As you can see above, the melting emoji represents my slow melting, a la the Wicked Witch of the West, because July in Colorado always threatens to melt me into a slushy puddle. At least we got some rain. (And hail, one time? got enough that it looked like snow in certain parts of the yard…)
Hot as it was, I’d say that July was another good month of summer. I’ve had tons more time to read and relax, and even though college is always on my mind nowadays, the time off has been good to collect my thoughts. I’ve gone hiking a few times, seen some fun movies, and tried to exercise a little more.
I got to read tons this month, and although it was generally a mixed bag (a lot more books in the 3-star range than usual), I still found some gems in the mix. For Disability Pride Month, I tried to focus on books with disabled characters, and I’ve found some reads with great disability rep—including the first book I’ve ever read with SPD rep! (Thanks, Carolyn Mackler!!) Camp NanoWriMo is nearly over—it’s had its ups and downs (couldn’t find the stats page for a while and fell behind on my word count, hit command v instead of command b and accidentally pasted the whole Pinnochio trailer into my document), but I’m so close to 45,000 words now!!
Other than that, I’ve just been playing my guitar, recovering from the last two episodes of Stranger Things (OW), seeing Thor: Love and Thunder (pure Taika Waititi fun), drawing, and listening to an excess of Peter Gabriel.
Also, I figured I’d give everybody an update on Ringo, since I haven’t posted about him much since we got him; he’s 7 months old now and even more of a menace to society, but he has the sweetest face…
READING AND BLOGGING:
I read 25 books this month! This is probably gonna be the most books I’ll be able to read in a month, since it’s the middle of summer. It was a mixed bag, as always, but I found a few amazing 5-star reads in the bunch.
I wish I could put this one in flashing neon letters or skywriting or something, because my awesome brother has a blog too!!! he writes tons of short stories, poetry, and music/movie reviews, so go follow him!!!
It’s July again, which means—though it’s too often overlooked—that it’s Disability Pride Month here in the U.S.! Even as intersectional as feminism and diversity efforts have become in recent years, the disabled community has been left out of the picture more often than not. YA books are no exception—even now, it’s difficult to find good, solid disability rep, and even harder to find books from disabled authors. So uplifting disabled voices is always important, as with uplifting all kinds of marginalized voices.
I’ve talked a little about good and bad disability rep on this blog, but I haven’t talked about how it affects me—I did put it in my bio a few months ago offhandedly, but I’m disabled as well. I have sensory processing disorder (SPD), a neurological disability that causes me to over-respond to sensory input, mainly sound; My nervous system doesn’t translate stimulus like a neurotypical brain would, making me over-respond to certain sensory input. Big crowds, loud noises (fire alarms, stopping buses, and almost anything that you can find in a city) are major causes of anxiety and discomfort for me, and often cause me to go into a fight-or-flight position or overload entirely.
As a result, being in situations with lots of sensory stimuli, such as school or social gatherings, can be exhausting, what with trying to juggle keeping my cool with said stimuli and participating fully in an activity. It also affects how I go about ordinary tasks as well—driving, for instance, has been a struggle, what with my hypersensitivity combined with my iffy-at-best motor coordination. (Part of SPD is that the nervous system doesn’t fully integrate all of my senses, which is why tasks like these are difficult for me.) SPD makes me feel everything—sound especially—far more intensely than a neurotypical person might, which often overloads my system.
Here’s the thing: although I’ve seen other parts of my identity—bisexuality, being mixed race, or even just personalities like mine—represented in books, I’ve never seen SPD represented in a book. Not on TV, movies, or any other kind of media, either. Never. I’ve been looking for years, but most of the time, what comes up when I search for books with characters that have SPD usually ends up being help books for parents with SPD kids. (Not to dismiss the value of those books—just not what I’m looking for.) There have been a few, but even then, they haven’t been available at the library. (I’ve got one on hold though—let’s hope Not If I Can Help Itis good) I could always be missing something (PLS IF ANYBODY KNOWS ANY KIND OF MEDIA WITH GOOD SPD REP DROP SOME IN THE COMMENTS BEGGING YOU), but it’s been frustrating going to google and getting something that decidedly wasn’t what you were going for.
Even though I’ve seen myself represented in other ways, it’s frustrating to not have book characters—even side characters—that have similar experiences to me. Growing up, I had my fair share of not-so-subtle teasing for expressing some of my symptoms, and in that respect, I had no role models, no fictional characters to really look up to in that respect. That’s part of why I’m writing books with protagonists that have SPD—there’s always a kid out there who just needs a fictional character to look up to when they have nobody else. This is why representation matters—for those who never saw themselves represented growing up, and for those to come who may have the chance to feel represented.
So here are my disability pride month recs for 2022—not all of them are from disabled authors, but I’ve done my best to compile a list from a variety of genres, a variety of backgrounds (POC, queer, etc.), and a variety of disabilities.
A gripping post-apocalyptic book featuring a determined, Autistic protagonist!
TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these books, and if so, what did you think of them? What are your favorite YA books with disability rep? And please, does anybody have any recs for media with good SPD rep? Kinda desperate over here…
(I can only go with my headcanon that Jean Grey from X-Men has SPD for so long, folks, please…)
That’s it for this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
I’ve been wanting to do another TBR cleaning session, because, as always, the number of books on my TBR is multiplying like rabbits. I’ve been picking the shelves to trim with a random number generator, and today, it landed right in the middle. Let’s see how this goes…
1. Go to your Goodreads To-Read shelf
2. Order on ascending date added.
3. Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books.
Two teens go on a life-changing sailing trip as they deal with the grief of losing their best friend in this heartwrenching, hopeful novel from the author of Something Like Normal and In a Perfect World.
Willa and Taylor were supposed to spend the summer after high school sailing from Ohio to Key West with their best friend, Finley. But Finley died before graduation, leaving them with a twenty-five-foot sailboat, a list of clues leading them to destinations along the way, and a friendship that’s hanging by a thread.
Now, Willa and Taylor have two months and two thousand miles to discover how life works without Finley—and to decide if their own friendship is worth saving.
Besides how much the cover annoys me, this one doesn’t sound terribly original.
Thrust into leadership upon the death of his emperor father, young Prince Ahkin feels completely unready for his new position. Though his royal blood controls the power of the sun, he’s now responsible for the lives of all the Chicome people. And despite all Ahkin’s efforts, the sun is fading–and the end of the world may be at hand.
For Mayana, the only daughter of the Chicome family whose blood controls the power of water, the old emperor’s death may mean that she is next. Prince Ahkin must be married before he can ascend the throne, and Mayana is one of six noble daughters presented to him as a possible wife. Those who are not chosen will be sacrificed to the gods.
Only one girl can become Ahkin’s bride. Mayana and Ahkin feel an immediate connection, but the gods themselves may be against them. Both recognize that the ancient rites of blood that keep the gods appeased may be harming the Chicome more than they help. As a bloodred comet and the fading sun bring a growing sense of dread, only two young people may hope to change their world.
1833. After young Lord James Ellerby witnesses a near-fatal carriage accident on the outskirts of his estate, he doesn’t think twice about bringing the young woman injured in the wreck to his family’s manor to recuperate. But then she finally regains consciousness only to find that she has no memory of who she is or where she belongs.
Beth, as she takes to calling herself, is an enigma even to herself. She has the rough hands of a servant, but the bearing and apparent education of a lady. Her only clue to her identity is a gruesome recurring nightmare about a hummingbird dripping blood from its steel beak.
With the help of James and his sister, Caroline, Beth slowly begins to unravel the mystery behind her identity and the sinister circumstances that brought her to their door. But the dangerous secrets they discover in doing so could have deadly ramifications reaching the highest tiers of London society.
I don’t read much mystery–much less historical mystery–but I’m willing to go along for the ride on this one. Plus, I love the title and the cover.
For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.
But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.
The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.
With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?
Despite the punny title, this sounds like a wonderfully dark and twisty Peter Pan retelling!
Smart and unflinching, this #OwnVoices debut contemporary novel stars an ambitious college student who refuses to be defined by her central auditory processing disorder.
Edie Kits has a learning disability. Well, not a learning disability exactly, but a disability that impacts her learning. It isn’t visible, it isn’t obvious, and it isn’t something she likes to advertise.
And for three semesters of college, her hard work and perseverance have carried her through. Edie thinks she has her disability under control until she meets her match with a French 102 course and a professor unwilling to help her out.
Edie finds herself caught between getting the help she needs and convincing her professor that she isn’t looking for an easy out. Luckily for Edie, she has an amazing best friend, Serena, who is willing to stitch together a plan to ensure Edie’s success. And then there’s Hudson, the badly dressed but undoubtedly adorable TA in her French class who finds himself pulled into her orbit…
I’m always eager to try and find more #OwnVoices novels, and this sounds like one I’d love!
In 1967, four female scientists worked together to build the world’s first time machine. But just as they are about to debut their creation, one of them suffers a breakdown, putting the whole project—and future of time travel—in jeopardy. To protect their invention, one member is exiled from the team—erasing her contributions from history.
Fifty years later, time travel is a big business. Twenty-something Ruby Rebello knows her beloved grandmother, Granny Bee, was one of the pioneers, though no one will tell her more. But when Bee receives a mysterious newspaper clipping from the future reporting the murder of an unidentified woman, Ruby becomes obsessed: could it be Bee? Who would want her dead? And most importantly of all: can her murder be stopped?
Time travel is a trope that’s frighteningly easy to screw up, but this sounds absolutely fascinating. Definitely on board!
Every Christmas, Wren is chased through the woods near her isolated village by her family’s enemies—the Judges—and there’s nothing that she can do to stop it. Once her people, the Augurs, controlled a powerful magic. But now that power lies with the Judges, who are set on destroying her kind for good.
In a desperate bid to save her family, Wren takes a dangerous undercover assignment—as an intern to an influential Judge named Cassa Harkness. Cassa has spent her life researching a transformative spell, which could bring the war between the factions to its absolute end. Caught in a web of deceit, Wren must decide whether or not to gamble on the spell and seal the Augurs’ fate.
Hmm…I think I’ve seen/read a few too many books that have this kind of plot, so I think I’ll try and find more original fantasy.
A Fire Destroys . . . A Treasure Appears . . . A Crime Unfolds . . .
When Saba Khan’s apartment burns in a mysterious fire, possibly a hate crime, her Chicago high school rallies around her. Her family moves rent-free into a luxury apartment, Saba’s Facebook page explodes, and she starts (secretly) dating a popular boy. Then a quirky piece of art donated to a school fund-raising effort for the Khans is revealed to be an unknown work by a famous artist, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and Saba’s life turns upside down again. Should Saba’s family have all that money? Or should it go to the students who found the art? Or to the school? And just what caused that fire? Greed, jealousy, and suspicion create an increasingly tangled web as students and teachers alike debate who should get the money and begin to point fingers and make accusations. The true story of the fire that sets events in motion and what happens afterward gradually comes together in an innovative narrative made up of journal entries, interviews, articles, letters, text messages, and other documents.
Sounds timely, but I’m not sure if I’m invested in the plot.
The Line Tender is the story of Lucy, the daughter of a marine biologist and a rescue diver, and the summer that changes her life. If she ever wants to lift the cloud of grief over her family and community, she must complete the research her late mother began. She must follow the sharks.
Wherever the sharks led, Lucy Everhart’s marine-biologist mother was sure to follow. In fact, she was on a boat far off the coast of Massachusetts, preparing to swim with a Great White, when she died suddenly. Lucy was eight. Since then Lucy and her father have done OK—thanks in large part to her best friend, Fred, and a few close friends and neighbors. But June of her twelfth summer brings more than the end of school and a heat wave to sleepy Rockport. On one steamy day, the tide brings a Great White—and then another tragedy, cutting short a friendship everyone insists was “meaningful” but no one can tell Lucy what it all meant. To survive the fresh wave of grief, Lucy must grab the line that connects her depressed father, a stubborn fisherman, and a curious old widower to her mother’s unfinished research. If Lucy can find a way to help this unlikely quartet follow the sharks her mother loved, she’ll finally be able to look beyond what she’s lost and toward what’s left to be discovered.
[loud gasp] PRETTY WHALES ON THE COVER, I REPEAT, PRETTY WHALES ON THE CO–
…eh, I’m really not sure if I’m invested in this one, either. Reminds me a bit of “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou,” but I don’t think I’m interested (even though I loved that movie).
VERDICT: LET GO
LET GO: 6
Rejoice! My most successful Down the TBR Hole to date! This is the first time the number of books I’ve let go surpasses the ones I’ve kept, which I’ll take as a good sign. I’ve found several books that I no longer want to read, and I’ve found a few that I’d forgotten about and still want to read. Now, excuse me while I check if my library has copies of those books that I kept…