LGBTQIA+, YA

Girl Mans Up by M.E Girard

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I feel like this is an important book. I don’t think I was ready for how heavy the book would be. There is sexual assault (non-consensual kissing) and mention of sexual harassment that happened earlier in Pen’s life. There is Colby and all of his mess that happened in the story. The turmoil Pen goes through because of her family was so stressful to follow at times.

Johnny isn’t perfect but he does the right thing when he can. He’s a good brother. He’s really the only one in the family who constantly supports Pen being who they are. I appreciated his character. He was a hard worker who didn’t take anyone’s mess.

Blake is amazing.  I thought of Blake is pretty cool. Love how much of a gamer she is. I could ship Blake and Pen for sure. She supports Blake. She genuinely supports Blake. Then she surprised me by doing the right thing even when it would make Pen a little upset. She did something that would keep her safe.

She also supports Olivia without even knowing exactly what happened to Olivia. I love girls supporting other girls in stories. There are just great female friendships presented here. It made me so happy to see.

Blake’s parents are also pretty amazing. There is one particular scene where I loved seeing the way they interacted with her and the way they interacted with Pen. It was a great contrast to Pen’s family.

The story talked a lot about other’s expectations when it came to gender expression. Pen’s parents worry because of what other people will think constantly. Pen worries at the time. At the end, I feel like Pen is able to start focusing on who she is and not on who other people want her to be or thinks she should be. It made me think about those expectations as well.

 

 

 

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diverse books, YA

One of Us is Lying Book Thoughts

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I read the concept and immediately thought Breakfast club but with murder. It’s the murder club. I was so excited. It’s on my most anticipated reads list for the year. The Breakfast Club is my favorite movie that contains no queer characters. My top 10 films consisted of all LGBT films and The Breakfast Club. it’s been like that since I first saw the film. I also have really enjoyed YA mysteries and thrillers recently So I was so very excited for this book and I gotta say I wasn’t disappointed.

Sure there were cliches. I kind of expected that with the Jock, criminal, brain, and princess walk into detention thing.The bookish tropes were more of a giveaway of things. On the back, it says Everyone has a secret right? These characters have many. There were also so many layers to these characters.  Yeah, I could guess some of them. Likely before I should have been able to but I still enjoyed it a lot.

The mystery was good. Simon’s killer didn’t elude me forever. The killer was one of my theories. I just had a lot of theories, though. I suspected all of the main four at some point. Even though I love our murder club they are sketchy. I suspected the teacher. I suspected side characters we meet for only small amounts of time. I had a lot of suspects with this one. One of them was right but I gotta say the result was still surprising. This book went in ways I didn’t expect. The way their peers and the media reacted to them was surprising at times. The information is laid out in a nice way. I felt like the pacing was great.

Cooper’s big secret was the only one that was a bit of a letdown. Only because I guessed it about 20 pages into the book. The big secret of his doesn’t get revealed until the very end of the second part. He has some secrets before that but it’s his big one. I genuinely think it was supposed to be a big twist/turn and it was kind of like yeah I’ve known this for over 200 pages. What’s next? I will say that I think me guessing that had more to do with my particularly reading taste. It’s a trope I’ve seen a lot of so I saw the signs even when they were really small and so much else was going on. I do like Cooper. I see the pressure his father put on him with athletics. The only reason I’m not talking about the secret is that I really am not sure that others were able to guess as early as me or if I was supposed to be able to. It was a nice touch really so I can’t even fault the story on that.

Nate’s story was also a bit more cliche than I thought the girls were but It’s fine. Nate’s cool. He has a pet lizard named Stan, which is awesome. So I can ignore cliche book tropes.  I kind of felt like we didn’t get as much time with Nate as we did the others. I feel like, for the most part, we know what the others were thinking or wanted us to think. I also gave him an accent in my head and I have no clue where that came from. I realized it halfway through the book and I just rolled with it.

I don’t usually talk in depth about covers for YA books but I might need to. The cover was one of the things that made this book stand out when I was looking at new releases for the year. I like the paper cutouts. The red writing on front and back. Everyone has a secret right? It all looks goo until I get into the story and have to questions the people used. Bronwyn is half Columbian and the girl representing her on the cover is not how she is described at all. They made a point to contrast Bronwyn and her sister Maeve. It just felt like an odd choice. I also started reading g up more about whitewashing in covers. It’s something I’ve noticed before in M/M romance but never saw how prominent it was elsewhere. It just bothered me a bit. I’ll add that don’t think the other characters are good choices either from their descriptions in the book.

Seeing Bronwyn shift as she gets more wrapped up in this case, was great. I really liked her character from the get-go. The way that her race played into things made sense. I think the reactions from other people, the way the media treats her family as the case gets more buzz, and the way her father is all made a lot of sense. I also like that Maeve and Bronwyn were supposed to speak Spanish when they were at home. We get a bit of that. I would not have minded seeing that a little more.

Addy arguably changes the most. I feel like she is able to become who she should have been all along over the course of this book. At first, she was my least favorite of the murder club but I gotta say my opinion about her really changed as we went through the book. I was actually rooting for her to not be the killer after the second part. At page 100 I wouldn’t have totally been okay with her being the killer. Like I didn’t care but the turn around was fast. I was in her corner after a while.

I really thought this was fantastic. It’s honestly a book I’d read again even knowing who the killer is. I read this from the library but it’s definitely going on my books to buy list. Hope I can get myself a copy of it somewhere down the line. Check out the playlist I put together with songs that reminded me of the book or I listened to while reading.

Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/123126892/playlist/6DiAeGF9fAeiCOPoVaNVGJ

 

LGBTQIA+, YA

Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan

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I’m in love with this book. It’s definitely my favorite read of the month right now. We follow three characters on the day of the terrorist attack on the two towers in New York. These are three teenagers that live in New York and all experience this event in different ways. I always think Levithan does an amazing job with alternating chapters. These three characters seem like they have no connection at first but all know each other in some way. Gave me Realm of Possibility feels. I liked it. It was able to take you through their experiences on the day of the event then go on to inspire the reader and lift them up.

Claire is a great character. From the first chapter in her perspective, I knew her experience with everything would be different. Claire’s personal journey is really well written. You know that her experiences on 9/11 are going to change her but I didn’t expect the extent that it does. She has some of the more intense passages in this book for me as she’s trying to figure out what to do. How do you move on as a city after something like this? As a country?

There is a moment in the opening of the book where I realize how strong Claire can be. She really holds it together for her younger brother and the kids in his classroom. When she lets herself feel and these intense moments come later and when she lets herself say what all she is feeling to one of the other characters it’s really wonderful. Claire puts in whatever effort she can to make things better in the world. I honestly love this character so much. Claire finds a connection to other people. She seeks out others who are affected in the way that she is.

Two of the three main characters in this book are gay. I didn’t know that going in but it’s a David Levithan book so I should have expected a little gay. Was very happy to have it.  Peter and Jasper are both great characters. They both change a lot because of the events of 9/11 like Claire do. Even if they are in completely different ways.

Peter is so hopeful and innocent in the beginning to me.I really get that impression.He’s the type of character I root for in books. He’s a gay guy who was just super excited about going on a date with a guy he met at a party. He was just hoping for a great experience with someone he’d awkwardly flirted with at a party. Then he runs down the street from his favorite store and sees the first tower of the World Trade Building collapse. His immediate disconnect from what is his norm there was poignant. He isn’t able to play his music when he walks toward school. I loved that part of Peter’s process. His grieving or finding a way to move on process involved music. Music can really help people get through things. I find that so relatable. Music is a big part of my life. His experience at a concert a few days after 9/11 was so nicely written. The camaraderie of the people who still showed up to this show was beautiful.

Jasper wakes up on the day of 9/11 to a phone call from his parents who are visiting his grandmother in Korea. I feel like Jasper is in some ways the most lost of the three characters. I feel like Jasper isn’t sure of his place in things before 9/11 happens. He seems like he’s waded through life. He hasn’t lived much or decided who he is or wants to be. I feel like thinking about all the lives lost really impacts him. Jasper even feels separate from what other people around him are feeling because his experience on 9/11 was very different from most of the people that he knows. It’s definitely different from Peter and Claire. Even though he lives in New York he experiences a lot of the after effect.he doesn’t see the planes hit. He’s not on the streets trying to get away from the wreckage or worrying about where his family is. He’s safe. His parents are away. He doesn’t know what to do or how to feel. As the story goes on I really started to like Jasper and the changes I saw in him.

I can’t even explain what I felt about Jasper and Peter fully. I shipped it so hard but also so hesitantly. Having a first date the day after 9/11 is not the best sign. I still wanted it to work so bad. I love both of the characters. I said before that I could see all these characters were somewhat lost after what happened. Jasper and Peter needed different things in order to find themselves again.Things they needed to find separately. Still, they are able to help each other in small ways. They are so different at the end of the book than they are at the beginning and I love them.

Claire bridges the gap between the three main characters of this book. I feel like she brings the group together. They all know each other in passing small ways. I feel like Claire ultimately is the force that brings three people who need each other together. They find something special. All three of these characters gain something from each other. Something they need to help them along on their journey. Claire really is able to glue them together over time. She keeps that connection to both of them because it’s something she needs. These are two people who have helped her by just listening and understanding. All three characters are different people by the end of the book.

This book left me in a light mood. It was so hopeful. It made you have faith in people. It’s truly excellent. Really happy I finally got around to reading it. I was hesitant because of the topic and I had taken out from the library once in the past without ever picking it up. I’m so glad that I did not do that this time. I definitely recommend you give this book a chance.

 

YA

Diverse Characters in Hammer of Thor

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Have I talked about how much I love all the diverse elements Rick Riordan has brought into his books? It’s honestly so nice to see as a person who grew up with the Percy Jackson series. To see the world become more and more real if that makes sense to say in a fictional world where Gods and demigods exist. Heroes of Olympus had such a diverse set of heroes and I might say that made me love it even more than Percy Jackson. Now Magnus Chase is on it’s way to being that way as well.

In this book we have Magnus and friends in search of Thor’s hammer. They have to obtain the hammer before Loki enacts some crazy plan of his. Loki is up to Loki things as always. He’s always got a reason for the things he does. Probably not something that will work out well for the good guys. I mainly want to talk about some of the awesome characters in  this book for this review.

Samirah is such an interesting character to me. She is a Muslim girl who is devoted to her faith. She’s also a  Valykyrie. I like that we got more conversation on how this all adds up for her. How she is able to reconcile the two very different beliefs. Samirah is a really great character. You really see the toll that being a child of Loki has put on her in this book through her relationship with her sibling Alex. Plus because of everything Loki puts the both of them up against over the course of this book. Loki gets no points in the parent department even if he’s not complete trash all the time. I feel like Alex and Samirah need to meet Nico and Hazel. I feel like they’d be able to compare experiences a little. The stigma with being a child of Loki vs. being a child of Hades. I’d like to see it.

I love Hearthstone and Blitz’s friendship. In the first book you definitely see it but here you see how much they really mean to each other. Blitz is Hearthstone’s family. Hearthstone’s real family didn’t treat him well. Partially because of his inability to hear. Anything different was a problem for them. Hearthstone’s father is really frustrating to read when we finally meet him in this book. It definitely made me want to see more about Hearthstone’s background but also made me excited to see Hearthstone get more powerful going forward. His reverence for the Gods is also really nice to see in this story. I’m ready for more magic use. I didn’t know about the Norse God Vidar. often known as the Silent God. Having Vidar draw a connection to Hearthstone because of it was interesting.  Vidar even signs to Hearthstone in a type of sign language only Hearthstone understood. Possible Alf Sign language.  It was a really cool moment to me.

I was really excited when Alex was introduced. It’s so refreshing seeing a genderfluid character in a series that spins off from a series I grew up watching.  Also, I have to wonder if Alex is Magnus’ love interest. When you read the first Percy Jackson book you already have a feeling who might be endgame.  You don’t get that with Magnus Chase book 1. The Sword of Summer. There is definitely a connection between Magnus and Alex in this book that is making me think it could happen.

Magnus reaction to meeting Alex was so well done. Magnus spent most of his life homeless. Living on the streets. He’s met many queer homeless youth in that time. He knows people who are non-binary. He’s been in shelters with people that are Trans and genderfluid before. So he really doesn’t have a big reaction to it at all like a large portion of Valhalla seems to. If Magnus is falling for Alex I’m wondering if Alex is possibly pansexual too. Magnus never has shown attraction to anyone in the series yet so he is an open book in a book that explores many different identities. Maybe Magnus just likes Alex. We’ll have to see. Either way having the protagonist of the series in a queer relationship would be really awesome.

The characters keep me coming back to this series. They are all so great. I love the direction the plot is going. Ragnarok could be coming if our heroes don’t prevent it. Maybe Loki is actually up to something else entirely. I really don’t know. I’m just excited to see more of these characters going forward. Especially some of the new characters we are seeing. The Gods we met were interesting as well. The Norse Gods are something else. I really like the ones that are being incorporated into the story so far. I think I’ll talk more about the book and some other elements in a Youtube video soon. Until then tell me what you thought of the book if you’ve read it and if you haven’t I definitely suggest you try out this series.

Book Reviews, diverse books, YA

The Hate U Give Book Thoughts

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Angie Thomas delivers a fresh and extremely real story here. I feel like this is a book that so many people could benefit from reading. It could be timeless. Many important discussions can be had from the book. This book ties into current events and I feel like it’s a book many people can really get something from. This book really makes you feel things.

I also have to say that Thomas does an amazing job at taking us on this journey. Such a variety in scenes all handled really well. It’s pretty straight forward. Here’s what’s happening. Here is what Starr is feeling. It works. Starr witnesses a friend who is unarmed get gunned down by police. It’s intense topic. There are scenes and moments where you feel so frustrated for Starr and what she is going through throughout.

Thomas finds moments to fit in humor that works really well. I can go from being frustrated by Starr and her situation. Feeling frustration for her family. Anger over the reactions of some people. Then have these moments where things are lighter. I can laugh along with Starr. Part of that was how relatable Star situation was. How similar Starr’s family and friends were to people in my life.

Starr is s relatable to me throughout this book in many ways.  Hiding parts of yourself depending on the group you are hanging out with. The vulnerability Starr feels in certain situations that weren’t that different from some things in my past. Her connection and love for her family. Her relationship with her boyfriend Chris. The emotions she expresses as she deals with loss. Sometimes I felt like I related to so much to what was happening.

I’ve talked about crappy YA families this year on too many occasions. The family Dynamics in The Hate U Give are amazing. I could not believe how much time we were getting to see the way this family worked. An unconventional family maybe but it’s a family that was relatable to me so many times throughout this book. You have a group of people who are not perfect but they take care of each other and love each other. You can feel the love coming off the page. There is nothing Starr’s parents would not do to protect their kids. You don’t even have to be a blood relative to them for them to treat you like family either. I loved that.

The sense of community at times in this story was amazing. Moments where you saw people really coming together like a family.Even with their differences.  Even when they’ve been fighting for so long. There are these moments that were beautiful to see.

I loved Staar and Chris’ relationship.I felt like there was such a nice arc for it in this. I saw the way they struggled and related to some of the things they struggled with. I’m in an interracial relationship and even if my experiences were not exactly the same as Starr’.Some definitely were. I have family who talked down about black people who decide to date someone that is white growing up. Off hand comments from family growing up caused me to be a lot more cautious than was good for me with revealing many things about myself. While seeing the way Starr took that in and made decisions based on it all I could do was nod along because I’ve been there.

This story is one of the most real stories I’ve read in a while.I love that this book had a   13 publishing house auction, I love that people knew this was a book that needed to get out there. I hope this book continues to get so much love. If you haven’t picked up this book I definitely think you should. I highly recommend it.

LGBTQIA+, YA

Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg

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If you haven’t read Openly Straight there could be some spoilers ahead. Fair warning. I need to refer to the end right now to explain why I didn’t want a sequel to Openly Straight. I thought the ending was perfect because it was realistic. Rafe has his reasons for doing everything he does but that does not make it right at all. Rafe puts Ben through too much. I didn’t want Ben to run back to him.Ben’s reaction at the end of Openly Straight is so warranted in my opinion and I loved that we didn’t get that happily ever after. I had a strong feeling that would turn around in this book because it happens in things like this.

Ben’s narration is better than Rafe’s. That feels blasphemous to say but I don’t even remember why I liked Rafe’s so much. I think with Openly Straight I enjoyed the story and the discussion it brought up but had some issues with Rafe. He’s really privileged in being able to just switch schools so easily when he wants to change how people sees him. He has to money to just go to this pretty expensive private school and pretend to be someone different than he is.

Ben deals with so much pressure. You could see that a bit in openly Straight but don’t really understand it until you read more on Ben. He has a family that is overbearing. A father that puts really toxic ideas in his head and a mother who lets it happen for years. They are in the running for the worse YA parents on the year award in my superlatives later this year. Don’t think they will win but top three right now.

Be Happy just not too happy. Don’t get a big head or you aren’t allowed to show that you are happy about things you’ve accomplished.Carver’s can’t afford this. Carver’s aren’t vulnerable.Carver’s don’t talk about their feelings. Carver’s don’t need extra help.  Everything in Ben’s life is framed by what his father has told him. Ben is so reserved and pretty bad at sticking up for himself at times and I quickly saw it’s because he believes and follows the things his father has told him completely. Ben has several bad habits he picks up because of his father that are a result of all of this.

Everything in Ben’s life is framed by what his father has told him. Ben is so reserved and pretty bad at sticking up for himself at times and I quickly saw it’s because he believes and follows the things his father has told him completely. Ben has several bad habits he picks up because of his father that are a result of all of this.

Through all this Ben is able to deliver a narrative with some great humor and some other beautiful moments. He’s a really great character. Seeing his emotional journey was compelling. Seeing his personal arc was compelling.

One thing that I’m glad was really highlighted in this book was privilege. I feel like it is talked about a bit in the first book. Ben’s roommate leaves the school for reasons that were somewhat related to being the only black kid at this private all boys school and I remember liking the conversations that happen around it. Ben finally calling Rafe out for some of the things that he says made me very happy.

I didn’t think the book was biphobic but can see how it could be harmful to people because it does contain biphobic comments from several characters.  Ben doesn’t deny the existence of bi people. I’m fairly certain his uncle was bisexual and that is pointed out a few times. Ben just doesn’t see himself as bi or gay. The conversations on labels are being continued from the first book in an interesting way. At the end of the day, Ben should be allowed to label or not label himself whatever he wants and people should respect that.

Rafe and his family do say things that are biphobic. Plus other people in the book as well.Biphobia happens. People experience it. I think every time Ben’s reaction is showing that it is wrong even if the people around him keep doing it. I felt like this worked back into the conversation with Rafe’s privilege really well. It was frustrating in a similar way.  If this book did hurt you I’m really sorry that it did and I’m not trying to diminish that at all.

It was revealed that Toby is genderfluid. I was so excited by this. They really were on of my favorite characters in the first book. I raved about Toby and how I’d want Toby to be my friend in a book tag I filmed recently. Not many side characters stand out to me like Toby has. This made so much sense to me from the Toby I saw in the first book.

Konigsberg also reveals that Toby’s friend Alby is Asexual. Toby states that he is. I’d like more confirmation. There are not enough Ace characters at all. As someone on the Ace spectrum, it was still nice to see. I would love a Toby or Alby centered book honestly. I think I would have been more excited for a Toby centered sequel. Toby had other interesting things going on in the first book that were not touched on here. We just don’t get a chance to see Toby enough because he doesn’t have the biggest connection to Ben.

Speaking of connections to Ben. I do see Ben and Rafe’s connection but am still skeptical about how well the two could work long term. I liked the ending of the first book because it wasn’t that magical fix like I said. I know people shipped it and wrote fanfics of the two getting back together but I never thought it should happen and even as I liked seeing them become friends and close again I still struggle to feel that they are a pairing that could work for long.

 

Book Reviews, diverse books, Retellings, YA

As I Descended by Robin Talley

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I want to start off this review by saying that Macbeth is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. I don’t know how many times I’ve reread it or watched productions of it now. It’s too many to count. I think that me being so familiar with Macbeth was good and bad with reading this retelling. I was prepared for the ends of certain characters and that ended up being a good thing for me at times. I went into it hoping to love the characters and the story as much as I do with the play.

I also knew that it would be a play that would be difficult to make modern with the supernatural elements. In the early part of Macbeth, he gets a prophecy from three witches. You quickly see that spirits are going to be involved with this retelling. Spirits that have talked to Maria (Macbeth) since she was a child. I will say never mess with ouija boards. I’ve said it in past post and I’ll say it again. Don’t do it. I’d rather we had dealt with witches over spirits tbh. This school being haunted for whatever reason didn’t work for me. The spirits needed to keep pushing things in this text which is a change that didn’t help. The witches are really only at the beginning of Macbeth even if their prophecy impacts the entirety of it.

I also have to say that in the latter half of the book there is a major disconnect with the main characters of Lily and Maria. The spirit element almost gets too far to really feel what is happening to the characters. I still feel connected to Macbeth and Lady Macbeth through all the insanity that happens with them in Macbeth. So it was disappointing to not be able to get that same feel in this retelling. That disconnect is truly unfortunate because it definitely took away from the story for me.

Our Macbeth is a gay girl named Maria who ask for the spirits help to get a scholarship that is going to be rewarded to Delilah. That aspect actually worked for me. Somehow becoming the most popular person in school and gaining a major scholarship works as a motive to off your competition Macbeth style. I don’t know why but it did.

Robin Talley made me care for Brandon as a character enough for what happens to him to really bother me. I applaud that because I don’t care about Banquo much when reading Macbeth normally. Unless highlighting or thinking about Banquo’s significance for Macbeth going forward in the play. Brandon was a very compelling character. I cared about him a lot in this. He’s a good hearted person like his Shakespearean counterpart. This modern version is also queer, however. He’s in a relationship with Matteo and shows that he has some body image issues in the text. I felt like he was made so relatable. It’s interesting to think about Macbeth from Banquo’s perspective. As Banquo sees changes in Macbeth and reacts to them. Thinking about the other elements od Banquo’s life. I’m really happy we got his perspective but I also think it changed the way I viewed other characters in this retelling.

I’m a fan of the Macbeths. You know they have to lose in Macbeth because it’s a tragedy but they are brilliant villains to follow throughout the text and what compels you to continue the story. Maria and Lily were not that in this text for me. I was much more interested in Mateo’s story. I never thought much about the character of Macduff but I loved Talley’s modern version of the character. He just worked so well. You wanted to see him succeed more than anything else. Brandon being developed the way he was enforced that as well.

Lady Macbeth is really one of my favorite characters in Shakespeare and love to read studies on the character. I was a little disappointed with Lily’s descent into madness. I felt like I really wanted more from it. I wanted it to work well like it does in Macbeth. Lily has a disability and I thought it was presented well. I liked the way it affected how she felt with the other students. Lily wanted higher status and it did raise the stakes for her. Talley made it play into Lady Macbeth well. I did appreciate that difference but just wanted more from the character. To feel like that agency lady Macbeth originally has even more here.

4 of the 5 perspectives you get in this story are queer characters. The 4 main are people in m/m or f/f relationships. Several die of course because this is a mostly accurate Shakespeare retelling. I applaud Talley on how she was able to get a lot of the story transferred over while bringing new diverse elements to the story. Matteo deserves all the happiness in the world. I really loved following him as a relatable queer male character. Plus he is Hispanic like a few other characters in the cast. The diverse elements did draw me to the story and I did appreciate it a lot.

Overall I did enjoy the story. I really like all the things that Talley brought to the retelling and that you can see how much she tried to stay true to Macbeth. The inclusion of these very diverse characters was done really naturally and they worked for the retelling being in a school setting. There is a lot that I wanted more from this story but overall it’s definitely worth trying out.

 

Small Spoilery After Thoughts

SPOILER WARNING

Spoiler Warning

SPOILER WARNING

Queer people outing other queer people is really getting on my nerves in text or anyone being outed for that matter. It didn’t seem like it was necessary in the case of Matteo and that was definitely another drop for this story with me.

 

Book Reviews, YA

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

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I listened to the majority of this book on audiobook although I started it by reading the physical book and read some of the physical copy in-between. I’ve read Barry Lyga in high school and enjoyed his writing then. When I found this book in my library and read the concept I was interested.

Jasper “Jazz” Dent is a teenager in an average town. He has a loyal best friend and an awesome girlfriend. But he’s also the son of an infamous serial killer. Jazz’s father is in jail now but Jazz deals with the fact that he was way more immersed in his father’s secret life than he should have been. He witnessed aspects of his father’s murders. The cleanup after a kill. The trophy room. His father taught him how to be a serial killer. He learned about the human body and how to take it apart. He learned different ways to incapacitate someone. Ways to manipulate your victim into trusting you. Then his father was arrested and he was supposed to be a normal teenager.

He is for the most part. When someone starts killing in their small town again and the murders are just like his father’s people start to suspect him. Jazz has to clear his name. I felt like this was more about Jazz proving that he didn’t have to be like his father. He wanted to prove that he could use all the mess up stuff his father taught him to help people instead of hurt.To everyone else but mostly to himself. All the similarities he has to his father scares him. It’s what fuels him to find and stop this killer and was something I was excited to follow

Jazz’s relationship with his girlfriend Connie is important for a lot of reasons. Jazz wants to treat women differently than his father taught him. He doesn’t want to manipulate and think of them as play things or easily breakable. His father really messed with Jazz’s head and you see that early on. I liked how Connie gets involved with helping him figure out who the next victim may and isn’t completely removed from Jazz’s investigation.  I didn’t mention that his girlfriend is black either which leads to issues with how Jazz has to deal with his grandmother if his girlfriend is coming over. The line of what is okay and what isn’t is blurry with Jazz at times. Without giving anything away that was one moment where I had to pause for a second.

Jazz’s best friend Howie is a hemophiliac. I have hemophilia and I do not see many characters with hemophilia in books. It was a surprise when that came up for me. I really liked Howie. He’s adorable. He’s also so loyal. Like ridiculously loyal.There would not be that many people I would go to a potential murder with. Especially as a person with a bleeding disorder. I was so concerned with Howie making it out of these books alive.

Honestly a little obsessed with reading from Jasper’s perspective right now. It’s kind of mesmerizing being in his head. It’s intense throughout the book. Not sure if I’m ready for the next book but I need the next book at the same time. I think this is a trilogy that I’m actually going to finish. Can’t wait to get started on the next one. Probably on audiobook since I thought this first book was fantastic on audiobook.

Book Reviews, diverse books, LGBTQIA+, YA

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee Review

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I enjoyed the story for sure. I had a hard time not questioning the logistics of the world but questions aside it is really interesting. A solar flare gave a lot of people powers. Meta Humans galore. They are classed at different levels with the higher level becoming superheroes. It is really interesting but felt like I needed more detail still.

I love the representation in the story. I don’t read many books with bisexual main characters in this kind of genre. Jess is also an Asian protagonist. I’m all about superhero stories with QPOC characters. It was great to see how her family’s background affected their life in different ways.I also like the way the main relationship went overall. It was a cute pairing. Felt a bit too fluffy for the story at times but it was nice.

There was too hinting sometimes. I figured out a lot of things really easily. I think the first reveal that Jess has no clue about is something that yeah the reader is probably supposed to figure out. If not it was okay that I did. It was a type of dramatic irony knowing the thing that Jess didn’t.I feel like the other reveals may have had too much laid out too, though. I wanted less predictable in those later chapters.

So Jess has it pretty rough in this book after things really kick off. The twist and turns n her life are a lot to handle and she really handles it pretty well. I also felt like there was a definite hero journey for her that coincided with her deciding she wanted to be her own person. She wasn’t going to live in the shadow of her family or just do what they wanted her to do in order to get by.She is going to do things for herself.

There also is a trans character in this story named Bells. It looks like he will be the main character of the sequel. I’m excited to see the continuation of the group’s story in the following book for sure.

I really wish more had happened by the end of this one or that more have been accomplished. Even knowing that there will be another book I was a bit dissatisfied with the end. The sequel does come out this year so I hope I’m able to get it sooner rather than later. It looks like it will be focusing on Bells like I said. I am glad I read this. Jess is a great main character and I hope she and everyone else makes some major progress dealing with the situation they are all in next time.

Book Reviews, diverse books, LGBTQIA+, YA

History is All You Left Me Review

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History is All You Left Me by Adam Silver is the second book chosen for The Rainbow Library.A landslide in the voting. A lot of members were excited about the book release.I’m really glad it was chosen as well. I was a big fan of More Happy Than Not and had the History Is All You Left Me book pre-ordered. I was going to wait a bit longer to dive into but I’m glad this group gave me the push to do it now.Apologizing now if this review gets too scattered. I took lots of notes.

This story intrigued me right away with the setup. You jump into the story and realize that the chapters will alternate between the present and the past.History and Today. We have a main character that is flawed in some ways too. I’m  talking about the way he handles a lot of the relationships in his life. I could see that it wasn’t the best right away. Especially after seeing how great Griffin’s relationship with Wade and Theo is in the first few history chapters. It’s so interesting trying to connect the history Griff gives us to his present. I was always looking for the clues to see how things came to be this way. Trying to figure out who is at fault for things before history could catch up with the present more.

I have to say I was surprised by how much I loved the history chapters. They start the day that Theo and Griffin admit their feelings for each other,  goes through their relationship and ends on the day that Theo dies. There were so many beautiful moments in their relationship and it really was bittersweet to read knowing that they eventually break up and that Theo dies. The first few history chapters really drew me in and I was excited that I was going to really enjoy those flashbacks.

Early on I wondered how reliable Griffin was as a narrator for not only the history sections. It was a small moment during the funeral of Theo that made me think it. It was just a perspective thing. The way he saw Jackson and how I could tell he blamed Jackson for Theo’s death to some extent. It made him think that other people might see Jackson similarly when that wasn’t the case. It was the first point where I realized there would definitely be some bias with anything revolving Jackson in the history or today part.

One really interesting thing about Griffin as a narrator is that he’s talking to Theo. The whole story is Griffin going over his history with Theo and also telling Theo the things he didn’t know. The things he wanted to but didn’t get a chance to. The “you” he references in the today sections is Theo.He models his actions toward Jackson based on what Theo would want him to do. If Theo would be disappointed in him. I saw it as another way for him to process Theo’s death. Believing that somehow Theo might be out there listening to him. A little odd considering that it’s pointed out that Griffin isn’t religious like Jackson.

Griffin has OCD. I really can’t comment much on the way it’s written besides that it feels accurate. I have a family member that has OCD and I grew up watching them deal with their compulsions. Compulsions that are very different from what Griffin’s are, though.His compulsions dealt with counting and even numbers. He always had to walk on one side of people or he became anxious. I liked the way it was shown throughout the story.I liked the way the people in his life reacted differently to it as well.

This story had what I call the January problem now. It’s where you only see a character through flashback and don’t always get the info you want. January from Last Seen Leaving was a character I had this kind of issue with. Theo can’t tell his story. Griffin has to tell it for him. Jackson and others can share stories of him but they can’t tell us what Theo was thinking. I really just wished I could get in his head. I got to the point in the history chapters where I had some questions. Theo, what are you doing? Do you really think you can stay friends with Griffin and be with Jackson? Do you not see how messy this situation is? Why are you a mess? Plus so many more questions as I realize things that Theo did or said. It’s not a problem that takes anything away from the story for me. I just will have those questions forever.

The last sixty or eighty pages I would read a page. Then stop to process because I needed to before reading another page.It was a long process. Sometimes I would lean against a wall or pace. Adam Silvera takes you on these really emotional roller coasters in his work. The situation between this group of guys was so messy and that was before Theo died. It really just gets worse. There were definitely some cringe moments because I didn’t want to think about how I’d handle the situations they were going through.  Pg 225 I for sure wasn’t ready for. I could not. I still cannot.I didn’t even know how I kept going toward the end right after that.

I really can’t knock this story rating down for anything that happens. There are things that were frustrating but it wasn’t frustrations that would affect the rating I’d give the book.If the situation was different these things would. I’m never a fan of people doing things to emotionally hurt people. Griff definitely does that at points in this story and I feel like Jackson does as well.Griff makes some bad decisions in his History with Theo that might make him unlikeable for people. Theo might be unlikeable for you.However, this was a story about people grieving over the death of someone they loved. It’s completely true that there were moments where I definitely have a problem with things done. Especially by the main character Griffin but all his emotions and actions were valid.This form of grieving was valid. Not right necessarily but it was valid. He’s in a rough spot and you see that throughout the entire book. I went along on this journey with Griffin knowing that he was going to possibly make some bad decisions.

There were chapters early on where I wished we could see more of Wade. I think it’s because I loved Wade in the chapters in the past. He was a great friend and added something to those scenes before Theo and Griffin start pushing him out a little unintentionally.I also wondered why he became more distant. What did Theo do or say to push his best friend away? Another question I had. Later in the story, we do finally get to see what’s going on with Wade. I have to say that there are things about Wade that I related to in a this is hurting my soul kind of way. I really wish we could have seen more of his character. Jackson and Griffin get to m0urn together for a big portion of this story. Wade mourns his friend alone and that is really rough.

I have to applaud Silvera on somehow throwing in a subtle twist that was just as jarring as the twist in More Happy Than Not even if on a smaller scale. More Happy Than Not had a sci-fi element.The thing that shocked me there was a big deal. History is All You left Me is just all real and still had these emotionally jarring moments that are so brilliant and unexpected. Adam Silvera is really becoming one of my favorite authors really quickly.I’m excited for his next book They Both Die At The End.I know I will likely be a complete emotional wreck after that one but I don’t mind that when it’s an Adam Silvera book. This story comes out to a 5-star read for me.