Book Reviews

Married with Zombies by Jesse Petersen – Book Review

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Balance the world in your relationship. No one person should be responsible for killing ALL the Zombies.

Married with Zombies is one of the first books I ever read with Nicole many years ago. I read it during the hype of zombies (in my life) and I loved it so much. Recently, though, I listened to the audiobook because I want to finish the trilogy, and hey, zombies are my favorite thing yet again. I hate to say that I found this book not as great the second time around.

This story follows Sarah and David, a couple that’s on the verge of divorce. During their last therapy visit, they discover a world full of zombies. They cope with everything well, all things considered. The zombie slaying kicks off pretty early on. And through the fighting off zombies and protecting each other, they solve their marriage.

I really love the premise of this book. I love that the fricken zombie apocalypse managed to keep a married couple together. I love to think that certain people will thrive during the upcoming zombie apocalypse. (Come on, do you not believe one is coming?) I liked the pacing and the plot. They encounter a variety of interesting characters and stumble into terrifying situations. I just had a few problems with Sarah as the narrator.

Sarah calls a lot of women “bitch.” The one that hurt me the most was when she called a teenager a “bitch” just because she didn’t want to leave with them. Sarah just constantly kept looking down on women, calling them stupid as well. I hate it when women hate women for no good reason. I kept cringing because of it.

I think this is a fun book that should, in no way, be taken seriously. But give it a read if you like zombies.

3 stars

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Book Reviews

The Strongest Boy by Renee Irving Lee – Book Review

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I’ve been on a children’s book kick lately. During Pride month, I read a lot of really beautiful, thought-provoking LGBT+ books that made me so happy. When I heard about The Strongest Boy, I knew I would also love it.

This beautifully illustrated book deals with the topic of toxic masculinity very well. Max wants to be strong. He’s been told he’s strong, and he believes it completely. But his idea of strength is kind of Hulk-smash strength, which causes destruction and frustration.

Through his father, Max learns that strength can be shown better with your mind and words and intelligence. Max learns a very important lesson about masculinity, and grows a lot in the end.

It was refreshing reading about this topic. I’m glad I found this sweet little story.

4 stars

Book Reviews

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston – Book Review

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History, huh? Bet we could make some.

I just want to stay in this book forever.

I had the enormous pleasure of reading an early copy of this book through NetGalley, and I’m so grateful for that because from the moment I heard about this book, I knew I would love it. Sometimes, though, you hear about a book that sounds too good to be true, and it disappoints you because your expectations were way too high. In this case, I’m delighted to say that this book exceeded each and every one of my expectations.

Red, White & Royal Blue follows Alex, the First Son of the United States of America. In this wonderful fictional reality, the U.S. has a phenomenal woman as president, Madam Ellen Claremont. Alex Claremont-Diaz is her half-Mexican son who is one-third of the White House Trio, also made up of June and Nora (who are both exceptional women, owners of my heart). I completely adored the White House Trio, and the president, and the entire White House staff. Adored them. The fact that Alex and June were half-Mexican and very attached to their Mexican culture pulled my heartstrings. Being Mexican, I saw so much of myself reflected in them. I saw so many things of my culture that I had long ago forgotten, and was pleasantly reminded. I felt so connected to these characters for these, and many other reasons.

I’m already gushing and we haven’t even made it to Henry. Oh, boy. How should I sum up Henry? Henry is the Prince of Fucking England. Oops, sorry. I mean. His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales — no disrespect. Henry is the softest, most talented, most beautiful man I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Wow. Henry is a dream, but like a dream that you never want to wake up from. A dream that keeps on giving. Henry is all that is good in the world and then some. He also has the most amazing sister, Bea, who protects him fiercely. And the most glamorous best friend, Pez, who is honestly the best. So, yeah, I think we can all agree that this book stole my heart, entirely.

So now, the premise of this magnificent book, which is the hook that gets everyone. Alex and Henry are lifelong enemies, have always hated each other. But due to a small incident involving them ruining an expensive cake and jeopardizing the peace of their two nations, they’re forced to spend some quality time together. You know, just two guys that hate each other spending time. What could possibly happen next? Oh, wait, I know! It’s the best trope ever! Enemies to friends to lovers. And Casey McQuiston does it perfectly. Their relationship develops so naturally, and before you know it, you’re rooting for these two beautiful idiots to just kiss already because they’re obviously harboring very romantic feelings for each other!

You know, I usually love queer romances in books. That’s my favorite thing to read. I love the rep, and that’s what I’m here to read. But in this book, there was so much more. I came for the romance and stayed for all the other things. Among these things were all of the extraordinary side characters that were all fleshed-out and absolutely wonderful. Did I mention yet that they’re all super witty? Because they are. All of them. The banter they have is on another level.

The love between these characters is so heartwarming. All of them love and support each other. None of them are perfect. They’re all so flawed, but they love each other anyway. It’s great. So great.

And the politics. I gotta say, I’ve always been a bit of a history buff, so I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. I cried, simply imagining a world in which Ellen Claremont was the president of the U.S. and I’m not even a little bit sorry about that. That woman was badass and she could rule the world if she wanted to. Of course, she’s fictional so we kind of have to digress.

Whoa, I’m still so pumped after reading this book. It comes out in a month, but I can’t wait to get my own physical copy. I’m going to get as many people as I can to read this, because not only is it an amazing read that’ll lift your spirits, it’s also super inspirational and necessary. Also, the world must know Alexander Gabriel Claremont-Diaz because he is my child. That is all.

5 stars

Personal

Listening to the Signs

I’m Mexican, so naturally, I grew up Catholic. My grandmother was a firm believer in the Virgin Mary being there to offer her support at all times. I grew up going to Sunday school and talking to priests like they were my friends.

That all changed when I was eight and moved from Mexico to Texas. As soon as I arrived to the U.S. I was told by my older brother that we were no longer Catholic because he was no longer Catholic. He had recently converted to Christianity and attended an Evangelical church. I learned to just roll with it when my mom, sister, and I all switched over to his religion. It all made sense at the time. Plus, I liked that they played upbeat music at the beginning of the church service.

My family drifted from church, though. It happens. But when I turned fifteen, I returned, and got settled in nicely. I found friends and had had a huge crush on the pastor’s son, which played a big role on my sudden commitment to the organized religion. I spent most days at church, sang in the choir, got involved in all the youth events. I lived and breathed the church.

Things eventually went sour. I realized that the people in the church were not as perfect as I once saw them. They were hypocritical in their actions, and yet felt superior due to their constant attendance of church. I was caught in the middle of their gossip and was sort of kicked out of their little clique. A lot of it also had to do with people finding out my feelings for the pastor’s son and using it to mock me. In the end, I quit the church and the religion in general.

But I’ve never lost my faith. I have a strong faith in God that I cherish. It helps me in my darkest times, and it helps me feel less alone. I see God as my friend because he listens to me when I pray, when I just randomly talk to him. I love God with all my heart. When I lost my mom to cancer almost four years ago, my only comfort was my faith in God. I never got angry. I trusted in him.

I’ve realized, though, that as much as I love God, my views on religion are a big different. First of all, I don’t trust my old church anymore. I feel incredibly uncomfortable just stepping inside the building. I can’t speak to my old church friends anymore. I’ve tried to go back, make nice, but things turned so bad so quickly. I have decided to never attend another church again, because I can’t go through that again.

I do respect people who practice all types of religion. I think the freedom to do that in amazing. I’ve learned a lot about other religions, and it’s opened up my mind. But I do still hold a bit of stigma when it comes to Christianity. Part of me thinks that anyone who’s Christian will immediately try to exorcise me for being the gay that I am. I also really hate it when Christians say stuff like: “I don’t hate the sinner. I just hate the sin.” Like yeah, but you still hate that I’m gay and wish I wasn’t.

My point is, I have had many interesting interactions in my life. Random times when people come up to me and tell me to keep believing in God, no matter what. Or people telling me they see God working through me. My first reaction to these things is to run away from the person and not look back. But I don’t. I listen to what they’re saying, and I replay it in my mind.

Yesterday, while I was at work, a random guy looked at my necklace. I wear an essential oil diffuser necklace that’s round with a tree in the front. He said he loved the tree, in particular. And then, he looked me in the eye and said, “You know what part of the scripture it reminds me of? John 15:5. Look it up.”

And I laughed and said, “Oh, okay. I didn’t know that.” And the guy just repeated, “Yeah, it’s John 15:5.” Then he left.

My instinct was, of course, to completely disregard this guy. Who the hell did he think he was? Did he think I was Christian, too? But then, I thought about it. I thought that I do want to read and learn the Bible. I want to know more about God’s message. So I wrote it down on a sticky note and when I got home I looked up the verse. Here’s what it said:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

And I instantly realized what he meant when he said my tree reminded him of this. I have read this verse over and over today. It’s pretty simple, honestly. But the message speaks to me. I think it’s a message for me. From God. And look, I know it sounds a bit crazy, but I like to listen to the signs. I like to think that God just wants me to stick with him. He doesn’t want me to stray from him. Because if I’m with him, then I will achieve many great things.

I just wanted to share this because it’s been in my mind all day long.

Book Reviews

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green – Book Review

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Even on this most terrible days, even when the worst of us are all we can think of, I am proud to be a human.

Well, this was super entertaining.

This book follows April May (still can’t get over her name being two months put together). She’s a twenty-three year old who becomes an overnight viral sensation upon her discovery video of Carl, a ten foot robot that shows up in New York. But there isn’t just one Carl. There are Carls all over the world. On top of these mysterious appearances, there are many other strange happenings in April’s life. All of it completely unbelievable, and yet totally captivating.

I’m not much of a sci-fi person, or a mystery person. But this book appealed to me. I’m not sure if it was because of the fleshed out characters, or because the prose was witty and had a humorous undertone at all times. I really enjoyed this. April was an excellent main character. I related to her impulsive, reckless tendencies. I understood her fear of intimacy. I was always rooting for her. And her quirky friends: Maya, Andy, Miranda, and Robin. These guys stole my heart from the beginning. I loved the way they worked together, all of them having April’s back. I even liked Carl, the fricken robot.

I loved the diversity, too. April was openly bisexual, and she never hid her attraction to others. I loved the way April saw her fame, and how she recognized the way it made her feel. It was so human. The concept of being human was challenged often, but in very interesting ways. There was a lot to philosophize, and puzzles to break, and pop songs to love. I especially loved the Queen shout out. Another reason to love this book, and Hank Green.

This book was incredible. I’ll be recommending it from now on. I can’t wait for the sequel!

4 stars

Book Reviews

It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura – Book Review

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And I remember that hiding the truth doesn’t stop things from being true. Not talking about things doesn’t stop them from happening. Pretending that a thing is something else doesn’t change its true nature.

This is a book of cheaters.

Sana is in high school when she’s forced to move to California. There, she meets Jamie, a beautiful girl she likes. Girl meets girl, and things are good for a while. I liked the diversity in this book. Sana is Japanese-American, and Jamie Mexican-American. They both have friends with the same backgrounds too. That was probably one of the few things I liked about the story.

I didn’t like Sana very much. At first, I could seriously relate to her. I’ve had many crushes on girls, unsure whether the girls even like girls in the first place. I loved everything about the first half of the book. But then, everyone started lying and cheating and it was a complete mess that I ended up kind of hating. There were also a lot of really harmful stereotypes expressed about Mexican-Americans that were really awful, and never really addressed.

I don’t have the energy to hate this book. It just makes me tired to think about it. This book had so much potential. I was sure it would be a new favorite. But it took all of the wrong turns.

2,5 stars

Book Reviews

The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg – Book Review

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This summer. First time in my life I’ve been alive, really. I love it.

This book had me sold from the premise. It sounded like the perfect summery romance, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I listened to the audiobook, and the narration really brought the characters to life.

Max and Jordan are complete opposites. They don’t get along at first, even though Max jumps on board to help Jordan and his mom with their food truck business. Jordan and his mom are about to lose their house, and it all depends on whether Max and Jordan make enough profit from the food truck. It is a lot of responsibility for two teenage boys, but somehow, that’s how things play out.

I really liked the interactions between Max and Jordan. They made a really great team, and they always had each other’s backs. My favorite, by far, was Max. I loved that boy so much. He deserved all the good things in the world, but a really terrible thing happens to him, and that made me so upset. Jordan is also great, and I liked him a lot. Really bad things happen to him too. And then suddenly, it wasn’t a sweet summer romance anymore. It was a very upsetting story.

I understand that life isn’t all good times and sunshine, but things got so bad in this book that it just made it so hard for me to keep going with the story. I wanted to give up on it a few times, but the characters kept me going. I just hated so many of the scenes. It got to be too much for me.

I should warn that there are trigger warnings for rape, PTSD and abuse. Take these very seriously, guys. Stay safe!

3,5 stars