April Wrap-up!

It’s now May. It was April. I have a month left in my graduate program. I am slacking on blogging. I’ll keep trying, but my posting habits PROBABLY won’t pick up much until June. My reading, on the other hand, has been doing really well. I’ve got lots of books that I’ve read and loved from the last month!

Reads for April

Here’s all I read in April:

Meet Cute edited by Jennifer L. Armentrout — 3 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

Herding Cats (ARC) by Sarah Andersen — 5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

Tarot for Teens by Marie-Jeanne Abadie — 2 of 5 stars

Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges — 5 of 5 stars

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia — 5 of 5 stars

On A Summer Night (ARC) by Gabriel D. Vidrine — 4.5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

Chaotic Good (ARC) by Whitney Gardner — 5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles — 5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

Big Man (ARC) by Matthew J. Metzger (DNF) — 1 of 5 stars

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli — 5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

Nothing But The Truth by Avi — 1 of 5 stars

What If It’s Us (ARC) by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera — 5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

 

Reading stats:

  • Number of books read: 12
  • Number of nonfiction books: 2
  • Number of ARCs: 5
  • Number of books by marginalized authors: ~6
  • Number of books read for class: 3
  • Number of library books: 5

I read roughly on-pace for April as I had for March, which is good because it felt like I read a ton less. I got a handful more ARCs read (though I still need to review them… I’m cringing at all of those “review forthcoming!” notes that are still forthcoming because I’m a tired mess…) I’m anticipating May to be probably about the same, and I’m really hoping that once the middle of June hits I’ll be able to read even more! (Extra good thing considering I’m still making my way through my NetGalley ARCs… Whoops.)

On The Personal Side…

I’m one month from graduating. I’m just tired. What have I been doing for the last month, even? I’m kind of drawing a large blank.

I went to the 2018 Oregon Library Association conference, which was cool because it was my first library conference. Extra points for location — it was located in my area so I could just take the bus from my house to get to the conference! No hotel costs! Yay! Travel is so expensive.

I’ve been re-watching Queer As Folk (US) for the last week-ish and I’ve gotten partway through season 4. It’s been giving me a lot of feelings that I hadn’t had while watching it last time, and it’s affecting my current WIP (possibly for the better?).

That’s about it… April has been rather uneventful. I’m not sure if this is a good thing. Oh well!

What were you up to in April? Any good reads?

Top Ten Tuesday: Queer Couples!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is a love freebie, and so I’m choosing to focus on queer couples from my 2017 and 2018 reads this week! Here are my favorites:

10.) The Peskin-Suso Moms, The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Cassie and Molly Peskin-Suso’s moms are on the shortlist of my favorite book parents ever, and while they weren’t main characters I still felt that they deserved a place on this list.

9.) Andrew and Rusty, The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

Andrew and Rusty didn’t have a perfect relationship in the hospital, but I really loved how their relationship played out later. Had we seen more of the healthy elements, I would have put them further up on this list.

8.) Ramona and Freddie, Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

Overall I really loved Ramona and Freddie; Ramona was still figuring her sexuality out, and Freddie tried to support her as much as he could. They’re lower on this list because Freddie’s ignorance bugged me a few times, but overall I really liked them.

7.) Echo and Zara, Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta

Echo and Zara had quite a bit going on behind the scenes (pardon the pun) during their relationship… They weren’t perfect, but they had great chemistry and were a nice pair.

6.) Odessa and Meredy, Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Odessa and Meredy had an adorable hate-to-love romance. They had several issues to start with, but their bonding and chemistry was really touching.

5.) Alice and Takumi, Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

Alice and Takumi are just adorable. They were really sweet together and made a solid effort to figure out how to make the relationship work as well as it could for them. They were respectful and very, very sweet.

4.) Grace and Eva, How To Make A Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

Grace and Eva’s chemistry captivated me from the first page they shared together. I loved all of the sneaking around into lighthouses and the bonding they did through their struggles in their lives.

3.) Taylor, Theo, and Josey, 3 by Hannah Moskowitz

Best. Trio. Ever. Did I want to be there with these three wonderful characters as their story progressed? Yes. Yes I did.

2.) Simon and Blue, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Is there really any question about this one?

1.) Rufus and Mateo, They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

Rufus and Mateo stole my heart and then made me cry. Thanks, Silvera.

Who are your favorite queer couples in books? Let me know in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: New-To-Me Authors from 2017!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is new-to-me authors from 2017! Admittedly, most of the authors I loved from last year were new to me primarily because of my reading slump from the several years before it. Because of this, there are A LOT of authors that could qualify for this list, and it’s hard to pick just ten. Here is my list:

10.) Sarah Glenn Marsh
Book read: Reign of the Fallen

Image of book cover from Goodreads

I primarily placed Marsh as number 10 on this list rather than higher because this is a 2018 release that I read JUST before 2017 was up, and it hasn’t been released yet! My review of Reign of the Fallen will be up next week, so be sure to watch for it!

9.) Kathryn Ormsbee
Book read: Tash Hearts Tolstoy

Image of book cover from Goodreads

Ormsbee wrote some wonderful asexual rep complete with relationship drama and an accidental viral sensation! Tash Hearts Tolstoy drew me in, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

8.) M. Hollis
Books read: Ripped Pages and A Night At The Mall

I received ARCs for both of these shorts, and I was not disappointed! Ripped Pages in particular was a favorite of the year for me, and I highly recommend it (AND A Night At The Mall) if you haven’t read it yet already! M. Hollis is a talented writer, and I can’t wait to see what else she has in store.

My review of Ripped Pages

My review of  A Night At The Mall

7.) Adi Alsaid
Book read: North of Happy

noh

I have a couple more of Adi Alsaid’s books on my iPad, and after reading North of Happy I’m definitely going to be reading them in 2018! His writing sucks you in and doesn’t let you go, and I loved it.

6.) Alex Gino
Book read: George

Image of book cover from GoodReads

I didn’t know just how much I was in need of some happy trans rep until I read Gino’s book. Now I need more of it. A LOT more of it. Gino’s writing is entrancing and easy to read, and I’m excited to see what they have coming up next.

My review of George

5.) Nic Stone
Book read: Dear Martin

Image of book cover from GoodReads

Nic Stone will take your heart, break it into pieces, and take a hard look at the realities of this world. If you haven’t read Dear Martin yet, get on it!

My mini-essay about Dear Martin

4.) Francesca Zappia
Book read: Eliza and Her Monsters

Image of book cover from Goodreads

Very few times has anxiety rep hit me as hard as Zappia’s did. It’s raw and honest and so, so relatable. I cried while reading Eliza and Her Monsters, and I think I needed to.

Review of Eliza and Her Monsters coming up next!

3.) Angie Thomas
Book read: The Hate U Give

Image of book cover from Goodreads

You can’t not go through 2017 without at least hearing about Angie Thomas. And if you haven’t gotten around to reading The Hate U Give yet, you should really do that. This book should be required reading, in my opinion. I have Thomas’s next book On The Come Up on my preorder list, and I’m excited for it!

2.) Becky Albertalli
Books read: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and The Upside of Unrequited

Becky Albertalli wrote some of my favorite reads of the year (even if I was a TAD late coming to Simon vs.). This may be an unpopular opinion, but I actually enjoyed Upside more than Simon vs. (and that was already a high bar); Molly Peskin-Suso was one of the most relatable characters I have ever read, and she spoke to me like few have ever done before. 2018 is going to be a big Albertalli year with TWO new editions of Simon vs., a paperback of Upside, a new release with Leah on the Offbeat AND a new release with What If It’s Us co-written with Adam Silvera, AND the LOVE, SIMON movie. Are you excited? I’m excited.

1.) Adam Silvera
Books read: More Happy Than Not, History Is All You Left Me, and They Both Die At The End

It was admittedly very challenging to pit Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera against each other for the top two spots, but Adam took the spot primarily because 1.) he visited my area in December and I got to meet him, and 2.) I read THREE of his books while I only read TWO of Becky’s. Adam made me cry on MULTIPLE occasions this year with some of the best mental illness rep I’ve read, and then I got a hug at the end of the year so it was all good. Have I mentioned that I’m excited for What If It’s Us yet? The release date is too far away…

My review of They Both Die At The End

 

My top 10 new-to-me authors of 2017 are ones that are probably going to stick with me for a long time, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store in the future!

What are some of the best new-to-you authors you read in 2017? Let me know in the comments!

 

How Reading More Diversely Broke My Reading Slump

I loved reading as a kid. New books were the most exciting thing in the world for me — during Scholastic Book Fair seasons, my mom would buy up all of the books that I said I wanted, and then she’d keep them hidden in a cupboard and give them to me every so often throughout the year. Barnes and Noble’s summer reading program was exciting because I could get a brand new book at the end of it, and all I had to do was read! I spent countless hours volunteering in a small library when I got a little older, and During those childhood and early teen years I couldn’t get enough of books.

Something changed during my late teens.

During my early teens I didn’t know I was going to end up being a bi, demisexual, non-binary, neurodivergent, disabled* person. That was a scary thing to start figuring out as a teen because I lived in a rural, conservative community with conservative parents and no real support in that regard. All of a sudden, I found myself wanting books that represented my newfound queerness especially, and yet I learned that getting my hands on them was exceedingly difficult. I got tired of all of the white allocishet abled characters and their white allocishet abled romances because the only thing that I had in common with them was that I was white.

I still had my books and I still collected new (mostly used) ones, but from the ages of about 17-21, I almost entirely stopped reading. I didn’t make a lot of time for it, it didn’t feel fun to me anymore, and yet I still liked the idea of it. The idea of reading good books sat so well with me that I wanted to spend the rest of my life in libraries. I felt at home surrounded by books, but I couldn’t get myself to read them.

In early 2017, I made a concentrated effort to read more diversely, and my world expanded. I found bi characters who understood me so well that I couldn’t stop grinning. Trans characters who knew how I felt so much that I cried. Characters with OCD who understood what was going on in my brain so well that I had to sit back and just let that fact sink in.

I didn’t just find characters like me; I found characters that weren’t. Even though I could no longer relate to those white allocishet abled characters from my early teens, it’s still a fact that I know far more about that culture than I do other cultures I don’t share. I read more books by Black authors. Latinx authors. Jewish authors. Muslim authors. I fell in love with these characters, and while these books didn’t make me an expert by any means, they did help me grow as a person. They got me outside of myself and into the shoes of others, and I grew more empathetic than I’ve ever been in my life.

Diverse books made me feel excited about reading again. I feel alive when holding one in my hands, and I feel so much more deeply when I read than I’ve ever felt before. Despite being a full-time graduate student with three jobs and hardly any time to breathe, I’ve managed to read 91 books so far this year, and I am well on my way to finishing 100 before December ends. Without diverse books, I don’t think I would have even managed half of that this year. Not every book I read WAS diverse (I’m still on a quest to finish every Stephen King book, I did a Harry Potter re-read, and I read quite a few Lurlene McDaniel books for the Hey Lurlene! podcast this year), almost all of my favorites were by diverse authors about diverse characters, and the excitement I felt while reading those stories kept me wanting more. I’ve pre-ordered and bought more new books this year than I ever have in my life, and all but one of those books was diverse. I found my happy place while reading again. I found that spark.

Part of me wonders whether I would have had such a long reading slump at all if I’d had access to diverse books earlier in my life. I can’t say for sure, but the genuine happiness I feel while reading these books now is something that I probably could have used as a teen. If I were to give my teen self a gift, I’d give them a letter saying “yeah hi YOU’RE NOT CIS OR STRAIGHT FIGURE IT OUT ALREADY” and a box of my favorite diverse reads from this year. I’d like to think that I would have turned out just a little bit happier.

Books I’d include in the box to myself (in the order in which I read them this year, and linked to either my review or the book’s Goodreads page):

These books brought joy back to reading for me. I wish teen me could have had them.

 

*I still have trouble claiming the term “disabled” for myself, but I’m figuring that one out.

**If you’ve read my review then you’ll know that I didn’t think TATWD was THAT great for a YA novel, but the OCD rep in this book hit me so hard that I wouldn’t hesitate to give it to my past self. It would have done wonders for me.

Review: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Image of Book Cover from Goodreads
Image of Book Cover from Goodreads

Title: They Both Die at the End

Author: Adam Silvera

Category: YA Contemporary (LGBTQIAP+)

Publisher/Date: Harperteen/5 September 2017

Edition: Hardcover

Pages: 373

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33385229-they-both-die-at-the-end

Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/They-Both-Die-at-End/dp/0062457799/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1509362252&sr=1-1

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/they-both-die-at-the-end-adam-silvera/1125317666?ean=9780062457790#/

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

If you’re letting the title of this book prevent you from reading it because it’s too “spoilery” for you, then you are missing out.

They Both Die at the End actually made me contemplate how I would spend my final day if I knew it was my last. Part of the reason I adored it so much is because I saw a lot of myself in Mateo – I’d be that kid who was afraid to leave the house and who would (let’s be honest here) turn to the Internet to find someone to talk to before my day had ended. And then I probably would have let someone like Rufus convince me to go have some fun. That anxiety struck a chord with me like few books do. Maybe it’s because we are alike. Maybe it’s because I’m literally afraid of death. Either way, this felt real to me, and I appreciate this representation in the book.

I identified a bit less with Rufus, but the explicit bisexual representation with his character was something I most certainly welcomed. I loved how open and comfortable he was with his sexuality as well. He’s someone who feels comfortable taking risks and going out on limbs and it’s just a wonderful contrast to Mateo’s character, and the way in which Silvera manages to keep the two of them in sync despite their differences worked beautifully.

One kind of weird thing about this book is that it switches perspectives between characters every chapter, and for any chapter that isn’t from Mateo or Rufus’s perspective, they’re written in the third person. It’s a little strange to get used to, but for me it works because the two first-person characters we’re reading about are the ones we’re forming attachments to, and while we don’t really need to get attached to the third-person side characters their perspectives do add another layer to the story. Like with the spoiler title, every time we meet a new perspective character we’re immediately told whether or not they’re going to die later that day, and every single character impacted Mateo and Rufus’s day somehow. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I really enjoyed it.

The lack of explanation of Death-Cast and how they know that people are going to die when they do is a little frustrating, but the thing is it’s frustrating for everyone, including all of the characters in the book (even the ones who are making the calls). Though you’ll genuinely want to know why this is a thing by the end of the book, you have to keep in mind that this book isn’t meant to be a mystery. It’s meant to be a love story (a tragic, Silvera-eque love story). Something this large in this society isn’t something that’s likely going to be figured by two teenagers within 24 hours, especially ones who know that they’re going to die and want to spend their last day not solving that mystery. It’s frustrating, but I get it. If it were your last day, would you spend the whole day trying to figure out how they knew to call you? I wouldn’t.

I don’t cry while reading very often, but this book definitely had me shedding a few tears. This book is a sad book – something that you can figure out from the title alone – but it’s one that’s filled with love and excitement and thrills. It’s one that made me question what I’m doing in life. It’s one that’s worth a few teardrops to read.

Final rating: 5 of 5 stars