Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (12/3/19)–Everything Grows

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

 

This is one of the few gems I’ve found that Goodreads didn’t recommend to me. In fact, though I forget what book the recommendation came from, this one came from the library. I inhaled this one over Thanksgiving break (I’m so glad I had that much time to read…), and I must say, an absolute gem among this year’s releases! A criminally underrated, 90’s LGBTQ+ novel about growing up and discovering yourself.

 

Enjoy this week’s review!

 

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Everything Grows 

1993. Eleanor Fromme, newly 15, has just started high school, and is already faced with more emotional challenges than she could ever anticipate. After her longtime bully, James, unexpectedly commits suicide, she’s shocked, and unsure how to cope. Her solution? Chopping off and dyeing all of her hair, and writing letters to him for an English assignments.

All the while, Eleanor has begun to struggle with her sexuality, after she realizes that she’s a lesbian. As her old friendships crumble and new ones begin to blossom, Eleanor must find her way in a word that seems to frown upon her.

 

 

I’ve hardly heard anyone talk about Everything Grows, probably due to the fact that it’s from a more indie publisher. But man, am I glad that this one was recommended to me…

Aimee Herman deftly captures what it is to be 15, to be struggling with your identity, transitioning into a new school and a new way of life, and coping with things that none should have to. Eleanor’s character had such a poignant and relatable journey, which, combined with stellar writing and explorations of several facets of  the LGBTQ+ community (besides Eleanor, there are also more lesbian, bisexual, and  transgender characters), made for an unforgettable book. If you haven’t already read Everything Grows, please do so–and recommend it to your friends. More people should know about this book. A solid 4.5 stars from me. 💗🏳️‍🌈

 

Everything Grows is a standalone, but Aimee Herman has several collections of poetry, published prior to it. I’m debating whether or not I should delve deeper into her works, but I’m sure I’d enjoy it.

 

Have a lovely rest of your day, and stay tuned for more content later this week!

 

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Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (11/26/19)-Ziggy, Stardust and Me

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

 

When I first saw the premise of this book, I practically leapt for joy.

I mean, not only is it an LGBTQ+ romance, but the main character’s hero is David Bowie. And, of course, being a devotee of David Bowie for most of my life, I just had to read this. And honestly? Ziggy, Stardust and Me certainly had its flaws, but it is a story that absolutely needs to be read.

 

Without further ado, let’s begin this review!

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Ziggy, Stardust & Me

1973. Jonathan Collins is 16, and all around him, the world is shifting. His therapy, meant to cure his homosexuality, only serves to make him feel worse. The bullies are constantly at his back, and his father is relapsing into alcoholism. Jonathan’s only source of comfort lies in his imagination, and in David Bowie, the flamboyant rock god whose music is a source of solace.

Then, Web, the new, openly gay boy at school, tumbles into his life. Web is everything that Jonathan wants to be–confident, tough, and unabashedly unafraid of being himself. As Jonathan begins to fall for Web, he begins to push the boundaries that have confined him for his entire life–but at what cost?

 

Aaaaah, what a book!

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I wasn’t the biggest fan of the writing (I get that it’s from Jonathan’s teenage perspective, but it still felt a little bit sloppy), but my criticism just about ends there.

Ziggy, Stardust and Me deals with a boatload of difficult to talk about topics (namely racism, homophobia, and conversion therapy), but it did so in a way that was perfectly balanced–not glossed over by any stretch of the imagination, but in a way that was showing, not telling, to be sure. A lot of it was absolutely heartbreaking to read, but this is content that people need to know about. Spectacular representation (besides the fact that Jonathan and Web are both gay, Web is Native American), and a beautiful relationship that had me gushing. I cried…several times…but it was all worth it. Solid four stars for me. 💗🌈

And…David Bowie. I’m sold.

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Ziggy, Stardust and Me is a standalone, and James Brandon’s debut novel. Though I haven’t heard any news of him writing anything new, I sure hope we get something from him in the next few years. We certainly need more stories like this in literature.

 

Well, I hoped you liked this review! Have a lovely rest of your day, and stay safe out there! (I almost said “stay warm,” but I don’t know what kind of weather you’re all having…currently looks like a snow globe outside my window, so…🥶)

Stay tuned for more content later this week!

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Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (11/12/19)–Crier’s War

Hi again, fellow bibliophiles, and welcome to this week’s Book Review Tuesday!

After dithering about whether or not I wanted to read Crier’s War, I bought a signed copy a few weeks ago, complete with the John Hancock of book signatures on the inside. (Go big or go home, Ms. Varela. Thanks for making my day.) Though I had average expectations, Crier’s War defied expectations, with an intricate and immersive world, and a forbidden romance to die for (and not to mention, a ✨very gorgeous and shiny cover✨. )

Enjoy this week’s review!

 

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Crier’s War (Crier’s War, #1)

Many years ago, man made the first Made being, an automaton with independent thought. They grew more intelligent as the years went on, and soon, they had overthrown the human race, settling in gold-laced palaces, while the humans were banished to the streets.

Crier is Made royalty, a princess with hidden potential and a tenuous betrothal in her future. Ayla is a human servant, selling her wares in the street while harboring a deep hatred for the Made, after the massacre of her family. In a chance meeting, Ayla saves Crier from certain death; They both know that their relationship cannot continue, but the days go by, and the unlikely pair find themselves drawn to each other. Both knowing that their romance can never be, they must come to terms with their fates, while navigating the political turmoil that threatens to topple the worlds of the human and the Made.

 

 

Forbidden romance, forbidden romance, forbidden romance. It’s not like it hasn’t been done before, hundreds, if not thousands of times. Lucky for us, we’ve got ourselves a well-executed, emotional, and LGBTQ+ romance in Crier’s War. Who could ask for more?

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And beyond the romance, Crier’s War has several, fantastically executed aspects. I particularly loved the rich worldbuilding, complete with a lovely map, a timeline, and an intricate history, as well as an in-depth look at how the Made government works. For the most part, Varela successfully did this without excessive infodumping, so that’s a big YES from me. There were, however, some little excerpts from Made histories in between chapters; I personally found only 25% of them to be relevant, but hey, that’s just me. They seemed a bit extraneous and unnecessary, but they did add to the prospect of the rich cataloguing of the tumultous history that this book exhibited.

But the ending. That did NOT feel like an ending. I get cliffhangers, but that felt far too abrupt. At least give us some sense of finish, some sense of continuity, I beg you…but I must admit, it does leave me hungering for the sequel, so I guess that it did its job.

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A lovely melding of science-fiction and fantasy, Crier’s War garners a solid 4 stars from me: romance to root for, and a world to lose yourself in.

 

Crier’s War has been confirmed to be part of a series; the only knowledge we have of its sequel, since this book came out a little over a month ago, is that it’s been titled Iron Heart, and it’s expected to come out in 2020. Brace yourselves, folks…

 

I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day! Stay tuned for more nerdy content later in the week! 🙂

 

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Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (11/5/19)-We Hunt the Flame

Happy Tuesday, fellow bibliophiles!

 

I’ve been meaning to read this one for a little while, and I had fairly average expectations, what with a boatload of hype after its publishing in May of this year. I’ve had it on hold for a while, but it finally arrived recently, and I must say, We Hunt the Flame defied all of my expectations! With lavish writing and spectacular world-building, We Hunt the Flame is sure to please.

 

Enjoy this week’s review!

 

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We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya, #1)

A reknowned Hunter, an infamous Prince.

The livelihood of Zafira’s village rests on her shoulders; she is the revered Hunter, crossdressing as a man to avoid detection while hunting for her people in the forests of Arz, which have been put under a deadly curse for as long as she can remember. Nasir is the crown prince, and the ruthless assassin of all those who dare speak out against his father, the king. Their paths collide on a distant island, where the curse of the Arz originated, both in search of a fabled treasure, but only one in search of the Hunter himself. As war brews, the two inherent enemies must band together to keep Arawiya off of the brink of collapse.

 

 

Over the years, I’ve started to lean more towards science fiction than fantasy, and while I still read a fair amount of the genre, it’s not as often that I enjoy it. I’ve come across plenty of halfway-decent ones and a plethora of mediocre and downright awful ones, but the four and five star-ers are more difficult to find. Lucky for us, We Hunt the Flame exists!

Though it was a little slow to start (the first 150 pages or so, and this book clocks in at 472 in total), We Hunt the Flame was an absolute dazzler by the end. With rich and magical worldbuilding, steeped in the roots of Arabian mythology and folk tales, a cast of unique and likable characters with stellar chemistry, and  witty and enchanting writing worthy of a timeless fairy tale, this novel is not one that I’ll forget easily. Solid 4.25 stars for me.

It looks like there’s already a sequel on the way, set to be published in May of 2020, We Free the Stars, and from what Hafsah Faizal has revealed, it looks like it’ll be a duology. Man, I think duologies are slowly but surely overthrowing trilogies in YA…

 

Before I go, let me remind you all that the Goodreads Choice Awards are here! We’ve got tons of worthy contenders for the win, so PLEASE go and vote! (Especially *coughcoughcoughAURORA RISINGcoughcoughcough*)

 

Have a wonderful rest of your day, and stay tuned for more content later in the week!

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Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (10/29/19)–Pumpkinheads

Hi, fellow bibliophiles, and welcome to this week’s Book Review Tuesday!

 

I’ve been waiting for this book since before it had a title (only the promise of ✨RAINBOW ROWELL✨). It came out almost exactly two months ago today, and it’s the perfect fluff antidote to all of your woes. Best read during [clears throat] 🎃SPOOKY TIME🎃.

Need I say more?

 

Without further ado, let’s begin!

 

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Pumpkinheads–Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks

 

Ever since the beginning of high school, Deja and Josiah have worked together at the local pumpkin patch. But this year is their senior year–the last year that they’ll be working there before they leave for college.

Determined to make this year the best year at the pumpkin patch (and to break Josiah out of his gloomy funk), Deja decides that on Halloween night, she and Josiah will chart every part of the pumpkin patch that they’ve never visited. Josiah reluctantly goes along with her plan, but realizes that this could also be the opportunity to finally talk to the girl he’s had a crush on since the beginning…

 

 

Pumpkinheads is, in a sense, the literary version of a candy corn: adorable, and all kinds of sweet. SO. CUTE.

 

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For anyone who isn’t into horror or drama, but still wants to read something fall-themed, Pumpkinheads is your book. Rowell’s writing and Hicks’ art are a match made in heaven–a pairing that I never would have considered, but one that works so seamlessly to create an adorable and delightfully surprising graphic novel. I absolutely adored the characters as well–they had such good chemistry, and Deja (though her orientation isn’t specifically stated) is definitely LGBTQ+ (probably either bi or pan)!!! 😀 🏳️‍🌈

 

Also, extra points because it allowed me to recover from the new Joker movie in peace. Whooooowee, that was a rough ride.

 

Anyway, for all those who need a heartwarming distraction from whatever’s bothering them, Pumpkinheads is your next read.

 

 

Stay tuned for more content later this week! 🙂

 

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Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (10/15/19)-Like a Love Story

Hey there, fellow bibliophiles, and welcome to this week’s Book Review Tuesday!

 

I am BEYOND excited to review this week’s book. And, of course, I got it at the library.

[fast forward to this Friday]

[abrupt cut to yours truly, with tears streaming down my face, returning this book to the library]

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What I’m trying to say is that…well, to put it simply, this is one of the best books to come out of 2019. And the year isn’t even over. Simultaneously heartrending and beautiful prose, and a story that made me feel every feel on the spectrum while deftly explaining a real-life tragedy: the AIDS crisis.

 

Enjoy this week’s review!

 

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Like a Love Story

In 1989, at the midst of the AIDS crisis, three teens struggle to figure out where they fit into the grand scheme of things.

Reza, originally from Iran, has just moved to New York City. As he gets to know his peers at school, he grapples with the realization that he is gay. Art, the only openly gay boy at his school, tries to fight back–not only against his homophobic classmates and parents–but against the government that turns a blind eye to a raging epidemic. Judy, longtime best friend of Art, does her part to advocate for the LGBT community, while caring for her beloved uncle, who is dying of AIDS. These three teens meet in a whirlwind of happenstance, and their lives will be forever entangled, in the midst of a worldwide crisis.

 

 

Like a Love Story was simply unforgettable.

Nazemian paints a vivid picture, not only of every facet of the AIDS crisis at the time, but also what it was like to be a teenager in the center of it all, particularly one who is a gay immigrant. The characters were beautifully realistic, and despite their flaws, I found myself rooting for them from page one, and even resonating with them, on some levels. And…come on, there’s Madonna references EVERYWHERE. I mean, what’s not to love? A veritable gem of a novel, one that certainly stands out among the works of this year. Maybe even this decade. I don’t know, I guess I’m not quite old enough to compare it on that scope. Okay, at least the past five years or so.

What I’m trying to say is that Like a Love Story is a stellar novel, in practically every way, shape, and form. Five stars isn’t enough; let’s give this one all the stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. Yeah, that’s what it deserves, methinks. 🙂

 

Thank you so much for reading this review! Have a wonderful day, and stay tuned for more content (hopefully?) this week!

 

 

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (10/8/19)-DEV1AT3

Hey there, fellow bibliophiles, and welcome to today’s Book Review Tuesday!

 

As I hinted in a few previous posts (namely this one…), I read Jay Kristoff’s DEV1AT3 last week. And the final verdict?

It’s even better than LIFEL1K3. Ten times more action, intrigue, witty quips, and gritty sci-fi fun. In no way did this book disappoint.

(For my review of LIFEL1K3, click right here!)

 

Enjoy this week’s review!

 

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DEV1AT3 (LIFEL1K3, #2)

After the battle at Babel, a rift has come between Lemon Fresh and her former best friend, Eve, who is now the opposite of who she thought she was. What’s more, she’s been separated from her only allies, Ezekiel and Cricket. And to top it all off, Lemon has just realized that she’s a Deviate: a human born with unique powers. Hers? Manipulation of electricity and machines.

But her new status has placed a target on her head, and Lemon must pit a desparate escape–from those who she thought were her friends, and the ever-vigilant Brotherhood, keen on slaughtering any and all Deviates.

Unbeknownst to her, Cricket has been captured and nearly brainwashed by the Brotherhood, and on the brink of being turned into a killing machine. His only hope is in Abraham, the disenfranchised son of Sister Dee, the enigmatic leader of the Brotherhood.

Will the ragtag gang reunite in time to save themselves?

 

 

It always stresses me out when characters I love are separated. But in DEV1AT3, I immensely enjoyed seeing where all of their paths (okay, mostly Lemon and Cricket) took them. With Evie out of the picture, we got so much more development of many of the characters that took a backseat in LIFEL1K3, which was not only much-needed, but an absolute joy to experience.

I’m having trouble coming up with any criticisms for this book. Even better than its predecessor, packed with the perfect amount of Kristoff’s signature writing and wit. DEV1AT3 is everything that I enjoyed about book 1, and then some; the deeply-layered world-building, the endearing characters, and the witty yet insightful writing. At this point, I’m DESPERATE for a sequel.

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Jay Kristoff has confirmed that this series will be a trilogy (no suprise there…), but book 3 is, as of now, untitled. Sigh…

 

 

Thank you so much for reading this review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and keep on reading!