Thursday, December 31, 2020

TBR Challenges for 2021

 As I reviewed my 2020 reads, I realized that I barely touched any of my TBR books, especially the ones that I already owned. So to help me with that, I am going to attempt the following reading challenges:


Bout of Books 30 Sign-Up

Bout of Books


Yay! I'll be able to participate in this Bout of Books readathon! The winter one is easier for me to participate in since I am still on winter break. With my reading being not the greatest in the past, I really hope to start 2021 with a bang with my books. 

Don't know about Bout of Books? Here's some info:

2020 Wrap Up

As 2020 comes to an end, it's time to review how my reading went:

I have to say, I am actually pretty proud of myself. I surpassed my goal of 30 books; I read 38! Yes, the majority of the books were audiobooks but I still considerate it as reading. Also, 38 books is way more than what I read in 2018 and 2019. 

I used to read between 75-100 books in a year, but since becoming a special education teacher, it has been difficult for me to focus on reading or finding the time to read. I went from reading 75+ books down to barely 15 books in a year. So reading/listening to 38 books is a big accomplishment for me!

Also, I love looking through all the stats that Goodreads creates for their members. It really puts one's reading into perspective. 


Monday, December 28, 2020

Mini Reviews: 4 Holiday Stories

During Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I spent my time reading and listening some holiday books in between cooking and spending time with my husband. Here are the four books I read:

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Read by C.J. Critt

This was a surprise. At first I wasn't sure I was going to like it. The "bad" children (I can't remember their names) were absolutely terrible and the language that was used made my eyebrows raise. This was a children's book? However, as the story progressed, I was enthralled with the unfolding of the pagaent. I even loved how the bad children grew at the end of the story. It really was a Christmas miracle. I rate this 4 stars.


The Christmas Letters by Lee Smith
Read by Various Artists

This story was told through a series of letters by three generations of women. The women recounted their life events during the time of Christmas.  Hardships and joyous moments were shared. I highly enjoyed listening to Birdie's letters but not so much her daughter's or granddaughter's.  I rate this 3 stars.


Holiday by Candlelight by Laurel Greer

I am not much of a Harlequin book reader but when I heard that there was a romance holiday book with Hanukkah at its center, I needed to read it. Sadly, this was hardly a holiday book. It was more about a person dealing with PTSD and another person thinking that the first person was hot. I did like how the two main characters were honest with each other but I could not get into them as a couple. I found myself skimming through most of the pages. I only stuck with it to see how they were going to get their happy ending. I rate this book 2 stars.

Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto

Alright, I am biased. This is one of my favorite childhood books. I read it to my husband on Christmas Eve and I could not help but feel giddy the whole time I read it. Tamales are a big part of my life so I highly connected with this book when I was young. Plus, it was one of the very few books with Latino characters that was read to me at school. I give it 5 stars.

How about you? Do you read holiday books in December? 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Review: You Had Me at Hola

 By Alexis Daria

Leading Ladies do not end up on tabloid covers. 

After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of New York City to film the starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy for the number one streaming service in the country, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez.

Leading Ladies don’t need a man to be happy.

After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. Joining this new cast as a last-minute addition will give him the chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and ping the radar of Hollywood casting agents. To make it work, he’ll need to generate smoking-hot on-screen chemistry with Jasmine. Easier said than done, especially when a disastrous first impression smothers the embers of whatever sexual heat they might have had.

Leading Ladies do not rebound with their new costars.

With their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Audiobook Review: I am Still Here

 Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

Written and Read by Austin Channing Brown

Duration: 3 hours 54 minutes

From a leading voice on racial justice, an eye-opening account of growing up black, Christian, and female that exposes how white America’s love affair with “diversity” so often falls short of its ideals.

“Austin Channing Brown introduces herself as a master memoirist. This book will break open hearts and minds.” (Glennon Doyle, number one New York Times best-selling author of Untamed)

Austin Channing Brown's first encounter with a racialized America came at age seven, when she discovered her parents named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. Growing up in majority-white schools and churches, Austin writes, "I had to learn what it means to love blackness," a journey that led to a lifetime spent navigating America's racial divide as a writer, speaker, and expert helping organizations practice genuine inclusion.

In a time when nearly every institution (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claims to value diversity in its mission statement, Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice. Her stories bear witness to the complexity of America's social fabric - from black Cleveland neighborhoods to private schools in the middle-class suburbs, from prison walls to the boardrooms at majority-white organizations. For listeners who have engaged with America's legacy on race through the writing of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michael Eric Dyson, I'm Still Here is an illuminating look at how white, middle-class Evangelicalism has participated in an era of rising racial hostility, inviting the listener to confront apathy, recognize God's ongoing work in the world, and discover how blackness - if we let it - can save us all.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Audiobook Review: As You Wish

Written and Read by Cary Elwes (with guest stars)

Duration: 7 hours 1 min

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets and backstage stories.

With a foreword by Rob Reiner, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.The full list of narrators includes: Cary Elwes, Christopher Guest, Carol Kane, Norman Lear, Rob Reiner, Chris Sarandon, Andy Scheinman, Wallace Shawn, Robin Wright, and Billy Crystal.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Review: The Princess Bride Deluxe Illustrated Edition

 By William Goldman

This tale of true love, high adventure, pirates, princesses, giants, miracles, fencing, and a frightening assortment of wild beasts, as depicted in the 1987 film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Fred Savage, Robin Wright, and others, is now available in a beautiful new package, with foil and embossing on the cover and an interior printed on elegant uncoated cream stock with rough-cut edges.

This keepsake edition also includes fifty full-page color illustrations by Michael Manomivibul, full-color chapter openers, and a gorgeous color map printed on the endpapers. A stunning package no fan will be able to resist!

Saturday, December 12, 2020

HIS and HER Reviews: Life As We Knew It

By Susan Beth Pfeffer

Read by Emily Bauer

Duration: 8 hours 59 minutes

Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all--hope--in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Bart's Books

During one of our food stops in Ojai, California, we found this gem of a bookstore: Bart's Books. I was immediately captivated by its uniqueness. The outside of the store had bookshelves filled with books on its walls. My hubby and I were a little stunned to see how available these books were to any passerby and were surprised to see how trusting the store was of its books. We had to go inside. And boy, were we delighted!

Bart's Books was pretty much an open air bookstore. There were bookcases and bookcases of books all around. There was either sheet metal or a piece of wood covering above the bookcases to protect the book from the elements. There were so many books that we, in fact, felt a bit overwhelmed. Every time we finished browsing down a row of books, we noticed that there was another row just around the corner.