21 of my favorite books of all times in honor of turning 21

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Hello, friends!

Today, I turn 21 years old. I honestly feel like I’m still 15 and haven’t aged a single year since that, but unfortunately, I have. Unlike most people, I actually really dislike my birthday, which is why writing posts like these is an attempt to make this day a bit more fun & reflective for me, instead of all the negative vibes that hit as soon as the clock turns midnight.

For this year, I decided to compile 21 of my favorite YA contemporary titles. YA contemporary is my favorite genre, so it just felt fitting to choose this one. It’s going to be a long post, so bear with me!

21 IS FOR THE WICKER KING, BY K. ANCRUM

He would crave the burn until he was dead.

33158541I remember reading this book while in Math class, back in high school. The story was twisting my insides and making me feel so sad, and I still could not put the book down. K. Ancrum creates such amazing characters with an unique writing to show a relationship that is imperfect, but still so so so compelling.

☔️ rep: m/m romance, neurodiverse protagonist
🌈 own-voices: no
🌪 trigger warnings: toxic relationship, codependency, parental neglect, anxiety and panic attacks, use of ableist language

 

20 IS FOR SHE DRIVES ME CRAZY, BY KELLY QUINDLEN

I had yet to learn that being a nobody is supposed to bother me.

52516406. sy475 On a completely different vibe from the last book which is tragic and gritty, She Drives Me Crazy is the F/F romcom of my dreams. With the same vibes to 10 Things I Hate About You, this book touched on so many different topics, of friendship, family, sexuality, being an athlete and misogyny, while still being a fun and light-hearted story full of teen-com tropes.

☔️ rep: lesbian MC, indian-american love interest, f/f romance
🌈 own-voices: yes for the queer rep
🌪 trigger warnings: bullying and homophobia

 

19 IS FOR DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY, BY ADIB KHORRAM

Everyone wants you here. We have a saying in Farsi. It translates ‘your place was empty.’ We say it when we miss somebody. Your place was empty before. But this is your family. You belong here.

44139389This book was able to deliver *so* much and make a story that is, objectively, quite far from my reality, feel relatable. Darius The Great tackles mostly identity and our protagonist learning more about his Persian roots, but even as someone who couldn’t see herself in that part of the story, the way the book tackles fatphobia inside your own family and the approach of mental health resonated with me very deeply.

☔️ rep: clinical depression, gay MC, fat rep and persian rep
🌈 own-voices: yes
🌪 trigger warnings: fatphobia, bullying, depression, suicidal ideation, terminal ilness

 

18 IS FOR WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI

You are beautiful. Lajawab. My only worry is that I might not be able to do you justice.

28458598I recently re-read this book and it was such a great experience. While I was able to notice a lot more of its flaws (such as the slut-shaming, internalized misogyny and the lack of actual plot), I still stand by the fact that Dimple and Rishi are one of the best couples I’ve ever read in YA. They push each other to be the best, truer versions of themselves and their interactions are always so mature, with great communication and support.

☔️ rep: indian-american protagonists, latinx side character
🌈 own-voices: yes
🌪 trigger warnings: misogyny, racism and bullying

 

17 IS FOR BIRTHDAY, BY MEREDITH RUSSO

We’ll always be Eric and Morgan. Nothing is ever going to change that.

39863399This is another one that I can definitely say has its flaws, but it’s one of the most compelling stories I’ve ever read. It’s extremely intense, and heartbreaking, and even though it is written in such an unique format, where you’re only spending one day each year with these characters, it’s so easy to connect and feel for them. It’s childhood-friends-to-lovers excellence and so, so, so well-written.

☔️ rep: trans protagonist
🌈 own-voices: yes
🌪 trigger warnings: domestic abuse, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempt, internalized transphobia, homophobia, bullying, death of a parent

 

16 IS FOR HERETICS ANONYMOUS, BY KATIE HENRY

Aren’t most wonderful things a little bit strange?

34659293. sy475 I do need to re-read this book urgently, yes. But I can only recall the good vibes I felt when reading this story. I love the representation, the dialogues, the humor, and our protagonist. Michael is not likable and he can come across as a privileged douche sometimes, but I really appreciate how the story did not deny that and yet acknowledged that his problems were also still valid.

☔️ rep: colombian-american side character, gay Jewish side character.
🌈 own-voices: no
🌪 trigger warnings: slut-shaming and homophobia

 

15 IS FOR DEAR JUSTYCE, BY NIC STONE

We find the families we were desperate for and learn different ways of going about things. Ways that sometimes land us in places/positions we don’t really wanna be in.

37829267This won’t be the last Nic Stone you see in this list, because I do love this author more than life sometimes. Dear Justyce is what I consider to be her best work: it tackles anxiety, PTSD and being in the prison system at a young age in a way that is so honest and raw, and yet so poetic and lyrical and absolutely beautiful. I love how Nic Stone allows her characters to be imperfect and most importantly to *grow*.

☔️ rep: black MC and side characters, PTSD
🌈 own-voices: yes
🌪 trigger warnings: PTSD and anxiety attacks, domestic violence, child abuse, gun violence, murder and incarceration

 

14 IS FOR CAMP, BY L.C ROSEN

I rock a tiara — but I can do anything he can do and be a princess while doing it.

52880287. sx318 sy475 I am still amazed by how this book was able to blow me away. I expected to enjoy it, but it was so refreshing to read a book that empowers queer people in a way that goes against everything the internet and pop culture have tried to tell me: there’s no one way to be queer and queerness can mean whatever it means *to you*.

☔️ rep: gay Jewish MC, gay korean-american love interest, asexual side character, genderqueer side character
🌈 own-voices: yes
🌪 trigger warnings: internalized homophobia, sexual content, toxic masculinity, homophobic slurs (challenged)

13 IS FOR LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR, BY STEPHANIE PERKINS

I know you aren’t perfect. But it’s a person’s imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.

22247695I’m pretty sure I’ve forced every single one of my friends to read this book at one point. I love it so much, I can’t help but want to spread its word. It has the most perfect pacing of any romance I’ve ever read – the perfect amount of sexual tension and slow burn. It also has amazing family dynamics, laugh-out-loud writing and unique characters that you would never see in real life, which I actually love.

☔️ rep: MC is adopted and has two gay dads
🌈 own-voices: no
🌪 trigger warnings: N/A

 

12 IS FOR RADIO SILENCE, BY ALICE OSEMAN

Everyone’s different inside their head.

30653843. sy475 I think it’s remarkable how Alice Oseman is able to write a story that is so deep going from a plot that is so basic: two best friends making a podcast together. If you have read Radio Silence, though, you know how it’s so much more than that. This book makes me wish for a friendship like Frances and Aled’s so bad. I love how their relationship is this safe space where they get to be the most authentic version of themselves.

☔️ rep: biracial queer MC, demisexual gay MC, depression
🌈 own-voices: N/A
🌪 trigger warnings: parental abuse, depression, suicidal thoughts, animal cruelty

 

11 IS FOR AMERICAN PANDA, BY GLORIA CHAO

I couldn’t go through life as a shadow.

35297380. sy475 Another book I need to re-read so bad. American Panda is one of those books where I fell in love with our main character so fast and just wanted to wrap her in a blanket forever. Mei is figuring out so much about herself and her future, and her journey to live as her true self is quite lonely. I really just wanted to become her best friend. I also adore the romance and the complex family dynamics that Gloria Chao creates here.

☔️ rep: taiwanese-american MC with OCD, japanese-american love interest
🌈 own-voices: yes
🌪 trigger warnings: toxic family relationship, OCD, discussions on STDS and mentions of suicide

 

10 IS FOR CONCRETE ROSE, BY ANGIE ROSE

I like to be reminded that beauty can come from much of nothing. To me that’s the whole point of flowers.

52822210I finished this book back in January and is one I’m still thinking about. Not only was this hilarious, but it also brings such an authentic perspective of being a black man in America. Maverick really is a rose trying to bloom from the concrete, trying to make the best decisions he can in a world that thrives on his failure. The sense of community also makes my heart so warm.

☔️ rep: black cast of characters, bisexual side character
🌈 own-voices: yes
🌪 trigger warnings: mentions of parental incarceration, death of a loved one, gang violence, gun violence, drug dealing, racism

9 IS FOR I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN, BY JANDY NELSON

We were all heading for each other on a collision course, no matter what. Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story.

20820994This! freaking! book! Since the first time I read it, it’s one I still think about. I’ll Give You The Sun is an amazing story of characters that are incredibly flawed, but that you simply can’t help but root for. The way this book discusses family is so well done and how all characters are fated to be in each other’s life is absolutely beautiful. It also made me think a lot about the importance of art.

☔️ rep: gay MC, m/m relationship
🌈 own-voices: N/A
🌪 trigger warnings: death of a loved one, grief, sexual assault, bullying, discussions of addiction

8 IS FOR FAR FROM THE TREE, BY ROBIN BENWAY

They catch you before you fall. That’s what family is.

33830437. sy475 Another one that discusses family so well is Far From the Tree. The themes of this book are so incredibly well done: what family really means, how you can build a future without knowing about your past, how pregnancy changes a person and the importance of having a place where you know you belong. I cried quite a bit with this one too.

☔️ rep: mexican-american MC, lesbian MC
🌈 own-voices: no
🌪 trigger warnings: teen pregnancy, adoption, discussions of alcoholism, foster system

 

7 IS FOR TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE, BY JENNY HAN

Love is scary: it changes; it can go away. That’s the part of the risk. I don’t want to be scared anymore.

15749186Duh. Of course this one had to be on the list. I’m choosing the first one, even if it isn’t my favorite in the trilogy, because it is the one that starts it all. I’ll never shut up about how Jenny Han knows exactly how to use teen-com tropes and create stories that feel authentic and romantic at the same time. While the family in here is absolutely amazing, my favorite thing will forever be how great characters Lara Jean and Peter K are.

☔️ rep: korean-american MC
🌈 own-voices: yes
🌪 trigger warnings: N/A

 

6 IS FOR FURIA, BY YAMILE SAIED MÉNDEZ

I’d leave this house the first chance I got, but not by chasing after a boy. I’d do it on my own terms, following my dreams, not someone else’s.

49150990. sy475 I had to include this book in the list, as it was one of the first ones I could 100% see myself in. Camila is a much stronger and badass protagonist than I’ll ever be, but the way Furia tackles misogyny and the numerous times women have to endure things in order to stay *safe*, was so heart-wrenching to read about. I also loved the romance and the setting of Rosario, which felt so relatable as well.

☔️ rep: argentinian cast
🌈 own-voices: yes
🌪 trigger warnings: domestic abuse, allusions to femicide and violence against women, misogyny

 

5 IS FOR DEAR MARTIN, BY NIC STONE

If nothing in the world ever changes, what type of man are you gonna be?

24974996I said this wasn’t the last time Nic Stone would show up in the list. This was the first book I read by her and I love it so much. The writing is so interesting, but most of all, this book has really tough conversations about how black people are perceived, no matter who they are. The main friendship at the center of the story is also so sweet and Justyce is a phenomenal protagonist that I connected with so easily.

☔️ rep: black MC and side characters, jewish love interest
🌈 own-voices: yes
🌪 trigger warnings: death of a loved one, gun violence, police brutality, racism

 

4 IS FOR WHERE SHE WENT, BY GAYLE FORMAN

I find the need to remind myself of the temporariness of a day, to reassure myself that I got through yesterday, I’ll get through today.

8492825The amount of times I talk about this book is honestly worrisome. I can’t help but love it so much! I adore how much of an angsty narrator Adam is, how he feels things so intensely all the time, and how much music works in his life as a way to channel all these emotions. His growth is also so stunning to watch and, for one set in 24h, the development does not feel rushed at all.

☔️ rep: anxiety
🌈 own-voices: N/A
🌪 trigger warnings: anxiety and panic attacks, mentions of car accidents and grief

 

3 IS FOR ONLY MOSTLY DEVASTATED, BY SOPHIE GONZALES

Here walks Ollie Di Fiore. Master of his feelings, expert detacher, only mostly devastated.

45046743This book just makes me so effing happy. Honestly. It’s serotonin bottled in 300 pages. I never knew I needed a Grease re-telling, with a chaotic main character and a deeply relatable family dynamic, but here we are. I can see this becoming another one of those books I re-read every year just because I know it will never fail to put me in a good mood.

☔️ rep: gay MC, bisexual latinx love interest, wlw side character
🌈 own-voices: yes for the bi rep
🌪 trigger warnings: cancer, grief, bullying and internalized homophobia

 

2 IS FOR CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT, BY BRIGID KEMMERER

One choice doesn’t determine your whole future.

45164092Look, I didn’t mean to make this book my whole entire brand, but oh well. For a book I had no expectations when going into it, Call It What You Want most certainly made a number on me. I adore how the novel discusses morality: what does it mean to do a bad thing for a good reason, what is the line between good and evil, how do our actions define us. All that in an addictive, compelling story with an A+ romance. Brigid Kemmerer really did that.

☔️ rep: black gay side character
🌈 own-voices: no
🌪 trigger warnings: discussions of suicide attempt and abortion, student/teacher relationship (challenged)

1 IS FOR ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE, BY BENJAMIN ALIRE SÁENZ

The summer sun was not meant for boys like me. Boys like me belonged to the rain.

12000020Lmao. I feel like at this point, every single one of my posts mention this book. I’m sorry, I’m a basic girl. Ari & Dante is another book I pushed every single one of my friends to read because I just had to make sure everyone I knew was familiar with this masterpiece. I don’t think I’ll ever relate to anyone as much as I relate to Ari and I love him so much for that.

☔️ rep: gay and latinx main characters
🌈 own-voices: yes
🌪 trigger warnings: homophobia, assault, mentions of a transphobic hate crime, car accident

 

Friends: let me know in the comments, do you have one favorite YA contemporary of all times? Is it a part of my list as well?

olympic games readathon wrap-up!

Hello, friends!

This July, I took part in the Olympic Games Readathon & I was competing for Team Apollo. I had 9 books in my TBR, and I was able to complete 8, which I think is a good enough result. Here are all the books I read and my ratings for them:

 

APOLLO’S PROMPTS

Music to my ear: Listen to an audiobook.

IMG_8890
★★★★☆

I am happy to report the Ace of Spades audiobook is actually amazing – and so is the novel. The hype around this one was big, but it for sure lived up to it. While I started the book liking Chiamaka the most – she’s the perfect queen bee and has major Blair Waldorf vibes -, Devon quickly grew on me. Both of these characters have very different backgrounds and perspectives, but I loved the development of their friendship. This book tackles a lot of significant issues of white supremacy and instutionalized racism, and both characters are also queer. I did think some things towards the end felt a bit too convenient and rushed, though, and I would’ve liked a proper conclusion to some plotlines.

Read a graphic novel.

IMG_8886
★★★★☆

I picked up the third volume of Fence and I have to say, this is probably my least-favorite so far. Don’t get me wrong: it’s still good, but I feel like some things were just wayyy too convenient and they could’ve been dealt with better. Like, I don’t mind watching some characters lose if it makes sense for the plot, and I feel like in an attempt to make everyone happy, they ended up sacrificing realism. I still am invested and I hope to see the Harvard/Aiden ship sail soon!

 

 

As the god of the prophecy, Apollo can predict the future. Read a 5-star prediction.

IMG_8725 2
★★★☆☆

I was very excited to read An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, but unfortunately, it didn’t end up being a 5 star read. I think the book had an interesting concept, but I was far more interested in the sci-fi elements and learning the history behind Carl, than April May’s endeavours with fame. I also didn’t think the cast of side characters was that interesting and I didn’t care much for them. I’d still consider reading the sequel, though, especially because there really aren’t that many answers by the end of this one.

 

 

Apollo is considered one of the most beautiful gods. Read a book with a beautiful cover.

IMG_8726 2
★★★☆☆

Winterwood has a beautiful cover and is such a good wintery read. I went into this one with the right expectations and found myself satisfied at the end. The journey is a bit predictable and the characters are quite surface-level, but nonetheless, it was a great story to read during winter. Shea Earnshaw’s writing is atmospheric and beautiful, and I really enjoyed the earth-witch powers she incorporates throughout the story.

 

 

Read a well known and well-liked book.

IMG_6631
★★★★☆

I ended up re-reading The Bromance Book Club, by Lyssa Kay Adams. I realized in this re-read this book has a lot more issues than I remembered. Like, the miscommunication is off the roof, there’s *a lot* of childish walking-out-of-the-room-to-avoid-a-conversation and for a book that is trying to be feminist, it seems to have missed the first class of Feminism 101: all women are in fact, NOT, the same. Yet, the book is impossible to put down. The writing is so good, the dialogues are fantastic, I love both the protagonists and the side characters and I found that the author dealt with the conflict in a way that was realistic, and still romantic and exciting to read about. It’s not one I’d recommend to everyone, but I still enjoy it.

 

BONUS PROMPTS

CANOEING: a book that takes place on or near a body of water

IMG_8884
★★★☆☆

Shipped is the perfect combination of The Unhoneymooners and The Hating Game and I did enjoy the romance for the most part. I wouldn’t say it’s as much hate to love, but more like mild-annoyance-to-love. I liked the backdrop of the cruise and the personal journey the protagonist goes through, in terms of being able to set work boundaries and standing up for herself. However, around the 80% mark, the author adds a subplot related to a side character being in an abusive relationship that was just so disconnected from the rest of the plot, as well as the tone from the book, that had been so fun and lighthearted. I didn’t think that was dealt with appropriately, which is why I ultimately settled for the 3 star rating.

 

CLIMBING WALL: the next book in a series

IMG_8729 2
★★★★★

I absolutely did not expect to cry with Tower of Nero as much as I did. This book is fantastic: it was a satisfying conclusion to the series and had all the high stakes and good action sequences that Rick Riordan writes so well. I was so impressed by Apollo’s development and I do think that, along with his and Meg’s friendship, it is what makes the series worth reading. I also loved seeing how the other characters are doing and it made me very emotional to think this is the last novel I have to read from the Percy Jackson universe. I miss all of them already.

 

 

CAPTURE THE FLAG: one of your most anticipated releases

IMG_8888
★★☆☆☆

While I was highly anticipating the conclusion to the Simon Snow trilogy, Any Way the Wind Blows turned out to be a disappointment. I loved reading about Simon and Baz and their relationship brings me life, it’s true. But so much happened in this book that just didn’t feel necessary at all. I hate how the author kept adding more characters and more plotlines instead of resolving the one thing that should’ve been resolved since the ending of book 1. And even when she does *that*, it feels half-assed and incomplete. It was so frustrating to waste time between books 2 and 3, with all these plotlines that don’t feel relevant and don’t really accomplish much, for the one plotline I actually wanted to read about be so rushed. As much as I like Simon and Baz as character, I’m very sad with what the series has become and would’ve honestly preferred had it never been a follow-up to Carry On.

Have you participated in the readathon? What books have you read recently that you really loved? And what is your latest book disappointment? Let’s chat in the comments!

i read ace by angela chen and i am now a new person (a review & discussion)

discussionsnovo

Hello, friends!

52128695. sx318 sy475 So, back in April, I read Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society and the Meaning of Sex, written by Angela Chen. I had seen this book being mentioned before, when people were discussing asexuality, and it felt like a good place to learn more about it, as a label I gravitate more and more towards.

Disclaimer: this post is going to be super personal. If you don’t care about it, and just want to know my thoughts on the book: I loved it & I encourage anyone – ace or not – to read it.

THE PROBLEM WITH LABELS

The one thing that always stopped me from using “ace” as a label was the fact that I could change my mind about it. How to know if I’m asexual if no one ever actually had an interest in me either? The phrase “Am I ace or just ugly?” is written in my journal at least 400 times.

And that’s, already, the first thing I loved about the book: the way the author acknowledges that it’s okay to change your mind, and therefore, find a better label out there that suits you best.

IMG_5867Especially when we’re talking about communities, it’s impossible not to feel like an imposter, like if I join and leave, then my presence there was less relevant. And it’s fascinating how this book actually made me realize that so many people go through this journey as well and seeing how normal it was for them, made me realize it could be a normal process for me too. I have joined communities and left them before – the number of fandoms I was once a part of is literally too many to count – and that doesn’t mean they didn’t matter to me at the time when I joined them. And when it comes to labels, so many people grow up thinking they’re straight, just to realize they’re actually not. Some think they’re gay and then realize they’re actually bi, or pan, or trans. Labels are not written in blood or ink, and it’s okay for them to change.

Not only that, but it’s also okay not to know one thing or the other. Like, I may never know if I’m asexual because I’m ace or because I’m just not desirable. And it felt, for the longest time, like the answer to one would cancel out the other, as if I couldn’t just be both or neither.

INTERSECTIONALITY

The book touches a lot in the intersectionality of asexuality and race, as well as asexuality and disability. And that was the part that impacted me the most, as these are two almost opposing communities and living in that intersection is like being rejected by both sides. The ace community wants to prove that asexuality is NOT a disability. The disabled community wants to prove that being disabled doesn’t automatically make you ace. So it must absolutely suck to be both.

But what I was able to apply to my experience was what one of the interviewed – Cara – discussed: the fact that she doesn’t know if she is actually asexual or if she is disabled, and therefore, by our society ableist standards, undesirable. And there’s no way of her knowing, because she’ll never get to just *stop* being disabled. So the answer becomes irrelevant. It doesn’t matter which one causes the other, because you can’t strip someone out of their disability, to figure out how different their sexuality would be. We’re all MORE THAN ONE THING and they’re all intertwined. Her disability might affect her asexuality, and that’s how things *are* supposed to work. Again, it made me feel a bit ridiculous that I for some reason thought things could be different.

It’s the same thing when it comes to sexual assault victims. The ace community strives to prove that asexuality has nothing to do with trauma, but that lowkey invalidates sexual assault victims who ALSO choose to label themselves as asexual. Again, you can’t know what that person would choose as a label if they hadn’t gone through that, because you can’t take their trauma back. One thing may affect the other and it doesn’t invalidate their experience as ace in the slightest.

WHY I ONLY WRITE THE GOLD-STAR ACE

I hadn’t even realized just how many prejudices I had internalized by trying to affirm asexuality as a valid identity. One of them was the aiming of the “gold star ace”.

IMG_6229I hadn’t realized it then, but I started writing ace characters when I was 13, in my first ever writing project. I have no idea when I first heard the word “asexual”, but I was already familiar with it at the point, and wanted to write about an ace character. This character was: white, blonde, tall, and a MASSIVE celebrity. Like, Ariana Grande level of celebrity. And her biggest “scandal” was the fact she never dated. She was never seen with anyone, never had hook ups or rumors or flings, or any of that. And people were constantly pressuring her to get a boyfriend.

I did envision her to get one by the end, so I imagine she was more demi than ace, but nonetheless, I’d wanted to write about a character who was, in every sense of the word, a desirable person, and that still CHOSE not to have sex. It wasn’t because no one else wanted them, it was because they didn’t want anyone else.

And I loved how Angela Chen made me question that. Why was that identity the one I was striving for? Why was *that* person going to finally validate asexuality as a real thing? If my character had been disabled, fat, neurodivergent and not-white, then they wouldn’t be the “perfect ace”, because all of these other labels would become things for others to point: *this* is why you’re not having sex. Not because you’re ace, but because ___, ____, ____.

And that is simply *not* true. It’s honestly a bit ridiculous to expect that the “gold star ace” exists and only if they do is that our existence will be validated. We are ALREADY existing. People ALREADY feel like they’re ace. It’s not a matter of whether to not we’re “allowed” to exist, because we already do.

THINGS I LEARNED WITH ‘ACE’

Besides everything I talked about that the book helped me change my perspective on, I also love how “Ace” taught me about a lot of topics I didn’t know enough about.

One of them was the idea of “rape is not sex”. When I started reading this segment, I vehemently disagreed with the author, just because the phrase “rape is not sex” is something I’d heard being repeated so often, in contexts where I generally agreed with people who used them (feminist segments, defending victims of sexual assault, talking about rape culture, etc), but the more she talked about it, the more it became clear that statements like that just help perpetuate even further an idea that sex should always be something good. And sex doesn’t have to be all that.

I also had never given much thought about how asexuality is perceived in relationships, especially with allosexual partners. Mostly because I am aromatic, so the thought of navigating asexuality in a relationship just didn’t feel worth having. But throughout the book, Chen goes in depth about sexual enhancement products and how they not only have side effects that disproportionately affect women, but how their use is recommended without considering the societal pressure where people are expected to always want to have sex, and how THAT is what we should be treating.

It was definitely a learning experience, as I previously knew close to nothing about these practices and it made me not only more aware, but more critical of them too.

WHAT I THOUGHT WAS LACKING

While the book was amazing and one of the easiest 5-stars I gave all year, I did think it was lacking in some aspects.

IMG_6255One thing I found weird was how much the author went on about how the feminist movement hardly ever welcomes asexual women or just women who simply don’t want to have sex. I understood her point but I feel like it’s something already discussed a lot in feminism – how moving towards more forward thinking and the embracing of women who are open about their sexuality should not mean the shaming and the “leaving behind” of women who choose celibacy. It’s a similar concept to the feminist view of motherhood: no woman should be shamed into becoming a mom, but no woman should be shamed for genuinely wanting to either. I thought these were old news, but if just yesterday, I had to listen to my college professor, well-versed in feminism, shaming his own cousin because she used “mom” to define herself, then it might indeed not be as “common knowledge” as some may think.

I also wish the author had touched more on the place of aces within the queer community. While she’s very open throughout the book about seeing asexuals as part of the community, we all know they’re not as easily welcomed. Every Pride Month I feel like we witness the same conversation happening on Twitter – whether or not aces are allowed to celebrate Pride & whether or not they are *really queer*. I’d have liked to listen to experiences of people who felt like they were not exactly welcomed by the queer community and had to build their own.

There also weren’t a lot of people being interviewed who define themselves as aromantic and asexual, which was something I missed, especially because society pressures us into romance even more than it pressures us into sex. While sex is, in some cultures and for some demographics, considered something too “vulgar” to be talking about, you hear stories of romantic love from as early as a toddler, when you watch Cinderella for the first time. I wish there had been a broader conversation on aromanticism and its differences and similarities with asexuality.

saudacoes

This turned into a whole fucking essay, so I apologize. Let me know if you’ve read Ace, your thoughts & what was a book that you read recently that changed your life!

five YA contemporaries with ~unlikable characters~ because we’re all trash after all

Hello, friends!

And welcome to a recommendation post where I talk about messy characters, AGAIN. I love them, ok?

And I don’t know if it’s because of spending too much time on Tik Tok, which just feels a bit like Tumblr amped by 10 and appropriated by Gen Z, but OH MY GOD, have we normalized the word toxic to be used in every single scenario. I think people have come to forget that humans are HUMANS. And, by default, imperfect. Which doesn’t make every single one of them toxic.

BUT, if you’d rather see it this way, then here’s a list of toxic books that I absolutely love and that you should too:

CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT

Not me still talking about Call It What You Want.

I feel like, at this point, I’ve already made this book my brand, which is a bit embarrassing, considering I’ve only actually read it once and it’s possible that in revisiting it, I find out that it actually sucks. It’s pretty unlikely, though, because I went into this one with zero expectations and it blew me away.

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Call It What You Want explores the different lives of these two “high school social pariahs” – Rob, whose dad was caught in a major financial scandal that the town believes Rob knew of; and Meghan, who got caught cheating in her SATs and had everyone’s scores canceled because of it.

These characters are assigned a Math project together and the rest is history.

This book is fantastic at developing every single character and giving them a beautiful, satisfying arc. Not only the dynamic between Rob and Meghan is amazing, but all the other ones between them and the side characters are equally fleshed out and feel realistic.

It also explores morality and what does it mean to do a bad thing for a good reason impeccably well. I don’t have enough good things to say about it, except like, read it, for the 800th time.

SUMMER BIRD BLUE

When I first picked up Summer Bird Blue, I had no idea it would actually break my heart as much as it did, even though everyone says it’s a tear-jerker. I thought I was too much of a hard soul to crack, but… yeah, they were correct.

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Summer Bird Blue explores so many great topics, I might as well write a list:

  • Grief & regret. Our protagonist has just lost her sister and feels a lot of very complicated feelings over it.
  • Pretty much all the teenagers in this book are mixed, including our protagonist – half-white and half-Japanese/Hawaiian.
  • Rumi is also aro-ace!
  • There’s also an adorable platonic relationship between the MC and the bubbly boy next door and a hilarious, heartwarming friendship with the grumpy grandpa of the neighborhood.
  • Music. Is a huge part of the story and will make you cry.
  • The writing is simple, yet so stunning.
  • Rumi’s mom leaves her with her aunt after the loss of her sister and the exploration of abandonment from the two perspectives is so complicated it hurts.

Basically: this book will make you see grief in one of the most vulnerable and honest ways I’ve ever read. It’s not an easy one, but it’s rewarding.

ODD ONE OUT

I know a lot of people say there are certain tropes they are 100% done with, and I respect that. BUT, I am one of those that likes to think there are still interesting and entertaining ways to write every single trope, including the one feared the most by everyone who survived this trope’s epidemic during the early 2010s. Yes, I’m talking about him:

LOVE TRIANGLES.

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But hear me out: Odd One Out actually plays with love triangles but in a way in which EVERY PART OF THE TRIANGLE IS IN LOVE WITH THE OTHER. You can imagine how messy this is and that’s why is in list list.

These characters don’t make the right choices, for themselves or for each other. They pretty much give mixed signals and play with the other person’s feeling simply because they can (and also because they’re trying to figure their sexualities out, which is a pretty complicated and messy process inherently).

I don’t *love* this book, but I still think there are great discussions here. There’s also like a side mystery plot line where two of the characters team up to find this “missing TV show host” that was actually pretty cool.

I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN

Spot me talking about a 2014 book like a full on #BookToker.

Also, a fun fact for all of you that complain that BookTok is only filled with early 2010s titles: do y’all know that books DON’T actually have expiration dates and they can still be meaningful even YEARS after their release? I know, shocking!

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I’ll Give You The Sun is fantastic and if for some reason you haven’t read yet, I’m telling you: YOU CAN. Just because it’s a backlist novel it doesn’t mean is bad or aged or any of the sorts. It’s pretty great to this day (I can say because I re-read it like in 2019 and it still held up significantly well. Except for this one age-gap relationship that you CAN have issues with, and trust me, that’s part of the book’s experience. We’re talking about messy people here, after all!)

This book focuses so well on characters making bad decisions in name of *very* human reasons: anger, jealousy, resentment. Noah and Jude, our protagonists, are far from perfect, and yet you can’t help but understand and root for them nonetheless.

It also deals with art a whole lot: mostly paintings and sculptures and it’s impossible not to fall in love with Jandy Nelson’s writing.

FELIX EVER AFTER

If you’re one of those that I constantly see on Twitter asking for more messy queer stories: read Felix Ever After. I’m sure you already have if you’re a fan of this, but READ IT AGAIN THEN.

I don’t know exactly where I stand in the “messy queer media” debacle (because like, on one hand, yes queer people aren’t unicorn rainbow creatures, they mess up and they’re just as problematic as straights, but also isn’t that the way queer people have been represented in media for YEARS by straight writers?)

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Anyway. This is too much of a complicated debate and we’re here to talk about Felix Ever After.

Starring: Felix, cunning and low-key evil, Felix. Who gets a gallery made of his old, pre-transition pictures and also starts being harassed online and decides to end whoever did that. He suspects is this one mean preppy guy from his school, so he starts essentially cat fishing him, hoping to get a secret just to expose him later. Yes, very ~healthy behavior~.

I appreciated so much how this book allowed Felix to be messy and flawed and to discover himself and learn from his mistakes. His arc was SO deep, because a lot of this book is also about Felix questioning his gender and labels and also confronting his family’s past.

Pretty much all the side characters in this book are queer and they’re problematic AF as well at times. Which is infuriating, but also realistic! And we stan realistic in this household.

If you have more recommendations for this “trope”, I guess, let me know in the comments! And if you’ve read any of these books too and what are your feelings in them!

five YA books set in new york city for when you want to live your devil wears prada dreams

book recs.(1)

Hello, friends!

So, last year, I wrote a post recommeding books set in California because I was in a Teen Beach Movie mood. Now, we’re going to the opposite coast, as I find myself in a Devil Wears Prada mood. (Not in a romanticizing and glamorizing abusive work environments, but in a Devil Wears Prada mood nonetheless).

Soooooo, to honor that, I shall recommend five YA contemporaries set in NYC – or the Big Apple, the city that never sleeps, Blair Waldorf’s reign, etc.

10 pontos no seu currículo que agradam os recrutadores | Prime Cursos

NAOMI & ELY’S NO KISS LIST

IMG_7380This book inspired one of my favorite movies of all times and I haven’t shouted about it not ONCE in this blog???? Unacceptable.

Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List is a multi-perspective novel where we follow, of course, Naomi and Ely – childhood best friends and next-door neighbors. Ely is gay. Naomi is in love with him. It’s complicated and messy and overdramatic and INCREDIBLY EXTRA.

The multi-perspective thing won’t be for everyone, but I love it. It made the read more fun and it allows us to see the Naomi-Ely dynamic from other angles as well.

I adore how this book puts such an emphasis os friendship and how hard it is to face a break-up there too. In the same beat, it develops two cute side relationships and also discusses how not every single change has to be a bad one.

Did I mention there are cupcakes? Because there are!

WE ARE LOST AND FOUND

IMG_5702We Are Lost and Found is set in the 80s and follows Michael, a young boy discovering his sexuality in the midst of the AIDS epidemic in New York. Not the easiest time to be doing that, may I add.

This book is compared a lot to Like a Love Story and I don’t understand why so many reviews tell you to *not* read this book and pick up the other one instead. Like, there’s SPACE IN THE WORLD FOR ALL OF US! I promise! Why are we limiting the number of queer stories out there, especially when they’re discussing something as important as AIDS for the queer community? Big yikes to whoever writes these reviews.

While I wouldn’t say go into it expecting an amazing love story, I actually really enjoyed how this book depicted the relationship between Michael and his older brother, who is gay and was kicked out after coming out to his parents. It definitely makes things more complicated to Michael, since he now knows what his parents are capable of, but it also creates a sense of support and love that wasn’t there when they were kids, which I think is sweet.

CHARMING AS A VERB

IMG_7117This book will ~charm~ its way into your heart. I assure you and not only because of my bad pun.

Charming as Verb focuses on Halti – son of Haitian immigrants who can charm his way out of everything, except when his upstairs neighbor Corinne starts threatening exposing the truth about his dog walking business.

This book is set in NYC but there are also some great scenes in Toronto. The ~big city~ atmosphere is all there. I also love how Columbia is one of Halti’s top schools exactly because the campus is so close to the city.

I talked before about how this book did a great job at showing a different perspective on the common “no-dad-it’s-your-dream” trope. But I also want to highlight how CUTE the romance is, how Corinne is a fantastic female protagonist considering she was written by a man (lol) and the side friendships were also great!

WHERE SHE WENT

IMG_7382Hi, it’s me.

Where She Went’s #1 fan.

Again.

I won’t promise this is the last I’ll talk about this book, because I LOVE IT. I love how Adam is this ball of angst and how his entire narration is about him being this broken-hearted guitar dude.

I also love how this is set in only 24h, but it *works*. It probably works so much because these characters have history and the chapters are also intercalated with flashbacks bridging books 1 and 2 (this is a sequel to If I Stay, in case you didn’t know), but it’s so well done and makes you root for the relationship instantly.

They also go through a lot of landmarks from New York City – like the Brooklyn Bridge and Port Authority – during the early hours of the morning and it’s POETICALLY BEAUTIFUL.

Or maybe it’s just because I love it, lol.

NOW THAT I’VE FOUND YOU

IMG_5704Not only is this book set in New York, but it’s also about movie stars in New York, so it really is the perfect combination between my latest recommendation post of books set in California and this one.

Now That I’ve Found You could be compared to a YA version of Evelyn Hugo. Following Evelyn Conaway’s granddaughter, an aspiring movie star named Evie Jones, Now That I’ve Found You has some cute mystery elements where New York City becomes the backdrop of Evie trying to find her missing grandma and at the same time restore her career.

This book also has the sweetest romance between Evie and Milo, who’s a musician, but not of the angsty type (which was REFERSHING for once). I love how they go through a lot of different places in New York that are important to each one of them – Evelyn, Milo and Evie – and this book’s conversation on fame and expectations are also *so* incredibly relevant!

Let me know if you have any more recommendations of books set in New York & what did you think of mine!

book review: the mary shelley club, by goldy moldavsky

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New York Times-bestselling author Goldy Moldavsky delivers a deliciously twisty YA thriller that’s Scream meets Karen McManus about a mysterious club with an obsession for horror.

When it comes to horror movies, the rules are clear:

x Avoid abandoned buildings, warehouses, and cabins at all times.

x Stay together: don’t split up, not even just to “check something out.”

x If there’s a murderer on the loose, do not make out with anyone.

If only surviving in real life were this easy…

New girl Rachel Chavez turns to horror movies for comfort, preferring stabby serial killers and homicidal dolls to the bored rich kids of Manhattan Prep…and to certain memories she’d preferred to keep buried.

Then Rachel is recruited by the Mary Shelley Club, a mysterious society of students who orchestrate Fear Tests, elaborate pranks inspired by urban legends and movie tropes. At first, Rachel embraces the power that comes with reckless pranking. But as the Fear Tests escalate, the competition turns deadly, and it’s clear Rachel is playing a game she can’t afford to lose.

GoodreadsAmazon | Book DepositoryBarnes & NobleIndieBoundIndigo | BAM!

Get to know more about the author!

Goldy Moldavsky was born in Lima, Peru, and grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where she lives with her family. She is the New York Times–bestselling author of Kill the Boy Band and No Good Deed. Some of her influences include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the esteemed works of John Irving, and the Mexican telenovelas she grew up watching with her mother.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram

Hello, friends! I am very excited to be taking part in the book tour for The Mary Shelley Club, as an own-voices reviewer since this book does have South-American rep (yes the one I constantly scream about wanting more of).

Trigger warnings: descriptions of home invasion, gore, violence, murder and stalking

  1. The characters – aka the Mary Shelley Club. I think the characters in here played very well in some well known horror movie tropes – the outsider (Rachel), the smart and cold one (Felicity), the jock (Bram) and his preppy girlfriend (Lux). Still, they had an interesting dynamic and it was very easy to connect with them, mostly because we also want Rachel to have a friend group and something she can be a part of.
  2. The horror elements were on point. This book is SCARY, y’all. In the first chapter, we already have a scene that had me on the edge of my seat, where one of the character keeps telling “scary stories” to others at a party. I did not expect to feel super scared right away, but it happened, and the suspense got more intense as the book went on.
  3. Discussions of economic disparity and trauma. Rachel went through something in her past that still affects her to this day, and I appreciate how the author talked about this as an on-going issue that shows up in the form of nightmares, sometimes visions and intrusive thoughts. Rachel is also not rich like her peers, which made the dynamic between her and Freddie – the only one in the group who’s also Latinx and poor – even more believable because of the way they related to one another and thought of themselves as a “team” amongst the group.

I think my issue with the book turned out to be the pacing. I feel like the middle dragged and I wish the ending had been more fleshed out, but then again, it may be because there’s a sequel on the way. I wouldn’t be opposed to it, as I feel like there’s still a lot to explore within the Mary Shelley Club and what we grow to learn about it by the end of the book.

I also think there was potential for the exploration of grief on top of Rachel’s thrauma.

IMG_7178Overall, I was surprised by how much I was able to take from the story. This reads sometimes as a love letter to horror movies, so if you’re a fan of those, you’ll probably enjoy this one even more than I did, as some references really went over my head, lol.

As far as the Latinx representation, I appreciate how the author touched on it (with the dynamic between Rachel and her mom, as well as Rachel and Freddie being the ‘outcasts’ of the group), but also didn’t make this the only trait of either one of the characters and they had much more to offer.

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Make sure to check out the other stops of the book tour down below! Thank you so much for Colored Pages to offering me an e-ARC of this book!

March 1st

Jainny Reads – Review Only

Unconventional Quirky Bibliophile – Favorite Quotes  

 

March 2nd

Pastel Writer – Review Only

A library of my own – Review Only 

 

March 3rd

Books and Dice – Favorite Quotes

Mel Reads – Reading Vlog 

 

March 4th

A Cup Of Nicole – Reading Vlog 

Bookishplants – Favorite Quotes 

 

March 5th

The Bookish Skies – Review Only 

The Book View – Share an excerpt

 

March 6th

Sanjariti – Favorite Quotes

Loveless Degrees – Book Recommendations Based On Book 

 

March 7th

By My Shelf – Review Only

A Reader’s Reaction – Reading Blog 

Naturemamareads – Mood Board

book review: concrete rose, by angie thomas

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If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.

Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control.

Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father.

Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. But it’s not so easy to sling dope, finish school, and raise a child. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. In a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing, maybe Mav can prove he’s different.

When King Lord blood runs through your veins, though, you can’t just walk away. Loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. He’ll have to figure out for himself what it really means to be a man.

Hello, friends!

As I talked about a few posts ago, Concrete Rose was one of my most anticipated releases of 2021 and I’m so happy that not only I’ve already read it, but that I also enjoyed it as much as I did. Even though The Hate U Give is not one of my favorite books of all times, I loved Big Mave’s character enough to be excited about a prequel focusing on his life, that like I said, did not disappoint.

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  1. The narration & the humor. I didn’t know Angie Thomas’ writing was actually this funny – probably because it’s been a while since I last read THUG, which I read in Portuguese, so it might have been lost in translation. Concrete Rose made me absolutely laugh out loud, though, and Mav’s narration was not only hilarious, but also made me connect with his character very easily.
  2. The contrast between Maverick and Big Mav. I remember reading THUG and just feeling more at ease whenever Big Mav showed up, because I knew he’d know all the right things to say and do. He had amazing advice and a reliable, trustworthy aura about him of someone that has all his shit together. How amazing it was to read about him here, as a 17 year old that has absolutely NOTHING together? I loved it! Knowing how great of a father he’ll become to his kids, it was particular emotional following his journey through parenthood and, overall, his journey into becoming a man. It was certainly not an easy path, but it made me grow even more admiration towards the character when I got to learn what he’s been through and how much he had to do in order to become the Big Mav we know.
  3. The discussion on how what happens to the characters is a symptom of something much larger. I think Angie Thomas did a brilliant job at crafting Maverick’s narrative to talk about issues that impact, mostly, communities of color. When we see Maverick becoming a teen father, when we see Maverick drug dealing, or joining a gang, all these things can not and should not be taken out of context. Because they’re all intertwined. One thing leads to the other, that is also connected to something even bigger – his family, his dad in prison, society, the government, education. All these problems are related to one another, and Concrete Rose makes that explicit in a very well-done way.
  4. Amazing focus on community. It takes a village to raise a kid, and I loved how the book approached that. While in THUG, we see Starr being divided between two worlds – her predominantly white school and her predominantly black neighborhood -, Concrete Rose focuses solely on Garden Heights. The characters we get to see – Mr. Wyatt, who gives Maverick his first job; Dre, his cousin and best friend who has the best advice, Maverick’s mom and even the woman next door who looks after baby Seven. I loved the focus on community that the book had and how all the characters were developed.

COISAS RUINSNOVO

Obviously, I adored this book, so there isn’t a lot for me to say here.

These aren’t things that bothered me, but beware that: this book doesn’t have that much plot and focuses mostly on character development; and it also reads as an older-YA book. While it doesn’t go into as many dark topics as THUG, I feel like the focus on, specifically the dynamic between Seven/Maverick and overall the protagonist’s journey into parenthood will probably be more appreciated by a slightly more mature audience.

(Not to say that 13 year olds can’t read this and understand and connect with it a lot, though!)

IMG_7115Overall, Concrete Rose was a fantastic prequel to THUG – it made me want to re-read the first book immediately! It was emotional seeing the beginning of it all, and kinda how these characters became the people they are today. Reading about baby Khalil definitely brought me to tears!

As someone who didn’t give THUG 5 stars, I appreciated Concrete Rose infinitely more. They’re very different reads, but I think both deliver important takes on the black community from very different perspectives, which I love.

5 ESTRELASNOVO

Have you read Concrete Rose or The Hate U Give? If so, what are your thoughts? Let’s chat in the comments!

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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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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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 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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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.

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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!