up for herself made me so damn happy! The patriarchy isn’t holding this girl back! The murders were a bit gruesome and actually really interesting. 

Really enjoyed this book! 

Hunting Prince Dracula (#2)



After solving the Jack the Ripper case, Audrey Rose and Thomas Creswell are off on a new adventure. This time to Romania, as students in a prestigious forensic academy, that just so happens to be in Vlad Dracula’s castle.

The mystery itself begins while Audrey Rose and Thomas are traveling by train to Romania. A passenger is staked right outside her compartment. And he is not the first victim. As the book progresses, more impaled victims appear, with marks on their necks and drained of their blood. When a fellow classmate falls prey, the case becomes personal. 

This book picks up immediately following the ending of the first book. Audrey Rose is still reeling from the events in the Jack the Ripper case. Throughout this story, her trauma begins to affect aspects of her life. 

Her relationship with Thomas also becomes a bit strained. In an effort to help her, he continually undermines what she wants. She worries that marrying him would just be her going from her father’s cage to another. Audrey Rose is an independent young woman and this is definitely not something she wants. No matter how strong her feelings for Thomas may be. 

I really enjoyed this book as well. I loved the folkloric aspects surrounding the case. The use of the Romanian language was a wonderful touch. 

My one problem? The sexual tension between Audrey Rose and Thomas. It is killing me haha. Can ya’ll please please just jump each other’s bones already?? I’m dying over here!

Escaping from Houdini (#3)



Publication Date: September.18.2018

Publisher: JIMMY Patterson

*Won an ARC of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway*

This book picks up days after the last one ends. Audrey Rose, Thomas and Uncle Jonathan are sailing for New York. The ship has live entertainment, in the form of the Moonlight Carnival, a traveling circus which encounters problems on day 1. Each day, a dead body turns up and the performers are looked upon with suspicion. 

Okay, I am going to try to tiptoe around this review because I really don’t want to spoil this book for anyone. So, get ready for some vagueness. 

I’ll start off by saying I really liked this book. I was hooked from the beginning. And then a specific trope was introduced. Now, I don’t have a problem with said trope. Thomas and Audrey Rose’s relationship needed a bit of drama, I guess. But! I didn’t like how Audrey Rose went about things. It got on my nerves, actually. How dare you treat Thomas that way?! 

Anyways, bodies are turning up in various forms. At one point, only an arm is found. Audrey Rose panics a bit, as she recalls the events of the Ripper case. But Thomas helps her check her emotions. These books really don’t hold back on the gruesome factor. 

The carnival though! Now, that was really entertaining to read. Each day a new act performed and it was spectacular. I’ve never been to a circus or anything like that because um, clowns, but wow!

I must also mention the innuendos! Specifically Mrs. Harvey’s haha. They gave me life! Best chaperone ever!! She is quite possibly, my favorite character.
I should mention the ending. But I’m not going to. It played with my emotions. That’s all I will say.  

Overall Thoughts

Okay, I’m hooked. I think each book has gotten better and better. Even though Audrey Rose’s in the third book upset me, I still absolutely adore her. She’s doing work that she loves despite what society thinks. 

Thomas is my new bookish boyfriend. He’s sweet. And low-key reminds me of some dude I know in real life haha. It’s the annoying charm. 

So… apparently the 4th book will be out next year, and will conclude the series. Sigh. Why do I always do this to myself??  I need that book in my hands NOW!! 

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram 



Darius doesn’t think he’ll ever be enough, in America or in Iran. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this unforgettable debut introduces a brilliant new voice in contemporary YA.

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming–especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.

Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understand that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.

Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.
     – Goodreads

Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT

Publisher: Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House 

Expected Publication: August.28.2018

*Thank you First to Read for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

Ahh I love this kid. Darius reminded me of Simon (from Simon vs.) . There’s something so damn endearing about them. 

Darius is a half-Persian, clinically-depressed teen that is continually bullied at school. Told from his point of view, the reader follows him and his family from their home in Portland, Oregon to Iran where he meets his dying grandfather for the first time. In Iran Darius learns to be a bit more comfortable with himself, thanks in huge part to his new best friend, Sohrab.

At first, Darius continues to struggle with fitting in. He doesn’t feel like a true Persian because he doesn’t speak fluent Farsi (unlike his 8 year old sister), his Babou (grandfather) doesn’t understand his mental illness, and he still has issues with his father. But with Sohrab, he doesn’t have to explain himself because he understands. Because being Bahá’í, he too knows quite well what it is like to not fit in. 

“Dr. Howell likes to say that depression is anger turned inward.

I had so much anger turned inward, I could have powered a warp core.

But without the proper magnetic field strength, it exploded outward instead.”

A beautiful story so subtle and wonderfully written. From the food (Qottab!!) to the landscapes to the cultural identity struggles. Iran came alive before my eyes. 

The book is billed as an LGBT novel but you have to read between the lines to even get close to the label. Honestly, I don’t think I would have picked up on it if it hadn’t been promoted as such. Darius becomes close with Sohrab, but there is no romance. At all. And Darius never discusses his sexuality. I think the closest we got was when his family in Iran kept asking why he didn’t have a girlfriend which flustered him. Other than that, I didn’t see it. 

My one little complaint about the book would be Darius’ dialogue. A lot of “um”. And I mean, A LOT. At least 85% of his sentences begin with “um”. I get that the author is trying to convey a part of the character’s personality, but it’s unrealistic. Nobody speaks that way. No matter how shy, anxious or whatever. No one. 

Anyway, I really did enjoy this book. I loved reading about Darius’ bougie tea taste haha. I’m not a tea drinker (except for my black tea lemonade from Starbucks lol) but this kid really knows his damn tea. He’s low-key funny. And his Star Trek and Lord of the Rings references were on point. Loved it.

Rating: 4/5 stars