Wrap Up: January 2018

I’ve come across a lot of people in the last two days talk about how January was such a slow month for them, and I definitely do not fall in this bracket at all. January came by and went so fast, it took me a full five minutes this morning to realize we were already a whole month into 2018. I had a pretty busy month- hosted stragglers from our family reunion in the first couple of weeks, went away for a weekend to visit some more extended family, got back on some academic projects I’d taken a break from, got back onto my PT and walking routines, even blogged a bit, and kicked off the bookish year with a pretty successful round of #24in48

Thanks to the readathon, I’ve had a pretty successful start to my reading this year, and I’m immensely grateful:

Something I noticed in 2017 was that about 70% of my reading was digital, and it seems like that has carried over to January 2018. This primarily has to do with the fact that I borrow a lot of new releases in digital formats from the Chicago Public Library, and most of the comics I have access to are digital as well. I don’t know if I can actively resolve to read more physical books, so we’ll just see how the next few months go. 

As for my January reading, I’ve read 17 books by authors of color, which I’m pretty happy about. I feel like I’m slowly getting my audiobook mojo back thanks to PT and walking; I listened to 4 really good ones this past month. Twenty-two out of twenty-five books I enjoyed thoroughly, which is awesome. 

For February, I don’t have an official Black History Month TBR, but I have committed to participate in two photo challenges: Book Riot is back with #riotgrams and Didi aka Brown Girl Reading with #ReadSoulLit. The prompts seems fairly chill, so even though most of my books are in storage I think I can make it happen for at least half them. You can find my posts on both Instagram and Litsy, username: @theshrinkette.

So lovelies, how did your first month of the year go? What were your highlights, and what are you looking forward to in the near future? I’m listening.

-J

January 29, 2018: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme currently hosted by The Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week, and add to that ever-growing TBR stack.

Hi friends,

Wow, it’s been a week. I’ve not been this busy in a long time, and I’m definitely still getting super exhausted from days that are productive and busy but not even close to what used to be my threshold for busy in the past. Apparently my post-op body is still getting there, and I keep reminding myself that I am still only almost 6 months post-op major neuro surgery and recovery is slow, and it’s going to be a while before I can go back to that kind of workload.

Tl; dr I was too tired/did not make time to post anything on here since last Monday. 

Onto happier things; we’re just coming off of 24in48, and as per usual, it was a spectacular weekend. 1850 participants from all over the world, say whaaaaaaaaat? Absolutely stellar show from Rachel, Kerry, and Kristen, all of whom I adore dearly. Kudos on orchestrating a phenomenal and fun experience for everybody that took part. Remember, whether you read one book or 10, one hour or 24, you were a champ for carving out time in your busy, busy life to take part and peek into the giant, global bookish blanket fort that is a readathon, and you are allowed to feel good about that. 

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I paced myself this time around; I managed to read for 24 hours, but didn’t read as much as I usually do. Through the week I only managed to finish Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann ( I’ll have a review coming out soon, that book affected me in unexpected ways). During readathon I read: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (absolutely stunning verse novel), Illegal Contact and Down By Contact, both by Santino Hassell (both on audio, which was an interesting experience, both super hot, and both roping in serious social issues and feels amidst the fluff. Also oh my god Noah), Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor (satisfying end to the trilogy), Giant Days Volume 5 and Volume 6 ( I love these girls so much) by John Allison (Author), Max Sarin (Illustrator), Liz Fleming(Inker), Whitney Cogar (Colorist), and Jim Campbell (Letterer), and Winter by Ali Smith (my first time reading her work, her writing is absolutely gorgeous, this was unexpected and beautiful). I also got halfway through Trainwreck by Sady Doyle on audio. 

I am currently visiting some extended family but will be back home tomorrow afternoon. I don’t know if it’s my anxiety or the fact that my routine has been disrupted several times in the past couple of months with extended family times, but I just want to go back home asap so that I can get back to my walks and PT and cleaner eating habits and sleep in my own bed. It is possible I’ve become even more of an introvert in the last six months. 

On the reading roster for this week:

It’s very ambitious, I know, but this comprises of books I’m halfway through, books that need to go back to the library in two days, and ARCs that are already past their pub date. I do have a seven hour train journey tomorrow so I’m hoping to get a substantial amount of reading done on it. I am determined to get my Netgalley review percentage up to at least 80 in the first quarter of the year, so definitely making sure my currently reading pile includes a galley or two at all times.

That’s all from me, folks. Hope you have a glorious Monday and stellar week. 

If you participated in #24in48, link me to your posts, updates, Litsy/Instagram handles, or just share what you read, in the comments below. Or feel free to share what you’re looking forward to reading next. Or, ya know, non-bookish life updates. Talk to me!

-J

January 22, 2018: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme currently hosted by The Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week, and add to that ever-growing TBR stack.

Hey there!

So it’s already Tuesday here, but I’m doing an It’s Monday post anyway because I really want to keep up with them and well, it’s Monday somewhere. Wow, this past week flew by. We’re moving (again!) in a couple of months, and this time to what is going to be my parents’ permanent residence. Same city, just an apartment. So I’ve been going with them to mediate wallpaper choices, curtain matches, you get the idea. It’s fun for the first five minutes but it’s mostly exhausting. But, moving will mean I get to bust out all my books from storage and put them in some beautiful bookshelves, so I’ve got something to look forward to in the new crib. I also got to have an intentionally lazy Sunday after a weirdly hectic week, and it was absolutely glorious, to say the least. We all need those once in a while. 

First, general housekeeping. Most of you might be aware of this already, but for those who don’t- we are officially retiring Social Justice Book Club. Kerry was super nice to take me on as co-host in 2017, but it ended up being a tumultuous year for both of us on a lot of fronts, and we decided it was time to close this chapter. I will continue to be reading books that tackle social justice themes, as will Kerry, so feel free to chat about them with us all across social media. Like Kerry said, if there’s interest, we definitely did enough research to put out a couple of book lists on some of those topics.

Onto happier news, it’s time for my first readathon of the year! 24in48 is back this weekend, and boy I’m looking forward to a glorious bookish bubble. You know the gist- 24 hours of reading over a 48-hour weekend, with snacks and sleep and conversation. Now I will be traveling this weekend so I’m not making a proper TBR, just going with the flow, and I’m keeping to the official start and end times per usual. There’s also tons of prizes for both US and International readers, so go ahead, sign-up!

And finally, time to chat about books. Last week, I finished The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce (heartwarming, quirky, made me tear up), Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson (one of the best audiobook decisions I’ve made in a long time), The Vanderbeekers on 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser (another enchanting tear-jerker), Rangoli by Pavana Reddy ( some impactful poetry), Fit (Fit #1) and Sated (Fit #3), both by Rebekah Weatherspoon (diverse and steamy novellas, oh my), and finally finished reading A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 by Claire Hartfield (riveting subject matter, but so dry and such a struggle to read). So yeah, pretty happy with my reading week. 

On this week’s roster:

 

Keeping it down to three so that I can get some reviews out ( I’d really like my Netgalley review percentage to come up to that 80% as soon as possible), and hunker down for a weekend of intense reading. 

That’s all I’ve got, folks (and with less than two hours to spare before Monday ends in PST, ha!). Don’t forget to sign-up for 24in48. Whether you read for 2 hours or 24, half a book or 7, it’s just feels good to be one with your people for a weekend. I’ll be posting updates on Litsy and Instagram for sure (@theshrinkette on both of those).

If you’re participating, let me know in the comments section, and link me to your sign-up posts, TBRs, Litsy and IG handles, etc. Also, what are you reading this week?

-J

 

ARC Review: Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

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Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Pub. date: January 16th, 2018
Publisher: Soho Teen  
Format: E-galley
ISBN: 9781616958473
Source: Edelweiss

Thanks so much to Edelweiss and Soho Teen for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Trigger Warnings: Anti-Islamic verbal statements and incidents, domestic terrorism, bullying, physical assault, suicide bombing, kissing

Plot: Seventeen-year old Maya Aziz is your not-so-average teenager straddling the line between two worlds; one where she’s expected to be the good Indian daughter to conservative Indian parents, well-mannered, possessing decent culinary skills, and on her way to college to become a lawyer, and the other where she goes to film school in New York City, and maybe kiss this white boy she’s been crushing on for a while now. She’s busy living her life with her best friend Violet, sneaking off to spend time with the crush, and making documentaries, when an act of domestic terrorism results in absolute upheaval in Maya’s life. 

I often hear readers complain about how contemporary fiction can sometimes be too predictable, falling into a few standard tropes with the players dressed in different costumes, lacking imagination and the ability to draw them in. Well, I’m happy to report that isn’t the case with this book. Sure, there’s teens, there’s angst, there’s conflict, a plethora of emotions, but Samira Ahmed has managed to deliver a gorgeous coming-of-age story that doesn’t necessarily cater to the formula. She’s done such a great job combining the fluff, the angst, and serious relevant issues, drawing the reader into what turns out to be a very compelling novel. 

Maya as a protagonist and narrator is such a wonderfully developed character. She has super conservative Indian parents, and Her relationship with them resonates with (I think) a lot of diasporic Indian kids- parents who worked extremely hard and made sacrifices to ensure their kids have good lives, parents who want their kids to have steady and secure futures, who are afraid that their kids not growing up in their homeland means that all their morals and values will be lost, parents who want to keep their only child close by because they’re hesitant of the world they will have to send them into, and parents who rebelled for their own life choices and then turned around and promptly became the same naysayers the previous generations were, because they’re conditioned to react that way to new experiences. All of the best interests at heart but unable to recognize that their children are growing up in an environment so different from their own and navigating their own challenges. These traits can seem like stereotypes of Asian parents, but to me they were written and portrayed from such an honest perspective, and several times I felt such empathy for Maya. My parents don’t share all of those qualities, but they most certainly fall into several of these archetypes. It’s always simultaneously comforting and frustrating to see this represented so accurately, especially in YA fiction- teen me would definitely have benefited from reading books like this one. This again, is not necessarily representative of all Indian parents (we’re not a monolith), so I’m sure these characters arcs will resonate with some and not with others.

Besides her complicated relationship with her family, Maya is an ambitious girl with big passions, which is so great to see. Film-making is clearly not just a hobby, but her passion, and her tenacity is evident by the lengths she’s willing to go to in order to make it happen for her. I’m a big fan of ambitious teens of color who are unapologetic about their passion. They’re unabashedly nerdy about this thing that they love and determined to figure ways to make it happen for them, it’s very affirming.

An integral portion of this book is how it tackled anti-Islamic rhetoric and events, and this is where it shines without turning into just an “issue” book. Throughout the novel are tiny microaggressions interspersed in the narrative (and appropriately challenged), all leading up to the tumultuous event that casts a dark shadow on this small town. A brutally honest portrayal of what it’s like to be a Muslim in America in the aftermath of an incident of domestic terrorism. Maya’s own reactions and experiences, as well as that of her family’s, how it affects their relationship with each other, their choices, their fears, and how they’re viewed in the eyes of their small community- Samira delivers with gut-punching accuracy. This makes it such an important book, not just in terms of representing Indian-American Muslims, but a book that should be read by those outside that community, and give them some food for thought on how they could be complicit in maintaining such a rhetoric and how they can be solid allies. 

As for the romance and the side-characters, these were equally well-done. There’s a bit of a love triangle early in the book that’s resolved quickly, and the romance is pretty cute for the most part(bit of an overkill with the mentions of Phil’s dimple, but hey, that’s an alloromantic thing you can’t avoid I guess). Her friendship with Violet is just awesome (love me a supportive best friend all day everyday). Hina is the aunt that dreams are made of, what an amazingly supportive parental figure and buffer. The dual narrative was fine, I don’t think it did much for the story, but it didn’t get in the way either. 

All in all, an absolutely emotional and gratifying story. Samira’s prose is gorgeous, and Maya’s wit and sarcasm is brilliant and cracked me up throughout the book. Full of nuance, with the ability to kickstart several important conversations among readers, Love, Hate, and Other Filters is a well-rounded and gripping debut. 

P. S. In case you’re looking for some #ownvoices reviews of this book, I’m linking both Fadwa and Maha‘s reviews for further reading. 

 

 

January 15, 2018: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme currently hosted by The Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week, and add to that ever-growing TBR stack.

Happy New Year, friends!

Wow. WOW. What a year. Phew. Sometimes I laugh when I think about how terrible I thought 2016 was ’cause boy, 2017 was a humdinger. Never in my life have a been happier for a year to be over. 

If there’s anything 2017 taught me, it was not to make elaborate, overly ambitious plans because you never know when one thing could happen that sends all your plans down the drain. You’d think that’s a super obvious life lesson but I’ll be the first to admit it took me 2017 to actually comprehend what it looks and feels like. 

I spectacularly failed all of my reading and blogging goals for 2017 because so much life happened, and I’ve entered 2018 with a super low-key, attempted zen attitude. I’m not participating in any reading challenges this year- no Read Harder, no Goodreads goal, no Litsy A to Z, no Reading Women challenge, nothing. In truth, I’m a little burnt out on reading challenges, and I’ve realized I pretty much read diversely regardless of challenges, so I’m forcing myself to take a break from them this year and see where my moods take me. Likewise, I don’t have any specific blogging goals this year, and I’m already noticing that I’m looking forward to sitting down and writing posts and reviews as opposed to dreading them. That feels really good. 

Now, to the actual reading I’ve done so far. I read and loved Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (what a brilliant writer), Halsey Street by Naima Coster (stellar debut), Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano (absolutely delightful), The Turner House by Angela Flournoy (superb multigenerational novel), We Go Forward by Alison Evans (sweet friendship story), and Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed (I’ll be shouting from the rooftops about this book for the rest of the year).

Only two books I’ve read thus far have been a bit disappointing: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (I think we can blame the hype for this one), and Bad for the Boss: A BWAM Office Romance (Just For Him Book 1) by Talia Hibbert (questionable consent in erotica novels always makes me itchy). 

On the roster for this week: 

I started Furiously Happy on audio a couple of days ago and The Music Shop last night and I’m really liking both so far. I’m struggling a little to get through A Few Red Drops; the subject matter is interesting but the writing isn’t engaging. I’ll start the other two later this week once I finish a sensitivity read that I need to get done. 

That’s all I’ve got going on for now. I’m excited to do It’s Monday posts again because it’s a great way to check-in and gives me chance to chat with you all about books and other things. So, how are you? How did your 2017 go? What are you looking forward to the most in 2018? Last, but not the least, what are you reading these days? 

-J

ARC Review: Halsey Street by Naima Coster

35995770Halsey Street by Naima Coster 

Pub. date: January 1st, 2018
Publisher: Little A Books 
Format: E-galley
ISBN: 9781503941175
Source: Netgalley

Thanks so much to Netgalley and Little A Books for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Plot: Penelope Grand is a young black failing artist who moves back home from Pittsburg to take care of her ailing father, Ralph. Her old neighborhood has been gentrified and taken over by affluent white people, and her mother Mirella left them to return to the Dominican Republic. So when Penny moves into the attic of the wealthy Harpers, she hopes for some semblance of family again. But a postcard arrives from Mirella, who is seeking reconciliation, and Penny’s world is once again turned upside down as old wounds are reopened, secrets are spilled, and she sets on a path of self-discovery. 

It is the mark of a good book that has you still thinking about it days after you’ve finished reading it, and Halsey Street certainly fits the bill. For what comes across as a simple plot, Coster has by no means presented us with a simple novel. Layers upon layers upon layers are available for the reader’s contemplation. 

The novel’s told from the perspective of both the Grand women- Penny and Mirella. Penny is a millennial who is flawed, vulnerable, and pragmatic. From her perspective, we are witness to a changed Brooklyn, the very real effects of gentrification- in the houses, the murals, the schools, the walls, her disdain for the mother that abandoned her, while Ralph Grand keeps his home as a shrine, unchanged from when she’d left it, while he drinks his days away hoping for Mirella to return. Her vulnerability is seen in her yearning and interactions when she stays with the Harpers, seeking connection and love. Through Mirella’s eyes we see how she and Ralph met, the changes in their relationship as Ralph focused on his record store, her gradually deteriorating relationship with Penny, how she felt in Brooklyn and the events that led to her departure, and her life in DR and how she makes it her own without being an extension of somebody else’s life. When Mirella writes to Penny seeking reconciliation, Penny is not immediately forgiving, a lot of stuff comes up for the both of them (together and separately), and we get to see where both women choose to go from there. 

Coster has portrayed gentrification as a metaphor for broken families, and her execution of this is what makes this novel so phenomenal. You see it in Penny’s observations of the neighborhood, the school she teaches at, the rich white Harpers who are her landlord, and Ralph, who is a relic of old Brooklyn. She brings nuance into the conversation by inserting conversations of race, gender, and class- in Mirella’s chapters we see how she felt that Ralph and his friends never saw her as equal, and how her opinions on art and music and such were never taken seriously. Coster;s narrative power comes through also in her demonstrations of gentrification and its effects rather than statements of it. For instance, there’s a particular scene where Penny meets a classic white-pro-gentrifier Marty, who makes a statement about the neighborhood being a “blank canvas” with a plethora of possibilities, to which Penny rails back with a poignant speech on the literal erasure of the neighborhood and its systematic removal of working-class black people. 

Halsey Street is an evocative and thought-provoking novel, one that will keep you thinking for days, and Coster is a fresh and talented voice. The writing complexity with a seemingly simple plot make this novel an absolute standout piece of literary fiction, and I’m looking forward to read more of her work in the future. Do not miss out on this one. 

 

ARC Review: Chainbreaker by Tara Sim

34138282 Chainbreaker (Timekeeper #2) by Tara Sim 

Pub. date: January 2nd, 2018
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Format: E-galley
ISBN: 9781510706194
Source: Edelweiss

Thanks so much to Edelweiss and Sky Pony Press for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

Plot: Danny Hart was hoping to settle into his life, what with his father returning and his relationship with Colton blossoming. But clocks have begun to fall in India yet time hasn’t Stopped, so Danny’s being sent to investigate, along with Daphne Richards, a fellow clock tower apprentice. The two of them travel to British-occupied India, and as their investigation proceeds, realize that occupation might be sparking a lot more than just attacks. Meanwhile, Colton’s having strange dreams, and stumbles upon dark secrets from his past. Will both Danny and Colton survive the dangerous path upon which they’ve been thrust?

Timekeeper had been on my TBR for ages, so when I saw that Chainbreaker was available for immediate download on Edelweiss, I immediately scooped up a copy so that I’d have to read the first book, and I was immediately charmed by these characters. The first book did a great job with the world-building and character development, so I was eager to jump into Chainbreaker right after.

Whoa baby, talk about a gripping story. I absolutely devoured this one. It was really hard to put down and more often than not had me at the edge of my seat. Daphne, as I’d predicted for myself in book one, is absolutely one of my favorite characters. I’m always rooting for characters who are hardcore on the outside and soft on the inside. T

This book opens with a heart-breaking scene with Daphne and her mum, who following a scary breakdown, lives in an asylum (St. Agnes’ Home for Women). Their relationship (or lack thereof) has a marked effect on Daphne. The scandal of her white English mum marrying her dad, the son of an English officer and an Indian woman, still weighs on their family. So, when Daphne is instructed to go to India with Danny to investigate the clock attacks there, she proceeds with a lot of hesitation. Tara does a really great job exploring Daphne’s feelings as a biracial woman, especially considering the time period chosen for the book. Trying to feel some connection to a land that is part of her ancestry, but viewed with disdain by the locals as one who belongs with the English, Tara captures this complicated position really well, once again demonstrating her character development skills. 

Of course, who can forget our boys Danny and Colton? Danny, who puts his heart before everything else, and Colton, who puts Danny before everything else. The boys go through hell in this book, and learning more about Colton’s past was intriguing, and I can’t wait to see how things get tied up for these two in book three. 

Overall, I thought Tara once again did a great job modifying historical events to fit the narrative and the existent world she’d created in Timekeeper very well. I especially appreciated the author’s note at the end, which did a great job outlining historical events as we know it, and how they’d been incorporated in the story. I really liked that it was a description of India that felt real and not fetishized, and the introduction of Meena and Akash lent itself well with no hint of white savior complexes from our English characters (or if there were any, were suitably challenged), for which I was immensely grateful. It can be a delicate position to talk about colonizers vs. the colonized, and Tara has done a fantastic job addressing that at various points in the story. It is a testament to her skills as a writer. 

There were some things I absolutely did not see coming, especially towards the end. Danny, Daphne, and Colton are racing against time and each other while it seems like everything around them is unraveling, keeping me at the edge of my seat at a godforsaken hour of the night because I just couldn’t put it down without finding out where we were going to be left at the end of this book. Also, I’d like to point out that Tara is evil for messing with my feelings, and that’s all I can say without giving anything away. Chainbreaker was an excellent follow-up to Timekeeper, Tara Sim continues to be a champion storyteller and world-builder, and I can’t wait to see what happens in book three.

ARC Review: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

32920226 Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Pub. date: September 5th, 2017
Publisher: Scribner
Format: E-galley
ISBN: 9781501126062
Source: Netgalley

Thanks so much to Netgalley and Scribner for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

Trigger Warnings: Dead sibling, addiction, cancer, dying family member, drugs

Plot: Jojo and his little sister Kayla live with their grandparents in rural Mississippi, and only occasionally see their mother Leonie. The grandmother is dying of cancer. the grandfather is trying to run the household and teach Jojo life lessons, and Leonie sees visions of her dead brother when she gets high. Then, when Jojo and Kayla’s white father Michael is released from prison, Leonie packs the kids and a friend in a car, and travels across the state to the Mississippi State Penitentiary. a journey that’s full of danger and promise.

It is of no surprise that Jesmyn Ward won the National Book Award for this novel. She is just such a fantastic writer, and has the ability to make readers of her work empathize with the most flawed characters. Characters who in theory should be the villains of the story, but you end up feeling for them. She makes you ache for them. All of her characters have experienced, or are experiencing an immense amount of pain, and this is reflected in their worldviews, the choices they make, and the lives they live.

The story mainly comes from the perspectives of Jojo and Leonie, who are both people of few words, always on guard, but their internal voices convey everything that they would not say out loud to the reader, and basically set up the entire book. Jojo is coming of age and holds so much resentment towards his mother, who is an absentee parent, while absorbing crucial life lessons from Pop, his grandfather, as he is trying to figure out how to be a man. Leonie on the other hand is the character that put me through the wringer emotionally. She is so deeply flawed, and everything she does or that Jojo says she does or does not do makes you want to hate her, but reading her perspective and what she’s thinking makes you not only empathize, but just ache for her. A drug addict, she’s haunted by visions of her dead brother whenever she’s high, and it’s a punch in the gut to read about it. 

Jesmyn’s skill comes through in how she uses her characters- a lot of them are symbolic to further the story. Her writing makes you feel such pain with a story where terrible things just keep happening and there seems no reprieve, but still leaves you feeling hopeful at the end of it. There is no particularly happy ending, nothing is neatly tied up or resolved. Therein lies its beauty. I honestly could not find a single flaw in this book.

This was my first time reading her full-length novels (I’d previously read her memoir, Men We Reaped, and The Fire This Time), and she has become one of my favorite authors. I’m a total sucker for books that make me feel pain and that just sucker- punch me with all the emotions, and Sing, Unburied, Sing did just that. Devastatingly beautiful prose and an absolutely engrossing story, it is undoubtedly one of my favorites of 2017, and one that I urge you to read if you haven’t already. 

-J

 

 

#24in48 Readathon: July 2017

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Heyo, it’s that time of the summer again, #24in48 is back!

I think I’ve been pretty vocal about my love for all things readathon before, and I stand by them all. Squaring away some quality reading time with a bunch of other bookworms all over the globe is just as amazing as it sounds. I can’t get enough of it. As most of you know I’m currently laid up in bed, so this readathon couldn’t come at a better time for me. Not only does it keep me occupied the whole weekend, but a whole lot of other people will be pretty much doing what I’m doing, and we’ll all be revelling in the joy, which I’m really looking forward to. 

In case you’re new around here or to the bookish internet in general, 24in48 is a fun weekend readathon organized by Rachel Manwill. The “aim” is to read for 24 hours over the course of a 48 hour weekend. I say aim, but really, it’s about chalking away some time for yourself to read, a break from the humdrum and chaos that is life and such. It’s also a great time to stuff your face with snacks and beverages, discover readers from all around the world, squee about books and bookishness, and have a grand time. Super low key, super chill. If you haven’t signed up yet or are looking for more information, you can check out the official site

Here’s my stack of reading material for the weekend. Plenty more than I’ll actually get through, but I like having more options than not:

Anyone notice a theme here?

I’m pretty much most active on my Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat (jananivaidya), and Litsy  (@theshrinkette) during readathon time, because those are quick and easy places to update my progress and what I’m doing throughout the weekend. This time, just to make things easier, any readathon updates I make will be within this post itself, including a wrap-up at the end. 

That’s all I have for now. Sign up if you haven’t already, and drop me a line to let me know if you’re participating so that I can keep an eye out for your social media posts. Cheers!

Day 1:

Typically I try and get in about 15 hours of reading on the first day, when I’m super pumped and motivated by the challenge. This time around, I had a couple of commitments, and an unexpected visit from a friend, so I was able to read for about only 10 hours. Luckily for me, I started the challenge at the official readathon start time, which gives me till about Monday morning 9.30 a.m. to get in my 24 hours. Here’s my reading stats so far:

Time Read: 10:00:51

Books read: The Liberation of Sita by Volga, A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi, and The Duchess War by Courtney Milan. 

No. of pages: 771

-J

Mini Reviews: Books With Aro and/or Ace Characters

Wishing you a Happy New Year full of love, light and laughter!

Thanks to making more friends in the ace and aro communities on Twitter, I’ve gotten the chance to read books representing these identities. They’re usually ownvoices and SFF and indie/self-published, which has also been a great way to diversify my reading from just traditional publishing. It’s so cool that there’s authors out there not waiting around for traditional publishing to catch up, otherwise we’ll be waiting a lot longer for representation. I thought I’d do quick reviews of three books I read and loved recently.

34337959 No More Heroes by Michelle Kan: There are Vigilantes with special Abilities all over the world who patrol the streets at night to keep the peace. However, a series of Vigilante deaths ensue- the identity and the motive of the person responsible for these deaths are unknown. Three young Vigilantes have no idea what they’re getting into when they get involved, and team up with a bunch of older Vigilantes to solve the mystery.

This is a fast-paced urban fantasy that features a diverse cast of characters and high stakes adventure time. I thoroughly enjoyed the pacing, the mystery, the action sequences and the Abilities were really cool. I could almost visualize it all. I loved that the author focused on friendships and fostering teamwork among these characters, a lot of whom were essentially just introduced and getting to know one another. It also features Fang, a genderfluid aroace character, which is a huge bonus. The only thing I’d have liked more was character development. There were a lot of characters and we really didn’t get any background on anyone but Fang. However, the author has been mentioning a sequel, and the book seems to be set up that way, so I’m hoping we get to know them more then. 

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The Trouble by Daria Defore: Danny Kim, lead of a Seattle indie rock band called The Trouble, embarrasses himself by rudely hitting on a cute guy Jiyoon, who attends one of his band’s shows, only to find out that the guy is the TA of his Accounting class. However, events occur and soon a friendship is formed between Danny and Jiyoon. 

I always lean towards realistic fiction over fantasy, and was delighted to find a contemporary fiction book featuring an aro character. The author did a really good job establishing and developing Danny and Jiyoon’s relationship, and how Danny navigates it as an allosexual aromantic person. This is not a “romance is a cure” storyline at all. Danny is firmly aro-spec, and there’s great scenes discussing what that means, both their expectations from their relationship, and establishing boundaries. I also loved that Danny is extremely close to his bandmates, and that relationship status doesn’t change regardless of whatever is happening with Jiyoon, which I especially appreciated. If you’re looking for aromantic rep in contemporary fiction, you should definitely pick up this one.

34031351The Traitor’s Tunnel by C. M. Spivey: This novella features a brother-sister duo in the city of Arido who are estranged- Bridget is a robber, and Theodore is the apprentice of a well-renowned city engineer, on his way to his dream job as the Lord Engineer of Arido. The two of them cross paths accidentally, and must reunite to stop a traitor and save their city and the empire.

I received an advance copy of this novella in exchange for an honest review.

Although the events in this book occur several years before the ones in FROM UNDER THE MOUNTAIN (which I haven’t read), it works great as a standalone. I had no issues following the plot or the worldbuilding. Two specific things I loved about this were: 1. the main characters are siblings, not romantic partners (or to-be romantic partners), playing to a great family dynamic, as well as alternating POVs. 2. Theodore is an established panromantic asexual character. His relationship with Leander is explored and fleshed out not only from his perspective, but from Bridget’s as well. Bridget’s own relationship with Keaton isn’t super defined, which fits in naturally with her personality. The world-building is solid and I had no trouble following it at all, it’s such a well-structured plot. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I’m definitely picking up From Under The Mountain soon. 

P. S. If you don’t already follow Claudie Arseneault on twitter, you really should. She’s created a great database for SFF books featuring ace and/or aro characters, and is always happy to chat about them on twitter as well. 

-J