Reviews

Review: American Panda by Gloria Chao

American Panda
American Panda

by Gloria Chao

Synopsis
At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

What I thought

American Panda is a young adult contemporary novel about 17-year-old Mei Lu. Mei’s parents have her life planned out; 1) attend and graduate from MIT, 2) become a doctor, and 3) marry a pre-approved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer preferably a doctor. The problem with that is Mei is only happy with one of those three things.

Mei who does not want to become a doctor is faced with the issue of being honest with herself or following the path that has been laid out for her. Mei’s passion is dance specifically Chinese dance. Mei feels that she needs to hide this part of her because her parents feel that it is a waste of her time. Mei with the support of some of her friends sees that to be happy she needs to find her own way.

I love how the Taiwanese culture is woven throughout the story. The author also made sure to look at “other” families and even show that there are differences and that the culture and how things are handled are not all the same.  I always like learning more about other cultures and in this story, you really get to see how culture and being one’s self can clash. There is a lot of growth in this story not just with Mei but also with her mother who has to learn that she may not understand what is best for her daughter and that the hardest thing is letting her daughter choose her own road and not knowing the outcome.

As a whole, this story is very cute and I really enjoyed it.

My Rating: /5

4 Stars

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Subscription box

Unbox with me: FairyLoot May 2018

I splurge a little and got a few subscription boxes.  After hearing May’s theme Save the Kingdom I could not help myself. I have been looking at these boxes for a long time the shipping is what has stopped me from purchasing one in the past. I am not a Fairyloot affiliate I paid for this box myself.

FairyLoot is a monthly book subscription box that focuses on Young Adult fantasy literature. In every single one of our monthly boxes, you will receive a brand new Young Adult fantasy novel, 5-6 exclusive bookish goodies related to the theme of the box and other items sourced directly from the author.

I believe most of the items are exclusively made for Fairyloot and cannot be purchased separately.

On to the Unboxing!

In the May Fairyloot box I received:

Bonus Items:

  • Legendary Tarot Card
  • Smoke in the Sun Bookmark

Then I got to the book. I love that it was in its own bag! No accidentaly spoiling yourself here.

May FL - Book in bag

And the book is…

May FL - Onyx book letter plate

Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett along with the book you get a letter and signed bookplate from the author.  Also, this book has sprayed pages!

They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king years ago. Now Kate lives as an outcast, clinging to the fringes of society as a member of the Relay, the imperial courier service. Only those most skilled in riding and bow hunting ride for the Relay; and only the fastest survive, for when dark falls, the nightdrakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: she is a wilder, born with magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals. But it’s this magic that she needs to keep hidden, as being a wilder is forbidden, punishable by death or exile. And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by nightdrakes in broad daylight—the only survivor her childhood friend, her first love, the boy she swore to forget, the boy who broke her heart.

The high king’s second son, Corwin Tormane, never asked to lead. Even as he waits for the uror—the once-in-a-generation ritual to decide which of the king’s children will succeed him—he knows it’s always been his brother who will assume the throne. And that’s fine by him. He’d rather spend his days away from the palace, away from the sight of his father, broken with sickness from the attempt on his life. But the peacekeeping tour Corwin is on has given him too much time to reflect upon the night he saved his father’s life—the night he condemned the would-be killer to death and lost the girl he loved. Which is why he takes it on himself to investigate rumors of unrest in one of the remote city-states, only for his caravan to be attacked—and for him to be saved by Kate.

With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin have to put the past behind them. The threat of drakes who attack in the daylight is only the beginning of a darker menace stirring in the kingdom—one whose origins have dire implications for Kate’s father’s attack upon the king and will thrust them into the middle of a brewing civil war in the kingdom of Rime.

May FL - full unboxing

So that is my May’s Fairyloot Unboxing.  I am really happy with this box! If I could afford to get these more I would but since they ship out of the UK shipping was $18. Do I think it was worth it YES! This has to be my favorite box I have ever opened. If another box catches my attention like this one did I may have to do it again.

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Subscription box

Unbox with me: Owlcrate May 2018

I splurge a little and got a few subscription boxes.  After hearing May’s theme was Fight Like A Girl I could not help myself.  I am not an Owlcrate affiliate I paid for this box myself.

Owlcrate is a young adult book subscription box. Every box includes a brand new young adult novel, 3-5 high-quality bookish items, as well as exclusive goodies from the author! Every box has a creative theme that ties everything together.

I believe all of the items are exclusively made for Owlcrate and cannot be purchased separately.

On to the Unboxing!

In the May Owlcrate box, I received:

May OC - Catching Stars

  • Catching Stars by Cayla Keenan with an exclusive cover from Oftomes Publishing

And the book is:

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young this book is signed and the cover is exclusive!  We also received a letter from the author and a pin.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield — her brother, fighting with the enemy — the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

May OC - Full Unboxing

So that is my May’s Owlcrate Unboxing.  I am really happy with this box!

If you would like to get an Owlcrate Box please use my Referral Link.  If three people use my link I get a free box! This is there referral program that is open to anyone who has previously purchased a box.

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TBR

WWW Wednesday May 23, 2018

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words where you answer three fixed questions.

The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So After Monday’s post, I thought I would give an update.

What are you currently reading?

Grayghost by Tamara Grantham

Clockwork Planet by Yuu Kamiya and Tsubaki Himana

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi


What did you recently finish reading?

Air Awakens by Elise Kova

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray


What do you think you’ll read next?

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Soulless by Gail Carriger

 

How is your reading going this week?  I absolutely loved Air Awakens and cannot wait until Friday to go and pick up the second book Falling Fire.

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TBR

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? May 21, 2018

It's Monday What are you reading.pngGood Morning!

It’s the start of another week.  It’s Monday! What are you Reading is hosted by Kathryn from Book Date, this is a weekly event to share what we’ve read in the past week and what we hope to read, plus whatever else comes to mind.

This week I have pulled out all of the books that I have started.  Sadly I am going to list them all so that I can see what I actually started with. I hope to finish at least one of these books within the week.  It’s not that I don’t like them I just can find ‘that’ book that I want to read right now and over the last few weeks this stack is just getting bigger. I blame this partly on the amount of stress that I have right now and not finding a world that can just keep me sucked in for a length of time. Being able to list them in this post will help me be able to look back and see how long they have been sitting here not finished. I have also made sure all of these books are on my Goodreads shelf so as I read them I can feel accomplished when I update that page count.

Last Weeks Books:

Tempests and Slaughter
Tempests and Slaughter
 by Tamora Pierce
4 Stars

Arram Draper is a boy on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting danger. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.

Current Reads:

Children of Blood and Bone.png
Children of Blood and Bone
 by Tomi Adeyemi

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

Lair of Dreams
Lair of Dreams 
by Libba Bray

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. With her uncanny ability to read people’s secrets, she’s become a media darling, earning the title “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” Everyone’s in love with the city’s newest It Girl…everyone except the other Diviners.

Piano-playing Henry DuBois and Chinatown resident Ling Chan are two Diviners struggling to keep their powers a secret—for they can walk in dreams. And while Evie is living the high life, victims of a mysterious sleeping sickness are turning up across New York City.

As Henry searches for a lost love and Ling strives to succeed in a world that shuns her, a malevolent force infects their dreams. And at the edges of it all lurks a man in a stovepipe hat who has plans that extend farther than anyone can guess…As the sickness spreads, can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld to save the city?

In this heart-stopping sequel to The Diviners, Printz Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray takes readers deeper into the mystical underbelly of New York City.

Air Awakens
Air Awakens
 by Elise Kova

A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.

The Poetry of WB Yeats

The Poetry of WB Yeats

The Irish poet William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was a leading figure of early 20th-century literature. In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature and he drew his inspiration from the Irish nationalist movement.

 

 

 

 

The Poetry of Emily Dickinson
The Poetry of Emily Dickinson

Sensitive and extraordinary, thoughtful yet emotional, Emily Dickinson’s unique poems are a treasure not to be missed. Defying the conventions of the time, they were truly innovative. Featuring meditations on everyday life, love, nature, and society, the genius of her creativity is hard to ignore.

Short, yet keenly observed, her poems pack a powerful punch. This carefully chosen selection covers a range of her most loved verses and brings you face to face with the private world of one of America’s greatest poets.

 

The Colour Of Magic
The Colour Of Magic
 by Terry Pratchett

In the beginning, there was…a turtle.

Somewhere on the frontier between thought and reality exists the Discworld, a parallel time and place which might sound and smell very much like our own, but which looks completely different. Particularly as it’s carried though space on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown). It plays by different rules.

But then, some things are the same everywhere. The Disc’s very existence is about to be threatened by a strange new blight: the world’s first tourist, upon whose survival rests the peace and prosperity of the land. Unfortunately, the person charged with maintaining that survival in the face of robbers, mercenaries and, well, Death, is a spectacularly inept wizard…

I Was Anastasia.png
I Was Anastasia
 by Ariel Lawhon

Russia, July 17, 1918, Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed.

Germany, February 17, 1920, A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal in Berlin. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia.

Her detractors, convinced that the young woman is only after the immense Romanov fortune, insist on calling her by a different name: Anna Anderson.

As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre, old enemies and new threats are awakened.

Grayghost
Grayghost
 by Tamara Grantham

It’s been four years since Olive Kennedy sealed the portals between Earth and Faythander. Four years that she’s been living on Earth, working as a consultant to the Houston PD. It helps keep her mind off other things—like being separated from her husband and her dragon king stepfather.

Her ex, Brent Sanchez, works with her on the police force and helps her solve crimes. His friendship is a comfort—but also a reminder of what she’s missing. Everything changes when Olive discovers a broken mirror at a murder scene. It contains magic, and although it shouldn’t exist, it could be used as a portal to Faythander. Dark forces are at work, and the one person she wants by her side to help her is literally a world away. Olive will stop at nothing to solve the murder and return to the only place she calls home.

Edgar Allan Poe The Strange Man Standing
Edgar Allan Poe: The Strange Man Standing Deep in the Shadows by Charlotte Montague

Poe is viewed as the ultimate doomed romantic whose last days are shrouded in sordid mystery. His life was a disaster, but his achievements in writing are amazing. He is widely recognized as father of the modern short story, inventor of the detective story and the master of horror.

150 years after his death, Charlotte Montague has written a fascinating account of Poe’s life and times. In the process, she uncovers a strange man, standing deep in the shadows, whose macabre stories and twisted plots changed literature forever.

So there is my list. Here is to hoping I finish at least one off of this list.

What are your reading plans this week?

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Reviews

Review: The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner

The Last Queen
The Last Queen

by C.W. Gortner

Synopsis
In this stunning novel, C. W. Gortner brings to life Juana of Castile, the third child of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand of Spain, who would become the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit her country’s throne. Along the way, Gortner takes the reader from the somber majesty of Spain to the glittering and lethal courts of Flanders, France, and Tudor England.

Born amid her parents’ ruthless struggle to unify and strengthen their kingdom, Juana, at the age of sixteen, is sent to wed Philip, heir to the Habsburg Empire. Juana finds unexpected love and passion with her dashing young husband, and at first, she is content with her children and her married life. But when tragedy strikes and she becomes heir to the Spanish throne, Juana finds herself plunged into a battle for power against her husband that grows to involve the major monarchs of Europe. Besieged by foes on all sides, Juana vows to secure her crown and save Spain from ruin, even if it costs her everything.

What I thought

The Last Queen is a historical fiction novel based on the life of Juana of Castile. Juana was the third child of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand of Spain. In this book Juana’s story beings when she is 13 years old during the fall of Granada. At 16 Juana was married off to Philip of the Habsburg empire. What seemed to begin as a fairy tale marriage turned very tragic as tragedy struck Juana’s family and Philip became more power hungry. With each tragedy, Juana moved higher in the line of succession for both Castile and Aragon.

As Philip saw what he thought was his chance to rule the Spanish empire he began declaring Juana as insane and began locking her up to keep others from seeing her.  Philip believed that this would then leave the Spanish throne to him as her husband. Due to this ploy, Juana ends up spending more than 40 years in imprisonment. First by her husband, then her father and lastly her son.  No matter what happened Juana never abdicated her throne.

In my personal opinion, Juana could have ruled her kingdom if she would have been allowed to. Yes, she suffered from depression but once you look at how many people she lost, then to be locked up by those that once cared for her just to take her power.  I think given the chance and not being locked up she would have ruled as well as her mother had. But then again this is only my opinion.

C.W. Gortner did a wonderful job telling Juana’s story. He kept to as many facts as he could find and for that, I truly appreciate this story. I see myself picking up another of his books in the future.

My Rating: /5

5 Stars

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Uncategorized

General Life and bookish update

General Life Update:

As of yesterday, Jason is not going to have to have surgery on his shoulders. There may be a minor surgery in the future but that is still up in the air. He is healing but still isn’t supposed to lift more than a coffee cup. My brother has been in the hospital for 3 weeks now and they hope to do his gallbladder surgery today. In three weeks we have had to have a gallstone removed, then repair the damage it did, then both of his lungs have collapsed, not at the same time, but still. Jamie is wrapping up her last year of middle school and as so there are multiple things over the next two weeks.

I hate to ask but any prayers / positive thought or whatever you can send this way would be appreciated.

Book-related Update:

So I have learned a few things: 1) being a very organized person can only help you so much, 2) being able to schedule future posts is amazing, and 3) TBR’s just don’t work for me. No matter how organized I am it does not eliminate stress. If you have read above you have an idea of the personal stress I have so I do not need to add additional stress to things which leads me to the third point. Trying to keep to a TBR is incredibly stressful to me because I am a mood reader.  So I have found myself at odds more than once stuck between what I want to read and what I feel that I have to read.  The idea of the yearly TBR and the seasonal TBR are not so bad but these past few months setting up a monthly TBR’s and trying to stick to them caused me so much unnecessary stress.

So it makes sense if it causes you stress don’t do it right?  So in walks anxiety and the feeling that I will be letting someone down if I do not stick to what I said I would do. I do know how irrational that sounds but the idea of failing anything causes me most of my anxiety. So as of today (Tuesday, May 15, 2018), I am throwing my TBR out the window and I will not be posting one in the foreseeable future. Maybe down the road, I will try it again, you never know what will happen, but as of right now I am eliminating this one stressor.

If you have read to the end of this thank you!  It may not seem like much but at least one random person out there cares enough to read this thing through.

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