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, Nonfiction

Hidden Figures Book Review

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Hidden Figures was a really fantastic read. It was crazy to me when I started the book because I knew I would be reading about some amazing black women that I never had the opportunity to learn about before. I went to several schools where the majority of my classes were black students and this wasn’t something we learned about in the curriculum of our history classes. I feel like that is truly unfortunate. I saw so many people saying the same thing when the movie first started making a buzz.

This book is really just the facts of what happened to these women. We get the background on these amazing women. We learn about the beginnings of NASA and America’s journey to being able to put a man on the moon while following some amazing black women who helped make it happen. We learn about their passion for math and get an idea of where that passion grew for some of them. We also see how these bright women still struggled to get as far as they did because of the color of their skin.

If you are expecting more of a plot driven thing you might be disappointed as I’ve seen some people were. I’d say go see the movie for more of that even though I haven’t seen it yet myself. I definitely get the impression from what friends who have read the book and seen the movie. This book could act as great background information for the characters you see in the film.

It feels academic in nature. Almost like a textbook which I kind of liked honestly. It didn’t take away from it for me at all. Maybe it’s because I didn’t go into it expecting something else. I wanted to learn about these women that I had not before. I didn’t see the movie so I’m not aware of how it’s different in the film version. I went in with just different expectations and those expectations were met. I learned so much from this book.

I feel that it holds it’s own as a text personally. Margot Lee Shetterly really was able to capture the lives of these women and show what they were passionate about in a way that really captivated me just with the facts. Just by telling us what they went through. Explaining how it felt to be put in the situations they were. The arcs of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson in this book really make me want to see the film as soon as I can.

 

 

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.

ARC's, LGBTQIA+, YA

Dreadnought by April Daniels

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Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of the world’s greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, she was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But then her second-hand superpowers transformed her body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.

It should be the happiest time of her life, but between her father’s dangerous obsession with curing her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and the classmate who is secretly a masked vigilante, Danny’s first weeks living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined.

She doesn’t have much time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer, a cyborg named Utopia, still haunts the streets of New Port City. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.

I was lucky enough to get a Netgalley Arc of April Daniels debut novel Dreadnought. Dreadnought follows Danielle Tozer. Danielle accidentally stumbles upon a superhero and villain fight and ends up gaining new powers and the body that she has always wanted.

Danielle has a lot of self-doubts that she has to contend with throughout this story for a large part of it. A large part of that is because of the way her father treats her and always has. You can see how the way Danielle thinks about herself is linked to her father pretty early. When Danielle thinks she’s stupid for something she did or isn’t good enough to be a hero. It’s because that’s the way her father treats her and what he calls her often.

Danielle has some really strong moments in this story where she stands up for herself.Really early on. She is able to stand up for herself against the legion of superheroes.When her friend starts treating her differently. Then still can’t do the same with her father. I thought it was such an interesting relationship to see play out in this. She’s really been emotionally abused by her father for years and you see how much it affects her life.

The superheroes in this story have great names. Wonder how April Daniels came up with some of them. It’s a really great assortment of characters even the ones we don’t learn much about. I do wish we had learned more about the heroes in the legion. I really liked a few of them.Magma and Doc Impossible are the best. I loved them. I want them to be my mentors, please.

Danielle has such a great hero journey in this. It follows the motions of things you see in a lot of origin story comics for heroes. Her first big time-saving people is really amazing. I was so happy for her as she was doing it. You could tell right then that she should be a hero. Not because these powers fell into her lap but because she wants to help people. It’s kind of the reasons she got her powers in the first place. She’s not a person that can walk away when someone is hurting.

She also had some great team up moments with Calamity that every hero needs to have.Patrolling and investigating. She goes one on one with someone who has powers. She consistently is learning, getting better, and saving people throughout this. All while still having that self-doubt for a large part of the story. She doesn’t allow herself to feel like she is as special as she is.

The claiming of superhero colors was such a powerful moment in the story. I recently wrote about how the claiming of one’s name can be important in a review of a different book and I felt like Danielle’s finally deciding on her superhero colors and superhero name was that moment in this story. She’s claiming who she is.

There will be a second book and I’m excited to see what challenges Danielle faces next. Also really want to see where Calamity goes after what happens at the end of the book. More people should read this book and make fanart if you can. I can’t make fanart but I want to see fanart for this book so badly. Definitely, pick it up.

 

 

 

Book Reviews, diverse books, LGBTQIA+, The Rainbow Library, YA

None of The Above by I.W. Gregorio

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None of The Above was the first book chosen for The Rainbow Library. On the Rainbow Library, you can see member reviews of the book the entire week starting January 23rd. We chose the novel because it focuses on a part of the LGBTQIA = community that we don’t often read about or see people talking about.

This book follows a teenager named Kristen who finds out that she is intersex during a trip to the hospital. Kristen has to deal with what that means for herself personally. She has a lot of fear and confusion about her diagnosis.She confides in her friends and family. However, things really blow up when her secret is leaked to the entire school.

I enjoy the story. I just have some problems getting into it. I think the novel explains what intersex is and what it means to be intersex really well.You also learn about AIS and DSD.If you are looking for a book to get you more familiar with what intersex is I definitely recommend this. The novel has me interested in reading more books with intersex characters as well.

The book contains resources where you can get more information. I always have to point out when a book does a great job at doing that. You never know who will be needing those resources and it’s great that the book contains several. There are some fiction and non-fiction book recommendations that include and intersex characters and talk about what intersex is in the back of the book as well.

One of the main reasons this book didn’t hook me is because Kristen can be really annoying in this story at times. So can her friends and boyfriend. This is before she even finds out that she is intersex.The story is first person perspective from her perspective. She’s 18 I believe. There may have been just the age gap thing. The way she thinks about things or talks about things was a bit much sometimes. I thought she was much younger than 18 at points in the novel.

I didn’t feel bad when things go sour in the novel with the boyfriend because I really did not like him from the beginning. The way he said certain things rubbed me the wrong way. Again before Kristen even finds out she’s intersex.It really only gets worse from there. So I found it hard to think it was the end of the world like Kristen seemed to feel over the breakup.

You get more and more angry as the book goes on because of how much Kristen goes through. I felt like the book picks up through the middle for me. Kristen experience so much hate and bigotry and I think the way she handled it was realistic considering the fact that she’s never experienced anything like this before.

One really great thing is the relationships with some people in her corner. She has a solid support system there even when things are falling apart around her. Even if she doesn’t see how much they are there for her at times. Favorite parent of the year award so far goes to her father figure in this. I’m only 8 books into this year but that’s still pretty good.

The romance was kind of meh. It was pretty obvious where things were going. Plus Kristen being way too hung up on her first boyfriend and annoyingly never being sure of what she wants.She makes some decisions for the wrong reasons in this story. She doesn’t think about herself when she should be making decisions for herself. I felt like the end of the story was abrupt but the last part did make me smile.

 

Comics, diverse books, LGBTQIA+, Readathon

#DiverseAthon Potential Reads

It’s time for the first Diverseathon of 2017. Super excited. I am the biggest mood reader ever. I will stop a book just because I’m not feeling the genre at the moment so I will be doing a very long list of potential reads for this Diverseathon. My list consists of primarily queer lit as it normally does. I did try to focus on books with queer characters of color a bit more and get some Own Voices books in the list as well. You can look at my rundown on my Youtube post or read through my choices here. Check out Naz’s DiverseAthon post on his blog ReadDiversebooks.com  for more information on the readathon.

 

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None of The Above is the book of The month for The Rainbow Library. Members of the group will be posting reviews all this week. Super excited to finish this story. It follows a teenager who finds out they are intersex. I definitely have not read much on intersex people before and I’m glad I’m doing it with a group. There has been some great discussion around the book already.

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Dreadnought is a story about a trans girl whose body transforms when she accidentally gains superpowers. The book comes out on January 24th. I have a digital ARC and am really enjoying it so far. About 30% into the story. Hoping to see a bit of a hero journey with this character.

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I loved More Happy Than not. I feel like Adam Silvera’s new book might wreck me like it did but I’m excited. The main character is gay. He’s dealing with the death of his first love. He has OCD I believe. I definitely want to read a story with a character who has OCD and have for a while.

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I didn’t finish this during #DAReadahon so I hope I can finish it now. Really love the main character from the part I did read. I’ve wanted to read more stories with LGBTQ + Asian protagonist for a while.

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I am so excited to read this story. I love queer superhero stories. This one follows a teenage superhero named Javier Medina. You get to see how he balances or fails to balance his life as a junior superhero and his life at school.

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A revelatory novel about being queer and Muslim, set in war-torn Iraq in 2003.Ramy is a young gay Iraqi struggling to find a balance between his sexuality, religion, and culture. I’m excited to read this story. I feel like it’s going to be intense and wonderful. Really happy I got a copy of this novel.

 

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This is written by the author of Nimona. It’s been on my radar for a while. It has queer characters and that’s really all I know right now. Hopefully, I will like it. Definitely will get to this soon since it’s due back to my library in a few days.

 

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The is a story based on the Green Turtle. The Green Turtle was the first Asian American Superhero in golden age comics. Super excited to read this. It’s own voices with the writer and artist. The art looks so good.

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Teen guys who are neighbors. One is a popular jock and the other is a nerd. We get to see them fall for each other. Super excited. Reminds me of the gay version of You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift. Hope I love it.

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I’ve wanted to read an Elliot Wake book for a while. I have followed Elliot Wake on Instagram and twitter and am really excited to finally read one of his books. I love that this one follows a Vlogger who is also secretly a vigilante. I’m excited to see how this story goes.

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Two awesome authors writing two gay characters who meet during Pride weekend and have an adventure. I love books that focus on friendships. Especially queer friendships. This book has been on my shelf unread for way too long. I even have two copies. I need to read this soon.

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Last potential read is Boy Robot. I’ve wanted to read this since I found out Simon Curtis was writing it. I love his music. I’m excited to see the story of Isaak in this. He finds out he’s a robot and his adoptive parents are killed in one night. I know this book is LGBTQ in some way and I am excited to read it.

This is my tentative TBR for this week. Super excited to read some of these great books. Also really excited for the #Diversathon twitter chats. The conversations were amazing last year and I can’t wait to see what everyone has to say this year.

 

LGBTQIA+

Outcome: LGBT Portraits

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In 2014 Photographer Tom Dingley set up his #Outcome project – to photograph LGBT people with the attributes of their everyday life – their work, or their interests; and holding a picture of themselves as a child.

The message was, no matter how hard it is growing up, no matter who you were, you become who you become, and you are amazing. Several well-known people are included.

Two years and several exhibitions later, this is the Outcome.

First, I want to say that I’m glad this project happened.The overall message definitely came across. I think the thing I loved the most about this project is how diverse the participants were. After the first few I was concerned I wouldn’t see that but I definitely do see an attempt. They try to show how diverse LGBT people are in the book. Show that we come in a variety of colors, shapes, ages etc.

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Another thing is that I learned about some popular LGBT figures in the UK. It showcased some people who are doing great work currently. I was able to research them and follow them on social media or their websites. I want to be more knowledgeable of what great progress is happening in other places when it comes to things LGBT. I feel like some of the people I follow from this text are helping with that.

Things were choppy in the eArc but I figured it out easily enough. I love the concept of the photo project and how it is executed. Each or most of the participants have a picture from their childhood in hand.gave me a very hopeful feel. It’s not easy for everyone growing up and that felt like a ‘you can get past it’ kind of thing. It probably helped that I think everyone was smiling. If I had the physical book I’d flip through to make sure but I don’t think I’m wrong. It was really nice to see.

The people in the book come from such a vast amount of careers. Politicians, actors, writers, dancers, activist, etc. I felt inspired by many of the stories and they weren’t even that long. It usually was just a short piece and the photo. I think that’s how I know it’s a great project. A cohesive feeling it gives you. You matter. You can get through the rough times. You can be who you are and be happy.

I definitely want to get the physical book when I can. It would be a nice book to have out for if a guest was over and decided to flip through it. Not sure if I’d recommend a kindle version like I read because was choppy and a bit confusing. However, it is manageable if you want to pick up a digital copy onstead.Also, mine was an ARC so it may be better formatted for Kindle use now.

diverse books, LGBTQIA+

Juliet Takes A Breath Review

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Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff.

Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle?

With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself.

This is a really good novel.I think a lot of that is because of Juliet’s voice. She’s beautifully insightful in some moments of the book. She’s nerdy and quite funny at times too.Juliet is just a great character and it’s great to see how much she develops over the course of this novel in various areas of her life.

Juliet goes on a journey throughout the four parts of this book and I didn’t really get into the story until further along her journey but all of it is wonderful. Juliet takes this internship and doesn’t really know what she wants to get out of the experience. In the end, she got a lot more than she really thought she could. She has a place to move forward from.

This book starts out with Juliet in a stressful and relatable time. She’s coming out to her family. Juliet decides to do it at a family dinner. I like how much this book dealt with family. Even with Juliet away from them for a majority of the book you could see how important family was. Just from conversations with her mom or cousin Ava over the phone. Sometimes just from Juliet contemplating the way they reacted to things or might react to something. She thinks about her family often and I liked the focus on the family bonds.

Juliet meets some amazing women of color in this book. I felt like I was learning from Maxine and Zaira through Juliet’s encounters with them in the novel. This is a novel about feminism but more importantly intersectional feminism. Juliet is able to start figuring out where she stands in the feminism she sees on tv or reads in one of her favorite books. I absolutely loved the conversations Juliet has around this.

Sometimes as Juliet struggled I just wanted to jump in the book and answer things when she had questions she wasn’t asking anyone out loud yet.It takes her a while to feel the confidence needed to do more than just contemplate the tings she didn’t understand about queer terms or why Zaira made spaces specifically for women of color. I liked seeing Juliet learn and make mistakes while learning.Her exploration into all things queer and feminism. It was really well done.

Sidenote.There is a really odd character who is only in the story for a short time and never appears again and I didn’t understand the point of his words toward Juliet and couldn’t stop thinking what was the point there or if it was needed.Juliet never really thinks of him again after that section so it didn’t feel like it mattered.

The most relatable moment in this book for me was a feeling. The feeling that Juliet has when she is in an all QPOC space for the first time. She’s freer than she has been able to in a long time.No one is going to judge her or say the wrong thing. She won’t have to deal with microaggressions or blatant racism there. She is able to make decisions about how she perceives herself.

For me, that was an impromptu caucus for queer people of color at TheMidwest Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, and Ally College Conference. It was a room filled with QPOC and a space for us to talk about issues we face separate from all the other events of the conference.I didn’t even know there was that many of us in the conference. It was a major moment for me. I was dealing with not being able to embrace all aspects of my identity depending on the situation I was in. I had some rough school years and I feel like that was one of the moments that got me through. It changed things for me.It gave me perspective, I really needed.You see how much Juliet’s experience changes her on the final sections of the book.She’s able to take on the world after having run away from her problems before that. It’s great storytelling.

Book Reviews, LGBTQIA+, YA

When The Moon Was Ours Review

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To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

I can’t talk about this book without first mentioning the dedication. I’m pretty sure I cried when I first opened the book and didn’t even start the story until quite a while later. It’s such a beautiful dedication that I needed to just share it with people. I showed my fiance and then had to take a picture to send to some family and friends from Pride so I had people to gush over it with. It’s brilliant. Read it.

Now, this book took me a long time to finish. I got a bit confused about some things in the story. I had to put it down for a bit. I think it may have just been because of the magic and lack of magic at times.What I mean by that is that there is magic in this story. A good amount of it.I love magic in stories. There is also superstition and rumors.in this story. I think the way the story is written I was confused about what was because of magic and when things happened just because people made themselves believe it if that makes any sense.

Samir and Miel have such a beautiful relationship. As friends and more.They pulled me into this story. They are both so different from other people. They understand each other. They love each other as they are. The relationship has these beautiful delicate moments in the story that are written excellently. Their love felt like one of the most magical things in this story. It was beautifully written. I felt wrapped up in it.

The romance was beautiful but the intimate moments were as well. The two were intertwined really. This is a YA story that shows sexual desire in a way I wish I saw more in books in general. It was so honest and the characters still felt the ages they are.

Samir and Miel both have such intense backgrounds. Miel’s is shrouded in mystery for much of the story. We know how she arrived in town from the water tower. We know she has a fear of pumpkins and La Llorona. We just don’t know the why’s or the how’s. I loved the way the picture became clearer. We get pieces as Miel gains some memories and I still didn’t understand until it was all revealed.

Samir is struggling to accept himself and to be ready to claim himself. Claiming his name is shown as a really major moment and I absolutely loved it. Also claiming one’s own body is something you see with Samir and Miel in this and I can’t get over how great that is to see when I wasn’t expecting it. The messages in this book that stick with me are things that snuck up on me in the story.

I didn’t really understand what was going on with the Bonner sisters for a lot of the book. I didn’t understand why they really wanted the roses. They weren’t effective as bad guys for me.They annoyed me more than anything. That definitely changes a little throughout the story when we get to learn more about them. I honestly wish we’d seen their parents a couple times because I have questions for and about their parents. I do think that the Bonner sisters eventually lead into the theme that is throughout the whole book.

This is a story about accepting yourself and being proud of who you are. As magical as this story is I feel like anyone can relate to some of the struggles the characters in the story feel. If you’ve ever been lost you can see yourself in Miel and Samir’s journey in this book. Very glad I picked this book up.

p.s. Read the Author’s Note too. It was so lovely. Really enjoyed hearing Anna Marie McLeMore’s experiences. You see where she learned some things that may have helped her come up with the stories for Miel and Samir.