Not as bad as April, but still so busy | May Wrap-Up & TBR Update

Today is my last day working at the library. It’s super bittersweet. On one hand, I’m looking forward to living in a new place and spending more time with my baby, but on the other hand, I’ve really loved my job. As we get ready to actually move, I probably won’t be on here a ton, but I hope to still be reading in between packing boxes. Hopefully the rest of this Summer is a little calmer!

monthly tbr

Also read/reading:

Books finished this month: 9
Books currently reading: 
1

Overall TBR:

TBR at the beginning of the year = 383
TBR at the beginning of May = 466
Books added to TBR = 14
Books read/deleted from TBR = 20
Total on TBR now = 460

How did your reading go this month?
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BLOG TOUR: The Beholder by Anna Bright

The BeholderThe Beholder
by Anna Bright
Release Date: June 4th, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings

Goodreads|Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Kobo

SYNOPSIS: Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.

EXCERPT:

The Beholder: 1
Once upon a time always began on nights like tonight.

Candles flickered in the trees that grew up through the marble floors of Arbor Hall, setting aglow the faces of the partygoers beneath them and the garlands of shattered glass sparkling in their intermingled branches. My heart beat like a hummingbird trapped between my breastbone and spine.

I ducked behind an old oak climbed over with ivy, hiding for a moment from the music and all the people, careful to avoid the gap carved around its trunk.

Tonight wasn’t truly a beginning. I’d loved Peter forever, even if I’d never told him so. Tonight was growth—a page turned. Tonight, I would reap from seeds I’d sown and tended half my life.

Tonight, I’d go to sleep with a ring on my finger and my future clear before me. Confident in the promise that tomorrow and the next day and the next would be happy days, always the same, always close to the ones I loved. Ready to do my duty by Potomac and take my place as its head someday, with someone strong and trustworthy at my side. Just as soon as Peter said yes.

I tugged an ivy vine loose with shaky fingers, looped it into a wreath, and pinned it over the loose ponytail I’d made of my curls.

Tonight, whispered my heart. You’re getting engaged tonight.

My breath came fast at the thought, my knees practically knocking together.

Momma had told me the story of my birthday a hundred times. On the night I was born, she paced here in Arbor Hall beneath the trees, pleading with me to leave the safety of her womb and enter the world.

It was a wild, wonderful, magical place, she said. Back aching, ankles swollen, she walked through the forest sheltered beneath the hall’s marble dome and whispered stories to where I waited in her belly, as if to prove it to me.

The tale of the Beauty and the Beast, of the girl who rode off into danger to save her father. The story of the girl so kind to a fairy in disguise that her voice rained flowers and pearls all around her.

Through the years, Momma would tell me those stories again and again. Those, and so many more, as we sat in the shade of the trees outside or in the cool of this very hall.

I only wished she were here to see what would happen tonight.

A hundred couples in wreaths like mine and their finest clothes danced under the great Arbor at the center of the room. Hundreds more wove between dogwoods veiled in bridal white and river birches sloughing off their bark like old paper. Here and there I spotted people I knew. The designer who’d made my gown was radiant in her own, its pale pink silk looking soft as a rose petal against her gleaming dark skin as she danced with her husband, a well-to-do farmer. Nearby, a group of boys and girls I knew from school were laughing, faces flushed as they kept up with the music. Dr. Gold and Dr. Pugh, my father’s physicians, stood beneath a willow to one side of the room, debating something I couldn’t hear.

I took a long breath, squeezed the rosary in my pocket, and stepped out to join them all.

So many people—but of course I bumped into him. Into Peter.

Finding him in a crowd was inevitable, like everything else about us.

Peter flashed a tight grin as he regained his balance, steadying the laurel crown in his tight black curls and straightening his jacket. “Hi, Selah. You look nice.”

He didn’t look nice. With his skin glowing smooth and soft brown in the candlelight beneath the oak, dressed in tweed and smelling like springtime, he was so handsome I could hardly meet his eyes. My nerves flared, and I fought the urge to hide from him like a child.

We hadn’t exactly talked before Daddy extended the proposal, and I’d acted bright and busy and distracted when I’d run into him in the fortnight since.

I could never have told Peter outright how I felt.

Peter Janesley. Six feet tall, black, with curly hair and a strong nose and full lips. Shoulders that tended to round when he was thinking, his father’s light brown eyes, his mother’s careful hands. Peter, the boy who was brilliant at math and at sports and didn’t feel compelled to pretend he was bad at either. Who could’ve been friends with anyone, but who never made anyone feel invisible. When I was fourteen, I’d learned how to graft roses from his mother just to spend time at his house. The day Sister Elizabeth scolded me till I cried over an algebra test, he’d helped me at their kitchen table until I understood everything I’d gotten wrong.

“Perfect!” he’d said. “I knew you could get this.” He’d tapped the problems with his finger, a smile stretching wide beneath his broad cheekbones. I’d tried not to blush.

Peter was smart, and earnest, and kind. After we’d finished studying, he’d cut us both a piece of cake and we’d sat for half an hour on his porch, cross-legged opposite from one another in the rising twilight. Cicadas hummed and buzzed as the light melted off the facade of the Janesleys’ home and the abelias and roses brushing the porch rail.

Once, I made him laugh. Peter had rocked back, lovely fingers clasping his knees, mouth open to show the perfect gap in his teeth, and I’d wanted to trap the moment in a jar like a firefly.

After that, we were friends, and I clung to the fact like a trophy. After I made a perfect score on my next algebra test, he hugged me in front of everyone and ruffled my hair. “Knew you could do it,” he’d said, pointing at me as he backed away, making for his next class.

My feelings built themselves from a hundred little moments like these, rising like a castle in the distance, every humble stone growing into something I could already imagine. Into something on the horizon I’d eventually reach.

And here he was. My past and my future, standing right in front of me.

“Peter!” I blurted. “Ah—thank you. You look nice, too,” I added, remembering his compliment. He huffed a laugh and put his hands in his back pockets. The jacket strained a little over his shoulders. “How are you?”

“Fine. Good.” He nodded. “You?”

“All right,” I said.

Maybe if I said it enough, I’d believe I wasn’t shaking like a leaf.

I wanted to come out with it all—to blurt out exactly what I was thinking and feeling, to explain why he’d heard it all first through our parents and not from me, to see easy confidence in his eyes again. But somehow, I couldn’t say any of it.

Later, I thought. Once we were alone, with the public spectacle over, we’d talk. There would be nothing but the truth between us, and the future ahead.

The music quieted, and Arbor Hall’s doors swung open. Peter dropped his voice. “I need to go find my parents before it starts.” He raised his eyebrows, as if asking for my approval. I sent him away with a nod and a smile.

Soon enough, we’d have all the time in the world.



Anna BrightABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
I believe in woods, mountains, highways, cobblestones, roller coasters, dancing, concerts, cherry Pop Tarts, books, and magic.

When I’m not reading or writing on my couch, I’m dragging my husband off on an adventure, communing with Salem (my kitten/spiritual familiar), or causing trouble at One More Page Books, where I work.

Website|Goodreads|Twitter|Tumblr|Instagram


Fantastic Flying Book Club 2

Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

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As of this posting, all of these deals are active, but I don’t know for how long!
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This book made me feel 100% Latina | Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno [ARC]

Don't Date Rosa SantosThe Santos women are cursed by the sea. Any man that they fall in love with will be claimed by the ocean. Rosa has grown up her entire life with this knowledge and has never really grappled with it until now. She’s about to pick which college she wants to go to when she meets Alex. He’s tall, has a beard, ocean tattoos, and…a boat. Rosa knows it’s a bad idea to fall for him, but how can she resist especially when she finds out that he bakes too?

TL;DR – This book will make you wish you had an abuela. The Cuban culture is so authentic throughout that it makes my heart hurt.

eBook | Hardcover

My ethnicity is a mixed bag. I’m a quarter white, half Chinese, and a quarter Hispanic. The grandparent I grew up closest to is my mom’s mother who was born and raised in Panama. Rosa’s abuela, Mimi, reminded me so much of my own grandmother. I could see her doing and saying so many of the things that Mimi did. There are more similarities as well that I’ll address later on. Seriously though, this book made me feel so much more Hispanic than I actually am. During and after reading I found myself gesturing at things to my husband with my lip/chin. I never do that!

First, I just want to say that I absolutely adored this book. It was so close to being a five star read for me! I thought Rosa was a really enjoyable character right off the bat and I loved her dynamic with all of the other characters. She was so interesting and really felt alive for me. I also loved the dynamic and tensions between Rosa, Mimi, and Liliana (Rosa’s mom). All three women were incredibly strong in different ways. I enjoyed that the author was able to portray that differing strength in women. Women can be strong, even if they’re not all strong in the same way.

Secondary characters were amazing! They all felt like they had depth to them and I felt they contributed to the story in an important way. I especially enjoyed Rosa’s best friend and the viejos. Please, I would follow their Instagram in a heartbeat!

The atmosphere of the book also felt so real. The weather was almost another character and I loved how that played into the slight magical/mystical thread throughout the book. It was all very fun. The weather also contributed to the raw emotions that came out at times. There are a few scenes throughout this book where the emotion is just so heavy. Despite that, this isn’t a heavy book and I wholeheartedly recommend it as a Summer read.

***Slight Spoiler Ahead***

This book hit me especially hard because my grandmother just passed away last month in a way that was similar to Mimi. It was kind of sudden and like Liliana, my mom was the one there performing CPR on her own mother until the paramedics arrived. There were some other similarities as well that I won’t go into. It just felt eerily similar to me. When Rosa was dealing with Mimi’s death, I felt it so hard. I saw myself in Rosa and parts of my mom in Liliana. The emotions felt so real and it’s obvious that the author has lost someone close to her. I still forget some days that my grandma isn’t around anymore. I hope, like Rosa, that I can one day make that pilgrimage back to my grandmother’s homeland. The sacrifices that she made to come to America amaze me every day and I would literally not be here without her. I love you, Llaya.

***Spoiler End***

Anyway…I highly, highly recommend this book. I appreciate the call for diversity in YA, but a lot of times I think it’s done poorly or in a way that’s inauthentic. That is NOT the case with this book. If you want to read diversity in YA, then this is the kind of thing you should be reading.

Overall Rating: 4.5
Language: Mild
Violence: None
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild

Note: I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

9 books on my Summer TBR

Summer is almost upon us! After we’re done moving, I’m hoping that life will settle down enough for me to read more. I’m going to be transitioning from working to being a stay-at-home-mom for at least a little while and I’m looking forward to it. While I’m not working, I’m hoping to get to these books:

Books That I Own

 

The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley – I really liked the first book in this series and I have like…the next six on my shelf. I need to continue with this series!
eBook | Paperback

Legendary by Stephanie Garber – The first book was great and I’ve been looking forward to the second, just haven’t gotten around to it unfortunately. And now the third book is out? I didn’t realize how behind I was!
eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo – Another book that’s just been sitting on my shelf since I got it! I’ve just had so many other things to read, but I really want to make this a priority for this Summer!
eBook | Hardcover

2019 Releases

 

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He – This one sounds awesome and I’ve only heard good things about it. I love the Asian rep!
eBook | Hardcover

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen – I can honestly say, this is the only book on my list that I know with a deep surety I’ll be reading this Summer. HATE SPINNERBAIT!
Preorder: eBook | Hardcover

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo – I haven’t read Poet X, but I’ve heard amazing things about it, so I have high expectations for this book. It has food and babies, two things that I love!
eBook | Hardcover

Backlist Reads

 

This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills – All of her covers are STUNNING and all of her books sound interesting to me. I’m not really sure why I haven’t read anything by her yet? But I’m hoping to this Summer!
eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black – I had a huge Holly Black phase when I was in junior high. I devoured her Tithe series, but haven’t really been back to visit since. I know everyone and their mother has read this book and is OBSESSED. I’m ready to join the bandwagon.
eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi – Another book that I’ve only heard good things about. I don’t really have a good reason why I haven’t read this yet, I just haven’t gotten to it.
eBook | Hardcover | Paperback (Preorder)

What books are you hoping to read this Summer? Which of these books should I make more of a priority? Let me know in the comments!

Life, man. It happens. [Life Update] [Obviously]

Okay, okay. I know I said I’d be back this month after last month’s two weddings and a funeral, but more things are happening! My husband just graduated with his Master’s in Public Administration and had been applying for jobs all last semester. Well, we finally decided on one so we’re going to be moving! (Yay…) No, but seriously I am excited, just moving is always a beast and this is the first time I’ll be moving out of state with like…STUFF. We’re currently living in Utah, but around the beginning of June we’ll be moving to Central California!

It’ll be a big change with location and we won’t be near family anymore. I’m going to take a break from working for a bit (at least while we get settled) so I’ll be spending a lot more time at home with the baby and maybe (hopefully?) that’ll give me more time to blog? I’ll have to play it by ear, but maybe don’t expect too much from me this month. My reading has actually been going pretty good, but I haven’t had much of a chance to sit down at my computer to post reviews. Thanks for bearing with me and I hope to get back in the groove soon!

16 Best Book Deals for 5/17/19: The Mime Order, The Invention of Wings, The Hypnotists’ Love Story, and more

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