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Friday, August 14, 2020

Review: Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali

Title: Love From A to Z
Author: S.K. Ali
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Publish Date: April 30, 2019
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.

An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.

But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.

When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.

Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.

Then her path crosses with Adam’s.

Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister.

Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father.

Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.

Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…

Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting."

My Two Cents:

"Love from A to Z" is a sweet romcom about Adam and Zayneb, two people who for different reasons both feel like fish out of water. Zayneb has been sent to Qatar to visit her aunt and to get away from the hurt and anger she felt attending a school where being a Muslim made her the target of hate from both students and teachers. Adam is hiding a secret about his health that he fears will further force his family to spiral out of control. When Zayneb and Adam meet, their worlds collide in such a way that they realize that their worlds will never be the same.

I really enjoyed this book! The story is very multi-faceted and I loved reading about how both Zayneb and Adam are able to deal with so many difficult things at a really young age. My heart ached for both of them. With both of their situations, she are trying to take on so much by themselves without breaking. Both of them long to be accepted for who they are even when that seems like such a heavy challenge with everything going on around them. They are both strong, vivid, and resilient characters so when they meet, you are really rooting for them as they meet and begin to fall for each other.

The romance at the center of the book was great. Adam and Zayneb meet by chance but as the story unfolds, it seems that perhaps fate had something to do with it. I loved seeing how they begin to open up to each other even when opening up means also opening old wounds and letting their guard down somewhat, incredibly difficult for strong people, of course. Their meeting definitely gave me butterflies.

I loved how many subjects this book touched on and how diverse the representation was. The book really took me through a rollercoaster of emotions with how many different subjects it touched on, which I loved! This would be a great pick for someone looking for a YA that touches on both the serious and tender.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Review: Mop Rides the Waves of Life: A Story of Mindfulness and Surfing by Jaimal Yogis

Title: Mop Rides the Waves of Life: A Story of Mindfulness and Surfing
Author: Jaimal Yogis
Format: Hardcover

Publisher: Plum Blossom

Publish Date: June 30, 2020

Source: Author

What's the Story?:

From "Celebrated San Francisco surfer-journalist-dad Jaimal Yogis teaches 4-8 year olds timeless beach wisdom with the story of Mop, a sensitive and fun-loving kid who just wants to be in the ocean.

Going to school and navigating classmates can be hard--but all that goes away when little surfer Mop paddles out in the waves. With a few tips from his clever mom, Mop studies the wisdom of the water and learns to bring it into his life on land: taking deep breaths, letting the tough waves pass, and riding the good ones all the way. With newfound awareness and courage, Mop heads back to land--and school--to surf the waves of life."

 My Two Cents:

"Mop Rides the Waves of Life" is the story of a little boy named Mop, who feels totally at home surfing the waves and being in the ocean. He feels more "at sea" when he's on land trying to navigate school and bullies. When he has a terrible day, Mop learns that by not staying calm, everything will get a lot worse. His savvy mom shows him that by taking a step back and practicing mindfulness, Mop can begin to ride the waves of life, the good and the bad, just as well as he shreds the real waves in the ocean.

This book is a wonderful introduction to mindfulness, something that we can all use, especially these days. I love how the author is able to take an idea like mindfulness that can be a little bit complicated and breaks it down so it's easily understood by little ones. I know that I have invoked Mop's name a lot already with my little ones when they're having trouble making good decisions about what they should or should not act out about. Between the sweet lesson and the gorgeous illustrations, this book is one that gets a lot of mileage in my house with my five year old girls. This book would be a great pick for anyone with little ones looking for some gentle guidance. 



Friday, August 7, 2020

Reading Challenge Update!

So if you saw my post from Monday, you know that my reading hasn't been going great recently and so I am still not finished with my around the world reading challenge (it's getting a little silly at this point). I am really going to focus it in August so come back in early September to see how I've done. Part of the reason that I'm writing this particular post is that I want to hold myself accountable and perhaps you'll do me the favor of holding me accountable as well.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

#CoverReveal: The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

I am so excited to be a part of the cover reveal for The Rose Code by Kate Quinn! Check it out!

Synopsis: The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Huntress and The Alice Network returns with another heart-stopping World War II story of three female code breakers at Bletchley Park and the spy they must root out after the war is over.

1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything—beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses—but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets. Imperious self-made Mab, product of east-end London poverty, works the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband. Both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential in local village spinster Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles, and soon Beth spreads her wings as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts. But war, loss, and the impossible pressure of secrecy will tear the three apart.

1947. As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter--the key to which lies buried in the long-ago betrayal that destroyed their friendship and left one of them confined to an asylum. A mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together. But each petal they remove from the rose code brings danger--and their true enemy--closer...

·         Book details: THE ROSE CODE by New York Times bestselling author Kate Quinn (Morrow; on-sale March 9, 2021)

·        Pre-order here:

·         Add to your Goodreads list à

·         Sign up for Kate’s newsletter à

Monday, August 3, 2020

Hello, it's me!

The pandemic has been weird, everyone! Some days I feel like everything is going okay and I'm hitting a groove and then I'll go through weeks and weeks where everything feels super terrible and I feel like I'm stuck in a rut. And the past several weeks have been just that: I've been putting a lot of hours in at the day job as we're in a busy period.  I've been trying to keep the kids entertained and because I'm feeling super guilty about having to work so much, I'm trying to throw myself into making this weird time that we're living in *MAGICAL* for the children. I'm trying to do all the things while not being able to focus or feel like I'm doing anything well. I also lost my sweet 18 year old kitty, Totoro. He was my buddy through so much all the way since college. And reading, which is my usual oasis, has been so hard to focus on. I find my mind wandering as soon as I sit down to start reading. I think the late June - July period is the longest that I've had this rut during the past few months and it has sucked.

Last week, I finally felt a bit of relief. I don't know where it came from, which is making it hard to know how to hang on to this feeling but I'm trying to be in the moment and ride the waves as they come at me. One, well two, small reasons could be our new additions. We adopted two kittens (I never wanted kittens and suddenly we have three kitties in our house). They are so sweet and so fun and they are keeping us all on our toes. We named them Amelia (calico) and Fred (orange) after Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan. They're bringing a lot of joy to the whole family at this ridiculous time. I know there are probably going to be more trying days ahead but I'm trying to find happiness in the everyday. So I'm back here again!

What are you all doing to maintain your sanity during these trying times?

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Review: Your Ad Could Go Here: Stories by Oksana Zabuzhko

Title: Your Ad Could Go Here: Stories
Author: Oksana Zabuzhko
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Amazon Crossing
Publish Date: 2014 (original, now in translation)
Source: PR

What's the Story?:

From "Oksana Zabuzhko, Ukraine’s leading public intellectual, is called upon to make sense of the unthinkable reality of our times. In this breathtaking short story collection, she turns the concept of truth over in her hands like a beautifully crafted pair of gloves. From the triumph of the Orange Revolution, which marked the start of the twenty-first century, to domestic victories in matchmaking, sibling rivalry, and even tennis, Zabuzhko manages to shock the reader by juxtaposing things as they are—inarguable, visible to the naked eye—with how things could be, weaving myth and fairy tale into pivotal moments just as we weave a satisfying narrative arc into our own personal mythologies."

My Two Cents:

"Your Ad Could Go Here" is a collection of short stories by Ukrainian author, Oksana Zabuzhko. In this book, she explores everything from siblings, to what it means to be a woman, to the political turmoil of her home country. I had a chance to visit Ukraine in 2011 and it holds a special place in my heart so I am always looking for ways to get back to Ukraine, at least through reading if I can't visit. This book was a great taste of Ukrainian life.

The subject matter of these stories explored so many different areas and some of the stories could be quite difficult for sensitive readers to get through. I, on the other hand, really appreciated the rawness of the stories. The author doesn't flinch from the difficult and sometimes runs head first into some dark territory. It did take me a bit to get into some of the stories but there were others that were rather gripping. My favorite of the book was the story that the book is name for - it was very good!

One interesting thing about this book is that each of the stories seemed to have a different translator. It made me wonder about that choice: was it a conscious choice or just a coincidence? Would any of the various translators translate the story differently. This had absolutely no bearing on my feelings about the book but it is interesting to think about!

This would be a great pick for someone who wants to explore parts unknown with an author that forces you to keep your eyes open!

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

HFVBT Review: The Highlander's English Bride by Vanessa Kelly

Title: The Highlander's English Bride
Author: Vanessa Kelly
Publisher: Zebra
Publish Date: May 26, 2020
Format: Paperback
Source: HFVBT

What's the Story?:

From "Lady Sabrina Bell has never been so embarrassed in her life. Not only did her new suitor fail to appear for their morning rendezvous in Hyde Park, but a thief pushed her into the Serpentine. Being rescued by a burly Highlander just adds to her humiliation. Nor is he content with rescuing her just once. Even when Sabrina travels to Edinburgh as part of King George's entourage, Graeme Kendrick is there, interfering, exasperating, and so very tempting...

Once notorious for being the most unruly Kendrick brother, Graeme now runs dangerous missions for the King's spymaster. Yet nothing has prepared him for Sabrina. The only child of a wealthy earl, and the pampered goddaughter of the king himself, she is stubborn, impetuous, and far too good for him. He doesn't deserve her, but he can protect her and then send her safely back home. But the bonny Sassenach has her own ideas—and a plan for seduction that no red-blooded Highlander could resist..."

My Two Cents:

"The Highlander's English Bride" is the story of Lady Sabrina who finds herself being rescued from the most embarrassing situation when she goes to meet her suitor, the Marquess of Cringlewood, in the park only to find herself alone and under attack. Luckily for her, Graeme Kendrick is there to hear her cries and rescue her. When he finds out who she is waiting for (the very same man that has threatened his family), Graeme is ready to walk away but he can't just leave once he meets Sabrina. This event kicks off a chain that will bring Sabrina and Graeme together in new and surprising ways.

This book is the third book in Vanessa Kelly's Clan Kendrick series. Graeme is the brother of the starring heroes from the first two books. I really liked getting to see what his family was up to! Although this book is the third in the series, you will have no problem picking up right from this book. You get a chance to catch up with everything that happened in the previous books. Some of this detail bogs down the story but is useful if you are not familiar with the previous books!

I really liked the romance between Graeme and Sabrina. They were never supposed to meet and they definitely were not supposed to fall in love but when they meet, the chemistry between them very quickly turns into something that neither of them can walk away from. It takes awhile for the romance to really heat up between them as they are both initially fighting their attraction as much as they can. Falling for each other eventually feels inevitable as neither one can stay away. This book fit the bill for me when I was desperately seeking a comfort read! I'm interested to see where this series goes next!

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