Top Summer Reads

Summer-Reading-Reads

 

It’s officially summer in my neck of the woods, and while it’s my least favorite season, I do love it for all the free reading time it gives me. My reading schedule doesn’t change all that much during the summer to be honest, but there are some books that I either read during a particularly important summer in my life, or they  have summer settings and themes  such as, travel, beaches, road trips etc. So here they are in no particular order.

 

Wanderlove        Wander Love By Kirsten Hubbard.

This one accompanied me on a month long trip to Nicaragua which was the perfect book to take with me. It follows Bria, a recent high school graduate whose life has taken a turn for the worst. She decides to get away from it all by booking herself on a guided bus tour of Guatemala. Along the way she meets Rowen and his sister, two well worn back packers who convince her to ditch the bus for a a nice thread bare back pack. If you’ve ever been to Central America, this book will delight you by how accurate its portrayal is. From unreliable chicken filled buses, to soda in bags, and the coldest baths you will ever have it’s obvious Hubbard knows what she’s talking about, and she captured Central America beautifully. I savored every bit of this read while lying on a hammock and sipping  plastic bags full of the sweetest Fanta I’ve ever had.

“What everyone forgets — even me — is the people who actually live here. In places like Central America, I mean. Southeast Asia. India. Africa. Millions, even billions, of people, who live out their whole lives in these places — the places so many people like us fear. Think about it: they ride chicken buses to work every day. Their clothes are always damp. Their whole lives, they never escape the dust and the heat. But they deal with all these discomforts. They have to. “So why can’t travelers? If we’ve got the means to get here, we owe it to the country we’re visiting not to treat it like an amusement park, sanitized for our comfort. It’s insulting to the people who live here. People just trying to have the best lives they can, with the hands they’ve been dealt.”

ALong  Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen 

I picked this one up right after I graduated high school, and again it’s one of those uncannily perfect books to have read at the time. Like Auden, the protagonist I’ve always been known to be a little adult. I went through high school missing tons of experiences because I was busy obsessing about my grades and my future.  I rarely stopped to enjoy just being a teenager, and now looking back I wish I had.  Aside from connecting with Auden, the book also has a perfect summer vibe. Think the beach, small town, staying up late and being silly, first experiences etc. It’s a book that reminds you to take a break every once and a while and just have a good time.  This is my favorite Dessen book, and perfect for the summer.

“I’d come here planning to leave as soon as I could. It was a pit stop, not a destination. I had my whole life mapped out.””So what happened?””I guess that map didn’t turn out to be mine after all,”

sister The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

Most of you probably already know with this is about, either you’ve read them or seen the films. A group of four friends who find a pair of pants that mysteriously fits them all, and they  decide to share the pants between them for the summer. From Greece, to Mexico,  these pants travel with the girls and become not only a symbol of their friendship, but of the summers that change their lives. Summer, travel, and friendships equals a perfect  summer read.

“The rules took a while to sort out. Lena and Carmen wanted to focus on friendship-type rules, stuff about keeping in touch with one another over the summer, and making sure the Pants kept moving from one girl to the next. Tibby preferred to focus on random things you could and couldn’t do in the Pants — like picking your nose.”

Jello Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta 

This is a difficult book to explain. It made me laugh and cry, and I enjoyed every second of it. It reminded me of my summers of madness running around and having fake wars with all the my neighborhood kids. It’s definitely a fun read, but it also has a lots of dark undertones. It’s a book about self-discovery, building relationships, and learning how to trust others.  Overall, it’s a lovely read regardless of the season.

“It’s funny how you can forget everything except people loving you. Maybe that’s why humans find it so hard getting over love affairs. It’s not the pain they’re getting over, it’s the love.”

Eat Pray  Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert 

Another one of those book you have to be living under a rock to not have heard of. I took this with me while I was traveling around Europe for a summer when I was nineteen, and one of my destinations was Rome. It’s a memoir about a woman who takes a year off of her life and decided to “find herself.” Kind of cliched yes I know, but while I was reading this it made me so excited to visit Rome, and as well as all the other destination Gilbert has on here. Bali, one day I shall come for you.

 “To travel is worth any cost or sacrifice.”

On the road On The Road by Jack Kerouac

The book that made “Road Trip around the U.S.” a top priority on my bucket list. It follows a group of friends who well.. road trip around the U.S. Along the way they stop in all kinds places, and see completely different side of the U.S.  It’s strange considering I’ve never gone on a really long road trip  during the summer, but road trips always seem like a summer thing to me.

Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”

What are your favorite summer reads, or what books make you think of the summer? Does your reading schedule change during the summer?

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Book Thoughts:The Heretic Queen

 

Her

Sorry my reviews have  MIA these past few days. It’s getting super hot here, and the heat always triggers my migraines which  pretty much make everything impossible to do. (You see why I love winter?)I will try to get back on track with tags and reviews, and random stuff soon. In the meantime, here are my thoughts on The Heretic QueenBy Michelle Moran

P.S. Hello New Followers. So happy to have you here. I’m Anasyliva and welcome to my blog:)

“This is how memories are; what seems so clear and unforgettable at one moment vanishes like steam the next.”

Princess Nefetari( Nefer) is the last descendent of the Heretic monachars of Egypt, the infamous Neferitit and her husband Akhenaten. Their reign was one of fear and madness and as a result the people of Egypt still hate and fear anything to do with them. Their memories have been erased and their names are never mentioned. Their only living remnant is Nefertari. Nefer’s life is plagued by their memory. Not matter that she has grown up in the royal palace alongside the crowned prince and does everything she can to distance herself from her ancestors, she is never allowed to forget who her family is. So she fights to make a new name for herself, and return her ancestors to their rightful place in Egyptian history.

*Historical Note* We don’t know for sure if Nefer was their niece as Michelle Moran states. While she did exist, we don’t know for sure that Nefertari was related to Nefertiti.

The first half of The Heretic Queen really worked for me. Moran did a great job of making me feel like I was in Egypt. I loved her descriptions of the palace and the festivals, Nefertari’s maid doing her makeup. (I’m a sucker for ancient Egyptian stuff). She created a heroine that I immediately liked. Nefertari is smart, sweet, and a bit of a tomb boy. To some extent she’s a bit of Mary Sue, in the later half especially, but I found myself liking her anyways. She’s had it rough thanks to the legacy her family left her, but she’s determined to prove everyone wrong, and to win the love of her childhood sweetheart Prince Ramsees.

So while the first half really worked for me, the second half did not. For one, the plot become too predictable and convenient. While there were still some sweet and satisfying moments. My main feeling was boredom, and much of that I attribute to the characters.

I don’t like being told that I should dislike a character, and I distinctly felt like that was the case. These characters were just too black and white for me. I like complexity in the villains and the heros. I think it makes for much more intrigue not to mention it adds more depth to the story. The villains here were childish and laughable. I never once thought they would prevail.

For example, Iset- Nefertari’s rival-is cast as the stunning, yet idiotic bimbo. She is so stupid, and she makes so many faux pas, that even Nefertari can’t help but feel bad for her. I know that we’re supposed to root for Nefer which make the reader dislike Iset on principle, but there is a way to do that while still giving her some character. I mean what kind of challenge is that for Nefer? I will tell you. A very boring one. If Iset had had one decimal of a personality, and had been an actual threat to Nefer, this would have made for a much more interesting and dramatic read.

And don’t get me started on Ramsees. Is he or is he not a King? I thought kings walked around doing whatever the hell they wanted and everyone else either gets with the program or gets beheaded. Not this guy. He is a complete daddy’s boy. He loves Nefer, and he knows that she’s the obvious choice because duh who wants that dumb bimbo mentioned above, yet every time he gets close to a decision what happens? Someone-sometimes people he doesn’t even like or respect- tells him to wait, and does the big bad king listen!

Yes, he does.

Nefertari should be made a saint for simply putting up with his bullshit.

Overall, awesome setting, a good main character, but really weak side characters that kept me from loving this one.

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

very-inspiring-blog-award

 

I was nominated by Yvo over at It’s All About Books. Thanks girlie you totally made my day:) This is the first time I’ve been nominated for something, so forgive me if I get the technicalities wrong.

Here are the rules for this blogger award:

1. Thank and link the amazing person who nominated you.
2. List the rules and display the award.
3. Share seven facts about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
5. Optional: Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

Seven Facts about me.

1) I love winter! I live in Southern California where I am always moaning about our hot and dry winters. Whenever it rains I’m the happiest  person around. Except when I have to drive in it. I hate driving, and people in Cali never know what the hell to do when it rains.

2) I recently graduated college. In between reading and writing reviews, I’ve  been sending out resumes and cover letters en masse. It’s exhausting, but I’m optimistic that something good is in the works for me. Something preferably in publishing.

3) I love traveling, and I  would love to be brave enough to just get on a plane and go everywhere by myself. I haven’t gone somewhere in awhile, and I miss it so badly. I’m planning a trip to San Francisco next month, but it’s not a definite yet. (Fingers Crossed)

4) I adore animals. I’m one of those people who gets more upset when animals die, or get tortured  in books/movies  than people.

5) I  have big curly hair that hardly ever listens to me. I used to do everything I could to make it obey,  but now I’ve learned to just let it be.

6) I am huge introvert who sometimes likes people. It’s such a dilemma in my life. I do enjoy going out and having a good time, but when I am out and  about, I usually wish I was home with my books.

7) I  speak Spanish fluently, but I’m constantly being scolded by  my dad for not reading it enough. I just read much faster in English , and I understand what I read in English easier than Spanish, but I know he’s right, and I need to read more.

My nominations:

Some of you I talk to frequently, others less so, and there are a few I just met. Regardless we all love books, and are here for the same reasons so nominations galore, and in no particular order.

I’m also nominating Yvo

Booknerderie  

Media In Color

Introverted Free Spirit 

Molly Mortensen

Matilda All Grown Up

For the Love of the Page

bookarino 

bookishswint

 ryandejonghe

bookscleverness

 interestingliterature

bookraptured

shouldbereading

Sandra Danby 

 

Musing Mondays (Monday June 23rd)

musingmondays51

Musing Mondays is a meme hosted by Should be Reading and it  asks you to muse about one of the following each week…

• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

My Musing:

Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it

I’m currently reading two books.

The first is:

hark

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Reading this with a few of my friends on GR. I’m currently about half way through, and while it isn’t bad, it is starting to get a bit slow. I’m liking the world building and the characters, but I’m itching to have something happen. Right now it’s focusing more on the romance, and I need some actions. Spells, swords, or whatever.

Next I’m reading:

 

half

Half A King by Joe Abercrombie 

I love fantasy and I adore underdog characters so naturally Yarvi is winning me over. I’m not that far in, but a lot has happened within the first 15% percent. I plan on dedicating tonight to wrapping this one up. Hopefully I manage.

If you decide to take part in Musing Mondays don’t forget to leave your link on Should Be Reading’s post.

Happy Reading everyone!

 

Book Thoughts: Saga

Saga

How to explain Saga? It’s similar to trying to describe a really bizarre yet epic dream. There is all of that nonsensical logic that only takes place in dreams. I mean, of course it makes perfect sense to wander a forest and have this pop up,

The Stalk

Followed by this:

SagaIzabelCosplay2-357x550

And just like the dream you don’t even bother to try and apply logic. You just go with it and ride the awesomeness of the moment.

My second Brian K. Vaughan book, and all I have to say is BKV. I like your style.

Saga has perhaps the best opening lines I have ever read.

saga-shitting

Spoken by Alana while giving birth to her and her husband Marko’s firstborn. Except this isn’t a typical birthing. There aren’t any helpful nurses in scrubs, no dull lights and soft beds, and no doctor coming in to tell mommy to breath.

Why?
Because Markco and Alana are members of two feuding races. You know what that spells.
D-R-A-M-A.

Naturally the coupling of two waring soldiers doesn’t go unnoticed or taken lightly. Now everybody and their cat wants them dead, and their precious little mutt captured. Talk about maternity rest for poor Alana. She, Marko , and their baby are on the run from multiple factions. Yet, these two haven’t gone soft just because they’re parents. While they want to find their little pocket of peace in the galaxy, they don’t hesitate to cut some people up if they get in their way.

A word of advice when dealing with Alana. Don’t mess with he because she don’t play games.
She is hot head, and is ready to do what needs to be done to protect her family. If that means shedding some blood to do it, than by all means bring on the bloodshed.

Same goes for Marko, except he’s more on the mellow side. He really doesn’t want to fight anymore, but what’s a man to do when the fight comes to him?

Saga11

Kick ass that’s what.

Another huge plus is PEOPLE OF COLOR.
How awesome is it that the two leads are people of color? I can’t speak for everyone, but this makes me really happy.

Overall, Saga is out there for sure, but don’t let that stop you from picking this up. You will laugh and be amazed. One of my favorite reads of the year!

WWW Wednesdays

www_wednesdays4

 

This is my first time participating in the meme hosted by Should Be Reading. To play along it’s super simple, just answer the following three questions, and then  leave your link to their post.

 

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading three books at the moment.

1) Faithful Place by Tana French with some of my GR friends. It’s the third book in the Dublin Murder Squad series, and so far it’s not bad just kind of slow compared to the other two.

2) Dreams of Gods and Monsters which is the third book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. I’m not that far in, so it’s natural that’s it’s not blowing my socks off, but it’s one of my most anticipated books of the year, so I’m hoping it doesn’t disappoint.

3) Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,  which again I’m not too far in, so I can’t really say much about it.

What did you recently finish?

The Diving Pool By Yoko Ogawa which was amazing. Ogawa is one of my new favorite authors.

The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran,  which wasn’t bad, but I was left wanting more.

What do you think you’ll be reading next?

I have a few lined up. I’ll be partaking in a Buddy Read of All Souls Trilogy  by Deborah Harkness which starts on Friday, and i’ll possibly squeeze in Joe Abercrombie’s Half a King.

Book Thoughts: The Golem and the Jinni

GOlem

What a masterful storyteller! Helene Wecker captures your attention and keeps it till the very end.

The Golem and the Jinni tells the story of two unlikely beings who find themselves in a strange world. Chava and Ahmad develop a beautiful timeless friendship under the most unlikely circumstances. Both are supposed mythical creatures who find themselves in New York City of all places, navigating the daily trials of life in the big city.  Chava is a golem who was created for the sole purpose of being a wife. She was created in Poland by Yehudah Shaalman- a shady rabbi- known to delve in dark arts, but doesn’t awaken until she is on a ship boarded for America with her soon-to-be -husband. However, shortly after awakening he dies. Chava who has never been around humans doesn’t have a clue about what to do. She gets by on her new found ability to understand what humans are thinking, and she reacts to their desires by playing everything by ear.

Ahmad is a jinni who has been trapped in a flask for centuries. He is accidentally released by a tinsman named Arbeely. Enraged and unable to take his true form -due to the iron band placed on his wrist by his capture,-he too is lost and unable to understand where he is or what is expected of him. His last memory was of the Syrian dessert where his kind lived and ruled the dessert. He also remembers the wizard who trapped him in the flask, but little else about where to find the wizard, and how to break his band. Trapped in human form, the Jinn begins his life in New York working as apprentice to Arbeely. True to his nature he creates all sorts of mischief, both intentional and not.

This story was so rich. These characters were endearing as they discovered the in and outs of the human world. How to blend it and deal with emotions, both their own and others. After Chava’s master dies on the boat to New York, Chava finds that she can hear people’s thoughts. As if she wasn’t already confused, now she has a million voices to deal with, all consumed with their own fears and desires. She is saved by Rabbi Meyer who recognizes what she is instantly. He shelters her from harm and helps her adapt to the human world. Their relationship becomes that of father and daughter, and it was one of my favorite things about the novel.

Ahmad is a little arrogant at first. He’s a jinni who is accustomed to glass castles and is made out of fire. Conformity doesn’t suit him. Therefore, he ignores the well meaning advice of Arbeely. As a human man, he lives his life much the same way he would if he were still a Jinni. Freely and unconcerned about others.

Ahmad’s transformation is another favorite things to see. How he learns to feel regret towards the people he’s harmed whether directly or inadvertently. Compassion for those whose lives’s are not the best, and Loyalty towards those he grows to love.

This is a pretty big book, but I honestly didn’t notice. The plot moves at a very even paced. It alternates between the past and present, as well as giving us multiple view points. All this enhances the story and kept me entertained until the end, where everything comes full circle. Helene Wecker’s writing is poetic almost to the point of being fairy tale like. From her descriptions of the rough Danzig cold, to the growing metropolis of New York, and the sparse landscape of the Syrian dessert, everything is richly detailed. The switch between the angles of the story was genius. I was never confused by what was going on, and in a story this big and complex it happens often.

Here I’m about to get a bit English major, but I felt that this also makes you look at the whole nature/ nurture debate. Both Chava and Ahmad struggle with what they are, and if that is their sole definer. Which I feel begs the question, are we all destined to behave certain ways because of our genetic make -up, or can we break away from that and make our own choices based on what we learn? This is what makes this story so much more than just a fantasy/historical fiction novel. It makes you think, and entertains. What more could you want from a story? As a representation of the immigrant experience, this felt very authentic, and it also went in line with much of what I’ve learned.

Lastly,I would have appreciated a more conclusive ending, but I wasn’t disappointed by it either.

Overall, if you like whimsical story, historical fiction and great characterization, then I think you’ll enjoy this one!