Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is a Young Adult contemporary that had taken the world by storm since it’s debut in 2017. It has been nominated several times for awards, and won a lot of them. It’s become a movie, and is being taught in schools. Multiple people have tried to get it banned, and it’s been on my radar since the book deal was announced. It took me this long to read it for no good reason other than I knew it was going to be sad and good and put it off for a long time. But finally I’ve read it and I’m so glad I have. 

The Hate U Give follows Starr, a sixteen year old girl who lives in the ghetto but goes to a mostly white prep school. One day she witnesses her friend gets murdered by the police, and the story follows the fall out from that. Throughout the novel, Starr struggles to find out her place in the world and to find her voice even when situations are scary.

It’s a beautifully written book. All of the characters are well rounded, and the world is fleshed out so that Garden Heights feels just like the real world. The family dynamics are great, and the issues the book tackles are so important and well talked about. 

This book is wonderful on its own, but what makes it so special is the discussions that can be had when reading it with other people. I read this with my aunt, who has sided with the police in the past, and we had the calmest discussion about racism and police brutality, which honestly shocked me. She said it really opened her eyes, and I love this book for that.

All in all, this is not over-hyped.  It’s a must read for everyone, and I’m so glad that schools are teaching it. 

5 stars

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Book Recommendations, Uncategorized

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

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There’s a little witch in all of us.

I first knew Practical Magic as a movie first even though I’ve never watched it. Then I saw this on a list of witch books, and knew I needed to read it this Halloween season (yes this was supposed to be up five days ago don’t judge). For those who don’t know, Practical Magic is a magical realism romance book that follows two generations of women.

Sally and Gillion are sisters who are sent to live with their aunts after their parents died. Their aunts are the neighborhood witches that the neighborhood is afraid of. It follows their growth into adults then Sally’s children when they are teenagers.

The writing is simply beautiful. So often I felt like nothing was going on, but I remember thinking that I didn’t even care because of the way Hoffman wrote.

The pacing still is a problem for me, and what makes it not a five star read. When it picked up I was so relieved, and then suddenly, it ended and I was sad cause I wanted more.

The characters were so fleshed out except for the aunts. I didn’t understand why there was a prequel all about them until the end when they are finally given screen time. That’s when I understood that that was the first time The girls saw the aunts for who they are, and that I really needed to read the prequel. 

I still haven’t seen the movie, but I’m so glad I choose to read this book. It has the perfect atmosphere for Halloween without being spooky for those who get scared easily. It satisfied my craving for witches as well.

4 stars 

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

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My mother dips her fingers in a bowl of white clay. She covers my face with it, blows on it to help it dry quickly. Her breath is sweet like rose punch. Then comes the coal. She traces the black of bone around my eyes, down my nose, my lips, my cheeks. We wear the face of the dead so the waking spirits feel at home.

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova is the first book in a young adult fantasy trilogy. It follows Alejandra a sixteen year old bruja who has been hiding that she has come into her powers for years. I think that’s all that’s needed going into the story. I knew a lot more and so I knew what was happening for the first fifty or more pages, and it slowed the story down a lot. 

This is an own voices book regarding the Latinx representation. There is also the bisexual love triangle. Rishi is Indian. Diversity like this always elevates a book in my opinion. It makes it feel more real.

The world that Córdova creates is rich and complex. I particularly liked the excerpts from books in their world at the beginning of every chapter. The magic was fun, the belief system felt so real, and I loved exploring Los Lagos with the characters.

The characters themselves were great as well. I loved watching Alejandra grow into herself. I loved her love for her family. Rishi, her best friend, was a fun addition. I always loved her dialogue. Nova, her guide that she’s not sure she trusts, was perhaps the most fleshed out of the main characters. The love triangle between the three wasn’t the most compelling of all time, but it didn’t subtract from the story at all.

Some parts felt a little rushed. Particularly the action and some of the emotional bits. The guilt of Alejandra and the growth of how she felt about her magic felt very repeated, especially at the end. If they would have balanced that out a little more then I think this would have been a complete five star read for me. 

4 stars

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

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There is no escape if love is not there.

I must say The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare took me by surprise. It is a young adult historical about a girl named Kit as she moves from Barbados to Connecticut to live with her aunt and her family after her grandfather passes away. It’s a culture shock from simply how the country is to the way her mother’s sister’s family lives. They are Puritans, and the way Kit was raised was rather unconventional.

 Kit struggles with fitting in and finds friends in unlikely places. The town in general disproves of her no matter how hard she tries to fit in. Eventually, she is accused of being a witch.

I did not expect this story to be what it was. I only had it because people put it on best witch book lists which I know don’t understand at all. There is no magic in this book so that’s very misleading.

It is, however, a very good puritan book. That’s not something I read often, if at all, but I actually found myself loving Kit, her friends, and her family. Usually puritans are never relateable or in any way interesting or good people, but this book makes them so.

While not my favorite writing style, I felt it drag a little, I did enjoy the story. A lot more than I thought I would when I  figured out there was no magic. The strength of this book is the romance. I haven’t rooted so strongly for a couple in a long time.

I actually looked for a sequel, but unfortunately, there isn’t one. It’s not like the ending isn’t satisfying. I simply did not want to leave the characters.

5 stars 

Book Predictions, Book Recommendations, Uncategorized

The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch

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Only bad books have good endings.
If a book is any good, it’s ending is always bad – because you don’t want the book to end.

The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch is a middle grade mystery that could be compared to the writing style of Lemony Snicket. It details the adventure of Cassandra and Max-Ernest as they uncover a mystery of a missing magician as Pseudonymous Bosch warns the reader to stop reading lest they be in danger by learning the knowledge the book contains.

I think the writing style really elevated the book. I felt it kind of dragged on in some places, but the humor helped me forgive that. It does keep the book from being taken that seriously, but I think that might be the adult in me talking. I’m sure if I read this as a kid, the idea of these two kids and their secret mission I wasn’t suppose to know about would send my imagination running.

The two main characters are smart and cute. I loved following them and their blossoming friendship. I love that Cassandra has two grandpas as well. They are all fully developed, and their mistakes only endeared them to me more.

It was a fun, fast paced read. The plot interesting and exciting. This is only the first book in five book series which I think I will pick up in the future.

4 stars

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

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A scoop of dried rosemary goes into the bag, followed by salt. Sometimes, magic looks a lot like how my mom prepares chicken.

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson pretty much made it on my top favorite books of the year at the very first sentence. It is a young adult, paranormal, mystery following Mila Flores as she brings her best friend and two enemy’s, those were accidents, back to life for a week. She’s convinced her friend was murdered, and needs her help in order to solve it.

The writing of this book was so easy and smart and funny. I quickly sank into this world, and did not want to exit it even as I tore through the pages desperate to find out what would happen. It was gripping and the twist at the end I did not see coming.

The characters were the best part of the book in my opinion. Mila is a fat, Mexican, Wiccan who is snarky and insecure and funny, and one of my new favorite characters. I love her growth throughout the story. The female friend group that forms is great, and I came to really care for each of them.

This book talks about feminism, fatness, cultural appropriation, depression, PTSD, therapy, and I’m sure I’m forgetting some. There are two fat girls of color who talk about their town being small and white. There is an f/f couple as well.

This book should be on everyone’s radar. It’s tragically under talked about. And with it now being October, this could be a perfect book for those who like spooky vibes without things being too scary.

5 stars

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

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Deadlines just aren’t real to me until I’m staring one in the face.

I’ve been debating whether or not to review this series when I had finished it. On one hand, everyone had heard about this series. On the other hand, it’s taking me a long time to finish and multiple weeks have missed posts because I was reading of the these books. Obviously, I’ve decided to review.

The Lightning Thief is the first in this five book series following Percy Jackson. He starts off as a regular twelve-year-old who struggles in school because he has dyslexia and ADHD. He soon discovers the dad he has never known is a Greek god, and that his whole life will constantly be in danger because monsters will always be after him.

5 stars

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 You can’t give up on your family, no matter how tempting they make it.

The overarching plot is this Great Prophecy that the characters aren’t sure who it is about. Percy is obviously a good candidate.  So he has a lot of expectations and enemies before even knowing that the myths are real.

As Percy goes on his various quests, he gets more and more proficient at navigating his new world. However, his world is steadily getting more and more dangerous. He has to rise up to these new challenges every time. 

One common theme in these books is the short time frame Percy has to finish these quests. Somehow, Riordan makes these action packed books work without skimping on character development or world building. 

3 stars

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In a way, it’s nice to know that there are Greek gods out there, because you have somebody to blame when things go wrong.

The characters are definitely the shining stars of the series. Percy, Annabeth, Grover, Chiron, Sally, and so many others. They are all fully formed and complex. Even the smallest side characters. Everyone has flaws and makes mistakes, and every betrayal and redemption made me just as emotional as the one before it. 

I loved how Riordan made the gods into people. They were so annoying yet helpful yet detrimental. Like a real family.

5 stars

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Don’t feel bad, I’m usually about to die.

The writing is so easy and nice to sink into. I never had any complaints about it. The humor never skipped a beat. Even now, a couple hours after finishing the last book, I want to pick up the next series to keep the feeling of peace these books give me.

5 stars

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With great power… comes great need to take a nap. Wake me up later.

This first series was perfectly wrapped up for me. Everything ended so well, and I love knowing this isn’t the last time we see Percy or Annabeth even if they aren’t as prominent.

There are still so many books that I can read after this that I know get better and more diverse. I can’t wait to finally pick them up.

5 stars