15 July 2016

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Publication: 2012
# of Pages: 409
Source: Owned Copy 

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them--until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can't entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn't believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.

Set in an old Southern town, the Raven Boys illustrates a dynamic relationship between four boys and a girl named Blue. Exploring the paranormal, these characters unite to help fulfill the desire of Gansey to seek the powers of an old legend.

Let me start off by saying that this book is definitely focused on character development more so than plot development. What should have been a quick read took me almost a month to accomplish. The beginning of the novel is relatively slow as Steifvater takes her time building not only the characters, but the world in which they reside. While I didn’t appreciate this tactic at first, I began to understand why she did this at the end of the novel. Completing the task (finding this old legend in the form of a king) takes a strong group of characters; ones that take time to develop. Steifvater is complete in giving the readers a well-rounded image of each character from their background stories to their personalities. Although I am more geared towards books that focus on plot driven storylines, I did find comfort in getting to know each character on a personal basis.

What I loved most about this novel was the mythological intrigue and how all the characters are interwoven. If you did not know, I have the greatest appreciation for novels that include or are based on myths, legends, and/or folklore. As a result of this novel containing one of these elements, I instantly became interested in how it would be woven into the framework of the novel. Steifvater carefully utilizes this mythological legend to tie the entire story together leading to a creative and rather interesting conclusion. 

Although the novel took a while to get into, it did turn out to be rather interesting and the writing was beautiful. I think I will learn to appreciate this series more now that I understand the manner in which Stiefvater is writing these books. If you are looking for wonderful character development and beautiful writing I would definitely check out this book. 


14 July 2016

TLC Book Tour: Stepping to a New Day by Beverly Jenkins

Okay guys I'm back with another tour! Below you'll find information about the book, author, and a full review. I hope you enjoy! : )

Publication: 2016
# of Pages: 304
Source: Review Copy 

In Henry Adams, Kansas, you can’t start over without stirring things up . . .
Many a good woman has had to leave a no-good man, but how many of them took a backseat to his six-hundred-pound hog? On her own for the first time, Genevieve Gibbs is ecstatic, even if certain people preferred the doormat version of Ms. Gibbs. Finding someone who appreciates the “new” her has only just hit Gen’s to-do list when T. C. Barbour appears in her life.

A tiny Kansas town is a far cry from his native Oakland, California, but it’s just the change T. C. needs. While helping his divorced nephew acclimate to single fatherhood, T. C. lands a gig driving a limo for the most powerful woman in Henry Adams. It’s a great way to meet people—and one in particular has already made the job worthwhile. All it takes is a short trip from the airport for Genevieve to snag T. C.’s attention for good. But it wouldn’t be Henry Adams without adding more drama to the mix. When Gen’s ex Riley returns with his hog in tow, it sets off a chain of events that can ruin everything—unless the residents pull together once again to save the day.

What can I say about this book except that it was super cute and contained a wonderful story line. Jenkins introduces the reader to host of amazing characters that reside in a tiny Kansas town that was founded by a group of free African-Americans. It is difficult for me to admit this, but after reading the synopsis I did not think I would enjoy this book, but I flew through it in a couple of days. The beauty in which Jenkins creates her characters left me wanting more each time I put the book down. Their issues are realistic and prove to be easy to relate to for people of all ages and backgrounds. One of my favorite aspects of this book was the sense of unity and community created by the people of Henry Adams. In this day and generation it can be difficult to find communities that bond together and stick together through life's ups and downs. I, like one of the main characters, found that their ability to forgive and move forward was truly rewarding. It was the lightness and the optimism of the characters that made this book fun and overall enjoyable. To be quite honest I learned a couple of things especially the idea that sometimes kindness is better than being right all the time. My favorite character of this entire novel definitely was Genevieve. Even in her age she sought to live her life for herself after making so many mistakes along the way. I, too, have made a great many of mistakes, have been hurt, and destroyed in ways I can not even begin to discuss. However, Genevieve's character taught me that sometimes you have to push everything and everyone aside and live a life that makes you happy. When you are able to do something like that everything else eventually falls into place. I admired that quality in her and it was truly rewarding to read about such a powerful, strong woman. 

The only issue I think that I found in this book was that things were almost too perfect. Some resolutions came to easily for some characters especially Riley; however, I think that overall the positive atmosphere in the book really draws readers in and leaves them wanting more from these community members of Henry Adams. To be quite honest, I want more from Ms. Jenkins and I cannot wait to see if there is another book that will let readers know how all the characters managed to live their lives after the conclusion of this novel. I've been looking at the other novels in the series and I definitely look forward to reading some more of Ms. Jenkin's work. If you are looking for a fun, contemporary book with a close knit community I would surely recommend this series. 

Beverly Jenkins has received numerous awards, including five Waldenbooks/Borders Group Romantic Times Magazine, and a Golden Pen Award from the Black Writer's Guild. Ms. Jenkins was named one of the Top Fifty Favorite African-American writers of the 20th century by AABLC, the nation's largest on-line African-American book club. She was recently nominated for the NAACP Image Award in Literature.

Find out more about Beverly at her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

08 July 2016

Friday #56, #16 Our 50 States by Lynne Cheney, Robin Preiss Glasser (Illustrator)

The Friday #56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's VoiceJoin in every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you've been reading. Here are the rules:

  • Grab a book 
  • Turn to page 56 or 56% in your e-reader
  • Find any sentence (or a few, don't spoil it) 

**Be sure to post the links to your Friday #56 below!

Happy Reading!

So this week I decided to do something a little different. I'm currently attempting to read a lot more picture books and I'm becoming a huge advocate to for them to be read by people of all ages. The picture book I'm currently reading is a non-fiction book about all 50 states. It is extremely intricate and gives so many facts and information related to that state including people, information about it's founding, famous sites, etc. It's an extremely informative book for children and includes various facts that even I wasn't aware of. As my Friday #56 I decided to include several pictures of the book. I hope you enjoy it and that it encourages you to pick up more picture books even non-fiction picture books which usually contain wonderful pictures as well as great information. 

Listening to her grandchildren's enthusiastic account of all they saw and did on a family road trip inspired Lynne Cheney to collaborate with Robin Preiss Glasser and create Our 50 States -- the greatest family vacation imaginable. Pack your bags and celebrate our diverse heritage state by state and sea to shining sea in this treasure trove of America's people, places, and history.

A scholar of American history, Mrs. Cheney has drawn on a lifetime of study and travel for Our 50 States. Robin Preiss Glasser has brought her inimitable wit and exuberance to every illustration. Together they have created a joyful book that reminds us how fortunate we are to call America our home.

07 July 2016

Reading Picture Books: Why I Read Them & Reviews

Reading Picture Books

Okay so I've been wanting to do this post for a while. As some of you may have noticed I've been reading quite a bit of picture books that have counted towards my Goodreads goal. Quite often we think of picture books as tools for younger children, not adults; however, I find that I love picture books just as much as young adult, new adult, and adult books. Here are some of my reasons why:

  • The illustrations in picture books are amazing and really draw the reader into the story. 
  • Sometimes picture books take complex ideas/emotions/general information and break it down into something that's understandable for all ages. 
  • Picture books give back to all age groups and are our first steps into become life-long readers and learners. 
  • There is great interaction between the text and the visuals within picture books. 
With that being said I've learned to really enjoy all that is offered in picture books and I am trying to encourage other readers that I meet through blogging and YouTube that there is quality and purpose in picking up a picture book. Check out some of the reviews below of picture books I've read in the past month or so. 

Every morning, I play a game with my father.
He goes knock knock on my door and I pretend to be asleep till he gets right next to the bed.
And my papa, he tells me, "I love you."

But what happens when, one day, that "knock knock" doesn't come? This powerful and inspiring book shows the love that an absent parent can leave behind, and the strength that children find in themselves as they grow up and follow their dreams.

My Thoughts/Review: This story...there aren't words to describe how important this story is and how it can aide young children in coping with the loss of a parent due to death, divorce, or incarceration. It was beautifully written and illustrated and dealt thoughtfully with such a difficult topic. I definitely could have used a story like this when I was longer since I lost my dad to divorce. I moved to a completely different state and wasn't able to see him. It took a long time for me to come to terms with that and it some ways I'm still learning. If you are looking for a story to relate to yourself or maybe you need this type of story to aide a younger individual dealing with the loss of a parent I would definitely recommend this picture book. 

Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. An American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, Mendez was denied enrollment to a “Whites only” school. Her parents took action by organizing the Hispanic community and filing a lawsuit in federal district court. Their success eventually brought an end to the era of segregated education in California.

My Thoughts/Review
So in my attempt to read more picture books I discovered this little gem and checked this book out from the library and I was so surprised at the fact that I did not know anything about this case until I read this book and like it said in the back more people should know about this case as arguments from it were used in the brown v. board of education case. This is a great educational piece and I'm so upset that it took me so long to find it. The artwork was amazing and I loved the story. This is one book I'm thinking about adding to my collection. If you are looking for more books related to Mexican American history and how they too faced discrimination in the school systems I would definitely recommend checking this out. 

Are germs gross, or great? Sick Simon learns how to be health-conscious during cold and flu season in this clever picture book from the author-illustrator of The Great Lollipop Caper.

Simon is going to have the best week ever. Who cares if he has a cold? He goes to school anyway, and sneezes everywhere, and coughs on everyone, and touches everything.

Germs call him a hero! Everyone else calls him Sick Simon. When will it end? How far will he go? Will the germs take over, or can Sick Simon learn to change his ways?

My Thoughts/Review: Let me start by saying that this book is gross! But it's gross in a good way. It teachers kids (and yes some adults) the importance of washing one's hands and keeping clean as to not spread germs. With that being said the storyline of this picture book is hilarious and the artwork is brilliant. If you are looking for a fun and creative way to teach kids and adults about germs this definitely is the way to go. 

06 July 2016

WWW Wednesday #4

So it's another Wednesday guys! That means I'm back with another WWW Wednesday. This meme is hosted by Sam over at Taking on A World of Words. The point of the meme is to answer 3 questions that all begin with the letter W. The three questions are:

  • What are you currently reading? 
  • What have you recently finished? 
  • What do you think you'll read next?  

    Let's Get Started!!

    Currently Reading

    So I'm currently reading a variety of different things. Soul Eater has been sitting on my desk in my apartment for ages when I checked it out from the library like a month ago and I just keep renewing it hoping that no one else wants to read it before I get to it. So far its pretty good. I'm still getting adjusted to its style. The Bob Marley biography is a book I just randomly picked up because I'm obsessed with the man and I'm willing to read anything and everything about him. The last book Everything I Never Told You is one that I'm listening to on audiobook. It's pretty good so far. It has to be finished soon for the book club at my job. 

    Recently Finished

    Ok so as you can see I've finished quite a few things in the past week or so and the genres range from young adult to middle grade to beginner readers. So I'm not going to discuss each book in detail, but some of my favorites this week definitely included Rodrick Rules & Sunny Side Up. After reading An Abundance of Katherines I have come to the conclusion that John Green writes all his books based on some type of formula. I'll be finished with all of his works soon, but I can't say I'm a die hard fan. One of the most interesting reads was A Girl on the Shore. It's a manga, but be warned that it is sexually explicit and not for readers under the age of 18. I didn't dislike it, but I didn't enjoy it either.

    Reading Next

    So as usual my selection for my up next reading is definitely a wide variety of items. I'm excited for each of these as they are all different genres and cover so many different things!! 

    What did you week of reading look like?

    05 July 2016

    TLC Book Tours: The Mother by Yvette Edwards Book Review

    Hey guys! I'm back with another book review for TLC Book Tours. Below you'll find information about the book, a summary, purchase links, a review, and a short blurb about the author! Enjoy! 

    Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon Barnes & Noble

    Published: 2016
    # of Pages: 256 
    Source: Review Copy 

    The unimaginable has happened to Marcia Williams. Her bright and beautiful sixteen-year-old son Ryan has been brutally murdered. Consumed by grief and rage, she must bridle her dark feelings and endure something no mother should ever have to experience: she must go to court for the trial of the killer—another teenage boy—accused of taking her son’s life. 

    How could her son be dead? Ryan should have been safe—he wasn’t the kind of boy to find himself on the wrong end of a knife carried by a dangerous young man like Tyson Manley. But as the trial proceeds, Marcia finds her beliefs and assumptions challenged as she learns more about Ryan’s death and Tyson’s life, including his dysfunctional family. She also discovers troubling truths about her own. As the strain of Ryan’s death tests their marriage, Lloydie, her husband, pulls further away, hiding behind a wall of secrets that masks his grief, while Marcia draws closer to her sister, who is becoming her prime confidant. 

    One person seems to hold the answers—and the hope—Marcia needs: Tyson's scared young girlfriend, Sweetie. But as this anguished mother has learned, nothing in life is certain. Not any more.

    A beautiful, engrossing novel that illuminates some of the most important and troubling issues of our time, The Mother is a moving portrait of love, tragedy, and survival—and the aftershocks from a momentary act of cruel violence that transforms the lives of everyone it touches.

    What is most amazing about this novel is the emotion and power that is portrayed simply by words. The reader is given the opportunity to experience the day to day life of a mother who has to attempt to make sense of a senseless murder. If I had children there is no way that I would be able to go through and maintain a level of sanity that Marcia does in an attempt to understand and relieve some answers. 

    I think what troubled me the most about the novel was the fact that Marcia's husband basically checked out. It's understandable considering the circumstances; however, it was difficult to read. As a result Marcia is forced to go to court by herself and find redemption and answers by herself. I think that in a time when a mother loses her child she shouldn't have to face the experience alone and it was particularly difficult for me to read those parts. 

    The most beautiful aspect of this novel is definitely Marcia coming full circle and understanding that a senseless murder has a deeper story behind it. It doesn't change the pain or the hurt associated with losing a child; however, I think that Marcia gets some type of closure from being confused to understanding maybe why the other boy felt the motive or initiative to murder her son. 

    What I can say is that this book packs an emotionally punch and is definitely well-written to be under 300 pages. Edwards captures the pain and confusion so well that it draws the reader in and better allows them to connect with the characters. I definitely recommend this novel, but be prepared for an emotional journey of love, loss, and redemption. 

    Yvvette Edwards, the author of the highly praised A Cupboard Full of Coats, has lived in London all her life. She resides in the East End and is married with three daughters and a stepson. The Mother is her second novel.