Book and a Beverage [144] – Naz from Read Diverse Books

Book and a Beverage

Welcome back to BOOK AND A BEVERAGE!

In case you don’t know the deal about Book and a Beverage, it’s a very simple yet fun feature: We read books, we drink beverages, we take pictures of them and then I share your photos and a little about you to the blogging world!

Give a big welcome to Naz from Read Diverse Books!

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Name & Blog Name: Hello! My name is Naz Hernandez and I lead the blog Read Diverse Books.
Tell us a little about your blog! The name of my blog says it all. My blog is committed to reviewing, discussing, and promoting books written by and about people of color and other marginalized voices.
What’s been your favorite post you’ve written so far? (Link us up!): Diversity Is Not A Trend – I wrote this post because I wanted to highlight the work other bloggers are doing every day to promote more diverse, multicultural reading habits. It turned out to be very popular!

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Whatcha reading? The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan
Where did it come from? (Library, purchased, publisher, etc): I bought it at my local independent bookstore when the author did a book signing. We both live in Austin, TX!
Any special reason you chose to feature this book? I bought this book on release day and have been eager to read it for months, but my schedule didn’t allow me to read until very recently. It just happens to be the book I’m currently reading.
What’s important that we should know about this book? The Association of Small Bombs is relevant now more than ever. It is a nuanced and honest way of portraying controversial characters and covering controversial topics. As readers, rather than avoid complex issues such as terrorism, we should allow ourselves to read the kinds of stories that will expand our comfort zones and perspectives. Yes, I do recommend everyone read it because it’s one of the most unique and nuanced novels I’ve read in awhile.

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Whatcha drinking? A good old fashioned Vanilla Chai Latte.
What’s your favorite thing to drink while reading? The most common drink I have next to me while reading is black coffee. I prefer to have as little sugar on my coffee as possible, and I don’t feel guilty when drinking my coffee black. But every once in awhile I indulge and get a sugary Starbucks drink.
Favorite beverage of all time. Go! In the summer, I love to sip of traditional Mexican horchata — it’s a delicious, creamy, sweet drink made of rice or almond milk and topped of with cinnamon and best served cold. It’s difficult to describe for those who have never tasted it, but I assure you it is sublime.

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What are your top three books you would recommend to other people? What a cruel and difficult question! I will make it easier for myself and recommend my top 3 books that I’ve read in the past year.
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
What’s your proudest blogging/reading/writing moment? When I wrote my very first popular/viral blog post: Why I No Longer Read Books Written Before The 20th Century. I had a relatively unknown and small blog before this post. It seems people are naturally drawn to opinionated topics such as this one. I was just being honest and it seems people responded very well to that.
Anything else you’d like to share? I joined the book blogging community a little over three months ago, and I just wanted to share that I am genuinely loving it and am having a blast! I enjoy reading other bloggers’ reviews and commenting on their discussion posts. I especially love to comment on other blogs – I might do it a little too often, actually. I hope no one thinks I’m annoying!
Thanks for having me, Brittany. I’m honored to be featured on your blog and look forward to becoming a regular reader of yours. Also, anyone who follows Read Diverse Books because of this post will get an immediate follow back. I can’t wait to read all your reviews!


 Thanks so much, Naz! Welcome to the book blogging community!!! It’s such a blast and I hope you continue to have success! 

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Naz! Connect with her at the links below!
Blog // Twitter // Facebook // Pinterest // Tumblr // Goodreads // Instagram


And don’t forget! You can participate in Book and a Beverage at any time! Got a book? Got a beverage? Just tweet or post your photo on Instagram using the hashtag #bookandabeverage!#bookandabeverage

The Glittering Court (The Glittering Court #1) – Richelle Mead

The Glittering Court (The Glittering Court #1) – Richelle MeadTitle: The Glittering Court (The Glittering Court #1) by Richelle Mead
Publishing Info: April 5, 2016 by Penguin
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 29, 2016
Related Posts: Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2), Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3), Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4), Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5), Bloodlines (Bloodlines #1), The Golden Lily (Bloodlines #2), The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3), Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6), Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X #1)

Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.
Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.
When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.
But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…

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I fell in love with VAMPIRE ACADEMY and the whole series when I first started reading YA a few years ago and Richelle Mead’s books helped introduce me to a whole world of exciting adventures! I hadn’t read a new book from her in a while (still haven’t finished Bloodlines and it’s been a while since the last Age of X book) so I was really excited to see the audio for THE GLITTERING COURT pop up in my inbox! I really didn’t quite have an idea about what the book was about but I was excited to read a new Richelle Mead book!

Sadly, what I found was ultimately disappointing. The beginning had actually started off well! I had heard that THE GLITTERING COURT was fantasy but not a magical fantasy. Essentially, the setting is a fantasy world (as in, totally fabricated and not at all a part of the real world) but there are no magical elements. I’m totally okay with that (I loved The Winner’s Trilogy) and I don’t need magic to bring a world to life but this book REALLY fell flat. Wait, let me rewind.

The beginning of the book was entertaining. I love Richelle Mead’s humor and banter that I’ve enjoyed in other series like Vampire Academy, Bloodlines, and The Age of X. The characters were well-developed in the sense that their personalities easily came to life and made each one stand out. I wasn’t totally hooked right off the bat but I was easily following along and happy to be along for the ride (especially with a fun narrator) so the first half was a breeze to fly through.

THE GLITTERING COURT is essentially about a girl of noble status who runs away to The Glittering Court to find a new life for herself where she can be free — and this is really where the whole book lost me. Elizabeth (going by Adelaide — which was also confusing at times because I actually forgot what her real name was) wants to escape an arranged marriage so she runs away. Okay, I’m on board with that… But why to The Glittering Court where the whole concept is to find ANOTHER ARRANGED MARRIAGE? Sure, the girls get to “choose” who they marry but the choice is among the suitors who make the best offers. So not only is each girl contracted to choose a marriage partner within a specific time frame but the men are BUYING the women. How is this freedom…? This is only slightly different than Elizabeth’s original situation and it’s actually worse, in my opinion, because the women are being BOUGHT. How about a big fat no. That really screams freedom, right?

Anyway… I was letting that idea just lie there on the surface and trying not to look directly at it as I read. I was still entertained by the goings-on and it was enough that I still wanted to keep reading. But the more I read, the more I felt like everything was just a surface concept and nothing quite went too deep. I feel like Richelle Mead is known for several plot twists and surprising moments but THE GLITTERING COURT just didn’t have that for me until maybe the very end when some big things are revealed but for me, it was just too little too late. Intrigue wasn’t spread well enough throughout the book and the entire first half was just fancy parties, finishing school, frenemies, and manners. All well and good but not really anything to keep me hooked and wanting to continue this overall story.

Things really started to heat up when a little blackmail got involved (I mean, you knew it was coming but I was surprised at HOW) but then like every conflict thus far in the book, it quickly finds a (short-term) solution and the book moves on to something else. I think too many things happened and then got immediately resolved. Some points did end up coming back later in the book but it didn’t really feel like an over-arcing plot throughout the book and we sort of stepped from one idea to the next. I would have rather had one main conflict that extended throughout the whole book instead of conflict A, conflict B, conflict C, and so forth. They didn’t really seem to connect to each other even though the characters were connected and frankly, I really didn’t like a lot of the resolutions. Many times a character has to bend the rules or straight up break them in order to defeat a villain or make a better life for themselves but those usually dabble in gray areas that make the reader okay with it and sympathize with the character instead of dwelling on the wrongness of a situation. There were a few main points in THE GLITTERING COURT where a character’s actions just felt wholly dishonest or intentionally (and illegally) deceptive and it just felt like that crossed a bit more into the “wrongness” that is not an acceptable amount for me.

I was really lost once the book hit the 70% mark or so and things took an even more alt-history turn. THE GLITTERING COURT has a sort of a mix of Colonial America feels moving into the Industrial Era. I didn’t really consider it to be an American feel for most of the book because it was just kind of its own thing but really the trip to the “new world” essentially was across the sea and then new residents ended up mining gold claims. I was really thrown by this gold rush development because I wasn’t really thinking of this world in terms of being based off of American history, more or less, but that really struck me and the feel just felt totally off. Not to mention this part of the adventure felt totally separate and I just felt like it could have kicked off book two instead of being a part of book one. I would have rather had all of these places feel more unique instead of adapting American time periods to dictate its feel.

The plot during this setting change totally took a turn as well. The drama at the end wasn’t a surprise and yet it seemed out of place. It just felt sudden and I didn’t feel like it really transitioned well. It was like characters were hiding their secrets TOO well and it seemed off-base for what we had been told throughout the book. I suppose it could have been fine but the secrets that came out seemed so different from what I had known of the characters so far and with a few reveals all at once, it came off as forced instead of a natural reveal.

The characters didn’t feel deep to me either. Elizabeth/Adelaide was fierce and strong but then there were times when her objections to less-than-ideal conditions and hard work were incredibly irritating. That was the life that she chose and she knew it wasn’t going to be easy so I got bothered when she’d get all snobby again. (Then again at that point, I was already annoyed with the book.) I liked the tension between her and Cedric…… until that conflict was resolved and then all delightful tension was gone and I was bored. It wasn’t an easy solution, I suppose, and yet it felt too easily resolved. As much as the situation wasn’t an easy resolution, it was an immediate resolution and then the magic of their relationship fizzled.

I struggled to finish THE GLITTERING COURT, especially since the time that I started to grow annoyed happened around the release of the last book of a favorite series of mine, so it became hard to want to continue reading it. I honestly skimmed the end because I had grown so frustrated with the way the book turned. I have no interest in continuing the series and frankly, I don’t know where it would even go from here. I really don’t care to see what else this world holds and I’m so disappointed by the world-building and really overall concept here from Richelle Mead. This one really missed the mark for me. I’m so disappointed because the beginning of the book was entertaining but the ending just lacked so much that it really soured my whole opinion of it.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Review copy obtained from Listening Library/Penguin Random House Audio
Narrator: Kristen Sieh
Performance: Entertaining! Didn’t totally love her but she kept me hooked when the story was failing.

Kristen Sieh did a really good job narrating THE GLITTERING COURT! I hadn’t listened to anything from her before but I may seek out more books that’s she’s narrated. She was quite spunky and really gave the characters a lot of depth (especially when I felt none from the actual story) and she was the reason I was interested when the book started losing me. She has a British accent and I thought she did the American accents quite well (which doesn’t always work for me). I liked her narration and thought she did a great job but I’m still not totally sure that she’s a favorite.
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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

glittering court goodreads

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Elizabeth/Adelaide // Character Obsessions: Hiding, freedom, love, knowledge.
As strong as Elizabeth/Adelaide was, she was more strong-willed and not actually a strong person. She ended up dealing with a lot and learned from it but she still found a lot of easy solutions instead of the right ones. I feel like she did physical hard work to go through this makeover concept but she didn’t really go through hardships and once she did, it was all for a boy. I wouldn’t say that lower status in order to pose as a common girl would qualify as overcoming a hardship and she does go through a lot in the end but still felt very shallow to me.
Cedric // Character Obsessions: Faith, money, Adelaide.
Cedric was weirdly enough the flattest character for me. We saw him through Elizabeth/Adelaide’s eyes so we saw a lot of her emotion but I didn’t really get a whole lot from Cedric. And then once romantic tension was resolved, he was even less interesting for me. I didn’t really feel that spark.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Non-magical fantasy. I do appreciate another book that’s set in a fantasy world but without actual magic. I do love magic but it’s fun either way to see the world-building and new settings!
Left Me Wanting More: Plot. This seems like the weakest Richelle Mead book for me so far. No, it IS the weakest book for me so far. What happened to this plot? Half of the book was spent going through training in the Glittering Court. Why couldn’t we have spent that time getting into actual politics and intrigue and drama? The tone totally changed towards the end and by then, it just didn’t fit. I would have much rather spent time developing the twists — that did come — instead of wasting it on training and competition and courting. It seemed like such a waste to then have it be totally irrelevant.

Addiction Rating
Skip it

This was just so frustrating for me. Judging on the first half of the book, I would have said read it just for fun and don’t dwell on what should be underneath the surface… But after finishing, I just don’t think it’s worth the time.

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BOOKS LIKE THE GLITTERING COURT

(Click the cover to see my review!)

PAWN    WITHER

Blog Tour: The Square Root of Summer | Time Capsule

Square Root Summer Blog Tour Banner

Welcome to the blog tour for
THE SQUARE ROOT OF SUMMER by Harriet Reuter Hapgood!

I love this fun twist on a blog tour! In celebration of the release of THE SQUARE ROOT OF SUMMER, I’m on the massive blog tour with a time capsule-themed post! The lovely folks at Macmillan asked us to answer some questions about ourselves back in March and then to answer them again in May to see how much we’ve changed just over the past few months and of course I was up for the challenge!

Before we jump into the tour, let’s take a second to check out some details about the book:

Blog Tour: The Square Root of Summer | Time CapsuleTitle: The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Publishing Info: May 3, 2016 by Macmillan
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Time Travel
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 12, 2016

Gottie H. Oppenheimer is losing time. Literally. When the fabric of the universe around her seaside town begins to fray, she's hurtled through wormholes to her past:
To last summer, when her grandfather Grey died. To the afternoon she fell in love with Jason, who wouldn't even hold her hand at the funeral. To the day her best friend Thomas moved away and left her behind with a scar on her hand and a black hole in her memory.
Although Grey is still gone, Jason and Thomas are back, and Gottie's past, present, and future are about to collide—and someone's heart is about to be broken.


“THIS IS WHO I AM NOW”

As I answered these questions, I realized exactly how boring/unchanging of a person I am! I like to keep things fairly steady so my answers didn’t really change much from February until May in the same calendar year. I tried to come up with something a little different for each question but some things just don’t change! 🙂

What Brings You The Most Joy In Life?

  • Feb/March 2016: My husband, reading/blogging, connecting with friends, traveling
  • May 2016: All of the above plus making candles, quiet moments, completing projects

What Are You Reading?

    • Feb/March 2016: I just finished The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye and I’m in the middle of the audiobook of Calamity by Brandon Sanderson!
    • May 2016: The Raven King! Omggg I’m not ready for this to end! (I actually finished over the weekend! Now I’m reading Love, Lies and Spies and The Passion of Dolssa)

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What Is Something  You’re Really Looking Forward To?

    • Feb/March 2016: BEA 2016!
    • May 2016: Still BEA but it’s ALMOST HERE NOW. Hopefully planning a vacation in the summer or a few quick weekend trips! We’ve been talking about maybe jetting up to Minneapolis for a weekend and taking a quick little vacation. Also really looking forward to the Fierce Reads event on 5/6 and Sarah J. Maas on 5/14!! 

What Is One Thing That’s Worrying You?

    • Feb/March 2016: Health, new businesses, finding time to clean the house and do everything
    • May 2016: Oh gosh, still all of those. Still working on finding time to clean the house!! We just have to get better at doing things right away instead of doing the fun things first. Health issues/concerns are totally the worst thing ever but I think our lives are finally starting to get a little bit back to normal. Now I need to worry about getting the house clean before Alyssa and Amy are here next week for BEA!!! (It’s a disaster haha!) 

What Is Something That You Always Have With You?

    • Feb/March 2016: Phone, a book, purse, lotion
    • May 2016: Ummm the same? My purse pretty much holds all of my essentials! I truly never go anywhere without a book though. Even if I only have my phone, I always have my Kindle app and audiobooks loaded on there!! 

What Is Something That You Wish You Could Change?

    • Feb/March 2016: Easier aspects in our jobs, cold weather!
    • May 2016: The job things have kind of resolved themselves so that was wonderful! I mean things could always change moving forward but one problem at a time, right? 😉 And bye bye cold weather! It’s a little chilly today but we’ve had a couple days of 70s and 80s!

So that probably wasn’t the most exciting time capsule but I will share a little time capsule gem of my own… some old blog graphics! It’s embarrassing and yet fun to see how much they’ve changed over the years!

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When We Collided – Emery Lord

When We Collided – Emery LordTitle: When We Collided by Emery Lord
Publishing Info: April 5, 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Psych/Mental Health, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 10, 2016
Related Posts: Open Road Summer, The Start of Me and You

Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.
Vivi and Jonah couldn't be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi's zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there's something important Vivi hasn't told him.

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Emery Lord is an auto-buy author for me. I fell in love with her debut, OPEN ROAD SUMMER, and every book I read from her is a wonderful and thoughtful experience full of growth, friendship, and a little bit of romance. After finishing WHEN WE COLLIDED, one of the things that I’m really starting to appreciate is how incredibly individual each book feels from is predecessor. Emery Lord’s writing is deep and powerful but still allows each character to let their silly side show and really tells a very realistic story without getting caught up in the dramatics that some young adult books tend to overemphasize. Each book has had a very different story to tell and WHEN WE COLLIDED may be the most powerful one yet.

WHEN WE COLLIDED is the story of Vivi and Jonah but it’s also a story for anyone who’s dealt with grief, depression, mental illness, or really any hard times in their life. The reader learns that Vivi has recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and that Jonah’s father has recently passed away and his family is still grieving. WHEN WE COLLIDED chronicles the journey of these two characters throughout one summer as they crash into each other’s lives when they’re both at their very bottom and how they’re able to help each other grow and heal. The book is incredibly powerful. There’s so much emotion as Vivi and Jonah sift through their struggles individually and how once they start to open up, they’re really able to help and support each other by sharing their own personal hurdles.

What I loved the most about WHEN WE COLLIDED was how realistic everything truly felt. Sometimes I have a hard time connecting to big families like Jonah’s (especially young children for some reason) but just like Vivi, I easily fell in love with each and every one of them. Emery Lord is able to bring even minor characters into full color and share their dazzling personalities with the reader. I also really appreciated all of the personal experience as well as research that went into Vivi’s character. I haven’t personally seen the effects of bipolar disorder in any of my friends or family members (that I know of) but I felt like this was an incredibly realistic and thorough view of what someone with this disorder might be going through. Experiencing Vivi’s emotional highs and escalation as she went through her manic period was truly an emotional roller coaster and as an observer, I was incredibly nervous for her throughout the book. I was afraid of what might happen when that mania finally came back down and feared for when depression might hit. Vivi has a naturally spirited and unique personality so there was also this blur and question of whether her actions were simply because she was such a sizzling personality or whether some of her decisions were affected by her disorder.

I adored the relationship between Vivi and Jonah. It was such a sweet romance full of highs and lows and it was exactly what these two characters needed. Jonah needed someone who would break down the door and push themself into his life in order to really accept help and start to talk about what his family was going through. She opened Jonah up to acting a little silly sometimes and allowing himself to really act his age when there was so much weighing on his shoulders. Vivi needed someone a little grounded to reel her back in at times but still love her for exactly who she was. Jonah was able to offer her a peek into a big family and the loss of a loving father and these two really learned a lot from each other that they never set out to find.

I could really go on gushing about WHEN WE COLLIDED but it’s a book that really must be experienced. It was so incredibly well-written and I love how it shares some similar elements of Emery Lord’s previous books (strong female characters, great friendships, tons of growth) and yet it truly stands on its own. It was such an emotional ride for me and one that I will absolutely continue to recommend. If you haven’t read any of Emery Lord’s books yet, start anywhere but make sure you do read WHEN WE COLLIDED as soon as possible!
view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

when we collided goodreads

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Vivi // Character Obsessions: Costume design, staying unique, fun, adventure.
Vivi was such a wonderfully layered character. She has this struggle with bipolar disorder but she’s so spirited to begin with that at times it’s hard to tell where this disorder creeps in but then you realize that so much of Vivi is just that adventurous, free, and bubbly. I loved her unique personality and you will never find a dull moment with Vivi. She really brought Jonah out of his shell and truly loved who she was.
Jonah // Character Obsessions: Family, responsibility, cooking, his father.
I adored Jonah’s love of cooking (some of these things seriously made me hungry!) and how much I fell in love with his big family. He has the burden of being one of the older siblings and really taking care of the littles as well as his mom as she continues to struggle with the loss of her husband. The whole family is still grieving and I admired Jonah’s strength (although I’m sure it didn’t feel like strength to him) as he attempted to piece his family back together again.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Mental health awareness. I thought the authenticity of Vivi’s bipolar disorder was so accurate. I read the author’s note at the end of the book so I know she put a lot of personal experience into creating this character but also really did a ton of research as well to represent it as well as she possibly could.
Left Me Wanting More: Fairy tale endings. Obviously I wish for a fairy tale ending where everyone rides off into the sunset but actually… I’m glad that it wasn’t all sunshine and butterflies in the end. Things get real and the ending is realistic and not just smacking a happy conclusion on there just for feels. I loved that I was left with some great feelings but it wasn’t overly sappy.

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

You NEED to read Emery Lord’s books if you haven’t yet. Every single one is truly unique and WHEN WE COLLIDED is such a powerful story.

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BOOKS LIKE WHEN WE COLLIDED

(Click the cover to see my review!)

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES    I WAS HERE

Elantris – Brandon Sanderson

Elantris – Brandon SandersonTitle: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: May 30, 2006 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 12, 2016
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell

Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.
Arelon's new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping -- based on their correspondence -- to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.
But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.
A rare epic fantasy that doesn't recycle the classics and that is a complete and satisfying story in one volume, Elantris is fleet and fun, full of surprises and characters to care about. It's also the wonderful debut of a welcome new star in the constellation of fantasy. lf.

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Ever since I read MISTBORN a couple years ago, I’ve been obsessed with Brandon Sanderson’s writing. His books launched me into the world of adult fantasy when I had been reading nearly exclusively young adult and I’ve been on a mission ever since to gobble up the rest of his books. Every book I’ve read (and every novella) has been enjoyable and I simply cannot get enough. I took advantage of an Audible deal that had Brandon Sanderson audiobooks on sale so I picked up ELANTRIS and WARBREAKER (which I also hope to read soon) and decided to start with ELANTRIS since it was Sanderson’s first published novel and it’s a stand alone.

ELANTRIS was such a good, solid read. At times it felt a bit lengthy and I was anxious for things to get moving but that could also be because I was listening to the audiobook so it did take me significantly longer than if I was reading it in print. I was “warned” ahead of time that the beginning was a lot of set up and character development and the true action and twists didn’t occur until closer to the end so I was all right waiting for that. I also didn’t mind because the characters were just so enjoyable! Since it’s not as action packed as some of his later books, ELANTRIS is able to really dig into characters and let their personalities shine! Raoden was truly as personable as he was made out to be and I loved Sarene’s independence and strength. Each character really brought the book to life and it was so easy to connect with each and every one of them.

The concept of Elantris and its fall was incredibly interesting. For most of the book, no one really knows why the once godlike inhabitants of Elantris fell and why the Shaod continues to take people, turning them into the “creatures” that the cities fear and quarantine. The world-building and background surrounding these questions impressed me and as always, the big reveal was so satisfying. I was really hoping for a bit more history of the magic system because it was so interesting and complex and I’m always anxious to dig into why and how it works! There is an explanation but I’ve been spoiled with the details that Sanderson includes in subsequent books and so I was seeking so many more details about AonDor! I also hoped for a bit more of digging into the creation myths of the Cosmere but since it was Sanderson’s first published work, there was still so much more to come to play around with what this world was, what drove its magic, and how it connected within the Cosmere. I know ELANTRIS was a stand alone (well, it does have a short story but it’s more of a companion to the novel than a continuation) but I would love to learn so much more about this world! I immediately went digging into the Coppermind (the Wiki for Sanderson’s complete works — it’s incredibly detailed!) to get any more info that I possibly could! All it did was make me want another book detailing this planet’s history even more.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sanderson yet (since I’m finally writing a review for a book that’s not a sequel in a series), the Cosmere is Sanderson’s universe and most of his adult works take place on a different planet in the Cosmere. ELANTRIS is the first book set in the Cosmere and takes place on the planet Sel. Each Cosmere-set series is independent of the others but they all take place in the same universe and therefore share the same (incredibly detailed) history. I won’t get into it because a lot of this was explained with MISTBORN: A SECRET HISTORY, which is meant to be read after the 6th book in the Mistborn series and it could be a little spoilery to say more about the Cosmere since I only just discovered it this far into my Sanderson journey. I will say, though, that I’m constantly impressed with the world-building and I’m obsessed with books that are not series that connect. Sanderson is such a craftsman when it comes to connecting the Cosmere books and it may not always be in the most obvious way but when you make that connection, it’s so incredibly satisfying and it is such a delight to observe as a reader!

ELANTRIS was a book that really stuck with me and I keep thinking about it long after I’ve finished! It didn’t have quite as many historical details or action as some of the first Sanderson books I’ve read but I actually enjoyed that because it’s great to see how Brandon Sanderon’s writing style has changed, evolved, and can differ from story to story. I love that the books can feel so unique and yet still have a typical Sanderson feel that I can identify with. I can’t wait to continue my Cosmere binge later on this year!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Purchased from Audible during a sale
Narrator: Jack Garrett
Performance: More books narrated by Jack Garrett, please!

I’m always iffy trying out a narrator that I haven’t listened to before, especially with a favorite author AND an audiobook that’s literally 28.5 hours long. That’s over a full day of my life listening to one person’s voice so it gets intimidating to pick someone new! I’m really glad that I not only liked Jack Garrett but ended up loving him! His narration really embodied each character and each person had their own unique voice. I’m always so impressed with how many different voices a voice actor can do and with a detailed cast of characters, Jack Garrett had no issue making each voice quite unique. His female voices were softer and more feminine but not over the top. Accents were well placed and the general performance of everything was just top notch. I don’t know what other books he’s narrated but I will definitely be seeking out more!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Raoden // Character Obsessions: Answers, leading, duty, giving.
Raoden was amazing. I loved how he really was so incredibly likable and most of all, I loved that he was so concerned about his people, no matter where he ended up. He wanted to make sure everyone had a purpose and that purpose made them feel useful in a place that might otherwise consume all of their hope. He was a fantastic character to follow and that is one of the sad parts about ELANTRIS being a stand alone… I’d love to spend more time with these characters!
Sarene // Character Obsessions: Damning the man, equality, investigations, justice.
Sarene was strong, independent, and in control. She didn’t care about gender “norms” and just wanted what was fair and right for all, regardless of gender, class, or status. I loved her constant push to empower the women in this book and total disregard for what Arelon considered appropriate. She was an amazing female character and I loved how she dominated this book.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Fantasy stand alones. There are so many fantasy series and I don’t often read a fantasy stand alones! I did become a bit greedy and wanted more of this world but it’s also so nice to have this wrapped up and I don’t have to wait years for more books or spend more time continuing a series.
Left Me Wanting More: Details. As I mentioned, the only thing I really craved more of were some details — how Sel connected in the Cosmere, more of its creation story, more info on AonDor and Aons, and how the magic system worked. These are the reasons I think I crave more of a sequel/continuation but the book really is a fantastic stand alone.

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

I just love Brandon Sanderson and there isn’t a book of his yet that I won’t recommend.

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BOOKS LIKE ELANTRIS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE NAME OF THE WIND    THE WINNER'S CURSE

Book and a Beverage [143] – Whitney from Brown Books & Green Tea

Book and a Beverage

Welcome back to BOOK AND A BEVERAGE!

In case you don’t know the deal about Book and a Beverage, it’s a very simple yet fun feature: We read books, we drink beverages, we take pictures of them and then I share your photos and a little about you to the blogging world!

Give a big welcome to Whitney from Brown Books & Green Tea!

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Name & Blog Name: Whitney @ Brown Books & Green Tea
Tell us a little about your blog! BB&GT is a book blog that focuses on diverse literature. I focus on multicultural lit, but I read a little bit of everything.
What’s been your favorite post you’ve written so far? (Link us up!): I know I’m supposed to pick one, but I’m going with my review of When Breath Becomes Air and The Lowland.
Got anything special coming up we should know about? This Mother’s Day, I’m letting my mother take over my blog, so she can give us her favorite reads! Hopefully it’ll help people looking for a gift for their own mothers! I also think it’ll be cool to see how our tastes in books differ.

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Whatcha reading? I’m currently reading That Other Me, by Maha Gargash. It’s been on my list for a while, and I’m finally finally finallyyyyy finishing it!
Where did it come from? (Library, purchased, publisher, etc): Publisher
Any special reason you chose to feature this book? I don’t read all that much by Middle Eastern authors, despite the fact that I focus on diverse books. This is a great chance to learn something about the UAE and Egypt, which are two places in which the book takes place.
What’s important that we should know about this book? Would you recommend it? As of right now, I’d definitely recommend it. I’ve studied the Middle East and Maghreb countries a lot in school, but too little of that has been fiction written by the diaspora—too much has been by people from the outside.

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Whatcha drinking? Bubble tea!
What’s your favorite thing to drink while reading? My favorite thing to drink is a good hot tea, preferably ginger with the slightest bit of cayenne pepper and honey. It’ll take some getting used to, but I promise you that it’ll keep you awake!
Favorite beverage of all time. Go! Ginger beer! It’s great in mixed drinks, if you like something to get your night started. It’s also just as good without alcohol, and has a stronger kick to it than regular ginger ale.

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What are your top three books you would recommend to other people? I’m a big feminist/womanist reader, so my top recommendation is always Sister Outside, by Audre Lorde. I’ll tack on The Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi (anything by her, really), which I recently re-read. If you want something completely different from, there’s Murder Over a Girl by Ken Corbett. I reviewed it on my blog last month, and loved it.
What’s your proudest blogging/reading/writing moment? My proudest moment was hosting a mini challenge for the 24 Hour Read-a-thon last weekend! The challenge (in the 18th hour) was called “Literary Wanderlust,” and had people talk about what they’d do if they had 36 hours in the setting of their most recent book. Think something like No Reservations or The Layover, where you come up with a cool travel itinerary.
Anything else you’d like to share? My blog is pretty active, but I’m trying to become more of an instagrammer—let me know on Twitter if you ladies and gents have any great bookstagram accounts that I should follow (including your own!).
Thanks so much for having me!


 Thanks so much, Whitney! Oh my gosh, I love your mini-challenge idea! That sounds like so much fun! I need to think on what I would do for that… 

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Whitney! Connect with her at the links below!
Blog // Twitter // Goodreads // Instagram


And don’t forget! You can participate in Book and a Beverage at any time! Got a book? Got a beverage? Just tweet or post your photo on Instagram using the hashtag #bookandabeverage!#bookandabeverage

Discussion: On Book Slumps

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I went through a little book slump recently where nothing was just really clicking except for my favorite authors. After many discussions and whining with friends over not feeling our current reads, it got me thinking…

IS THERE SUCH A THING AS TOO MANY BOOKS?

I’ve been blogging for four years now and have literally read hundreds of books in the past few years. Obviously I was a reader before then but book blogging really amped up the number of books I have discovered, tried, and finished. As a casual reader before blogging, I would read a lot, sure. But it wasn’t until I started blogging that I started reading multiple versions at a time (especially since I only ever read physical copies before my blog, not at all interested in audiobooks or ebooks). I got to wondering… have I just read too many books? 

I think most of if not all of us have certain genres that we love. First I binged all of the dystopian I could find but before long, I ended up tiring of the genre and things just didn’t feel like new ideas. I still can’t read a new dystopian book without comparing it to a popular series like The Hunger Games but part of that’s because of the elements that are really necessary in order for it to be classified as dystopian. There are so many things that are common in dystopian novels that it becomes hard to really separate them or to feel like what I’m reading is totally new and I haven’t felt the desire to pick up a new dystopian book in quite some time.  I’ve started to feel that way recently about a lot of contemporary books as well. Have I just read too many books that things aren’t seeming as original anymore?

AN ONSLAUGHT OF GRIEF AND LOSS

I’ve exhausted myself on the disease/illness/loss of a love one concept but… it’s not like it’s a trope. It’s a part of life. Everyone goes through these experiences and the stories are important — that’s why they’re turned into books. I’ve experienced all of these things as well but right now I’m at the point in my life where I’m dealing with my own things in life and I just don’t want to take on the burden of a book character as I’m going through my own stuff. I also find it harder to read books about loss lately and the “heavier” books are just kind of bringing me down. I’m in the mood for action, adventure, or a cute and light romance. The heavy realistic novels just aren’t working for me at the moment so I’ve really been avoiding those to prevent further book slumps. I just started a book recently that I thought would be a fun summer romance — still serious and not fluffy, but a good romance to dig into — and it started off with a girl grieving for her mother who had just passed away. I immediately put it on hold because that was just more than I bargained for at the time.

I also feel like there’s just an onslaught of books that surround grief and loss. Again, rightfully so since this is something that anyone at any age may need to deal with or go through. Maybe because I’m avoiding it, I recognize it more often but I recently read a Publisher’s Weekly release and three out of four of the new YA deals were dealing with a recent loss. Maybe it’s just me but it does feel like it’s a lot of the market at the moment. I have no issues with other serious topics like mental health and books that share stories and raise awareness — I actually enjoy those books quite a bit. I think I’ve always been more connected to mental health and disorders and it’s the physical ailments that I’ve really started to avoid. They aren’t less important but they’re a bit harder for me to read right now.

On a different note, I have no issue with these topics in fantasy books! I’m thinking it’s probably because there’s so much else going on in the book and it’s not the main focus. If the main character in a fantasy book is grieving, that loss usually comes with a mission of some sort — revenge, honor, power, rights, retrieval of something — the grief may be a plot-starter but there’s so much more going on than that.

WRITING STYLES

I’ve also started to feel like the writing styles for some newer books just isn’t as good as what I’m used to. Not everything has to be flowery or detailed or serious; I adore fluffy contemporary books as much as I do epic fantasy or serious realistic fiction… But I do feel like I’m not jiving with a lot of books lately because of the writing. It could be a style I’m not connecting with — though I’m not certain since I can’t quite pin it down — but I’m having a hard time with the writing in a lot of books recently. Passages that go on for too long, taking forever to get to a big plot point, cheesy dialogue, story and characters jumping around, too easily fitting into a stereotype — I just can’t seem to shake a lot of these notions as I read. I’m not judging. Hey, I’m not a writer by any means and if I were to write a book it’d probably be much worse than any published novel that I’ve read… but I’m starting to wonder if maybe it’s not me and certain books are published because the topic and plot is important and the writing sort of got left by the wayside.

That comes back around to the “too many books” question. Have I just read so many books now that I have a certain standard I hold authors to? I know that’s not fair at all and I try to go into a new book with an open mind but I can’t help but notice that some of the writing in some recent reads just doesn’t seem up to par with some of my favorite authors. I feel bad for saying that because hey, not like I’m writing a book over here and who am I to judge someone’s writing when I’m not doing it myself? But as an avid reader and a book reviewer, writing styles and plot structure is something that I end up noticing and analyzing more. Sometimes I just feel like things could be so much more cohesive or flow a little better and those noticeable things in an author’s writing just end up throwing up red flags to me. Too many red flags and it makes it hard for me to continue reading a book. Often times my DNFs have nothing to do with the credibility of a plot and more so just if I’m even interested in what’s going on.

AM I TOO HARD ON BOOKS?

Am I just being too hard on these books? Sometimes I feel like I’m skipping over books that are okay in order to get to a book I will LOVE. I feel guilty that I may not have given the book a chance and I’m just being too hard on it because it’s not a book I’m in LOVE with. But then again, why SHOULD I continue a book that’s just okay? I know a lot of people don’t DNF, especially when it’s something that’s not actively turning them off, but anyone is allowed to put down a book for any reason. I try to ask myself, if I wasn’t blogging/if I hadn’t received this book for review, would I continue? If the casual reader in me says no, then I put the book down. Sometimes I feel like I’m being too hard on books, knowing that if I had finished that book, I probably could have given it three stars (though my rating scale is a bit skewed from the Goodreads scale — three stars for me is more “meh just okay” than actually “good”) but if I’m just feeling “meh” about a book, why should I feel forced to finish it? I do end up finishing a lot of three star books but those are ones where I have other issues but the book still holds my attention. My DNF-possible-three-star books are ones that I just wasn’t interested in the plot and I felt like the book wasn’t really going anywhere.

I do still feel like I might be holding any new books I read to a certain standard. I really have read SO many books that turned into favorites or books that I really enjoyed that I do find it hard to end up with a true five-star book anymore. Usually they’re from my favorite authors but there are a few that I just instantly fell in love with. Is that fair? Sure, why not. If my TBR pile keeps growing and there are potential five-star books on my TBR, why shouldn’t I skip over a book that is just “meh” and head straight for a book I’ll love? I DO try to finish what I start but sometimes it’s not worth forcing myself to finish a book that has lost my interest simply to finish it. I still provide feedback even if I don’t finish (though not as a formal review) so I am still reviewing it in some fashion. Not everyone will like every book and I think it’s fine to know what you like and head straight for it! When you read as much as we do, it’s hard not to have a certain standard, preferred writing style, or expectation. I think it’s inevitable. It’s just very hard when I encounter book after book that just doesn’t quite feel up to par to what I’m expecting and BAM. Book slumps galore.


What aspects cause you to fall into a book slump? Have you changed the way you select books to try to avoid getting bogged down? How do you get out of slumps?