March Wrap Up

I got through a good amount of books this month and wanted to share with you all what I got a chance to read. I’m hoping that I can get through a lot more in April with this quarantine. Each link takes you to my full review of the book on my blog, if there is no link I have yet to publish those reviews as those books have yet to be published.

A Home for Goddesses and Dogs

Last year I was able to read a lot of middle grade books that really enjoyed them so I was hoping the enjoy a lot this year as well. Unfortunately I just haven’t been reading as much physical books as I would like to and I don’t really enjoy middle grade as audiobooks. I’m glad that I picked this one up though since it seems to have taken me out of the reading slump that I had been in.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book, both the animals and the humans that were included. I really enjoy having dogs in books because I think that they bring something out of the people that I really like. I like when there is a similarity between the dog and the humans which in this case was how they were both brought in around the same time. I think that fact adds to how Lydia relates to this dog and how she views herself in this home.

Queens of Geek

This one was recommended by a fellow bibliophile on twitter and the recommendation came just in time. I love to read books about pandemics, epidemics, outbreaks, and more but right now not even those can make me happy. I feel like my anxiety has gone up and just won’t come down and my depression went right along with it but this book has made my days a little brighter. This book has made me feel like I’m not alone.

Something that really made me love this book is the LGBTQ+ representation along with the fact that they have an autistic character. I love that both of the characters bring up the challenges that they face because of their identity, it makes them so much more relatable. I think that they tackled some of the important issues regarding sexuality with one of the characters being bisexual and how her ex feels about it. I also think that the autistic representation was done well and I really enjoyed when Taylor meets another autistic girl and is overwhelmed with emotions.

Non-Binary Lives – An Anthology of Intersecting Identities

I tend to have a hard time reviewing books that are about real people’s lives because these are personal stories and how do you decide if you like them or not. I focus a lot more on the style of the book and its structure to decide how I feel rather than the content when it comes to these types of writings.

As I decided to skip the introduction and read that once I was done with all the stories I was thrilled to get a chance to read this book. I really appreciated each individual’s vulnerability in putting their story on paper for others to see. I thought it was important that each story was unique and that they were all told in different manners.

Something that did throw me off was that it was written in a way that isn’t accessible to everyone. It’s written in a way that is meant for individuals who have access to education. I think this is important to note especially for a book that others may recommend to people who are new to understanding what non-binary means. I don’t think this is a book that can be used to help educate others on non-binary matters as there were parts that I didn’t understand.

The List of Things That Will Not Change

I really enjoy when middle-grade books feature a character that acts their age and in which you can see their growth as they mature and encounter different obstacles. This was something that I felt was captured well in this book, I think it was great to see how Bea changed over time and how she recalled a lot of the big events in her life.

Something else that I enjoyed in this book was the way that emotions were captured and handled. I enjoyed the moments that Bea has with her therapist, Miriam, as it gives a great way to handle certain emotions and I think it begins to normalize therapy for those who are reading this. I like that this book addresses mental health and in a way, it addresses anxiety and normalizes worrying to a certain extent.

Something else that I really enjoyed was the way Mission not accepting his brother due to his sexuality was handled. I think the homophobia in this book was handled well and it was appropriate for the ages it is written for. It was written in a way that is realistic but also in a way that shows compassion and how you will have people who support you and those are the ones who matter.

City of Ghosts

I really enjoy getting a chance to read stories with ghosts that are friendly and have a human-like personality. I liked hearing about the adventures that Jacob and Cass are going on and the trouble that they get themselves into. I really enjoy the friendship that they have with each other and how that friendship continues even if Jacob is a ghost.

Something else that I enjoy in this book is how the adults support Cass in her friendship with Jacob and in her pursuit of ghosts. I think it was nice to see how her parents were so fascinated by the supernatural while Cass was the only one who could communicate with ghosts and they had no idea. I enjoyed all of the adults that Cass comes into contact with both in the veil and in the real world.

I also really enjoy the way that the truth unravels and how as the reader you are also learning along with Cass. I liked hearing about Cass being in the veil and her feelings while she’s in there. I think you get a good glimpse into what a teenager would feel like being in this world and how it changes her perspective on life.

There are two books that I read that I didn’t really write a review for it because it just wasn’t that good. Those books are Highfire and My Ex-Life.

2020 Challenge Update

I’m sorry I’ve been absent from my blog for a while now. I’ve just been busy with a lot of other things that have taken my attention away from this. I haven’t even been able to read as much as I have wanted to. I have wanted to give you all an update on the 2020 challenges that I’m participating in though.

For the first one I’m so close to some one lined bingos but my goal is to finish the whole sheet.

For the Read Harder Challenge 2020 by Book Riot, I’m struggling quite a bit to fulfill each area. I have 3 out of the 25 categories done.

For the GoodReads- Around the Year in 52 Books Challenge it seems to be going well. While I may not be completing one book a week I seem to be on track to finish 52 by the end of the year somehow.

PromptsDai G.
1A book with a title that doesn’t contain the letters A, T or YBloom by by Kevin Panetta & Savanna Ganucheau
2A book by an author whose last name is one syllableEverything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
3A book that you are prompted to read because of something you read in 2019 
4A book set in a place or time that you wouldn’t want to live 
5The first book in a series that you have not started 
6A book with a mode of transportation on the cover 
7A book set in the southern hemisphere 
8A book with a two-word title where the first word is “The”The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
9A book that can be read in a dayGenderQueer by Maia Kobabe
10A book that is between 400-600 pages 
11A book originally published in a year that is a prime numberQueens of Geek by Jen Wilde
12A book that is a collaboration between 2 or more people 
13A prompt from a previous Around the Year in 52 Books challenge 
14A book by an author on the Abe List of 100 Essential Female Writers 
15A book set in a global city 
16A book set in a rural or sparsely populated area 
17A book with a neurodiverse characterThe Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
18A book by an author you’ve only read once before 
19A fantasy book 
20The 20th book [on your TBR, in a series, by an author, on a list, etc.] 
21A book related to Maximilian Hell, the noted astronomer and Jesuit Priest who was born in 1720 
22A book with the major theme of survival 
23A book featuring an LGBTQIA+ character or by an LGBTQIA+ authorThe Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper
24A book with an emotion in the title 
25A book related to the arts 
26A book from the 2019 Goodreads Choice Awards 
27A history or historical fiction 
28A book by an Australian, Canadian or New Zealand author 
29An underrated book, a hidden gem or a lesser known book 
30A book from the New York Times ‘100 Notable Books’ list for any year 
31A book inspired by a leading news story 
32A book related to the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Japan 
33A book about a non-traditional familyA Home for Goddesses and Dogs by Leslie Connor
34A book from a genre or sub genre that starts with a letter in your name 
35A book with a geometric pattern or element on the coverPet by Akwaeke Emezi
36A book from your TBR/wishlist that you don’t recognize, recall putting there, or put there on a whimFar From The Tree by Robin Benway
37Two books that are related to each other as a pair of binary opposites: Book #1 
38Two books that are related to each other as a pair of binary opposites: Book #2 
39A book by an author whose real name(s) you’re not quite sure how to pronounce 
40A book with a place name in the title 
41A mysteryBloodstream by Tess Garritsen
42A book that was nominated for one of the 10 Most Coveted Literary Prizes in the World 
43A book related to one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse 
44A book related to witches 
45A book by the same author who wrote one of your best reads in 2019 or 2018 
46A book about an event or era in history taken from the Billy Joel song “We Didn’t Start the Fire” 
47A classic book you’ve always meant to read 
48A book published in 2020Lab Partners by Mora Montgomery 
49A book that fits a prompt from the list of suggestions that didn’t win 
50A book with a silhouette on the cover 
51A book with an “-ing” word in the title 
52A book related to time 
Stats12 Books Completed
23%

February TBR

I had no clue what I wanted to read for this month but I knew I wanted to read more books by Black authors as it is Black History Month. These are a few of the books that I want to prioritze this month and there’s many more not pictured.

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Pet is here to hunt a monster.
Are you brave enough to look?

There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colours and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question-How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

In their riveting and timely young adult debut, acclaimed novelist Akwaeke Emezi asks difficult questions about what choices a young person can make when the adults around them are in denial.

How to Be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters

Everyone on campus knows Remy Cameron. He’s the out-and-gay, super-likable guy that people admire for his confidence. The only person who may not know Remy that well is Remy himself. So when he is assigned to write an essay describing himself, he goes on a journey to reconcile the labels that people have attached to him, and get to know the real Remy Cameron.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks 

Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime?

A crime he says he never committed.

Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family. Everyone else thinks Zoe’s worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she’s worthy of auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge.

But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus’s conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn’t know how to balance. The only thing she knows to be true: Everyone lies.

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants: an education. This, her mother has told her, is the only way to get a “louding voice”–the ability to speak for herself and decide her own future. But instead, Adunni’s father sells her to be the third wife of a local man who is eager for her to bear him a son and heir.

When Adunni runs away to the city, hoping to make a better life, she finds that the only other option before her is servitude to a wealthy family. As a yielding daughter, a subservient wife, and a powerless slave, Adunni is told, by words and deeds, that she is nothing.

But while misfortunes might muffle her voice for a time, they cannot mute it. And when she realizes that she must stand up not only for herself, but for other girls, for the ones who came before her and were lost, and for the next girls, who will inevitably follow; she finds the resolve to speak, however she can–in a whisper, in song, in broken English–until she is heard.

Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun by Guillermo del Toro, Cornelia Funke

Fans of dark fairy-tales like The Hazel Wood and The Cruel Prince will relish this atmospheric and absorbing book based on Guillermo del Toro’s critically acclaimed movie.

Oscar winning writer-director Guillermo del Toro and New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke have come together to transform del Toro’s hit movie Pan’s Labyrinth into an epic and dark fantasy novel for readers of all ages, complete with haunting illustrations and enchanting short stories that flesh out the folklore of this fascinating world.

This spellbinding tale takes readers to a sinister, magical, and war-torn world filled with richly drawn characters like trickster fauns, murderous soldiers, child-eating monsters, courageous rebels, and a long-lost princess hoping to be reunited with her family.

January 2020 Wrap Up

I decided my post regarding what I read for the month and how my challenges are going will be two separate post. My wrap up is more so to let you know what I thought about what I read while my challenges are to let you see how much I got done. January felt like such a long month yet I didn’t get to finish as much books as I had hoped to. Enjoy reading what I thought about the books I got to read this month.

If you’d like to read my full review for any of this books, click on the title and it will take you there.

The Gravity of Us

I’ll admit I wasn’t too sure if I’d like this for so many reasons. One being the reality TV scenes thrown in, especially since those scenes feel choppy and confusing to me. Another was that this book was something I knew nothing about, NASA and a connection to a time that happened before I was born. I gave it a try though because I love LGBTQ+ stories told by own voices and I’m glad I read this.

Overrall it’s a cute story of two boys in love at a complicated time for everyone involved with so much more embedded in the story than the space exploration mission. The complexity of the characters, their relationships, and emotions throughout is really what drew me in.

My Squirrel Days

I had a hard time with this one because I wanted to enjoy it for what it was but I couldn’t get over how this read more like a biography of a fictional character. I’m not sure if that’s just because Ellie’s personality matches Kimmy or if that was not intentional. I found that there were some stories that were hilarious and moments that were ridiculous but then there were others that were just mundane stories.

We Come Apart

I decided to read this book because I wanted to read something quick at the end of 2019 but winded up finishing this in 2020. I’m so glad that I decided to try something new because prose was such a great way to tell this story. I like the way this story discusses issues such as family, friends, domestic violence, and immigration.

The Tenth Girl

I’m so conflicted with my feelings about this book. I listened to it on audio and feel that I should’ve done this with a ebook or physical book. I’m so confused with the last hours of this book. The twists is confusing and I dont know if I like it or hate it but what I know is it confuses me. This one is hard to review without spoiling anything so pardon me if the full review sounds vague.

Love & Other Curses

I really enjoyed the relationships that are shown throughout the book and how they shift. I like seeing the relationship Sam forms over the phone with Linda and then seeing the relationship he has with Tom Swift. I like seeing the difference in the relationships Sam has with older people at the Shang Ri La and the grands and then seeing him interact with his peers.

The Perfect Predator: A Scientist’s Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug: A Memoir

I love a good virus book and even better if its a non-fiction book because those are scarier. There’s nothing like the scare that real viruses cause and especially viruses that are drug resistant. I’ve started to listen to my virus books instead of reading the physical book because then I can dwell on each word as I hear them. I find them a lot more fearful and the emotions are stronger if I’m listening to someone tell their story.

January TBR

I just realized that I didn’t create a TBR for January, well more like I did but forgot to share it with you all. So I know this is a little late but here goes since I told you I’d keep you updated on my challenges.

Highfire by Eoin Colfer

In the days of yore, he flew the skies and scorched angry mobs—now he hides from swamp tour boats and rises only with the greatest reluctance from his Laz-Z-Boy recliner. Laying low in the bayou, this once-magnificent fire breather has been reduced to lighting Marlboros with nose sparks, swilling Absolut in a Flashdance T-shirt, and binging Netflix in a fishing shack. For centuries, he struck fear in hearts far and wide as Wyvern, Lord Highfire of the Highfire Eyrie—now he goes by Vern. However…he has survived, unlike the rest. He is the last of his kind, the last dragon. Still, no amount of vodka can drown the loneliness in his molten core. Vern’s glory days are long gone. Or are they?

A canny Cajun swamp rat, young Everett “Squib” Moreau does what he can to survive, trying not to break the heart of his saintly single mother. He’s finally decided to work for a shady smuggler—but on his first night, he witnesses his boss murdered by a crooked constable.

Regence Hooke is not just a dirty cop, he’s a despicable human being—who happens to want Squib’s momma in the worst way. When Hooke goes after his hidden witness with a grenade launcher, Squib finds himself airlifted from certain death by…a dragon?

The swamp can make strange bedfellows, and rather than be fried alive so the dragon can keep his secret, Squib strikes a deal with the scaly apex predator. He can act as his go-between (aka familiar)—fetch his vodka, keep him company, etc.—in exchange for protection from Hooke. Soon the three of them are careening headlong toward a combustible confrontation. There’s about to be a fiery reckoning, in which either dragons finally go extinct—or Vern’s glory days are back.

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies? 

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime?

A crime he says he never committed.

Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family. Everyone else thinks Zoe’s worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she’s worthy of auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge.

But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus’s conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn’t know how to balance. The only thing she knows to be true: Everyone lies. 

We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan

Authors Brian Conaghan and Sarah Crossan have joined forces to tell the story of Nicu and Jess, two troubled teens whose paths cross in the unlikeliest of places.

Nicu has emigrated from Romania and is struggling to find his place in his new home. Meanwhile, Jess’s home life is overshadowed by violence. When Nicu and Jess meet, what starts out as friendship grows into romance as the two bond over their painful pasts and hopeful futures. But will they be able to save each other, let alone themselves?
For fans of Una LaMarche’s Like No Other, this illuminating story told in dual points of view through vibrant verse will stay with readers long after they’ve turned the last page.

All descriptions come from Goodreads and you can get all of these books at Barnes and Noble. Stay tuned at the end of the month to see what I actually read throughout January.

Best Books of 2019

I read quite a few books this year that I really enjoyed and wanted to share those with you. Most of them are in the young adult genre just because that’s what I read more of but there was some great non-fiction published this year as well.

Young Adult

I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver

When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents’ rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.

But Ben’s attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan’s friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.

At turns heartbreaking and joyous, I Wish You All the Best is both a celebration of life, friendship, and love, and a shining example of hope in the face of adversity. 

The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante

Seventeen-year-old Marisol has always dreamed of being American, learning what Americans and the US are like from television and Mrs. Rosen, an elderly expat who had employed Marisol’s mother as a maid. When she pictured an American life for herself, she dreamed of a life like Aimee and Amber’s, the title characters of her favorite American TV show. She never pictured fleeing her home in El Salvador under threat of death and stealing across the US border as “an illegal”, but after her brother is murdered and her younger sister, Gabi’s, life is also placed in equal jeopardy, she has no choice, especially because she knows everything is her fault. If she had never fallen for the charms of a beautiful girl named Liliana, Pablo might still be alive, her mother wouldn’t be in hiding and she and Gabi wouldn’t have been caught crossing the border.

But they have been caught and their asylum request will most certainly be denied. With truly no options remaining, Marisol jumps at an unusual opportunity to stay in the United States. She’s asked to become a grief keeper, taking the grief of another into her own body to save a life. It’s a risky, experimental study, but if it means Marisol can keep her sister safe, she will risk anything. She just never imagined one of the risks would be falling in love, a love that may even be powerful enough to finally help her face her own crushing grief.

The Grief Keeper is a tender tale that explores the heartbreak and consequences of when both love and human beings are branded illegal.

Cursed by Karol Ruth Silverstein

An #ownvoices contemporary/realistic YA debut. 14 year old Erica “Ricky” Bloom, is newly diagnosed with a painful chronic illness and pretty pissed off about it. Her body hurts constantly, her family’s a mess and the boy she’s crushing on seems completely clueless. The best coping mechanisms she can come up with are cursing and cutting school. But when her truancy is discovered she must struggle to catch up in school to avoid a far worse horror: repeating ninth grade. 

Ziggy, Stardust, and Me by James Brandon

The year is 1973. The Watergate hearings are in full swing. The Vietnam War is still raging. And homosexuality is still officially considered a mental illness. In the midst of these trying times is sixteen-year-old Jonathan Collins, a bullied, anxious, asthmatic kid, who aside from an alcoholic father and his sympathetic neighbor and friend Starla, is completely alone. To cope, Jonathan escapes to the safe haven of his imagination, where his hero David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and dead relatives, including his mother, guide him through the rough terrain of his life. In his alternate reality, Jonathan can be anything: a superhero, an astronaut, Ziggy Stardust, himself, or completely “normal” and not a boy who likes other boys. When he completes his treatments, he will be normal—at least he hopes. But before that can happen, Web stumbles into his life. Web is everything Jonathan wishes he could be: fearless, fearsome and, most importantly, not ashamed of being gay.

Jonathan doesn’t want to like brooding Web, who has secrets all his own. Jonathan wants nothing more than to be “fixed” once and for all. But he’s drawn to Web anyway. Web is the first person in the real world to see Jonathan completely and think he’s perfect. Web is a kind of escape Jonathan has never known. For the first time in his life, he may finally feel free enough to love and accept himself as he is.

Light it up by Kekla Magoon

A girl walks home from school. She’s tall for her age. She’s wearing her winter coat. Her headphones are in. She’s hurrying.

She never makes it home.

In the aftermath, while law enforcement tries to justify the response, one fact remains: a police officer has shot and killed an unarmed thirteen-year-old girl. The community is thrown into upheaval, leading to unrest, a growing movement to protest the senseless taking of black lives, and the arrival of white supremacist counter demonstrators. 

Slay by Brittney Morris

By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY. No one knows Kiera is the game developer, not her friends, her family, not even her boyfriend, Malcolm, who believes video games are partially responsible for the “downfall of the Black man.”

But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, and SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals. Even worse, an anonymous troll infiltrates the game, threatening to sue Kiera for “anti-white discrimination.”

Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?

Adult Fiction

Red at the Bone by Jaqueline Woodson

Moving forward and backward in time, Jacqueline Woodson’s taut and powerful new novel uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of these families, and in the life of the new child.

As the book opens in 2001, it is the evening of sixteen-year-old Melody’s coming of age ceremony in her grandparents’ Brooklyn brownstone. Watched lovingly by her relatives and friends, making her entrance to the music of Prince, she wears a special custom-made dress. But the event is not without poignancy. Sixteen years earlier, that very dress was measured and sewn for a different wearer: Melody’s mother, for her own ceremony– a celebration that ultimately never took place.

Unfurling the history of Melody’s parents and grandparents to show how they all arrived at this moment, Woodson considers not just their ambitions and successes but also the costs, the tolls they’ve paid for striving to overcome expectations and escape the pull of history. As it explores sexual desire and identity, ambition, gentrification, education, class and status, and the life-altering facts of parenthood, Red at the Bone most strikingly looks at the ways in which young people must so often make long-lasting decisions about their lives–even before they have begun to figure out who they are and what they want to be.

Non-Fiction

Crisis at the Red Zone by Richard Preston

This time, Ebola started with a two-year-old child who likely had contact with a wild creature and whose entire family quickly fell ill and died. The ensuing global drama activated health professionals in North America, Europe, and Africa in a desperate race against time to contain the viral wildfire. By the end–as the virus mutated into its deadliest form, and spread farther and faster than ever before–30,000 people would be infected, and the dead would be spread across eight countries on three continents.

In this taut and suspenseful medical drama, Richard Preston deeply chronicles the outbreak, in which we saw for the first time the specter of Ebola jumping continents, crossing the Atlantic, and infecting people in America. Rich in characters and conflict–physical, emotional, and ethical–Crisis in the Red Zone is an immersion in one of the great public health calamities of our time.

Preston writes of doctors and nurses in the field putting their own lives on the line, of government bureaucrats and NGO administrators moving, often fitfully, to try to contain the outbreak, and of pharmaceutical companies racing to develop drugs to combat the virus. He also explores the charged ethical dilemma over who should and did receive the rare doses of an experimental treatment when they became available at the peak of the disaster.

Crisis in the Red Zone makes clear that the outbreak of 2013-2014 is a harbinger of further, more severe outbreaks, and of emerging viruses heretofore unimagined–in any country, on any continent. In our ever more interconnected world, with roads and towns cut deep into the jungles of equatorial Africa, viruses both familiar and undiscovered are being unleashed into more densely populated areas than ever before.

The more we discover about the virosphere, the more we realize its deadly potential. Crisis in the Red Zone is an exquisitely timely book, a stark warning of viral outbreaks to come. 

Finding Chika by Mitch Albom

Chika Jeune was born three days before the devastating earthquake that decimated Haiti in 2010. She spent her infancy in a landscape of extreme poverty, and when her mother died giving birth to a baby brother, Chika was brought to The Have Faith Haiti Orphanage that Albom operates in Port Au Prince.

With no children of their own, the forty-plus children who live, play, and go to school at the orphanage have become family to Mitch and his wife, Janine. Chika’s arrival makes a quick impression. Brave and self-assured, even as a three-year-old, she delights the other kids and teachers. But at age five, Chika is suddenly diagnosed with something a doctor there says, “No one in Haiti can help you with.”

Mitch and Janine bring Chika to Detroit, hopeful that American medical care can soon return her to her homeland. Instead, Chika becomes a permanent part of their household, and their lives, as they embark on a two-year, around-the-world journey to find a cure. As Chika’s boundless optimism and humor teach Mitch the joys of caring for a child, he learns that a relationship built on love, no matter what blows it takes, can never be lost.

Told in hindsight, and through illuminating conversations with Chika herself, this is Albom at his most poignant and vulnerable. Finding Chika is a celebration of a girl, her adoptive guardians, and the incredible bond they formed—a devastatingly beautiful portrait of what it means to be a family, regardless of how it is made.

Book descriptions are all from Goodreads. You can find these books at Barnes and Noble or look for them at your local library. Click the links above to read my full review on each book.

YA BOTM- Best Deal of the Year

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I’m always hesitant to subscribe to anything monthly because what if I don’t like it or what if I wind up getting too much of something? I’ve had monthly subscriptions to make-up boxes before and had to stop them because it wasn’t working out, same with clothes. When I found BOTM I had the same skepticism about it even with the ability to skip a month and not get charged, I don’t really read adult fiction so the chances of me wanting a book in their selection was slim.

You can imagine my surprise when they announced a new subscription box that was going to be focused all on YA books, now that was right up my alley. I loved this subscription box idea so much that I became an affiliate with them so that I could spread the word of this box to all of you.

Let me tell you all how it works, each month you pay $11.99 to select one book from the 5 choices that they give you, and if you like you can add more books to your box. If by any chance you don’t see something that you like then skip the month and you won’t be charged.

The best thing is right now up until December 31st they have a great special going on for new subscribers, just CLICK HERE and use the code YES5 . If you would like to get a 6 or 12 month gift for yourselves or someone else use code GIFTY to get $10 off.

December TBR

I actually don’t have a TBR for this month beyond two books for the book clubs that I’m a part of. Hoping to get through some of this though since they’ve been on hold for a while.⁠

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

I haven’t had a chance to keep up with TBAB’s book club so I decided since I didn’t have a TBR this month I’m going to give this one a try.

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym, Truly Devious. It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

This is my library’s book club pick for the month. The last few books haven’t been that good but I’m hoping that I like this one.

This classic collection of journalism defined the state of America during the upheaval of the sixties revolution. The essays feature barricades and bombings, mass murders and kidnapped heiresses.

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

This book was in the Holiday display at my local library and I decided I wanted to read one holiday themed book.

On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn’t.

And then she died.

Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge–as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change. . . .

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I’ve been meaning to read this book but just couldn’t make time for it. Now that one of the book clubs at my work are reading it decided I should read it too.

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

Educated by Tara Westover

This is another one that I’m reading as part of a professional book club that I am a part of.

Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag”. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard.

Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent.

Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

WHAT’S ON YOUR TBR FOR DECEMBER?

November Wrap Up

Bug Boys by Laura Knetzger

This is such a cute collection of different stories about two bugs who go on so many adventures. It’s a nice quick read that you can read with your kids. It’s also a great read for children who are learning to read.

Aster and the Accidental Magic by Thom Pico, Karensac

Aster and the Accidental Magic tells the story of Aster who has recently moved to a new town in the middle of nowhere. She hates that she has to live there now and wants to stay indoors playing video games. Her dad forced her to go outside which begins these strange set of adventures she goes on.

I love the many characters that Aster meets and the stories that happen as she meets them. I think that each teach her a lesson and each of them make me want to read more.

I think this is a great middle grade read because of all the action and how quick paced it was. I also like that the ending kept you wanting to know what happens next.

Girl Gone Viral by Arvin Ahmadi

I had high expectations of this book because of how much hype this book got. I have mixed feelings about this book though. The characters are well developed and I enjoyed how they interact with each other and the world around them. I wasnt a fan of the plot though and how slowly things moved. I was hoping there would be more action or something to keep me on the edge of my seat.

Cast Away: Poems for Our Time by Naomi Shihab Nye

While I thought these poems were written more for adults than young people I still found them interesting. I like how she wrote a whole book about trash and different types of trash. I thought it was interesting to really think about the way we throw things away and how careless we are with our things.

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

As I read this book I grew more and more invested in the lives of Sarah and Tassie. I loved their ever changing relationship with each other and the journey they were on together. When tradegy strikes Sarah’s household the story shifts and is about the everyday mundane life of Tassie. It was at that point that I no longer cared for the story. It’s like Tassie was no one without Sarah and Mary Emma.

I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Kimberly Jones, Gilly Segal

I got this book because it’s the library’s big read and they had it available on audiobook. The audiobook is really good because they use two different people to read each characters chapters. I really enjoyed how there was a clear distinction between which character was speaking. I wonder if I would’ve seen the story any differently if I read it rather than listened to it.

I liked having this story told in both of the girls perspectives. I liked watching Lena be one way towards Campbell but be so frustrated with her. I also loved the revelation that Campbell comes to at the end and how she sees everything as she’s told off. And I love how things aren’t resolved at the end and it leaves you thinking.

I also really enjoyed how quick paced everything was. I liked that everything happened in the span of a few hours. I think that things had to happen that quickly for anything to have an impact.

Ziggy, Stardust and Me by James Brandon

I loved reading Jonathan and Web fall in love with each other in a world that only I’m privy to as the reader. It’s such a beautiful first love and placed me in my memories of my first real love. It reminded me of thinking I was in love but then actually being in love for the first time as I came to terms with my queerness and how beautiful that is. This book made me see that relationship as something different than I kept seeing it as and it helped me heal from the pain the ending of that relationship caused. I appreciate this book for giving me a new perspective.

I like how short the chapters are and how easily they blend into each other. The short chapters make the book feel like it’s passing a lot slower than it actually is. In the end you realize that this whole story took place over the span of 1 summer. It just reminds me how quickly things can change and it reminds me of the quote in the book “Overcome space, and all we have left is Here. Overcome time, and all we have left is Now.” by Ricard Bach.

I really enjoy the moment Jonathan starts to be okay with being gay because it means he can be with Web. I love how he’s like nothing else matters because of that and just really knowing what that moment feels like. I enjoy how relatable so much of this book is even if it’s written in a different time period.

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

This book took me a long time to get through and not because I didn’t enjoy it. I just had to read other things in between. According to my photos I’ve been working on this book since July of this year and I finally was able to get through it though and I’m glad.

I like how there’s only two main characters and you get to know them really way. I like how the relationship that they have is always changing and is very tumultuous. I like how you you don’t really know what Em is thinking, only what Gyre thinks she’s thinking because the whole story is told in third person through Gyres perspective.

Something else I enjoyed was how descriptive each scene is. I read part in physical book and ebook and then listened to the rest. These descriptions made the book more interesting and I felt like I was in that cave with Gyre. The audiobook made things very eerie and I listened to it on my way to work and on my way home which made it even more creepier. I loved how scared this book made me not just because of the story but also for Gyre.

The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West

I loved how each chapter was a different topic but they all tied together well. I really enjoyed how it wasnt just a humorous book but I learned something in each chapter. I was forced to stop and think about things that I thought I hadn’t formed an opinion about.

I loved that it was dark humor. I liked that some of these were not things people find funny. And how the most humorous things were that it was sarcastic. So much of it was funny because it’s TRUE.

Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family by Mitch Albom

I love all of the books I’ve read by Mitch Albom and this one was no different. Mitch really captured how much of a beautiful child Chika was and I love how her personality shines through each word.

I loved the way this book was structured where he had segments where it was him and Chika speaking, then just him about his insights and then parts of the past and what she taught him. I loved hearing each lesson he learned through her and how fond he is of those lessons.
You get so attached to Chika and even if you know she’s going to pass away that moment still hits you hard. I cried as Mitch and his wife said their goodbye and felt honored to be allowed into such a private moment between the three of them.


I recommend this to those of you who enjoy any of Mitch Albom’s other books or who like to read heartfelt stories that’ll make you cry.

Crisis in the Red Zone: The Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History, and of the Outbreaks to Come by Richard Preston

This is just as great if not better than The Hot Zone which is my favorite book of all time. When I first read The Hot Zone it felt like a fictional story or another world I was being privy to so when this came out I couldn’t wait to read it. This was about an outbreak that I followed, this was a story that I thought I knew so well but was wrong. Ebola is the scariest thing in the world to me so reading about it terrifies me.

I love the way that Richard Preston tells the story of the doctors and nurses who risked their lives to treat their own and their patients. He really gives us some insight into their stories and so many of the behind the scenes things we didnt know about. I just love how his writing makes me feel like I’m reading a fiction story and have to remind myself that this is real. These are real people and others lives.

I think one of the most amazing things to learn about was the politics behind the two Americans who got the treatment to save them. That’s a story I remember so well on the news and recall my feelings toward it and this made me rethink that whole situation.

Reasons I’m Thankful for the Book Community

I kept thinking what I wanted to post for today since my typical posting days are Mondays and Thursdays. I was going to post a book review like any other day but I felt that this would be a great opportunity to thank all of you and the bookish community for what I’ve been given this past year. There’s so much I’m thankful for this year so ima highlight a few.

Reignition of my love for reading

I have always loved to read but there have been times when I put the books aside due to school and lack of motivation. The book community introduced me to so many new books and made me want to read a lot more to keep up with new releases.

A sense of Community and Belonging

As an adult who is no longer going to school and wasnt working I felt like there wasnt a place for me. The bookish community embraced me and gave me new friends. I feel supported and encouraged to keep making content.

New Perspective

As I kept reading so many books across many genres I gained new perspectives on different things. Things I had seen as negative or something harmful in my life are now seen as just something that taught me something. I gained new views on genres I wouldnt have picked up before.

Strength to Move Forward during Rough Times

I started my bookstagram and book blog when I was unemployed and struggling to land a job. The times I was engaging in bookish activities or with my new community I forgot that I was struggling. I was able to put that aside for a minute and return to the job search refreshed. It wasnt too long before i found a job and this community kept my spirits up.

I hope you all have a great holiday. What are you all thankful for?