Book Review: Clap When You Land - Elizabeth Acevedo

Book Review: Clap When You Land – Elizabeth Acevedo

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance – and Papi’s secrets – the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

After reading Acevedo’s novel With The Fire on High I knew I needed to read Clap When You Land. I was fascinated by the idea of a tragedy bringing together unknown family members and the difficulties they have after learning the truth. 

This is ultimately a story about grief, family and secrecy. While both Camino and Yaharia share a father, their lives couldn’t be more different. One is used to living in New York in reasonable comfort, while the other is keeping her head above water with her aunt in a struggling neighbourhood. 

As with Acevedo’s other book I read there are a number of diverse characters in terms of race and sexuality as well as looking at forms of intimidation women may face around the world. 

The way in which this is written is beautiful, I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the Dominican Republic and Camino’s sense of community and love for those around her. Overall I think I felt more connected to Camino, simply because I was rooting for her the whole time. That’s not to say I wasn’t rooting for Yaharia, it was just a different kind of connection. 

For me this was a 4.5 star read, I can’t talk about the ending without risk of spoilers but I wanted to see more of that happened after the endpoint. I would definitely read a second book about the girls. I wish I could say more but I refuse to spoil this wonderful book for anyone. 

Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for review. 

Bite Me: The Twilight Reread

Bite Me: Announcing The 2020 Twilight Reread

Let’s take it waaaaay back to 2008. I’m 13 years old, I’m seeing this boy that I kind of really like and there’s this film called Twilight being advertised everywhere for later in the year. It’s one of my friends favourite books and so I buy a copy, and then the next and the next and the next. The cute boy is still my boyfriend in December and takes me to see the film of one of my new favourite series of all time. 

To say I was a Twilight fan wouldn’t be accurate. To say I was a Twihard would be bang on. Those books took over. I had the posters, the soundtracks, the movie books. On a family holiday to the states in 2009 I went to Hot Topic and let myself loose coming home with pin badges, a hoodie, patches and a limited edition record. I fell hard. 

When the Bree Tanner book came out I went and picked up my pre order and read it in a day. While I gave up on the films after Eclipse, the books have always had a place on my shelves (although it has been dangerously close to being donated multiple times)…and now we have Midnight Sun. 

Now, most people read the leaked versions online but I didn’t, if it wasn’t meant to be published I didn’t want to read it. So I don’t really know what it was like, the quality, how different it was etc.

As a 20-something woman I know Twilight is problematic but I can’t lie and say I didn’t love that series. As a teenager I adored it and so did millions of us. Did I find the imprinting thing super weird? Yes, yes I did it was and still is beyond bizarre, more than a bit creepy and I’m still not ok with that element.

I read an article this morning that wondered if we would see Edward’s behaviour highlighted as toxic and not ideal. I don’t know if we will but it’s going to be interesting to see this in a post me-too era.

With Midnight Sun coming out in a matter of months(?!) I thought it would be the perfect time to get around to that Twilight reread I’d been considering. Of course I’m going to take you guys along for the ride and a new bookish series on the blog appropriately called Bite Me.I hope you’ll join me because I am damn nervous about rereading a book that meant so much to me as a teenager.

Are you going to be reading Midnight Sun? I’d love to know!

P.S That boy I kinda liked? It’s the one I’m marrying, if you hadn’t guessed. 😉

What I Read In April 2020 – Part 2

Welcome to the second part of my April reading wrap-up. Will I do as well in May? Who knows? I’m hoping to focus on some longer books on my physical TBR. Missed part 1? You can catch up here.

Let’s get on with the next reads.

As part of the Easter Readathon I also read Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, a Japanese short novel about time travel. It can be quite an emotional read. I thought it was interesting, it was a 3 star read for me.

I then wanted to pick up a few more graphic based books to make me laugh which lead me to All My Friends Are Dead by Avery Monsen and Jory John. This is a quick flick through and quite funny – a 3 star read for me.

I also found the Sarah’s Scribbles books by Sarah Andersen after really enjoying the first one. These are short cartoons but I found myself laughing along and seeing myself in them. Big Mushy Happy Lump was a 4 star read for me and Herding Cats was a 3 star.

All My Friends Are Still Dead by Avery Monsen and Jory John I found was better than the first volume and really came into its own.

Next up number 4 in the Wayward Children’s series, In An Absent Dream this follows Lundy and her story. I found this one a little slow to start with but still enjoyable and worthy of 4 stars.

Us by Curtis Wicklund is a really sweet collection of sketches that he drew over a year of him and his partner. A really sweet and quick read – 3.5 stars.

Ok, so Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire was amaaaaaazing. Another look at Jack and Jill in a different light and that’s all I can say but I loved it and it was a solid 5 stars.

I got an ARC from Netgalley of Love Your Body by Jessica Sanders and illustrated by Carol Rossetti is a wonderful book about body positivity and diversity. Beautifully illustrated and with a great message – I can’t wait to get a physical copy.

There are cartoons of Lady Stuff online so I thought I might as well give Lady Stuff: Secrets To Being A Woman by Loryn Brantz a go. It was quite repetitive and not that memorable, a 2 star read for me.

Debbie Tung’s Quiet Girl In A Noisy World – Debbie Tung made me feel seen. It was very much like reading my life, particularly the working situations. I love Debbie’s illustrations and I *think* there is another one coming out soon about relationships – I hope I can get hold of it in the UK.

I also picked up another Christina Lauren audiobook and adored it. Roomies is set in New York, it has music and arts and romance and everything was just perfect. The little musical theatre geek in me was squealing with happiness. Is it any surprise it was a 5 star read for me?

Last but not least, I won a copy of Noelle Stevenson’s The Fire Never Goes Out in Kate’s Easter giveaway. I’d seen it recommended and the illustrations looked great. Plus, I’m interested in memoirs from late teens/early twenties. This is a great read and looked at creativity, depression and identity – a 4 star read for me. It also made me finally order a copy of Nimona.

And that’s that! Over 20 reads – have you read any of them or do you want to? Let me know in the comments below!

What I Read In April 2020 – Part 1

Posting my what I read post within the first few days of the month? Who am I? April was a funny old month, wasn’t it? The outside was pretty terrible and it was demanded we stay home. It turns out staying in for an entire month can do wonders for your reading – who knew.

I read over 20 books this month, most of them are short because my concentration has been shot but overall I’m past half way on my Goodreads goal. Woo! Because there were quite a few I’ve separated this into 2 blogs. It might be a long one so let’s get going.

The first book I finished this month was With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo. It’s about a teenager with dreams of becoming a chef but she’s also a teenage Mum and trying to work her way through life for herself and her daughter. I LOVED this book, it was quite chill but had beautiful writing and I was cheering Emoni on the whole way. A 5 star read.

Next up, I got Scribd and realised there was a LOT of poetry on there so I downloaded To Drink Coffee With A Ghost by Amanda Lovelace. This was an ok read, there were some good parts but they’re starting to become very similar and merge into one…

I also read To Make Monsters Out of Girls by the same author and honestly I read it a month ago and I can’t remember much about it at all apart from the fact that it’s about a toxic mother daughter relationship. 2 stars.

After hearing about Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire on BookTube a LOT and I finally had access to the audiobook. At first I was very confused and it is a very strange novel but also it’s so good. I needed the next one straight away (I ended up listening to the whole series in a few weeks and I can’t wait for the next one). It’s all about children who come back from magical worlds. It was a 4.5 star read for me.

And go on to the next book I did – Down Among The Sticks And Bones! Jack and Jill are probably my favourite characters in the series but they’re not entirely likeable. I just find them and their world fascinating. In this book we learn more about them and it’s probably my favourite of the series – 4.5 stars!

Next up was Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan and was for the Easter Readathon. I’ve had this for a while and not got around to it, it’s about 2 high schoolers who want to start a women’s rights group. This was an ok read – there are some really important points but overall, for me, it was just ok. A 3 star read.

The third installment of the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire – I told you I got through them! Beneath The Sugar Sky was a really odd one, I enjoyed it but this is about a land of nonsense. Another 4 star read and a return from a few past characters.

I was also lucky enough to get an ARC of The Eve Illusion by Tom and Giovanna Fletcher, the second book of the Eve of Man trilogy. Oh this was so worth the wait and so, so good. I read it in a day and then ordered the physical book.

Discovering Debbie Tung’s books made me SO happy. Book Love is one for book lovers and I want to buy a copy for all my bookish friends because it’s so true but also adorable.

I also finally got to read Heavy Vinyl Vol 1 and damn I loved it. Good representation and I can’t wait for volume 2.

That’s the end of part 1 of what I read in April! Have you read any of these? I’d love to know your thoughts below or catch me on Twitter! Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for part 2!

Book Review: The Black Flamingo - Dean Atta

Book Review: The Black Flamingo – Dean Atta

A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen – then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers – to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.

*I masquerade in makeup and feathers and I am applauded.*

This book is definitely a coming of age novel with a twist. I, personally, have never read a book about how someone becomes a drag queen. Personally, I think it is an amazing creative art form and the make up skills? Damn.

A few people I know have pushed back from reading this because it’s written in verse, which I understand. When I read my first novel in verse as a teenager I didn’t get it BUT now I see it as a really creative way of telling a story. If you’re new to novels in verse this is a great place to start because it flows so well and it’s easy to just read it and forget because you’re so absorbed in the story.

This is a story about finding who you are, about balancing expectations and family with your own truth. It looks at the LGBTQ community and drag but I think this could speak to anyone who has struggled with working out who they are and who they want to be. I could relate because I also started to work myself out at university and found confidence I didn’t know I had.

The story also follows Michael’s realisation that he is gay and what this meant for him as well as his crushes, relationships and the like. I’m pretty sure all of us can relate to teenage crushes.

The poetry within the pages were absolutely beautiful! Also the flow from around the middle to the second half seemed effortless, even though I know it must have taken a long time to put together.

This was a 4 star read for me, incredibly interesting, well written and, for me at least, very original in both the way it was written and the story it told. I will say that towards the beginning I struggled a little bit, particularly with Michael’s younger years but found as he got to university I could relate.

Book Review: Once Upon A River – Diane Setterfield

On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, an extraordinary event takes place. The regulars are telling stories to while away the dark hours, when the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his arms is the lifeless body of a small child. Hours later, the girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can science provide an explanation? These questions have many answers, some of them quite dark indeed.

Once Upon A River is an intriguing read and I’m really pleased to have picked this up for book club and that I was able to discuss with with a group of people because this is the kind of book you will want to talk about the whole way through, there’s a lot to cover.

I will admit that in the beginning I wasn’t sure about who everyone was, their part in the story it can be quite confusing pulling all the threads together and I did have to go back. That said, I actually ended up loving the fact that so many strands ended up coming together in the end and it added to the mystery element of it all.

While it might sound strange, the pace of the plot felt like it followed the path of a river. Some parts were slow and winding while you felt that other parts were rushing through and you couldn’t stop reading. It was an incredibly clever way to write and I give props to the author.

This is the kind of novel that creates a lot of theories. I was chatting and debating with my friends about who the girl was, where she came from, who I wanted her to be. I was immersed in this mystery and while the ending wasn’t what I expected I can understand it.

I think my favourite character of the whole book was the midwife of the town – she was incredibly interesting and her use of science and love it was a welcome addition to a book that is full of folklore and whispers of magic. It’s impressive how the author was able to combine these aspects.

I gave this book 4 stars. I think it’s a good read, but it does take a little bit of getting used to particularly in the beginning. I feel that it’s worth it and most of the people I’ve spoken to agree!

Book Review: The Gravity Of Us - Phil Stamper

Book Review: The Gravity Of Us – Phil Stamper

As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus.

Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels—fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.

I requested this on NetGalley because I was SO excited about it. I’m lucky enough to have met Phil when we were both studying at Kingston University and we’ve stayed in touch a little. To see this all over the internet (mostly in the USA at this point) is amazing and there’s a reason there is such a buzz behind it.

Combining the idea of a new space project, young love and family tensions The Gravity of Us was an interesting concept. I’ll admit that I’ve never had that fascination with space like a lot of kids did. I think it’s cool and I’m down to read Sci-Fi and have a Star Wars marathon but it’s never been a big thing for me. The good thing is any worries I didn’t need to be!

This book is about astronauts and space missions but not in such a way that I felt like I was dumb or didn’t understand. In fact, after reading I really wanted to find out more about NASA and the work that they do.

I was really impressed by how social media is used within the book too, it’s really central to the plot and Cal as a person. While Cal is a kind of YouTuber type personality it was really refreshing to see this as a step to reach a bigger goal of being a journalist.

Also can we talk about the crushing and the romance? GUYS it put me in such a good mood and I loved the fact that the fact there were gay characters wasn’t used as a plot point at all. There was no shocking revelation that they were gay or big coming out moment. We need more of this in books.

I gave this book 4.5 stars, I really enjoyed the plot, the romance and Cal himself. This is clearly a book that has had a lot of heart put into it but also a great deal of research to back up the space element. This book deserves all of the hype it gets and of course I recommend it.

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and Phil for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

Livin' The Vida Lockdown: Day Twenty - How I Did With The Easter Readathon 2020

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Twenty – How I Did With The Easter Readathon 2020

Hello, hello, hello!

While I intended to writer yesterday on Easter Sunday, when it came down to it I didn’t want to. It was a pretty weird day for me – the first Easter I’ve ever spent without my family. We’re not religious but like to get together for any occasion that we can make fun. So, for now, the egg hunt has been postponed but I did get a special delivery.

Apparently the Easter Bunny does delivery now, who knew? But I am very thankful for the bag of goodies that arrived on our doorstep for me and Ali to enjoy.

Not going out meant that I could spend the whole day reading and cracking on with the Easter Readathon – my first one! And it was definitely a great one to start with. While I didn’t tick off all the tasks I think I did pretty well. So – what books did I get to and finish? Well, since you asked so nicely…

Day One & Two

On day one I started Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan, a novel about a group of teenage friends who want to do more to support women’s rights in their school. I think this would work maybe for a younger reader who is looking for inspiration on setting up a feminism club or similar. For me though it didn’t do anything new or memorable.

This was a 3 star read for me and was 1 book down!

At the end of day 1 I also started one of my most anticipated reads for a WHILE…

Day 3

The Eve Illusion - Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

I got an ARC of The Eve Illusion which is the follow up to Eve of Man which was a 5 star read for me back in 2018 and while at first I had to really remind myself of what had happened at the end.

As much as I want to rave about it I can’t say much without ruining the first book for those of you who haven’t read it but once again I couldn’t put it down. Also, this gets darker but in the very best way.

Beneath The Sugar Sky - Seanan McGuire

I also finished listening to Beneath The Sugar Sky, the third installment of the Wayward Children series – I’ve actually got through all three in lockdown so far and I’m pretty sure I will have listened to all five by the end of the week…

This was a 4 star read for me, another excellent addition and I wouldn’t advise listening on an empty stomach.

Day 4

Today was probably the hardest day, I didn’t finish anything although I did start Before The Coffee Gets Cold and The Love Hypothesis so that’s a start!

Overall, I’m pretty happy it’s definitely kick started my reading mojo again and I’m sure I’ll be back on it tomorrow, starting with the 4th Wayward Children book to listen to…

Livin' The Vida Lockdown: Day Eighteen - Reading The Time Away

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Eighteen – Reading The Time Away

As I mentioned in my last blog, I decided to take part in the Easter Readathon! Five Prompts, four days and me. As of writing I’ve finished one book, Watch Us Rise, and I’m 60% through my second and I think that’s pretty good going, especially seeing as I struggled to get into the reading mindset today. While I woke up early my brain needed frequent breaks – one of which made me very proud of myself.

I’ve been struggling a lot with going outside, something I touched upon in previous blogs because of anxiety and panic attacks. I wanted to get out in the sunshine but taking our normal route made me feel uncomfortable because it’s around and through a big park…which meant idiots. Lots of them.

Now, we don’t have a garden. You can bet if we did I would have been sat there with a pile of books and a large glass of something depending on the time of day. What we do have, however, is a little bit of grass to the side and behind our building. I decided it was a good test of my levels right now and made sure I could get some air.

It worked! I managed to sit out for about an hour and not once did I have any kind of panic attack. People ask but why do you have them? I wish I could tell you. Anxiety and panic attacks are rarely logical – that’s the most frustrating thing.

Coming back inside I sat down and read, and I mean really read. I got through almost 50% of The Eve Illusion in a few hours and felt my superpower coming back. My mountain of books I haven’t read now seems like a challenge rather than a guilty secret.

This reader is back guys!

Beneath The Sugar Sky - Seanan McGuire

Livin’ The Vida Lockdown: Day Seventeen – Easter Readathon

Two bookish posts in one day!? I know, I’m spoiling you all. So, after seeing over on Kate’s Twitter that she is hosting an Easter Readathon I thought why not join? I’ve never seriously done a Readathon before and I think now is a great time to try…because I have no other obligations what so ever -yippie!

So how does it work? The Readathon runs from 12.01am on Friday 10th and finishes at 11.59pm on Monday 13th April. You can find more info and Kate’s post here, make sure to give her a follow too!

As with most Readathons there are prompts, for this one they are:

[Image description: Post reads Easter Readathon 2020 Prompts 1. Read a book that gives you Spring Vibes. 2. Read a book about new beginnings. 3. Read a book that’s under 250 pages. 4. Read a book with yellow or green cover. 5. Read a book involving family/friends.]

I’ve had a look and I’m going to try and complete the challenges – but if I get a load of reading done that’s absolutely fine with me!

Read a book about new beginnings

The Eve Illusion – Tom and Giovanna Fletcher

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this today and while I can’t say too much as it’s a sequel there’s definitely some new beginnings in it.

Read a book that’s under 250 pages

Beneath The Sugar Sky - Seanan McGuire

Beneath The Sugar Sky – Seanan McGuire

Ok so *technically* I started this before the Readathon started and it’s an audiobook BUT I’m desperate to finish it!

Also reading about a candy land over the Easter weekend? That seems too good to pass up.

Read a book with a yellow or green cover

Watch Us Rise – Rene Watson

It’s on my April TBR and I really enjoyed the last two Rene Watson books that I read and they were quick reads so I’m hoping this will be a fast read.

Read a book involving family/friends

Crescent City – Sarah J. Maas

Ok it is a STRETCH but this is, another one I’ve already started but I’m really into. Also, do I think I’ll finish this over the next few days? No, no I don’t. That said, it’s started to get interesting.

Read a book that gives you Spring vibes

This is one I need a few recommendations for – please leave them below!

Are you joining in? Also leave your suggestions down below!