April OwlCrate Unboxing: The Dark Side

I’m so excited to receive my OwlCrate for the month of April! I received some special treats in this particular box, and I’m happy about the book I received!

Spoiler card for ‘The Dark Side’ Owl Crate
On right: Phone holder designed by Hey Atlas Creative

Center: Six of Crows socks, designed by Out of Print

Left: Enamel pin designed by Hey Atlas Creative
Scarf inspired by the Grishaverse, created by Bookmark’d Tattoos
‘Wicked Saints’ fabric book map

Hardcover notebook, inspired by Stella Bookish Art

Excerpt from ‘Finale’, by Stephanie Garber
Signed copy of ‘Wicked Saints’ by Emily A. Duncan

Letter from the author

The Breakfast Club Book Tag

I discovered this tag on The Bibliophagist’s page. When I was younger, I enjoyed watching The Breakfast Club. I loved finding out the quirks and secrets from each of the characters stuck in that detention hall!

Princess: a book that is very popular and pretty on the outside, but you thought was uninteresting on the inside

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‘In Her Shoes’ by Jennifer Weiner. This story features two sisters as they navigate life’s challenges and romantic misadventures. I really wanted to enjoy this novel, but I found myself disinterested after a few days.

Criminal: A book that looks/sounds rough and bad, but ended up completely stealing your heart

‘Six of Crows’ by Leigh Bardugo. It seemed like a story filled with unexpected events based on a heist, and that plot line usually doesn’t flow well with me. However, it turned out to be a story with captivating characters, and strong female roles. It was an amazing tale.

Brain: A book that made you think

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‘The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace’ by Jeff Hobbs. This story features the life of Robert Peace, a man living in an inner city who achieved graduating from Yale, but fell under difficult times in the years that followed. Despite his mother and school mentors doing everything possible to ensure his success in life, the pressure of instant gratification (and the temptation that accompanies it) overcomes him.

Basket Case: A book that people would call you crazy for reading

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‘Miss America’ by Howard Stern. He’s such a wild radio personality, but I enjoy his sense of humor! I read ‘Miss America’ and ‘Private Parts’. No regrets!

Athlete: A book that made you struggle/work to finish

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‘Minion (Vampire Huntress #1) by L.A. Banks. I began reading this book a few years ago, and couldn’t finish it. Last month I received it from the library, and I finished it in a week, but I realized that I wasn’t as eager to read it as I once was. I motivated myself to finish for the sake of finally figuring out the plot and what happened throughout the story. But it will be a while before I pick up Book 2.

Easter Book Tag

Happy Easter to those who celebrate! I discovered this tag from Crowing About Books.

Rabbit: A book you wish would multiply (a book you want a sequel to, but doesn’t have one)

I would love ‘The Oyster Thief’ to have a sequel! It was such an amazing story about adventure and becoming your own person, set within the underwater world.

Egg: A book that surprised you

I would say The Killing Dance (Anita Blake #6) by Laurell K. Hamilton was a story that surprised me. Anita is a vampire, and the series began with her steadfast on ridding the supernatural from her area, romance being the last on her mind. By the end of the novel Anita takes on a different perspective, and this begins the radical shift in Anita’s curiosities toward desire and sexual exploration with the supernatural.

Hunt: A book that was hard for you to get your hands on

I’m going to refer to a children’s book for this one! I was searching for ‘Ten Tiny Turtles’ by Emily Ford for my Toddler classroom. I owned it a couple years ago, but it fell apart because…well…toddlers+an accessible book on the shelf=no more book!
I was searching for months for another copy, but no luck. I finally discovered an extra copy in a bookshelf in one of the classrooms that’s only used during after school time. It’s a bit worn, but the pages are still intact!

Lambs: A children’s book you still enjoy

I love anything Snoopy/Peanuts related. And also the ‘Frog and Toad’ series. I can return to them at any time and feel happy.

Spring: A book with a cover that makes you thing of Spring

‘Snow Flower and the Secret Fan’ by Lisa See. It’s a memorable story of two women keeping an enduring relationship throughout the decades, communicating through codes passed on through memorable keepsakes.

Rising From the Dead: A book from a deceased author

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee. This story follows a young girl named Scout growing up in Alabama during the Great Depression. It captures the plight of racism in its raw, uncensored form.

Basket: A book that is in your Amazon cart or wish list right now

‘Crooked Kingdom’ by Leigh Bardugo. I can’t wait to read this story! I also have ‘Hollow City’ by Ransom Riggs story on this list. I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’.

Candy: A book that is sweet

‘One Day in December’ by Josie Silver. This story follows the lives of Laurie and Jack over a 10 year span, after a chance encounter at a bus stop in London. It’s equal parts sweet and heartbreaking.



‘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

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 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.

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…