#5OnMyTBR: Mystery Books

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#5OnMyTBR is a bookish meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook and you can learn more about it here or in the post announcing it. It occurs every Monday when we post about 5 books on our TBR.

The prompt for today is…mystery books. Looking at my TBR made me realize that I don’t read mystery very often. These were essentially the only mystery books I could find. Three come from a fantastic series by Kat Ross and the others I don’t remember adding on Goodreads. Anyway, I’m glad that I was able to explore this genre on my TBR because I realized that during my break from blogging and reading I missed out on 3 releases from Kat Ross! I love her books and now need to catch up ASAP!

Have you read any of these books? If so, what were your thoughts on them?

Review | Dear Girl by Aija Mayrock

I received this audiobook for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

49992195Dear Girl by Aija Mayrock

Release date: April 7th, 2020
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Genres: Poetry
Format: Audiobook

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Dear Girl is a journey from girlhood to womanhood through poetry
It is the search for truth in silence
The freeing of the tongue
It is deep wounds and deep healing
And the resilience that lies within us
It is a love letter
To the sisterhood

Dear Girl is a fantastic collection of powerful poetry that focused on uplifting girls and women. The poems were short but you could really tell that each word was carefully chosen. The subject manner wasn’t new. I’ve seen it in other contemporary poetry collections, but there was just something so impactful about Mayrock’s words. They are short but brutally honest and discuss many issues that impact the lives of women around the world. 

“Dear girl,
You ask me what I wish for you.
I simply say –
Never allow any soul to clip your wings
You were not born an ember,
You were born a flame.”

The poems are a call to action. They are inspiring, empowering and make you want to rise up and speak out! I experienced this poetry collection as an audiobook and I think that really contributed to this feeling of wanting to do something and take action. The author narrated it herself and spoken word poetry has also been a favourite of mine. Her voice is so emotive and full of power. I felt her sadness, anger, happiness, etc. But more importantly, I felt like I was listening to a close friend tell me about her hopes and dreams. Listening to the author made it more personal. I just planned on listening to the collection while making dinner but ended up finishing it in one sitting. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, that’s how beautiful and powerful the poems were! 

“Dear everyone,
Grab ahold of your voice. 
it is time to make a choice 
to believe survivors
to pay us all the same 
to give women of color equal access and opportunity
to protect the safety of trans girls everyday. 
Make the choice to change the climate. 
Make the choice to not stay silent.
This is not the era of girls, 
this is the future of girls.”

I highly recommend this collection, especially the audiobook, to lovers of spoken word poetry. Also, since the writing and topics are within a similar vein, if you have enjoyed Amanda Lovelace’s poems, I think you’d also enjoy these as well.


About the Author

010a1965Aija Mayrock is a 19-year-old girl who experienced bullying firsthand. Instead of letting her experiences break her down, she channeled her positive energy into writing and self-publishing The Survival Guide to Bullying, where she shares the strategies that helped her survive and thrive. Aija writes about how to handle bullying, cyberbullying, dealing with fear, personal safety, and ultimately creating the life that you dream of having. Aija is also an accomplished screenwriter. Her film Diego received a Silver Key from Scholastic’s Art and Writing Awards.

Website | Instagram | Goodreads

Book Tag: My Life in Books

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I really love this tag! I saw it posted on Finally Got Around To It a few weeks ago. It was so much fun to put together. Looking for specific books allowed me to reflect on what I’ve read in the past and explore which books I have on my TBR from ages ago. So, without further delay, here is my life in books!


1. FIND A BOOK FOR EACH OF YOUR INITIALS

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2. COUNT YOUR AGE ALONG YOUR BOOKSHELF

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3. PICK A BOOK SET IN YOUR CITY/COUNTRY

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4. PICK A BOOK THAT REPRESENTS A DESTINATION YOU’D LOVE TO TRAVEL TO

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5. PICK A BOOK THAT HAS YOUR FAVORITE COLOR ON IT

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6. WHICH BOOK DO YOU HAVE THE FONDEST MEMORIES OF?

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7. WHICH BOOK DID YOU HAVE THE MOST DIFFICULTY READING?

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8. WHICH BOOK ON YOUR TBR PILE WILL GIVE YOU THE MOST ACHIEVEMENT WHEN YOU FINISH IT?

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#5OnMyTBR: Long Books

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#5OnMyTBR is a bookish meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook and you can learn more about it here or in the post announcing it. It occurs every Monday when we post about 5 books on our TBR.

The prompt for today is…long books. For me, a long book is one that has more than 400 pages. I usually find them to be quite intimidating, especially in digital form. Physically you can see your progress and there’s something very satisfying about that. Anyway, here are five long books that I have on my TBR.

What do you consider to be a long book? Have you read any of these books? If so, what were your thoughts on them?

July Wrap Up!

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SOME THOUGHTS

It’s been so wonderful to be able to start this blog up again! I’ve missed blogging a lot. Even more so, I’ve missed reading and have so many amazing books to catch up on. Working at home has allowed me to evaluate how I spend my time. Before I was honestly overwhelmed with work, my baby, household chores, extracurricular activities, volunteering, etc. I didn’t know how to balance everything and find time for myself. Being able to sit down with a cup of coffee in the morning and read has been a lifesaver. Teaching online and the whole pandemic has caused a lot of stress and anxiety. However, since I’ve started to take the time for myself I’ve felt so much better. Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful August. Happy reading! 🙂


BOOKS HAULED


BOOKS READ

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust | ♥♥♥♥♥
Dear Girl by Aija Mayrock | ♥♥♥♥
Love Looks Pretty on You by Lang Leav | ♥♥♥♥♥


August TBR


POSTS

Reviews:

The Gilded Wolves · A Blade So Black · Romanov · Welcome to Ghost Town

Other:

The NOPE! Book Tag · #5OnMyTBR · Stuck At Home Book Tag ·  Completed Series I Have Started But Haven’t Finished · June Book Haul

The NOPE! Book Tag

Book Blitz_ (4)I saw this tag while looking through my WordPress Reader and thought it would be fun to vent about some of the books and tropes that bother me. Let’s do this!

I found this tag on Upside-Down Books. I highly recommend visiting her wonderful blog and showing it some love.


NOPE! Ending: a book ending that made you go NOPE either in denial, rage or simply because the ending was crappy

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I’m still confused by the ending of this book! Argh…just thinking about it makes me angry. Such a waste of time!

NOPE! Protagonist: a main character you dislike and drives you crazy

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I like the idea of the series but not the characters. They are all so horrible, manipulative and whiny. I couldn’t get behind any of them and stopped reading after the first book.

NOPE! Pairing: a “ship” you don’t support

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I can understand the friendship between Alina and Mal, but a romantic relationship? THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NO CHEMISTRY!!! Alina deserved so much more than what he could give her. And no, I don’t think Alina and the Darling should be a thing either. As much as I love the Darkling as a villain, that relationship would be nothing but toxic.

NOPE! Genre: a genre you will never read

Erotica is the only genre that I don’t have an interest in reading. I’ll pick up and enjoy adult romance novels, but books like Fifty Shades of Grey, etc. just aren’t my cup of tea.

NOPE! Book format: book formatting you hate and avoid buying until it comes out in a different edition

A book is a book. I’m not picky. For the longest time, I avoided audiobooks because I didn’t see it as “real” reading. Well, now that I’ve tried a few, my thoughts have changed. I love them! If I really want to read a book the format of it won’t stop me from enjoying it.

NOPE! Trope: a trope that makes you go NOPE

Oh boy! I HATE instalove and love triangles. Why do so many YA books feature these tropes? They are usually unbelievable, muddle the plot and character development and don’t encourage the reader to become invested in the relationship between the characters. Slow burn romances are where it’s at people!!!

NOPE! Recommendation: a book recommendation that is constantly pushed at you, that you simply refuse to read

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After everything that was discussed about this book, why do I still see it on recommendation lists and posts? I won’t get into it here but do some research about how harmful this book is. Pick up a diverse read instead. You can find some great lists here and here.

NOPE! Cliche: a cliche or writing pet peeve that always makes you roll your eyes

Please refer above to my hatred of instalove and love triangles. I beg of authors….please stop using them!

NOPE! Love interest: the love interest that’s not worthy of being one

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I still don’t get the appeal of Aaron Warner. As time goes on, I’m beginning to look back at how horrible many YA love interests were. The relationships are very toxic! I just…is this what we think is romantic?

NOPE! Book: a book that shouldn’t have existed

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It has a beautiful cover and that’s it. Soundless was boring and a terrible attempt by a white author to write a fantasy novel based on Chinese folklore. Plus, to make it even worse, the book is extremely ableist. I don’t recommend it!

NOPE! Villain: a villain you would hate to cross

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The Commandant is one of the most cold-hearted characters I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t want to mess with her!

NOPE! Death: a character death that still haunts you

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This broke me. If you’ve read The Deathly Hallows then you know what I’m talking about.

NOPE! Author: an author you had a bad experience reading for and have decided to quit

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I really liked the first two books in the Throne of Glass series. However, Queen of Shadows was the beginning of the end for me. Sarah J. Mass just rubs me the wrong way now. What was with the ridiculous romantic subplots and the pointless killing off of the only diverse character?! Plus, by book 4, Celaena Sardothien, didn’t remotely resemble the character I grew to love. Also, don’t get me going on her glorification of abusive relationships. Argh!


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Review | The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

39863498The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Release date: January 15th, 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genres: Young adult, fantasy
Format: eBook

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No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.

It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.

I have been putting off writing this review for a while now. Why, oh why, is it so hard to write a review for a book you loved? All I want to write is “I LOVED IT. READ IT NOW.” and add a bunch of hearts around it and push it on as many people as possible. However, that’s not really much of a review and I need to start getting better a doing this.

I requested and read The Gilded Wolves over a year ago, but just recently finished a re-read in preparation for the release of its sequel, The Silvered Serpents, in September. I seriously have the worst memory and need to re-read in order to remember key plot details and characters. Anyway, I absolutely loved this book both times I read it! Roshani Chokshi is a fantastic author who writes in such a beautiful and almost lyrical way. Her words seem to jump off the page and into my heart. I was completely hooked after the first few pages and honestly couldn’t stop reading. I finished this book the first time by staying up late into the night. I didn’t mind suffering the next day at work because it was such a delight.

The standout part of this book was its diverse cast of characters. Yes, the book was about a heist, but the characters and their lives were really what took center stage. I’m all about character-driven stories and I think that’s why I enjoyed reading The Gilded Wolves. The characters were really well written, fully formed, believable and imperfect. Plus, they were so much fun! I adored their hilarious banter and tender moments with each other. Oh, and there’s some well written romantic tension that just builds and builds as the story progresses. I’m a sucker for books that take this route and I can’t wait to see what happens in book two!

While I thought that the book was amazing, I did have a few issues with the world-building. The first few chapters were largely dedicated to the mythology of the Houses and the magic system. The first time I read the book I’ll be honest and say that the whole world was kind of confusing. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. The second time around was different and everything was very clear to me. However, this was probably because I had already experienced the world before and could properly imagine what was being explained to me in my head.

I don’t want to write too much and give away key details about the plot and characters. If you haven’t read The Gilded Wolves drop what you are reading and do it now! You won’t be disappointed with the fast-paced story, loveable characters and magical world. I especially recommend it to fans of the Six of Crows duology and readers of Chokshi’s previous novels.

Now, I just need to wait until September for the next installment. *sigh*


About the Author

13695109Roshani Chokshi is the author of commercial and critically acclaimed books for middle grade and young adult readers that draws on world mythology and folklore. Her work has been nominated for the Locus and Nebula awards, and has frequently appeared on Best of The Year lists from Barnes and Noble, Forbes, Buzzfeed and more. Her New York Times bestselling series includes The Star-Touched Queen duology, The Gilded Wolves, and Aru Shah and The End of Time, which was recently optioned for film by Paramount Pictures.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

#5OnMyTBR: Sequels

Book Blitz_ (3)#5OnMyTBR is a bookish meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook and you can learn more about it here or in the post announcing it. It occurs every Monday when we post about 5 books on our TBR.

The prompt for today is…sequels. I found it hard to narrow this post down to only five books. I have soooooo many sequels to read it’s not even funny! I’ve started a bad habit of reading the first book in a series, purchasing others and then avoiding them for months or years. Why? I really have no clue. Fear of the sequel not being as good as the first book? Not wanting something to end? Always wanting to start something new?

Here are five sequels that I have on my TBR that I would like to read sometime this year.

Have you read any of these books? If so, what were your thoughts on them?

Review | A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

36952594A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney
Release date: September 25th, 2018
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Genres: Young adult, fantasy, retelling
Format: eBook

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The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she’s trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.

Life in real-world Atlanta isn’t always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice’s handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she’ll need to use everything she’s learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.

I surprisingly ended up really enjoying this book! I really wasn’t sure what to expect going into it. I thought the cover looked badass and requested it on NetGalley purely based on that. I unfortunately never read it when it was originally released. Things came up and I pretty much stopped blogging. However, in an effort to clear my list of pending books for review I decided to pick it up and give it a chance. Let me just say, the first few chapters weren’t very promising. I thought about giving up but I’m so glad that I didn’t. This seems to be a running theme with many of the books that I’ve read lately. Hmmm…

A Blade So Black is a reimagining of the Alice in Wonderland story with a black teenage heroine. It takes place in two main locations: the world we live in (Atlanta) and Wonderland. I found the first few chapters to be very disorienting because I was basically thrown straight into a magical world with very little explanation or worldbuilding. I wish the author would have spent some time building things up so I had more knowledge or background on Wonderland and Alice’s story. That said, things are slowly explained and the worldbuilding is handled much better as the book progresses.

My favourite part of the book was Alice. She was a fantastic character and hard not to like. I immediately became interested in her story and that’s what really kept me going at the beginning until things started coming together. Alice isn’t one of those special chosen characters who are good at everything right away without any worries in her life. She has to deal with a lot of issues in both the real world and Wonderland. For example, in the real world, she has to deal with normal teenage issues such as crushes, hormones, peer pressure but also gun violence and racism. Another aspect I really liked about A Blade So Black was the relationship between Alice and her mom. I really don’t get why so many YA books either have absent parents or parents who are just really awful. In the story, Alice and her mom have a very complex relationship that I could relate to. I won’t go into much detail but it was definitely well done and refreshing to see.

I would recommend this book to people who love modern retellings of classic stories or the Wonderland story in general. It’s a lot of fun to read, packed with action, well-developed characters and beautiful relationships. I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the series, A Dream So Dark, very soon!


About the Author

ll-mckinney.2e16d0ba.fill-240x240-1Leatrice “Elle” McKinney, writing as L.L. McKinney, is an advocate for equality and inclusion in publishing, and the creator of the hashtag #WhatWoCWritersHear.

Elle’s also a gamer, Blerd, and adamant Hei Hei stan, living in Kansas City. She spends her free time plagued by her cat–Sir Chester Fluffmire Boopsnoot Purrington Wigglebottom Flooferson III, esquire, Baron o’Butterscotch or #SirChester for short.

Her works include the Nightmare-Verse books, starting with the A BLADE SO BLACK trilogy, and an upcoming graphic novel for DC featuring Nubia, Wonder Woman’s twin sister, and more.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Book Tag: Stuck At Home

Book Blitz_ (2)It’s book tag time! I haven’t done one of these in forever. I found this particular tag on Book Princess Reviews and thought it looked fun. So, here we go!


Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Answer all the questions down below
  • Pingback to the creator: Ellyn @ Allonsythornraxx
  • Nominate 5+ bloggers you’d like to know more about, to do this tag

What are you currently reading?

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I just downloaded the audiobook and plan on starting it tonight while I make dinner.

What’s your favourite “can’t leave the house” activity?

My husband and I have recently started to fix up our balcony. We’ve added a bunch of plants and a small table. In the early morning and late evening, there’s a wonderful cool breeze that makes it so enjoyable. I love sitting on the balcony with a cup of coffee or glass a wine.

A book you’ve been meaning to read forever.

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An intimidating book on your TBR.

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I took a few Soviet history courses in university and have read other works about the Gulag system. However, this is one of the most important books on the subject. I own a copy of this book but haven’t picked it up because you really need to be in the right mind frame. It’s such a heavy topic!

Top 3 priority books on your TBR.

None! I’m reading for enjoyment right now. It’s really about how I feel. Also, I’m really into audiobooks right now. I don’t know why I haven’t listened to them before. It’s so wonderful to be able to clean up the house or make dinner while listening to a book. So, any recommendations would be great!

Recommend a short book.

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Recommend a long book.

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Something you’d love to do while stuck at home.

I would love to exercise more. I’m starting to but it’s challenging at times with a very energetic toddler running around. I’ve actually started doing HIIT workouts by Heather Robertson on YouTube. They are super challenging but I feel so accomplished after.

What do you plan on reading next?

I would like to continue with the book series that I haven’t finished yet. But again, that all depends on how I feel.


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