Book Reviews

Colorblind by Siera Maley – Book Review

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Have you ever considered the fact that maybe the goal of life isn’t to get through it as painlessly as possible?

This is one the sweetest books I’ve ever read that features two girls falling in love.

I was intrigued by this book when I read the premise. Colorblind follows a teenager named Harper who knows the age that everyone is going to die. She sees a number on people’s foreheads, and as far as she knows, there is nothing she can do to change these numbers. Harper couldn’t prevent her mom’s death, so she doesn’t allow herself to make friends since getting attached can be painful. She has a best friend,  Robbie, an older guy who has the same ability as her. They know each other’s death ages, but they won’t share it because they know no one truly wants to know when they’re going to die.

The book I co-wrote with Nicole features a character with a similar ability. I was drawn to the story immediately. Harper was such an interesting character. She was miserable with her life, super bummed out, and Robbie only bummed her out more. I found both of them so relatable with their grim views of life.

One day, everything changes for Harper. As she’s driving, a girl runs into the street following her dog who escaped from their leash. Chloe is a bubbly, happy, lovely person, and there’s an instant connection. Except, her number is 16, meaning she will die before the end of the summer. Harper tries to keep her distance, but Chloe is determined to be in her life. The two of them openly admit they like each other as more than friends, but Harper refuses to let anything happen between them to prevent getting hurt. But of course, things are never that easy.

Harper and Chloe spend the summer together, every day growing closer. And Harper leans to see the world with different eyes. She realizes her entire life she’s seen her life in black and white, but Chloe is allowing her to see it in color. I get where the title ties in, but I feel like it can be easily misinterpreted.

Colorblind is a stunning novel. I loved the ups and down. I loved the way Harper and Chloe connected despite being so different. I liked how well they complemented each other. This is a memorable story that I will remember for a long time.

4 stars

Personal

Marcus Parks is my Conscience

“Mental illness is not your fault, but it is your responsibility.”

Marcus Parks, who is the genius mind behind The Last Podcast on the Left has said this time and time again. Marcus, like me, is bipolar. It’s something he has to deal with for the rest of his life. It’s something he takes very seriously. And lately, thinking about him and that quote has kept me a bit sane.

I had a really terrible psychiatrist appointment this week. It made me feel like a piece of shit. Like a literal piece of crap that someone just dumped in the nastiest toilet. It made me feel like I was completely worthless. And I’m not even in my depressive mood at the moment.

You see, my psychiatrist’s answer to me asking if what I was feeling was normal was: I don’t know. She said I don’t know so many times that I just eventually shut up. That was the only answer she had for me. Am I really that insane? I don’t know. Is there something seriously wrong with me? I don’t know. Is this normal? I don’t know. Am I gonna be okay? I don’t know. Is my new dose gonna help me? I don’t know.

She didn’t know.

I get that my psychiatrist is human. And humans are not all-knowing. But you have no idea how detrimental it is to hear from your health care professional that there are no certainties. That there is no sympathy for your troubles. That there is nothing good in your future.

I walked out of that office feeling ashamed. I’ve never felt that ashamed to be alive, to take up a space on this earth, to inhale oxygen that could be used on a better, worthier person.

I have kept that feeling bottled up inside me. Why? Because my psychiatrist’s numerous I don’t knows have pushed me so far down that I don’t think anyone in my life actually wants to hear from me. I should not burden anyone with these pitiful concerns because I am not important. I do not matter to anyone. I am not the most important person in anyone’s life. Not even close. So I must deal with this on my own.

This has led me to make the decision to quit going to see my psychiatrist. And therefore, to quit my medication. I haven’t yet. You know why? Because of that Marcus Parks quote. Because I can’t get his voice out of my head. Telling me my mental illness is not my fault, but it is my responsibility.

I really hate this burden, though.

I want nothing more than to quit my meds, and succumb to the fucking mess that my brain will create. Whether that is a deep depression that leads to self-harm, or a manic episode that drives me to do things I will forever regret. I don’t care. I’ll take it. I’ll take it all over going back to hear her I don’t knows.

It is my responsibility. I know that. But I want so bad to shut up that voice. I want to let go. I want to go fucking nuts. I’m already halfway there. I’d rather take my chances.

But what if something happens? Quitting anti-psychotics and mood stabilizers cold turkey and just going out into society sounds kind of dangerous to said society. God knows what I’ll end up doing.

I don’t want to hurt myself, or anyone else. At least not now.

But I also can’t go back to hear I don’t know again and again and again.

I can’t keep doing this. I want to give this responsibility to someone else. I don’t want it to fall on me anymore.

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi review

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Sometimes you don’t even know how special you might be. Sometimes it takes moments of horror or happiness to, if you will, unleash that knowledge.

 

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi is the very first Riordan Presents book, and it follows Hindu mythology. Aru Shah is the twelve-year-old daughter of an absent mom who runs the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture. She’s also a big time liar. So when some of the popular kids in school call her out on a lie about a demon being in a lamp in the museum, Aru says she will prove it. To her surprise, when she touches the lamp an actual demon comes out and threatens to end the world. Apparently, Aru is a Pandava and it’s her and her new “soul sister’s” job to save the world. All the while Aru is still in her spider man pajamas. 

This is an absolute gem of a novel. So fun and heartwarming and funny and sweet. I love it as an adult, and I am certain I would have loved it when I was twelve. I remember wanting so much for protagonists like Aru at this age, and I’m glad that kids now have these characters to read.

I admit I know not a lot about about Hindu mythology, but that wasn’t a problem at all. The world is vast and rich and complex, but explained so easily and naturally. I was worried about getting the Gods confused, but I didn’t even need to check the glossary that is in the back of the book.

As always my favorite aspect was the relationships. In particular, Aru’s relationship with her mother. I loved that she wasn’t just an absent parent, and while she wasn’t along for an adventure, the fact that she could have her own fantasy novel is really cool to me. 

This is the first of four, and I’m very eager to get to the next book. A perk of not getting to the series when it first came out. Five out of five stars. Definitely a book everyone should read.

5 stars

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert Review

 

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Anyway, at some point in a woman’s life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time. After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is.

Trigger Warnings: Sexism, mentions of rape, sex

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert is an adult historical fiction set in New York City in the 1940’s. Vivian Morris flunks out of college and her uptight WASPy family sends her off to live with her eccentric Aunt Peg who owns a theater. The story follows Vivian as she experiences love, sex, and heartbreak throughout her life.

 

I can’t claim to have read many historical novels, but from what I’ve read this has got to be the most feminist, diverse one  and it really should be what some other books need to learn from. There is a f/f couple, a minor gay character, some minor POC (see not even a lot yet more than others in the same genre). It acknowledges casual sex, racism, interracial relationships, privilege and single motherhood.  It was so refreshing to read, and I appreciated it a lot. 

 

Every single character had depth and is complex. I felt as swept up in their lives as Vivian was swept up in NYC. She sews, and every time it went into her designing clothes and fabrics I loved it. She was so knowledgeable, and I loved the tiny details. I also felt like I have never read a 1940s book without it focused on the war. Because, while it was mentioned, it was not the central focus. And that ties into the fact that Vivian was an oblivious person, more interested in having fun than reading newspapers. I’m not saying that as a complaint either. I loved that Vivian was free and wild and wanted to be pretty and glamorous, and wasn’t ashamed of that. 

 

There was a lot to love in this book. And I had a great time reading it. I’ve never read Elizabeth Gilbert before, never had any interest really, but this book has changed that. I only knocked off a star because I felt like it dragged a little in a couple parts.

 

4 stars

Personal

The Comfort of Old Things

I’ve always been a fan of re-watching and re-reading stories. Whether that’d be a show, movie, or a book, my favorite thing has always been revisiting those stories I loved so much. When something impacts me, I tend to take comfort in the familiarity of it, trying to find the joy it once gave me.

Lately, though, I’ve found myself stuck on the same three things. Things that I loved, like, ten years ago. And I don’t know why. I don’t know why I have found myself so drawn to these things from my past.

The first one is The Office, of course. I’ve talked about The Office a lot because it’s my ultimate favorite show. I’ve seen the first seven seasons more times than I can count. I love everything about it, especially Michael and Pam.

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After all of my re-watches, I’ve come to dislike many of the characters. Maybe because the show isn’t meant to be re-watched this much, or maybe because the characters weren’t always that great. But come on, Jim is so annoying. Own up to your damn feelings, man. And be nicer to Pam when you’re married to her. Don’t be an ass. The woman is a fucking gem.

And don’t even get me started on Michael. That guy is a sweetheart. I know that he often comes off as a childish idiot who fully believes in harmful stereotypes and doesn’t know what maturity looks like. I know that. But he’s so damn relatable. I don’t know if I’ve ever related more to a character. I know it doesn’t make me look good, but it’s the truth. And if you think you’re better than Michael Scott, I’ve got news for you: You’re not.

Anyway, the point is, The Office still plays a huge part of my life. This is a show that I started watching back in 2012 or so. I’m dreading the day Netflix takes it off because I will be forced to purchase it digitally so I can keep re-watching it at work. Because that’s how much I rely on this show for comfort.

Next, we have Supernatural. Another show from back in 2012. Lately, I’ve spent days re-watching Supernatural. Only the older seasons, though. I stopped watching around season nine because it was just too much to continue with it. I think now that the show is coming to an end, on it’s 15th season, I’m starting to miss it. And it’s strange because I spend most of my free time reading Supernatural fanfiction. But it’s just not the same as re-watching the episodes that made me love the show.

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When I decided to stop watching Supernatural, I thought I would never want to come back and re-watch the seasons that made me so crazy over the show that I attended four conventions. And let me tell you, those things are not cheap. Coming back to this show has felt like coming home. It’s like I never left. It’s like Sam, Dean, and Cas have been waiting for me to revisit them, so they can entertain me like they always have.

People tend to think Castiel is my favorite character because Misha Collins is my favorite celebrity, and because I have a huge thing for angels. But as much as I love Cas, Dean has always been my absolute favorite. Dean is stubborn and terribly flawed with some serious daddy issues and a repressed sexuality, but I love him with all my heart. I have never loved a character as much as I love Dean. There’s just something so beautiful about him.

This is leading to my final obsession: Point Pleasant. When I say Point Pleasant, I mean both the town in West Virginia, and the book that led me to road trip to the town last year.

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I don’t know why I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Point Pleasant lately. It’s been stuck in my head like an overplayed radio song. This is the book I’ve re-read the most. At least ten times. It’s the book that has touched me like no other book has. Others have come close, sure, but nothing has surpassed this story.

Point Pleasant is such a lovely small town. It’s filled with rich history and people that are proud to belong to that town. Being there felt like stepping into my favorite book. And there’s no better feeling than revisiting this book. I love the Mothman.

All of these things are so important to me. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to let them go. I don’t think I want to let them go. I think I want to keep the familiarity of old things. I want to keep that comfort. I want them to make me feel safe. Because change is inevitable. My life has changed so much in the past ten years. I’ve lost loved ones. I’ve lost friends. I’ve graduated from high school and two different colleges. I’ve had crushes and I’ve had heartbreak. I’ve had car wrecks. I’ve had injuries. I’ve been hurt, and I’ve hurt others. I’ve gotten sick. I’ve healed. I’ve created. I’ve been to new places.

With change, new things are introduced to me. New things I love, and new things I hate. But returning to things I’m so used to always feels so good. I know that no matter what changes, these stories will never change. They will always be the same stories. Always. I might see the differently, with a new perspective. But the stories will never change.

To me, these stories are my home. Home has never really been a place for me. It’s been a feeling. A feeling I get when I’m around the right people, or when I revisit old stories. Home is where I feel safe. And sometimes, that means being far from reality.

Lists, Uncategorized

Our Most Anticipated New Releases of 2020

Nicole:

 

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

JK Rowling has forever made me weary of wanting more from my favorites, but I’m still cautiously excited for this. It’s set sixty-four years before the start of the first book, and I’m just very curious how this will end up despite its ugly cover.

Release Date: May 19, 2020

 

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All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

A book all about sirens and magic and pirates has my name all over it. The princess of this island has to control soul magic in order to rule, but something goes wrong and she has to run.

Release Date: February 4, 2020

 

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All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban

This is basically The Breakfast Club but with murder and you gotta figure out what who is doing it. I am cautious about this one even though I love the thought of it. What I personally will do is see a couple reviews before picking it up. Just to see if the mystery is worth it.

Publication Date: March 17, 2020

 

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Set Fire to the Gods by Sara Raasch and Kristen Simmons

This book is all about gladiators and getting revenge on the gods. It sounds so unique to me, and I can not wait for it to come out.

Publication Date: August 4, 2020

 

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The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

A West-African inspired fantasy that focuses a lot on blood and warriors. There is a blood ritual where if you have red blood you can join the village, but our protagonist, Deka, finds she has gold blood. So, Deka now has a choice: stay and suffer her fate or go with this mysterious woman who is training an army to overrule the emperor. To me this sounds really cool, and I love that the army is full of only girls.

Publication Date: May 26, 2020

 

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Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar

Sheetal is the daughter of a star and a mortal. Her human dad gets hurt, and she needs her moms help. But her mom is in the sky now, obviously she’s a star, and now Sheetal has to go on this quest which somehow ends up with her in a competition. This kind of reminds me of Kiranmala series, but then also uniquely its own.

Publication Date: August 11, 2020

 

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Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova

I am Renata Convida.
I have lived a hundred stolen lives.
Now I live my own.

Just those three sentences make me excited about this new series. But if you need to know more it’s all about magic and spies and romance and rebellion. The full summary is a lot for me to sum up here, but those keywords are all I need to be interested.

Publication Date: April 28, 2020

 

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When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey

The cover first drew me to this book, and the word magic in title. But the best part is this isn’t simply a contemporary. It’s actually about teen witches. And on prom night, a boy ends up dead. So they try to fix things but not everything goes as plan.

Publication Date: March 3, 2020

 

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Witches of Ash and Ruin by E Latimer

Another witch book. Honestly, I feel so blessed. And this witch is bisexual and has OCD, and the summary implies a f/f enemies to lovers trope with a witch from another coven. If that’s not enough, a serial killer kills one of the witches in their town and they have to stop them. Everything about this book is wanting to become one of my favorites, and I’m going to be so disappointed if I don’t like it.

Publication Date: March 3, 2020

 

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Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

First of all, gorgeous cover. Second of all, another witches book, or more accurately in this case, brujos. Yadriel is having trouble with his traditional Latinx family accepting his gender, and he wants to prove himself. He attempts to set from the ghost of his murdered cousin, but instead summons the ghost of the school’s bad boy.

Publication Date: June 9, 2020

 

 

 

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A Song Below Water by Bethany C Morrow

In this world, Sirens are hunted. Tavia has to deal both with being a Siren and being Black. And during a traffic stop, Tavia accidentally uses her voice. This sounds very unique since a lot of fantasy has prejudice, but never acknowledge real world racism. So I’m very curious how this will turn out.

Publication Date: June 2, 2020

 

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The State of Us by Shaun David Hutchinson

A love story between the son’s of the Democratic and Republican parties while on the presidential campaign trail. I know people will likely compare this to Red, White, and Royal Blue, but I hope they will still give this a chance. Hutchinson is a good writer, and I want to know how he will deal with all the politics involved.

Publication Date: June 2, 2020

 

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Sia Martinez and the Moonlight Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

Sia thinks her mother was deported three years ago. But one night, aliens come with her mother with them. This sounds completely out there, and I have to read it.

Publication Date: August 4, 2020

 

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Mary Underwater by Shannon Doleski

Mary’s abusive father is back home from prison. Desperate to escape, she plans to build a submarine to sail across Chesapeake Bay. This Middle Grade sounds like it’ll break my heart, and for some reason I am here for it.

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

 

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Ghost Squad by Claribel A Ortega

This middle grade fantasy was supposed to come out last year, but then was pushed back.  Basically, Lucely and Syd accidentally set evil ghosts on their town, and then have to fix it with the help of Lucely and their cat, Chunk.

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

 

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Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron

Maya’s father goes missing, and she discovers her father was actually the keeper of the keys between our world and The Dark. To find him, Maya has to unlock her powers.

Publication Date: May 5, 2020

 

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The Chaos Curse by Sayantani Dasgupta

The third book to the Kiranmala series is coming out, and even though I still haven’t read the second book I know I’m going to love both of them.

Publication Date: March 3, 2020

 

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Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Majia

A Rick Riordan Presents book so you know I have to read it. I remember when this book was announced forever ago, and I’m so excited it’s finally coming out. It tackles the myth of La Llorona with a protagonist who loves space and science.

Publication Date: August 2020

 

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Eva Evergreen Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe

If Eva doesn’t earn the rank of Novice Witch by the time she’s thirteen, she’ll lose her magic. Eva’s determined not to have that happen, but the problem is, she doesn’t have a lot of magic. 2020 is apparently the year of witches, and I, for one, am very excited for it.

Publication Date: August 4, 2020

 

Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

A Rick Riordan Presents book all about Navajo gods.

Publication Date: January 14, 2020

 

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You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

I loved An Anonymous Girl by this duo, so I want to read their other books. This is a thriller, and I don’t like to read summaries of thrillers because sometimes that spoils the whole book. So I have no idea what it’s about.

Publication Date: March 3, 2020

 

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Last Girls by Demetra Brodsky

Three sisters live in a compound training to survive the end of the world, but then it turns out that there is a threat in the compound. I love when scary movies have the victims know how to survive/fight, so I imagine it’ll be the same for books.

Publication Date: May 5, 2020

 

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The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

Two girls with rival Henna businesses fall in love. I think this author first tried to do DvPit or something for this book, and I’ve been following her ever since.

Publication Date: May 12, 2020

 

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Beach Read by Emily Henry

Two writers have writer’s block. They decide to switch genres: literary and romance. And then, you know, fall in love. I’ve become a lot more appreciative of romances over the last couple years, and even the plot of this book makes me smile.

Publication Date: May 19, 2020

 

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Infinity Son by Adam Silvera

I’ve always been interested in Silvera’s books, but so far they’ve seemed too sad for me. But this is his first fantasy and I want to check it out. I know it is gay, has a magical war, and somehow involves phoenixes which I’m very interested in.

Publication Date: January 14, 2020

 

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Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Set in Mexico in the 1950’s, a socialite receives a letter from her cousin begging for help. I’ve read Certain Dark Things from Moreno-Garcia before, and everything from the setting to the cover draws my interest.

Publication Date: June 30, 2020

 

Isis:

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Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram

Darius the Great Is Not Okay was such a good book that dealt with a beautiful Persian family and mental illness and sexuality. I’m so excited to revisit these characters and see what wonders the author has in store. Judging by the cover, I’m guessing the sexuality part will be explored more in depth. I can’t wait!

Publication Date: August 25th, 2020

 

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A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green

I was pleasantly surprised by An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. Hank Green is a fantastic writer and a lovely person. I’m so excited to read this sequel, and pretty much everything else he writes.

Publication Date: July 7th, 2020

(If I manage to read at least one of these two books, it will be a miracle).

 

 

 

Lists, Uncategorized

Reading Plans for 2020

Nicole:

In 2019, I ended up reading 13 books. And I DNFed two of those. For me, that’s the worst year of reading since high school along time ago. So I came up with a plan that involved me reading more in generally, and specifically from my own bookshelves. Because for whatever reason I buy books and then do everything but read them. I get worried that I won’t have anymore books which is ridiculous because I always buy more books. So, what I did was pull out 12 books, and I will have to read one of them each month of 2020. I was originally going to assign each book a month, but knowing me, that much planning is sure to make certain I don’t read any of them. So here is my list of books that I am definitely going to read this year.

 

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Dancing Jax by Robin Jarvis

I think this book is about a magical book or something, but I could be wrong. I bought this simply because of the cover, and again picked it for this list for that same reason. 

 

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The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

A vampire murder mystery is all I need to know for me to be dying to get to this book.

 

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Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary by Brandon Mull

I have so many series on my shelves that I always want to read, but don’t because I haven’t finished others. So, this is the fourth book of this series about a magical secret sanctuary. I really need to finish this because as it is I don’t remember much about what happened.

 

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Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Again a book I don’t know anything about, but it’s been recommended to me multiple times. Plus, my mom got me this for Christmas, and she would be upset if I don’t read it soon.

 

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The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

Another middle grade fantasy because I’m currently writing one. This is about another magical book, and its very popular. I don’t know anything else.

 

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Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

Again with continuing series I’ve started. I really loved The Diviners, and I’ve heard it only gets better. And I’m a sucker for groups of people with different powers.

 

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Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

I thought maybe I should add a classic to my list, and this one has been on my bookshelf the longest. I think this is about a black woman’s journey in the 1930’s.

 

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On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

I have high expectations since The Hate U Give was so good. I think this book about a sixteen year old girl wanting to be a rapper will be really fun.

 

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Follow Her Home by Steph Cha

This is a thriller about a girl with a love of mysteries trying to be a detective in the real world. Every October I tell myself to pick it up, and every year I ignore myself.

 

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Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea

I started reading this last year and got distracted. It’s about a girl from a small village in Mexico. All the men have gone to the USA to make money, and while they are gone, a group of bandidos move in and begin terrorizing everyone. She decides to head to America herself to find people to help them.

 

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I Know You Know by Gilly Macmillan

A thriller about a murder that somehow involves a podcast. Sometimes I hate writing these because it doesn’t take much for me to want to read books, and I feel a little ridiculous saying yes a murder podcast and a real murder was enough to get me to buy this book.

 

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The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

This is another middle grade fantasy that I think also involves ghosts. And Rick Riordan says its great.