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Accepting New Manuscripts

I am accepting 2-3 manuscripts to beta-read for free this month if you’re interested email me with the details outlined in my services page!

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July TBR – and a few updates!

I actually managed to read four book in June?? Which to me is mind-blowing since I have been in a huge reading slump for the better part of this year! Rather than posting a wrap-up where I’ll essentially be repeating myself here are the books I read last month and the links to their reviews:

The Deep Blue Between by Ayesha Harruna Attah

Cinderella is Dead by Kalyan Bayron

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

When Life Gives You Mangos by Karen Getten

I currently have two fiction books I plan to read this month and they are:

Take a Hint Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

The reason I have a relatively short fiction TBR is because this month I also plan on focusing on some non-fiction reads that I have started previously but ultimately ended up putting down. With non-fiction books I can almost NEVER read them in one sitting, so I usually read a chapter every few days. I’ve found that if my mind is already occupied with another book I’m reading I tend to just never pick up anything else! The non-fiction book I am currently working through is The Multi-Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon! I’ve always been fascinated by the prospect of being my own boss, simply because of the flexibility that comes with this. This book is essentially a guide on how to turn side hustles into different income streams.

In the past I’ve really strayed away from reading such books, simply because a lot of them tend to be gimmicky with taglines like ‘how to be a millionaire in 2 years’ or ‘Work 2 hours a day and earn $Xthousand. I find that these types of books are a) selling unrealistic dreams to the reader b) often times readers try to directly imitate the factors and habits that have lead someone else to become ‘successful’ and these may not necessarily work for you. There’s this idea that these habits are a one size fits all with these kind of books and that just doesn’t sit well with me.

Well… is it another post if I haven’t side-tracked 45,000 times :)?????

I’ve really been interested in productivity and realistic habits/things I can do to work towards achieving my goals. I had considered creating an entirely separate blog for this but honestly I have trouble keeping up with one let alone two :). So, I will be uploading some productivity-related posts on here from time to time!

Let me know in the comments what some of your anticipated reads are this month!

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Review : When Life Gives You Mangos By Karen Getten

I received a copy of this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! This title comes out 15 September 2020.

I am person who loves reminiscing about how carefree I was when I was younger and all the shenanigans I used to get up to! Sometimes I’m really tempted to pick up middle-grade novels just to relive or be back in a time where my biggest concern was what has mum made for lunch? (Which by the way I still do that now but moving on…)

This started off as such a light read about a young girl who has been living in this beautiful island all her life and we’re slowly introduced to all the characters. We’re introduced to Gaynah her closest friend and their little hideout, and we slowly explore the island through their adventures.

As we read through the story we get to know about our main character Clara and her loving for surfing, and that after some traumatic incident last year at the beach (which she can’t remember) she’s developed this phobia of the sea. This book had a very elegant way of portraying relationships and betrayals such that as a 22 (almost 23 ) year old I found myself connecting with Clara and empathising with her. This story is about betrayal, trauma, growth and while older readers may find the ending predictable I definitely feel like this is a book that everyone can escape into and enjoy!

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Annotating Books?

I’ve been trying to post at least once a week and I feel like a way to be able to do that is to not allow myself to upload shorter posts! Since I’m interested in languages I may also upload language learning posts in the future!

Today’s short topic is annotating books! I think I’ve made a post about this in the past, but I’ve always been absolutely against doing anything to my book! Even if it was just adding sticky markers, it was a NO. Recently I’ve been reading a lot more on the Kindle app so I can annotate without feeling like I am committing a treacherous crime! After trying this for a few books that I’ve read I realised annotating books is just not for me and here are the reasons why:

  1. After finishing the book, I completely lose track of the emotions I felt when I first made that comment/note. So I end up looking back through my annotations (especially when writing a review) and feeling absolutely nothing?
  2. My reviews tend to be lengthy anyway, and this is just me writing based on my general opinion of the book and what I remembered. With annotations I ended up writing reviews that were essentially long essays and NOBODY has the time to read those 😬.

I would like to upload more discussion posts, I love interacting with people in the comments! So how do you feel about annotating books? Maybe I’m doing it wrong? Let me know in the comments!

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Review: The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The Black Kids comes out in 4th August 2020!

I always like to start by giving the synopsis before I head into my review, as someone who’s been doing this for a minute summarising stories is a skill I am yet to master!

Los Angeles, 1992

Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of senior year and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. They can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer.

Everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids.

As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family façade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson.

With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?

First of all, after finishing this book I found out that it was a debut novel?!!?!? I think it’s definitely one of the strongest debut novels I’ve ever read. This book follows the story of Ashley Bennett who comes from a wealthy family and has lived for the most part a sheltered life. Her parents worked extremely hard to provide this life for her but also believed that their children should not have to face the same struggles they did. As much as Ashley had been curious about her parents history and their story her parents have gone out of their way to avoid the topic in the hopes that they can keep their daughter in her protective bubble for as long as possible. But the sad reality is Black children, teenagers no matter how wealthy they are, what neighbourhood they live in, are forced to mature way earlier than anyone should. The author did an amazing job of showing this to the reader rather than just telling them, through Ashley Bennetts experiences and through other characters in the story.

The harrowing thing is that whilst reading this you realise just how cyclical the fight for injustice is. Although this story is set in 1992 following the brutal beating of Rodney King by the police and LA riots, it could not be more relevant to the current climate. It really makes the reader reflect on why in GODS green earth we still have to fight for BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS and why black people are still facing the same injustices they were facing 10, 20 , 30 , 400 years ago?

Before I get toooooo carried away I will try to keep this a book review rather than delve into this topic since this is what you came for! One thing that I really REALLY loved about this book is that there were no ‘side’ characters. I don’t know whether this is just me but I am so sick of books that have two main characters they solely focus on and then introduce a string of stand in side characters that are a) PLAIN… SO PLAIN b) are not developed c) literally have no impact on the story or the plot. In this book literally every character is given their due development, you learn about all of her friends stories’ all of their fears and weaknesses, even the neighbours are given more description than most side characters in other books. AND THIS IS WHAT MAKES THEM AND THE WHOLE STORY MORE RELATABLE.

I highly recommend this to pretty much anyone. I feel like it’s a book that really developed and focused on its characters which was the reason I was so immersed from beginning to end!

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Review: Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This story comes out in 6th August 2020!

Here’s the synopsis:

It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.

Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . .

This was probably one of my most anticipated reads of this month and I think it lived up to the hype! This story took on a very unique and unconventional twist from the Disney film we all know! Before this I wasn’t aware that a) this story has many variations with earlier versions were found in Greece, China and then the story was also later adapted in Italy and the more recent and popular version emerging from France which is where this story is based! The second thing this book brought to my attention was how different the Disney story I grew up watching was from the actual original story and just how dark the original story actually is! If you’re interested here’s a post about some of the differences between an earlier adaptation and the Disney version: 9 Things About The Original Brothers Grimm Cinderella Story That Are Nothing Like The Disney Version.

I’ve seen this book described as queer black girls overthrowing the patriarchy and that’s pretty much exactly what the story is! We follow the story of Sophia who is about to attend her first annual ball, unlike the magical fantastical balls we’re accustomed to, all girls of age in Lille are required by law to attend this ball. At this event men from the city are encourage (but not forced) to attend where they essentially get to pick their wives. Girls that are not chosen in the first ball, have the chance to attend two more before they are forfeited, some go to work in factories and some are never heard from ever again…

What I loved about this book was the pacing, rather than have back to back intense scenes for chapters and then info-dump the reader with dense scenes for the next chapters there was almost a perfect balance. I literally read through this in 2 days? As someone who isn’t a fast reader that says a lot! The characters are likeable and are well developed throughout the story and so are the relationships. As a fantasy reader the magical system could’ve been improved, there was very little focus on developing the basis for the some of the magic in this story. A lot of emphasis was put on establishing this alternate history of a story we’re all familiar with which was also necessary. Having said that I did feel like some of the magical aspects were just glossed over.

I’m not sure if this is a stand alone book or a series, but I would definitely be interested in reading more! If you’re looking for a very interesting take on a classic I highly recommend you give this a try!

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Review: The Deep Blue Between by Ayesha Harruna Attah

After coming across this book on Netgalley I was really intrigued by the synopsis. The past few years (when I’ve managed to read a book or two) I’ve been strictly reading fantasy so in a hopes to explore other genres I requested this book.

I received a free copy of this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Twin sisters Hassana and Husseina’s home is in ruins after a brutal raid. But this is not the end but the beginning of their story, one that will take them to unfamiliar cities and cultures, where they will forge new families, ward off dangers and truly begin to know themselves.
As the twins pursue separate paths in Brazil and the Gold Coast of West Africa, they remain connected through shared dreams of water. But will their fates ever draw them back together?

I always like to start my reviews by telling you my overall opinion of the book, I feel like sometimes I can ramble and it gets difficult to discern whether I actually enjoyed the book or not! Here’s my verdict *drum roll*… I really enjoyed it!

Essentially the story follow the lives of these twins after they were separated, and the book is told in alternating chapters from the perspective of twins. I felt like this was extremely useful especially because for the majority of this book both these characters lived in very different places. The author spent enough time developing both characters and the various places they called home throughout this book so (for the most part) I didn’t feel lost or confused. Throughout this book we travel through these characters to Brazil and West Africa, and because of the POV style I was able to compartmentalise these two places and associate Brazil with Husseina and West Africa with Hassana. Whilst reading about these areas the author spared no details in describing the sights, smells and engaging all my senses BUT at a point it did get overwhelming. I sometimes found myself trying to absorb and imagine the her surroundings but also keep up with the thoughts of the character. So at certain points I did feel overwhelmed and to be honest a few too many times I almost zoned out.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where twins were the main characters and so throughout this story you really get to see the role nurture plays in developing our personalities. We see these characters although spending a majority of their time thinking about and looking for each other, slowly drift apart. Slowly becoming comfortable in their independence and accustomed to their new lives, you can see them almost hope that they don’t find each other by the end.

Husseina always grew up in her twin sisters’ shadow, she was always the quieter, shy twin so when she embarks on her own journey she slowly finds herself by embracing Candomblé. I had never heard of this religion or knew anything about its roots but the author did an amazing job of striking a balance between info-dumping content at the reader and giving them enough background so that they can follow the story!

The book also explored the effects of British colonisation at that time and how the African community in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil after the official end of slavery in 1888, were slowly establishing and preserving their culture through mosques, through Candomblé temples (terreiro’s) and the constant persecution followers of Candomblé faced.

I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants a change of pace, or is looking for a thought-provoking read. If you enjoy reading about journeys of self-discovery, REALISTIC character development, or just a beautiful writing style this is definitely worth checking out!

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Beta-Reading Promotion!

For a limited time I am offering 30% off my beta-reading services for my June/July slots! More info is in my services page!

Side note: I have finished reading The Deep Blue Between and the review should be in on Wednesday!

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Review: Paper Towns by John Green

About a week ago I held a poll on my Instagram asking which of the following John Green books (that I currently own) people recommend I read! The options were the following:

  1. An Abundance of Katherines
  2. Paper Towns
  3. Looking for Alaska

The first and only John Green book that I had read was The Fault in Our Stars years and years ago when the film came out! I really enjoyed reading it (at the time) and so on my mission to read all the books I currently own, I thought I would tackle the three John Green books that I own.

The synopsis:

Who is the real Margo?

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew…

Here’s what I thought:

Let me start by saying that erm… well I just didn’t like the book. I could literally list a million reasons why but I will (try) to limit myself to the following points:

  • I don’t know if I should have a spoiler alert for this, but in the first ~5 pages the two main characters, Margo Roth Spiegelman and Quentin Jacobsen, at the age of NINE, come across a dead body in their local park. Now, this could have been a very traumatic experience for them. Here’s what actually happened. Margo ends up becoming very curious about this dead body so, at the age of NINE, I repeat for clarity NINE!! she roams around town to find the home of this dead person ALONE and proceeds to ask questions to the police about the circumstances of his death. FIRST OF ALL I don’t know about your parents but mine did not let me out the front door alone at NINE years old, so the fact that this child is walking around and entering a strangers house, for me, is unfathomable. But it gets better because, she ends up visiting the neighbour of the dead person and proceeds to ask questions about his death, AND the neighbour answers her???!??!?! If a CHILD was roaming around essentially a crime scene ALONE my first thought would be a. Where are you parents? b. Probably alerting the police next door that there’s a child ALONE knocking on random strangers’ door and we should probably find her parents????!??!?!? From this first scene alone I had a general feeling that I probably wouldn’t enjoy it.
  • SPOILER ALERT:
  • Throughout the whole story our main quest is to find Margo after she gone missing. Except we know little to nothing about her apart from her ridiculous shenanigans at the very beginning of the story and the ridiculous 11/12 task journey she randomly roped Quentin into that one night. If I don’t know much about her character and neither does the main character Quentin, who is the POV throughout this book why would I care for this quest at all? You could argue that you discover who Margo is the same time that Quentin does and that’s the point of the story skdjiuwbref nonsense. But I also didn’t care for Quentin. Aside from being obsessed with his mysterious neighbour Margo he literally has no personality traits, hobbies etc. that the reader discovers throughout the book. He is essentially a cardboard character set up to be infatuated with Margo and to reveal the clues to the reader.
  • SPOILER ALERT: So I finally get to the end of this excruciating journey to find that after we’ve spent roughly 260 pages trying to find MARGO ROTH SPIEGELMAN, guess what… It turns out she never wanted to be found… She just wanted to run away and ALL those clues that she left were not left for Quentin but Quentin had just come across them by chance. I’m sorry? Huh?

Had I read this book when I was younger would I have enjoyed it more, maybe? Actually I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed it more but maybe hated it less? Reading this book in this current climate also made is sooo redundant but at the same time I knew that if I stopped reading it I would NEVER go back to it. Would I recommend it to anyone? Probably not. I hope that this review wasn’t too much of a rant and that I at least had some coherent points! I am currently reading the The Deep Blue Between by Ayesha Harruna Attah and shall have my review posted up next week!

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#AMPLIFYMELANATEDVOICES – READ BOOKS WRITTEN BY BLACK AUTHORS

#AMPLIFYMELANATEDVOICES – READ BOOKS WRITTEN BY BLACK AUTHORS

#AMPLIFYMELANATEDVOICES – READ BOOKS WRITTEN BY BLACK AUTHORS
— Read on daniellevanderstock.home.blog/2020/06/03/blacklivesmatter-read-books-by-black-authors/