Review-The Resurrection of Joan Ashby

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The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas

The best way to describe this novel is a book within a book. It will be said that Joan Ashby captured readers in the literary landscape that Wolas has created. There is such delicious, intricate detail in each and every snippet of her short stories, that I was hungry for more.

Right off the bat, the last line of the prologue perfectly captures your attention, makes you constantly rethink all of your various theories about why xyz happened, stays in the back of your mind for safekeeping for the entirety of this novel.

The first couple of parts were so intriguing, I was so invested in the plotline and characters that I couldn’t tear my eyes away from what was happening. Here we experience the capture of the magical pivotal moment, that turned the tide in Ashby’s life and will effect everything else in the book. Wolas keep on coming back to that point, readers keep on coming back to this point, it’s that powerful and essential to the plot. Even though the climax comes more towards the middle-end range, everything starts right here, with this twist at the beginning.

All of the descriptions are so lush and beautiful, like for example:

“Her sudden laugh was hollow and high, collapsing quickly, than trying to rise back up through her throat, tearing at her vocal cords, some inhuman wail wanting to be released, that she forced back down. How ridiculous, planning  termination and the resumption of her solitary life one minute, and in the next designing a personal, private playground for an undesired child.”

The only thing that made me pause and take off one star was the fact theat in the middle there is a sudden change of perspective, which honestly bored me so much to the point where I was really tempted to start skimming it. I understand why it was necessary to the general plot, but it was a slog to read through because I genuinely didn’t care about this specific character ever.

The cover describes the essence of this book perfectly, it’s like holding a kaleidoscope up to someone’s life, constantly analyzing the various choices that they have or haven’t made, experiencing life through their eyes and in their shoes. If you’re looking for an experience like that, than this is the book for you to read.

**Thanks to FLATIRON BOOKS for providing me with an Advanced Reading Copy.**

Wrap-Up of Ramadan Readathon

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In my previous post, where I displayed my ambitious TBR for this wonderful readathon, I was planning on reading a total amount of 5 books. However, because of an unforeseen reading slump that made me off-pace, I ended up reading only 2 of those, but absolutely loving them so much! So here we have a wrap-up/mini-reviews to show all you:

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Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

This book took me by surprise and blew me away all at once, because I wasn’t expecting the story to be as dark as it was. We follow Nailia, who was extremely conservative immigrant parents take her back for a visit to Pakistan to see her family which she hasn’t seen in years. Because of cultural traditions, her parents are planning an arranged marriage for her, for Nailia an unwanted marriage because she already feel in love with Saif, which is forbidden.

We than embark on this emotional journey, that leaves both the main character and the reader in tears. It’s such a difficult book to sit with, hard to call it enjoyable but it was very valuable as to the knowledge gained about the topic of arranged marriages in Muslim communities. However, like Saeed mentions in her author’s note there are many mostly positive and consensual arranged marriages, this is such one story that had to have a light shined upon it.

This book was such a fast read, in fact I read it in one sitting until 1 a.m. one night, because I was looking for a book that could throw me out of my reading slump and this was the one that pulled me through. I empathized for Naila so much, and really felt the hurt and pain that she was carrying around in her heart. If an author can make you feel that way for someone, it’s a truly extraordinary feat to see.

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TW: attempted rape/sexual assault, however it’s not graphic/explicit

In my hearts of hearts, I truly believe that this book needed to be released to make an impact on this world. Saints and Misfits is an ownvoices novel featuring an Arab Indian-American hijabi wearing teen who attends public high school and has many personal problems. It is one of the most important books to be released in 2017, right up there along with The Hate U Give.

This book deals with ordinary things like friendship, death, first love, family relationships, etc. I really connected and related to Janna, who was trying to navigate the daily life of a teen with all the joys and sorrows that comes along with that. When an author can make you feel for a character that deeply, you know it’s a winner.

There are many small moments in this book that really opened the doorway into me understanding Janna’s culture, her history with her family (who has divorced parents), her relationship with the wise old grandpa down the hallway. The author manages to weave in little snippets like these that further enhance and build on the characterization.

My only problem was the plot really seemed to drag on for a long time, which kind of got me to walk away from the book and come back to it. I generally prefer a balanced factors of plot and characters, and this one leaned on an extremely monotonous plot in my opinion, however I would still highly recommend for everyone to read this book!

**Thank you very much to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me an ARC copy of this book in exchange of my honest opinion.**


How did everyone do with this readathon if you participated? How much sucess/what did you accomplish reading-wise in the month of June? Please feel free to discuss below.

 

 

 

Diversity Spotlight Thursday #3

Diversity Spotlight Thursday, is a weekly meme, which was created from the lovely Aimal @ Bookshelves and Paperbacks. Each and every week, we share 3 books: one that we’ve read and loved, one that was released that you haven’t yet read, and one that’s not released but you want to read.

A Diverse Book I Have Read & Enjoyed

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Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

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A cappella just got a makeover.

Jordan Sun is embarking on her junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts, hopeful that this will be her time: the year she finally gets cast in the school musical. But when her low Alto 2 voice gets her shut out for the third straight year—threatening her future at Kensington-Blaine and jeopardizing her college applications—she’s forced to consider nontraditional options.

In Jordan’s case, really nontraditional. A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshipped…revered…all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.


Our main protagonist Jordan, feels so authentic, yet different then every other “rich” kid that’s on campus. She Chinese America, has a taller height than average, and feels confident. There’s realistic financial problems that she has to face; she came from a poor and underprivileged family, her father is disabled and mother has part-time job, and she’s riding on a full scholarship and doesn’t have the money for plane tickets.

This type of nuanced discussion needs to be happened more and more in YA. Bringing out the shame of relying on government programs to buy food and the inability to pay for college, perhaps help other people. They feel like they’re not alone, they see Jordan that is “other” yet it also seems like the things that she’s going through are realistic. This is reality for many people (like Jordan), and it needs to be more represented in the YA lit. that we are reading. (for the full review-here’s the link on Goodreads)

 


A Released Diverse Book that I Haven’t Read Yet

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Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee 

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After a shout-out from one of the Internet’s superstar vloggers, Natasha “Tash” Zelenka finds herself and her obscure, amateur web series, Unhappy Families, thrust into the limelight: She’s gone viral.

Her show is a modern adaptation of Anna Karenina—written by Tash’s literary love Count Lev Nikolayevich “Leo” Tolstoy. Tash is a fan of the forty thousand new subscribers, their gushing tweets, and flashy Tumblr GIFs. Not so much the pressure to deliver the best web series ever.

And when Unhappy Families is nominated for a Golden Tuba award, Tash’s cyber-flirtation with Thom Causer, a fellow award nominee, suddenly has the potential to become something IRL—if she can figure out how to tell said crush that she’s romantic asexual.


Any book that represents my asexuality is always high on my list of book that I want to read immediately. This one follows Tash who becomes internet famous and her sexuality is mentioned on page. I’ve heard glowing praises from close friends, and actually have this already downloaded on my phone, so now it’s only a matter of starting.


A Diverse Book that Has Yet to Be Released

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Little and Lion by Brandy Colbert 

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When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.


Let me tell you, this is my number one most anticipated release of summer 2017. It features a bisexual Jewish black girl MC Suzette (Little) and her bipolar Lion(el) who fall in love with the same girl, which a very intriguing concept that I’ve never seen before. This sounds like so much fun and it has already has gotten high ratings from trusted reviewers, which makes me even more excited to get my hands on it!


Have you ever heard or read any of these books? Please feel free to discuss these book below: 

 

Review- The Best of Adam Sharp

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On the cusp of turning fifty, Adam Sharp likes his life. He’s happy with his partner Claire, he excels in music trivia at quiz night at the local pub, he looks after his mother, and he does the occasional consulting job in IT.

But he can never quite shake off his nostalgia for what might have been: his blazing affair more than twenty years ago with an intelligent and strong-willed actress named Angelina Brown who taught him for the first time what it means to find—and then lose—love. How different might his life have been if he hadn’t let her walk away?

And then, out of nowhere, from the other side of the world, Angelina gets in touch. What does she want? Does Adam dare to live dangerously?

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From page one to the very end, this had a very cinematic feeling to the story, and so I was not at all surprised when it was announced that it was going to be adapted into a movie. There is essentially no compelling plot (which you always knew because this is a literary fiction), just a series of tropes like insta-love and old-lovers reconnected.  The problem is, I feel like I’ve seen this story many times before, and this is just another repeat of that same structure.

The one thing that I did enjoy was that this focused on music, which is a common theme that brought these characters together. The author even has a playlist in the back pages of this book, and includes specific titles of 80s song.

To introduce these characters, you have to understand that even though it has 1 POV, it was written at two distinctly different times in the character’s life. Adam Sharp, is a different person in the 80s when he’s falling in love with the Australian actress Angelina Brown:

“Back in 1989, I did not have a plan, either. Just a hope–a fantasy–of how events might play out. The Australian left of my tour was due to finish on the Friday before Christmas”

Basically, the gist is that Adam was touring all over the world as a musician, and was pretty much unsure of where his life was going and unstable in his commitments. Fast forward twenty years later, he is living around fifty years in England, the director of some big business company, has a plan for his retirement, and has a long-lasting relationship with his partner Claire.  Needless to say, we can see how different of a life and person he is right when the book is happening.

To set the stage up even more from there, while Adam is telling us the story of his past true love, he is going through the doubts and struggles in in his relationship with Claire. All of this is happening and he receives a one word email from Angelina saying “hello” that leads him down a path of self-discovery.

There were many little useless moments of the monotony of daily life that I just thought were uneccesary like

I nearly missed my train at the Gare de Lyon, having forgotten to put my watch forward an hour, then spent the two-hour journey to Macon trying to decide what to wear. By the time I had settled on a gray t-shit and suit jacket with my jeans, and made a dash to the bathroom to change, the train was pulling into the station.

This whole cluster of a run-on could have been deleted and a one-sentence replacement would suffice, something that conveys the idea that he was late. Noone really cares why or how he was late, me least of all.

I was more than a bit hesitant to start a book that was not in my wheelhouse, and my suspicious of my enjoyment were confirmed. Not only is this no the type of literature that I usually read, because it centers around love and romance, but also I have 0 connection with the characters. I think that all of these characters should be categorized as unlikable to the extent where I was apathetic to what things happened to them. WHich in turn created an unwillingness to pick the book up; which turned out to truly be a sludge.

**Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for sending me an arc in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

Haley Harrigan-Author Interview + Q&A

Today, I will be interviewing the very first author that will ever be featured on my blog, and I am so glad that I got this amazing opportunity. Before I jump right into the interview, there is a rafflecopter giveaway at the end, so please stay tuned. But first, a little bit about Harrigan’s debut novel, THE SECRETS OF SOUTHERN GIRLS!

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Goodreads—-Book Depository 

“Ten years ago, Julie Portland accidentally killed her best friend, Reba. What’s worse is she got away with it. Consumed by guilt, she left the small town of Lawrence Mill, Mississippi, and swore nothing would ever drag her back. Now, raising her daughter and struggling to make ends meet in Manhattan, Julie still can’t forget the ghost of a girl with golden hair and a dangerous secret.

When August, Reba’s first love, begs Julie to come home to find the diary that Reba kept all those years ago, Julie’s past comes creeping back to haunt her. That diary could expose the shameful memories Julie has been running from, but it could also unearth the hidden truths that Reba left buried…and reveal that Julie isn’t the only one who feels responsible for Reba’s death.”

1. What inspired you to write this book set in the deep South of Mississippi?

Great question. I knew that this story was meant to take place in a rural Southern town, and I knew that race was going to play a role in the story. It could just as easily have taken place in Georgia, where I’m from, or in any number of Southern states (or anywhere in America, really), but for some reason, this story always played out in my head in two distinctly different geographical locations: New York and Mississippi.

 2. What lesson do you want your readers to get from your story?

I don’t know that there is a lesson to be learned. It’s a story of secrets and guilt and judgments, and if it sticks with the reader for a little while once they’ve finished, then that’s as much as I can ask for.

3. What did you learn during your writing process given that this is your debut novel?

So many things! I learned that being a writer has nothing to do with whether or not your work is ever published. I learned to be more self-disciplined and to create ample space in my life for writing. I learned that I have to write in order to feel complete. It’s a part of who I am. I also learned to be more comfortable with writing storylines and scenes that aren’t all hearts and unicorns and butterflies. Sometimes it’s the parts you’re less comfortable with writing that make the story the most compelling it can be.    

4. How do you give a distinctive voice to each of your characters and balance multiple POV chapters?

Practice, and character interviews. It’s still something I work at getting right. In Secrets of Southern Girls, Julie’s voice was the first one that came to me. I didn’t actually know, when I started, that there would be multiple POVs. But I kept wanting to explore other angles. Toby’s voice was the last one to come to me, and it came the loudest and the clearest.

5. If you could attend a dinner with any author (dead or alive) who would you choose?

Margaret Atwood is my favorite living author, and I’d always pick her. From authors who have passed, I’d choose William Faulkner.

6. If you could go back in time and tell your teenage self advice about writing, what would that be?

Don’t be afraid! I always knew I wanted to be a writer but when I was younger, I was afraid of writing things that felt too “real,” and I think that’s limiting.   

7. What are some of your favorite YA books that you have read?

Even though Secrets of Southern Girls is women’s fiction, it does stray a little into YA in the form of Reba’s diary, and I’m a big fan of YA books. Eleanor and Park. More Happy Than Not. The Red Queen series. The Forgetting. There are so many good YA books out there!   

8. Can you tell us about any upcoming projects? What are you currently working on?

My second novel is currently in the works. It’s about a woman who becomes obsessed with the suicide of a local college boy. It’s a little dark and creepy. That’s all I can say about it for now.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog! I appreciate your time and interest! ☺  

Meet Haley Harrigan 

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You can find her at her website— On Twitter

Haley lives in Athens, Georgia with her husband and the second-most adorable Yorkshire Terrier there ever was. She graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in Creative Writing and Public Relations, and loved Athens too much to go anywhere else. A bookworm from early on, she started writing as a kid when her grandfather introduced her to his new typewriter. Her first stories were fanfiction pieces (though she didn’t call it that, then) inspired by The Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High. These days, she’s an avid and wildly eclectic reader, with tastes ranging from Margaret Atwood to William Faulkner to Gillian Flynn to Rainbow Rowell.

In addition to reading and writing, Haley enjoys hot tea, college football, margaritas and Mexican food, and a good Netflix binge. She is obsessed with all things Joss Whedon and believes that she learned everything she needs to know about life from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

 

Giveaway!

Not the part that we’ve all been waiting for! You can follow the Rafflecopter link to win a prize of 5 summer reads! Good luck and thank you for reading ❤

Ramadan Readathon TBR

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For the whole month of June, I am going to be making a conscious effort in supporting and reading ownvoices book with Muslim protagonists by participating in this readathon created by Nad and Zoya . This is the first year that these lovely ladies are hosting this readathon, and I am so excited to be a part of this amazing journey. If anyone is further interesting, here is the introduction post.

starss.jpgWritten in the Stars by Aisha Saeed: Preparing for this readathon, I recently checked this out of my library and I smile everytime I see it sitting on my TBR. This is the debut novel of Saeed’s, who was one of the original founders of the #weneeddiversebooks movement over on Twitter. I recently listened to a podcast with her as a guest and she spoke so articulately about what it means to be a writer and mama, that I was in awe of her conversation. (It can be found here if anyone is interested in this highly interesting conversation.)

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Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali: I didn’t get a chance to read this in May, when I intended to read it for Asian Lit Bingo , however it spills into June. I’m planning to buy a physical copy to support the author, and also because my digital idea has weird formatting which is hard on my eyes. I love the title, the idea behind this and can’t wait to get started!

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: This book has been on my tbr shelf for over a year, and I’ve been trying to muster up the motivation to read it (its been overhyped and I’ve personally heard mixed reviews about it.) All of my interactions with Sabaa on Twitter have been lovely, as well as I have lots of friends who are die-hard fans and the fandom is so passionate that its hard warming to see. Perfect chance to give this one a shot!

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The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi: Back to when I got an ARC of this, I was so very excited to start reading. I love the premise and idea behind it, I love that it includes diverse reads, and I follow the author on Twitter and she seems delightful. It’s also rare to see middle grade fantasy which features MC that are Muslims (and it ownvoices), so I can’t wait to read this!

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Futhermore by Taherah Mafi: This is one book that I’ve been begging my younger (middle grade) sisters to try out, because I love magic and personal journeys that the characters have to take to find something. The cover for this one (and it’s sequel) is absolute gorgeousness. I’ll be sure to go to the library to pick this up for this month.


What books would you recommend for me to read this book? Are you going to be a part of this readathon this month?

Rich People Problems-Review

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Kevin Kwan, bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend, is back with an uproarious new novel of a family riven by fortune, an ex-wife driven psychotic with jealousy, a battle royal fought through couture gown sabotage, and the heir to one of Asia’s greatest fortunes locked out of his inheritance.

 

 

 

 

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Kewin Kwan, author of Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend, returns with a splendid albeit drama-filled and utterly hilarious third installment in his series.Picture this, Nick Young learns that his “beloved” grandmother, Su Yi, is on her deathbed. He along with the rest of his family rush to her bedside, to try to place themselves in line for the family’s fortune. Tyersall’s Park is the grand price, the biggest privately owned land in Sinagapore at this time, totaling around 64 acres.

“At that moment, Professor Oon knew something must have happened to Shang Su Yi. Only the Shangs had the kind of influence to turn around a Singapore Airplane flight with four hundred forty passengers onboard.”

Kwan here does an excellent job at setting up an overview of the family’s influence and power, this sentence alone got me hooked to the entire story. With one well-crafted sentence he has managed to convince me and inform me about what kind of characters I am to expect that I’ll be dealing with. If that’s not masterful writing, than I don’t know what is.

In this sweeping multi-generational and multi-cultural story, the meaning of family and money problems takes on a whole new meaning. Kwan includes drama, scandal, gossip, love, loss, and forgiveness all into this volume.

One of my major problems was with the many multiple POVs. Usually I’m very wary of the execution that comes with this story of varying narrators. For the first pages of almost all the chapters, I felt very disoriented and had to take a hot second to figure out who was narrating. You would think that it would be the best idea to put the character that’s speaking name in big bold letters, but here we’ve instead have the title of each chapter as in the location. \

“You can act all self-righteous in front of me right now, but believe me, when it is all taken away, you won’t know what hit you. Doors that have been open to you all your life will suddenly be closed, because in everyone’s eye you are nothing without Tyersall Park.”

Because of quotes like these, I would have personally preferred if we had more sections with Nick and Rachel, because I felt like they were the only decent and reasonable people in the whole lot of this messy family. Instead the author continues to extend the plotlines of those who have meaningless quarrels (*cough*Kitty*cough*) when I feel like we could have had more substance with focusing on Nick and Rachel.

Kwan has a knack for weaving character and their stories into a rich inter-connected tapestry. Everyone on the family is not only related and connected to one another, but also each of their lives have the potential to profoundly impact others. And that’s what makes this book so powerful.

**Thanks to the publisher.**