Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Classic Books By African-American Authors Everyone Should Read


Happy Tuesday everyone!  Welcome to the Top Ten Tuesday now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is Most Anticipated Releases For The Second Half Of 2020, but I'm doing something completely different again this week.  I'm featuring Classic Books By African-American Authors Everyone Should Read.  Given everything that's been going on around the world and in our own backyards, I thought I could try to spread some positivity - it's the least I can do to be a good ally to try to amplify voices that should be heard.  Here we go, in alphabetical order by title:


Ain't I A Woman by bell hooks


Beloved by Toni Morrison


Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs


Kindred by Octavia E. Butler


The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass


Parable of the Sower (Earthseed #1) by Octavia E. Butler


Sister Outsider: Essays & Speeches by Audre Lorde


Sula by Toni Morrison


Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston


Topdog/ Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks


Have you read any of these classics?  What are some of your favorites?  As always, thanks for visiting my blog and perhaps even commenting down below!

Monday, June 29, 2020

Music Monday: DJ Shub


Happy Monday everyone and welcome back to Music Monday! Let's share some songs we've been enjoying lately!  If you would like to play and I really hope you do, please see the rules and link up below.

Rules:

Every Monday share a few songs you've been enjoying lately.  It doesn't have to be a specific genre, new, or one of your favorites - just something you'd like to share with others.  If possible, share a music or lyric video of the song and your thoughts on the song(s), artist(s), and/or music video(s).

If you would like to participate in Music Monday, please join the link up by sharing your post's url.


Happy Monday everyone!  This week I'm spotlighting three of songs from DJ Shub with Indomitable ft. Northern Cree Singers, Big Crow ft. Black Lodge Singers, and Big Crow ft. Black Lodge Singers.  Thank you very much YouTube for recommending this music to me - I'm hooked!





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Sunday, June 28, 2020

Sunday Funday: Pride Month 2020 - Wrap Up, Mini Reviews, & Giveaway (US Only)




Happy Sunday everyone!  As you may know, I've celebrated Pride Month by tackling some LGBTQIAP books this month.  I managed to get to all of the books on my potential TBR except for one (I'm still waiting on the library hold on All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages by Saundra Mitchell).  Luckily for me, I enjoyed the majority of them.  Read on to see my mini reviews on my thoughts on the books I read in the order I read them over the course of the month.  Don't forget to stick around for my giveaway (US only, sorry) for one of my most delightful reads this month, These Witches Don't Burn (These Witches Don't Burn #1) by Isabel Sterling.


❋ ❋ ❋ 

Oh my gosh!  Goldie Vance Vol. 1 by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams is so delightful. It's retro setting, bright color palette, can-do energy, and inclusiveness are refreshing. There's a lot more I'd like to see with the characters and the locale, but that's what we have the rest of the series for isn't it.  I can't wait to see more of Goldie Vance and company. I wish I knew about this series earlier.  I'm so happy I decided to pick this up for Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge.

My review is also on Goodreads.



❋ ❋ ❋ 

I've only read two Robin Talley books now, but I think she's going to be one of my favorite authors.  I like her brand of queer historical fiction. It's quite educational while also very engaging and that's no different for Pulp by Robin Talley.  I like that she gives us resources to begin to do our own research on the history that she's writing about.  She handles the dual timelines expertly, but in the end I was much more interested in Janet's story.  I can't wait to check out more of Talley's work in the future.

My review is also on Goodreads.



❋ ❋ ❋  

The Fever King (Feverwake #1) by Victoria Lee is a new favorite.  I didn't have any particular expectations for this series YA fantasy dystopian sci-fi novel, so it was quite a pleasant surprise.  It was exactly up my alley.  I don't know about you, but this feels incredibly timely what with the virus (a magical one but still), and the exploration of issues involving borders and immigration.  It's also about discovering your true self and finding where you belong in a world that feels like it's against you.  I particularly liked getting to know Noam and Dara.  The progression of their relationship began with distrustfulness and moved to slowly growing closer.  I really appreciated that they began trying to do what's right even if they may not always know what that may be.  By the way, it isn't often that I get the chance to read about a bisexual teen boy in a leading role, so this element of his character is a refreshing change.  Plus, did I mention that most of the diverse and complex cast are morally gray, and the story blurs the line very well between heroes and villains?  Finally, I just want to mention how unique and cool I found the magic system in this story.  Those who have magic are practically superheroes and their abilities are brought on by surviving a vicious virus, and depending on your type of power you can expand your skill set in various ways.  For example, Noam is a technopath (think magical hacking) and as it's a knowledge based magic he can expand his abilities via studying.  Overall, I highly recommend this unique series opener and I can't wait to get my hands on book two, The Electric Heir.

My review is also on Goodreads.



❋ ❋ ❋ 

It took me a little while to really get into Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate, but once I got into the swing of the narrative and the voices of each narrator I became invested. Lucas is a delightful character and it's rough to see what he ends up going through. I believe he's also the first pansexual character I've had the opportunity to meet in a YA Contemporary novel. It was also good to see some ace representation even if it isn't directly stated on the page. I'm going to have to read more from this author in the future.

My review is also on Goodreads.





DNF'd @ p. 96

I wanted to love The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves #1) by Roshani Chokshi. It sounds like it has so much potential to be a favorite YA historical fantasy. Unfortunately, I couldn't get into the story or the characters amd I wasn't interested in pushing through.

My review is also on Goodreads.



❋ ❋ ❋ 

These Witches Don't Burn (These Witches Don't Burn #1) by Isabel Sterling is a witchy treat. I really enjoyed getting to know Hannah's world of the Clans that exist side by side with the Regs. I couldn't resist when I heard this book was set in present day Salem and with the varied magic systems that they must navigate. This is a fun read that also turns quite dark at times.  While I wasn't all that invested in Hannah herself there are many other characters and aspects of their world I'd love to get for know more, especially her new girlfriend as well as those on the council.  Finally, I just want to note that I appreciated just how big a role Hannah's family plays into the story.  I can't wait to read the sequel, This Coven Won't Break, stat.  This could begin to develop into a new favorite series.


My review is also on Goodreads.



❋ 

Wraeththu (Wraeththu #1-3) by Storm Constantine has an intriguing premise featuring a new type of humanity that has evolved in Earth's future that will replace Homo sapiens as the dominant species.  They have masculine and feminine traits and have some psychic and magical abilities.  People can either be born Wraeththu (pronounced Ray-thoo) or you can undergo the magical rituals to ascend to Wraeththu.  Pellaz is one of those second types.  I was actually quite interested in following Pellaz's spiritual journey into the world of the har (what the Wraeththu call themselves) and becoming one himself, especially in book one in this collected trilogy.  I was glad to see that there is a glossary since there a so many new words that Constantine introduces in this series.  I probably just should've stopped there though because afterwards it all starts to go downhill.  To be honest, there's not a whole lot of plot to this trilogy and the dialogue is a bit of a nightmare at times. 213 pages was fine for the first book, but 800 pages for the whole trilogy is really pushing it to its limits.  I was especially intrigued by how this story would discuss gender, but that was a colossal disappointment and don't get me started on everything to do with aruna.  Then there's Cal who went from being okay I guess to a figure I totally hated.  I definitely should have just stopped after I completed book one (The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit), and just skipped book two (The Bewitchments of Love and Hate) and book three (The Fulfillments of Fate and Desire) all together.

My review is also on Goodreads


.
❋ ❋ ❋ 

I love the author's style and this series is so lush, and this sequel Armistice (The Amberlough Dossier #2) by Lara Elena Donnelly is no exception. Lara's characters and the world they inhabit are incredibly well developed.  If you like the sound of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy meets Cabaret or James Bond meets Oscar Wilde, I have a feeling that you may want to give this a try.  You may also want to try this series if you love Robert Jackson Bennett's writing style.  I can't wait to read the finale, Amnesty, and whatever else the author cares to write in the future.

My review is also on Goodreads.



❋ 

I have to admit that I was looking for and expecting something different from what I got here with A Study in Honor (The Janet Watson Chronicles #1) by Claire O'Dell.  I was hoping for more of a gender bent Sherlock Holmes retelling with dash of f/f romance, but that never quite came to pass here.  Janet herself was an intriguing character who is different from her inspiration (although I'd argue that we didn't need to see the excerpts of her journal with the story being in first person from her perspective) and can easily stand apart on her own.  It's Sara Holmes herself that really bugged me.  The spy part I could work with, but we hardly get to see her do anything interesting like making deductions.  Plus, we barely get to see her partnership with Janet since most of the action happens offscreen or while Holmes has drugged or isolated Watson.  Finally, I wanted a lot more world-building out of this character driven story.  What we get feels too loose without a whole lot of detail to back up what Holmes and Watson are toward in the first place.  Overall, this is more of a thriller than a mystery and while a few elements worked for me I doubt I'll be back to continue the series.

My review is also on Goodreads.



❋ ❋ ❋  

Wake of Vultures (The Shadow #1) by Lila Bowen (aka Delilah S. Dawson) was exactly the kind of historical western fantasy that I was looking for.  Historical fantasy is one of my favorite genres, and this was delightful.  Once I got started I couldn't put it down.  I enjoyed that this series doesn't follow the character you usually expect to see leading a western.  Nettie challenges expectations at every turn and she's always going to be herself no matter what that means.  I can't wait to see more of Nettie in book two, Conspiracy of Ravens, especially after that ending!

My review is also on Goodreads.



❋ ❋ ❋  

Rick Riordan is one of my favorite authors.  He's a real gem and so is The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo #1).  It's so much fun to read from Apollo's perspective in this.  His narration and thought process is hilarious to see.  The combination of godly-speak meets teen-speak really worked for me.  Those haiku at the beginning of each chapter are priceless.  Plus, his voice stands out very well from all of the human characters we usually follow in Riordan's novels.  It's great to see some of the less popular stories from Greek mythology get more of a chance to shine.  It's great to see some famous faces pop up from Percy, Nico, Rachel Dare, and a few others that appear near the end that I don't want to spoil for those that haven't already read this book.  Finally, I loved that there's no romance.  Sure, Apollo gets nostalgic for former S.O.s (he's seems to be bisexual, by the way) and we get to see Nico with his boyfriend, but otherwise there's no love story which is always refreshing to see.  Overall, this was brilliant and I adored every second of it.  I'm going to have to get caught up on The Heroes of Olympus series asap!  Even though this series opener is set shortly after the events of that series, it does a great job of catching us up on where everyone's at.  I can't wait to read The Dark Prophecy while I'm at it.  Maybe someday we'll get to enjoy this story as a part of a spin-off the upcoming Percy Jackson adaptation for Disney+.

My review is also on Goodreads.




And now for the main event: A GIVEAWAY (US Only - Sorry)!


One lucky winner will win my copy of These Witches Don't Burn (These Witches Don't Burn #1) by Isabel Sterling!  This giveaway will last until Midnight (ET) on Sunday, July 12th, 2020.  I will alert the winner via email and they will have 48 hours to respond or I will have to select another winner.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



What have you been reading to celebrate Pride Month?  Have you read any of these books?  As always, thanks for visiting and perhaps even commenting down below!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Book Riot's 2020 Read Harder Challenge - June Update: Goldie Vance Vol. 1 & Tempest


Happy Saturday everyone!  I hope everyone's been staying healthy.  June has finally gone by.  Anyway, I've now completed 12 out of 24 books of Book Riot's 2020 Read Harder Challenge!  I'm officially half way through.  The tasks I completed required me to read mystery where the victim(s) is not a woman and a romance starring a single parent.  For the tasks, I selected Goldie Vance Vol. 1 by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams and Tempest (Old West #3) by Beverly Jenkins.  Read on to see my mini reviews and what's next for July: 


❋ ❋ ❋ 

Oh my gosh!  Goldie Vance Vol. 1 by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams is so delightful. It's retro setting, bright color palette, can-do energy, and inclusiveness are refreshing. There's a lot more I'd like to see with the characters and the locale, but that's what we have the rest of the series for isn't it.  I can't wait to see more of Goldie Vance and company. I wish I knew about this series earlier.

My review is also on Goodreads.



❋ ❋ ❋ 

Tempest (Old West #3) by Beverly Jenkins was such a pleasant surprise.  Romance isn't really my thing and I usually like my westerns gritty or with a dash of fantasy or steampunk, but this was actually pretty delightful. The characters of Reagan and Spring were my favorites. I wasn't particularly interested in Dr. Colton Lee and like usual I could have done without the graphic romance with a capital R stuff.  I totally wouldn't have minded if we just got to follow Reagan's or Spring's adventures without the love story.


My review is also on Goodreads.


Next Up For July:

Read a graphic memoir


My choice: Tomboy by Liz Prince - This sounds like it's going to feel quite personal.  I don't know why I've put this off for so long.

Read a play by an author of color and/or queer author


My choice: Fences (The Century Cycle #6) by August Wilson - I've seen the movie with Denzel Washington and it was impressive.  Definitely looking forward to reading the source material.


Have you read any of these books?  Are you taking part in this reading challenge?  As always, thanks for visiting my blog and perhaps even commenting down below!

Friday, June 26, 2020

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo #1) by Rick Riordan + 50/50 Friday




On Friday's I take part in three weekly link ups - The Friday 56, hosted by Freda's Voice, Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader, and 50/50 Friday is a new weekly link up and it is hosted by Carrie @ The Butterfly Reader and Laura @ Blue Eye Books. For The Friday 56, you choose a book, a book you have just finished, a book you are about to start, your current read, and share a line or a few lines that grab you (but don't spoil anything) from page 56 or 56% of the way through the ebook. Post it and share your post's url on Freda's most recent Friday 56 post. As for Book Beginnings, you share the first sentence or so and your initial thoughts, impressions, or whatever else it inspires, and then link up your post's url with Rose City Reader. Then, for 50/50 Friday, every week there's a new topic featuring two sides of the same coin - you share a book that suits each category and link up on the hosts blogs.


Happy Friday everyone!  This week I'm spotlighting one my Pride Month 2020 reads, The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo #1) by Rick Riordan.  Riordan's one of my favorite authors and even though I'm not entirely caught up on all of the Heroes of Olympus series I still want to go ahead and jump into this series.  By the way, all of the chapter titles are haikus!

Beginning: 

1

Hoodlums punch my face
I would smite them if I could
Mortality blows

My name is Apollo.  I used to be a god.

In my four thousand six hundred and twelve years, I have done many things.  I inflicted a plague on the Greeks who besieged Troy.  I blessed Babe Ruth with three home runs in game four of the 1926 World Series.  I visited my wrath upon Britney Spears at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards.

But in all my immortal life, I never before crash-landed in a Dumpster.

56:

Perhaps you are wondering how I could act so confident and calm.  In fact, I was terrified.  My sixteen-year-old mortal instincts were screaming, RUN!


50/50 Friday: Favorite/ Least Favorite Black Cover Design


Favorite - Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb #1) by Tamsyn Muir - The cover design is so awesome for this series opener and the insides were just as awesome.  I can't wait to read the sequel!


Least favorite - Heroes: Saving Charlie by Aury Wallington - The first season of Heroes was one of my favorite years of tv, but unfortunately this media tie-in novel was just plain underwhelming and so was the novel's cover design.


What are you reading this weekend?  Have you read any of these books?  As always, thanks for visiting my blog and perhaps even commenting down below!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Mini ARC Reviews - Mexican Gothic & The Empire of Gold


Happy Thursday everyone!  Today I'm sharing two mini reviews with you: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and The Empire of Gold (The Daevabad Trilogy #3) by S. A. Chakraborty, both of which will be released on June 30th, 2020. I received both of these ARCs from NetGalley in exchange for honest reviews.  Read on to see my thoughts on them:


 ❋  

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a fantastically eerie and suspenseful gothic horror. I'm so lucky to have been approved for this new standalone novel from this incredibly talented author. She's quickly becoming a favorite of mine and this might be her best yet. Gothic horror is one of my favorite genres, so I always jump at the chance to pick one up and this novel does it so well. I particularly enjoyed just how old-school it feels. The story is positively dripping with atmosphere and the characters feel all too real. Plus, it's legitimately terrifying and also a bit of a tearjerker. In short, it's kind of a roller coaster in the best way. The only thing that kept me from giving this a full five stars is that it's very slow to get started, but looking back the slow-burn of the building sense of unease and dread works very well for it in the long run. Overall, I highly recommend this if you enjoyed Rebecca, Jane Eyre, The Yellow Wall-Paper, and The Haunting of Hill House.

My review is also on Goodreads.



 ❋ ❋ ❋ 

The Empire of Gold, the final installment of the Daevabad Trilogy, by S.A. Chakraborty was one of my most highly anticipated releases of the year and my expectations, obviously, were sky high. Luckily for me, this nearly eight hundred page novel was absolutely perfect and lived up to all of my expectations. Honestly, the whole trilogy has been perfect. It's exactly the kind of historical fantasy that I love with lushly detailed world-building and characters that could walk right off of the page. And, yes, Dara is still my favorite of the main cast. This is easily one of the best books of 2020 and it's a brilliant series finale. I still can't believe that I was approved for this ARC, so thanks again to NetGalley for this opportunity. I can't wait to read whatever the author decides to write in the future and I can't wait to see the upcoming Netflix adaptation of this trilogy. It's going to be marvelous, I can see it now!


My review is also on Goodreads.


Have you read either of these books or do you plan to in the future?  What are you reading?  As always, thanks for visiting my blog and perhaps even commenting down below!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Backlist Books From African-American Authors On My TBR


Happy Tuesday everyone!  Welcome to the Top Ten Tuesday now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is Top Ten Tuesday Turns 10, so we pretty much have free reign this week in honor of this anniversary.  I'm featuring some of Backlist Books From African-American Authors On My TBR.  Given everything that's been going on around the world and in our own backyards, I thought I could try to spread some positivity - it's the least I can do to be a good ally to try to amplify voices that should be heard.  Here we go, in alphabetical order by title:




The Color Purple by Alice Walker