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

coisas-boas-novo-1

  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!

coisas-ruinsnovo-1

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*?

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:

coisas-boas-novo-1

  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.

coisas-ruinsnovo-1

  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!

discussion: is aristotle and dante discover the secrets of the universe just a sad book?

discussionsnovo

Hello, friends!

Long time no see a discussion post. This one will be sort of a discussion/spoiler-y review, so there’s that, but I am rusty, so please apologize me if this post is all over the place.

IMG_4655If we’ve ever talked before, then you probably know Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is my favorite book of all times. I pretty much hype up all reviews of this book because I love reading different perspectives on it, but recently, I saw a person on Twitter saying they didn’t like it, because the book made it feel like being gay was the worst tragedy in the world.

When I checked the replies, I realized other people felt the same. That the book was “way too sad” and that being gay is not only about being sad, and that they were so done with tragic representation of gays in media.

And while I do recognize that Ari and Dante is a sad book and we deserve more diverse queer rep in media that is not only tragic, I think these thoughts can be very limiting. So, yeah, let’s discuss that.


“Maybe we just lived between hurting and healing.”

At first, I felt like what this person was saying made no sense, because the ending of the book is happy and hopeful. It shows that these two boys have finally found each other and are going to be together. But, obviously, that does not compensate for the fact that Ari spends most of this book hating himself. Then, it also made me question whether just following an individual story says enough about an entire community.

Like, because Ari’s story is sad, then it’s not worth-telling? Where do we draw the line between what is an individual experience that the author feels like sharing and a representation for an entire community?

IMG_2886That was one thing I felt when reading American Panda, by Gloria Chao. In that book, our protagonist, Mei, has very overbearing and strict parents, who do not accept of her taking any other course in life than going to medical school and becoming a doctor. While this definitely can be seen as a stereotipical view on Taiwanese parents, we actually learn in the acknowledgements that Mei’s story was inspired by the author’s, who experienced something similar with her own parents.

So, just because Mei’s story can be “stereotypical”, does it mean it’s not worth-telling? One thing that the author pointed out in her acknowledgements as well that I think works wonderfully for this discussion too is that this is one of the reasons why we need more own-voices stories. Because Mei should not have to represent every single Taiwanese-American kid out there, and their stories can be so different and unique that all it means is we need more representations of said stories.

Therefore, it’s not just because Ari’s story was sad and figuring out his sexuality wasn’t an easy journey for him, that this is how every single other Latinx gay kid feels. And this is why we need more Latinx queer authors, to tell these other stories.


“You know what I’ve learned from you and Mom? I’ve learned not to talk. I’ve learned how to keep everything I feel buried deep inside of me. And I hate you for it.”

But then, the other thing is that I also feel like by assuming that Ari’s story is nothing but a tragedy, this person is completely failing to recognize what was happening around him. And, how, yes, being a Mexican-American gay kid in the 1980s probably wasn’t the easiest thing in the world.

IMG_4187I recently read Like a Love Story, by Adib Nazemian, which I have mixed feelings about that are not really relevant to this discussion. But that book is set entirely during the AIDS crisis in New York and a lot of Reza’s (one of our protagonists, who immigrated from Iran to the US and is figuring out his sexuality) inner monologue is extremely negative, and he has a lot of internalized homophobia.

However, we have to consider that it was extremely scary for him to be a gay kid in the 1980s, when there were still so many misconceptions about what AIDS was and how it actually was transmitted. It’s not possible, in my opinion, to judge his thoughts with a 2020 mindset, where you can literally find more information about AIDS on your phone in less than a minute.

Back to Ari and Dante, though, I want to take this time to talk about one of the layers in that book that means the most to me, which is the machsimo and overall “unsaid things”, which I feel like it’s pretty standard for Latinx communities and one thing I related *so much* with in this book.

(Again, this is just based in *my* experience and I don’t think this should count as a representation of all Latinx families).

As examples of that, we have one of the biggest conflicts of the book, which is the fact Ari has a brother in prison and no one talks about him. I don’t know if this applies to other families and cultures, but being Latina myself, I definitely feel like we live in this paradoxal world where we can be open about so much and not at all about other things. Having an *entire* person you simply don’t talk about is a very common unsaid rule in my family and just shows how hard it can be to approach certain topics with your loved ones.

Ari also struggles a lot with talking to his dad. As much as he wants to, he also finds impossible to open up and express his feelings, much like his dad does. Machismo is still super present and I definitely see how a lot of the men in family and just around me, overall, grew up feeling like they were not allowed to express emotion and had always to be “strong”.

That’s why it takes so long for Ari to understand his feelings for Dante. Because, and this is a direct quote:

“I had learned to hide what I felt. No, that’s not true. There was no learning involved. I had been born knowing how to hide what I felt.”

And that is because the culture he was immersed since birth was not one that ever allowed him to be vulnerable.


“I left him alone for a while. But then, I decided I wanted to be with him. I decided that maybe we left each other alone too much. Leaving each other alone was killing us.”

When I first picked up this book, I did not know it was a LGBT read. I did not know that Ari and Dante were going to fall in love. I simply thought it was a friendship story.

Therefore, I do think that my judgement is a bit clouded, because I never went to this story expecting a gay romance from it. And so I was never disappointed that I got so little of it, and in fact, what I got the most of is what I still love about this book the most for to this day: Ari’s growth.

IMG_4659To me, this is not a book about whether or not Ari and Dante are going to end up together, and I feel like people who only see it for that are reading it COMPLETELY WRONG.

This book is about Ari learning that there is power in being vulnerable, in letting people in. It’s about Ari understanding himself by understanding the people around him – his dad, his brother, his mom, his aunt, even Dante. He spends most of this book trapped in his own cicle of hate (again, a direct quote), because that’s the only way he can comprehend his own emotions – by ignoring or hating on them. He’s never been taught how to understand love, affection, friendship, so yeah, it takes him a bit longer to feel like he’s worthy of a love story.


Overall, I think the point of this discussion isn’t even telling you whether or not Ari and Dante is “just a sad book”. It is sad, but there are reasons for it, and it’s ultimately, so much more than that.

If you’re looking for books about queer joy, I highly recommend this post I wrote for Pride Month, but I’d also like to recommend four extra titles I read & loved:

CAMP, BY L.C. ROSEN. Has a very smart take on the toxic masculinity in the community, while still being a fun & light-hearted read.

HER ROYAL HIGHNESS, BY RACHEL HAWKINS. Girl falls in love with her roommate, but her roommate also happens to be the Princess of Scotland. Free of drama, except for the royal one, of course.

THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE, BY MACKENZI LEE. Historical fiction, friends to lovers and Monty is pretty much the definition of chaotic bi.

YOU SHOULD SEE ME IN A CROWN, BY LEAH JOHNSON. One of the best 2020 releases, by far. Prom shenenigans, A+ family and friendships and a swoon-worthy F/F relationship.

Alright. If you read so far in this 1.5k words post, thank you! If you have read Ari & Dante, let’s chat in the comments: what are the themes you cared the most about when you first read it? Do you have any other recommendations for queer books that are not sad at all?

five YA contemporaries narrated by straight male characters (because i swear not all of them are trash)

book recs.(1)

Hello, friends!

For today’s recommendation post, we’ll be focusing in contemporaries narrated by straight male characters. I know this sounds like a nightmare at first. At least for me, who’s allergic to straight teenage boys. But they may just restore your faith in their kind, because these books are *actually* good!

I know for most people who are reading this post, straight teenage boys are the last people they expect to relate with. But even if relatability-wise, these books may not be the best, they still offer enough I do feel like more people should read them.

(I really need to read more books narrated by straight Asian male characters, so if you have any recommendations, let me know!)

NOT SO PURE AND SIMPLE

IMG_4563This is a very underrated YA 2020 release and centers around our main character, Del, who decides to join the purity pledge at his church in order to get closer to the girl he likes. This girl has never been “available”, so now that she’s finally single, Del decides to make a move.

There’s a lot to like about this book. First, it talks a lot about the idea of “nice guy”. Del believes that, because he’s not a fuckboy and is actually respectful and nice, he should be rewarded by his crush’s immediate requited love. And that mindset is toxic AF, not to mention deeply mysognistic. Even though Del starts as a very unlikeable character, the book puts him in the center of the discussion about toxic masculinity and double-standard expectations and his growth is remarkable.

It’s also interesting because the novel will talk a lot about sex education. Del is the only one in the purity pledge allowed to take sex ed classes at his school, so he ends up taking a lot of questions from the purity pledgers to his sex-ed teacher and the answers back. I am always here for more sex-positive and realistic conversations in books, and, like the book praises, having healthy and productive discussions is a ton more effective than avoiding the subject.

This book tackles so much, while being entertaining and hilarious, so really, props to this author!

ALL AMERICAN BOYS

Trigger warnings: violence, racism, police brutality, death of a parent

IMG_0515In this dual perspective novel, we get to know Rashad: who’s a victim of police brutality and Quinn, who witnesses it. Even though both of these characters attend the same school, their lives had never intertwined until that moment. It’s really interesting breaking down the similarities and differences between these two.

Both perspectives add something unique to the story. When we follow Rashad, we really get to see the consequences of a police brutality episode in someone’s life and in that person’s family. It is also nice seeing the contrast in Rashad’s family members: his brother is a loud advocate for black people’s rights, whereas his dad shields himself from any violence by also rejecting his culture. It is amazing how the author develops both of them, as well as Rashad’s character.

Quinn’s perspective is just as complicated. His will definitely touch more on activism and standing up for what’s right, even when it’s hard. Quinn is definitely written to be a bit unlikeable, but I could actually understand where he was coming from and ultimately appreciate his growth even more because of where he starts the book at.

This discussion of privilege was so well done that even though the first two chapters may sound very “teenage-boy-like”, I do encourage you to push through because it does get a lot better.

A LIST OF CAGES

Trigger warnings: domestic abuse with brief mentions of sexual abuse, death of a parent, grief, bullying.

This is another dual perspective novel, but will deal with completely different topics from the previous one. In A List of Cages, we’re talking about foster system, domestic abuse and found families. It’s a very hard-hiting, but ultimately hopeful story.

IMG_4565Adam and Julian used to be foster brothers, until Julian moves out with his uncle. After that, the two barely see each other, until they end up being reunited at school – Julian being a freshman and Adam a senior. They start hanging out a lot more and I absolutely love the development of their friendship, as well as how Julian is essentially adopted by Adam’s friend group.

Both perspectives are equally strong. Julian’s is a lot more emotional, as he’s such a young boy who’s been through a lot. Not only the death of his parents is an event he’s still mourning, but the domestic abuse also makes him very vulnerable. I loved how the author created his voice, because he does sound a lot younger than Adam – which he is -, but I also think has to do with the fact that the trauma has definitely affected the way he matures.

As for Adam’s, his perspective is a lot more hopeful, because that’s who he is. He’s a total human labrador, who makes friends with absolutely everyone. He also has ADHD, which was nice to see being worked out on page.

HERETICS ANONYMOUS

I shall not shut up about Heretics Anonymous until I know more people are actually reading this book.

Following Michael, an atheist going to a catholic school, Heretics Anonymous will talk about a lot more than just religion. In his school, Michael ends up joining this underground group, the Heretics Anonymous, with other people who do not 100% align with the beliefs of their catholic school.

IMG_0973Here’s a small list of things to love about this book:

  • SOUTH-AMERICAN REP! Lucy, our main’s love interest, is Colombian-American and a badass feminist.
  • Diverse cast of supportive characters.
  • Romance descriptions from a male character’s POV that didn’t make me uncomfortable at all? Absolutely unheard of.
  • Discussions of religion, beliefs and skepticism all done in a very respectful way.
  • Amazing writing.
  • Our main character being challenged for being an ass about his “1st-world-problems”, but also acknowledged that his problems are valid because they’re his.
  • Older brother/little sister relationship to compensate for his jerk of a father.

Even though I have no actual complicated relationship with religion and it’s not a topic I tend to think about often, I found this one to be so deeply entertaining and real. And Michael was too much of a great narrator, even if annoying at times.

OPPOSITE OF ALWAYS

IMG_1063Opposite of Always is a contemporary with sprinkles of magical realism, as it talks about time-travel. Our main character Jack meets Kate at a party and they hit off right from the start. Until Kate dies and that throws Jack on a time-loop to the night where they first met, in hopes that he’ll be able to save her.

I will admit I did not like the ending of this book, but I still wanted to recommend for the other layers that I feel like are worth reading it for.

Jack and Kate have such great banter and all the dialogues in this book are the perfect amount of hilarious. I loved seeing his friend group and how complicated things get, depending which choices Jack makes. They were equally fleshed out and amazing. His relationship with his parents was also the sweetest – they had so much love and trust in each other, but also knew when Jack needed his time to cope by himself.

It’s also nice seeing an entirely non-white cast, but not having the book necessarily focus on it, but having these characters simply *exist* and be black, and not be defined by that at all.

Again, if you guys have any book recommendations for Asian male characters, please let me know! And if you have read any of these books, tell me how you like them down in the comments!

olympic games readathon wrap up!

read-a-thon wrap up. (1)

Hello, friends!

I finally concluded the Olympic Games readathon, which was a Percy Jackson inspired readathon organized by Ishi @ Ishi Time. I was competing for Cabin 3 – Poseidon – and I’m happy to say I accomplished all challenges – the five mandatory + four advanced ones!

GAIN FAVOUR OF THE SEA GOD

Read book set at sea or at coast

Trigger warnings: character death, grief, depression, abandonment

IMG_4175
★★★★☆

I actually enjoyed Summer Bird Blue so much! As I’d mentioned in my TBR, I was a bit aprehensive going into this one, because of my high expectations as well as my initial not-so-good experience. But it was actually really great! Our main character is certainly unlikeable and I didn’t love reading about her, but the discussions on grief were very well done. This is definitely a heart-wrenching novel, but I loved how the relationships with the side characters – mostly Mr. Watanabe (my favorite) and Kai – added some lightness to the story.

 

PERCY IS A TALENTED SWORDSMAN

Read a book in which the main character uses a sword.

 

IMG_4174
★★★★☆

I initially thought An Assassin’s Guide to Love and Treason was going to be my one non-queer read of the month, but one of our main characters is actually bisexual! We didn’t have as much swordsfight in this one as I thought, but I liked the theater setting and following how the Shakespearean plays were organized back in the 1600s. I found both perspectives to be equally interesting, but I didn’t love how the female character sounds badass from the premise – a girl who’s determined to kill the Queen of England -, but she’s not as strong or as smart as you would expect and the ending was a bit lackluster too. Still, I liked the romance a lot and was super rooting for them.

HUMANS ARE NOT COMMON IN POSEIDON’S UNDERWATER PALACE

Read a book with a non-human main character

IMG_4172
★★★★☆

I finally carried on with the Trials of Apolo series, by picking up The Burning Maze. I love how Rick Riordan crafted Apolo’s character arc and I am even more invested in him and his story now, because you can actually watch his growth but he still keeps so much of his hilarious, over-the-top personality. It’s also nice seeing cameos from other characters in the Riordanverse, but Meg and Apolo will forever be my ride or die. I love their unlikely friendship and they continue to make me feel all the things.

 

TRIDENT

Finish a book in 3 days

IMG_4184
★★★☆☆

Her Royal Highness really was the perfect read for this prompt, as it was incredibly fast-paced. While I felt like more could’ve been given to the side characters – more personality, more time on page, more development – and I loved Perry and Sakshi’s banter so much I could read an entire novella about them (tall girl/short guy is my aesthetic), I still enjoyed the book for what it was: very cute, sweet and entertaining. I also felt like things were resolved a bit too quickly, but I feel like I needed a mindless read for a moment and this served me well.

 

THE OCEAN IS VAST AND UNEXPLORED

Read a book you have not heard much about before

IMG_4178
★★★★★

I am so glad I picked up Camp, even without many reviews or buzz over it. This book was AMAZING. When I started it, I thought it was going to be a cliché rom-com-like story of this boy who wants to “change” for a more masculine version in order to impress his crush, and then realizes it’s not worth it and he’s great like he is. But Camp is SO much more complex than that. In the midst of all theater things and camp shenenigans, the author actually created phenomenal, three-dimensional characters who send a positive and super powerful message: you can be whoever you *want* to be. It’s not about boxes, femme or masc, but it’s about making queer-ness whatever it is to you.

PEGASUS RIDING

A book published within the last 5 years

Trigger warnings: character death, grief, depictions of AIDs, police violence, homophobia, bullying.

IMG_4187
★★★☆☆

I picked up Like a Love Story, by Adib Nazemian and had a lot of thoughts. I have a full review up on my blog about it, but in short: I felt like this book had both very good layers, and others not so much. I liked how real and raw the characters felt and I do think it’s a very empowering read to educate others on what the AIDS crisis was in the US during the 80s. However, there were also some problematic elements and the pacing was not my favorite. I’d still recommend it, though, because I do feel like it discusses a very important theme that more people should be aware of.

 

CANOEING

A book with a blue cover

Trigger warnings: bullying, homophobic slurs, abandonment

IMG_4182
★★★☆☆

Kings, Queens and in-Betweens is definitely a book that deserves more attention! It stars a lesbian MC, a bunch of drag queens and kings, and a questioning jock as a sidekick. I really liked Nima’s character: she was absolutely chaotic lesbian and fell in love with every cute girl that showed up in front of her (but like, can you blame her?), had a very intense family dynamic that I felt a lot for and was just the kindest, sweetest soul, which didn’t stop her from making mistakes at all, but still. However, I did not vibe with the writing style, as it was a lot more descriptive and detailed than I typically like for my contemporaries.

 

CAPTURE THE FLAG

One of your most anticipated releases

IMG_4190
★★★★☆

You Should See Me in a Crown came out in June, only a few days before I decided to read it. And I am so glad I did it. I’d absolutely love for this book to be turned into a movie, as it offered a lot of your “teenage rom-com” tropes, but with amazing twists that added even more to the story. I loved the side characters and felt like the author handled all of the themes so well: disability, sexuality, being a person of color, friends break-ups and make-ups, romantic relationships, anxiety… I’m in love and urging everyone to read this already.

 

If you have read any of these books, what are your thoughts? Did you participate in Olympic Games? If so, how did you do? Let’s chat in the comments!

book review: like a love story, by adib nazemian

IMG_4187It’s 1989 in New York City, and for three teens, the world is changing.

Reza is an Iranian boy who has just moved to the city with his mother to live with his stepfather and stepbrother. He’s terrified that someone will guess the truth he can barely acknowledge about himself. Reza knows he’s gay, but all he knows of gay life are the media’s images of men dying of AIDS.

Judy is an aspiring fashion designer who worships her uncle Stephen, a gay man with AIDS who devotes his time to activism as a member of ACT UP. Judy has never imagined finding romance…until she falls for Reza and they start dating.

Art is Judy’s best friend, their school’s only out and proud teen. He’ll never be who his conservative parents want him to be, so he rebels by documenting the AIDS crisis through his photographs.

As Reza and Art grow closer, Reza struggles to find a way out of his deception that won’t break Judy’s heart–and destroy the most meaningful friendship he’s ever known.

Hello, friends!

Like a Love Story has been on my TBR for a while now and I had only heard positive reviews prior to picking it up. I actually found myself being very conflicted on this read, and that’s why I decided to write an entire review, because I feel like it would be the best way to properly lay out all my feelings.

TRIGGER WARNINGS: character death, grief, depictions of AIDs, police violence, homophobia, bullying.

coisas-boas-novo-1

“Love might just happen to them, but for us, it’s not as easy. For us, it’s a fight. Maybe someday it won’t be Maybe someday, love will just be… love.”

  1. Unapologetic and diverse characters. One of our protagonists is Reza, who was born in Iran and is gay; we also have Judy, who’s fat, and Art, who’s also gay. It’s always nice seeing a diverse cast of characters, but when it comes to Art and Judy, I also really liked how they were unapologetic themselves the entire time. Art is out and while that is not an easy path, at all, and he is rejected by his parents and harrassed by his classmates, he continues to strive to be his most authentic self. Judy is also fat, but that is never described as an insecurity for her, and I appreciated that a lot.
  2. A lot of 80s references. I really like a lot about the 80s and it was nice identifying a lot of references here. Obviously, the main one throughout this book was Madonna, which is understandable, but still, I loved seeing how much her music transforms these characters and their relationships. That’s how I wish more books perceived music and artists: showing how truly life-changing they can be for their fans.
  3. The discussion of social activism. I finished this book only a couple days into Pride Month and during the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement. And it was really nice reading a book set in the 80s and paralleling the social activism of back then with today. Obviously, these people couldn’t organize themselves in social media, so they actually had to go to reunions; they didn’t have cellphones where anyone could snap a picture, so Art had to be their official camera man. It made me think a lot about how my generation perceives social activism, compared to theirs, and made this a very immersive read.
  4. Low-key heartbreaking, but also empowering. This book is, on its core, very sad. It talks about the AIDs crisis in America, but I appreciated how the author didn’t limit this discussion to the grief and the loss – while he didn’t sugar coat it, he also made sure to talk about how that was a time for community, for strenght, and for empowerement, and I thought that was a really complete take on the situation.
  5. It felt *real*. These characters are not perfect, that’s for sure. And yet I did find them weirdly likeable. They make a bunch of mistakes, say a lot of problematic shit, and everything, but at the end of the day, isn’t that life? I don’t expect any of my friends or family members or even people I meet to be perfect and right all the time, so I liked that these characters, albeit unlikeable at times, felt realistic.

coisas-ruinsnovo-1

“The most important four-letter word in our history will always be LOVE. That’s what we are fighting for. That’s who we are. Love is our legacy.”

  1. Honestly, it was kinda problematic. This book had a lot of questionable sentences. Like, when Art says that he can use the word ‘bitch’ because he’s a honorary woman, since he’s gay. Like, uhhh, no, that’s not how it works. Or when Judy tells Reza that his country is known for killing gay people, as if she didn’t live in America, that was doing the exact same thing, lol. While I understand this is own-voices and the author could make criticism about his own country (Iran), I wish he didn’t do that in a white-character’s perspective, because it just sounds racist. It also didn’t sit well with me how Art felt the need to push everyone to also reclaim homophobic slurs, without taking into consideration not everyone felt comfortable doing so.
  2. The love triangle was a lot and unnecessary. I don’t know if it’s because I am seriously fed up with stories where gay guys date girls just so they can meet the actual guy they’ll fal in love with, but I really did not like the love triangle here and I don’t feel like it was necessary, and the story could’ve been pretty much the same without it.
  3. Pacing and editing. I feel like some chapters could’ve happened earlier than others, and just had some things changed to really help with the pacing, that I felt to be very off. There were moments where a lot was going on, and then others not so much, and we’d be in a certain character’s perspective when I felt like we should’ve seen that scene from the others perspective… It was really weird and I feel like this book could’ve been edited completely different.

IMG_4188“Tell your story until it becomes woven into the fabric of our story. Write about the joys and the pain and every event and every artist who inspires you to dream. Tell your story, because if you don’t, it could be wiped out. No one tells our stories for us.”

Overall, even though this is a book that I felt conflicted by, its’ still one I recommend. I think my generation, especially, takes a lot of things for granted, and that’s probably why we honestly were not educated enough on what the AIDs crisis really was and how deeply and awfuly impacted the LGBT community all around the world.

This book talks a lot about how sharing your story is important, and I loved that the author really did that, and that’s why, regardless of my gripes with it, I still feel like more people should read it.

3 ESTRELASNOVO

If you have read Like a Love Story, what are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments!

five YA heart-soothing reads for Pride Month

book recs.(1)

Hello, friends!

June is Pride Month and I’m sure y’all feeds are already flooded with recommendations for queer books. So I decided to be annoying and repetitive and share five other books I love that are very soothing and heart-warming. I know a lot of books dealing with sexuality can be very hard-hitting and triggering for some people, so I decided to share a much lighter list, but that hopefully can still be appreciated.

Let’s get onto those books then!

(Also, unrelated, but I achieved 200 followers yesterday and I’m SO THANKFULLLLL. You guys are the best, seriously!)

Just as a heads-up, I will be using “queer” as a reproclaimed word to define those who fall outside of cisgender or heterosexual identities.

HEARTSTOPPER, BY ALICE OSEMAN

gay main character and bisexual main character

IMG_3931No one is surprised. Literally, no one.

This comic series is incredibly popular in the bookish community, but I wanted to give it a shoutout anyway, because I have only recently read it and truly understood the hype.

Here, we follow two main characters, Nick and Charlie, and their friendship that slowly becomes something more. They’re quite different – Charlie is an overthinker with not many friends, while Nick is the popular rugby player. And yet they find enough things in common to build a heart-warming friendship.

I really like the layout of this comic, which the author mentioned to be very intentional. It’s not exactly linear and it doesn’t follow all the moments from these character’s lives. It’s just a compilation of episodes and meaningful scenes and it still feels very realistic. It didn’t stop me at all from connecting with the characters, even if we’re only seeing slices of their every day lives.

While this series is adorable, fluffy and perhaps even a bit too predictable and cliché – which I don’t think it’s a bad thing, because straight people have been able to see themselves in all these tropes over the years, while queer people haven’t -, it still discusses serious topics, such as bullying and mental health, so it still has some meaningful discussions as well.

It also contains lovely cameos from other works by Alice Oseman. I have not read Solitaire yet, but I loved seeing known characters from Radio Silence in this first volume!

QUEENS OF GEEK, BY JEN WILDE

bisexual protagonist and lesbian side-character

Name a more adorable book. Honestly.

IMG_4113Queens of Geek is the type of book that will make you swoon and kick your feet in happiness and giggles. It may not be the most outstanding writing or have the most unique plot lines, but it’s still lovely nonetheless.

Here, we’re following Charlie (a different one this time, though, lol) and Taylor, best friends who are attending the convention SupaCon for the first time. Each character is going through their own thing and yet, I found both perspectives to be equally interesting, which can be quite hard to achieve.

Charlie is bisexual (and Chinese!) and is trying to get over her famous and obnoxious ex, who’s also at the convention. She ends up meeting other YouTuber, Alyssa Huntington, who may just be very helpful with that. *winks*. Okay, but in all seriousness, I really like how these two characters are their own person. It’s all about two confident, badass young women falling in love, and I was very much there for it.

Taylor is also adorable. She has sort-of-secret-but-not-really crush on her best friend and is also navigating anxiety and Aspergers at a crowded event like a convention. It also makes me happy to say that she’s a fellow fat girl, and yet, that is never shown as an insecurity, which is the level of confidence I hope to achieve one day.

Again, this book is not the most pristine work of fiction you’ll ever find, but if you really want a heart-warming read that is going to make you smile a lot, I don’t think Queens of Geek can disappoint.

A BOY WORTH KNOWING, BY JENNIFER COSGROVE

gay main character and bisexual main character

I literally have no idea how I stumbled upon this book, but I am kind of really glad that I did.

In this one, our main character Nate can see ghosts. Yes, very Sixth Sense of him. He’s also developing a major crush on the new guy at school, James, but the fact he can see the ghost of James’ dead brother can become an issue.

Even though this book has fantastical elements, I would not say it is the biggest part of the story. If anything, I wish it could’ve been further developed, so I think it can be a good choice if you’re not a fan of paranormal elements.

IMG_4186Things to note about this book that make it the adorable, fluffy read it is:

  • The family dynamic is A+. Nate lives with his aunt, and she’s all about supporting his relationship with James but also being protective of Nate.
  • Nate is lowkey chaotic gay and he barely knows how to process James’ existence, moreover James’ interest in being his friend.
  • They watch movies ALL AFTERNOON. Which like, same.
  • There are a lot of talks in consent and boundaries which we love to see in YA.

This book is very short, and it’s honestly a bit too good to be true – like cute guy walks into school and also *magically* happens not only to be bisexual, but also in love with you? -, but it was such a heart-warming ride, I had to recommend.

LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE, BY CLAIRE KANN

asexual bi-romantic protagonist

IMG_3536This book is such a gift.

Alice is a fantastic main character and I related to a lot of the struggles she was facing: not only in embracing her asexuality completely, but also in figuring out her future. Even though she is already a sophomore in college, Alice has not declared her major yet, and feels very conflicted about her actual interests (cute things and wandering around Pinterest) and what her parents expect of her – law school.

Despite the romance being biggest layer of this novel – and Takumi was an adorable love interest, who was flirty, humourous *and* good with kids -, I also have to highlight the friendships. Alice’s friend group was equally important to her and I liked how the book discussed the tensions that can arise in friendships once one person starts dating.

Obviously, I can’t say much about whether or not the representation was impecable, as I do not identify as biromantic, but I did like the different discussions on asexuality that happen throughout the book – like the one Alice has with her therapist, and then the one she has with Takumi by the end of the book.

DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY, BY ADIB KHORRAM

gay protagonist

I recently watched Adriana’s video on 5 Reasons to Read Darius the Great and it just struck me how amazingly soft this book is. (By the way, watch their video for more in depth reasons as to why this book is amazing and deserving of all the hype).

Even though it tackles serious topics, such as depression, identity, terminal ilness, body image and bullying, the author worked some type of magic where this still comes across like a beautiful and hopeful story. It truly shows that life can be great in its difficultness.

IMG_0975There are a lot of elements to love in this story. Darius working through his identity – learning more about Persian culture that he felt disconnected for years, while also feeling like he doesn’t fit as white, especially because that would make him and his dad a team and they do not work together at all – is powerful and makes this relatable in very different ways.

But since this is a post about queer books, I also have to discuss the role of sexuality here. It is not an overwhelming one and is not the main point of the book, but it’s still important because it is a part of Darius’ identity he also doesn’t have figured out. It also involves a platonic but adorable relationship with Sohrab, which is by far the softest love interest of all times.

I’m sorry – again – this post is so long. It’s hard for me to shut up whenever talking about books I love. If you have any more recommendations of cute & soft queer reads, please leave them in the comments!

 

five YA contemporaries about mental health issues that are likely to break your heart

book recs.(1)

Hello, friends!

As many of you may now, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Going through my shelves, I realized I’ve actually read quite a few books that discuss mental health issues and decided to compile a list of some of my favorite titles that are definitely hard hitting and likely to make you cry.

Hope you guys enjoy it!

CHALLENGER DEEP, BY NEAL SHUSTERMAN

schizophrenia-spectrum

Even though Challenger Deep is not technically own-voices, it was inspired by Neal Shusterman’s son experience in being in the schizo-spectrum. He even collaborated with some of the illustrations you find throughout the book! It definitely shows that the author knows what he’s talking about when building this story, and that was very important.

img_1087Our main character Caden is trying to stay afloat as he experiences multiple hallucinations. He knows he has his life – with his friends, his little sister, homework and videogames -, but he also knows he’s the captain of a ship going straight to Challenger Deep – the deepest known point in Earth.

It’s really interesting seeing these two “lives” Caden is living intertwine. I really admired the way the author talked about therapy, being inside a schizo-spectrum which not always means you’ll get a definitive diagnosis and how challenging that can be, as well as the fact mental health issues are not something you can “cure”, but something you can work on to get better, but never 100%.

I think all of these were so positive messages to see in a YA book. I really think this one deserves more hype, as it was very hard-hitting but beautiful at the same time.

YOU’D BE MINE, BY ERIN HAHN

addiction and anxiety related to trauma

Trigger warnings: overdose, discussions on suicide, death of a parent

Honestly, I have no idea if addiction is officially considered a mental health issue, but from my research, some therapists do consider it, so it counts, I think.

IMG_3204It was interesting to me to see addiction being discussed at length in a YA book, because I typically see recreational drug use being often a trope in YA, and teenagers are almost always not ready to have a discussion on the dangers of such. It’s not being preachy, it’s simply being aware of what you’re ingesting and taking responsibility for any further consequences.

What I like about You’d Be Mine is that it touches on how drinking issues are typically linked to other issues, such as anxiety and depression, being possibly a coping mechanism or a development from the drug use. Even though this book deals with such hard topics, it never felt like the author was trying to glamorize them, even if the characters were celebrities after all.

In fact, I think it was done very responsibly and showed that both needed to be better as individuals before they could be good to each other too, which is *extremely* important when talking about such topics for a younger audience.

MORE THAN WE CAN TELL, BY BRIGID KEMMERER

post-traumatic stress disorder

Trigger warnings: mentions and attempt of sexual abuse, violence, abusive parents, divorce.

Having finished this book recently, my memory is fresh, so I had to add it on the list. Our main characters are Rev – an adopted child who starts getting messages from his abusive biological father – and Emma – who’s being harrassed at a game online that she designed herself.

IMG_3924I will mostly focus on Rev’s perspective here, since he’s the one dealing with the PTSD. I think the author did a really great job at allowing us inside Rev’s head and how his trauma was not as black and white as it seemed.

Rev’s father was a religious figure and used religion as a way to abuse him. Yet, Rev does have faith and beliefs of himself. Throughout the book, we can see how he’s trying to detach both things from each other: his own joruney with God and his relationship with his father. It’s interesting because the characters around him also struggle to understand how he can still believe in God after everything his dad put him through on His name, so I think it was really smart how the author built such a complex character.

I also think how the narrative discussed confronting a past trauma to be really great, even if it was particularly hard for me to read and I did skim through most of it. Not everything can be just forgive and forget. And you don’t have to do so in order to move on. It was kind of showing me the opposite of everything I believed, but in Rev’s case, it made so much sense.

THE WEIGHT OF OUR SKY, BY HANNA ALKAF

obsessive compulsive disorder

TRIGGER WARNINGS: graphic violence, death, racism

IMG_4039Okay, so maybe the title of this post is not entirely correct, because The Weight of Our Sky is not contemporary, but rather historical fiction. Set during the race riots in Kuala Lumpur in 1969, this book follows our main character Melati, a Muslim Malay girl who struggles with OCD.

Because the book is from her perspective, this can be a quite overwhelming trait in the writing. But I think this is what creates even more the idea of being inside Melati’s head. There are a lot of repetitions, long paragraphs with no punctuation, and you can feel the anxiety building up as you read. It made this read hard for me, but I imagine that for someone who also struggles with anxiety, it can be extremely meaningful to see your thoughts validated and understood in this way.

It’s also interesting the way the author approaches the topic of mental ilness and religion. What we identify as OCD, Melati and her family understand as a djinni that has been living in her head and the process of counting repeatedly or searching for a number three in everything is her way of “feeding” said djinni. Especially considering this was set in 1969, it is expected that there wouldn’t be as much information or resources on mental health and specifically, compulsive disorders, so it is understandable that people would go for religion in order to make sense of said behaviors.

This book is definitely not for everyone, as the race riots are quite intense and Melati’s thoughts and perspective definitely add to said tension, but I still want to recommend for a very authentic and own-voices representation.

HIGHLY ILLOGICAL BEHAVIOR, BY JOHN CAREY WHALEY

agoraphobia

It’s been a while since I read this book, so it’s definitely one I should probably re-read soon, but I wanted to recommend anyway because I think it discusses certain topics related to mental ilness that are very interesting.

IMG_4036Our protagonists are:

  • Solomon. Hasn’t left the house in three whole years.
  • Lisa. Knows Solomon from school, and is determined that “fixing” him will be her path to the second best Psychology school in the country.
  • Clark. Lisa’s boyfriend. Becomes friends with Solomon by talking about Star Trek daily.

Obviously, there’s a major issue being brought up here: the whole idea that Lisa will “fix” Solomon. Like I mentioned before in this post, Highly Illogical Behavior also dedicates itself to challenge the idea that mental health issues can be cured. It can’t. It definitely can get better and manageable, but never 100% cured.

It’s also nice that this book intertwines the topic of sexuality, as Solomon is gay and developing a major crush on Clark. Their relationship is very platonic, but it makes for really soft interactions and a ton of Star Trek references that contrast with some of the harder aspects of this book.

This read is very funny, don’t get me wrong. But there are other moments that are very difficult to read and likely to break your heart. But I loved the hopeful tone after all and especially the focus on how support can be so helpful when dealing with mental health issues.

Let me know some of your favorite books that talk about mental health. Are you planning on reading anything for the Mental Health Awareness Month? Have you read any of the titles I mentioned here? Let’s chat in the comments!

magical readathon o.w.l.s 2020 wrap-up!

read-a-thon wrap up. (1)

Hello, friends!

Hope y’all had a lovely April. This past month, I joined the Magical Readathon hosted by Gi @ The Book Roast and I wrapped up my O.W.L.S successfully!

At the beginning, I had chosen the Hogwarts Professor as a career, but as I realized I’d have more free time in April than I anticipated, I decided to aim for all twelve prompts, so I could decide my career only for the N.E.W.Ts in August.

I ended up reading all the books I needed for my career and others more, and here are all my thoughts:

ANCIENT RUNES

Heart rune: heart on the cover on in the title

IMG_3931
★★★★☆

It’s been a while since I’ve had Heartstopper on my TBR. This webcomic is very popular amongst the YA book community and I can definitely understand why. It’s a friends to lovers storyline, centered around Nick and Charlie and set in an all-boys school. As cliché as this first volume was, I like to remind myself that queer people have not been able to see themselves in trope-y stories for years and they deserve a swoon-worthy, predictable book as well. I am very excited to carry on with this series and I loved seeing cameos of characters from other works by Alice Oseman!

 

ARITHMANCY

Magical quality of number 2: balance/opposites – read something outside your favorite genre

IMG_3927
★★★★☆

Aurora Rising is a science fiction novel, therefore, very much outside of my favorite genre, which is contemporary. I have read The Illuminae Files, by the same authors, and this one follows a similar premise: band of misfits thrown together have to save the galaxy. As I mentioned in my TBR, I was very hesitant and intimidated to read this book, so it was a lovely surprise how much I actually enjoyed it. The characters are the best – Finnian, Kal and Auri are by far my favorites – and their interactions are hilarious and refreshing. This was very action packed and I love learning about the different alien species and their own dynamics as well. I am not so sure about the ending, but I feel like it was a really powerful start for this series and I can not wait for what happens next.

NIGHT CLASSES

Read majority of this book when it’s dark outside

IMG_3933
★★☆☆☆

OK, being honest here, I pretty much forgot that this was the prompt I’d chosen for I Hope You Get This Message so I’m not sure if I did read the majority of this book at night, but I’m pretty sure I did. I enjoyed this book’s representation – gay main character and Muslim main character -, and how it brought an apocalyptical scenario but as if you already knew it was coming (done very realistically, may I add. This book even mentioned how toilet paper was one of the things missing in all the stores! Ring a bell?), because the discussions were very interesting. But I feel like the book was never moving forward, it was very repetitive at times, none of the characters were likeable or memorable and the ending lacked proper closure.

CARE OF MAGICAL CREATURES

Hippogriffs: creature with a beak on the cover

IMG_3913
★★★★☆

I also decided to re-read some Harry Potter for this readathon, as it would be incredibly fitting. I’ve been meaning to finish the Harry Potter series and after seeing El was reading the 6th book– the one I stopped at -, I was struck with a sudden motivation. decided to go back and re-read the previous volumes. Chamber of Secrets has Fawkes on the cover, which was very fitting for this prompt. I really liked this one, because the universe is being expanded more and more and I love learning about Voldemort’s past. It was a sweet ride.

 

CHARMS

Lumos Maxima: white cover

IMG_3917
★★★★☆

I decided to listen to Jackson’s Bird memoir, Sorted. I had never heard of Jackson Bird before and picked this book up after seeing Adriana @ Perpetual Pages recommending it. This book had a very educational tone to it, that, to my understanding, is very on brand with Jackson Bird. Even before he came out as trans, he already had a YouTube channel where he talked about queer themes, so I can see where it came from. I really enjoyed this aspect, because as a cis person, there’s still a lot I need to learn. If you’re a fan of memoirs, this was a very fast-paced one.

 

DEFENCE AGAINST THE DARK ARTS

Grindylows: book set at the sea/coast

IMG_3929
★★★★☆

Alex, Approximately is a very sweet YA contemporary set at a surfer’s town in California and following two characters who are friends online and start falling in love with real life without knowing who the other person is. The setting was my favorite thing about this book and I loved the dialogue and banter the characters had too. It wasn’t a perfect book by any means – it bothered me to see certain characters being overly villanized, sex was used as a premonition, and the side characters would only come up when it was convenient to the plot. It was a bit all over the place, but I still had a solid fun time with it.

 

DIVINATION

Third eye: assign numbers to your TBR and use a random number generator to pick your read

IMG_3935
★★☆☆☆

I assigned numbers to the audiobooks I had in my “Saved” folder at Scribd and ended up with The Upside of Falling, by Alex Light. I didn’t know much about this book, except it was YA contemporary with fake dating. I also quickly learned it was originally, a Wattpad book, and let me tell you: it shows. I didn’t feel like the reasons for these characters starting to fake date were coherent or strong enough, the characters were so trope-y – the bookworm and the jock -, and while I appreciate how it discussed different family dynamics and divorce, it was incredibly predictable.

 

HERBOLOGY

Mimbulus mimbletonia: title starts with an M

TRIGGER WARNINGS: mentions and attempt of sexual abuse, violence, abusive parents, divorce.

IMG_3924
★★☆☆☆

Even though I loved the previous contemporary I read by Brigid Kemmerer, More Than We Can Tell was a very different experience. It’s a dual perspective and a follow up to Letters to the Lost, which I haven’t read yet, and I would recommend not being like me and actually reading it in order. Our protagonists are Rev – a boy dealing with PTSD from his abusive biological father – and Emma – who’s being harassed by a guy in a computer game she designed herself. I expected this one to be hard-hitting, but my main issue is that it tried tackling too many issues and it simply didn’t have time to explore all of them. I found Emma to be an incredibly unlikeable character and, overall, the two protagonists lacked so much in communication and emotional intelligence that it was frustrating reading from their perspectives most of the time. I also feel like they would’ve worked better as friends than as boyfriend/girlfriend, and I wish authors would be more open to not forcing all their characters in romantic relationships, especially when they’re not ready to do so.

HISTORY OF MAGIC

Witch hunts: book featuring witches/wizards

IMG_3911
★★★★☆

Before I could read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, I of course had to start with Philosopher’s Stone. It’s really nice reading this book and revisiting this world and I had never noticed how much Harry’s connection with his family was already present here. It was particularly heartbreaking to see it here, as he actually doesn’t even know that much about his parents, but already feels the need to stand up for them. This book is not without its faults – the fatphobic remarks are very unnecessary -, but it made me lowkey happy.

 

MUGGLE STUDIES

Book from a perspective of a muggle (contemporary)

IMG_3918
★★★★☆

I read in literally one day my most anticipated book of 2020 – You Deserve Each Other. And I have a lot of mixed feelings. This is an adult romance, and it was definitely better than others I’ve read from this genre. It’s an enemies to lovers story, but they’re already engaged. I really liked Naomi as a character, I loved the banter and sexual tension between the characters and it was perfectly hilarious. However, I feel like it would’ve benefited from a double perspective, as I couldn’t connect with Nicholas in the same extent and the ending also turned really sappy and weird, in ways that I found to be OOC for the characters. I’d still recommend if you like enemies to lovers and childish banter, but it still wasn’t the perfect adult romance of my dreams.

POTIONS

Shrinking Solution: book under 150 pages

IMG_3921
★★★☆☆

I finally continued on with the Ao Haru Ride series and picked up volume three. This series is adorable and I love the protagonist a lot. I also really like how it’s more straight-forward that other shoujo manga I’ve read in the past, even if it’s not 100% realistic, because it makes the story more fun and fast-paced in my opinion. However, this volume introduced a love triangle that I found to be very unnecessary and I already have a headache trying to figure out how to untangle this situation.

 

 

TRANSFIGURATION

Animagus lecture: book/series that includes shapeshifting

a
★★★☆☆

I finished the second installment in the His Dark Materials trilogy. This book was definitely a step up, as we’re now being introduced to other characters and, most importantly, other worlds. I still find that most reactions in this book are a bit too convenient to be real, but it was really interesting being introduced to different worlds and especially knowing how you can travel between them. I liked Will as a character, but I’m not sold in his friendship with Lyra just yet. Ultimately, though, this book wasn’t as engaging as I’d have liked and the climax was very dull.

 

 

Wow! This was a long one. If you’ve taken part in the OWLS this year, let me know how you did. What’s your favorite book you read this month? And the least-favorite? Let’s chat in the comments!