New Poetry Group, and Good Stories/June 9 Reading Blog

After work on Friday, Andy and I traveled to Frenchtown, NJ so I can take part of First Friday Poetry. I attended this poetry event last month when it at The Book Garden, and it was very memorable. I had the courage to share one of my poems from my blog Poetic Threading, and it was received warmly.

While this month’s poetry event was being held in a space more public to the neighborhood, I was looking forward to gather and meet others who were also into poetry. I didn’t know what to expect, and while that would ordinarily make me very nervous, I was perfectly fine with being at one with everything around me.

The event was at an small art studio, with a DJ playing a eclectic mix of classic rock and 90s hip hop. The outdoor space was filled with several acres of grass to roam freely, a bonfire, and a mulberry tree where some children happily shook branches, eagerly partaking in sweet prizes. When I arrived I didn’t recognize anyone I knew from last month, so I did what any poet would do when surrounded by rich greenery and lovely music: I sat down near the bonfire and wrote a poem!

After about 10 minutes, a couple people from last month arrived at the location. It was decided that it would be a public, open-mic style reading. There was a decent sized crowd to watch the event, and a beautiful sunset served as a lovely backdrop as the poetry reading came to a close. First Friday Poetry will be held at the same location next month, and I’m looking forward to it!

Along with attending the poetry event, I read more of Lisa Grunwald’s ‘Time After Time’. I’m about nearly halfway through the story. It’s such a touch love story, as Joe and Nora learn a bit more about one another as the years pass. The story of Nora’s predicament comes to light near the closing of Part One. I also enjoy to immerse myself in Grand Central Terminal lore, as well as life in NYC during the height of the Great Depression.

Professional Reader

My Thoughts on ‘Wish’ by Barbara O’ Connor

‘Wish’ by Barbara O’ Connor
Length: 227 pgs.
Genre: Children (Middle Grade)
Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux
Standalone or Series: Standalone

I discovered ‘Wish’ while searching for another story at a local department store. When I walk into this location, the first stop I always head to is the large table of books that’s on display. It’s usually a mix of new releases and titles that have been out for a while. I didn’t come across what I was searching for, but my eyes fell on a cover with a young girl with an adorable dog. Being a dog lover, I immediately fell in love with the book cover! I made a note of the title, and reserved a copy at the library.
‘Wish’ by Barbara O’ Connor is about a young girl named Charlie, reluctantly placed to live with her aunt Bertha and Uncle Gus in Colby, North Carolina. Charlie feels very bitter and resentful about being removed from her home in Raleigh, despite the fact that her father is incarcerated and her mother was deemed unfit to care for both her and her sister Jackie. The peaceful, countryside surroundings is a world away from Raleigh’s city life, yet Bertha and Gus go to great lengths to make Charlie’s life as comfortable as possible. She also reluctantly befriends a classmate named Howard, a studious child who gets ridiculed due to his manner of walking, yet never lets that interfere with his life.
The story describes Charlie’s journey in socializing with new friends and community members while experiencing the internal struggle of missing her family. She goes to great lengths to make wishes whenever she comes upon a treasured color, a certain animal, or the first star in a twilight sky. Charlie hides her pain with anger, yet Howard expertly finds a bridge to communicate her fears so clearly by describing a ‘clothesline of troubles’ that everyone tends to in life. O’Connor refers to this phrase frequently in this story as Charlie learns how to trust Bertha and Gus, Howard and his family.
Charlie also discovers a stray dog near her home that she names Wishbone. Like Charlie, Wishbone also endures a journey to trust Charlie and her loved ones. Over time, Wishbone and Charlie experience the joys of good company, while uplifting one another. The story of Wishbone is a small piece of Charlie’s journey in her growth, yet the family and friends in her Colby community teach her that a loving home is not a distant dream.
‘Wish’ by Barbara O’ Connor is a Middle Grade children’s book (appropriate for children ages 8-12), so if you’re seeking a story for children about community, strength through struggles, and loving animals, then this book is for you. It was a very endearing read!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Two Engaging Reads, and Baby Goats! / June Reading Blog #1

The first weekend of June brought some unexpected stress, some cuteness, and some welcomed reading!

The stressful part was due to wedding planning. I’m getting married in August, and communicating with family members (especially ones in the wedding party) can be a challenge. I picked up one of the items I needed for the big day though, so that alleviated some aggravation!

I relieved some of the stress by attending the Buffalo Watch in Readington, NJ. There was a hayride to view the bison and calves, and some baby goats. I got to hold one of these goats yesterday. He was 3-4 weeks old!

My reading for the first week of June consists of two stories that aren’t on my TBR list (of course)! One is an eARC, and the other is an adorable library read.

Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
Random House Publishing Group


The first book is called ‘Time After Time’ by Lisa Grunwald. It’s set in New York City in the 1930, in Grand Central Terminal. It follows the lives of Joe and Nora. A love story of sorts, following their paths once a year. It’s quite interesting how the author lays out the inner society Grand Central Terminal contains. I received this eARC through NetGalley. This book will come out on June 11, so I’ll make sure to have my review ready. I really love what I’ve read so far!

Wish by Barbara O’ Connor
Genre: Children’s Lit (Middle Grade)
Farrar Straus Giroux

‘Wish’ is pictured on right. I intend on reading ‘Crenshaw’ later in the month!
My Little Snoopy is always with me!

I’m also reading an endearing story called ‘Wish’ by Barbara O’Connor. ‘Wish’ is a Children’s story (Middle Grade), following the life of Charlie. She is 11 years old, sent to live with her Aunt Bertha and uncle Gus in Colby, North Carolina. Charlie’s home life is unstable (her father currently in jail, while her mother is unfit to raise her two daughters on her own). Charlie feels very displeased and resentful about being displaced from her home, yet her aunt and uncle, and other kindred spirits, teach Charlie toward the virtue of patience. From what I’ve read so far, it’s a very uphill struggle!

That’s all for now, but I’ll be back in a couple days with my progress. Happy reading!

Professional Reader

‘The Gilded Wolves’ by Roshani Chokshi/A Review

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
(pictured without dust jacket)
Wednesday Books
Length: 388 pgs
Series or Standalone: Book 1
Genre: YA
Received through OwlCrate

I read ‘The Gilded Wolves’ as part of May’s Asian Readathon. After completing this book, I sat with it for quite a bit. There was so much thought-provoking content with regards to the world building and cultural context in 19th century Europe, so I want to make sure my words came through clearly.

‘The Gilded Wolves’ by Roshani Chokshi takes place in Paris in the year 1889. It is a world influenced by magic, its rules heavily monitored through the Order of Babel. Four Houses (groups) exist within France, with one group rendered into inactivity. The story begins with a theft, a powerful House leader left without her treasured piece of jewelry. It is up to Severin, a wealthy hotel atelier, to gather his group of close companions to regain this treasure. Severin was once guaranteed his inheritance into the inactive House Vanth, and his work in regaining this piece will guarantee his lineage.

One thing that I really appreciated from reading ‘The Gilded Wolves’ was that all of the main characters reflected different regions of the world. Chokshi painted a lovely picture of the supporting characters, each representing a different region of the world. She also describes the discrimination each character faced in their path to success One member faced hardship due to racism, while another battled her struggles in social settings. Although it wasn’t stated, her condition was strikingly similar to one living with autism. It was refreshing to see a character represented in such a positive way.

The world building was very extensive in ‘The Gilded Wolves’, and this was contributed towards the magical system. Everything was ruled under Forgery (solid and liquid objects manipulated into the creator’s liking), and Chokshi illustrates both the positive uses of Forgery, and implementing it to break a person’s will (I still cringe when thinking about the Phoebus Helmet!). While these guidelines were many, I loved learning about this magical system, and how it relates to the Houses working in harmony.

‘The Gilded Wolves’ was a very thought-provoking read, and it lead me to truly care about the characters as they went deeper into their adventure. It makes me curious as to what their next excursion will bring in the sequel!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

June 2019 TBR list

For the month of June, I’m going to continue reading Asian themed novels. I received two new books as I was taking on the Asian , and just never got to them in time! My reading pace is just THAT slow, lol!

These are the books I’m planning on reading during June. I may add on as the month progresses:

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
Length: 480 pgs
Farrar Straus Giroux
Genre: YA

Synopsis:
People lived because she killed. People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the sultan. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. Both Zafira and Nasir are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the sultan on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

The Buried: An Archeology of the Egyptian Revolution by Peter Hessler
Penguin Press
480 pgs
Genre: Non-Fiction/History

Synopsis:
Drawn by a fascination with Egypt’s rich history and culture, Peter Hessler moved with his wife and twin daughters to Cairo in 2011. He wanted to learn Arabic, explore Cairo’s neighborhoods, and visit the legendary archaeological digs of Upper Egypt. After his years of covering China for The New Yorker, friends warned him Egypt would be a much quieter place. But not long before he arrived, the Egyptian Arab Spring had begun, and now the country was in chaos.

In the midst of the revolution, Hessler often traveled to digs at Amarna and Abydos, where locals live beside the tombs of kings and courtiers, a landscape that they call simply al-Madfuna “the Buried.” He and his wife set out to master Arabic, striking up a friendship with their instructor, a cynical political sophisticate. They also befriended Peter’s translator, a gay man struggling to find happiness in Egypt’s homophobic culture. A different kind of friendship was formed with the neighborhood garbage collector, an illiterate but highly perceptive man named Sayyid, whose access to the trash of Cairo would be its own kind of archaeological excavation. Hessler also met a family of Chinese small-business owners in the lingerie trade; their view of the country proved a bracing counterpoint to the West’s conventional wisdom.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
Scribner Books
384 pgs
Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis:
In their remote mountain village, Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. For the Akha people, ensconced in ritual and routine, life goes on as it has for generations—until a stranger appears at the village gate in a jeep, the first automobile any of the villagers has ever seen.

The stranger’s arrival marks the first entrance of the modern world in the lives of the Akha people. Slowly, Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, begins to reject the customs that shaped her early life. When she has a baby out of wedlock—conceived with a man her parents consider a bad match—she rejects the tradition that would compel her to give the child over to be killed, and instead leaves her, wrapped in a blanket with a tea cake tucked in its folds, near an orphanage in a nearby city.

As Li-yan comes into herself, leaving her insular village for an education, a business, and city life, her daughter, Haley, is raised in California by loving adoptive parents. Despite her privileged childhood, Haley wonders about her origins, and across the ocean Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. Over the course of years, each searches for meaning in the study of Pu’er, the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for centuries.

May 2019 Book of the Month Unboxing

My Book of the Month selection for May arrived today! I’m not sponsored by Book of the Month, but I love receiving their boxes each month. They always have captivating titles, and their service covers many book genres.

This month I chose The Buried: An Archeology of the Egyptian Revolution, by Peter Hessler. It is a book that talks about the Egyptian Revolution through the eyes of a journalist who moved to Cairo with his family when things were beginning to change in a monumental way!

Brief Summary (from Goodreads):

Drawn by a fascination with Egypt’s rich history and culture, Peter Hessler moved with his wife and twin daughters to Cairo in 2011. He wanted to learn Arabic, explore Cairo’s neighborhoods, and visit the legendary archaeological digs of Upper Egypt. After his years of covering China for The New Yorker, friends warned him Egypt would be a much quieter place. But not long before he arrived, the Egyptian Arab Spring had begun, and now the country was in chaos.

In the midst of the revolution, Hessler often traveled to digs at Amarna and Abydos, where locals live beside the tombs of kings and courtiers, a landscape that they call simply al-Madfuna “the Buried.” He and his wife set out to master Arabic, striking up a friendship with their instructor, a cynical political sophisticate. They also befriended Peter’s translator, a gay man struggling to find happiness in Egypt’s homophobic culture. A different kind of friendship was formed with the neighborhood garbage collector, an illiterate but highly perceptive man named Sayyid, whose access to the trash of Cairo would be its own kind of archaeological excavation. Hessler also met a family of Chinese small-business owners in the lingerie trade; their view of the country proved a bracing counterpoint to the West’s conventional wisdom.

TBR Book Tag

I discovered this book tag through ‘Feed the Crime‘s blog.

How do you keep track of your TBR list?

I mainly keep track of my TBR list through keeping a mental checklist of what I would currently love to read. I also have most of them listed on Goodreads, but I don’t focus on that too much.

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

My TBR is mainly print books. I have some on my Kindle also, but not many.

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

Since this month I’m participating in Asian Readathon, I’m focusing on books that stick to that format. Aside from that, I’m mainly a mood reader.

A book that has been on your TBR the longest.

Image result for image of the fault in our stars
One day I’ll read this!

A book that you recently added to your TBR.

Image result for Image Shatter Me

A book on your TBR list strictly because of it’s beautiful cover.

I don’t follow this, I purchase them because I’m interested in reading them.

A book on your TBR that you never plan on actually reading.

A book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. A co-worker gave me a copy during last year’s Secret Santa.

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for.

Image result for images Color Me In
Color Me In by Natasha Diaz. Thank you NetGalley!

A book on your TBR everyone has read but you.

Image result for images The Gilded Wolves
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

A book on your TBR everyone recommends to you.

Image result for images book cover American Gods
American Gods by Neil Gaiman

A book on your TBR you’re very excited to read.

Image result for image the tea girl of hummingbird lane lisa see
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See. I love this author!

The number of books on your Goodreads TBR shelf.

I have 32 on my TBR shelf. But I have more than that lol

Asian Readathon Blog #1

At the moment I’m reading ‘Girls of Paper and Fire’ by Natasha Ngan. I’m a little over 50 pages into the story. I really appreciated the trigger warning of violence and sexual assault before the novel begins, and it’s pretty accurate. Despite reading some intense content within the first couple chapters, I’m still enjoying the book. The world building of Ikhara is also very in depth, and I’m completely taken in with the many clans/castes in each region.

Although I’m reading ‘Girls of Paper and Fire’, I’m also reading ‘Crooked Kingdom’. I’m pacing my reading so I don’t become too overwhelmed with several books at once.

Crooked Kingdom Reading Blog #2

I’m about a quarter of the way through ‘Crooked Kingdom’ by Leigh Bardugo. I most likely won’t get through with the story until another few days, but I’m loving the story. One thing I enjoy reading about is the addition of ordinary (non-combative) characters. It adds a nice blend to the outlaw way of life that this duology dictates. Wylan’s involvement with the group also provides the group some form of etiquette when interacting with outside influences. Kaz usually goes about his own business, but it’s refreshing to see non-combative dialogue. Of course, I’m all for different types of interaction throughout the book!

Books on Feminism that I Enjoy

While watching Steve Donoghue’s channel on BookTube, I learned that Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ is being re-released, along with a new cover. I loved reading ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ in college. It was for a Women’s Studies course (I minored in Women’s Studies at Seton Hall…a long time ago). I didn’t read the book in its entirety, but I enjoyed the content that I did read for the class. I loved all the courses for that minor, the faculty was more approachable to speak with than some of the professors in my major.

I also recall reading ‘Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls’ by Mary Pipher. It wasn’t for a class, but I was always into reading stories about ongoing women’s issues. This book documents the ongoing plight of teenage girls as they repeatedly fall into the plight of body image, peer pressure, and depression. Strong bonds are vitally important in ones life, yet women are constantly pressured to turn against each other, leading toward lasting emotional issues. It also shares the struggles women endure in mother/daughter relationships, wisdom clouded by the need for instant gratification.

I also enjoyed Angela Y. Davis’s ‘Women, Race, and Class’. This is a powerful book that documents the women’s movement throughout the decades, with a focus on the struggles women of color endured in order to gain equal recognition alongside their White American counterparts. I recall reading about the honorable figures within the suffrage movement during my college courses, and was surprised to learn that there were conflicts women of color faced, when all women were fighting to achieve the common goal of equal rights. It was an revealing, eye-opening experience.