my favorite reads of 2020!

a 2020 overview.

Oh, 2020.

This mess of a year, who was not what anyone expected. In all fronts, really, because I ended up reading 90 books this year, when I totally did not even think I was going to get to 50.

In the midst of all its craziness, I read a few great titles I am excited to share with you guys. I’ll be keeping the same format of last year, except with different categories this time.

OUTSIDE OF MY COMFORT ZONE

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I thought I wouldn’t understand a single thing in this book, and here it is, in my list of favorites of the year. Maybe I do have braincells after all. If We Were Villains is a cult-classic dark academia book, and follows a group of friends who study theatre and get caught up on the mysterious death of one of their members.

I spent a lot of the book waiting for our main character to catch up on thoughts we, as readers, had already predicted. But the twist at the very end left my jaw on the floor.

I loved the way the author built the characterization throughout the narration, and the pacing was absolutely perfect. I also was able to (surprisingly) follow along the way the Shakespeare plays they’re acting also mirror their own circumstances, and I feel like it was done in an incredibly smart way.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

IMG_3927I had such low expectations to Aurora Rising, due to a few mediocre reviews, that I was left shook by how much I actually loved it.

This new sci-fi series by the same authors of The Illuminae Files follows a similar formula: band of misfits on space, full of twists and turns and incredibly action packed. I didn’t think I’d get as attached to the characters as I did, but I *loved* especially Finian, Kal and Auri.

It was quite different from The Illuminae Files, but in a very positive way. One thing I loved was the presence of the alien species, and the development of their culture and dynamic, which was not present at all in the first series, and that was incredibly fun to read about in this one.

I really need to continue on to book #2, and I am incredibly excited to do so, and looking forward to have a new favorite series.

MOST RELATABLE

IMG_5118I don’t think there would be any other answer for this, but Furia. This one is set entirely in the city of Rosario, Argentina, and it follows a girl named Camila who lives a double life: in the field, she’s la Furia, an amazing footballer; in her house, she has to play the perfect daughter and her parents are not even aware of her passion about football.

This book was important to me for a number of reasons. First, it was the first ARC I ever received and I was so excited to read this one earlier, as one of my most anticipated releases. It was also a story that felt so relatable, in every single aspect: the story, the dynamics, the characters. I felt like I could be watching this take place in my hometown.

It was brilliant to read a South-American story, that also had so much drive and strength to it. Camila was a powerful protagonist, whom I absolutely adored; it was disturbing, but also important to read about the different ways women have been failed by Argentinian society; and I loved the football aspect that was the background for so many of the interpersonal relationships. This book was everything I wanted it to be and I’m so thankful I read it.

MY FAVORITE ADULT ROMANCE

IMG_6631I’ve been reading books in the adult romance genre for quite some time, but I had never found one that *truly* made me feel all the things.

The Bromance Book Club was amazing and hilarious. First, it contains my favorite romance tropes: the failed marriage one. Then, it also had a laugh-out-loud cast of side characters who made me so fucking happy to read about. The protagonists were also amazing, and it was a lot of fun reading the “book inside the book”.

I was so stocked to finish this book and realize, apart from a few minor complaints, I had mostly had an amazing time with this novel. I loved the pacing and I didn’t finish it exhausted from the melodrama. I rooted for the couple until the very end and the writing was super engaging. This book basically challenged everything I thought I knew about romances and I am so glad it did.

MY FAVORITE NOVELLA

IMG_6634I’m not sure if Sinner is considered a novella, because of its length, but I still think it is. It was an add-on to The Wolves of Mercy Falls, that I absolutely did not think I was going to love as much as I did.

The best way I’ve found to describe it is: “Where She Went’s L.A. cousin”. Set in California, this one follows Cole and Isabel, as Cole has now returned home to record a new album and a reality show, but mostly to win Isabel back. They were my favorite dysfunctional couple in the original trilogy, and I loved reading more about them here.

The reason why I say this is Where She Went’s L.A. cousin is because absolutely everything I love about that book is in Sinner as well. The discussions of music, the intense protagonist, the angsty relationship, the celebrity expectations…

Even after days of finishing my read, I couldn’t stop thinking about this book, and it’s now December, and I’m still thinking about it. It really was that amazing.

BY A NEW FAVORITE AUTHOR

IMG_4190I have to hype up You Should See Me in a Crown once again because this book really did blow me away. And I need to hype it up as much as I can until it gets turned into a NETFLIX film. Thank you.

This prom-com follows Liz, who’s recently gotten the news she was denied financial aid for her dream school, and decides she’ll be running for prom queen, as the winner gets a college scholarship. Liz is not popular, though, so she’s essentially climbing an uphill battle and getting through a lot of crazy shenenigans as she does so.

I feel like Leah Johnson was able to discuss several different topics, without it ever feeling “too much” or like she was not giving enough time to each one of them. This book talks about friendship, family, disability, anxiety, sexuality and being a woman of color, and the author nailed every. single. aspect, while still keeping it a fun light-hearted read that made me giggle out loud.

This book just really proved me that YA fiction tropes are not “dead” and are not “boring” – they just need to be done right, and they can still work.

FAVORITE NEW-RELEASE

Only Mostly Devastated was a *gift*. I need to re-read this book ASAP because it really had no business being as good as it was.

IMG_4452In this Grease retelling, we follow our main character Ollie, having a whirl-wind romance with this boy named Will, and then breaking up as he’ll be going back to his hometown. However, due to family circumstances, Ollie ends up moving permanently to the city he’d been spendng the summer in, and bumping into Will again in his first day of school. Except, Will is now behaving completely different. *Angst ensues*.

I absolutely adored this novel. From the characters, to the writing. I loved the way the author wrote teenagers that felt *real*: the dialogues were well written, and most importantly, the dynamics between Ollie and his new group of friends felt very accurate to the way I see teenagers interacting. It was definitely a bit awkward and it wasn’t instant friendship, but the development payed off.

The romance was also adorable and Ollie was 100% a chaotic and relatable narrator. I was also surprised by this book’s discussions of grief & family, and I appreciated so much the author for adding such layer.

DESERVING OF MORE HYPE

IMG_6633Not to trigger anyone by using the word “underhyped”, but Camp was a 2020 queer release that I feel like mostly flew down the radar of a lot of people. And it absolutely should not, because this was one of the most original and well-crafted stories I’ve read in a while.

Our protagonist here is Randy, but this summer, he’s Del. After going to this queer camp for several summers in a row, Randy has developed a massive crush on Hudson, but Hudson only ever dates masculine, butch guys. So Randy decides to “play a character” in order to get Hudson’s attention, and become Del. I was already stocked to read this synopsis and realize the author was probably going to make a critique of toxic masculinity within the queer community, and I pretty much could predict where the story was going to take us.

Except L.C Rosen did *so* much more than my tiny brain could’ve ever seen coming. This book challenges so many different queer stereotypes and, ultimately, sends off an incredibly positive and uplifting message that there is no point getting caught up in boxes, because queer-ness can mean whatever it means to you.

I loved pretty much all the characters, the theatre shenenigans, the camp’s queer history lessons, the sex positivity… Overall, this book delivered SO much, I really need more people to read it.

BEST BOOK OF 2020

IMG_3357I don’t think this will come as a surprise if you’ve been following me at all, but my favorite book of the year was one I read back in February, and that is Call It What You Want.

I’ve since picked up every single other contemporary by Brigid Kemmerer, but none held up to the awesome-ness of this book. Following the perspectives of two high school social pariahs, Meg and Rob, this book introduces us to a complex and rich cast of characters who all kinda suck, but in a way that just makes you like them even more.

When I say I like morally grey characters, this is what I mean, and this is what I want to see more of. Not the same badboy with daddy issues type of guy. But characters who are incredibly complex, and who make bad decisions in name of human emotions, but also learn from their mistakes and work to be better.

It’s hard for me to convince people to read this book, because the premise in its core may not seem that interesting. I just hope y’all trust me when I say that this book made it practically impossible for me to give any other 5 star this year and it pretty much ruined my standards. I love him for it, though.

Let me know: what was the best book you read in 2020? Have you read any of these titles? If so, what are your thoughts? Let’s chat in the comments!

the disappointing reads of 2020! (& extra rom-com recs)

Hello, friends!

Merry Christmas, if you celebrate it! I hope you’re having a lovely day. As a Grinch, I of course had to choose the happiest day of the year to share my least favorite books I read in 2020. Last year, I decided to match my least-favorite reads with lyrics of songs. This year, I decided that for every bad book, I’ll be recommending one of my favorite rom-coms, because, well, yes.

(As a disclaimer, I am aware I have titles in this list by authors of color/featuring BIPOC characters. So, this is not me telling you to not support an author of color and watch this white rom-com instead. I am literally just recommending rom-coms I like to make this post more positive, instead of just focusing on the things I disliked).


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Loveboat, Taipei was just an incredibly frustrating story. Mostly, because I hated all the characters: the main character who never truly took responsibility for her actions and acted like everyone else around her “drove” to do the shit she does; the two points of the love triangle that were just so one-dimensional and annoying; and the friends who were just the worst. The author tried to do a lot, but ultimately, most topics felt underdeveloped. I also recommend this video, from an own-voices reviewer, that also touches in some of the problems with the representation, because even though this is an own-voices story, it’s not free of issues.

Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) - IMDb

💕 For this one, I want to recommend Diary of Bridget Jones, because it makes a better job *in my opinion* of a love triangle with a “bad boy” and a “good guy”, where both options don’t seem the best at first, but the characters are well developed enough.

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hates me

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The Upside of Falling was pitched as a fake-dating story, which is already enough to convince me, but the fake-dating element made *no sense* whatsoever. None of these characters had strong enough motivations to accept being in a fake-dating relationship for starters, and the development felt so cheap because of that. Both were also big clichés – the bookworm and the jock -, and apart from discussing different family dynamics (one of our main character has divorced parents), it really didn’t do much for me at all.

The Proposal (2009) - IMDb

💍 As a much better fake-dating story, we have The Proposal – where our main character has to pretend marry her assistant in order not to get deported. It is hilarious and the romance is *actually* believable!

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I Was Born For This was my least-favorite read and probably biggest disappointment of the year. I ended up DNF-ing this book, even though I believed I’d love it. I am a huge boyband fan myself, but ultimately, I just feel like this book had an overwhelming negative portrayal of what fan culture actually is and it made me feel awful about myself. Especially considering Alice Oseman is such a young author, I definitely didn’t expect that this book was going to send the same messages my 40-year-old uncle, that I “should not like this band, because they don’t even know I exist”, lol.

Stuck in the Suburbs (2004) movie posters

🎤 Stuck in the Suburbs is actually a D-COM, but it counts, since it’s my list. It doesn’t have much of a romance element, and is rather about friendships and being true to who you are. It also pokes fun on the idea that teenage fans are all immature, which was refreshing.

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really

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Considering how much I loved other titles by Brigid Kemmerer this year, More Than We Can Tell really was a disappointment. This was another title that tried covering so many topics, but didn’t have enough time to develop all of them. Both of our mains lacked a lot of communication skills and emotional intelligence, and I don’t think they actually learn much about those in the course of the book. It made their perspectives particularly frustrating to read about. I also feel like they would’ve worked much better platonically, than as an actual couple, as they didn’t have much chemistry at all.

The Break-Up (2006) - Movie Posters (1 of 1)

💔 The Break-Up is what Marriage Story wanted to be, and that’s the tea. It shows very well how people need to be good and ready as individuals, before they can be good to each other in a relationship, which is what I missed in More Than We Can Tell.

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i hate this

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I had heard a lot of mixed reviews on History is All You Left Me, so this wasn’t a huge disappointment, but I still wanted to like it more than I did. I found the first half to be interesting, but Griffin was possibly the most unlikableprotagonist I ever read about. Not only that, but all the conversations and flirting had to involve pop-culture like, you know, a millennial would, a love interest is introduced as a “plot twist” which was terrible, and the discussion the author tried to have around the only female characters who our protagonist knew was incredibly poorly done.

Rich in Love (2020 film) - Wikipedia

🍅 I don’t have any gay rom-coms to recommend, but since I read this book for the Latinx readathon, let me recommend you a Latinx rom-com. Rich in Love is a NETFLIX original set in Brazil and it’s hilarious, adorable and the side characters are all so great as well.

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bitch

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I had also heard mostly negative reviews for A Thousand Fires, but decided to give it a shot anyway, because I hate myself apparently? My biggest gripe with this book was that it felt like a Divergent knock-off: the gangs were like the factions, the dynamic our main character had with her love interest was literally Tris/Four and even some scenes felt similar! There was a lot of potential for the author to talk about serious topics – such as how financial inequality and community neglect lead people to join gangs, as well as how this problem disproportionally affects communities of color, but it was a very surface-level YA book.

Step Up (2006) - IMDb

💃 As a movie that I feel like did a good job at both being a light-hearted story and discuss serious issues at the same time, I have to shoutout Step Up – the original, that started it all, and makes me cry everytime I watch it.

i miss

the shape of y

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While Breath Like Water did some aspects – mostly the ones surrounding the main character’s passion for swimming – really well, the actual romance was a let down. I never truly felt the chemistry between the protagonists, the presence of the side characters felt forced (especially the parental dynamic) and the ending was by far one of the most unsatisfying things I’ve ever read. Plus, the book could’ve been *a lot* shorter.

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⛸ Following a protagonist who finds out a passion for figure skating, Ice Princess is a classic for a reason and does a good job with the romance, despite it being a very small layer of the story.

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That’s it, friends! Let me know your least favorite read of 2020 or a rom-com you recommend for me to check out!

five YA books with female protagonists that deserve the moon and back

book recs.(1)

So, when it comes to female characters, I always take a while longer to connect to them than with male ones. I don’t know why and we could probably get ourselves in a lengthy debate about internalized misogyny and double-standard expectations that we don’t really have time for today, so let’s just say that:

These characters swept me off my feet. I didn’t expect to love them as much as I did, or to become as protective as I was of them while I read it. And now I am urging you to read them, so we can gush about their absolute *perfection*. Basically.

LOBIZONA

Trigger warnings: ICE raids, anti-immigration sentiments

IMG_4679We follow in Lobizona our protagonist Manu, an undocummented Argentinian immigrant who finds herself wrapped up in the world of the Septimus – a magical world of brujas and werewolves. However, Manu is a lobizona, aka a she-wolf, the only of her kind.

When we start out this book, is impossible not to immediately love and sympathize with Manu. She’s a very lonely character, as having unique eyes has essentially privated her from any sort of normal, so she doesn’t really have any friends her age. We also then get to see Manu trying to protect her family, as well as finding things about her past, and it’s clear her determination and bravery through it all.

I loved her inner monologue so much and found myself deeply connected with her from the first few pages. I also really appreciate how, throughout the course of the novel, we see how much Manu is not interested in settling in with a couple of people who love and accept her for who she is. She becomes determined in carving a place in this world where she can belong, and not only for her, but for all the people who dare to be different.

She’s simply so fucking great it made the entire reading experience worth it for me.

LET’S CALL IT A DOOMSDAY

IMG_6033Our protagonist Ellis is a questioning bisexual Mormon girl with anxiety, who experiences a lot of intrusive thoughts, mostly related to the apocalypse. Things change in her life once she meets this girl named Hannah, who believes she knows when the apocalypse will happen.

This book was a *delight*, as can be expected from Katie Henry. But what I adored so much about Ellis is how she’s a character who’s simply trying her best. Not only is she trying to decide what is the best way to deal with the fact she holds possible knowledge about the doomsday, but she’s also experiencing a lot of confusion in relation to her feelings to both a girl best friend at her church and this mysterious, intriguing boy in her new friend group.

She’s definitely not a perfect character, but her flaws made her relatable and even more likable in my opinion. I also appreciated a lot how this book centers in a female friendship and delivers *a lot* of emotions on that front, so really, you’re getting two amazing female characters here.

SAINTS AND MISFITS

Trigger warnings: attempted rape, sexual assault, sharing of photos without hijab (with no permission), islamophobia.

IMG_6035S.K. Ali’s most recent novel, Love From A to Z, is very popular, and I wish more people would pay attention to this one, which I believe is her debut. Saints and Misfits follows Janna, a fifteen year old Muslim girl who’s trying to decide how to come forward about a sexual assault where the assailant is someone very well known in her community.

This book was hard to read, mostly because I felt like Janna was being failed by pretty much everyone around her. I really disliked all our side characters, tbh. Her two best friends were very judgemental and not entirely supportive, her brother was annoying, her mom clearly favored him the entire time, and I just wanted to get inside the book, wrap Janna in a blanket and tell her everything was going to be fine – even if her support system kinda sucked.

It’s also incredibly important to see Janna’s growth as she tries to understand herself as well as everything that happened with her. I liked the fact this is a coming of age story, while also discussing sexual assault and how difficult and challenging it can be for a victim to come forward, especially in the situation our protagonist was.

FURIA

Trigger warnings: domestic violence, depictions and discussions of violence against women, implications of predatory behavior

Ha. Me screaming about Furia. Again. Sorry, but what can I say? I will continue to scream until y’all start reading more Latinx/South American authors.

IMG_5118Furia is set entirely in the city of Rosario, Argentina, starring our main character Camila, who wants to be a professional football player. We follow her as she manages to take her team to the Sudamericano and is also grappling with sexism, misogyny, and a complicated relationship.

I love so many elements of this book, but I’ll focus on Camila for now. She’s incredibly determined, badass, and super strong. She knows what she wants and she wants to get there by herself, in her own merit. She can also find small ways to find sexism and injustice whenever she can, but is also aware enough of her surroundings to know when is not safe to stand up.

This book discusses feminism at lenght (if you’re familiar with the feminist movement in Argentina or the Ni Una Menos protests, this one will definitely hit home) and has amazing and powerful female relationships and overall really great discussions.

Oh yes, and a lot of football too, which is just, you know, ~a given~.

KINGS, QUEENS AND IN-BETWEENS

Y’all have been sleeeeeepping on this one, ok. Go read it!

Kings, Queens and In-Betweens centers around Nima, who gets wrapped up in the world of drag queens and drag kings. She learns a lot of powerful lessons – the ones I yeeted the most about were surrounding identity and found families – and also makes a bunch of mistakes, which was honestly delightful nonetheless.

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  • Nima is 100% chaotic lesbian. She falls in love with every pretty girl that steps in front of her, which you know, who can blame her?
  • We also have a questioning jock as a sidekick that surprisingly grows on you after a while.
  • The aspect of found families, like I mentioned, is so pure!!!!!
  • Also complicated family dynamics, as Nima doesn’t have a relationship with her mom.
  • Oh yes, and DRAG QUEENS AND KINGS and a lot of sparkle.

This book’s writing wasn’t necessarily my favorite, but I still would recommend it for a female protagonist that you can’t help but adore.

Alright, friends! If you have any other books to recommend with great female protagonists, please, let me know in the comments!

gothtober readathon wrap up!

read-a-thon wrap up. (1)

Hello, friends!

I’ve officially completed the GothTober Readathon, and there are a lot of great books here to talk about. I didn’t expect to read as much in October, as I was coming out of a reading slump by the end of September, but the readathon turned out to be a success and I’m very happy with most of what I read.

LGBTQ+ READ

Trigger warnings: suicide attempt, grief, brief descriptions of cancer related symptoms, internalized transphobia, homophobic slurs, homophobia

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★★★★☆

I started out the month re-reading one of my favorite books of last year, Birthday, by Meredith Russo. I was able to notice a lot more flaws this time around – I feel like Morgan’s internalized transphobia was not challenged enough and it would’ve been important if we could have been introduced to a more positive, up-lifting trans rep; and I also felt like there was room for the author to discuss sexuality as a spectrum, but the only labels to show up are “transgender”, “gay” and “straight” and we all know there’s a lot more gray area than this. I still found this to be as addictive and compelling as the first time around. I noticed how this book gave me the exact same feelings I had when I was reading Ari & Dante: it’s such a hard book to read, but impossible to put down.

BAME READ

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★★★☆☆

Now That I’ve Found You was a new release I was very excited about, but ultimately, I felt like the premise was better than the actual execution. I was really interested in the idea of a main character going through NYC to find her eccentric, movie star grandma, but the resolution of said “mystery” was really boring, imo. There was potential there to be more of a “putting clues together” sort of mystery, but it really wasn’t, and I was disappointed about that. I also would not really recommend the audiobook, as I felt like the voice the narrator did for the love interest was pretty emotionless and stopped me from fully buying into the romance. The book still has interesting discussions and gave me a lot of Evelyn Hugo vibes, but YA, so I still consider it to be a worthwile read.

DISABILITY READ

Trigger warnings: violence, emotional and physical abuse, neglect, ableism and ableist language

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★★★★☆

I then picked up The Boy Who Steals Houses, which is an autistic own-voices story that absolutely broke my heart, as I had already predicted. I really liked the writing, as it was beautifully poetic, and the banter between the characters fantastic, and I also really did love all the characters. I thought it was really interesting how the author paralleled Sammy and Avery’s autistic experiences (Sammy is never diagnosed on page, but I think it’s pretty safe to assume he was autistic as well?) and the De Laineys family were a joy. I do wish we had a bit more closure at the end, and the pacing of the last 30% was also off for me, but I still recommend it.

FEMALE PROTAGONIST

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★★★☆☆

The Deck of Omens is the second book in The Devouring Gray duology, and I’m really glad I didn’t take a major break in between books one and two, as I remembered most of what had happened and was also just as attached to the characters as I’d first been. I ended up not liking this one as much as The Devouring Gray, as I felt like the plot was a lot more predictable and cliché, and the characters interactions felt a lot drier compared to the first one (the lack of angst was understandable, but still :/). It was still a satisfying conclusion to the series, though, but it didn’t blow my mind like the first one did.

RED

Trigger warnings: death of a loved one, brief descriptions of sex trafficking and rape, police brutality

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★★★★☆

I was so happy to pick up Patron Saints of Nothing, as it had been on my TBR for quite some time. I thought the author did a really great job discussing the drug war on the Philippines – obviously, I’m not Filipino myself, and was just at first being introduced to the issue, but I think it was explained well and the author was able to show different perspectives on it. On top of it, I found amazing how the author crafted Jun’s character, since we know from the synopsis he’s dead, but through the letters he shared with Jay (our protagonist) and the memories that his family members recount of him, we were able to have a very clear picture of Jun and I loved his character a lot, even though we never fully get to know him. The writing was a little bit too dry for me, though, and I wish it had been more poetic and fleshed out at times, which is why I’m giving it 4 instead of 5 stars.

GREY MORALITY

Trigger warnings: death of a loved one, suicidal thoughts/suicide attempt, car accidents

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★★★★☆

I do admit I was expecting Letters to the Lost to be the book to tell me, once in for all, if I love or dislike Brigid Kemmerer. I have read other two books by her – one, my favorite of the year, the other, a huge disappointment. And I’m happy to report I actually really loved this one! It was incredibly addictive, much like Call It What You Want and impossible to put down. The characters are perfectly flawed and I actually really liked the relationship they developed. However, this turned out to be more of a 4 stars, as I feel like we needed more closure at the end and Declan was a very difficult character to like. I know it’s part of the grey morality and all, but I liked Rob (Call It What You Want) infinitely more than I liked him, and it’s hard not to compare both.

DARK ACADEMIA

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★★★★☆

For this prompt, I chose to read a pretty cult-classic dark academia book and that was If We Were Villains. This book is compared a lot to The Secret History, which I’ve already read, and I liked this one exponentially more. First, the narrator was much more hands-on than Richard in The Secret History, the parallels between their lives and what they were studying were a lot more fleshed out and there’s a significant less use of homophobic slurs, which is already enough to make this the superior book for me. I will say, though, I found most of the story to be predictable and I was a bit annoyed by how much we, as readers, could see that our main couldn’t, but there’s a twist at the very end I could’ve never predicted and that made me shook to the core. I’m just happy I was able to understand the whole book, to be honest, lol.

book review: frankly in love, by david yoon

IMG_5668High school senior Frank Li is a Limbo–his term for Korean-American kids who find themselves caught between their parents’ traditional expectations and their own Southern California upbringing. His parents have one rule when it comes to romance–“Date Korean”–which proves complicated when Frank falls for Brit Means, who is smart, beautiful–and white. Fellow Limbo Joy Song is in a similar predicament, and so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom. Frank thinks it’s the perfect plan, but in the end, Frank and Joy’s fake-dating maneuver leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love–or himself–at all.

Hello, friends!

I was really excited to read Frankly in Love, as it was an own-voices Korean-American story, with the fake-dating trope – which is one of my favorite tropes ever -, so I had high hopes.

This book turned out to be… a lot, for quite different reasons, so let’s break those down:

TW: racism, racist slurs, cheating, cancer, death of a loved one, shootings

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  1. The writing. I don’t think David Yoon’s writing will necessarily work for everyone, as it is both detailed and not detailed at all, lol. I don’t know how to explain it, but he hardly ever describes scenarios, but when he does, it’s very lush. What I liked the most about the writing was the dialogues – all the characters had fantastic banter and, even if it wasn’t entirely realistic, it was a lot of fun to read.
  2. The discussions on being Korean-American. As the synopsis suggests, Frank Li considers himself a “Limbo” – his parents are Korean and do not speak English; he’s American and does not speak Korean. I really appreciated the discussion of identity and family, and how much Frank felt disconnected from his parents because of the language barrier, as well as how he felt alienated from the Korean community in general. It was really interesting and made me reflect a lot.
  3. Nuanced characters!! While I did not love our protagonist and the writing of some of the characters, I do think the author was able to write successfully nuanced/flawed characters. Frank’s parents, for example, who are racist and say a lot of ignorant things, are still his parents and show a number of other layers besides that. I think it was incredibly important to show such grey area.

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  1. Frank Li. I just really did not like Frank that much. He’s an interesting character, but his decision making was very questionable the entire time. It’s not that he was awful, but I do think it was harder for me to be fully immersed in the story since I did not like our main and this was a first-person book after all.
  2. The romance, and the fake dating too. The romance in this book is just… the worst. Not only the instance of cheating was taken way too lightly, I really did not feel for either of the relationships. They were both incredibly insta-love-y and I had no idea why these characters were already saying “I love you” to each other so early in their relationship, especially because the interactions tended to be so dry, with not enough emotional connection.
  3. The female representation in general. Unfortunately, that’s the one thing about reading books by straight men: the female rep tends to be shit, lol. Brit and Joy were pretty flat characters; Joy was a little bit more three-dimensional because she was a Limbo like Frank and they could bond over that, but in general, I feel like through so many of the conflicts in this book, Joy was just *there* and we could never really see what she really thought and felt about the situation. She didn’t express many emotions, despite most of the conflicts having to deal with her or her family. There’s also the side character of Q’s sister, who in EVERY SINGLE INSTANCE is described as “hot”, “smoking hot”, “gorgeous”, etc, and that’s the only trait we really know of her. The fact Q, Frank and his dad are the most developed characters in the story say enough about what representation mattered the most there.

IMG_5672Overall, this book would’ve worked better for me perhaps if it hadn’t been marketed as a “YA romance”, especially because I feel like the romance was by far the worst layer of the book. I think it would’ve been more accurate to describe it as a coming of age story, that depicts layers of racism, prejudice, family and identity.

I still would consider reading more David Yoon in the future, as I actually really enjoyed the writing style. He has a new book coming out next month that I’m actually pretty excited about, and hopefully it will be better than this one.

3 ESTRELASNOVO

Have you read Frankly in Love? If so, what are your thoughts? If you have more fake dating books to recommend, let me know!

five YA contemporary fantasies for the ~halloween vibes~

book recs.(1)

Hello, friends!

If you’ve ever read my blog before, then you probably know I am a YA contemporary trash. It’s my whole brand and I hardly ever read anything else but that. However, that doesn’t mean I am opposed to fantasy. I even enjoy it occasionally, especially when it’s fantasy happening in our world.

So, I decided to compile a list of my favorite YA contemporary fantasies that will hopefully give you Halloween vibes as the date approaches. (I feel like Halloween is slowly turning it into my favorite time of the year and? Who could’ve predicted that).

UNDEAD GIRL GANG

IMG_5696Undead Girl Gang will follow Mila, a fat Mexican-American girl whose best-friend has recently died. Everyone in the town has ruled out her death as a suicide, but Mila believes she was actually murdered. So, she decides to do what any other reasonable person would do: to perform a spell to bring her best friend back from the dad so she can figure out what happened. In the process, she ends up accidentally bringing back two other girls and of course crazy shenenigans will ensue.

I did not ~love~ this book, but I would say it was a pretty solid read. The fantasy here is obviously not a huge part of the book, at all. It is the reason why the plot starts, but there’s much more of a mystery element throughout it, as the girls try to figure out who could’ve murdered them.

I found that some of the story beats and aesthetic were overall very similar to Heathers, so if you like the musical/movie, perhaps you’ll enjoy this one too! While I felt like more could’ve been given to the development of the female relationships, I really enjoyed how they were wrapped up, though, and I liked Mila a lot as a protagonist.

THE WICKED DEEP

img_1093I read this book around Halloween of 2018 and it was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made! I remember that the weather was perfect for a read like this, as it complimented the atmosphere wonderfully.

The Wicked Deep is set in a sea-side town where every summer, the spirits of three sisters come back to haunt the city, by drowning boys in the harbor like they were once drowned. The dynamic changes once this new-comer, Bo, shows up in the town, unaware of the danger he’s putting himself into.

This book doesn’t necessarily have the most pristine character/relationship development but is SO atmospheric. The present story is intercalated with chapters that tell the past of the three sisters, who were accused of whichcraft and killed, and we also get to follow their perspective, that is remarkably eerie and spooky.

If you’re experiencing fall right now, I’d highly recommend this one, as it has the absolute perfect vibes for this time of year.

CEMETERY BOYS

Trigger warnings: misgendering, depictions of gender dysphoria, death of a parent

Not that I feel like you need *any* more reasons to read this book, as so many people have screamed about it and it was in the New York Best-Seller’s List, but… I shall provide anyway.

IMG_5703Our main character, Yadriel, wants to prove himself to his family as a brujo after coming out as trans. In order to do that, he decides to set free the ghost of his murdered cousin, but ends up summoning the spirit of the hyperactive, local badboy, Julian Diaz.

This book is a delight, honestly. It has the perfect balance of spooky vibes – with the whole talk of ghosts, rituals and Lady Death – and hilarious-ness, as Julian is super funny and the banter between the characters is fantastic.

I feel like if you’re into the spooky aesthetic, but is still looking for a read with great overall themes (loved so much how this book shows Yadriel growing to understand how he doesn’t have to compromise or settle all the time and that he deserves to be recognized for who he is) and A+ character and relationship development, you can not go wrong with this one.

THE DEVOURING GRAY

I feel like, out of all the titles in this list, The Devouring Gray is probably the most full-on fantasy, though for a lot of fantasy readers, this one fell short, so maybe it was just more than what I’m used to, really.

In this small town, the Founding Families are the ones with magical abilities who have the duty to protect the citizens from the Grey – this magical forest where resides The Beast. Our protagonist, Violet, has just moved in to this town and has been showing signs of magical skills, but she’s not part of a founding family. So our protagonists team up to uncover this mystery.

IMG_5707Things to note that make this book super fun:

  • A NUMBER of bi characters, which we love to see!
  • The two biggest romance plotlines deliver just the perfect amount of angst to keep you interested.
  • Small town drama – new girl? outcast?
  • One of our protagonists, Harper, is an amputee, and also an absolute badass.
  • Creepy atmosphere and magic related to tarot cards, rituals, etc.
  • Great exploration of grief and trauma.

This one really surprised me, as I’d mostly read mediocre reviews, and I can not see it, honestly. This book was a lot of fun, imo.

THE WICKER KING

IMG_3534Ok, we’ll end this one with a contemporary with just ~sprinkles~ of fantasy. This is not a fantasy book, in the slightest, but I feel like it shares a similar atmosphere that feels perfect for this time of year.

Here, we follow best friends, Jack and August, who are trying to figure things out after Jack starts experiencing hallucinations. This is where the fantasy gets intertwined, as the world Jack starts seeing becomes more and more real as time goes on, along with the darkness of the story.

It definitely has similar eerie and overall kinda tragic vibes. I keep telling myself I should not recommend this book across the board, because the relationship is definitely not the healthiest and I can definitely see how it would really bother some readers, but I also love it so much I just want more people to read it, lol.

If you have any recommendations of contemporary fantasies, please, let me know! I actually really like this genre and I want to read more of it, especially by authors of color!

book tour: furia, by yamile saied méndez

A powerful, #ownvoices contemporary YA for fans of The Poet X and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter set in Argentina, about a rising soccer star who must put everything on the line—even her blooming love story—to follow her dreams.

In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.

Filled with authentic details and the textures of day-to-day life in Argentina, heart-soaring romance, and breathless action on the pitch, Furia is the story of a girl’s journey to make her life her own.

Book links:

Goodreads | AmazonBook Depository | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Kobo | Indigo | Google Play | The Kings English

Get to know more about the author!

Yamile Saied MéndezYamile (sha-MEE-lay) Saied Méndez is a fútbol-obsessed Argentine-American who loves meteor showers, summer, astrology, and pizza. She lives in Utah with her Puerto Rican husband and their five kids, two adorable dogs, and one majestic cat. An inaugural Walter Dean Myers Grant recipient, she’s also a graduate of Voices of Our Nations (VONA) and the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA Writing for Children’s and Young Adult program. She’s a PB, MG, and YA author. Yamile is also part of Las Musas, the first collective of women and nonbinary Latinx MG and YA authors. She’s represented by Linda Camacho at Gallt & Zacker Literary.

Author Links:

Website | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

Tour Banner

Hello, friends! This is my first time ever participating on a book tour and I couldn’t be more excited, especially because Furia was one of my most anticipated releases of 2020.

Trigger warnings: domestic violence, depictions and discussions of violence against women, implications of predatory behavior

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  1. Camila. Camila was a fantastic protagonist and I loved following her. She’s strong, determined, and dreams big. I loved how aware she was of the world around her, so she knew when it was not safe to stand up, but she also found small ways to fight injustice and sexism. It is clear Camila is not interested in following anyone, and ready to be the protagonist of her own life. I particularly liked seeing her deal with the choices of loving Diego and wanting to be with him, but also wanting to follow her own path.
  2. The setting. Rosario was such a great setting and it really solidified to me how much more relatable it is to read books by Latinx authors that are actually set in Latin America. Rosario is not the kind of city you’d see in movies or TV, but it felt so realistic to my own experience and I loved how the author created an atmosphere that was still picturesque and romantic.
  3. The feminist commentary. It was really interesting how this was worked throughout the novel. What the author does is talk about what feminism means for this community of women in Argentina and for their struggles. It is hard to read and particularly disturbing at times, as you watch the way these women have been failed by society and by the other people in their lives. I also loved how the female relationships – especially the ones between Camila and her best friends, Roxanna, and her mom – were so fleshed out and powerful for the story.
  4. There’s a lot of football. I love football, ok. I am a Brazilian girl of simple needs – I see football, I love it. Here, it is not only Camila who’s a player, but also her brother and her love interest, so we see a lot of how the sport has impacted their lives as a family and as a community, and at the same time, how much football connects and also breaks them apart at times. I loved the metaphors created there!

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I’d say the only thing that bothered me about this book was the pacing. This is definitely *not* a plot-driven novel, and most of it is very character-focused, which doesn’t bother me, but I can definitely see how it would bother others. I found that the last 30% was kinda rushed, especially in comparison to the rest of the book.

Overall, Furia is definitely one I’d recommend. I think it’s rare for us to see books like this, that have such poignant discussions for a certain demographic, and that are being shared for all people.

I felt the same way when I read Where We Go From Here, which is set in Brazil. It made me want to share with the world and point out, like: “THIS is what living here actually looks like” and Furia made me feel the same way. It’s still universally relatable, but it means even more for other Latinx girls, who’ll be able to see themselves in Camila’s story.

4 ESTRELASNOVO

Before we go, I want to share a playlist that I created as I read Furia! Some of the songs are mentioned in the book (like Mi Gente and Maluma), while others I chose myself because the lyrics can be connected to the story or share similar feelings as the ones the characters are going through.

And, of course, make sure to check out the other tour stops as well! I am excited to hear other people’s thoughts on this one, as it was quite meaningful to me.

September 9th

Fannatality -Welcome post & interview

Pastelwriter – Review Only

Kristia Villaflores – Book Recommendations based on book

Books & Dice – Favorite Quotes

Libros Con Aby Lee – Review Only

September 10th

The Bookish Skies – Playlist

Sasha and Amber Read – Review Only

Toffi Lady Reader – Favorite Quotes

Faydriel Reads – Reading vlog

L De Lecturas – Review Only

September 12th

The Book View – Moodboard

Idleutopia Reads – Review Only

Iris Book List – Blog Interview

Bookrokosmos – Reading vlog

Reading At My Pace – Review Only

September 13th

Too Much Miya – Favorite Quotes

Mel Reads – Review Only

A Cup of Nicole – Reading vlog

Landscape Pages – Review Only

September 14th

Nox Reads – Reading vlog

Bookzandcookies – Book recommendations based on books

Nature Mama Reads – Review Only

Colorfully Bookish – Mood Board

September 15th (Release Day)

Metamorphoreader – Blog Interview

A Bronx Latina Reads – Review Only

Bookishly Kenia – Instagram Feature Post

Book Dragon 217 – Review Only

Thank you so much for the Colored Pages tour for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the book tour! Are you excited for Furia? What book have you read recently that made you feel *seen*?

latinx readathon wrap up!

read-a-thon wrap up. (1)

A POETRY BOOK OR A PLAY

Trigger warnings: death of a parent, plane crashes, descriptions of birth complications, stalking, sexual assault

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★★★★☆

Clap When You Land was a super intense read that I definitely consider to be deserving of all the hype. Even though I struggle with books written in verse and I did not love the writing in here, I still appreciated the story a lot. I’d have loved to see more of Yahara and Camino’s relationship, but I nonetheless felt like both characters were really well-rounded and fleshed out and I really liked the discussions of privilege that this book presents by comparing the two sisters. I will say, though, it was quite triggering to read at times as I am not comfortable reading about sexual assault, so definitely beware if you plan to read this one as well.

AFRO-LATINX AUTHOR

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★★☆☆☆

I literally have NO idea as to why I did not enjoy The Worst Best Man. Objectively, it was a great book – the Brazilian references were completely well done (except for the translation of “né?” for “you kidding, right?” when “né?” is just “right?”), both characters were interesting, the progression of the relationship felt believable and there wasn’t a huge miscommunication issue, which was refreshing for adult romances. But for some reason, I could not like it??? I think it all just boils down to the fact I listened to the audiobook and I found the dirty talk especially to be so cringey when read out loud. I’m pretty sure I would’ve enjoyed this one a lot better if I had read it, rather than listened to it.

M/M

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★★☆☆☆

I had read mixed reviews on History is All You Left Me, so that’s why I can’t even say this book was disappointing, as I didn’t go into it with high expectations. But, wow, what a mess. For the first 40% of the book, I’d say, I couldn’t really bring myself to judge these characters’ behaviors or problematic statements because they were grieving and I can’t even pretend to understand how hard that is on a person. But when more things about Griffin’s past, especially, were shared, the more I realized how these characters are just purely unlikable and there was nothing redeemable about them at all. I hated how the book also introduced a love interest as if it was a “plot twist” and the half-ass discussion of female characters the author tried to make was just terrible.

F/F

Trigger warnings: instances of racism, homophobia, bullying and outing of a character

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★★★★☆

The Henna Wars is actually a Bengali story, but with a Latinx (more specifically, Afro-Brazilian) love interest, which is why it felt fitting for me to read for this readathon. I really liked our main character and especially the relationship she has with her younger sister, which I found to be particularly realistic, as someone with an older sister myself. I loved the way the author navigated what it was like for Nishat’s family to understand and accept her as a lesbian. I was just a bit let down, because I expected that we’d have more of a discussion in regards of cultural appropriation and, overall, I feel like the racist behavior that was exhibited by other characters was never met with actual consequences, which is realisitc, and I understand, but still infuriating.

SET IN A LATIN AMERICAN COUNTRY

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★★★☆☆

I really am scared of talking about Where We Go From Here because I still desperately want MORE PEOPLE TO READ IT. It’s a book by a Brazilian author, set entirely in Brazil, discusses HIV and is super accurate to a college student’s experience in Brazil (based from my experience, but still). While I did not *love* this book, I really don’t want y’all to take my rating as an indicator that you should not read it, because you still should. I just found the pacing of the last 50% to be a bit off and I would have preferred if the author had spent more time developing the already existent relationship between our three mains, rather than adding more side characters, but it’s still, as I said, a super important read & the romance was AMAZING. Just: go read it. Okay, thanks.

NON-FICTION

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★★★☆☆

I think my read of My Time Among the Whites just really solidified to me that Latinx or those with Latinx heritage living in the States and Latin Americans who live here are completely different people. While I did appreciate the writer for opening up about her family experience, which was very relatable, as well as all the different ways that she found herself having to “compromise” so her Latinx heritage didn’t bother white people, most things still felt completely foreign. I wish the author had acknowledged more the privileges that come in living in a first world country, which she hardly ever does throughout her essays. It really was an eye opening experience, though, as it showed me how different we really are as a community.

AN IMMIGRANT STORY

Trigger warnings: ICE raids, anti-immigration sentiments

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★★★★☆

As I mentioned in my TBR, I had high expectations for this book and I am glad I was not disappointed. Lobizona presented a really smart way of using the worlds of Lunaris and the Septimus as a mirror of our real world. I loved Manu as a main character so much that even though I did not find myself carrying a lot for the side characters, I was still intrigued to keep reading because of her. She’s such a fantastic protagonist, who’s not interested at all in settling at a place where she can be accepted with a few people who love her, but is rather determined to carve a place in both of these worlds where her existence is recognized for herself and for anyone that’s different that comes after her. I loved her and I can not wait for book #2 to come out.

If you’ve read any of these books or was participating in the Latinx readathon at all, let me know your thoughts in the comments!

book review: loveless, by alice oseman

IMG_4671The fourth novel from the phenomenally talented Alice Oseman – one of the most authentic and talked-about voices in contemporary YA.

It was all sinking in. I’d never had a crush on anyone. No boys, no girls, not a single person I had ever met. What did that mean?

Georgia has never been in love, never kissed anyone, never even had a crush – but as a fanfic-obsessed romantic she’s sure she’ll find her person one day.

As she starts university with her best friends, Pip and Jason, in a whole new town far from home, Georgia’s ready to find romance, and with her outgoing roommate on her side and a place in the Shakespeare Society, her ‘teenage dream’ is in sight.

But when her romance plan wreaks havoc amongst her friends, Georgia ends up in her own comedy of errors, and she starts to question why love seems so easy for other people but not for her. With new terms thrown at her – asexual, aromantic – Georgia is more uncertain about her feelings than ever.

Is she destined to remain loveless? Or has she been looking for the wrong thing all along?

Loveless was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, and I already expected to relate a lot to Georgia in her journey of embracing her identity as an aro-ace girl. Alice Oseman so far has been an author of hit and misses for me, so I didn’t know what to expect exactly from this one.

While I didn’t love every aspect of this book, I still really enjoyed it, for the reasons I’ll explain now:

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  1. Georgia was very relatable. Like I said, I already expected to relate to Georgia and, in this case, relatability was important because it made me feel seen. Even though Georgia is not interested in experiencing romantic love for herself, she still loves watching rom-coms and reading fanfiction, which makes it even harder for her not to romanticize and dream of a happily ever after situation for herself. She’s also a major introvert and struggles with making conversation and meeting new people, so really, we had *a lot* in common.
  2. Positive queer community. It made me very happy to see that the Pride Soc here (a queer club they have at the university) was striving to be an inclusive and safe space for all queer identities. Even though it is shown that not *everyone* is on board with that, the representation was overwhelmingly positive, which was lovely to see. We know that, in reality, sadly, asexual people aren’t super welcomed in queer spaces, much like non-binary folks or even queer POC folks, but it meant a lot that the author made sure to highlight how Georgia was welcome there.
  3. Platonic relationships!!!!@!#! This is probably my favorite thing about this book, but wow, it was beautiful. Even though we don’t have Georgia falling in love romantically with anyone, it doesn’t mean we don’t follow a love story. It meant so much how platonic relationships here are not represented as just something “devoided” of romance, like as if they are defined just because there is no kissing or sex involved. That’s not the meaning of platonic relationships at all and they can be just as beautiful, intense and powerful as any romance, and I loved that so much.
  4. Theatre kids! I have a weakness for theatre kids, because I’ve always lowkey wanted to be one (thanks to High Schoool Musical), but never really was. For that reason, I love reading books about all the theatre shenenigans: rehearsals, memorizing lines, directing the scenes, etc. It was super fun reading about it in this one, especially because it had to do with Shakespeare, which I’m actually familiarized with, unlike other works.

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  1. Pip. Initially, I was very excited about Pip’s character, as she was a lesbian half-Colombian girl and South American rep always makes me happy. But I really disliked Pip throughout this book. Not only because a lot of her bad advice to Georgia was coming from her own insecurities, (something Rooney also does at the course of this novel and bothered me *so* much. Can we stop people from giving advice that they haven’t even internalized themselves first?) but also because she spends a lot of this book holding grudges and being mean when she was just as much on the wrong. She did not feel like a good friend to me, at all, and bothered me so much.
  2. Playing with someone else’s feelings in order to figure out your own. I don’t know why this bothered me so much, since it is clear from the premise that this is the direction the book is going to go. But it will forever be one of my least-favorite tropes in fiction, so yeah.
  3. At times, Georgia did not feel like a main character. I think this may all just boil down to the fact that most Alice Oseman books are in first person, and so we have to follow the side characters through Georgia’s eyes. But I feel like after the 55% mark, we were *mostly* following the side characters. While that wouldn’t bother me necessarily in order circumstances (it didn’t bother me in Radio Silence to follow a lot of Aled’s life, even though Frances’ was our main), I feel like with Georgia being asexual, it did bother me. As someone who relates to her, I felt like I’d never be the protagonist of my own life because I do not experience romantic feelings like everyone else does. This tone is not the entire tone of the book – like I mentioned, it was just at times that I felt like we focused more on everyone else than on Georgia, but it bothered me, so it was worth-mentioning.

Overall, I’d still recommend this book. Especially for other aro-ace folks, this book can be so, so very meaningful and I really hope by talking about my not-so-favorite things, I haven’t discouraged anyone or dismissed someone’s feelings because I do understand how important it is to feel seen. On that note, I want to recommend Margaret’s review, as I feel like she was able to open up a lot more about how important this book can be for aro-ace folks.

Even if you do not identify with Georgia in any way, this book still has great queer rep overall and one that deserves more support and rep, so considering this one is own-voices, y’all should definitely be reading it.

4 ESTRELASNOVO

If you read Loveless, what are your thoughts? Lets’ chat in the comments!

five YA contemporaries set in california because i’ve been in a teen beach movie mood

book recs.(1)

Hello, friends!

I know it’s summer for a lot of you living in the other hemisphere, so I hope this list also serves as a summer recommendations list. It’s not summer where I live, though, so it wouldn’t totally make sense to me, but I still wanted to share these books because I’ve been watching Teen Beach Movie and I’m inspired.

GIF teen beach movie - animated GIF on GIFER

ALEX, APPROXIMATELY

surfer’s town on Big Sur

I don’t think anyone needs more reasons to be reading Jenn Bennett, as she’s an incredibly popular YA author, but just in case: this one is set in a surfer’s town, so what could be more Californian than that?

IMG_3929The setting is my absolute favorite thing about this book. There are endless talks on boardwalks and surfing, sand and the sound of the ocean. It’s also nice because the characters work at a museum dedicated to the city’s history, so we’re constantly immersed in an unique location.

In case you don’t know what this book is about: this is a re-telling of You’ve Got Mail, where Bailey has been talking to this boy, Alex, on a movie-forum and she’s now moving to his hometown. However, she never mentions that to Alex, and in-town, she meets Porter, who’s obnoxious and gets on her nerves, but is also particularly captivating. Y’all can kinda guess where this is going to go, but it doesn’t make the ride any less worth it.

Even though I didn’t adore all the aspects of this book, I still found it to be a very dynamic and interesting take on a summer romance, as it felt realistic because of the summer job aspect of it, but also romantic and dreamy.

WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI

Stanford, San Francisco area

IMG_4051Of course I’d have to recommend one of my favorite books of all times! This one is set in Stanford, California, where Dimple is taking a summer course on app development and also where she meets Rishi in a well-crafted match-making plan by their parents – one that Dimple has no intention in taking part in.

I know a lot of people have very polarizing opinions on this book – some love it, some hate it. But I adore the story, mostly for the growth that these two characters go through together. Dimple has never been the perfect Indian daughter and she’s not interested at all in the plans her parents have for her: all she wants to do is work in her career and graduate.

Rishi, on the other hand, is very connected with the Indian culture and likes the traditions. So, you can expect that him and Dimple won’t have much in common, but I love how being opposites allow them both to understand the other part and grow.

Dimple learns that she doesn’t have to give up on one thing to live the other and she’s still badass and her own person even when she changes her mind. Rishi also learns with Dimple’s determination and strength. I absolutely adore how *real* these characters felt and their fabulous arc.

LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR

San Francisco

Again, one of my favorite books of all times, so you’d better expect I’d be raving about it. This one is set in San Francisco and we follow Lola, whose neighbors are moving back next door, ready to wreak havoc in her life. As anything in Lola’s life, this one is very overdramatic, but that’s exactly why I love it.

IMG_4663Lola is obsessed with fashion, but not in the way most people do. She likes making her own clothes, always wears wigs to match her mood and believes every day can be Halloween. I adore how the book explored what it meant for Lola about her own identity when she played a different character every day.

My favorite thing about this book is the angst and sexual tension between the characters. There is no such a thing as insta-love here, and you’re rooting so bad for them. I also love how the author makes sure to highlight the importance of being good to yourself first, before you can be good to someone else.

The side characters are equally amazing – her two dads are hilarious, Lindsey is a cutie and Cricket and Calliope are the most iconic duo ever.

ANGER IS A GIFT

Oakland

Trigger warnings: police violence, harrassment, violence, murder/death

I don’t think I ever mentioned this book on my blog before, because I read it back in December, and it got mixed up with my favorites/least favorites of the year and then the new-year enthusiasm. But I actually read this one, which is set in Oakland, and follows a super diverse cast of characters who are fighting police brutality and racism.

I have very conflicting opinions on this book, that I won’t necessarily get into, because I still think it’s worth reading and figuring out where you stand by yourself. Instead, I will highlight what I actually liked:

  • IMG_4664Diverse cast of characters with a lot of intersectionality. Our protagonist is a black Latinx gay boy and there are a lot of other queer black/latinx characters as well.
  • It addressed allyship incredibly well and how exactly white people can help in the cause.
  • Showed the power of teenage’s voice and how young people also have so much to say.
  • Moss has anxiety and police violence is a trigger for him, which is why at times he feels like he can not fight back what is happening in his community. I loved how the author showed that it is okay to prioritize your mental health, because you need to be well in order to fight for your community.

Again, go read it because there are definitely a lot of powerful messages you can take from it and maybe you’ll enjoy it better than I did!

THE BRIGHTSIDERS

Los Angeles

Speaking of books maybe y’all can enjoy better than I did, I have The Brightsiders. This one is set in Los Angeles, following Emmy King – drummer of the popular pop-rock band, The Brightsiders. In the beginning of the book, we see Emmy getting involved in a major scandal and we follow as she tries to repair her reputation.

IMG_4450Again, while I did not love this book, there were some great things about it. First and foremost, the diversity. As can be expected from Jen Wilde, this book was very diverse: our protagonist is bisexual, and her band-mates are a gender-queer pansexual guitarist and a questioning Korean-American boy. There’s also a non-binary best-friend and a bunch of other queer side characters.

I liked how the author explored Emmy’s alcoholism and how it was not as black and white as one may think. I also loved how, even though Emmy had such emotionally abusive parents, she was never alone, because her friends were super supportive and held her even when she made mistakes.

It was also nice seeing a toxic F/F relationship being discussed, as I feel like we tend sometimes to envision queer relationships as perfect, when they definitely can be unhealthy as well.

Do you like Teen Beach Movie? Do you have any recommendations for me of books/movies set in California? Let’s chat in the comments!