Book Recommendations, Book Reviews

Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi

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She was ARU SHAH. Devourer of Twizzlers and Swedish Fish. Bearer of a Ridiculously Powerful Lightning Bolt. Daughter of the God of Thunder and Lightning. Vessel of Movie Quotes.

Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi is the second book in the Pandava Quartet, a middle grade urban fantasy following Aru Shah as she attempts to prove her innocence in a case of a stolen celestial weapon. If she fails, she will be exiled from the Otherworld. My review of the first book is here if you want to check it out first.

So in this book Aru and Mini meet another one of their Pandava sisters, Brynne. She really shakes up the dynamics of the sisters, and Aru and her but heads quite a bit. Brynne is a fun character. She is strong and loves to cook. She can shapeshift and is quite riddled with insecurities. And she likes guys and girls.

Another new character is Aiden, the new boy at school that Aru has a crush on. He’s obsessed with photography and is Brynne’s best friend. I love the relationships all four of them develop throughout the book.

The plot was a fun journey. I liked the new mythology introduced with the new characters that came along with it. The lessons that were heavily focused on in this book were really good as well. A lot of questions on what is good and what is bad, and looking at the various shades of grey.

I’m excited the see where this series is going, and am so happy that it isn’t only a trilogy like I originally thought it was. Five stars again.

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson

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The trigger for white rage, inevitably, is black advancement. It is not the mere presence of black people that is the problem; rather, it is blackness with ambition, with drive, with purpose, with aspirations, and with demands for full and equal citizenship.

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson is a non fiction book that focuses on the history of racism in America that is often ignored. From the ending of the Civil War to Dylann Roof gunning down nine African Americans in church in 2015. The novel covers the Jim Crow and the Reconstruction Era, the Brown decision, and voter suppression. Virtually every way that Black America has been pushed down throughout history.

I think that something me and others have in common regarding nonfiction is the worry that the writing will be inaccessible. So much of academia can be so convoluted that people give up on learning because it does not make sense to them no matter how hard they try to read. At least that has happened to me in the past. But this book, I am happy to report, is not like that. It is not easy read, emotionally at least, but the way it is written is engaging and understandable.

There was so much in the book I didn’t know. It made me keep thinking about how I was taught about certain subjects, and I even had a conversation with my mom about how she grew up, which we’ve never done before. So much of history is twisted, and it was amazing seeing arguments that are still had today also being said in the 1800s.

Personally, I think everyone should read this book. For me, I wish to one day buy this book in the future so I can reread it and annotate it.

Book Reviews

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall – Book Review

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I knew how to make him angry and how to make him laugh, and I hoped I could make him happy.

Okay, so I’ve just finished reading this book. I have to say, I have a lot of mixed feelings. I’m not sure if it would have helped this review for me to wait some time and sit on my thoughts before writing it, but I’m going to just do this now. Bear with me.

This book is set in England, and it follows twenty-eight year old Lucien O’Donnell. He is the son of two 80’s rockstars, though he’s only close to his French mom while his deadbeat father ran out on him when he was three. Lucien, or Luc, has lived in the spotlight all his life, and he fears the terrible headlines from the countless articles written about how much of a disaster he is. All this bad fame ends up hurting his job, which is at a dung beetle charity named CRAPP. This is the type of delightful comedy you can expect from this book, which honestly gave me a lot of great laughs. Anyway, Luc is then forced to find a put together boyfriend to make him appear more put together. Which leads Luc to fake date a lawyer named Oliver Blackwood, who is posh and speaks like an old Englishman from old England, I guess.

Here are some of my favorite things about this book, because there were plenty. Luc was this self-deprecating, anxiety-ridden mess, and I absolutely related to him. Right from the beginning. I loved his relationship with his mom, who was an absolute delight. I loved his group of queer friends, who were kind and supportive. But I absolutely adored his coworker, Alex. That Alex was so hilariously clueless that he had me tearing up from laughter. I liked how good Luc was at his job, despite complaining about it at first. He had me wanting to donate to the stupid dung beetles by the end. Again, the humor was just excellent. There were some emotional and serious moments, but I felt they were very well balanced with the comedy aspect.

The fake relationship between Luc and Oliver developed slowly, but to me, it was the perfect pace. I’m a sucker for the fake relationship with a side of slow burn trope, so this was right up my alley. I loved the small changes between Luc and Oliver that showed how their feelings started becoming real along the way. The small hints here and there that showed they cared about each other, more and more every day. That was just *chef’s kiss* fucking amazing. However, there were so many unnecessary arguments and misunderstandings between them. A lot of breaking up and getting back together. Fighting and making up. Saying all the wrong things all the damned time. I know this is probably the realistic side of relationships, but it started feeling really repetitive by the end.

I did enjoy Oliver a lot. I loved how caring he was of Luc, and even how posh, thoughtful, and intelligent he was. He had a lot of big opinions on a lot of things. It was nice to see that despite seeming so perfect, Oliver had flaws of his own. I liked seeing that his family wasn’t as perfect as I’d expected them to be. But I didn’t like that those issues weren’t addressed until maybe the last twenty percent of the book, at which point, I grew worried about the ending. And here lies my main problem with this book: the ending. Ahhh. I didn’t like the ending. I was here for the romcom cliche ending, but then it just didn’t pan out the way I’d hoped it would, and it became annoying. I gotta be honest, that ending left me with a bit of a sour taste.

I’m trying to look at the bigger picture here, though. I don’t want to judge a book solely by its ending. I think this book was very self-aware, hilarious, and lovely. The romance was beautiful, and the tropes were done very well. The ending wasn’t bad enough to ruin the entire book for me. I still think it’s worth reading. I’d recommend this to any fans of your typical romcoms and tropey relationships. This one has it all.

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews

Seafire by Natalie C. Parker

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Never underestimate the girls of this world.

Seafire by Natalie C. Parker is a young adult fantasy that follows Caledonia Styx and her all female pirate crew as they attempt to rebel against the warlord Aric Athair and his army of Bullets. The story is all about sisterhood, family, and badass women.

Caledonia Styx is easily one of my favorite characters of all time. She is aggressive and tough and insecure and worried and she loves fiercely. Really, all the women of her crew love fiercely. And I love them all with all of their trauma and all of their growth.

I really liked how the author balanced having them on the ship and using the lingo and research of everything that involves that, but no dragging it out so it was all boring technical details.

The world was also so fleshed out and easy to sink into. I didn’t get confused at all, and I’m already itching to get back into it.

Representation: There is a f/f side relationship. A deaf, Asian coded character. Black characters.

Trigger Warnings: Violence, death, drug addiction.

There is a enemies to lovers couple in here that I loved so much. I’m usually weary of the trope because I don’t like when they are enemies because of miscommunication or if they are abusive. This doesn’t happen here, and I was so happy about it.

When I absolutely love a book, I feel like I make the worst review of it. I just was to say I loved it, and everyone should read it. I both want the sequel already or to just reread this book (which I never do). All that to say five stars.

Book Reviews

Heartstopper: Volume Three by Alice Oseman – Book Review

Amazon.com: Heartstopper Volume Three (9781444952773): Oseman ...

I was nervous about reading this volume because my teenage niece read it first, and she warned me about the cliffhanger ending. I’ve already reviewed Heartstopper: Volume One and Heartstopper: Volume Two, so check those out if you’re interested.

Despite my hesitancy, I decided it was finally time to read this volume. I’ve always felt so comforted by this series. It’s soft and sweet and fluffy. The artwork is beautiful, and the relationship between Nick and Charlie only gets better and stronger. I was surprised when I realized that this volume was delving into a lot of serious topics, such as self harm and eating disorders. I had not been expecting that, but I think they were dealt really well. I’m glad I didn’t pick this up a few weeks ago during one of my most severe depressive episodes because it probably would have only made it worse. I care so deeply about Charlie and Nick. They’re 15 and 16 years old, so I see them as practically babies. I don’t like it when they hurt.

There was a good balance between those serious topics and the fluff that we’re used to, which I thought was great. I liked that these issues were addressed and not brushed aside. I really love the growth that Nick has had in this series. He’s been on a journey of self discovery, which is to be expected as a bisexual teenager. Charlie’s journey seems to be a much harder one, and I just want the best for him. I’m eager to read the Fourth Volume. I just discovered that this is actually a webcomic, so the chapters are available online for free. I will be catching up on those from now on. I can’t wait an entire year for the next one!

I wanted to add that one of my favorite things about this volume was a very small subplot involving the two teachers who are assigned to look after the students on their Paris trip. They were the trope of a smiley one, and a grumpy one, and it worked so well. I loved the small glimpses into their relationship.

This series has wonderful rep, and a realistic insight into LGBT+ experiences on top of having genuinely loving relationships. I will always recommend it!

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere

I don’t have a plan, I’m afraid, but then, no one really does, no matter what they say.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is an adult literary novel that follows the Richardson family and their new tenants, the Warren family. The kids become fast friends, but the mothers are completely different and soon but heads.

The story of the novel is so simply that I don’t know how to really say the plot without spoilers, but I feel like it doesn’t matter. The magic of this novel is not about the plot, but with the characters. Each one is devastatingly complex and real. They move the story forward with their every breath, and I feel like at some point I loved and hated every one of them.

The writing is so beautiful. I immediately fell into the world, and I wanted to stay there, even after the novel ended. Usually I don’t like when authors jump from POV to POV in the same chapter, but Ng made it work. It definitely wouldn’t be the same story if she had written it any differently.

Representation: Chinese rep. F/F relationship.

Trigger Warnings: Miscarriages. Abortion. Racism.

I gave this book five star. I think I will definitely pick up Everything I Never Told You, Ng’s debut, soon because I can see her becoming a favorite author of mine.

Book Reviews

Heartstopper: Volume Two by Alice Oseman – Book Review

Amazon.com: Heartstopper Volume Two (9781444951400): Oseman, Alice ...

After finishing the first volume of Heartstopper, I was eager to continue with this series. I wrote a review about that one, so if you want to know what the series is about, check that out. This review will have some spoilers.

Before I start with the review, I wanted to say that I keep mixing up the names of the two main characters: Charlie and Nick. This is because the art style, to me, doesn’t fit their names. Charlie looks like a Nick, and Nick looks like a Charlie. This is obviously not the fault of the author/artist in any way. But it has become a problem in me trying to follow the story. I still get them mixed up!

Anyway, in this sequel, we start right where we left off. Charlie and Nick kissed for the first time, and then Nick ran off, and Charlie felt terrible about it. However, the next morning, Nick goes to talk to Charlie about what happened, and they fix their misunderstanding and decide to be with each other. When I say I squealed, I squealed. This book was full of the sweetest moments between Charlie and Nick. They’re so sappy with each other, and I absolutely loved it. I loved the way their relationship developed so naturally. I loved the awkwardness at the beginning of their relationship as well because it felt so realistic.

Most of all, I loved the way Nick took his time learning about his sexuality, and figuring out whether or not he was ready to come out. I thought it was amazing how supportive and patient Charlie was with Nick through this process.

I’m eager to read the third volume, but a little hesitant because I’ll have to wait until next year to read the fourth one. Definitely recommend this series. The art is also stunning!

Book Reviews

Heartstopper: Volume One by Alice Oseman – Book Review

Heartstopper: Volume One (Heartstopper, #1) by Alice Oseman

You can’t tell whether people are gay by what they look like. And gay or straight aren’t the only two options.

I’ve known of Alice Oseman for quite a while. But I’ve never picked up one of her books. I know that she writes a lot of LGBT+ stories, so naturally, I was bound to read her work eventually. I’m so glad I started with this beautiful graphic novel.

Heartstopper follows Charlie and Nick, who apparently first appeared in Oseman’s debut novel Solitaire. However, I don’t think that book focuses on their love story, so I think it’s nice that she went back to not only write, but draw, their love story. Charlie is in high school in the UK, and he has a secret relationship that he’s not too happy about with a boy named Ben, who also has a girlfriend. It’s kind of a mess. It seems that Charlie is the only openly gay boy at this all boys school. One day Charlie and Nick get assigned to sit together in class, and so their friendship begins. Nick is a rugby player—I read the book and I still don’t understand the sport—and he’s straight. But as we gays know, falling for straight people is probably our biggest flaw as a community.

Anyway, I devoured this lovely story in about an hour or so. The dialogue is minimal, but it’s so good. The artwork often speaks louder than the words in this story. I loved all of the small details all throughout. It’s not in full color, only in these green shades, but it works so well. I was such a sucker for how sweet the friendship develops between Charlie and Nick. It was so pure and honest. I thought both characters were excellent, and I ended up loving them equally. The only downside of this first volume is that it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. It’s not too terrible, but it did make me groan.

Of course, I’ve already ordered the next two volumes which are out now. And I’ve also bought Radio Silence and Loveless by the author. So, as you can see, she made a big impression on me. I will probably read Solitaire as well to see how it all started, but not until I read the other volumes. I think Alice Oseman knows how to craft a great story, and I love her art.

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews

A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

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She’d protected this world, but would anyone protect her?

A Blade So Black L.L. McKinney is typically described as Buffy meets Alice in Wonderland. This Young Adult trilogy follows Alice, a Black, queer teenager, as she becomes a protector of Wonderland. When her mentor is poisoned, Alice has to go on a dangerous journey while dealing with her overprotective mother.

In between the first three chapters there are two big time jumps that caused me to have a bit of trouble getting into the story. I wondered why there wasn’t a simple training montage or even flashbacks if the author didn’t want to write through that amount of time However, as I got into the story it didn’t matter at all. The word building probably was better for it in all honesty.

Alice is a wonderful main character. She’s very passionate about everything in her life. She loves her mom, her friends, cosplay, fighting Nightmares (the monsters from Wonderland), has so many crushes, and grieves deeply from losing her dad. She’s emotional but brave, and is a good fighter.

I loved the world of Wonderland. It’s so magical. The descriptions were everything. I also like the dark side to it with having Nightmares that grow out human’s fear. All of the Alice in Wonderland references were great, and made me very happy every time they were included.

Alice’s mom was great. As I’ve said she is very protective and strict, and added a great element to the novel with Alice needing to sneak around her. Even though I know she would be 110% against it, I find myself wanting the mom is find out about Alice’s side job in the next book.

Representation: Alice is Black and the book is ownvoices for that. She is also queer. There is an f/f side relationship. The people of Wonderland aren’t human, but the whole land is influenced by the human world. So Maddi is described to look Latina, and the Princess is Indian, but not really.

Trigger Warnings: Loss of a parent, violence, and mentions of police brutality.

I am looking forward to reading the second book of this series. The ending was unreal, and I feel so bad for the people who had to wait between releases.

Writing Playlist

Writing Playlist- It Gets Better

it will get better words quotes motivation happiness inspiration ...

Don’t Jump by Tokio Hotel

The lights will not guide you through/They’re deceiving you/Don’t jump

Jumper by Third Eye Blind

You could cut ties with all the lies/That you’ve been living in

Last Hope by Paramore

And the blood of these veins isn’t pumping any less than it ever has/And that’s the hope I have the only thing I know that’s keeping me alive

Safe and Sound by Taylor Swift

You’ll be alright, no one can hurt you now

Hero by Mariah Carey

So when you feel like hope is gone/Look inside you and be strong/And you’ll finally see the truth/That a hero lies in you

Keep Holding On by Avril Lavigne

We’ll make it through/Just stay strong/’Cause you know I’m here for you

This Close by Brad Kane

You’re this close to your place in the world/This close, and you’ve almost made it

Trenches by Pop Evil

I won’t take this/Gonna fill these trenches and stand up/Wake up, I won’t give up/’Cause here I come, here I come

The Show Must Go On by Queen

I’ll face it with a grin/I’m never giving in/On with the show

Float On by Modest Mouse

Bad news comes, don’t you worry even when it lands/Good news will work it way to all them plans

The Middle by Jimmy Eats World

Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride/Everything, everything will be just fine.

Bad Day by Daniel Powter

‘Cause you had a bad day/You’re taking one down/You sing a sad song just to turn it around

Move Along by All American Rejects

And even when your hope is gone/Move along, move along just to make it through

Fight Song by Rachel Platten

Starting right now I’ll be strong/I’ll play my fight song/And I don’t really care if nobody else believes/’Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me

I Am The Fire by Halestorm

I promise to myself/Alone and no one else/My flame is rising higher/I am the fire

Believer by American Authors

I feel my demons misleading me/I’m just a believer that things will get better

Stayin’ Alive by Bees Gees

Feel the city breakin’ and everybody shakin’/And we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive

Fight Song by Rachel Platten