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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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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: 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/

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June TBR

So I (barely) managed to finish Paper Towns by John Green and ermmm… it wasn’t my cup of tea. I don’t know whether it was reading that book in the current climate that made it feel especially redundant for me, but more on that in my review that will be up soon! This is my first time back with a TBR in a while so I don’t know if I’ll manage to stick to the short list of books below. But, I also needed to give myself some structure to the books I’m going to read otherwise I already know I’ll fall into a slump!

An Anti-Racist Reading List: 20 Highly Rated Nonfiction Books by Black Authors can be found on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/1873-an-anti-racist-reading-list-20-highly-rated-nonfiction-books-by-black-a?int=Soapbox_2020_Jun&int_sub=Blog_1873) , on this blog however I wanted to spotlight books by black authors from a variety of genres!

  1. The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed undefined

Los Angeles, 1992

Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of high school 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.

But everything changes one afternoon in April, when four police 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.

2. The Deep Blue Between by Ayesha Harruna Attah

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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?

A sweeping adventure with richly evocative historical settings, The Deep Blue Between is a moving story of the bonds that can endure even the most dramatic change.

3. When Life Gives You Mangoes by Kereen Getten

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Nothing much happens in Sycamore, the small village where Clara lives – at least, that’s how it looks. She loves eating ripe mangoes fallen from trees, running outside in the rainy season and escaping to her secret hideout with her best friend Gaynah. There’s only one problem – she can’t remember anything that happened last summer.

When a quirky girl called Rudy arrives from England, everything starts to change. Gaynah stops acting like a best friend, while Rudy and Clara roam across the island and uncover an old family secret. As the summer reaches its peak and the island storms begin, Clara’s memory starts to return and she must finally face the truth of what happened last year.

4. Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

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It’s 200 years since Cinderella found her prince … but the fairytale is over.

Sophia knows the story though, off by heart. Because every girl has to recite it daily, from when she’s tiny until the night she’s sent to the royal ball for choosing. And every girl knows that she has only one chance. For the lives of those not chosen by a man at the ball … are forfeit.

But Sophia doesn’t want to be chosen. She doesn’t want to go to the ball at all. Not when she’s afraid the girl she loves might be chosen too.

Pushed beyond breaking by a society that denies everything she is, Sophia sets out on a journey that will remake her world … into one where SHE gets to choose.

5. Stay with Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀

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Yejide and Akin have been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected Akin to take several wives, he and Yejide have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage–after consulting fertility doctors and healers, trying strange teas and unlikely cures–Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time–until her family arrives on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin’s second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant, which, finally, she does–but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine. An electrifying novel of enormous emotional power, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.

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A New Mission

Welp… It has almost been a year since my last post… I really thought last time was the one that would get me back on track? I would like to say I’m back for good but honestly, who knows? I’ve officially finished all my exams of my final year at university so that’s not an excuse I can use anymore! I find it really hard to enjoy reading during the school year, it’s something about expending so much energy that in my free time I . just . want . easy . entertainment… Something I can mindlessly get lost in and so, my go to has been Netflix. Since this is a book blog, I felt like if I wasn’t reading then there really wasn’t much to post about! Would it be another blog post if I didn’t have another useless ramble at the beginning :).

Lockdown and officially being done with school has given me so much time that it’s almost overwhelming, so I decided to give myself a goal! I’ve been on a somewhat(?) successful book-buying ban for the past 2 years, only caving in to buy 2 or three books every few months. So I want to embark on the daunting journey that is reading most books on my shelf before purchasing anymore! This… may take a while hence the *most* books to give myself some leeway :). The first book I’ve decided to start with PaperTowns by John Green! I’ve had three John Green books (An Abundance of Katherines, PaperTowns and Looking for Alaska) on my shelf for literally years. A review should be up as soon!

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Review: Everything I Never Told You

I consider myself an adrenaline junky when it comes to books. Maybe because in real life I’m such a subdued human being that when I read I prefer to live vicariously through characters doing crazy stuff. That’s one of the main reasons I tend to avoid contemporary/mystery books unless they REALLY stand out to me. A few months ago a friend recommended to me Celeste Ng as an author, it was around the time where the hype for Little Fires Everywhere was crazy. Anytime I get a book recommendation I 100% always at least check the book out online, so when I found Everything I Never Told You( if I keep referring to this book by its’ full name by hands will actually cramp so let’s use EINTY for now :’)) and Little Fires Everywhere on Amazon for a reasonable price… YUP I started reading EINTY the next day.

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Title: Everything I Never Told You

Authors : Celeste Ng

Length:292

Source: Purchased

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.

So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.

A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

Although it took me a wHILEEE to get through this book, I enjoyed it to some extent. We follow the story of a teenager who suddenly goes missing and although her parents had thought she was completely happy, throughout this book we discover the struggles she really went through. A lot of books depicting teen angst tend to be (As expected) about trivial nonsense, like does jack from class 3B really like me? Or Will I ever fit into this school and be one of the popular girls? Of course I’m not saying that ALL books depict this, but a majority do… So when I read through the concerns that this teenager had, and the immense pressure she received from her parents as well as trying to fit in as a Chinese-American I really found myself respecting her as a character. Seldom is a book written after a main tragedy, so it was really interesting to read about how these different characters had their own coping mechanisms and seeing some of these actually reflected in myself.

It’s no spoiler that the ‘main character’ dies, that literally happens within the first few pages, but whilst getting to know each character and becoming closer with the family I did feel somewhat invested… The multiple perspectives really were what kept this story alive, reading such an intense story got overwhelming at certain points so having that change of viewpoint was refreshing. I will say though that at points I really just wanted to put the book down. Especially at around 2/3 of the way through, there weren’t many developments and the story kind of plataued to the point where it was just draining. The only thing that kept me interested was finding out how Lydia actually died…

I would recommend this for readers who are looking for a change of pace to their current reads, it’s an intense read but one with relatable characters that are well developed and an easy to read writing style! Yet to read Little Fires Everywhere, so if you’ve read it let me know in the comments what you thought!