Month: March 2017

Zodiac Recommendations #10 Scorpio Books

Hi everyone, and welcome to my tenth week of Zodiac Book Recommendations. Every week I’m recommending books for one of the zodiac signs, starting with Aquarius and ending with Capricorn, after chronological order. This week I have three book recommendations for Scorpio.

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We are talking about Scorpio this week, the zodiac sign that embraces the element water. The Scorpio have their strengths and weaknesses, which can be read about in the graphics, and with these qualities in mind, I have tried to find suitable book recommendations. I hope that whoever you are, whether you are a Scorpio yourself or someone who knows a Scorpio, you’ll enjoy these book recommendations.

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For Scorpio, the books I’m recommending are the following,

The books I’ve chosen are ones that I think celebrate Scorpio qualities in one way or another. I hope you’ll love these books, and maybe even find a new favorite. Check out my book recommendations for the other zodiac signs too. Next week I’m doing Sagittarius, see previous recommendations here.

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ARC Review of Speak of Me as I Am by Sonia Belasco

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speakofmeasiam1.jpgSpeak of Me as I Am by Sonia Belasco

Publication Date: April 4, 2017

Genres: Young Adult and Contemporary

Rating: sliceofcake5

Purchase here: Amazon | The Book Depository

Synopsis: A moving story of grief, honesty, and the healing power of art—the ties that bind us together, even when those we love are gone.

Melanie and Damon are both living in the shadow of loss. For Melanie, it’s the loss of her larger-than-life artist mother, taken by cancer well before her time. For Damon, it’s the loss of his best friend, Carlos, who took his own life.

As they struggle to fill the empty spaces their loved ones left behind, fate conspires to bring them together. Damon takes pictures with Carlos’s camera to try to understand his choices, and Melanie begins painting as a way of feeling closer to her mother. But when the two join their school’s production of Othello, the play they both hoped would be a distraction becomes a test of who they truly are, both together and on their own. And more than anything else, they discover that it just might be possible to live their lives without completely letting go of their sadness.

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Thank you, Philomel Books, Penguin Young Readers Group, and NetGalley, for my advanced review copy of Speak of Me as I Am!

Be aware that Speak of Me as I Am deals with death, cancer, suicide and has some offensive language. All of this is discussed down below in my review. There will be spoilers in this review so consider yourself warned.

Speak of Me as I Am is a story about two teenagers, Melanie and Damon, who have both dealt with an immense loss but in different ways. The story made me cry and there were several scenes I enjoyed in the moment, however, there is a lot about this book that bothered me. I see what this story is trying to do. It wants to show us how grief is something we just have to live with and how there are so many different ways we experience it and are faced with it. I really wanted to love this book, but it fell short in so many ways and was even hurtful at times instead.

The story is about Melanie who lost her mother to cancer and Damon who lost his best friend to suicide. Damon is a black teen who we see throughout the book dealing with the loss of Carlos, who is Salvadoran and his best friend. Carlos was a photographer and left all of his photos and his camera behind, and with those Damon clings to his memory and the feelings he carries around with him regarding Carlos’ suicide. Throughout the book, we find out about Carlos’ hard home life but despite this, the reader gets a feeling there is something we don’t know about Carlos’ death yet. What we towards the end of the book find out is something Damon himself first releases after Carlos’ death. Carlos was in love with Damon, which was very clear in the photographs Carlos left behind.

“He was a master at that, at avoiding getting too deep. He could be evasive as hell. But it was all so clear in those photos, all these pictures he took of me but never showed me.”

I wait, but he doesn’t say anything. His hands are shaking. “What, Damon?” I ask. “What was so clear?”

Damon takes in a deep breath and lets it go all at once. “The way he looked at me,” he says.

To me, the story reads as if Carlos killed himself because he was in love with a man, his best friend Damon, and it very much falls into the bury your gays trope. The fact that Carlos was gay (or bisexual, his sexuality was never defined) felt very much like a plot device and like it only existed to make the main character Damon feel ashamed that he didn’t know and support his best friend sooner, despite him not feeling the same way. The way Carlos’ sexuality was used felt cheap because it only served as a way to give the main character meaning to his suicide and I think it could have been dealt with in a lot of other better ways and still convey the story’s main message.

However, we have another character in the story that also plays a large part and that is Tristan. Tristan has been Melanie’s best friend since they were kids, and he is gay. In the beginning of the story I was scared he would fall into the gay best friend trope, however, I did feel that his character got its own subplot and his character was fleshed out which is why I think he becomes much more than just the best friend. Nonetheless, I had issues with his subplot. During the course of the book Tristan’s rich and political parents find out he’s gay and their reaction is to send him to a therapist that is a family friend in the hopes to “cure” him. They force him to go by forbidding him to be a part of the school play unless he meets with this therapist. This is not okay, you cannot cure homosexuality and to even see it suggested in YA book is saddening.

A few other things I had a problem with in Speak of Me as I Am was the fact that the black characters’ skin was described using food comparisons, for example, in the book we see one character described as he “has his mother’s dark, almond-shaped eyes and father’s espresso skin” and our main character Damon is described by the other main character Melanie like “His skin’s the color of latte, with dark, wiry hair and eyes so green they’d make Kermit jealous.

Another instant that bothers me was how the main character Damon was supposed to be understanding and accepting, yet used the fa-word (a homophobic slur) in a conversation with his cousin who thinks theater is gay. Down below are two quotes that I thought were offensive and that involve this homophobic slur (trigger warning for the fa-word).

First quote,

“Really? You don’t think that’s kind of—”

“—fucking gay?” Jackson finishes. It’s the first thing he’s contributed to the conversation.

“No, actually,” I say. “I don’t think it’s particularly homosexual that I’m participating in the play.”

“All the theater kids are straight-up fags,” Jackson states.

“Yeah, D, he’s not lying,” Prague says.

“Oh, really,” I say, leaning forward in my seat. “How do you know this, Jackson? You spend a lot of time hanging with the theater kids?”

Second quote,

Prague looks down at his shoes, shoulders slumping. “It ain’t like that, D, we were just being—”

“Ignorant, right,” I say. “Because that makes it better. What’re you afraid of, Prague? That you’re gonna catch the faggot bug?”

First of all, when you call someone out on the page for their homophobic and ignorant statements you don’t actually imply or insinuate that they are gay too and if you are so accepting yourself you should never use the fa-word to describe a gay person even if you say it with sarcasm. You cannot show how offensive a word is by using it yourself.

The book also showed ableism which is seen in the following quote,

“I give him this pathetic little half wave in return, a scrunching of my fingers that probably makes me look like I’m physically disabled.”

Verdict: This book is offensive in more ways than one, and I would seriously advise you to read it with caution, if at all. This book has a lot of elements that can be hurtful to marginalized readers and I hope my review has shed some light on why that is. All of my quotes and conclusions comes from the ARC provided to me. There may be differences between the ARC and the final version.

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Infini by Krista & Becca Ritchie Book Playlist

Hi everyone, I have a lovely book playlist I want to share with you guys today. If you saw my review for Infini earlier this year then you know the book totally blew me away. Krista & Becca write the most magical books, and I always love them so much. Infini is about forbidden second chance love and will gut and build you up at the same time. This book has a Jamaican-American heroine and a Russian-American hero that you will just fall in love with (I know I did). I seriously recommend you guys check it out if you haven’t read it yet. You can add it on Goodreads or buy it on Amazon.

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The book playlist consists of 14 songs, and it’s based on the love story between Luka and Baylee from the book. If you’ve read the book, I would recommend you to listen to it in order, from start to finish, but it works either way. You can listen to the playlist on Spotify here or on YouTube here. If you’re interested in Krista & Becca Ritchie’s other books, you can visit their website here.

Have you read Infini yet or do you have plans to do so? Do you plan to listen to the book playlist I made?

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Zodiac Recommendations #9 Libra Books

Hi everyone, and welcome to my ninth week of Zodiac Book Recommendations. Every week I’m recommending books for one of the zodiac signs, starting with Aquarius and ending with Capricorn, after chronological order. This week I have three book recommendations for Libra.

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Since we are talking about Libra this week, I hope you’re embracing the air around you so that you can take in the element of the sign. Like every other zodiac sign, the Libra have their strengths and weaknesses, and with these qualities in mind I have tried to find suitable book recommendations. I hope that whoever you are, whether you are a Libra yourself or someone who knows a Libra, you’ll enjoy these book recommendations. May at least one of these books help you channel your inner Libra.

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The books I’m recommending this week, in the name of Libra, are the following,

The books I’ve chosen are ones that I think celebrate Libra qualities in one way or another. I hope you’ll love these books, and maybe even find a new favorite. Check out my book recommendations for the other zodiac signs too. Next week I’m doing Scorpio, see previous recommendations here.

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ARC Review of A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

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acrownofwishes1.jpgA Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

Publication Date: March 28, 2017

Genres: Fantasy and Young Adult

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Selling points: Lyrical writing, amazing and fleshed out characters and magical world.

Purchase here: Amazon | The Book Depository

Synopsis: Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

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Thank you, St. Martin’s Griffin and Netgalley, for my advanced review copy of A Crown of Wishes!

A Crown of Wishes is a magical story that follows the Fox Prince and the Jewel of Bharata through a Tournament of Wishes with them seeking and fighting for their dreams and hopes. Roshani Chokshi with her lyrical writing has a way of pulling you in and making you feel every word on the page, every smell, touch, and feeling as if it were your own. If you love fantasy you are guaranteed to love this book, but even if fantasy is not what you usually read I know the writing and the characters in A Crown of Wishes will sweep you away like the wind.

“This was a fight. I would fight to win and fight to return. And that hope, to have something to fight for once more, grew wings inside me.”

Except for the writing, the characters are really what made me love A Crown of Wishes as much as I did. Vikram and Gauri are from enemy kingdoms and together have to fight in a Tournament of Wishes where everything is at stake: their dreams, hopes, and fears. Their journey will push them to their limits and take them to places they never saw coming, both in this magical new world, they are discovering and within themselves.

First of all, we have Vikram, a prince about to be king in name only in his kingdom Ujijain. He’s courageous, witty and charming, with lots of hope and faith in himself and his abilities. Gauri on the other hand, the Jewel of Bharata and the exiled princess, whom Vikram calls Beastly Girl is a mixture of sweet and vicious. You could say she is a series of contradictions but her flaws are so genuine and relatable you can do nothing but love her. She has grit in every bone of her body, but her heart and soul have a soft and tender side that comes out in painfully human moments. They are both forced to work together, having been mere enemies a few moments earlier, and through their journey, they get to know each other and learn to trust one another in ways they never saw coming. There is undeniable chemistry between Vikram and Gauri which is seen both in their most dangerous moments and the discreet moments just between the two of them. Another character I really fell in love with is Aasha, though she plays a much smaller part in the book than both Vikram and Gauri she truly captures your attention and makes you want to see more of her. She is curious and kind, and will always lend you a helping hand.

All in all, this amazing fantasy book deserves all of the praise in the world. I’m still awestruck by the writing and doubt anything I write in my review will ever do it justice. The lyrical writing we see in A Crown of Wishes is breathtaking and rare and will make you fall in love with every word you read. If you are looking for a book with a detailed and interesting plot with well-developed characters and beautiful writing then look no further. A Crown of Wishes is filled with culture and lush descriptions and is a must read Young Adult Fantasy book this spring.

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Zodiac Recommendations #8 Virgo Books

Hi everyone, and welcome to my eighth week of Zodiac Book Recommendations. Every week I’m recommending books for one of the zodiac signs, starting with Aquarius and ending with Capricorn, after chronological order. This week I have three book recommendations for Virgo.

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The earth beneath you is the element of Virgo, and it’s the one you should embrace this week with my book recommendations. Like every other zodiac sign, the Virgo have their strengths and weaknesses, and with these qualities in mind I have tried to find suitable book recommendations. I hope that whoever you are, whether you are a Virgo yourself or someone who knows a Virgo, you’ll enjoy these book recommendations.

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For the Zodiac sign Virgo I’m recommending the following books,

The books I’ve chosen are ones that I think celebrate Virgo qualities in one way or another. I hope you’ll love these books, and maybe even find a new favorite. Check out my book recommendations for the other zodiac signs too. Next week I’m doing Librasee previous recommendations here.

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Bookish Bucket List Goals

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Welcome readers! Today I have a little fun post for you all, a list of some of my bookish bucket list goals. You know those things you just really want to achieve at least once in your life, no matter how silly or impossible they sounds. I do think some of these are more achievable than others, but I’m holding out hope for all (because I’m nothing if not a dreamer honestly). These goals are a mix of writing, blogging and reading goals but in once way or another, they all have something to do with books. Maybe you have some of the same goals as I do!

  1. Read 100 books in a year. This goal is silly because I’m a slow reader who has a hard time concentrating, meaning I doubt me reading 100 books in a year will ever happen since I’ve read 50 a year at the most. However, if I live until I’m 80 this might change so I’m still having it as a life goal. One year my friends, one year it’ll come true.
  2. Be named in the acknowledgments section in a book. For this to ever come true I’d probably have to be friends with an author, and since I don’t really have that many friends I don’t see this as a huge possibility, but dreams, am I right? No, but honestly I’d love to one day just be one of my friend’s biggest supporters when it comes to their books, their success is my happiness honestly. Maybe I’m just vain for having this as something I want to happen to me, but we’re being honest here and it’d just be really cool.
  3. Reach 100 followers on my book blog. Most of the time I don’t care much about numbers, they stress me out at times, but reaching 100 followers on my blog seems like a really special step so if that day comes I know I will be celebrating it.
  4. Finish writing one of my manuscripts. I have been writing for ages but have never actually finished a draft. I could blame it on a bunch of things, some reasons probably more legit than others, however, one day I am going to finish one of my manuscripts whenever that day will be.
  5. Publish a book. After I finish one of my manuscripts, edit, rewrite it and whatnot I really want to publish it. I have stories I want to tell and people I want to maybe one day inspire. I want to publish a book that is going to make people feel good about themselves and their identity because that is really important to me.
  6. Be a beta reader for someone. I would love to one day be a beta reader for someone, but the thought scares me. I’m not a native English speaker so I’m afraid I might not be able to help the writer as much as they might expect me to which is why I have been hesitant to even try this thing. However, I think that one day I still really want to so it’s on my bucket list.

Do you have any bookish bucket list goals? Do you share any of mine? I’d love to know!

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Freebie Friday #9

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Happy Friday my readers!

How are you all doing? I hope this fine day is treating you just the best, which is exactly what you deserve. This week I’ve been working hard on my English grammar course so there hasn’t been a lot of time for blogging. But, it’s Friday today and you know what that means, is that a drumroll I hear in the distance, FREE BOOKS! This week the two free books I’m recommending are Caught Up in Love by Mia Black and Counterfeit Dreams by Sasha Ravae. Both of these two books are adult romances written by marginalized authors. They have great ratings on Goodreads so I’m excited to read them. Check out the books below.

Remember guys, the books I recommend are free the moment I publish my post but I can never guarantee they’re free for long so once you see it, grab it! That’s what I do.

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Zodiac Recommendations #7 Leo Books

Hi everyone, and welcome to my seventh week of Zodiac Book Recommendations. Every week I’m recommending books for one of the zodiac signs, starting with Aquarius and ending with Capricorn, after chronological order. This week I have three book recommendations for Leo.

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This week we are embracing fire, the element of the Leo, the one that they carry inside of them. Like every other zodiac sign, the Leo have their strengths and weaknesses, and with these qualities in mind I have tried to find suitable book recommendations. I hope that whoever you are, whether you are a Leo yourself or someone who knows a Leo, you’ll enjoy these book recommendations.

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For Leo I’m recommending the books below,

The books I’ve chosen are ones that I think celebrate Leo qualities in one way or another. I hope you’ll love these books, and maybe even find a new favorite. Check out my book recommendations for the other zodiac signs too. Next week I’m doing Virgo, see previous recommendations here.

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Waiting on Wednesday #6 The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz

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Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating. This week I’m anticipating The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz. This book sounds so good I need summer to come sooner.

28147258The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz

Expected publication: July 25, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT

Add to your To Be Read shelf on Goodreads.

Pre-order on Amazon or Book Depository.

Synopsis: Mercedes Moreno is an artist. At least, she thinks she could be, even though she hasn’t been able to paint anything worthwhile since her award-winning piece Food Poisoning #1 last year.

Her lack of inspiration might be because her abuela is lying comatose in faraway Puerto Rico after suffering a stroke. Or the fact that Mercedes is in love with her best friend, Victoria, but is too afraid to admit her true feelings.

Despite Mercedes’s creative block, art starts to show up in unexpected ways. A piano appears on her front lawn one morning, and a mysterious new neighbor invites Mercedes to paint with her at the Red Mangrove Estate.

At the Estate, Mercedes can create in ways she never has before. She can share her deepest secrets and feel safe. But Mercedes can’t take anything out of the Estate, including her new-found clarity. As her life continues to crumble around her, the Estate offers more solace than she could hope for. But Mercedes can’t live both lives forever, and ultimately she must choose between this perfect world of art and truth and a much messier reality.

What book are you anticipating this week? Are you also excited for The Gallery of Unfinished Girls?

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