My Rad Life

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My Rad Life: A Journal

by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl

A companion to the New York Times bestseller Rad American Women A-Z and Rad Women Worldwide, this cool guided journal draws from a number of the “rad” women featured in both books, while also including a diverse range of new women, all of whom come to life via inspirational quotes and paper cut portraits.Blank pages invite doodling, lined pages encourage writing, and a collection of thought-provoking prompts encourage users to get to know themselves better by recording their thoughts and ideas on paper.

Originally I had gotten this journal as an ebook a while back, but due to it being something that you need to take part in and write in, I felt like I couldn’t review it until I saw a real copy of it. It just happened that I was able to snag a real copy. And I’m so happy I did because I don’t think an ebook copy would do this justice.

It’s a brightly colored book filled with quotes and images of women from this time and the past. It gives you suggestions on how to fill the journal but also gives you plenty of free space to do whatever you want. I think it’s something that women of all ages could love this book. It celebrates women and being women and is something we need to do more often.

I already have plans for my copy. I’m planning on doing pictures for each woman based on the things they are known for and fought for, that way it’s easy to know more about them than just a quote because we don’t always need words. I also plan on doing some of the prompts offered.

I’m really excited about this book and it can give you inspiration every day when you need it in your life and drive you to be a better person and a better you. I highly recommend it if you want something fun and journal like while learning about different women from history and who are fighting still today.

Rating: 4 stars

Solo

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Solo

by Kwame AlexanderMary Rand Hess

Solo, a YA novel in poetic verse, tells the story of seventeen-year-old Blade Morrison, whose life is bombarded with scathing tabloids and a father struggling with just about every addiction under the sun—including a desperate desire to make a comeback. Haunted by memories of his mother and his family’s ruin, Blade’s only hope is in the forbidden love of his girlfriend. But when he discovers a deeply protected family secret, Blade sets out on a journey across the globe that will change everything he thought to be true.

This lovely, emotional story follows Blade Morrison, son of a famous rocker, as he leaves high school and is preparing for college. But everything he knows gets turned on it’s head all at once. He finds out he’s adopted after a fight with his sister over their father’s embarrassing antics, he finds out the girl he loves has been cheating on him after he gets her named inked in his skin. He goes on a journey to understand all of this by chasing after his birth mother who is in Ghana. In this journey he learns to forgive his father, learns that he can still love, and that the music he thought dead in him still is very much still alive.

This book is surprisingly unique with it’s story. It tells the story in prose and lyrics, leaving the experience even more beautiful and even more gripping. Blade is unhappy in his life of having lost his mother, having grown up with drug addict of a father, and he wishes simply to be normal. You can feel the pain of the character yourself, of someone who is on the cusp of change, one he thinks he understands only to learn he was completely wrong. It was simply a joy to read and get a better idea of the emotions Blade experiences. The lyrical feel is perfect with how this story is tied in to music so intensely. I don’t think the story would have been such an impactful read without it.

The plot was interesting and a new take in finding one’s self, in my opinion. It’s full of so many twists and turns that you don’t see half of them coming. You go into the story thinking you know what this story is about only for everything to get flipped on it’s head. And it did this well, never just letting one of those plots come up without just forgetting about them. It does leave some questions unanswered, but to me, it felt like it was part of life. Sometimes, you don’t get the answers you want, but it doesn’t mean its not important. Sometimes no answer is answer enough to get an idea of the possibilities. We see the pieces of Blade’s life that leads to this change, we don’t see the aftermath, but that’s okay. This story is about him finding who he really is, even if he doesn’t fully understand who that is fully. We don’t know what happens after Ghana. We leave the story in a heart breaking moment, but one that you know will change more than one character in this story due to the cruel reality of this world.

Do I recommend this? Yes. I think it’s such a brilliant read with such an unique way of telling it. It’s a quick read, one I did a lot quicker than I thought I would. In part, it’s because it’s such an addicting style and the emotions in it make you desperately want to know what happens next. I do warn ahead of time of some triggers: drug use, abusive relationships, implied rape, and death.

Rating: 4 stars 

 

The Tiger’s Watch

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The Tiger’s Watch 

by Julia Ember

Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as a inhabitor, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, and Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.
Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic, but Tashi discovers a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander—a side that draws them to Xian.
When their spying unveils that everything they’ve been taught is a lie, Tashi faces an impossible choice: save their country or the boy they’re growing to love. Though Tashi grapples with their decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn’t question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But an inhabitor’s bond to their animal is for life—if Katala dies, so will Tashi.

We follow Tashi, a young inhabitor as they flee from a sudden outbreak of war, leaving their country in ruins. But Tashi and their friend Pharo must hide so that they aren’t caught and found out what they are by the invading army, inhabitor’s possessing a magic that the other country desperately wants. So they hide in among monks as one of the commanders takes a post at that monastery, taking Tashi as a servant. Tashi risks themselves as a very reluctant spy in hopes of finding information that might find out information they can use against them.

Not my best little summary, I admit, but this book is all levels of complicated that I didn’t really stand a chance to describe it without giving away too much or leaving out important elements. I will say of the books I’ve read by Julia Ember, this has to be my favourite one so far. This book has roots in Asian culture and reminds me strangely of Avatar the Last Airbender. Though there’s no bending of elements, the magic in this book and the idea of those who posses it giving up their lives to keep a balance in the world reminds me hands down of Avatar. Fans of the show would probably enjoy this book.

Tashi as a main character is really interesting. Their genderfluid (which made this my first full novel I’ve read with someone genderfluid and I seriously freaked out). They are brave in their own way, but sensitive, which makes some characters look down on them. That doesn’t change the fact their strong. They just aren’t the normal pig headed, rush into danger type of protagonist. They’re one of the few that put themselves and the ones they love first, not just the greater good. They’re forced to make a hard choice, but one that will help some but possibly hurt more. And it’s something they grapple with in a thoughtful manner. If I was in their position, I honestly don’t know what I would have done. It’s also diverse and gives us an interesting cast of characters next to Tashi. Every character is complicated and has a story that is just as gripping and leaves you desperately wanting to know more.

The plot of this book is beautiful. There wasn’t a slow moment in the whole book. You know someone is wrapped up in a story that the sun sets and they don’t notice their reading in the dark until someone points it out to them. Which happened to me with the last half of the book. I was just completely wrapped up in this story. I honestly can’t wait for the second book and need to know what happens. I’ve read good books this year, but not one that wraps me up so completely as this book had without me feeling bored at least in one or two parts of it.

The writing itself was well done. I saw everything clearly in my mind and it was simply beautifully done. The only thing I had a small problem with was the fact a queer character died to advance the plot and the character of Tashi. I don’t know if it can be considered a ‘bury your gays’ situation because its complicated from the start because as soon as we start the book we know this character will die. All of the inhabitors know they will die young. It’s part of the balance I mentioned before.

The world building in this book is well done. The conflict itself is part of what reminds me of Avatar along with the use of magic. I honestly love how much thought went into each place and each of their cultures. It’s been a while since I read a fantasy novel that gives us a world so completely thought out like this. And that just adds to awesome quality of this book.

Do I recommend this? H*ck yes. Go get this book as soon as you can. If you love magic and the feeling that Avatar gave you, pick this up, enjoy it, and come gush with me because I need to gush about this book with you.

Rating: 5 stars

#NotYourPrincess

#Notyourprincess: Voices of Native American Women

by Lisa Charleyboy & Mary Beth Leatherdale

Whether looking back to a troubled past or welcoming a hopeful future, the powerful voices of Indigenous women across North America resound in this book. In the same style as the best-selling Dreaming in Indian, #NotYourPrincess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard and demanding change. Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give teen readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible.

To me this, this collection of poetry and prose is important. It gives voices to Indigenous women, tells their stories and empowers their sisters to embrace themselves and who they are. To me, this collection that contains experiences I haven’t felt myself and experiences I deal with as well into words. The poems and stories that did this was stories talking about how they weren’t raised with their heritage and have to learn it on their own or families that whitewashed themselves to hide who they are, much like my own family has. These pieces hit hard while reading them, leaving me wanting to tell my own story instead of biting it back in fear of ‘not fitting’ the expected mold.

To me, I found these pieces well done. However, about half way through this collection, the formatting sort of gave out on me. Sentences ran into other sentences, not ending but cut off suddenly. Some poems make use of different colored fonts while others have the same idea, but the formatting  made it repeat the sentence above when it wasn’t meant to. As it was, the white colored fonts can’t be seen well on kindles, leaving your eyes hurting trying to read it. A more common issue with ebooks on kindles is art work getting cut to pieces so it’s not a full images but small pieces. This was an issue through this arc as well. I felt like the formatting issues did effect my impression simply because half of the pieces I couldn’t understand because I had to try and repiece the pieces together again, leaving me a little frustrated. Hopefully, this can be fixed before this goes out into ebook formats.

Do I recommend this? Yes. Wait to get it in physical form or for the publishers say that formatting has been fixed for ebooks if you get it. I find it a really important read and one that touched my soul and my own experience of trying to find my way of my heritage and understand what that means for the woman I am, as a Metis, who’s family that has been rewritting who they are to hide this side. I feel like this book is important to both Indigenous women and women who want to better understand the struggle.

Rating: 4 stars

August Reading Challenges

So there are a BUNCH of awesome reading challenges this coming month. I’m going to be taking part in TWO. One is the #TheReadingQuest hosted by the blog ReadAtMidnight. Basically, this is one of the coolest reading challenges I’ve seen in ages.

Reading Quest Board

Like many RPG games out, you pick a class for a character and you follow their laid out path and those are the books you read first. I normally go Rogue, but for this one I’ve decided to start with Mage. Once you finish one class, you can start another one. You get so many points per square depending on what kind of book you read and so on. Basically, jump on this one. It’s so awesome and I can’t wait to start.

The Reading Quest Character Card Creator1

The second one is the ARC August reading challenge done by ReadSleepRepeat is to get through my rather huge list of ARCs that I’ve been trying to read for ages that’s continually getting bigger. With school starting this coming up this month (I have no idea when they don’t make the start date readily available. Ever), reviews might become a little less often. My hope is by dong this I’ll have a bunch read before hand and scheduled for you guys.

So this is what I’m doing this month.

#TheReadingQuest Books:

A Book With A One Word Title:

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

Rating: 4 stars

A Book That Contains Magic:

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Rating: 4 stars

#ARCAugust Books:

The Tea Dragon Society

Rating: 5 stars

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

Rating: 4 stars

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Rating: 4 stars

Wicked Like a Wildfire (Hibiscus Daughter, #1)

Rating: 3 stars

What reading plans do you have for August? 

 

The Traitor’s Tunnel

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The Traitor’s Tunnel (A Trident Chronicles Novella)

by C.M. Spivey

Witch-blooded robber Bridget has made a reputation for herself in the capital city, but she’s not interested in the attention of the Thieves’ Guild–and she’s not bothered by the rumors of urchin kidnappings, either. With winter coming, she’s looking out for herself and no one else.
Until she picks the wrong pocket, and recognizes her estranged brother Teddy.
Young craftsman Theodor arrives in the capital ready to take the final step toward his dream career as Lord Engineer of Arido. His apprenticeship with a renowned city engineer comes with new rules and challenges, but it’s worth it for the exposure to the Imperial Council.

I was lucky enough to get this novella from the author a few months ago. But as you guys know, I sort of hit a wall when it came fantasy for a while, putting this book on the back burner, despite the fact I’d been dying to read it. Thanks to help of The Adventure Zone podcast, I found my fantasy love again and was finally able to pick this book up.

We follow both Bridget and Theodor through this novella, estranged siblings who meet once more when Teddy takes up his apprenticeship. The two of them plus both of their partners become entangled with a plot happening in the city that involves human trafficking, people like Bridget with no real home and who live on the streets.

I did enjoy this read. Unlike most fantasy books that insist on being old fashion and against things like LGBTQA+ rights, this book turns that idea on its head. The book is filled with diversity and tells a story accepting of everyone, which has been one of my issues with fantasy of late. Bridget has dated men and women, Theodor is asexual with a male partner, who choose to be male. Without knowing genders, the characters go to gender neutral pronouns, never assuming. All of which is a breath of fresh air.

As for the world itself, part of me wishes I had read ‘Under The Mountain’ first to better understand this world, but you don’t need to to read this novella. It’s able to stand on it’s own well and did cover the basics of this well thought out and well written world that makes you want more of it. That on it’s own makes me want to read the original series to learn more and grasp more. I loved the mixed of fantasy and witchcraft, all an original idea that isn’t like the typical witch books you see out.

I enjoyed this story. With it being a novella, I felt the plot was a bit rushed at the end, the whole time looking at how much I had left and wondering how it would pull it all off. I felt like it could have been a little smother, that it could have been a little longer to make it that way, but at the same time, I can see and understand why it wasn’t. I personally would love to see more of these characters and what happens next with their lives, but also knowing that the excitement they experiences probably wouldn’t happen again. The only thing I would change was maybe introduce the plot a little sooner in the story so it’s less rushed, but honestly, it didn’t bother me all that much because it felt like it was happening right.

I highly recommend this read if you want a quick read that involves a well rounded cast of characters that is diverse and a story that keeps you guessing.

Rating: 4 stars

A not so Dreadful Tale

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The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding

by Alexandra Bracken

Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history — that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper’s great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made — and then broke — a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, four-thousand-year-old Alastor isn’t exactly the forgiving type. 

 

Remember how I said Middle Grade books win this year? Well, this book just proves this fact in Alexandra Bracken’s newest book that comes out this fall. It also happens to be my new favourite book by her, and I’ve read at least the first book of each of her series that are currently out. And here’s why: We follow the story of Prosper Redding, a bit of a sad kid who’s bullied at school and who has become distant to his once close twin sister. He doesn’t fit in with the rest of his family either. More so when he finds out his ancestor made a deal with a demon, who just happens to residing in Prosper currently. I don’t want to give much more away about it though. You’ll have to trust me that Prosper’s tale manages to become even more magical from there. Just take the warning in the first few pages of this book to heart, don’t trust a Redding. Or really anyone for that matter.

The writing in this book is just so much fun. To me, it was one of Bracken’s better crafted stories and it doesn’t get too boring, only a few moments that slowed down and left me crazy because I needed to know where the plot went past the filler section. As someone who loves witches and grew up on Harry Potter magic, this book had just the right amount of magic in it while bringing us a whole new ideas while feeling familiar. It also has the right amount of spookiness without being completely scary. I admit, I was creeped out a few times, so maybe not read this with younger readers just yet, but let them once they’re in middle school, in my personal opinion just to keep it on the safe side. As for the writing quality, it was good. Unlike in some of the past books I read from Bracken, there wasn’t as much unneeded moments in this book. There was a few that I wouldn’t mind not seeing, but most of them come with at least a small purpose behind it, which we do find out later. I think she finally found the right balance in my opinion.

Do I recommend this book? Yes. Highly. I’d seriously run to my store and preorder it now. If that isn’t an option yet, then wait for it to be, mark on all your calendars and whatever else until you can. It’s the perfect book for most ages and is perfect for fans of Hocus Pocus. It might be the only thing that ever comes as good and so purely Halloween as this movie.

Rating: 5 stars