Saturday, January 28, 2017

NoteworthyNoteworthy by Riley Redgate
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

NOTEWORTHY is a poignant story that explores bisexuality, manhood & womanhood, and the a capella environment. We start out with Jordan Sun, who is a junior trying to find her place in the world of Kensington. She feels like she's failed, because she's got rejected for a role every single time that she's auditioned for the musical. Plus to add to that, she is an Alto 2, which doesn't fit the regular "feminine" voice range, so it's seen like she's a lone wolf floating on an island.

One day she gets an email, that tells her that there's an opening into the Sharpshooters, an elite a capella group who is worshiped by the student on campus. Jordan wants nothing else then to feel a part of something, to stop feeling so isolated. There's only one problem: since the beginning of the groups's history, this has only been a male-only group.

Our main protagonist Jordan, feels so authentic, yet different then every other "rich" kid that's on campus. She Chinese America, has a taller height than average, and feels confident. There's realistic financial problems that she has to face; she came from a poor and underprivileged family, her father is disabled and mother has part-time job, and she's riding on a full scholarship and doesn't have the money for plane tickets.

This type of nuanced discussion needs to be happened more and more in YA. Bringing out the shame of relying on government programs to buy food and the inability to pay for college, perhaps help other people. They feel like they're not alone, they see Jordan that is "other" yet it also seems like the things that she's going through are realistic. This is reality for many people (like Jordan), and it needs to be more represented in the YA lit. that we are reading.

As a side note, the subplot of this book is romance, but it's definitely not the main focus. Her bisexuality isn't the main focus either, there isn't that much attention in that department. I'm ok with the author choosing not to really focus on that, because this is her artistic work, and Jordan's sexuality is only one part of her life.

What would really bother me is when I hear readers say (view spoiler). No way, you can't just go and invalidate that big part of their identity. You know what, I honestly did not feel the chemistry between her and her love interest at the end of the book, but she can be with whoever she wants. period. I can respect that and her decisions completely.

I could really connect to all of her anecdotes about being a theater kid and trying to audition her way into musicals and getting rejected. That's where the author hooked me on being deeply connected with Jordan as a character. I loved how Redgate put an emphasis on singing and a capella group, and how everything isn't as it looks like. There are points of rivalry and struggles and tension between the group members, which makes their humanity shine through. I mean, we all get that drama happens in choir, right?

**Thanks to NetGalley the publisher for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own**

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PachinkoPachinko by Min Jin Lee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Enter this sweeping multi-generational saga. For the first half of the book, I really did feel swept off my feet. For the second half however, I felt like the pacing was a little bit off. Whenever I thought of this book, I pictured a quilt, because of the way the author was able to do this with her writing style.

This story follows a Korean family who immigrate to Japan, and start out living in poverty. There are traditional arranged marriages, shameful pregnancy, and stories of forbidden and lost love embedded in this tale. We start this story out with Hoonie, an old child who was born with deformities. His parents being thankful that any marriage offer would come to them, so they accept. All during this time in 1910 Japan annexes itself from Korea, so times get even more financially tough.'

After having three newborn's that died, Hoonie becomes the proud father of our main character, Sunja. She is adored and praised on by her father, unusual in this specific culture. When she reaches the age of ten, her father suddenly and she is left to help around the inn with her single mother. When she's still under the age of eighteen, a foreign man notices her in the food market. From there she has a forbidden love affair that ends up in an unwanted pregnancy. And for reasons that are spoilery, she obviously can't be with the father. Isak Baek, a sickly minister that has been living in their inn offers to marry Sunja. Her mother must let her daughter go to Japan, knowing that this is the best thing for her reputation.

Filled with tragic dissolvement of family, motherly love and sacrifice, where education can get you. This story is told through the historical period of the discrimination, annexation from Japan, and the Great Depression that was going on worldwide through the lens of this family's story.

The first half kept me engaged and interested, but I felt like something was off about the pacing in the second half. Future generations are rushed and they story isn't given the full consideration that I feel like the author focused on in the first half. I would have liked for this book to dive into a little bit of the modern members of the families lives, as I feel that I could relate to that the most within the time period.

Also, my mistake in the timing that I personally read this book was that I started it on a readathon. Which was obviously the wrong choice, since this book is around 500 pages, a real doorstopper. So I found myself skimming, speed-reading, and not really soaking in the content the way that I wanted to because of my hastiness. That's why I feel like couldn't enjoy the reading experience to the fullest.

One word that I could use to describe this book would probably be eye-opening. I wasn't aware of the history that was going on in this time period in that part of the world, and I was definitely glad that I got to experience this insightful story.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a book in exchange for my honest review.**

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Monday, January 23, 2017

Leopard At The DoorLeopard At The Door by Jennifer McVeigh
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This review is going to be more of a rant... with bits of constructive criticism.
[trigger warnings: sexual harassment]

Rachel, the main character is weak and stupid. She continuously turns a blind eye to situations when the answers are literally in front of her face. The whole time, while poor Africans are suffering and dying, guess what Rachel whines about? She being the victim. Like we're supposed to throw a pity-party her way and wipe her tears. Puuhlease. It was her choice to move into this dangerous historical and geographical time and place, so why does she complain literally every second? Because this is first person we are left with a free stream to her innermost thoughts, and I found them completely dull and useless.

Like I understand her a little bit more as a character because the author tried their best to fill in a solid backstory, and how her experience shaped who she is. So in a sense I can understand how she becomes and grows up as she is, but I felt 0 emotional connection to this character. Absolutely none.

The only solid thing that was written in this book in my opinion was the setting: Kenya. But honestly, this book wasn't focused on that either. I had a ton of negative opinions in what places this book went. All of the characters were very unlikable, I hated all of them for different reasons. This "dysfunctional family" thing that we have going, is really not my cup of tea, and as I realized what the dynamic is, I looked on with disgust.

Rachel's father completely ignored and invalidated his daughter, and the reason that she came all the way out here was to be with him. Sara, was a manipulative fiance who didn't felt like she sucked out the breathing air in the room. But what bothered me the most, the worst thing about this book, is that they killed the best and most authentic character in this book: Harold. And the reason why was that he happened to be supposedly gay and of course the author just had to kill him off. You don't even understand how many frustrated fumes where coming out when I read that scene. I can't, I just can't.

Thanks to NetGalley for the publisher for providing me with a copy of this in exchange for my honest review.

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Diverseathon is here! (and my post is a little bit late, apologies). This time around I deliberately chose to focus on areas of the world that I feel are lacking in my personal reading life, so all of these are set in Asia or about Asian people. But nonetheless I am so very excited to be participating in this lovely readathon and the accompanying Twitter chats! I have a very loose TBR, meaning that it may or may not change depending on my mood and speed during the week. Here goes my selections!

Min Jin Lee is a Korean American, and her book features a Korean women who moves to Japan. I actually found out that apparently she wrote this novel while living in Japan, so I think that the narrative is definitively in ownvoices hands, and I'm so intrigued to get started! Has gotten high praise from Junot

This is a memoir of a South Vietnamese women, who was born in Saigon. It's being described as a 15 chapter immigration epic, and it's a graphic novel so should be interesting and keep me engaged.

The next book from Pulitzer price winning author, Viet Thanh Nguyen, who is a Vietnamise American man. It's the story of adoption and being a refugee and all of those topics surrounding immigration. This is the one that I'm probably most excited about!

In this book, the main character is a bisexual Chinese American women who (obviously) love to sing and is studying music in her performing arts school. She's trying to get into an esteemed school's elite a cappella, and it's all boys. This one has been highly recommended in the community so I'm uber ready to jump in.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Human ActsHuman Acts by Han Kang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Is it true that human beings are fundamentally cruel? Is the experience of cruelty the only thing we share as a species? Is the dignity that we cling to nothing but self-delusion, masking from ourselves the single truth: that each one of us is capable of being reduced to an insect, a ravening beast, a lump of meat? To be degraded, slaughtered - is this the essential of humankind, one which history has confirmed as inevitable?”

One of the most intense books that I have ever read!

This book... oh man, it educated me, challenged me, and made me look at history through a different lens. Rethink humanity in ways that I hadn't thought about before. What a powerful unforgettable telling of history. The author focused on portraying the reality of oppression in an almost poetic tone. It's hard to put into words, how much of an impact this book can have on people's life. Suffice it to say, go read it!

When I read this quote^, it seemed to summarize the message of this book: that cruelty is inevitable and a part of humankind. Here we follow six povs, exploring the effects and repercussions of the Gwangju Uprising of 1980, and how that had an effect throughout the years. At the center of this novel, is a touching story about Dong-ho's tragic end. If I'm completely honest, I knew nothing about South Korean history, because in the time period that this was set, I wasn't even born yet, nor did anyone teach me this.

Not all the POVs were as interesting as I would have liked them to be. For example, the one with the publishing editor I found to be quite boring because I didn't feel like it had a lot to contribute to the overall story. While the one with Dong-ho's best friend was a fascinating concept, and one of my favorite parts of the book as a whole.

My only negative with this book, was that at some parts I was so completely confused as to where the connection was in the multiple story lines. I know that it wasn't supposed to feel this way, but I thought that the vignettes read as short stories to me, and because this took me a couple of days to finish; I felt quite disoriented. But you know what, this book isn't meant to be read in one sitting, y'know? It's brutal and heartbreaking and gut-wrenching, and sometimes things got a little bit too violently graphic for me personally.

Want to give credit to the amazing Deborah Smith who translated this work so beautifully. I really believe that this book will go on to win awards, and all deservedly so.

**Thanks to NetGalley and BloggingForBooks for publishing me a copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinion are my own.**

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

This is my first time participating in the #24in48 readathon ever and I'm so excited! Let me just note that I have participated in a one very similar to it, called Dewey's 24 Readathon if you're familiar at all with that! On average, I usually finish 3-4 book in this time-span, but let's get onto my TBR!
A couple of interesting facts that I've noticed about my selection:
3 out of 4 are debuts
3 out of 4 are 2017 releases and e-ARCs
3 out of 4 are above 300 pages (uggh I don't know about this one)
"Beloved author Brunonia Barry returns to the world of THE LACE READER with this spellbinding new thriller, a complex brew of suspense, seduction and murder." (blurb from NetGalley)

A mystery thriller about murder? Enough to keep my blood going. I don't know, nor do I want to know anything else going into to this, suffice it to say that I'm uber excited to get started!

Page Count: 432
Pub. Date: Jan. 24, 2017 from Crown 

"For readers of Meg Wolitzer and Adelle Waldman, and in the tradition of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, comes a bold and vibrant debut novel about friendship, art, ambition—and the secrets we keep and the burdens we shed on the road to adulthood." (blurb from NetGalley)

Apparently this book features art, as noticed on the cover and it about female friendship which are tangly and complicated... mmm my favorite! 

Page Count: 384
Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017 from Random House

"In his debut novel, YouTube personality and author of We Should Hang Out Sometime Josh Sundquist explores the nature of love, trust, and romantic attraction."

From what I can tell, the main character in this book is blind, hence why the title is what it is. I'm interested to see how the disability is represented, and if I'm feeling up to a lighter read, a romance, then I'll be looking to pick this up!

Page Count: 281
Pub. Date: Jan. 3, 2017 from Little Brown

An exquisitely told, authentic YA debut about family secrets, the shadow of fame, and finding your own way.

This book is going to be my backup book, when my eyes inevitably get tired from reading my Kindle literally all day. I think that this synopsis has me intrigued, (another female friendship going on) and especially the element of band members. 

Page Count: 352
Pub. Date: Nov. 29, 2016 from HarperTeen

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Burning BrightBurning Bright by Nicholas Petrie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A psychological suspense thriller, something that was right up my alley it seemed. Here we follow an investigative journalist, June whose mother got killed in a supposed hit and run accident. During the duration of the book, she finds mysterious agencies pursuing her for their own agenda. Her life's in the hands of Peter, who is a veteran from Iraq with PTSD.

This book is very tangly in the sense of political intrigue and government conspiracies, but something was missing. Sure there was something that I would consider as “thrill of the chase”, but that’s not my favorite part of the book. My favorite part was definitively when June repeatedly outsmarted the “bad guys” and was one step ahead of the game in some sense, in others; not.

The worst part in my opinion was the romance, because I just didn’t feel the chemistry. And honestly, I thought that detracted from the main plotline. So many times throughout their sex scenes, I was thinking that this is not the time for this, you are running for your life and might get killed. Like romance is unnecessary as a subplot in this book so I don’t know why it’s even in there.

Coming into this series, I actually wasn’t aware that this was a second book. But let me say that I think that Peter is a pretty messed up character, despite his protective intention. I really do hope that he goes and fixes himself up before he is ready to face “domestic civilization”. That’s why I thought that the ending was thoughtfully done, in a way that opened the door into the next continuation. Let’s just say that I’m not interested in going to read the first book or the next book in the future; I feel indifferent about what will happen in this series.

Honestly, this book felt like an action movie. It only slowed down for the last 100 pages at the end there, where there was a lot of sitting around and waiting. But still, I wouldn’t be surprised if readers alike imagine this as one of those high-dramatic plot-filled action sagas.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for my honest review.**

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Dumbledore Army Readathon Wrap Up

I had an amazing experience with #DAReadathon, honestly can't think of when I was this committed to a Team (Gryffindor) and stayed motivated but also had so much fun!
I read 5 out of 7 of my original TBR and read 10 books that are eligible here. Here's my brief rundown:


Humorous, poignant, perceptive, and full of grace, Kathleen Collins’s stories masterfully blend the quotidian and the profound in a personal, intimate way, exploring deep, far-reaching issues—race, gender, family, and sexuality—that shape the ordinary moments in our lives. (Synopsis from Goodreads)


Pages: 192
Fulfills Expecto Patronum 

"excellent representation of a dark time in history"


Pages: 240
Fulfills Reducto

In This One Summer two stellar creators redefine the teen graphic novel. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of her teen age — a story of renewal and revelation.(Synopsis from Goodreads)


Pages: 320
Placed in Stupefy because it won the Caldecott Honor Awards

"insightful coming-of-age many moments where I was just laughing out loud at the quirky things"
Pages: 240

The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indeliably drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day. (Synopsis from Goodreads)
Pages: 305
Fulfills Impedimenta 

"an artistic masterpiece that will rethink how I interpret things"
Pages: 272

"A heart-pounding important story that made my head spin with thoughtful pondering about current issues."
Pages: 480
Going to place this under Protego

"I don’t even understand yet how deeply this novel has empowered me. "
Pages: 193

"Let me start by saying that I really wanted to love this book, that I was just so excited to have this book and that already so in love with the cover!*insert sad face here*"
Pages: 400
Fullfills Lumos

"Dark and twisty, this book made my spine tingle with the creepy anticipation that it built up."
Pages: 208
Fulfills Expelliarmus  

Spindle (A Thousand Nights, #2)Spindle by E.K. Johnston
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book was a major disappointment from the first one; it just fell flat for me.I think the the problem was that the author was trying too hard to live up to her first magnificent novel, and this one didn’t live up with the characters, plot, or writing. Regarding the writing style, it was not poetic, instead being dialogue-heavy and simply predictable.

Set thousands of years later, although the setting is still the “Kingdom of Sleep”, this companion novel follows a group of two teenagers who are like family, across the wilderness of the mountains and the dusty desert. They’re on a mission to get to Little Rose and break the curse that is plaguing the weavers and the land.

This is a retelling of sorts, but in my opinion the two major events are similar to what happened in Rapunzel and the Beauty and the Beast. Yashaa our MC and romantic involved partner is basically risking his life to accomplish this mission, but honestly this type of retelling that leans towards tropey isn’t anything new to YA fantasy/. The chemistry of Little Rose and Yashaa is unremarkable and didn’t stick with me in any way. I didn’t feel like this “love” was swoon-worthy even though I badly wanted to. Instead, I felt like it was rushed, done mostly out of duty/obligation, and distracting to what was going on in the main plotline.

The “squad” as I like to think of them in my head, is a tightly bonded group of survivalists who also are teenagers . I’m sorry, I just find it pretty realistic that four young adults were able to do what they were able to pull of but thank god the author inserted something (view spoiler) I still wanted more character development from all of them individually though.

Plotting and pacing was not thought-out well or planner out, because literally for 99% of the book we see them walking and talking. Thanks for reminding again and again that they are just doing the thing every day of this journey. I’ve come to realize that I always hate when there’s physically/geographical journey that happens because it drags on and on. Maybe it’s just not my thing.

In recap: Nothing happened, this is a meh-bleh book.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review**

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Falconer (The Falconer, #1)The Falconer by Elizabeth May
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

After reading so many high fantasy YA, you get to recognize thinly-veiled tropes that happen all.the.time. And to be frank, it gets boring and expected and dry, until you don’t see the point of continuing now with the story, when the romantic interest takes over the thoughts and sensibilities of the main character. Here’s a washed out synopsis of this book: the “Chosen One” is going to have to fight out an event that the “end of the world.” There is a love triangle between the “bad boy” and “childhood best friend” and both are extremely protective of our capable female protagonist.

Aileana is just an average character, who was actually unlikeable in my eyes. Did she need to be so extremely stubborn? She was not the bad-ass heroine character type that I was expected; she was very much clothed in privilege and kept on bragging about what number/how many faeries she had killed and her many battle wound scar. Like lady, this is not a contest and no one really cares what the exact number is, okay?

The romance was almost non-existent and I was never on board anyways, because I never really knew if what she felt was actually legitimate. At the beginning she was so opposed to falling in love with a dark powerful Fae, because after all they are monsters without feelings. But as the story goes on and she sees “glimpses or flashes into his emotions” she realizes that there’s more to him then at first view. Obviously the romance happens and a love triangle develops, but I could never feel the chemistry between her and Kiaran. Doesn’t she know that she could be faestruck this whole time, or that it would be less complicated if the relationship stayed strictly platonic like it had for the past year?

I would say that there are two elements that redeem this book in the slightest. The setting in Scotland is enchanting, although I still thought that the author could have gone farther with that to describe the specific colors, senses, smells, etc. Also I love me a revenge plot, because this whole book was essentially fueled by the death of Aileana’s mother by an evil faery which triggered her darkness and thirst to kill along with her thirst for revenge. At least the author made her motivations crystal clear.

The steampunk element was overlooked by me personally, I actually didn’t even recognize it until a reviewer pointed this out, and I’d rather that the author wanted to overdo do it then underwhelm it, which is exactly what ended up happening here. I always knew that the character liked fixing and tampering with things, but I just didn’t think that it was anything more than a hobby.

The buildup to the climax and then that horrible cliffhanger ultimately ruined this book for me. Why does the character literally do nothing, only sits around and waits for days to countdown for this “thing” to happen? There is no action except a couple of fights at the beginning, and then later on it was all her going to balls and keeping up appearances. Then that horrible cliffhanger, I thought that it had just cut off my galley early. Nope, that was the real ending which was literally in the middle of the climax scene. If this is a ploy to get me to read book two, it’s not going to work.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for my honest review.**

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Juliet Takes a BreathJuliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t even understand yet how deeply this novel has empowered me. I didn’t know that I needed this wake-up call until I got it feel onto my lap, and now I’m standing at the end of this beautiful journey in awe of the power in the voice of Juliet.

The representation in this book is excellently portrayed and sorely needed. The main character, a WOC Latina that is finding out who she is within the LGBT community. A coming-of-age story where the MC from Bronx goes on an internship with a bestselling feminist in Portland. Self-discovery, insecurities, and finding your voice all get explored in this touching story.

In every story, if it exists, the thing that makes it shine brighter is strong female friendships. One that really stood out to me was the sisterhood between Juliet and her cousin Eva. All the time, I was like: “I wish Eva could be my sister.” What she did was she broke things down for Juliet, terms and pronouns and identities, etc. in the LGBT community. She continually supported and stood by Juliet, gave her some of the most helpful advice ever, and showed her the naked truth. Let it be known that I am a big admirer of the bold and empowed Eva.

Some of my favorite parts passages where about how the strong women around don’t give a fuck and love fiercely and are trying to be supportive. Seeing all of the life lessons that other people can give and the LGBT inclusive community (there was a specific party) made my eyes almost tear.

“It's about women of color owning their own space and their voices being treated with dignity and respect. It's about women of color not having to shout over voices to be heard. We are the dominant force almost all the time. White women are the stars of all the movies. White women are the lead speakers in feminist debates, and it's little white girls that send the nation into a frenzy when they've been kidnapped. ...check your privilege. We're the ones that need to give women of color space for their voices.”

This is the most powerful quote about feminism that I have read in such a long time. This stresses the importance of intersectional feminism and how we (white women) need to give the stage for the voices of WOC and be constantly checking our privilege. In my opinion, this is the most valuable lesson that I learned from this novel, and for that I will be forever grateful.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy in exchange for my honest review.**

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Lucky BoyLucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Sometimes the things that happen can be changed. Sometimes they cannot. Which time is this?”

A heart-pounding important story that made my head spin with thoughtful pondering about current issues.

A very strong theme is this book was the timely topic of immigration, and the different stories out there and recognize those differences. Both of these characters were immigrants of from an immigrant family, therefore this was a topic that was of personal interest to them. The character of Soli seemed so realistic and the experience is so raw that I couldn’t look away and ignore what type of injustices and discrimination was being played out for her. Personally, I was rooting for Soli the whole time and because the author provided a solid backstory, we could understand her motivations more.

Mother’s love is such a powerful thing that is central to this story. Many times I was just in awe and wonder of the things that mothers have to do, alone, to get their child to the best possible place with them that they can. For me, this was a touching study of what it means to be a mother who desperately loves her child so much that she would move the world for him.

Ahh, I can't believe how many emotions I went through reading this story of an illegal immigrant with a son that she desperately loved but was placed in foster care. We are presented with two women, both who throughout the stories becomes the mother to this "lucky boy" Ignacio. I was so torn between what I wanted the ending to be, although the author gave plenty of clues and foreshadowing as to what would happen in the end. There are alternative POVs between Kavya and Soli and also the secondary character Rishi.

Well, we know that the author did her research and this story is actually based on a story that actually happened, which I find interesting to see what kinds of things are a source of inspiration. There are Mexicans and Indians that are part of the various characters identity, and my little heart was overjoyed that this diverse book that was written by an ownvoices author is being published. I'm so thankful that I got to read this deeply insightful story.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinion are my own.**

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Piecing Me TogetherPiecing Me Together by Renée Watson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book truly took my breath away. It’s an artistic masterpiece that may be rethink how I interpret things. I went into this book extremely excited to be reading an ownvoices book with a black MC. And honestly, I couldn't get over how authentic and lyrical this voice sounds.

Our main protagonist, Jade is a student at a mostly white high school, who is living in a suburb of Portland and all she wants to do is succeed and travel and be able to express herself in art. She’s accepted the scholarships that come her way, and applied herself to SAT prep, all the usual. Her single mother and her live in a “bad” or impoverished neighborhood and so her school counselor considers her “at risk” so she suggests a Women to Women mentorship program.

Covering issues of race, discrimination,art, friendship, and feminism this book opens your eyes to different environments and how they affect who lives there. I just honestly can’t get over how wide-spanning this book it, and how much it meant for me to be able to read it!

The female friendships in this story were so solid, that I wanted Jade to come over here and be my friend. Although there are many struggles with communication, at the end Jade learns to speak up for herself so that the others can understand what she’s feeling in response to the things that are happening around her. Happily, I noticed an immediate undertone of feminism, for how Jade act day-to-day and what the mentorship program was teaching her.

Also, there was a lot of components mentioned about identify. I believe that Jade mentions herself a “thick” person, and how she doesn’t see herself represented in media that often. There are fat-positive messages that are in play here, and I could really appreciate that because I know that there’s a need for more of these types of narratives.

I came to truly root for her as a character, I wanted her to be a successful artist that loved making her black art while still helping support her mother. I came to admire her strength in the face of micro-aggression and oppression that she faced on a daily basis. I came to love her creativity and deep insight into the collages and art that she created. Basically, I fell in love with Jade and I feel like she is a character that will stay close in my mind.

There are no words to describe the reading experience of this book, except when you truly step into someone else's shoes and look through their glasses, you feel that type of life-changing empathy that in turn changes you.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinion are my own.**

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Kindred: A Graphic Novel AdaptationKindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Octavia E. Butler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For my first graphic novel read ever, this was a heavy but excellent representation of a dark time in history. While it's hard to call this "great reading experience" as sometimes that experience was painful, I could enjoy the story for what is was meant to be. I read the original book "Kindred" by Octavia Butler a couple of years ago and I just remember being so moved by this book that I was sobbing. I truly felt connected to the characters and the time travel aspect, etc. I apologize in advance if a majority of this review might be to compare the novel to the adaptation, that's just how my brain things.

Even with my high expectations, this graphic novel really brought it to life. I enjoyed flipping through all of the images on the pages, although I do have to admit that it was an intense graphic experience. Would not recommend this for the younger readers, but you know that going into this.
The characters were always the ones who made it for me in this graphic novel retelling, and in the original as well. They come alive, their motivations and struggles and victories become crystal clear when shown on the page. I could root for them, admire them, despise them. Surprisingly, I had more feelings this time because of how blatant the racism was and how graphic the violence was portrayed.

I didn't really mind this, but I have noticed that there is bigger emphasis on dialogue, meaning that there is a lot of it in every single comic strip. It would probably take your longer to dissect than the average graphic novel that is more fixed on the images, but what do I know?
One thing that was a slight bit negative, was that it was hard to keep track of the side characters. Visually, I had a hard time of placing names with faces and kept losing track of who's who. But again, that's a "me" thing, not a fault of the author or artist.

Another thing that I would have liked to be a bit more concise what the time lines were portrayed as. Looking back, there wasn't that much of a difference between the mid 1900s and 1700s? in the images.

Overall, if you're on the fence of seeing your favorite classic turn into a graphic novel adaptation, this one is worth taking a shot, even though we all know it will never be as good as the beloved novel, nevertheless is was a worthy representation.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange of my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

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The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch, #1)The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Let me start by saying that I really wanted to love this book, that I was just so excited to have this book and that already so in love with the cover!

One thing that the author did an excellent job at was worldbuilding. We were introduced to a completely unique world of magic, that is intruiging concept of imagination to my mind. We spent so much time in training school with our main protagonist Tea, that I truly felt like I was being prepared in the practice of Dark Asha magic. The author's voice feels authentic, like a storyteller, since really we have all of the book coming from Tea's perspective in a story of my life format.

I found the alternating timelapses of this plot extremely confusing, and I still haven't figured out some fragments of it. We switch back between two POVs from what happened in the past in Tea's life, to current day plans with Bard. In novels with these two seperate timelines, I feel like there should be a connecting point, right? Even with trying to close-read, I just couldn't find that point of connection that I was looking for in the whole book.

Something that I found extremely unrealistic was the way that Tea has "instalove" with Prince Kalan. I'm sorry, I have ranted about how much I hate instalove, how much I hate instalove, and how much I hate instalove. The thing is, this romance didn't even make sense. These two people see eachother for like 3 experiences total in the book, which I didn't think that "sparks flied" (ex. no kissing, no "i love yous",). Let me be clear, I'm not saying that romance is supposed to be physical, not at all, but I couldn't even identify the friendship here. All of these things later on when Tea was like "I would be willing to die for you" just didn't make sense. The romantic subplot was pushed far to the wayside, which I can understand, but then it's expected to be the main things that propels future Tea forwards. I just don't get it, I can't wrap my head around it...

And then also she forgot all of her other siblings in her old life. Now, I may be mistaken but I believe that she had three or four sisters, mom & dad, and after she changes locations to study and train for the rest of her life, we have barely any mention of her being homesick or her missing her parents. Sure, her brother is with her at all times, but she doesn't even seem to treasure their time (because of constricitions) when he's around. Realistically, not knowing much about her family relationships, you still should be showing some thoughts or emotions about the topic of "home" right?
The thing is, for most of the book nothing significant happened, I can't pinpoint when the climax happened (or if there even was one). At the point of about 50%, I was completely ready to DNF and would have if I hadn't read up on some more positive reviews that I found on Goodreads. But nothing more interesting happened after that, so I could conclude that the pacing was done too slowly and the story was being drawn out too long.

The ending was just so irrational, I don't understand the character, I don't understand why she's doing what she's doing... I couldn't wrap my head around what exactly she's doing fundamentally. I didn't know this, but I just found that there is a second book in the works that is probably going to be prone to explaining more of this, but at this point I'm not interested. What's the first book for then to establish the fundamental premise, right?

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange of my honest review.**

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Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Clancys of Queens: A MemoirThe Clancys of Queens: A Memoir by Tara Clancy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

[actual rating: 4.5 stars]

I just finished this insightful coming-of-age memoir this morning in one sitting. The writing style felt like rambling anecdotes, which I thought that it was very realistic and extremely funny. Snippets of her life, we don't go chronologically but we see these memories and moments of time that were important to her upbringing. There were so many moments where I was just laughing out loud at the quirky things that her Irish-Italian family displayed.

Tara Clancy grew up in diverse Queens, but split her time between three households. She fondly describes herself as a chameleon and I could appreciate her idea of "undeterred", moving around all the time and social strata hopping, but saying that the people in her life kept her "tethered".That whole concept I felt like was one of the key ideas to this book, although the most important part in my opinion was the portrayal of middle-class working women in NYC. I know that may sound pretty typical, right? but I personally don't read many memoirs that are celebrity memoirs talking about their career and late life.

One thing that just made this book for me was the authentic and diverse cast of character. I loved getting to know her grandma who was a non-sense tough Italian lady. I loved seeing Tara's relationship with her mother grow and develop as the years when on, and what an accepting mother-daughter relationship could do to it. She has 40 first cousins, so because her family is huge it was always extremely amusing to see how their family celebrated various holidays.

After reading this, I really respect her as a person. She got so much love and acceptance from her family, that helped shape her to be the strong and confident women that she is today. I would highly recommend this memoir to biography/memoir lovers, because you will feel yourself be immersed and connected to her story. At least I know that I did.

**Thanks you to Blogging for Books and Penguin Random House for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange of my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

DuplicityDuplicity by Sibel Hodge
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an intriguing thriller to say at the least. The only problem that I had was I really felt like it was circular thinking and writing. So many times we analyze and go over the same narrative over and over again, to the point that I started skimming those parts. I understand that from the perspective of the police officer, he's only doing his job, but the author made him over-analyze and emphasize it in his head.

My first problem, which is my personal mistake, is that I got extremely confused with who our "mysterious" other POV was. For some reason, I don't that it was childhood flashbacks of DS Warren Carter. So for some weird reason, maybe until the middle of the story, I was dragging along my idea that this is told from a single POV, until I realized that this was a separate antagonist. That ruined the suspense of reading most of the first half of this thriller.

As psychological thrillers go, I thought that the outcome here was pretty unrealistic and coincidental. This "plot twist" is the type of thing that makes national news on TV (in my opinion) meaning that this wasn't a typical or ordinary case at all. Generally, I found myself staring at my Kindle in disbelief when the final reveal came because I just couldn't wrap my head around exactly how this happened.

I was ten years old when he made me commit murder.

Also, I know that this is part of the plotline, but some of the animal abuse that happened me, got really graphic and annoyed me. I know that this was a "plot device" to make an excuse for one character to become a vegan, and I can understand why the author would use that trauma. However, as a vegetarian myself I don't want to go into a book being specifically triggered in the descriptions of animal slaughter. No thank you.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for my honest review.**

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Things We Lost in the Fire: StoriesThings We Lost in the Fire: Stories by Mariana Enríquez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dark and twisty, this book made my spine tingle with the creepy anticipation that it built up. The atmosphere was so raw and real, that this book felt like one of those ghost stories that people tell around a campfire, you know will be your nightmares.

However, I've noticed that I've been developing an appetite to consume these types of books lately. They intrigue me and in the end, I just can't peel my eyes away. I am so glad that this deserving book was translated and now will be published everywhere, for all to enjoy.The last story was my favorite, and it's the title story called "Things We Lost in the Fire." It's a haunting tale and I think that it will stay with me for a long time, to ponder and rethink my life as it is.

The only reason why I took of one full star is because some of the descriptions felt a little bit too graphic for my taste. Sure, they made the plot and events seem more eerie, but personally some of the things mentioned really made me want to vomit (with no fault to the writer, just my personal fear or seeing these types of things).

In my opinion, all of the stories were extremely creepy and there was not one particularly bad all. All of them fit into the theme of the collection, which I is all about the "dark side of humanity" and what remains in the unknown. If that's what you're looking for, you won't be disappointed.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me an arc in exchange for my honest review.**

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Monday, January 2, 2017

Midnight Without a MoonMidnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jackson skillfully weaves two tales, one about the historical tragic moment in the civil right movement: the death of Emmett Till and then a fiction plotline with Rose Carter Lee struggling to find her own identity in the plantation in Stillwater, Mississippi that she lives in with her family under the Jim Crow's laws.

This book is so damn hard to describe. If I had to though, I would say that it's expansive, and also alters your perspective on the death of Emmett Till. Believe or not, my newly acquired habit of not reading the synopsis proved to kind of be a downfall to my enjoyment of this book(yes, it's my fault.) I understood that this was historical fiction, but because I didn't research further I was quite disoriented at what is happening in this story. And now I regret that, but the blame to place is honestly all mine.

Moving on, for a debut novel the writing was stunningly immersive. Honestly, I could not tear my eyes away from the story; in fact I read it all in one sitting. I could deeply connect with Rose, the main character who feels insecure and unworthy and wants to find herself and her freedom. In my opinion, the core of this story is what it means to be a black girl living in the Deep South during the 50s. But one may argue, as the synopsis says that it's about how a murder can shake up and change someone's lives. Whether or not I personally understood the author's intent, I still really enjoyed this based on my own interpretation.

So many emotions ran through my heart from horrifying to bold. This book is definitively worth picking up and reading, because there's nothing like trying to learn something new, something from a different experience. I can't wait for the sequel!

*This interview was enlightening from NPR. It's around 6 minutes long and the author eloquently talks about her motivations and explains the various character roles: *

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.**

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Dumbledore's Army Readathon TBR

I am participating in this wonderfully diverse readathon that Aentee over @readatmidnight has created. It will runs from January 1-January 15 and I very excited to rack up as many points as possible for Team Gryffindor. Now, let's just jump in, shall we?

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? by Kathleen Collins
I chose this book from Book of the Month club because I know several friends that are in an interracial relationship, and so this topic was of great interest to me. It is a newly discovered work of art written by a feminist in the 60-80s I believe. This is a short collection of short stories, so it should be perfect to kick off my readathon with.

This book is a collection of short stories that feature Argentine women doing things. This is a debut novel and the author is also Argentinian so it could fall under #ownvoices. I have personally never read a contemporary that is set in Argentina, so this is definitively a new experience for me. Have heard a lot of buzz about this, so I am very excited to be picking this one up soon!

This book was so inspirational back when I first read it, I think that it's the reason that I became a feminist. I would like to go back and reread it, as I feel I will also benefit a lot on the second try. The TED talk that inpsired this is absolute gold, so I would also highly reccomend watching that before reading this book!

I literally squealed when I saw that my NetGalley request of this had been accepted. I clearly remember my reading experience with Kindred, and when I found out that it was going to be a graphic novel I almost fainted of joy. This should be a harrowing visual portrayal that is extremely inclusive to women. Drooling commence!

For my birthday, I went to a local(ish) Barnes and Nobles and purchased this highly recommended book which was incidentally on sale. I've yet to read this book, but I am very enthusiastic to try out the generational concept. As I've said, I've been keeping my eye on this one for far too long and I am so ready to get started into it with this readathon. 

This debut book has been plastered everywhere all over the bookish internet. I actually won an ebook copy of this from Twitter, so it also gave me an extra incentive to push and read it. I'm very excited to be seeing a character from the LGBT community being represented here, and again I truly hope that this book will live up to it's hype!

Funny story, I actually attended a whole Twitter chat dedicated to this book, where various book bloggers were obviously recommending it. Yet, I haven't picked it up but I think that it's prime time to get immersed into this fantasy world. (any hardcore fantasy nerds out there?) Also, as a fun fact this beautiful cover was voted on NetGalley as #1 cover of the year, so there's that.