Shelf Control #8

Happy Wednesday! It’s time for another edition of Shelf Control hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies about current unread books on your bookshelf. This week the book I’m choosing to highlight on my shelf is The Veins of the Ocean by Patricia Engel.

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Goodreads Synopsis: 

Reina Castillo is the alluring young woman whose beloved brother is serving a death sentence for a crime that shocked the community, throwing a baby off a bridge—a crime for which Reina secretly blames herself. With her brother’s death, though devastated and in mourning, Reina is finally released from her prison vigil. Seeking anonymity, she moves to a sleepy town in the Florida Keys where she meets Nesto Cadena, a recently exiled Cuban awaiting with hope the arrival of the children he left behind in Havana. Through Nesto’s love of the sea and capacity for faith, Reina comes to understand her own connections to the life-giving and destructive forces of the ocean that surrounds her as well as its role in her family’s troubled history, and in their companionship, begins to find freedom from the burden of guilt she carries for her brother’s crime.

Set in the vibrant coastal and Caribbean communities of Miami, the Florida Keys, Havana, Cuba, and Cartagena, Colombia, with The Veins of the Ocean Patricia Engel delivers a profound and riveting Pan-American story of fractured lives finding solace and redemption in the beauty and power of the natural world, and in one another.

How I Got It: 

I purchased this book through Book of the Month. If you haven’t checked it out, you really should. It’s a cool subscription service.

Why I Want To Read It:

Roxane Gay was the person who recommended it, and I love her. The book also seems interesting in general.

When I Am Going To Read It:

Definitely going to be on my TBR in February.

Until Next Time World…

Top Ten 2017 Books I’m excited for!

Hi Friends –

I know I’m a day late and a dollar short but…

2017 is going to be filled with some pretty fantastic new releases and debut authors. I’m not usually greatly anticipating books, but there are a couple coming out this year that I am exited about. Without further ado, here’s the list.

January

  • 3 – Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
    • I love Roxane Gay. I can’t wait to read this collection of short stories.
  • 3 – Flying Lessons & Other Stories by Ellen Oh (and others)
    • All the proceeds of this anthology go to #readdiversebooks. I love this organization, and am always about reading #ownvoices literature
  • 17 – History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
    • I met Adam Silvera, and he was pretty awesome. I’m excited to see his next work. He’s doing something important. It features an OCD character, which I’m also looking forward to reading his portrayal.

February

  • 14 – Shade Me by Jennifer Brown
    • This is the second book in the Nikki Kill trilogy. It’s not amazing, but I plan on continuing the series.
  • 21 – A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
    • This trilogy almost makes me feel as though I like fantasy novels. I’ll definitely be finishing and purchasing this in February.
  • 28 – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    • Inspired by the Black Lives Matter Movement, #ownvoices, and YA. THIS IS WHY I BLOG. Can’t wait to read this.

March

  • 7 – Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
    • YES. Jeff. Be still my heart. I actually haven’t looked at the description of this yet, because I don’t need to. I know it will be great.

April

May 

  • 2 – Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
    • I can’t wait for the last installment of the Lara Jean & Peter Saga. I also can’t wait to reread the first two books before this.

September 

  • 5 – They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
    • The title alone is a winner. I can’t wait to have two Adam Silvera books this year!

 

Until Next Time World…

Clairvoyance, and Riches, and Boys – oh my!

Do you hear that thumping? It’s the hype monster knocking at your door. It definitely knocked on my door after the release of The Raven King in late April. It seemed as though every blog and booktube account was talking about this series and the book.  Since it was everywhere I thought it’d give it a try. I started my adventure at the end of May and just finished The Raven King last week. I flew through Blue Lily, Lily Blue and The Raven King, but the first two books took significantly longer to finish reading. As you might have noticed from my review of the Chaos Walking trilogy, I like to review these series as one entity rather than individual books. However, in a lot of ways I think these books really could work as stand alones. In each book it seems as though Maggie Stiefvater goes to great trouble to reexplain characters and how they go to their place in the story. Because of this I will break down my review into a mini summary of each book.

The Raven Boys

This is the first installment of the Raven Cycle. This book is largely told from Blue Sargent’s narrative voice. I really enjoyed it, because I think that Blue has a great perspective, and I thoroughly enjoyed her sass. We also get the perspective of the “raven boys” Adam, Ronan, Gansey, and Noah – in varying lengths. The voice we get most often is that of Gansey. I thought this book was a lovely start to the series. I read it fairly quickly over the course of the week. Not being a big fantasy person, Stiefvater blends enough of “reality” into the story for skeptics like me.

The Dream Thieves

Holy fantasy. If the series started with this book, I definitely wouldn’t have finished. It took me eventually switching from physical form to audio book to actually finish this one. Blue’s voice is not nearly as present in this book, as she is written more as a side character. This is 100% Ronan’s story, which also may explain why he was absent from the first book. It was slow to get through, but left off on a cliff hanger that was pretty good. I liked that this book helped develop Gansey, Adam, and Ronan as characters. Noah was largely left out of this book. At the end, this book just wasn’t as good as the first book.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

You would think this story was about Blue, but it was really about Adam. Although we get back some of the Blue narrative, this is Adam’s story. This story was fantastical, but it also had a lot of adventure. I didn’t feel suspense at either of the first books, but I was very curious about what was going to happen to this cast of characters throughout the book. There were definitely some twists and turns I didn’t entirely expect. I flew through this book, even though I wish there was more Noah character development.

The Raven King

I know that there’s been a lot of talk on both sides about this ending. People have expressed concern over how neatly it was wrapped up. Others think it was the perfect ending to the series. I thought it was a pretty decent end. I think it’s hard to wrap up everything when you’ve spent 3 books unraveling it. There’s a little bit of Noah (my favorite if you couldn’t tell) in here that I like. However, Stiefvater added a  LOT of new characters in this book. And she told the story from almost everyone’s perspective. I thought it was a neat way to wrap up everything, but it was kind of annoying to have so many superfluous characters to try to remember.

Overall – I really enjoyed the series. The one thing I will say, is that I feel that I need to re-read this series already. In The Raven King especially, I had to keep going back because I didn’t understand how a certain character knew certain things. I don’t often feel like I need to re-read things, but I think I would get a lot of perspective by going through the books again. I give the series a 3.75 with The Raven Boys being my favorite booki n the series.

Until Next Time World…

Life is dramatic enough.

I recently received a galley of Tori Rigby’s book Because I Love You by netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I requested a copy of this book on a whim. I often forget about netgalley and was browsing to see if anything looked interesting. I was in the mood for some light YA, and this book seemed like it could be a good choice. I will admit that my version of light, might be very different from another person’s version of light. Below is the Goodreads description.

Eight weeks after sixteen-year-old Andie Hamilton gives her virginity to her best friend, “the stick” says she’s pregnant.

Her friends treat her like she’s carrying the plague, her classmates torture and ridicule her, and the boy she thought loved her doesn’t even care. Afraid to experience the next seven months alone, she turns to her ex-boyfriend, Neil Donaghue, a dark-haired, blue-eyed player. With him, she finds comfort and the support she desperately needs to make the hardest decision of her life: whether or not to keep the baby.

Then a tragic accident leads Andie to discover Neil’s keeping a secret that could dramatically alter their lives, and she’s forced to make a choice. But after hearing her son’s heartbeat for the first time, she doesn’t know how she’ll ever be able to let go.

So I knew from the description that this book was going to be dramatic, but geez I didn’t know the author would take it to a new level. So I think a teenage girl finding herself pregnant and turning to her badboy ex is DRAMATIC. But no, this book is riddled with death, accidents, lies, token queer characters, abuse, financial insecurity, and so many other things that I can’t even mention from fear of spoiling the plot for all future readers. With the amount of things that happen to and around Andie, you’d think that this was an adventure novel.

The real issue that I have with this novel is that it blatantly pokes at the reality of some of the things that the characters are dealing with in the novel. Both of the main characters have lost their fathers in EXTREMELY tragic incidents. However, Rigby very nonchalantly has the characters brush over this very large incident that they have in common. The characters seem to have the attitude that sometimes parents just tragically die, then you move on. I think if that was the only grievance that this book had, I could get over it. One of the characters also suffers abuse that is just brushed over. The characters have a very close relationship with a police officer in the book, but instead of getting help for the parent or the abused child, it’s again just brushed off. I think this is particularly damaging when you could have teens reading this novel who are suffering from abuse. The message in this is that you just need to tough it out until you get older.

This book also touches on the troubles of financial insecurity. I was hoping that there would be time spend covering the many expenses of having a child. However, instead of any real in depth concerns about where money would come from or how Andie would provide for her child, a magic fairy sweeps in and pays for everything. There is a lot of talk of Andie getting a part time job to help pay for expenses, but that never comes to fruition throughout the whole book.

Overall, I think the story line had a lot of potential, but it fell way short on plot and character development. I think this novel could be very troubling to individuals who have triggers for abuse or struggle with financial insecurity. There is also nothing added by way of any kind of real diversity in this book. I gave this two stars on Goodreads. I wouldn’t recommend this book, but if you like watching train wrecks and really bad reality TV; then you might like this book?

 

Until Next Time World…

Shelf Control #5

Happy Wednesday! It’s time for another edition of Shelf Control hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies about current unread books on your bookshelf. This week the book I’m choosing to highlight on my shelf is True by Hilary Duff.

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Goodreads Synpsis: 

Following the harrowing events of Elixir andDevoted—and the ceremony that almost killed Sage—Clea faces a new reality: With Sage’s soul in Nico’s body, the love of her life looks an awful lot like her best friend’s boyfriend. Can Clea and Sage really be happy under these circumstances?

Clea wants to try to enjoy their new life together, but Sage is acting different—angry—and she struggles to keep her friends from finding out what has happened to him. Something is clearly haunting Sage, and Clea is losing control. Can she trust her friends with the dangerous truth, or will she have to risk losing Sage to madness?

How I Got It: 

I actually purchased this at a book sale near me that I randomly passed. It was a steal at a dollar.

Why I Want To Read It:

I love Hilary Duff. I was oddly impressed by the first book. I’m not sure I entirely remember the second book, but I can’t not finish the series.

When I Am Going To Read It:

Probably soon. This book is pretty slim. It’s definitely not going to take me more than a couple of hours to read.

Until Next Time World…

Shelf Control #4

Happy Wednesday! It’s time for another edition of Shelf Control hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies about current unread books on your bookshelf. This week the book I’m choosing to highlight on my shelf is Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.

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Goodreads Synpsis: 

Middlesex tells the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides, and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family, who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City and the race riots of 1967 before moving out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret, and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.

How I Got It: 

This past December my mom and I went to the local bookstore. I had just finished reading The Marriage Plot by Eugenides. When I stopped the good condition hardcover, I knew I had to pick it up.

Why I Want To Read It:

It follows the story of a main character (I believe) who is intersex. Eugenides is considering one of the best authors of our time, and I’d like to see how he covers the topic.

When I Am Going To Read It:

Eeek. I don’t know. I actually think I might not get around to this until next year. I’m not sure though, because sometimes I really do read fast.

Until Next Time World…

Can You Actually Learn Something from a Comic Book?

I’ve been trying to expand the type of things that I read. If you’ve kept up with my reading habits this year, you’ll know that I have been adding more graphic novel content. With a little help from the book community, my coworkers, and my local library, I’ve been able to read a couple of volumes that I’ve really liked. One of those volumes was the new Ms. Marvel, who is Kamala Khan. I think that there are currently 4 volumes out currently, with the 5th volume releasing in the US on July 12th of this month.

Kamala Khan is a 16 year old Pakistani-American, Muslim teenager in Jersey City, NJ. There is so much in that sentence that is exciting. First off – JERSEY CITY. One of my good friends in college was from Jersey City; so whenever I hear mention of it I just get good vibes. Plus Jersey City is SOOO Jersey I just can’t take it. (For those of you that are wondering, these thoughts are literally reserved for those who have spent time in the Mid-Atlantic section of the US.). Also, I love that Marvel didn’t just make her of “Middle-Eastern descent” because that’s wayyy to dismissive of the various cultures and identities that are salient to immigrants in the Northeast US. Since Islam is one of the big three religions, it makes sense that there would be a superhero that would ascribe to that religion.

Now that I’ve fangirled over the concept, is it actually any good? Yes. I really enjoyed the 3 volumes that I’ve read so far. As someone who’s not really into superheroes, comics, or fantastical elements – I think there’s enough in this comic to interest a lot of people. This comic is pretty neat, because it provides a very basic level of cultural education. Not being Muslim or Pakistani, I’m not entirely sure how accurate some of the words or concepts presented in the comic actually are, but I appreciate that they’re included. Instead of the writer just saying “Kamala goes to church.” or “Kamala puts on her traditional grab.” Kamala’s actions and specific cultural items or traditions are written about using appropriate language. For translations or definitions, there is a star for the reader to refer to at the bottom of the page or panel. I’m in love with that! I think that we often want things to be explained in ways that are easy for us to understand. Usually that means erasing cultural content or adding that content as a subnote. I enjoy that the cultural content isn’t hidden, and if the reader really wants to know what that means then they can go seek out the meaning.

So long story short- yes, I think that we can learn things from comic books. I have already learned some things from the new Ms. Marvel and I think that you potentially can too. If for nothing else, I would recommend picking up this comic book from your local library, because it’s important to see more diverse characters in the superhero world. It’s nice to see a teenager and a woman try to stay true to her family and culture, while using her powers for good.

 

Until Next Time World…

It’s definitely me, not you.

Y’all, I’ve come to realize I may have a serious problem. I’ve read a couple of highly, HIGHLY praised YA novels this year that I just…didn’t like, and I’m going to tell you why.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

This book is about two teenagers, Aristotle (Ari) and Dante, who both have a little trouble “fitting in.” Ari is angry about a lot of things, mostly focused around his older brother being in jail. Dante is simply living his life out loud. He has supportive parents and tries to pass on some of his confidence and energy to Ari. It’s a wonderful story about Latinx boys trying to discover themselves and their sexuality. So, why don’t I like this book?

  • This book has such beautiful writing!
    • What? This was what I was most excited about when I picked up this book. The writing in this book is by no means terrible, but it’s not any better than any other popular YA book. Some of the prose and dialogue actually seemed a little unrealistic when you got to know the characters. A lot of people criticize John Green for making teenagers sound unrealistic, but I think this book had more egregious offenses.
  • The mood was fantastic.
    • It was okay? Fantastic seems a bit strong. I don’t want to give anything in particular away, but I’m not even sure the ending made that much sense.
  • There was such a great representation of Mexican-American culture and sexuality.
    • There were barely a few mentions of the Latinx factor both characters possessed. Most of the mentions were in relation to speaking Spanish. I’m not sure if I’m asking too much, but I don’t think this is the book for someone to read if that’s what their looking for. However…

 

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

If it wasn’t bad enough that I didn’t LOVE Alire Saenz’s work; it’s a CRIME that I didn’t love More Happy Than Not. Everyone had all the feels for this book. Everyone thought this book was amazing. This is #ownvoices perfection. Er..yes, yes. One really, really positive thing I did like about this book is I think it does give a pretty real glimpse at the inner city, person of color culture. It’s completely infused throughout the novel. You can’t pick this novel up and place it in suburbia; it just wouldn’t be the same.

  • It’s so dark.
    • It sort of was; I guess. It was so damn boring for so long. It literally pained me to get through the first 100 pages. I’m not entirely sure I can what the point of your book is if I struggle to simply turn the page. It’s definitely not a lighthearted book, but I’m not sure just because it’s not happy – makes it dark.
  • It handles mental health very well.
    • Does it though? In the book we know that Aaron’s father commits suicide. We also know that his mother isn’t handling it well. His brother is ignoring it, and he can’t talk to any of the people in his life about his feelings around his attempt NOR his own attempt. While I think this might be realistic of the urban setting, I’m not sure this is “very well.” At the end of the book I feel as though the message is sort of, life would be better if you just ignored things. There isn’t a medication or therapy positive notion in the book. I’m also not sure some of the more finer plot points represent self harm and suicide ideation…at all really. This wouldn’t be my recommendation for a mental health positive book.

I will say that I rated More Happy Than Not 3 stars, which means I thought it was okay. So I don’t have as much of an issue with it as I did with Alire Sanez’s book. But darn it, these two book should have been 4 star reads. Even though I don’t love them, like so many others do – I refuse to think the problem is with the books. The problem is definitely with me. We need more #ownvoices works, and I will continue to support them as much as I can. If you have a chance to pick either of these books up, please give them a whirl. And if you’ve read either of these, please leave a comment telling me how wrong I am.

 

Until Next Time World…

PS- sorry for the long post. I had 2 books and a lot to say!

Shelf Control #3

Happy Wednesday! It’s time for another edition of Shelf Control hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies about current unread books on your bookshelf. This week the book I’m choosing to highlight on my shelf is The Loudness by Nick Courage.

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Goodreads Synpsis: 

Henry Long doesn’t have a heart. He doesn’t go to school. He doesn’t have a girlfriend. He doesn’t have a clue. Two of those things are about to change.

Since the Tragedies, Henry Long doesn’t have much: just an annoying low-watt buzz from his makeshift heart transplant, skinny arms, and a dusty library attic from which he charts the reconstruction of the Green Zone, the last habitable neighborhood of his ruined coastal city. While his parents work on making the Green Zone independent from a federal government that appears to have abandoned them, Henry’s feels similarly abandoned—that is, until he discovers a refugee artists’ colony called the Other Side. When the federales don’t take kindly to the Green Zone’s attempts at secession and kidnap Henry’s parents, Henry and his new renegade friends—including one very courageous girl with whom he’s shared one truly shocking kiss—are forced from the colorful streets and underground rock clubs of the Other Side to an overcrowded capital city on the verge of collapse.

As Henry uncovers more about the conflicting forces that run his world, he realizes that not everyone is who they seem to be—including himself. In The Loudness readers will be propelled into an electrifying world where superheroes emerge from the unlikeliest people.

How I Got It: 

My dear friend Katie again. I need to start reading these books she loans me instead of just having them look pretty on my shelf.

Why I Want To Read It:

I wasn’t super excited about reading this book, but the synopsis seems interesting enough. It’s a YA book and it’s not too big so I think it’d be a good in between read later this year.

When I Am Going To Read It:

I’m not really planning to read this anytime soon. (Sorry Katie!) Hopefully, I’ll get to it by the end of the year.

Until Next Time World…

Marriage and weddings and etc

I’m writing to you from a hotel room in Cincinatti.** I’m here for the weekend to celebrate the marriage of one of my best friends. Feeling in the festive spirit, I decided to listen to Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld on my 12 hour drive. For those of you who don’t know, Eligible is a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic – Pride and Prejudice. Much to my surprise (possibly because I didn’t look at the description) the setting is in Cincinatti. And my friend’s wedding was at the Hyde Park Country Club, where the modern day Bennetts kept their club membership! If that isn’t a way to immerse yourself in a story, then I don’t know what else is.

Moving on, Eligible was a pretty entertaining read overall. Pride and Prejudice is such a classic story, that it was fun to see how Sittenfeld interwove modern day situations and methods of finding love. There’s not too much I can say about the story, other than it gives a slight head nod toward gender diversity, as it features a trans*man. I thought that was a pretty neat addition, especially when working with characters who have already been so developed.

Since I was there to attend a wedding, I couldn’t help but reflect on the relationships the sisters developed with their various suitors throughout the book. There were traditional relationships. Some participated in infidelity. There were examples of women taking control of their romantic destinies. There were also examples of people rejecting the need for heteronormative standards. As an adult, I’m impressed with how controversial some of these things were back in the 17th century. Literature has always been a way that individuals have tried to move forward social norms in society. I think it can be really easy to forget that, especially when we don’t diversify our reading.

I was also impressed how Sittenfeld updated some of these “controversies” to match hot topics in modern day society. In addition to some gender diversity, there is some very light mentions of race and privilege. If there was a criticism to the book, I think that the author could have done a better job at expanding on some of the biases held by various characters in the book. A lot of the time these things seemed to be mentioned for shock value rather than an actual exploration of the topic.

At the end of the day, I recommend this book to any who like Pride and Prejudice.  It was a pretty fun and fast read.

Until Next Time World…

**I wrote the majority of this post in Cincinnati, but failed to edit it until much later.**