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.

March 2, 2019: Strength through Stress

I was all ready to post my TBR for March last night, but life had other plans for me. The past couple days brought a surprising challenge to handle at work, and it left me feeling sad and frustrated. All I can say is that due to an outside obligation, I have a 4 day work week for the next few months. While of my co-workers are empathetic of my situation, my boss chose to treat it as me not caring about the staff…that the entire work schedule needs to get shifted around once a week because of an obligation I never chose to take part of.

Her reaction left me feeling overwhelmed, sad for the rest of the day, lasting into the evening. My work situation is usually stressful, yet tolerable. I’ve been able to complete my tasks, and be present day after day. However, yesterday revealed to me how insignificant my drive and dedication was to the company.

My fiance has been very helpful in giving me strength during such hectic times. After the work, he was very patient while listening to me vent during the evening. He was great in guiding me towards possible new job opportunities as well. I can refocus and channel my frustration toward bettering my situation.

I look foward to getting back into reading this weekend (it’s only been 2 days since I last read, but it’s been too long already). I can’t lose sight of what’s truly important: my loved ones, and my interests in life.

February 28, 2019: My Feb. Wrap-Up

I’m happy to say that read four books this month! While it’s one book short from January, I’m reading more than I did a year earlier, and I’m very happy about that!

One of the books was categorized as adult, the rest were YA. One of these novels was a NetGalley ARC.

The Oyster Thief by Sonia Faruqi

I gave this story 5 stars. I absolutely loved this book! It’s an underwater tale centering around a mermaid on a quest to save her brother poisoned from an oil spill. She meets a merman while on her adventure , with a hidden agenda of his own. I enjoyed Sonia Faruqi’s description of her underwater world, and the merpeople community’s way of life. I can wait to see what Faruqi writes next!

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Ever Alice by H.J. Ramsay

I gave Ever Alice 3 1/2 stars. This book is an ARC I received from NetGalley. The format for this novel was a bit frustrating to read, but I managed to complete reading it in a couple days. I loved that it was a re-telling of Alice in Wonderland, set in the 19th century. There were a couple of gory scenes in this story that made this book quite interesting. I also loved reading about Alice’s return to Wonderland.

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

I gave this novel 4 stars. I heard many mixed reviews about this story, but I really liked this final installment of the Grisha trilogy. It follows Alina on her quest for third amplifier while Ravka is on the brink of sheer chaos. It was fulfilling to follow Alina and her crew through foreign lands, all while avoiding the Darkling and his minions.

A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

I gave this book 5 stars. This story was a modern day retelling of Alice in Wonderland. I truly loved how Alice is a fighter in this version, battling Nightmares while journeying through a Wonderland dangerous at night. The ending brings on quite a surprise. I’m very much looking forward to the second book of this world, which comes out in September!

I wanted Six of Crows to be my fifth novel, but I’m at the halfway point in the story. It’s just getting interesting!

Professional Reader

February 27, 2019: ‘Six of Crows’ Reading Blog #1

I’m finally tackling ‘Six of Crows’! I wanted to wrap up my February reads with this story, but I’m only a quarter of the way through with it. So far, I feel a bit conflicted over what I’m reading thus far. Perhaps it’s because that the plot centers around completing a risky heist, and I usually don’t warm up to heist stories so easily. I do find some of the characters enjoyable though, like Kaz and Inej.

I’m currently on Chapter 11, and something big just happened in the story. I’m curious to see what happens next…

February 26, 2019: Some March Book Releases

I can’t believe that February is almost behind us! As much as I feel that time is passing by quickly (since I’m in wedding planning mode, it will be that special time before I know it!), I’m also excited for Springtime and new book releases. Here are a few titles I’ve come across in my search.

**I came across all titles mentioned on the Penguin Random House website**

Coming out on March 19

The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George

Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers and Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley are forced to confront the past as they try to solve a crime that threatens to tear apart the very fabric of a quiet, historic medieval town in England.

The cozy, bucolic town of Ludlow is stunned when one of its most revered and respected citizens–Ian Druitt, the local deacon–is accused of a serious crime. Then, while in police custody, Ian is found dead. Did he kill himself? Or was he murdered?

When Barbara Havers is sent to Ludlow to investigate the chain of events that led to Ian’s death, all the evidence points to suicide. But Barbara can’t shake the feeling that she’s missing something. She decides to take a closer look at the seemingly ordinary inhabitants of Ludlow–mainly elderly retirees and college students–and discovers that almost everyone in town has something to hide…

Coming out on March 5

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Everyone knows DAISY JONES & THE SIX, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ’n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend…

Coming out March 5

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian meets Jane the Virgin in this poignant but often laugh-out-loud funny contemporary YA about losing a sister and finding yourself amid the pressures, expectations, and stereotypes of growing up in a Mexican American home. 

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.
 
But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.
 
Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.
 
But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend, Lorena, and her first love (first everything), Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?

Coming out on March 12

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

Bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson is known for the unflinching way she writes about, and advocates for, survivors of sexual assault. Now, inspired by her fans and enraged by how little in our culture has changed since her groundbreaking novel Speak was first published twenty years ago, she has written a poetry memoir that is as vulnerable as it is rallying, as timely as it is timeless. In free verse, Anderson shares reflections, rants, and calls to action woven between deeply personal stories from her life that she’s never written about before. Searing and soul-searching, this important memoir is a denouncement of our society’s failures and a love letter to all the people with the courage to say #MeToo and #TimesUp, whether aloud, online, or only in their own hearts. Shout speaks truth to power in a loud, clear voice– and once you hear it, it is impossible to ignore.

February 23, 2019: A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney/A Review

I felt so enthralled by ‘A Blade So Black’. This is a modern retelling of ‘Alice in Wonderland’, set in Atlanta, Georgia. Alice is a young, African-American woman, balancing the stress of high school and an over-protective mother while fighting the Nightmares plaguing the magical world of Wonderland. In this version of the Lewis Caroll classic, Alice is recruited into fighting dark creatures shortly after the death of her father. ‘A Blade So Black’ follows Alice’s path as she learns to understand her abilities, her enchanting mentors broadening her mind on the history of Wonderland and its magical history. A threatening entity enters Alice’s life along the way, causing her to make some choices that alters the lives of her mentors (and her modern world friends) dramatically.

I enjoyed reading this version of Alice. It’s so refreshing seeing a Woman of Color portrayed as a hero, being supported by other figures of power. I also enjoyed reading the modern twists of classic characters like the Mad Hatter and the White Queen. There are brief mentions of the figures that shaped the classic story of Alice in Wonderland, adding on to the plot of this current tale. This story kept me interested down to final page.

‘A Blade So Black’ is a truly enjoyable book. I can’t wait for L.L. McKinney’s second book, ‘A Dream So Dark’ to come out in September!

(5/5 Stars)

February 20, 2019: My February OwlCrate

***Spoilers are contained in this post***

I’m so excited that my OwlCrate for February came in this week! The theme for this month is Whimsical Beasts. I can’t wait to begin reading my book this month!

All the item descriptions will be paired with the photos below.

–Green gem soap, created by Leeloo Soaps
–Exclusive purple beanie, designed by Michelle Gray
–Travel umbrella, designed by Anne Lambelet
–Haku keychain, inspired by Spirited Away. Designed by Four Seasons Fox.
–Enamel pin by Ink an Wonder Designs. Inspired by Crown of Feathers, this month’s OwlCrate reading selection!
–Graphic novel The Tea Garden Society, by Katie O’Neill
–Signed copy of Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pan Preto, paired with a letter from the author and feather bookmark
–The letter also contains an illustrated map, shown below.
Thank you OwlCrate for a wonderful collection!