Challenges · Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: September 2021

Total Books Read in September: 6
Total Books Read in 2021: 44

Series September Challenge

For the month of September I challenged myself to read books from series that I have in progress. I was able to get to all of the physical books I mentioned in my TBR post. However I wasn’t able to finish A Royal Pain in time.

Series Books Read:

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Royal Wedding (Princess Diaries 11)
By: Meg Cabot

Genre: Series, Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Rating: 3.5/5

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The Bookshop on the Shore
(Scottish Bookshop 2)
By: Jenny Colgan

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Series
Rating: 3.5/5

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Fly Away
(Firefly Lane 2)
By: Kristin Hannah

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Series
Rating: 5/5

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Sweet Little Lies
(L.A. Candy 2)
By: Lauren Conrad

Preformed by: Jenna Lamia
Genre: YA Lit, Series
Rating: 3/5

Also Completed:

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Of Mice and Men
By: John Steinbeck
Read by: Gary Sinise

Genre: Classics, Audiobook
Rating: 4/5

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Flight from the Fortress
By: Lyn Cook

Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Rating: 2.5/5

The Stats

Total Number of Books Read: 6
Total Number of Fiction: 6
Total Number of Non-Fiction: 0
Total Books Sent for Review: 0
Total Books Read from My Shelves: 3
Total Library Books Read: 3

Formats Read

Physical Books: 3
eBooks:
 1
Audio Books: 
2

Currently Reading

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Book Reviews · Recommendations

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Clap When You Land
By: Elizabeth Acevedo

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Published: May 2020
Published by: HarperTeen
Format Read: eBook, Libby App.
Genre: YA Lit, Contemporary, Poetry

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis

In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Books written in verse isn’t a style I generally gravitate to, however I have heard rave reviews about this author and this novel, so I decided to borrow it from my library.

Clap When You Land is an emotional story of two sisters meeting for the first time after the tragic death of their father. Elizabeth Acevedo took inspiration for this book from a real life tragedy; the crash of flight AA587 in November 2001, which shook the Dominican community in New York. As the two young women wrestle with their grief and the aftermath of their discoveries, I too wrestled with how I felt about their father’s duplicitous life. This moral dilemma would make for a great discussion for book clubs.

I appreciate the diversity that Camino and Yahaira’s story presents, as well as the stark contrast between life in America and the slums of the Dominican Republic. Yet at the same time the author highlighted the traditions and beliefs that were brought to America by immigrants from their homeland. I also found the customs and traditions of the mourning in this culture to be interesting. The meaning behind passengers clapping when they land was profound and made for a great title for the novel.

I would highly recommend Elizabeth Acevedo’s Clap When You Land to fans of the genre who enjoy reading about diverse characters. For those who may be leery to read a book in verse, I say give this one a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Note: Content warning for those who may be triggered by such things as; sexual assault and grief.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine
By: Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite

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Published: September 2019
Published by: Inkyard Press
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 4/5

NOTE: I won a copy of Maika Moulite and Maritza Moutlie’s Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, from the publisher via Goodreads Giveaways. This is my honest review.

Synopsis

Co-written by sisters Maika and Maritza Moulite, and told in epistolary style through letters, articles, emails, and diary entries, this exceptional debut novel captures a sparkling new voice and irrepressible heroine in a celebration of storytelling sure to thrill fans of Nicola Yoon, Ibi Zoboi and Jenna Evans Welch!

When a school presentation goes very wrong, Alaine Beauparlant finds herself suspended, shipped off to Haiti and writing the report of a lifetime…

You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything?

Actually, a lot.

Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I’m spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret.

All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse.

You know, typical drama. But it’s nothing I can’t handle.

My Thoughts

Sister writing duo Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite draw inspiration from their own Haitian-American upbringing in their debut novel. Readers follow high school senior Alaine as she is sent to her family’s homeland of Haiti after a political scandal and suspension from school.

I had never read a book set in Haiti before, nor did I know much about that culture. I also learned more about the separation (and lack thereof) between the wealthy and those living in poverty in this island country. The vibrant descriptions of the setting were fascinating.

Alaine was a strong female lead with a personality and sarcastic sense of humor, that I could relate to. The multi-media format this book was told in (included; emails, messages, articles and written assignments) made for a quick and enjoyable reading experience.

I was initially leery about the storyline involving the family curse and its historical significance, as this isn’t something that generally interests me. However my curiosity about the final outcome and how it all came together really drew me in.

I would highly recommend Dear Haiti, Love Alaine to those who enjoy reading about strong young women who are intelligent and ambitious. I look forward to reading more from these authors in the future.

Challenges · Currently Reading · TBR

TBR: Series September

I intended to have this posted nearer to the beginning of the month, but technical difficulties put a wrench in that plan. So better late than never. Here are the books that I have been reading and will continue to concentrate on during the month of September.

I am also working my way through The Bookshop on the Shore (Scottish Bookshop 2) by Jenny Colgan.

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Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half
By: Brit Bennett

Narrated by: Shayna Small

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Published: June 2020
Published by: Penguin Audio

Format Read: Audiobook, Audible
Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half follows the lives of The Vignes twins and the opposite paths they follow. Their stories present a comparison of a lower class African American women to that of her sister who passes as white and lives a privileged life among with her wealthy husband. Readers follow a timeline that spans the 1950’s to the early 1990’s.

I was drawn to this book as I was very interested in the descriptions of society from these two different situations. If I had to use a word to describe The Vanishing Half, I would say that it is a quite read. The events (especially those that were more traumatic) were told in a way that made them seem less shocking and more mater-of-fact. I think that some readers might be turned off by this style of writing. However I thought that Brit Bennett’s use of metaphors showed her talent as an author, beautifully.

Shayna Small’s narration of the characters felt authentic and did justice to the story. Although I thought the ending was abrupt, I would reccommend Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half to those interested in diverse historical fiction. I would also advise caution to those who may be sensitive to such trigger warnings as domestic abuse.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy

Lumberjanes
Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy
By: Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooklyn Allen, Maarta Laiho, Aubrey Aiese

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Published: April 2015
Published by: BOOM! Box
Format Read: eBook, Libby App.
Genre: Graphic Novel, Comics, Fantasy, Young Adult

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

FRIENDSHIP TO THE MAX!

At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together… And they’re not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here.

Collects Lumberjanes No. 1-4.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

I picked up this graphic novel on a whim when I saw it was available at my local library via the Libby App. I had heard rave reviews about this first installment and the series as a whole, when it was released. However I didn’t pay much attention to it as I had never been interested in graphic novels before. Thankfully I decided to give it a shot as it was such a fun reading experience.

I was surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. Although you don’t get as much written detail in this format, the cast of characters are vibrant and unique. If I had to compare it, I would say that Lumberjanes is a combination of Percy Jackson meets a sarcastic troop of Girl Guides. It was clever and humorous, with some great themes. Although I felt it ended abruptly, I am really looking forward to reading the second installment of this series soon.

Challenges · Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: August 2021

Total Books Read in August: 6
Total Books Read in 2021: 38

Backlist Catch-up TBR: 7 /7

I am happy to have completed all the books in my backlist catch up in the month of August.

Backlist Catch-up Books Read in August:

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The Devoted
(The Bishop’s Family 3)
By: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Genre: Amish Fiction, Christian Fiction, Series
Rating: 4/5
NOTE: I was sent a copy of The Devoted by Suzanne Woods Fisher, from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Trouble and Strife
By: Johanne Levesque

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 2/5

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The Winter Sister
By: Megan Collins

Genre: Mystery
Rating: 3.5/5
NOTE: I was sent an ebook ARC of The Winter Sister by Megan Collins, from the publisher via Netgalley. I alternated between reading the ebook and listening to the audiobook.

Additional Books Read:

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Alone with the Stars
By: David R. Gillham

Genre: Historical Fiction, Audiobook
Rating: 4/5

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Clap When You Land
By: Elizabeth Acevedo

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 5/5

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Muddy Bottom
(Palmetto Island 1)
By: Ashley Farley

Genre: Contemporary fiction, novella
Rating: 3/5

The Stats

Total Number of Books Read: 6
Total Number of Fiction: 6
Total Number of Non-Fiction: 0
Total Books Sent for Review: 3
Total Books Read from My Shelves: 2
Total Library Books Read: 1

Formats Read

Physical Books: 2
eBooks:
 2
Audio Books: 
2

Currently Reading

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Book Reviews · Recommendations

Mother/Daughter Buddy Read 1: Secrets of the Lighthouse

Growing up reading was a big part of my childhood. In fact I would say that my love for books came from both of my parents, although my reading taste is more similar to that of my Mom’s. One of our favourite things to do together is to share and talk about books.

While unpacking my numerous boxes of books I discovered that I had two copies of Santa Montefiore’s Secrets of the Lighthouse. I gave one copy to my mom and kept the other for myself. We decided to both read it at the same time and so we officially did our first Mother/Daughter buddy read.

Secrets of the Lighthouse
By: Santa Montefiore

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Published: January 2013
Published by: Simon Schuster
Format Read: Hardcover
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis

Ellen Trawton is running away from it all—quite literally. She is due to get married to a man she doesn’t love, her job is dragging her down, and her interfering mother is getting on her nerves. So she escapes to the one place she know her mother won’t follow her—to her aunt’s house in rural Ireland. Once there, she uncovers a dark family secret—and a future she never knew she might have.

Meanwhile, Caitlin Macausland is mourning the future she can never have. She died tragically in what the village thinks is suspicious circumstances, and now she is stuck in a limbo, unable to move on.

And between the two of them is an old lighthouse—the scene of so much tragedy. Can each woman find the peace she so desperately longs for? And can they find the way to live again?

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Secrets of the Lighthouse follows Ellen Trawton, a privileged woman who runs away to Ireland and discovers a family she didn’t know she had. Meanwhile the rural seaside town she escapes to is defined by family loyalty and tradition.

My Mom and I have both read Santa Montefiore in the past. While we both enjoyed The Girl in the Castle, I did find it to be drawn out. Thankfully I did not find this novel to be this way. We found the descriptions of the small Irish village to be beautiful and the reading experience was made even more enjoyable by being able to discuss it as we read along.

There is a supernatural element to this storyline that I was unsure of at first. However in the end I thought that the author presented it in a way that was thought provoking.

My Mom and I both recommend Secrets of the Lighthouse by Santa Montefiore to fans of contemporary fiction, with a pinch of magical realism. We both look forward to reading more from this author and sharing more buddy reads in the future.

Challenges · Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: July 2021

Total Books Read in July: 4
Total Books Read in 2021: 32

Backlist Catch-up TBR: 4/7

Backlist Catch-up TBR Books Read in July:

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The Lake of Dreams
By: Kim Edwards

Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3/5
NOTE: I won a copy of The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards, from Goodreads and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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The Lieutenant’s Nurse
By: Sara Ackerman

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3/5
NOTE: I was sent a copy of Sara Ackerman’s The Lieutenant’s Nurse, from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Additional Books Read:

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
By: Roald Dahl

Genre: Children’s Books, Children’s Fiction, Classics, Chapter Books
Rating: 3/5

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Murder at Blackhead
By: MK Staple

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 1/5

DNF

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All My Love, Detrick
By: Roberta Kagan

Genre: Historical Fiction

The Stats

Total Number of Books Read: 4
Total Number of Fiction: 4
Total Number of Non-Fiction: 0
Total Books Sent for Review: 2
Total Books Read from My Shelves: 4
Total Library Books Read: 0

Formats Read

Physical Books: 3
eBooks:
 0
Audio Books: 
1

Currently Reading

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