30 June 2015

Top 10 Tuesday: Top 10 Books of 2015

Hey bloggers and fellow book readers! I'm back today with another Top Ten Tuesday hosted by the Broke and the Bookish ! This week's theme is the top 10 books we've read so far this year. I am listing my books in no particular order. So let's go ahead and get started! 

I am basically the last person on earth to read this series, but boy am I glad that I picked it up! It was so good and fast-paced. Marissa Meyer definitely kept me entertained and I cannot wait to pick up the next book in the series.

Rating: 5/5 Stars 

You are definitely going to see a lot of Rick Riordan on this list. I was introduced to his Percy Jackson series last year and now I cannot get enough of his ability to build such a captivating mythological world.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

This is possibly my favorite book of 2015. I absolutely loved the writing of this novel as well as the development of the characters. I also appreciated that it was a thought provoking book. I wasn't simply reading a story about characters.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

A lot of people would disagree with me on this choice, but I absolutely love this series. The re-telling of the Wizard of Oz in which Dorothy is an evil villain is truly captivating. I cannot wait for the final installment coming next year.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

I listened to this book on the audiobook while on vacation and I cannot believe how much I liked it. It was nothing like I thought it would be and each task just pulled me in further and further.

Rating: 4/5 Stars 

I completed Saga volumes #1-4 between last month and this month and I can definitely say I was missing out on a great graphic novel. This series is so weird it's amazing. I love the plot and the character development and let's not even get into the artwork. It's so BEAUTIFUL!

Rating: 4.5-5/5 Stars (Depended on the Volume)

Soooo...by now everyone pretty much knows I adore Rick Riordan, his world building skills, and his characters. But I absolutely loved this book in the series. The twists and turns in the plot completely threw me for a loop. It definitely was a favorite!

Rating: 5/5 Stars 

I mean what would a top 10 list be without the infamous Harry Potter. I've been re-reading the series and I must say it has been a great pleasure to step back into the world of J.K. Rowling's characters. 

Rating: 5/5 Stars
I think this book captivated me for it's ability to capture the essence of Chinese culture. I could not believe how wonderfully written this text was and it really opened my eyes to defining the purpose and meaning of beauty. 

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

Chew is probably, outside of Saga, one of my favorite graphic novels. At first I found the premise of the story disgusting (I mean the main character eats human flesh), but once I started reading the graphic novel it all made sense and I truly appreciated the work of the author. 

Rating: 4.5-5/5 Stars (Depending on the Volume)

What are some of your favorite novels of 2015 so far?!?

26 June 2015

#FridayReads 6.26.15

TGIF!!! So this weekend is going to be pretty busy for me. I'm headed to Charlotte tomorrow to spend the day with some friends and go thrifting (I'll definitely be looking for some cheap reads!). As a result I'm not sure how much reading I'll actually get finished, but here is a look at what I plan to read this weekend:

 Published: 2013

# of Pages: 500

Goodreads Blurb: "Audrey Niffenegger's dazzling debut is the story of Clare, a beautiful, strong-minded art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible, but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: his genetic clock randomly resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past, and future. His disappearances are spontaneous and unpredictable, and lend a spectacular urgency to Clare and Henry's unconventional love story. That their attempt to live normal lives together is threatened by something they can neither prevent nor control makes their story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable."

My Comments:

This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for a while so I thought it was time to pick it up. I have seen the movie, but I'm really excited to be reading the book!

Published: 2004

# of Pages: 435

Goodreads Blurb: "Harry Potter is lucky to reach the age of thirteen, since he has already survived the murderous attacks of the feared Dark Lord on more than one occasion. But his hopes for a quiet term concentrating on Quidditch are dashed when a maniacal mass-murderer escapes from Azkaban, pursued by the soul-sucking Dementors who guard the prison. It's assumed that Hogwarts is the safest place for Harry to be. But is it a coincidence that he can feel eyes watching him in the dark, and should he be taking Professor Trelawney's ghoulish predictions seriously?"

My Comments:

Of course I'm excited to read this book this weekend! I've been attempting to re-read all the Harry Potter books before the year is over so this was the next in line. Re-reading this has been like reliving a part of my childhood. And it makes me even more excited for the illustrated versions to start coming out this fall.

What books will you be reading this weekend?

24 June 2015

Entropis: Reality Unravels by Laurie Blake

Publication: 2015

# of Pages: First 3 Chapters

Source: Author (thank you Laurie!)--First chapter can be found here: https://schismseries.wordpress.com/. The chapters are released bi-weekly and the second chapter will be released June 28th. 

Summary: "Schism is an ongoing series of urban fantasy novels set in London about a group of girls who've gained magical powers after dying and are trying to stop reality from tearing itself apart. With no idea how or why it's happening, they venture into Schism--pockets of collapsing reality--to heal them before it's too late!

Combining western Super Hero culture and the "Magical Girl" anime genre with psychological and cosmic horror, the Schism series takes its readers through a fast paced adventure as its heroines are forced to fight for their own survival , along with that of their planet."


My Thoughts/Review:

Fortunately, I was given the opportunity to receive a preview of Entropis: Reality Unravels by Laurie Blake. This new YA novel takes an interesting spin on urban fantasy. A mix between a feel of the Matrix, Inception, and Super Hero culture, the author takes the reader on a journey of redefining the very essence of reality. The main character finds herself caught in a parallel, alternate universe where common objects like household items and, yes, even humans morph and change into seemingly horrific and grotesque creatures.

What was most intriguing about this novel was the concept design. It was extremely refreshing to delve into such an original world. Blake tests the very boundaries of the human psyche, breaking the mold of our traditional perception of reality. What we believe to be true may not really exist. In addition to the introduction of this new world, the reader is given the opportunity to gain insight to the main characters struggles with understanding this new perception of the world. Although a little confusing at times, the reader discovers the world along with the main character feeling her anxiety, nervousness, and curiosity.

In only reading the first three chapters, I was readily intrigued to see how the rest of the story would develop. How does the main character handle the development of these new found powers, how far will the boundaries of reality be pushed, how will these new powers manifest themselves, etc? If you are interested in a new perspective of reality and concept of the super hero be sure to check out this novel. Blake will leave you questioning reality and your very existence.

Rating: 4/5

22 June 2015

Author Spotlight: Jenny Han

Name: Jenny Han

About Author: Jenny Han was born and raised in Richmond Virginia and attended the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill to obtain an undergraduate degree. Following this she received a Masters Degree of Fine Arts in creative writing from New School.

Han is best known for her ability to write intriguing contemporary summer reads that exhibit teen angst, growth, and love. She published her first novel Shrug, a middle-grade novel, while she was still in college in 2006 which produced a series of positive reviews.

Published Works:

  • Shrug (2006)
  • Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream (2011)
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty Trilogy
    • The Summer I Turned Pretty (2009)
    • It's Not Summer Without You (2010)
    • We'll Always Have Summer (2011)
  • Burn for Burn Trilogy 
    • Burn for Burn (2012)
    • Fire with Fire (2013)
    • Ashes to Ashes (2014)
  • To All the Boys I've Loved Before Duology
    • To All the Boys I've Loved Before (2014)
    • P.S. I Still Love You (2015)
My Recommendation: 
Jenny Han is probably one of my favorite contemporary authors. Her novels are extremely easy to relate to as the chronicle the journey of young adults through some difficult issues including figuring out their love life. Her books are perfect for beach reads especially her The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy. If you are looking for a new contemporary author that exhibits the ability to give her characters life and personality then I would look no further than Ms. Han. 

21 June 2015

Sunday Post #1

Happy Father's Day to the great world of bloggers! I have decided to participate in another unique posting challenge I found hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer . Each Sunday we post about the accomplishment of our blogs in the past week and another interesting information as well as what we have planned for the week ahead. :)

19 June 2015

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

Publication: 2010

# of Pages: 557 

Source: 2nd & Charles--Second hand book store

Favorite Quotes
  • "Jason scratched his head. 'You named him Festus? You know in Latin, festus means happy? You want us to ride off to save the world on Happy the Dragon.'"
  • "You must forge your own path for it to mean anything."'
  • " 'Hold up,' Leo said. 'You guys lost a dragon? A real full size dragon.'" 

Goodreads Summary/Blurb: "Jason has a problem. He doesn't remember anything before waking up in a bus full of kids on a field trip. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper and a best friend named Leo. They're all students at a boarding school for "bad kids." What did Jason do to end up here? And where is here, exactly? 

Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, ever since she had that terrifying nightmare. Piper doesn't understand her dream, or why her boyfriend suddenly doesn't recognize her. When a freak storm hits, unleashing strange creatures and whisking her, Jason, and Leo away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood, she has a feeling she's going to find out. 

Leo has a way with tools. When he sees his cabin at Camp Half-Blood, filled with power tools and machine parts, he feels right at home. But there's weird stuff, too--like the curse everyone keeps talking about. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist that each of them--including Leo--is related to a god. 


My Thoughts/Review

Rick Riordan does it again in this follow-up to the infamous Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. What is most intriguing about this new novel is the format. Instead of the story being told from a single perspective, Rick Riordan gives us the opportunity to see the perspective of each one of our main characters. By doing this, he gives the story depth, detail, and character. There is more of an emotional connection to the characters as the reader is given insight to their most intimate feelings. 

Another great aspect of this book is the combination of Greek and Roman mythology. As usual Riordan has done extensive research into the inner workings of mythology. The premise for the combination of Greek and Roman mythology (I won't discuss because of spoilers) is extremely brilliant. I can't even describe in words how ingenious the creation of this plot is. Riordan must truly have a gift from the gods in his stories. 

As with the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series the main characters are faced with the issue of assisting and in some cases not assisting the gods in saving the world from the hands of Titans, which, in this novel, reaches a whole new level of complexity. However, the complexity does not cause confusion for the reader. It fact, it leaves the reader yearning for more. 

Although the reader may prefer one perspective over others (I definitely did), Riordan does not fall short of providing his readers with adventure, mythological knowledge, and a beautiful insight to true friendship and courage. If you are a fan of Greek or Roman mythology and have completed the Percy Jackson and the Olympian series I highly suggest you get started with this one. 

Rating: 4.5/5

16 June 2015

15 June 2015

Beautiful Bloggers Award!

Hey bloggers and book lovers alike!! So usually on Monday I do my author spotlight; however, today I'm doing a special post in honor of the Beautiful Bloggers Award. I was nominated by the lovely Carrie from The Book Goddess (go check out her blog!). Thanks again love! I appreciate the nomination and I hope we get to know each other and become friends. :)

Here are the rules:

  • Link to the blogger who nominated you. 
  • List seven random facts about you. 
  • Nominate seven creative, beautiful bloggers and notify them. 

Seven Random Facts About Me: 
  1. I'm classically trained in playing the piano. 
  2. I'm obsessed with Greek mythology. 
  3. I teach psychology. 
  4. I feel this strange connection to water (I have to explain this in person lol)
  5. My wingspan is taller than me (I have really long arms). 
  6. I HATE the word moist. 
  7. Spiders freak me out. Ugh! 

My Nominees: 
You guys have amazing blogs and I love reading them! I hope I get to know you better! :)

13 June 2015

Book Tag: Harry Potter Style

Good morning readers!! Coming to you from Florida (yes, I'm on vacation haha). So I wasn't tagged by anyone to do this, but I saw it on You, Me, and a Cup of Tea and I couldn't resist. I mean it's Harry Potter related after all. Here are the questions and my answers! Feel free to do this tag!!

  1. Favorite Book: I love all of the Harry Potter books, but if I had to choose a favorite it would probably be The Goblet of Fire.
  2. Least Favorite Book: I love all of the books but I had to choose a least favorite it would probably be the Prisoner of Azkaban. 
  3. Favorite Movie: Now this one is a tough one! I would say it's a tie between the Goblet of Fire (seeing the Triwizard Tournament come to life was epic) and the 2nd part of the Deathly Hallows. 
  4. Least Favorite Movie:  I would probably have to say the Prisoner of Azkaban again. 
  5. Favorite Quote: "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." -Dumbledore, Chamber of Secrets
  6. Favorite Weasley: The twins Fred & George of course! They are hilarious! 
  7. Favorite Female Character: Hermione Granger--she's always the brains behind the
  8. Favorite Villain: Probably Professor Umbridge because she truly is psychotic. 
  9. Favorite Male Character: Sirius Black 
  10. Favorite Professor: I definitely would have to say Professor McGonagall! 
  11. Is there any character you felt different about in the movies vs. the books: I feel like Cho Chang had a bigger role in the books than she did in the movies. 
  12. Is there a movie you prefer over book: Definitely not!
  13. Richard Harris or Michael Gambon as Dumbledore: I can't choose. They both did an amazing job. 
  14. The top thing (person or event) which wasn't included in the movie that annoyed you the most: In the fourth movie I didn't like that parts of the maze challenge was missing or in the second movie they don't include the potions challenge. 
  15. If you could remake any of the Potter movies, which would it be: I don't know if I would. They are all pretty good to me. 
  16. Which house was your first gut feeling you'd be part of: Gryffindor 
  17. Which house were you actually sorted into on Pottermore: Gryffindor lol! Good gut feeling huh? 
  18. Which class would be your favorite: I think it would be defense against the dark arts and transfiguration. 
  19. Which spell do you think would the most useful to learn: I probably would need to learn expelliarmus. :) Great defense spell. 
  20. Which character do you think at Hogwarts you would instantly become best friends with: Probably the Weasley twins! Our need to laugh and joke around all the time would be instantaneous bonding. 
  21. If could own one of the three hallows which would it be: The invisibility cloak! 
  22. Is there any aspect of the books you'd want to change: DEFINITELY NOT!
  23. Favorite Marauder: Lupin of course :) 
  24. If you could bring one character back to life who would it be: SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS Sirius Black...I think Harry really needed him. 
  25. Hallows or Horcruxes: Hallows definitely!

11 June 2015

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Publication: 2005

# of Pages: 253

Source: 2nd & Charles--Second hand book store

Favorite Quotes:

  • "If a daughter doesn't marry out, she's not valuable, if fire doesn't raze the mountain, the land will not be fertile."
  • "Even if we are poor, even if we are young, even if we have children, it is better to dies, remain true to our husbands, and keep our virtue than to bring shame on their memories."

Goodreads Blurb/Summary: "In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, or "old same," in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she has written a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men. As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on the fan and compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. They both endure the agony of footbinding and together reflect upon their arranged marriages, shared loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises their deep friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.


My Thoughts/Review:

It is not every day that we are given the opportunity to learn about a culture outside of our own. With her publication of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lisa See was able to create an intriguing perspective of rural China. One of the most fascinating aspects associated with the novel, at least for me, was the infamous practice of footbinding. If you are unaware of the practice, footbinding was a tradition that involved the shrinking of the size of a woman's foot. Some even managed to shrink their feet to a mere size of three inches representing grace, class, and beauty (If you are interested in the history of footbinding check out this site: NPR: Painful Memories of Footbinding). While reading the process of footbinding proved to be cringe worthy, it really brought forward an understanding of the term "beauty."

See clearly and beautifully establishes the cultural differences aligned with what we deem as beautiful. Every town, city, state, and nation has it's own expectations and definition for a woman's beauty. Nevertheless, she reminds her readers that in the end all women, regardless of expectation of physical beauty, long for "love, friendship, happiness, tranquility, and to be heard." It is in her characters Lily and Snow Flower that we see the fight and desire for these things.

In a world built upon structure, rules of womanhood, value (where a woman is not valuable unless she marries out and bears a son), and social class, the characters of this novel seek redemption for their wrongs committed to each other and their error in being born a woman. Whether they find that redemption is left up to the discretion of the reader.

The only aspect I found difficult to grasp, understand, and respect was the concept of  "mother-love." The lack of love and kindness to daughters and the volatile relationship from mother-in-law to daughter-in-law was heartbreaking. Coming from a place of personal bias in which I have come from a loving household made it extremely difficult to understand that this behavior was considered fair, true, and beneficial. It was deemed necessary to mold successful, obedient wives. Nevertheless, See ultimately exposed me to a world once hidden from my cultural experiences. Beauty is no longer just a word, but a perspective in which I will continue to relish and grow.

Rating: 4/5 

09 June 2015

08 June 2015

Author Spotlight: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Name: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

About Author: Best recognized for her presence in African literature, Adichie was born in Enugu, Nigeria. After completing sometime at a university in Nigeria, she transferred to a university in the United States graduating with her degree in 2001. After obtaining her bachelors degree, Adichie then furthered her education by attending and receiving master's degrees from both Johns Hopkins University and Yale University. She has given several lectures since her rise to a prominent writer including the infamous "We Should All Be Feminists" TEDx Talk. Here's a video of the lecture.

She has been awarded several different awards for her writing including the following: Commonwealth Writers' Prize: Best First Book (Africa), Anisfield-Wolf Book Award,  National Book Critics Circle Award: Fiction category, and many more.

Published Works:

  • Purple Hibiscus (2003)
  • Half of a Yellow Sun (2006)
  • The Thing Around Your Neck (2009)
  • Americanah (2013)
My Recommendation:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is vastly one of the most complex authors I have encountered in my time of reading. I think I truly fell in love with her sheer intelligence when I listened to her "We Should All Be Feminists" lecture on YouTube. However, this year was the first year I was able to read one of her works (Americanah) and it was breathtakingly beautiful. She is capable of truly introducing the world to the meaning and purpose of African literature. If you are looking for a diverse author with a true and beautiful gift for story-telling I would look no further than Ms. Adichie. 

05 June 2015

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Publication: May 2013

# of Pages: 477

Source: Barnes & Noble/Purchased Copy

Goodreads Blurb/Summary: "As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu—beautiful, self-assured—departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze—the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor—had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion—for their homeland and for each other—they will face the toughest decisions of their lives."


My Thoughts/Review:

Chimamanda's Americanah was such a gripping book, not only for her fluid writing style, but also for her ability to write a story that readers could so heavily connect to. While I find myself steering away from race when discussing literary reviews, it is nearly impossible when this book defines our perception of race. I will never forget my own personal experience with race when as a undergraduate student I participated in a forum that challenged what it means to be black in America versus what it means to be black in Africa. Quite a few of the points made in that forum are clearly outlined in this book.

Chimamanda brings forward what most of us are terrified to address, what most of us are terrified to see. What's most interesting is her ability to identify that the concept of race exists, yet it's meaning varies from person to person. She is even brave enough to question the meaning of identity. What does it mean to black? What does it mean to be hispanic, asian, or white? She even challenges the concept of the American dream. Our main character fantasizes about being like the characters of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and "A Different World" (if you don't know what these are you have to check them out! ;D ), yet Ifemelu quickly finds that America is nothing like these infamous t.v. shows. Even the title speaks heavily to the concept of identity as Americanah refers to an African that has essentially become "Americanized."

But before I get too carried away, I must mention that Americanah is also a love story, one of second chances and redemption. It was not a romance founded upon "insta-love" or perfect gratification, but one that had ups and downs. In the end, the struggles faced by the main characters made their relationship more realistic.

While I enjoyed almost every aspect of this book, there were some minor things that I struggled with. Even though most parts of this book were written beautifully and laiden with detail, I did not particularly enjoy Obinze's perspective. In contrast to Ifemelu, his perspective was a little dry, but it did not take away from the overall beauty of the novel. Americanah is a praise worthy novel in which readers are truly given the opportunity to appreciate the concept of identity and feeling empowered by who you are. Watching Ifemelu and Obnize figure out who they were and what they meant to each other was stunningly beautiful. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding and respecting the power of self discovery.

Rating: 4.5/5 

03 June 2015

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Novels of 2015

So...I decided to do things a little differently today. Instead of writing a post about my top 5 Wednesday I decided to include a video log. Below you will find a video of me discussing my top 5 favorite novels of 2015! Leave a comment below and tell me what your top 5 favorite novels are so far this year: 

02 June 2015

01 June 2015

Author Spotlight: Rick Riordan

Name: Richard Russel "Rick" Riordan

About Author: Best known for his ability to incorporate mythology into spell-binding novels, Rick Riordan has become a world-renowned author. Born in San Antonio, Texas, Rick has successfully developed several different series that were initialed inspired by his children as a bed-time story.

Published Works:

  • Percy Jackson & The Olympians 
    • The Lightning Thief (2005)
    • The Sea of Monsters (2006)
    • The Titan's Curse (2007)
    • The Battle of the Labyrinth (2008)
    • The Last Olympian (2009)
  • The Heroes of Olympus
    • The Lost Hero (2010)
    • The Sun of Neptune (2011)
    • The Mark of Athena (2012)
    • The House of Hades (2013)
    • The Blood of Olympus (2014)
  • The Kane Chronicles
    • The Red Pyramid (2010)
    • The Throne of Fire (2011)
    • The Serpent's Shadow (2012)
  • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard
    • The Sword of Summer (Fall 2015)
  • Tres Navarre Series
    • Big Red Tequila (1997)
    • The Widower's Two Step (1998)
    • The Last King of Texas (2001)
    • The Devil Went Down to Austin (2002)
    • Southtown (2004)
    • Mission Road (2005)
    • Rebel Island (2008)
My Recommendation: Rick Riordan is turning out to be one of my new favorite authors. His stories not only exhibit fantastic world building, but they also illustrate his ability to pay attention to the smallest of details. If you are looking for books that not only exhibit adventure, passion, but also humor look no further than this author. Although most of his books are written and published as middle grade novels, it is without a doubt that Riordan has written books to captivate the world.