Book Reviews

The Long Walk by Stephen King – Book Review

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I will probably never forget this book. It became an instant favorite.

 

“They walked through the rainy dark like gaunt ghosts, and Garraty didn’t like to look at them. They were the walking dead.”


I’m really in my feelings right now. It’s been a couple of hours since I finished The Long Walk and I’m still processing this book. It was gut-wrenching, terrifying, and beautiful. I’m going to try to be as coherent as possible.

The basic premise of this book is that in a dystonian U.S. society, every year 100 teenage boys get to participate in The Long Walk. The rules are simple: everyone must walk at a speed of 4mph, they get three warnings if they slow down or stop walking, after the third warning, they get killed by one of the many soldiers walking beside them. They start in Maine, and walk for days, struggling with exhaustion, heat, rain, hail, and their deteriorating bodies. In the end, there can only be one survivor.

The narrator, Ray Garraty, was very hard to figure out at first. I was wary about him. I wasn’t sure I could trust him. But the more I got to know him, the more he grew on me. Sometimes he was cruel, but he immediately apologized and felt remorseful. I really liked him. Garraty quickly became friends with Peter McVries, the boy with a scar on his face. They had such a great friendship. I loved McVries from the beginning. As the story progressed, the two boys constantly saved each other’s lives. Not many other characters did this, which made them stand out.

The other boys were all intriguing. Stebbins was another one of my favorites. He was the quiet, reserved boy, always in the back of the group. I found him absolutely endearing, and I wanted to protect him somehow. I sympathized with most of the boys. I was rooting for each and every one of them, even as they continued to die. And the ways they died were very gruesome at times. There were times when I felt sick to my stomach at the detailed descriptions of their deaths. But I needed to keep going, just like the rest of the boys.

The prose was incredible. I was reminded why Stephen King is one of my favorite writers. I felt like I was walking right next to the boys. I was completely immersed in the story. I felt their pain. I felt the soreness of their feet and legs. I felt their anger and hopelessness. I felt their sadness. I felt it all, and I kept wanting to save them all. But then I was reminded that they had chosen to participate in this horrible walk. That was the greatest thing of all. Those boys put themselves in that situation, each of them thinking they would win. The winning prize? A lot of money, and whatever else they wanted.

The scariest thing about this book was witnessing how every one of those boys regretted their decision once they were already in the walk. They felt the reality of their situation, but it was too late to back out. They just had to keep walking, and walking, and walking.

I completely fell in love with this book. I heard it was being turned into a movie. I really hope they execute it well. I need it to do the book justice because this book is fantastic. I want to read it many times in the future. Until I’m as exhausted as the characters. Until I can’t read anymore.

5 stars

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Book Reviews

A Boy Worth Knowing by Jennifer Cosgrove – Book Review

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“Nobody cared about me and what I did as long as I didn’t interfere with their lives. Sometimes, it was good to be invisible.”


Oh, boy. I want to start off by saying that I’m a little bit rusty. It’s been three months since I’ve read a book, and it’s exciting to finally finish one again. I stared A Boy Worth Knowing way before I stopped reading. I would only read it on my phone every now and then when I was bored, but I finally committed to it and finished it in a couple of days.

The premise drew me in. This story follows Nate, a seventeen year old boy on his senior year of high school who can see and talk to ghosts. He has trouble fitting in at school because this girl, Penny, bullies him every chance she gets. And then, one day, a new boy moves into town. James quickly becomes friends with Nate, even though everyone else wants his attention. But James believes Nate is “a boy worth knowing.” Get it?

I liked the way the friendship between Nate and James developed. Nate was so nervous at first because he wasn’t used to having friends, but then he was nervous because he started having feelings for James, and he didn’t want to complicate their friendship. Everything Nate dealt with hit pretty close to home, and I found it to be very realistic.

James was such a lovely character. He was kind and passionate. I found it easy to trust him. He was loyal from the start. I also loved Aunt Susan. She was so sweet and supportive of Nate, and she protected him fiercely. I wanted Aunt Susan to get her own happy ending. She deserved all the happiness in the world.

I thought Nate’s ability to see and talk to ghosts was awesome. He mostly talked to his Nana, who showed up every now and then to comfort him and give him advice. She was very kind. Another ghost that appeared was James’s brother, David. I really liked him, and I kept waiting for him to show up, but his interactions were brief. Overall, the ghosts were all great, and I was really into the whole concept. I thought it was executed very well.

I do have a few complaints. Mostly, it was that Nate would go into these deep depressive episodes whenever something went wrong with James. It happened twice, but both times were very difficult to read about. I understood where he was coming from, and maybe Nate just had his own mental health issues to deal with, but it was upsetting to read about. It frustrated me to see Nate give up sleeping, eating, basic hygiene, all because James ignored him at school. I worried about Nate’s future. What if he and James didn’t last forever? Would Nate give up his life because of that? Did his sanity depend entirely on another person? It was never really addressed in the book, so that bothered me.

Despite all my complaints, I ended up loving this book. The good parts outnumbered the bad ones by a lot. It was what I needed to read to get out of my terrible reading slump. I would love to read more books with these characters. If you’re into sweet friendships/romances and ghosts, definitely check it out.

4 stars

Book Tag, Uncategorized

Bookshelf Tag

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Describe your bookshelf and where you got it from.

Isis: My bookshelf is handmade by an old coworker of my mom’s. She bought the wood and paid him to build it from scratch. I really love it. 

Nicole: I have three bookshelves. One I think belonged to my grandma or someone. One my dad bought at a garage sale for me, and the other my boyfriend bought at a garage sale for me.

How do you organize your books?

Isis: I have two LGBT+ shelves, a Stephen King shelf, and a Benjamin Alire Sáenz shelf. Other than that, there’s no organization. 

Nicole: I try  to by genre, but I don’t have enough space really. So then it dissolves into whatever I have recently bought grouped together.

 

What’s the longest book on your shelf?

Isis: Probably Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Nicole: It by Stephen King.

 

What’s the shortest book on your shelf?

Isis: Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving.

Nicole: One of those Clue books by A.E. Parker.

 

 

Is there a book you received as a birthday gift?

Isis: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. My mom gave it to me on my 22nd birthday before she passed away. 

Nicole: I don’t think so. Not all my books are on my shelves right now. Most are in boxes. 

 

Is there a book from a friend on your shelf?

Isis: Nicole gave me The Novice by Taran Matharu.

Nicole: Isis gave me the City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty.

 

 

The most expensive book on your shelf?

Isis: The Saga Books 1 & 2 I own cost around $50 each. 

Nicole: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas was $22 I think. 

 

 

The last book you read on your shelf?

Isis: Anything Could Happen by Will Walton. It was short and memorable. 

Nicole: Tokoyo, The Samurai’s Daughter by Faith L. Justice.

 

 

Do you have a complete series?

Isis: The Harry Potter series, the Captive Prince trilogy, the Angelfall trilogy, all of the Shatter Me books that are currently out. 

Nicole: The first Percy Jackson series.

 

 

What’s the newest addition to your shelf?

Isis: All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages edited by Saundra Mitchell.

Nicole: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland.

 

 

The oldest book on your shelf?

Isis: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone which I bought for $3 at a Scholastic book fair in 2002.

Nicole: I think School Of Fear Gitty Daneshvari that I bought in 2012.

 

 

What’s a book you’d hate to let out of your sight? (A.K.A. No one is touching it. Ever.)

Isis: My signed hardback copy of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. 

Nicole: None of them.

 

 

Most beat up book?

Isis: The copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone I mentioned. One of my dogs peed and chewed on it. 

Nicole: The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan that I bought at the dollar store.

 

 

Most pristine book?

Isis: My Hufflepuff edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I love that edition.

Nicole: The City of Brass that Isis bought me.

 

 

A book that doesn’t belong to you?

Isis: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexis.

Nicole: I have a whole shelf that is just my current library books and books I’ve borrowed from Isis and my mom.

 

 

A book that is your favourite colour?

Isis: I don’t really have a favorite color, but the colors on the cover of Autoboyography by Christina Lauren are beautiful. 

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Nicole: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary by Brandon Mull. I love purple.

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A book that’s been on your shelf the longest and you still haven’t read it?

Isis: There are too many to choose from. But I’ll go with The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Nicole: The School of Fear that I’ve mentioned before.

 

 

Of all the books on your shelf, which was the first you read?

Isis: A Separate Peace by John Knowles

Nicole: Let the Circle Be Unbroken by Mildred D. Taylor.

 

Any signed books?

Isis: Most of my Benjamin Alire Sáenz books, and a few by David Levithan, Adam Silvera, and Shaun David Hutchinson. 

Nicole: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland. Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry.

Personal

When did I know I was gay?

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In honor of pride month, I wanted to talk about a topic I’m very curious about. Back in college, I wrote an essay for my creative nonfiction class, where I mentioned my sexuality. My professor was unhappy with me leaving out a big detail regarding the topic. During workshop, she asked, “When did you know you were gay?” and requested that my answer be added to my revised essay.

I wanna preface this by saying that I’m using gay as an umbrella term. I identify as pansexual. I’ve seen many debates about the legitimacy of pansexuality as an identity separate from bisexuality. I’m not here to make a statement about my identity. I’m pansexual, and that’s it.

Now back to my class. My professor asked a very pointed question about a topic that I wasn’t very used to discussing. When I told one of my queer friend about it, she rolled her eyes and said, “You should have asked her: when did you know you were straight?” And we just laughed it off.

Recently, I’ve been seeing tweets about queer people sharing stories about the moment when they knew they were gay (or not straight). I don’t really know what to do with all of these stories, because I’ve never given much thought to a specific time when something clicked in me and I thought, “Hey, I’m not actually straight. I think I like everyone!” My journey to coming out was a bit different.

What I’m trying to say is, there is no one specific moment when everything changed for me. It happened gradually. Mostly because I’m clueless to most things, including myself. As a kid, I found my girl friends attractive. I never paid much attention to it, though, because I found boys just as attractive, and that was all that mattered. As I got older, I found myself getting all sorts of “girl crushes,” which I believed to be totally normal for a straight girl.

And then came the day I watched Black Swan. If you’ve seen the movie, maybe you’ll remember the scene between Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman having sex. I certainly do. The moment I saw it, I was very, very shocked. I had never seen two women getting it on, and let me tell you, it was doing funny things to me. I remember being unable to stop thinking about it for days. I kept bringing it up with my friends, but pretending I’d hated that part of the movie. I wanted to know their thoughts on it, but they were clearly not as fazed by it as I was.

I guess if I wanted to pinpoint a pivotal moment in my coming-out journey, it would have to be seeing Black Swan. But it was until many years later that I finally accepted my sexuality, and wholly embraced it.

In high school, I had come to the conclusion that I could probably fall in love with anyone, regardless of their gender. Because gender didn’t seem to factor in my ability to fall for people. But I still didn’t consider myself anything but straight. I figured every straight person in the world felt the same way as I did. See what I mean about being clueless?

I was in college when I had my first crush on a girl who wasn’t a celebrity. In other words, a real girl. It started out slowly. I was so confused as to why I was so drawn to her until the day I came out to her, after knowing she was queer too, and realized I liked her. After that moment, I just kept coming out to people. Because, why not?

I didn’t know that pansexual was a term, but Nicole brought it to my attention. After a lot of reading up on it, I grew attached to the term. Now I don’t know what I would do without it. I feel comfortable using that label. It feels right. It fits me.

So, to answer the title of this post: I guess I always knew I was gay. It just took me a while to figure it out. I used to feel bad about not having a specific moment when things clicked and I just knew. But I don’t care anymore. I’m pansexual. I’m gay. I’m happy to be part of the LGBT+ community. I’m here and I’m queer.

Do you guys have a specific moment when you knew you were gay, or is that a silly question? Let me know! I’d love to hear your stories.

Happy Pride!

Book Reviews

Anything Could Happen by Will Walton – Book Review

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“There’s sickness, and there’s sadness. But the thing is, there’s love, too. I try never to forget that.”

This book was a rollercoaster of emotions, but it was the kind of rollercoaster I’m not too afraid to ride because it doesn’t have those scary loops. What I’m trying to say is, I really enjoyed this book.

The story follows Tretch Farm, a fifteen year old boy who’s in love with his straight best friend, Matt. I’d be lying if I said I was new to this type of story. I don’t know how many lgbt stories I’ve read where this is the premise, but it’s a lot. Usually, every story ends the same way. But I appreciated the way this book didn’t follow in that same direction. It completely took me by surprise.

One of my favorite aspects of this book was the music. There was mention of a lot of pop music, especially Ellie Goulding, and her magnificent Halcyon album. That album meant the world to me when it came out, and I listened to it nonstop. It came to my life when I needed it the most. So it was a bit nostalgic getting to read about this teenage boy living his life to the beat of that same album. It was such a great experience. Also, I loved that Tretch was a dancer. I love dancers.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see how much of Tretch’s family was incorporated into the story. Not just his family, but also Matt’s. We get to see Matt’s two dads interacting with each other in the loveliest, most domestic scenarios. It was incredible. I loved their inclusion. And Tretch’s parents and grandparents and his brother were all so interesting. Their love for each other flew off the pages.

I loved the friendship between Tretch and Matt the most. It was sweet, selfless, and true. Despite his feelings for Matt, Tretch only wanted the best for his friend, even if it meant seeing him dating a girl. What I loved even more was that Tretch built close relationships to Amy, the girl Matt was dating, and to Lana, the girl who had a crush on Tretch. I thought Tretch was a kind character. He had his flaws, but he was beautiful overall.

I had a lot of fun with this book. I’m so glad I read it.

3,5 stars

Book Reviews

Seeking Perfect by Jeri Bronson – Book Review

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This book deals with a lot of heavy issues, but it has the perfect balance of fluff to make up for it. Seeking Perfect is a romance novel following Jesse, a girl on her senior year of high school. Her home life is a daily struggle, with a drunk, neglectful mother who steals all her money, and her mom’s awful boyfriends tagging along. Jesse is set on going to college and leaving her life behind, and she wants nothing to get in the way, but then she meets Derek.

I went into this book expecting a lot of terrible scenes with Jesse’s mom, but I was surprised by the amount of great people Jesse had in her life. Jesse worked at a bookstore, whose owner, Charlotte, was like a mom to her. She got to have a home away from home, and it made her life a little easier. Not only did she have Charlotte, but also Russ, Charlotte’s husband, and Jeremy, Charlotte’s son. These were all wonderfully sweet characters who offered Jesse nothing but love and support, and I was so grateful for them.

Derek was also really nice. I had a few issues with him wanting to “fix” Jesse. I didn’t like the way he kept saying that. He said the same thing about his ex-girlfriend, Missy. He was always upset about not being able to “fix” Missy, making her a better person. I don’t think it’s ever a guy’s job to fix a girl. I also didn’t like the way Missy’s character was very stereotypical and mean. I understand she was the villain of the story, but a villain should be complex. Those were my main issues.

The romance was sweet. I thought the bond between Jesse and Derek was believable, if a bit too rushed. I was happy with the way things wrapped up, and the epilogue was great. I should mention trigger warnings for attempted rape and violence. Those were big things that suddenly happened and had me kind of queasy.

If you’re into contemporary romance with warm characters, you should definitely check this one out.

3,5 stars

Book Reviews

Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi – Book Review

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“Why did I think I’d be capable of running an entire continent? How did I allow myself to imagine that a supernatural ability to kill things with my skin would suddenly grant me a comprehensive understanding of political science?”


My love for Warner is still strong. That much has stayed consistent throughout the series. But, of course, Restore Me is about many, many other things besides Warner — unfortunately.

I devoured the first three Shatter Me books when they were only a trilogy. I read them all over a weekend, and then re-read them recently with Nicole. She reviewed all three of them before, but now it’s my turn.

Restore Me picks up about sixteen days after the end of Ignite Me, which continues to be my favorite book in the series. We follow Juliette and Warner in the aftermath of taking over The Reestablishment. There were a lot of loose ends to begin with, and some of them were covered, but many were not. I’ll break this down.

The characters: Anyone who’s read this series is well aware that it’s very character driven. The characters make the series worth reading. We still have Juliette, though her character development is doubtful. I still don’t know what to make of her, especially after the ending. I definitely do not trust her to run a nation. My personal favorite, Warner, is still a sweet boy (who’d hate me for calling him that). He claims he never changed, but there’s an obvious change to him, both outside and inside. Aside from the haircut, Warner is learning to be less selfless, and trusting of other people outside of Juliette. We have Kenji, possibly the greatest character ever written. Kenji is everything that’s good with the world, and more. He’s comic relief at its finest, and we finally learn more about his past.

I loved some of the new characters, but I feel like there wasn’t a lot of them outside of Nazeera, who was fantastic. I was grateful for such a wonderful female character, who Juliette actually got along with. I liked seeing more of Adam and James, but other than them, the other characters faded to the background. I found myself missing them, and overall just wanting more.

The plot: I was very intrigued by the sudden world-building drawn out. There was a lot of explanation about the world, and the leaders of the different continents. However, there wasn’t much expansion of some pressing issues because the romantic drama kept getting in the way. Then I realized what series I was reading, and I wasn’t angry about it. Basically, there were a lot of plot holes, but Warner’s hot, so all is forgiven.

The romance: The love I have for Warner runs deep. Juliette is okay. I fear that the roles have switched between him and Juliette. I thought it was natural the way he closed off from her. There was a big reason for that. I didn’t think Juliette fought enough to get inside Warner’s head, though. My problem with Juliette is her selfishness. She doesn’t realize how awful she tends to be, and Warner sees her as a perfect woman. There are so many issues with their relationship, but I gotta say, I’m still rooting for Warner’s happiness.

Representation: The anxiety rep was amazing. Suffering from anxiety myself, I can’t explain how incredible it felt to see myself in this book. My anxiety tends to make me feel like a burden sometimes, but seeing it represented so well here made me hopeful. I want the stigmas to be removed, and I think it’s important to incorporate this into stories. There was a trans character, but she was outed without consent by a transphobic character, so heads up for that. Aside from that, there were characters from different countries who spoke different languages, but again, they were far from the focus of the story. I feel like I hardly learned anything about them.

There are trigger warnings for panic attacks, depression, mention of suicidal thoughts, and transphobia.

I still haven’t gathered my thoughts completely. That ending left me breathless. I don’t know what to make of it, but I know that I cannot wait for book five. Or maybe a novella in between? We’ll see.

This weekend we’ll have a spoiler review of Restore Me on our podcast, so look out for that.

4,5 stars