Book Reviews

The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg – Book Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

3,5 stars

Book Reviews

The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson – Book Review

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Death is as normal as digestion. People move through life the way food moves through our bodies. Their natural usefulness is extracted along the way to help enrich the world, and when they have nothing left to give, they’re eliminated. Much like our bodies would clog up with excrement if we didn’t defecate, the world would do the same if we didn’t die.

Well, that was really good.

Shaun David Hutchinson is one of my favorite authors, but this book came as a surprise to me. I didn’t know about it until its release date. The premise had me hooked. I’m obsessed with all things death, including the living dead, or zombies as I like to call them. And sure, maybe this isn’t really a zombie book, but it was fun nonetheless.

Dino has just lost his ex-best friend before he had the chance to patch things up between them, and he’s in a relationship that feels a little one-sided. Then his ex-best friend, July, rises from the dead, and drama ensues. I had no trouble liking Dino. I loved his wit, compassion, and way of thinking. I liked his relationship with his sister who was about to be married. I also liked that his parents owned a funeral home. That’s awesome.

I was very sad to discover that July was so problematic. Of course, all of that was acknowledged and corrected, but it made me not like her…at all. This made it difficult for me to root for Dino and July to fix their friendship. The way I saw it, Dino was better off without her. I know July had some character growth, but I just didn’t feel much sympathy for her. Which is a lot to say about a dead person.

I absolutely adored Dino’s boyfriend, Rafi. A gorgeous trans boy with a cute accent, who gives back to his community, has a cool gaggle, and has so much love to give. I could never understand why Dino wasn’t completely head over heels for him. The root of the problem there was July, and that was yet another reason why I didn’t like her.

The story was great. I had a lot of fun reading it. But there were parts that had me annoyed, mostly at the constant bickering between Dino and July. They had the same arguments over and over, and it just got repetitive. I still enjoyed the adventures they had. The ending was satisfying. In the past, I’ve discovered that Shaun David Hutchinson’s books don’t have a concrete ending where things get solved and you’re left thinking over what happened. I’ve enjoyed those type of ending, but I’m glad this one was straight-forward. It fit the style of the book.

I really liked this book. It was perfectly gory. It’s not my favorite Shaun David Hutchinson book, but it was definitely worth the read. If you like books about death and friendship, give this one a try!

4 stars

Book Reviews

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi – Book Review

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I didn’t believe it was possible to hide a woman’s beauty. I thought women were gorgeous no matter what they wore, and I didn’t think they owed anyone an explanation for their sartorial choices. Different women felt comfortable in different outfits. They were all beautiful.

I had a feeling this book would be special. The premise alone had me intrigued. I know this story is very personal to Tahereh Mafi, and I understand why. This is the story of Shirin, a young Muslim girl in high school in 2002. Being a Muslim in 2019 can be difficult, but a year after 9/11? That girl’s life could not have been harder. I loved Shirin from the start. My girl was fierce and badass and she could handle herself. I also liked her brother, Navid. He was such a good big brother. Protective, but not overdoing it. I loved his group of friends and how they were all sort of big brothers to Shirin as well.

When Shirin met Ocean, I knew there would be trouble. They had an attraction that I didn’t really understand, but I knew existed because Shirin would not stop thinking about Ocean. I’m not sure what it says about me, but I never rooted for the two of them. That’s not to say that I thought the romance wasn’t good, but I was never truly invested in it. However, I quickly realized that since this was a Tahereh Mafi novel, the romance would lead the entire story. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But part of me wanted to focus on the more present issues.

I wanted to know more about Shirin and Navid’s breakdancing club. The scenes were so few, and I didn’t really learn much about the subject. Also, I wanted desperately to know more about Shirin and Navid’s parents. In the one scene they appeared, I ate up their wonderful interactions with Ocean. I wanted more. So much more from them. But for some reason, Shirin described them as completely careless and indifferent towards her. I didn’t understand why this was, but there was no explanation given. I think this was a failed opportunity to learn more about Persian culture and get a deeper insight into this family that I cared about so much.

Regardless, I think this book is important. Muslim stories are so scarce, but so needed. We need more OwnVoices novels. I hope to read more books like this one!

3,5 stars

Book Reviews

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram – Book Review

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“I was one tiny pulsar in a swirling, luminous galaxy of Iranians, held together by the gravity of thousands of years of culture and heritage.”

What a lovely book.

I read this book in one day, and I enjoyed every second. This book has stayed with me for days. Even now, a week later, I find myself thinking about these characters and everything they’ve left with me.

Darius the Great Is Not Okay follows Darius, a Persian boy who finds out his grandfather has a brain tumor, which leads to his entire family traveling to Iran to spend some time with him. Darius was an excellent narrator. Since his father is Caucasian, he spends a lot of time exploring his Persian culture through his mother’s side of the family. I liked that I got to see things through his perspective because I came to understand his culture with the same amount of curiosity he did. I loved learning about how important tea was for his culture. I love tea, but I clearly don’t love it as much.

Darius’s culture was so prominent in the story because he spent a lot of time with his family. I absolutely loved that. His grandparents were really great people. His grandmother was sweet and kind, and she reminded me so much of mine. His grandfather was a bit more complicated, but I liked that. Sometimes, you can’t really connect instantly with members of your family. I liked the way he talked about knowing his family in Iran through nothing more than video calls. That’s true for me as well, and for many other immigrants in America. I also loved the food he got to eat, and the way everything was described.

The complicated relationship Darius had with his father was so realistic. I liked the way he wanted to connect with him, spend quality time with him, but still disliked many things about him. I liked that his father wasn’t painted as a bad guy, but he wasn’t great either. These gray areas are so important, because that’s the reality of the world. Parents are human, and they make so many mistakes. It’s important to see them portrayed like this. My favorite thing was that both Darius and his father suffered from depression, and they were actually treating it with medication. How great is that? This is something I don’t think I’ve ever read about in a YA book. Mental illness can definitely be inherited through your parents (I speak from personal experience) and it’s good to see that they both took the time and care to find the right medication. The conversations this brought up were important as well, especially considering the stigma against mental illness in Iran, as well as many other countries. I know in Mexico, my family shies away from any conversation about mental illness. The portrayal of depression was necessary and well executed.

I left my precious Sohrab for the end because he is very special to me, and I still haven’t fully processed my thoughts on him. Sohrab is a young boy Darius befriends in Iran. A very sweet, charming boy that helps out Darius’s grandparents as much as possible, who’s basically another member of the family. They play a few games of soccer, which is my favorite sport, so I was ecstatic about this. I loved that Darius could confide in Sohrab about everything, and Sohrab genuinely cared for him. I loved their friendship so much. It was so sweet and so natural and so freeing. It broke my heart any time they had any argument because them not being friends just felt wrong to me. I loved everything about Darius and Sohrab. Their scenes were some of my favorites.

The only reason I’m not one-hundred percent in love with this book (more like ninety-five percent, which is still pretty high) is because I knew there was potential to explore Darius’s sexuality. It was there all along. It was right on the surface, ready to be seen, but it never was. Darius’s sexuality was never explored. It was maybe hinted at, but that’s it. I’m not entirely sure why they author decided not to go there, when all the signs were there, but alas, that’s not something we got to see. Even without the exploration of sexuality, I thought the book was incredible. I loved it all so much. I would read a sequel. So many sequels. I loved Darius, his family, and my dear Sohrab.

4,5 stars

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

Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender-A Book Review


Bad Girls Don’t Die is the first book in a trilogy. As a young adult paranormal book it is pretty much a standard read. The main character, Alexis, is of course an outcast who hates the cheerleaders and has problems at home.  The paranormal part of the book is pretty standard. Watch enough scary movies and you know how this book will go.

That’s not to say that this book is bad. It didn’t scare me or surprise me or keep me on the edge off my seat or anything, but I wasn’t bored.  I liked Alexis a lot. Actually, I liked all the characters. I liked the little mystery and how it unfolded. I liked how it was written, and how fast this book took me to read. The buildup of the book was nice, but the ending seemed rushed. I didn’t like that so much. And it left me with some questions about what Alender skimmed over.

As I said, this is the first in a trilogy. Honestly, I have no idea why. Everything was solved, and wrapped up. As of this point I don’t think I will read the other books, but I won’t rule it out. Reading about Alexis again would be fun, but it isn’t something I am dying to do. Though, I did see on goodreads that the ratings on the books got higher as the series went on. That’s something to think about.

I think this is a good book to read around Halloween if you want something to warm up for other, scarier books. Or, if you are someone who scares easily, I think this would be perfect for you.