NetGalley Reads: Miracle Country

NetGalley Reads: Miracle Country

 

NetGalley

Before you read this post, make sure you have read my post I Can Do Better  to know how and where to donate, get informed, support, and follow the Black Lives Matter movement and people from the Black community. Si hablas español, y especialmente si vives en Colombia, lee mi publicación Puedo hacer algo mejor para enterarte cómo puedes apoyar a la Comunidad afrocolombiana. 

Hello and happy Friday. I barely slept last night and then woke up and did a full face of makeup, held a fun Instagram contest to celebrate Pride, recorded and drafted like six different TikToks, so it feels like I’ve already been up for a full day. I also continued to read Miracle Country by Kendra Atleework, and I couldn’t help but imagine that I was in the middle of a desert, surrounded by nothing by nature. Let me tell you, that’s a nice break, especially considering I have barely left my house since March.

I read this book between June 15th and July 1st, 2020 as part of a blog tour I was invited to participate in by Algonquin and gave it three stars, but it’s more like 3.5, really. I’d like to thank them, the author, and NetGalley for this opportunity. Now, this is nonfiction but it is nothing like what I’ve read before. I say this because it seems as if the main character in this book, other than being Atleewood herself or her family, is the place where they all live. I might be wrong, and if I am, please correct me, but the author is from Bishop, which is a desertic land in California.

To me, it was interesting to read about the weather, and the elements, and nature itself as characters, especially in an autobiographical book. It is especially interesting considering I have only lived in the city, and Colombia is a tropical country so the climate, biodiversity, and pretty much all other natural factors are very different from what the author experienced growing up. I think for that reason it took me a bit to get into the book, to really connect with what Atleework was narrating and describing, but I’ve hit that point and now I feel like everything is flowing.

That’s something important I want to say to potential readers of this book: it is slow and, honestly, kind of boring at first, but once you get past that, the author narrates more of her family life and history and focuses less on describing the landscape with excuciating detail. She still does, but I think by that point, the readers are used to that.

I’ve said this before, but I’ll explain it a little bit better because I think that way you’ll understand my three-star rating. Although I didn’t find anything particularly *wrong* with this book, I didn’t think it was my type of book at all, so I didn’t connect with it in ways other people would. That’s why I gave it the rating that I did. I didn’t think it was really fair to give it four stars because, other than entertaining me and teaching me about another place’s geography, it didn’t do much for me.

There are a few content warnings that I think you should consider before reading this book. You can perfectly skip the sections where they are mentioned, so it’s not like you can’t read the entire book because of them. There are mentions of self-harm and attempted sexual assault, both, I think, in the same chapter. If you can, get someone else to read it before and let you know what to skip.

What have you been reading? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

 

NetGalley Reads: Clancy of the Undertow

NetGalley Reads: Clancy of the Undertow

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Before you read this post, make sure you have read my post I Can Do Better  to know how and where to donate, get informed, support, and follow the Black Lives Matter movement and people from the Black community. Si hablas español, y especialmente si vives en Colombia, lee mi publicación Puedo hacer algo mejor para enterarte cómo puedes apoyar a la Comunidad afrocolombiana. 

Hello and happy Friday. I have so ARCs from NetGalley to read that I feel that sometimes I get to a point in which everything I’m reading is sort of the same, and you can totally tell by my two or three-star ratings. Sometimes, though, a book will come along that is nothing like what I’ve read and that makes me super excited to read and review. An example of this is Clancy of the Undertow by Christopher Currie. I’d like to thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for giving me the chance to read and review this book.

I read Clancy of the Undertow between September 29th and October 5th, 2019 and gave it three stars. Yes, I know it is my usual rating, but this book really grew on me and I think that more people should know about it. Is it life-changing? Not at all. Do I think it needs to go through a revision process? Yes, but that being said, the story that it tells is one that more people need in their life.

I’ll be honest and say that right from the start I didn’t like it; I thought the language was too flowery and there were many sentence fragments. However, I think that the author reconsidered his choices and we get a more straightforward writing style throughout the book. Part of why I thought I wouldn’t like the book was my own preconceived notions. For example, at first, when the main character was describing a woman, I thought it was a man talking because in my mind it made more sense that it was a guy having a crush on a woman. I then understood the main character was a female, and I was also a bit confused until she straight up said she was into women. When I understood all these and realize I was the one with silly ideas and not the author, I enjoyed the book a lot more.

Yes, this features a lesbian main character, and I really appreciated the fact that this wasn’t a coming-out/figuring-out-my-sexuality kind of story. She did tell her family and friends that she liked women, but she was sure about her sexual orientation and didn’t make a big fuss about liking women. I think that kind of openness with herself is what more young adult books featuring queer main characters need.

The story features what could develop as a romance, although that is pretty much left to the reader’s imagination but it doesn’t revolve around it. I think that people who read and liked Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen will feel compelled to read this one, with the added bonus that the main character is not straight and the story is set in Australia. There are family issues that tend to be the center of the plot at times, although the book manages to be an exploration of the main character and her identity.

There is a suicide attempt scene, so be weary of that, and there are a few “jokes” here and there regarding a man who’s deemed a pedophile because he never got married or had kids. Other than that, the typos and general lack of editing, this is a solid book that I think more people should read.

Do you have any recommendations for books featuring lesbian main characters? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

Edelweiss Reads: Orpheus Girl

Edelweiss Reads: Orpheus Girl

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Before you read this post, make sure you have read my post I Can Do Better  to know how and where to donate, get informed, support, and follow the Black Lives Matter movement and people from the Black community. Si hablas español, y especialmente si vives en Colombia, lee mi publicación Puedo hacer algo mejor para enterarte cómo puedes apoyar a la Comunidad afrocolombiana. 

Hello and happy Friday. Today I’m reviewing Orpheus Girl by Brynne-Rebele Henry. This ARC was provided to me for reading and reviewing purposes so I would like to thank Edelweiss and the author for the opportunity.

I read this book between May 10th and May 11th, 2019, although I could have read it all in a single day, I just really didn’t want to binge read it, and gave it three stars. Again, I could have gone for a lower rating because this book was plain bad.

This story is about a lesbian girl who has a dysfunctional family life and lives with a very conservative and religious grandmother in a very conservative and religious town in Texas. Now the first thing that bothered me was the misuse of the word “queer.” At times it was used as an insult, and at others, it wasn’t. It’s fine if you find the word insulting and you don’t want to use it, but honestly, if that’s the case, remove it from your mental dictionary. I think in this novel it had an overall negative connotation, but since the main character identified as such, I couldn’t really tell.

I know by the title and the references thrown in throughout the book that this is based on Greek mythology, but I honestly had no idea about the myth of Orpheus. It would have been cool to have more context on the story. I could have done a Google research, but I didn’t feel compelled to.

The plot itself was nothing special. You have your two lesbian girls in an ultra-conservative town who get find out and then get sent to conversion camp. Yes, I’ve read versions of that same story, and I can recommend them to you right now because they’re way better than Orpheus Girl. You can read, for example, The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth or The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi. They aren’t exactly like Orpheus Girl, but the plot is similar enough and you’ll get more from these novels.

Another problem I had with this novel was the writing style. The main character is also the narrator, but she doesn’t talk like a teenager from a small town in the slightest. Even if she were well-read and super educated, which isn’t something I could have inferred from reading the novel (I only knew she liked mythology), the way she spoke was forced. When I think about the author, who’s like twenty years old, I think that even if she talked like that in real life, in the book it appears snobby and pretentious to me. She could have toned it down and made it more natural.

One of the notes I took was “I’m not impressed.” The plot and the writing were not original and didn’t attract my attention. I could have finished this novel in a single day and the reason why I didn’t was that I seriously could not think of spending three more hours reading it. I preferred to leave it for the next day. Look, I’ve read all sorts of love stories, and I think Orpheus Girl didn’t have a solid one. We get snapshots, moments when the main character and her love interest might have shown or expressed their love, but we didn’t have a clear beginning. I don’t know, other than spending a lot of time together, what caused them to fall in love.

Do you know any novels based on mythology that I could be interested in? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Friday!

Love, Miss Camila

NetGalley Reads: Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits

NetGalley Reads: Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits

Hello and happy Friday. I was invited by Algonquin to participate in a blog tour in celebration of the re-release of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila Lalami. I would like to thank the publisher, the author, and NetGalley for the opportunity. 

I read this book between March 26th and March 27th and gave it four stars. It is just under two hundred pages and the writing style is very simple and to the point, which is what I like. The book is divided into “Before” and “After” and it tells the individual stories of three Moroccans who decide to illegally migrate to Spain. The book actually starts in the “During,” which I thought was really shocking and also a great hook for readers, who get to see how they got to make the decision they made and also the consequences of it. 

I was not very familiar with how immigrants in North Africa made it to Europe. I’d seen news about the tragedies that happen in those boats and rafts and how many people drown, but reading a book about it is completely different. The process itself of the trip is not really explained much; like I said, it is the first chapter of the book, but the rest focuses on the time before and after the trip.

The characters’ stories focus on different aspects, like Islam, sexism and the lack of opportunities for women, unemployment and the search for a better life abroad. I would compare the narrative style to Orange Is the New Black, in which you get a glimpse of the characters’ lives leading up to their imprisonment and after they are released. Every story is unique because each of the characters is going through unique circumstances and though they all made the choice of illegally migrating to Spain, their reasons are different and so is the aftermath of the trip.

This is an important book for many reasons and I think it will resonate with many people. I do want to say, however, that the last chapter or story or whatever you want to call it has several fatphobic comments. Basically, there’s this secondary character who doesn’t even talk much, but whenever she is described, some reference is done to her weight. For example, we are told that hair sticks to the back of her neck because it is sweaty, or that after a walk uphill she’s wheezing. I’m sure had the character not been described as fat, these details wouldn’t have been mentioned. 

Have you read any books set in a country other than the U.S? Tell me about them in the comments below. 

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila 

Series Saturday: The Heartbreakers Chronicles

Series Saturday: The Heartbreakers Chronicles

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Hello and happy Saturday. Have you ever been blown away by an ARC? Like, after reading it you think, “I would have totally paid money for it”? Well, this is what happened to me when I read The Heartbreakers, which is the first book in the Heartbreakers Chronicles series by Ali Novak.

Ali Novak started writing this series on Wattpad, and I guess someone noticed how good it was and decided it should be properly published. I got the first book in the series via NetGalley and fell in love with it. The Heartbreakers is a boy band, and every book will focus on one member of the band, and I’m just living for it. Just to clarify, only two books have been published. There is a third one in the making, but I’m not including it in the list because technically it doesn’t exist yet.

READ 

The Heartbreakers (Book #1)

I read this book between August 26th and August 27th, 2015 and gave it four stars. It centers around Oliver Perry, who is the band’s lead singer. Oddly enough, he’s not the main character but the love interest, and that makes the story all the more interesting. This isn’t just a cute fluffy YA romance; it deals with family drama and if you’re like me, it’ll make you cry.

Paper Hearts (Book #2)

I was lucky enough to score this babe via NetGalley and I can’t wait to devour it. This book focuses on Alec, whose dad is like the band manager or something. He’s super quiet and shy, so we don’t know much about him from the first book. I hope that we do get to know him better and fall in love with him through his story.

Have you read an ARC that seriously blew your mind? Tell me about it in the comments.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

 

 

Edelweiss Reads: Mom’s Perfect Boyfriend

Edelweiss Reads: Mom’s Perfect Boyfriend

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Hello and happy Friday. I probably told you a while ago that I wanted to improve my reviewing game, so today I’ll share my thoughts on a DRC I was provided via Edelweiss. Let’s get started, shall we?

I read Mom’s Perfect Boyfriend by Crystal Hemmingway between August 9th and August 11th, 2019 and gave it two stars. In a few words, I can describe this as a short read but one that is neither memorable nor entertaining. On the plus side, you won’t use too many brain cells while reading this.

According to the first page, this is based on a true story, which I find hard to believe and I think it’s probably a way to hook readers. In that case, the hook worked because it took me three days to read this whole novel, didn’t it? The format also made it a quick read because the story is constructed solely on text messages, emails, and diary entries. That’s something I’m really into, but I honestly felt that I was missing context while reading this book. I consider the texts and the messages as nice inserts that would complement a story, but not as the story in and of itself.

I should’ve known better when requesting this book because I don’t like stories about mothers and daughters in general. It makes me uncomfortable to read about a daughter whose best friend is her mom, and it infuriates me when children don’t treat their parents well. Yes, it was a mistake on my part, clearly, since the title indicated that indeed we would have an exploration of a mother-daughter relationship, and, to make matters worse, there were romantic relationships involved.

As I kept reading, I couldn’t figure out the “point” of the book. Again, I wasn’t (and still am not) sure that this was actually based on true events, so I didn’t quite understand whether the “transcripts” from the mother’s journal were legit or not. Additionally, there were “jokes” related to child molestation, which I never condone and which obviously factored in the two-star rating I gave the book.

This definitely wasn’t the book for me. It wasn’t really harmful or anything (aside from the “jokes” that were completely unnecessary), but I don’t think it was really worth my time. Do you think that you might like this book? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

A Very Cute Halloween Read

A Very Cute Halloween Read

 

Hello and happy Friday. Let me tell you a story that makes my blogger heart happy.  I’d been getting these emails from Rabbit Publishers promoting a series titled Harry Moon by Mark Andrew Poe, and  I wasn’t really sure whether I’d requested a book from them via NetGalley or what, so I replied to an email saying “hi, you’ve been sending me publicity about your books, and it’s probably because I’m a book blogger and I somehow ended up in your database. I can read and review one of your books if you have them available digitally.” The guy who replied was so nice, and after emailing back and forth for a while, he sent me the digital copies of Wand Paper Scissors both in English and in Spanish. Of course, I am super grateful to everyone at Rabbit Publishers and the author for these copies. Let’s get started, shall we?

I read this book between June 3rd and June 19th, 2019, but I assure you, you can read this in one sitting if you have the time. I rated it four stars and kept thinking about what a great read it could be for elementary students. I love that it has a preface that gives some context regarding the characters in the series. I believe this is the first book, but still, you sort of get an idea of what the book is about. My teacher brain got really excited with ideas about character analysis that can be applied with just the first couple of pages.

I’m a very visual person, so I was really excited to see the colorful illustrations. These books must be gorgeous in physical format (and also a great gift for young readers who are getting into chapter books). I will say, though, that I think readers might need a bit of guidance because there are some “big” words I’m almost certain a fourth or fifth grader will not understand. Again, this is a great opportunity for teaching and reinforcing vocabulary.

Harry, our main character, is an aspiring magician, but his deal is good magic, and I just love how positive this book is. I also enjoyed reading about the societal differences in middle school, that are sadly determined by who’s got more resources and who hasn’t. And yes, there is bullying, and yes, there are scenes that broke my heart because I couldn’t fathom that someone could be so cruel to a classmate for no reason.

Like the title indicates, this is a Halloween read, which you know I absolutely love. It is set in a town called Sleepy Hollow and everything there is spooky. Basically in that town Halloween is celebrated year-round. If you’re anything like me, you’ll love reading about the town and all the crazy things in it.

Finally, this is a book about being decent human beings. Harry Moon’s motto is “do no evil,” which is a message that gets spread among the characters and that is evident throughout the plot. There is no doubt that this message is key for kids of all ages to learn and apply to their lives.

Have you read any of the Harry Moon books? What did you think about them? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

NetGalley Reads: Sweet Liar

NetGalley Reads: Sweet Liar

Hello and happy Friday. Yes, we have an ARC review today because I am trying my best to be a good blogger. I will be sharing my thoughts with Sweet Liar, the second book in the Candy series by Debra Doxer. This book was provided to me for free for reading and reviewing purposes, so I’d like to thank both the author and NetGalley.

I read this book between May 17th and May 27th, 2019 and gave it two stars. I read the first one forever ago and didn’t remember much of it, so I was grateful for a prologue that could give me some context as to what the series was about. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much, to begin with, because I thought this was the second book in a trilogy and I just thought it was the sandwich book. It wasn’t because this is a duology, so my already low expectations weren’t met.

This book gave me major Scandal vibes like it was literally the same story. Maybe if you’re super into that you’ll like the series, but to me, it was a straight-up copy. We have a secret agency and a very weird romance. Basically, the main character’s dad works for this secret agency (kinda like B613) but he’s a traitor for reasons we’ll find out about in the book. Also, the main character’s love interest works in the agency as well as his father, and, you guessed it, they are after the main character’s dad.

On top of that plot, the writing style wasn’t for me. I did not connect with any character or with the story. I just kept reading because I wanted to get it over with. If this review doesn’t deter you from wanting to read the series, keep in mind that the second book deals with psychological as well as physical abuse.

If you have any suggestions for good thrillers or adventure books you think I’d like, let me know in the comments.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

NetGalley Reads: My Life as a Bench

NetGalley Reads: My Life as a Bench

 

Hello and happy Friday. As you probably have noticed, I am in the process of reading all the ARCs I requested years ago and sort of forgot about. Today I’ll be sharing my thoughts on My Life As a Bench by Jaq Hazell. I want to thank NetGalley and the author for providing me this book to read and review. Let’s get started, shall we?

I read this novel between April 29th and May 4th, 2019 and rated it two stars. I’ll go ahead and say this: I think the concept was interesting but the execution was very poor. When it comes to my thoughts on the books I read, I usually can anticipate early on whether I’m going to like them or hate them, but My Life As a Bench was one of those exceptions in which I thought I would really enjoy what I read, and as I progressed, I realized this wasn’t going to be the case.

I say the concept was interesting because it was about this teenager who dies and wakes up as a bench, which is the memorial her family has ordered for her. Now, there are a few books I’ve already read in which the main character is dead but is still present in the land of the living, like Elsewhere from Gabrielle Zevin and The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter by Kate Winter. We also have the stories in which the main character isn’t dead but they’re basically in limbo and must decide if they want to live or die, such as If I Stay by Gayle Forman and Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang. What I’m trying to say is that the idea has been executed before, but this novel offered us something original, the fact that the main character is not just a bodyless soul but an actual bench that doesn’t move or feel.

The chapters are short, and even as I progressed and became less excited about the story, I felt that need to read one more page, one more chapter, to just keep going. The flashbacks and flashforwards were other factors that had me expecting a lot from this novel, but that at the same time magnified the disappointment. Sadly, the author did not distribute the chapters in a way that made sense to me. There was a point in which every chapter was set in the past, so I felt that the construction of the story was not balanced.

Ren, our main character, has a boyfriend that I really didn’t like in the slightest and that I am actually going to talk about in depth when I list my disenchantments, so stay tuned for that one. I did not connect with any of the characters, and it’s not that they weren’t likable, which happens, but the story was not well constructed. We were being told about stuff that happened but didn’t really get to picture it. The romance did absolutely nothing to me, and I honestly could have done without it.

Another thing that really bothered me was a fatphobic joke that was thrown into the story like it was nothing. No, not on my watch. There was also an ableist joke, and again, I’m not going to take that. They were absolutely unnecessary and did nothing to the plot whatsoever, but they did negatively affect my rating.

Have you read any book about a dead character who, for some reason is still in our world? Let me know about it in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila