Book Review: The Ballad Of Black Tom by: Victor LaValle

By: Victor LaValle
Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Short Story
Rating: 3.5 stars
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: February 16 2016
“Don’t you mind people grinning in your face. Bare this in mind, a true friend is hard to find. Don’t you mind people grinning in your face…”
Synopsis:

People move to New York looking for magic and nothing will convince them it isn’t there.

Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father’s head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook. He knows what magic a suit can cast, the invisibility a guitar case can provide, and the curse written on his skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their cops. But when he delivers an occult tome to a reclusive sorceress in the heart of Queens, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic, and earns the attention of things best left sleeping.

A storm that might swallow the world is building in Brooklyn. Will Black Tom live to see it break?

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Book Review: If You Could Be Mine by: Sara Farizan

If You Could Be Mine
Rating: 3.8./4 stars
Genre:
YA, Romance, GLBTQ, Contemporary,Culture, Realistic Fiction
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Released Date: August 20th 2013

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants, in the body she wants to be loved in, without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?

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Read Diverse Books Year-Round & Diversity On The Shelf 2016 Book Reading Challenges

Hiya, Guys:

So, I realize that I’m a little late to the Diversity On The Shelf 2016 book challenge here, but I’m not new to the game ;).

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I’ve already read about 12 or 13 diverse books this year (by authors of color), so I’m aim for the 4th Shelf: 19-24 books to complete this year. And based on the bit of research I’ve done so far, I’m going to have to list a few books I know I can get my hands on ie: Audiobooks and Physical copies from Amazon, thriftbooks and the library as my tablet (where I read most, if not all of my ebooks) has almost officially broken up with me and refuses to allow me access to all of the ebooks it’s holding captive -___- The rules for this challenge are simple: read books by and/or about people of color throughout the year to encourage other readers to have a more diverse reading experience and to support diversity in the publishing industry. Quoting challenge creator Akilah, over at The Englishist

And for the Read Diverse Books Year-Round, (which just started this month and is a variation of the first challenge), I’ve made a list of ten options that are subsidiaries of this particular challenge just below. And while these two reading challenges go hand-in-hand, the books of this #readdiversebooks2016  will have a few cross overs, but my ultimate goal is to stick to and only count books that have been written by/are about people of color, QPOC/LGBT characters books and characters with disabilities.

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2016 Book Challenges Update: Month Two

Hiya, Guys:

Here are the books I completed for the month of February for the three book challenges I’m participating in this year.  Organized in the order I signed up for each challenge.

 

#2016TBRPile Challenge

This has been on by TBR pile for a while and you might recognize that this another book by last month’s TBR author.

 

3volve

By Josefina Gutierrez

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Multicultural, Contemporary Romance, NA, Coming of age

Released: July 14th, 2015

Rating: 3/3.5 Stars

Goodreads OR buy 3volve  here: Amazon

Blurb:

From author Josefina Gutierrez, of “The Shadow of Loss”, comes a new New-Adult contemporary love story.

I thought my life began when I graduated high school and moved far, far away—okay three hours away. But I was wrong. My life didn’t start until it almost ended.

I’m Cristal Escobedo, twenty-two years old and a former wild child who favors tequila far too much. But that all changed when life happened, and I ended up being responsible for my younger brothers. To top it all off, I think I’m falling in love with my best friend—dammit.

This is my not-so-happy story of how I grew up and got my shit together. My story isn’t filled with a bunch of pretty analogies or hyperboles. The people are real, the hurt is deep, and the love is complicated. People are flawed in the ways that matter; it’s what makes us human.

For my 3volve review, click here.

 

#Rockmytbr Challenge

 

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

By Mindy Kaling

Genre: Humor, Autobiography, Writing, Essays, Funny, Non-Fiction

Rating: 4 stars

Goodreads | B&N | Amazon

Synopsis:

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”

Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!

In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

For my Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) review post, click here.

#2016audiobook Challenge

Half-Resurrection Blues (Bone Street Rumba #1)  Author: Daniel Jose Older

Narrated by: Daniel Jose Older

Length: 7hrs and 56mins

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery, Thriller, Romance,  NA

Rating: 4.5 stars

Format: Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date: 1/06/15

Publisher: Audible Studios

Goodreads | B& N | Amazon | Audible

Synopsis:

“Because I’m an inbetweener—and the only one anyone knows of at that—the dead turn to me when something is askew between them and the living. Usually, it’s something mundane like a suicide gone wrong or someone revived that shouldn’ta been.”

Carlos Delacruz is one of the New York Council of the Dead’s most unusual agents—an inbetweener, partially resurrected from a death he barely recalls suffering, after a life that’s missing from his memory. He thinks he is one of a kind—until he encounters other entities walking the fine line between life and death.

One inbetweener is a sorcerer. He’s summoned a horde of implike ngks capable of eliminating spirits, and they’re spreading through the city like a plague. They’ve already taken out some of NYCOD’s finest, leaving Carlos desperate to stop their master before he opens up the entrada to the Underworld—which would destroy the balance between the living and the dead.

But in uncovering this man’s identity, Carlos confronts the truth of his own life—and death…

For my Half-Resurrection Blues (Bone Street Rumba #1)  audiobook review, click here.

 

BOOKS COMING UP:

March should be a slower month for me. I will admit that I did get distracted reading even more books than I planned to (on top of the blog tour books this month) which is why I had to post pone the planned Redeeming Love expected read for my #RockmyTBR last month and replace it with Mindy’s book. To be honest, I’m really happy I did because it allowed me to end the month on a light and funny note.

For the month of March, I decided to  The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Eric Larson because I really liked what I remember reading from this book back when I first bought it and I just feel like getting back to the story.

For my #2016Audiobook challenge in February, I did end up listening to two audiobooks, but didn’t realized why I marked the second book as ‘to-listen to’ as I was not familiar with the author until after I finished the book and realized I was meant to participate in a blog tour next month (in April) for it 😀 whoops! Well at least I’m a head of the game, right? Any-who, this month I choose to listen to The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins.

And for my #2016TBRpile challenge I picked Hard Love (Hacker #5) by Meredith Wild because the other two picks are kind of dark and I thought this would be a lighter read in the mix.

On top of these expected reads, I will be listening to Voyage Of The Defiance by S.E. Smith, and I’ll be reading Broken Politics by Janae Keyes , books 1-3 of the Stone Legacy series by Theresa DaLayne,  and The Fold by Peter Clines. Knowing myself, I’m sure I’ll squeeze in a few more this month, but I should stop because my body misses sleep XD.

As always, thanks so very  much for reading. I hope you liked reads this month and be sure to come back to check out what else I’ll be reviewing 🙂

Until next time,

Gia.

Book Blast For: The Urban Boys (+ Giveaway)

UB_Blast_Banner

Today I have a book blast ( + Giveaway) for The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses hosted by Me, My Self and I  :-). This is yet another book I wish were around when I was growing up and I’m so excited  to share this book with you guys. I’ll be devouring the book soon, so be sure to check back here in a few weeks for my review ^__^

TUB Cover_new THE URBAN BOYS
Author: K.N. Smith
Pages: 292
Release Date: September 29th, 2015
Publisher: Two Petals Publishing
Amazon | B&N | Apple | Goodreads

Synopsis:

The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses is an action-adventure story about five teen boys who are mysteriously exposed to a foreign energy source that gives them extremely heightened senses. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell become hypersensitive gifts that forever change the world. The story chronicles their effortless interrelations and later exposes the testing of their deep bonds. It introduces the reader to an array of supporting characters who alter the boys’ lives forever. The Urban Boys offers young and mature readers central themes of loyalty, responsibility, honesty, fear, and triumph, which become artfully integrated with cinematic-level action and high drama. The story twists, turns, and grinds through elements of paranormal and action-adventure in a diverse, exciting, edge-of-your-seat narrative!

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Book Spotlight & Interview Post For: Sanctuary

Sanctuary By. Zainab T. Khan book cover photo

Sanctuary
by Zainab T. Khan
Release Date: December 19th 2015 (Pre-order Now Available. )

Genre: Young Adult, Short Story

Synopsis:

Sanctuary (n.) the protection that is provided by a safe place.

“And Sanctuary was the right word to describe our small town with its mouth-watering Pakistani fruits, Spain’s bullfighting, Italian pizzas, French artists, Indian spices, Korean kimchi, and Turkish delights. Because to every single one of us – a Pakistani, Spanish, Indian, Korean, French, Italian, and Turkish – it was a sanctuary. Our own safe haven. Our home with its different cultural styles yet with a culture of its own.”

A Prelude to The Interview:

One of the main reasons I am so excited for Sanctuary’s release is the fact that it is built on such a multicultural foundation and, if you know anything about me, you should know how much I love studying, reading, experiencing and talking about all things multi-culture related. As a double plus, plus for this book promotion event, I had the opportunity to interview Zainab T. Khan, the author of this lovely novelette. My quick Q & A is just below, but be sure to check out Sanctuary when it’s released on December 19th and visit Zainab’s webpage.  ^___^

What’s was it that sparked your inspiration to write Sanctuary?

I’m a sociology student so it always strike me hard when I read about discrimination. It’s unfair. And I despise unfair things. So I tried to create a world (a town, basically) which had no discrimination of any kind, but mainly on ethnic grounds.

Were the stories in Sanctuary solo pieces that you put together, or were they always meant to be in a book?

They always meant to be in a continuous novel, despite its short length. It made more sense to have a multicultural town rather than writing solo stories.

What would you say was your favorite story from this book to write?
I loved writing about Italian wedding, Enrique and Giovanna’s. Also the masquerade ball.

Is there a character from Sanctuary, or any other book (that you’ve written or read) that you wish you could be friends with in real life? If so, why?
That’s a real difficult question. I’m not sure how to answer that. Just one person? Aw, man. Okay, it’s a tie, between Fern, from Making Faces by Amy Harmon, and Millie, from The Song of David by Amy Harmon. There is a long list of reasons behind my choice but I’m afraid if I start writing it down, the answer will turn into a lengthy essay.

What were some of the things you had to research before you began creating such a culturally infused town in Sanctuary?

Languages. Names. Their country’s specialties. And some of their traditions.

If different from the book, could you describe your ideal sanctuary?
Home. My ideal sanctuary would be home. It is my home. A sanctuary is described as a safe place. Home is one place where I feel nothing but at ease. So that’s my ideal Sanctuary. It’s all thanks to my parents and grandparents who turned house into a home, then home into a sanctuary.

Zainab T. Khan Author Photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hello, you beautiful person.

The only thing you need to know about is my favourite book boyfriends (Yes, boyfriend(s), deal with it. We all have them.) Jesse de Silva, Maxon Schreave, and Flynn Rider (he’s a fictional character too) and of course Adrian Ivashkov. Oh, how I wish I could resist them. But, David ‘Tag’ Taggert has my heart. Sorry, you four gorgeous guys.

AUTHOR LINKS:

Website |Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

Thanks so much for the interview, Zainab! ❤  🙂

And thank you so much for reading. Until next time,

Gia.

 

YA Books By J. A. McLachlan

Book Review: The Occasional Diamond Thief By J. A. McLachlan

YA Books By J. A. McLachlan

Brief Synopsis: “16-year-old Kia must learn the secret behind the magnificent diamond her father entrusted her with on his deathbed – without letting anyone know she has it.”

J. A. McLachlan has created a highly addictive, inspiring, and adventurous Young Adult/ Science fiction story with The Occasional Diamond Thief. The main character, Kia, is smart, stubborn, analytical; free willed, strong and 100% an independently thinking individual whom still exhibits truly the most moving moments of venerability as the result of an a strained relationship with her family, excluding her brother, Etin.

Despite all of this, the young, inquisitive minded teen still manages to make friends and gain a few trusted allies across the universe on a semi-technology backwards/basic planet called Malem, whose people openly reject and dis-trust foreigners. While unknowingly developing a truly heart-warming bond with a (unique) Select–Agatha—who fills the maternal absentness in Kia’s life she was not aware she needed.

Another thing I appreciated about this book was the fact that it not only revolves around a strong female protagonist of color, but that it equally balances differences in Culture/Languages, Social Standards and Religion with Morality, Identity, and Humanity without losing it’s comedic, adventurous and mystery elements. There are just so many quotable/memorable moments from this book that you can relive over and over again.

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