‘The Hate U Give’ by Angie Thomas/A Review

‘The Hate U Give’ by Angie Thomas tells an unflinching social commentary on racism and police brutality through the eyes of a teenager. Starr Carter is a person living in two worlds: Garden Heights, a neighborhood with a loving family and limited resources, and Riventon Hills, an area filled with opportunity (and her school WIlliamson Prep), yet Starr hides parts of herself in order to fit in. These two worlds collide when Starr is the sole witness of her best friend Khalil’s death, murdered by a police officer while coming home from a party. The events that follow afterward in Starr’s life unpacks the complexities of race and bias. Starr wants to honor Khalil’s memory, yet feels forced to silence by a certain friend’s comments. She wants little exposure as possible, yet realizes that hiding her account jeopardizes her family and loved ones. Throughout the novel, Starr finds her voice and confronts the realities of discrimination head on, bringing on true life lessons for herself and everyone involved.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Professional Reader

Memories of Mom, Ten Years Later

My mother passed away from heart failure 10 years ago, on the 22nd. I still remember that day like it happened yesterday. It was a Sunday, and I was living in Throggs Neck, NY, ready to run and do errands. My phone rang and saw it was my uncle. I loved catching up with my family once a week, whenever possible. In this instance though, he brought the devastating news that my mother passed away.

I couldn’t function, couldn’t think straight. I knew I needed to head to my family’s house in New Jersey immediately, but couldn’t bring myself to get ready. My partner at the time had to pack my luggage so I would be ready for the journey.

What followed that week was very emotional. My aunt and I did the task of updating family members of my mother’s passing. We (along with my grandfather) spoke with the funeral director about the arrangements. I searched through photos of my mother to create a collage of her memories.

I continue to keep Mom in my memories. Over the years I’ve written poetry in her name, and I’ve followed my path maintaining her mantra: ‘Of course you can do it, you’ve worked hard’. I’ve encountered some bumps in my life journey the past few months, yet her words still resonate in my soul.

It’s now been 10 years since that horrible moment, and I still miss her greatly. She’s never too far from my thoughts.

My OwlCrate for March

I’m so excited to receive my OwlCrate for this month! This month’s theme is Murder and Mayhem:

–Travel mug inspired by Nevernight and designed by Catarina Book Designs
–Canvas drawstring backpack designed by Michelle Gray
–Exclusive pencil designed for OwlCrate
Sunai candle inspired by the monsters from The Savage Song, designed by In The Wick of Time
–Compass pin designed by Iron and Ink Designs
–Sticker inspired by Three Dark Crowns, illustrated by Jamila Mehio
–Wooden bookmark designed by Ink and Wonder Designs
–Signed copy of Four Dead Queens
by Astrid Scholte, along with character art print. Letter from the author is in the next photo

My Review of ‘Daisy Jones and The Six’ by Taylor Jenkins Reid

‘Daisy Jones and the Six’ by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Length: 368 pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Format I chose: Audiobook (through Audible)

‘Daisy Jones and the Six’ by Taylor Jenkins Reid chronicles the history of a legendary 70s band named The Six, paired with Daisy Jones, a powerful and charismatic female singer. An interviewer collects accounts from all members of the band, various members from band management, and close friends/ family. Each person describes the rock culture as it existed during the 1970s: a wild dose of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

‘Daisy Jones and the Six’ also centers around the human relationships within its band members dynamic, how personality conflicts and love can make a band both flourish and fall apart. Taylor Jenkins Reid has the ability to create a vibrant world painted within the very turbulent period of the 70s rock and drug culture. She writes their stories so vividly that you’re left longing to hear the works of both Daisy Jones and The Six, and locate any interviews on these iconic figures.

I picked up the audiobook version of the novel through Audible. Listening to the tale made me feel like I was hearing a classic rock documentary, listening to the rock adventures of these characters and loved ones. I was engaged with the story until the very end.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Review of ‘Is There Still Sex In the City’ by Candace Bushnell

I received an ARC of ‘Is There Still Sex in the City’ through NetGalley and Grove Atlantic in exchange for an honest review.

I thought ‘Is There Still Sex in the City’ by Candace Bushnell was a quick and light read. I loved the references of living in New York while handling relationship struggles during mid-life. It also made me reflect back to my years of living in NYC during my early-mid 30s. I myself was suddenly single during part of this time, and I could relate during the ‘online dating’ exploration chapter! The book is set between the Upper East Side in New York, and an enclave in Connecticut known as the ‘Village’, where stories of finding love in older men and experiencing love in times of life crises emerge.  

I didn’t particularly find ‘Is There Still Sex in the City’ a riveting story, but it was enjoyable to reflect back to Candace Bushnell’s ‘Sex in the City’ series. I have yet to read Bushnell’s other stories, but I would love to in the near future. I’ve been feeling intense feelings of nostalgia for New York City, since I certainly learned much about myself as an individual during that time period.  

If you love reading about long lasting friendships while surviving life in the big city, this book is for you!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Professional Reader

March 10, 2019: The 1st Book Series I Read

The first book series I got addicted to was the ‘Sweet Valley Twins’ series. I was in 4th grade, and I loved ordering from the Scholastic Book clubs that my grade school offered. Every month during the school year, my mom allowed me to order many stories from the Scholastic forms, and I would enjoy them. During my 4th grade year, as I was looking through the Troll form, I saw a book featuring two girls with a horse on the cover. ‘Sweet Valley Twins #8’ was on the cover. I think that I was very intrigued by the horse on the cover, since I also adored animals at the time. I was also curious what would happen to Elizabeth.

I brought it home a couple weeks later, and I was hooked! I enjoyed reading about the lives of the Wakefield twins, and their inner circle of friends. These characters lived a seemingly ‘glamourous’ life of social gatherings and spacious homes, and I didn’t have that kind of life when I was younger. So while I was reading these stories, I could escape. I didn’t just wait until it was time to order the stories in the Troll book forms…since I frequented Borders Books and Music, I naturally searched for the new selections in the Sweet Valley series.

Reading this book series was the beginning of my interest toward books in a series. A couple years later, it branched into ‘Sweet Valley High’, then later ‘The Babysitters Club’. That series introduced me to Stacey McGill, a young girl handling a life with Type 1 Diabetes. Reading about her daily struggles was key in helping me understand Diabetes when I was diagnosed with this condition during my teen years. Reading guided me toward a deeper understanding of people living through different circumstances, living their lives from day-to-day.

March 9, 2019: End of Week Reading Blog

I’m currently reading two books at the moment. I never thought I would take on such a task, but I was willing to take up the challenge.

After reading ‘Six of Crows’, I searched my local library for a copy of ‘Crooked Kingdom’, but no luck. The book is only available in 2 library branches in Hunterdon County, and both copies were checked out. So yesterday I placed a request for the story. Hopefully it will be available for pickup next week.

In the meantime, I began reading my NetGalley ARC of ‘Is There Still Sex In the City’ by Candace Bushnell. This book shares the adventures of dating and relationships in New York City in your 40s and 50s. Bushnell and her friends are experiencing divorce and other major life changes, and the idea of venturing through Tinder and social media is new, anxiety-inducing terrain to walk through. I’m about 35% through the story. Since I used to live in NYC for a few years, I love reading about the neighborhoods Bushnell speaks about in her book.

As I began reading Bushnell’s book, I decided to pick up the audiobook version of ‘Daisy Jones and the Six’ by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I have an Audible subscription, and just purchased one book so far a few months back. I was very interested in buying a book with multiple characters, and ‘Daisy Jones and the Six’ seemed like a great fit.

This is a historical fiction novel, documenting the rise and fall of a notorious rock band with a beautiful lead singer. Listening to the book brings back memories of me watching ‘Behind the Music’ documentaries on VH1, listening to bands sharing the joys and sorrows of their time in music. I’m about to begin listening to the chapter when The Six begin touring for their second album.

I’m very excited about my current reads!

 

Professional Reader

March 6, 2019: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo/A Review

     I really, really enjoyed Six of Crows! This is Leigh Bardugo’s fourth novel within the Grishaverse, centered within the city of Ketterdam. Six young and fearless fighters venture out to achieve a high stakes heist, led by Kaz Brekker, leader of the Dregs. They face impossible obstacles as they discover the root of the issue, and also look into their own personal demons along their journey.

     As I began reading Six of Crows, I immediately sensed that Leigh Bardugo took a radically different turn with writing her lead female characters. It’s a multiple perspective novel, following each member of the group as they embark on the heist. The two main female characters, Inej and Nina, are fearless. While fighting their own personal demons, these two women are extremely confident in their abilities. It’s very refreshing to see after reading the Grisha trilogy. I enjoyed the series, but I wanted more from the lead female character, and Six of Crows certainly came through with that.

     This book takes place a couple years after the trilogy’s storyline. References of the ‘Ravkan civil war’ is threaded throughout the story. I’m going to enjoy reading ‘Crooked Kingdom’, as I feel that Ravka will be more prominent.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

March 3, 2019: Six of Crows Reading Blog #2

I’m about halfway through Leigh Bardugo’s ‘Six of Crows’ (midway through Section 3: Heartbreak). This part goes heavily into the backstory of the Dregs’ members, how they came into the lives they chose to live. I love how it shows the human side of all of these characters. Way before their notorious reputations were cemented, they were small children forced into indentured servitude, or living a life of intense gambling. Fate also brought bitter enemies together, forcing them to ignore their biases in each other in order to survive and adapt. (The parts involving the history of Nina and Matthias were very intriguing). I definitely notice that Bardugo’s writing style is quite different from the Grisha series. Her female characters in Six of Crows are feminine and fierce, which is quite refreshing to read. Perhaps I’ll be able to finish this story by mid-week.

March 2, 2019: My March TBR List

March has definitely began somewhat dramatic, yet reading is always my escape, my relaxation from the craziness. For this month, I have a blend of stories I borrowed from the library and books I own, and I enjoy that! As much as I love having books of my very own, I love frequenting my local library. I use it for curriculum material, and browsing books for personal interest.

This month, I have five books in my TBR list. One of them is a Book of the Month selection, one is a Barnes and Noble purchase, and three are from the library.

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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Henry Holt and Company

I began reading Six of Crows during the last week of February, wanting to finish this novel by the 28, but it didn’t work out that way. Not because I’m not enjoying it (it’s a good story!), life just has a way of pausing interests. I’m all ready to get back into the book. Six of Crows is a continuation of the Grisha universe that Bardugo introduced during the Grishaverse trilogy. The story takes place in Ketterdam, following Kaz Brekker and a gang of outcasts as they attempt to pull off a heist of incredibly high risk.

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Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
Doubleday Books

I first came across Meddling Kids a year ago, and I was immediately intrigued by it. It’s a tale that honors the Scooby Gang we all know and love as children, except they are now older, and handling personal traumas of their own. I’ve wanted to pick it up and read it for the longer time…finally about a week ago, I picked it up at my local library. I’m looking forward to reading it soon!

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Balzar and Bray

The Hate U Give follows Starr Carter as she handles the aftermath of the death of her best friend Khalil, who was shot dead by police. The cast reaches notional headlines, and only Starr is the sole witness of the crime. This story confronts the issues of racism and brutality in modern day America. This is Angie Thomas’s breakout debut novel, and her second book, On The Come Up, immediately became a national bestseller since its debut the beginning of February. I feel like I’m one of the few people who have yet to read The Hate U Give, so I’m really going to tackle that this month!

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Minion by L.A. Banks (Vampire Huntress Book 1)
Macmillian Books

Minion follows the story of Damali Richards, a spoken word artist who doubles as a vampire slayer. Damali and her guardians are on a mission in seeking out an entity murdering her fellow group members and their rival label. This story came out around 2003, and I only got part of the way at that time before putting it down (why I did that, no clue, since I love slayer stories!). Luckily, this story was in my library as well, so I get to enjoy awesome reading material that involves powerful women!

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Small Country by Gael Faye
Hogarth

Small Country is my Book of the Month selection from a few months earlier. It follows the story of Gael living through the heartbreak of war and genocide. This story was widely renowned in 2018 for its poignancy and brutal truths. This novel was sitting on my shelf for quite some time, and its another story that I intend on reading this month.