Only Mostly Devastated | Sophia Gonzales | Audiobook Review

Why Did I Listen To Only Mostly Devastated by Sophia Gonzales?

Honestly as soon as I found out that Only Mostly Devastated was a retelling of the musical Grease, I was in. I have seen the movie version of Grease so many times that I can probably quote it word for word. So, I was excited to see how this retelling by Sophia Gonzales played out. Also that cover? LOVE IT!

What’s The Story Here?

Only Mostly Devastated follows the relationship of Ollie and Will. The meet during the summer at a camp and fall in love. And then they go their separate ways unsure if they will ever see each other again. Except suddenly they’re going to the same school but everything is different than it was this summer. Why? Because Will hasn’t told any one that he is a gay in his hometown; and he’s not willing to risk his popular status to do it. So basically if you’re following the Grease plot – Ollie is Sandy and Will is Danny – and yes, there is a version of Pink Ladies and Greasers too.

How Did I Like Only Mostly Devastated?

Only Mostly Devastated packs a punch. It is a bit of an emotional roller-coaster. It made me laugh in some spots and broke my heart in others. As I got to know all of the characters, I fell hard for them, and wanted to know what would happen to each other them. And I could see the inspiration for the Grease like characters which they were portraying. There is also a strong family component in this story as well which I loved. Sophia Gonzales really did find the perfect balance of both happy and emotional moments for this story.

How’s The Narration?

The audiobook of Only Mostly Devastated is narrated by Mark Sanderlin. It is 7 hours and 48 minutes long. I found the narration to be enjoyable and it kept me engaged with the story. I felt that the narrator gave a real voice to all of the characters. And his voice held the perfect pitch of emotion during the more emotional parts as well.

Rating: 4 Stars

Audiobook review layout borrowed from April @ Good Books and Good Wine.

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters Whose Job I Wish I Had

Top Ten Tuesday is held by Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl.
Today’s topic is Characters Whose Job I Wish I Had.

And here we go…

This was a really fun topic. It was fun to imagine myself in these character’s shoes doing their respective jobs. And of course, I had to revisit one of my childhood favorites with The Babysitters Club! That series always made me wanted to be a good paid babysitter.

What are some of the jobs that you wished you had?
Make sure you leave me a link to you list so I can check it out!

February 2021 Recap | March 2021 TBR

Is anyone else having a hard time believing that February has already come and gone? And not only that but we’re back in MARCH again? I’m still recovering from March 2020 if you know what I mean! Overall, February was a pretty good month for me as a reader and television viewer. And I’m continue to move forward in my personal life as well which is always a good thing.

Let’s review…

Personal Review:
~> I’ve been going to twice weekly physical therapy to strengthen my back. I have an old back injury that occurred the summer before my freshman year in high school. At the time I had to have surgery for it but all has been well since then. Having a bit more time on my hands these days, I decided to be proactive and get things checked out that have been bothering me and the doctor recommended some physical therapy to try and strengthen things. I’m doing well with PT but it is also taking alot out of me as well. They also have me using a traction machine to try and stretch my back – it’s kind of weird but, I get to read while doing it so I can’t really complain!
~>I had to take my cat Belle to the vet for a UTI. Thankfully, she’s doing better now and is much more social and active around the house.
~>I’ve gotten into a routine of cleaning my apartment which has been working really well. Having a system is keeping me motivated and helping me coordinate my days and not let the apartment get to be such a mess.
~>This blog continues to be a fun and relaxing creative outlet for me to focus my energy on. I hope that you are enjoying it as well!

Reading Review:
I read 19 books in February including 8 1/2 out of the 10 on my February TBR
(Where The Crawdads Sing and Enjoy The View are still in progress)
A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem The Worst Best Man You Are A Badass The Tourist Attraction Mistletoe & Mr. Right That Baby Cinderella is Dead Written in the Stars The Black Flamingo The Color of Law We Are Not Free Only Mostly Devastated With The Fire On High Concrete Rose Stay Gold Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop On The Come Up Open Book A History of the World in 12 Maps

Television Review:
I am currently halfway through Season 7 of my Will and Grace re-watch. I have also been watching nightly Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, and new episodes of Name That Tune, Supermarket Sweep, and the Weakest Link. I also started to watch Nailed It on Netflix (currently on season 2) and have been watching old episodes of The Price is Right (Barker era) and American Gladiators with Shane.

March TBR: The Two Lives Of Lydia Bird I’ll Give You The Sun Loathe At First Sight The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett Fear of Missing Out Siri, Who Am I? Gold Dust Woman The Four Winds It’s Kind Of A Cheesy Love Story Titanic: Iceberg Ahead Love Lettering Furia Love in Lockdown Every Body Looking Clap When You Land

Yes, I might be being a little ambitious for my March TBR but, why not? I’m feeling good about it. I’ve also rediscovered audio-books recently so I’ll probably be adding a few of those to my list as well. We’ll just have to see what happens.

I look forward to seeing what March holds for all of us. Bring it on!

Concrete Rose | Angie Thomas | Book Review

Concrete Rose is the prequel to The Hate U Give (THUG) by Angie Thomas. I admittedly waited until last year to finally read THUG and immediately regretted it. I didn’t want to make the same mistake with this one. I was excited to learn more about Maverick’s story and see how he became the father he was to his children.

Being a prequel, Concrete Rose gives us the insight of who Maverick was when he was a Black teenager growing up a part of the King Lord world. You witness him learning that he is a teenage father (twice), and watch him as he tries to navigate his life. You also learn about the people who influence him, and who help create the man who everyone got to meet in THUG.

Maverick is a complex character. He lives in a world that is filled with poverty, racism, and gang violence. His father is in prison, and it is expected that he will follow his footsteps. He is conflicted about this, and conflicted about having his father in prison in the first place. He has an older cousin who has his back, and tries to keep an eye out for him. Maverick’s relationship with Dre was so heartwarming, and felt very realistic. And I definitely felt for Maverick when tragedy struck. I could not fault him for wanting to find out what happened and potentially seek revenge.

Even though he is scared, Maverick has such a strong love for his children. He doesn’t want to disappoint them and does not want to be a failure in their eyes. This results in him making some questionable decisions at times. All of his decisions come from a place of devotion though and the conflicts help make him stronger as a person. The world that Maverick is living in is not an easy world but, he wants to try and make it better for those who are following him. I respected this as a reader, and when he came in contact with other wonderfully written characters who challenged this in him, I desperately wanted him to challenge it right back.

I have said before that Angie Thomas is the new voice in the young adult world that we have all been blessed with and I stand by those words with Concrete Rose. She is giving a voice to those who need to be heard. One of the lines that really stuck with me is as follows:

One of the biggest lies ever told is that Black men don’t feel emotions. Guess it’s easier to not see us a human when you think we’re heartless. Fact of the matter is, we feel things. Hurt, pain, sadness, all of it. We got a right to show them feelings as much as anybody else.

Um. WOW! This is so real. This representation of the worlds that exist similar to Garden Heights is so important right now. There is a heart and soul in these world and in the words that are being written on the page. And I for one cannot wait to see what comes next from Angie Thomas.

Rating: 5 Stars

Anastasia Book Tag

Image Credit: The Heart Of A Book Blogger

Anastasia is one of my FAVORITE Broadway musicals. I was lucky enough to see it twice – including the closing matinee performance which was SO GOOD.

This Anastasia book tag was originally created by Nia @ Shades Of Paper.

A RUMOUR IN ST. PETERSBURG

An author you desperately need to publish another book/series

I love the Sanctuary Island series by Lily Everett. The last one was written in 2017 but I would love to go back and visit again! I always visualize it as such a beautiful place.

IN MY DREAMS

A character whose path isn’t easy but overcomes with everything

Julian from A List Of Cages. His story is heartbreaking and emotional but, he makes it through. I loved his bond with his friend and mentor Adam in this story.

LEARN TO DO IT

A book that taught you something new

I love watching the US National Women’s Soccer Team but admittedly I didn’t know very much about the history of the team. Last year I picked up The National Team: The Inside Story of the Women who Changed Soccer and it brought a new light on everything. Wonderful overview of the history of the USWNT. I really enjoyed reading about not only the games but, the behind the scenes negotiations that has helped bring the team to where it is today.

THE NEVA FLOWS

A series where a character fights the system

Cinderella Is Dead is a retelling of the classic fairy tale of Cinderella. The main character is rebellious, Black, queer, and fighting against patriarchy. There is also a good crew of secondary characters that you can’t help but root for.

MY PETERSBURG

A world in a series you’ve read that you absolutely love 

I haven’t read all of the books in the Hundred Oaks series by Miranda Kenneally but, I love to visit them. They are enjoyable books with a high school setting and usually a couple of Easter egg type references to other books in the series.

ONCE UPON A DECEMBER

A book you need to re-read

A Northern Light is one of my all time favorites. It’s beautifully written and is such a haunting story. Add in the fact that it the actual event occurred not that far from me and I think you might understand why I’m so hooked on this book.

STAY, I PRAY YOU

A character you wish was alive 

I have read Titanic: The Long Night so many times, and each time I wish that the ending did not happen the way that it did. Even though, I recognize that the book is based on a tragedy therefore there had to be some tragedy in the story. It’s just so sad every time I get to Brian Kelleher’s death.

STILL

A character you didn’t want to like but still did anyway

Winona in True Colors was a hard character to like. She was a hard on herself, harder on the others around, and easily jumped to conclusions. She did come through when she was needed most though and that is what makes her a character that I honestly didn’t want to like but in the end I did.

JOURNEY TO THE PAST

Your favorite book when you were a child

I have a collection of Shel Silverstein‘s books that were gifted to me by my grandmother. She left a personalized note in each of them and they were a treasured part of my childhood (and still of my adulthood).

PARIS HOLDS THE KEY (TO YOUR HEART)

Your favorite trope 

One of my favorite troupes especially more recently is enemies to lovers. A good recent example of this would be Written in the Stars. This also has one of my other favorite troupes – pretend dating!

IN A CROWD OF THOUSANDS

Your favorite book of all time

Oh this is tough. If I had to choose right now, I think I would go with Untamed by Glennon Doyle. This book and it’s author has taught me so many things about the person I am, the person who I want to be, and the possibility of good in the world. This is the book that is currently on display on my desk as well.

MEANT TO BE

A relatable character

Tiger Lily from Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. When I read this book I was blown away by how human Tiger Lily felt to me. She was a character who had been misunderstood and who the world had vulnerable. She was protective of the people that she cared about and it hurt her when they didn’t protect or care about her in return. She really is a beautiful heroine in her own right.

EVERYTHING TO WIN

Your favorite fairytale 

I’m not sure if this will actually count as a fairy tale but I’m going to go for it: The Cantebury Tales. I was one of those students in AP English in high school that actually enjoyed reading these stories. They made me cackle at times; and I have a distinct memory of this being one of the books that I was able to read and walk around my high school pool with ease. And you know I would have to be comfortable with a book to do that, right?

Well, this was alot of fun!

I tag any blogger who loves Anastasia and wants to do this tag!

On The Come Up | Angie Thomas | Book Review

When I read The Hate U Give, I remember thinking to myself that Angie Thomas was the new voice in Young Adult literature; and we were going to be forever blessed by her words. After reading On The Come Up, I stand by my thoughts, and feel blessed as a reader. This time the story is a little bit different but, the intensity was just as strong.

On The Come Up follows Bri Jackson, a Black teenager who has big dreams of being a rapper like her deceased father. She lives in the neighborhood of Garden Heights with her mother and brother. She is trying to do her best to navigate her life as a teenage girl but, feels like she pushing against a broken system that is working against her every move.

Bri is such an exciting character. She feels like a real teenager. She’s filled with angst and impulsive. She’s been put through the ringer of society and is angry about it. I felt her pain and her anger. I felt her being pushed and pulled in so many different directions. She makes mistakes and bad decisions but, at the time she thinks that they are the proper ones for her to make. On The Come Up really is Bri’s journey and along the way, she learns that she and she alone is the one in control of her story.

I’ll be honest with you. I love music but as far as hip hop I know very little about it. That is not to say that I haven’t listened to it before but, it is not my usual genre of music. That being said…hip hop drives this story. Bri turns to the music to escape what is going on in her world. She also thinks that if she makes it in the music world she will be able to help save her family from all of the things that are going wrong for them. The verses that she creates in her head are SO CLEVER!

The hip hop verses are used provide context for Bri’s world. A world that is filled with broken families, drug addiction, poverty, racism, sexism, and gang violence. Her world is not filled with all negatives though – it is also a world filled with family, friendship, and potential teenage romance. On The Come Up also uses the hip hop verses as a social critque and as encouragment for Bri and the reader to not lose themselves in what others may precieve them as or want them to be. This really is a great young adult contemporary novel; and I look forward to seeing what Angie Thomas blesses with us next.

Rating: 4 Stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud

Top Ten Tuesday is held by Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl.
Today’s topic is Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud!

And here we go…

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Did any of these books make you laugh out loud too?
What books would you recommend to me for a good laugh?
Make sure you leave me a link to your list so I can check it out!

With the Fire on High | Elizabeth Acevedo | Book Review

With The Fire On High was my first introduction to Elizabeth Acevedo but it will not my last. This book felt like I was having a conversation with an old friend whom I wanted to see succeed and follow her dreams. I was taken on a beautiful journey of youth, family, food, and culture…and it was absolutely delectable.

With The Fire On High follows Emoni who is a Afro-Latinx senior in high school and a single teenage mother. She lives with her abuela who helps her as she tries to balance school, family, work, and being a teenager. Her daughter’s father visits their daughter but does not financially contribute to raising her so money is often tight. Her outlet has always been cooking and creating recipes all of which sound delicious.

Emoni gets the opportunity to go a culinary class during her senior year. At first, she thinks that this class is going to be good for her because she has confidence in her cooking but then she starts butting heads with the teacher. The teacher challenges her because he can see the potential in her; and it turns out that this culinary class is more than just cooking. I really liked the dynamic between Emoni and her teacher as it reminded me of a few of my teachers who continually pushed me because they could see something beyond what I was trying to offer them.

With The Fire On High is so beautifully written. The descriptions transported me into the world which Emoni was experiencing. I felt that the portrayal of a struggling single mother were very real; and I felt her emotions when she was with all the characters that she connected with and all of the experiences that she went through. Like I said before, I wanted to see her succeed and was like a proud friend as I watched her figure things out. Oh, and the trip to Spain? That was such a bonus!

With The Fire On High celebrates food, culture, motherhood and self-love. It left me feeling so good at the end…and hungry. I wanted some of that delicious food that was being described! This is also a very character driven novel with prose that is perfect for those who prefer an easy flowing read that packs a punch. It will be a treat to anyone who chooses to read it.

Rating: 5 Stars

Cinderella Is Dead | Kalynn Bayron | Book Review

Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron is a refreshing retelling of a fairy tale that most little girls know by heart. This time however the main character is a young Black queer girl who wants to overthrow the government that has been put into place ever since Cinderella died. This government forces all the young girls to attend a yearly ball similar to the one Cinderella attended where she met the prince in order to find their be auctioned off to their “true love” and be married off forever. Systematic patriarchy at its finest!

The main character of Cinderella Is Dead is a young girl named Sophia. Sophia wants nothing to do with the patriarchal system that she resides under. All she wants to do is able to be with her best friend Erin whom she is in love with. Unfortunately, her family and Erin refuse to rebuke the system and Sophia finds herself alone and on the run. Along the way, she encounters a group of diverse characters each of whom help her piece together the truth behind the story of Cinderella and encourage her to try and break the binds of the status quo.

I liked Sophia as a character. She’s tough but she has a heart. She’s determined but, she is cautious and questioning and wants to think things through before she attacks. She is secure within herself as young gay woman refusing to change or conform to what her family and society want her to do. She is a breath of fresh air in the patriarchal society that she is living in. As a reader, I would have loved a little bit more back ground information in regards to how she become how she was. You get a little insight that her grandmother also disagreed with the government and had a role in helping her granddaughter form her opinion but, I would have liked to have just a little bit more.

The other thing that I would have loved to have more detail put into was the love story. Shortly after Sophia runs away she meets Constance who is actually a descendant of the original Cinderella. Unfortunately, the relationship that is formed between Sophia and Constance felt very insta-love to me and that was a feeling that I was just unable to shake as a read the story. I understand that it was a fairy-tale type premise so I’m willing to give it a little bit of a leeway because of that but, honestly I would have liked to see it develop a bit more. It also felt like Sophia got over her feelings and devotion to Erin, whom she’d been willing to risk her entire life for previously, relatively quick.

All-in-all, I enjoyed Cinderella Is Dead. It is a refreshingly inclusive retelling of a classic story with a main character and crew of side characters that you can truly root for. I found myself getting easily lost in the pages of this re-imagined world and at the end I was left feeling inspired and ready to conquer.

“Take the risk, light the fuse. Onward.”

Rating: 4 Stars

The Color of Law | Richard Rothstein | Book Review

The Color Of Law by Richard Rothstein gives the history of de jure segregation (segregation that existed because of local laws that mandated the segregation) in America. Using multiple examples, this text argues that anti-Black governmental housing policies have led to racially divided cities and suburbs. It is an eye opener regarding the humanitarian crimes against Black men, women, and children in the United States – crimes of which were all legal in the eyes of the law.

Using detailed maps and quotes, Richard Rothstein documents the often underhanded way in which Republican and Democratic politicians alike created and enforced racial segregation in the United States using racial zoning and blockbusting. He also argues that there was state-sponsored violence often used to in order to make sure that the racial zoning policies remained in place. He conveys how these racial zoning policies segregated Black Americans and restricted them on all levels of government – federal, state, and local.

The Color of Law is a well researched text that covered all the regions in the country. It also contains stories from actual Black Americas whose lives were affected by the housing policies as well as mental and physical violence. To me, reading the actual stories and quotes from these individuals gave the text a more humane feeling and in a way saved it from being dry. These stories also gave examples of how interconnected everything within our society really in. The racial housing policies not only affected the locations where these individuals could live but also affected their economic status and caused the inability for them to be able to move forward in society. These individuals had their lives threatened in various ways by these housing policies as well.

Unfortunately, alot of people in today’s society think that this racial segregation from the housing policies is a thing of the past. The Color of Law demonstrates that this is NOT the case. The devastating effects of de jure segregation are still continuing today and are forcing Black Americans to remain restricted and threatened from moving in an upward motion in our society. Richard Rothstein attempts to give hope that we as a society may be able to move past this but also ensures that we have plenty of work to do. To me one of the best ways to move forward would be a better education as to what actually happened with the housing policies and not the version that many of years are still hearing today. This is why I feel that The Color Law should be an essential read for anyone in the US to fully understand our history.

Rating: 5 Stars

melshurtz

Continuing to Improve myself as an Educator

Redd's Reads

F/SF Book Reviews

Into the Hall of Books

~thoughts on books & bookish things~

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