Book Reviews

Here the Whole Time by Vitor Martins – Book Review

Amazon.com: Here the Whole Time (9781444958492): Martins, Vitor: Books

The whole world is yours.

This book follows Felipe, a fat seventeen year old boy in Brazil. During his break from school, he’s forced to spend fifteen days with Caio, the boy from his apartment complex whom he’s had a crush on for years. They used to spend time as children at the pool, but now they don’t even speak to each other. So, things get a bit awkward between them from the start.

I really enjoyed this book. It just follows the daily lives of these people, including Felipe’s mom, who was incredible, but it never got boring. There was always so much to get out of the ordinary conversations the characters were having. I loved the way the story progressed, going from amazingly awkward to super comfortable. It was so easy to relate to Felipe, who never felt good enough in his body just because it was too big. As a fat person, I can definitely relate. But I love that he learns to accept himself by the end because life is too short to not love yourself. I loved Caio so much. The boy stole my heart. He was such a sweetheart. And again, Felipe’s mom stole the show. The woman was a total gem.

I think this book is important for those of us who don’t get to be represented as much in books. Main characters tend to be thin, perfect creatures. They’re hardly ever fat, and when they’re fat, they’re the butt of the joke instead of the main character. But Felipe shines off the page. He’s the main character as he’s coming of age, and following his heart. I loved the message in this book, to be brave, to have courage, and to be proud of who you are.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone out there who knows what it feels like to be different.

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Any Way the Wind Blows by Rainbow Rowell – Book Review

Amazon.com: Any Way the Wind Blows (Simon Snow Trilogy, 3) (9781250254337):  Rowell, Rainbow: Books

“I’m always holding on by a thread! I thought the important thing was that I’m holding on!”

I flew through this book, which is unusual for me when it comes to reading lately. But I have to say, Any Way the Wind Blows took me by surprise. This is the third book in a trilogy, but here are my reviews for Carry On and Wayward Son, if you are interested in reading them.

I have to say, I was really hesitant about this book. I didn’t love Carry On, and I kind of hated Wayward Son. My expectations were low, to say the least. But I adore Rainbow Rowell, and I have read all of her novels so far, so I was decided to continue with the series no matter what. And boy, I am glad I did! Any Way the Wind Blows was so much better than the first two books combined. There are three different plot lines in this book, and I enjoyed all of them equally. I was really intrigued by all of the characters. But my favorite was definitely Baz. And this is brand new for me because I’ve never really cared that much for Baz in the past. I did feel for him in Wayward Son, but I never loved him. And now, I think he’s the best character in this trilogy. There’s just so much heart in him.

I loved Simon and Baz’s storyline here. In Wayward Son, their love struggled so much. It was so hard to read. Here, we move past that, into breathable territory. I was hoping that I would come to love them in the end, and I’m glad I did. Because I just love enemies to lovers romances. I couldn’t help but long for that backstory between them that we didn’t get to read about before Carry On though. I would have loved a whole book about all those years they spent as enemies at Watford. That would have been amazing to read about. We get bits and pieces, but not the full story. Secondly, I loved Penelope. Her and Shepard have the best arguments, and I loved that she was so set on getting him out of his curse with the demon. Penny has always been one of my safest characters from these books. She’s so easy to love. This time was no different. And thirdly, I loved Agatha’s goat storyline. I can’t believe I was here caring about whether the goats escaped or not, but I was.

All these plot lines were solved so easily, and barely with any difficulty, that it would have bothered anyone else, but not me. See, I hate plot with a passion. I would rather not have plot at all in any book. I’m boring like that. So having the plots resolved with little to no struggle worked perfectly for me. I was so on board with it. I think what Rainbow does best is writing people, not plots, and she proved it with this book. I loved everything about it. Granted, there were times when I grew so frustrated with Simon and Baz that I didn’t want to keep reading, but even those issues were resolved quickly too. This all worked well in my favor.

I’m going to miss these characters so much. I’ll probably go back to reread all the books, even Wayward Son, which I couldn’t stand at all. At least knowing there’s a happy ending will keep me going.

Book Reviews

The Anti-Relationship Year by Katie Wismer – Book Review

The Anti-Relationship Year by Katie Wismer, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

I’ve been watching Katie Wismer’s videos on YouTube for quite some time now, and I’ve read her poetry collections, so I figured I should give her novels a shot, too. I decided to start with The Anti-Relationship Year, which follows Jo Palmer on her freshman and senior years of college. In these two timelines, Jo is dealing with very different, but also similar issues. On her freshman year, she’s dating a rockstar named Gray, and on her senior year, she no longer wants to date anyone, so she’s surrounded by her best friend Miller.

I thought the concept of the book was intriguing. I wanted to know what had made Jo not want to date anymore. What had been so terrible with Gray that made her give up on love? And boy, I was not disappointed. That man was an asshole. I hated the way he treated her. Then we have Miller, who is pretty much the perfect guy. He was sweet and charming and reliable and treated Jo like a princess. I could see them together, but I also thought the slow burn was too slow. Or maybe there wasn’t enough tension there built up by the time they got together. I didn’t find myself shipping them at all. I also thought that Jo wasn’t really deserving of Miller. She didn’t have the best qualities and I thought Miller was just too perfect, but not in the best way. I didn’t like the characterization of any of the characters. I felt like none of them were developed.

All this to say, I did sort of enjoy myself while reading the book. It wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I didn’t hate reading it. There were just a lot of things that I didn’t like. I will give her next published book a try, just to see if I like it better. I don’t want to give up on this author. I still really enjoy her channel, and I think she’s just a really sweet person.

Book Reviews

If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich – Book Review

Amazon.com: If This Gets Out: A Novel (9781250805805): Gonzales, Sophie,  Dietrich, Cale: Books

This book follows the four members of the boy band Saturday: Ruben, Zach, Angel, and Jon. But our two main characters are Ruben and Zach, who are best friends first and foremost. This book tackles the dark side of the music industry, and how difficult it can be to deal with a management team that’s so focused on appropriately branding the band. I went into it blind, only knowing the basic premise, that two of the characters are meant to fall in love. And while that did happen, I was left with a bigger story than that.

Ruben has a tough mother to deal with on top of everything else. He’s been forced to hide that he’s gay for the longest time, but he’s tired of it, and wishes he could come out once and for all. Zach, at first, doesn’t realize his bisexuality, and I thought that was a great aspect of the story. That type of self-discovery is so relatable. But when the two of them realize they have feelings for each other, their management team will get in the way of their romance, forcing them to hide it from the public in every way possible.

I was really intrigued by the dynamics of the band. I find it so interesting reading about celebrities, especially young ones because it’s something we see every day, but we don’t really get to see their side of the story. I find it so fascinating how fame changes a person’s life completely, and sometimes it can rule that person’s life as well. I loved seeing the downsides as well as the upsides to fame. I thought Angel was another interesting character because he was the troublemaker who was always into drugs and alcohol. And Jon was the quiet, reserved one who kind of kept the peace. I loved how fleshed out they all were and how they grew together as well as individually.

I enjoyed the romance, though like I said before, this book had a lot more depth than just romance. I loved all of it. The drama, the angst, the excitement, and more. I thought it was fascinating, and I’m extremely thankful to have gotten an early copy from Edelweiss Plus to review. I would recommend this to everyone.

Book Reviews

Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Saenz – Book Review

Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World | Book by Benjamin  Alire Sáenz | Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster

I was fortunate enough to read an advanced reader copy from Edelweiss Plus of this beautiful book, so now you gets to hear all my thoughts. This book is set to release on October 12th of this year, and it’s a continuation of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which I’ve already reviewed before.

This book picks up right where we left off in the first book, on the very final scene. You can imagine my tears when I started reading and discovered my luck. It was a beautiful way to begin a book, and I will always remember that part fondly. To be honest, this book is a slice of life story told from the perspective of Aristotle Mendoza. Everything is ordinary in this world, but Ari’s interesting thoughts makes it extraordinary. I loved the relationships he had with everyone in this book, including both of his parents and Dante’s parents, as well as with my sweet Dante, of course.

I liked that in this book, we get to see Ari break out of his shell and form other relationships with other students in school. He gets to make new friends, as well as talk to many of his teachers, which we rarely saw before. I loved the way he communicated with everyone around him, like a young man instead of the shy boy that he used to be. I loved so many things about this book, especially the way the writing style flowed. It’s the same lyrical style that we’re so used to from the first book.

My one complaint would be that there wasn’t nearly enough Dante in this story for my liking. Dante is supposed to be a main character, but the amount of page time he gets is very minimal. Maybe it’s because he’s my favorite character that I can never get my fill of him, but I really wish we had seen more of him and his little baby sibling. The ending was a little rushed, and a bit confusing as well.

Other than that, I think this book is solid. I loved reading it and enjoying more of Aristotle and Dante. I’m really glad the author decided to continue writing about these characters. They’re so special to me.

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An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison – Book Review

An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness: Jamison, Kay Redfield:  8601419310197: Amazon.com: Books

Here’s a little something about me: I have Bipolar II. I was diagnosed over three years ago, and my life has been incredibly difficult ever since. This mental illness is not easy to deal with. It’s not one of those things where someone will change their mind at one point, you call them bipolar, and you can laugh it off. Bipolar means having both depressive and hypomanic/manic episodes, which are two extremely difficult things to deal with. They can both result in harmful experiences, including suicide. It’s not something to laugh about. It’s a serious illness that affects many people.

In a recent therapy session I had, my therapist recommended this book to me. It’s a bipolar memoir written by someone who has dealt with he illness for many, many years. My therapist was nice enough to buy me a copy of it as well, and so I read it. I was very surprised by all the similarities I had with the author. I, too, had run around my work’s parking lot during a manic episode. I, too, had spent my money on useless crap that I instantly regretted as soon as the episode was over. It was so easy for me to relate to the experiences the author lived through. But there was one thing I couldn’t agree with. For her, the lithium medication was like a magical cure. Or not a cure, but a huge stabilizer for her mood disorder. I have been on lithium in the past, and it didn’t work on me as well. In fact, I have been on countless bipolar medications, but I still haven’t found the right one for me.

None of this is to say that the book was bad, but there were a lot of things I didn’t agree with. I liked that it focused on her love life a lot, but I was more intrigued by the mental illness than her romantic endeavors, although they often tied closely to it. Every time I picked up the book, I was reminded of my own mood disorder, so it could get kind of trippy for me. I don’t constantly think about the fact that I’m bipolar, unless I’m having a really bad mental health day, and I’m fiercely reminded that yes, I do have something very wrong with me. I liked the honesty of the book, though I wish she hadn’t brushed over a lot of her experiences. I guess I feel like I can criticize this book because I’m also bipolar, but in general, memoirs are my thing.

I would recommend this to people who are bipolar, or who know anyone bipolar in their lives, or just for anyone more interested in the illness. It’s very clear in its subject matter and it gets into the reality of it all. It was definitely worth the read for me.

Book Reviews

Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard – Book Review

Gabriel's Inferno (Gabriel's Inferno Trilogy Book 1) - Kindle edition by  Reynard, Sylvain. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

I’ve always had a terrible weakness for beautiful but sad things.

I watched all three Gabriel’s Inferno movies on Passionflix this month and they rocked my world. At the time, I had no idea that the one book had been turned into three full-length movies. Instead, I thought it was all three books in the series. You can imagine my excitement when I realized there was still so much content waiting for me. I rewatched the movies a good six times, and I now consider them some of my all-time favorite movies. They’re basically my new Twilight because just like Twilight, they’re absolutely ridiculous. After watching the movies I decided to pick up all the books, starting with this one.

Gabriel’s Inferno follows Julia Mitchell, a grad student in Toronto studying to be a Dante specialist. Julia’s professor, Gabriel Emerson, is a dark and mysterious man whose past is closer tied to Julia than he might know. Through a series of circumstances, the two grow closer and closer, until a forbidden romance ensues between the professor and student. And if you know me, you’d know I love a good professor/student romance. However, this book lacked all of the charm from the movie adaptations.

First of all, Gabriel is a total asshole in the book. Not only is he a terribly furious professor, often insulting Julia’s intelligence, he’s also possessive and nasty with her before they start dating. The movies edited out all that macho nonsense and made Gabriel a lot more likable, so you can imagine my disappointment when I read this and found myself hating Gabriel. Julia is also the most self-deprecating person I’ve ever read about. She’s a virgin–a fact that Gabriel is obsessed with the entire book–and she lets this detail rule her entire life basically. She puts herself down so much, and I get that she comes from an abusive relationship, but she gave me so much second-hand embarrassment.

I struggled finishing this gigantic book. I found some lighthearted moments from time to time, and I did laugh at other parts, but most of the time, I was rolling my eyes or just shouting in frustration at how absolutely stupid this book is. Sadly, I do own the rest of the books, so I plan to continue reading them. I also want to see the rest of the movies, which I’m sure will also surpass the quality of the rest of the books.

Do I recommend the book? No. Do I recommend the movies? Absolutely! They’re so fun and they never get old. The rating I’m giving it is only due to the nostalgia I already feel because of the amazing movies.

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Four Horror Movies I watched through the Texas Storm

I was very lucky last week through the winter storm that ravaged Texas. We had our power the whole time and only had to boil our water for three days. During that week I watched for movies (for me that is a ton), and I wanted to review them. But I did want to note many were not so lucky as I was, and they still need help. Any Texas can go here to ask for help rebuilding your home. Anyone else who wants to help. Here is a group called Feeding Texas. Here is another link for disaster relief. And here is a good page to find other places to donate to or if you need help whether it be needing food or water or a place to stay.

Antebellum (film) - Wikipedia

Antebellum is a horror movie released in 2020 featuring Janelle Monáe. It is hard to know how to summarize this movie without giving away spoilers, but even the official summary of the movie kind of does that. But the movie basically is centered around the idea that the past is never really dead, and it predominantly features slavery. As with all depictions of slavery, it can be hard to watch, but I wouldn’t consider it a on the edge of your seat/jump scare type of thriller. Overall, I would say it was a good movie. The twist wasn’t really a twist to me, but the acting was very good and engaging.

The Turning | Own & Watch The Turning | Universal Pictures

This 2020 horror film is based on Henry James’ novella The Turn of the Screw, which I had never read so I had no idea what I was getting into. Really, I found this to be a typical horror film with a disappointing ending. It is about a nanny moving into these two kid’s huge mansion and creepy stuff happens basically. Finn Wolfhard and Brooklyn Prince did a great job as creepy children, but I didn’t really enjoy Mackenzie Davis’ character. She would be following mysterious sounds/calls for help and have no expression or hurry in her step and it would completely pull me out of the story.

Watch The Haunting Of Grady Farm | Prime Video

The Haunting of Grady Farm is a 2020 is a documentary style horror movie. It follows a team filming for their show that shows haunted locations, but this time the place is really haunted. I always like the idea of these types of movies, but rarely enjoy the execution. The camera is always shaky from the running and constantly cuts out to show that it is spooky or whatever. It never is a nice watching experience. I don’t give this one any flowers.

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I think The Rental was my favorite of the 2020 horror movies we watched. It follows four people renting a house for the weekend and then they all get murdered. Pretty basic but I liked the execution of the film. It built up the tension slowly, but it really paid off well in my opinion. And I loved the ending.

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune – Book Review

Image result for the house in the cerulean sea

Sometimes our prejudices color our thoughts when we least expect them to. If we can recognize that, and learn from it, we can become better people.

This book is so stunningly beautiful. I finished it a few hours ago, but I feel like I haven’t finished processing all that it made me feel.

The House in the Cerulean Sea has been much talked about lately. It was released last year and it’s been well received. I ordered it months ago when I heard it had queer characters in it, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized I needed to finally pick it up. I’m so glad I did. This book follows Linus Baker, a government caseworker who is in charge of visiting orphanages to make sure things are running smoothly. However, he’s asked to visit a top secret orphanage hiding the most powerful and unusual children he’s ever met, and that is where the story picks up.

I had not been expecting to burst into laughter so much, but I had so many laughing fits while reading this. Sometimes to the point of tears. The six children were exceptional, intelligent, and incredibly endearing. I adored every single one of them. Their characterization was so well done that I feel like I miss them already. I also feel like I know Linus so well. He was so relatable. I’m not a 40 year old man, but I might as well be with how much I felt like him the entire time. But my God, I have to say, I adored Arthur Parnassus the most. Arthur is the man in charge of the orphanage, and he’s the sweetest man alive. Every character was charming and I found myself entranced by all of their personalities.

A home isn’t always the house we live in. It’s also the people we choose to surround ourselves with.

The way this book is written is like poetry. It isn’t exactly a lyrical novel, but so many passages were so quotable that I had to keep rereading them to really take them in. I felt like there just weren’t enough pages. The story was so fun and enjoyable that I didn’t want it to ever end, as much as I wanted the resolution to happen. It was the kind of story that I wanted to get myself lost in forever, to literally jump into in order to experience everything firsthand. I can’t say enough good things about this wonderful, clever, funny book.

Your voice is a weapon. Never forget that.

I have to, of course, mention that my lovely Linus and Arthur stole my heart as well. Not only individually, but together. I loved them both to pieces. I loved my sweet Lucy, who’s the son of the Devil, I loved Chauncy and his big dreams, I loved Sal and his great writing, I loved Talia and her garden, I loved every single one of these characters so much. They stayed with me, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget them.

This isn’t the type of book I’d ever pick up, and now it’s my new favorite, which just shows that this book is for everyone. Do yourself a kind favor to yourself and read it. You’ll get lots of laugh and love out of it.

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

The cover of Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas. A black man in a durag is standing surrounded by falling rose petals.

“It’s kinda like how we have to do with ourselves. Get rid of the things that don’t do us any good. If it won’t help the rose grow, you’ve gotta let it go.”

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas is a prequel to The Hate U Give, though I think that it isn’t necessary to have read THUG before Concrete Rose. It is a young adult historical novel set in the 90s as Maverick (Starr’s father) has his coming of age story. Maverick is seventeen, in the King Lords and is dealing drugs when he finds out he is a father. From that point he must decide how he is going to be a parent and provide for his family while figuring out what kind of man he wants to be.

This book is phenomenal. Angie Thomas is an amazing writer, and I’m convinced I will love everything she writes. I feel like usually I might not like a book like this with the plot kind of more internal and not quite slow paced, but definitely not fast either. But I loved every moment of this book, and wanted more (which doesn’t happen to me with contemporary books).

I loved Maverick as a character in THUG and I love him even more now. He is such a dynamic character that has you rooting for him every step of the page. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever read a book involving teenage parents before. So not only is it filling the needed void on black men protagonists but also teen parents. Maverick is a person who has been told who he is his whole life, not able to really dream of what he wants to do, and slowly he learns that he can make his own choices and dream for a better future.

The side characters were also great and dynamic. Dre, Lisa, Faye, even Moe and Adonis, I loved getting to know them, and see them all interact with each other. Thomas has a gift for writing families and having entertaining scenes where you feel like you are there in Garden Heights with the cast.

Representation: Almost every character is Black. And there is a f/f relationship.

Trigger Warnings: Gang violence, drugs, racism, murder

I would recommend this book to everyone. It is an amazing as a prequel or a novel as itself. It can be heart wrenching, but it ends in a hopeful note that I appreciated as well. Five stars easy.