Monthly Archives: October 2014

Creatures of the Night – Book Tag

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Hi! So, this wonderful Halloweenish tag was created on YouTube by Katytastic. I will link her video right here. I’m very excited about Halloween this year, and I thought this would be interesting. I tried not to use books that were the most obvious choices.

Here it is!

1. VAMPIRE

Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean by Justin Somper

Let me break this down for you. Vampires + Pirates = Vampirates. Yup. That’s right. That’s a thing. I personally enjoy the concept of these creatures. I think more people should check out these books. If you didn’t like Twilight, but did like POTC, then this might be for you.

2. WEREWOLF

Waiting For the Wolf Moon by Evelyn Vaughn

Although this is a romance novel, I really liked it. It was an interesting twist on the werewolf, and it was filled with fun twists that kept me guessing. It’s also written by my old Creative Writing professor, but I promise I’m unbiased in my recommendation.

3. ZOMBIE

Married with Zombies by Jesse Petersen

This book is action-packed, and it is soooo good. I kid you not, I flew through this book, and once I was finished, I was scared of stepping out of my house, convinced that the streets were filled with zombies. And on top of the zombies, we have the two MCs who are struggling to fix their marriage, but suddenly they have to become badass zombie hunters. Bam. Can’t get any better than that.

4. GHOST

The Shining by Stephen King

This horror classic has probably been read by everyone already, but I decided to throw it in anyway. I loved Danny Torrance so much, and I was really surprised by all of the ghosts in this story. They were so complex and even frightening. I mean, I won’t try to sell this book to you. It’s a King novel, just read it, yo.

5. WITCH/WARLOCK/SPELLCASTER

Beastly by Alex Flinn

Way better than the movie, that’s all I gotta say. Oh, and also, the witch in this book is fantastic.

6. FAERY/FAE

The Eternals by Clover Donovan

I recently read this middle grade fantasy novel, and I was so glad to find that faeries were part of the story. There were both good and bad ones, and I liked them both. Go check this book out if you’re in the minority who enjoys faeries.

7. DEMON

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

Another classic of the horror genre. Now I know you can classify the entity in this novel as the devil himself or a real narcissistic demon, but either way, this book is great. If you’re feeling in the scary mood, then check this out. Again, better than the movie.

8. ANGEL

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This is a short story, but it’s going in this like nonetheless. I love angels, but I haven’t read any books by them, unfortunately. I will fix this, but right now, I will just mention this lovely story. It breaks my heart every time.

9. ALIEN

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

This is my favorite comic book. It’s full of badass aliens, all with interesting stories. The art is fantastic, and on par with the writing. I love all the characters, especially the bad guys. Prince Robot IV is the best villain I’ve ever read about. Waste no more precious time and pick this up.

10. SUPERPOWERED HUMAN

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

This dystopian book has one of my favorite fictional characters. Warner is so brooding and mean, but I love him. If you were looking for superpowered humans, this is the book to read. They’re not scary at all, but they are a blast. My personal favorite is the third book in the trilogy, Ignite Me, but you gotta start with this one. This is basically X-Men, but not quite the same.

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That’s it! Those are my really vague book recs.

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A Review: The Eternals by Clover Donovan

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eternals

Isis: The Eternals is a middle grade fantasy novel. The story follows thirteen-year old Rowan, the son of two deceased wizards. Rowan lives with his grandfather, a wise old man who calls upon the dead.

The characters in this story felt genuine and they were interesting. Mostly I enjoyed the innocent voice of the narrator. His thoughts were funny and endearing. I also liked the whole concept of Eternals. An Eternal is basically a human person whose blood allows the power of eternal life. The main character is somehow entrusted with the task of protecting the last Eternal from two evil villains, and the story sets off.

I wasn’t expecting to have such a large supply of fantastical creatures, but they certainly were a pleasant surprise. There weren’t only wizards in this story. Oh no, there were so many cool creatures that kept popping up. It helped to move the plot forward very quickly, and always left me guessing for what was to come next. The surprises kept coming.

Among this cast of creatures were:

Zombies! (Or zolas. I think they’re a bit sensitive about this subject)

zomb

Faeries! (Those things can bite!)

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And your typical evil snowmen.

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There were many heartfelt moments throughout the story, and I really felt for the characters. It was refreshing reading about younger characters after so many adult and young adult novels.

I had fun reading this story. It kept my interest throughout. If you like fantasy, quirky characters, and a whole lot of interesting creatures, then pick this up.

Nicole: This was the easiest book to read. Once I started it, I flew through it, reading half of it in one sitting, and the rest of it in the next one. It’s not the type of book that you need to think critically while reading. You just start and go along for the ride.

(Minor Spoiler Alert): I liked this book from the moment he said his parents died from a dragon. That might seem a bit morbid, but at first I thought it was just a tall tale told to make it easier on him. But it wasn’t. I laughed so hard. It was said so bluntly, I don’t know. I think it was my favorite part of the whole book.

Okay no more spoilers. This book is very fast paced which is part of the reason that it goes so fast I guess. And it tells more than it shows. I wish it didn’t do that. I wish it hashed out the situations more, and allowed the reader a second to process the whole world it is set in.

But that is my only criticism. I still enjoyed myself, and I find myself wondering what is going to happen to these characters next.

The (Not So) Ultimate Recommendation List: Mental Health

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Books dealing with mental illness hold a special place in my heart. I have a love/hate relationship with most of them, but no matter what I still gravitate to read more of them. So, I have compiled a list of all the books I have read, and liked, that have dealt with mental illness in some way shape or form. The list goes in no particular order, starting now.

  • Looking For Alaska by John Green

The main character in this particular book doesn’t have anything wrong with him besides loving the idea of a girl more than the actual girl herself. It is the girl in question who has mental problems. It is an interesting look at how others view people with depression (which is what I personally think she has).

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same

  • Where She Went by Gayle Forman

This is the sequel to If I Stay. It is told in Adam’s perspective after his girlfriend, Mia, has a terrible accident leaving her an orphan. He is in a very dark place with pills and alcohol and some major depression. Throughout this tale, lyrics and music play a big role as Adam goes on a big rollercoaster of emotion.

It’s been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future-and each other.

Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

  •  Doctor Sleep by Stephan King

In the sequel of The Shining, little Danny is all grown up. With PTSD and an alcohol addiction to boot. Throughout this novel, Danny has to deal with that as he helps out a young girl with a little bit of shining of her own against her own supernatural enemy. It’s a fantastic read, one I enjoyed every minute of.

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

This book was so important to me when I first read it years ago. A young girl commits suicide, but before that she makes tapes explaining why. And the book goes between those tapes and the Clay, the boy listening to them. It’s been a long time since I have read this book, but I plan to do a reread of it very soon.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

This is another one that I read years ago, and am in the need of rereading. Basically, a young girl gets sexually assaulted, and then she has to deal with the aftermath. It’s very emotional, and everyone should read it at least once.

Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country.

  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles

One war. One boarding school. Two young boys. I remember this being a hard read, but a good one. I think most high schools make their students read this, but if yours didn’t, go do it.

An American classic and great bestseller for over thirty years, A Separate Peace is timeless in its description of adolescence during a period when the entire country was losing its innocence to the second world war.

Set at a boys boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.

A bestseller for more than thirty years, A Separate Peace is John Knowles crowning achievement and an undisputed American classic.

  • Vicious by V.E. Schwab

A sociopath and a psychopath cross paths. This was an interesting read for me. It took a while to get into, but by the end I was completely captivated.

A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world. 

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.’

  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Cath has major social anxiety, and has to deal with an absent mother and a father who is bipolar. This is a nice read. It isn’t so much a powerful, emotional one, but a relaxing, fun one.

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. 

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

I really loved this book when I first read it. It wasn’t the easiest to read, but all the same, I read it fast. Dealing with sexual assault, depression, and attempted suicide, the main character in this novel goes through a lot. And you will go through it with her.

Sylvia Plath’s shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity

Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.

  • Tweak by Nic Sheff

This book is slightly different than the others on the list. It is a real story about the author. He was a drunk, an addict, there was talk of him being bipolar, and it is a story that everyone should read. There is also the book, Beautiful Boy, by Nic’s father. I have not read that one yet, but I will soon.

Nic Sheff was drunk for the first time at age eleven. In the years that followed, he would regularly smoke pot, do cocaine and Ecstasy, and develop addictions to crystal meth and heroin. Even so, he felt like he would always be able to quit and put his life together whenever he needed to. It took a violent relapse one summer in California to convince him otherwise. In a voice that is raw and honest, Nic spares no detail in telling us the compelling, heartbreaking, and true story of his relapse and the road to recovery. As we watch Nic plunge the mental and physical depths of drug addiction, he paints a picture for us of a person at odds with his past, with his family, with his substances, and with himself. It’s a harrowing portrait — but not one without hope.

  •  The Astonishing Adventures of Fan Boy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga

In this story both Goth Girl and Fan Boy have some serious issues. This was a hard read, only because it was so realistic. And realistic things aren’t the easiest thing to digest.

Fanboy has never had it good, but lately his sophomore year is turning out to be its own special hell. The bullies have made him their favorite target, his best (and only) friend seems headed for the dark side (sports and popularity), and his pregnant mother and the step-fascist are eagerly awaiting the birth of the alien life form known as Fanboy’s new little brother or sister.

Fanboy, though, has a secret: a graphic novel he’s been working on without telling anyone, a graphic novel that he is convinced will lead to publication, fame, and—most important of all—a way out of the crappy little town he lives in and all the people that make it hell for him.

When Fanboy meets Kyra, a.k.a. Goth Girl, he finds an outrageous, cynical girl who shares his love of comics as well as his hatred for jocks and bullies. Fanboy can’t resist someone who actually seems to understand him, and soon he finds himself willing to heed her advice—to ignore or crush anyone who stands in his way.

  • Perfect by Natasha Friend

This last book is also slightly different as well. I haven’t read it, but I have been told it is good. It might be weird for this to be on a recommendation list even if I plan to read it as soon as I can.  I still added this for one reason: I don’t have a book on eating disorders on this list. And that is bad. I can’t think of one book I have finished on eating disorders, but I plan to fix that soon. Hopefully, starting with this book.

Depicting with humor and insight the pressure to be outwardly perfect, this novel for ages 10-13 shows how one girl develops compassion for her own and others’ imperfections.

For 13-year-old Isabelle Lee, whose father has recently died, everything’s normal on the outside. Isabelle describes the scene at school with bemused accuracy–the self-important (but really not bad) English teacher, the boy that is constantly fixated on Ashley Barnum, the prettiest girl in class, and the dynamics of the lunchroom, where tables are turf in a all-eyes-open awareness of everybody’s relative social position.

But everything is not normal, really. Since the dealth of her father, Isabelle’s family has only functioned on the surface. Her mother, who used to take care of herself, now wears only lumpy, ill-fitting clothes, cries all night, and has taken every picture of her dead husband and put them under her bed. Isabelle tries to make light of this, but the underlying tension is expressed in overeating and then binging. As the novel opens, Isabelle’s little sister, April, has told their mother about Isabelle’s problem. Isabelle is enrolled in group therapy. Who should show up there, too, but Ashley Barnum, the prettiest, most together girl in class.

So this is the list I have. I hope if anybody reading picks them up, they like them as I have. In the future, once I have read more, there will definitely be a part two to this.

Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Saenz – Book Review

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“It wasn’t the words that mattered. It was me. I mattered. So now I would have to fight to translate myself back into the world of the living.”

Benjamin Alire Saenz’s collection of seven short-stories is centered on various dark issues. But they all have one location in common: the Kentucky Club in Juarez, Mexico. The stories deal with immigration, the Mexican-American border, racism, homosexuality, addictions, and family issues. The writing style is in Saenz’s usual lyrical prose that both Nicole and I like to think of as “less is more.” He doesn’t bother with insignificant details; instead, he allows the reader to form their own image.

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  • He Has Gone to be With the Women

Isis: This story was my favorite. It was gripping and gut-wrenching. It follows a writer who has been through a lot, and one day he makes conversation with another man while they’re in line at a Starbucks. I have a strong feeling that this story’s main character is actually the author himself. I can totally get why he would do that, write himself into his story. Sometimes you have to do that. It’s therapeutic, and it can also make a pretty fucking fantastic story.

Nicole: I liked this story a lot. It took me through a lot of emotions without feeling empty after I finished. I liked the characters and the small but full storyline. It was a good start to the book.

  • The Art of Translation

Isis: This story was the hardest to read, in my opinion. It deals with a Mexican boy who is recovering after an awful, racist attack. The vagueness around his attack really kept me wondering what they had really done to him, and it only helped to hurt me more. I can’t even explain to the degree that I hurt for him, and for me to some extent.

Nicole: This story was really sad, but something about the boy’s rambles annoyed me. He kept asking questions, and I was waiting for answers that never came. He had a lot of thoughts on words though that I particularly enjoyed. I did not like the ending. I felt like there was part of the story I didn’t get to read to understand the whole thing completely.

  • The Rule Maker

Isis: This one was a bit lighter. It follows a young boy whose mother may or may not be a prostitute. His mother decides to move him across the border from Mexico to America, where she leaves him with his never-before-met father. His father gives this boy all sorts of rules to follow, and that is just what the boy does. Honestly, this was one of my favorites. How absolutely beautiful and sweet and emotional. It broke my heart and repaired it moments later. So, so good.

Nicole: I liked the character in this one the most out of all the characters in the book I think. (Spoiler Alert)I want to know more about his mom though. Was she also a drug dealer? A prostitute? Did she know the dad was a drug dealer? Besides that, it was a really good story that left me satisfied at the end.

  • Brother in Another Language

Isis: This story deals with absent parents, mental issues, homosexuality, and a whole lot more. I think this is the story I liked the least. None of the characters stayed with me, and I couldn’t understand their actions.

Nicole: This one was a bit difficult to get through. I felt like I was missing a key piece to the story. Charlie, the main character, was hard to get to know or like. Nothing was explained enough for my liking.

  • Sometimes the Rain

Isis: This was a very gripping story. It deals with two boys in high school who become unlikely friends during troubled circumstances. Half of the time I wasn’t sure where it was going, but there were some pretty remarkable characters. I think it’s kind of a coming of age tale, and I feel like the moral of the story was to cease the moment, go with your gut, before it’s too late.

Nicole: This was a nice story but throughout it I was left wondering. There was an analogy (I guess) throughout that confused me, and made me think it was another kind of story altogether.

  • Chasing the Dragon

Isis: I don’t like reading about drug addictions. I just don’t. They feel the same and it annoys me to have to go through the same process repeatedly. But this story still lives on in my mind. I forgot it was a story about addiction. It was so good. The siblings had this really close relationship and I think that’s what made it work for me. The family theme. I’d never heard of the term “chasing the dragon” but it really stuck with me. It had me thinking about myself and wondering what my dragon is.

Nicole: This story was my least favorite. I wanted to shake these characters: the mom, Conrad, Carmen. I wanted yell at them that they weren’t some untouchable beautiful object, living to be mysterious, to be sad, to be whatever weird thing their mind was warped with. They weren’t as interesting as they thought they were. By this point of the book, I was sick of these “different” characters that weren’t like anybody else, that didn’t think like anybody else.

  • The Hurting Game

Isis: Quite possibly the most lighthearted of all the stories. And one of my favorites. Tom and Michael were my favorite couple because they had a very odd dynamic. It wasn’t anything new, but it really drew my attention. I could relate to both of them so much actually. Tom was very outgoing. He was easy to like. Michael was serious, but I really enjoyed his personality. He seemed to know what he was doing with his life.

Nicole: I liked this one a lot so I’m glad I got to the book ended on a good note. I didn’t feel like this story had any repeat themes from the other ones, and I really like the characters. I don’t know, this one might have been my favorite.

~*~

So there you have it. Our thoughts may have mirrored each other at time while also being vastly different at other times. But at the end of the day we could agree that Benjamin Saenz’s short story collection was a worthy read that we would recommend to others to read.

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas – Book Review

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“Picture yourself in one of your cross-country races. It’s a hard pace this day. Everyone’s outrunning you. You’re tired, you didn’t sleep enough, you’re hungry, your head is down, you’re preparing for defeat. You want much from life, and life will give you much, but there are things it won’t give you, and victory today is one of them. This will be one defeat; more will follow. Victories will follow too. You are not in this life to count up victories and defeats. You are in it to love and to be loved. You are loved with your head down. You will be loved whether you finish or not.”

I’ve read many fiction stories. I’ve written a few fiction stories myself. When I’m reading, I’m often conscious of the fact that these characters are mere creations of people’s imaginations. When the writing is done well, you can forget that this is a fact, and learn to love these fictional characters as you would any other living, breathing human being. What Matthew Thomas has done in We Are Not Ourselves is create by far the most realistic set of characters I have ever come across, in the entirety of my life.

I don’t read a lot of literary fiction. I’m often intimidated by it. So, when going into this book, I had a very open mind. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Halfway through the book, though, I realized how much this story had, and would still, affect me. There were many reasons for this.

The novel follows Eileen Tumulty, an Irish girl living in Queens. She’s very young when the story opens up. The reader is able to learn about her childhood and growing up with alcoholic parents who sleep in separate bedrooms. Eileen later marries Ed Leary, a rather odd scientist with a promising future. Eileen narrates six decades of her life, filled with all-too-real struggles.

Eileen is human. Entirely too human. I was able to see her grow and change and think every step of the way. She is by no means perfect, or even close to it, but that is her charm. She is a materialistic woman with a vault full of dreams and expectations. She wants to squeeze the world dry of everything it has to offer. Eileen is selfish and prideful and close-minded, but she is real

Patience. The best word to describe this book is patience. It took the author a decade to write this book, by hand. I assume patience was the key part in that endeavor. While reading, I had patience as I lived every moment alongside the three main characters. Every character had to be patient at one point or another, because life wasn’t patient with them. Life didn’t wait for them, so they had to learn to be patient on their own. Reading this book requires patience, but the journey is definitely worth every minute spent reading it.

Furthermore, I related to this book on a personal level. Mental illness is one of the main focuses in the story, and I have more than enough experience in my life to know how messy it can be when a family member suffers from them. As I read, I reflected on my childhood, on my grandparents, on my achievements, and my disappointments. I also considered the future far more than I’m comfortable with. I allowed myself to think of the future without putting up any mental walls, and I was afraid. Terrified. This life is short and unexpected. And my deepest fear is to build relationships with those around me. Any type of relationship I build adds to a stress pile. But I am grateful for the ones that I have, with my friends and my family.

That is the point of this book. Human relationships. Partnerships. Love. We are not ourselves. We are organisms capable of loving and supporting one another through adversity. A little cliche, but I like to believe in this. I like to think that life matters, not because we achieve financial success or accumulate goods. Life matters because we leave a trace after we leave this world on the people that we love.

LGBTQ Books I Love

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Who doesn’t love a good story with good representation of genders and sexual orientations? Throughout my years of reading, I have stumbled across many well-written novels with LGBTQ characters. Diversity in literature is important, so I think this list might be helpful to those who haven’t found a lot of these books, since they aren’t generally in the mainstream media.

  • Luna by Julie Anne Peters

This book was the very first ever LGBTQ book I read. I found it through a friend, and I was instantly intrigued by the summary. The book deal with a transgender character, but it is narrated by her sister through flashbacks every other chapter. I think this novels is one of the most influential, eye-opening stories I’ve ever read. There was a lot of heart, with realistic characters who dealt with realistic problems. Thanks to Luna, I wasn’t only introduced to new ideas and a new genre, but also to the talented Julie Anne Peters.

Summary: Regan’s brother Liam can’t stand the person he is during the day. Like the moon from whom Liam has chosen his female namesake, his true self, Luna, only reveals herself at night. In the secrecy of his basement bedroom Liam transforms himself into the beautiful girl he longs to be, with help from his sister’s clothes and makeup. Now, everything is about to change-Luna is preparing to emerge from her cocoon. But are Liam’s family and friends ready to welcome Luna into their lives? Compelling and provocative, this is an unforgettable novel about a transgender teen’s struggle for self-identity and acceptance.

  • Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Imagine a simpler world in which the world accepts people of all sexual orientations. Well, that fantastical world is the type of world in this book. I’m not going to lie, I was interested in this book merely because of the adorable cover. The story itself is very sweet and complex. The main characters were easy to like, and the building and mending of their relationship took me on an emotional ride. After reading it, I was left giddy and smiling like an idiot. I don’t think this book is to be taken so seriously. It’s a story about love. All kinds of love.

Summary: This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

This is a happy-meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy-wonderful world.

  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

I found yet another favorite author through this book. Saenz’s writing captured me from the very first page. I hadn’t been so gripped by a story in years. I flew through this book, and once I was done, I wanted more. This book is delightful. It is mostly split in half between light-hearted chapters and really heartbreaking ones. Aristole and Dante stole my heart in their search for all of the secrets of the universe, and I was so grateful to be able to witness their friendship as it evolved. There weren’t many characters in this story, but they were all so wonderful. This is by far my favorite book of all time.

Summary: Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

  • Far From Xanadu by Julie Anne Peters

When I picked up this book, I never thought I’d be so captivated by the story. I expected some country tale about some love lost. What I got was a beautiful story about opening and closing yourself up for love, and the consequences of falling in love with the wrong person. The characters were very quirky, and Mike sure added a lot of personality to the book. Mike is a lesbian girl who falls for a straight girl. This is a story about love, but it isn’t a love story.

Summary: Every day in Coalton is pretty much the same. Mike pumps iron in the morning, drives her truck to school, plays softball in the afternoon, and fixes the neighbor’s plumbing at night. Maybe on a big day she stops by the Dairy Delite. But when an exotic new girl, Xanadu, arrives in the small Kansas town, Mike’s world is turned upside down. Xanadu is everything Mike is not-cool, complicated, sexy, and . . . straight. Mike falls desperately in love with her, and at first Xanadu seems surprisingly receptive.Can a gay person love a straight person? And will the love be returned? Or are there physical and emotional distances that can never-and should never-be crossed? This heartbreaking yet ultimately hopeful novel will speak to anyone who has ever fallen in love with someone just out of reach.

  • One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

Not only does this book deal with queer characters, but it also helps to shed light on Armenian history. This added to my interest. I love a good history lesson, especially when mixed with great characters and a side of love story. Alek and Ethan had their share of adventures and mishaps, and together they taught each other a few valuable lessons. There is just so much to love about this coming-of-age story!

Summary: Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek’s parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshman year of high school. He never could’ve predicted that he’d meet someone like Ethan.

Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he’s barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it’s time to think again.

  • Gives Light by Rose Christo

I wasn’t expecting to feel so soothed while reading this book. Skylar is a mute boy, who is also half Native American, and queer. Talk about diversity. I loved the history in this book as well. When Skyler moves to an Indian reservation, he learns alongside the reader everything about this culture that has been so foreign to him most of his life. The way the main characters in this book fall in love is the sweetest, least theatrical way I’ve ever read about. In other words, it felt genuine. It definitely made me think on a lot of things, and I was so glad to have read it.

Summary: “Skylar is my name, tragically.”

Sixteen-year-old Skylar is witty, empathetic, sensitive–and mute. Skylar hasn’t uttered a single word since his mother died eleven years ago, a senseless tragedy he’s grateful he doesn’t have to talk about.

When Skylar’s father mysteriously vanishes one summer afternoon, Skylar is placed in the temporary custody of his only remaining relative, an estranged grandmother living on an Indian reservation in the middle of arid Arizona.

Adapting to a brand new culture is the least of Skylar’s qualms. Because Skylar’s mother did not die a peaceful death. Skylar’s mother was murdered eleven years ago on the Nettlebush Reserve. And her murderer left behind a son.

And he is like nothing Skylar has ever known.

  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Although this book is a bit on the odd side plot wise, I enjoyed every moment of it. I don’t want to give too much away, but to sum it up, Will and Will are two very different guys who eventually meet in Chicago, and their lives kind of come together. The dual narrative really works, especially because the characters created by both Levithan and Green are all uniquely different. Again, the storyline is strange, but overall, the characters are what steal the show in this novel. No pun intended.

Summary: One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

  • Point Pleasant by Jen Archer Wood

Firstly, I’d like to point out that this book is in fact for mature audiences, so keep that in mind. This book makes its own original twist on the legendary Mothman of Point Pleasant. You know, that bat-like creature that showed up decades ago right before disaster struck in the small town of West Virginia. After reading this book, I haven’t been able to look back. I learned about this great myth, I fell in love with Ben and Nic, and I found a temporary home in this fictitious little world. I adore this novel, that’s the basic truth. Thinking of this story brings me comfort and joy, and I know it’ll always be there whenever I’m having a bad day, and it will always bring me back to happier days.

Summary: Ben Wisehart grew up in the idyllic town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. An early encounter with the supernatural shaped his worldview and served as the catalyst for his career as a bestselling horror writer.

Ben left Point Pleasant at the age of twenty. Thirteen years after abandoning his home, he returns to the town to investigate the apparent reemergence of the terrifying creature responsible for his childhood nightmares.

In Point Pleasant, Ben is confronted not only by the town’s resident monster, the Mothman, but also by Nicholas Nolan, Ben’s former best friend. Together, with Bill Tucker—the old recluse who lives on the edge of town—Ben and Nicholas uncover the mystery of the monster in the woods and discover that the ghosts that haunt us are sometimes made of flesh and blood. And sometimes, they lead us home.

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I wish I had read this book during high school. I was in college when I finally read it, and so I found it harder to empathize with Charlie, the main character. Don’t get me wrong, I completely empathize with his thoughts and his emotions, but not with this frightening idea of high school. This did not affect the amount of love I have for this book. High school is a tough time, indeed, and it’s no different for Patrick, who is in love with a boy who is too scared to love him back openly. Although Patrick’s storyline wasn’t the center of this novel, it still felt intense. Basically, I just think everyone should read this book at least once. It’s short, and it’s worth it.

Summary: Charlie is a freshman.

And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

  • Cut & Run by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux

Here is another book for mature audiences. I’m not used to reading m/m books, to be honest. Well, at least not before stumbling upon this nine-book series. Ty and Zane are FBI agents who cave into their sexual desires while working a case. They go from hatred to lust to confusion. This book wouldn’t have made this list had I not believed that there was more to it than steamy scenes between the main characters. The plot in this book left me astounded. It was a fairly slow build up to the big reveal, but damn, it was worth the wait. I became so invested with every character that I flew through the books. Granted, they weren’t as exciting, plot-wise, as the first installment, but the characters make the ride worth it.

Summary: A series of murders in New York City has stymied the police and FBI alike, and they suspect the culprit is a single killer sending an indecipherable message. But when the two federal agents assigned to the investigation are taken out, the FBI takes a more personal interest in the case.

Special Agent Ty Grady is pulled out of undercover work after his case blows up in his face. He’s cocky, abrasive, and indisputably the best at what he does. But when he’s paired with Special Agent Zane Garrett, it’s hate at first sight. Garrett is the perfect image of an agent: serious, sober, and focused, which makes their partnership a classic cliché: total opposites, good cop-bad cop, the odd couple. They both know immediately that their partnership will pose more of an obstacle than the lack of evidence left by the murderer.

Practically before their special assignment starts, the murderer strikes again – this time at them. Now on the run, trying to track down a man who has focused on killing his pursuers, Grady and Garrett will have to figure out how to work together before they become two more notches in the murderer’s knife.


There are many excellent LGBTQ books I still haven’t gotten to, but I do own a lot more. I plan on tackling them in the future, and creating yet another list. So far, this is all I have. We need more diverse books! Authors, get to work.

“On the Equality of the Sexes” and others by Judith Murray

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I hear a lot of discussion about feminism and equal rights for men and women. It is hard to believe it is still a discussion given that most people like to think that we as a society have come a long way forward. It is easy to think that since women can work, aren’t ordered to only raise kids, cook, and sew all day long that we are progressive and superior to those who thought that way in the past. In this day and age there are some who still think that way, but they aren’t in the majority. It is important to look back in history, however, to find out what really is going on.

In Judith Murray’s “On the Equality of the Sexes” and a subsequent letter to a friend, written in 1780 and 1790 respectively, brings to light a lot of facts that may make the reader reconsider our so-called progressive society. In Murray’s essay, she makes a strong case on women needing education because that is the only thing that makes women inferior to men. It wasn’t anything biological. It was just an unfair advantage.

It is easy to read that and think: well yeah that was back then and now women go to school. But it isn’t that simple. Women go to school. They are encouraged to go to school even, but are the numbers equal to men? Are the amount of jobs women have equal to men? No and no. Now, I know it is easy to think that maybe women just don’t want those jobs, but that isn’t the case. This wonderful article here can explain it better than I could.

In Murray’s letter, she speaks of another subject constantly brought up in these discussions: The Bible. Namely: Adam and Eve. She has an interesting take on it that I haven’t heard before, and so I think I should share.

She states that if men weren’t so in love with themselves they would have noticed what she has long ago. She said that Eve was tricked, and Adam was not. Eve did what she did simply because she wanted knowledge and wisdom. Adam followed her footsteps after seeing that she did not gain knowledge, simply because he was attached to Eve.

These points, while simple, struck a chord with me. I had never heard anyone describe this well-told story this way. It fit so elegantly with her other writings, and, yet, it does not seem like she twisted it to back up her claims.