Goodreads Monday: January 20

I’m taking part in Goodreads Monday. This was started by Lauren’s Page Turners, in which you choose a book listed on your Goodreads TBR and talk about it.

This week’s post:

When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago

Synopsis:
Esmeralda Santiago’s story begins in rural Puerto Rico, where her childhood was full of both tenderness and domestic strife, tropical sounds and sights as well as poverty. Growing up, she learned the proper way to eat a guava, the sound of tree frogs in the mango groves at night, the taste of the delectable sausage called morcilla, and the formula for ushering a dead baby’s soul to heaven. As she enters school we see the clash, both hilarious and fierce, of Puerto Rican and Yankee culture. When her mother, Mami, a force of nature, takes off to New York with her seven, soon to be eleven children, Esmeralda, the oldest, must learn new rules, a new language, and eventually take on a new identity. In this first volume of her much-praised, bestselling trilogy, Santiago brilliantly recreates the idyllic landscape and tumultuous family life of her earliest years and her tremendous journey from the barrio to Brooklyn, from translating for her mother at the welfare office to high honors at Harvard.

Why I Want to Read It:
Along time ago, when I began reaching out to like-minded people who shared my interests, a wonderful soul named Johanna introduced me to When I Was Puerto Rican. We were the only Latina members in this group, and she recommended this story to me since I was seeking out new material. I felt eternally grateful to Johanna! Now that I finally picked up Esmeralda Santiago’s book a couple months ago, I hope to finally read it soon!

ARC review: ‘Don’t Read the Comments’ by Eric Smith

Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Acquired through NetGalley
Release Date: January 28, 2020

Synopsis:

Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.

Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.

At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…

And she isn’t going down without a fight.

My Thoughts:

I received Don’t Read the Comments from NetGalley and Inkyard Press, in exchange for an honest review.

Don’t Read the Comments was a very amusing and emotional story about the online gaming community. The characters Divya and Aaron live their lives as young adults trying to make life better for their families while playing their favorite game Reclaim the Sun. Diverse representation was also proudly featured in this story, having the main characters be people of color.

Don’t Read the Comments describes the harassment women face within the gaming community in explicit detail. It was truly heartbreaking reading about Divya’s dilemma as online trolls threaten her very livelihood, and that of her close friends. The story also details the apathy many people carry around when it comes to the safety of children playing online games. These are different times, where many social experiences are communicated online.

The overall themes expressed in this story are friendship and trust. Divya and Aaron live in separate regions, yet they learn to communicate without reservation from the moment they’re placed together by circumstance. It was sweet reading each interaction as they learn more about each other’s lives!

Don’t Read the Comments is a heartfelt book that features the power of community within the gaming world. I highly recommend it!

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Goodreads Monday: January 6

I’m taking part in Goodreads Monday. This was started by Lauren’s Page Turners, in which you choose a book listed on your Goodreads TBR and talk about it.

This week’s post:

Lobizona by Romina Garber

Synopsis:
Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.

Why I Want to Read It:
I’m getting into reading urban fantasy stories, and this tale has an all-too-real backstory of family separation. This topic is covered heavily in today’s headlines. I’m hopeful that I can finally read the digital ARC of Lobizona next month!

Blogmas Day 16: Favorite Drinks During the Holidays

In this post I will write about my favorite drinks during the holiday season! During this time anything with hints of Winter hits the spot. I’m only posting my non-alcoholic favorites in this post. I will share favorite alcoholic drinks in another entry!

Here are some of my faves:

Gingerbread Latte

Chestnut Praline Latte

Apple Cider

Hot Chocolate

Peppermint Mocha

Eggnog

Let me know your favorite drinks in the comments!

Goodreads Monday: November 25

I hope everyone’s week is off to a good start!

I’m taking part in Goodreads Monday. This was started by Lauren’s Page Turners, in which you choose a book listed on your Goodreads TBR and talk about it.

This week’s post:

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib

Synopsis:
The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list. Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.
Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.
Yara Zgheib’s poetic and poignant debut novel is a haunting, intimate journey of a young woman’s struggle to reclaim her life. Every bite causes anxiety. Every flavor induces guilt. And every step Anna takes toward recovery will require strength, endurance, and the support of the girls at 17 Swann Street.

Why I Want to Read It:
I love reading stories of women overcoming extreme struggle. I read a snippet of this book last year, where it begins with Anna beginning her treatment, and I was immediately intrigued. I can’t to come across this story in the library and dive right in!

Goodreads Monday: November 18

Good morning everyone!

I’m taking part in Goodreads Monday. This was started by Lauren’s Page Turners, in which you choose a book listed on your Goodreads TBR and talk about it.

This week’s post:

Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

Why I Want to Read It:

I first became aware of Rea Frey through Instagram. I enjoy her weekly posts about her book signings and inspiration for writing. When I discovered Not Her Daughter at The Strand last month, I didn’t hesitate to buy it! I’m looking forward to reading this captivating book!

I hope everyone has a good week!


Goodreads Monday: November 11

Good morning everyone!

I’m taking part in Goodreads Monday. This was started by Lauren’s Page Turners, in which you choose a book listed on your Goodreads TBR and talk about it.

This week’s post:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Synopsis:
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

Why I Want to Read It:
I’ve wanted to read ‘The Night Circus’ since it has such a mysterious premise. I heard mixed reviews about this story, but the idea of a book set in a traveling circus gets me very interested. Hopefully I can get to this book before the year ends!

ARC Review/’Ruthless Gods’ by Emily A. Duncan

Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Acquired through Netgalley
Book 2 of the Something Dark & Holy trilogy
Length: 544 pages
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: April 7, 2020

Synopsis:
Darkness never works alone…

Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who–and what–he’s become.
As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. They’re pieces on a board, being orchestrated by someone… or something. The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet—those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer.
In her dramatic follow-up to Wicked Saints, the first book in her Something Dark and Holy trilogy, Emily A. Duncan paints a Gothic, icy world where shadows whisper, and no one is who they seem, with a shocking ending that will leave you breathless.

My Thoughts:

     I received ‘Ruthless Gods’ through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

     When I began reading ‘Ruthless Gods’, I was very wary about the direction it was going to take. While I enjoyed reading ‘Wicked Saints’, I found the heavy focus on the romance kinda grating. Within the first few chapters on ‘Ruthless Gods’, I was pleasantly surprised at the revelations placed at the very start!  

     ‘Ruthless Gods’ takes place a few months after the shocking events in the cathedral at Tranavia. Both Nadya and Serefin underwent major changes that awakened innate abilities within themselves. They hold an uneasy alliance while Nadya is held in confinement within the castle, yet they’re forced to flee out of necessity. They set off to fulfill Nadya’s goal: travel west to Kalyazin and bring the gods back into power. This quest is filled with extreme challenges, as both characters are pawns in the gods’ perilous battle to regain their standing within the empire.

     Malachiasz also plays a major role in this book, as he battles with the powerful monster he’s become, and the young man he struggles to maintain within himself. He’s the perfect villain as we saw during ‘Wicked Saints’, toying with his friend’s emotions in order to reach his end goal. In ‘Ruthless Gods’ he continues to fight with this internal struggle to regain humanity. He’s a powerful (and deadly) entity, and the more he succumbs to the desire to inflict pain, the deeper he ventures into darkness.

     The ‘monster-romance’ factor between Nadya and Malachiasz is still alive and well in ‘Ruthless Gods’, yet it doesn’t pervade the entirety of the book. Nadya is still consumed with thoughts of desire, yet she is also aware that she has a mission to undertake. As they venture into Kalyazin, Nadya is refocused on achieving her end goal, and this delivers more confidence in drawing her power as the cleric who speaks to the pantheon. Her renewed confidence is accompanied by some major roadblocks, which causes Nadya to question if she’s truly ready for such a task.

     Serefin is also thrusted into the game of power, albeit reluctantly. He’s consumed with mysterious hallucinations and haunting voices, and he discovers that he not only needs to worry about his throne overtaken by his fellow countrymen, he is willingly placed in the middle of a major conflict between the gods. The religious discourse continues to be a focal point in the book, as both Nadya and Serefin handle a religious awakening the further they delve into their journeys: Serefin fighting with the notion of a pantheon determining the fate of humankind, while Nadya struggles to face a new understanding a magic outside of her traditional ways of thinking.

     This novel continues to be voiced in both Nadya and Serefin’s perspective, and it includes some extra points of view from companions on either side. It feeds some additional backstory into the conflict between Kalyazi and Tranavia as the story leads up to a very revealing conclusion!

     I very much enjoyed reading ‘Ruthless Gods’, and it had a good balance of romance and action within a gothic backdrop. Readers will definitely enjoy such an intense story!

Rating: 5/5 Stars


Goodreads Monday: November 4

Good morning all! It’s almost 7am on Monday where I’m at, and I hope everyone’s week is off to a good start!

For this post, I’m taking part in Goodreads Monday. This was started by Lauren’s Page Turners, in which you choose a book listed on your Goodreads TBR and talk about it.

This week’s post:

Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America and America in Iran by Azadeh Moaveni
Synopsis:
As far back as she can remember, Azadeh Moaveni has felt at odds with her tangled identity as an Iranian-American. In suburban America, Azadeh lived in two worlds. At home, she was the daughter of the Iranian exile community, serving tea, clinging to tradition, and dreaming of Tehran. Outside, she was a California girl who practiced yoga and listened to Madonna. For years, she ignored the tense standoff between her two cultures. But college magnified the clash between Iran and America, and after graduating, she moved to Iran as a journalist. This is the story of her search for identity, between two cultures cleaved apart by a violent history. It is also the story of Iran, a restive land lost in the twilight of its revolution.
Moaveni’s homecoming falls in the heady days of the country’s reform movement, when young people demonstrated in the streets and shouted for the Islamic regime to end. In these tumultuous times, she struggles to build a life in a dark country, wholly unlike the luminous, saffron and turquoise-tinted Iran of her imagination. As she leads us through the drug-soaked, underground parties of Tehran, into the hedonistic lives of young people desperate for change, Moaveni paints a rare portrait of Iran’s rebellious next generation. The landscape of her Tehran — ski slopes, fashion shows, malls and cafes — is populated by a cast of young people whose exuberance and despair brings the modern reality of Iran to vivid life.

Why I Want To Read It:
I’m always fascinated about all areas of history, featuring women making a life for themselves. There are many areas around the world with untold stories just waiting for us to discover!

Goodreads Monday: October 28

Hi everyone! For this post, I’m taking part in Goodreads Monday. This was started by Lauren’s Page Turners, in which you choose a book listed on your Goodreads TBR and talk about it.

This Week’s Book:

Spin The Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
Synopsis:

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.
Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.
And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

Why I Want To Read It:

I received Spin The Dawn through OwlCrate a couple months ago, but I haven’t began reading it yet! I love the plot of a strong female protagonist wanting to prove her worth, not matter what it takes! I hope to make the time to read it. 🙂

Happy reading!