RG: 33/48

The greatest decision I made this year, (besides accepting my dream job at LDLA) has been actively participating in the Goodreads’ Reading Challenge!

I have always been a big reader! In grade school, I participated in reading challenges regularly from reading to get a dollar from my mom to the schoolwide Battle of the Books contests. I not only loved reading, I loved being competitive about reading and honestly still do! Given that in my desired career field reading is mandatory, I asked myself: what better way to motivate myself than to challenge myself to read X number of books in a year? I love being able to report what I’ve read, write short reviews, and also see how my friends are doing on their challenges. My sister is my biggest competitor when it comes to reading. She reads so quickly and it’s not fair! She also has been reading from my library at home so, we often discuss what we’re reading and I challenge her to think like publishing people do :).

To date, I’ve read 33 books. That’s crazy! Granted, 33 includes graphic novels, audiobooks, and poetry. If I’m being honest, I’ve actually read closer to 40 books but I can’t really include manuscripts that I read for work and/or interviews. Setting my goal number was difficult. I didn’t want to be too ambitious so I started with about 20 but eventually settled at 48 books, which roughly amounts to 4 books per month. Again, it sounds crazy but I also tend to read two or three books at a time. It keeps me on my toes! Finding time to read has proven to be hard but I think this challenge, my friends, and my co-workers have definitely encouraged me to keep going!

I may not reach my goal by December, I may read less or more, but I think the most important thing is that I’m challenging myself each day to do something that I love. I strongly believe that books challenge the way you see the world around you, but also how you see yourself. I have read some unbelievable books this year that maybe I never would have if I never committed to this challenge. I’d love to know what you guys are reading! Is there anything you are dying to read? Or anything that you read this year that you can’t stop thinking about? Those are the best! Let’s chat about it.

 

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Six of Crows: A Review

For those of you who have kept up with my blog, you know that I cannot resist a good young adult fantasy novel. Yes, I read other genres but the books I remember loving the most were young adult fantasy novels. After hearing all of the hype, I decided to purchase the duology of Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. Leigh Bardugo does an unbelievable job of creating a dynamic universe that is overflowing with colorfully unforgettable characters.

The minute we are introduced to Kaz Brekker, I already know he will quickly become the bad-ass character that you can’t help but love. He is the Danny Ocean to a similarly assembled band of thieves. Each of the six members of the team have a particular skill set, along with a complicated background story to explain how they found themselves here. Despite different back stories, they all found themselves agreeing to embark on an impossible heist with the highest stakes and potential for highest reward. Bardugo separates chapters by each character’s perspectives. These chapters help you gain a deeper understanding of each person’s past but also provides insight into what their motivations are during this journey. Apart from the story itself, which captivates the reader from the first page to the last, Bardugo supplies fluid prose without stutter. Her strong writing, in combination with the incredible plot, are what make Six of Crows a five-star must-read. 

I’m unsure if I want to jump directly into Crooked Kingdom (the second novel in the series) or take a break to read some other titles on my TBR. I’ll keep you guys posted.

XO

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.