TTT | Books On My Fall 2020 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly topic hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week she provide a topic and you are free to use that topic and/or variations of that topic to make your top ten list. A full list of the weekly themes can be found here.

Today’s topic is books on my TBR for the fall. Many of these will be ones I have advanced copies of.

I mean I’m reading it right now, but haven’t finished, so it still counts right? Right!

Goodreads

An atmospheric contemporary fantasy about three teens coming of age in the wake of a mysterious death.

Goodreads

A murder on the high seas. A detective duo. A demon who may or may not exist.

Goodreads

Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is an unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together.

Goodreads

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young woman who desires a law career must be in want of a case.

Goodreads

Need to read before the movie comes out.

Goodreads

I also need to read the 4th in this series, but I want to re-read the first two as a refresher. Technically, this could count for 4 books.

Goodreads

A sweeping, multi-layered romance with a divine twist, by the Printz Honor-winning author of The Passion of Dolssa, set in the perilous days of World Wars I and II.

Goodreads

Award-winning journalist Delphine Minoui recounts the true story of a band of young rebels in a besieged Syrian town, who find hope and connection making an underground library from the rubble of war.

Goodreads

Fantasy, female/female romance, and girls reclaiming their own narrative after horrible sexual violence. What more can you ask for?

Goodreads

Happy Reading, Lovelies!

Book Review | Tower of Dawn

Title: Tower of Dawn

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Published: September 5, 2017

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Finally! I have finished this book!

I have attempted to read this about 3 or 4 times before finally just taking 2 days and forcing myself through it. While I love Sarah J. Maas and her writing and stories are amazing, I just cannot handle Chaol. Most times, I want to punch him in the face!

First off, this book takes a different turn from the others in the series. Instead of focusing mainly on Celaena’s/Aelin’s story, the focus is on Chaol. He and Nesryn Faliq travel to the Southern Continent (Antica) to try to convince the Khagan (their King basically) to lend a hand, along with some armies, to fight off the Valg and Perrington. Yet, one of the Khagan’s children, Kashin, thinks that their sister didn’t commit suicide, she was murdered. He enlists Chaol’s help to prove him right.

As much as the Khagan and his children would like the war and Valg to stay in the Northern Continent, it seems they have other plans.

As I stated, I just don’t like Chaol. He was never a character I really cared for even in the first book. Once I was in the third book, I really just wanted Chaol to sit in the corner because nobody cares about your problems. What annoys me about his character is that he acts like most entitled, white guys. He does grow and change throughout the book, but I didn’t care enough about him to care if he changed or not.

Thankfully, Sarah J. Maas his a fantastic writer and storyteller, so once I was into the meat of the book I couldn’t stop reading. I’m always amazed at how she weaves these tales and makes everything make sense by the end. I’m left wondering how did I get here. I also truly enjoyed getting to know Nesryn’s character more, away from the other characters. I love that she gets to see her family (ahhh, the reunion at the end, my heart, and all the tears), as well as have a romantic love interest of her own. The new character in this book is Yrene Towers, a healer at the Torre Cesme, the Academy of Healers and Physicians. She doesn’t take Chaol’s shit, and I love her for that. I also think her backstory matches up so well with Aelin’s while going on different paths (and even though I haven’t read Kingdom of Ash, I already know it was Aelin/Celaena who saved Yrene and gave her the gold). Aelin and Yrene both lost everything when the Valg and the King of Adarlan outlawed magic and started hunting down those who possessed it. While Aelin became an assassin, Yrene instead became a healer. However, neither of them gave up their femininity nor did they become doormats either (yes, of course, Celaena didn’t become a doormat). Yes, Yrene did need help, but afterwards she handles things fine on her own while in Antica. This is what I love about Maas’s writing; she doesn’t have her characters as these flat people but real and alive, with emotions, flaws, and representing every kind of woman.

I do hope that to see more of Hasar and Renia in Kingdom of Ash (going to finish it this week). I think that’s my only critique of Maas’s is that I do wish one of the main characters was somewhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Yes, Hasar and Renia are together, but I consider them only minor characters in this book, which is why I hope to see them more in the next one. But I’m always wanting more LGBTQ+ characters in books, so there’s that.

Happy Reading, Lovelies!

#FridayFavorites | Rereads

I started #FridayFavorites back when I started up the blog again and wanted to make sure I kept at least one regular post a week. This was, of course, before I knew there were others out there. But I decided to keep it, especially since I have the whole year planned out.

Today’s topic is about books that I reread. I always find something new when I read a book again, or multiple times even. There’s a new theme or something I didn’t notice the first time around. I’ve learned something new, or I’m at a different point in my life. The point is, I think re-reading is one of the greatest joys in life.

Okay, it doesn’t have to be the Order of the Phoenix in particular, but any Harry Potter book falls into this category.

Sidenote: I’m having a truly difficult time trying to be excited or have a want to re-read these due to someone’s recent comments. All I will say is this: trans women are women; trans men are men. You are all valued and loved!

I actually re-read, listened to, this book earlier this year, which I highly recommend. It’s read by Lin-Manuel Miranda, so it’s fabulous!!

This is just a fun book! Plus, I’m obsessed with true crime, so Jack the Ripper is right up my alley….only metaphorically, thankfully!

I’ve actually read this book around 4 or 5 times. A couple of times for pleasure, if you can call it that, and a few classes in undergrad assigned it. The tale is something I always go back to every few years and it’s just such a haunting story.

As with Harry Potter, the Infernal Devices is a series that I can read over and over! I do also love Clare’s Dark Artifices series but have yet to finish it. This one comes out top purely because it’s set in Victorian London!

Let me know books that you have re-read and think I should read again or for the first time in the comments!

Happy Reading, Lovelies!

TTT | Cover Freebie

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly topic hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week she provide a topic and you are free to use that topic and/or variations of that topic to make your top ten list. A full list of the weekly themes can be found here.

Today’s topic is a cover freebie, and I’m focusing mine on book covers with inanimate objects. I absolutely love covers that are more intricate or have hidden meanings once you finish the book

With wealthy vampires in New Orleans, what else do you need on the cover besides a goblet pouring out rose petals that could look like blood?

The family novel of handling your youngest child coming out as transgender, and I think this beautiful cover with an orange peel just represents this so well.

Having one of the clues left behind from Lydia’s disappearance just brings more importance to when someone goes missing.

Three sisters and only one can be queen. The different crowns on the cover, representing the different powers of the three sisters, against a black cover is just gorgeous.

The cover of these many life preservers in this dark sea and those threatening clouds is so haunting. Makes more sense once you finish reading.

I absolutely love this cover with a teapot and the bear in the middle with a silhouette of a girl in the middle of that. Such an amazing book about handling grief when people don’t want to acknowledge that person’s life.

I love Neil Gaiman! This book is so beautiful. And this cover of the grave stone with a boys face carved out of it, is just mwah!

Okay, I have not read this book yet, since it doesn’t come out till next year. But the cover pulled me in with a vial of what I assume is opium with a woman’s silhouette on the vial. I just cannot wait to read this!

Yup, there’s a hand here, but the flowers are the focus for this. This cover is so gorgeous and haunting, especially with the fact that the book is about a mysterious death. Having the flowers and hand underwater makes it seem more dire.

Another book that I haven’t read. I think this cover represent the book so well. A young girl who collects and saves the words that are not included in the first OED. The suitcase filled with words, the tea cup, and even the poppy flower (alluding to the upcoming war) all come together so beautifully.

Book Review | The Inheritance Games

Image from Goodreads

Title: The Inheritance Games (first in series)

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Published: 1 September 2020

Publisher: Little, Brown Books

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What if you were given a million dollars? Or a billion dollars? We all dream of it, right? I have never played any lottery in my life, but I still have a plan for when I ever win the lottery. Well, for Avery Kylie Grambs this is no dream, it’s quite literally a reality. It’s also not just a million dollars nor is it a billion dollars. She has been given 46 billion dollars, including all properties, monetary assets, and worldy possessions of Tobias Hawthorne.

There’s one part that doesn’t make sense to Avery or the rest of the Hawthorne family, nobody knows who she is and she has no idea who they or Tobias Hawthorne is.

This is just another puzzle, another game for the four brothers. They all grew up with Tobias who loved games and puzzles more than almost anyone. One last game after he dies and Avery is the missing piece. Or is she?

I was so excited to read this back when I first heard about it this past spring. Totally reminded me of Knives Out. Of course, with Knives Out Marta actually knew Harlan. As the game moves on, the stakes do become higher and Avery has no idea who to trust. I kept going back and forth on who I trusted. All the boys, at least once during my reading of the book, had something to do with trying to have Avery loose the inheritance.

There were a few things that I wished were different. One, can we stop it with the love triangles!? Please I beg you!

I’ve been tired of this trope since Twilight and it still hasn’t aged well! Two, I really wanted Nan (Tobias’s mother-in-law) to be in the story more, especially, after she told Avery about what happened to her husband. I also wished we saw her impression or reaction to Avery being bequeathed this inheritance instead of her great-grandsons. Hopefully, she’ll be a bigger character in book 2, but I doubt it.

Oh yeah! Did anyone else know this was a series? Cause I certainly didn’t! If you read past this point, you are taking your life in your own hands because

When it’s revealed that Avery knows the man in Nan’s locket, Tobias Hawthorne II, and it’s Harry from the park, I was shocked. The man from the beginning that was so inconsequential to be meaningless becomes such the twist at the end. I was truly not expecting that. I will say I did enjoy that scene between Avery and Harry at the beginning. Avery is a girl from the “wrong side of the tracks.” She is literally sleeping in her car the night before she finds out she’s an heiress, but she goes to the park to play chess as a way to give Harry breakfast. Showing someone’s character right from the beginning.

It makes me root for Avery. I want her to win the game and the inheritance, but more than that I want this to mean something for her. I don’t want it to mean something as little as a chance meeting in a diner or because she had the same birthday as a girl who died. There has to be more to Avery’s story than that. Tobias Hawthorne’s mind had to have more of a reason than just simple coincidence.

Basically, I need the next book!

#FridayFavorites | Tropes

I started #FridayFavorites back when I started up the blog again and wanted to make sure I kept at least one regular post a week. This was, of course, before I knew there were others out there. But I decided to keep it, especially since I have the whole year planned out.

Today’s topic covers my favorite tropes. Of course, most tropes can go away (I’m looking at you manic pixie dream girl), but there are some that I absolutely love.

  • Fake Dating-I feel so cliche saying this but gah! I just love reading books that have this trope and the character(s) not realizing that they like each other. Or one where the characters don’t like each other and then do at the end! It doesn’t matter to me; if there is fake dating in the book, then I’m there! Currently reading one book such as this Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall. Fake dating and LGBTQ+ characters, yes please!
  • Enemies to Lovers-I do love this one but it’s really the following that I love:
  • Found Family-I love, love, love the found family in books. I think the love there is just so pure and magical and different than blood families because the characters chose them. It wasn’t out of duty or a need to survive. Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Mist and Fury portrays this so well!! I love the relationships between all the characters from the Inner Circle of The Night Court! They care about each other so much, but they also all have different personalities and characteristics that make me love them individually as well.
  • Continuity nod-These are those little things in books (and movies/shows as well) that hark back to something earlier in the series or from a related series. It’s one of the things Cassandra Clare does really well with her series, I think. Especially, the series that came after The Mortal Instruments, i.e. The Infernal Devices and the Dark Artifices.
  • Mentions of Pop Culture-Not sure if this really falls into it, but I think it does. I just love the fact that young adult novels can mention Harry Potter or two characters can have a conversation about Harry Potter with no explanation necessary. And this can be for anything too, Doctor Who, Marvel, any singer/artist, etc. I find it a bit fun, and it always brings a smile to my face.

Let me know your favorite tropes in the comments below!

Happy Reading, Lovelies!

TTT | Books for My Younger Self

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly topic hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week she provide a topic and you are free to use that topic and/or variations of that topic to make your top ten list. A full list of the weekly themes can be found here.

Today’s topic is over books for my younger self, which there are many ways to take this topic, I decided to chose books that I wish I could’ve read when I was growing up. Most of the books on this list pertain to some kind of diversity. I grew up in a pretty liberal household, but I still would’ve love to have read and learned about people who are different from me. More than that I would’ve love to have seen Black or Arab or LGBTQ+ protagonists or main characters that are being regular kids. Without further ado, here are my list of books:

Happy Reading Lovelies!

Book Review | Api’s Berlin Diaries

Title: Api’s Berlin Diaries

Author: Gabrielle Robinson

Publisher: She Writes Press

Publication Date: 15 September 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I received an advanced copy of this book from She Writes Press and Books Froward in exchange for an honest review.

When I first heard of Api’s Berlin Diaries, I expected this to be more diary-like entries. Instead, we get a woman struggling with coming to terms with her kind, gentle grandfather being a member of the Nazi Party. There were many selections of the diary entries throughout that Robinson placed in context with what was going on in the time period.

Of course, when someone finds out that a family member did something awful or was a member of something horrible, we balk. We want to forget or obfuscate. I’m reminded of the show Finding Your Roots where Ben Affleck tries to hide the fact that his ancestors were slave owners. On the same show, Anderson Cooper took the approach of laughing about his ancestors and saying that one of them deserved to be killed by a slave. There are different approaches to take, whether the family member was a Nazi or a Slaveowner, we all have to come to terms with our past.

Unfortunately, Gabrielle Robinson has only begun to do that in the early 2000s when she found her grandfather’s diaries. It was a common theme throughout this book of the author’s family not recognizing or realizing their guilt of what happened to Jews in Germany.

What was difficult about this book is the fact that Api was living in Soviet controlled Berlin, which was horribly bombed with most people living in slums and many people dying of illness due to a lack of health and infrastructure. Yet, Api is part of a political organization, the Nazis, that destroyed Jewish homes and businesses. The Nazis killed millions of Jews. I recognize that what Api went through was horrendous, and the fact that he was never an active member does make it better (only marginally). While Api never participated in the party, was never an active member, he still saw the atrocities and did nothing. He voted for Hitler because he agreed with what Hitler and the party stood for when Hitler was rising to power. Yes, many people changed their minds after the fact, but there is never any mention of this in his diaries.

This is something the author struggles with throughout this memoir/biography. She does a great job of balancing out the atrocities of what happened in the war, while trying to understand why her grandfather joined the Nazi Party. She questions if his silence implies that he agrees with any of the racism that costs millions of lives, if silence itself a sign of guilt.

Later on she writes:

I am confronted again with my key quandary, this time expressed as unambiguously as never before, “without the faintest guilt.” Api did not feel guilty or in any way implicated in the murder and destruction that the Nazi regime perpetrated. I realize that he was not personally responsible for any of it, that apart from having joined the Party, he did nothing further to advance its cause, that he did not hold any office in the Party or persecute anyone. Nevertheless, he was a member of the Party; he witnessed persecution and saw his Jewish colleagues disappear.

Chapter 34

It’s hard to imagine our family members perpetrating atrocities. Earlier, I compared what happened in Germany to Slavery in America. Both are atrocities of different kinds but atrocities nonetheless. However, the most similar parts remain with the ones who are left, with Germans who have to recognize their ancestors part in the Holocaust and Americans who have to recognize their ancestors part in owning Slaves.

The last chapter Robinson is trying to come to terms with this “wide field.” She states “A silence that is almost a crime is a chilling specter that lays its finger on many, if not all, of us and makes innocence impossible. I am reminded again of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” in which he condemned not only the actions of bad people but the silence of the good. Yet, in telling Api’s story, I did not want to condemn him. I wanted to be one of those who break the silence, sometimes referred to as the German’s “second guilt,” and recount and account as clearly as I could. I found this led to unwelcome discoveries and an uncomfortable questioning of my family history. But it also brought up kernels of insight from the buried past.”

In the end, all of us have to look at this “wide field” and come to terms with what happened. To recognize what our ancestors did or did not do. Yes, it is true that all of us were not there, nor can we go back because as far as I know, no one has invented the TARDIS; however, we have benefitted from our past and we are accountable for it.

#FridayFavorites | Endings

I love a good ending. An ending you didn’t see coming is even better. When everything falls into place and the fog lifts, is one of the best part of a story. So, here are some of my favorite endings. Please note, I’ve tried to write the blurbs and my thoughts to not have any spoilers.

Yes, I’ve read all the Robert Langdon books. I was actually shocked by this ending and slightly terrifying.

Gosh, this whole book was absolutely amazing! That ending, gah, I desperately needed the second book. Still haven’t read it cause life, but I’m planning on it soon.

I didn’t expect the ending for this book. I was surprised and saddened by what had happened.

I’m completely obsessed with Sarah Waters! This masterpiece follows the stragely linked lives of two women, Sue and Maud. I was surprised by not only the ending but the midpoint twist as well! But finding out how tightly wound Sue and Maud’s lives are was so deftly written and surprisingly satisfying.

I finished this book with so many feelings! Such an amazing book, that not only has a great twist ending but also has an interesting theme(s) as well.

Happy Reading, Lovelies!

TTT | Books that Make Me Hungry

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly topic hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week she provide a topic and you are free to use that topic and/or variations of that topic to make your top ten list. A full list of the weekly themes can be found here.

The topic for today is over books that make me hungry. If you don’t know me that well, then you’ll need to know that if I see a commercial, I’m then wanting that food. It’s the reason I don’t have cable. With all this in mind, I’m not a person who reads book about or on food. I also don’t own any cookbooks because I hate cooking. Instead, I decided to find some of my favorite quotes about food from books (yes, there are only 7; I gave up).

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

“We eat the year away. We eat the spring and the summer and the fall. We wait for something to grow and then we eat it.” We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

“Though their life was modest, they believed in eating well.” Dubliners by James Joyce

“And when they had finished the fish, Mrs Beaver brought unexpectedly out of the oven a great and gloriously sticky marmalade roll, steaming hot, and at the same time moved the kettle onto the fire, so that when they had finished the marmalade roll the tea was made and ready to be poured out.” The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

“Eatable marshmallow pillows. Lickable wallpaper for nurseries. Hot ice creams for cold days. Cows that give chocolate milk. Fizzy lifting drinks. Square sweets that look round.” Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

“Our grapes fresh from the vine,

Pomegranates full and fine,

Dates and sharp bullaces,

Rare pears and greengages,

Damsons and bilberries,

Taste them and try:

Currants and gooseberries,

Bright-fire-like barberries,

Figs to fill your mouth,

Citrons from the South,

Sweet to tongue and sound to eye,

Come buy, come buy.”
Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti

“Harry’s mouth fell open. The dishes in front of him were now piled with food. He had never seen so many things he liked to eat on one table: roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops and lamb chops, sausages, bacon and steak, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, fries, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, ketchup, and, for some strange reason, peppermint humbugs.”
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling