Here’s What’s Up Since Forever Ago!

Hey there folks! Sorry it’s been a whole two plus months since I’ve written anything, it’s not for lack of trying. Here’s What’s Up! This is going to be another long post so I thank you in advance for taking time out of your day to follow along. It’s long but mostly a brief update and list of what you can expect to see/hear from me.

So much has happened and so much has not. Obviously we’re still dealing with and living in the times of a pandemic. I’ve been encouraged by much of the leadership we HAVE received but I’ve also been discouraged by how selfish many people are. Wearing a mask sucks, we all can agree on that, but it’s not the end of the world. If we were as intelligent as we like to believe we are, then wearing a face covering would be second nature. Oh there’s a new contagious respiratory virus spreading around the world? Better cover up my breathing holes to protect from what’s coming in and going out.

I digress.

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We’re trotting our way to the end of this season (wait what!) and in to the next. I’m not a parent but I sympathize with you/them and what they’re facing. These are not easy times, and whether or not it is safe for your child to go back to in-person schooling is no simple decision. This matter is conflated by the fact that the circumstances are different everywhere. My heart goes out to all the parents, step-parents, grandparents, and kids out there. May the decision you make be the best for your family.

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In other news about the seasons, I was successful in planting, growing and even partially successful in harvesting a garden this year! This is my first garden in…15 years maybe? Wow, that makes me feel old! The pandemic pushed me to stop procrastinating and get it done. My biggest hang-up (pretty sure I’ve already shared this) was my soil. I have what’s called slag in my backyard. It is an industrial by-product, from what I don’t know, but it’s left over from metal smelting and often used as filler. I don’t know who filled this yard or when or with what or why but these big funky meteor-like chunks are abundant. After reaching out to a geologist I decided (thank you) it best I not take my chances with my soil. So I built raised beds using untreated 2x6s (go me!) and filled them with a soil mixture from a local landscaping company. I had also purchased some bags of organic container mix, raised bed mix, potting soil, and top soil. That was back in March when things were iffy and getting soil and seeds was difficult. Eventually the lockdown eased and I was able to get a bulk mixture delivered to my house. Which I proceeded to move in dozens of wheelbarrow loads.

I built three raised-beds, though not all three were planned, especially the third one. In fact it was a great exercise for me in just doing and not being so afraid to. Are they ideal in their placement? Absolutely not. But they’re there, for now, and I’m DOING not thinking about doing anymore. They are 4×8′, 4×6′, and 4×4′, all 12″ high though the dirt is more like 10-11″ deep since it has settled.

This post isn’t going to go into a whole lot more detail about my garden because I’ve decided that I am going to start a new series/section all about my garden called In the Life of My Garden. If you want to know more about my garden please follow that link or search garden in the search box. You can also scroll down my feed and find posts about it. What I will tell you here is I’m growing Bumble Bee Cherry tomatoes (6 plants), roma tomatoes (4 plants), orange bell peppers (6 plants), beets, broccoli (big fail with that one), Kuri squash (2 plants, awesome then disaster), Hearts of Gold cantaloupe (2 plants, one in container), Sugar Baby watermelon (2 plants, one in container), snow peas (yes they grew in the heat!), bush beans (that turned out to like growing vertically), true mini carrots (did you know most baby carrots in the store are actually full-size just cut down?), mustard greens, and now I’m in the midst of a fall garden plan and plantings.

Like I said, please follow the link In the Life of My Garden to learn and discover more. I find it really hard to believe I’ll ever go back to not gardening again.

Not only did gardening get me back in touch with my nature loving side, it also got me more in touch with YouTube! (Some of you are nodding and smiling YES while others are shaking your heads NO NO NO, oh the distraction! All of you are right. ;)) First of all thank you Crafty Gemini for my first video on building my own raised beds. I really need to check out some more of her videos, I’ve gotten all caught up in those of many others, namely Gardener Scott operating out of Colorado. Gardener Scott is one of many interesting people I’ve recently discovered on YouTube (not including those I found before related to Book Tube). His channel is a well of information let me tell you. He’s like that teacher/professor you had that seemed to know everything and was more than happy to share. Then there’s Self-Sufficient Me over in Australia, highly recommend him as well. People call Self-Sufficient Me the Steve Irwin of gardening. Lol. He is, though there is no one like Steve Irwin for real. Did you know Bindi is expecting her first child? Move along Elpy… I also found Jess and Jeremiah over at their Roots and Refuge farm in Arkansas. She too is a natural born teacher. Their farm is beautiful and their commitment to it admirable. Then there’s MIGardener in Michigan. He makes me smile, he’s so enthusiastic about his garden and teaching the rest of us how to Grow Big or Go Home! There are others but these are my top four for gardening and Crafty Gemini is well crafty as heck!

You can click on the links above to check out all those beautiful people. Also follow my In the Life of My Garden page to know more.

Aside from telling you to check out those channels I have to tell you a wonderful thing Gardener Scott introduced me to: VERMICOMPOSTING! That’s right folks, worms and worm composting. Gardener Scott has some videos in which in starts, maintains and harvests a worm bin. MIGardener has some as well. What ever do you want a worm bin for some of you ask? Why composting of course!

Gardener Scott also runs a compost pile outside in his garden, which I was considering but ultimately in my current situation a worm composting bin in my basement (okay two) is best for me.

I have long wanted to stop just throwing out my organic food scraps (think strawberry tops, cucumber and zucchini ends, greens that go bad before you get to them or finish them, yucky apple chunks, etc). So many times I’d make some food for my birds and look at all that was left over and sigh. Or I’d buy veggies with the best of intentions (I’m going to eat healthier AND lose weight) only to see much of it go to waste (having a crap refrigerator doesn’t help). If only I could do something with that waste…

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Welcome the Worms!!! I now have red wigglers, blue worms (mostly them), and some European nightcrawlers taking care of food waste (not all, not meat or dairy or other stuff) for me. Stay tuned and visit In the Life of My Garden for more on my newest hobby of composting with worms and the cool YouTube channels I found pertaining to this.

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Alright if you’re still with me, thank you so so much, I promise there’s not too much more in this post. I’m going to tell you about what update posts you can expect.

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On the book blogging front I have not been reading physical books because… I just haven’t. I still have to finish Akata Warrior and several others. I won a Goodreads giveaway for The Bone Jar (Detective Lew Kirby, #1) by S.W. Kane and received an e-copy that I just discovered and decided to start last night (as if I’m not currently reading too many books). It’ll all be okay though… lol… as long as I don’t start anymore books… … …

While I haven’t been physically reading I have been listening to audio books and have finished many. In fact I just started Inheritance by Dani Shapiro. I’m halfway through and totally intrigued. I can’t believe I’m only halfway through as this first half feels like a story in and of itself. It’s a memoir by the way.

So I’ll be updating you on what I’ve read/listened to and maybe I’ll have some reviews in there too. The last three books at least have been five stars, really really enjoyed them. I’ll also update my currently reading list as well as my 20 Books for Summer 2020. That list is going to have to change, which kind of feels like a cheat. I guess I’m just going to need to go for 20 books period.

My novel has been patiently waiting for me to pull my muddy boots out of this creative slump. I do not believe in writer’s block, just so you know this is not that. But I’m getting back to it and I’ll have some writing related posts for you about what I’ve learned (check out my post about things I’ve learned so far).

I’m also going to update my recommended Podcasts page. I’ve got some more to add to it as well I’m thinking I should make it an overall resources kind of page where you can find all the links to various people/channels/blogs I follow regularly or at least from time to time. This would include book bloggers, book tubers, gardening and vermiculture channels, podcasts and more. Oh and I definitely have some cool photos from the garden for you; ever seen what a beneficial predator can do for your garden, namely a tomato hornworm? Oh yeah, I got that baby! 😉

This leads me to share that I plan to go back (but in a forward kind of way 😉 ) to sharing my own photography with you, like I used to but not exactly like I used to. 😀

I appreciate the time and energy you spent with me today, really I do. 😀 I hope you’ll like and follow my blog should you be interested in these updates and what’s to come. As I like to remind you, I LOVE COMMENTS. 😀 Just saying… Feel free to share what content you’re most interested in or what updates and even how your summer has been. I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great rest of your week!

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Hi there!

Hi there kind visitor, thanks for stopping by. I hope you find my blog interesting, and if you do maybe you want to follow me and hit that like button/star/icon and perhaps even leave a comment! Woo hoo that would be lovely.

But that’s not what this sticky post is for. I just wanted to say hold on friends, you are not alone. I don’t know your circumstances but I’m praying for us all that God bless the scientists, professionals, and everyone working around the clock to get this coronavirus under control to some extent. May they find the treatment we need, be successful in developing a vaccine, and keep us all safe and well by implementing policies and directions that will help slow the spread of the virus and provide us some relief.

Social distancing, self-isolating, and quarantining are not easy. No doubt it’s easier for some more than others. I’m thinking of you. I’m praying for you and your family. Hunker down but don’t panic. Make sure you have necessary supplies – like medications and pet food too – but don’t hoard and keep others from getting what they need. Don’t forget to care for your mental wellness as well as your physical. This kind of situation can be super trying on our minds, and stress does not do a body good. So be sure to talk to each other, share your concerns, don’t be afraid to laugh, smile, get some sunshine (safely), and get some exercise whatever that looks like for you.

If you’re interested I put together a survey thing just testing it out and getting a feel for things. I like quizzes and surveys so maybe you do too. My questions revolve around what you’re maybe or maybe not doing to keep yourself sane and occupied during this time, with regard to reading. It should follow this paragraph if I did it right. If you don’t want to take it, no worries, I’m just glad you’re here. 😀 Oh and hit the next button to start the survey. I’m not gathering info for anything other than my and your curiosity. I’ll probably leave this up for the week then share the results, without names unless you say oh oh eLPy talk about me, no promises on that end. 😉 I will then toss up another survey because I think this is gonna be fun.

Welcome to your Corona Buddy Reads

Are you doing any buddy reads in response to needing to self-isolate?

Has the coronavirus crisis effected how and what you read?

1 out of 2

How do you plan to use your time at home under your state/nation's restrictions?

2 out of 2

2020 Currently Reading

Okay instead of having my TBR page (like I did in 2019) telling you what I’ve read, what I’m reading, and what I plan to read this year, I’m going to have this post “sticky”. Here, always found at the top of my blog, you’ll see what I’m currently reading and/or listening to and what I just read. If I know for sure I’ll tell you what’s next. There might also be some notes about how I’m feeling while reading/listening. Feel free to comment.

Currently Reading/Listening to:

  • The Bone Jar (Detective Lew Kirby, #1) by S.W. Kane – Kindle edition – mystery, thriller
    • I won this through a Goodreads’ Giveaway (thank you!) though I didn’t discover that fact until last night. Probably I should have waited to finish some of these books but I had my tablet and…sigh… Who doesn’t need a good mystery book in their lives? I used to read a lot more of this genre.

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  • Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro – Audible audio, narrated by the author – memoir
    • Wow. I’m a little more than half way through this audio book. It’s super intriguing. This far in I can’t believe there’s still so much more to hear! I highly recommend this book if you’re interested especially in this subject matter (I always have been). I expect this book will continue to be a 5 star read that I will finish sooner than later.

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  • In Search of Black History with Bonnie Greer by Bonnie Greer – Audible original, Audible audio book, narrated by the author – nonfiction, history
    • This is a really, really informative book and essential reading. Most of these stories and facts I did not know, sad to say, but I am thankful for this resource to have crossed my path. The only reason I haven’t finished it (I’m on the last chapter) is becasue I want to listen with more focus.
    • This is a book I will come back to again and again so that I may better retain the information. I recommend it to everyone.

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  • Akata Warrior (Akata Witch, #2) by Nnedi Okorafor – hardcover – fantasy, YA
    • Really enjoyed the first book, Akata Witch, and so far this one does not disappoint.
    • What’s disappointing is my ability to sit down and read an actual physical book! Lol.

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  • Kind of Coping: An Illustrated Look at Life with Anxiety by Maureen Marzi Wilson – harcover – nonfiction, graphic novel
    • This is a cute but interesting little book. I’ve read half of it so far. I appreciate the light-hearted nature of this book though the subject is something very serious. I do recommend it to anyone with anxiety or who knows someone with anxiety. It’s nice to laugh while relating about something that’s not so funny, and sometimes drop a tear to know I’m not alone when feeling X.

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  • Thick: and Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom – Hardcover
    • This find is thanks to the podcast Reading Women. Do check out my page about the podcasts I listen to, mostly about reading and/or writing. Those lovely women raved about this book. There have been others talking about it as well and then I saw it on display at a local bookstore. I said okay, let’s go, you’re coming with me. It’s been looking at me ever since and well, today I figured what the heck, they’re essays so I can read them as I please. So far, so good. I’m looking forward to seeing the life of a person so different than me through their lens.

I desperately need to finish Voyage of the Basilisk – The Memoirs of Lady Trent #3 by Marie Brennan (started, oh, forever ago last year). So I’m kind of also currently still reading that though admittedly I keep forgetting about it…hm…what does that say about this series that I’ve liked but…ugh…

Recently Finished: ( since I’m behind these are from June, July, Aug)

  • Vicious by V.E. Schwab, narrated by Noah Michael Levine – Audible audio – urban fantasy, maybe mafical realism?, super powers…

Finished August 6, 2020

  • Now this is a different book and it was great. It’s all about anti-heroes.
    • 5 stars on the story/book, but if I had to I’d knock it to 4.5 because of the narrator. He’s not terrible, horrible no. In a lot of ways he fits, but I really didn’t care for the newscaster feel to his performance, though he did manage different voices well. So it strangely works, but…

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Finished August 4, 2020

  • This was as great as I’ve heard other bloggers say. Not that I read any real reviews because I wanted to be surprised, but in my opinion it’s worth the hype. And I teared up a few times. 5 stars

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Finished July 20, 2020 —> My 5 Star Review

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Finished June 24, 2020

  • Found this as an Audible daily deal and I couldn’t resist. Let me tell you, I do not regret it. This was a really intriguing and different story. And narrator did a beautiful job. 5 Star review coming soon (promise, just need to post it).

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Finished June 19, 2020

  • What’d I say, I had to get to it. New fan of this author, as well as the narrator.

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Finished June 15, 2020

  • I devoured this book! I didn’t know there was already a second but jumped on it quickly. Really looking forward to more.
    • This book comes to me at a great time, the time we’re living in. It’s good to experience the experience of others even through fiction. There is ugliness and wretched human nature, but also beauty here. Review coming soon[er than later]

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  • Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor – Hardcover – YA, fantasy, children’s middle grade
    • Just started this 8 May after finishing Lagoon by the same author. I’m about 3-4 chapters in and interested. The main character is a young albino girl born in New York City to Nigerian parents who moved back to Nigeria. She gets bullied and makes new friends, so far and there’s something going on, something different about these kids. Even though Sunny gets bullied for being albino, which some in their culture affiliate with witches, she is touch and sassy. It’s great.

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  • The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons, #2) by Jenn Lyons, narrated by Saskia MaarleveldDan BittnerLauren Fortgang – Audible audio version – Adult Epic Fantasy
    • I actually started this at the very beginning of May. I think the third book comes out this fall so I decided I should go ahead with this.
    • So far I don’t love that the main narrator is new, well different from the last book. I get it, it’s someone else reading the story of what happened but from an audio book perspective it isn’t great to now hear your main character with a totally different voice. That said I’m enjoying it, four chapters in. Looks like this book is going to be a lot more about dragons than the first.

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What Else I’ve Read this Year

Now that we’ve moved into August, I see that it is not efficient to leave the list of titles and notes that I’ve already finished. Therefore, I will continue to share notes and thoughts of what I’m currently reading and recently finished however I will archive older notes and just list the books I finished and a short bit of thoughts, that is only if I don’t have a review available. Recently finished, by the way, will refer to books I finished in the last month and so far in current month.

Finished May 8, 2020

  • Got another five-star read here! As I write this this was my most recent finish and it was great. Very unique and original first contact story that takes place in Lagos, Nigeria. I recommend this book and this author. To read my review CLICK HERE.

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Finished April 30, 2020

Awesome fast-paced story. I think it was even better than the first, not that the first was less than but rather this adds to what was already built there. Definitely a five-star read/listen. I really like listening to Tanis Parenteau read this story as well.

In this story you get new scenery as well as some really cool new characters. I highly recommend this story though I will be anxiously awaiting the 3rd book. The author says on Goodreads that she has two more books planned for this series, four total. HECK YEAH! 😀

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Finished April 24, 2020

  • I really enjoyed this short novella and give it five stars. It’s different, it’s original, it’s an easy read, and I highly recommend it.

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Finished April 19, 2020

  • Update: I really enjoyed this book and gave it 5 stars. This story is intense and emotional. Read my Review HERE.

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Finished April 3, 2020 —> My Quick Review Here

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Finished April 22, 2020 —> My Sort of, For Now Temporary Review

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Finished April 4, 2020 —> My Review – 3 stars

  • This has been on my list since March of 2019. Ms. Victorious over at Victorious Pages

  • The Ruin of Kings (A Chorus of Dragons, #1) by Jenn Lyons, Audible Audio edition narrated by Feodor Chin, Vikas Adam, Soneela Nankani
    • So I went back through my notes to see how I found this book. It does not appear I learned of it through any book bloggers. Honestly I don’t know how I found this book! I think she was on a podcast but I can’t find the one. It could have also been NPR but I don’t think so. Maybe it was a fellow blogger and I didn’t write it down…? Ugh…notes are great…
    • This is an epic fantasy, which means it’s a really big book. Which is also part of the reason I chose to listen to it: not a heavy book and much cheaper because I used the book “credit” I get from audible for the month. I’m in Chapter 26 and still have 19 hours to go. So if you need a big long story, here you go.
    • It is a long drawn out storytelling that’s for sure. But I don’t say drawn out in a bad way. It’s getting more and more interesting. I won’t be surprised if in the end I say it could have done without being this long but we’ll see. So far I like it, not super in love with it, but it’s cool. 😀
    • Upon finishing: What I said above came to be, I really liked this book. However, I don’t feel that it would necessarily be served by cutting it down. This is a journey and taking the journey makes for a complete story. Could some sections have been shorter and the story still great? Sure thing. But it’s still an excellent book. I’m giving it 4 stars. I do recommend it and I will continue with the series THAT I DIDN’T KNOW WAS A THING! 🙂

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  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor , narrated by Steve West- Audible audio book
    • [Here’s what I said before:] I’m in about Chapter 10 I think? So far I’m disappointed because this book is taking so long to be interesting. Lazlo, the main character (MC), really feels flat to me at this point. Given the number of roaring reviews I’ve discovered there to be (saw, didn’t read just glazed over a few) I have faith that this book improves but if I was given an ultimatum I’d be tempted to DNF this.
    • You know a book is taking too long to really grab you when you almost forget you’re actually supposed to be paying attention to what you’re listening to and you struggle to want to.
    • This book I found thanks to SilverWolfReads after her trip to NYC and her giant book haul. Please do visit her blog (click the link above) and read my review of this book. I most recently finished this book & after what I’ve said above you’ll be surprised to know I’m rating this 5/5 stars.

We’re just getting into May and the sun is shining more and more. This last month has been pretty good for reading. However, as the weather warms I won’t be inside as much but I will need to get some sun – time to read and write – and I’ll be doing yard work which is conducive to listening to audio books and podcasts. 😀

A little while ago I wrote a post for anticipated reading among other things. I’ve since finished some of those, altered plans a little bit and added on to it.

Reading Plans for May & June [I promise I will update the following soon!]

  • At the time of writing I’ve just started Akata Witch (see above). I was going to read the first then some V.E. Schwab but since I already have Akata Warrior I will read that immediately following Akata Witch.
  • After those two I’ll start A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (finally 😉 ).

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  • I don’t know what I’ll listen to when I’m finished with The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons, #2) but I have The Wise Man’s Fear (sequel to The Name of the Wind), The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow;

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  • Let’s see what else? Hmm… do you think I should just read A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy in a row? I also have Planetfall by Emma Newman on my mind and Where the Line Bleeds by Jesmyn Ward. Any thoughts?

I really love engaging with folks in comments. I’d love to hear what you think about this list and I really thank you for taking the time to read this.

Stay safe & well!

Black Lives Matter.

My Review of Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst – 5 Stars

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Information from Goodreads:

In this stand-alone fantasy, Durst introduces an imaginative new world in which a pair of strong and determined women risk their lives battling injustice, corruption, and deadly enemies in their quest to become monster-racing champions.

Life, death, and rebirth – in Becar, who you are in this life will determine your next life. Yet there is hope – you can change your destiny with the choices you make. But for the darkest individuals, there is no redemption: you come back as a kehok, a monster, and are doomed to be a kehok for the rest of time.

Unless you can win the Races.

After a celebrated career as an elite kehok rider, Tamra became a professional trainer. Then a tragic accident shattered her confidence, damaged her reputation, and left her nearly broke. Now, she needs the prize money to prevent the local temple from taking her daughter away from her, and that means she must once again find a winning kehok…and a rider willing to trust her.

Raia is desperate to get away from her domineering family and cruel fiancé. As a kehok rider, she could earn enough to buy her freedom. But she needs a first-rate trainer.

Impressed by the inexperienced young woman’s determination, Tamra hires Raia and pairs her with a strange new kehok with the potential to win – if he can be tamed.

But in this sport, if you forget you’re riding on the back of a monster, you die. Tamra and Raia will work harder than they ever thought possible to win the deadly Becaran Races – and in the process, discover what makes this particular kehok so special.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53246421-race-the-sands

AudiobookPublished April 21st 2020 by HarperAudio

My Rating: 5 Stars

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My Review of Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst

5/5 stars

I really really enjoyed this story. I’m not an expert on genres or categories but I wonder if this might fit as new adult…? At first I wasn’t sure that it wasn’t young adult what with the ages of several main characters but ultimately I see why they didnt call it so (kind of). I dont know but whatever it is I think it will satisfy a number of audiences.

There are a number of things I appreciated. For one Sarah Beth Durst has an awesome imagination. She loves to play with strange monsters and I think that’s great. She also wasnt afraid to cast a wide array of characters at the heart of this story. She surprised me with some of them (one in particular) and that was really refreshing. It reminded me of real life, people aren’t cut-outs, rarely do they fit in one category. All her characters are full of drive and ambition and I root for them with pleasure.

This isn’t the type of story that is ruined by figuring out the plot moves before they happen. Nope. It’s more so the case that you look forward to seeing what’s ultimately going to happen. There were some turns that ended kind of bluntly but honestly, I like that. Things aren’t long and drawn out like they could be, and many stories are. Durst keeps the story interesting, moving and satisfying.

I dare say that many times while listening to this story I was moved to emotion. I smiled A LOT. And I keep wanting to come back to calling this a kind of feel good story, and therefore satisfying. I highly recommend this story to teens, young, new and not so new adults.

I would recommend listening to this as an audio book. My only gripe is that I didn’t care for how the narrator performed the trainer’s daughter. She reads her almost baby like though I do believe her daughter is 11 years old. Other than that I thought she did a great job performing this book.

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Have you read or heard of this book? New release as of this April so it’s possible you have yet to even hear of it, but now you have! Check it out! While you’re at it you might want to check out Sarah Beth Durst’s other books, of which she has A LOT. I’ve not read them all but I am a fan of the Queens of Renthia series.

Let me know what you think!

If you’re interested in what else I’ve reviewed (shared my opinion on) CLICK HERE!

If you want to know what I’m currently reading or recently finished CLICK HERE!

Thank you for your time and interest!

Black Lives Matter.


P.S. This summer I shared a comment on another blog that was in disagreement with that blogger’s thoughts. Maybe I was wrong to go on bashing a book they professed to love, maybe I should have kept my thoughts to myself (if you don’t have anything nice to say…). Maybe I exhibited poor etiquette and it was simply wrong time, wrong place. But I want you to know that I respect your opinion on books I’ve read even if it’s different than mine. (If I don’t respect it, I’ll be sure to let you know. 😉 ) I encourage you to share when you love a book I don’t or can’t stand a book I love. Let’s just be respectful of each other okay? No nastiness towards each other, meaning go ahead and vent about the book but not the author or me. (I don’t think I have to amend this more do I?) That’s all I ask. It’s not personal. And please do give me your list of reasons, perhaps we can engage in some discussion. After all, if all you say is that book was crap, I’m going to want a reason or two.


My Review of Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, #1) by Cassandra Clare – 3 stars

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Information from Goodreads:

In a secret world where half-angel warriors called Shadowhunters are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word. A parabatai is your best friend and battle partner. Parabatai can be everything to each other–but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs ia a Shadowhunter, the best in her generation. Together with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Loa Angeles, where faeries–the most powerful of supranatural creatures–teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When bodies–both faerie and human-turn up, bearing marks that match those found on Emma’s own murdered parents, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge–and Julian’s chance to get back to his brother, a prisoner of the faerie Courts. All they have to do is solve the murders within two weeks… and before the murderer target them.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27788505-lady-midnight

Paperback, 669 pages — Published March 8th 2016 by Margaret K. McEldeberry Books

My Rating: 3 Stars

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My Review of Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, #1) by Cassandra Clare

3/5 stars

This book frustrated the heck out of me. Overall I’d say Cassandra Clare certainly can write and come up with some cool story ideas but but but BUT this book just wasn’t for me. I’ve not read any of her other books. I found this and started reading before I knew of the others. And at this point I will not continue with any others. (There were some sample chapters at the end of this story that I will admit piqued my interest a bit although not enough to chase them down now.)

The overall concept. angel-human hybrid race, is great, I was all in for this. And from the start it seemed like an interesting batch of characters. The forbidden love aspect is pretty clear from the beginning. Not everything has to be a surprise to be interesting. However it dragged and dragged. And that’s what I really didn’t like about this. So much attention was paid to relationships, especially that of Julian and Emma and Julian and the kids, that I felt like the plot suffered as a result. Of course it’s not uncommon for a story to be character driven but I can’t say I felt it was even that driven. It frustrated me and felt repetitive to keep reading how people felt for each other when we already got the point. For me these feelings equated to a whole lot of tell and not enough show.

My biggest complaint, and IMHO the biggest disservice to the story, was the length. At 669 pages this was not small book. I think the whole story would have been MUCH better were it half that. This is another reason I’m not particularly interested in continuing with the series, too much time spent on day to day life and relationships. But if that’s your thing, and you’re okay with action popping up like garnish, then by all means I’d recommend this. Otherwise, I regret to say that I don’t.

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Have you read this book, this series, or any of the other many many books by Cassandra Clare? (Gotta hand it to her, she’s putting in work!) What did you think?


P.S. This summer I shared a comment on another blog that was in disagreement with that blogger’s thoughts. Maybe I was wrong to go on bashing a book they professed to love, maybe I should have kept my thoughts to myself (if you don’t have anything nice to say…). Maybe I exhibited poor etiquette and it was simply wrong time, wrong place. But I want you to know that I respect your opinion on books I’ve read even if it’s different than mine. (If I don’t respect it, I’ll be sure to let you know. 😉 ) I encourage you to share when you love a book I don’t or can’t stand a book I love. Let’s just be respectful of each other okay? No nastiness towards each other, meaning go ahead and vent about the book but not the author or me. (I don’t think I have to amend this more do I?) That’s all I ask. It’s not personal. And please do give me your list of reasons, perhaps we can engage in some discussion. After all, if all you say is that book was crap, I’m going to want a reason or two.


If you’re interested in what else I’ve reviewed (shared my opinion on) CLICK HERE!

If you want to know what I’m currently reading or recently finished CLICK HERE!

Thank you for your time and interest!

Black Lives Matter.

My Review of The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1) by Patrick Rothfuss – 4.5 stars

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Information from Goodreads:

older alternate cover edition of ASIN B002A2BO2Y

“My name is Kvothe. I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I have burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during the day. I have talked to Gods, loved women and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me.”

So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature – the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man’s search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend. 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22571137-the-name-of-the-wind

Audible Audio, Unabridged, 28 pages — Published May 15th 2009 by Brilliance Audio (first published March 27th 2007)

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My Rating: 4.5 stars

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My Review of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars but not enough to roll to 5 stars since partials aren’t allow.

More complete review coming soon… well okay more like eventually.

While I really enjoyed this book, it really is a great epic tale, really well written I actually can’t decide if this is a four or a five for me. When it was great it was great but being as long as it is means there’s a lot of time that’s meh, again, well-written, but less interesting. That’s all I’m saying for now.

In the meantime, here are some notes I archived from while I was listening to the story:

  • I won’t get into how this was an accidental purchase, because I do somewhere else. But here we have another epic fantasy. It reminds me a lot of Lord of the Rings. My patience for long long long stories is just not there. This is a good and interesting story, for sure, well-written and all that. But it’s really super long and probably, again I say this, wouldn’t be hurt if a lot of scenes were cut out or cut down.
  • All in all it’s no where near DNF, but when I think about how everyone complains that the third book in this series (this first book published in 2007!) has not yet even been ANNOUNCED, I get nervous. What if I love these first two and have to just sit empty handed? Okay maybe not empty-handed because I have so many books to read. Stay tuned…
  • Update: This story certainly is epic. It’s long and it’s very well-written. I give it four and half stars only because it’s SO DARN LONG. It’s great sure, think Lord of the Rings like I said before. The characters are dynamic and distinct. I could see and feel the events as they happened. But it really takes us through IT ALL. Lol. I do recommend it. I’m really glad I went with the audible version. The narrator puts on a great performance, different voices and all.
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Have you read this series? What did you think? Please don’t spoil the second book for me though, I have the second also as an audible just not sure when I’ll get around to it. I guess it should be sooner than later. In that case I’ll add it to the 20 Books of Summer 20 list (if it isn’t there already).

How do you feel that Patrick Rothfuss has yet to announce the third book? Does it bother you when writers take a really really long time to finish a long-anticipated book?

Thanks for your time and interest!

If you’d like to see what else I’ve reviewed (shared my opinion of) CLICK HERE.

And don’t forget to see what I’m currently reading and recently finished.


P.S. This summer I shared a comment on another blog that was in disagreement with that blogger’s thoughts. Maybe I was wrong to go on bashing a book they professed to love, maybe I should have kept my thoughts to myself (if you don’t have anything nice to say…). Maybe I exhibited poor etiquette and it was simply wrong time, wrong place. But I want you to know that I respect your opinion on books I’ve read even if it’s different than mine. (If I don’t respect it, I’ll be sure to let you know. 😉 ) I encourage you to share when you love a book I don’t or can’t stand a book I love. Let’s just be respectful of each other okay? No nastiness towards each other, meaning go ahead and vent about the book but not the author or me. (I don’t think I have to amend this more do I?) That’s all I ask. It’s not personal. And please do give me your list of reasons, perhaps we can engage in some discussion. After all, if all you say is that book was crap, I’m going to want a reason or two.


Black Lives Matter.

My Review of What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra – 5 Stars

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Information from Goodreads:

What the Woods Keep is the stunning debut of Katya de Becerra, who combines mystery, science fiction, and dark fantasy in a twisty story that will keep you mesmerized right up to the final page.

On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home—on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.

Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She’s getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it’s all catching up with her: her mother’s mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father’s outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.

As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden’s mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible—something that threatens reality itself.

An Imprint Book 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36686071-what-the-woods-keep

Hardcover, 384 pages — Published September 18th 2018 by Imprint

My Rating: 5 Stars

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My Review of What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra

5/5 stars

For me this was a quick read and for that I’m grateful. This was an easy yet very interesting read. It was simple enough to follow along easily but strange enough to keep you wondering. Katya de Becerra has a new fan! This story is full of mystery and intrigue. She gives you just enough to hold on, like a snack, but not keep you starving. The story moves at a good pace overall given all the little clues and nuggets she leaves along the way. She uses letters, notes, diary entries and the like throughout the story, inserted like photocopies. They’re the source of a lot of important information and a brilliant way to provide that info (like background) without doing an info dump or exposition. More than halfway through the book I did want the story to hurry up and get to the heart of the matter but I think that was more my anxiousness than anything else.

On top of how well the story is written, the concept is pretty darn cool. I don’t know (yet, I’ll go searching after I write this) but I hope this is a series because I will certainly be following this story, as well as the author.

Big Heck Yeah 5 stars to What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra! 😀

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P.S. You’re going to find that some of my reviews are short, simple, sweet even while others are long and detailed or even overly “ranty”. The length or brevity of my review is not necessarily a reflection of the book but rather a reflection of the time. Sometimes I prefer to say my piece lest I procrastinate and it never happen.

Any thoughts??

My Review of Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor – 5 Stars

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Information from Goodreads:

Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?

Hardcover, 349 pagesPublished April 14th 2011 by Viking Children’s

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My Rating: 5 Stars

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My Review of Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor

5/5 stars

Once again Nnedi Okorafor did not fail to impress. I’m pretty sure I read on her page that a movie or show is in the works for this book and I’m excited to see it manifested.

“It’s just an insect specter,” Orlu said as he touched the sting with his knife. He made a popping sound with his lips. “They’re the result of insects people smash. Most angry spirits come from deaths by acts of cruelty. If the insect is angry or a vengeful type, it’ll return as one of these.” Slowly the feeling in her legs returned. The bruise on her hip from falling remained, though.

This is a really interesting book with engaging, dynamic characters that easily stand out from each other. This series might well be described as a more diverse, unique, and perhaps grounded Harry Potter in that we’ve got a group of kids, some of whom are already aware of “magic”, one who is not. They are sent to attend “magic school” all while still leading their “regular” lives. No offense to the Harry Potter series but this story isn’t about your typical idea of magic. A person’s ability is often unique to them or something they’ve inherited from a relative. I love the idea that what might be a disadvantage or flaw in the “lamb” world translates into an ability among Leopard People. It’s beautiful.

This story is easy to read, well-paced, and original. It’s fantastic and feels true to life even as it’s set in a country, continent and culture I do not know. I’m grateful for this opportunity to read a story set in Nigeria flavored with fantasy. We all know one of the beauties of reading is being able to travel outside of our own lives, this book delivers on that in SO MANY ways.

“Lesson one, ” Anatov said. “And this is for all of you. Learn how to learn. Read between the lines. Know what to take and what to discard. Sunny, we don’t teach as the Lambs do. Books will be part of your learning but experience is important, too. You’ll all be sent out to see for yourselves. So you have to know how to learn…”

There is violence, but it’s not overwhelming . I think it’s comparable to a PG-13 movie, mind you I don’t read a lot of books of this age-range so I might not be the best judge. That said my 12-year old niece isn’t big on scary or violent stories/movies but I think I will recommend this to her nonetheless. The main characters are 13-14 years old. Nnedi gives these characters energy and attitude true to children. Sunny, the main protagonist and a new student of the Leopard world, is a spunky, sassy girl who is understandably nervous but brave. She’s bullied for being albino but she remains strong and stands up for herself even though at times it hurts to feel like an outsider.

Okorafor is good at tapping into the characters’ emotions and not forgetting those seemingly small moments of emotional pain, young and old. You’ll also find some great lessons woven into these pages.

“Sunny, there are Leopard People all over the world from every tribe, race, whatever. None is better than the other.”

I will continue to make my way through her work moving right along to Akata Warrior, #2 in this duology. I strongly recommend reading this book and more of Nnedi Okorafor. If you haven’t yet branched out to more diverse authors, Nnedi Okorafor’s books are a great place to start for the fantasy/sci-fi genres.

“Let me tell you something Chichi and Sasha have a hard time respecting,” Orlu said, putting his fork down. “Leopard People – all our kind all over the world – are not like Lambs. Lambs think money and material things are the most important thing in the world. You can cheat, lie, steal, kill, be dumb as a rock, but if you can brag about money and having lots of things and your bragging is true, that bypasses everything. Money and material things make you king or queen of the Lamb world. You can do no wrong, you can do anything.

Leopard People are different. The only way you can earn chittim is by learning. The more you learn, the more chittim you earn. Knowledge is the center of all things…”

From Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1)

The following are more quotes from the book that are listed and liked on Goodreads:

“People are too focused on money. It’s supposed to be a tool, not the prize to be won.”

“They’re capable of great things, but potential doesn’t equal success.”

“We embrace those things that make us unique or odd. For only in these things can we locate and then develop our most individual abilities.”

We’re going through some truly incredible times in the world right now. Sometimes I feel like we should have expected 2020 to be different. I mean, 2020 right? Gosh… The change we are experiencing is profound and much of it overdo. I am proud of those standing up against injustice. I am proud of those standing up for science and the good of the community. I am proud of all the brave people exercising their courage in the face of fear. I am so proud of all the people embracing each other, coming together, and demanding a better world for everyone. People are showing each other that hate has no place among us.

In the midst of all of this, many of us are wondering what can I do? How can I help? Maybe you’re marching, maybe you’re not, but you want to know how you can be a part of the change and help to usher it forward. One way we can do this is to continue to support each other and to support communities of color. We can help by investing in communities of color; this in part means supporting the work done by people of color, and the businesses, the arts, and the efforts among so many other things. In the bookish world, the art world, we do this by buying books by and about people of color. We do this by talking about their books and stories, telling our friends and family, our neighborhoods, our social media-hoods. We can help by promoting more diversity in the arts. Don’t have many or any authors of color on your TBR? Well now is as good a time as ever to branch out. And when you find those authors you enjoyed, spread their name far and wide. Encourage others to read their work. Then find more and share more. Read non-fiction and fiction by and about people and communities of color. Read books that take place in a community, neighborhood or region unlike yours.

We in the bookish community already love to read, so let’s be super intentional in what we pick (if you’re not already doing this) and make sure you pick up books, more books by and about people of color. In fact, I have an idea, get this book and others by this author! 😉

From Goodread’s author bio:

Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian-American author of African-based science fiction and fantasy (Africanfuturism and Africanjujuism). Okorafor has won a Hugo, a Nebula, a World Fantasy Award, and a Locus Award, and her many fans include Neil Gaiman, Rick Riordan, John Green, and Ursula Le Guin. She is writing a series for Marvel about Shuri, Black Panther’s sister, and has a number of book-based projects in development for film and TV – including HBO’s adaptation of her novel Who Fears Death, with George R. R. Martin signed on as executive producer. Okorafor is also co-writing the screenplay of an adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed with filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu for Amazon Prime Video, with Viola Davis producing. Her novel Akata Warrior (of the Akata Series) is the winner of the Lodestar and Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/588356.Nnedi_Okorafor

The above link will take you to her Goodreads’ bio page but THIS LINK will take you to her website.

You can CLICK HERE to read my review of Lagoon, a sci-fi/fantasy, first contact book by this author. Another five star read in my humble opinion.

You can also CLICK HERE for my review of Binti, an awesome sci-fi novella, the first of 3 books I shamefully have yet to finish! (But I will. 😉 )

And I will be re-reading (one of these days) The Book Of Phoenix (Who Fears Death, #0.5). I want to refresh my experience with this book as I read it at least a couple years ago but have since become a big fan of this author.

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Rest assured I will continue to work my way through her books. Today I start Akata Warrior (Akata Witch, #2).

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Have you read any of her work? Have you heard of these books or her? What did you think? Don’t be afraid to express your opinion. Have you read any I have yet to read? What other authors of color would you recommend we read? I encourage you to share. In the coming week I hope to put together a post about authors of color in an effort to help promote and support their work. Some will be authors I’ve read, some I plan to read but have heard great things about. I would also like to include suggestions from others such as yourself. I plan to link to some great posts with similar lists by other book bloggers.

So let’s as a bookish community come together and show our support for authors and communities of color by promoting their work far and wide.

Black Lives Matter.

Lessons Learned While Writing

Let me be real, writing a book is not an easy task. You don’t just sit down and write the story in your head. Sure that’s how you start but a lot happens in the midst of doing that. Your characters will teach you that what you thought about them was wrong.

Here are some other things I’ve learned while writing my first novel:
  • New characters are going to show up whether you invite them or not. And when they show up don’t try and shoo them away, you have to at least listen to what they have to offer.
  • Face it, you are going to write A LOT of words that are not going to make it into the finished book.
  • The above fact is something you have to accept and get over. Move on, don’t look back. Unless you’re like me and copy and paste some of that stuff into a different folder in hopes of using it in other works at a later date.
  • There are going to be too many days during which you can’t muster up the interest to even look at your story. You’re going to be frustrated and disappointed and even lost. Writing a book is not like butter; it doesn’t soften and get easier to spread if you just leave it out.
  • BUT despite the above bullet point, you have to continue your work. There are few parts of life that are only ever pleasant, but we push on. We persevere. Writers get over these humps and back to the story. I keep reminding myself that right now I just need to get the story out. One foot in front of the other; one word after the other.
  • What you start with is likely to change. Period.
  • Don’t get hung up on names. It’s okay to use a stand in name for a character so you can keep writing. The same goes for your title. Just get to writing and worry about such details later.
  • Be humble enough to admit you’re making excuses. Yes, sometimes I avoid writing because I don’t know what comes next. Sometimes I need a break. But, saying I just haven’t had time might be true sometimes but if I’m honest, I could make time to get it done. Be real with yourself about what you’re doing.
  • It is okay if your first draft is crummy. Keep writing.
  • Write your story, not what you think the market wants.
  • Remember that crafting a story takes many forms. Brainstorming, building character profiles, story-mapping, world-building, creating backgrounds, etc are all part of your writing. So give yourself credit for doing these things, they count. Don’t hesitate to do them if you’re not and you’re focused only on writing words.
  • Do Not expect to include all of the above in your story. Some of what you write is just for you and your work. Putting all the background you’ve gathered in your book is likely to exhaust your reader. Wouldn’t you say from your experience that this is true?
  • Write with your own voice but know that reading books is part of studying the craft. Learn how to read in a way that teaches you, benefits your writing, and builds your knowledge of the craft. This month I’ll be reading The Art of X-Ray Reading by Roy Peter Clark. I thank fellow blogger Charli Mills at The Carrot Ranch Dynamic Literary Community for suggesting this book to me.

While this list is in no way exhaustive (I’m always learning more), these are some of the things I think important to keep in mind while writing.

If you are a writer and want to share some of the things you’ve learned from writing please do! I love comments! Thanks for reading.

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20 Books of Summer 20 Reading Challenge

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Image thanks to 746 Books

Today marks the 1st day not only of June but of the 20 Books of Summer 20 Reading Challenge! I learned of this challenge over at Fictionophile’s blog. Thank you so much! I understand this is not the first of this summer challenge but it’s certainly the first time it’s sounded so cool! 😉

I’ve never done this challenge, nor do I expect to complete it. However with my new (as of last year) habit of listening to audio books I think I will get closer to finishing than not. Regardless, I will give it a shot, and my best shot! My list – which follows the rules and link to the creator – will include audio books, physical books, e-books, non-fiction and fiction. This feels like a great challenge and I’m excited to try. I am going to include the books I’m currently reading…cheat or not I’m gonna do it!

This challenge 20 Books of Summer 20 Reading Challenge – is brought to us thanks to Cathy at 746books.com.

The Rules:

Visit Cathy’s blog at 746books.com and grab the 20 Books of Summer image (seen above). Next pick your own 20 books you would like to read. Then link back to her Master post from 1 June to let her know that you are taking part.  When you visit her site you’ll see that she offers images for 15 & 10 Books of Summer as well. I like the sound of 20 of 20 so I’m going for that (even if 15 or 10 would be guaranteed success(HA!)). She would love to hear about your participation so be sure to skip on over!

(By the way, I’m super excited about being able to pick my own 20 books!)

She also urges us to follow along with the #20booksofsummer20 hashtag, and tweet along on Twitter there if you do that.

The challenge starts off on Monday 1 June and finishes on Tuesday 1 September.

Let’s go!

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20 Books of Summer 20 Reading Challenge: My Books

Here is my list of 20 books I hope to finish by September 1, 2020. They will include fiction, non-fiction, a lot of different genres, audio and physical books, AND the books I’m currently read. (Well they are still books that I’ll finish in the time frame. 😉 ). They are in no particular order other than the ones at the top (as noted) are currently being read.

If you decide to do this challenge – yeah let’s do it! – I would so love it if in addition to linking to the creator you link back here as I would love to read along with you and hear how you’re doing. 🙂 Don’t forget 10, 15 or however many books is also an option!

Currently Reading

The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons, #2) by Jenn Lyons – audio book, epic fantasy

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Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor – hardcover, fantasy

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Kind of Coping: An Illustrated Look at Life with Anxiety by Maureen Marzi Wilson – hardcover, non-fiction, sequential art (graphic novel but non-ficiton?)

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Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom – hardcover, non-fiction

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The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman – paperback, non-fiction

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Voyage of the Basilisk (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #3) by Marie Brennan – paperback, fantasy

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Non-Fiction Books I Hope to Read for this Challenge

The Art of X-Ray Reading by Roy Peter Clark – hardcover, non-fiction

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Story Physics: Harnessing the Underlying Forces of Storytelling by Larry Brooks – paperback, non-fiction

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Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation by Kyo Maclear – hardcover, non-fiction

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Courage is Contagious: And Other Reasons to Be Grateful for Michelle Obama by Nicholas Haramis (editor) – hardcover, non-fiction – **In case you’re wondering why this and not Becoming (her memoir, which I want to read), because I bought this before Becoming was written

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On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King – paperback, non-fiction, memoir

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Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah – audio book, non-fiction, memoir

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Fiction Books I Hope to Read for this Challenge

Akata Warrior (Akata Witch, #2) by Nnedi Okorafor – hardcover, fantasy, YA

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A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1) by V.E. Schwab – paperback, fantasy

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A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2) by V.E. Schwab – paperback, fantasy ***I will read #3 as I have the box set, just not priority for summer

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Interference (Semiosis Duology, #2) by Sue Burke – hardcover, sci-fi/fantasy, first encounter

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Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst – audio book, fantasy

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Bluebird, Bluebird (Highway 59, #1) by Attica Locke – audio book, mystery, thriller

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The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – audio book, fantasy

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The Ice House (The Honours, #2) by Tim Clare – kindle e-book, fantasy

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Bonus Book

The Storm Crow (The Storm Crow, #1) by Kalyn Josephsonversion undecided audio or physical?

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This list is subject to change. 🙂 Especially the audio book side of things. Creating this list makes me think I could really complete this challenge! (Lol, smh…)

It never ceases to excite and disappoint me when I make book lists. Why disappointment you ask? Because this list feels so incomplete! There’s a bookshelf in front of me as I type and to think I will barely touch the TBR books on that shelf…wow.

Alas, my own book is most important. However as I write reading provides a good break from writing when I need it, and a place from which I can learn because books are my craft.

Now, your turn…

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Here’s What’s Up: Life is Going On

Hey there folks, how are you doing today? What new things have you been able to embrace during this struggle to overcome the SARS-CoV2 virus and its threat of Covid-19? What can you embrace that you might be overlooking?

I am embracing the time to focus on changing some habits, like being better about getting dishes done sooner than later. I’m also trying to embrace less grocery shopping and healthier picks when I go. Since it’s better to reduce exposure I don’t just go to the store when I feel a craving and have the money (CHIPS CHIPS CHIPS!). I’m also more likely to eat what I have instead of focus on what else I might be able to have. For example, I might say sure I have bread and tuna fish and mayo, so I could make a tuna fish sandwich but I would really rather have some chips and hummus and a hot dog. Nope, I’m not going to the store for chips and hummus. The food that’s available in my house is still food whether it sounds great or not. And do you know what’s so beautiful about this? I discover that that thing I really didn’t think would be as good as a hot dog or Taco Bell mexi-melt, is actually pretty darn delicious! As I ate my dinner the other night – tuna fish sandwich, cashew carrot ginger almond soup (something like that) and a side of fresh yellow pepper I thought, that’s right, I can do this diet thing. That’s right, eating healthy is a beautiful thing (even if I still want some chips and hummus).

By the way, cutting up that pepper made me that much more excited to grow my own orange peppers this summer. I planted my seeds inside (late) and my seedlings have come into this world! Yeah! More on that later.

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This quaran-time (as I like to call it) has not been without its challenges, its down days, and fear. But I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on myself and life even more than usual.

Sometimes we have the option to choose which lens we wear. During this lockdown period I imagine a lot of us are donning lens of fear. Still others pick up those of anger and frustration. Some days maybe you don’t think you have a choice, you just feel what you feel. I know that feeling. I know that need.

Compulsion:

1) the action or state of forcing or being forced to do something; constraint.

2) an irresistible urge to behave in a certain way, especially against one’s conscious wishes.

3) Psychology. a strong, usually irresistible impulse to perform an act, especially one that is irrational or contrary to one’s will.

Google search of the word compulsion

Perhaps you feel compelled to be upset, afraid, and/or sad. Perhaps you are focused on how much is out of your control. Perhaps you are compelled to resist a new way of living and seeing life. Perhaps the compulsion is your own, not the fault of another.

We do not have control over SARS-CoV2. We do not have control over the Covid-19 illness. But we have control over ourselves and how we view things. The actions we’ve been required to take, or stop, have been as a result of what is unknown in an effort to protect all of us for as long as possible. The best way to protect beings from a virus pandemic is to keep said beings away from each other. Unfortunately, we can not rely on everyone to do the right thing without being compelled to do so.

I’m getting beside myself here…

Let’s try something. At least once a week – if you don’t already – choose to wear a different lens. Now come on, don’t roll your eyes at me – kumbaya shit right? – let’s wear a lens that helps us see how life goes on. See what you don’t always see. See passed the veil of stop and go and into a life you do not know…

Today besides this little rant I bring to you a piece of short fiction. It is inspired by real life but fiction. It’s fiction because it is not an exact account of the truth but a representation of it. 😉 Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments.

They rise in the morning

They rise early in the morning, with little thought about whether or not they want to. The work has to be done. The work will be done. The work of life will do itself whether you care to participate or not.

Perhaps if they could wish it, they’d talk to their coffee pot. Could you make the perfect cup this morning please? I hear it’s going to be a cold one. These midwestern springs are beautiful, but they are often temperamental. Could you please help me start my day with a great cup of coffee.

Work clothes present and on, fashion step aside there’s work we must do. Clothes up, coffee down, shoes on, let’s go!

Out to the barn they head, the dog running in circles around them. He’s likely the most excited creature headed off to work. Perhaps they cross their fingers before they pass the threshold into the barn. Hopefully the night was good to its inhabitants.

They walk through the barn greeting all the mommas and mommas-to-be. Good morning girls. Are you doing alright? Hello momma, how are your babies? They look over every ewe and every lamb. Are their bellies full? Is she taking care of them? Are they strong and healthy? Those for whom the answers are no require action by the farmers and they oblige the responsibility. That one needs a bottle. Never go to the barn without a bottle. We might have to tube that one. These folks in the barn are not just two-legged creatures; they come in like rays of light through the large doors. They bring hay, corn, fresh water and help. They are protectors, without their farmers many of would not survive on their own. They bring soothing voices billowing up from hearts deep and rooted in what they do. They are not cruel. They are not uncaring wicked creatures. These are real farmers. These are real people. This is a farm, not a factory.

This is a way of life and living is what they do. Keep on with the living her sister used to say.

They spot a ewe at the back of the barn. She’s laying down, straining, her chin outstretched, like a dog getting a good scratch. Life is on its way. She eyes the farmers. She’s wary, but she knows them. They will keep an eye on her to make sure all is well.

They go about their business of chores. They each have their routines, their preferred methods of doing things. Sure they bicker some, but that’s how we get on isn’t it? This is life and they are living it. They are living it despite the deceptive sun that hides the fact of the cold wind. They are living it despite the fact that a lethal virus waits in the wings. It waits where we can not see it. It lingers around all that we do. It waits for us to go about as though nothing else is happening. It waits. It acts. It takes. It is a virus. It does what viruses do.

But the farm must go on, and these people aren’t about to stop. Not age, not pain, not even fear, they are their weathered barns, antique and golden. As long as their blood pumps red as the paint, they will endure. They will listen to the news on their coffee breaks, their lunch breaks, and their dinners. They will take the necessary precautions and heed the science, as they do with any illness. Not simply because they were told but because decades of experience has taught them. And heck, that’s just common sense isn’t it? They will protect themselves, each other, and their flock. They will get up every day. They will do all that they can.

It’s been too long. They’ve given her plenty of time. The ewe in the corner of the barn stands, she is uncomfortable. She still has not given birth. She and the baby could be in danger. The farmers do not panic. They get to work. He takes his coat off and lays it over a nearby fence. She approaches the nervous ewe slowly, cooing softly as she does. The ewe is afraid, it’s in her nature, she’s a prey animal. And yet she knows them. These are her people. They have come to help.

The farmer stops but a few feet away. He approaches from the side. They communicate with each other about what they’ll do. He’ll hold the ewe, keep her still, assuming she cooperates. She will assist in the delivery.

Closer now she can see the lamb’s feet, the tips of two tiny hooves. She knows exactly what she’s looking at. It’s a breach. Oh? Yup. Nothing more to say. She grabs hold of the two little feet and pulls down ever so gently. The ewe does not resist, she grunts. There’s a little resistance from the body but then the legs come free. The farmer pulls and the hind of the lamb is revealed. With a few more gentle pulls against the strength of the body it gives way and the lamb falls to the straw. They use some straw to wipe the newborn’s mouth and nose, to clear the mucous so it may breathe. One of them gently pats it to be sure it’s alive and well. And maybe to be sure it acknowledges its arrival, as much as one can expect.

The lamb sneezes, lifts its small wet head and shakes it. The farmers have removed some of the membrane from around its head but the rest is the work of the mother. Were she not to do her job – which sometimes happens – they would do it instead, albeit as humans do. But this is a good momma. She turns to her lamb and begins licking it clean. She clears it inch by inch, all the while bleating a song that she only sings to her newborn. Even an untrained assistant can hear the soft pitch is different from her normal sound. Its tone is something innate to them. This sound is a bond. This sound is a forging between mother and child. One would not doubt the lamb knows its mother.

The farmers smile. Job well done. Good looking lamb. It is, it’s beautiful. What a good momma. Perhaps if momma spoke the language of the two-legged hairless ones she’d thank them. Perhaps she’d say, I knew I was in trouble, I couldn’t have done it without you. But the farmers would not need that, they know. This is a thankless job but they know they’re needed. They’re needed by the ewes, the rams, the lambs, and the people that count on the harvest. Wouldn’t it be nice though, if everyone knew how much the farmers are needed?

Outside the sun tells the wind to take a break. Let me warm things a bit, it is spring after all.

Outside, somewhere out there among the humans, the virus travels. It is expelled from one to the next. Or maybe it flies, soars, or simply floats, but it carries on because after all, it is life. The farmers know its there but they are here and there is work to be done.

Their eyes and minds open up beyond the delivery. They watch the swallows dip and dive through the barn. They are everywhere and yet their grace enables them to stay in their own space, they bother no one. They carry on. The farmers hear the lambs bleat for their mothers, the mothers bleat for everything. Might they talk to each other? The farmer opens the door to allow the other ewes back inside the barn after tending to one of the herd, a sister or mother perhaps a cousin. Some rush in looking for fresh hay. Others approach the new mother in her pen, smelling what has happened. Still others watch the farmers, wary of what they’re doing as they finish checking the barn and all its inhabitants. The dog sits nearby waiting for a job or a pat on the head.

Well let’s get coffee then we’ll do some marking.

Inside they’ll hear the news that the numbers are still rising. They’ll hear about the angry people resisting the current situation. They know the threat is real. They know that were the world their barn they would have to do things differently. They would have to change their course of action to ensure survival of the herd, not comfort of the individual. They would adjust. They would adapt just as they do every spring.

The farmers know that life isn’t just about survival of the fittest. The farmers didn’t need school to teach them that the mechanism of evolution is adaptation. They survive because they do not stop, they adapt.

One last check of the barns after dinner then they’re off to bed. They will rise in the morning, again and again.

My Review of Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor – 5 Stars

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Information from Goodreads:

It’s up to a famous rapper, a biologist, and a rogue soldier to handle humanity’s first contact with an alien ambassador—and prevent mass extinction—in this novel that blends magical realism with high-stakes action.

After word gets out on the Internet that aliens have landed in the waters outside of the world’s fifth most populous city, chaos ensues. Soon the military, religious leaders, thieves, and crackpots are trying to control the message on YouTube and on the streets. Meanwhile, the earth’s political superpowers are considering a preemptive nuclear launch to eradicate the intruders. All that stands between 17 million anarchic residents and death is an alien ambassador, a biologist, a rapper, a soldier, and a myth that may be the size of a giant spider, or a god revealed.

Hardcover, 304 pagesPublished July 14th 2015 by Gallery / Saga Press (first published April 10th 2014)

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My Rating: 5 Stars

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My Review of Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

5/5 stars

I know I say a lot of stories are unique, maybe it’s just because I’ve been fortunate enough to come across such jewels but this book deserves such a description more than most.

Ayodele smiled and nodded, gazing into the camera. Adaora shivered. If there was any strong hint of the alien in Ayodele’s appearance, it was in her eyes. When Adaora looked into them, she felt unsure… of everything. A college friend of hers used to say that everything human beings perceived as real was only a matter of the information their bodies recorded.

From Lagoon

Nnedi Okorafor is a very talented and imaginative writer. I will continue to look forward to and gravitate towards her work. Much like one of the main characters in this book, a female marine biologist resident of Lagos Nigeria, Okorafor is an explorer and scientist of “what if”.

But the air really did shiver. And as I stood there, it came right at me. There was no physical breeze; it came like a ghost. Then it washed over me like a great wave of water. When it passed, I felt drenched, heavy.

From Lagoon

This story takes place in Lagos, Nigeria with an almost completely Nigerian cast. I loved this opportunity to visit far outside the world I know. I’m so happy that she went ahead with including large amounts of Pidgin English and other slang as I really enjoyed being fully transported to another time and place. Aliens have landed in the ocean off Lagos with the goal of making contact with the locals, among other things. What will they do? What do they do, the Lagosians and the aliens? Such stories as this really make you wonder, what would we do? Do you think people would panic? Who do you know who might at least try to welcome them? Who might outright reject their existence even as they stand before you?

His aunts were excited to have so many to cook for, and they happily went to the kitchen to get to it. Nevertheless, his mother’s face looked pained. She must have had a feeling that this situation went beyond the family. Beyond their beliefs. Beyond their religion.

From Lagoon

Her story is not one I’ve ever read before, not the aliens or their mission, or their skills. If I have heard such a story it would only be similar, but not anywhere the same. I really enjoyed her focus on the ocean as well as the sea creatures interaction with the aliens. That detail alone is unlike other first contact stories.

This story is an accessible easy read and it feels real even as I’ve never seen or met aliens nor have I been to Nigeria. The author is herself Nigerian-American so we have the privilege of reading an own-voices story. I read with a new perspective since I read this during the Covid-19 pandemic. There is violence, mention of sex acts, and strong language.

The story’s structure and voice are also different. I liked the bits from the perspective of animals or various people out and about on the street in addition to switching between main characters. I also enjoyed all of the characters even if we didn’t dive all that deep into them. This story didn’t seem to need that. Even if you find fault in some parts of the story I think you will enjoy it and its originality. Also it’s fast-paced, something is always happening. This book has interesting curves and angles. I recommend this to all fans of sci-fi/fantasy especially first contact, African culture, and ocean stuff. 🙂

Aman iman, Adaora weakly thought. The phrase meant “water is life” in the Tuareg language of Tamashek. She’d once worked with a Tuareg man on a diving expedition. “Aman Iman,” had been his answer when Adaora asked how a man of the Sahara Desert had become an expert scuba diver.

From Lagoon

You might recall my review of Binti, another of Nnedi Okorafor’s books that I loved. I shamefully admit I kind of forgot about it just after I was in the midst of planning to order it. (That felt complicated to say. That’s probably how I forgot. 😉 ) Don’t worry, I will, oh yes I WILL make my way back to it. I’m still planning to re-read The Book of Phoenix (Who Fears Death, #0.5) Mainly because it deserves it, I read it a while ago and I forgot I’d already read it when I came across Binti. Yes that’s all weird of me, don’t be surprised.

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But never mind that, check this information out in the author’s bio on Goodreads:

Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian-American author of African-based science fiction and fantasy (Africanfuturism and Africanjujuism). Okorafor has won a Hugo, a Nebula, a World Fantasy Award, and a Locus Award, and her many fans include Neil Gaiman, Rick Riordan, John Green, and Ursula Le Guin. She is writing a series for Marvel about Shuri, Black Panther’s sister, and has a number of book-based projects in development for film and TV – including HBO’s adaptation of her novel Who Fears Death, with George R. R. Martin signed on as executive producer. Okorafor is also co-writing the screenplay of an adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed with filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu for Amazon Prime Video, with Viola Davis producing. Her novel Akata Warrior (of the Akata Series) is the winner of the Lodestar and Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/588356.Nnedi_Okorafor

Wow and heck yeah! This woman is making some waves and I am enjoying having the privilege of experiencing them. I encourage you all to check out some or all of her work. Upon finishing this book I’ve started Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1), her YA/children’s fantasy series. I already have both books in the series and am looking forward to reading them. Stay tuned for my reaction to Akata Witch later this month.

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And don’t forget to visit Nnedi Okorafor’s website and add her books to your TBR, Goodreads and otherwise.

Also if you do add her and her books to your list as a result of recommendation, I would so appreciate it if you could give me a shout-out, link back here. I’m all about giving credit where credit’s do, so if you refer me to a book I do not hesitate to give you credit. I do my best to keep notes when I visit other bloggers, listen to podcasts, read articles, talk to people, friends, family and they interest me in books and/or authors. Then I link to and/or mention said person/group/publication when I post about adding the book/author. As I said above I read the Book of Phoenix a while ago and later heard of Binti through at least one podcast, including Writing Excuses.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts. I’d love to hear yours, whether you liked the book or not, or are just now adding this to your TBR. Or maybe you’ve read other books by Nnedi Okorafor, let’s chat! 😀

If you want to know what I think about other books I’ve read please VISIT THIS PAGE. Or if you want to know what my upcoming reading plans are CLICK HERE. I try to keep everything up to date as best I can, so stay tuned, follow me, for updates. 😀

Bye for now. I hope you and yours are safe and well.