Monday, October 31, 2016

ABC Reads: October 2016



Well, hello, friends! Welcome back to the ABC Reads link up! We're linking up to share the books we've read in October and the letters we can check off our lists. 

Need a refresher on what the ABC Reads challenge is all about? Never fear, we've got your back: 

What does the challenge entail? Well, I'm glad you asked. There are 26 letters of the alphabet and we challenge you, during the course of 2016, to read a book that starts with each letter. For example, Atonement (A), The Bell Jar (B), Catching Fire (C), and so on. Makes sense, right? You don't need to go in order - if you want to start with S, go for it. We're easy to please around these parts. On the last day of each month, we'll host a link-up for you to share your ABC Reads.  We will award one point for each letter you review AND a bonus point for linking up with us!  At the end of the year (or when the first participant reviews a book beginning with each of the 26 letters), the winner will be awarded a $30 Amazon gift card.  Congratulations to Jessica at Frikken Duckie for completing the challenge and winning the gift card! Go visit her and say congrats! :) 

If you didn't get a chance to link up last month - no worries at all. Feel free to jump in with Andrea and me any time!

OK, so let's get to it. What did you guys read this month? How many letters did you check off? Here's my progress (October books in blue): 

A: (The) Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. Completed March 2016. 
B: Better Than Before, by Gretchen Rubin. Completed February 2016. 
C: (The) City of Mirrors, by Justin Cronin. Completed May 2016. 
D:  Dark Witch, by Nora Roberts. Completed April 2016. 
E:  Europe on 5 Wrong Turns A Day, by Doug Mack. Completed April 2016. 
F:  Finders Keepers, by Stephen King. Completed January 2016. 
G: (The) Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown. Completed January 2016. 
H: (The) Hereafter, by Jessica Bucher. Completed April 2016. 
I:  I Will Find You, by Joanna Connors. Completed June 2016. 
J:  Julia, by Peter Straub. Completed July 2016. 
K: Keeping Faith. Completed July 2016. 
L:  (The) Last Song, by Nicholas Sparks. Completed January 2016. 
M: (The) Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, by Mitch Albom. Completed February 2016.
N:  Night Film, by Marisha Pessl. Completed June 2016. 
O: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. Completed January 2016. 
P:  (The) People of Sparks, by Jeanne DuPrau. Completed August 2016. 
Q: Queen of the Tearling, by Erika Johansen. Completed October 2016. 
R: (The) Revenant, by Michael Punke. Completed March 2016. 
S:  Some Kind of Fairy Tale, by Graham Joyce. Completed June 2016. 
T:  Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed. Completed April 2016. 
U: (The) Unit, by Ninni Holmqvist. Completed September 2016. 
V
W: Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion. Completed February 2016. 
X
Y: Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes. Completed October 2016. 
Z:  Zone One, by Colson Whitehead. Completed May 2016. 



It took me the entire first half of the book to get into the story. Here's a synopsis from Goodreads: 

On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.
Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.
But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend . . . if she can survive.
The second half did make up for it, though. I thought there was too much emphasis put on how much Kelsea didn't know. Like, we get it, she was raised far away from the kingdom, she has a lot to learn. But ugh, they just kept belaboring that point over and over. I did really enjoy her friendship with Lazarus, who is the head of her Queen's Guard. He kept it real, and wouldn't shy away from telling her what she needed to hear, whether she liked it or not. 

Anyway, if you're a patient person, then I'd recommend reading it. The second half really pulled me in and I got the 2nd book from the library because I have to see how it goes. I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars. 


I really enjoyed reading this book! Here's the synopsis from Goodreads: 

With three hit shows on television and three children at home, the uber-talented Shonda Rhimes had lots of good reasons to say NO when an unexpected invitation arrived. Hollywood party? No. Speaking engagement? No. Media appearances? No.
And there was the side-benefit of saying No for an introvert like Shonda: nothing new to fear.
Then Shonda’s sister laid down a challenge: just for one year, try to say YES to the unexpected invitations that come your way. Shonda reluctantly agreed―and the result was nothing short of transformative. In Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes chronicles the powerful impact saying yes had on every aspect of her life―and how we can all change our lives with one little word. Yes. 
I could really relate to a lot of Shonda's aversion to saying yes. When you say no, there's less anxiety and fear and you don't have to put yourself out there. But eventually, you do realize that you're missing out on a lot. I enjoyed reading Shonda's journey of empowerment and allowing herself to be open to fear and knocking it out of the park. Definitely read this if you're looking for something inspirational, uplifting, and funny. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.


So, there you have it. Another 2 letters checked off my list. Only 2 more to go! :) What did you read in October? Link up below and share with us. Happy Halloween, friends!








Friday, October 14, 2016

Blog Tour: You're the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened by Arisa White


Hello, friends! I'm back with a new poetry book to review. This one really struck me with its beauty and its fearlessness. I had the wonderful opportunity to review "You're the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened" by Arisa White and I absolutely loved it! 

First, here's a little synopsis of the book: 

Angular, smart, and fearless, Arisa White’s newest collection takes its titles from words used internationally as hate speech against gays and lesbians, reworking, re-envisioning, and re-embodying language as a conduit for art, love, and understanding. “To live freely, observantly as a politically astute, sensually perceptive Queer Black woman is to be risk taker, at risk, a perceived danger to others and even dangerous to/as oneself,” writes poet Tracie Morris. “White’s attentive word substitutions and range of organized forms, lithe anecdotes, and disturbed resonances put us in the middle of living a realized, intelligent life of the senses.” You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened works through intersectional encounters with gender, identity, and human barbarism, landing deftly and defiantly in beauty.

White captures love, sensuality, identity, grief, fear, and gratitude in this powerful collection of poems. I was moved by her imagery, by her appreciation of the female form, by her word choice, by her rhythm. 

2 particular passages from the collection stood out to me:

From "Warm Water": 
I am at your doorstep. Each tear opens us up to our promise—
bring the wake of your hand to my cheek. What I need today is
your sunshine that pulls me from earth.
                                              
From "Kokobar":
Oh,
I was teenaged, searching for a face
to reflect my own who would call me beautiful
enough to make me think it’s possible she’s not lying.

I definitely recommend reading this book; it's one of my favorites of the year. It releases on October 21st. 

About the Poet:

Photo credit: Nye’ Lyn Tho
Arisa White is a Cave Canem fellow, Sarah Lawrence College alumna, an MFA graduate from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and author of the poetry chapbooks Disposition for Shininess, Post Pardon, and Black Pearl. She was selected by the San Francisco Bay Guardian for the 2010 Hot Pink List and is a member of the PlayGround writers’ pool; her play Frigidare was staged for the 15th Annual Best of Play Ground Festival. Recipient of the inaugural Rose O’Neill Literary House summer residency at Washington College in Maryland, Arisa has also received residencies, fellowships, or scholarships from Juniper Summer Writing Institute, Headlands Center for the Arts, Port Townsend Writers’ Conference, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Hedgebrook, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Prague Summer Program, Fine Arts Work Center, and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Nominated for Pushcart Prizes in 2005 and 2014, her poetry has been published widely and is featured on the recording WORD with the Jessica Jones Quartet.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Paperback: 100 pages
Publisher: Augury Books (October 21, 2016)
Available on: Amazon

*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

This review was coordinated by Poetic Book Tours.