Monthly Wrap-Up: May ’21

Happy Pride, friends! Hope this month is full of acceptance and celebration, whether you are out or not ❤ Reading-wise, May was a fantastic month for me. I haven’t read so much in probably a year. I read eight books and am now back on track for my Goodreads goal. I got my second dose of the covid vaccine earlier in the month and celebrated my birthday. The end of the month is making me feel a little stressed however. I had to take my dog in to the vet and am trying to get her in again. She’s getting old and I am not sure what is wrong with her, so this and some other personal stuff is just really weighing on me. Contemplating a blogging hiatus come July. I have one obligation for the beginning of the month, but after that I think I will be taking a break. I just completed month two of learning to roller skate and have unlocked how to transition. It’s the hardest thing I’ve had to learn so far. I just found an outside rink that I visited for the first time this week and am so excited to go back already.

(Book covers below are linked to my reviews, unless otherwise specified.) 

Favorite Book This Month:

I read so many good books this month, but my favorite is probably Jonny Garza Villa’s debut Fifteen Hundred Miles From the Sun. This book took me through so many emotions. It’s definitely my favorite debut of 2021 so far. My review for this one will be up tomorrow. Cover linked to Goodreads.

Least Favorite Book This Month:

No book received lower than three stars from me.

Reviews Posted This Month:

(Covers linked to reviews)

Notable Blog Posts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Most Recent Reads – A round up of ten of my most recent reads and a few thoughts on them.

What I Watched/Am Watching:

Mortal Kombat – I didn’t watch a ton of new stuff this month, but I did finally watch the new Mortal Kombat movie. It was cheesy and yet so much fun.

Chocolate – Yes, this is a rewatch, but never underestimate the power of a comfort watch.

June Releases I’m Excited For:

How was your May? Which June releases are you looking forward to? Let’s discuss in the comments and feel free to leave me a link to your own wrap-up post and I’ll be sure to visit!

Top Ten Tuesday: Library Holds

Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and is currently being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is “Freebie.” Today’s topic is all about library holds: which books I have checked out and which books I will be putting on hold in the future. I actually went to the library last month for the first time in months and got a little carried away. My check out receipts are basically the bookish equivalent of “Biting off more than you can chew.” Sometimes I just get so excited and forget that I haven’t been inhaling books this year, so maybe checking out five books for a two-week period isn’t such a good idea. Will I ever learn my lesson? Covers are linked to Goodreads.

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1. Witchmark by C.L. Polk – I finally have this book checked out from the library, but I’ve also renewed it twice because I haven’t found the time to read it.

2. Children of Chicago by Cynthia Pelayo – I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to get my hands on this one, but I was so happy to find that my library did order a copy, but now it sits on my dresser just waiting and waiting.

3. The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky – I checked this one out because I thought it would make a nice compliment to Children of Chicago, but I didn’t realize it was nearly 500 pages long and I don’t know if I can make that kind of commitment this month.

4. Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Universe by Kwame Mbalia – I need someone to bully me into requesting this one from the library already because it is far past time for me to finally read it.

5. Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland – I kept saying this was going to be the first book I checked out from the library when I went back and it wasn’t, so it automatically is at the top of my future holds list.

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6. Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas I have been waiting to read this one for ages. If I can carve out some time, I might request it before the end of the summer.

7. I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee – I’ve heard so many good things about this one and summer seems like the perfect time to read it.

8. The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart – If I can get through some of the adult fantasy books I have on my shelf, there are a few I want to check out form the library including this one.

9. Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley – I try to hold off on checking out too many newer releases from the library right away because I usually can’t renew them, but I really want to read this one.

10. Color Me In by Natasha Díaz – I can’t believe I still haven’t read this one, but it’s on my list of books I really need to get to this year.

Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments and be sure to leave me a link to your own TTT post, so I can visit!

Once Upon a Quinceañera by Monica Gomez-Hira

Title: Once Upon a Quinceañera
Author: Monica Gomez-Hira
Series: N/A
Pages: 432
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: March 2nd 2021

TW: slut shaming and sexual harassment

**Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher which does not influence my review**

      “Carmen Aguilar just wants to make her happily ever after come true. Except apparently ‘happily ever after’ for Carmen involves being stuck in an unpaid summer internship! All she has to do is perform! In a ball gown! During the summer. In Miami.
      Fine. Except that Carmen’s company is hired for her spoiled cousin Ariana’s over the top quinceañera.
      And of course, her new dance partner at work is none other than Mauro Reyes, Carmen’s most deeply regrettable ex.
      If Carmen is going to move into the future she wants, she needs to leave the past behind. And if she can manage dancing in the blistering heat, fending off Mauro’s texts, and stopping Ariana from ruining her own quinceañera Carmen might just get that happily ever after after all.”

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Monica Gomez-Hira debuts with Once Upon a Quinceañera, a story about forgiveness and growth. Carmen Aguilar cannot catch a break. Just short of earning enough credits to graduate, she’s forced to intern over the summer for Dreams Come True, a princess party company that caters to children. Not a bad gig until her aunt hires the company for her bratty cousin’s quinceañera. Family drama is hard enough to deal with but now Carmen’s sort of ex-boyfriend is back in town stirring up feelings she’d rather see stay buried. Then there’s Carmen’s current crush Alex, who is finally showing interest in her. Maybe her summer won’t be as disastrous after all.

Once Upon a Quinceanera has a strong lead character who is made more relatable by the way she stumbles when it comes to her personal relationships. On the surface Carmen is prickly and abrasive. She isn’t an easy person to get along with and can be unforgiving in her views of other people. When you dig a little deeper, it becomes apparent that Carmen is not this way by accident. Much of her tough exterior is the result of how other people see and treat her. Guys think she’s easy, her peers whisper behind her back, and even her aunt thinks she’s a bad influence. Carmen is defensive because it’s the only way she knows how to protect herself and when there aren’t a lot of people on her side, she has to be her own advocate, something that doesn’t always come easy to her.

Family plays an important role in this debut, but like in real life, family can be complicated. Carmen has a really close relationship with her mother and if asked about her father, would say she doesn’t care that he left, but deep down it hurts. Her Tía Celia severed their relationship years ago. Carmen hides behind her anger instead of fully acknowledging how much having another adult in her life reject her stung. Her cousin Ariana has always been a thorn in her side; she always gets her way and leaves Carmen feeling inadequate. All of these relationships have their ups and downs as Carmen grows as a person, she learns to see her family members in different ways even if forgiveness doesn’t come easy to her. I really enjoyed seeing Carmen and Ariana’s relationship evolve. They don’t realize until later that the jealousy they were harboring against one another is actually something they have in common. Neither of these young women is faultless when it comes to their rocky relationship, but it was so rewarding to see them be there for each other in the end.

I did find issues with how the sexual harassment in the novel is handled. Carmen is sexually harassed by a former boss and is forced to find another job to complete her high school credits. We never really explore this and even though I didn’t find it unrealistic that Carmen would very quickly move on from this, as a young adult novel, I think it’s important to not be flippant with these subjects and they should be addressed head on. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the love interest storyline. Carmen is torn between two different boys, but it was difficult to root for either one of these characters. It often felt like the two were more interested in marking their territory than giving Carmen the space she needed in order to figure out her own feelings.

Once Upon a Quinceanera is a reminder that life can surprise you if you open yourself up to its many possibilities and that it’s never too late to begin believing in yourself.

★ ★ ★
(3/5)

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Misfit in Love by S.K. Ali

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa @ Wishful Endings where bloggers share which upcoming releases they’re most looking forward to. Join us every Wednesday and watch your TBR list multiply.

S.L. Ali’s Saints and Misfits is one of my favorite contemporary novels. You know those characters who you just want to be your best friend, Janna is one of those for me. I am so happy that Janna is getting this sequel, she deserves all the good things. Hoping to reread the first book before Misfit in Love comes out. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

Title: Misfit in Love
Author: S.K. Ali
Series: Saints and Misfits, #2
Pages: 320
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Publication Date: May 25, 2021

      “In this fun and fresh sequel to Saints and Misfits, Janna hopes her brother’s wedding will be the perfect start to her own summer of love, but attractive new arrivals have her more confused than ever.
      Janna Yusuf is so excited for the weekend: her brother Muhammad’s getting married, and she’s reuniting with her mom, whom she’s missed the whole summer.
      And Nuah’s arriving for the weekend too.
      Sweet, constant Nuah.
      The last time she saw him, Janna wasn’t ready to reciprocate his feelings for her. But things are different now. She’s finished high school, ready for college…and ready for Nuah.
      It’s time for Janna’s (carefully planned) summer of love to begin—starting right at the wedding.
      But it wouldn’t be a wedding if everything went according to plan. Muhammad’s party choices aren’t in line with his fiancée’s taste at all, Janna’s dad is acting strange, and her mom is spending more time with an old friend (and maybe love interest?) than Janna.
      And Nuah’s treating her differently.
      Just when things couldn’t get more complicated, two newcomers—the dreamy Haytham and brooding Layth—have Janna more confused than ever about what her misfit heart really wants.
      Janna’s summer of love is turning out to be super crowded and painfully unpredictable.”

Are you participating in Can’t-Wait Wednesday or Waiting on Wednesday? Is this book on your TBR? Be sure to leave a link to your post in the comments and I’ll visit!