2017 READING GOALS

Hello everyone! What I wanted to talk about today was what I decided to set as my goals as regards my reading for this year of 2017. Since last year I wasn’t able to reach my initial Goodreads Challenge goal, which was 100 books and let’s be real, there was no way of reaching that, this year I thought it would be wiser to set a more reachable number when it comes to the total amount of books I want to read during this year, and so I decided that 50 books would be a more or less logical amount, and boy, am I relieved I did that. Not only I’m far ahead on that challenge, but it also has taken away the pressure of constantly being reminded I was falling behind and that I needed to read like 20 books to catch up. Now, I feel like I’m more eager to pick up several books and read them at a slower rate than before, and so I decided, why not join some of the other most known challenges out there to make things more interesting? I don’t know if I will be able to complete them, but at least it has kept me motivated towards choosing more diverse reads in terms of not only representation, but also genres.

The first challenge I immediately signed up for was the Diversity Bingo 2017. As you can see in the picture, it is literally a bingo with different categories one has to fill, which provides for an entertaining way of choosing what your next books will be, while at the same time promotes diverse reads and also own voices authors or books that most of the times are not well-known or not talked about too much.

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So far, these are the categories that I’ve completed:

• Practicing jewish MC: Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer.

• SFF disabled MC: Monstress Vol.1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu.

• Bisexual MC: The Summer Palace by C.S. Pacat (though I don’t have information as to whether it’s own voices or not).

• MC of color in SFF: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor.

• Own voices latinx MC: The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.

• Own voices: Bone by Yrsa Daley-Ward.

• Book by author of color: Salt. by Nayyirah Waheed.

• Black MC own voices: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.

• LGBTQ+ MC of color: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of The Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

• Immigrant/refugee MC: The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen.

And the second challenge I’m participating in is a Goodreads Challenge, and it’s called the Around the Year in 52 Books, where the goal is to read, as the title says, 52 books in the entire year completing 52 different categories for each book.

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So far, these are the ones I’ve done:

1. A book from the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016: The Summer that Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel.

3. A book you meant to read in 2016: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of The Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

4. A title that doesn’t contain the letter “E”: Salt. by Nayyirah Waheed.

5. A historical fiction: The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne.

10. A dual-timeline novel: Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer.

11. A category from another challenge: The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen.

16. A mystery: Post Mórtem by Patricia Cornwell.

22. A book by an author you haven’t read before: We Are Okay by Nina Lacour.

37. A book you choose randomly: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.

I will be posting my progress here in both of these challenges throughout the year, and if you use Goodreads, you can also follow me there to see updates of how I’m doing on those two challenges. Until next time!logo

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1-15 MARCH WRAP UP

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Hello fellow readers! As the title says, in today’s post I’m going to be reviewing the books I’ve read during the first 15 days of the month of March. I don’t know why but somehow I feel like this month hasn’t been the best when it comes to reading a lot, since I’ve only finished 4 books. I’ve fallen into a mild reading slump mainly due to a book I’m currently reading which hasn’t been that interesting, but anyhow, let’s get onto what I’ve read this month so far!

The first book I finished this month was weareoka new release that I had been meaning to get to since the day I saw the cover, and that is We Are Okay by Nina Lacour. I mean, how can you not want to read a book that has such a stunning cover? I gotta admit that this one was a cover buy for me, since I had not read any of Lacour’s previous novels, so I had no idea what to expect from it, even though I had heard so much praise for her other novel Everything Leads To You, and I’m glad I gave her a chance. This book follows the story of Marin, a freshman in college and her struggle to cope with the grief and pain that she’s going through. Marin appears to be a loner, but that changes when Mabel, a friend from the past, appears in her life again and seeks answers as to why Marin cut everyone off from her life and decided to start anew. We Are Okay is a very emotional book that captures extremely well a different way in which a human being may cope with grief by denying it and isolating from everyone one care’s about. It’s a story about letting go, second chances from past friends and more than friends, and knowing that no matter how far we run from our past, it always catches up to us. 10/10 would recommend.

After that, I thought why not try to fulfill one of my reading goals of 2017, which is to read at least 5 classics, so I picked up the spanish translation of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I have to admit that I was gladly surprised by how much I enjoyed this one, even though at some points it got extremely dense in terms of writing style. The story follows Dorian Gray’s luxurious life and his friendship with Lord Henry Wotton who soon becomes almost like the devil on his shoulder, and how Dorian’s life seems to turn upside down after Basil, an artist, decides to make a portrait of Dorian. We all know how the story goes, while Dorian remains forever youthful and beautiful, the portrait absorbs all of his sins and the passing of time. The story is quite dark bordering the supernatural, and though the middle part seemed to drag on mainly due to Wilde’s never-ending sentences and paragraphs, the ending did not disappoint at all. A very solid 4 star story.

The first disappointment of March wasdarkmatter Dark matter by Blake Crouch. This book had been all over booktube last year, and I had to know what all the hype was all about. Unfortunately, this book did not meet the expectations I had for it. The story follows Jason Dessen, a university professor who is constantly asking whether he made the right choices in his life and what his life could have been had he not married the woman of his dreams and had a son. His life, however, changes when he is kidnapped and dragged onto an abandoned plant by a mysterious man who ends up drugging him. When he wakes up, Jason seems to be in an alternate universe living the life he could have had if he had chosen a different path for his life. The fact is that, even though I’m extremely interested in theories of alternate or parallel universes and the possibility that exists of our different choices being played out in these different realities, the book did not manage to surprise me in any aspect of it. The dialogue was simplistic with many sentences not making any sense whatsoever, and the ending was very anticlimactic with little to no plot twist at all.logo

DIVERSE NEW RELEASES

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Hello fellow readers! Today’s post is going to be all about some highly anticipated books that are either coming out this month or have already come out last month. These books not only have some of the most beautiful covers out there, but they have also been getting a lot of hype lately from book reviewers, so I thought why not see on Goodreads what the hype was all about? And I must say, they were not wrong. All of the following books caught my interest when I read their synopsis, and they soon were added to my ever-growing TBR pile. So, let’s just get right into them!

AMERICAN STREET
by Ibi Zoboi

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

THE EDUCATION OF MARGOT SANCHEZ
by Lilliam Rivera

THINGS/PEOPLE MARGOT HATES:

Mami, for destroying my social life
Papi, for allowing Junior to become a Neanderthal
Junior, for becoming a Neanderthal
This supermarket
Everyone else

After “borrowing” her father’s credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot
Sanchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts.

With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…

Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moises—the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood—keep her from her goal.

THE BONE WITCH
by Rin Chupeco

The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

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EXIT WEST
by Mohsin Hamid

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.

THE IDIOT
by Elif Batuman

The year is 1995, and email is new. Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants, arrives for her freshman year at Harvard. She signs up for classes in subjects she has never heard of, befriends her charismatic and worldly Serbian classmate, Svetlana, and, almost by accident, begins corresponding with Ivan, an older mathematics student from Hungary. Selin may have barely spoken to Ivan, but with each email they exchange, the act of writing seems to take on new and increasingly mysterious meanings.

At the end of the school year, Ivan goes to Budapest for the summer, and Selin heads to the Hungarian countryside, to teach English in a program run by one of Ivan’s friends. On the way, she spends two weeks visiting Paris with Svetlana. Selin’s summer in Europe does not resonate with anything she has previously heard about the typical experiences of American college students, or indeed of any other kinds of people. For Selin, this is a journey further inside herself: a coming to grips with the ineffable and exhilarating confusion of first love, and with the growing consciousness that she is doomed to become a writer.

WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI
by Sandhya Menon

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

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I just can’t wait to be able to read all these amazing books! Which ones are your most anticipated releases? Until next time!

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Decepciones del 2017

Este año me propuse tener diversas metas en cuanto a la lectura se refiere, y si bien he leído algunos libros que sin duda estarán entre mis favoritos del año, también me he encontrado con libros que terminaron siendo decepcionantes respecto a las expectativas que podía haber llegado a tener sobre ellos.

IMG_20170207_163730_742Una de estas lecturas más decepcionantes en lo que va del año es sin dudas El niño con el pijama de rayas, de John Boyne. Si bien por un lado entiendo que sea un libro destinado a lectores mucho más jóvenes -puede ser considerado infantil o middle grade-, y por lo tanto es bastante complicado contar una historia ambientada en medio de la Alemania Nazi de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, no creo que la forma en que esta historia está contada sea la manera más correcta de hacerlo. En pocas palabras, el libro narra la historia de Bruno, un joven de 9 años de edad cuya familia debe mudarse a “Auchviz” -así es como lo pronuncia el personaje de Bruno- debido al trabajo de comandante de su padre, y una vez que se encuentra en su nueva casa, Bruno conoce al joven Schmuel, un niño judío de 9 años que se encuentra prisionero en el campo de concentración. Durante toda la historia vemos cómo la amistad entre Bruno y Schmuel va creciendo y se ve puesta a prueba constantemente debido a que son dos personas en los bandos opuestos de esta guerra.

Ahora bien, la historia es bastante deprimente y triste teniendo en cuenta no sólo el contexto histórico en el que está ambientada, sino también por el final de la misma. Pero lo que más me molestó es la forma en que el autor narra esta etapa de la historia. Es imposible no ver las inexactitudes y errores que comete John Boyne en todo momento en el libro, para empezar por el hecho de que Bruno sea tan ignorante y ajeno a la guerra en la que está viviendo. Si bien sólo tiene 9 años el personaje, es imposible creer que UN HIJO DE UN COMANDANTE NAZI no tenga ni la menor idea de qué es una persona judía, de quién es Hitler, o de qué es lo que está sucediendo en medio de la guerra. Es sabido que a los niños los indoctrinaban desde pequeños con toda la propaganda nazi desde que iban a las escuelas, y más siendo hijo de alguien tan importante en las SS es imposible creer que Bruno fuera tan ignorante respecto a todo lo que estaba sucediendo a su alrededor. Las inexactitudes siguen cuando se describe el campo de concentración; otra vez, es imposible pensar que el campo pudiera no estar vigilado en toda su extensión por soldados con rifles, y más aún, sabiendo que los alambrados siempre estaban electrificados para impedir que los prisioneros se escapasen, es imposible pensar que Bruno y Schmuel pudieran, no sólo tocarlo sino hasta levantarlo para que Bruno pasase por debajo de él en una de las escenas.

En fin, son demasiadas las inexactitudes como para poder calificar este libro con más de 1 estrella, y entiendo que para un libro que está dirigido a lectores más chicos haya que adecuar los horrores que se vivieron durante esa época, pero de ahí a escribir algo tan inverosímil como esto, ya es demasiado. La verdad es que después de leerlo me quedó una sensación horrible, como si el libro fuera una falta de respeto total para todos aquellos que tuvieron que vivir literalmente el infierno que fue el Holocausto, y si bien puede que esa no haya sido la intención del autor, así es como lo interpreté yo.

22247695Y la segunda lectura decepcionante en lo que va del año tiene que ser para Stephanie Perkins sin duda alguna con Lola and The Boy Next Door. La verdad es que no creo que sus libros sean para mí en absoluto, lo cual me entristece porque siempre escuché comentarios positivos en booktube y goodreads sobre sus libros y en particular esta serie, sin embargo, sus libros nunca terminan de gustarme o de interesarme, si bien debo admitir que la historia de Lola es mucho más pasable que la de Anna. Si quieren leer más sobre mi opinión acerca de este libro les dejo aquí mi reseña en inglés la cual publiqué en Goodreads:

Lola and the boy next door tells the story of Lola, a seventeen year old girl who lives with her dads and has a more or less ordinary life, except for her 22 year old boyfriend -the rock star of a band-, Max. As expected, this relationship does not sit well with her dads, who though accepting of them, they have their reservations as to whether Max is the right guy for her to be with, mainly due to the age difference. All of this changes when Lola’s former neighbors come back to live to their house next door, and in comes the childhood crush and future love interest of the story, Cricket. The story then unfolds between unnecesarily constant drama created by our main protagonist Lola, and her unsuccessful attempts at trying to deny the obvious -that she still has feelings for Cricket-. If only all this drama and confusion could be cleared up by a simple task as having a conversation with the other person, but that would be asking too much. Sigh.

Maybe it’s me, that I’m already too old to be moved by this type of stories, or that I’m no longer able to “connect” with these younger characters, but damn if I failed at finding any sort of rationality to Lola’s character. Yet, I do have to admit that I found the main character to be much more likeable and nowhere near as annoying as Anna from the first book.

There were also a lot of very cringey moments and phrases regarding homosexuals -and the whole concept of masculinity v. femininity-, the typical phrases in YA of “not being like those other girls” (as if there would be something WRONG with being like other girls, whatever the hell that means) or the ones where characters “release a breath they didn’t know they were holding”, etc, etc.

But what really bugged me the most was how fucking influenced Lola could be. Like, I understand your friends and family not liking a boyfriend of yours, especially if this said boyfriend is older than you when you are still a teenager, but to have every single friend and relative fill her head with negative commentaries about her boyfriend ALL THE FREAKING TIME, or to try for her to dump his ass and be with Cricket instead is just over fucking reaching. I can understand them being worried about her and the person she is with, but at some point they need to take a step back and let her be; she is her own person capable of making her own decisions and being with whomever she wants to be, and it’s rude to be all the fucking time trying to influence on her feelings about Max. And it sucks that the majority of the plot line was Lola being given ideas as to why she should be with Cricket instead of Max, when at the beginning she was clearly in love and happy with her boyfriend, who was indeed caring and thoughtful of Lola and of what she needed. Yet, towards the end of the book, Max’s character is completely trashed obviously done so so that Lola would now have the perfect excuse to dump him and run to Cricket’s arms. It felt like the whole point of the book was people telling Lola how great Cricket would be for her and her being like “yeah, you are right, I should totally ditch my boyfriend, with whom I’ve been extremely happy so far, for this person you all seem to really like, and oh, what a coincidence, now my boyfriend is being a total dick; therefore, I finally have an excuse to end it”. It felt cheap, and horribly done in my opinion.

Y estas fueron las lecturas más decepcionantes en los pocos meses que van de este 2017, afortunadamente no fueron demasiados, y espero que continúe siendo así. Hasta el próximo posteo!

xo.