Friday, April 20, 2018

A Pigeon, Sass, and Hindu Mythology

Title: Aru Shah and the End of Time (Pandava Quartet, #1)
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Release Date: March 27th, 2018!

From Goodreads...
Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she'll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?

One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru's doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don't believe her claim that the museum's Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.

But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it's up to Aru to save them.

The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?


My Review!
Was she a heroine if all she did was fix a mistake she made? Or was it heroic because she was willing to fix it in the first place?

A particularly good book had a way of opening new spaces in one's mind. It even invited you to come back later and rummage through what you'd learned.

Here are just a few examples of one of the many reasons why I loved Aru Shah and the End of Time, and just reading another Roshani book in general. Roshani once described her writing as lush/decadent, and IT IS A SCIENTIFIC FACT. It’s like those expensive chocolates you only buy every once in awhile because they’re just that damned good. I loved that this felt middle grade, but that also contained the author’s signature flair. Of not just style, but humor and feels and beautiful nuggets of wisdom and heart.

Aru Shah is a love story as much as a fantasy where Time is running out for two heroines to stop evil from destroying their world. But not romantic love. It is a love story between a girl and her mother, who is equal parts absent-minded and there for Aru when she needs her. Her mother always told her not to light the lamp, but the pressures of fitting in and wanting friends so desperately that you’d do anything to make them like you, push Aru into making a mistake. But it’s a mistake she tries her hardest to fix.

That’s what makes her a heroine to me. Her ability to look at her choices, at the not-so-great ones and say she’ll do better, and step up to the plate. No one else can do it. And she’s so daring, and abundantly clever, and she’ll do whatever it takes to wake her mom up so she can tell her how sorry she is. But Aru goes through her share of whining. She’s not perfect. That’s what endeared me to her as much her cunning, strength, and badass I can do anything attitude. I loved her voice and her spirit SO MUCH.

But this is also a story of found family, of two young girls who have great destinies and who form a bond of friendship through the trials and tribulations of fighting a demon who wants to kill them. I thought Mini was a refreshing counterpart to Aru, and I loved watching their relationship grow throughout the course of the book. And they weren’t alone; they had Boo, their pigeon companion who insults them as much as he helps them out. So many times I was laughing out loud from his and Aru’s banter!

Hindu mythology is absolutely fascinating, and I loved that Roshani brought these tales and heroes and gods to life. I’d remembered a few from her previous stories (the Dharma Raja!!), but so much of this was new to me, and I find myself so excited for the rest of this series. It’s going to be right up there with Percy Jackson, guys. Aru’s journey so far already has been humorous, fun, and full of mischief and bravery, and I know the other books will be much the same. I CANNOT FREAKING WAIT!

RATING:
    

Monday, April 16, 2018

From the Den: March Edition

From the Den is a feature to showcase the books that I don't post reviews for on the blog, whether I liked them or not. I read so many books that never make it onto The Fox's Hideaway, so I wanted a feature where I could still tell y'all about them. :)

*****

Much like February, I read A LOT in March that I didn't end up reviewing quite yet. I'm so behind, guys. Yikes. So here's me trying to catch up!

While enjoyable, this needed additional editing because whoa boy. (I mean, one of the women had a completely wrong date of birth and death). I loved that some of the women from Mackenzi's Twitter threads showed up here, a few faves of mine! There were women I already knew from other books/classes, and those I learned about for the first time. And all of them were seriously badass ladies, smashing the patriarchy in small and big ways, and refusing to not live their truth. It might not have been my favorite nonfiction of women of history, but I'm so here for this continuous trend of stories about fearless and fierce broads.
Rating: 3 Paw Prints!


I don't know if I exactly cared about Opal's POV, but I looooved being back with Ronan and Adam (though only one mention of Gansey was not enough). This makes me really excited for the new series, though! I CAN'T WAIT FOR MORE. I WANT TO KNOW ALL THE THINGS.
Rating: 3 Paw Prints!


Just. Like. W O W.

This is an incredibly well-written, well-researched, monster of a book that took me a long time to finish but had me hooked. It did take a little bit to get into it, and honestly some of the science just went over my head (but the author did a fantastic job of making it readable, so that's just me not being a hard science person), but I *needed* to find out what would happen and if my faves would survive. Based on my friend Val's updates, I thought there'd be a LOT MORE mermurder, but it was decidedly not as filled with gore as I expected. Still. There was *so much* of it, and I'm 100% going to read that sequel because omg THAT TWIST. I really liked how Mira Grant twisted the mermaid myths, and based so much of it on science, and how it honestly started to seem believable that the ocean was hiding these creatures of the deep. I just would not want to meet a single one of them. *shudders*
Rating: 4 Paw Prints!


I had the sudden urge while rewatching Fantastic Beasts (for like the dozenth time) to read the screenplay. It was super interesting because screenplays are so different. I mean, it's the same kind of structure. But it just feels, to me, more complicated than simply writing a story. I don't prefer them for sure, but I liked contrasting this with the movie, especially when it came to how the characters felt or seemed in certain moments. And it makes me even more excited for the sequel!
Rating: 4 Paw Prints!


What books did YOU end up reading in March? Have you read any of these ones yet? If so, what did you think of them? :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

From the Den: February Edition

From the Den is a feature to showcase the books that I don't post reviews for on the blog, whether I liked them or not. I read so many books that never make it onto The Fox's Hideaway, so I wanted a feature where I could still tell y'all about them. :)

*****

I've been reading A LOT the past few months, partly because I'm just in the mood, and partly because I'm competing with my friend Val to see who can read the most this year. LOL. But I haven't been writing very many reviews, and I need to get back into that habit. So hopefully I can get some of those out soon, but in the meantime, here are some of the books I read back in February!

A January Release
*eARC kindly provided by Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing via NetGalley*

This was an emotional rollercoaster ride. There was so much to appreciate about it--the Jewish rep, the realistically flawed sister bond, the sex positivity (so much open dialogue and action, including but not limited to oral sex, masturbation, consent and protection discussion), the anxiety over college and deciding your future, and the not knowing who you are but trying to figure it out anyway bit. It was painful, though, watching Adina and Tovah fall flat on their faces and having to pick themselves back up, especially Adina. But the great thing about this story? It's messy, and the characters are messy, imperfect people. It doesn't shy away from how complicated feelings and life and relationships are. I didn't always love it. I wasn't always a fan of the choices they made. But it was *so good* and it made me cry. And that ending was fucking fantastic. 100% looking forward to Rachel's next book!

TW: self-harm and suicidal ideation
Rating: 4.5 Paw Prints!


Just a Few Short Reads
Timely and heartbreaking and so very, very good. For so few pages, it stands up well and hits you right where it counts. Justyce's story made me angry, made me cry, made me want to wrap him up in a big hug and tell him that he deserves better. I was so invested, and I'm so glad Dear Martin exists. And I'm such a fan of Nic's writing (really enjoyed her short in the Welcome Home anthology too), so I can't wait to read more books from her!
Rating: 4 Paw Prints!


A solid end to the overall series! I loved seeing all of my babies again, and I'm going to miss them so much. *sniffs*
Rating: 4 Paw Prints!


I'm such a fan of Seanan's prose. It reels me in: hook, line, and sinker every single time. It's so QUOTABLE. And I really, really liked this. Such a strange, magical, interesting, sad little book.
Rating: 4 Paw Prints!


So good! I really loved Sean's and Talia's story in Hold Me Down so I'm looking forward to more of these shorts!
Rating: 4 Paw Prints!


I DON'T UNDERSTAND THAT ENDING. SOMEONE EXPLAIN IT TO ME. WHAT DID I READ.

s e r i o u s l y w h a t h a p p e n e d

aaanyway, the graphic novel was really good actually. I'd never heard of it before it came in the mail, and I wasn't even sure if I'd be interested in it. But I gave it a try, and I'm GLAD (even if I'm confused by the ending) because I liked it a lot. It was unexpectedly funny at times, suuuper fucking creepy, and I loved the artwork.

Rating: 3.5 Paw Prints!
*Physical review copy kindly provided by Macmillan/First Second* 


I also listened to the audiobooks of HP #1 and Six of Crows, which I enjoyed. I'm still not 100% into audios, but I'm giving it a try for the whole year! What books did you read during the month of February? Let's talk! :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

(93) Top Ten Books I Loved But Don't See Myself Rereading

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that was started by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week's topicBooks I Loved but Will Never Reread




It's so funny, because until a few years ago, I wasn't a rereader. Excepting the almost-yearly reread of my all-time favorite series, I didn't do it because a) I didn't think I'd like it, going into a book knowing everything that happens and b) who has the time for this? But I've been MAKING time for it. Not as often as I'd like, but I try to reread at least once a month. ANYWAY. You'll notice a theme here. Most of these are contemporaries. I just don't reread contemporaries. I'm not 100% sure why, except that I think I *would* get a little bored since there's not much holding me to them. But I did truly love all of these damn good books! 


What books did *you* love that you're not planning on rereading? Would any of these make your list? Let's talk! :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Checking In Again - Finally!

I don't do a monthly recap on the blog, partly because I'm lazy and partly because there isn't usually much to say. But I was inspired by Jamie's If We Were Having Coffee feature (which was inspired by someone else!) to start doing more personal posts on here. And what better way to do that than to recap my month in LIFE instead of just books and blogging? So Checking In will be a monthly feature on here that will help you guys get to know ME better, and hopefully you'll start sharing your own stories with me. :)

*****

Y'all, it's been a long time since I've done one of these posts. Three months of 2018 have already come and gone, and I feel like I'm constantly playing catch-up. But I'm still here and trying and getting excited for Future Things (aka NOLA IN JUNE WITH MY BEST FRIENDS). So anyway, here's what's been up in my life!

Work
It's been full of ups and downs, especially in March. I was feeling good. I thought things were getting better. But it just seems to be going downhill, and I find myself more and more upset about it all. In the first week of March, I was super just d o n e with the place. Like, so done. There was a job that just absolutely destroyed me, and I'd never felt that way before. I don't even know why, because I've done shitty jobs before, but nothing ever turned me that inside out over it. Except this one. BUT I'll still be here, because it's super convenient and the schedule just really works for me so I can pursue my author dreams. It's just that this place used to be more fun, and less stressful, and I don't see a light at the end of the tunnel. It's more stress than it's worth, to be quite honest. But job searching is fucking depressing, and I still need a new car, and I've never had good luck at finding something, and the work is just so easy

And now, two of my friends there are at that point that I was, and unlike me, they'll actually leave. I don't know when, but it's a when, not an if. It's sad. I talk to *most* of the people I work with, but not nearly as much as these two. And one of them is a very close friend of mine now (I can so freely talk to her about almost anything). So it fucking sucks. I'm worried about the months ahead. And I worry what'll change when they finally quit. And I worry that my friend and I would stop talking (though I think we'd both try very hard to not make that happen. Plus her boyfriend will still be here, so I'd have a way to see her because she'd come to Buffalo Wild Wings nights if she can). The other coworker just makes this place more fun for me, and I'd hate it if we stopped talking. And if he goes, another coworker wouldn't stick around. It's just UGH right now, and I'm just trying to take it a day at a time. Hopefully I'll have better news about it in a few months. *crosses fingers*


My Birthday
March was my birthday month! So yay, a little exciting? But not really. I just don't really care about my birthday anymore, and I turned 25 this year, so I'm mostly feeling down about where I'm at in life. It wasn't where I saw myself when I was younger, and I still feel like I'm going at such a slooooow pace, and it just feels like such a big number. But I've also done a lot. idk. It's hard, man. Adulthood just sucks in general.

HOWEVER, I had a particularly fine birth(day). I didn't end up working, which was SO GREAT. (We've had so many mandatory Fridays and weekends that we all get super excited when we have those days off again. It's so sad. Haha). I stayed home and did nothing and ate my favorite pizza and breadsticks and read books to catch up and pass Val (I am currently, at the time this post was published, ahead of Val by two books. *cheers can be heard in the distance*). And I also went out the next day with mom to have lunch with my cousin and aunt. So, it was nice and relaxing!


Health Problems
But theeeeen my birthday weekend kind of got shot to hell. I ended up in so much pain that my mom and uncle took me to the ER that Sunday. I still don't know what the issue is. It lasted, but quietly got better, throughout that week (and I had to miss a few days of work because of it). But it flared up again two weekends later (on another Sunday, if you can believe it). The doctor thought it was just muscular. Maybe I overextended myself through a combination of a bad mattress and physical lifting at my job. However, I don't believe so, and the more I think about it, the more I'm certain it isn't. The week before the second episode was SO EASY at work + I got my new mattress set, and I just can't see why it would've happened again if it was just my muscles? Also, muscle relaxants were not helping me as much as regular pain relievers, so. (Nor were they helping me sleep, which I thought was rude). ANYWAY. I'm going to *my* doctor this Friday, and I'm hoping she can help me at least figure out how I can either prevent or keep the pain at a minimum if it flares up again. I'd love an actual answer, but I know that's not always possible. So yeah, I was dealing with this shit in March too. It has not exactly been fun. 


But! I Finished a Writing Thing!
It's not a book-shaped thing, though. I'd set a deadline for myself back in January that I'd finish rewriting my NaNo novel by the end of March. And, well, it's April and I just hit 15k (in what is probably going to end up a 80-90k book). 😬

Probably, just maybe because I wrote a short story instead. An actual story with a beginning and an ending that I'm absolutely in love with. It's about witches and friendship and how human it is to be a complicated ball of emotions. It's about four teens who do a Thing because of revenge and rage and pain. It's about girls who love each other so fiercely and fully that they use their powers to try to right a wrong except it goes so poorly because witchery is messy, y'all. I love it. So. Much. 

I shared it with my wonderful friends, and they all gave me such love and great comments and I'm feeling super confident about my writing. I CAN do this. I just need to, you know, finish a book first. Haha. As for this short story, I don't know if I'll do anything with it? I was honestly just going to share it on the blog or Wattpad (once I figure out how to copyright it), but my friends think I could submit it somewhere. So, idk. But I'm definitely going to share it, once I edit it some more. (March was really just me rereading and editing and rereading and editing this story. LOL). I'm proud of it, though. Super proud. And I know that this is what I want with my life, so 2018 is the year to make my dreams come true!


How has life been, guys? Do anything exciting? Read some good books? Let's talk! It's been AGES. :)

Monday, April 2, 2018

April 2018 Releases

I didn't do one of these for March because of my event, but I'M BACK AND READY TO HURT YOUR WALLETS AND BANK ACCOUNTS.

April 3rd

April 10th

April 13th

April 17th
*also Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas, which doesn't yet have a cover!

April 24th


I've already read: Sky in the Deep, which was fucking FANTASTIC. One of my favorite reads of this year, for sure. Also Circe, which I enjoyed a hella lot. I love Greek mythology.

From NetGalley: I still have to read White Rabbit and Starry Eyes, but I definitely think it'll happen because I've enjoyed/loved previous books from these authors. Plus, only two ARCs for the whole month? Fuck yeah.

My most anticipated: probably Leah on the Offbeat! I enjoyed Simon Vs. and LOVED Upside, so I'm excited to read another Becky book. I'm also very intrigued by Now a Major Motion Picture, and I can't wait to get my preorder.



Ugh, I feel like I'm missing so many releases. Let me know in the comments if I should have a book on my radar! Also what is YOUR most anticipated April book? :)