2020 Mid-Year Check-In

It’s that time of the year again when I try to have some kind of order in my reading life. This is when I check on the goals that I have for myself and also if I’m currently on track for my yearly challenges. I also joined four yearly-challenges along with my Goodreads goals. So I’ll break it down per challenge/goal. Finally, I’ll include the best, worst, disappointment, surprising read in the first half of 2020.

goodreads1

For this year, I had my Goodreads goal at 80, however, I was reading a ton of books the first few months of 2020 so I decided to up it up to 90 books. So far I’ve read 87 books, I might have to increase it to 110 or 120. Either way, I’ve already exceeded the books I wanted to read for this year. Everything else is a bonus!

Along with these Goodreads goal, I also had some personal goals that I wanted to achieve before the end of 2020. This one is a bit of a challenge because I don’t think I’m doing that well with it. Anyways, here they are:

  1. Start/Finish 1 full series Done! I finished the whole Miss Marple Series
  2. Finish 80 Books from my Goodreads Challenge So far so good. I’m almost to 90 
  3. Finish 5 adult novels (not cozy) Doing fairly well to my surprise 4/5 Done
  4. Finish/be up-to-date in 6 series Close but no dice. 3/6 Done
  5. Read five specific books I really need to get these book read before 2020 is over
    • Thunderhead
    • A Court of Mist and Fury
    • Before the Devil Breaks you
    • The Shadow Hour
    • Three Dark Crowns
  6. Finish books from my Five-Star Prediction list My 5-Star Prediction List can be found here. I’m doing really rough on this challenge. 1/5 Done

Moving on to the four challenges:

TBRChallenge

I am super proud to announce that I have been up to date on my TBR ChallengeI’m 6/12 for this challenge. 

craving for cozies

For the 2020 Craving Cozies Challenge, I’ve also actually surpassed this my goal of “Famished” which is to read 26-51 cozies. I’ve read 71 cozies so far, therefore, I’m going to change my level of difficulty to “Ravenous” which is to read 101-125 cozies. Those are actually a lot of cozies, but I want to challenge myself.

I really need to finish some series this year, therefore, I thought that the 2020 Finishing the Series Challenge was just up my alley. I decided to choose the B-list difficulty, which is to finish 5-8 series. However, I’m doing really bad in this challenge and I’ve only finished 2/5-8 series. Ugh, that does not look good!

middle grade

Finally, the last challenge for this year is the Middle-Grade Reading Challenge. I’ve neglected to read any middle-grade books lately and I wanted to remedy that for this year. Unfortunately, I was so caught up with reading all the cozies I can get, that I totally forgot about this challenge until recently. So far I’ve read 3/12 books.

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So as you can see I’m doing fairly well in some aspect of my challenges/goals, but failing in others. For the last half of the year, I want to balance things out and try to focus on all of the challenges I have at hand. I’m hoping to be able to crack down on some of them to be triumphant before 2020 ends.

The Best Read for me to date has got to be given to The King of Crows by Libba Bray. I haven’t written a review for the series yet, but it was epic. I just finished reading this in June so I wasn’t able to fully enjoy the reading experience. I definitely enjoyed the read. The Worst Read so far for me will have to be Murder Ink by Lorraine Bartlett. This series just went downhill for me and it was time I cut the series out of my line. I wasn’t a fan of where the storyline was heading and to honest, the book didn’t really focus much on the mystery, but rather on the love life of the protagonists, which I disliked. The Disappointing Read will have to be Murder in the Reading Room by Ellery Adams. I don’t even know where to start with this one. I had such high hopes for it because it was an interesting storyline, but I just couldn’t handle the protagonists any longer. So, I had to put this in my “away” pile. Finally, the Most Surprising Read for me will have to be Soulless by Gail Carriger. I’m not much into vampires and werewolves reader, but amazingly enough, I actually enjoyed this a lot. I tried picking this book up a while back but never got a chance to read it. That being said, I’m glad that I did.

There you have it. That’s my Mid-year check-in for 2020. I’m fairly ok with what I have so far, I just need to be a bit more aggressive in picking up other books and sticking to my TBR. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get to all the books I want to read.

 

The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown

The Forgotten Girl

The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis: On a cold winter night, Iris and her best friend, Daniel, sneak into a clearing in the woods to play in the freshly fallen snow. There, Iris carefully makes a perfect snow angel – only to find the crumbling gravestone of a young girl, Avery Moore, right beneath her.

Immediately, strange things start to happen to Iris: She begins having vivid nightmares. She wakes up to find her bedroom window wide open, letting in the snow. She thinks she sees the shadow of a girl lurking in the woods. And she feels the pull of the abandoned grave, calling her back to the clearing…

Obsessed with figuring out what’s going on, Iris and Daniel start to research the area for a school project. They discover that Avery’s grave is actually part of a neglected and forgotten Black cemetery, dating back to a time when White and Black people were kept separate in life – and in death. As Iris and Daniel learn more about their town’s past, they become determined to restore Avery’s grave and finally have proper respect paid to Avery and the others buried there.

But they have awakened a jealous and demanding ghost, one that’s not satisfied with their plans for getting recognition. One that is searching for a best friend forever – no matter what the cost.

The Forgotten Girl is both a spooky original ghost story and a timely and important storyline about reclaiming an abandoned segregated cemetery.

Review: I just recently finished this novel and I highly enjoyed it. It’s been a while since I’ve read a simple ghost story and this was such a good read. I’m surprised that I haven’t heard of this book considering I’m pretty much a YA reader and a mystery reader to boot. So when I was looking for some novels to celebrate BLM, I came across this. I’m glad that I was able to pick it up and have a fantastic reading experience.

Come to think of it, I think this novel is mostly for middle-grade readers because the age of our hero is eleven. So I believe that would be categorized as middle-grade. This is definitely a great read for kids, however, a DISCLAIMER is in order because ghosts do appear in this novel, so if your child tends to get nightmares then maybe this book is not such a good idea. However, I think this novel has such a great learning experience that once they get passed their fear stage, then maybe look into it again.

That being said, I highly enjoyed the relationships in this novel. No, not romantic, they are after all eleven, but rather the friendship between Iris and Daniel. The author did such a great job in writing such an amazing bond between the two children and just how much care the two have. To be honest, when I was reading this, these two kids seem so much more mature and responsible, that’s the reason why I thought this was YA. Their feelings for each other are so pure and so undistracted by peer pressure that it was just such a great addition to the novel. I also appreciate the community that the two families have with each other, and it’s such an amazing portrayal of parental love and support. I do wish that we get more books with such great representation in other genres.

On the heavier part of the novel, I think the author did such an amazing job in how she included the history of black people in America. It wasn’t a condemnation of another race, but rather a showcase of how there are injustices in the communities that are predominantly white. I don’t want to say that she glazed over the details, but I think she did a wonderful job helping young people understand that some things that they do can hurt others, and also teach how others can stand strong in the face of adversity. I think she was able to capture the frustration that Iris had when she kept getting by-passed in being recognized for the accomplishments that she attained in school. Which made the ending, when Iris and Daniel were finally getting the recognition that they deserved, a lot more important.

As for the mystery itself. I think it was a little bit heartbreaking with the story of the forgotten girl and it just teaches people not to forget those that they love even though they have passed on. It was a good story that doesn’t really leave you with a heavy heart. I’m really glad that I was able to find this novel and get a chance to read it. I think it’s time that I step out of mainstream books and look for more books that are diamonds in the rough. This is definitely not just a book for children. My reading experience was amazing and I was able to take away and learn from reading this novel.

Book Date Monday #5

its-monday-what-are-you-reading

OMG! It’s been a hot minute since the last time I posted. I’m so sorry but Summer just gets the better of me. The weather last week was amazing and so we spent most of our time outdoors.  June is slowly coming to an end and I need to prioritize my readings before the month over.

Last Week:

a blade so black

I started this book last week and wasn’t able to finish it off. So I’m hoping to finish it tomorrow in order for me to get to some more books for this week. I’m enjoying my reading experience so far and I appreciate that the author included realities that they face in this urban fantasy novel.

This Week:

Akata Witch

This is another novel I’ve been meaning to read for the longest time and I feel like I’ve been pushing it back in my TBR. Before the week is over, I want to be able to have finished it.

Next Week:

Mrs j 20

Before the month is over I want to read one more cozy mystery. I do want varieties in the books I read, but my go-to has always been cozy mystery.

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So that’s it for me. I’m hoping to come out strong for June. I did slow down quite a bit but that ok for me.

 

TBR Challenge #6: Getaway

TBRChallenge

If it was a normal month in a normal year, I would have been on vacation right now, reading my “getaway” book. Unfortunately, It’s not a normal month and it hasn’t been a normal year so far, so I’m actually typing this in the comfort of my own home. I really shouldn’t be bitter about it, but rather be thankful that I’m healthy, my families are healthy, and I still have my home to keep me safe. Hopefully, everyone else is safe as well.

Murder in Morningside HeightsMurder in Morningside Heights by Victoria Thompson

Rating: 3.5/5

Why? When people think about “getaway” and books, most think about contemporary literature. Something light and fluffy that you can read on the beach while soaking up the sun. When I think about “getaway” and books, I think about my comfort zone. A place where I can quickly get away from the reality of things, and so I pick up my cozy books. So, I think this book is very fitting for this month’s theme since it is becoming one of my favorite cozies. I haven’t been reading much of this series lately and when I picked this up I remember just home much I love reading it.

Goodreads Synopsis (of the first book): After a routine delivery, midwife Sarah Brandt visits her patient in a rooming house and discovers that another boarder, a young girl, has been killed. At the request of Sergeant Frank Malloy, she searches the girl’s room and discovers that the victim is from one of the most prominent families in New York and the sister of an old friend. The powerful family, fearful of scandal, refuses to permit an investigation. But with Malloy’s help, Sarah begins a dangerous quest to bring the killer to justice, before death claims another victim.

Review: I started reading this series last year and immediately loved it. 19 books into it and I still enjoy it as much as the first time I picked it up. I really don’t want to go into too many details about this book since it is further into the series. Technically you can read these books out of order, but in order to fully appreciate the development of the characters and the relationships in the stories, you really have to begin with book one. I enjoy the mystery enough that it keeps me interested in the series, but truth be told, I really do keep coming back because of the characters that Thompson created. I especially love the two protagonists, Sarah Brant and Frank Malloy, because you really see a big difference between the two as the series progress. I especially enjoyed this novel because this was the turning point in the series. That being said, I really can’t wait to continue with this series, but I’m so close to the most recent release and I just want to slow down to enjoy these books a lot longer.

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So that’s it for my TBR Challenge. Before I wrote this review, I actually thought I missed a month and I’m sooooo glad that I didn’t because I’m doing so well with this challenge.

June Pride Month Recommendations

Heart

Hello Hello. I’m a bit late in posting my Wednesday post because I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to post. I know that so many things are happening in our world today with the pandemic, the movement, and also life in general. I’ve been posting and encouraging everyone to support the BLM, but I also want to touch on Pride Month. I’m not saying let’s forget BLM, however, I also want to discuss Pride Month.

I am a big supporter of the LGBTQ and everything that it represents, the love, the unity, and the cause. I want to recommend some books and shows that have a good representation of LGBTQ relationships. To be honest, I’m not an expert but I do know what I like. So here are some things that I loved reading and watching

Fab 5

Queer Eye More than Just a Makeover (Netflix Show)

This is definitely a must-watch show. I love everything about it from their friendships, their makeovers, and just how much these guys want to help people with their outlook on life. I also love the stories that each of them represents coming from nothing and becoming something beautiful. I’ve been seen binge-watching this show in 1-2 days because it’s that good.

p17894666_b_v13_aa

RuPaul’s Drag Show (Netflix)

Before I started watching Queer Eye, RuPaul’s Drag Show is another show that I love to watch. Now that it’s on Netlfix I binge-watch it every season. I love this show very much and I think that every single person in each season are all so creative and innovative especially during the runway. I also love that we get to know each of them as the show progress because most of them talk about personal issues and things that they have gone through in their life.

Aristotle and Dante

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Book)

This is definitely a must read for everyone. It’s such an amazing read of growing up, learning yourself and accepting everything that’s going on in your life. I’m not much of a contemporary literature fiction reader, but this is one of those books that everyone needs to pick up once in their lifetime.

diviners

The Diviners (Book)

This whole series is an amazing read. It’s a paranormal/mystery series with a very diverse group of friends. I feel that it’s a bit underrated and I want to recommend it to everyone because besides the characters the plot and the time period is pretty well done as well. I’m reading the last book in the series and loving it so far.

magnus chase

Magnus Chase and the God of Asgard (Book)

This is another series that I really enjoyed. I may not have like it as much as the other series that Riordan created, but I do think that this is the most diverse characters that he has in the whole PJ world. To be honest, you don’t really see the gender diversity until the second book in the series, but the whole trilogy is worth the read. Plus, considering this is a middle grade book, its an amazing way that parents can introduce different gender identities out there.

lumberjanes1

Lumberjanes (Graphic Novel)

Hands down one of my most favorite graphic novels out there. I’m actually sad that I haven’t been keeping up to date in reading this series because it’s such an amazing read. I love the friendship that these girls have between each other and the growing romance between two of the main heroines. It’s action pack, magical and an amazing reading experience. Also, an amazing read between parents and their children.

giant-day-vol-1

Giant Days (Graphic Novel)

Another great graphic novel to read. However, the protagonists in this series are college students and we follow them through their life as they learn about themselves and their sexuality. We also witness all their shenanigans and the bond of friendships.

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So these are my recommendation on some gender diversity in books and shows. Like I said, I’m not an expert on this topic since I know I haven’t read enough books that discuss the different types of sexuality out there. So give me some recommendations as well on the books/shows that you all think I would enjoy.

That being said, always be respectful, always be loving and always be yourself.

Happy Reading!

Black Authors with Black Protagonists

Last week I took Wednesday and Friday as an “off” in Solidarity with BLM. I muted myself to let their voices be heard and amplified. Although I only have a small part in this book community of ours, I would rather be a vocal supporter than a quiet one.

I may have been muted, but I tried to search for things that I can do to support the movement and spread the world. So as a reader, I think it’s important that we support black authors in their books, especially with those who have black protagonists. Even though I’m not much of a non-fiction reader or even a contemporary literature reader, I still wanted to support the cause. I also think we should spread the love throughout the different genres, because black authors also write amazing fiction novels in mystery, fantasy, science-fiction, etc.

So here are three books I’m going to read for this month, to help the authors spread their books.

Akata WitchAkata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Goodreads Synopsis: Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged into the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?

a blade so blackA Blade so Black by L.L. McKinney

Goodreads Synopsis: The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she’s trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.

Life in real-world Atlanta isn’t always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice’s handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she’ll need to use everything she’s learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.

The Forgotten GirlThe Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown

Goodreads Synopsis: On a cold winter night, Iris and her best friend, Daniel, sneak into a clearing in the woods to play in the freshly fallen snow. There, Iris carefully makes a perfect snow angel – only to find the crumbling gravestone of a young girl, Avery Moore, right beneath her.

Immediately, strange things start to happen to Iris: She begins having vivid nightmares. She wakes up to find her bedroom window wide open, letting in the snow. She thinks she sees the shadow of a girl lurking in the woods. And she feels the pull of the abandoned grave, calling her back to the clearing…

Obsessed with figuring out what’s going on, Iris and Daniel start to research the area for a school project. They discover that Avery’s grave is actually part of a neglected and forgotten Black cemetery, dating back to a time when White and Black people were kept separate in life – and in death. As Iris and Daniel learn more about their town’s past, they become determined to restore Avery’s grave and finally have proper respect paid to Avery and the others buried there.

But they have awakened a jealous and demanding ghost, one that’s not satisfied with their plans for getting recognition. One that is searching for a best friend forever – no matter what the cost.

The Forgotten Girl is both a spooky original ghost story and a timely and important storyline about reclaiming an abandoned segregated cemetery.

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I know I’ve created my TBR a few weeks ago, but I do want to add these books because I’ve noticed that I don’t pick up a lot of books written by black authors with black heroes. I do try to select books with diverse characters, but I don’t think that’s doing enough. However, I want to remedy that situation and be more proactive in my choices in the future. I understand that I should be picking up books that discuss the cause and the movement, but it’s just not books that I gravitate towards. I do think that there are always lessons that can be learned in different types of books and this is one way I can support the cause and the people. If you have any book recommendations that you think I will enjoy, please let me know.

Remember, this should not be a one-time movement, but we must always support, always love, and always be aware.

Happy Reading!

 

In Solidarity with BLM

save lives

I won’t be posting anything for today and also on Friday in Solidarity with BLM. Please take this opportunity to show your support and love to our black communities, but at the same time, please never forget that this not just a one-time action. Always remember and always support.

I may not have a big platform to show my support,  but at the same time I can not stay silent, especially when people out there are getting hurt and facing injustices. It’s time that we all stand together and stand tall against racism.

Please check out this link on ways you can support the movement.

 

 

May Wrap-up and June TBR

2020 (2)

Happy June everyone! I have officially been in quarantine for more than 2 months. Although it’s doing wonders for my reading life, it’s starting to hinder my social life. That being said, I am grateful for all our frontliners out there and even though I’m a tad bit complaining, I have no right to because others are risking their lives to help those who are in need. Thank You and yes, I’ll stop the complaints because staying home is easier than what others are going through right now.

So that being said, I read 10 books for this month, and I think I did fairly well in reading most books on my TBR. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish all three. Well, let’s get on with the wrap-up.

Even though I didn’t read as many books as the past few months, I still feel very accomplished because I was able to read books other than cozy mysteries. I wrote a review for a few of these books, so I won’t go into details for those ones. I do have to say that I was pleasantly surprised that I like Close Casket. It’s still not like the original stories, but I can respect it for what it is.

The highlight for this month for me would have to be This Vicious Cure. Even though I didn’t like it as much as the first book, This Mortal Coil, I still enjoyed the ending overall. It was a bittersweet ending to the trilogy. I was also able to finish off The Heart of Betrayal, which I’m glad to say, I actually enjoyed it. I was a bit hesitant to pick it up because of what happened at the end of the first book, but I’m glad that I did it. Although I did enjoy it, I’m  not certain I want to pick up the last book. There’s just so much controversy on who she ends up with, that I’m a bit on the fence about it. I still do want to see what happens in the end though. So we’ll see.  As for the rest of the books, they’re my typical cozy reads. As usual, I’ve been reading my Mrs. Jeffries series and loving it. I’m also starting to enjoy the Amanda Flower series, The Magical Bookshop, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to be continuing with the series.

I also started a few series last month. I finally picked up The Wrath and the Dawn. I’m super proud that I did because I’ve been putting it off for a few years now and I just need to get to it. I still haven’t really fully formed my thoughts on it. I will be writing a review for the book once I finally get my head wrapped around it. I also reread, Seven Deadly Wonders, and even though I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first time I read it, I still enjoyed it enough to continue on with the story. I want to know what other adventures Jack West has in store for us. Finally, I also picked up Aru Shah and the End of Time. I don’t know if my expectations were high, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. I really thought it would be original and even though the mythology is different, I feel that the writing format is too similar to Rick Riordan. I know I love Riordan books, but I would have enjoyed Aru Shah more if the author stuck to her own writing style.

That being said, I do have one pitfall this month and that is Murder Ink, The Victoria Square Mystery. I just can’t handle the protagonist in this series and I caught myself doing too many eye rolls as I was reading it. So I think it’s time I put the series out of my TBR before my eyes detach from my head.

So those are the books that I read last month. It was a good month and can’t wait to see what June will hold.

JUNE TBR

Yes, I’m being overly ambitious, but I do want to get to these four books before the month is over. I feel that June will be the last month that I cant fully immerse myself into reading, so I want to take advantage of it. I do have a year-long challenge of reading 12 middle-grade books and I’m afraid I’ve neglected that challenge. So I’m trying to remedy that.

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So that’s it for my Wrap-up and TBR. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get to these books for this month.

Happy Reading!

Book Date Monday #4

its-monday-what-are-you-reading

This is the last week of May and I can’t believe that in a few days it will be June. Even though the days are really slow these past few weeks, I feel that 2020 is just flying by me. Technically I’m supposed to be on holiday starting last week that would have lasted 2 months, but since all flights are canceled, vacation is also canceled.

Anyways, I want to get through a few books before the month is over, so when I want my reading life to have some sort of order, I post a Book Date Monday. I’ve been taking it easy these past few days because I feel that I’ve been binge-reading a lot lately. Also, the weather has been so nice lately that my husband and I have been taking walks and bike rides.

Last Week:

I’ve been reading a few of the cozies that I enjoy last week, but I think I’ve over-read myself these past few weeks and I’m just slowing it down just to savor some of the books I’ve been picking up.

This Week:

I want to try to get to these two books before the month is done. I’ve been neglecting some of the books I need to get to for this year and The Heart of Betrayal is one of them. So definitely need to pick this up.

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So that’s it for my Book Date Monday.

Happy Reading!