Book Review – Crossing Ebenezer Creek

IMG_20170319_182043_174Happy Publication Day to Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden! I’ve been sitting on this review for a while, but I wanted to wait until it was officially released so that anyone who was interested after reading my review could read it right away! It definitely makes my recommendation list, and if you keep reading, you’ll find out why!

Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden is based on a tragic, true event that took place near the end of the American Civil War, an event that I never knew about (despite spending years in school being taught U.S. history). It begins as the main character, Mariah, and a number of other slaves (including her brother Zeke) flee alongside a group of Union soldiers after they ransack the plantation where she was enslaved. As the story unfolds, Mariah meets Caleb, a free man responsible for driving a wagon for the Union soldiers. Their relationship matches pace with the story, allowing it to develop at a realistic pace amongst the chaos as the troops march south.

This narrative focuses on the plight of the newly freed Blacks, many of which are dealing with both physical and emotional trauma from their past life. Reading the harrowing accounts of abusive treatment suffered by these people, I felt every word Bolden wrote. Bolden’s contrast between the evils of slavery and the boundless hope of freedom seems effortless (but I expect the writing process was anything but). It’s obvious a great amount of effort went into researching and writing this book, and I’d say it paid off as I was hooked from the very beginning.

This is not a story where freedom is the end of the slaves’ worries. Even after being freed, the newly freed Blacks must deal with the hardships of the trek south, fight demons from their past, and deal with people who might be fighting for their freedom but don’t necessarily think they belong on equal footing. And when they reach Ebenezer Creek, a wide tributary roughly 20 miles from Savannah, Georgia…well, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.

Overall, I thought this book was well-written and an interesting read, definitely worth reading if you get the chance! It’s authors like Tonya Bolden and books like Crossing Ebenezer Creek that will help shine a light on events so often kept in the shadows and help knit a divide in our country that is centuries in the making.

4 out of 5 flowers!

***I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from the book’s publisher via NetGalley. Receiving a free copy of a book in no way affects the honesty of my reviews!

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Monthly Unboxing – April 2017

It’s the end of the May, so it’s high time I post my unboxing from April. In April, I was subscribed to three book(ish) subscription boxes: Owl Crate,*  Uppercase, and Nerdy Post. I know, I know…Nerdy Post is a fandom based subscription box and isn’t limited to the printed word, but most of the fandoms they feature are at least book-adjacent!

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Owl Crate – April 2017

Let’s start with my newest subscription! April was only my second month subscribing to Owl Crate, but so far I’ve been loving the books and bookish merch featured in each month’s box. April’s box was curated with Becky Albertalli’s new book The Upside of Unrequited as its centerpiece, and it was spectacularly done. This box included:

  • A hardcover copy of The Upside of Unrequited
  • A signed bookplate
  • A letter from the author
  • An awesome emoji sticker
  • A key chain (designed by Bookworm Boutique), featuring a quote from Albertalli’s first novel: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
  • A Pride and Prejudice headband (created by Storiarts)
  • A beautiful art print inspired by the A Court of Thorns and Roses series (created by Evie Bookish)
  • One of three exclusive Rainbow Rowell inspired candles (I got Baz & Simon) created by Novelly Yours. It smells amazing!
  • A delicious dessert tea blend inspired by Anna and the French Kiss from The Tea Spot

Everything in this box was so awesome, but I definitely think my favorite is the emoji sticker. I could’ve definitely used the cringe-y heart-eyes emoji when I was in high school (and while at university!).

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Uppercase – April 2017

Next was the Uppercase subscription box. I’ve been subscribed to Uppercase box the longest out of my three subscriptions, but I recently cancelled it (for financial reasons), so May will be my last box (probably not forever, though). April’s box included:

  • A signed copy of Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
  • A Defy the Stars magnet
  • A Tolkien inspired woodmark (created by Ink & Wonder)
  • A Harry Potter Notebook
  • The usual bookmark that gives members exclusive access to the Uppercase “reading experience.”

I was pretty happy with the contents of April’s Uppercase box. All of the products were high quality, and the “reading experience” is something that I haven’t seen with other boxes. I think my favorite from this month’s box is the Harry Potter journal, which was completely unexpected. Although I had to give up this box for financial reasons, I hope to re-subscribe one day!

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Nerdy Post – April 2017

Last, but certainly, not least, was April’s Nerdy Post box. Alexis Lampley, the creator of Nerdy Post, outdid herself with this Middle-Earth inspired box. I am a huge Tolkien fan, and I love to see beautiful art inspired by his works, so this box was a dream come true! It included:

  • a poster featuring one of Gandalf’s many inspiring quotes,
  • a mini-print featuring another Gandalf quote and a beautifully-rendered picture of Frodo as he embarks on his journey (drawn by the the lovely TJ Lubrano),
  • a double-sided bookmark featuring Treebeard and a Tom Bombadil quote on one side and the Riddle of Strider on the other (which is the side you can see in my photo),
  • washi tape featuring the script from the One Ring,
  • a fat bookmark featuring a quote from The Hobbit on one side and  a quote from The Lord of the Rings on the other,
  • a penny from Gondor (created by Shire Post Mint),
  • a sticker featuring the eye of Sauron and a quote from The Silmarillion,
  • a one-sided bookmark featuring one of my favorite Bilbo sayings (the other side is an advertisement for Nerdwicks),
  • and a color-able postcard featuring an extremely detailed picture of Smaug (which I am nervous to color).

It’s tough to say what my favorite part about this Middle Earth box is because everything is so wonderful. But, if I had to choose, it would probably be the bookmark with the Tom Bombadil quote and drawing of Treebeard. Two of my favorite minor characters in The Lord of the Rings! The Gondor penny is also super cool, though! And, I wish I were better at coloring…I’m nervous about how my Smaug postcard will turn out (I know it’s possible for it to turn out ridiculously awesome because Alexis shared another subscriber’s completed postcard and it was f***ing fantastic!).

Overall, April’s subscriptions were awesome, and I would recommend any of the three boxes to someone who is looking to get great products for a great price! Do you have any suggestions for other subscription boxes I should try? Leave a comment and let me know what you think!


*The Owl Crate link is a referral link, so if you click on it and then end up subscribing to Owl Crate, I will receive points that may eventually lead me to receiving a free box.

Must-read: A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Image result for a study in scarletToday is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday (22 May 1859), so I thought it was the perfect time for this post!

Title: A Study in Scarlet

Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Publication Date: 1888 (1887 in annual)

Brief Synopsis: From the moment Dr John Watson takes lodgings in Baker Street with the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes, he becomes intimately acquainted with the bloody violence and frightening ingenuity of the criminal mind.

In A Study in Scarlet , Holmes and Watson’s first mystery, the pair are summoned to a south London house where they find a dead man whose contorted face is a twisted mask of horror. The body is unmarked by violence but on the wall a mysterious word has been written in blood.

The police are baffled by the crime and its circumstances. But when Sherlock Holmes applies his brilliantly logical mind to the problem he uncovers a tragic tale of love and deadly revenge . . . (Courtesy of Goodreads)

My Rating: 4 out of 5 flowers!

Why I think this is a must-read: The birth of a legend – A Study in Scarlet introduced the world to one of the greatest literary duos of all time: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. This story is also the first known fictional novel to feature the magnifying glass as an investigative tool. Also, who doesn’t like a murder-mystery involving kidnapping, enslavement, and revenge? It’s the perfect plot for the world’s most famous detective that never lived.  And, with so many television and movie adaptions, reading this story will help you decide which adaptations do the original justice.

A Favorite Quote: “I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”


Have you read A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? What did you think?

 

 

5 Authors I Can’t Get Enough Of

I don’t know about anyone else, but when someone asks me who my favorite author is, my mind summons a list nearly a meter long. I can give you a list of my favorites broken down by genre, contemporary vs. classic, current vs. all-time, etc. There are some authors that I name more often than others, but I don’t think I could ever name one author as my overall favorite. Because I enjoy them all for different reasons. So today, I thought I’d share five of my current favorites and give you a few reasons why I can’t get enough of their work!

  1. Adam Silvera – Adam Silvera knows how to mess with my emotions; I mean, his third book, which is set to be published later this year, is titled They Both Die at the End. Just the title has me worried, but I’m also really looking forward to reading the story. Silvera writes with a passion that practically oozes off the page, and he is one of the few authors of YA contemporary novels that I truly enjoy.
  2. Louise O’Neill – Louise O’Neill speaks to my inner feminist. Her two books, Only Ever Yours and Asking For It, left me angry, sad, and wanting to change the world.  She’s not afraid to shy away from socially taboo subjects (e.g., rape culture), and I’m all for authors like her bringing these issues to the forefront. Her book recommendations are also always on point. I follow her on social media and every once in a while she’ll talk about the book she’s currently reading; I’ve picked up a few of them and have yet to be disappointed!
  3. James Rollins – I was introduced to James Rollins’s Sigma Force series in November of 2016, and since then, I’ve read the first eight novels and two novellas in the series. The thirteenth book is set to be published in December, and I’ve been trying to pace myself, otherwise I’d probably be caught up by now. He always manages to come up with the most intriguing plots, using real historic or scientific findings that leave me questioning everything I thought I knew until the very end of the book.
  4. Leigh Bardugo – I’ll admit, I was late in joining the Leigh Bardugo fan club. I first read Six of Crows at the beginning of this year, shortly before it’s sequel Crooked Kingdom was published. But this is one of those instances where the phrase “better late than never” fits perfectly. Bardugo’s cast of misfits are perfectly crafted in this duology, and her ability to give each of them a unique voice as they narrate their part of the story is something that most authors would struggle with but Bardugo handles flawlessly.  I can’t wait to get my hands on the Grisha Trilogy to read Bardugo’s earlier work!
  5. Philippa Gregory – When I was in high school, I went through a phase where all I read was historical fiction based in England between the mid-fifteenth century and early seventeenth century. I was particularly fascinated by Tudor England, and Philippa Gregory just happened to have written a few novels featuring the Tudor Court. Recently, a colleague of mine started reading The White Princess because she wanted to watch the Starz mini-series, but she didn’t know anything about the time period. And after giving her a number of history lessons (mostly focused on the Lancaster and York family trees), I decided I might as well read the novel (my colleague had a lot of questions). After reading the entire book in just a few days, I remembered how much I loved reading historical fiction and how wonderful Gregory was at writing it. I’ve already started another of her books, and I’m planning which one I want to read next!

I could go on and on with this list, but Friday’s topic is “Five on Fridays,” so that’s it for my list, for right now. I’ll probably do another one in a few months because my “current favorites” are bound to change as time goes on!


Who are some of your favorite authors?

Book Review – The Circus

IMG_20170302_112053_414Sometimes I randomly go on Goodreads and look at all of the current giveaways, entering the ones that seem interesting. So far, I’ve won exactly one of the giveaways I’ve entered. And the book I won was, you guessed it, The Circus by Olivia Levez. I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC), but The Circus was officially released on May 4, 2017 in the UK. It has an expected release date of June 13, 2017 for the US!

The Circus tells the story of Willow, a sixteen-year-old girl who runs away from what many people would think is a great life. She has a beautiful home, owns a prized horse, and goes to a great school. But Willow thinks her father doesn’t really care about her and the fact that he’s about to marry a woman half his age just seems to make things worse. So, Willow does the only thing she can think to do: she destroys her soon-to-be-stepmother’s dress and runs away to join the circus.

Honestly, for the majority of the story I didn’t find Willow to be a hugely sympathetic protagonist. But, as Willow’s dreams of becoming a glamorous circus performer clash with her new reality of the grit and grime of living on the streets, Willow’s character develops in a way that left me feeling like she would do things differently the next time she was confronted with a problem. Her friendship with Suze definitely aids in her growth, and I’m happy that the author created at least one truly complex secondary character.

The synopsis provides more than enough information about the book, so I don’t feel like giving another summary of the story. But I will say this, the end of the book is a little too fairy tale-esque for me, but I know people love that kind of stuff, so I’m not too mad about it.

Overall, I’d give this book 3.5 out of 5 flowers!

Must-read: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

IMG_20170116_102749_004Title: Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Publication Date: 29 September 2015

Brief Synopsis: Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

  • Break into the notorious Ice Court (a military stronghold that has never been breached)
  • Retrieve a hostage (who could unleash magical havoc on the world)
  • Survive long enough to collect his reward (and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first. (Courtesy of Goodreads)

My Rating: 5 out of 5 flowers! If you want to read my full review, click here!

Why I think this is a must-read: This book reminded me why I love reading. The story followed me around long after I had finished it, and I rushed out to buy the sequel the day it was released. I hadn’t done that since the Harry Potter series. Leigh Bardugo did an amazing job creating a wonderfully complex cast of misfits perfect for this epic adventure. Her attention to detail and skillful manipulation of the written word will draw you in and hold you hostage even after the last page has been turned. And even if fantasy normally isn’t your thing, this is the perfect book with which to try something new!

A Favorite Quote: “Some people see a magic trick and say, “Impossible!” They clap their hands, turn over their money, and forget about it ten minutes later. Other people ask how it worked. They go home, get into bed, toss and turn, wondering how it was done. It takes them a good night’s sleep to forget all about it. And then there are the ones who stay awake, running through the trick again and again, looking for that skip in perception, the crack in the illusion that will explain how their eyes got duped; they’re the kind who won’t rest until they’ve mastered that little bit of mystery for themselves. I’m that kind.”


Have you read Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo? What did you think?

Book Review – Heartless

IMG_20170301_220400_621.jpgI know, I know. I said I’d be back to my scheduled posts this week, but that obviously didn’t happen. My brother graduated from university today, and I forgot how much my family loves to spend time together. This is literally my first moment alone since I woke up this morning (well, not counting my morning shower!). So, I’m a bit behind with my posts, and I’m hoping to play catch-up over the next couple of days. Up first, a book review!


Heartless is the first book I’ve read by Marissa Meyer, but this book has inspired me to add her other work to my ever-growing tbr list!

The story is basically the origin story of the Queen of Hearts, a story of love and loss, promises made and broken, friendship, and betrayal. . Catherine dreams of opening a bakery with her dear friend, but fate does not seem to favor young Cath. Nor does her mother, who wants Catherine to be Queen, and her mother is quick to point out it’s not seemly for a queen to spend her days covered in flour, even if her lemon tarts are the best in Wonderland. Her delectable delicacies (and the not-so-subtle dealings of her mother) draw the attention of the King. Not that Cath wants anything to do with the King, especially after she meets Jest, and he introduces her to a world she’s never before experienced.

It was an enjoyable read, I only wish the pacing were a little bit better, and sometimes I think the descriptions were overdone/drawn-out. That might just be a personal preference, though!

Overall, I give this book 3.5/5 flowers, and I look forward to reading more by Marissa Meyer in the future!