Six for Sunday – Brave Main Characters

This meme is hosted by Steph at A little but a lot. The weekly prompts for 2019 can be found here.

This week’s prompt is Brave Main Characters. Here’s my list:

1. The Archived by Victoria Schwab

2. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

3. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

5. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

6. The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

(All book covers from Goodreads)

Did you make a Six for Sunday list?

Review: Jackie and Maria: A Novel of Jackie Kennedy and Maria Callas

Title: Jackie and Maria: A Novel of Jackie Kennedy and Maria Callas
Author: Gill Paul
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: July 22, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the #1 bestselling author of The Secret Wife comes a story of love, passion, and tragedy as the lives of Jackie Kennedy and Maria Callas are intertwined―and they become the ultimate rivals, in love with the same man.

The President’s Wife; a Glamorous Superstar; the rivalry that shook the world…

Jackie Kennedy was beautiful, sophisticated, and contemplating leaving her ambitious young senator husband. Life in the public eye with an overly ambitious–and unfaithful―man who could hardly be coaxed to return from a vacation after the birth of a stillborn child was breaking her spirit. So when she’s offered a holiday on the luxurious yacht owned by billionaire Ari Onassis, she says yes…to a meeting that will ultimately change her life.

Maria Callas is at the height of her operatic career and widely considered to be the finest soprano in the world. And then she’s introduced to Aristotle Onassis, the world’s richest man and her fellow Greek. Stuck in a childless, sexless marriage, and with pressures on all sides from opera house managers and a hostile press, she finds her life being turned upside down by this hyper-intelligent and impeccably charming man…

Little by little, Maria’s and Jackie’s lives begin to overlap, and they come closer and closer until everything they know about the world changes on a dime. 

Review:

Jackie Kennedy was the beautiful, sophisticated husband of the senator Jack Kennedy. She knew he was unfaithful, and after the still birth of her son, she needed a break from him. Jackie traveled to her friend Ari Onassis’s yacht, which changed the course of her life. Maria Callas was a world famous opera singer. She was introduced to Ari and they began a love affair. However, Maria wanted to have a family and marry Ari but he didn’t want to commit. Jackie and Maria are two powerful women who both love the same man.

I didn’t know much about the Kennedys before reading this book and I had never heard of Maria Callas. I usually look up the real people while I read historical fiction to find out which events really happened, but I resisted this time so I was surprised at what happened in the story. I tend to read historical fiction about real people I am familiar with, so this was a different read for me. I learned a lot about the Kennedys, Ari Onassis, and Maria Callas.

This story was intense and tragic. There were some tough situations, such as stillborn babies, suicide, murder, and affairs. What makes these things even more tragic in the story is that they are based on real events. Even though there were some upsetting scenes, I couldn’t put this book down. I had to keep reading to find out what would happen next. I was also quite surprised at the twists since I didn’t know what would really happen with the characters.

This is an amazing, well written story.

What to read next:

The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull

The Secret Affair by Gill Paul

Have you read Jackie and Maria? What did you think of it?

Top 5 Saturday – Award Winning Books

This is a weekly meme hosted Devouring Books. This week’s prompt is Award Winning Books. Here’s my list:

1. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

2. Break in Case of Emergency by Brian Francis

3. The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

5. The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

(All book covers from Goodreads)

If you’d like to do this list too, consider yourself tagged!

Did you make a Top 5 Saturday list?

Review: Princesses Versus Dinosaurs

Title: Princesses Versus Dinosaurs
Author: Linda Bailey, Joy Ang (illustrator)
Genre: Children’s, Picture Book
Publisher: Tundra Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 15, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Two popular storybook titans, princesses and dinosaurs, battle to determine who should star in this laugh-out-loud picture book for fans of Shark vs Train and The Book With No Pictures.

This is a princess book!

No, it’s a dinosaur book!

No, it’s . . . a T. rex book? A dragon book? A rubber ducky book?!

From Linda Bailey, award-winning and critically acclaimed author, and Joy Ang, Adventure Time-artist and illustrator of the Mustache Baby series, comes an irresistibly irreverent picture book in which plucky princesses and determined dinosaurs have a battle royale over whose book this is. When they start calling in the big guns — or rather, the big carnivores — and decide to build a wall to resolve their differences, princesses and dinosaurs alike learn a thing or two about open-mindedness and sharing. 

Review:

This book starts out with some princesses singing and dancing. The next page has dinosaurs roaring. Is it a princess book or a dinosaur book? They can’t decide so they have to bring in their friends to figure out what kind of book it is. Eventually they separate the book with a wall, but it may be more fun for everyone if they can all play together.

As soon as I saw the title of this book, I knew it would be adorable. The characters break the fourth wall by talking about what the book is about. It was also funny when they brought in some friends who took over the story.

This book defies the stereotypical gendered children’s stories. Princess stories are usually targeted towards girl readers, while dinosaur books are targeted towards boys. This book has both princesses and dinosaurs, so it is for everyone. There was also a princess who looked like a boy, so any child can see themselves in the princess characters.

This is a fun picture book!

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur by Linda Bailey, Colin Jack (illustrator)

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, Oliver Jeffers (illustrator)

Have you read Princesses Versus Dinosaurs? What did you think of it?

The Friday 56 – Faith: Taking Flight

This is a weekly meme hosted by Freda’s Voice.

The Rules are:

  • Grab a book, any book.
  • Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
  • Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
  • Post it. And share your link.
  • It’s that simple.

I chose Faith: Taking Flight by Julie Murphy.

Here is my line from page 56 in my copy:

“Dakota glances over her shoulder before taking a step closer to me. ‘Can you keep a secret?'”

Did you make a post for the Friday 56?

Blog Tour Review: Smash It!

Title: Smash It!
Author: Francina Simone
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 22, 2020
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Refreshingly authentic and bold… Don’t miss this smashing #ownvoices novel from Francina Simone! Filled with heart, humor and a heroine to root for, Smash It! is a perfect read for fans of Julie Murphy, Ibi Zoboi and Ashley Poston.

Olivia “Liv” James is done with letting her insecurities get the best of her. So she does what any self-respecting hot mess of a girl who wants to SMASH junior year does…

After Liv shows up to a Halloween party in khaki shorts–why, God, why?–she decides to set aside her wack AF ways. She makes a list–a F*ck-It list.

1. Be bold–do the thing that scares me.

2. Learn to take a compliment.

3. Stand out instead of back.

She kicks it off by trying out for the school musical, saying yes to a date and making new friends. Life is great when you stop punking yourself! However, with change comes a lot of missteps, and being bold means following her heart. So what happens when Liv’s heart is interested in three different guys–and two of them are her best friends? What is she supposed to do when she gets dumped by a guy she’s not even dating? How does one Smash It! after the humiliation of being friend-zoned?

In Liv’s own words, “F*ck it. What’s the worst that can happen?”

A lot, apparently.

#SMASHIT

Review:

Olivia James is ready to leave her insecurities behind. She’s inspired by Shonda Rhimes’s book “Year of Yes” to make a list of things she wants to do to smash her junior year of high school. She auditions for the school play, which is something she’s always wanted to do. She also falls into a “love square,” when she starts crushing on three different guys, two of whom are her best friends. Olivia tries to make this the best year ever, but with so many mixed feelings, someone is bound to get hurt.

There were a lot of feelings in this book. Olivia and her friends had to figure out their own feelings while also discovering the complicated relationships of the adults around them. They experienced a lot of “firsts” that go with teenage love. The love triangle Olivia had with her two best friends was very uncomfortable. They all seemed to have feelings for each other but didn’t speak up until it was too late. These were awkward situations, but they also felt authentic.

I read some reviews for this book when I started reading it, and there were many negative comments about the racism in the story. One character is half Israeli and half Palestinian. This was a controversial choice, and I’m not sure why the character had this background because it didn’t really have anything to do with the plot. I found that the characters made a lot of racist comments about the Black characters. Even though the characters and author are Black, these comments were offensive. The characters briefly pointed out that these comments were offensive, but I think there could have been a firmer stand against these racist comments.

I wish some of these sensitive topics were treated more delicately in this story. However, this was an authentically emotional teenage story.

Thank you Inkyard Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

About the author:

Francina Simone believes in one thing: authenticity. She writes YA stories full of humor and hard life lessons with sprinkles of truth that make us all feel understood. Her craft focuses on stories about girls throwing caution to the wind to discover exactly who they are and what it means to love. Francina is also known for her BookTube channel, where she discusses controversial topics in books.

Have you read Smash It? What did you think of it?

TBR Thursday – September 17

TBR Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly Faye Reads, where you post a title from your shelf or e-reader and find out what others think about it.

My pick this week is Blood and Honey (Serpent and Dove #2) by Shelby Mahurin.

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Goodreads Synopsis:

After narrowly escaping death at the hands of the Dames Blanches, Lou, Reid, Coco, and Ansel are on the run from coven, kingdom, and church—fugitives with nowhere to hide.

To elude the scores of witches and throngs of chasseurs at their heels, Lou and Reid need allies. Strong ones. But protection comes at a price, and the group is forced to embark on separate quests to build their forces. As Lou and Reid try to close the widening rift between them, the dastardly Morgane baits them in a lethal game of cat and mouse that threatens to destroy something worth more than any coven.

The hotly anticipated sequel to the New York Times and IndieBound bestseller Serpent & Dove—packed with even steamier romance and darker magic—is perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Review: My Riot

Title: My Riot
Author: Rick Spears, Emmett Helen
Genre: Graphic Novel
Publisher: Oni Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 8, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

“Full of raw noise & 90’s angst, MY RIOT delivers an electric gut-punch of a tale that will have you aching for the return of the riot grrrl movement.” — Kim Liggett, New York TimesBestselling author of THE GRACE YEAR

Set in the early ’90s, My Riot is about a trio of teen girls team up to form a rock band and shake off society’s expectations of what it means to be a young woman coming of age in the modern world.

1991—Val, a teenager from a conservative family, has grown up dreaming of becoming a ballerina, but recently something has changed. She’s begun feeling pressure to conform to a specific idea of beauty, body type, and a personality that just doesn’t fit.

Val meets Kat, a smart, witty girl that doesn’t take any crap off anyone. Kat introduces Val to punk rock. Along with Rudie, another new friend, the three form an all-girl punk band they ironically name The Proper Ladies.

Soon Val and her friends find themselves caught up in a movement with other girls also starting bands—also finding their voice. Collectively, these “riot grrrls” discover that their songs ring out loud and powerful, and for Val, there’s no going back.

Review:

Val is a girl from a conservative background who has always wanted to be a ballerina. When her ballet teacher tells her she needs to lose weight, she suggests she start smoking. Val gets the cigarettes from Kat, who becomes her new friend. Kat introduces Val to punk rock. They form a band called The Proper Ladies, and Val’s life is changed forever.

This was a great story about girl power. Val gained confidence from performing in her band. She had been restricted and limited in what she was allowed to do when she was a dancer. With punk rock, she could make the rules and become her true self.

A trigger warning for this book is eating disorders. It was disturbing to see how Val’s teacher told her and other dancers to lose weight any way they could. That included taking up smoking cigarettes. Some of them developed eating disorders. I was glad to see Val take up music so she could develop a healthy body image.

This is a great punk rock graphic novel.

Thank you Oni Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Queen of Kenosha by Howard Shapiro and Erica Chan

Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker

Have you read My Riot? What did you think of it?

‘Waiting on’ Wednesday – September 16

This is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. In this post we highlight a book that’s highly anticipated.

The book that I’m waiting on this Wednesday is Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore. The expected publication date is September 22, 2020.

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Goodreads Synopsis:

There hasn’t been a winner of the Miss Meteor beauty pageant who looks like Lita Perez or Chicky Quintanilla in all its history. But that’s not the only reason Lita wants to enter the contest, or why her ex-best friend Chicky wants to help her. The road to becoming Miss Meteor isn’t about being perfect; it’s about sharing who you are with the world—and loving the parts of yourself no one else understands. So to pull off the unlikeliest underdog story in pageant history, Lita and Chicky are going to have to forget the past and imagine a future where girls like them are more than enough—they are everything.

Witty and heartfelt with characters that leap off the page, Miss Meteor is acclaimed authors Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia’s first book together.

What books are you waiting on this week?

Review: The Wrong Mr. Darcy

Title: The Wrong Mr. Darcy
Author: Evelyn Lozada with Holly Lörincz
Genre: Romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: August 25, 2020
Rating: ★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In Evelyn Lozada and Holly Lorincz’s lightly inspired Pride and Prejudice romantic comedy, two unlikely people discover the error of judging by first impressions and the beauty of family, friendship and love. This book will entice you through the last page.

Hara Isari has big ambitions and they won’t be sidetracked by her mother’s insisting that she settle down soon. She dreams of leaving her small-town newspaper behind, as well as her felon father, and building a career as a sports writer, so when she is chosen to exclusively interview a basketball superstar, she jumps at the chance. It’s time to show the bigwigs what she’s truly made of. 

At the same time, she meets a rookie on the rise, Derek Darcy. Darcy is incredibly handsome, obnoxiously proud, and has a major chip on his shoulder. Hara can’t think of a man more arrogant and infuriating. However, fate keeps bringing them together—from locker rooms to elegant parties, to the storm of the century—and what begins as a clash might just be more complicated than Hara anticipated. When she begins to see Darcy in a new light, Hara is not quite sure if she should drop the ball or play the love game.

Review:

Hara Isari is an aspiring sports journalist. She gets the chance of a lifetime when she is chosen to interview the elusive Charles Butler, a rising basketball star. When she travels to Boston to meet Butler, she also meets his best friend, Derek Darcy. They instantly can’t stand each other, but they keep getting pushed together as Hara follows the team to research her article. Soon Hara realizes there is a dark secret between Butler and Darcy, and she won’t stop investigating until she figures it out.

This story followed the general “enemies to lovers” plot of Pride and Prejudice, with Hara and Darcy not liking each other but slowly starting to fall in love. However, the other subplots of Pride and Prejudice were changed. Hara’s father was in prison, not a steady role model like Mr. Bennet was to Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice. Butler was hiding some scandalous secrets, such as cheating on his girlfriend. I can’t imagine Bingley from Pride and Prejudice ever doing anything like that. I was disappointed that the original characters were changed so much in this adaptation.

There were some dramatic scenes at the end of the book. There are also some trigger warnings, such as suicide, abortion, murder, and assault. These events seemed to be just thrown into the story for a shock effect. These things didn’t add to the plot, and they didn’t make sense for a Pride and Prejudice adaptation.

This book didn’t work for me.

Thank you St. Martin’s Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Intercepted by Alexa Martin

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Have you read The Wrong Mr. Darcy? What did you think of it?