Yeah, so last week got away from me…

Which is why, after saying I was back to my regular blogging schedule I…didn’t post anything last week. And this post is a day late. Oops? NO EXCUSE, amirite? Especially since my students had their second blog posts due then. Oh well. I’m here now and that’s all that matters. (Also, to be fair, I did post twice that other week.)

So, a lot has happened since my last post:

1. I actually finished two books!

A Whole New World (A Twisted Tale #1)A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, the darkest timeline is SUPER dark, which I wasn’t really prepared for.

The best part of this book is the development of the relationships of the characters we know in the movie, especially connecting Cassiem (the first thief Jafar takes to the Cave of Wonders) to Aladdin (even if it does completely blow the canon from the third movie. And yes that is an actual thought I had. I know the straight-to-video sequels suck, but are they not Disney canon? Ahem. I digress.)

All in all, a fairly fast read. I would recommend it to any fan of the movie just because it’s a Disney sanctioned AU fanfic, and it’s an interesting take on the story.

View all my reviews

Continue reading “Yeah, so last week got away from me…”

It’s Monday! What are you reading? (5/16/16)

This past week, I finished:

The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo, #1)The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was super fun. Apollo is a great narrator because his arrogance is beyond belief, yet he’s also kind of likable because he is hilarious. To wit, this is a thing he actually thinks: “If she could do it, then so could the brilliant, fabulous Apollo.” And that’s AFTER his character has exhibited some growth. So.

Lots of laugh out loud moments and two of my favorite characters in the whole series showed up (as well as Percy Jackson, naturally).

View all my reviews

Last week, I posted:

[wrap-up-posts week=”19″ year=”2016″ listtype=”ul”]

 

As of today, I’m reading:

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson are both selections for my summer book club. I told myself I would give any of the book club choices 50 pages to grab me before moving on. I just started both today so have no real opinions on either yet. But I have heard good things about both of them, so I’m hoping I enjoy them.

So far Brown Girl Dreaming reminds me of Woodson’s picture book Show Way, which is amazing if you haven’t read it.

Hosted by Kathryn @ The Book Date. Children's lit version hosted by Jen Vincent @ Teach Mentor Texts & Kellee Moye @ Unleashing Readers.
Hosted by Kathryn @ The Book Date. Children’s lit version hosted by Jen Vincent @ Teach Mentor Texts & Kellee Moye @ Unleashing Readers.

Happy reading, everyone!

 

Weekly Reading Check-in: Rereads abound!

This past week, I finished:

Something Wicked (Horatio Wilkes Mysteries, #2)Something Wicked by Alan Gratz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2.5 stars, rounding up

I finished this last night, forgot to post about it here, and, when I sat down to type this up, forgot how I felt about it. Which is to say that I liked it well enough while reading, but it was kind of forgettable beyond that.

Here’s the thing, though: If Gratz wrote more of these, I would read every single one. He integrates and updates all of the elements and characters really well. And I will be forever amused that Horatio’s sisters are all heroines from other Shakespeare plays, and Gratz includes nods to their plays as well (Mona mentions a jealous soldier boyfriend; Kate can outargue/outsmart anyone). Also! Gratz hinted at a Tempest story in Horatio’s future.

So, you know. Three stars.

View all my reviews

 

House of Many Ways (Howl's Moving Castle, #3)House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read this because it’s the last in the Howl’s Moving Castle trilogy. This is the weakest of the three books, especially since I found myself putting it down and forgetting about it for days at a time.

I mean, it’s a fine way to pass the five minutes of pomodoro time at work, but other than that it’s pretty meh. What I liked most about it, though, is how obnoxious Charmain is. More books with difficult female characters, please!

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Same DifferenceSame Difference by Derek Kirk Kim
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars, rounding up

This story took a little while to grab me because it didn’t really become interesting until about 1/3 of the way through. I loved the ending, though, and I really liked that it’s basically a character study that takes these two kind of small moments and expands them out to show how we can be simultaneously really crappy people and genuinely good people.

Bonus points for Nancy and Simon’s most excellent relationship.

View all my reviews

 

As of today, I’m reading:

I’m still making my way through Necessary Endings. But! I have also started rereading two books. One is The Cracks in the Kingdom, which I loved and am reading in preparation for the final book in the Colors of Madeleine trilogy out next week (!!!). The other is Silver Sparrow, which I loved and picked for my book club to read next month. Excitement!

Happy reading, everyone!

Monday Reading Check-In

I missed last week, so let’s do a little catch up, shall we?

 

Since my last post, I read:

Destiny's EmbraceDestiny’s Embrace by Beverly Jenkins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I don’t typically read traditional romance stories, but this one seemed to check all the boxes pretty well. I was more intrigued by the character of Alanza than Mariah, but it was fun reading about life on a ranch and all of the other fun historical tidbits that you get from historical fiction.

Read Harder 2016: Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900

View all my reviews

 

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and ScientologyTroublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay, so I listened to this on audio, which I think made it just that much more amazing.

Leah is a complete badass and spills ALL THE TEA. All of it. Every last drop. My girl names names and everything. ALL OF THE NAMES.

I love this book. Love, love, love. Remini is fierce and funny and also a little hood, which I completely appreciated.

Read Harder 2016: Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction)

View all my reviews

 

I also went to see:

Zootopia

Zootopia! I don’t make it to the movies often, but my daughter’s birthday was Wednesday, and she really wanted to see Zootopia, so off we went. It was a lot of fun and also a really practical look at how structural racism and sexism (and other forms of discrimination work). Allegory, yay! Anyway, my daughter liked it so much that she has already seen it again, so I can highly recommend it.

 

As of today, I’m reading:

I’m still making my way through Something Wicked by Alan Gratz. Poor Banks (Banquo), man.

I also started Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud, which is all about recognizing when it’s time to move on from situations in your life. I was introduced to the book through a small group study at my church, which I got a lot out of, so I figured I should probably read the book to get a little more understanding, so here we are. This article provides a little bit more info about the concepts covered in the book, if anyone is interested.

I’ve been reading House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones (the last book in the Howl’s Moving Castle trilogy) at work for the past week. I like the book well enough so far, but I legit keep forgetting about it until I get to work or unless I’m at work. So I guess this is the equivalent of a bathroom book in that way. We’ll see if it picks up. Or if I give up on it altogether. (I will probably finish it since I keep being amazed at how far into it I actually am. Maybe.)

Original now hosted by Kathryn @ The Book Date. Children's lit version hosted by Jen Vincent @ Teach Mentor Texts & Kellee Moye @ Unleashing Readers.
Original now hosted by Kathryn @ The Book Date. Children’s lit version hosted by Jen Vincent @ Teach Mentor Texts & Kellee Moye @ Unleashing Readers.

Happy reading this week, everyone!

 

February 2016 Reading Wrap-Up

This is actually a combo post! It’s a day late, so an It’s Tuesday! What Are You Reading? deal instead of IMWAYR. Plus, the monthly to-do. Let’s get to it.

This past week, I finished:

Blue Eyes and Other Teenage HazardsBlue Eyes and Other Teenage Hazards by Janette Rallison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was super cute and fun, even though I hate both the title and the cover. There is a smidgen of fake dating in this book–but not enough to make it a fake dating book. I will say, though, that every single one of the fake dating scenes filled me with glee. Fake dating for everyone!

Janette Rallison is now one of my go-to authors when I need something fun and light to read, for sure.

View all my reviews

 

The Light Between OceansThe Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

The first half of this book bored me and the second half infuriated me.

I could buy that a woman out of her mind with grief and living in isolation could think a baby washing up on shore was the answer to her prayers.

I could buy that her husband would feel guilty and responsible for his wife’s loss and isolation and go along with not reporting the found baby.

However, I could not buy that (view spoiler) I mean, SERIOUSLY. That is where the book 100% lost me.

Anyway, the book club discussion was lively, so there’s that.

View all my reviews

 

So, all in all, February was:

A solid reading month. I finished 7 books, which is actually more than I thought I had read. Granted, I did DNF one book (Re Jane) and another one was slow-going (The Light Between Oceans), so it happens.

I read three books for Diversity on the Shelf, which is about half of my reading for this month, so I met that goal for the month. However, I’m at 8/21 for my overall reads, which is not keeping me on track to my goal of 50% by or about POC for the year. I’m sure it’ll correct itself eventually, but that’s where I am.

After giving it some thought, I’m going to count Proposal by Meg Cabot for the Read Harder Challenge. It’s not by or about a POC, but, quite frankly, I don’t see myself reading any other non-kid lit books under 100 pages any time soon. If I do, I’ll note it, but for now, I’m good.

That means I’ve completed the following categories for that challenge:

  • Read a middle grade novel
  • Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography)
  • Read a book under 100 pages
  • Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years
  • Read a food memoir
  • Read the first book in a series by a person of color

I’m feeling pretty good about my progress there. I was kind of stressing out about it at first, but then I remembered that I basically read from all of the categories last year, so if I just read the way I usually read, I’ll probably wind up doing the same if I don’t overthink it. There are a few categories that take me out of my comfort zone, and I have to be more aware there, but I am confident that I’ll complete the whole challenge.

As of today, I’m reading:

My hold on the Leah Remini audiobook came in at the library yesterday, and I am loving it so far. She narrates it herself (of course!), and it’s stellar. If you want to know how cults work, definitely check out her book. Not only that, but she’s funny and real and raw. And so, so Brooklyn.

I read Something Rotten by Alan Gratz (Hamlet retelling) years ago and remembered the other day that I never read the second book, which is why I’m now reading Something Wicked, a Macbeth retelling. I like how Gratz is playing with the names and characters so far (Macbeth is Mac, Lady Macbeth is Beth, and there’s a dog named Spot–obviously, at some point, Beth is going to have to tell Spot to get out of something, and I am super looking forward to that moment).

One of the Read Harder categories is historical fiction set before 1900, and I absolutely 100% did not want to read a book about slavery. Enter Destiny’s Embrace by Beverly Jenkins. (Thanks to my friend Jasmine for the rec!) I just started this today, and it’s working for me so far.

Original now hosted by Kathryn @ The Book Date. Children's lit version hosted by Jen Vincent @ Teach Mentor Texts &  Kellee Moye @ Unleashing Readers.
Original now hosted by Kathryn @ The Book Date. Children’s lit version hosted by Jen Vincent @ Teach Mentor Texts & Kellee Moye @ Unleashing Readers.

I’m on spring break this week, and I think I may wind up reading more than these three, but we’ll see. Happy reading, everyone!

It’s Monday! What are you reading? (2/15/16)

This past week, I finished:

Castle in the Air (Howl's Moving Castle, #2)Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was cute. Now I want to read the actual story of Aladdin so I can compare this to that and then compare both to Aladdin (the movie).

Also, that cover is CREEPY. Man.

View all my reviews

 

Proposal (The Mediator, #6.5)Proposal by Meg Cabot
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s Meg Cabot, so.

View all my reviews

 

 

I also wound up DNF-ing Re Jane. Normally, I don’t talk about the books I didn’t finish here, but I felt compelled to write a bit about why I couldn’t get with this one, so:

 
Re JaneRe Jane by Patricia Park
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Jane would never ever ever EVER EVER (view spoiler) NEVER EVER. That is fundamentally the core of the book and her character and having her do that means the author DOESN’T GET THE ORIGINAL since that is the WHOLE POINT OF THE STORY.

If this weren’t on my Kindle, I would’ve thrown the book across the room, I swear. Just…no. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.

That would be like a Pride & Prejudice retelling where Darcy and Lizzie instantly hit it off and started dating. Or if Romeo & Juliet’s families didn’t hate each other. Or if Hamlet was just super happy about his uncle marrying his mom after his dad died and his dad’s ghost visited him saying that he had been murdered. Would Hamlet be all, “Wow, that sucks, Dad, but Mom is super happy with Uncle Claudius now, and I’m just happy for her so probably you should go haunt somebody else”? I mean, that is how ridiculous the whole plot point in Re Jane is. If (view spoiler), you are no longer telling the story of Jane Eyre, but doing something else.

So basically I had to stop reading because of that. Who knew I was such a purist?

View all my reviews

 

As of today, I’m reading:

So I’m still making my way through The Light Between Oceans for book club. It is really slow, but it has finally started to pick up. Probably because I’m at the part where the baby finally shows up. (No spoilers–that’s the premise of the book.)

I’m not a super Mediator fan (Suze is fine, but not one of my favorite Cabot heroines), but I do enjoy a good Meg Cabot book, and I’m sorely in need of some fun reading, so I’m really looking forward to reading Remembrance this week.

Original now hosted by Kathryn @ The Book Date. Children's lit version hosted by Jen Vincent @ Teach Mentor Texts & Kellee Moye @ Unleashing Readers.
Original now hosted by Kathryn @ The Book Date. Children’s lit version hosted by Jen Vincent @ Teach Mentor Texts & Kellee Moye @ Unleashing Readers.

I hope everyone has a good reading week!

Combo Weekly/Monthly Round-Up (It’s Monday, y’all!)

My eye issue has mostly resolved, so I should be able to keep up with blogs more from now, which is a definite yay. I missed posting last week, so this is a two-fer (though, technically, I guess it’s a three-fer). I read some books is what I’m saying. Let’s get to it.

This past week, I finished:

To Catch a Cheat (The Great Greene Heist, #2)To Catch a Cheat by Varian Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars, rounding up

I love everything about this book (okay, almost everything, hence the 1/2 star deduction), including the cover. So fun! It gave me a happy.

View all my reviews

The week before that, I finished:

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor (An Abolitionist Tale about Harriet Tubman)Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor by Nathan Hale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Harriet Tubman is your OG, and you will respect her as such. Harriet Tubman is a complete and total badass. This book is A++ in showing that and giving an overview of her life. Two thumbs up, fine holiday fun.

Nathan Hale’s art is amazing, and he presents slavery in an unflinching and honest way, which is important given discussions around how children’s books are failing to do that right now.

Read Harder 2016: Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography)

View all my reviews

 

Watson and Holmes - A Study In BlackWatson and Holmes – A Study In Black by Karl Bollers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was solid.

I only have two complaints: (1) There were a couple of glaring typos in the first couple of pages and (2) the art work in the epilogue is completely different from the other chapters and it was my least favorite of all the art.

Otherwise, intriguing and an interesting/fun new take on Holmes.

Read Harder 2016: Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years

View all my reviews

 

Jessica Jones: Alias, Vol. 1Jessica Jones: Alias, Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I first started this book, I didn’t care much for the art–a little too dark and muddled. However, as the story progressed and Jessica’s came out of her depression, the art work shifted. It was subtle, and it worked.

I like Jessica. I liked this. And that ending? Man.

View all my reviews

 

Yes, Chef: A MemoirYes, Chef: A Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

2.5 stars, rounding down

So. Here’s the thing. Marcus Samuelsson has led a fascinating life, and I enjoyed reading about it. But at one point, he reveals that he has a daughter, and he decides to be an absentee father while he pursues his dreams. Which, you know, is fine if that’s the choice he wanted to make. But all I could think as he was talking about his time gallivanting around the world as a chef is “Yeah, but what about Zoe?”

WHAT ABOUT ZOE, MARCUS?

So that tempered my enjoyment quite a bit.

Also, hot tip to all the absentee/deadbeat parents in the world: do not thank the parent who actually did the work of raising the child. That probably annoys me more than women who say their husbands are “babysitting” the children.

Read Harder 2016: Read a food memoir

View all my reviews

 

So, all in all, January was:

A good reading month! I read 15 books, 5 of which counted for the Diversity on the Shelf challenge. I am running at lower than 50% reads by/about POC, so I want to improve on that next month. We’ll see how it goes. I also read three 5-star books. Wouldn’t it be nice if 20% of my reads this year turn out to be 5-star reads?

As of today, I’m reading:

The Light Between Oceans is slow-going so far, but it’s for book club so I shall power through. I am not sure yet how I feel about Re Jane. I dig a lot of the changes the author has made (I especially love how she deals with the madwoman in the attic–brilliant!) (also, love the word play in the title). However, this Jane is planning to do something original Jane just would not do AT ALL, so I am not sure if I’ll be able to keep reading if this Jane does something the original Jane wouldn’t. I am not even particularly enamored of the original, but I guess even I have my limits. So. We shall see how that goes.

Original now hosted by Kathryn @ The Book Date. Children's lit version hosted by Jen Vincent @ Teach Mentor Texts &  Kellee Moye @ Unleashing Readers.
Original now hosted by Kathryn @ The Book Date. Children’s lit version hosted by Jen Vincent @ Teach Mentor Texts & Kellee Moye @ Unleashing Readers.

Happy reading, everyone!

Recommendation Wednesday (on a Monday): Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Let me just start by saying that I was going to recommend the WHOLE SERIES, but since I haven’t read the other books yet (except Cinder, of course), I don’t think that’d be prudent. I mean, there are five of them after all. But this book has effectively made me want to read every single word that Marissa Meyer writes in The Lunar Chronicles (and possibly beyond), so take that as you will.

Scarlet by Marissa MeyerNow. Let’s talk about Scarlet.

SCARLET. Oh, man. This book.

I honestly don’t know where to begin. So, a (non-spoilery) list.

1. The characters are so great. SO GREAT.

I found Scarlet herself infuriating in the best possible way. She’s so headstrong and determined and desperate, but she is also so caring and honest and FIERCE.

Cinder and Kai show up in this one, and they are just as delightful as they were in the first book. Also, [spoiler] Iko is back, and she is THE BEST, and I love her, so obviously that made me happy. [/spoiler]

Scarlet’s grandmére is so badass and amazing. She was a pilot in the military! She chases people away from her door with a shotgun! Also, she is the kind of person her granddaughter would absolutely die for, and she raised a complete badass, so, you know. Grandmothers, man. Also, I kind of love badass old people (see also: Grandpa Noirtier from The Count of Monte Cristo).

Continue reading “Recommendation Wednesday (on a Monday): Scarlet by Marissa Meyer”

Book Review: Book of a Thousand Days

Eventually I got myself up so I could write what Tegus said. To keep telling my story seems like the last bit of living I can still do.

I read the hardback, but I love the paperback cover so much I'm using it here.
I read the hardback, but I love the paperback cover so much I’m using it here.

Oh my gosh, I loved Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale. Loved. LOVED. I just…I loved everything about it.

1. I love Dashti THE MOST. She is smart and clever. She is honest, hopeful, and grateful. She wants to survive and fights to survive. She is just the best. In fact, she reminds me a lot of Ella from Ella Enchanted in that I love her and think she’s wonderful and amazing. And awesome. Ahhh, I just love her so much.

2. I love that this is a fairy tale retelling, but it’s based on a lesser known fairytale (“Maid Maleen“), so I had absolutely no preconceived notions of what the story should be. (I didn’t read “Maid Maleen” until after I had finished the novel.)

3. I love, love, love that Dashti and Lady Saren wind up saving themselves and each other. I mean, sure, it takes Saren a little while to get to that point but when she does, it totally works.

4. Okay, so a brief synopsis: Dashti is appointed to be Lady Saren’s maid; Lady Saren’s father locks the two in a tower for seven years to try to force Saren into marrying this dude she hates; Dashti journals the experience.

5.  I love the way Hale gives importance to the different strengths people have to show that none are necessarily better but that they’re all different and can be used in helpful ways–even if other people don’t always understand them.

6. The ending was MUCH BETTER than I had anticipated. I knew it could only end a certain way (or that I wanted it to end that way), and I love, love, love the way that Hale makes it happen. It’s believable, expected, AND unpredictable. Also, it rewards the readers by weaving in everything we learn about the characters throughout the story.

7. I love that the characters are Mongolian. Yes.

8. Oh, I love the illustrations throughout the story. I also love that Hale finds a smart and believable way to make this Dashti’s story and that she’s the one writing/telling it.

9. Did I mention I love Dashti? I love her SO MUCH.

10. Ultimately, I love what this story says about faith, about passion, about survival, about truth, and yes, about the importance of writing your own story and knowing your own truth.

LOVE.

Source: Library

One Sentence Book Reviews

I am so, so, so far behind on reviews. Trying something new to get caught up.

Also Known As by Robin Benway: This book was fun to read, but I honestly cannot even remember how it ends.

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han & Siobhan VivianAsh by Malinda Lo: Who knew a lesbian retelling of Cinderella with so many fascinating elements could be so boring?

Period 8 by Chris Crutcher: Chris Crutcher writes a mystery and still manages to incorporate every single one of his tropes into the story.

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian: Three girls—who clearly need lessons from Emily Thorne—try to get revenge on their classmates, which leads to the stupidest cliffhanger ever.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah: If the author had spent half as much time developing the characters as she did describing their decade-appropriate fashion, I probably would have liked this book a lot more.

The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga: An author embeds a meta-narrative on how to avoid writing predictable female lead characters in his novel and then proceeds to write a completely predictable female lead character.

The Friendship Matchmaker by Randa Abdel-Fattah: In a cute retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma (according to the Goodreads summary) (oh, and !!!!), a girl writes and lives the middle school version of How to Win Friends and Influence People to an entirely predictable end.

Deadly Pink by Vivian Vande Velde: I don’t remember much about this book except cheaters suck and sooner or later they have to face the consequences for their actions.

Source: I got all of these books from the library.