I’d Like to Stay Here

I’d Like to Stay Here

Hello and happy Wednesday. You know that I’m not really a fantasy/dystopian/anything-that-is-not-contemporary reader, but there comes a book or a series every once in a while that sweeps me of my feet and converts me, even if it is for a short time. That’s what happened when I was reading Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. 

I read this book between March 14th and March 19th and gave it four stars. I’m sure you know that these are uncertain times in the world and saying that I read this book for escapist purposes was an understatement. I watched the movie a few months ago, but I knew that it condensed the first three books in the series or something like that, so I was expecting something different. Adaptation-wise, I think it did a good job, although I can only speak for the parts pertaining to the first book. I would like, however, to have a movie series, each focusing on one installment because some elements were lost, which is understandable but sad nonetheless. 

You know that if you add grandparents to a story, you basically got me hooked. This gave me similar vibes than My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman, although the fantastic elements are heavier and we don’t get to see a lot of the relationship between Jacob and his grandfather. It’s more like the main character is discovering what his grandfather’s life had been like. 

If you’ve heard anything about this book, it’s probably that there are old pictures throughout it. I didn’t know there would be so many pictures; I thought we would have a few of the children at the beginning and that would be it, but no: if I’m not mistaken there are fifty pictures in just the first book. I wonder if the others have them as well. I think the author did a great job of creating a story using those old photographs. 

Something else you might have heard is that this is an analogy of World War 2 and how Jews and people who were considered different were persecuted. Well, part of the story takes place during WW2, so I don’t know if it would be considered an analogy or a juxtaposition of the true events that happened in the world, that Jacob’s grandpa, Abraham had to witness and suffer because he was a Jew, and the war against “peculiars,” that also involved him because he had a special ability of seeing monsters nobody else could see. I think if anything, it brings great commentary on how “peculiars” are still being systematically oppressed, be it for their race, religion, ability or disability, gender, sexual orientation, or pretty much whatever the heteropatriarchy deems different. 

The whole mood of this story is dark, and I felt like when reading this I was picturing an old movie in my mind that always has this opaque tone. There are a couple of violent scenes, and even when they are not, this novel is never happy. It took me a little bit longer than I had anticipated going through it, but I was satisfied with the ending. To me, the ending gives you the option to consider this a stand-alone if you don’t want to continue with the series, but if you do, it is open enough that you know something else is going to happen. That’s great for me because I detest cliffhangers. 

If you know anything about my reading tastes, then you probably know that part of the reason why I enjoyed this book was that Jacob, the main character, was introduced to the whole peculiar thing at the same time as the readers were. That is, we learn what he learns when he learns it. That is the kind of fantasy novel I am into. What I wasn’t into was the whole romantic element in this story. Seriously, I’m not even going to explain it to you because I think it is kind of yucky and totally unnecessary and that is coming from someone who basically eats romance books. 

Have you started reading any new series this year? Tell me about them in the comments below. 

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila 

 

NetGalley Reads: The Mountains Sing (DNF)

NetGalley Reads: The Mountains Sing (DNF)

NETFLIX TALK_.pngHello and happy Friday. I know I’ve never done this, but today I’ll be talking about a book I DNF’ed, or did not finish. This book was sent to me via NetGalley because I was invited to a blog tour by Algonquin, the publishing house. Like I’ve mentioned earlier, I’ve been invited to several bog tours lately, and that’s actually the only way in which I am getting books from NetGalley now, as I am not requesting anything. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s review this.

I started reading The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai on February 1st, 2020 and did not finish it, which is why I am not going to rate it. I was excited to read and review this book because the author is Vietnamese and it made me happy that NetGalley, and especially Algonquin, was helping promote diversity in the bookish industry.

The book starts with the main character telling us about their recently deceased grandmother and the stories she would tell. That alone sounds fascinating, right? Well, every time I sat down and read, I would feel like I was not retaining anything. There are some books that require the readers to reach a certain point to get truly hooked, and I felt that I never got to that point. I mostly read at night, after long days of teaching, and for some reason, I could not focus on this story.

There are alternating perspectives and timelines, which is something I usually love, but the way it was done in this book, it went over my head. I got very confused because I wasn’t sure about who was talking or what they were talking about, and I know that I had no clue about Vietnam, but it was deeper than that, it was about the author’s narrative style that was too advanced for me.

Had I read this on vacation or during a time when I could be 100% dedicated to the story, I think I would have been able to finish it and truly value it for what it was, but this experience with it was leading me towards a three or even a two-star rating. I recognize the importance of this book, but it wasn’t for me.

I am not going to attempt to read it later, but if you are able to finish it, let me know what you thought about it.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

Hey There

Hey There

Hello and happy Wednesday. I couldn’t help myself with the title but I know you would’ve done the same. Let me tell you about a book that will totally satisfy your reading craves, especially if you want to avoid a reading slump. I’m talking about Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler. 

I read this book between March 5th and March 8th, 2020 and gave it three stars. By now I’ve read three books by this author and I can tell you that all three of them have had hard-hitting topics in some capacity or another. Out of those, though, Fixing Delilah is probably the one in which these themes are more present throughout the plot. 

Sarah Ockler has an amazing ability to hook you from the very first chapter, even if it is one sentence long. Add to that the fact that this is a summer read, which I’m all for, and you have me. The main character of this story is Delilah and she’s going through some shit, acting out for no apparent reason. Meanwhile, her mom has just received a call that her estranged mother just died, which means that she and Delilah need to travel to where her grandparents used to live, a house they haven’t visited in eight years. If you know my reading tastes, then you know I love the trope about the main character spending time elsewhere. 

Of course, since this is a YA contemporary, we get a romance, and this had the potential to be super cute. Delilah reunites with her childhood friend Patrick and from the moment they meet, they are inseparable. I thought for a moment that we’d have no drama between them and I was super happy, but no, we get it and I didn’t like it. More on that later, though. 

Romance is not the focus of this book at all. This is a story about Delilah finding out things about her family history, trying to fix her relationship with her mom, and at the same time coming to terms with who she is. It is a coming of age story that revolves around family and friendship. 

I’ve said many good things about this book and at this point, you might be wondering why I gave it three stars since I liked it so much. Well, for one, there was talk about depression and mental illness, but I think it could have been handled better. At one point one of the characters implies that the grandmother could be manipulative because of her depression and that was why they cut ties with her. Although it is true that we are nobody’s saviors when it comes to mental illness, I didn’t like that it was referred to almost as a character trait. 

Like I said earlier, I’ll now expand on the relationship and why to me it didn’t end up cutting it. I understand that Delilah and Patrick had been friends for years, so I recognize that they have a shared history the readers know nothing about. However, the last time they saw each other they were nine and ten years old, so I do feel like we missed that phase of their relationship when they get to know each other as teenagers. Also, this could have been a “me” thing, but I felt like Patrick was always the one who initiated their physical contact, and though Delilah does not express that she feels uncomfortable, it does feel kind of like he is forcing the contact by not asking her first. 

There was one thing that made me roll my eyes so hard I almost got a headache and it was the Emily situation. Emily is this new girl in town who has become friends with Patrick and as she and Delilah get to know each other, they form this friend group. It’s ridiculous to even be excited by this, but I thought “wow, finally.” I thought I would finally get a boy and a girl who were friends without there being drama surrounding them. I thought I would finally get two girls being friends and not fighting over a boy. I say I thought because I didn’t get this in this bok and I was super frustrated. Guess what? Emily liked girls. And guess what else? The author used this as some sort of a plot twist. Definitely not a good choice, Sarah. 

Tell me about a *thing* that authors do that you can’t help but feel disappointed every time you read. 

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila 

 

 

 

A Very Important Read

A Very Important Read

Hello and happy Wednesday. I just came home from a day of talking about every student from kindergarten to fifth grade and I am glad that I don’t have kids. Besides that, I’m excited about today’s review because it is directly related to education and the struggles some people have in order to have access to it. 

I am of course talking about I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb. I read this book between February 20th and February 29th, 2020 (yay for leap years!) and gave it four stars. Although I do think it is a very important read, I will refrain from calling it a “must” read because I think that everyone should be free to choose whatever they want to read. 

I was kind of dreading this book because I feel like everyone and their mom has read it. However, Malala’s writing style makes the reading experience comfortable and even pleasant amidst the heavy topics it deals with. This book is a memoir, and I know I always say this regarding nonfiction but this is a genre that I’m not used to reading. The difference here is that I have studied Malala’s life because we talked about her with my second-graders. Not only that, but I watched the Netflix documentary He Named Me Malala and I think it made the reading less dense. 

Because this is nonfiction, you should expect bits that are less anecdotal and way more info-dumpy than readers like me would enjoy. Malala’s culture and the history of the Swat Valley were (still are) absolutely foreign to me, so I understand why so much context was needed. What happened to me was that I could “hear” Malala’s voice in my head as I read the book, so it really did feel like she was telling me everything. And let me tell you, I was and still am shocked at how pure at heart she is. 

Through this book, the readers learn about Malala’s life, of course, but as I mentioned, the history of the Swat Valley, the ways the Pashtun culture and Islam operate are also explained. Malala’s dad is a wonderful man and we get to read how he influenced her and challenged all these archaic and sexist norms, which pushed Malala to fight for education the way she did. 

Please read the book, watch the documentary, and let me know what you thought about them. 

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila 

 

Series Saturday: Capital Girls

Series Saturday: Capital Girls

 

GOING ON (3).png

Hello and happy Saturday. More often than not, I find myself reading the second book of a series without any context or any real idea of what is going on and obviously I end up hating the book because I didn’t understand any of it.

This is what happened when I read A Dangerous Game, which is book number 2.5 in the Capital Girls series by Ella Monroe. I had no clue about what was going on. Kind of like when you join a conversation in the middle of a joke and you don’t know what everyone is laughing about. This series is like Gossip Girl but in DC, hence the name. So I assume that everybody is unlikeable and is related to a politician. Fun times!

READ:

A Dangerous Game (Book #2.5)

TBR: 

I don’t own any book in this series that I have yet to read.

WISHLIST: 

Capital Girls (Book #1)

Secrets and Lies (Book #2)

Truth or Dare (Book #3)

What do you do when you realize you’ve read a book that is part of a series? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

A New Favorite

A New Favorite

Hello and happy Wednesday. It’s tough for me to feel represented in the books in English I read because the authors don’t really cater to my demographic, which sucks. I think the only author that I could somewhat relate to is Patricia Engel because she is Colombian and her characters are, too. That being said, there are different layers to my identity and I can feel represented in other ways. To me, YA lacks a lot of representation when it comes to neurodiversity, which is why I was so excited to find a book with a main character who shares a very similar diagnosis with me.

I read Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella between July 5th and 6th, 2019 and gave it five stars. I knew from the start that I was going to enjoy the writing style because I’ve read and loved other Sophie Kinsella books. This one was just brilliant. It keeps the humor of novels like Confessions of a Shopaholic, but the themes are clearly deeper and are dealt with in a very smart, respectful way. I also loved how the reader is hooked from the very first page and they’re just forced to continue reading. That totally happened to me, which is why I devoured this book in two days.

The chapters are really short, which we all know I love, and I also think that makes the book even more addictive. Like I said, I related to Audrey because of her diagnosis, but her parents reminded me a lot of my parents: the neurotic mom and the overeager dad are literally my mom and dad. The type of narration was really nice for me because Audrey, the main character, is talking to the reader. I get that some of you might not like this, but I do, and I think it added more to this particular story.

I would say that this book is a must both for neurotypicals and neurodiverse people. If you have anxiety and/or depressive episodes like Audrey or me, you’ll feel accurately represented, and if you don’t but you want to learn more about this, you might be educated on the subject. To me, at least, the way Audrey approaches and refers to her anxiety was very spot-on, and even her own thoughts about how the way her brain worked made her a freak were some I had when I started going to therapy. It was hard to open up about what I was going through, especially when people wouldn’t get what I was feeling or why because that itself was even more anxiety-inducing. I do not have social anxiety, so I don’t know whether this was well represented in the book.

The format of the book was amazing. I loved that we got different formats, like transcripts of a documentary Audrey was filming as an assignment for her treatment and little notes and texts that she’d exchange with Linus, her love interest. I think that all those additions made the story really come to life because we weren’t just being told of what was going on: we were shown that.

Yes, there is a love interest but no, this is not a romance novel. The plot does not center around a relationship, or at least not your neurotypical kind of thing. I heard someone reviewing this book and saying they didn’t understand how two people could have a relationship if Audrey wouldn’t make eye contact or even look in the direction of another person while talking. While this concern is totally valid, it shows just how we have normalized certain neurotypical behaviors and attitudes. We assume that a romantic relationship involves physical contact and face-to-face conversations, but that is not the case for many people, for many different reasons, and I think part of the educational value of Finding Audrey is showing the readers other ways in which people can interact.

Finally, I loved that Linus wasn’t portrayed as the savior or as the reason why Audrey “got better.” He doesn’t understand why Audrey behaves in certain ways and he thinks she might be able to control them, which, again, is a very neurotypical idea. You’re depressed? Cheer up! You’re feeling anxious? Face your fears! It makes sense that someone would think like that, right? Especially when they haven’t experienced any of those thoughts. It also makes sense because they assume that one can control their brain and “tune it down,” but reality is different. Linus tried to help and tried to understand, but we could see that sometimes he didn’t and that it was fine.

Do you have any recommendations of books that deal with mental health issues and that you feel are accurate in their representation? Tell me about them in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

 

Breaking Down My TBR List

Breaking Down My TBR List

 

Hello and happy Wednesday. I feel that 2020 so far has been a successful year reading-wise and part of it is the fact that I decided to break down by super long TBR list into monthly “challenges” or themes and that has certainly made my reading experience more interesting.

I’d seen book bloggers and BookTubers have reading challenges or themed months in the past, and though I’d tried to do it a few times, I’d never been consistent. Well, like I told you in that post about the ideas I have for this year, each month I will read books that have the same word in the title. This year I won’t reveal what the words are, I’ll let you guess them each month since I’m piloting this experiment and I’m still figuring out whether it works for me and this blog. 

Basically what I did was look through my TBR notebook and look for common words in the titles of the books I’d listed. Think of Books and Lala’s Buzzwordathon, only I’m reading and reviewing one book (and sometimes one ARC) every week according to the monthly theme. So far, I’ve found these themed TBR lists very fun and way less daunting than the one super long list I have because instead of thinking about the hundreds of books I have yet to read, I focus on reading about eight every month.

I have found that I have way more titles including the buzz words than the ones I can review each month, so I’m already planning a follow-up series in which I’ll do full-on buzzwordathons. If you like those types of posts, I think you’ll love everything that is coming up.

Now that our second themed month is over, tell me, which were the buzz words for January and February?

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila