July 2017 Wrap-Up

July was a big month for reading for me, and I finished 11 books in total. I checked off several books that I’ve been meaning to get to for a while, as well as discovered some brand new ones that had not been on my TBR.  Despite this, I still have an ever growing stack on my nightstand that I fear I will never see the bottom of. It really is true that the more you read, the more you realize you haven’t read.

Some of my favorites this month were….

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As Ginny Moon would say, “well dang!” I loved this book SO. MUCH! This one is told from the perspective of Ginny, an autistic 14 year old growing up in the foster care system. She’s brave, stubborn, funny, smart, and fiercely loyal. I’m recommending this one to everyone I see.

 

 

 

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I was expecting this to be another run of the mill YA romance. Not to say that there is anything wrong with those, because if you look at my reading list, I clearly LOVE THEM. But I was pleasantly surprised to find some very creative ideas presented that really set it apart. I listened on audio, and the two narrators they cast do a lovely job. This is sweet and the ending had me wiping my eyes and blaming allergies.

 

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My Lady Jane was so much fun to read. It’s a very funny and creative retelling of history that frequently breaks the fourth wall. I laughed out loud on more than one occasion and found the romance to be very sweet. I’m excited to see what these ladies come up with next.

 

 

 

Honorable mention to Jennifer Niven’s All The Bright Places. This was such an exceptionally beautiful story, made even more touching by listening to the author’s note at the end of the book. I’m really glad I read this one.

Because I enjoyed The Sun is Also a Star so much, I fully expected to love Everything Everything. I was really underwhelmed by that one, which is a bummer because I was really excited to watch the movie. Also, What Light by Jay Asher got really good reviews, and was the only thing I could find available on Overdrive that I wanted to listen to. I went in with high hopes, as it takes place during Christmas on a Christmas tree farm. As an extreme Christmas lover, I figured this would be pretty hard to screw up. Unfortunately, while the story was sweet, I spent most of it bored out of my mind. A lot of the plot was unbelievable and the dialogue was pretty cheesy.

Also, I organized my shelves today and I think they look lovely sorted by color. It will be an absolute nightmare to find anything, but THEY’RE SO PRETTY.

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The whole line up…..

 

 

The Hate U Give – 5 crowns

This Savage Song – 4 crowns

Geekerella – 5 crowns

My Lady Jane – 4 crowns

The Sun is Also a Star – 5 crowns

All the Bright Places – 5 crowns

Ginny Moon – 5 crowns

The Girl Before – 2 crowns

Everything Everything – 3 crowns

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – 5 crowns

What Light – 3 crowns

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The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

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Publication Date: February 28th, 2017

Page Count: 464 (Hardcover)

From the Jacket:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

 

The Hate U Give is a story pulled straight from our headlines. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, but about so much more than a movement. This is a story about black lives. Angie Thomas is mind-blowingly talented. She writes characters full of life, so real I felt I was right there with them, living in the story. I laughed with them, cried with them, felt rage and fear and confusion with them. I love Starr and her brothers and her mom and dad. I love her uncle and her nana and her friends and boyfriend. I finished this book several days ago but have yet to stop thinking about it.

In the opening chapters, Starr is with her best friend from childhood driving home after a party when they are pulled over for a broken tail light. From a young age, Starr has been taught what to do if she’s ever pulled over. Her father tells her, “Keep your hands visible. Don’t make any sudden moves. Only speak when they speak to you.” She knows these things and says them to herself like a mantra. Her friend Khalil doesn’t follow this advice and things get heated. After he’s pulled violently from the car, he is eventually shot and killed right in front of Starr. He is unarmed.

I knew what this book was about going into it, but the tragedy and the horror of this scene left me raw. All of this happens by the end of the second chapter and we spend the rest of the book following Starr’s journey as the sole witness of her friend’s murder. We follow her, and through her grief, we watch her find herself and her voice. Through no fault of her own, she becomes the voice of an entire movement as she desperately tries to find justice for her friend.

One of the things I loved the most about this book, was the juxtaposition between the media coverage and reality. For every sensationalized headline and interview describing Khalil as a thug and a drug dealer, and the cop as a victim afraid for his life, we hear the truths about Khalil told by those who know him best. We get a window into the other side, and it makes you see how easily distorted the facts become.

In the midst of all of this tragedy, Thomas writes about a community coming together to support each other. Starr’s family and friends rally around her and around each other. I love how close she is with her parents. The relationship they have is truly beautiful and inspiring. She goes to them for support and they provide it along with unconditional love and beautiful bits of advice about life. The relationship her parents have with each other is so sweet I found myself grinning like an idiot whenever I read their exchanges. And despite the sadness, there were so many times when I laughed out loud. I cannot gush enough about Thomas’ writing. It is so accessible and has the power to touch so many lives.

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Final Thoughts: This book should be required reading for everyone. It is an important story no doubt, but it’s also a beautiful story about life, love, family, sacrifice, honor, and grief. This is a story that deserves to be told. I so hope that you read it.

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Favorite Characters: Starr, Mr. Carter, Mrs. Carter, Chris

Memorable Quotes:

At an early age I learned that people make mistakes, and you have to decide if their mistakes are bigger than your love for them.

That’s the problem. We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us. What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?

I’ve seen it happen over and over again: a black person gets killed just for being black, and all hell breaks loose. I’ve Tweeted RIP hashtags, reblogged pictures on Tumblr, and signed every petition out there. I always said that if I saw it happen to somebody, I would have the loudest voice, making sure the world knew what went down.
Now I am that person, and I’m too afraid to speak.

Daddy once told me there’s a rage passed down to every black man from his ancestors, born the moment they couldn’t stop the slave masters from hurting their families. Daddy also said there’s nothing more dangerous than when that rage is activated.

May 2017 Wrap-Up

I’m almost completely caught up with these posts! Woot!

I read 9 books in total for May, and all but one of them were part of a series. This was an exciting month due to the fact that the final installment of the ACOTAR series was released!! I discovered these last year and absolutely loved them. A Court of Mist and Fury is on my list of top all-time favorites and I was so incredibly anxious to see how this story ended for my beloved characters.

Some of the highlights this month…

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After pre -ordering this 500 years in advance, I made a deal with my wife and took the entire day to savor this book. I had my kleenex ready and a tub of my favorite ice cream and I snuggled up in my comfiest clothes and got lost in it. This got such mixed reviews, but I was really happy with it. There were a lot of threads left open, but that was intentional, as Maas has decided to write 3 more books in this world. As soon as I finished these, I re-read the rest of the series again and loved them just as much as the first time. Rhysand is my book boyfriend for life.

 

 

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I’ve been meaning to read The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series for a while and was very excited to find an audio version on Overdrive. Khristine Hvam is a MAGICAL narrator! She slips effortlessly between accents and I got completely lost in the world she helped bring to life. I’ll likely do a full review for this series because I just loved it so much. Definitely check them out.

 

 

 

 

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The Tearling series is another I’ve had on my shelves for a while and have been meaning to start. I read the first two installments this month and am on a waitlist for the final one from the library. These are very creative and genre bending and unlike anything I’ve ever read. They are sort of a mash up between epic fantasy and dystopian sci-fi, which is just not a combination I’ve ever tried before. I have high hopes for the last one and recommend these for sure!

 

 

I also read Caraval this month and feel the need to call it out because of how incredibly disappointed I was. Someone in marketing thought it would be a great idea to compare this one to the Night Circus, and just… NO. This book does not even come close to the magical unicorn of a book that is the Night Circus and I HATE finished it. If you want to read it because you’ve heard this comparison, save yourself the time and disappointment.

Ok rant over.

The whole line up…

 

A Court of Thorns and Roses – 4 crowns

A Court of Mist and Fury – 5 crowns

A Court of Wings and Ruin – 5 crowns

A Million Worlds with You – 4 crowns

The Queen of the Tearling – 4 crowns

The Invasion of the Tearling – 5 crowns

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – 5 crowns

Days of Blood and Starlight – 5 crowns

Caraval – 2 crowns (Hiss! Boo!)

 

Have you guys read any of these series? What did you think? Any recommendations to add?