BLOG TOUR | Vampires of Portlandia by Jason Tanamor

Vampires of Portlandia by Jason Tanamor
Amazon.ca | B&N
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Publisher: Parliament House Press
Publication date: 29 September 2020
Genres: New Adult, Fantasy, Folklore

Synopsis:

When Marcella Leones relocates her family of aswang vampires from the Philippines to Portland, Oregon, she raises her grandchildren under strict rules so humans will not expose them. Her only wish is to give them a peaceful life, far away from the hunters and the Filipino government that attempted to exterminate them.

Before she dies, she passes on the power to her eldest grandchild, Percival. He vows to uphold the rules set forth by Leones, allowing his family to roam freely without notice. After all, they are aswangs.

However, when the aswang covenant is broken, the murder rate in Portland rises drastically. Who is behind the murders? And who is behind the broken covenant? Along with sensie Penelope Jane, Percival must find the truth.

It’s then they discover that there are other breeds of aswangs—werebeasts, witches, ghouls, and viscera—who have been residing in Portland for years.

Based on Filipino folklore (aswang), “Vampires of Portlandia” is a fantastical tale of different monsters coexisting in the weirdest city in America.

According to the lore, the legend involved two brothers, both gods. One brother Gugurang, was pure, and the other, Asuang, was flawed.

Growing up in the Philippines, I remember being more frightened than usual nearing November 1st and 2nd. These are the days when we mostly visit our dead relatives. I’ve always felt as if the pull of the supernatural is weirdly strong during these two days — I am also 150% scaredy-cat so, what do I know? Haha! I also remember news segments dedicated to ghosts, white ladies, and weird unworldly sightings. In addition to that, we live in belief, and maybe fear, of unnatural beings existing either in (or on) your neighbour’s tree, or that mound of dirt two streets over.

This was the main reason why when a blog tour invite for Vampires of Portlandia popped in my inbox, I quickly applied and hoped I could be a part of it.

Vampires of Portlandia is a #ownvoices story centred around the aswang lore in the Philippines. It follows Percival, and his family as they blend in in Portland, when a sudden influx of homeless and elderly deaths shakes the city. Much of what I know about aswangs in the Philippines came from scary movies that I tried so hard to avoid (remember Shake, Rattle and Roll?). Having these beings as the center of Tanamor’s story set during the holidays somewhat lessen the scare factor a little which I greatly appreciated. In addition to this, Tanamor gave the aswangs a morality to start with. They didn’t just pop out of nowhere. They are human.

One aspect of the Filipino culture which was prevalent in this story was family. Family doesn’t always mean “by blood”. Family also means doing what ever you can to protect those you love. Throughout the story, I can’t help but feel as if Percival, Roger, Geena and Marco were put in such a disadvantage. However, the more I sit on it, the more I realize I probably would’ve done the same thing Marcella, their grandmother, did.

I enjoyed reading this. I enjoyed the display of conspiracy theory woven by the government to rid the Philippines of aswangs. I enjoyed the nods to Filipino culture. Furthermore, I appreciated Tanamor preserving their morality. Just because they’re aswangs doesn’t mean they’re evil.

Thank you to Caffeine Book Tours, Jason Tanamor, and Parliament House Press for letting me be a part of this blog tour and for providing me with a digital ARC for review.

If you would like to check out the rest of the #AswangInPortlandTour tour stops, you can do so by viewing the schedule here.

About the Author:

Jason Tanamor is the critically acclaimed author of the novels “Anonymous” and “Drama Dolls.” His new novel “Vampires of Portlandia” is a NA urban fantasy about Filipino folklore – aswang. His writings have appeared in more than 250 publications. He’s interviewed personalities such as Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins), Pete Rose, and Dane Cook, and has covered U.S. President Barack Obama. Tanamor currently lives and works in the Portland, Oregon area.

You can find him in his website, Facebook page, Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Blog Tour | Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez
Amazon.ca | Indigo.ca
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One day, when a girl was born in Rosario, the earth would shake with anticipation for her future and not dread.

It’s release day!!!

Set in Argentina, Furia follows Camila, a girl who has big dreams of becoming a professional soccer player. With a budding-soccer-star for a brother, it’s easy to say that Camila’s talent runs in the family. However, her family’s expectations of her lead her to hide her love and talent for the sport.

I found the pacing in the beginning a bit difficult to get into. However, once I got used to it, it flowed beautifully. Méndez wrote this so beautifully I felt as if I was right there watching Camila play. It felt as if I was right there with my own Diego, enjoying Argentina. I felt myself rooting for her: I wanted her dreams to come true.

While reading Furia, I found there were a few storylines going on at the same time:

  • Camila and soccer. The main focus of the book is Camila’s love for soccer. It also showed the various ways she tries to work around her family just so she can keep playing. Her ambition, determination, passion, and drive to go as far as her talent would take her was inspiring to read.
  • Her abusive father. One thing I realized since becoming a parent myself: I will sacrifice and do what is needed for my kids and family. Camila’s father was no exception. He gave up what could’ve been a such a successful career upon learning that he’s going to be a father. What I didn’t expect was the resentment. I didn’t see it at first, but the verbal abuse they get from him were scattered and would be about a range of things it’s so easy to let it go. They weren’t so hard to ignore once I recognized these little comments for what they are.
  • Society vs. girls / women. Firstly, girls disappearing was something that simply exists in this novel. No one knows who’s doing these horrible things. Also, they’re quick to blame the victim for what happened to them. The worst part, it felt as if none of the authorities were doing anything to resolve them. Secondly, given her gender, Camila’s family thinks she shouldn’t be playing soccer at all. Furthermore, social conventions prohibits girls from playing the game.

Furia is a feminist, coming-of-age story centred on a girl whose dreams of becoming a professional soccer player faces familial and societal hurdles. Given this book’s target demographic are 14 – 18 year-olds, Méndez wrote a character who they can easily relate to. A character who didn’t let anything and anyone get in the way of her dreams. A character who believed in her ability and talent. Most importantly, a character who knows the value of hard work, and understands that she can can become successful in her own right.

I had the great pleasure of reading Furia, and I would like to thank Algonquin & Algonquin Young Readers for sending me an advanced reader’s copy for review.

About the author:

Yamile (sha-MEE-lay) Saied Méndez is a fútbol-obsessed Argentine
American who loves meteor showers, summer, astrology, and pizza. She
lives in Utah with her Puerto Rican husband and their five kids, two adorable
dogs, and one majestic cat. An inaugural Walter Dean Myers Grant
recipient, she’s a graduate of Voices of Our Nations (VONA) and the MFA
program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of
Fine Arts. Méndez is also part of Las Musas, the first collective of women
and nonbinary Latinx middle grade and young adult authors. Furia is her first
novel for young adult readers.

You can find her on Instagram and Twitter.

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WIKATHON: August 2020 TBR

I’ve first heard of Wikathon through Kath’s Instagram. I pretty much swore to myself I will join in, and for once I WILL FINISH IT. I’ve joined readathons before, but I have never finished one. I even joined two reading challenges for 2020 and , well, I’m probably not going to complete that either. But this one, this one I’m going to commit to.

What is wikathon? Wikathon is a month long readathon dedicated to Filipino authors. If you don’t know, I am Filipino: born and raised (although I am currently residing outside the country). I remember my elementary school doing a weeklong celebration every school year on August where the Filipino language and culture are the main focus. There would be assemblies, contests, games, the school would be decorated — all these for the whole week. So when I found this readathon, I decided to join in. And I intend to finish the books I’ve chosen.

Wikathon reading prompts
Wikathon TBR Prompts

Now with less than a week before the readathon starts, I present to you my TBR. I found these recommendations over Instagram and the Wikathon discord server.

Wikathon TBR
The books I plan to read in August.
  • Patron Saints Of Nothing (This book worked for half of the prompts which I was incredibly happy with because there is no way I’ll be able to read 8 novels in a month.)
  • Stay A Little Longer
  • My Fate According to the Butterfly
  • Lalani of the Distant Sea

I do plan on recording / documenting the month as I finish these books. I just need to figure out the medium I’m going to use. Other than that, I’m all set for August except for one prompt: Sariling Wika. But hey, I initially planned on simply reading a work by a Filipino author, so the fact that I only have one empty prompt left is already a win for me.

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WWW Wednesday No. 1

WWW Wednesday is hosted by TAKING ON A WORLD OF WORDS where in we share our answers to these three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

Book Spines: Hungry Hearts, Winter, The Goldfinch
Books I’m currently reading (T-B): Hungry Hearts, Winter by Marissa Meyer, and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I’m currently reading three books coming in to July:

  • Hungry Hearts – which I’m enjoying so far. It’s a collection of stories centred on food on Hungry Hearts Row.
  • Winter – Ah, the conclusion to The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I’m a little upset I haven’t finished the series already.
  • The Goldfinch – I have heard great and bad things mostly about writing preferences. So far it’s going ok.

Recently Finished

Audiobook of Under The Table by Stephanie Evanovich on top of an apron
Under The Table by Stephanie Evanovich

Under The Table by Stephanie Evanovich was our June pick in our online book club. I didn’t particularly enjoy this book because it had certain characteristics I found to be inconsistent and unbelievable.

Reading Next

Ebook Cover: Me And White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
Me And White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad

I’m kind of glad our online book club simply announced we were reading Layla F. Saad’s Me And White Supremacy. The Black Lives Matter Movement is thriving during these times and I think it’s important, especially for future generations, that we educate ourselves. We can’t truly be an ally unless we have the foundation to help us stand firm for what we believe.

Let me just say I’m very excited to start this today, and for the coming discussion.

Have you read any of these books? Let me know your thoughts about them, or if they’re on your TBR list on the comments section.

See you next time, and have a great day!

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Blog Tour: The Unready Queen by William Ritter

The Unready Queen by William Ritter
The Unready Queen by William Ritter
Amazon | Indigo.ca
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Goodreads:

Human and goblin brothers Cole and Tinn are finding their way back to normal after their journey to the heart of the Oddmire. Normal, unfortunately, wants nothing to do with them. Fable, the daughter of the Queen of the Deep Dark, has her first true friends in the brothers. The Queen allows Fable to visit Tinn and Cole as long as she promises to stay quiet and out of sight—concealing herself and her magic from the townspeople of Endsborough.

But when the trio discovers that humans are destroying the Wild Wood and the lives of its creatures for their own dark purposes, Fable cannot stay quiet. As the unspoken truce between the people of Endsborough and the inhabitants of the Wild Wood crumbles, violence escalates, threatening war and bringing Fable’s mother closer to the fulfillment of a deadly prophecy that could leave Fable a most Unready Queen.

In Book 2 of The Oddmire Series, we follow Fable as she learns how to control her powers while somewhat running on teen angst.

If you’ve read The Changeling, The Unready Queen picks up right where this left off. The Burtons are once again adjusting now that they know Tinn is a goblin. This makes certain aspects of their lives a challenge. Annie starts a new job, and Tinn has been spending time with his goblin family to learn his background and learn how to control his magic. Fable, on the other hand, is such a wild spirit. She’s so glad she has friends from town to hang out with. I especially love how she calls everything outside of the Wild Wood: people-this, people-that. It’s a different take on what we humans have, which also constantly reminds us that Fable is different from the rest of us.

This story also minimally touches on Tinn and Fable’s attitude regarding their magical abilities. Due to being raised by humans, Tinn longs for time spent in the goblin horde. It allows him to learn more about his powers, hone his abilities, and learn more about his goblin heritage. Despite being born with incredible magic, it doesn’t come naturally to him. He had to work with it, understand how to make it work with him, and constantly practice. He takes in all of his lessons with the understanding that he needed this; he needed to learn how to control it. This determination is clear when he pleaded he needs all the help he can get when his hand turned the color of the ink he accidentally got on his finger and he couldn’t transform it back to normal. Fable’s magic, however, comes naturally to her to a point where the Queen deemed magic lessons necessary and mandatory – something Fable isn’t a fan of.

I found this story to heavily lean on Fable being “The Unready Queen” because she’s about 13 or 14 years old, with basic magic knowledge. Imagine if something happened to her mother. It’s a situation no kid should be thrown into. At the same time, the term could’ve easily defined the Queen of the Deep Dark. The prophecy showed Fable, blood, and a gunshot / bullet. Imagine if something happened to Fable. It’s a situation no mother, no parent, should be thrown into. Until that prophecy is fulfilled, they’re both unready queens.

The Unready Queen is a story of friendship, family, and bravery. It’s understanding why things needed to get done a certain way. If The Changeling is Tinn and Cole’s story, Fable’s is The Unready Queen.

About the Author:

WILLIAM RITTER is an Oregon educator and author of the New York Times bestselling Jackaby series. He is the proud father of the two bravest boys in the Wild Wood, and husband to the indomitable Queen of the Deep Dark.
William Ritter
Blog | Twitter | Goodreads

WILLIAM RITTER is an Oregon educator and author of the New York Times bestselling Jackaby series. He is the proud father of the two bravest boys in the Wild Wood, and husband to the indomitable Queen of the Deep Dark.

Thank you to Algonquin Books & Algonquin Young Readers, and Netgalley for providing a copy of The Unready Queen for review.

Grab a copy: Amazon | Indigo.ca

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Three Things I Learned In Fixing My Goodreads Bookshelves

Let’s be friends on Goodreads

A few weeks ago, as I was scrolling through my Goodreads profile, I noticed how dull my bookshelves were. All I could see were a number of “read-in-insert year here” in addition to the default shelves. So I decided to fix it. I deleted my yearly shelves and changed them to something more specific. Listed below are the three things I learned in doing so.

Goodreads do count the number of books and pages you read per year.

I found this out as I was randomly clicking links around my profile. As much as I wanted to get rid of my yearly shelves, a little part of me was a little hesitant especially since I made a point of reading a certain number of books per year. However, Goodreads do keep track of them in three different ways: through your Year In Review which they release close to the end of the year; through your reading challenge (if you ever so decide to participate); and through that little “Stat” link at the bottom right of your shelves section.

I’m not doing as bad as I thought.

About 2 years ago, around the same time I started getting into bookish podcasts, I made it a point to read outside my comfort zone. My comfort zone is Young Adult and it’s a genre I will constantly go back to. I didn’t include this on my shelves to force me to look into other aspects of my reading that I wanted to better keep track of. I’m still fixing my shelves to reflect if I’ve read works by women, BIPOC authors, and to reflect representation.

Fixing my shelves made me realize which books I want to read more of.

Having my shelves keep track of specific things made me realize what I need to read more of. I’ve always wanted to be well read person and I can’t do that if I don’t proactively seek out books which will better my well being and reading habits.

Deleting my yearly goodreads bookshelves have been a great idea. Knowing what I’m lacking in my reading will help me be a better reader and a better person. It will also allow me to be more conscious in choosing what to read next.

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The Very Last Leaf by Stef Wade

The Very Last Leaf by Stef Wade is an adorable book. We watch Lance Cottonwood pass his classes with flying colours: from wind resistance, photosynthesis to pigment changing. He’s easily the best in his class. However, during his final exams we find out there is one thing he worries about.

This is such a great book not just for little kids, but also for adults. It teaches us a few things:

  • We can only be ourselves. We not need to compare us to others as we all have our own unique traits that make us who we are.
  • We are all capable of different things.
  • We all are afraid or worried of something.
  • Hardwork pays off.

I think I read this book in just the right time. We’re all in quarantine: we’re advised to social distance; to not make any store trips unless absolutely necessary. And I think the one that this story touches the most: our kids are currently home from school. Lance’s teacher knew he could do it. His teacher understood the reason for his hesitation to complete his final exam and assures him that he’s worked hard for what he’s about to accomplish without forcing him to jump.

So this is for the students and the teachers out there. You guys rock!

Publication Date: Sept. 1, 2020.

Thank you Capstone for an advance copy. (via Netgalley)

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SPL March Book: The Nickel Boys

The capacity to suffer. Elwood — and all the Nickel boys — existed in the capacity. Breathed in it, ate in it, dreamed in it. That was their lives now. Otherwise they would have perished. The beatings, the rapes, the unrelenting winnowing of themselves. They endured. But to love those who would have destroyed them? To make that leap? . . . Elwood shook his head. What a thing to ask. What an impossible thing.

Whitehead, Colson. The Nickel Boys. p 172

When I found out our book club’s March pick was The Nickel Boys, I got excited. After all, I have heard great things about The Underground Railroad. The Nickel Boys follows Elwood and the other kids admitted to Nickel, a school based on the reform school which operated for 111 years. It also paints a picture of what the school is for and how it operates.

So a few things I enjoyed / liked about this book:

  • I love how the story opens up with a group of students finding out about a graveyard and an unmarked grave site, both by the school, and what it meant in relation to the students who attended Nickel. It upset me in a way because for some reason, I knew that those bodies belonged to the students. It made me wonder just what kind of school Nickel was, and what the students endured during their time there. Yes it was a bit grim, but that was a great opening for this book.
  • I liked that it was divided into 3 different parts: pre-Nickel Elwood (although how he got admitted was just wrong); Nickel Elwood; and post-Nickel Elwood.
  • And that TWIST closer to the end!

If there was anything I wished there was more of, I would’ve loved to see more brutality. It would’ve made me incredibly uncomfortable, but I felt like it was lacking a bit in that department. We hear stories, and in some cases we’re put in the environment of the punishment but we’re not supposed to talk about it. There are times when reading this book, I tell myself, “What happened??? I want to know!”

It was also would’ve been great if we were able to follow other kids as faithfully as we did Elwood. With him, we were able to experience his beating and how that affected his attitude towards Spencer, Nickel, and the other boys. With the others, we deal with the aftermath without fully knowing how we got there in the first place.

Have you read The Nickel Boys? What are your thoughts about it?

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The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge

This post originally appeared on yvanagno.com (no longer exists)

I have decided to finally take on The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge.

I spent a good amount of my teenage years watching Gilmore Girls. I’m not sure what drew me into this show. It might have been their fast conversations, Lorelai and Rory’s relationship, the small town and the weirdness of it and it’s population. One thing is for sure though, I adored the fact that Rory reads. and I mean READ. She may not always be seen with a book in hand but the show made it clear how big of a reader she was.

And because I’m a big fan of the show, I’m here trying to see if I can read through the books mentioned / referenced / appeared on the show. It’s a hefty list but I also enjoy reading. Plus in this challenge I will make it easier for myself to keep me going:

  1. There will be no time limit. I can do this challenge in my lifetime; and
  2. If the story doesn’t catch my interest enough, there is no pressure in finishing it. Why? Because one person’s favourite will not always be another’s.

So there it is. Below is a list I found which has been referenced in the show. I will be marking those I have read as I finish them, and those which I have already read before I even started this challenge.

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Library Reads: April 2019

Library Reads is a monthly wrap-up of what my toddler pulls out of the library shelves to read before bed. Sometimes we get to read them all, sometimes we don’t.

***

What we read this month:

  • Hi, Harry! (Martin Waddell) – Meet Harry the tortoise who is looking for someone to play slow games, like Slow Races, with him; and who understands how great it is being slow.
  • Do You Want To Be My Friend? (Eric Carle) – We follow a little mouse in search of the best friend or companion for him.
  • A Isn’t For Fox: An Isn’t Alphabet (Wendy Ulmer) – This is a different take on the alphabet picture books. It’s silly, funny, and the illustrations are quite good.
  • Walrus In The Baththub (Deborah Underwood) – This is this month’s favourite. For the three weeks we have this, we probably read it 95% of the time. Walrus In The Bathtub is about a family who moves in to their new house and finds out there is a walrus in their bathtub. He sings walrus songs, orders clams, and pretty much floods the bathroom. There is happy ending to this, I promise. 😀

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