Wyrd and Wonder 2021 — A month-long fantasy adventure

I was very excited when I found out about the Wyrd and Wonder challenge for May! This challenge is hosted by LisaJorie and Imyril and it basically entails consuming fantasy stories in any format. It looks super chill and right up my alley. I might do a couple of prompts here and there but overall I love this challenge because I haven’t read much fantasy in the past year or so and I’d love to get back into reading some of my favorite fantasy authors. I also hope to watch some movies and perhaps take some photos for my instagram.

Here’s my current list of books that I do plan on reading:

  • Eric by Terry Pratchett is part of the Discworld series. I have been reading the Discworld books for a few years now and I just take it suuuuper sloooooow. I just love savoring these books and taking my time with the series. (In fact, that might be the case with the books written by my favorite authors.
  • Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik is the 4th installment in the Temeraire series. This series is so fun! Historical Fantasy with dragons and battles and amazing characters (both human and dragons), just a lot of fun.
  • Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman is a short story collection that I actually started in April but didn’t finish it. So far I was really enjoying it though so it will be good to get back into it.
  • Archenemies by Marissa Meyer is the second book in the Renegades series. I read Archenemies in March and it was a quick read and a lot of fun. I’ve really enjoyed all of Meyer’s fairy tale re-tellings and her take on superheroes is really unique and fun.
  • The Stand by Stephen King is not pictured because I haven’t picked it up yet but I will be starting that this month as well for a buddy read with a friend. We will be taking it super slow though so I don’t anticipate finishing it in May.

There are other books that I’ll also be reading but those are not in the fantasy realm so I am not mentioning those here. I will update as I read them though!

All in all I’m very excited for a May full of fantasy, magic, and fun reading!

IMAGE CREDIT: Banner by imyril; images by Svetlana Alyuk on 123RF.com

Dewey’s 24 hr Read-A-Thon — April 24, 2021

This weekend I took part in Dewey’s 24hr Readathon. I live on the West Coast so I got to start at 5am. Glorious! -_-‘ I am not normally one to get up early but I wanted to actually do this and get some reading done this Saturday so I set my alarm to get up at 4:30am. wow.

But first I needed to prep! The week before I put together the following TBR:

As you can see these are pretty varied books, from romance to fantasy! Overall a fun pile of books! I had already started The Duke and I and read one story from Smoke and Mirrors but that’s alright.

My day started at 4:30am with some Overnight Oats (Mint Chocolate Chip). This is not an ad but I loooooove Overnight Oats.

I started out in my office couch with kitty and The Duke and I by Julia Quinn.

And so I read for a good couple of hours on the couch! The Duke and I is rather steamy and spicy so it was very easy to just read and keep reading. The tension and the chemistry between Simon and Daphne were definitely tangible through the pages and, even after seeing the series on Netflix I did enjoy the way that the book focused more on the two of them instead of all the other characters.

At around 8am my sister brought me some caffeine in the form of an Orange Peel Mocha from the local coffee shop:

Once I had the caffeine in my system I just kept reading through the morning (I also had a jalapeño bagel for more fuel) and moved to a different couch (ha!). I finished The Duke and I at around noon and my thoughts on that were very mixed! On the one hand I definitely loved the more intimate look at the Bridgerton family and the discussion on childhood trauma and the effect on someone’s life. However, there was a sexual assault scene that I was very uncomfortable with soooooooo yeah that changed things. I ended up giving this book 3 stars because it was definitely very entertaining and fun to read but a key part of the book was just very uncomfortable for me so I couldn’t give it more than that.

For the next book I moved outside!

I started out The Rain of God by Arturo Islas and it was a difficult read for me. Not because it was badly written or anything but because it hit home! It is all about a Mexican American family plus their experience living in a small town near the border of the US and Mexico. There are so many parts of this book that are heavy and really quite painful. There is violence, emotional and physical abuse, cheating, hypocrisy, just a lot. Because of that, after a carne asada dinner with my family I took a bath and listened to an audiobook.

Between the World and Me was amazing and so so important!

So yes, I strayed from the TBR but is that news? XD I had already started listening to the audiobook for Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and so I listened to the last 2 hours of the book. This was also my first ever audiobook and I absolutely loved it. This was a good break for my eyes aaaand I was able to open up a package that I got that day that was full of stationery and stickers, a mystery bag from Stickii while I listened to the audiobook.

After I finished unboxing I sat and listened to Between the World and Me. It was honestly a great experience to hear the author himself narrate the book. It’s a powerful story that he’s telling his son, about what it means to be a black man and carry the weight of always being on alert. Is he doing all the right things in order to preserve his body intact? The contrast of him going to France where he doesn’t have to do that is startling. As a woman I identified with some of the aspects of always being on guard, saying the right things, wearing the right clothes, etc. His perspective serves as a window into what it’s like to live as a black man in the United States and one that I would like to continue learning about in order to be a better ally for black people.

After finishing this book I took a bit of a break and then continued reading The Rain God. I came back into the office where I started my day, put on some music and finished the book in the next few hours. Each chapter in the book is about a different member of the family. One of the chapters is about Felix, a gay man who is beaten to death. Why is it that so many people, people of color, people who have different sexual orientations, people who practice different religions, always have to live as others say they should live? This readathon put these two books in parallel for me, characters in The Rain God have to assimilate into American culture, which means thinking less of people browner than them, people who don’t speak English “properly”, etc. We are all part of the obstacle that stands in front of people who simply want to live their lives as they are. If anything, these books taught me to listen and read more of these stories to be able to see from other perspectives, even if it is so so hard to do so. For it isn’t easy to learn about so many black people being murdered by police and it’s also not easy to read about Mexican people like me who are prejudiced of other Mexican people who are simply trying to survive.

And so I called it a night at around 11pm. Although the readathon was not over I was very much done for the day. I rated these last two books 5 stars each! They both gave me a lot to think about and have motivated me to learn more while still trying to enjoy my reading.

So, in the end I finished 3 books, read a total of ~13.5 hours and read 640 pages! I call that a WIN. I also got BINGO for the Bingo Challenge! I didn’t describe what each challenge was for but you can see it below:

Pink = The Duke and I
Blue = The Rain God
Purple = Between the World and Me

And that was my experience with Dewey’s 24 hr Readathon this weekend! I did have a good book hangover all Sunday ha! I slept in and just kept pondering about all the books. Also I had two book club meetings that day: one with my friends from Mexico, we are reading Obsidian Puma by Zoe Saadia, and the other with the Questbridge Alumni book club where we read Beloved by Toni Morrison. All in all a big reading weekend!

Did you participate in the Dewey’s 24 hr Readathon? Have you read any of the books I mentioned here?

Best 7 books of 2017

Hello all!

As 2017 has now ended, I’d like to list the best 7 books I read in 2017!

First, some stats:

  • I read 72 books and DNFd 2 books*
  • I read more than 2100 pages! O.O!
  • 26 of the books I read were written by women (~37%)
  • 12 of the books I read were written by people of color (~16%)

Now let’s get on with the books!

#7. Moloka’i by Alan BrennertScreen Shot 2017-12-31 at 20.40.58

Moloka’i was a beautiful book that I read at the beginning of the year. It was recommended by my good friend Romy over at The Footnote and I immediately agreed to read it because I remembered the joy and heartbreak in her eyes as she read the first chapters of the book. So yes, this book will break your heart and it will show you a side of Hawaii that you might not have considered before.

Essentially it is a story about a girl who is sent to live in the island of Moloka’i where all the lepers are sent to live until they die from the disease. Moloka’i really was used for this purpose so the story told here is one that probably did happen to many people in the past.

“She already felt dead in everything but name. What remained to be taken from her? She longed to be enfolded, welcomed, into the earth – to breathe no more, love no more, hurt no more”
— Moloka’i by Alan Brennert —

#6. The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck

IMG_20171231_212110811.jpg John Steinbeck is definitely one of my favorite writers. I must thank my boss from when I worked in the mailroom in college because she gave me three boxes full of classic books, including all the works by John Steinbeck. I’ve read a few of his works and The Winter of Our Discontent did not disappoint at all.

We follow a man who finds himself at a moment in his life where he could continue as he is and be okay in terms of money, his family, and his job. But an opportunity arises where his life could become more interesting, he could get quite a bit of money in return, and therefore bring his family into another level of comfort. However, this opportunity is not exactly aligned with his values and really make him question who he is and what he believes.

I loved this book also because it portrays mental health in a way few classics do so. The idea that our decisions will not just create consequences in physical or monetary ways, but also to our mental health. What about does decisions that we have anxiety about, or those that later on cause us to fall into despair? That introspective is thoroughly explored in this novel and that’s one of the main reasons I loved this book.

“When a condition or a problem becomes too great, humans have the protection of not thinking about it. But it goes inward and minces up with a lot of other things already there and what comes out is discontent and uneasiness, guilt and a compulsion to get something–anything–before it is all gone.”
— The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck —

#5. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 21.15.15Homegoing was the second book we read when my boyfriend and I joined a book club in Mexico City. I was very excited for it because it would be the first book I would read by a Ghanaian author. This book provided a new perspective on the enslavement of people in Africa, their journey to the United States, and the journeys of the following generations. It’s an ambitious book that delivers small stories that form the epic tale of the generations that follow two half-sisters, one who is married to an Englishman in charge of sending slaves to the Americas, and the other who is a slave sent to the United States.

It’s a book full of hardships and sorrow but also full of hope and bravery. Men and women who strive to do the right thing even when everything goes against them, and the horrible ways in which their culture was obliterated by men and women who thought they were superior based on the color of their skin. I highly recommend this book because it extends the landscape of slavery and the ways that it has permeated our society, not only in all the places where it existed, but also through time itself.

“Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves.”
–Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi–

#4. Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 21.19.11

There are books that are so emotionally charged that I don’t know what to do with myself for days afterwards. Goodbye Days was one of those books.

This book is about a teenage boy who sends a text message to his best friends around the time when they get into a car accident that ends up killing them. It’s a book about grief, mental health, friendship, and family. It’s about forgiveness and doing the right thing even when you would rather run in the opposite direction as fast as you can.

Zentner has the amazing ability to describe the environment, a park, a bench, a house incredibly well. But he can also describe things such as music, synesthesia, complex emotions, and grief, in a way that you can almost feel it yourself. Just with that in mind it’s a book that guarantees an amazing journey.

Be prepared for tears and laughs and the desire to never again text people you love when you suspect that they might be driving. Hug your friends and keep them safe!

“For the most part, you don’t hold the people you love in your heart because they rescued you from drowning or pulled you from a burning house. Mostly you hold them in your heart because they save you, in a million quiet and perfect ways, from being alone.”
— Goodbye Days, Jeff Zentner —

#3. It by Stephen King

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 21.14.58

As you can see from the picture, It by Stephen King is a very big book. It was a gift from my boyfriend and it was the first Stephen King book I read. This makes the top three simply because I am incredibly impressed with how cohesive and well-planned this book was. The book starts off with our main characters as kids but it transitions to them as adults throughout the book. We also get glimpses of other times in the town of Derry that seem to be irrelevant but then turn out to be central to the problem that our main characters face. The mythology behind the book is subtle and yet it’s quite clear what the intention is for each of the supernatural elements that we encounter. Yes, the book is scary in some parts, and some elements will creep into your dreams or might scare you subconsciously when you least expect it (I ended up being slightly afraid of balloons for a few weeks…).

So even though the book is a horror book it is also about friendship and love, about believing in yourself because you are brave enough thanks to the friends that surround you and will always have your back. It’s about realizing that even though you are only one person, you can make a difference.

“Maybe there aren’t any such things as good friends or bad friends – maybe there are just friends, people who stand by you when you’re hurt and who help you feel not so lonely. Maybe they’re always worth being scared for, and hoping for, and living for. Maybe worth dying for too, if that’s what has to be. No good friends. No bad friends. Only people you want, need to be with; people who build their houses in your heart.”
–It, Stephen King–

#2. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 21.18.21

Good Omens get spot number 2 because it was so good in so many ways! First of all, we get two amazing authors, Pratchett and Gaiman, who are both hilarious and witty. Then we have the plot, which is that the apocalypse is just around the corner, and the antichrist is nowhere to be found. The characters are so rich and complex that you feel like you’ve known them your whole life within just a few pages. Add to that the mythology of the apocalypse and all that comes with it: the four horsemen, the angels and demons, the humans, the witches, and the aliens (of course!).

This book is full of social commentary (as all of Pratchett’s and Gaiman’s books usually are) and it makes you think about the things that we as a society place importance upon. That is, religion, politics, borders, money, status, careers, the planet, friends, family, ourselves. Perhaps there is something within our priorities that perhaps isn’t that important and which should be replaced with something that should be prioritized just a bit more. Good Omens lets us take a hard look at ourselves through a journey full of fun twists, mysteries, and laughs.

“Anyway, if you stop tellin’ people it’s all sorted out afer they’re dead, they might try sorting it all out while they’re alive. ”
–Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman–

#1. The Locust and the Bird by Hanan Al-Shaykh

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 21.17.36

Number one goes to The Locust and The Bird by Hanan Al-Shaykh! Al-Shaykh is from Lebanon and in this book she tells her mother’s memoir. Her mother, Kamila, lived in Lebanon at a time when she was not allowed to learn how to read and had to obey what the men in her family thought was best for her.

I loved this book because even though I read it back in July, I find myself still thinking about it. In part because it mirrors what my mother lived when she moved to the United States, not being able to read, write, or speak english is a disadvantage that she still deals with even today (she’s learned some but she’s still anxious whenever she is in a situation where she must speak english). I can see my mother’s story in many parts of this book, the misunderstandings that came about with the rest of our family and myself when she came to the United States and was far away from us mirrors that of Al-Shaykh’s uncertainty at the beginning on whether her mother’s story was actually interesting enough to write about.

I loved this book because it resonated with me in ways no other book has and I feel like it helped me understand my mother in ways I couldn’t before.

“I was never so desperate to read and write as I am now, if for no other reason but to write my story. Let me tell you how it hurts when a piece of wood and a piece of lead defeat me.”
–Kamila in The Locust and the Bird, Hanan Al-Shaykh–


So there you have it! Those were the best 7 books I read in 2017!

I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2018, I hope to increase the number of books by POC authors I read and to expand my perspectives as much as possible.

Let me know if you’ve read any of these books and what you thought of them, or if there’s one that you really want to read now.

Happy New Year and happy reading everyone!

*As for the two books I DNFd (Did not finish), they were Rayuela by Julio Cortázar and Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski. Both had the same problem, they were gimmicky to me, exploring a very strange structure (going from chapter 4 to chapter 72 and so on, or reading the book from both ends), which didn’t provide anything to the actual plot (if there was one…), and which ended up confusing me so much to the point of being too frustrated to care about what would happen in the book anymore. Rayuela lasted about 100 pages while I got to the half way point of Only Revolutions before putting it down. I don’t recommend them but if you are adventurous and want to try unusual book structures then do check them out.