Category Archives: Lists

Favorite Childhood Reads

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Isis:

I never read much as a child. I do remember reading Clifford obsessively and these Maisy books because they had little pop ups. They were my favorites as a kid.

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Nicole:

I read a lot more than Isis. Not like now, but I’ve read a lot of different books. I remember rereading a lot of the same book over and over again. Unlike now when I rarely ever reread books.

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I’m pretty sure that I read all the Dr. Seuss books, and a lot of The Berenstain Bears seriesI would finish one book in one sitting and start on the next one right away.

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I was obsessed with Winnie-the-Pooh when I was little. I vaguely remember the book, but I watched the movies over and over again. My room for years only had Winnie-the-Pooh decorations.

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I had a lot of these Little Golden Books. I read a lot of them but Aladdin and 101 Dalmatians were a couple of my favorites. I would read these and then watch the movie and then read these again.

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My kindergarten teacher used to read to us everyday. I don’t remember any of the books she read except with the Junie B. Jones series. I loved these. I loved Junie, and all of her mishaps. I found this through my teacher, but I loved it so much that I would go to the library to get the ones she didn’t read.

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I remember always picking this series up though I don’t remember what actually happened during it. I do want to find these in thrift shops or the library and reread them when I can. 

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I’m so glad I decided to do this post, because I’ve been trying to figure out the name of this book for ages and I could never find it. I tried one more time so I could add it to this list, and I finally figured it out. In elementary school sometimes if you got there early they would take you to the library and the librarian would read to everyone until it was time to go to class. This was one of the books she read though I never got the full story since sometimes I would miss school or come later so then I missed out on parts of the story. But I always wondered what happened at the end. Now that I remember the title, I’m going to look it up and read it again.

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We had to read these books in fifth grade, but I never minded the work involved because I loved these stories. With Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry especially. I went to the library and got all the other books in the series. When I finished them all, I was so upset that it ended that I wrote my own fanfiction of it. Not that I knew the term then.

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These aren’t so much children’s books, but I felt the need to add them here. I didn’t read as much as I got to middle school, but these books were my everything. I would get in trouble all the time for reading the Maximum Ride series in class. I never liked getting in trouble, but I just had to know what was going to happen. Though by the time I think the third or the fourth book came out I was over them. I think I read all the books that Lois Duncan had out. I would read them in one or two sittings because I was so captivated, and then I would immediately go to the library to get another one. This was also the time I picked up Harry Potter, and became obsessed with that. Then, for years Harry Potter books or fanfiction was the only thing I read.

Books We Want to Read This Summer

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Isis:

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

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This is one of my most anticipated summer releases. It looks like a sweet romantic comedy full of culture and awesome characters. I can’t wait for this to come out so I can get to it. 

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

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I picked this up on a whim a few weeks ago, and I’m eager to read it. Nicole hyped it up for me. I love lighthearted reads so I’m hoping this is one of those for me. And it has the word “summer” in it so it’s perfect. 

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

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This one also feels very summery, though I don’t think it’s as lighthearted. I’m still looking forward to reading this story. I’ve heard it deals with twins in different time periods, which reminds me of a book I didn’t finish for school called “The God of Small Things.” I’m hoping this one isn’t as emotionally draining. 

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

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I’m so behind on Morgan Matson books, but I enjoyed Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, so I’m excited to finally get to this book. Every summer since I got this I’ve been meaning to read it, but it hasn’t happened yet. Hoping this is the year. I know this one is about a close friendship, and I’m fully on board. 

Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky

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I’m also hoping this one is lighthearted. The title alone hooked me from the start. When I think of summer, I think of kidnapping members of a boy band. Not really! But I’m interested to see how this plot is handled in this book. 

 

Nicole:

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

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I’m currently on The Titan’s Curse in the original Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I’m hoping to finish the series and start on The Heroes of Olympians series this summer. My goal is to finish these series and the Apollo series by the time the third Magnus Chase book comes out. It’s a pretty ambitious goal,  but I don’t want to read The Ship of the Dead until I read Riordan’s other books. Simply because I’ve heard from other people who’ve read all of them that they think it’ll all intertwine. I don’t want to be confused or spoiled so this is my big goal.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

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I got this from NetGalley, started it, and then never finished. I’m still really interested in it, though I’ve found that I have trouble concentrating when reading on my phone. I have a few others from NetGalley I really need to get to and review soon, but this one is my most anticipated.

Saga Comics by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

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I’ve read the first three of these comics forever ago it seems like. I never continued on since the wait was too much, and I would forget what happened. But Isis has been bugging me ever since to get caught up so she can talk about it with someone. Since she’s planning on reading Magnus Chase, I guess it’s finally time to catch up on this series for her.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

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I’ve wanted to read from N.K. Jemisin for a while now, and I’m hoping to get to this this summer. I don’t particularly know what this book is about, but I’ve heard nothing but good things. I’ve also really been into fantasy, so that’s all I need to know.

The Diviners by Libba Bray

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This book includes the occult, a supernatural power, and a murder case with a serial killer. It’s right up my alley right now. It’s been a year since I’ve gotten this book, and I think it’s high time for me to read it.

 

10 Tropes We Love

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About three months ago we did a post about tropes we hate. Today we are gonna do the opposite, and talk about tropes we love.

1. Childhood Friend Romance – I love it when two characters are friends since childhood, grow up together, and eventually realize they belong together. It’s a combination of the “Friends to Lovers” trope, so I’m including that in here too. I love the way these two people know each other so well by the time a romantic relationship is built. It’s sweet. My favorite is the one in Point Pleasant by Jen Archer Wood, between Ben and Nic, who knew each other from birth, seriously.

2. Blond Evil Guys – I’m not sure if this counts, but I’ve seen plenty of these characters in so many books. And I love every single one of them. From Draco Malfoy to Warner to Laurent, there’s so much to love. I love dark characters, and I love that they happen to be blond, and I love that they all have a sad story to explain why they’re so bad. Sometimes it’s super problematic, but it’s a guilty pleasure.

3. The Philosopher – I love a character who can bring philosophical concepts into a novel. They always look for the meaning behind every action and try to see the world in a different light. This can get pretty pretentious if it’s done wrong, which has happened many times *cough, cough–John Green–cough cough* but I think it can also be really great. My favorite example is Aristotle from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. 

4. Good Parents – I seriously appreciate good parents, especially in YA. There are countless stories where the parents never appear, are dead, abusive, negligent, close-minded, cruel, and so on and so forth. I’m so tired of reading all of these tropes. We need more books with good, supportive, amazing parents that are there for their children, even when their children are older. Again in Aristotle and Dante, both Ari and Dante had wonderful parents. 

5. There’s No Place Like Home – I’m a sucker for characters that go on a journey away from home, only to discover that they didn’t have to run away from home to be happy because the home left behind is where they felt truly happy. It sounds cheesy, and it probably is, but I never get tired of seeing this.

6. Hidden Heart of Gold- This character is usually sarcastic, cold, and a jerk to mostly everyone. That doesn’t make them the villain though. They have good intentions, but a bad attitude. Or, they are afraid of getting hurt or even being seen as nice so they hide. Whatever their reasons, I usually love this trope if it’s done well. By that I mean I don’t like when they cross over into being abusive, and I don’t like when other characters forgive them automatically. If they are in need of redemption, it needs to be done well.

7. Magnetic Hero- The hero needs to go on an epic quest, but in order to do that they need some help. A lot of times they have friends, and it’s a no brainer that they will join. It’s when the hero needs someone who is reluctant that this becomes interesting. Usually the hero is simply earnest and being themselves and not even trying that hard to convince them to change their minds. It can be because of the hero’s personality, a hidden connection the person has with the hero, or a connection with the actual quest that they choose to change their minds. It may seem too easy to some, but I typically love when this happens.

8. Fire-Forged Friends- These characters do not like each other. However, they have the same goal. For whatever reason, they have to work together to get that goal. There is usually a lot of banter and fighting and soft nice moments, and I love all of it. Typically, there’s scenes when they fight against the common enemy together, where one of them is determined not to leave the other behind even if they 100% have the choice to do so, and a conversation where they admit that each other isn’t all that bad. And I love all of it. It’s so good.

9. The Unintentional Badass- These characters usually don’t even want to be the hero. Saving the day isn’t on their to-do list, and they complain about it a lot. So, when they do something badass, it’s either a surprise or done in a way that’s not typically considered badass. They can do that by using their previous knowledge that you wouldn’t think would help, or solve the problem in any way that is not with violence.

10. Unlikely Friendships- One is a pessimist while one is the optimist. One is practical while the other is a free spirit. One is creative while one is scientific. One is old and the other young. Whatever opposites they are, if they still love and support each other, I will love their friendship.

Favorite Romance Films

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In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ve put together this list compiling my top favorite romance films. I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for a good romantic movie. I love sitting back with a good snack and watching two fictional characters fall madly in love with each other. Who doesn’t? Isn’t fun to root for two people to finally get together after so many obstacles and misunderstandings? (I grew up watching telenovelas, so this is a way of life for me). Anyway, let’s begin.

 

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

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I’m sure everyone has seen this masterpiece, but I had to include it anyway. Having seen mostly all adaptations of this Jane Austen story, I have to say that this one stands out. It isn’t exactly like the book, but another thing entirely, and that’s what makes it so great. It keeps the best parts of the characters and relationships, but adds it a little extra humor and fun.

The Wedding Singer (1998)

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Let’s be honest. This is probably one of the best Adam Sandler movies ever made. But this movie is made ten times better thanks to Drew Barrymore and her sweet charisma. This movie is kind of a big cliche, but I’m not even mad about it. I love every moment, and every ridiculous and beautiful song in it.

City of Angels (1998)

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And here we have the movie that always makes me listen to Iris on repeat and sing my heart out while crying over the bittersweet ending. I have a love/hate relationship with this movie. The whole angel thing doesn’t excuse Nicholas Cage from stalking poor Meg Ryan even when she’s in the bathtub. I mean, come on. It just goes to show that even angels are big creeps. But I still root for these two every time.

Big Eden (2000)

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This is one of those unbelievably sweet and feel-good movies that don’t come too often. I adore this one so much that it’s my usual go-to whenever I need a lift me up. It’s just so damn beautiful. Henry and Pike go through so much before they can be together, but it is so worth it in the end. And what could be better than a small town being so accepting and encouraging of two men falling for each other? Probably nothing.

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

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Meg Ryan was the literal queen of rom-coms back in the day. This is another classic, of course. I’ve seen this one quite a few times, and it never gets old. Seriously. It’s so witty and clever and absolutely frustrating because these two are so stubborn and it’s just great and awful at the same time. If you haven’t yet seen the beauty of Harry and Sally, then you’re in for a treat.

The Way He Looks (2014)

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This movie is like an ice cream sundae on a hot summer day. It is absolutely stunning. I love the quietness throughout and the way the friendship develops between the two main characters before it ever turns into more. I love that one of the characters is blind and he fights his way to independence. There’s so much to love about this one. And yay for two boys falling in love and having a happy ending!

Margarita With a Straw (2014)

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This movie is heartfelt and painful, but I loved it all the same. The main character has cerebral palsy, but that isn’t the focus of the story. Laila learns to be independent, far away from home, where she falls in love with a woman. It’s not as lighthearted as the movie poster might indicate, but it is so worth the watch. I loved the romance, and everything in between.

Dan in Real Life (2007)

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This is possibly my top favorite romance film of all time. It isn’t abundantly romantic. It focuses mainly on Dan’s family and  character development, and it is fantastic. This one has a pinch of forbidden love. Who doesn’t love that? I really love the overall atmosphere of this movie. It’s set in a small Rhode Island town and it’s full of quirky characters. The soundtrack is outstanding, which is just a plus.

Tropes We Hate

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There are a lot of tropes that make up fiction. Some we love, and others, not so much. So we decided to make a list of some of the tropes that we hate.

1. Stalker Boy With a Heart of Gold – I mean, I think we can all agree that Edward Cullen got this trope started. You know, the brooding guy who obsesses over a girl and stalks her to the point where it’s truly concerning, but the guy is totally sexy so it’s okay. Yeah, I hate this trope. I recently found it again in The 5th Wave and I was cringing so hard. It was overall unpleasant. Let’s get rid of this trope forever. 

2. Pining Over Dead Lover – I’m not sure if this is specific to David Shaun Hutchinson novels, but I’ve seen it in two of his novels. Although, there are probably other stories with this particular trope. This is the one where a character was in love, but that loved one died and now they are forever pining for their loss. This is usually used as a plot device to keep the current couple apart until the one pining realizes it’s time to move on. The reason I don’t like this one is just because I don’t like getting to know a character that died, usually before the story even started. It makes me terribly sad. I’ve lost so many close family members and I don’t like getting attached to the fading memories of a character that won’t ever live within the fictional world I’m reading. 

3. Friendship Ends When Rejected – This one is a little too close to home, but I’m adding it anyway. You know that trope where there are two close friends, one falls for the other, but the other friend rejects that friend, so the one who was rejected decides they must end their friendship once and for all, giving no alternative. I get it. When there are feelings and you put yourself out there, it’s hard to stay friends with someone. But it’s also unfair to give the other person a sort of ultimatum: romantic love or nothing. It just seems cruel. And usually, the end result of this is eventually the couple getting together, so it starts to feel like it’s a forced relationship meant only to keep the rejected friend close.

4. Miscommunication to Keep Couple Apart – A lot of these tropes have to do with relationships, but can you blame me? I really hate this one. There’s always that one couple you love to see together but they don’t know how to talk to each other and it’s their own fault they either won’t get together or won’t make up. And it’s frustrating as hell. I experienced this while reading Ignite Me. It was one thing for Warner to come clean at the beginning of the book, but then the entire book was spent with the main characters not talking to each other about the important things, not even about the actual plot of the story (outside the romance, there was actually a plot). So yeah, hate this one.

 

5. Sad Endings – I’m not sure if this is a trope, but let’s go with it. Look, I hate sad endings. I really do. I love realistic books with realistic life events. Yes, give me all the sad stories in the world. But come on. Don’t make me read a bleak book with a sad endings. What’s the point in that? I’m supposed to stick around to see a set of characters suffer only to see them end worse than they started? I hate that. I’ve read some real sad books with hopeful endings and it works so well. I’m not asking for happy ever after endings wrapped up with a bow. Not at all. I’m talking stories that end on a hopeful note. Something that shows I wasn’t just wasting my time with all the sadness I had to put up with. I just really really hate sad endings. There should be a warning in books for those.

6. Children Who Mess Everything Up – I think kids get a bad rap in general, but this trope makes me really dislike kids in fiction. There are amazing children in books, like Danny in The Shining and kickass Matilda. But then there are the worst type of kids, like the ones in Fablehaven. These kids do the complete opposite of what they’re told to do, even when they’re clearly warned of the consequences. And I get that sometimes characters need to stumble into the plot, but there’s a line between curiosity and stupidity, and these children surpass the stupidity mark. I’ve encountered children plenty of times in fiction that are just there to make things worse, and I hate that.

7. Love Triangles – From The 5th wave to Shatter Me to Twilight to The Hunger Games series, love triangles are everywhere, and they never fail to drive me crazy. In my opinion all it is is padding to keep the true couple apart, and to create some drama to add to the word count. I know people say that its realistic, and that people usually have crushes on different people at once. Which is true, but it’s too bad that that’s not what happens in these books. The love interests are never equal to each other. Most of the time it is painfully obvious who will end up with who, but as the reader you have to suffer along with their angst and their jealousy until the characters figure it out. A lot of times the world is ending around them, and they completely ignore it in favor of their romance. It’s so annoying. 

8. One True Love – Semi related to the previous one, but it’s the idea that a character is only able to fall in love once. If a character moves onto a different relationship then they have to discover that they thought they were in love before, but now they realize how mistaken they were. Or if the couple breaks up for some contrived reason than the character’s whole world falls apart because they will never be able to move on, and romance is the only thing good in life.

9. Useless Adults – This encompasses a large array of examples. From Harry Potter where every single adult lets him down at some point to The Series of Unfortunate Events where the adults just don’t listen or are actively out to get them.  In Twilight Bella’s dad is simply oblivious as is the parents in Fablehaven. The other adults in Fablehaven are put out of the way for one reason or another so that the kids have to figure out everything for themselves. In The Outliers all the adults either can’t be contacted because it’s dangerous or because they turn out to be out to get them. In any of John Green’s books the parents are mentioned maybe once or twice at the beginning, and then nothing. They don’t care what their kids get up to. If their parents are even alive, because holy orphans Batman there are a lot of those running around fiction, they are negligent or useless. And the other adults around are hardly better. After so many books with such flimsy excuses for not having adults around, it’s simply irritating to read.

10. Girl on girl hate – Girls always have to hate other girls. The main character can maybe have one other friend that’s a girl, but only if she’s not a rival for the love interest. Any other girls? Have to hate them. Love interest’s ex? Evil. The girl who loves to wear makeup and might show a little more skin? Evil. The Cheerleader? Evil. The main girl is never like those other evil girls. She thinks she’s ugly, never puts thought into her outfits, has never had a boyfriend, and loves to read books (but only classics okay those other books like the one you are reading? Evil). Pitting girls against other girls is getting tired, and I wish books didn’t do it so much. If the actual character isn’t making a baseless judgement then the actual book demonizes the pretty girl who loves herself and has ambition because they can never be good people if they are like that. It’s stupid and pointless.

 

11. The insecure/bland girl gets fixed by the boy –  This can come about in two ways. We’ve already talked about how a female character can’t think she’s beautiful or she’s evil, but no one wants an ugly character either. So to get around that a lot of fiction makes her insecure until the love interest can show her how beautiful she is. So then she can be pretty, good, and have the guy, and everything is okay. The other way is that she’s boring. She has no life, no hobbies, no goals until this boy comes in and shakes up her world. My main example for this is in Twilight. Before Bella moves to Forks, she has no friends or hobbies. Once there she mainly thinks about how she hates the friends she made there and the weather, before she gets tangled up with Edward. After that, he’s her life. Edward is all Bella thinks about.

 

12. The outsider is the savior –   I’m not sure if technically this is a trope outside of the white savior trope which I also hate, but I’m still going to talk about it. So many times, mainly in fantasy, it’s the outsider who comes in and has to save their world. Harry Potter and Percy Jackson do this. I do get that it’s easier to set up a world this way so that the reader learns about the world alongside the main character. That way the author doesn’t fall into the trap of the main character growing up in the world, but it feels like their home was under a rock with how out of touch they are. A lot of times it forces the people in the world to be oblivious to their problems in order to put the burden of saving them on the main character. I would like to read more about a person growing up with the world’s problems training up to do something about it. Because it’s their world they are living in, so they should have an invested interest in helping it.

A List of Diverse Books We’ve Read in the Past

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This list is not perfect. We combined all of the books we’ve read with diverse themes before this year, separately and together. If something was mislabeled, we apologize. Unfortunately, plenty of these books are not Own Voices, especially many M/M Romances, but we’ll definitely work on that. We hope to add a lot more to this list!

Cherry by Lindsey Rosin

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In this honest, frank, and funny debut novel, four best friends make a pact during their senior year of high school to lose their virginities—and end up finding friendship, love, and self-discovery along the way.

To be honest, the sex pact wasn’t always part of the plan.

Layla started it. She announced it super casually to the rest of the girls between bites of frozen yogurt, as if it was just simply another addition to her massive, ever-evolving To Do List. She is determined to have sex for the first time before the end of high school. Initially, the rest of the crew is scandalized, but, once they all admit to wanting to lose their v-cards too, they embark on a quest to do the deed together… separately.

Layla’s got it in the bag. Her serious boyfriend, Logan, has been asking for months.

Alex has already done it. Or so she says.

Emma doesn’t know what the fuss is all about, but sure, she’ll give it a shot.

And Zoe, well, Zoe can’t even say the o word without bursting into giggles.

Will everything go according to plan? Probably not. But at least the girls have each other every hilarious, heart-warming, cringe-inducing step of the way.

(F/F romance, Sex positive)

Walk With Me by Cardeno C.

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When Eli Block steps into his parents’ living room and sees his childhood crush sitting on the couch, he starts a shameless campaign to seduce the young rabbi. Unfortunately, Seth Cohen barely remembers Eli and he resolutely shuts down all his advances. As a tenuous and then binding friendship forms between the two men, Eli must find a way to move past his unrequited love while still keeping his best friend in his life. Not an easy feat when the same person occupies both roles.

Professional, proper Seth is shocked by Eli’s brashness, overt sexuality, and easy defiance of societal norms. But he’s also drawn to the happy, funny, light-filled man. As their friendship deepens over the years, Seth watches Eli mature into a man he admires and respects. When Seth finds himself longing for what Eli had so easily offered, he has to decide whether he’s willing to veer from his safe life-plan to build a future with Eli.

(M/M romance, Jewish MC, Bisexual MC)

In Perfect Light by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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In Perfect Light is the story of two strong-willed people who are forever altered by a single tragedy. After Andés Segovia’s parents are killed in a car accident when he is still a young boy, his older brother decides to steal the family away to Juárez, Mexico. That decision, made with the best intentions, sets into motion the unraveling of an American family.

Years later, his family destroyed, Andés is left to make sense of the chaos — but he is ill-equipped to make sense of his life. He begins a dark journey toward self-destruction, his talent and brilliance brought down by the weight of a burden too frightening and maddening to bear alone. The manifestation of this frustration is a singular rage that finds an outlet in a dark and seedy El Paso bar — leading him improbably to Grace Delgado.

Recently confronted with her own sense of isolation and mortality, Grace is an unlikely angel, a therapist who agrees to treat Andés after he is arrested in the United States. The two are suspicious of each other, yet they slowly arrive at a tentative working relationship that allows each of them to examine his and her own fragile and damaged past. Andés begins to confront what lies behind his own violence, and Grace begins to understand how she has contributed to her own self-exile and isolation. What begins as an intriguing favor to a friend becomes Grace’s lifeline — even as secrets surrounding the death of Andés’ parents threaten to strain the connection irreparably.

(Own voices, M/M romance, POC main characters)

Point Pleasant by Jen Archer 

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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.

(M/M romance, POC characters)

Gives Light Series by Rose Christo

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“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.

(Own voices, POC main characters, M/M romance, Disability)

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Ten Favorite Fictional Couples

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Mulder and Scully from the X-Files

Ron and Hermione from Harry Potter

Jim and Pam from The Office

Lorelei and Luke from Gilmore Girls

Lito and Hernando from Sense8

Ely and Bruce from Noami and Ely’s No Kiss List

Juliette and Warner from Shatter Me

Sarah and David from Married with Zombies 

Eleanor and Park from Eleanor and Park

Henry and Pike from Big Eden