Happy Autism Acceptance Month! A list of Do’s and Dont’s and Examples of Good and Bad Autistic Rep!

HAPPY AUTISM ACCEPTANCE MONTH!!!

Or more like Autistic Pride Month cause I like the sound of that better. WE like the sound of that better. Because it IS something the majority of us take pride in. However, some people still have trouble accepting that autism isn’t something that needs to be fixed, and so acceptance is still needed to help people see autism as something beautifully different instead of tragically different. And Acceptance is still a step up from Awareness, which focuses more on family members of autistic people than autistic people themselves, and is 100% associated with Autism Speaks, a horrible organization. Why is Autism Speaks horrible? We’ll get to that.

 

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First of all, some useful terms you should know:

Ableist/Ableism: discrimination towards disabled people

Allistic: a person who is not autistic

ABA: Applied Behavioral Analysis (an abusive therapy used by the awful charity Autism Speaks)

Own Voices: a marginalized author writing a character that shares their marginalization. For example, a gay author writing a gay character, a bipolar author writing a character who’s bipolar, a black author writing a black character, etc

Stimming: short for self stimulation, refers to repetitive motions autistic people may perform when they’re stressed, excited, etc (for example rocking back and forth, hand flapping, leg bouncing, finger tapping and so on)

Special Interest: a subject that an autistic person tends to hyperfocus on. It’s something they love and that brings them joy and they’ll typically learn all they can about it and talk about it all the time (it can be a singer, a band, a certain species of animal, cars, a movie or tv show, etc)

 

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THE DO’S AND DONT’S OF AUTISM ACCEPTANCE MONTH: How to be a good ally, and how not to be a good ally

 

1.) DON’T insist on Person First Language. Use Identity First Language first and foremost, but Respect Individual Preference.

What is Person First/Identity First Language? Person First Language= “person with autism” and Identity First Language= “autistic person. Now, if all this is news to you, you’re probably thinking ‘But why does it hecking matter? What’s the difference?’ I’ll explain.

The vast majority of autistic people prefer Identity First Language, and this has been shown in various polls and studies. Why is that? Because for years, allistic (non autistic) people have pushed Person First Language because they claim that calling us “autistic” is somehow dehumanizing, and that we need to be separated from our disability to be considered people.

That’s why they try to talk over us and tell us that “no you’re not autistic, you HAVE autism” as though autism is something I carry around with me, something separate from me rather than an integral part of who I am. They seem to think “autistic” is a bad word, an offensive word that erases who we are. To that I say, if you need to add “person with” in front of the label to remind yourself that we’re human, then you have a lot of deep thinking to do about why that is. We don’t call gay people “people with gayness” do we? No, because that would be ridiculous. “Autistic” just like “gay” is simply another descriptor, and not a bad one at that. That being said, some autistic people DO prefer to be called a ‘person with autism’ or maybe ‘on the spectrum.’ So if they tell you to use those terms to refer to them, respect their wishes. But use ‘autistic’ over ‘with autism’ when talking about autistic people as a whole/in general.

2.) DON’T talk over us or for us.

No matter how ‘well meaning’ you think you’re being, it is super shitty to try and talk over autistic people who are trying to tell you when something is harmful. No matter how many autistic people you know or have worked with, you have no right to act as a spokesperson for all things autism related or tell us that we’re wrong when we talk about autistic issues.

3.) DON’T support Autism Speaks.

They’re a horrible, hateful charity that harms autistic people, promotes harmful stereotypes, ignores the voices of actual autistic people in favor of their family members voices, and is all around abusive and awful. Simply google ‘autism speaks bad’ to find out more.

4.) DON’T ‘Light it up Blue’ or use puzzle pieces as a representation of autism. Don’t support ABA therapy.

The ‘Light it Up Blue’ campaign and the puzzle piece imagery were created by Autism Speaks and will forever be associated with them and their hateful charity. ABA therapy is a form of abuse. If you want to know more about WHY, simply google it and look for articles written by autistic people.

5.) DO promote autistic creators and boost their work.

Make a list of how any books you’ve read that are by autistic authors or that have (good) autistic rep that has been deemed not harmful by autistic folk. If you haven’t read any yet, I have a list of suggestions coming right up.

6.) Don’t write super ableist reviews. And If you’re allistic, you don’t get to determine what is or isn’t bad rep.

I don’t care how many autistic people you know. I don’t care if your brother or cousin or best friend is autistic. If you yourself are not autistic, you can’t decide whether a book has good representation of autism or not. Only autistic people can do that, because we know more than anyone what is or isn’t harmful, since we’ve dealt with the ups and downs of being autistic our whole lives.

Also, please be very careful when writing reviews of books with autistic rep. Like I said, DON’T give your opinion on the autistic representation if you’re not autistic yourself. You can reference reviews by actually autistic people who’ve read the book if you wanna inform people on whether autistic people consider it good rep, you can gush or complain about every other aspect of the book, but your opinion on the rep itself is not relevant. I’m so tired of allistics not bothering to check whether autistic people have talked about the rep, and what they’ve said about it.

Be careful not to say ableist crap in your reviews too, for the love of god. Don’t say shit like “it’s so hard to be close to a person like that” in regards to an autistic character. Don’t say shit like “the autistic character was sooooo annoying but oh well guess we can’t blame them.”  Don’t imply that the autistic character only existed as an annoyance or as a hindrance to their whole family or simply as a means of creating conflict. Chances of are, if the autistic character is presented this way, it’s not good rep in the first place. Also, don’t use terms like “special needs” or “mental r*tardation.” Don’t use the R word at all, ever, in any context. I mean jesus christ. You wouldn’t believe how many ableist reviews I’ve read with such hurtful comments. Think very carefully about what you say. 

7.) DO listen to autistic people when it comes to autistic issues.

PLEASE don’t prioritize the voices of non autistic ‘experts’ who have never bothered to listen to what actually autistic people have to say. Typically, ‘autism experts’ who’ve worked with autistic people or parents/friends/family members of autistic people tend to talk over us and ignore our voices. They’d rather continue to believe falsities that suit their own agendas that listen to autistic people trying to educate them on certain things. It’s really not okay. If autistic people tell you something that involves us is harmful, LISTEN. That’s really all there is to it, listening.

 

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Now lets talk about good representation vs bad representation!

Here you’ll find a list of books with autistic rep that I’ve read and loved and others that I’ve read and found to be very harmful. To be honest, I’ve only really read one book that I consider to be bad rep, but there are plenty of other books that other autistic authors have read and reviewed and therefore convinced me to never read EVER because of how horribly they represent autism. I don’t need to waste my time on books I know will hurt me, no matter how much I want more rep. I will link their reviews here as well (all with permission of course.) I have not reviewed every autistic book that I’ve read, but the ones I have reviewed, I will link. Simply click on the books cover to be redirected.

 

Lets start with a basic outline of how to determine what is good or bad rep when it comes to autistic characters:

 

Good:

  • Not over the top stereotypical ( a math wiz, a super genius, unaware of social norms to the point of unrealistic and ridiculous and downright mocking)
  • Respectfully includes standard autistic traits without portraying them as something annoying or cringey (for example stimming, special interests, a degree clueless-ness when it comes to social norms, sensitivities to touch, bright lights and noises. Not all of us are the same and may experiences these things to a lesser or worse degree)
  • It doesn’t focus only on the negative and the ‘problems’ that autistic people
  • It doesn’t center around how much ‘trouble’ autistic people cause for everyone around them
  • It doesn’t present autism as something that needs to be ‘fixed’ or ‘changed’ or as something shameful. It doesn’t indicate that autistic people should ‘act less autistic’ in order to be respected

Bad:

  • Infantilizes autistic people (paints us as childlike in an extremely negative way)
  • Paints autistic people as a burden to their family and everyone around them
  • Promotes harmful stereotypes (like that we don’t feel empathy or can’t possibly want/have romantic and sexual relationships)
  • Pushes Person First Language

Note: not all stereotypes are necessarily harmful, and it’s not like autistic characters who fit certain stereotypes don’t exist. BUT it gets old when the only representation we see is autistic characters who are white, male, cisgender, heterosexual geniuses who are social outcasts and amazing at math. Autistic girls exist. Autistic people exist. Autistic queers exist, in abundance. Autistic people who aren’t geniuses and who suck at math exist. And portraying only the stereotype of the white heterosexual cisgender male does actively harm autistic people by making it harder for people who DON’T fit these stereotypes to get diagnosed or recognize autism in themselves.

 

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Now, I’m gonna include an example of a book synopsis with horrible autistic rep as an example of what exactly NOT to do. Just the synopsis itself talks about autistic people horribly:

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First of all, the use of the word “quirks” is annoying because it kinda seems dismissive of the fact that autistic people may need extra support in some areas of their life. Then there’s the fact that she revers to Levi as “one giant temper-tantrum” which is a horribly dehumanizing way to refer to an autistic person. And then there’s the fact that “sickness” is used in correlation to autism. I know from reading a review that Levi also has schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. But that’s not mentioned anywhere in the synopsis, so it sounds like autism is being equated to a ‘sickness’ or mental illness, which is not ok. This synopsis wasn’t already bad enough, but the book itself is just as horrible. A review is provided below under the ‘bad and ugly rep’ category.

 

 

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NOW ON TO THE BOOKS!

 

THE OWN VOICES REP:

(autistic rep written by autistic authors)

(not including reviews for these ones, simply cause you need to know about the rep is that it’s own voices and I’ve read and loved all of them.)

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SOME MORE OWN VOICES REP

(the ones I haven’t read yet but can’t wait to!)

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THE GOOD(?) REP (but that’s NOT own voices)

I haven’t read all of these myself so I can’t necessarily recommend them and say they’re good rep but I’ve linked reviews from autistic people who loved them! First 3 books are reviewed by me, the rest are reviewed by CG Drews/Cait at PaperFury and Anniek at Anniekslibrary

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Here’s a second own voices review for The Gilded Wolves by CG Drews, if you’d like more than one: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1837248530?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Note: some autistic people may consider any of these bad rep and that’s OK. We don’t all have to agree. It’s just that these books have more autistic people leaning towards the ‘good rep’ end than the ‘bad rep’ end.

 

THE BAD AND THE UGLY REP:

The only book here that *I* have reviewed is What to Say Next. The rest have been read and reviewed once again by the lovely CG Drews at Paperfury or by Disability in Kid Lit

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Here’s another own voices review by CG Drews for What to Say Next: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2166068174?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

 

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Wanna support autistic

authors this month?

Before I go: I am hosting a month long Autistic Pride Readathon for the month of April, including a bingo board and instagram photo challenge. If you follow me on twitter or insta you probably already know all about it, but I thought I’d give it an extra boost on here. Yes, you can double up on squares (meaning use one book to cover multiple categories)

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I’ve also provided lists of books that fit each category, to make things easier for those wanting to participate!

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And that’s it for now! Thank you all so much for reading and for supporting me.

 

-Becca vZ

 

Monthly Wrap Up: March

I only read 6 books in March?? Wahhhh. I may have gotten distracted by video games. Oops. But hey, I found plenty of new favorites. And I read my very first book with an aro/ace main character!

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🔺Diverse Books Read: 5/6

-4 of them were queer! Two of those had m/m romances, one had a bisexual and polyamorous main character, and the third had an aro/ace main character

-1 of them had an autistic (and bisexual/polyamorous) main character!

-4 of them had autistic main characters

-1 of them (that I know of) was Own Voices for queer and autistic rep

🔺New Adult/Adult Books Read: 3!

🔺Middle Grade Books Read: 0

🔺Young Adult Books Read: 3!

🔺Graphic Novels Read: 2!

🔺Favorite reads of the month: Fence, Heartstopper, Barbed Wire Heart and Failure to Communicate!

🔺Least favorite read(s): Make it Count

🔺Longest Book Read:

🔺Shortest Book Read:

 

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Fence: Volume 1 by C.S Pacat, Johanna the Mad and Joana Lafuente.

Diversity: queer MLM (male who likes males) main character, queer and asian love interest

Own Voices? I don’t think so, but I’m pretty sure Johanna the Mad is queer

Thoughts: I was told I may need to read at least the first two volumes in this series before I became invested and when the first volume came in the mail I could see why. It was so thin! So short! But by the end I was already desperate for more. I think sports dramas/romances are becoming my new favorite thing. I’m loving the rivalries and friendships among the teammates and I can’t wait to see what happens next with Nicholas and Seiji (is this an ememies to lovers romance??!) and with Nicholas and his estranged father/half brother. I’ve never read a sports book centered around fencing before and it’s interesting to learn about all the different techniques and the jargon and all the hard work required to become a champion. So much fun. Give me more!

Rating: 5/5 stars

 

 

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Make it Count by Megan Erickson

Diveristy: Brazilian and dyslexic main character

Own Voices? Don’t know!

Thoughts: This started off really good-I really liked the authors writing style, the sexual tension was amazing and it seemed like it could possibly be a new fave. Then some things started to bother me: there were some “not like other girls” thoughts/comments from the hero. And he like sexualized random things she did that weren’t sexual, like sucking on a straw. Called it a “sex kitten act” which made me cringe. Shit like that really annoys me, when the hero over-sexualizes the heroine, like “she looked at him from under her lashes” it just seems cringey to me. And there was a loooot of internalized ableism from the heroine when she first found out she might have a learning disability. But it got better. I liked the turn the story took, with the heroine learning to accept herself and the hero learning from his mistakes in their relationship. They learned to communicate better. And their relationship was really cute: sexy nerdy boy tutors a dyslexic girl (she’s also Brazilian) who people dismiss as an airhead cause she gets easily distracted and sometimes says really random things. But he likes those things about her and doesn’t treat her like she’s dumb. Despite the few things that irked me, I enjoyed this one. I’ll definitely read more from this author!

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

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Heartstopper: Volume 1 by Alice Oseman

Diversity: a gay main character and bisexual love interest (m/m)

Own Voices? the queerness miiiiight be OV in someway, I’m not sure

Thoughts: My. Heart. Is. so. Full. Such a sweet, heartwarming story. It does deal with some serious issues though: Charlie, the main character, has an abusive ex boyfriend. Some characters make homophobic comments (no slurs though!). The love interest, Nick, is realizing he’s bi for the first time and having some trouble coming to terms with it. I loved the way his realization of his sexuality was portrayed, it was realistic and made me cry a little cause I could relate so much. I loved Charlie’s supportive sister Tori and I loved how Nick stood up to his dickhead friends. I love every interaction between Charlie and Nick, they’re ridiculously adorable and I loved that they became really good friends first, friends who aren’t afraid to be intimate and talk about feelings and touch each other casually. Also, I didn’t realize how young they are at first. Only 14 and 15! Practically babies. I feel like a mom haha. Need the next volume now!!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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Barbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe

Diversity: I don’t know if I’d call this book ‘diverse’ cause the main character, while female, is cishet, white, able bodied and neurotypical. BUT it has very strong feminist themes, it discusses racism and sexism and privilege. There are white supremacists and misogynists as the bad guys. The love interest is also half Native American, and it’s discussed often how much harder things are for him in their small town because of the color of his skin.

Thoughts: Oh. My. Lord. Tess Sharpe is definitely a new favorite author. Her first book, Far From You was the first book I ever read with a bisexual protagonist and it blew me away. This one did too. I mean, it’s basically a feminist Breaking Bad! And her name is Harley, which is perfectly suitable. Talk about a bad-ass female character who has to fend for herself and is smarter than any of the men in her life give her credit for. She knows how to use a gun and use her fists, yes, but she’s incredibly strong mentally as well. She’s quick thinking, she’s a problem solver, she knows how to use men’s sexist assumptions that she’s fragile and helpless to her advantage. If you love reading about female characters who take down sexist, racist scumbags and neo nazis getting shot, you’ll love this one. There’s also a cute little romance between Harley and her childhood best friend, Will. It’s cute and doesn’t override the intense revenge plotline at all and Will is one of the very few male characters in this book who isn’t trash. I’m blown away by this story and can’t wait for more from this incredible author!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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Switchback by Danika Stone

Diversity: an aro/ace female main character

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this one! It’s the first book I’ve ever read where a POV character is both aromantic AND asexual. I liked how sure of her sexuality Vale was. Not that I don’t appreciate questioning queer characters, but it’s nice to read queer characters who KNOW who they are and put a specific label to it. I also loved her friendship with Ash, the other POV character and her best friend. He was super supportive and respectful of her boundaries and he was also adorably geeky and a huge gamer. I loved him. The survival aspect of the story was exciting and nerve wracking, although I did have to wonder how realistic it was that they seemed to run into every single animal they could possibly come across in the woods. But who knows, maybe the Canadian wilderness is just more dangerous!

 

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Failure to Communicate by Kaia Sonderby

Diversity: a bisexual and polyamorous autistic main character, f/f/m polyam romance, 2 love interests of color (a black girl and man of color, I’m not entirely sure of his race)

Own Voices: for autism and bisexuality, yes

Thoughts: EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS BOOK IS PERFECT. I mean, we have an Own Voices autistic main character! Who’s also bisexual and polyamorous! And has feelings for both a boy and a girl! Polyamorous flirting! Strong hints at a f/f/m romance! And it takes place wayyyy in the future, in a world where eugenics has wiped out most disabled people. Xandri is one of the few autistic people left in the universe. And she’s the head of Xeno-Liasons on board the ship Carpathia, which deals in first contact with all different alien species on all different planets. Which basically means she helps solve disputes and form alliances between humans and aliens. So there’s a lot of politics in this book, and I may have been a bit lost at times trying to understand everything. But I didn’t even care cause I was so captivated by the many different alien species from all different cultures, by the different planets and foreign animal species they came across. Xandri loves animals and loves researching them and was super interested to learn everything about them. To which, I can relate. And she’s such a well written character, one who I related to more than I’ve related to any character ever. She’s incredibly smart and conscientious, but she also has some issues with touch and certain food textures and with reading people/situations, despite having studied social behavior and norms for years. I love her so much. Diver and Kiri, the love interests, are wonderful. I loved their flirting and I can’t wait for more in book 2, which is already out. And book 3, which will possibly come out this year. And 4. And 5. And so on. Because guess what? THERE’S GONNA BE 8 FLIPPIN BOOKS IN THIS SERIES. Which sounds crazy and for any other series I’d be like….buy why??? But when it comes to a series with a bisexual polyam autistic main character, I can’t get enough. I am psyched. The thought of 6 more books to come……is the most comforting thought in the world. I’m currently reading the prequel novella because I NEED more but don’t wanna start book 2 until I at least have an idea of when book 3 will be released. BUT GUESS WHAT? Book 2 is told from both Xandri AND Diver’s POV’s. I love Diver to death and can’t wait for a glimpse into his head. So, I may not be able hold off from starting it as soon as I finish the prequel. AHHHHHH. Okay, this is getting wayyyy to long and I gotta stop now! Bye! Read this book!!!

Rating: 5/5 stars

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That’s it!! Thanks for reading. Check in soon for an Autistic Pride Month post about how to support Autistic people in April and how to discern good and bad Autistic rep in books.

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. My favorite characters were bisexual scientist Tori, the adorable Latino nerd Luis and Olivia, the autistic lesbian news reporter. 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: