February 2021 Wrap-Up & Book Haul…

February…the month where everything didn’t go quite as planned. Valentine’s Day weekend my boyfriend had booked us a cabin and the weather seemed to favor it, we were packed up and ready to go. I’d been quarantining at home all year long, working remotely, and pretty much limiting my proximity to anyone. COVID however arrived at my doorstep. It hit us hard for two whole weeks and it ended with a week long hospitalization for myself. It had to be the single most scariest experience I’ve ever been through with the odds stacked high against me making a turnaround. I believe it was a whole lot of faith, strength, and will power coupled with an awesome team of medical professionals that pulled me through. I’m home now where I’m recovering from some tough residual side effects but getting better and stronger each and every day.

I read 5 books in February which is honestly surprising given the level of meds I was on that made it difficult to not see words swimming on the page. I did NOT write reviews for any with the exception of The Project by Courtney Summers since that was an ARC from the Publisher. Instead, I will try to summarize my thoughts in this Wrap-Up for each title. I did watch a couple of good new shows and one Netflix Original movie. Other than this, It was a month to rest and recover while also being thankful for my health and that of my two tiny humans.

Sidenote: Why didn’t anyone tell me Matcha is where it’s at?!?! OBSESSED! How do you like your matcha? I’m looking for new recipes <3’s!

THE RAVENS BY KASS MORGAN & DANIELLE PAIGE  ✨3.5 𝑆𝑡𝑎𝑟𝑠✨- 𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑅𝑎𝑣𝑒𝑛𝑠 was one of the books I read during my hospital stint. I was feeling for a witchy read and this one proved to be fast paced which helped considering nausea limited my reading time. That being said, it could’ve improved upon its character development. Our MC Vivi has always lived life alongside her mother who is very superstitious and makes her living reading Tarot. They constantly uproot their lives and move from place to place to “keep safe” however Vivi doesn’t know from what. Very little answers are provided to her by her mom until she gets accepted to Uni and joins Kappa Rho Nu. Unbeknownst to her, this ambitious smart tough sorority is also a coven of bad a** witches 🙌🏽 we get to meet these other witches and the powers they were gifted (Pentacles, Swords, Cups or Wands) from their family lineage. I didn’t connect with Vivi or really sympathize as much as I believe the authors intended. I actually connected a lot more with each of the the Side characters. There was also an issue with a death of a side character that I felt was a bit glazed over even though it was center stage for the first half of the book. Overall it was a fast enjoyable read albeit these issues, I LOVED the spotlight it gave these Alpha women leaders in the making! Sisterhood is not something we get enough of on the page, I’m glad Fairyloot made this one of their picks! 🖤

THE PROJECT BY COURTNEY SUMMERS (My Review) ✨5 𝑆𝑡𝑎𝑟𝑠✨MIND BLOWN at the amount of research that had to have gone into cults and their inner workings. From how you’re targeted, to isolation, brainwashing and eventually the feeling that you’re indebted to a greater cause. All the while following someone who believes himself to be God. A cautionary tale of sorts is what some may view it as. This is marketed as Young Adult but definitely reads on the more mature end of the scale. Fast paced & character driven, this dark tale will sink its clutches into you.

FIREFLY LANE BY KRISTIN HANNAH  ✨5 𝑆𝑡𝑎𝑟𝑠✨- Firefly Lane provided some comfort in February in its tale of friendship between two girls from the opposite sides of the track. I laughed and cried reading this book and then of course binge watched the Netflix adaptation. Although the show does deviate a lot from the story, many of its core scenes and friendship milestones remained the same. Accompanied by some awesome 70’s music tracks, we follow Kate and Tully as young girls in grade school to life with kids and careers. Kate has the kids and the husband with dreams of one day becoming a published author. Tully has always dreamed and passionately pursued her career as an accomplished news reporter. They see each other through heartbreaks, career wins, and the ups & downs of their Thelma & Louise vibe friendship.

BLACK BUCK BY MATEO ASKARIPOUR 

𝐼𝑡’𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑢𝑡𝑦 𝑜𝑓 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦 𝑚𝑎𝑛 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑤𝑜𝑚𝑎𝑛 𝑤ℎ𝑜 ℎ𝑎𝑠 𝑎𝑐ℎ𝑖𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑑 𝑠𝑜𝑚𝑒 𝑠𝑢𝑐𝑐𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑖𝑛 𝑙𝑖𝑓𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑝𝑎𝑠𝑠 𝑖𝑡 𝑜𝑛, 𝑏𝑒𝑐𝑎𝑢𝑠𝑒 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑛 𝑤𝑒’𝑟𝑒 𝑔𝑜𝑛𝑒, 𝑤ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑚𝑎𝑡𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑠 𝑚𝑜𝑠𝑡 𝑖𝑠𝑛’𝑡 𝑤ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑤𝑒’𝑟𝑒 𝑎𝑏𝑙𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑎𝑡𝑡𝑎𝑖𝑛 𝑏𝑢𝑡 𝑤ℎ𝑜 𝑤𝑒 𝑤𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑎𝑏𝑙𝑒 𝑡𝑜 ℎ𝑒𝑙𝑝.”
✨5 𝑆𝑡𝑎𝑟𝑠✨
𝐵𝑙𝑎𝑐𝑘 𝐵𝑢𝑐𝑘
is a satirical take on one young black mans shot to stardom when he gets offered a “once in a lifetime” opportunity while working as a Manager at Starbucks. Darren is 22 years old and unambitious, the former Valedictorian of his class at Bronx Science. His mother who he lives with in their family owned Brownstone in Bedstuy wants nothing more than to see him live up to his potential. Rhett Daniels the CEO of Sumwun, NYC’s hottest tech startup sees that potential and is intent on getting Darren on his team. Darren joins and from day one is met with some quite infuriating white leadership who dish out every single stereotype there is about black people. I’ve lost track of how many times Darren has been asked whether he’s been told by anyone that he looks like MLK or Sidney Poitier. This is the book that had me SMH saying “the audacity” at the things white privileged men felt entitled to say to Darren. Darren’s inner monologue has me smiling at times and other times laughing, fast paced and thought provoking this book explores race and ambition through a different lens.

SLAY BY BRITTNEY MORRIS  ✨4 𝑆𝑡𝑎𝑟𝑠✨- I inhale read this book and although it be small in page count, it is mighty in its message! a book I will gladly pass down to my Afro-Latinx daughter because it embodies black excellence. Morris gave us black girls in STEM, a detailed layout of the virtual game our 16 year old MC has designed, discourse on black spaces, the importance of not relying on black people to educate you on their experiences, code switching and so much more! Yes, chances are if you love books by Angie Thomas, you will also enjoy Slay. But even more incentive is that Kiera is just a girl who loves video games and geekin’ out with others who just like her have been looking for a space to call their own. There were some cringe worthy moments with regards to Kiera’s boyfriend Malcolm who was the walking definition of toxic masculinity HOWEVER, I found his scenes to be important and insightful. These characters are well fleshed out and multifaceted, by the time I reached the end of the book I was fully invested. I’m absolutely already anticipating Morris’ next book!

FIREFLY LANE | THE GILDED ONES | THE WITCH’S HEART | THE PUSH | THE KINDEST LIE | HONEY GIRL | STAMPED


TO ALL THE BOYS ALWAYS AND FOREVER

The conclusion to the “All the boys” trilogy…or is it? I’ve heard rumblings of a spin-off being considered and I for one would be all on board. Give us Laura Jean in NYC attending NYU. I LOVED this movie but it is the third one so there’s not much I can’t say that isn’t spoilery. However, I will say that it was pretty awesome watching LJ make her own decisions & following her heart when it comes to life after high school.

FIREFLY LANE

After reading Kristin Hanna’s Firefly Lane I jumped right into a Netflix binge of the adaptation. The show definitely stands on its own and changes up a lot of what was in the book but I think that’s because it was intended to have more than one season. If you’ve read the book, then you know there are some major events that would change the dynamic on TV. That being said, I still thoroughly enjoyed the show & seeing the different paths taken. I also LOVED hearing some of the 70’s music tracks mentioned in the books & seeing the flashbacks. UGH! all the geek love for Kate with her Ginormous glasses, bell bottoms and love for Tolkien. Tully, be still my heart! I have a soft spot for this character who is just looking for home & family but keeps finding comfort in her career. The one thing that hasn’t turned its back on her because it’s dependent on her will power, ambition and determination. I hope the show gets a second run, that ending just can’t be it! if you know, you know HAHA!

WANDAVISION

This was a show that felt absolutely trippy! from the black and white “I Dream Of Genie” mixed with “I Love Lucy” and a bit of “Bewitched” styled Pilot episode to the consistent sitcom themed episodes that followed as it made its way to present time. I’ll admit that at first I wasn’t sure at all this was for me however, by the 4th episode I was hooked and had to know what exactly was going on. Trust Marvel to have perfected their formula, at this point there isn’t anything I wouldn’t watch by them. STOKED for Falcon and the Winter Soldier streaming next Friday 3/19/2021!


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A Diverse Non-Fiction November…

Hola Book Lovers! It’s been quite some time since I picked up a Non-Fiction book, but the mood hit yesterday and before I knew it I had 5 books I’d like to read this month. I’m not too surprised this was a last minute thing since that pretty much sums up most of my reading this year. That it just so happens to be Non-Fiction November is a plus! Earlier this morning I finished listening to  In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado. I expected the horror noir vibes but wasn’t expecting it to hit on a personal level. This is going to be a tough read but for those who are interested in the audiobook, the author does narrate it herself which personally made the delivery that much more profound. I’ll hopefully have a mini-review up for In the Dream House this weekend.

DIVERSE NON-FICTION I’M READING THIS MONTH


IN THE DREAM HOUSE BY CARMEN MARIA MACHADODocuments the authors own experience within an abusive same-sex relationship. I wasn’t expecting to listen to this in one sitting but it happened. At times very hard to listen to, raw and unflinching in its honesty. The author wants to raise awareness of how abuse within queer relationships is handled. The fact that often times victims aren’t believed unless there are visible scars & even then it’s sort of swept under the rug. The toxicity in this relationship ranges from emotional to verbal & at times even physical, I’d say you have to be in the right mind space.

BORN A CRIME BY TREVOR NOAH “Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.” I’ve followed Trevor Noah on The Daily Show for some time now & heard amazing reviews about his memoir, it’s time to dig in! 

ORDINARY GIRLS BY JAQUIRA DIAZ“Ordinary Girls is a fierce, beautiful, and unflinching memoir from a wildly talented debut author. While growing up in housing projects in Puerto Rico and Miami Beach, Jaquira Díaz found herself caught between extremes: as her family split apart and her mother battled schizophrenia, she was surrounded by the love of her friends; as she longed for a family and home, she found instead a life upended by violence. From her own struggles with depression and sexual assault to Puerto Rico’s history of colonialism, every page of Ordinary Girls vibrates with music and lyricism. Díaz triumphantly maps a way out of despair toward love and hope to become her version of the girl she always wanted to be.” Thank YOU Bookstagram for placing this book on my feed cause the minute I saw the cover I ran over to Goodreads for a synopsis. This sounds like it will be a powerful read! 

THE UNDOCUMENTED AMERICANS – “One of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard reveals the hidden lives of her fellow undocumented Americans in this deeply personal and groundbreaking portrait of a nation. Writer Karla Cornejo Villavicencio was on DACA when she decided to write about being undocumented for the first time using her own name. It was right after the election of 2016, the day she realized the story she’d tried to steer clear of was the only one she wanted to tell. So she wrote her immigration lawyer’s phone number on her hand in Sharpie and embarked on a trip across the country to tell the stories of her fellow undocumented immigrants–and to find the hidden key to her own.” Having had many of my own family members battle for years to obtain their paperwork for an opportunity to live & work in the USA, this one is HIGH up on my priority list. 

HOOD FEMINISM – “Today’s feminist movement has a glaring blind spot, and paradoxically, it is women. Mainstream feminists rarely talk about meeting basic needs as a feminist issue, argues Mikki Kendall, but food insecurity, access to quality education, safe neighborhoods, a living wage, and medical care are all feminist issues. All too often, however, the focus is not on basic survival for the many, but on increasing privilege for the few. That feminists refuse to prioritize these issues has only exacerbated the age-old problem of both internecine discord and women who rebuff at carrying the title. Moreover, prominent white feminists broadly suffer from their own myopia with regard to how things like race, class, sexual orientation, and ability intersect with gender. How can we stand in solidarity as a movement, Kendall asks, when there is the distinct likelihood that some women are oppressing others?” I’m MOST stoked to read this one, I have both the audiobook and a physical copy I was gifted from a friend. It’s important for me to read books with a focus on intersectional feminism. 


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August 2020 Book Haul

It’s Friday & I’m not posting a Friday Reads & Thangs because lots of non-bookish things are happening this weekend in my little corner. However, I come to you late my friends with my August Book Haul! This is actually one of my favorite stacks I’ve hauled in quite some time. I’m almost done un-hauling books from my shelves *book shimmy* that I’ve lost interest in, I’m sticking to only buying books that I’ve either read/loved OR have a STRONG inclination that the book will be a favorite new read. In this stack I have already read & 5 starred You Had Me at Hola (my review) & Lobizona (my review), these would be great additions to your TBR/shelves in the support of Latinx Heritage Month. Also, I am currently a host for a Latinx Heritage Month Giveaway over on Bookstagram. This is a weekly giveaway running through September, the winners are announced every Friday. To enter, keep an eye out for the Monday morning post each week 🙂

For more Bookish photos & to enter the Latinx Heritage Month Giveaway, click on the photo to follow LairOfBooks on Bookstagram

HANDS DOWN | YOU HAD ME AT HOLA | VICIOUS SPIRITS | STAR DAUGHTER | RAYBEARER | THE FIRST SISTER | LOBIZONA | HOOD FEMINISM  (gift from Brittany over @DippedinColor)


WITCHES STEEPED IN GOLD | THE PROJECT | MUSE

Super thankful to Epic & Fierce Reads for the Edelweiss/Netgalley approvals, these are titles I’m looking forward to reading & reviewing here on the blog. Witches Steeped in Gold is already getting some early praise which absolutly heightens my curiosity.


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Friday Reads

Happy Friday Readers!!! I haven’t done one of these in a while but I’m trying to get in the habit of scheduling posts for days or weeks that i’m not feeling my best. Also, I’d like to know what you’re currently reading and enjoying or maybe not enjoying. My weekends usually see me putting my books away to spend time with my 2 tiny humans but I’m also working on ME time when they’re napping. For those that have responsibilities (doesn’t necessarily have to be kids) which is probably most of us, then you know that time is always evading us. I think this week alone has taught me the importance of self-care & stepping away when necessary for mental health. Starting next wknd I’ll be carving out ME time since this weekend is my 1 year Wedding Anniversary & there’s no escaping that LMAO!

Kicking off my Friday with the highly anticipated season 5 return of Orange Is The New Black!!! I’ll admit, last season wasn’t their best but that ending has me clamoring back for more so without shame I will binge the hell out of OITNB tonight into the wee hours of the morning. Sure I’ll pay for it come Saturday morning when the insanely cruel tiny humans sound the alarms at 7am…then again they may just meet me channeling my fave character “Red” in the kitchen 😉

I’m actually back to reading 2 books at a time, I had taken a long break from that but the mood called to me & I answered. So I have 1 audiobook & 1 eGalley that I’m currently working my way through. I’m about 38% into Let’s pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson & once again Jenny has me making awkward gasping sounds in public while I try not to die of laughter. I loved Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things (review here) which came after this one but I am SERIOUSLY LOVING Let’s Pretend! but this time I’m savoring it & only listening to it when my anxiety is high or I’m feeling a bit down. It is legit the best medicine for any down day. I find myself enjoying this one more simply because she’s including stories about her dad and husband Victor pre-marriage that have me shaking my head in disbelief. The Taxidermy stories are still awkward but very funny & Jenny is unapologetically Jenny. Hearing how she thinks is kind of liberating, we all have a little quirk in us…she has a ton & I love her for it!

This morning I started Song of the Current (Song of the Current #1) by Sarah Tolcser a YA Fantasy with its own mythos centered around a River God. The main protagonist Caro is strong willed & waiting for the day that the River God calls her name as has been the case for generations in her family. I’m only a chapter in & already hooked wondering where this adventure will take me. After reading & loving Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller earlier in the year, I am looking forward to another waterways adventure &&& PIRATES! I can always go for Pirates 😉

What are you reading/watching this Friday? any plans for the weekend? 🙂

April Owlcrate & Book of the Month Unboxing

April’s subscription boxes arrived with their vibrant colors & I am more than happy with the selections. earlier in April I read & reviewed The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli & fell hard for the characters & Becky’s writing style. This book brought me so much happiness that I flew right through it. My smile lingered for many days after & I still think about Molly Peskin-Suso & crew. This means that I am all the more curious about Simon who had a small cameo in Upside. I own the e-book so I suppose it’s all a matter of timing now 😉

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April’s theme was Head Over Heels, in the box were the following items: 

1 Hardcover copy of The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (5 star read)

1 signed bookplate sticker

1 Decal sticker (not pictured above, found this waaay after photo was taken lol)

1 Storiarts Pride & Prejudice book headband (I’ll prob wear indoors since I feel I don’t have the head for this lol)

1 Simon Vs. the Homosapiens Agenda keychain from the Bookworm Boutique (maybe once I read Simon, I’ll feel less fraudulent about carrying this item on my key chain ha!)

1 Anna and the French kiss Chocolate Cherry Bomb Tea from The Tea SPot (will be trying this one out this wknd but it smells delish!)

1 Novelly Yours Candle inspired by one of Rainbow Rowell’s books (1 of 3 scents were sent), I received Baz & Simon in Raspberry & (GAHHHHH! smells SOOooooO Good! fave item besides book of course lol)

1 Evie Bookish print inspired by A Court of Thorns & Roses (least fave item simply because i’m not big on these small art prints)

1 Umberland (Everland, Book 2) by Wendy Spinale PREVIEW (Amazon buy link for finished book here) (Never read the 1st book soooo yea…lol)

1 Owlcrate exclusive themed pin (goes right on my book tote)

My Box Rating: ★★★★ (3.75 STARS)

April’s BOTM pick was a bit tricky, but there was one name in the blurb that sealed the deal for this one: for readers/fans of Mindy Khaling…moment of silence for my Queen…K, I’ll pretty much read any non-fiction with a bit of humor so I was so happy to come across Scaachi Kohl’s short story collection. Goodreads has since edited the blurb to exclude any comparisons to Mindy K. but I read some reviews & they maintain that it is in fact along those lines. Besides this though & most importantly is that this is a short story collection by a woman of color, daughter to Indian immigrants based on relevant issues affecting many woman of color. I may get the audiobook to read along since I prefer to listen to memoirs narrated by the authors themselves 😉

 

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Goodreads Blurb

A collection of essays about growing up the daughter of Indian immigrants in Canada, “a land of ice and casual racism,” by the cultural observer, Scaachi Koul.

In One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, Scaachi deploys her razor-sharp humour to share her fears, outrages and mortifying experiences as an outsider growing up in Canada. Her subjects range from shaving her knuckles in grade school, to a shopping trip gone horribly awry, to dealing with internet trolls, to feeling out of place at an Indian wedding (as an Indian woman), to parsing the trajectory of fears and anxieties that pressed upon her immigrant parents and bled down a generation. Alongside these personal stories are pointed observations about life as a woman of colour, where every aspect of her appearance is open for critique, derision or outright scorn. Where strict gender rules bind in both Western and Indian cultures, forcing her to confront questions about gender dynamics, racial tensions, ethnic stereotypes and her father’s creeping mortality–all as she tries to find her feet in the world.

Every time I consider canceling my BOTM subscription just so that I can catch up with the ones I have so far…They hit me with the ALL STAR LINE-UP of books I can’t resist smh. I’ll tell you right now, May was no different since I’ve already selected my books & they sweetened the deal lol. Another perk to this box is that at least one of the books in the box (as of late) is a pre-release which I think is AWESOME! So, since they’ve already charged me the renewal fee, you can expect to see at least 3 more of these un-boxings LOL!

What are your thoughts on the April Owlcrate box? Have any of my bookish peeps read The Upside of Unrequited? For my fellow BOTM subscribers, what were your selections for April? also, if you subscribe to any other boxes & have done a unboxing, drop your link down below <3’s!

Standalone Sunday

6493208The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Published by: Crown Publishing Group

Publication Date: February 2nd 2010

Genre: Non-Fiction/History/Science

Pages: 370 pages

 Standalone Sunday is a feature created by  Megan@BookSlayerReads where you select a book (not part of a series) that you loved & would recommend to others.

goodreads-synopsis-2

Henrietta Lacks, as HeLa, is known to present-day scientists for her cells from cervical cancer. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells were taken without her knowledge and still live decades after her death. Cells descended from her may weigh more than 50M metric tons.

HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks was buried in an unmarked grave.

The journey starts in the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s, her small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia — wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo. Today are stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells, East Baltimore children and grandchildren live in obscurity, see no profits, and feel violated. The dark history of experimentation on African Americans helped lead to the birth of bioethics, and legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.

reasons-banner

I highlighted the last bit of the Goodreads synopsis because I read it 3 times to myself & thought…that’s a scary thought, not having control of our own cells. This book was impactful, maddening, eye opening, and educational. So many of the vaccines and medicines we have today are because of Henrietta’s stolen cells. Just recently I stumbled across a EW article announcing the HBO movie that is being produced by Oprah. Oprah will also be starring in the movie playing the part of Henrietta’s daughter. I am really looking forward to seeing this movie get the attention it deserves. Henrietta may no longer be with us but her story & sacrifice has helped us all & continues to do good in the world.

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EW article