30 March 2017

March Challenge Check-In

Hey Guys! It's about that time again and I'm here to do my challenge check-in/wrap up for the month. Keep reading to see how I've been doing with my challenges!

#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. Ok so this month I didn't do much watching or reading to be honest. I was in a reading slump for the first half of the month and then was reading other stuff for the rest of the month. So I know I didn't acquire that many points. Let's hope it's better next month. 

Here are the shows & books I have completed as I am writing this post: 

  • Grey's Anatomy Season 1 - 20 points 
  • Grey's Anatomy Season 2 - 20 points
  • Reign Season 1 - 20 points
  • Sailor Moon Vol. 1 - 20 points
So this month (March) I earned 80 points for a yearly total of 400 points. 

This once again is a challenge that I'm doing really well with. I read Wonder to complete the challenge of reading a book with a main character that has a disability. I thought it was an okay book and probably will discuss more of it in a later review. 
Total: 3/12

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. 
  • A Book Published in 2017: The Hate U Give
  • (Maybe) A Book Involving a Mythical Creature: City of Fallen Angels
Total for Jan -March:  8(?)/63

This is probably the challenge that I will easily finish before we even get halfway through 2017. I went for 52 books, but I think that was a little to easy for me. Keep reading to see what I have accomplished. 
Total for Jan. & Feb. = 24

I actually didn't complete any parts of this challenge this month for the simple fact that I just wasn't in the mood to read any picture books. Unfortunately, that puts me a little behind but I'm sure I can just pick back up next month. 

So this month wasn't a good month in terms of my challenges unless you count the manga/comic book section haha and I'm pretty sure that's because I was in a reading slump. Hopefully that will change in April. 

29 March 2017

TLC Book Tours: In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear

Happy Thursday everyone! Today I'm working with TLC Book Tours to showcase the newest addition to the Maisie Dobbs' series In This Grave Hour. Below you'll find the schedule for others that have also read and reviewed this book as a part of the tour. 

Publication: March 14, 2017 
# of Pages: 352
Source: Review Copy 

Sunday September 3rd 1939.  At the moment Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain broadcasts to the nation Britain’s declaration of war with Germany, a senior Secret Service agent breaks into Maisie Dobbs' flat to await her return. Dr. Francesca Thomas has an urgent assignment for Maisie: to find the killer of a man who escaped occupied Belgium as a boy, some twenty-three years earlier during the Great War.

In a London shadowed by barrage balloons, bomb shelters and the threat of invasion, within days another former Belgian refugee is found murdered.  And as Maisie delves deeper into the killings of the dispossessed from the “last war," a new kind of refugee — an evacuee from London — appears in Maisie's life. The little girl billeted at Maisie’s home in Kent does not, or cannot, speak, and the authorities do not know who the child belongs to or who might have put her on the “Operation Pied Piper” evacuee train.  They know only that her name is Anna.

As Maisie’s search for the killer escalates, the country braces for what is to come.  Britain is approaching its gravest hour — and Maisie could be nearing a crossroads of her own.

This book! It was such an improvement from the Maisie Dobbs' book I read earlier. There were so many different and compelling elements that drew me in as a reader and kept me captivated throughout the entire book. First, I enjoyed the historical moments. This book takes place during WWII and ultimately provides the reader with a great amount of information in reference to this specific time in history. As a history major in college, I expected to know the general ins and outs of Europe's involvement in WWII; however, I was pleasantly surprised to learn so many interesting facts and information that I was not previously aware of. For example, I didn't realize that there was an influx of Belgians into England during the war. It definitely relates to the mass immigration that is occurring all over the world due to war. If anyone is interested in WWII or historical information in general then this is definitely a great book to pick up. 

What I also liked about this book was the writing style. While I enjoyed the writing style of the last Maisie Dobbs' book I read, for some reason the writing in this book was just amazing. I really appreciated how Winspear was able to capture my attention and draw me into the mystery. This book quickly become one that I continuously turned pages and literally ached for more of the story. In reference to character development, Maisie definitely proved to be much more than what I determined in my last review. She was innovative, intelligent, and it was great to see her interact with family and friends. 

Although a lot happens in this book, I must admit that Winspear manages to keep the story, characters, and plot fast paced and engaging. I love that she was able to add such a powerful and interesting book to the series. If you have any interest in mysteries or historical fiction then I definitely recommend picking up this book. The good thing is that the series doesn't necessarily have to be read in order so if you stopped the series because of certain characters, I would definitely say that this is a sort of redeeming book. Give it a chance and then make a decision on whether to continue the series. 

Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Times bestselling Maisie Dobbs series, which includes In This Grave Hour, Journey to MunichA Dangerous PlaceLeaving Everything Most LovedElegy for Eddie, and eight other novels. Her standalone novel, The Care and Management of Lies, was also a New York Times bestseller and a Dayton Literary Peace Prize finalist. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in California.

Find out more about Jacqueline at her website, www.jacquelinewinspear.com, and find her on Facebook.

28 March 2017

American Street by Ibo Zoboi

Publication: February 14, 2017 
# of Pages: 336
Source: Library Copy 

The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun.

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

Whoah, I'm just going to go ahead and say that this was one hell of a book. I mean really. I don't know what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn't this and I mean that in a good way. Ibo Zoboi took a very interesting concept of immigration and turned it into a cultural story that is engaging for readers. Just so you know ahead of time, American Street is not for the faint of heart. Zoboi doesn't write to make you feel comfortable, she writes to make you understand/see a sense of someone's reality. I know that some people had issues with this book specifically pertaining to the abuse and while I don't agree with it, I understand why it was an added element to the story. 

I think what stood out the most to me about this book was definitely the fact that it had an urban fiction vibe to it. I have read urban fiction before (I just started last year) and the same feelings and themes that I see in those books, I definitely saw in this one. Nevertheless, Zoboi was capable of bringing down the level of intensity to make sure that the book was still appropriate for a young adult audience. I would say that this book is definitely for an older young adult audience than younger. It has explicit content in the form of language and various situations. 

The characters in this book were amazing. I really resonated with Fabiola and her desire to fit into the cultural inner workings of Detroit without forgetting her Haitian background. It's great that Zoboi decided to combine the two together and make them intertwine to create an even more dynamic story. The only think I can say about the characters is that I wanted to know more and that we only get a glimpse of what their lives were like prior to meeting and engaging with Fabiola. Part of me wishes it was more than that. These characters seemed like they had so much to offer and I didn't want it to stop with a few pages. 

I have only one criticism in reference to this book and it deals with the fact that I think Zoboi attempted to cover too many topics at once. She had her hands in immigration, police brutality/#blacklivesmatter, abuse, drugs, etc. It was a lot to handle in one book and to be honest it does make for a book that is more based in trying to paint a picture of reality then a pretty story with a happy ending. I can honestly say that this story isn't for everyone and I definitely wouldn't recommend it to everyone. If you are ok with a writer making you uncomfortable and challenging you and giving you a picture of what life may be like growing up in some areas of Detroit then I would go for it. If you want a perfect, happy ending and something that is stereotypical and found in YA novels then this one isn't for you. With that being said, I really enjoyed it and I think that Zoboi has a gift for writing and I can't wait to see what she will come up with next. 

25 March 2017

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Publication: April 28th, 2015 
# of Pages: 446
Source: Purchased Copy 

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.

This was probably one of the few books that I have read so far this year that has caused me a great amount of conflict. I thought at some point that I liked it, but then I found that I couldn't stand it at all. There were a few things that I enjoyed about this book, but a lot of things that I didn't. 

One of the aspects that I did enjoy was the concept of this broken world and the leaders who have utterly destroyed culture, the people, and generally anyone's way of living. It made me really think about what is going on in the world with various leaders who have spent a great amount of time limiting the resources of one or two groups because they do not fit into the mold of what may be typically expected. I also enjoyed the supernatural elements. While I thought that this novel was going to feel completely like a dystopian, I found that there were actually aspects of it that made it supernatural and more along the lines of fantasy. To be honest, it was those specific elements that actually continued to draw me in as a reader. 

There are several things about this book that drove me completely insane and actually made me dislike the book greatly. The first was the love "square." It's enough when a book has a love triangle, but a love square was more than my mind could actually handle. In addition to this, I found the world development to be lacking. It's a fantasy book; however, the world building was done so sparsely that I had a hard time even imagining what it was like in the world that these characters were living in. And since the world building wasn't there the plot fell through for me. There were times when I really enjoyed it and other times when I just thought "why am I still reading this book." To be honest, my opinion wraps down to the most simple of thoughts. I don't understanding the hype behind this book. I don't understand why people love it and I don't understand how it went from being marketed as a stand alone to now being a four part series. With that being said, I have been told that the second book is better so I will be giving it a try. 

If you're interested in reading this book, I won't completely discourage you from reading it, but I wouldn't highly recommend it either. 

24 March 2017

Friday #56, #28 American Street by Ibi Zoboi

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've been currently reading one of my anticipated reads for the year and it's American Street by Ibi Zoboi. It's an #ownvoices book that focuses on a young girl who is forced to navigate Detroit on her own after her mother is detained in the airport when they are trying to immigrate from Haiti to America. It's gritty and often makes the reader uncomfortable, but so far I'm really enjoying it and I can't wait to give you guys my full insight to the book as a whole. 

"I do as she says. She takes the Bible and pats the seat next to her on the bed. I sit beside her and feel warm against mine. It almost feels like my mother's almost." 

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.
Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream? 

23 March 2017

Beauty & The Beast Tag

So I'm so excited about this tag for the simple fact that the movie has finally come out and I plan on seeing it this weekend. This tag originated on the blog Du Livre! Definitely go check it out. I wasn't tagged by anyone, but I thought that this would be a fun tag to do.

A Villain You Can't Help But Love
Draco Malfoy is a complete brat, but for some reason  I still completely love him as a character in this book. He goes through so much and ends up making a complete 180.

Your OTP 
Nana K and Nobu are like my dream couple from this manga, but I just have this sick little feeling that it's not going to work out :( 

A Character That's Destined for Bigger Things
August is an amazing character and I truly believe that he will have a lot more going for him past his success at his 5th grade graduation.

A Book That Makes You Hungry 
I don't know anybody who doesn't think that this manga makes them hungry.

Opposites Attract 
Okay, Evie and Sam are complete opposites, but in this book they are DEFINITELY attracted to each other haha.

I don't have anyone in particular to tag so just go ahead and have at it! haha It's a great tag! Especially if you are a fan of Beauty and the Beast. 

22 March 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday #3, The Woods Vol. 6

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.

Expected Publication: March 23, 2017 

I fell in love with this comic book last year and just binged volumes #1-4. I decided to wait to read volume #5 until the closer release date to the 6th volume and it's finally here. Haha it actually comes out tomorrow so you know I'm really excited to read it. The artwork is different and it definitely can be classified in the genre of science fiction. If you haven't checked it out I would definitely recommend getting it as soon as possible. 

A Midwestern high school is transported into the middle of an Alien forest. This is the story of what happens next.

Having been stranded in an alien wilderness for well over a year, the former students of Bay Point Preparatory High School have had to grow up fast – first simply to survive, and later to build some kind of life on this foreign moon. But conflict rears its ugly head again as The Horde begins conscripting athletes to raise an army, separating and scattering the other survivors throughout New London. And as the growing threat of an upcoming massacre approaches, time is quickly running out to salvage the society Bay Point has become . . .

Written by James Tynion IV (Detective Comics, Memetic), and illustrated by Michael Dialynas (Gotham Academy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), The Lost collects the critically acclaimed sixth arc of this bestselling series.

21 March 2017

Top 10 Tuesday: Books To Read When You're Short on Time

Happy Tuesday everyone! It's Tuesday so that means another Top 10 Tuesday hosted by the ladies over at the Broke and the Bookish. This weeks theme focused on books that either are really short, books that we've read in one sitting, books that have kept us reading all day, or as in my case books to read when you're short on time. A lot of books on my list are either comics or manga! I hope this gives you some new stuff to try out! : )

Persepolis. This is a great graphic memoir that illustrates Iran in the late 1970s during the Iranian Revolution. I had to read this my freshman year of college and I've read it twice since then. It is an unforgettable book that takes no time to read. Percy Jackson & The Olympians. I used the cover for the Battle of the Labyrinth; however, this entire series is great to read when you're short on time. I know this because I binged the entire series in about a week. : ) Fables. This list wouldn't be complete without including fables. Like all comics, this series is really great to read when you are looking for a quick read and some fairy-tale retellings.

Food Wars. Once again I used volume 3 for the artwork, but this entire series is great for anyone who is interested in reading a great manga when they are short on time. It has dynamic characters and an amazing and interesting plot line. Alex + Ada. This series is short and contains a great plot for those who are interested in science fiction. Lying Out Loud. I know that this is a quick read because I read it in one sitting. In fact, if you ever need a book to read in a short period of time I would definitely recommend anything by Kody Keplinger.

Nana. This is another great manga series to check out if you are looking for great characters and storyline even if you don't have enough time. Zodiac Starforce. Kick-ass females is all I need to say here. Impulse. If you ever don't have enough time to read, any works by Ellen Hopkins are great.

Between the World & Me. This is such a powerful book and to be so short you'll be amazed that this book leaves you with such a powerful impression. I absolutely loved it when I read it.

If you're interested in learning more about some of these books or books by the same authors check out my reviews below:

Nana Vol. 1 & 2 
Food Wars Vol. 1, 2, 3, & 4
Alex + Ada 
Jack of Fables Vol. 1 & 2 (same author as Fables series)
Embroideries (same author as Persepolis)
Between The World & Me