Currently reading…

I am so excited to announce that I have just started reading the famous Leigh Bardugo duology, Six of Crows! I know I’m super late on the whole bandwagon thing but — a good book is a good book whenever you choose to read it, at least in my opinion.

Life has been hectic so I haven’t been reading or writing as much as I used to. I want to change that and make an active effort to read and write more regularly. They always go hand in hand for me, if I’m not writing often it’s usually because I’m not reading as much as I should. I don’t want to make excuses but instead, challenge myself to take free moments to read. Y’all know how much I love a good YA fantasy so no better way to dive back in than with the famed Six of Crows duology. I’ve only heard good things and I’m excited to read it for myself.

My TBR is overflowing but if you have any suggestions for books to read. Comment below! I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading and why you liked it.

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The Return

Hello followers! I am back and it is long overdue! In August, I disappeared to commune with nature at camp with Writopia Lab. It was an incredible opportunity where I got to serve as a counselor. I got to mentor and witness these talented kids write poetry, perform spoken word, write music, play instruments, and create more art than I have ever seen done by children as early as 8 years old. It was life-changing and inspired me in more ways than I can begin to express. These kids reminded me that writing can be scary but your best work comes from being uninhibited.

While in the Poconos area without any cell service, most of my time was spent reading or writing. I explored writing some poetry that I may or may not post on the blog soon. I also got to reflect on some of my favorite books. One book series that I fell in love with in high school was Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series. If you haven’t read it, I can’t begin to recommend it enough. Mead creates three dimensional characters that capture your heart. I completed the series sometime in my senior year of high school or freshmen year of college (2011-2012).

During my time in college, I learned that a spin-off titled, the Bloodlines series was underway. Mead’s new series was set to continue a storyline of a briefly introduced human character, the Alchemist Sydney Sage. It was exciting to learn that not only was it not the end of my favorite characters but that it would be told through the eyes of a human aware of the vampire world. I immediately jumped into the first book of the series, Bloodlines. It caught my attention but as college grew more hectic, I never made it to the fourth book out of the six-book series.

Now, that I’m older, I feel inspired to finally complete the series. I’ve always been curious about how events turned out for my favorite characters. Mead’s books are a major reason I love young adult novels. Revisiting the spin-off series will be interesting just to see whether I’m still crazy about these same characters or if the tropes don’t carry as much weight for me as they used to. Well, time will tell and I’ll keep you posted on my opinions of the books as I go along. I may take a break and read some standalone books too just to keep some content on the blog.
Thanks for your patience, guys, and feel free to recommend any books that you would like me to review: poetry, non-fiction, YA, all of the above except horror honestly.

 

Silver Sparrow

Hello again, so I apologize for that unannounced hiatus — but I am back.

Luckily enough during my hiatus, I did still get to read a bit. I actually just finished reading Tayari Jones’ novel, Silver Sparrow. I actually had the opportunity of meeting Tayari Jones last year and not only is she an incredible talent, inspirational speaker but she’s also just a genuinely relatable human being. Last summer, I heard her speak to my Columbia Publishing Course class in a time that I desperately needed to hear everything she had to say. I could probably gush for ours about how much of a role model she is to me but let’s concentrate on her book.

I actually purchased her book when she came to visit the Publishing Course and she signed my copy for me. I knew that I was desperate to read it but with little to no free time within the course – it kept getting postponed. During my hiatus, I had been off and on reading the novel and was a little unsure about the general direction of the plot. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to happen or where I wanted the plot to go.

Silver Sparrow is the alternating narrative story of two girls who live in the south and how their circumstances have impacted them. The narrator of the first chapters is Dana Lynn Yarboro who is the daughter of James Witherspoon. Even in her childhood, Dana is acutely aware of the fact that she is a secret. Her father, an already married man, participated in bigamy by marrying her mother, Gwen, and fathering her. Although older than her sister, Chaurisse, Dana as the product of that bigamy and must learn to take a backseat in all things. The narrator to the second half of the novel is Bunny Chaurisse Witherspoon, James Witherspoon’s daughter from his first marriage. These chapters highlight the complex circumstances and truly cast a shade of gray on things that are generally seen as black and white.

I think that Tayari excelled in making the depth of each character’s turmoil apparent. There are so many conflicting feelings and opinions, that even the reader is swept into the conflict. This novel is very different from what I usually gravitate toward the shelf but I enjoyed reading it as a whole. It was an escape that I was happy to turn to and I look forward to reading more of Jones’ works.

 

Everything Everything

Nicola Yoon has been on my list of authors that I was looking forward to reading. I wasn’t quite sure whether to start with The Sun is Also A Star but once I saw the film trailer for Everything Everything, I knew that would be the first book of hers that I would have to read.

Yoon is an exceptionally talented writer and demonstrates her skills in character development, plot and descriptions in this novel. She is patient with the descriptions and really makes the main character, Madeline’s youthful and child-like fascination with the world believable. In the Q&A portion of the book, Yoon even says that the innocence of Madeline was largely inspired by her own infant daughter’s reactions to the world around her.

In all honesty, I hadn’t anticipated enjoying Everything Everything as much as I had. It was a new and fresh story that has never been told before. I think that there are themes like love and protection that are carried on throughout that really grip at the readers heartstrings and get them invested in the turn of events. I also respect Yoon for making the main female character multiracial. It’s not her identity but it is something that is made clear about her. I think that it’s incredible to have more culturally diverse characters in books, television and film because it really helps to inspire diverse readers and encourage diversity in the world. It helps remind audiences that fundamentally being different is nothing to be ashamed of.

****

I would recommend this book to YA readers, fans of John Green, fans of film to book comparisons, or anyone looking for an entertaining but light read.

Ayiti

For Haitian Flag Day, I decided to read Roxane Gay’s collection of short stories entitled Ayiti which is the Kreyol translation for: Haiti. In all honesty, there’s probably no one else that I would want to read a collection of short stories regarding Haiti and its culture than from a fellow Haitian-American writer such Roxane Gay. I found the collection to be captivating, concise and culturally relevant on all fronts.

In the chapter, About My Father’s Accent, it gave me a warm feeling of home. Having parents who were born and raised in Haiti, I grew up hearing their accents so I could hear the pronunciations of words that Gay perfectly described in the text as clear as day. It made me laugh in a child-like way while also reminding me of the pain I felt in my childhood when kids would tease me for their accents, specifically my father’s. In my mind, teasing my dad was from a loving place and anyone else doing it was unacceptable.

Another story, I enjoyed was There’s no E in Zombi which speaks to Haitian culture involving Voodoo. I’m glad this was included because one of the first things that comes into someone’s mind, for some reason, when I say that I’m Haitian is voodoo. Gay hilariously attempts to explain the proper pronunciation of the word and what letters require emphasis. The love story component was my favorite, however, because it resembled Haitian folklore, stories and cautionary tales that are passed through generations. A girl falls in love, he does not love her in return so she has no choice but to turn the love of her life into a zombi (that’s right – no e!)

I don’t want to continue to spoil the collection of short stories for you but I am honestly so glad this was the first work of Roxane Gay that I have read so far. She is a phenomenal writer and I feel as though she did Haiti the justice in its depiction that has been lacking in other stories. It’s concise and incredibly enlightening for those who want a glimpse into Haitian culture for what it truly is and not what the media has portrayed it to be. If you are a fan of Roxane Gay’s work, if you are Haitian, or if you’re just looking for a good, bite-sized read definitely go check out Ayiti by Roxane Gay.

Next up….

 
AAAAHHHHH! I’ve been dying to read this book since I heard a review calling it The Night Circus meets Hunger Games. My interest was instantly piqued and decided to keep on going on the fantasy novel express train that I’ve been riding. I’m here for it. Are you?! No spoilers please, but if you’ve read it — let me know what you think and any other similarly awesome books I should check out.

Be sure to check back for my personal review for Stephanie Garber’s Caraval.