My Disneyathon/August TBR

Next month I’m trying my hand at the Disneyathon (Disney Reasathon) throughout the month of August. I don’t need to read Disney-related stories (but I am tempted in reading the Descendants stories!), but this readathon is divided into teams. I signed up for Team Mulan; I already own one of the group books, and I love Princess Mulan!

The following are the prompts for Team Mulan:

Read a book with at least 500 words

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I picked up Outlander a couple months ago, so I can’t wait to finally begin reading it! It’s well over 500 pages (almost 800!), and I haven’t watched the program (surprisingly), so it should be fun!

Synopsis:
The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Read a book that features a ‘squad’

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

The moment I heard about Emily Duncan’s debut novel, I wanted to buy it right away! It has a dark premise that I appreciate in stories. Very excited to finally read this book!

Synopsis:

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.
A prince in danger must decide who to trust.
A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.


Read a book with a strong female lead

Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Prieto

I also received Crown of Feathers through OwlCrate. They put out great fantasy books! This is Nicki Pau Prieto’s debut novel.

Synopsis:
I had a sister, once…

In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.

I promised her the throne would not come between us.

Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.

But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled.

Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.

Sometimes the title of queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken.

Read a YA Romance

Again, but Better by Christine Riccio

Again, but Better is Christine Riccio’s debut novel. She is a well known Book Tube personality who took the plunge in writing her first book!

Synopsis:
Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?
Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.
Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.


Group Book

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Team Mulan has the option of reading either Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim or Circe by Madeleine Miller. Since I already have a copy of Spin the Dawn (thanks to OwlCrate), this will be my group book of choice!

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.


Reading Rush Wrap-Up

During The Reading Rush, my goal was to read 4 books:
–The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
–Small Country
–The Tea Dragon Society
–Sorcery of Thorns

I will list each book below and which challenges I fulfilled:

For the challenge ‘Read a book with at least 5 words on the cover’:
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See. I found this story to be very touching and heartwarming. I’m currently on page 195 on this book. I love the historical facts that Lisa See weaves into her tale as she describes Li-Yan’s complicated life journey in China.

For the challenges ‘Read a book you meant to read last year’ and ‘Read an author’s debut novel’:
Small Country by Gael Faye. This was the first book I read during The Reading Rush. It was a tragic story detailing the life of Gaby, a 10 year old boy living in an expatriate community in Burundi. I loved every page of this riveting tale!

For the challenges ‘Read a book with a non-human main character’ and ‘Read a book in the same spot the entire time’
The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill. This is a graphic novel that told the story about Greta, a goblin who learns about the value of adorable Tea Dragons. I read this story while sitting at my family’s kitchen table, and I didn’t want it to end!

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson. I didn’t get a chance to read this story in time, but I look forward to when I’m finished with my Lisa See book.

‘Small Country’ by Gael Faye/A Review

Small Country by Gael Faye
Translated by Sarah Ardizzone
Publisher: Hogarth Press
Length: 185 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: June 2018

I got my hands on Small Country as a Book of the Month selection for the month of May 2018. I was immediately intrigued by the story: a story that details the tragic events of the Rwandan genocide of the mid 90s through the eyes of a child. I immediately wanted to read it, yet one thing led to another (busy work schedule, other reading interests, etc.), and I didn’t picked it up until this week, when The Reading Rush readathon began. Once I did begin the novel, I finished it in a day.

     Small Country follows the life of Gabriel (Gaby), a 10 year old child living in an expatriate neighborhood in Burundi. A child of a French father and an Rwandan mother, Gaby lives in an area that faces intense political climates and ethnic hostilities between the Hutu and Tutsi citizens. These factors rest in the background at the beginning of the story, as Gaby lives with the daily struggles that encompass most children: Daily school life, forming close friendships, and connecting with close family. All of this changes as the community takes part in their first act of democracy in 1993, electing their first president. What follows next details the horrific events of assassination and genocide, leaving Gaby and his family struggling to live their daily life in an undeclared war zone.

     Gael Faye writes Small Country from his experiences growing up in an expatriate neighborhood in Burundi himself during the 90s. He deftly writes this debut novel in such an unflinching voice. He described Gaby as a young man struggling to keep his child-like innocence alive while the childhood of his friend evolves into a brotherhood of struggle. Gaby has the love of his sister and other friends in the community to maintain his spirit, yet it falls constantly at odds with the ever changing political climate, the mindset of his social circle shifting with the times.

     Small Country also speaks of the effects Western countries have on Burundi and Rwanda. Gabe’s parents deal with the differences between life in Burundi and the more relaxed atmosphere of France. Burundi and Rwanda are heavily influenced by French control, yet many of the native citizens are held under servitude. While Gaby and his friends are sheltered from the topic of slavery, his mother (who is of Rwandan decent) frequently reminds her children that their comfortable living is an exception to the norm.  

     Indeed, this book was difficult to read as it handles the topic of death through genocide. As the book progresses, it shifts to a darker view of life as entire neighborhoods and communities are wiped out solely based on their ethnic background. It follows the slow, negative progression of one person in their community as they search for loved ones within a war-torn neighborhood. The mental anguish described as they venture deeper into the unknown is absolutely chilling.

      I found Small Country to be a very fulfilling read. When I was done reading this story, I sat with it for a bit a took a deep breath. It’s truly heartbreaking that people can be singled out and murdered because they are a different ethnicity. The fact that such crimes are still committed this present day are equally saddening. We can only stay aware of these tragedies and be thankful that there are places where their voices can be heard.     

Rating: 4/5 Stars