wrap up

June 2018 Wrap Up

monthly-wrap-up-1

Life Update 

  • This month has been mixed between good and bad news. The bad news: I didn’t get the scholarship for my master’s degree, I knew it was a long shot so it’s ok. The good news: my contract with the goverment is almost a done deal, out of the three approvals I need I already have two and it seems like they are gonna call me to sign my contract next week. That’s great because it’s a job I really wanted.
  • Now the real reason this month was hard was because the presidential elections took place in Colombia, and the worst possible person was elected and it we are gonna be stuck with a far right president for four years and everything sucks. Honestly it has costed me tears and moments of extreme anxiety. 
  • Also, my kindle broke down after 8 years of being my loyal companion and that affected my reading in a big way.

What I Read 

We Are The Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson  (4 stars) 

After a rough start, I ended up rooting for most of the characters in this book, even if they were unlikable and flawed, I emphatized with most of them and I really enjoyed seeing the character development they went through. Additionally, I really liked the writing and the romance for the most part.  I’m not sure what I feel about the alien aspect of this book.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (4 stars) 

I enjoyed the concept of this book, the way the elevator was used as a vehicle to transmit the message of the cyclic nature of violence that was the central theme in this book. Also this is written in verse and it was very well done. My only minor issue was that I thought this was gonna be much more emotional and heart hitting and I felt like it lack a bit in that sense.

When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy  (4 stars)

The first things I need to say about this book is that it’s one of the best written books I have ever read, it deals with heavy subjects like abuse and rape in a raw and honest way, because of that, it’s not a very enjoyable book to read but a brilliant one nonetheless. My only minor issue with this book is that the narrator tries to distance herself from her story to be able to tell it, and while that makes sense,  it made me feel like I was being kept at arms leght from the story.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman  (4,3 stars) 

I wasn’t enjoying this book that much at the beginning, but I changed my mind and it ended up being one of my favorite books of 2018 so far. I completely loved the huge character development the main character, Eleanor, went through; I loved the other characters she met throughout the book and how they made her see things in a different way. The subject of depression was delicately handdled and there was a positive representation of therapy. The mystery surrounding her past had a twist that was really surpising.

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin (4 stars) 

I’m always in awe of the world building in these books and this was no exception, the amount of details in terms of hystory, family trees, religions and so much more is mindblowing. In terms of the plot, there’s not much happening, I mean there’s a lot happening,  BUT they are minor things, small movements of the pieces of the story to set up for what’s to come. So while there’s a lot happening, it doesn’t move the plot along that much. Nonetheless, I didn’t mind it because I was fascinated by the intrigues, the strategizing and the deceptions in this book. My main issue with this was Cersai, it was frustrating seeing her make all the wrong choices and she kept thinking she was being so smart.

On the blog 

Here’s everything I posted this month on the blog:

Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Did you enjoy them? Do you want to read any of them?Tell me what happened in your life during June! What did you read? What did you post? 

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bookish list

Most Anticipated Book Releases – July 2018

Most anticipated book releases 2018

I only had two books that are gonna be release on July on my Goodreads shelf of anticipated book releases of 2018, so when I started to write this post I decided to check some of the lists on Goodreads and see if I was missing some amazing book. It turns out that I found two more books that sound absolutely fantastic and that I can’t wait to read.

Here are the four books being release in July that I’m really excited to read, I hope you find something new to add to your tbr!

 

Dr. Strange Beard by Penny Reid

I have been waiting for this book for an entire year and it’s almost time to read it and I’m so excited! This is the fifth book in a series, but the series can be read out of order. The books follow the Winston brothers as they each find love and it’s one of my favorite romance series, so I can’t wait to read this book.

Release Date: July 30th 2018

Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie

I read The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie a few months ago and I really enjoyed it, so I’m really excited to read another book by her. This is a science fiction book about two girls that become mechanically enhanced soldiers, one does it to save her brother and the other one doesn’t remember why she did it. That sounds so interesting to me, I haven’t read a lot of books about cyborgs but I’m really intrigued to see how it’s explored in this book.

Release Date: July 17th 2018

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

This is one of those book written from a very appathetic perspective, which is very much related to the fact that the main character suffers from depression, and I always find that that kind of perspectives resonate a lot with me. Also, the entire premise of a woman taking a year off to sleep sounds weird but intriguing to me and  I can’t wait to read this book and find out what happens. Additionally, I have heard nothing but amazing things about Moshfegh’s writing and I want to see for myself what’s so especial about it.

Release Date: July 17th 2018

Fruit of the Druken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras 

This book is a recently discovery of mine, it’s a book set in Colombia (where I’m from) and it’s about an unlikely friendship between two girls that lived in Bogotá during a time where the internal armed conflict was taking over the country and touching the lives of its habitants in a million diferent ways. I can’t believe this book exists and I’m so excited to read it, especially because it’s inspired by the author’s own life. I’m a bit nervous, but I’m hoping this is great and more people will learn about the history of my country from a better source than Narcos on Netflix.

Release Date: July 31st 2018

What July book releases are you anticipating? Do you want to read any of these books? Have you read any of these books and what did you think about them?

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bookish list

My Favorite Books of 2018 So Far

My Favorite Books of 2018 so far

Since it’s almost the end of June and that means we are almost half way thorugh the year, I wanted to do a post to highlight my favorite books I have read so far in 2018.

Some interesting information about the books:

  • 6 out of the 8 books were written by new to me authors
  • 3 out of the 8 books were written by debut authors
  • 7 out of the 8 are female authors and 1 author is non-binary.
  • 3  out of the 8 books are 2018 releases, 3 are 2017 releases, 1 is a 2014 release and 1 is a 2007 release. Overall, they are all recent books.
  • In terms of genres, there’s science fiction,  fantasy, contemporary, non fiction and literary fiction. Also, there are adult and young adult books.

The Books

 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

  • Genre: Adult, Fiction
  • Why I loved it?: The main reason I loved this book was Evelyn Hugo, she is a morally gray character that unapologetically does terrible things in order to achive what she wants in life, she sacrifices parts of herlself to succeed, but at the same time she loves deeply and she is undeniably loyal to those she loves. She is calculating, cruel, ambitious, smart, hard working, persistent and so much more. She is such a complex character that I couldn’t help but be fascianted by her and as much as she is an unlikable character I was rooting for her. Evelyn Hugo is a cuban-american bisexual woman and the representation is something more that I loved about this book. Then there is the love story, which is so beautiful, sad and complicated, and you can’t help but want them to be together. Also, this a very thought provoking book with its depiction of the roles and spaces that women were allowed to have in Hollywood in the past and also the way homophobia impacted peoples lives in such a huge way, even in a more ‘liberal’ industry.
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour 
  • Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
  • Why I loved it?: I tent to love quiet books especially when they deal with delicate subjects like grief in a honest and powerful way, which is the case with this book. I loved the estructure in which the story was told, alternating between present and past. During the entire book there was this sense that a big reveal was coming in the storyline that took place in the past, but when it finally happened it was something I wasn’t expecting and that it actually shocked me a lot and I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. Meanwhile in the present, the awkward situation between the main character and her best friend – that are trying to reconnect and forgive what happened in the past, while trying to address all the hurt and the pain-  was really uncomfortable to read about but it was so well done. There was so much loneliness, hurt and grief in both timelines and the way Nina Lacour wrote about those things is so beautiful and so heartbreaking, I found myself crying in certain parts of this book, which I don’t do often.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Poetry
  • Why I loved it?: I loved this book because it explores powerful themes: the main character struggle with inhabiting her body, a body that attracs attention and because of it, it’s unwillingly subjected to the male gaze; it also deals with growing up in a conservative latinx family that it’s extremely religious and that imposes faith and leaves no room for questions. I loved the way it handdled the idea of trying to figure who you are in an enviroment that doesn’t leave much room to do so. Also, I loved this book because it’s written in verse and that allowed me to feel a bigger connection to the powerful emotions that the main character was experiencing and trying to express. Also, the #ownvoices latinx representation is another reason I loved this book.
Secondhand Origin Stories by Lee Blauersouth
  • Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult
  • Why I loved it?: The  main characters, the complex family dynamics and the fascinating world in which this is set made me love this book. But the main reason why I fell in love with this, it’s how diverse it is and the fact that it addresses important subjects: the main characters are all queer, including a non binary main character. Also, one of the main characters is a black girl and there’s conversations throughout the book about systematic racism and especially about racial profiling and incarceration of black people. Additionally, there are deaf characters and there are characters that use ASL to communicate, and while there’s ableism portrait in this book, it’s called out and talked about on page. The deaf representation is #ownvoices and that’s another thing I loved about this book. 

 

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black 
  • Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
  • Why I loved it?: I have been in a fantasy slump for a while and this  book made me feel consumed by a world and characters in a way that hadn’t happened in some time. That’s one of the reasons this is one of my favorite books of the year so far, it managed to enthrall me and it made me feel inmersed in a world full of political intrigued, deceitful characters, unexpected turns and so much cruelty from the very beginning.  Another thing I really liked about it is that I was so inmerssed in it that it kept me on the edge of my sit, I was so worried for all the characters throughout the book. Also, it gave me a new couple to root for, which always makes me enjoy a fantasy book more.
The Sum of Our Days by Isabel Allende
  • Genre: Non fiction
  • Why I loved it?: Isabel Allende’s writing never fails to captivate me, and when I’m reading her autobiographical books, she manages to make me feel like she is talking directly to me and telling me her story, and she tells it with so much honesty and candor, that it’s imposible not to be fascinating by it. That’s the main reason why I loved this book, but I also loved the structure she uses to tell her story – a letter written for her dead daughter, Paula – because it gives this book a nostalgic and sad tone that made me connect with the story even more and feel touched by it.
The Diviners by Libba Bray 
  • Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
  • Why I loved it?: The main reason why I loved this book is that it is this atmospheric book with a creepy vibe and some scary scenes, which is not something  I have found in the fantasy book I have read before, so to me this book represents a type of fantasy that it’s new to me and it intrigues me. Also, fantasy is my favorite genre and I love a good mystery, so  finding a book that mixes both of fantasy and mystery was very surprising and enjoyable. Another reason why I loved this book was the characters, they were all captivating and so different from each other and I kept waiting to see how their stories would intertwined.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  • Genre: Adult, Literary Fiction
  • Why I loved it?: At the beginning, I wasn’t enjoying this because the main character, Eleanor, was very peculiar (which isn’t a bad thing in itself), but she was judgemental, rude and infuriating. Nonetheless, I completely loved the huge character development she went through, I loved the other characters she met throughout the book and how they changed her and made her see things in a different way. Raymond was a wonderful character: understanding, supportive and empathetic. The subject of depression was delicately handdled and there was a positive representation of therapy. In terms of the plot, there was a mystery surrounding her past that I thought I had figured out early on, but I had not and the twist at the end was really surpising. At the end, I found this to be a really heartwarming book.
Have you read any of these books? Did you enjoy them? What are some of your favorite books of 2018 so far? Let me know in the comments! 

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#ownvoices · bookish list · Diverse Books

Underrated LGBTQIA+ Books

Underrated LGBTQIA Books.jpg

 

Coffee Boy by Austin Chant – 960 rating on Goodreads
  • Representation: Transexual man mc (#ownvoices) & bisexual man li
  • Genre: New adult, romance
  • Why read it?: Short book with funny and witty banter, character development, thoughtful conversations about gender and sexual orientation & a great romance.
Secondhand Origin Story by  Lee Blauersouth – 24 ratings on goodreads
  • Representation: Black lesbian mc, lesbian mc, asexual mc, gender queer mc (#ownvoices).
  • Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
  • Why read it?: A character driven story set in a fascinating world full of superheroes. A group of teens that has to fight against a corrupt, racist and ableist system.
The Story of Lizzy and Darcy by Grace Watson – 97 ratings on Goodreads
  • Representation: Lesbian mc, bisexual mc, trans side character
  • Genre: Contemporary, Romance
  • Why read it?: Amazing Pride and Prejudice retelling, with the publishing industry as a background.
Future Leaders of Nowhere by Emily O’beirne – 298 ratings on Goodreads
  • Representation: Lesbian indian-australian mc, bisexual mc
  • Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
  • Why read it?: Character development and a really interesting premise: a competition that it’s a mix between a summer camp and a Model UN.

 

 These books are part of a series, but they can be read separetely and out of order.

Small Change by Roan Parrish – 539 ratings on Goodreads 
  • Representation: bisexual female mc
  • Genre: Romance, Contemporary
  • Why read it?: A story about a bisexual female tattoo artist that’s dating a guy, who is the sweetest, nicest love interest ever. It deals with gender and with the idea of a woman in a male dominated industry.
Invitations to the Blues by Roan Parrish – 431 ratings on Goodreads
  • Representation: gay mc, black gay mc
  • Genre: Romance, Contemporary
  • Why read it?: Complex characters, interesting discussions about race and mental health, and a really adorable love story.
Honorary Mentions 

These are 3 books that have a higher amount of ratings on Goodreads, but they still have less than 3000 ratings.  I feel that these books deserve to be read by a lot more people and that’s why I’m including them.

 

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera – 2989 ratings on Goodreads 
  • Representation: Latinx lesbian mc (#ownvoices)
  • Genre: Young Adult, Fiction
  • Why read it?: A main character with a captivating and honest voice, a lot of character development and important discussions about intersectional feminism, queerness  and safe spaces.
How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake – 1529 ratings on Goodreads 
  • Representation: bisexual mc, biracial lesbian li
  • Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
  • Why read it?: A really sweet romance and a raw, complicated mother/daughter relationship that it’s addressed with so much honesty.
Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee – 2798 ratings on Goodreads 
  • Representation:  bisexual and Chinese-Vietnamese mc (#ownvoices), lesbian li
  • Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
  • Why read it?: A cute book set in an interesting post-apocalyptic world, amazing conversations about gender and sexual orientation,  villains that are not so evil and heroes that are not so good.
Have you read any of these books? Did you enjoy them? What underrated LGBTQ+ books do you reccomend?

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#ownvoices · Diverse Books · Review

Book Review: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

The Wedding Date 2

Title: The Wedding Date

Author: Jasmine Guillory

Publishing Date:  January 30th 2018

Published by:  Berkley

Genres: Adult, Romance

Pages: 224 pages

Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist.

On the eve of his ex’s wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend…

After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she’s the mayor’s chief of staff. Too bad they can’t stop thinking about the other… 

They’re just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century–or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want…

Goodreads | Amazon

The first half of The Wedding Date is full of cute, romantic and even some relatively steamy moments. The main character, Alexa, is smart, strong and driven and then the other main character, Drew, is really charming, at least in the first half of the book. Both characters have established careers that they are passionate about, which makes the story and the characters more compelling.

Something else that adds to the story is the fact that Alexa and Drew are an interracial couple, Alexa is black and this is #ownvoices representation, while Drew is white. Throughout the book, there are scenes where they have some interesting conversations about race, which adds depth to this story and make it more engaging. Also, this book does a very good job of showing Alexa’s insecurities and how society’s beauty standards  can affect someone body image.

The second half of this is where things go a bit south for me.  As I mentioned before,  the main character, Drew, is pretty charming thorughout the first half of this  and I even like him in the second half when he is with Alexa. Nonetheless, everytime Drew is with his best friend, Carlos, especially towards the end, he’s an asshole and a terrible friend, which takes away from the belief that he is a great guy for Alexa, because someone who is rude and inconsiderate towards their friends isn’t exactly good relationship material.

Another issue I have with this book is that the problems between Alexa and Drew in the second half are communication problems and they could have been solved easily. I think this is particulary frustrating because at the beginning of the book, Alexa and Drew are established as mature and intelligent characters, and so it was a bit unbelievable that they couldn’t have an honest and open conversation about their relationship. I understand that the fact that the relationship starts with fake dating makes them have doubts about it, but I also think that their inhability to communicate and talk drags out way too long.

Overall, this is a fun and cute read, especially at the beginning, and it deals with important subjects like race and body image in a very good way. Nonetheless, it loses some of its appeal by the end because both the main character, Drew, and the relationship between Drew and Alexa become less charming.

Rating: 3,6  stars

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Review

Book Review: A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Frost and Starlight

Title: A Court of Frost and Starlight

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publishing Date: May 1st 2018

Published by: Bloomsbury YA

Genres: Fantasy, YA

Pages: 272

Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve.

Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated–scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.

Goodreads | Amazon 

This book was so disappointing, it was absolutely unnecesary. Most of this book revolves around characters walking around Velaris and shopping for presents. Then there’s scenes that are simply fans’ wish fulfillment. Also, there was a really weird sex scene in this that left me confused and creep out.

The chapters I thought were interesting were the ones told from Casssian’s and Nesta’s perspective, because they gave a little bit of  insight into the next books in the series. But to be honest, this book gave almost no information about the next book and that was frustrating. I feel like Mor may also play a big role in the next books because she got a POV in this book, but I think one of her chapters was a disservice to her character and the other one made no sense. Going back to Nesta, one part of the book that I actually found interesting and compelling was the portrait of Nesta’s PTSD. To me, she is the most interesting and complex character in the series and I’m looking forward to read from her POV.

There were three or four scenes from Feyre’s and Rhysand’s POV that I thought were cute or interesting or fun to read, like the christmas scene where all the characters were together. Nonetheless, I feel like Sarah J. Maas could have realesed those scenes as bonus content in her newsletter or website or anywhere, but there was no need for an entire book. Almost every scene in this was pointless. I feel like this book needed a lot more editing.

So, why did this get 3 star and not less? I actually don’t know…. I think it’s because when I first heard the name of the book, I thought SJM was going to take this in another direction. I thought she was gonna have the next books be about the Winter Court and about Mor, and as much as I love Mor, I wanted my Cassian and Nesta book. Since this book confirmed that they are gonna be main characters in the next books, it made me happy. Also, I loved their scenes together in this book, getting to read from their POV and, as I said before, the portrait of Nesta’s PTSD. Additionally, I think the teaser we got from the next book also help this in terms of rating, which I know doesn’t make sense since that’s part of another book, but it just made me enjoy the experience of reading this a lot more.

Rating: 3 stars

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#ownvoices · Diverse Books · Review

Book Review: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The Poet X

Title: The Poet X

Author: Elizabeth Acevedo

Publishing Date: March 6th 2018

Published by: HarperTeen

Genres: Comtemporary, YA

Pages: 368

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

Goodreads | Amazon 

The Poet X is an #ownvoices story about a dominican american girl called Xiomara. It’s a story that explores Xiomara’s struggle with inhabiting her body, a body that attracs attention and because of it, it’s unwillingly subjected to the male gaze; it also deals with growing up in a conservative latinx family that it’s extremely religious and that imposes faith and leaves no room for questions. It’s a book about trying to figure who you are in an enviroment that doesn’t leave much room to do so.

This book is written in verse, which allows the reader to connect with the main character, Xiomara, and her struggles so much more and it makes the story more compelling than it would have been if it was written like a normal novel. We get a direct line to the powerful emotions that she is experiencing and trying to express, which allows an intimacy that it wouldn’t have been possible any other way. Despise being written in verse, the narration is still easy to follow because all the different parts are connected and one flows into the other with ease.

One of  the strongest aspects of the book is the exploration of faith and religion; reading from Xiomara’s pespective, the reader gets to understand all her doubts around her own faith, but also her questioning of the rol that women have been assigned in catholisms as the sinners, the temptation and a lot of times the inferior gender. It also explores the tension that exists in a lot of latinx families when it comes to religion and how even when certain ceremonies like the Confirmation are meant to be a voluntary acceptance of the faith, they become this mandatory step to be a part of the family. Also, the way this books draws a parallel between prayer and poetry is absolutely sublime and it’s done in a very powerful way.

This book also explores complicated family dynamics and it’s particulary interesting to see the mother/daughter relationship; the misunderstanding, the judgement, the contrary beliefs, but also the way it develops when both mother and daughter try to understand each others truths. They don’t arrive to that point until a huge confrontation that it’s intense, raw and heartbreaking, but seeing the ups and downs of their relationships is compelling and engaging.

Throughout the story, Xiomara discovers slam poetry and it’s amazing to experience, through her perspective, the freedom and the happiness of finding a way to express all her thoughts and emotions in a time of her life when she really needs that outlet.

Rating: 4.7 stars 

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