31 January 2017

A Month in Review: January 2017

Happy Tuesday everbody! This month has been a really good month for me in terms of reading, blogging, and making YouTube videos! I can't believe the first month of 2017 is coming to a close already! With that being said, I'm excited to see what February has in store. 

Keep reading to see what I've written this month, what I've read, and some statistics! : ) 

Books Read

Here are a list of books that I read this month: 
  • Sink or Swim (Whatever After #3)
  • Monstress Vol. 1
  • The Man Who Walked Between The Towers
  • Sugar & Spice (L.A. Candy, #3)
  • Dream On (Whatever After, #4)
  • The Walked Dead, Vol. 3
  • Good Night, Mouse
  • 1, 2 Buckle My Shoe
  • Blackout
  • A Splendid Friend Indeed
  • The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 4
  • The Miserable Mill (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #4)
  • Giant Days, Vol. 1
  • My Brilliant Friend (Neapolitan Novels, #1)
  • If You Give A Pig A Pancake
  • A Monster Calls
  • Salt to the Sea
  • Bad Hair Day (Whatever After, #5)
  • Grimm Fairy Tales, Vol. 3
  • You Can't Touch My Hair
  • Are You An Echo?
  • Du Iz Tak
  • Starry River of the Sky 
  • From Head to Toe
  • Owen 
  • My Friend Rabbit 

Okay so I haven't done this before, but I was really interested in looking at the statics affiliated with what I read this so far this year and I've broken in down into several categories including genre of the books, origin of the author, and the number of total pages read. Keep reading to check out some of the charts I came up with. 

This first graph is a look at the origin of the authors I've read. I'm trying to push myself to be more diverse in my reading and choice of authors so I decided to start looking at the origin of the authors I'm reading. So far I'm still reading more authors from the US more than anything. I'm hoping to change that in the future. 

So I read all over the place this month and I'm happy I did! I want to increase the number of adult and non-fiction books I read each month though. I think that would round out my reading nicely. 

For the most part I gave books this month either 3 or 4 stars. I'm not surprised considering that's how I usually rate my books whenever I'm reading. I was lucky to actually read 3 5-star books this month. That rarely ever happens. 

This month I also read a total of 3695 pages which is great! Let me know in the comments how the month of January went for you guys. 

30 January 2017

January Challenge Check-In

Okay! So I decided that with each month of this year I will do a challenge check in! I want to thoroughly keep up with every challenge this year so in addition to doing a monthly wrap-up I will be working to keep you guys updated with all the challenges I have going on. So let's go ahead and get started:

#NetflixsandBook Challenge

So the Netflix & Book Challenge is hosted by Novel Ink and Bookmark It and in order to track my progress for this challenge they actually have a point system. I haven't been able to read any of the books I set on my TBR; however, I have been able to watch a lot of the TV shows that I set on my "to be watched" list.  According to the challenge link I get 20 points for completed seasons of 1 hour shows and 10 points for 30 minute shows.

Here the shows I completed as of the moment that I'm writing this post:

  • The Hills - Season 1: 10 points (review
  • The Hills - Season 2: 10 points 
  • Drop Dead Diva - Season 3: 20 points 
  • Drop Dead Diva - Season 4: 20 points 
  • Drop Dead Diva - Season 5: 20 points 
I also did the Netflix & Books Tag here so that awarded me another 20 points. 

So far I have a total of 100 points for this challenge and I'm really enjoying. For the upcoming month I'll probably be finishing up Drop Dead Diva & The Hills. I also want to get to started on some of the books I have listed. 

I'm doing really well with this challenge. I'm simply following along with the monthly challenges/themes and in January we were supposed to read a book that contained diverse folklore. I ended up finishing the book Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin. Next month I'll be reading One Crazy Summer for POC main character. 

Total: 1/12
Pop Sugar Challenge

The Pop Sugar Challenge is probably the most difficult challenge I'll be participating in this year. There are a lot of different categories and quite a few of them are outside of my comfort zone. Here are the books I completed for the challenge this month: 

Each will have a goodreads review. If I wrote a full-length review on my blog it will state so by the title of the book. 

Total: 4/63

This is one of my favorite challenges and I committed myself to reading 52 comics and manga this year; although, I know I will be reading a lot more. Here is what I've read so far:

Each will have a goodreads review. If I wrote a full-length review on my blog it will state so by the title of the book. 
Total: 5/52

I've been making great progress on this challenge. Picture books are definitely quick reads; however, the challenges make them a little difficult, but I'm excited to continue my journey to completely these 102 books!

Some will have a goodreads review. If I wrote a full-length review on my blog it will state so by the title of the book. 

Total: 12/102

29 January 2017

Comment Challenge Participant

Happy Sunday everyone! I got a wonderful email yesterday letting me know that I have been paired to participate in the Comment Challenge hosted by Lonna @ FlyLeF and Alicia @ A Kernal of Nonsense. This challenge connects bloggers together to assist them in not only meeting new bloggers, but also spreading the love by commenting on posts. 

I missed the opportunity to sign up to start to participate in January, but I definitely intend on participating in the month of February and March! I love meeting new bloggers and commenting on their different posts. This round I have dedicated myself to commenting 10 or more times on my partners blog. 

This month I have been paired with Lia @ Lost in A Story. She has an awesome blog with really unique features so definitely be sure to check it out! 

If you want more information about the challenge be sure to check it out here

28 January 2017

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Goodreads | Amazon 

Published: September 2011
# of Pages: 216
Source: Library Copy

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

This book...oh my goodness...this book! I wish I could even find the words to describe how amazing this book was. Let me start off by saying that there are two specific elements that make this book amazing: the writing and the way that Ness handles the entire concept of death and grieving. I've read a lot of books that contained a character or characters dying or in risk of dying; however, none of them have handled it with the grace that is found within this book. 

What's ironic about writing this review is that I don't want to say much for the simple fact that experiencing this book without any prior knowledge makes it that much more amazing. I knew prior to reading it that people found it amazing in many different ways, but I didn't know why. Going through this book and understanding it's uniqueness and beauty for myself made it a breath taking experience. 

I've never been an individual that understands or knows how to handle the concept of grief. I haven't lost anyone close to me yet, but I know just like everyone else that my time to experience that magnitude of grief is coming soon. What Ness conveyed through Conor's experiences is that when tragedy comes it's okay to be angry. I think a lot of times we, as human beings, think that when tragedy occurs we must be sad; however, Ness allows the reader to understand that anger is understandable; it's rational. In fact, I believe that he attempts to tell us that anger is a part of the process of grieving. Most of all, Conor learns that it's okay go through all of these emotions and thoughts no matter how difficult or bad they may seem. 

In part of the novel, the monster discusses the dichotomy of thoughts in a human being (this was my favorite part of the novel). He states that humans often have simultaneous thoughts and feelings that are relatively conflicting. Although we may believe that we are bad individuals for having bad thoughts or wishes, the monster makes it clear that it is not our thoughts that define us, but our actions. It's all about what we decided to act on which makes the human mind so complex. I thought that this small bit of information was so beautifully written and so true. 

Overall, I thought that this was a phenomenal book and I completely and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It is one of the first books that has received a 5 star rating from me this year and I don't give those out too willingly. I don't read many books that bring tears to my eyes, but this book (I was sobbing like a baby) was a completely different story. If you are looking for an emotional read, but also one that is well-written then I would definitely recommend this book! 

P.S. I will be watching the movie soon! : ) 

27 January 2017

Friday #56, #23 You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson

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!

Okay so this week was #diverseathon and for my first read of the week I decided to pick up You Can't Touch My Hair which is a memoir, but also a guide to a lot of things that occur within and in relation to being a black woman. It's really insightful and as a black female it's really easy for me to relate to. Although the book title contains the word "hair" it ultimately is about so much more including a brief history of black hair in film, TV, music, and media; how to avoid being the black friend; and the angry black woman myth. I would recommend this book to a lot of people especially if you're interested in learning a bit of information that you may not have been familiar with. 

"Bono, Lead Singer: His singing voice is angelic, powerful, and raw. His speaking voice is that of a sexy Irish god. When he opens his mouth, I start behaving like an old black church lady, which means I fan myself and pass around a collection plate..." 

A hilarious and affecting essay collection about race, gender, and pop culture from celebrated stand-up comedian and WNYC podcaster Phoebe Robinson.

Phoebe Robinson is a stand-up comic, which means that, often, her everyday experiences become points of comedic fodder. And as a black woman in America, she maintains, sometimes you need to have a sense of humor to deal with the absurdity you are handed on the daily. Robinson has experienced her fair share over the years: she's been unceremoniously relegated to the role of "the black friend," as if she is somehow the authority on all things racial; she's been questioned about her love of U2 and Billy Joel ("isn t that . . . white people music?"); she's been called "uppity" for having an opinion in the workplace; she's been followed around stores by security guards; and yes, people do ask her whether they can touch her hair all. the. time. Now, she's ready to take these topics to the page and she s going to make you laugh as she s doing it.

Using her trademark wit alongside pop-culture references galore, Robinson explores everything from why Lisa Bonet is "Queen. Bae. Jesus," to breaking down the terrible nature of casting calls, to giving her less-than-traditional advice to the future female president, and demanding that the NFL clean up its act, all told in the same conversational voice that launched her podcast, "2 Dope Queens," to the top spot on iTunes. As personal as it is political, "You Can't Touch My Hair" examines our cultural climate and skewers our biases with humor and heart, announcing Robinson as a writer on the rise."

26 January 2017

Movie Review - Kubo & The Two Strings

Happy Thursday everyone! I'm back with a movie review! : ) I hope everyone is enjoying their week. So today I'll be focusing on the movie Kubo & The Two Strings! It's an animated fantasy movie that definitely didn't get the attention it deserved. 

Director: Travis Knight

  • Art Parkinson: Kubo 
  • Charlize Theron: Monkey/Sariatu
  • Matthew McConaughey: Beetle/Hanzo
  • Ralph Fiennes: Raiden the Moon King
  • Rooney Mara: Karasu and Yukami 
  • George Takei: Hasato 
  • Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa: Hashi 
  • Brenda Vaccaro: Kameyo
Genre: Animated Fantasy

Rating: PG

Brief Plot Analysis: Kubo and the Two Strings is an animated fantasy film that focuses on the story of Kubo, a one-eyed boy who lives in Japan. Kubo mainly spends his days in the village entertaining crowds by manipulating orgami while he tells stories. One of the most prominent stories is that of his missing father, Hanzo. Kubo's mother lays out strict rules preventing him from being outside after dark for the fear that his grandfather or his aunts would come to take his remaining eye. Unfortunately, Kubo ends up disobeying these orders from his mother and ends up on the adventure of a lifetime in which he learns information not only about himself, but also his magic.

Film Features: The animation of the film was brilliant. I love the whole concept of stop and go animation. I don't know what it is, but that type of animation really and truly catches my eye. If
you've never heard of stop and go animation think about Coraline and James and the Giant Peach. I think those could be classified as two really good examples. Another aspect of this film that I really enjoyed was the music. I don't really pay attention to background music in movies unless it's a part of a musical. However, this movie felt as though it was crafted with the music in mind. It was almost like you couldn't appreciate one without the other and I really liked that.

Characters: There were a couple of characters that I really appreciated in this film namely Kubo. He had such a huge heart and he was just one of those characters that you automatically fall in love with and that you're constantly rooting for not matter what the circumstance may be. After a series of events occur (I won't say what happens because of spoilers), Kubo is paired to work with Monkey and Beetle and the dynamic between the three of them is simply amazing. I absolutely loved watching them go on this adventure together and work together. The overall atmosphere of the characters was great and I honestly can't wait to watch the movie again because of them.

Overall Thoughts: Overall, I thought that the movie was AMAZING. I really enjoyed the stop and go animation and the dynamic of the characters. The incorporation of Japanese culture gave the
movie a certain edge and flair. I just think that more animated films should be like this one and I was so disappointed to find out that this movie didn't get the recognition it deserved. As a result, I've been promoting this movie to any that will listen. If you enjoy movies that actually capture your attention, continue fantasy elements, and great characters then I would definitely recommend this one. It also is a great movie for those who are fans of Coraline & James and the Giant Peach.

25 January 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #9: Karma Khullar's Mustache by Kristi Wientgi

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. This is my first time participating in this meme, but I've seen it across so may different blogs I just had to participate. To participate all you have to do is spotlight upcoming publications you're eagerly anticipating. Keep reading to see what I have chosen for this week.

Expected Publication: August 15, 2017

Okay so this book just simply sounds amazing! I haven't read any books that features a bi-racial Indian-American character and this just sounds like it's going to not only be a great culturally experience, but also a funny as the main character gets 17 distinct mustache hairs. There isn't much in the terms of summary yet on Goodreads because the release date is so far away, but I just have a feeling that this is going to be a good book. 

The story of a biracial Indian-American girl who must navigate big changes in her friendships and family life as she starts sixth grade, all while trying to rid herself of an unexpected problem: 17 hairs that have sprouted on her upper lip.

23 January 2017

Readathon Wrap - #24in48 / Beginnings of #Diverseathon

Happy Monday everyone! So on Thursday night I found out about the #24in48 readathon hosted by Rachel in which everyone attempts to read for 24 hours in 48 hours. I started off strong, but I must admit I had a lot going on in the background I didn't get the opportunity to read as much as I expected. Because I'm writing this post ahead of time, I'm going to go ahead and state that my total hours for the readathon averages somewhere around 7.5 to 8 hours. It wasn't what I anticipated, but I had a lot go on this weekend so I needed to be focused on my personal aspects of my life instead. However, I am glad to say that I got that much accomplished! Keep reading to see what I was able to start and finish during the readathon! : )

I'm really happy to say that I finished this book. It was amazing and completely breathtaking and I loved every second of it. It's written in four different perspectives which at first seems quite daunting; however, it made the book that much more dynamic. Look for a full review of this one coming sometime soon. 

Okay so as you can see I'm reading two polarizing novels. One is an adult memoir and another is children's fiction. I originally started You Can't Touch My Hair for #24in48, but now I'm moving it over into #diverseathon especially since it is by a POC. Starry River of the Sky is the first book from my #diversathon TBR that I'll be delving into this week. If you guys haven't heard about #diverseathon definitely check out my post linked here and join in! It's a great readathon and I'm excited to be participating in this week. 

If you are participating in any readathons or if you've completed any let me know in the comment box below! : ) 

22 January 2017

Sunday Post #3

Happy Sunday fellow bloggers and readers. I am back with another Sunday post hosted by the lovely caffeinated book reviewer. It's been a while since I've done one of these, but with my weekly Sherlock Holmes on hiatus (we're currently reading a book) I thought I would definitely give this a try. If you haven't heard the Sunday post is an opportunity to discuss what happened on your blog during the week and what you have planned for the upcoming week.  So let's go ahead and get started!

Okay let's start with my week in a complete recap. It's been a pretty laid back week. Work has been at a steady pace so not a lot has been going on in that realm. For some reason I've been reading a heck of a lot which is great haha but I'm trying to figure out where all the time is coming from. Anyway I'm glad that I've been getting so much accomplished with my reading, blog, and Youtube page. I've been more consistent this month than I have ever been in any month of blogging or youtubing which is AMAZING. Let's just hope I keep it up. 

  • Monday: Wrap-Up for Readathon #24in48
  • Tuesday: A Monster Calls Book Review
  • Wednesday: Waiting on Wednesdau (Book TBD)
  • Thursday: Movie Review (Kubo & The Two Strings)
  • Friday: Friday #56 (Book TBD)
  • Saturday: TV Show Review (Drop Dead Diva)

I hope you guys enjoyed! Let me know what you have planned for you blogs for the upcoming week and what you're currently reading. : ) 

21 January 2017

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Goodreads | Amazon 
Published: September 2012 
# of Pages: 331 
Source: Library Copy 

A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship.

The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila.

Ferrante is the author of three previous works of critically acclaimed fiction: The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, and The Lost Daughter. With this novel, the first in a trilogy, she proves herself to be one of Italy’s great storytellers. She has given her readers a masterfully plotted page-turner, abundant and generous in its narrative details and characterizations, that is also a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight her many fans and win new readers to her fiction.

Let me start by saying that it took me a while to collect my thoughts about this book. I read it and couldn't even write a complete review on Goodreads until two or three days after my completion date. I will say that I enjoyed this book immensely and there are several points I would like to address mainly in the form of plot, characters, and writing style. This is the first book I completed for my translated works/around the world reading challenge for the year.

Plot: If there is anything the reader should know about the plot is that it is slow. The author takes her time developing each character not only as individuals, but also in relation to each other and that takes time and patience. She doesn't "baby" the reader and guide you through everything or give you resources to remember all the complex Italian names where every character seems the same as other characters. This may seem like a negative aspect or quite daunting; however, it's this concept that makes the book so interesting and rewarding. The writer has faith in the reader. She believes that at some point everything will fall into place and you will understand everything about the story and it's characters. If you can make it through the initial stages of her writing and plot development, I think it becomes easier to invest in the story and the brilliance behind the writing.

Characters: Okay, so for me this was the most dynamic aspect of this entire book. In fact, I think that the character development in this book is more important than the plot itself. After all we are looking at how the two main characters Lila and Elena interact with one another. There is complexity in the character building. No character is easier to understand than others, some don't have an redeeming qualities, and others make stupid decisions; however, it is in this that the characters feel so realistic. You also get the opportunity to feel extremely close to the narrator Elena. Whatever she feels as a character you feel as a reader. When she's jealous of Lila so is the reader. When Elena feels accomplished then the reader does as well. It's not very often that a fictional character can make me feel exactly the way they are feeling as if I was experiencing life in their shoes. Lila; however, was a little more difficult for me to get adjusted to as a character. I didn't understand what she was doing half the time and I think that is because Elena didn't understand what Lila was doing. She was the one character I believed has some questionable characteristics; however, I don't want to pass full judgement on her until I'm able to read the next three novels.

Writing: I loved the writing! I think that in some places it took a bit of an adjustment simply because this was a work that was translated from Italian; however, I loved the way Ferrante tied everything together. If you like translated works I definitely feel like this is a book to check out.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Everything just seemed to flow together and I loved learning about and watching these characters grow and change over time. I think this is a book that one should be patient with. It takes time to completely appreciate everything about the writing, plot, and characters; however, once you're there you are truly invested. I can't wait to dig into the next three books and see exactly where they end up.