28 February 2017

A Month in Review: February 2017

Happy Tuesday everbody! I can't believe that the month of February has already come to a close! It seems like it was just the beginning of February yesterday. I hope everyone had a good reading month. I posted a little less this month because I had so much going on, but hopefully it'll pick back up next month! : ) 

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

These were definitely some of my favorites from this month. Below is a complete list of what I read in the month of February. 

  • Aya: Love in Yop City 
  • March Vol. 1
  • Copper Sun 
  • Z is For Moose
  • Sweetness & Lightning Vol. 1
  • The Mothers
  • Return to Wonderland (#0-6)
  • Food Wars Vol. 15
  • Lady Killer Vol. 1
  • Lair of Dreams 
  • One Crazy Summer
  • I Hate Fairyland Vol. 1
  • The Water Princess 
  • Dirt + Water = Mud
  • I Wanna Be A Great Big Dinosaur
  • The Summer Nickd Taught His Cats to Rea
  • I Am Josephine

Okay so as you guys can see I was rather disappointed with my choices in references to the origins of authors. I'm still reading mostly from American authors which isn't a bad thing, but it's something that I really want to change. This month seemed to be the month for comics and manga. I don't know why I read so many of them, but I just really seemed to enjoy almost everything I picked up. As far as star ratings go, I mostly gave 4 stars to books with 5 star reads and 3 star reads beings tied. There was a random 2 star read because of a comic book I didn't really enjoy. 

This month I read a total of 3134 pages which is about 500/600 pages less than January, but that's ok! I still read quite a bit and I'm happy about that! : ) 

Here are the posts that I wrote this month: 

Let me know what you read this month! 

24 February 2017

Friday #56, #26 An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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 month I decided to participate in a buddy read and the book was chosen off of a booktube video that I posted. I think that it dealt with the Top 10 series I wanted to start or continue in 2017. I was then contacted to do a buddy read and I decided to go for it! So far I think that the book is just ok. There are some tropes that I'm not really enjoying or liking so I'll be interested to see where the author takes them. I haven't been reading YA as much as I used to so that could be it as well. I will say that is an interesting concept and I'm interested to see where the characters are going to go. 

" 'Why is she still here?' Keenan, who's been busy with a group of fighters in the corner, approaches, pulling back his hood. He's far younger than I expected, closer to my age than Sana's--which might explain why she bristles at his tone. Flame-red hair spills over his forehead and into his yes, so dark at the roots it's almost black."

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

23 February 2017

Movie Review - Queen of Katwe

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 Queen of Katwe. It's a biopic about Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan girl who learns to play chess and becomes a Woman Candidate Master. 

Director: Mira Nair

  • Madina Nalwanga: Phiona Mutesi
  • David Oyelowo: Robert Katende
  • Lupita Nyong'o: Nakku Harriet
  • Martin Kabanza: Mugabi Brian 
  • Taryn Kyaze: Night 
  • Ronald Ssemaganda: Ivan 
  • Ethan Nazario: Benjamin 
  • Nikita Waligwa: Gloria 
  • Edgar Kanyike: Joseph 
  • Esther Tebandeke: Sara Katende
  • Peter Odeke: Mr. Barumba
Genre: Biographical/Drama

Rating: PG

Brief Plot Analysis: Queen of Katwe is a biographical movie based on the true story of Phiona becoming Uganda's best female chess player. Before learning to play chess, Phiona tries to unsuccessfully help her family as they are extremely impoverished. It's only when she meets Robert that she learns that she has a talent and passion for chess. In playing chess, Phiona learns a lot about herself, her community, and how she defines herself in terms of the rest of the world. 

Film Features: Everything about this movie was fantastic. I don't want to say it was my favorite part of the movie because it was depressing; however, I think the authenticity of the setting made the movie. It gave great insight to the slums of Uganda and how people who lived in these slums attempted to function on a day to day basis. It was heartbreaking, but it made me self-aware. I would literally look at the movie and look around me and realize how much I had as an individual and how blessed I was to have such a gateway to possessions and opportunities. Looking at the structure of the houses, how everyone dressed, etc just really set the atmosphere for the film. 

Characters: Ok I must admit that I'm a bit biased when it comes to this film. I absolutely love the actors and actresses that starred in the film so naturally I think they did a wonderful job re-creating these real life individuals. Of course, I favored and loved Phiona. She had the spirit, courage, and strength that isn't found in many people. I felt for her when she struggled with her identity. To compete in these competitions and see the wealth of your opponents and then having to come home to live in the slums is truly unfathomable. I understood how difficult that would be on anyone. The actress did such a wonderful job and she really made you connect with her character. Overall, I just think they were a great cast. 

Overall Thoughts: Overall, I LOVED this movie. The music was great, the characters were great, and the story was one that made you aware of the triumph of the human spirit. I was glad that I took the time to explore this movie because I didn't hear much about it in the media. It was only when I saw the title appear at my library that I ultimately decided to pick it up. I wish that more people knew about it and the story behind the movie. From my understanding, Phiona is still practicing chess and is hoping to one day achieve the title of Grand Master. I'll definitely be following her closely and if you haven't seen this movie yet I highly recommend it. 

22 February 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday #1, One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa over at WishfulEndings. She has taken on a similar meme to Jills Waiting on Wednesday over at Breaking the Spine. Since Jill hasn't posted in a while I'm going to join in on this meme. 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.

I don't know how many people have heard of this book it definitely caught my attention when I found out that is has Breakfast Club vibes. If you guys didn't know, that is one of my favorite 80's movies! This book has a twist though. Not only are these kids in detention, but one of them ends up dead and we as readers don't know who is responsible. I think this is going to turn out to be a great mystery/contemporary book. 

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
    Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
    Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
    Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
    Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
    And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

21 February 2017

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Books I Love That No Else Really Knows About

Happy Tuesday everyone! That means it's another Top 10 Tuesday hosted by the ladies over at the Broke and the Bookish! : ) I hope you guys are excited about today's topic. The original topic was top 10 books I loved more/less than I thought I would, but I decided to mix it up and go with 10 books I love that no one else really knows about. I based my decisions on books that had less than 2000 ratings on goodreads. Keeping reading to see what I chose for the week! : )

Changing Corners (4 Ratings). Yes this book only has four ratings which includes my own. I found this book on Amazon for my Kindle and read it last year for #diverseathon. I thought it was great and absolutely loved  the story. I wish that more people knew about it. Paper Things (1,256 Ratings). I read this book last year because it was nominated to receive a South Carolina book award. It tackles some heavy issues such as young adult homelessness. I thought it was amazing and heartbreaking. Choices (444). This was a part of my journey into urban fiction and I devoured all of it in about two days. It definitely is worth a read.

Saving Kabul Corner (237 Ratings). This was a great insight to the culture surrounding Afghanistan. It's a children's book, but I would definitely recommend it for anyone who wants to read a book that is dynamic, innovative, and fun. The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse (206). I read this book as an ARC from Netgalley and I really enjoyed it. It was mysterious and filled with a Louisiana bayou type feel. Still I Rise (144). This is a lesser known graphic novel. It chronicles black history from the time of slavery all the way up to Barack Obama's election. It had it's problems, but overall I really enjoyed it. 

Stepping to A New Day (270 Ratings). I received this one as part of a book blog tour and I didn't realize that it was the 7th in a series, but my goodness I absolutely loved it and I plan on reading the rest of the series soon. Bayou (1,688 Ratings). This is a great graphic novel series that I found and loved. Unfortunately, I don't think the author Jeremy Love ever finished the series. Dixieland Sushi (1097 Ratings). Cara Lockwood is a great contemporary author that I randomly picked up a few years ago. She writes with such ease and fluidity and her works are always humorous. 

The Blacker the Berry (395 Ratings). This is another book that I picked up randomly from my local library and I'm glad that I did. It's a compilation of poetry and it focuses of the different shades that make up the black community. It's beautiful and a must read for everyone. 


17 February 2017

Friday #56, #25 The Mothers by Brit Bennett

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!

Ironically, I've been keeping with the Black History Month theme and I decided to pick up another book by a black author. This time I picked up The Mothers by Brit Bennett. It's a hard book to try to explain, but it does deal with the relationship that daughters have with their mothers especially the result or consequences of a mother that is not present. The book starts off with a secret and it is this secret that keeps the book moving forward. It contains interesting characters and so far I'm really enjoying it! 

"If Mrs. Sheppard noticed that repeated outfits she didn't say anything. Most days, she barely acknowledged Nadia at all, and Nadia couldn't decide which was worse, the criticism or the indifference." 

A dazzling debut novel from an exciting new voice, The Mothers is a surprising story about young love, a big secret in a small community—and the things that ultimately haunt us most. Set within a contemporary black community in Southern California, Brit Bennett’s mesmerizing first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition. It begins with a secret.

“All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we’d taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season.”

It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it’s not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance—and the subsequent cover-up—will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.

In entrancing, lyrical prose, The Mothers asks whether a “what if” can be more powerful than an experience itself. If, as time passes, we must always live in servitude to the decisions of our younger selves, to the communities that have parented us, and to the decisions we make that shape our lives forever.

16 February 2017

A BookishRealm Disscussion: The Importance of Own Voices Books

Happy Thursday everyone! So this is something that is completely different than what I normally do. I have seen other bloggers do discussions, but I never thought of doing one myself; however, there have been a couple of topics on my mind that I've been interesting in discussing for a while. I'm thinking about doing one of these discussions once a month. The first topic that I would love to discuss is the importance of #ownvoices. It is a hastag that is readily used to promote the voices of marginalized characters written by authors who face the same marginalization as these characters. 

In my own experience, I always thought that it was important to read diversely, not only in subject matter, but also in genre, author, style of books, characters, etc. It wasn't until I ran across the term of #ownvoices that I truly realized how important it is to the book community. The term was coined by author Corrine Duyvis who explains #ownvoices as "diverse characters written by authors from that same diverse group." Although, this started in the realm of kidlit, Duyvis has encouraged both authors and readers to apply it to all genres of books. 

For me, the concept of #ownvoices gives books more authenticity. It's not saying that, for example, a white person could never write a book with a black main character; however, we should definitely acknowledge those books and authors that are writing and demonstrating the same experiences as their characters. With that being said here are 5 reasons to read #ownvoices books. After you'll find some #ownvoices books that I really enjoyed and loved. 

5 Reasons to Read #OwnVoices
  1. #OwnVoices gives you the opportunity to experience a certain level of authenticity. 
  2. They are worthy of our time as readers. 
  3. They give voices to marginalized groups that often go unheard 
  4. #OwnVoices books delve deeper into more complex/complicated issues. 
  5. It's always beneficial to read about characters who are different from you in race, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, etc. 

Here Are Some #OwnVoices Recommendations: 
Be sure to click on the picture for the link to goodreads!

15 February 2017

Waiting On Wednesday #12: One Shadow on the Wall

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. 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.

Okay, so the first time I believe I saw this book was on someone else's blog. I can't quite remember who's blog, but once I read the description for the book I knew that I had to read it. It takes place in modern day Senegal and incorporates elements of family structure and magic realism. It's a middle grade novel and lately I've been getting into more of those so I'm excited to pick this one up.  

An orphaned boy in contemporary Senegal must decide between doing what is right and what is easy as he struggles to keep a promise he made to his dying father in this captivating debut novel laced with magical realism.

Eleven-year-old Mor was used to hearing his father’s voice, even if no one else could since his father’s death. It was comforting. It was also a reminder that Mor had made a promise to his father before he passed: keep your sisters safe. Keep the family together. But almost as soon as they are orphaned, that promise seems impossible to keep. With an aunt from the big city ready to separate him and his sisters as soon as she arrives, and a gang of boys from a nearby village wanting everything he has—including his spirit—Mor is tested in ways he never imagined.

With only the hot summer months to prove himself, Mor must face a choice. Does he listen to his father and keep his heart true, but risk breaking his promise through failure? Or is it easier to just join the Danka Boys, whom in all their maliciousness are at least loyal to their own?

One Shadow on the Wall is about love and loss, family and friendship, and creating your own future—even if it’s hard to do.

12 February 2017

Sherlock Holmes and The Speckled Band by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Published: 1892
Series: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes 

I read this Sherlock Holmes short story as a part of the Chronological Sherlock Holmes Reading Challenge that's being hosted by Noonlight Reads. This is the 3rd short story that we've been designated to read. 

This was one of the best short stories I've read so far in this readathon. It was full of twists and turns that I definitely didn't see coming. This was the Sherlock Holmes mystery I had been waiting for. I got so used to reading memoirs told from Watson's perspective that I almost forgot what it would be like to experience actually being immersed in the mystery step by step. I had so many theories about who was the culprit behind the murder and ended up being wrong in more than one way. This was so well-written and it truly captivated my attention the entire time I read it. 

I definitely believe that this is the example of the Sherlock stories that I'm used to. It's always fun to watch the case unravel and attempt to figure out who has committed the crime. As of right now, this one holds the top spot in the Sherlock Holmes stories I have read so I'm looking forward to seeing what Sherlock story might take its place.

11 February 2017

Manga Review: Nana Vol. 3 & 4 by Ai Yazawa

# of Pages: 183
Published: June 6th 2006
Source: Purchased Copy 

This is the story of two 20-year old women who share the same name. Even though they come from completely different backgrounds, they somehow meet and become best friends. The world of NANA is a world exploding with sex, music, fashion, gossip, and all-night parties.

I should start by letting you guys know that there was a long gap in between reading this volume and volume 2. I think I'm trying to savor as much of this series as I can because I don't want it to end due to the fact that it is currently on a hiatus. I read this, I believe, one evening when I couldn't sleep and I must say that this volume completely broke my heart. It was wonderful to see the relationship grow between the two girls; however, I can't believe that Shoji did what he did to Nana K. I thought that she really tried to do better and grow into a more mature young adult, but it didn't help in the end. I don't know if I despise Shoji as a character, but I definitely despise what he did. There were other ways to handle the situation rather than leading two women on at the same time. It was unfortunate to see that happen, but for some reason I think it's going to help Nana K grow as a person. And I definitely LOVED the way Nana O was willing to stand up for her friend in her time of need. That, in itself, was amazing. As always, the artwork and the story were completely mesmerizing and I couldn't wait to get my hands on the next volume.

# of Pages: 208
Published: October 3rd 2006
Source: Purchased Copy 

This is the story of two 20-year old women who share the same name. Even though they come from completely different backgrounds, they somehow meet and become best friends. The world of NANA is a world exploding with sex, music, fashion, gossip, and all-night parties.

After reading the third volume it took me a while to pick up this one. I think it mainly stemmed from the actions of Shoji and my fear of how Nana K would continue to function knowing what he had done. Nevertheless, I completely and thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It gave me a sense of nostalgia and I was happy to be back in their world reading about their ups and downs. This volume definitely focused more on Nana K learning more about Nana O. As a reader you are already familiar with her relationship with Ren, but Nana K does not know that she has a connection to this big superstar. It's amazing how many emotions Nana K goes through when she begins to learn more about Nana O. I think she begins to understand the idea that everyone can and does get hurt during their life. Once again we were privileged to see their relationship grow. It really was a beautiful volume and I'm excited to see where this story line between Nana K and Ren will go.