July Reading Plans

So in June I read 6 books, among them a memoir, an essay collection, YA, and even some comics! What will July have in store for me?

So I took a look at my Goodreads reading challenge, which I had already increased from 12 to 30 back in March, and now that my reading pace has picked up I will increase it to 50 since I’m already at 25 books!

I’m not forcing myself to finish books before the end of the month or waiting until the next month to start others that were not listed in my previous TBR. Reading as the mood strikes, following the flow of my reading has been really working for me. The only ones that I do have a set schedule for are the ones that I’m buddy reading or with the two (and a half) book clubs I’m in.

Let’s take a look at what I’m currently reading:

  • The Stand by Stephen King: Yep, still reading this! hahaha It will be in these posts for the foreseeable future. As I previously mentioned, this book is about a flu pandemic, people are dying left and right and something supernatural is starting to happen now. There is the theme of dreaming now in the novel, which is super interesting, I’m on page 345.
  • Reinas Malditas by Cristina Morató: We are still reading about the various queens in this sort of gossipy style that Morató has (which I’m not a fan of…) So far the stories of each empress/queen have varied in writing quality so it’s a hit or miss. Right now I’m on page 306, reading about Eugénie de Montijo who is super interesting. I think that this one is my favorite story so far (even if it’s still TMZ-style).
  • Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan: This is the third installment of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy and I just started it a few days ago but I’m so into it! Now this is full of gossip, satire, and so so fun! I expect to be done with this one pretty soon.
  • The Sandman Omnibus Vol 1 by Neil Gaiman: I juuuust started this last week and, while it is a comic collection, it is giant! I am on page 149 and I love the art style. I will share some of my favorite pages in my review once I finish it.

Then there are the books I’m planning on starting this month and reading in between the book club books:

  • The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn: Continuing my journey through the Bridgerton series I’ll be reading Anthony’s story next!
  • Todos Los Cuentos by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: The complete short story collection that was selected as the book to read from my Want To Read list cleanup post last month. I’m excited about diving into these short stories! I might or might not finish these within the month, we’ll see how it goes.
  • Fierce FairyTales by Nikita Gill: This was the pick of the month for the Feminist Book Club, it hasn’t arrived yet so it’s not pictured above. This is the half a book club I mentioned above since, while I do try to get to the book of the month each time I’m not pushing myself to finish it before the Q&A with the author as much since I normally can’t make the live chats. I’m excited about this book because it is a combination of poetry and prose about fairy tales. I love fairy tales and fairy tale re-tellings so I’m looking forward to reading this book.
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini: This is the book club pick for QB Alumns for the month of July. I’ve previously read The Kite Runner and I really loved that book so I hope that this one is also as great! This book focuses on a story told over two generations about characters in Afghanistan. There’s friendship, heartbreak, and rich history throughout this book so it’s bound to be a great read for the book club.
  • Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi: The second installment in the Legacy of Orïsha series has been on my bookshelves unread for far too long! In the first book, Children of Blood and Bone, we follow Zelie as she goes on a quest to return magic to people who have had their magic taken away. I really enjoyed the first book so I’m hoping that the second book lives up to my expectations.
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: I wanted to add a non-fiction book to July and Just Mercy was just calling my name. This book is a memoir about Stevenson’s journey as he works on one of his first cases as a lawyer where Walter McMillan is sentenced to die for a crime he did not commit. It promises to be a very compelling and emotional read, especially following The New Jim Crow, which I read in June. There is also a movie that came out in 2019 so I will probably watch that after I read the book.

Overall, July promises to be a fun month full of great reading. Hopefully I’ll be able to read outside a bit (not the Sandman Omnibus of course XD) and catch some sun this summer. Maybe I’ll even venture a trip to the park or the beach just for reading, as long as it’s not too hot here in SoCal. What are you reading in July? Have you read any of the books in my reading plans? If so, what did you think?

June 2021 — Wrap Up

Well June is over, let’s see how my reading went!

This is the first wrap up since I changed my rating system and I gotta say, I really like the changes I’ve made. I now post full dedicated reviews for each book I read, which is basically my main goal with this blog. I’m looking into adding other content type but I’m not sure about what that’s going to look like yet.

So this month I read 6 books:

  • Eternals by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by John Romita Jr: In anticipation of the Eternals movie coming out in November, I read the comics written by Neil Gaiman. If you’re a fan of the MCU and/or Neil Gaiman I highly recommend it.
  • Disability Visibility by Alice Wong: This book came in my Feminist Book Club box and it was a wonderful collection of stories from people with disabilities, including activists, lawyers, scientists, and more. This is opens a lot of windows to different ways of life and has inspired me to learn more about how to make spaces accessible for everyone. Check it out!
  • It Goes Like This by Miel Moreland: This was such a fun read about a famous queer band. There was queer romance, friendships, chosen family, and the power of fandom that brings people together. If you want a fun read full of friendship and music, read this!
  • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander: If you are interested in learning about mass incarceration and how it has become what it is today, I highly recommend this book. Alexander does a great job explaining how the criminal justice system is what it is today. It’s only one book but it opened my eyes to many issues that I didn’t realize were related. If you’re an ally definitely check this out.
  • A Year Without a Name by Cyrus Dunham: A unique memoir by Cyrus Dunham while he explores his gender identity. This memoir gives us a peek into his mind as he remembers how it was to be a child not identifying with his body, all the way through figuring out what to do with his life. If you want to learn about what it is like to explore gender identity I recommend this one, just be warned that there are multiple topics discussed that might be triggering (eating disorders, depression, body shaming, etc) so do read carefully.
  • Supernova by Marissa Meyer: The last installment of the Renegades series was so so good! I had so much fun with the twists and surprises. While I suspected how some things might end up happening, others I was quite pleasantly surprised about. If you like superheroes and a romance between a superhero and villain, definitely read this series.

And that’s it! I think my favorite book of the month was probably Disability Visibility because of all the different perspectives I was able to learn about. I think that’s one book that everyone should read because I think it will provide something new to learn about for just about everyone. I had the most fun with Supernova since it was the last in the series and it was just so well wrapped up.

What was your favorite book that you read in June?

Review: Eternals by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by John Romita Jr.

Eternals by Neil Gaiman,
Illustrated by John Romita Jr.

I finished Eternals by Neil Gaiman today! It was a very different kind of read for me because I don’t normally read comics. This was a compilation of the seven volumes that came out in 2006-2007. However, the original Eternals comics were written by Jack Kirby back in 1976. The reason I picked this particular comic is because the Marvel Cinematic Universe is coming out with an adaptation of the Eternals and since I am a big fan of Neil Gaiman’s works it seemed like the obvious place to start for me.

The Eternals are 100 beings that were created by the Celestials. The Celestials are another type of being that came from outer space and basically started out a kind of experiment on Earth where they examined an ape-like creature (precursor to humans), played around with its genetic material and created what would be the perfect being, one that wouldn’t age, would have special powers, and would live to protect the experiment that they were setting up. On the other hand they created the Deviants, who had an unstable genome, were prone to constant mutations, and which created deformed beings that were not ideal.

In this particular set of comics we find that the Eternals have forgotten that they are immortal and that they have superpowers. They are living like normal human beings as medical students, party organizers, scientists, and even gardeners. One of the Eternals, Ikaris, does remember and is trying to get others to do the same since there’s some trouble brewing. We also get a peek at how the superhero world is doing, there is now mandatory registration for superheroes and even a superhero reality competition!

Another thing that was very interesting to me was the philosophy and theories on the origin of life on Earth. Of course there are multiple theories on how intelligent life came about but the one saying that it came about from outer space is a very popular one. While we can have many theories regarding the origins of life, it is something that we might never really know for sure how it happened. These comics give a possible answer of these Celestials, scientists in their own way, setting up various experiments in what might be many different worlds (can’t imagine they’d only do it once on Earth), and seeing what happens. It was also cool to see the flashbacks to how the Eternals interacted with ancient civilizations, from Egypt to Greece to Mexico and how they were basically the gods in those ancient civilizations. That in itself made me curious to go and read the other installments of these comics.

The characters were interesting but I did feel like there was less character development than I expected and I’m not sure if it is because of the format of the story (comic vs novel) or if it has to do with the fact that I haven’t read all the other comics featuring these characters. That being said, there were some characters that I did like right away, like Thena and Zura. Thena is a scientist in her human life and actually is creating some weapons for the government while Zura is a homeless man who is lost in his mind. After they remember that they are Eternals they awake other characteristics, like confidence, leadership, and determination to figure out what they need to do next.

The artwork was wonderful, I loved all the colors and the intensity that Romita was able to bring to each scene and each character. I also loved the fonts that were used in different panels to show that some characters are probably talking in different languages or are speaking telepathically. It was very intuitive and just a great addition to the experience.

I mentioned previously that I’m changing my rating system and well, there isn’t one! Ha! I realized that rating systems aren’t particularly consistent unless I stick to a specific type of book or genre or even author. And so what I will be doing now is talking more about who I’d recommend read the book. Sort of a “if you like this you might like this” etc.

Overall I really enjoyed this comic, like I said, I’d like to check out the other installments involving the Eternals at some point as well. I would recommend this collection of comics to anyone who wants a background on who the Eternals are in preparation for the Marvel movie. I’d also recommend it to people interested in a very different kind of superhero story since the Eternals are not self-described superheroes. Their priorities are definitely different than the Avengers’ so it’s a really interesting perspective.

Do you read comics regularly? Are you a fan of the MCU?

June Reading Plans

June Reading Plans Banner with yellow background

June is here! We are almost half way through the year and it seems to me like yesterday was barely March? Anyways… last month I read 6 books! This coming month I am not sure how many I will actually finish but here are the ones I’m currently working on:

  • The Stand by Stephen King: This book is about a pandemic… (I know, I know). It centers a couple of different characters who live around the United States and it’s about they try to survive. As with most Stephen King books there is a supernatural aspect to it but we haven’t gotten to that part yet. I’m reading this as a buddy read with a friend from high school. It’s more than 1000 pages long (as are most of King’s books) and we are going slow, about 200 pages a month. We are currently reading to page 253 and I’m on page 150. So far I’m really enjoying the characters that King has chosen to follow although I’m left wondering ….where are all the people of color?!
  • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander: I’m reading this book for a book club with fellow Questbridge Alumni. This book is a non-fiction work that describes how the current mass incarceration system came about. Why are there so many black men targeted for arrests? What does the War on Drugs have to do with it? Is the system racist? Yes! So then, why can’t it just be changed? All these questions are answered throughout the book with very thorough explanations and evidence. I’m on page 137 of 329 and I’ve already learned a lot. This is one that I’m annotating left and right (so much so that I have finished one of my highlighters!). There’s a lot to learn so if anything, this is just the start of my own education. I will finish this by the end of June since that’s when we have our monthly meeting.
  • Disability Visibility by Alice Wong: I got this non-fiction book as part of the Feminist Book Club subscription box! It’s a great subscription box if you’re interested in social justice and intersectional feminism. Anyways, the book is a collection of essays by disabled people from all aspects of life. There are lawyers, artists, mothers, students, activists, etc. This book is very eye opening and has given me a lot to think about, in terms of language, accessibility, and just stereotypes and biases I have about disabled people. I’m on page 164 of 309 and I’ve been stopping and learning more about the people in the book as well as checking my own responses to each story. Again, a lot to learn here! I will also finish this book this month because the next book comes next week!
  • Reinas Malditas by Cristina Morató: I’m reading this book as part of a book club with my friends from Mexico (though we have people tuning in from Canada, Texas, and various parts of Mexico City). This book is in Spanish and it tells the stories of various royalty figures in history, including Empress Sisi, Mary Antoinette, Queen Victoria, etc. All of these women had difficult lives trying to fit into the roles that they were put into (very few chose to become Queen of X place). So far we have read about Empress Sisi and I was not impressed with the writing. It reads more like a TMZ article than a serious biography so I’m not exactly trusting of the author based on that. So far I’m on page 120, learning about Mary Antoinette’s childhood, better than Sisi’s chapters so far! Since we read about 150 pages per month, you’ll keep hearing about this one for a while yet.

So those are the books I’m currently reading slow and steady, two will be finished way past the month of June. There are more books I want to read as well, these are lighter reads that I think I can read a bit more quickly:

  • Eternals by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by John Romita Jr: In preparation for the Eternals Marvel movie I wanted to read the comic it’s based on. With most other Marvel movies it’s hard to read the comic because it could span so many and they could take inspiration from so many different comics (plus the multiverse and oh my). But with Eternals I was happy to find that it’s all compiled into one volume, it’s about 200 pages and it collects volumes 1-7 of the original comics. I don’t know much about the plot and that’s okay by me!
  • The Sandman Omnibus Vol 1 by Neil Gaiman: Another Neil Gaiman on my list! This is also in preparation for The Sandman series that is in the works by Netflix. This comic follows Morpheus, the Lord of the Dreaming and his interactions with various gods, humans, and other mythical creatures. I have had this giant book for a few years now and haven’t read it because…. well… if I’m honest, it’s intimidating! This is easily the heaviest book I own. It is 1040 pages so not the longest but because it’s high quality comic book pages all in color well, you can imagine! I am super excited to read it though and then I will need to get Vol 2… gulp.
  • Supernova by Marissa Meyer: The third and final installment of the Renegades series! The series is about a group of superheroes who are trying to enact order on a city that’s been previously victim of a lot of conflicts between superheroes and villains (to the detriment of all the powerless humans). We follow a villain and her quest to get rid of the superheroes who just try to solve everything with their powers. She’s infiltrated their ranks and gotten super close to many of the superheroes so at this point she’s super conflicted. (As are some of the superheroes!) I’ve been enjoying this series and can’t wait to see how it ends.
  • Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan: This is the third installment of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. I’ve read the other two books in the past two years or so. I kind of like to spread these out a bit, kind of like candy. Not sure what to say about this without spoilers but basically we follow a group of very wealthy people, there’s romance, there’s drama, there’s a lot of name and brand dropping. Basically a whole other world from mine XD (Talk about escape!)
  • It Goes Like This by Miel Moreland: A stand alone debut novel about friendship, rock bands, and queer romance! Need I say more? Okay okay I’ll say more. We follow Eva, Celeste, Gina, and Steph who are members of Moonlight Overthrow, a band that’s become super popular. With the rise in fame plus a romance with two of the band members the band is in trouble of falling out! A storm that ravages their town forces them to get it together and find out just how strong their friendship really is. I learned about this book because the author and I graduated from the same college (albeit different years so I don’t think we ever overlapped.)

And that’s it! HA It might be a lot but since the comics should read fairly fast so I’m hoping that I can get through all the books mentioned. With the heat starting up here in sunny San Diego I expect I’ll spend quite a bit of time reading on the porch in the evenings.

Have you read any of the books mentioned above? What are you most excited to read in June? Do you have a favorite spot where you read during the summer months?

May 2021 Book Bites

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  • Favorite Bite:

All her life, she had learned that passion, like fire, was a dangerous thing. It so easily went out of control. It scaled walls and jumped over trenches. Sparks leapt like fleas and spread as rapidly; a breeze could carry embers for miles. Better to control that spark and pass it carefully from one generation to the next, like an Olympic torch. Or, perhaps, to tend it carefully like an eternal flame: a reminder of light and goodness that would never — could never — set anything ablaze. Carefully controlled. Domesticated. Happy in captivity. the key, she thought, was to avoid conflagration.

Mrs. Richardson in Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  • Perspective Rating: 8/10 I really enjoyed how motherhood is viewed in so many different ways. I think few books that I’ve read have such diversity of points of view.
  • Emotional Rating: 8/10 A lot of moments resonated with me, there were moments when I really felt for the characters and where I could feel how hard the decisions they made truly were.
  • Bites Rating: 6/10 Not a lot of quotable moments in this book, it was easy to read and a lot of it I just read through because I wanted to know more.
  • Overall Rating: 7/10 This book is truly a great book and I think it’s valuable to read for everyone. The lower rating is perhaps indicative of the writing style, which was good but not one I’d consider memorable.
Obsidian Puma by Zoe Saadia
  • Favorite Bite: None here, pretty much everything I annotated was because I was confused.
  • Perspective Rating: 9/10 This is where the book shines because there are very few books that are set in Tenochtitlan or even pre-hispanic conquest. The information about this time period and the culture is really well researched.
  • Emotional Rating: 2/10 I didn’t get to connect to the characters or the story too much. Perhaps it was the writing style or the way that the characters were just not fully developed but nothing really connected for me.
  • Bites Rating: 1/10 I did not like the writing style and I was already confused enough with the story unfortunately.
  • Overall Rating: 4/10 What is best about this book is the perspective. I wish there were more books with this perspective that were better written.
Archenemies by Marissa Meyer
  • Favorite Bite:

Perhaps most troubling was that the Renegades had done little to counter the growing epidemic of drug abuse or the flourishing black market. If anything, they seemed at a loss as to how to fight an enemy that couldn’t be knocked out with punches and laser beams.

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer
  • Perspective Rating: 6/10 There is some diversity in the characters, one of the main characters has two dads and there is also one character who is disabled. However, they are not the main characters and we don’t get much of what is happening from their point of view. They are mostly supportive and secondary characters that I wish got more of a spotlight. I also found that there were some social justice issues (like the drug abuse epidemic mentioned above) where it could have gone much further but it was almost like a passing thing. I wish Meyer would have gone further into these issues explaining how this world was managing (or failing) at doing so than just this. (Or just not include it at all!)
  • Emotional Rating: 8/10 Not going to lie, I am attached to a lot of the characters now, on both sides! I am worried about them and want all of them to succeed but I know that’s not going to happen and oh the feelings!
  • Bites Rating: 5/10 This is another book that was just super fast to read, not much was highlighted and I was honestly just devouring the book and didn’t stop to highlight things too much.
  • Overall Rating: 6.33/10 Super entertaining book that did leave me hanging and wanting to read the next one. I think these books are very entertaining but do lack in substance sometimes. (Or perhaps the attempt at substance is just not enough so it becomes distracting)
Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
  • Favorite Bite:

“Trolls can smell rainbows, trolls can smell stars,” it whispered sadly. “Trolls can smell the dreams you dreamed before you were ever born. Come close to me and I’ll eat you life”

Troll Bridge in Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
  • Perspective Rating: 7/10 I don’t think these characters were particularly unique in the sense of perspective. Most of them were white men/boys encountering various types of fantastical creatures and situations. There was a variety of ages, from young kids to elderly characters so that was one place where there was some variety in perspectives, which I enjoyed.
  • Emotional Rating: 7/10 At times it was difficult to connect to the main characters so some stories did flat for me. However, others were just excellent and I empathized with the character’s troubles and was able to dive deep into the story with them.
  • Bites Rating: 7/10 It really depended on the story, some of them did have great phrases that I highlighted and annotated, while others were quick reads that I wanted to just keep reading. Nothing remarkable really.
  • Overall Rating: 7/10 This book spans short works from the 80s and early 90s and were written for various types of magazines or books that were about a very specific type of story (fairy tale re-tellings or Lovecraft-inspired for example) so the stories can be hit or miss for pretty much anyone. I’d recommend it for people interested in a good variety of sci-fi, fantasy, and speculative fiction short stories.
Eric by Terry Pratchett
  • Favorite Bite:

The bees of Death are big and black, they buzz low and somber, they keep their honey in combs of wax as white as altar candles. The honey is black as night, thick as sin and sweet as treacle.

Eric by Terry Pratchett
  • Perspective Rating: 6/10 We are once again following Rincewind in this series and he ends up in some kind of time travel mess along with a young demonologist who thinks he has summoned a demon while he has in fact, gotten a wizard out of some parallel universe. We do get to visit an ancient culture that is a mix between the Inca and the Aztec but it has the Pratchett treatment so it’s a very different satirical take. The most interesting perspective is definitely Death, who we see at the very beginning as a beekeeper in his realm and well, his point of view is always one that gets to me.
  • Emotional Rating: 4/10 Rincewind is not exactly my favorite character of the Discworld, but I did enjoy the parts of the book with Death and the Librarian which, even though they were few, they were so so great.
  • Bites Rating: 8/10 Although this book was not one of my favorites of Discworld it still gave me a lot of laughs and had many great jokes and fun bits as well as parts that made me think about life and escape the current state of things.
  • Overall Rating: 6/10 Discworld is a really fun series to pick up throughout the year. It’s guaranteed laughs and interesting characters that you never know what they’ll be doing next. While this was not my favorite book in the series it does give more of a glimpse into the Discworld so I loved it for that.
Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik
  • Favorite Bite:

We were inexpressibly stupid; we thought it was only a cold, you see.

Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik
  • Perspective Rating: 7/10 While this book is mainly told from the white, colonizer perspective, the value that Temeraire (dragon) brings is one that makes Laurence, a white colonizer, think more about his morality. In previous books the rights of dragons as sentient beings are discussed but in this one the very reality that was the slave trade at that time is front and center. This is fantasy but it grapples with historical facts and events and puts them in a different lens. If dragons were real, would slavery have changed? If people thought that dragons deserved rights and to be treated with more respect, why couldn’t black people be given the same treatment? While Novik doesn’t fully expand on all of these ideas, it is something that does bring a lot of value to this installment of the series.
  • Emotional Rating: 8/10 To say that I am attached to the characters would be an understatement. I truly care about Temeraire, that stubborn dragon who only sees things in black and white and who is completely loyal to Laurence. Laurence is also one who has earned a place in my heart because of the growth he has achieved throughout the novels. He started out as a navy guy who didn’t have many attachments and now he’s not just loyal to his British empire but also to Temeraire and his chosen family with the aviation crew. The women in this series are also amazingly strong and I only wish that we had gotten this same story but with one of the women aviators! That would have been incredible.
  • Bites Rating: 6/10 These books don’t have too much to annotate for me. Novik still does an amazing job at describing the fights, all these new terrains both at sea and on land.
  • Overall Rating: 7/10 I am four books out of nine into this series and I’m just still so impressed at how the world building keeps on growing. We’ve now definitely diverged from the factual historical timeline so I can’t wait to see where Novik takes the series next. Also, what a cliffhanger!!! My heart can’t!

So there you have it, I read 6 books in the month of May! I have also been working on three other books throughout the month: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, Disability Visibility by Alice Wong, and The Stand by Stephen King.

I’ve been thinking a bit more about how to work with this blog. I’m slowly but surely realizing that this is my own space to work with however I want so I don’t necessarily have to follow any real “rules.” Perhaps you’ll see a bit of a change in the month of June, the ratings I feel are not exactly working for me anymore so those will definitely change. Also the types of posts will likely be different, a bit more of book reviews than I’ve had so far. Apart from the books that I’m already working on, I hope to go through my unread books and see which ones I want to prioritize more during the summer (graphic novels/comics, nonfiction, continuing series, etc).

I hope your reading month went well! Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of the books mentioned above or the ones I’m still reading.

Wyrd and Wonder 2021 — A month-long fantasy adventure

I was very excited when I found out about the Wyrd and Wonder challenge for May! This challenge is hosted by LisaJorie and Imyril and it basically entails consuming fantasy stories in any format. It looks super chill and right up my alley. I might do a couple of prompts here and there but overall I love this challenge because I haven’t read much fantasy in the past year or so and I’d love to get back into reading some of my favorite fantasy authors. I also hope to watch some movies and perhaps take some photos for my instagram.

Here’s my current list of books that I do plan on reading:

  • Eric by Terry Pratchett is part of the Discworld series. I have been reading the Discworld books for a few years now and I just take it suuuuper sloooooow. I just love savoring these books and taking my time with the series. (In fact, that might be the case with the books written by my favorite authors.
  • Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik is the 4th installment in the Temeraire series. This series is so fun! Historical Fantasy with dragons and battles and amazing characters (both human and dragons), just a lot of fun.
  • Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman is a short story collection that I actually started in April but didn’t finish it. So far I was really enjoying it though so it will be good to get back into it.
  • Archenemies by Marissa Meyer is the second book in the Renegades series. I read Archenemies in March and it was a quick read and a lot of fun. I’ve really enjoyed all of Meyer’s fairy tale re-tellings and her take on superheroes is really unique and fun.
  • The Stand by Stephen King is not pictured because I haven’t picked it up yet but I will be starting that this month as well for a buddy read with a friend. We will be taking it super slow though so I don’t anticipate finishing it in May.

There are other books that I’ll also be reading but those are not in the fantasy realm so I am not mentioning those here. I will update as I read them though!

All in all I’m very excited for a May full of fantasy, magic, and fun reading!

IMAGE CREDIT: Banner by imyril; images by Svetlana Alyuk on 123RF.com

Dewey’s 24 hr Read-A-Thon — April 24, 2021

This weekend I took part in Dewey’s 24hr Readathon. I live on the West Coast so I got to start at 5am. Glorious! -_-‘ I am not normally one to get up early but I wanted to actually do this and get some reading done this Saturday so I set my alarm to get up at 4:30am. wow.

But first I needed to prep! The week before I put together the following TBR:

As you can see these are pretty varied books, from romance to fantasy! Overall a fun pile of books! I had already started The Duke and I and read one story from Smoke and Mirrors but that’s alright.

My day started at 4:30am with some Overnight Oats (Mint Chocolate Chip). This is not an ad but I loooooove Overnight Oats.

I started out in my office couch with kitty and The Duke and I by Julia Quinn.

And so I read for a good couple of hours on the couch! The Duke and I is rather steamy and spicy so it was very easy to just read and keep reading. The tension and the chemistry between Simon and Daphne were definitely tangible through the pages and, even after seeing the series on Netflix I did enjoy the way that the book focused more on the two of them instead of all the other characters.

At around 8am my sister brought me some caffeine in the form of an Orange Peel Mocha from the local coffee shop:

Once I had the caffeine in my system I just kept reading through the morning (I also had a jalapeño bagel for more fuel) and moved to a different couch (ha!). I finished The Duke and I at around noon and my thoughts on that were very mixed! On the one hand I definitely loved the more intimate look at the Bridgerton family and the discussion on childhood trauma and the effect on someone’s life. However, there was a sexual assault scene that I was very uncomfortable with soooooooo yeah that changed things. I ended up giving this book 3 stars because it was definitely very entertaining and fun to read but a key part of the book was just very uncomfortable for me so I couldn’t give it more than that.

For the next book I moved outside!

I started out The Rain of God by Arturo Islas and it was a difficult read for me. Not because it was badly written or anything but because it hit home! It is all about a Mexican American family plus their experience living in a small town near the border of the US and Mexico. There are so many parts of this book that are heavy and really quite painful. There is violence, emotional and physical abuse, cheating, hypocrisy, just a lot. Because of that, after a carne asada dinner with my family I took a bath and listened to an audiobook.

Between the World and Me was amazing and so so important!

So yes, I strayed from the TBR but is that news? XD I had already started listening to the audiobook for Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and so I listened to the last 2 hours of the book. This was also my first ever audiobook and I absolutely loved it. This was a good break for my eyes aaaand I was able to open up a package that I got that day that was full of stationery and stickers, a mystery bag from Stickii while I listened to the audiobook.

After I finished unboxing I sat and listened to Between the World and Me. It was honestly a great experience to hear the author himself narrate the book. It’s a powerful story that he’s telling his son, about what it means to be a black man and carry the weight of always being on alert. Is he doing all the right things in order to preserve his body intact? The contrast of him going to France where he doesn’t have to do that is startling. As a woman I identified with some of the aspects of always being on guard, saying the right things, wearing the right clothes, etc. His perspective serves as a window into what it’s like to live as a black man in the United States and one that I would like to continue learning about in order to be a better ally for black people.

After finishing this book I took a bit of a break and then continued reading The Rain God. I came back into the office where I started my day, put on some music and finished the book in the next few hours. Each chapter in the book is about a different member of the family. One of the chapters is about Felix, a gay man who is beaten to death. Why is it that so many people, people of color, people who have different sexual orientations, people who practice different religions, always have to live as others say they should live? This readathon put these two books in parallel for me, characters in The Rain God have to assimilate into American culture, which means thinking less of people browner than them, people who don’t speak English “properly”, etc. We are all part of the obstacle that stands in front of people who simply want to live their lives as they are. If anything, these books taught me to listen and read more of these stories to be able to see from other perspectives, even if it is so so hard to do so. For it isn’t easy to learn about so many black people being murdered by police and it’s also not easy to read about Mexican people like me who are prejudiced of other Mexican people who are simply trying to survive.

And so I called it a night at around 11pm. Although the readathon was not over I was very much done for the day. I rated these last two books 5 stars each! They both gave me a lot to think about and have motivated me to learn more while still trying to enjoy my reading.

So, in the end I finished 3 books, read a total of ~13.5 hours and read 640 pages! I call that a WIN. I also got BINGO for the Bingo Challenge! I didn’t describe what each challenge was for but you can see it below:

Pink = The Duke and I
Blue = The Rain God
Purple = Between the World and Me

And that was my experience with Dewey’s 24 hr Readathon this weekend! I did have a good book hangover all Sunday ha! I slept in and just kept pondering about all the books. Also I had two book club meetings that day: one with my friends from Mexico, we are reading Obsidian Puma by Zoe Saadia, and the other with the Questbridge Alumni book club where we read Beloved by Toni Morrison. All in all a big reading weekend!

Did you participate in the Dewey’s 24 hr Readathon? Have you read any of the books I mentioned here?

Best 7 books of 2017

Hello all!

As 2017 has now ended, I’d like to list the best 7 books I read in 2017!

First, some stats:

  • I read 72 books and DNFd 2 books*
  • I read more than 2100 pages! O.O!
  • 26 of the books I read were written by women (~37%)
  • 12 of the books I read were written by people of color (~16%)

Now let’s get on with the books!

#7. Moloka’i by Alan BrennertScreen Shot 2017-12-31 at 20.40.58

Moloka’i was a beautiful book that I read at the beginning of the year. It was recommended by my good friend Romy over at The Footnote and I immediately agreed to read it because I remembered the joy and heartbreak in her eyes as she read the first chapters of the book. So yes, this book will break your heart and it will show you a side of Hawaii that you might not have considered before.

Essentially it is a story about a girl who is sent to live in the island of Moloka’i where all the lepers are sent to live until they die from the disease. Moloka’i really was used for this purpose so the story told here is one that probably did happen to many people in the past.

“She already felt dead in everything but name. What remained to be taken from her? She longed to be enfolded, welcomed, into the earth – to breathe no more, love no more, hurt no more”
— Moloka’i by Alan Brennert —

#6. The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck

IMG_20171231_212110811.jpg John Steinbeck is definitely one of my favorite writers. I must thank my boss from when I worked in the mailroom in college because she gave me three boxes full of classic books, including all the works by John Steinbeck. I’ve read a few of his works and The Winter of Our Discontent did not disappoint at all.

We follow a man who finds himself at a moment in his life where he could continue as he is and be okay in terms of money, his family, and his job. But an opportunity arises where his life could become more interesting, he could get quite a bit of money in return, and therefore bring his family into another level of comfort. However, this opportunity is not exactly aligned with his values and really make him question who he is and what he believes.

I loved this book also because it portrays mental health in a way few classics do so. The idea that our decisions will not just create consequences in physical or monetary ways, but also to our mental health. What about does decisions that we have anxiety about, or those that later on cause us to fall into despair? That introspective is thoroughly explored in this novel and that’s one of the main reasons I loved this book.

“When a condition or a problem becomes too great, humans have the protection of not thinking about it. But it goes inward and minces up with a lot of other things already there and what comes out is discontent and uneasiness, guilt and a compulsion to get something–anything–before it is all gone.”
— The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck —

#5. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 21.15.15Homegoing was the second book we read when my boyfriend and I joined a book club in Mexico City. I was very excited for it because it would be the first book I would read by a Ghanaian author. This book provided a new perspective on the enslavement of people in Africa, their journey to the United States, and the journeys of the following generations. It’s an ambitious book that delivers small stories that form the epic tale of the generations that follow two half-sisters, one who is married to an Englishman in charge of sending slaves to the Americas, and the other who is a slave sent to the United States.

It’s a book full of hardships and sorrow but also full of hope and bravery. Men and women who strive to do the right thing even when everything goes against them, and the horrible ways in which their culture was obliterated by men and women who thought they were superior based on the color of their skin. I highly recommend this book because it extends the landscape of slavery and the ways that it has permeated our society, not only in all the places where it existed, but also through time itself.

“Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves.”
–Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi–

#4. Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 21.19.11

There are books that are so emotionally charged that I don’t know what to do with myself for days afterwards. Goodbye Days was one of those books.

This book is about a teenage boy who sends a text message to his best friends around the time when they get into a car accident that ends up killing them. It’s a book about grief, mental health, friendship, and family. It’s about forgiveness and doing the right thing even when you would rather run in the opposite direction as fast as you can.

Zentner has the amazing ability to describe the environment, a park, a bench, a house incredibly well. But he can also describe things such as music, synesthesia, complex emotions, and grief, in a way that you can almost feel it yourself. Just with that in mind it’s a book that guarantees an amazing journey.

Be prepared for tears and laughs and the desire to never again text people you love when you suspect that they might be driving. Hug your friends and keep them safe!

“For the most part, you don’t hold the people you love in your heart because they rescued you from drowning or pulled you from a burning house. Mostly you hold them in your heart because they save you, in a million quiet and perfect ways, from being alone.”
— Goodbye Days, Jeff Zentner —

#3. It by Stephen King

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 21.14.58

As you can see from the picture, It by Stephen King is a very big book. It was a gift from my boyfriend and it was the first Stephen King book I read. This makes the top three simply because I am incredibly impressed with how cohesive and well-planned this book was. The book starts off with our main characters as kids but it transitions to them as adults throughout the book. We also get glimpses of other times in the town of Derry that seem to be irrelevant but then turn out to be central to the problem that our main characters face. The mythology behind the book is subtle and yet it’s quite clear what the intention is for each of the supernatural elements that we encounter. Yes, the book is scary in some parts, and some elements will creep into your dreams or might scare you subconsciously when you least expect it (I ended up being slightly afraid of balloons for a few weeks…).

So even though the book is a horror book it is also about friendship and love, about believing in yourself because you are brave enough thanks to the friends that surround you and will always have your back. It’s about realizing that even though you are only one person, you can make a difference.

“Maybe there aren’t any such things as good friends or bad friends – maybe there are just friends, people who stand by you when you’re hurt and who help you feel not so lonely. Maybe they’re always worth being scared for, and hoping for, and living for. Maybe worth dying for too, if that’s what has to be. No good friends. No bad friends. Only people you want, need to be with; people who build their houses in your heart.”
–It, Stephen King–

#2. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 21.18.21

Good Omens get spot number 2 because it was so good in so many ways! First of all, we get two amazing authors, Pratchett and Gaiman, who are both hilarious and witty. Then we have the plot, which is that the apocalypse is just around the corner, and the antichrist is nowhere to be found. The characters are so rich and complex that you feel like you’ve known them your whole life within just a few pages. Add to that the mythology of the apocalypse and all that comes with it: the four horsemen, the angels and demons, the humans, the witches, and the aliens (of course!).

This book is full of social commentary (as all of Pratchett’s and Gaiman’s books usually are) and it makes you think about the things that we as a society place importance upon. That is, religion, politics, borders, money, status, careers, the planet, friends, family, ourselves. Perhaps there is something within our priorities that perhaps isn’t that important and which should be replaced with something that should be prioritized just a bit more. Good Omens lets us take a hard look at ourselves through a journey full of fun twists, mysteries, and laughs.

“Anyway, if you stop tellin’ people it’s all sorted out afer they’re dead, they might try sorting it all out while they’re alive. ”
–Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman–

#1. The Locust and the Bird by Hanan Al-Shaykh

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 21.17.36

Number one goes to The Locust and The Bird by Hanan Al-Shaykh! Al-Shaykh is from Lebanon and in this book she tells her mother’s memoir. Her mother, Kamila, lived in Lebanon at a time when she was not allowed to learn how to read and had to obey what the men in her family thought was best for her.

I loved this book because even though I read it back in July, I find myself still thinking about it. In part because it mirrors what my mother lived when she moved to the United States, not being able to read, write, or speak english is a disadvantage that she still deals with even today (she’s learned some but she’s still anxious whenever she is in a situation where she must speak english). I can see my mother’s story in many parts of this book, the misunderstandings that came about with the rest of our family and myself when she came to the United States and was far away from us mirrors that of Al-Shaykh’s uncertainty at the beginning on whether her mother’s story was actually interesting enough to write about.

I loved this book because it resonated with me in ways no other book has and I feel like it helped me understand my mother in ways I couldn’t before.

“I was never so desperate to read and write as I am now, if for no other reason but to write my story. Let me tell you how it hurts when a piece of wood and a piece of lead defeat me.”
–Kamila in The Locust and the Bird, Hanan Al-Shaykh–


So there you have it! Those were the best 7 books I read in 2017!

I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2018, I hope to increase the number of books by POC authors I read and to expand my perspectives as much as possible.

Let me know if you’ve read any of these books and what you thought of them, or if there’s one that you really want to read now.

Happy New Year and happy reading everyone!

*As for the two books I DNFd (Did not finish), they were Rayuela by Julio Cortázar and Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski. Both had the same problem, they were gimmicky to me, exploring a very strange structure (going from chapter 4 to chapter 72 and so on, or reading the book from both ends), which didn’t provide anything to the actual plot (if there was one…), and which ended up confusing me so much to the point of being too frustrated to care about what would happen in the book anymore. Rayuela lasted about 100 pages while I got to the half way point of Only Revolutions before putting it down. I don’t recommend them but if you are adventurous and want to try unusual book structures then do check them out.