in which i discuss sexual content in YA books


Hello, fellow bloggers!

Today, I’m bringing a very lengthy discussion on a matter that I’ve been thinking a lot about. This post was inspired by two other discussions I saw in the bookish community: ‘Do Books Give False Expectations for Relationships?’ by Clo @ Book Dragons and ‘Teens Are Losing YA‘, by Francina Simone.

Now, before I get into my thoughts, I just want to clarify that all the “sexual content” I refer here is the implied sex scenes. Obviously, YA won’t have any type of explicit sexual content, so I’ll be discussing here the implicit ones.


Why is there so much sex in YA?

I know some may disagree with me on this and say that, actually, they haven’t seen enough of sex in YA these days. I feel like it has a lot to do with genres. Because I read mostly contemporary, and these focus a lot on romance, you are more likely to see all the steps of their romantic relationship – thus the sex. As for fantasy/sci-fi, there’s typically way too much happening and the characters don’t have enough time to worry about it.


Now, even as a contemporary and romance lover, I still do not understand the inability to discuss relationships without mentioning sex. As I recognize that these two are intertwined, they are not co-dependent. As the asexual community tries to install: to have romantic feelings & sexual feelings are completely different. For some people, they come as a package deal; but not for everyone. Therefore, I don’t think it’s “unnatural” to follow a romantic relationship with no sex in them.


I am not 100% opposed to sexual content in YA books, though. I just wonder why do we have so much of it. And watching Francina Simone’s discussions kinda light up some of the few answers for that questioning.

The new-adult genre is pretty much populated by romance with a lot of explicit sex in them. And for authors that want to write about anything *else* than that – like desert-based fantasies or fluffy contemporaries with non-binary main characters -, new adult ends up not being the fitting space to do so. Therefore, they end up in YA.

But these characters are still sometimes thought to be slightly older than they actually are. I think we can all name a few books where our 16-year-old protagonists act like 25, and that’s probably because they should’ve been written like 25 year olds, but wouldn’t fit there either.

There are a lot of other reasons why the new-adult niche needs change ASAP and I won’t be discussing all of them now. But I do feel like there’s a lack of place for some stories now, and the consequences of that affect on the amount of sexual content in YA books.


The sexualization of underage characters

One of the main issues I find when we’re discussing sexual content on YA is that, at the end of the day, we are talking about underage people. I do understand that people do take part in sexual activity way before they’re legal, and pretending that they don’t is just fake, but sometimes, it can just rub me the wrong way.

I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed it in books, but rather more in shows. Take Riverdale, for example. I am aware that this show has more problems than I could count in one hand, but I feel like one people brush upon is the sexualization of their characters, who are supposed to be teenagers.

Like how Archie or Reggie are constantly seen shirtless, showing off their abs. Or Betty, exploring some borderline kinky sex. I feel like the show sometimes forgets that these characters are supposed to be 15~16.

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let’s have shirtless archie because at least this is less cringe-y than “dark betty”

And even though I’ve never seen this come up explicitly in books, it doesn’t mean that the YA book fandom isn’t sexualizing the heck out of some characters. I know: they’re fictional, but it still makes me uncomfortable sometimes. I feel like YA needs to be a safe place for teenagers – including the fandom portion of it -, and the idea of characters your age being sexualized by other adult fans doesn’t really sound comfortable.


How is sex being represented on page

I think my main issue with the sexual content in YA lately is the way it’s represented. Sex is not a life-changing event. It doesn’t determine your worth as a person: whether you’ve had sex with 500 people or just one, it doesn’t say anything about who you are as a person.

One of the main reasons why I’ve refrained from discussions like this for so long is because sex has always made me super uncomfortable. (And I guess I still am – but for other reasons, mostly to due with my sexuality lol.) It’s always seemed like sex had to be this *big deal*, this turning point for all relationships. And I get it: it’s not like you can really get back your first time. But you can’t really get back the first time you listen to a song, or have ice-cream, and you don’t see no one is writing sonets about that.

My point is: YA needs to stop making sex sound like such a big deal. It’s time for us to discuss it naturally, and sometimes even awkwardly. Mostly, I think we need to stop to add sex right at the turning point of the story, because it just sustains the idea that it is a life-changing event when is not.

Books like All The Bright Places or When Dimple Met Rishi are perfect examples of that. Right before the story we know changes or we reach the climax and plot-twist, the protagonists have sex. It’s kinda like a weird premonition, and it’s more common in YA books than ever.

I do understand that almost all of the books I mentioned are ones with straight relationships. And I’m completely on board with defending more sexual content in queer books as well. My point is not banning sexual content from YA books forever, but just questioning the why’s and how’s this is taking place.

However, when it comes to queer books, I am also a fan of the idea of not including sex whatsoever. And this is not coming from a place of “I don’t want to read about gay sex”, but rather from a place of “why do I feel like most queer content is already oversexualized?

If you think about the queer characters you know from movies or shows, you’re most likely to remember them involved in a sex scene. Just think about movies like Call Me By Your Name or Carol. They all have explicit sexual content in them. And it’s somewhat refreshing sometimes to read about a queer love story that it’s still PG-13.

Again, I do still understand why queer sexual content is ground-breaking. This was a taboo concept for a really long time, and the fact we’re able to even see two men kissing on a screen is something to be celebrated. But there are pros and cons to everything.

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One of the main reasons why I adored Love Simon so much is because it was a gay rom-com that I could literally show to my whole family, with no fear of “looking obscene.” And I’ll never stop craving more stories like that.


Let’s discuss! Do you also feel like there’s way too much sex in YA? Or you’re okay about it? And how do you think this matter is being represented on page?


in which i discuss outlining characters vs. outlining plots


Hello, fellow bloggers!

This is my first time ever on a writing discussion. I’m not much of a writer myself – this is actually one of my 2019 goals. I do want to write more in 2019, and be more confident about my own writing. And though I’m just getting started, I realize that I’m much more inclined towards outlining characters than plots.

It’s not efficient to think about only one, though. Even if your book has an amazing, unique, developed plot, it won’t sustain itself if the characters aren’t great. On the other hand, no matter how fleshed out and three dimensional the characters are, you need a plot to make your story move. And reconciling them both has been a personal struggle.

This discussion will be mostly based in my own experience writing plots and characters. So, please, if you’re a writer yourself, make sure to continue the discussion in the comments.


The perks of writing characters

Writing characters is a lot more fun to me, because I am personally a very character-driven person. When reading books, I always care more about who’s doing it rather than what they’re doing. I feel like even boring books can be entertaining if you’re reading about the right people.

There’s also so many possibilities when writing characters! I never had to worry about writing a boring one, because my mind has always wandered to all places when thinking about names, personality traits, hobbies, interests. People are all so different that it is fun to explore that in your work as well. I’ve always loved thinking about all the different characteristics I could incorporate in my characters.

It’s not all fun and games, though. Your character still needs to have a development, and to grow throughout the book. Otherwise, what you’re even writing about? Characters need motivations and to remain consistent with their traits, but also be willing to adjust to the circumstances. It’s hard to understand sometimes that, even if fictional, they’re supposed to be real people, and real people are hard to deal with.


The perks of writing plots

I’ll say, though I can spend hours exploring all my character’s motivations and traits, twenty minutes into figuring out what they’re actually going to do and I’m already exhausted. Indeed, plots are easier to figure out than characters – you know from the get-go that they need to go from A to B, but to write a *good* plot… It requires a lot more work than the two sentences I tend to end up with.

A good plot, for me, consists of realistic twists & turns to keep your reader entertained. “And then they save the world” sounds fun, but you need to know how they’re going to do that. Are they going to be stopped by monsters? Or one in the group will betray them? The characters will fly in magical carpets and only save themselves? (I was listening to Aladdin’s soundtrack and it shows).

The problem with writing plots for me, is that there’s so much to think about. I wish my characters could just go and do their thing, but then I remember they’re not real people and I have to actually tell them what they’re supposed to do. You have to plan each scene, each move. It’s time-consuming, but the whole reason the book exists in the first place.


So, how to love them both?

When I first started my book’s outline, I spent hours planning the characters. I know them like the back of my hand – I’ve answered every ‘character questionnaire’, I’ve taken Buzzfeed tests as I am one of them, I memorized their Hogwarts Houses and I’ve met their parents, because we’re that serious.

But for the plot’s outline… I was constantly procrastinating it. I knew what I wanted my characters to do, and I knew how the novel ended, but the middle was such a huge slump. The things that helped me a lot were:

a) following plot guidelines – similar to character questionnaires, they’re there to help you build each scene and slowly develop them. There are quite a few ways you can do it – and I literally did all of them: the 3 arc structure, the story beats, etc.

b) thinking about each scene as a movie – I’d literally put my work’s playlist on, throw a random picture at the beginning and plot each scene as if I was watching a movie. It made it a lot easier to visualize the story and made me motivated to write more.

c) add personality into it! – Just because I’m writing an outline, doesn’t mean I can’t add some unnecessary but funny remarks. It made things a lot more interesting to me, and I wasn’t stuck to the boring structure of: “A did this. Then they went together to somewhere. B did that.” If you can add some other comments just to make the process more fun, do it!


Obviously, this is just what worked personally for my work. I know some people just find natural to write both the characters and the plot together. But if you’re more inclined to one than the other, try to make the process more fun! This way, you’ll have a more coherent outline and your characters or plot won’t feel more worked than the other.

If you’re a writer, please tell me: do you prefer creating characters or thinking about plots? And if you like one more than the other, how do you keep your motivation to work on both? Let me know in the comments!

in which i discuss the book series that changed my life


Hello, fellow bloggers!

I’ve had this blog for a little over a month now, and I realized that I hadn’t talked – enough – about my favorite series here. And more than gushy posts, my favorite ones to read is when people talk about how stories were able to change their lives and deeply mean something to them.

I think it’s so interesting how we have different relationships with books. A story that I may have just casually brushed upon can be someone else’s favorite book of life. And that’s because we are different people, after all, and books can move us for very different reasons.

So, because I haven’t endlessly talked about my top three favorite series of all times, there it goes:


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Of course. Percy is my favorite character of all times, so of course my favorite series had to be his. Obviously there are a lot of other reasons as to why I love this series. Let me list them:

  1. It was the first fantasy series I truly commited to and therefore made me want to read more. Before Percy Jackson, I read nothing but girly children books – I was still 10, so that’s okay? – and after it, I started picking up more and more fantasy/dystopian series. I don’t think I’d have ever gravitated towards fantasy if it wasn’t for Percy Jackson. Even though it’s not my prefered genre nowadays, I’m still thankful for all the amazing series I picked up after PJO.
  2. It introduced me to the bookish fandom. My entire life has been dedicated to fandom, and I don’t recall a time in which I wasn’t obsessing over something. Whether that was Taylor Swift or Teen Wolf, fandom culture has always been a part of me. However, I only got to know the bookish fandom after reading Percy Jackson and starting my own Tumblr blog. I can’t say I made a lot of friends through it, because apparently being an awkward bean on social media has been my brand ever since I was 12, but I still have a lot of amazing memories. (And it taught me how to use Photoshop! So, there’s that!)
  3. It taught me a lot about Greek mythology. Thing is: we don’t learn about Greek myths in school in my country as you do in others. I had never even listened to Greek’s Gods names before this series. Obviously, Percy Jackson is just a re-imagining of most myths, but it opened me to a new world, one that I definitely became interested to know more about.

Percy Jackson was also the first book series by Rick Riordan I’ve ever read. All of his books mean a lot to me; they’ve introduced me to phenomenal characters, from all backgrounds, with very different stories, and I fell in love with every single one of them. To have a book series that makes you feel all things so deeply is definitely remarkable to me.


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In the midst of all the bookish fandom craziness, it’s not a surprise that I fell upon book series like Divergent. And though this one may be everyone’s least-favorites now, I still love it with all my heart.

Firstly, there’s Tris. I’ve always been more invested in male characters; is just how my world works. But things changed when I met Tris. To find a female character, whom I not only cared deeply about, but also identified with, was such a powerful moment for me. Tris is smart, brave and selfless. Her development throughout the series is one of my favorite things in the world: how she grows into a confident woman, but that is still so attached to her family and friends, doing anything to protect them.

On top of that, Four x Tris are my #1 favorite book couple. And I understand if some of you are rolling your eyes at that, because with the amount of new ships from the past years, how come I’m still this attached to them? That’s because they worked like a real couple should. Back in the day, I thought that if I was ever to be in a relationship (a choice that I no longer agree with, by the way), I’d want to be in a relationship like theirs. In which they respect and understand each other. In which they actually communicate their thoughts and feelings, and not only get carried away in misunderstandings. In which they fight, and argue, but fall back together, because they choose to do so.


Imagem relacionada

And, lastly, we have my broken babies, with The Maze Runner series. I feel like this was a trilogy that came to me in the moment that I needed it the most. Right before the first movie was released, I picked up The Maze Runner and I fell in love with it, badly. I remember it was my favorite book of the year 2013 (it’s been so long already? what?).

2013 was also one of the worst years of my life, as I had just moved schools, and was pretty much friendless. But these books offered me comfort and a friend group that was so much better than anything I could’ve ever wanted. When I was reading it, I didn’t care about other’s mean comments; I just focused on getting out of this maze, along with the characters.

(Also, I vividly remember reading this book during Math class and having my teacher yell at me. And though mortified, as soon as he handed me back the book, I continued to read, because the cliffhanger was too much, lol.)

I also watched as each movie adaptation was released, which was so important as well. Last year, I went to the theatres by myself to watch the last addition to the series – Death Cure – and though I was disappointed at how different the movie turned out to be from the original work, I was still sheding silent tears. It’s crazy to think there’s nothing else to anticipate, as I feel like the wait for Death Cure’s movie was endless. Ultimately, I’m so thankful for the amount of effort put in concluding this trilogy, and I couldn’t have requested for a better cast.

Let me know in the comments your favorite series & how they’ve impacted your life. I love sharing these stories with others! These are just my top 3 faves; obviously, I have a lot of other favorite series, but these are the ones that changed me the most. Which characters have been your best friends? And your first bookish fandom? Let me know!

in which i discuss the diversity within diversity


Hello, fellow bloggers! Please don’t hate me as I write, yet again, another diversity discussion. The book blogging world is probably sick of them already, but I’ve wanted an opportunity to discuss a more recent read I did – along with a podcast I’ve been listening to – and this was a fitting topic.

Today, I wanted to talk about the diversity within diversity, aka, the fact that as much as we see diverse reads as a way to be represented and see ourselves within those pages, we are, more often than not, way too much of a diverse community to be represented in only one novel. And whether or not, it is okay to feel let down by a book that didn’t represent you; and how to address this matter if you’re a non-#ownvoices author.


There are countless stories to tell

Recently, I read two books by Asian-American authors, featuring Asian-American female protagonists, and they definitely provided me with very different backgrounds. Not only they were different from each other, but they were definitely different from the expected representation of Asian-Americans in general.

American Panda, by Gloria Chao, was a book about a Taiwanese-American girl with overly strict, traditional parents. Now, though this may be considered a stereotype within Asian-American families, the author definitely went a lot deeper on the matter. It showed the complexity of it, and how complicated and intricate this family dynamic actually was. Our protagonist, Mei, loved her parents, felt grateful for their sacrifices, wanted to keep them close. But she also disagreed with most of their decisions and couldn’t bare their suffocating expectations. And even if most Asian-American parents aren’t as strict as the book portrays, it doesn’t make Mei’s experience less valid, because it is representing someone else out there.

Then, I picked up The Way You Make Me Feel, by Maurene Goo, about a Korean-American girl with a Korean-Brazilian single father, who had her at the age of eighteen. This couldn’t be more of an unconventional story, especially under Korean standards. But, again, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t other Korean families out there living very different and unexpected lifestyles, like Clara’s.

In fact, I was listening to Maurene Goo on the First Draft podcast (I’m also totally obsessed with this podcast and listening to all their backlist stuff) and she mentioned herself how these characters were far out the norm. And, yet, this only enriches the story. Being Brazilian myself, I personally loved the Brazilian aspects that were introduced in the story, even if just the use of ‘Pai‘ and ‘Mãe‘ – the portuguese version of Mom & Dad. If this was a “conventional” story, I wouldn’t have had that.

This actually brings me to the question: what is “conventional”? What is “the norm”? Obviously, I can not speak much from experience, since I have yet to read a book with a South-American protagonist, but I am not able to say if there are boxes that need to be ticked in order to provide me good representation. Even if I was reading a book with a Brazilian main character, her life could still be completely different from mine, and that would still be valid – because my country is immense and there are countless different stories to tell.


We are not represented enough

I don’t think this would be in the same matter as ‘poor representation’, because at the end of the day, both books I mentioned were #ownvoices. I think it has more to do with our expectations, when encountering a diverse book. We feel like we’re going to finally be understood, and finally seen. We are finally going to be able to relate with a main character. And, when we don’t, it can be disappointing.

But as Gloria Chao mentions in her acknowledgements, this just means we need more diverse reads. We need more #ownvoices authors. We need more people representing stories that are similar to theirs, or completely different, and more people doing work where we can be seen in.

This is only another reassurance that while we’ve made progress in including more diverse and #ownvoices reads on The New York Times best-seller’s list, we still have a long way to go. Because there are definitely other stories that haven’t been told yet, and maybe in one of them, we’ll finally get to be seen.


How to incorporate that being a non #ownvoices author

Thinking about this matter also made me reflect on how I’ve always been afraid to go “off the way” when writing stories different from mine. When you’re not an #ownvoices author, this gets blurred, because you don’t know if you’re just reflecting the diversity within diversity or if you’re representing something unrealistic.

If I’m writing about a Chinese family, I’ll literally search the areas where there are largest communities, pick the most popular names for my characters and just try to write as closest from what I’ve experienced before. And though effective, it makes me wonder if I’m not just perpetuating stereotypes and totally missing the point that, as long as you’re not being offensive, it’s okay to write stories that are not what you’d expect.

Obviously, though, being a non #ownvoices author has to do with a loooooot more than that. I am just now getting back into writing, so I’m definitely not the one to give advices here. So, please, share in the comments, if you’re a writer, how do you try to incorporate this matter into your own stories.


Having representation doesn’t mean it will be able to represent everyone. And that’s okay! It just means we need more books and more #ownvoices authors. Along with writers that are not scared to go away from the expected norm.

I’d looooove you forever if you shared your opinions on the matter down below, as I feel like this is an idea still in progress in my mind. Your insight is always welcome!

in which i discuss writing voices


Hello, fellow bloggers! This is my first ever discussion in this blog and I’m excited about it. Hopefully, through this new format, I’ll be able to express myself better and make my thoughts more coherent. (Or I’ll just flail and cry, like I do most of the time).

Today, I wanted to discuss writing voices. This is something that has been a lot on my mind lately, as I blog and write more. I think having a writing voice is soooooo hard and I definitely admire people who are able to have one.

oneWhat’s the difference between a writing voice and a writing style?

To me, the writing style encompasses a lot more than a writing voice. It has to do with the pacing; the amount of dialogues and descriptions; the way the story evolves. You describe someone’s writing style by saying it was very descriptive, slow-paced and atmospheric; or straight-forward and dialogue based. Every author has a distinct writing style, that’s for sure, but they’re less unique than a writing voice.

To have a writing voice is to make a certain personality come through the page. It’s being able to tell whose author does that belong to because of the way it is written. I do believe writing voices are more common for articles and journalists than for fiction. That’s because stories have narrators; and if you’re reading a first-person novel, you’re more likely to see the character’s personality come through rather than the author’s. There’s not much space for snarky remarks or witty comments when you’re inside someone else’s head. I still believe we can have great authors with distinct writing voices on fiction, which moves me to my next point.


Authors with an unique writing voice.

When I think about authors whom I can distinct by even the smallest of the quotes, I always think about Rainbow Rowell. To me, she has an amazing writing voice; one that I can always identify, through each and everyone of her stories. Even though she is mostly a contemporary author, she has fantasy works (I love Carry On to pieces by the way) and she writes both on YA and adult. Despise the broad variety of genres that she explores, you can tell her voice in every one of them.

Taking two quotes from two different novels:

“You were the sun, and I was crashing into you.” CARRY ON

“Could love me and love me and love me without…needing space.”
“There’s no air in space,” he said.” ATTACHMENTS

I don’t know if these two quotes will be enough to explain what I mean, but I think it’s visible how her voice comes through every sentence she writes. Both of these metaphors to explain a desperate type of love are quirky and unique.

I also think about Stephanie Perkins when I think about writing voices. Just like Rainbow Rowell, her quirkiness comes through the page no matter what character she’s writing about. However, because I haven’t read enough by her, I don’t know whether it also shows in her non-contemporary work.


To have a writing voice when blogging

As I mentioned earlier, to recognize a writing voice is more common for journalists and article writers, but I also think it’s there on book blogging as well. Actually, this is something I worry a lot about when writing posts and reviews – to make sure that my personality can come through the text. If it is through witty comments or fangirling sections that have to be strike-through, I like to have my post sounding unique.

Cait, from paperfury, has to be the queen of blogging voices. You can tell when it’s Cait, either through her reviews, tweets or actual posts. She has a very unique way of writing and adding witty comments, which is why her content is always so fun to read.


Now that I’ve done my fair share of discussion, I want to know from you: do you know some authors whose writing voices you admire? Or bloggers? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments! (And also how did I do for my first discussion post in a while? Hopefully, it’s not too long and I was able to make my point well LOL).