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

 

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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.

 

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

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.

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.

Book Reviews, Readathon, YA

The Sun is Also A Star Review

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Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

2017 is off to a great start when it comes to my reading at least. I didn’t think I was going to like this story nearly as much as so many other people have. I heard all the amazing things about the book but I was skeptical. One reason was because within the premise and the way people were describing the story I was concerned I would be reading some serious instalove in this book. Another reason might have just been that I honestly haven’t read a contemporary that didn’t focus on queer characters in a long time. Many many books ago. However, this book turned out to be something I really loved.

Daniel does feel a connection to Natasha quickly and even if she does feel something. It is not ‘love’ right away. Natasha doesn’t believe in love at first sight. She doesn’t even really believe in love at all. She isn’t feeling Daniel as deeply as he is her. I was with her on that. I really didn’t like Daniel right away. As they got to know each other Natasha slowly falls for him and I was too. I was starting to like Daniel then starting to love Natasha and Daniel as a couple.

Natasha wants to be a scientist. She looks at things logically. Daniel is more of a creative type. He’s an artist. He’s about passion even though he feels like he has to follow the path his parents have laid out for him. They are different in a lot of ways but also really similar.You see why they connect as they spend part of their day together.

Nicola Yoon’s writing is really fantastic. Right away the back and forth between the two perspectives seemed effortless and that continued throughout the story. Then there are sections which give the history of different things. Always tied to something the characters have encountered or said. I feel like that was such an interesting addition to the story. It pulled me in and made me think about things I never questioned before.

Then there is the fact that you get other perspectives besides Natasha and Daniel in this story. You get snapshots of the people they encounter. The security guard at a place Natasha goes to for example. It can be someone they barely interact with but it’s all connected somehow. All these people connect to Natasha and Daniel in some way. Sometimes they connect to each other at some point during the day. It made me think about when people say we’re all connected in some way. I found it really subtlely beautiful.

I fell for this book pretty hard. I literally had to stop reading it in public at one point because I could not stop myself from reacting to everything. When Daniel did something cute or awkward or when a situation got dramatic I could not contain my reactions. This is a sign of a great book. Highly recommended by me.

 

 

Book Reviews, LGBTQIA+, YA

Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig | Book Review

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Flynn’s girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can’t answer, and her friends are telling stories that don’t add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January’s boyfriend, he must know something.

But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January’s disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.

I read most of this book in one night. I had such a hard time putting it down but I had to sleep. It’s a book that really pulls you in. I have to see how everything will end. I needed Flynn to find out what happened to January. I needed Flynn to figure himself out and find some kind of happiness hopefully in all of this tragedy. It’s a beautiful mixed bag. Mystery, self-discovery, friendship, love, and more.

As Flynn learns more about his girlfriend and the secrets she may have kept it gets harder for Flynn to keep his secret from coming out. Do you see what I did there? I think I’m funny.

This book does deal with a lot of dark topics and there are situations that may upset you. There are characters that will probably tick you off. There are characters that definitely should tick you off. Be prepared for some darker things to happen. It’s a story about someone going missing. Just a warning. Now, to nicer things.

I felt like the love story in this book was great. It’s really more in the background. I didn’t mind that at all. It made sense to me I felt like we were heading in that direction from early on. Their moments had me smiling while everything else in the book had me on the edge of my seat. I needed that. I also love them both to death. 

Roehrig does a great job with diversity in this book. I’m talking race, sexuality, and social class.he shows coming out in a different way than I’ve really seen it in other books as well. I really appreciated seeing something different in that narrative. Sometimes coming out sucks a little or a lot.

I love Flynn’s parents.I felt like they were very present in his life. I liked how they stood up for him. They support him when January goes missing and continues to during the search for her. They felt more important than other side characters and I really enjoyed that.

In my recent Q&A video someone asked me to pick five characters I’d want to be friends with in real life. Flynn is bumping someone off that list. He goes so far to figure out what happens to January in this for one thing. I also just feel like he needs hugs and support. I’d give him those freely.

This book needs a movie or a tv show.I need it. It’s number one on my adaptions wishlist right now. I think it read like a show or movie. I just want all of Tammy Walker’s scenes acted out by someone, please. I live for the drama. I feel bad for what’s she’s going through of course. I just honestly can think of so many actresses that could play her so well.

The last twist of this book had me still thinking about the book days later.I had some issues with January throughout this book but as you learn more about her I think I started to understand her. It’s hard to start another book right now because I’m still in the world of Last Seen Leaving. I will be recommending this book to people so much you all are going to get tired of me mentioning it.

 

Book Reviews, LGBTQIA+, YA

37 Things I Love Review

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Ellis only has four days of her sophomore year left, and summer is so close that she can almost taste it. But even with vacation just within reach, Ellis isn’t exactly relaxed. Her father has been in a coma for years, the result of a construction accident, and her already-fragile relationship with her mother is strained over whether or not to remove him from life support. Her best friend fails even to notice that anything is wrong and Ellis feels like her world is falling apart. But when all seems bleak, Ellis finds comfort in the most unexpected places.
Life goes on, but in those four fleeting days friends are lost and found, promises are made, and Ellis realizes that nothing will ever quite be the same.

I’m happy I took this with me when I went to watch my sister for a weekend. I didn’t think I’d have time to pick up a book but luckily I flipped this book open. After seeing the awesome format and getting an interesting glimpse into the main characters mind I knew I would be finishing the book soon.

I thought it was a beautiful book. Each chapter we get something that Ellis loves or things she might love. Sometimes those things changed. Sometimes I didn’t know why she loved certain things or people until we saw more of her life.It was really special.

This book has a romance element. It has some comedy. It’s really a story about a girl growing up . A girl coming to terms with the fact that her mother wants to pull the plug on her father. A girl realizing that she’s been holding onto a hope so tightly that she hasn’t been enjoying life like her father would want for her.

Ellis goes along with things. For example, everything Abby puts her through. Abby might be one of the worse friends I’ve ever seen in a book but Collin and Ellis let her be. Just when I thought I couldn’t dislike Abby more it happens but still no real immediate consequences for her actions in the book. At the end, I feel like there will be a change but I don’t know how much things will change.

Ellis also goes along with what Evan wants in this book a little. I feel like that part didn’t surprise me because I don’t think Ellis had much agency in other parts of the book. She made a dumb decision because she always did what was expected. I think part of that was because she has other focuses. Her main focus being her father. I feel like it’s something that will change down the line for her. Where this book ends there are a lot of changes on the horizon. I liked that it was a little open-ended about what some of those changes might be.

This is another queer YA book. It was one of the books I received in the YAPride Challenge.I did an unboxing video for the challenge on my channel. Go check it out. If there is a book from that video you want me to read and review soon then let me know.