Monthly Wrap Up: February

I read 10 books this month!

🔺Diverse Books Read: 10/10 of them were diverse. I read 0 non diverse books this month. Wow!

-5 of them had black main characters and/or were written by black authors for Black History Month!

-3 of them were queer (and 2 of those were sapphic)

-4 of them had autistic main characters

-7 of them (that I know of) were Own Voices!

🔺New Adult/Adult Books Read: 2

🔺Middle Grade Books Read: 0

🔺Graphic Novels Read: 0

🔺Favorite reads of the month: The Bride Test, The Poet X, When My Heart Joins the Thousand, The Disasters, Dear Martin, Into the Drowning Deep!

🔺Least favorite read(s): What to Say Next

🔺Longest Book Read: Into the Drowning Deep (448 pages)

🔺Shortest Book Read: What to Say Next (301 pages)

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang.

Diversity: Vietnamese heroine, Vietnamese & Autistic hero

Own Voices? Yes

Thoughts: Since Hoang’s debut novel The Kiss Quotient was one of my favorite (Adult) reads of 2018, I was beyond excited for the companion novel. Let me start by saying I DID love this book and the characters and the story and I still treasure it even If I didn’t love it as much as I did TKQ. My expectations were VERY high and that might’ve dampened my experience a bit. Maybe it’s cause TKQ had so much sex in it so I expected the same of TBT, which didn’t have near as much AND THAT’S TOTALLY OK….but it just felt like there was so much instant attraction (which is also ok!) only for the sex scenes to kinda ehh…fall flat when they finally happened? And the ending felt a little rushed. BUT I loved Kai and Esme’s stories and their voices and it was lovely to read about a heroine from another country adapting to life and culture in America, and the struggles that accompanied such a big change. I sympathized with Kai’s struggle to define his feelings and to accept the fact that he wasn’t a bad person just because he experienced and expressed his emotions differently. All in all, The Bride Test was a beautiful love story with great autistic rep but I feel like I need to…re-read this one with less expectations clouding my judgement. Kai and Esme are definitely a favorite book couple and I’m glad I was able to read an early edition of this beautiful book.

Rating: 4/5 stars (normally I don’t consider 4 star reads favorites but in this case I do cause it was only my expectations that made me a little disappointed, i don’t know why I expected it to be so similar to TKQ)

What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum

Diversity: autistic hero, Indian American biracial heroine

Own Voices? No

Thoughts: The second book I read in February with an autistic main character, but this one was such a disappointment. It started out pretty good! I really liked David. I think he’s the only thing I liked about the book, actually. I was enjoying the drama and the growing friendship between Kit and David, at first. But then it just got worse and worse until I was left feeling terribly hurt at the ending. Not good autistic rep at all. I mean, I felt like his traits were realistic but the way his autism was treated as something embarrassing was just not ok. Read my full review here.

Rating: 2.5/stars

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Diversity: Afro Dominican heroine, black love interest

Own Voices? Yes

Thoughts: This is the first book written in verse that I’ve read for quite some time. And I loved it to pieces! It was also the first book I finished for Black History Month. It follows a 15 year old girl as she falls in love, both with poetry and with a boy, as she learns to pour her heart and her pain into her poetry, as she struggles to get along with her obscenely strict and religiously devout mother, as she deals with harassment and school and judgement. I loved the relationship between her and her twin brother. I loved how she stood up for herself. I cried so much. The Poet X is definitely a new favorite.

Rating: 5/5 stars

When my Heart Joins the Thousand by A.J Steiger

Diversity: autistic girl heroine with ptsd, hero with brittle bone disease and depression.

Own Voices? No that I know of

Thoughts: The third book with autistic rep that I read this month, but this one was fantastic and I loved the rep. It’s an adorable love story between an autistic girl and a physically disabled boy. It’s hilarious awkward, tragically heartbreaking and incredibly heartwarming. I loved every minute of it. Read my full review here.

Rating: 5/5 stars

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Diversity: black heroine, Korean hero

Own Voices? Yes

Thoughts: My second read for Black History Month! The Sun is Also a Star was a pretty quick read. I loved how it switched between Daniel and Natasha’s povs, as well as the POV’s of random people they encountered, their parents, etc. That made it soooo intriguing!! I loved the banter between Daniel and Natasha and their chemistry was undeniable, although Natasha’s cliche “I don’t believe in love/it’s just a chemical reaction” spiels got a bit annoying. The ending also wasn’t quite what I’d hoped and the book was slow at times but I enjoyed this unconventional love story a lot!

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Disasters by M.K England

Diversity: a bisexual, Muslim, Pakistani main character. Both male and female love interests, both of whom poc. A black gay guy. A kick ass trans girl. A hijabi hacker girl.

Own Voices: I know the author is queer, I just don’t know their exact identity(ies)

Thoughts: Queers in space!!! A bisexual, Muslim Pakistani main character!! The Disasters was a hilarious and heartwarming read. I literally laughed out loud multiple times, swooned at others, almost cried a few times. Although it hinges on a pretty heavy plot point, this book is very lighthearted. There’s lots of action, lots of awkward moments, and wonderful new friendships among a group of space academy rejects. And every single one of those rejects is diverse in some way! I think The Disasters is a stand-alone but I would loooove a sequel or companion! It’s hilarious and so much fun.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Diversity: black female main character, black love interest

Own Voices? Yes

Thoughts: Pride was a cute, diverse re-telling of Pride and Prejudice (which I’ve personally never read). I loved the main character Zuri’s snark and self confidence buuuuut she could also be very rude, self centered, dismissive and judgmental at times….which I guess is the point of the book and the classic it’s based off, but I couldn’t help it, I didn’t like Zuri for the most part. I did love her relationship with her family, especially her sisters. I thought her romance with the new rich boy in town, Darius, was cute. But it didn’t seem like she’d changed much at the end. And I wasn’t completed invested in her story overall. It was still a fun read though!

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Diversity: black hero, based on real life issues of police brutality and racism

Own Voices? Yes

Thoughts: My fourth read for Black History Month. I flew through this one cause I could not stop reading! It was intense, full of very real issues and devastating at times. But it also had hopeful moments, and I was rooting for Jus the whole way through. I loved his resilience and his strength and his big heart. I was so angry over all the shittiness he had to deal with and I was happy he had supportive friends and an open minded, strong willed love interest. His letters to MLK really gave us a glimpse into his mind and helped to understand his character better. I did feel like certain events in the book happened a bit abruptly and therefore didn’t evoke as much of an emotional reaction as they normally would have (this coming from someone who cries very easily). So that kinda took me out of the story a bit. Regardless, I would still recommend this book to everyone and am so glad I read it!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Diversity: an autistic lesbian news reporter, a bisexual female scientist, two deaf female scientists, a physically disabled scientist

Own Voices? Not that I know of

Thoughts: By far the scariest book I have ever read. It’s full of science, killer mermaids, diverse characters and lots of horribly suspenseful, terrifying moments. It takes place on a ship venturing into the mostly unexplored Mariana Trench. Read my full review here.

Rating: 5/5 stars

The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum

Diveristy: bisexual butch female main character, biracial(?) queer female love interest. Also queer and poc side characters, and one of the mc’s (main characters) best friends has 2 dads and a mom. Like, 3 parents in an actual polyamorous relationship!! The mc’s brother is mute and doesn’t talk, due to trauma.

Own Voices? K. Ancrum is black, but I don’t know whether she’s queer

Thoughts: I loved Ancrum’s first book The Wicker King, a m/m contemporary about a toxic codependent friendship turned something more. She did an excellent job portraying an unhealthy relationship and the ways it needed to change for them to have a healthy relationship. I really loved The Weight of Our Stars (with a f/f romance this time) too! I enjoyed the hate-to-love, slow burn relationship between Ryann (a girl) and Alexandria. I loved all the unlikely friendships in Ryann’s strange little group of friends. I loved how supportive they all were of each other and I loved how determined Ryann was to help Alexandria listen to the messages her mom was sending her from space. I loved that there were so many diverse characters and that there was an actual character with 3 parents in m/m/f polyamorous relationship. I loved Ryann’s relationship with her brother and the way they looked out for each other and weren’t afraid to show affection. All of that was amazing. The ending made me cry, in a good way. My only issue is that it could be a little slow at times and I needed a little more excitement, and I also expected it to have way more scifi elements. It’s more a story about relationships than a story about space. But I still enjoyed it and the wonderful ending mostly made up for that! Overall I’d definitely recommend this book.

ALSO: I JUST REALIZED THAT THE MAIN CHARACTERS FROM THE AUTHORS FIRST BOOK ‘THE WICKER KING’ ARE THE POLYAM TRIO PARENTS OF THE MC’S BEST FRIEND IN ‘THE WEIGHT OF THE STARS’!!!?HOW DID I MISS THIS. LITERALLY JACK/AUGUST/RINA FROM THE WICKER KING ARE AHMED’S PARENTS HOLY SHIT I AM ACTUALLY CRYING

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

GREAT AUTISTIC REP, RABBITS, AND A TRAGIC YET HEARTWARMING LOVE STORY

Since my last read with an autistic main character contained harmful rep, I was nervous about reading another one by an allistic (non autistic) author. But this one was a breath of fresh air, and it was such a relief to read a story that made me feel SEEN and that handled issues of ableism so much more appropriately.

When My Heart Joins the Thousand is about two disabled teens (17 & 19) with tragic pasts falling in love. Alvie is autistic and Stanley has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, also known as Brittle Bone Disease. Because his bones break easily, he uses a cane, occasionally a wheelchair, and ends up in the hospital a lot. Their story definitely isn’t a light hearted or an easy one. It was messy and devastating at times. They’re both dealing with mental illness as well: Alvie with PTSD and Stanley with depression. But it was still a pure, adorable, and heart warming story with an an ending that made me sigh with contentment and satisfaction.

I’m gonna talk first and foremost about the autistic rep. I felt that it was on point, realistic, relatable to me as an autistic person. Alvie has meltdowns (the term ‘meltdown’ is actually used!!), she has sensory issues with smells and with touch and has a terribly hard time communicating, catching social cues, reading expressions, and all that. She’s very socially awkward and often says things that make people cringe or or give her weird looks.

But she ALSO has a job, can drive, and can take care of herself, which I loved. All autistic people are different and a lot of people seem to think that no autistic people can possibly be independent.

I did find her lack of social skills/inability to read people a little over the top at times. Her constant absence of question marks was a little excessive. She never used inflections when asking questions, she always made them sound like they were statements:

“What are you doing here.”

“Where are you going.”

“Are you ok.”

Etc. But I’m sure many autistic people are actually like this, even if I’m not. Maybe it’s realistic to some autistics, I don’t know. That was just a small thing though.

I’m also always a little wary when autistic characters have an ‘Aspergers’ diagnosis, since it’s technically not a thing anymore and has been changed to just ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder.’ A lot of people tend to think Aspergers and Autism are different things but they’re NOT. If you’re autistic, you’re autistic. If you have ‘Aspergers’ you’re autistic.

The words autistic and autism were used though and her aspergers diagnosis wasn’t treated like something entirely separate from autism so it wasn’t a huge issue. I’d just personally rather not see ‘Aspergers’ used as a diagnosis in books anymore. Even if I myself was technically diagnosed with it. I just feel like it’s a way to divide ‘high functioning’ and ‘low functioning’ autistic people, and put us into two neat little boxes, when it’s really not that simple or linear. Autism is a spectrum and is a lot more complex, not just a straight line with “mildly autistic” at one end and “severely autistic” at the other. The author didn’t make it seem that way though, so that’s good!

Those were my only two drawbacks though, so back to the good stuff!!

Alvie’s special interest was animals. Or more specifically, rabbits. She reminded me of myself when I was 12, not because she was childish, but because as a preteen I would read up on lots of different animals and recite facts about them at random times. My special interest was once animals just like Alvie’s was and I could relate deeply to her love for animals and the way she felt more connected to them than to most people. ALSO I WILL ADMIT THAT I’VE NEVER READ ‘WATERSHIP DOWN’. EVER. All I know is that it’s about rabbits. But I loved all her little references to it and they made me reaaaally wanna read it.

Steiger did an excellent job at portraying the difficulties that we autistics often face. The ways in which we’re misunderstood, the ways people react to our differences, the harm that being ‘weird’ and ‘different’ can bring us. That one scene with the police officer where he thinks she’s doing something suspicious because she’s stimming/rocking back and forth and fiddling with a stim toy in her pocket… was just scarily accurate. Her mom also literally said to her “I know there’s a real you hidden in there somewhere” which is the absolute worst thing autistic people can and have been told. Neither are things I can relate to fortunately but I know many autistic people can.

I also appreciated the fact that the author stressed multiple times that being autistic isn’t bad, that it’s not a personal failing, that it’s not something to be ashamed of was really important. Steiger made it clear that just because autistic people don’t fit into “normal” people’s expectations of behavior doesn’t mean they’re lesser or should be treated poorly. Although Alvie struggled a lot with self acceptance, there was never any suggestion that she needed to be “fixed” or “cured.” It was obvious the author wanted the reader to know that Alvie herself wasn’t the problem, that it was everyone else’s attitudes towards her differences that was the problem.

Alvie’s mistreatment by her mom and classmates was never made to seem like her fault or like it wasn’t a big deal, and I really appreciated that. She reacted to the bullies, she fought back, and their behavior wasn’t dismissed by Alvie or by the author, even though the bullies weren’t actually punished. I’m just glad the author stressed how horrible they really were. That is unlike the last book I read, where the mistreatment of the autistic character seemed to be downplayed and brushed off by the autistic character himself as well as everyone witnessing his bullying.

Alvie deals with a lot of ableism from everyone around her and it can get a bit stressful to read about at times but the author handled it really well in my opinion.

This book also focuses a lot on sex and on Alvie’s feelings towards sex. I don’t mean it was full of sex scenes, just that Alvie and Stanley talked a lot about it and both had their reservations about it even though they were clearly attracted to one another. Alvie’s initial reasons for wanting to have sex with Stanley were not healthy at all. She basically felt like she needed to fix herself and prove to herself that she could be normal. But I was very glad the author handled this the way she did. I’m glad neither of them rushed into sex. They talked about consent and were both very patient with each other and never pushed one another. There isn’t a lot of graphic sex, just a short semi descriptive sexual scene near the end, but throughout the book Alvie is very vocal about sex. She asks a lot of questions and makes some really blunt remarks; it was honestly pretty hilarious and I loved it. I loved how unafraid she was to be upfront.

This definitely felt like upper YA or maaaaybe even NA. Not just the content but the story and the way it was written. And I loved that, but be aware of that going in!! Alvie is living on her own in an apartment, she’s got a full time job, and she’s looking to get emancipated. So, she was forced to grow up very fast and isn’t exactly living the typical teenage life.

Stanley was sweet and patient and adorable and I loved him so much. He was perfect for Alvie. He accepted her for who she was and was super understanding and he literally bought books on autism so he could learn more about it which was just sksksksk SO CUTE. He was kind and not judgmental even when Alvie said really weird things and behaved ‘abnormally.’ He was bewildered at times by some of her quirks: like her tendency to spout random animal facts, but never in a way that seemed rude or judgy. He was flawed, of course. They both were. Hoo boy they both make some HUGE mistakes and don’t always handle things appropriately and they both get into a lot of trouble. But overall they were both genuinely good people who deserved each other and happiness. Stanley deserved so much more than he’d been dealt and so did Alvie. I’m glad they found each other. My heart is so full.

When My Heart Joins the Thousand made me laugh and cry and swoon and I could not recommend it more. I’m so glad I have another autistic book to add to my favorites pile. Alvie and Stanley will forever be in my heart and their story is one that I’ll never forget.

One last thing: I don’t want it to seem like I’m praising and bowing down to an allistic author simply for not writing harmful autistic rep. That would be like praising someone for showing basic human decency. Which should be something everyone strives for when writing about marginalized characters. BUT Steiger did an amazing job. She obviously did her research and didn’t half ass anything. I don’t know if she hired sensitivity readers or just talked to a lot of autistic people, but it’s clear that she knows what’s harmful and what isn’t. And for that I’m very grateful. Take note, for those of you looking to write autistic characters. Learn from autistic people, not our caregivers or the so called ‘autism experts’ who try to speak for us. That is all! Such a lovely book.

KILLER MERMAIDS, AUTISTIC LESBIANS AND BISEXUAL SCIENTISTS, OH MY!

I cannot stop thinking about this book and I don’t know if I ever will. From the very first line I was hooked. I had to pace myself while reading cause the story is stressful as FUCK but there was never a time I was bored, never a time I was underwhelmed, never a time I had to force myself to keep reading. The ending left me in what feels to be a permanent state of absolute shock and awe.

Where to start with this raving review?

Well, let’s begin with a brief synopsis of what it’s about. It follows a large crew of scientists embarking on a dangerous voyage aboard a giant cruise ship to the Mariana Trench, a largely unexplored area of the ocean, in search of proof of the existence of mermaids. And oh boy, do they find them.

I um, kinda suck at synopsis so real quick, here’s the official one from Goodreads:

“Seven years ago the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a mockumentary bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a tragedy.

Now a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves.

But the secrets of the deep come with a price.”

So there ya go! Killer mermaids, ambitious scientists, and an extremely dangerous voyage into the deep. Now, onto my FEELINGS.

Let’s next talk about the rep. There is rep galore! There’s a bisexual scientist, an autistic lesbian, two deaf characters who have an interpreter, and a physically disabled scientist. There’s lots of use of sign language. And GET THIS: the autistic character is basically the only non scientist/genius on a ship full of scientists. She’s a reporter. And she’s fucking amazing in her own way, but she’s not a savant or a math wiz or a science nerd who can spout facts and equations off the top of her head. What a way to break stereotypes. I’m so happy. She’s socially awkward and quick thinking, she has some issues with touch and eye contact, she’s super smart and a little blunt at times. She has trouble comprehending the hidden meanings in people’s words. I loved her! And she’s also a lesbian!! And there’s a sweet little f/f romance that I loved which didn’t feel at all unrealistic or out of place in the bloody chaos of their deadly adventure.

Into the Drowning Deep is told from various perspectives. Like, a lot. But not all of the POV’s are those of the main characters. So many random characters get short perspectives throughout the book and you’d think that’d get boring or confusing but it doesn’t!! NOT AT ALL. It really adds to the creepy, mysterious factor. You’d think that a single third person pov would be the best way to make a horror novel horrifying, because of the limited perspective. But Into the Drowning Deep handles those multiple perspectives SO WELL and I was without a doubt the most scared I’ve ever been while reading a book. Ever.

I’ve seriously never read a more terrifying, stressful, nerve wracking book. There were moments I was literally holding my breath, afraid to turn the page. It was like watching a train wreck, over and over, wondering who would die next, who’d make it out alive, what terrifying encounters were yet to come. Sometimes when I’m reading a scary book this thing happens where my eyes just start streaming tears. It doesn’t happen often cause I don’t get scared by books very easily. But when it does happen, I have zero control over it and I’m usually very good at holding back tears if I have to cause I read in public a lot and well, it doesn’t take much for a book to make me cry. There were multiple moments this happened as I was reading. It was THAT emotionally impactful.

And the mermaids? Holy crap. They’re so far from the demure, dainty, beautiful Ariel of our childhoods that you’ll never look at or think of “mermaids” the same way ever again. These things have TEETH and they are ugly as hell. They’re monsters, and they’re hungry. There is lots of blood in this book, yall. Lots of um, spilled guts and severed body parts and horrific deaths. Call me a sadist but I found it awesome. It was horrific and disturbing and awesome. That’s not the only thing that made it scary though. Grant’s writing is what made it so, because she really knows how to build up the suspense, and her descriptions of the creatures and the gore and the research into these creatures had me literally shaking in fear and shock. I’m glad the book is over, in a way, cause that was one anxiety inducing ride. PHEW!

There is a LOT of science in this book. Lots of descriptions of different types of research equipment/methods, paragraphs and paragraphs of facts about this and that. Info dump mania. But in a good way!!! Cause I was NEVER bored while reading them. I WANTED to read all about the science, I WANTED to know more. I was fascinated and awestruck and beyond intrigued. It was SO interesting you guys!!!! It made me wanna learn more!! Even if I kinda don’t wanna go anywhere near the ocean any time soon!!

I mean, seriously. I don’t wanna hear the word mermaid, look at a picture of a mermaid, think the word mermaid for at least the next 6 months. Don’t look at me, don’t talk to me, don’t even breathe in my direction if it has anything to do with mermaids. Mermaids are dead to me. They’re canceled. Just kidding. Kind of. But I will definitely never see them the same way ever again.

ALSO: Apparently the prequel novella to this book, Rolling in the Deep (which I haven’t read-yet) has been optioned for film. While I’m not as excited as I’d be if Into the Drowning Deep were to hit the big screen (because hello, an autistic character in an actual movie??), I’m still stoked. Because there’s rumors it could be a franchise. And if Rolling in the Deep does well, then we very well might get a movie for Into the Drowning Deep, and for the first time in my life, I, an autistic person, may be able to see a well written and lovable autistic character come to life in movie format. I MEAN HOW AMAZING WOULD THAT BE!!!

I just know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this book will stay with me for the rest of my life. I cannot stop thinking about it, haven’t been able to since I picked it up. I like or love most books I read, but I haven’t felt quite this level of intensity in a while. I’m seriously in shock and have not recovered and probably won’t anytime soon. Pick this book up NOW and tell your friends all about it, so we can get the diverse horror movie adaptation we deserve!!

Most Anticipated 2019 Book Releases (January-April)

Note: I’m not including books I’ve already read on this list, but I am including books that have been already released, or that I’ve received advance copies of. Because while I’m no longer anticipating their releases, I am still anticipating reading them!

 

I’ll tell yall now which 2019 releases I’ve already read and loved:

 

See my review for The Birds the Bees and You and Me by Olivia Hinebaugh here

See my reviews for:

The Wicked King by Holly Black, Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale and Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey Mcquiston here

 

 

Now back to those anticipated releases/reads……..

 

 

January

LGBTQ

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If you follow me on any social media platform, you may know how obsessed I was/am with the first book of this series. I ranted and raved about it for months, I interviewed the author, I was part of the blog tour. I talked about it so much that the author herself, Sarah Glenn Marsh, put me in the acknowledgements of book two, Song of the Dead. Something for which I am eternally grateful, and will always cherish. Sarah sent me a signed and personalized of arc of Song of the Dead a few months back and I’ve just now gotten to reading it. I’m loving it far, like I knew I would, and I’m so happy to have my name permanently in the acknowledgements of this wonderful series with its wonderful bisexual rep. READ REIGN OF THE FALLEN NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY.

 

39863498So I learned literally yesterday that The Gilded Wolves apparently has both bisexual AND autistic rep?!?!? WHY DO PEOPLE FAIL TO SPREAD THIS INFORMATION LIKE WILDFIRE??? Anyways I’m buddy reading this with a friend as soon as she’s done with midterms and I am super super super super super super excited!!

 

Fantasy:

A.G Howard has been a favorite author since I finished her Splintered trilogy years ago. She writes amazing, dark, re-tellings of fairy tales and I’m really enjoying Stain so far, a story inspired by the story The Princess and the Pea. I actually met A.G Howard just a couple weeks ago, and she was the sweetest!

 

 

 

February

Contemporaries

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Comic books, family rivalry and geeky romance? Count me in! I have an arc of this so I’ll be reading it soon.

38251237I’ve been reading Kasie’s books for years now and they’re perfect for when you’re looking for something light hearted and heart warming and fluffy that’ll leave you feeling happy and satisfied. Can’t wait for her latest, especially since it’s a companion to Love, Life and the List, which I really adored. Can’t wait to fall in love with new characters and also reunite with some old ones!

 

LGBTQ

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We Set the Dark on Fire takes place at a school for girls where they are raised to either run a husbands household or raise his children, and nothing more. But Dani is asked to spy for a rebel group fighting for a equality and finds herself falling for someone forbidden. I don’t know how exactly this book is queer, if it’s f/f or what but I’m all in and can’t wait to find out!

New Adult/Adult

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SO I LITERALLY FOUND OUT ONLY LIKE A WEEK AGO THAT PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE APPARENTLY HAS A F/F ROMANCE?!?!?!? WHY DID NO ONE MENTION THIS. AGHHHGHGGGGGG. I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO DIDN’T KNOW UNTIL RECENTLY EITHER!! Anyways, I loved The Bone Season and I can’t wait to read this monster of a book. I think it’s like 800 freaking pages or something. And I am pumped! Look at that beautiful cover!

 

Scifi/Fantasy

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I’ve seen this book described as The Darkest Minds in space and that was enough that hook me. Love me a book about teens with super powered banding together to fight for what’s right!

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I loved Amy Ewing’s first trilogy, the Jewel series. I actually haven’t read the last book yet but I loved the first two and I can’t wait to read something new from her.

36613718Paris in the 1700’s. Dark magic. Aristocracy, thieves, gambling. Romance. That’s all I need to know-I’d like a copy of this book ASAP.

I’ve seen this one a lot on twitter and instagram and to be honest I don’t really know much about it except that it’s a mystery(?) surrounding the sudden deaths of the queens of different kingdoms, and the one girl, a thief, who knows what happened. Sounds intriguing and I’m interested to see if it lives up to the hype.

 

 

March

Contemporary

I loved Sara Biren’s heartbreaking debut The Last Thing You Said and I can’t wait to finally read something else of hers! I wonder if it’ll be as heartbreaking as her last book…..

 

Scifi/Fantasy

I’ve been reading Meagan’s books for a couple years now and I can’t get enough of them. I recently read and loved her Beauty and the Best retelling Hunted, and I can’t wait to read this Robyn Hood retelling. I have an arc of it fortunately, so I can read it as soon as I finish what I’m reading right now!

 

I read Children of Blood and Bone just a few months ago after several months of seeing people rave about it. I was definitely not disappointed and I miss all the characters and can’t wait to see what happens next, especially in terms of the romance and magic system…

 

I read The Queens Rising almost a year ago and I really enjoyed it, although I felt like I didn’t get enough out of the romance. So I’m really excited there’s a sequel so I can see what happens next and see what happens next in that aspect. Not just that aspect, but the main characters journey as well.

 

 

LGBTQ

This is another one I’ve seen all over social media. I’ve heard its got queer and Jewish characters and has a m/m romance but I don’t know much beyond that. That doesn’t stop me from wanting to read it right this second though. I want all the diverse queer books I can get.

 

I read my first book by Cori McCarthy in 2018 and I loved it. I haven’t read anything by Amy Rose Capetta so I’m excited to see how these two authors collaborate. Pretty much all I know about Once and Future is that it’s a queer, gender bent King Arthur retelling, but that’s honestly enough to make me wanna read it ASAP.

 

I read K. Ancrums first novel The Wicker King early last month and I adored it. It’s a m/m contemporary and you can see my mini review on my last blog post, my January wrap up. The Weight of Our Stars is a f/f sci-fi and I can’t wait to see how Ancrum writes in a science fiction setting. Gays in space, here we go!

 

April

 

Contemporary

I read and loved Emily and Austin’s first novel Always Never Yours a few months ago and loved it. They know how to write a perfectly cute, relatable and touching high school love story. I met them at a signing in late December as well and they’re both great people who love to write Shakespeare inspired YA dramas. I’m excited to read If I’m Being Honest, about a girl who’s super popular and known for being brutally honest….and is learning to deal with the consequences. It’s been pitched as Mean Girls meets The Taming of the Shrew and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Jenn Bennett has been a favorite contemporary author of mine for a couple years now. All of her YA romances are perfect. Just literally perfect, ridiculously satisfying, unbelievably heartwarming and unforgettable. I can’t get enough and you better believe I have a fat collection of all versions of all her books on my shelves. I have no doubt Serious Moonlight will be another perfect addition to my collection. NO DOUBT.

 

Scifi/Fantasy

One trope I wanna see more of in books is VILLAIN LOVE INTERESTS. And Wicked Saints has got that, as well as Russian based fantasy and a story inspired by Joan of Arc. I’m currently reading it right now and boy I can’t wait to see what happens next and see how this romance comes into play.

 

LGBTQ

A town of mysterious founding families? Danger lurking on the woods? Monsters? Ancient bloodlines? Dark family secrets. Yea, everything about The Devouring Gray sounds intriguing.

I immediately wanted to read Hot Dog Girl as soon as I saw the cover. I mean, just look at it. It’s freaking hilarious. And then I found out it’s QUEER and now I’m even more excited!! It takes place at a theme park, and follows a teen girl and her friends who dress in costume as part of the parks entertainment. It sounds funny and heartwarming and romantic and I’m super pumped to read it.

My 2019 Reading Resolutions! (And a Look Back at 2018)

So I know February is a bit late but I don’t care! Here’s a look at my resolutions for the 2019, as well as an examination of all the goals I did or didn’t meet for 2018!

 

2018 Goodreads Reading Goal: 125 books                                          I read: 135 books 

 

 

Goal: Read at least 15 books I already own (off my bookshelf)

 

 

Goal: Read 5 or more Middle Grade books              I read: 2.  Hey, at least I read any at all!

 

 

Goal: Get back into reading comics

I read a couple graphic novels for school, and in my free time. I’d like to read even more this year.

 

Goal: Attend Yallwest 2018

(and I had a blast!!!!)

 

Goal: Read at least a sequel a month.  Finish some series. I read 11 sequels and finished 3 series this year. So I’d say that’s pretty good.

 

Goal: Start going to the library again

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh oops. I think I went one time. Oh well.

 

Goal: publish at least 3 blog posts a month. Not even close. I’ll try harder this year, I promise.

 

Goal: Listen to more audiobooks. I listened to……about 1 and a half? I listened to the entire audiobook of Ever the Hunted and loved it. I listen to the audiobook of In the Afterlight up until about 70% through the book until I decided to visually read it the rest of the way. So. 1 and about 3/4 audiobooks. I gotta set a more clear goal this year, with an actual number as opposed to just “listen to MORE audiobooks.”

Goal: Read more diverse books by diverse authors.

Goal: Read more New Adult/Adult books.

I only read about 5 New Adult/Adult books last year. This year I wanna like, triple that.

 

Goal: Read a classic or two. Oops.

Goal: Read a collection of poetryor some books written in verse.

 I read one book of poetry all year and that was Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, which was pretty good. I didn’t read any books written in verse though, shame on me.

 

Goal: Read a nonfiction book or an autobiography. I think Kaur’s Milk and Honey is nonfic?

 

 

All in all, I think I did……pretty well doncha think?

 

So now that we’re done with 2018, lets talk about my goals for 2019….

 

 

My 2019 Reading Resolutions

 

Goodreads Reading Challenge: Read a total of at least 75 books. 

Why is it smaller than last years goal, you ask? Because I don’t want to stress myself out too much. And I also want to give myself space to explore other hobbies and focus on other things. I think that’s a pretty healthy goal. But I’ll probably wind up reading at least 100 books anyways.

Middle Grade: Read at least 5 more Middle Grade books. I can accomplish that, surely, now that I’ve discovered many new favorite authors who write both YA and MG.

New Adult/Adult: Read at least 10 NA or Adult books. I love YA to death, but I also love reading about characters my own age every once and awhile. Or at least, books that have YA aged characters but are written more for an adult audience.

Diversity: Read at least 1 queer book a month, and at least one book by a disabled author and/or an author of color a month. I read a lot of diverse books last year and I enjoyed a good number of them. I wanna increase the number of diverse books I read this year by even more and read books by authors of all different races, sexualities, genders and disabilities each month.

 

 

 

Non book related goals for 2019:

  • Become a gamer-youtuber. I’m a huge fan of video games and I spend a lot of time playing them, so why not take my hobby to the next level and post videos of myself playing on Youtube? I got a new gaming tv monitor for christmas and I want to put it to good use.
  • Start practicing Wicca. I’ve been looking into Paganism and Wicca a lot lately and I’m very intrigued. I think I may have found the only religion I have any interest in being a part of.
  • Bake and cook more. I started baking and cooking again a little towards the end of the year. I’d like to bake or cook at least one thing a month, if I can manage.
  • Try to pick up a new creative, artsy, hobby. I recently gathered sculpting tools to try and make an attempt at making my own custom funko pop. I’m currently working on it right now. I’d like to try out more arts and craft type projects and see if I’m any good at them.

 

 

 

So there we go! Let’s see how this all turns out.

Monthly Wrap Up: January

I read a total of 7 books this month. 4/7 were diverse and 3/7 were queer. In February I hope to read some f/f books since the queer books I read in January were m/m or m/f. I also hope to read some books by black authors and/or with black characters this month because February is Black History Month!

Books read: 7

Diverse books read: 4

New Adult/Adult books read: 1

Unreleased ARCS read: 2

 

 

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum 

The Wicker King is a very uniquely written book. Each page has a ‘title’ and I noticed that the pages gets progressively darker as the story itself does. Like, literally darker. The pages start off pale gray and get darker and blacker the further you read. It takes place in the 90’s, making it 1 of like 3 total books I’ve read (I think) that take place during that time. It perfectly captures the unhealthy nature of a codependent relationship. It’s the story of two boys who are best friends, maybe something more. Who can’t see that they rely entirely too much on each other, to the point that their relationship is at times more harmful than healthy. It’s filled with beautiful artwork and pictures that further immerse you in August and Jack’s story, as one of them descends deeper into madness and the other watches on helplessly, unable to find the willpower to do what’s needed to help them. I was captivated by Ancrum’s storytelling and caught up in a thousand different emotions from frustration to hope to relief. I have an ARC of Ancrum’s upcoming YA scifi and I’m excited to see how her sophomore novel compares to her brilliant debut!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

 

 

Meet Me In Outer Space by Melinda Grace

Meet me in Outer Space is the first book I’ve ever read with a main character that has sensory processing disorder. The main character is a sophomore in college too, which I loved cause it’s nice to see more college aged characters in YA. It’s written so that teens of all ages can enjoy it despite the main character being no longer in high school though, so no worries. If you have learning disability or a disability that impacts your learning, you’ll be able to relate to Edie’s struggles to focus, to pass her classes, and get the accommodations she needs. The romance between Edie and the T.A Hudson was sweet yet complicated and Hudson was very supportive of Edie and determined to see her succeed. Meet me in Outer Space is a short and sweet read that shines a light on what it’s like being to have a disability that strongly impacts daily life and the college experience.

Rating: 4/5 stars

 

 

Berserker by Emmy Laybourne

If you know me, you know I can’t get enough of westerns, or books inspired by the Wild West. It’s one of my favorite time periods to read about, especially if there are fantasy elements mixed in. Berserker follows a family on the run, traveling from Norway to America, whilst also trying to tame the ancestral viking magic that runs in their veins. The story was brutal, violent at times, a journey both mental and physical. I love sibling books, and Berserker is very much a book about the love and loyalty between siblings. There’s some romance too, of course, between the main character Hanne and a cute cowboy named Owen. I can’t wait to read book two and see what happens next.

 

Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale

I’m always eager for books with bisexual characters and m/f romance, as a bisexual myself with a strong preference for guys. Small Town Hearts had me feeling a wide range of emotions from nostalgia to utter frustration. I loved the quaint small town atmosphere and I loved the fact that the main character Babe was perfectly happy living there forever, working as a Barista at a local cafe she loved, with no pressure or desire to attend college. That’s a rare thing to find in books about older teens. There was a lot of friendship drama between Babe and her childhood friends, as well as her ex girlfriend, which had me very frustrated, but in a way that kept me entertained and made me more sympathetic to Babe. I was rooting for her to find peace dammit! Levi was the perfect love interest for Babe; sweet, patient, understanding, non judgmental, smart, laid back, funny, kind…you get the picture-a bunch of great qualities, but still flawed and realistic and likable. The ending was believable and satisfying. If you love small town summer romance, baking, the beach, friendship drama and older teen YA, you’ll love Small Town Hearts.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

 

 

The Wicked King by Holly Black

I started TWK as soon I was able to get my hands on it. After finishing The Cruel Prince back in 2017, I immediately wanted the sequel, and it was incredibly painful waiting over a year. And after all that time, it definitely didn’t disappoint. The romance was 10 times steamier and the stakes twice as high. I was delighted at the direction the romance went, and pleasantly surprised at how much both Jude and Cardan changed from book 1. Especially Cardan. I mean, wow. Talk about character development. Talk about a solidly written enemies-to-lovers romance arc. Waiting yet another year for the conclusion to the series will be the worst kind of torture. That twist ending killed me.

Rating: 5/5 stars

 

Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

As much as I love and always will love YA, I equally love reading books with characters my own age. There simply aren’t enough (diverse) books about characters in their 20’s. So, to read a contemporary romance with a bisexual 22 year old character was very refreshing. I absolutely loved this super sweet romance about the first son of the united states and the prince of Wales. It was both hilarious and heartbreaking. I laughed out loud at some parts and cried at others. I loved the banter between Alex and Henry and the way their relationship progressed from rivalry to friendship to love. Great bisexual rep, beautiful writing, compelling story telling. I loved the brother/sister relationship between Alex and June as well. I’ll never get enough of books with siblings who are best friends. I definitely encourage anyone who loves diverse New Adult romance to pre order this book if you can. I loved every minute of it!

Rating: 5/5 stars

 

Beware the Night by Jessika Fleck

Beware the Night had a very unique story-line I loved, a headstrong and determined female main character and a love triangle that had me torn between both love interests. Those are the best kind of love interest, the ones where you’d be happy with whoever the main character chooses. Dorian and Nico were as different as can be and both represented completely different aspects of Veda’s life. I love books about revolution and the oppressed rising up against their oppressors, which is the ultimate theme of Beware the Night. I was drawn me into the suspense and mystery of the story of a girl whose world is turned upside down when she learns that everything she’s been taught is a lie. The ending is intense and I am praying that there will be a sequel.

Rating: 4/5 stars

My Favorite Video Games and Movies of 2018

One of the things I want to start doing this year is write blog posts about things other than books. I have other things I’m passionate about and I’m just dying to talk about them. I played a lot of really great games this year and saw a lot of really amazing movies and I just reaaaaaally wanna talk about em, you guys! Real bad! So I’m gonna, even though this is a book blog!

 

 

 

 

The Best Games I Played in 2018 (in no particular order)

 

I played a lot of games last year, from choice based narratives to action-adventures. Choice based narratives or third person adventure games are my favorites, because I like getting to know characters and I love the feeling that I’m reading a story, but in a visual format, and where I have control over the characters actions. It’s lots of fun and something about it really gets my own creative juices flowing.

 

 

1) Until Dawn by Supermassive Games. (On my PS4)

Until Dawn is a supernatural horror game in which your choices determine the outcome of the game, and in which all 8 characters can either live or die based on those choices. It’s set up like a cheesy 80’s horror film, but it’s got its own unique storyline and plot twists as well, and its got both likable and unlikable characters who are each interesting in their own ways. It’s one of those games you can replay several times to see how different choices turn out, and to get one of the multiple endings.

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There are a few well known actors playing some of the main characters, for instance, Hayden Pannatiere and Rami Malek. They both did fantastic jobs.

Oh, and the graphics are pretty damn amazing too.

 

 

2.) The Last of Us by Naughty Dog (on my PS4)

I’ll never tire of zombie dystopian games, books, movies. Ever. There’s just so much to explore, so many characters you can meet, so many stories to be told. And Joel and Ellie’s story is a fantastic one. A heartbreaking, intense, life changing one.

There’s a sequel to The Last of Us coming out sometime this year, featuring a grownup (and supposedly lesbian) Ellie as the main character. I am beyond excited to see how much Ellie has changed and what she encounters next.

 

 

3.) Heavy Rain by Quantic Dream (on my PS4)

Heavy Rain is another choice based narrative in which there are multiple endings, where any of the characters can live or die. It gets really dark really quick. It’s a murder-mystery and you’ll be kept guessing throughout the whole game as you work to get to the bottom of things while trying to make the right choices.

There were many life-or-death moments and I will admit that I did get most of the main characters killed on my first playthrough. By accident. Oops! I plan to play it again soon for different outcomes.

 

 

 

4.) Uncharted: Thief’s End Uncharted: The Lost Legacy by Naughty Dog (on my PS4)

I’ve been playing Uncharted for years, back when my brother still had a PS3 and I didn’t own a gaming system of my own. My brother let me play the first 2 games, and I’ve been hooked ever since. The Uncharted games are the best kind of adventure games; there’s shootouts, yes, but there are also lots of puzzles to solve, ancient temples to explore, and characters that you won’t ever want to forget. A Thief’s End brought Nathan Drake’s story to a heartwarming and satisfying end. We got some more glimpses into his past, we got to see more of his relationship with his brother Sam, and we got a peek at his future and his life after his adventures as well. It was everything I could’ve hoped for in an end to  his story.

I’ve seen a lot of people say they didn’t like Uncharted: Lost Legacy, which I don’t understand because I loved it just as much as the previous games. It was refreshing to play in the same world and format of the previous games but with different characters. Chloe and Nadine are an amazing partners in crime power couple. I’d love to see a second game featuring the two of them, possibly with them in a romantic relationship, cause the chemistry and the potential is definitely there.

 

 

5.) Oxenfree by Night School Studio (on my ipad)

Oxenfree is a game I stumbled upon while browsing my ipads app store. As soon as I saw the words “choice based narrative game” in the description and watched a short clip of the game, I knew I had to play it. I’m a sucker for choice based games.

Oxenfree really took me by surprise, and in the best way possible. It’s a creepy teen mystery set on an island with some unexplainable supernatural phenomena going on. Its got sibling bonding, complex friendships and very distinct characters. Its the kind of game I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

 

 

6.) Spiderman (2018) by Insomniac Games (on my PS4)

 

The 2018 Spider-Man is unlike any I’ve played before. Its got a lot of the old characters we’re familiar with but it also has its own original storyline, which was really refreshing.

I loved this game’s version of Mary Jane-her personality, her voice, was all very different from the Mary Jane I remember from the original movies and I honestly liked her a lot better.

We also got to see a bit of Miles Morales in this game, and were even able to play as his character briefly too. It made me really wish for a Miles focused Spider-Man game in the future.

 

 

7.) The Walking Dead: A New Frontier by Telltale Games (on my PS4)

I’ve been playing The Walking Dead games on my ipad for years, since before I had a PS4 to play them on. If you’re wondering, yes, the games are based off the show, but they follow completely different characters and storylines. A New Frontier takes places a number of years after the previous game, and it was interesting to see some of the original characters more grown up, as well as get introduced to plenty of new characters.

 

 

8.) Bioshock Infinite by Irrational Games (on my PS4)

I’m not typically into first person shooter games, but the Bioshock games are the exception. For one thing, the setting is just so intriguing: it’s made to feel like it takes place in the 20’s, but also futuristic at the same time, with some steampunk elements. I love the concept of a retro-futuristic world underneath the sea, although this game doesn’t take place underwater but rather a city in the sky instead.

Also, Bioshock Infinite in particular felt a lot less impersonal than the previous games, because even though it’s first person, the character you’re playing actually has a name, and a voice, and the relationship between him and our other main character Elizabeth, makes the game feel more personal and storylike than the previous games.

 

 

9.) Life is Strange: Before the Storm by Deck Nine

The original Life is Strange game was one of my favorites games of 2017. I was ecstatic when I learned that there was a prequel featuring Chloe, and following her life before her reunion with Max. We get a firsthand look at her friendship-turned-romance with Rachel Amber, and some of the events leading up to Max’s story in Life is Strange.  We get a glimpse at her relationship with her dad, albeit in a kinda dark and depressing way-her dad is dead, so all of her conversations with him are solely part of her imagination. Unlike the original Life is Strange, there’s no time travel in this story, but it still has an emotional impact and leaves you feeling nostalgic.

 

10.) Detroit: Become Human by Quantic Dream (on my PS4)

The last game I played this year, Detriot: Become Human is yet another choice based narrative adventure. You play as 3 vastly different main characters who have one thing in common: they are humanoid androids built with the sole intention of being slaves to humans. But the androids are beginning to realize that their feelings are as real as any humans, and now they won’t stop fighting until they’ve got their equal rights. 

I fell in love with either of the characters and their individual stories as they fought for their lives and their rights and explored the concept of being human in their own ways. Especially Connor. Connor is amazing. 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Movies of 2018:

 

A Quiet Place 

I’m also down for original horror stories with original concepts, that don’t rely on gore or jump scares for scare factors. A Quiet Place focuses mostly on the strength of family and the emotional resilience needed to survive in a post apocalyptic world. I loved the unique concept of a future in which survival is dependent on ones ability to make as little noise as possible. I was on edge the whole movie and found the ending to be sad, yet hopeful and satisfying at the same time. All of the actors did wonderfully, and I look forward to any of their future projects.

 

 

Bohemian Rhapsody

I saw Bohemian Rhapsody in theaters with my mom last month. I was super excited to see Rami Malek in a new movie, already being a big fan of his since I’d seen him in Until Dawn as Josh. He’s a phenomenal actor, and he definitely did not let me down in his portrayal of Freddie Mercury. There were many tear-jerker moments throughout the movie, but the one that got me the most affected me in a very personal way. Hearing Freddie clearly say the words “I think I’m bisexual” was something I never would’ve expected, and as a bisexual person myself it was a very powerful thing to witness, as I think it was the first time I’ve ever heard those words in theaters before. Of course, it was followed by a condescending “No Freddy, you’re gay” from his fiance, but it was still moving nonetheless.

 

 

A Simple Favor 

I watched A Simple Favor with my parents just a week or so ago. I’d been dying to see it since I’d seen the trailer a few months earlier, so I had very high expectations going into it. Thankfully, I was not disappointed in the slightest. Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick are both phenomenal actresses who work extremely well with one another, and they played their eccentric characters amazingly. A Simple Favor was weird, unexpected and hilarious, and I loved every minute of it.

 

 

Love, Simon

I read the book that inspired the movie, Simon Vs. the Homosapiens Agenda 2 or 3 years ago and I absolutely adored it. I loved the concept of two boys who talk only online, and have no clue of each other’s true identities, except that they’re both gay and attend the same high school. The movie has some differences from the book of course, but it’s still the same touching coming out story filled with laughter, tears, family matters, strong friendships and an important lgbtq storyline.

 

Honorable Mentions

 

I feel bad not including The Darkest Minds in my top favorites of the year, but it just didn’t quiiiiite do the book justice in my opinion. I don’t know when I’ll learn to not get my hopes up so high for book to movie adaptations. I still love the cast to death though, and I’ll definitely wanna rewatch it at some point and own the dvd, just cause I’m such a huge fan of the books and the characters and the world.

Happy Death Day was cute and lots of fun, but I don’t know if I’d call it a favorite, and Bird Box unique and exciting and heartbreaking but not all that memorable.

And that’s it! Let me know if we have any favorites in common, so we can discuss.

Favorite Adult, New Adult, and YA/Adult Crossovers of 2018

I read less than 10 Adult/New Adult books this year in total. But most of them became new all time favorites!

 

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. This book will always have a special place in my heart, because it’s the very first adult romance novel written by an autistic author, and with an autistic main character, that I have ever read. The very first. And it was utterly perfect in every possible way. It’s sweet and sensitive and heartwarming, with the perfect amount of romantic angst, cutesy awkward moments, and a wonderfully portrayed friends-with-benefits scenario in which both of them feel more for the other than they let on. There’s a sequel companion called The Bride Test coming out May this year, this time featuring a male autistic character, and I’m counting down the days till I can read it!

 

 

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. This one was recommended to me when I went on Twitter asking people for recommendations of YA/Adult crossovers to read. If you don’t know what a crossover is, it’s a book that’s classified as an ‘adult’ or ‘general fiction’ novel but that contains YA aged main characters and can still appeal to teen/YA audiences. The Song of Achilles is a retelling of The Iliad, told from a queer perspective, and featuring a m/m romance. It’s every bit as tragic and heartbreaking as you’d expect a greek retelling to be, and Madeline Miller’s writing and storytelling brings a fresh perspective to the table. I’ll definitely be reading more of her books.

 

 

Radio Silence by Alyssa Cole. Radio Silence is a book I accidentally stumbled across while searching up another book of the same name. And I’m so glad I found it! It’s a diverse romance that takes place in the modern day world, but one in which all electricity, power, running water, etc, is no longer working. It’s a book with virtually no white characters. The main character is black, the love interest is Asian, and her best friend is gay and Asian. It was a quick and fun survival story with a steamy romance and lots of high stakes. I definitely plan on reading the next book in the series!

 

 

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A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert. The second adult romance I read this year written by an autistic author, and containing an autistic main character. In this case, the main character, Ruth, is also black. Which is even rarer to see when it comes to autistic characters in media. That part of the story is Own Voices as well, since Talia Hibbert is a black autistic author. I loved how distinct Ruth’s voice was, how snarky and forthright and honest she was. And the love interest, Evan, was sweet, understanding, and patient, basically everything Ruth needed. I loved them together. Looking forward to reading the other books in this series.

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

Favorite Contemporary YA’s of 2018

I discussed my favorite scifi and fantasy reads of the year. Now it’s time to review my favorite contemporaries!

 

 

I will never understand people who refuse to read contemporary, or who say it’s boring. Some of the most life changing books I’ve ever read have been contemporary. So here’s a look at those I adored in 2018:

 

 

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Jenn Bennett never ever EVER disappoints. I have adored every single one of her YA romances. Her books are just utter perfection, every time. I don’t know how she does it. I’m always left with a feeling of pure, satisfied contentment at the end of each of her books. The characters are perfectly messy and perfectly complex. The love stories are perfectly complicated and steamy and realistic. If I had to choose one author to read for the rest of my life, it would be Jenn Bennett.

 

 

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed. The Nowhere Girls is about a group of high-school girls who team up to fight sexism and demand respect from their male classmates. It’s sex positive, diverse, and painfully honest. It has 3 main characters: an autistic girl, a queer latina girl, and a fat girl. I thought the autism rep was amazing considering it’s not Own Voices.

 

 

The Art of French Kissing by Brianna R Shrum. Baking, cooking, enemies-to-lovers romance. Basically, if you love food and romance, this is the book for you. It follows Carter Lane as she attends a summer scholarship competition to get into her top choice chef school. The love interest is Japanese and multisexual. They start off as rivals competing for the top spot, constantly bickering and pranking each other, but they end up falling for each other over the course of the summer. I loved the witty banter between them, the way they bonded over food, and the way they went from hating to loving each other. Hands down one of the sweetest, most heartwarming reads of this year.

 

 

 

The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You by Lily Anderson. A Much Ado About Nothing retelling, this quirky story follows a hate-to-love romance between Trixie and Ben, academic rivals at a super elite private school full of geniuses. Trixie is a lovably complex main character-she’s ambitious, competitive, snarky, combative, protective, loyal, witty, clever and frustrating as hell. As Trixie works to uncover the person who anonymously accused her best friend of cheating, thereby getting her expelled, she and Ben grow closer over a shared love for Doctor Who and Comics. I loved every second of this book, I loved all the side characters as much as I loved Trixie and Ben, and I was unable to put the book down until I finally discovered who had framed Trixies best friend for cheating. I can’t wait to read more of Lily Anderson’s contemporaries.

 

 

 

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy. Definitely one of the most original books I’ve read this year, as one of the multiple pov’s is told in graphic novel format. That was really refreshing, to see something so different from what I’m used to. You Were Here is a sad story, because it’s about a girl grieving her dead brother, but it’s also a hopeful one full of second chances, newfound love and important self discoveries.

 

 

Wanderlost by Jen Malone. I love books that take place in foreign countries. It’s nice to read stories that focus on settings outside of the U.S. Wanderlost is a quick, light-hearted read about a girl romping across Europe, falling for the wrong guy, and a huge case of mistaken identity. It’s the perfect book to get lost in and relax while reading. Super cute, smart, and full of important life lessons.

 

 

 

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This is Our Story by Ashley Elston. I never thought I’d fall in love with a male character who owns a gun and shoots for sport. But Ashley Elston proved me wrong. To be fair though, it’s not like he was an ultra conservative, redneck gun lover. Hunting was more just a thing to do with his friends. And overall he was very sensitive, considerate and smart. Anyways, I loved the mystery of this book; how it kept me guessing at every turn, how it constantly threw unexpected revelations my way, how we got glimpses into the killers pov. I loved the interesting angle the romance took, and the way the main character took it upon herself to investigate the murder, even at the risk of her own safety. The girl was bad-ass.

 

 

Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys. Another dark mystery story, with lots of thrills, near-death encounters, blackmail, friends-to-lovers romance and complicated new friendships. I couldn’t put this one down even as I was terrified to see what would happen next. It follows a group of girls who are being blackmailed into performing a series of dangerous dares in which they can literally die trying to accomplish. But if they complete them, they’re looking at thousand of dollars in prize money. The main character, Hope, has cystic fibrosis, so some of the dares could quite possibly result in the loss of her life. But it’s already too late to back out, even if she  might not make it to the end alive. I was biting my nails the entire time and the never saw the plot twist coming. The romance between Hope and her best friend Ethan was cute and didn’t overshadow the mystery/suspense story-line. I definitely wanna read more of Michelle’s books in the future.

 

 

 

 

The Birds the Bees and You and Me by Olivia Hinebaugh. This was one of the most well written sex-positive contemporary YA’s I’ve ever read. It follows a girl as she and her friends fight their schools harmful abstinence only sex education system. It includes discussions of safe sex, queer sex, oral sex and all other methods of sex and how to engage in them in a safe, consensual way. A very important book for teens. It also has a lovely friends-to-lovers romance and some wonderful friendships, both new and old. One of the main character’s best friends is asexual and bi-romantic, and I really appreciated that little bit of rep.

 

 

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier. My Sister Rosa is about a guy whose little sister is an undiagnosed psychopath. She meets nearly every criteria on the psychopathy diagnostic checklist. But it seems like no one can see who she really is except for Che, because she hides behind her adorable little girl disguise so well. Che figures it’s only a matter of time before Rosa kills someone. But he doesn’t know how to stop her when she’s so good at hiding who she is, and getting away with everything. This book was suspenseful from start to finish and I felt terrified the entire time I was reading, of what Rosa would do next. It was extremely interesting reading about a teen boy with a literal psychopath for a sister, and all the ways that she was able to manipulate, control and hurt everyone around her. It was compelling, dark and original and unlike anything I’ve read before.

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

Yes, there’s more! These books may not have made my top ten list but I still thoroughly enjoyed them all the same. They cover a wide range of topics from mental illness to family issues to complicated sibling relationships to romance and coming of age lessons and all that jazz.

You know what? I just realized The Supervillain and Me isn’t technically contemporary. Cause ya know, superheroes and superpowers. Oops. But I’m gonna keep it right here anyways cause it felt more like a contemporary than a fantasy to me.

 

And that’s it for contemporary! Check in soon for my favorite New Adult/Adult reads of the year, in my next blog post!

 

 

 

Favorite Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Dystopian Reads of 2018 (YA & MG)

HAPPY 2019!!!!!!

 

It’s fiiiiiiiiiinally time to look back on 2018 and talk about my favorite reads of the year. I read a total of 135 books this year and discovered many new ones to add to my favorites list. So let’s take a look at them! Starting with scifi, fantasy and dystopian:

 

 

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo. I love books about mermaids, sirens and morally grey characters who redeem themselves. This one was no disappointment. Dark, romantic, adventurous and told in the pov’s of two very intriguing, complicated characters. I loved every minute of it.

 

 

Ever the Hunted  by Erin Summerill. I listened to Ever the Hunted on audiobook, and I definitely credit that as one of the reasons I loved it so much. The audiobook narrator has a British accent and such a calming, beautiful voice for storytelling. She really added to the magic of the love story and the setting.

 

 

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Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody. As soon as I started reading, I was hooked. I mean, a main character without eyes, without eye sockets? Whose family and best friends are all technically imaginary,? Illusions? How does that not make you want to keep reading? There’s also the fact that the main character is a bisexual girl, falling in love with a guy who is demiromantic and demisexual. It’s amazing to see queer rep that doesn’t come up often in books, and it’s nice to see bisexual characters in m/f relationships, cause they’re just as valid as those in same sex relationships. And then of course there’s the story itself: the murder/mystery aspect, the traveling circus of illusions. I loved this mystical, captivating read from start to finish and I can’t wait to read more of the author’s books.

 

 

 

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst. I love stories about princesses, about characters who have forbidden magic, and about characters who start off strongly disliking each until they fall in love. Of Fire and Stars is about two princesses who fall in love, despite the fact that one of them is engaged to the others brother, as part of an arranged marriage. One of them has magic she’s trying to hide, for magic is seen as something abominable and is illegal. They don’t get along very well at first, but the more  time they spend together, they more they fall for each other. I loved how slow-burn their romance was, how it grew from hatred to friendship to something more. I enjoyed the kingdom politics, the mystery, and the magic system as well. And there’s gonna be a sequel!! I can’t wait.

 

 

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Furyborn by Claire LeGrand. Claire LeGRand became one of my new favorite authors this year. I read all 3 of her new adult books and fell head over heels for each and every one of them. All 3 books have bisexual or lesbian or otherwise queer main characters, so not only were the stories magnificent, but they had excellent lgbtq rep too.

 

 

 

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Winterspell by Claire LeGrand. Winterspell is a dark and twisted retelling of The Nutcracker, with a bisexual victorian heroine, giant killer rats, and lots of romance, fighting, and magical powers. I loved every dark minute of it.

 

 

 

Sawkill Girls by Claire LeGrand. Sawkill Girls is basically Shutter Island meets Stephen King, but with a lot more female and queer characters. There are 3 female main characters; Zoe, who’s asexual, Marion, who’s bisexual, and Val, who’s gay. They are each wholly unique and lovable in their own ways. They’re unlikable at times but you’ll still be rooting for them the whole time. The story is terrifying, dark, atmospheric and mysterious. So far, every single one of Claire’s books have blown me away.

 

 

Wandering Star by Romina Russell. I enjoyed this sequel immensely more than the previous book. I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe because the main character seemed so much more mature after all she’d been through? Maybe cause the romance was even steamier than before?  Maybe cause the story just flowed so nicely and the characters felt more developed? Whatever the reason, I greatly enjoyed this one and can’t wait to read books 3 and 4.

 

 

Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto. I’m always looking for more books with western settings, and Revenge and the Wild had been sitting on my shelf for quite some time before I decided to finally pick it up. I don’t know what the hell took me so long. It far exceeded all my expectations, and the only thing I hated was that it had to end so soon. It had so many things I love: a western setting, steampunk, a friends-to-lovers romance, mystery, suspense, creepiness, and…….cannibals. Yes, I find books with cannibals to be a really interesting plot point. It really adds to the whole creepy factor.

 

 

 

The Imposter Queen by Sarah Fine. Another book with a bisexual main character and a m/f romance. Those are probably my favorite kind of bisexual books, since I myself am a bisexual girl with a preference for guys. Anyways, everything about this book was perfect; the steamy romance, the fights for survival and the reverse “chosen one” plot line. The Imposter Queen is the first in a trilogy. However, I found out some spoilers so upsetting they made me not want to read the next two books. Spoilers that I went purposely looking for cause I had a bad feeling. So while I do highly recommend this book, I’m not sure I can recommend it as a series. Read all 3 of them if you want, but you’ve been warned. I’m personally just gonna pretend that the first book ended 100% happy and with no open ends, thank you very much.  If you  want more details, DM me on twitter or instagram, both at Beccasbookrealm.

 

 

The Diviners by Libba Bray. I buddy-read The Diviners with 3 of my friends. We made a group dm chat on instagram and chatted about the book as we read. And every single one of us adored everything about it. It takes place in the 20’s is told from the multiple pov’s of young people-some of whom have mysterious supernatural abilities. As they try to get to the bottom of a series of grisly murders, they find that may be the work of something inhuman. It was deliciously creepy, romantic, suspenseful and beautifully written. I plan to pick up the sequel asap.

 

 

Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie. This one took me by pleasant surprise. I was blown away by the author’s mature writing style and the slow paced yet captivating story telling. I was captivated by the complex characters, the journey to redemption and the slow burn romance. I’m always intrigued by books about ordinary characters finding themselves thrown into the world of royalty and riches. The main character’s powers made for an interesting plot point too; she’s able to feel and absorb the emotions of those around her, and therefore is tasked with protecting the crown prince from any would-be assassins. The final book in the trilogy came out recently, so I’m gonna hop right on finishing up this series cause I can’t wait to see what happens next.

 

 

 

This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada. This Mortal Coil was one of my favorite reads of 2017, and its sequel was no exception. It was a little more painful though, cause the second book in a series generally is. Higher stakes, more romance complications, new obstacles. And that ending? Holy shit. That was just cruel. And now I have to wait a whole ‘nother year for the last book? OUTRAGEOUS!

 

 

 

The Falconer by Elizabeth May. This book had been sitting on my Kindle for quite a while. I didn’t really plan on reading it anytime soon, until I found that the author was recently diagnosed as Autistic. I love reading books by other Autistic people, whether or not they contain Autistic characters. And I’m so glad I picked this one up so suddenly. I love a bad-ass female character who’s strong in both body and spirit. I love human-faerie romances that are slow burn and complicated. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.

 

 

 

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan. What a beautiful, magical love story between two young women fighting to survive and hold onto who they are. I loved this queer Asian fantasy with it’s strong willed female characters, humans with animal features, forbidden romance, harsh royal setting, revenge and rebellion. I’m dying for book two.

 

 

 

In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken. It took me a while to get through this one. Not because I wasn’t enjoying it, cause I was. I’m just terrible at finishing series because I don’t want them to end and often the final book in a series brings lots of heartbreak and at least one character death. So I had to step back for a few months when I sensed a death coming up. I was about 70% through the audiobook. And sure enough, when I finished it earlier this month, a character was left dead. It was tragic and awful and depressing but I still absolutely loved this book from beginning to the wonderful, hopeful ending. I just hated having to say goodbye to all the characters.

 

 

 

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. An African inspired fantasy, Children of Blood and Bone is a story of adventure, magic, oppression, rebellion, and standing up to authority. Its got complicated romance, unexpected new friendships and self discovery. It’s devastating at times; hopeful at others. I adore every main character and I’m anxious to see where their journey leads them next.

 

 

Mirage Somaiya Daud. I also buddy-read this one with a friend. We both loved it. It’s full of Moroccan inspired settings, high stakes, difficult choices, complicated characters that are both likable and unlikable, and forbidden romance. Princess Maram is one of those characters that you can easily love and hate at the same time, and Idris is the kind of sensitive but quick witted and intelligent love interest I adore. I can’t believe I have to wait a year or so for the sequel. And yes, I know that’s like the 38793th time I’ve said that. So many great new beginnings to series came out this year!!

 

 

The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken. Prosper Redding is the first Middle Grade novel I have read since I was of middle grade age myself. And I loved every minute of it. I suspected I would, because Alex is one of my favorite authors ever. It somehow manages to be light-hearted and dark at the same time. It’s hilarious, it’s heart warming, it’s weird, it’s sharp witted, It’s the perfect fall read. I have an ARC of the sequel, which comes out in February, and I’m hoping to get to it soon!

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

I know this may seem like a lot of favorites and honorable mentions….but you’ve got to keep in mind that I read 135 books this year, and that I generally love or at least like most books I read. Therefore, I’m bound to have many favorites. And these are just the scifi/fantasy/dystopians.

 

 

 

And that’s it for SFF and Dystopian. Check back soon for my favorite contemporary and adult reads of the year!