Wednesday, August 30, 2017

#TheReadingQuest [Update #2]

All artwork is designed by CW of Read, Think, Ponder.

Bout of Books has come and past and I said I would update once it was finished. Here is my TBR post for #TheReadingQuest and my first update post. I have read 2 more books, pushing me just over to Level 2. I included my current reads pages read in my HP count. There are 12 more days and I'm hoping to finish my quest and a few more side quests :)

  • A banned book: Drama by Raina Telgemeier (238 pages, graphic novel) +5 EXP, +11.9 HP
  • A book cover with a partially obscured face: Roseblood by AG Howard (read 6 pages) +0 EXP, +0.6 HP
  • A book with under 500 ratings on Goodreads: Found by Stacey Wallace Benefiel (159 pages) +10 EXP, +15.9 HP
  • A book published by a small press: The Secret of the Sphinx by Samuel Bavli (134 pages) +10EXP, +13.4 HP
  • A book with a one word title: Caraval by Stephanie Garber (read 54 pages) +0 EXP, +5.4 HP
  • GRIND:
  • MINI-GAME: Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson (24 pages) +5 EXP, +1.2 HP
  • ANIMAL COMPANION: Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! by Mariko Tamaki (208 pages/marginalized author) +20EXP, +20.8 HP
  • 3 instagram posts so far +3 HP
Level 2 //  60 EXP // 82 HP

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Book Review: The Secret of the Sphinx by Samuel Bavli

Publish Date: September 19, 2016
Published by Tambora Books
134 Pages [Kindle edition]

The place is ancient Egypt. The year is 2558 BCE. Two of the king’s three sons have died in an apparent accident. Neb, who is the king’s vizier and a great magician, is the only one who realizes that their deaths were not accidental, and he tries to prevent the death of the king’s third son. The murderer, an evil sorcerer who fears Neb’s powers, has Neb abducted and casts a magic spell over him, imprisoning Neb’s soul in a great stone sphinx.

Four and a half thousand years pass, and Neb’s sphinx is on display in a museum. A teenage boy named Jon is visiting the museum on a class trip, and Neb immediately senses that this boy could be the key to his freedom. The sphinx speaks to Jon and tells him to return that night; but when Jon returns, the spirits of long-dead kings and demons try to prevent him from reaching the sphinx. After narrowly escaping the spirits, Jon finally reaches Neb. Intrigued by Neb’s story and by the prospect of adventure, Jon climbs onto the sphinx’s back, and flies back in time with Neb to search for the secret that will release Neb’s soul from its stony prison.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Bout of Books 20 [Days 5-7 Progress + Finish Line]

Bout of Books

Here is my progress for the last three days of the readathon plus my final thoughts. In the first four days, I've only read Unicorn Power! and read a total of 142 pages. I'm hoping to continue to read more pages per day. I started off with 4 pages read and on the fourth day I read 81, so the number keeps growing :) Little by little.

Unicorn Power! by Mariko Tamaki - started at 89%, ended at 100% (~22 pages) - done
Lumberjanes Vol.1 by Noelle Stevenson (24 pages) - done
Roseblood by AG Howard - didn't read today
The Secret of the Sphinx by Samuel Bavli - started at 0%, ended at 44% (~58 pages)

TOTAL: 246 pages // 2 books finished

READING UPDATE: I read a total of 104 pages today, so my page count just keeps on going up! I'm hoping to finish Sphinx tomorrow and continue Roseblood.

Roseblood by AG Howard - didn't read today
The Secret of the Sphinx by Samuel Bavli - started at 44%, ended at 54% (~13 pages)

TOTAL: 259 pages // 2 books finished

READING UPDATE: I spent most of Saturday cleaning and cooking. I don't regret it because it needed done, but it meant I barely read until I was already entirely too tired. Hoping to finish Sphinx tomorrow (once again) and make a dent in Roseblood to finish out the readathon!
Roseblood by AG Howard - didn't read today
The Secret of the Sphinx by Samuel Bavli - started at 54%, ended at 100% (~72 pages)
Caraval by Stephanie Garber - started at 0, ended at page 24 (~24 pages)

TOTAL: 355 pages // 3 books finished

READING UPDATE: I pushed through and finished The Secret and started Caraval in bed, so I didn't get as far as I had hoped there, but I broke 300 pages and finished 3 books.

TOTAL: 355 pages // 3 books finished

FINAL THOUGHTS: My goals were to finish 2 books and read every day. I accomplished that goal! Even though I had some very rough, low-page-count reading days, I did read every single day this week and I finished 3 books instead of 2, even though they were pretty low count books. I also wanted to finish off some books for #TheReadingQuest and I was able to do 1 quest line book and 2 side quest books. Overall, Bout of Books 20 was a huge success! I cannot wait for the next one. I'll be stopping by some blogs and Twitters today to leave some comments, but I hope everyone had a great week :)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

#TheReadingQuest [Update #1]

All artwork is designed by CW of Read, Think, Ponder.

Figured I would give my first update for The Reading Quest. I will most likely update after Bout of Books this week :) Here is my TBR post for #TheReadingQuest

  • A banned book: Drama by Raina Telgemeier (238 pages, graphic novel) +5 EXP, +11 HP
  • A book cover with a partially obscured face: 
  • A book with under 500 ratings on Goodreads: Found by Stacey Wallace Benefiel (159 pages) +10 EXP, +15 HP
  • A book published by a small press:
  • A book with a one word title:
  • GRIND:
  • 2 instagram posts so far +2 HP
Level 1 //  25 EXP // 36 HP

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Bout of Books 20 [Days 1-4 Progress]

Bout of Books

I'm going to split up the readathon progress between days 1 through 4 and then 5 through 7 with maybe the "finish line" tacked on. Here we go! Happy reading everyone :) Remember if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask your local Bout of Books Expert (I am one of I believe 6 or 7). :)

**Read a little every day
**Finish two books

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Bout of Books 20 [Reading List + Goals]

Bout of Books

Hello, folks! It's time for yet another BOB readathon to begin. The 20th Bout of Books readathon starts next Monday, August 21st. It will be my 17th time participating, which is crazy to me, but I'm so excited to participate once again. I'm going to be in the middle of doing #TheReadingQuest book challenge, so I want to make a dent in those books during the readathon. I'm also going to be an expert once again. So I hope to stop by and encourage lots of the participants :)

I may update occasionally on Twitter and will definitely be updating frequently on my Goodreads.

**Read a little every day
**Finish two books

**Roseblood by AG Howard
**Caraval by Stephanie Garber
**The Secret of the Sphinx by Samuel Bavli 

Good luck to everyone else joining in! Let me know what you plan on reading next week in the comments :)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Book Review: A Fabrication of the Truth by Katie Kaleski

Publish Date: September 16, 2016
250 Pages [Kindle edition]

The last time Lexie Stein saw Dalton Reyes he lay in a pool of blood, hovering somewhere between life and death. Now, five years later, he’s the new guy in her high school. 

What happened between then and now is a mystery Lexie is afraid to explore. Just one lie uncovered from her past can cause the house of cards she’s so carefully constructed to come crashing down around her. And Dalton is the key to that past. 

She doesn’t need her grandmother’s warnings to convince her that Dalton means trouble. But the bond they shared as kids seems to have only gotten stronger, transforming into something wonderful and powerful. 

When Dalton opens up about the intervening years and what they mean for his future, Lexie is determined not to let him get away a second time.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Friday, August 4, 2017

Books I Read in July

Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin - 4 stars (finished 7/1)
I was gifted an ebook via Netgalley.
Review: here.

Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris - 3.5 stars (finished 7/10)
This is where I start to get annoyed with the books and why I never finished the series. This reread was long overdue and I actually started it in January but put it down. Sookie is insufferable. Honestly, the last chapter is the only good part in the book. I think I've read the following book, but not the other two. So on to another reread and hopefully I can finish out the series ASAP. I'm ready to be done.

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst - 3.5 stars (finished 7/15)
I don't know how to explain why this book wasn't a 4 or 5 star rating for me. It was easy to read, but I just had no desire to pick it up and read it. I don't think it was boring and I don't think it was necessarily slow. It was just missing something. The story is told from two POV: Dennaleia, betrothed to Thandi, and Amaranthine (Mare), Thandi's sister. I did not care for Denna. I wanted to like her, but she irritated me. Loved Mare. Honestly, my favorite parts of the story were Mare and her pal, Nils, and their excursions outside the castle walls. I could read a book just on that and have done without the romance. The romance was a letdown for me and that may be because it was so drawn out and it took forever for it to finally happen. Funny since instalove is such an annoying trope nowadays. I enjoyed the big part towards the end of the story, but side-eyed the actual ending itself. Overall, I was just disappointed. There are so many great elements in this story but I just didn't like how they were put together.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas - 5 stars (finished 7/19)
I honestly don't know if I can put into words how much I loved this book. I am not black. I have never lived in a place like Garden Heights. I have never feared being pulled over by a police officer. The MC, Starr, is a perspective that I don't have but appreciate. I was given the opportunity to read an own voices novel to gain some insight of a perspective I will never experience firsthand.

This story was gripping from beginning to end. There was humor and heartbreak. And what a tenacious main character. I loved Starr. I would read 10 more books about her and her family and friends. As the reader, you get to see Starr struggle with her "black self" (as she calls it) and then her Williamson self, having to be careful not to use too much slang around her white friends and classmates. You get to see how people react to Starr dating a white boy.

After her childhood friend, Khalil, is shot...Starr is overcome with grief and that was another part of the story I thought was so well done and honest. I was stunned at many-a-thing in the novel, but know these are common occurrences. I think it's important to immerse yourself in stories that you can never know or truly understand to make sure you can help be supportive of people who live this every day. To make sure that you use your voice to help make a difference because this stuff is not okay.

Freefall by Joshua David Bellin - 1 star (finished 7/20)
I was gifted an ebook via Netgalley.
DNF Review will be posted a week before release date. 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot - 5 stars (finished 7/26)
I don't know if I can put into words how profound of a read this book is. I wish I hadn't waited so many years to pick it up. Years ago, I read a book called "For the Good of Mankind?: The Shameful History of Human Medical Experimentation" and all of those different instances of human experimentation really shocked me. While the doctors didn't really experiment on Henrietta, I feel they still violated her. They stole tissue from her body without her knowing. They never told her or her family.

Rebecca Skoot did the Lacks family a great justice by telling Henrietta's story...past just the HeLa cells.  What an extraordinary and selfless woman Henrietta was. What she endured in the last months of her life...I just cannot even imagine. I'm glad Rebecca wrote her story. I'm glad she wrote about Henrietta's five children. She also wrote on many other stories connected to the injustices of the time period where Henrietta's tissue was collected. It still blows my mind that it hasn't been made into law that pieces of you are no longer yours when they leave your body. Rebecca did an incredible job with an insanely large team to collect insurmountable amounts of information. They fact checked in multiple times. It's an insane amount of work but I think after all the Lackses have been through, it was a much deserved story to tell. It needed to be told.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. I think it raises important questions and touches on very important subjects throughout the novel. I think we are quick to forget our very recent history because it seems like it was so long ago that people weren't treated as people because they were different.

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli - 5 stars (finished 7/26)
I was flying on through it. I couldn't get enough of it. I enjoy so thoroughly how Becky Albertalli made her book such a diverse read without coming off as forced. It was so seamlessly done. There is representation for many many diversities (underrepresented body types, anxiety, Judaism, bisexual, lesbian, gay, pansexual, LGBTQIA+ parents, etc. I believe there is also a little biracial relationship represented) and they are all wonderfully positive. There is no negative connotation to it, other than some of the character's run-in's with ignorant people. Plus I love the normalization of breastfeeding. YES, BECKY, YES!

I enjoyed reading from Molly's perspective and really connected with her on a personal level. It felt like such an honest read. I loved how family was at the forefront of the story. I loved the pop culture references. It was just the sweetest story. I read most of it in a day and I haven't done that since Everything, Everything.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia - 5 stars (finished 7/28)
This book is a story of a senior in high school named Eliza, who has no interest in being involved in her school social scene. She has Monstrous Sea, a webcomic that she anonymously created. She throws herself into this webcomic heart, mind, body, and soul. She rarely reads comments, but know that it has an insane following. At school, she is the "weird" kid that is the target of many a joke. Her friends are two strangers that she talks to online. Until she meets Wallace, a boy she assumes is a football player, but discovers he writes Monstrous Sea fanfiction. Her first encounter with someone in the fandom she created. Neither speak out loud very much, but start to communicate through short notes back and forth and a friendship is kindled.

I thought most of this book was the cutest and most adorable read ever. The rest was so heart wrenching. At some moments, I wish I could shake Eliza and show her that her parents care and just want to be a part of her life. In other moments, I wish I could shake her parents and tell them to pay attention. I love the way this story was written - in a "normal" novel style mixed with instant messages, emails, online forum posts, texts, and snippets of comics. The artwork is phenomenal. I appreciate how Eliza grew throughout the story too. There was a lot you could pick up on while reading from her perspective and I like that she starting working on some of those issues towards the end of the book.

Flame in the Mist by Renee Adhieh - 5 stars (finished 7/30)
While I didn't finish this for the Biannual Bibliothon, I read the last 191 pages this morning, so I can tune into the live show. I was a little nervous starting the book because I peeked at some reviews here on Goodreads and a lot of people said that it was so boring. I can honestly say that I was not bored at all throughout the entire book. I think it was beautifully written and the story was so good. It was similar to Mulan, but not a retelling like it was marketed. I like that it was written in third-person omniscient and jumped around from character to character, so that you get a pretty large scope of what is going on. There are still a few mysteries and I'm looking forward to the second book of the duology to find out more.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

#TheReadingQuest [TBR]

There wasn't a banner, so I cropped the sign up banner. All artwork is designed by CW of Read, Think, Ponder. It's amazing!

I'm joining in on a super fun reading challenge called The Reading Quest. It is hosted by Read at Midnight and begins August 13th. It runs for four weeks and ends September 10th.                     

The premise is a combination of bingo and video games and I cannot wait to start. You choose one of four characters and follow their path on the bingo board. There are also side quests you can take on the bingo board for more experience points! Oh yeah, you earn experience points and health points, and that is what determines the winner of the grand prize :) For more details, check out the sign up post.

I'm starting with the Rogue character quest.
My tasks are as follows:
  1. A banned book: Drama by Raina Telgemeier - this was challenged for having LGBT characters and being sexually explicit. My older kids have read all of Raina's books and love them. I, for one, am glad it seems to have a positive LGBT rep. [238 pages - 11 HP]
  2. A book with a partially obscured face: Roseblood by AG Howard, most likely. [419 pages - 41 HP]
  3. A book with under 500 ratings on Goodreads: I haven't yet decided, but most of my Netgalley books are under 500.
  4. A book published by a small press: Again, I will probably turn to my Netgalleys.
  5. A book with a one word title: Caraval by Stephanie Garber [401 pages - 40 HP]
I haven't yet decided if I will do any side quests, but I think I will be able to read 5 books in 4 weeks.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August TBR List + Upcoming Releases

In July, I read 8 books and I am 5 books ahead of my Goodreads challenge! The furtherest ahead I have been this year so far and I could not be happier. I'm doing my post in a different set up because it looked overwhelming in bullets with so many books. So I'll talk about the mini challenge I did in July (like the one in June), list my Owlcrate and Books on my Desk, and quickly go over where I stand on my Netgalley books. Then as always, there are the main challenges I'm doing this year.