MONTHLY WRAP-UP #15 | April 2020

Yeesh, this month was…something. I didn’t really read any physical books. Out of the six books I read, only one was a physical book from the library. The rest were audiobooks. I actually listened to more music: I’ve listened to nine albums vs. reading six books. But honestly? With everything going on, reading was a lot harder this month than listening to music. But anyway, here’s everything that I’ve done throughout the month!

BOOKS COMPLETED/DNF’D

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

  • spoopy mystery about a young woman learning about what happened to her aunt
  • it was more mystery than horror, but I still enjoyed it
  • the romance was super lackluster for me though, lol
  • 4.5/5⭐

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

  • a non-fiction book about the history of Western indigenous people and how the United States fucked them over continuously
  • it makes it clear that much of what people learn about the relations between indigenous people and the US government is often glossed over
  • I think if I read the physical book, it’d be a bit better, but I found myself lost as to who and where the author was talking about
  • 3.5/5⭐

The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

  • a book about vampires, where it spreads similar to a disease
  • should I have read this during an actual pandemic? Probs not, but here we are
  • it was okay — it wasn’t horrible, but it was nothing groundbreaking either
  • however, there’s literally no thought out, well-written characters that are women. Like. The only one we get is a woman who only serves as the MC’s possible love interest, and she isn’t even in the final battle scene because she ~has to take care of the MC’s son~
  • 3.5/5⭐

All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney

  • a pretty light contemporary about a Muslim girl trying to get back in touch with her faith
  • it was alright, but the LI was…super bland? I don’t think he had that much depth at all, which made me not care for the romance, lol
  • I’m not going to say anything about how Islam and different inter-community discussions were portrayed because I’m an atheist and have no personal connection to Islam, but I will say that I enjoyed the MC’s journey throughout the novel
  • But also, I will point out that the book makes it sound like there are no exceptions to fasting when it comes to Ramadan, and I know for sure that’s not true. Just wanted to point that out
  • 3.5/5⭐

Mirage by Somaiya Daud

  • I got through about three chapters and the prologue of the audiobook, and I ended up DNFing
  • it wasn’t bad, necessarily, but it wasn’t what I thought it was; it’s, like, this weird fusion of fantasy and sci-fi, and I wasn’t expecting that
  • it just wasn’t a book for me
  • no rating

Middle School’s a Drag by Greg Howard

  • this was a cute contemporary MG book about a boy running his own “talent agency” while also trying to figure out how to be more confident with his gay identity
  • I really enjoyed the discussion the MC had with himself about if he’s “gay enough” because he doesn’t act like a “stereotypical” gay boy
  • however, I’m not a huge fan of the bully being let off the hook for…basically no reason?
  • it was nice to see the amount of diversity in the book, though

BOOKS STARTED BUT NOT YET COMPLETED OR DNF’D

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

  • 68/561 pages (at the end of April — now, at the time of writing, I’m a lot further along)
  • who was going to tell me that there’s FAKE DATING?
  • I’m so excited for the rest of this series

TV SHOWS/MOVIES WATCHED

Bob’s Burgers, season 2 and part of season 3

  • I’ve been casually watching it as I work on my book journal and/or blog at night
  • I still love the humor
  • maybe I can get through another couple seasons this month
  • 10/10, probably going to watch again once I’m caught up

Detective Pikachu

  • I FINALLY GOT AROUND TO WATCHING THIS
  • I can die happy now
  • seriously, the Pokemon looked so good, I loved it
  • will definitely re-watch when I need a pick-me-up

MUSIC LISTENED TO

We Are Not Your Kind by Slipknot

  • *pretends to be shocked*
  • anyway, still a banger

Feathers & Flesh by Avatar

  • I believe I listened to this back in February, but I wanted to listen to it again, so I know if I want to put it into my general playlist
  • it’s still a good album, and I’m glad to be getting back into the band

Hail the Apocalypse by Avatar

  • every single song on this album sounds like it was made for pirates, and you can’t tell me otherwise
  • it’s just a snazzy group of songs

Blood Mountain ; Crack the Skye ; The Hunter ; Once More ‘Round the Sun; Emperor of Sand by Mastodon

  • these are five different albums, but they’re all by the same band, so I figured I would group them all together
  • another one of those “used to listen to them a lot, stopped for a few years, and I’m now back to listening them” things
  • highly recommend

The Nothing by Korn

  • me? liking every song of a Korn album? I know, I’m surprised, too
  • seriously, though, good stuff

VIDEO GAMES PLAYED

Pokemon Sword

  • my boyfriend got it for me for my birthday!!!
  • I haven’t played a ton of it, but I’m having a lot of fun
  • my team has two normal types, and no, I am not getting rid of the them. Wooloo and Skwovet are staying forever

Untitled Goose Game

  • a relaxing game to play when you’re trying not to think about the state of the world rn
  • honk honk, motherfucker

And that’s it for the month of April! Let me know what you did during April, whether it was reading or another hobby/activity, in the comments! 🙂

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LIST #17 | 12 Queer/LGBTQ+ April 2020 Releases

…Better late than never, right?

Crown of Smoke (Shadowscent, #2)

Crown of Smoke by P.M. Freestone

Pub. Date: 2 April

Synopsis:

In the empire of Aramtesh, scent has power. In the first volume, the prince was found poisoned in the temple, sparking a high-stakes quest for an antidote. In the explosive conclusion, Rakel and Ash are separated as the empire hurtles towards civil war, and everyone must choose a side.

Rep: bi MC

Bonds of Brass (The Bloodright Trilogy #1)

Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie

Pub. Date: 7 April

Synopsis:

A young pilot risks everything to save his best friend–the man he trusts most and might even love–only to learn that he’s secretly the heir to a brutal galactic empire.

Ettian Nassun’s life was shattered when the merciless Umber Empire invaded. He’s spent seven years putting himself back together under its rule, joining an Umber military academy and becoming the best pilot in his class. Even better, he’s met Gal Veres–his exasperating and infuriatingly enticing roommate who’s made the Academy feel like a new home.

But when dozens of classmates spring an assassination plot on Gal, a devastating secret comes to light: Gal is the heir to the Umber Empire. Ettian barely manages to save his best friend and flee the compromised Academy unscathed, rattled both that Gal stands to inherit the empire that broke him and that there are still people willing to fight back against Umber rule. As they piece together a way to deliver Gal safely to his throne, Ettian finds himself torn in half by an impossible choice. Does he save the man who’s won his heart and trust that Gal’s goodness could transform the empire? Or does he throw his lot in with the brewing rebellion and fight to take back what’s rightfully theirs?

Rep: men loving men MCs

Credit: Theresa @fettestheresa

Sword in the Stars (Once & Future #2)

The Sword in the Stars by Amy Rose Capetta and Cory McCarthy

Pub. Date: 7 April

Synopsis:

In this epic sequel to Once & Future, to save the future, Ari and her Rainbow knights pull off a heist…thousands of years in the past.

Ari Helix may have won her battle against the tyrannical Mercer corporation, but the larger war has just begun. Ari and her cursed wizard Merlin must travel back in time to the unenlightened Middle Ages and steal the King Arthur’s Grail—the very definition of impossible.
It’s imperative that the time travelers not skew the timeline and alter the course of history. Coming face-to-face with the original Arthurian legend could produce a ripple effect that changes everything. Somehow Merlin forgot that the past can be even more dangerous than the future…

Rep: bi/pan character; non-binary character; demiboy character; ace character; f/f relationship

The Stone of Sorrow (Runecaster, #1)

The Stone of Sorrow by Brooke Carter

Pub. Date: 7 April

Synopsis:

In a land of myth and ice, seventeen-year-old Runa Unnursdóttir is not the runecaster her clan has been hoping for. She spends her days daydreaming of sailing away and exploring the world instead of studying the runes and learning her spells. The villagers consider her odd, in looks and in manner. She’s nothing like her talented sister, Sýr, keeper of the sacred moonstone that ensures the village’s continued survival. But when a rival clan led by an evil witch raids the village and kidnaps her sister, Runa is forced to act. With a fallen Valkyrie by her side, and the help of a gorgeous half-elf Runa is not quite sure she can trust, the apprentice must travel to the site of an ancient runecasting competition to try to win back the magical gem. But the journey will not be easy; the three unlikely companions encounter malevolent and supernatural creatures at every turn. Somehow, Runa must summon the courage and strength to face her destiny, a destiny she never wanted. Or die trying.

Rep: f/f relationship; sapphic characters; non-binary side character

Somebody Told Me

Somebody Told Me by Mia Siegert

Pub. Date: 7 April

Synopsis:

A novel of trauma, identity, and survival.

After an assault, bigender seventeen-year-old Aleks/Alexis is looking for a fresh start―so they voluntarily move in with their uncle, a Catholic priest. In their new bedroom, Aleks/Alexis discovers they can overhear parishioners in the church confessional. Moved by the struggles of these “sinners,” Aleks/Alexis decides to anonymously help them, finding solace in their secret identity: a guardian angel instead of a victim.

But then Aleks/Alexis overhears a confession of another priest admitting to sexually abusing a parishioner. As they try to uncover the priest’s identity before he hurts anyone again, Aleks/Alexis is also forced to confront their own abuser and come to terms with their past trauma.

Rep: bigender MC

Note: Please take note of the trigger/content warnings

Elysium Girls

Elysium Girls by Kate Pentecost

Pub. Date: 14 April

Synopsis:

In this sweeping Dust Bowl-inspired fantasy, a ten-year game between Life and Death pits the walled Oklahoma city of Elysium-including a girl gang of witches and a demon who longs for humanity-against the supernatural in order to judge mankind.

When Sal is named Successor to Mother Morevna, a powerful witch and leader of Elysium, she jumps at the chance to prove herself to the town. Ever since she was a kid, Sal has been plagued by false visions of rain, and though people think she’s a liar, she knows she’s a leader. Even the arrival of enigmatic outsider Asa-a human-obsessed demon in disguise-doesn’t shake her confidence in her ability. Until a terrible mistake results in both Sal and Asa’s exile into the Desert of Dust and Steel.

Face-to-face with a brutal, unforgiving landscape, Sal and Asa join a gang of girls headed by another Elysium exile-and young witch herself-Olivia Rosales. In order to atone for their mistake, they create a cavalry of magic powered, scrap metal horses to save Elysium from the coming apocalypse. But Sal, Asa, and Olivia must do more than simply tip the scales in Elysium’s favor-only by reinventing the rules can they beat the Life and Death at their own game.

Rep: sapphic MC

Fin & Rye & Fireflies

Finn and Rye and Fireflies by Harry Cook

Pub. Date: 20 April

Synopsis:

“It started with a kiss…as love stories often do. Jesse Andrews had the arms of a Greek god and he was on the track team. The night of our kiss fell on a Friday.”

Then, only a few days later, Fin’s world is turned upside down – and not in a good head-over-heels-in-love way – when Jesse cruelly outs him. An event which ultimately leads to his family leaving town.

But a fresh start isn’t going to change the truth of who Fin is. And it’s not going to stop his sexuality causing everyone all sorts of problems. Everyone, that is, apart from his new best friend Poppy, her girlfriend-in-waiting June, and his new crush Rye… So, while Fin and Rye are enjoying some seriously intimate moonlit moments together, Fin’s parents decide to pack him off to the local ReSouled ‘therapy camp’.

It’s a nightmare – and there’s no easy way out. Can Fin’s squad hatch a plan outrageous enough to spring him before the ‘conversion’ acolytes force him into the straight and narrow?

Rep: gay mc; men loving men character; f/f side relationship; sapphic side characters

The Deck of Omens (The Devouring Gray, #2)

The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman

Pub. Date: 21 April

Synopsis:

The teenagers of Four Paths must save their home.

Though the Beast is seemingly subdued for now, a new threat looms in Four Paths: a corruption seeping from the Gray into the forest. And with the other Founders preoccupied by their tangled alliances and fraying relationships, only May Hawthorne seems to realize the danger. But saving the town she loves means seeking aid from the person her family despises most–her and Justin’s father.

May’s father isn’t the only newcomer in town–Isaac Sullivan’s older brother has also returned, seeking forgiveness for the role he played in Isaac’s troubled past. But Isaac isn’t ready to let go of his family’s history, especially when that history might hold the key that he and Violet Saunders need to destroy the Gray and the monster within it.

Harper Carlisle isn’t ready to forgive, either. Two devastating betrayals have left her isolated from her family and uncertain who to trust. As the corruption becomes impossible to ignore, Harper must learn to control her newfound powers in order to protect Four Paths. But the only people who can help her do that are the ones who have hurt her the most.

With the veil between the Gray and the town growing ever thinner, all of the Founder descendants must put their grievances with one another aside to stop the corruption and kill the Beast once and for all.

But maybe the monster they truly need to slay has never been the Beast…

Rep: bi MCs; men loving men SC

Credit: Theresa @fettestheresa

Late to the Party

Late to the Party by Kelly Quindlen

Pub. Date: 21 April

Synopsis:

Seventeen is nothing like Codi Teller imagined.

She’s never crashed a party, never stayed out too late. She’s never even been kissed. And it’s not just because she’s gay. It’s because she and her two best friends, Maritza and JaKory, spend more time in her basement watching Netflix than engaging with the outside world.

So when Maritza and JaKory suggest crashing a party, Codi is highly skeptical. Those parties aren’t for kids like them. They’re for cool kids. Straight kids.

But then Codi stumbles upon one of those cool kids, Ricky, kissing another boy in the dark, and an unexpected friendship is formed. In return for never talking about that kiss, Ricky takes Codi under his wing and draws her into a wild summer filled with late nights, new experiences, and one really cute girl named Lydia.

The only problem? Codi never tells Maritza or JaKory about any of it.

From author Kelly Quindlen comes a poignant and deeply relatable story about friendship, self-acceptance, what it means to be a Real Teenager. Late to the Party is an ode to late bloomers and wallflowers everywhere.

Rep: lesbian MC; f/f relationship; men loving men SCs; women loving women SCs

Verona Comics

Verona Comics by Jennifer Dugan

Pub. Date: 21 April

Synopsis:

From the author of Hot Dog Girl comes a fresh and funny queer YA contemporary novel about two teens who fall in love in an indie comic book shop.

Jubilee has it all together. She’s an elite cellist, and when she’s not working in her stepmom’s indie comic shop, she’s prepping for the biggest audition of her life.

Ridley is barely holding it together. His parents own the biggest comic-store chain in the country, and Ridley can’t stop disappointing them—that is, when they’re even paying attention.

They meet one fateful night at a comic convention prom, and the two can’t help falling for each other. Too bad their parents are at each other’s throats every chance they get, making a relationship between them nearly impossible…unless they manage to keep it a secret.

Then again, the feud between their families may be the least of their problems. As Ridley’s anxiety spirals, Jubilee tries to help but finds her focus torn between her fast-approaching audition and their intensifying relationship. What if love can’t conquer all? What if each of them needs more than the other can give?

Rep: bi MCs

All Boys Aren't Blue

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

Pub. Date: 28 April

Synopsis:

In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.

Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren’t Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson’s emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.

Rep: non-fiction memoir about being a queer Black boy

The Knockout Queen

The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe

Pub. Date: 28 April

Synopsis:

A dazzling and darkly comic novel of love, violence, and friendship in the California suburbs

Bunny Lampert is the princess of North Shore⁠–beautiful, tall, blond, with a rich real-estate-developer father and a swimming pool in her backyard. Michael⁠⁠–with a ponytail down his back and a septum piercing⁠–lives with his aunt in the cramped stucco cottage next door. When Bunny catches Michael smoking in her yard, he discovers that her life is not as perfect as it seems. At six foot three, Bunny towers over their classmates. Even as she dreams of standing out and competing in the Olympics, she is desperate to fit in, to seem normal, and to get a boyfriend, all while hiding her father’s escalating alcoholism. Michael has secrets of his own. At home and at school Michael pretends to be straight, but at night he tries to understand himself by meeting men online for anonymous encounters that both thrill and scare him. When Michael falls in love for the first time, a vicious strain of gossip circulates and a terrible, brutal act becomes the defining feature of both his and Bunny’s futures⁠⁠–and of their friendship. With storytelling as intoxicating as it is intelligent, Rufi Thorpe has created a tragic and unflinching portrait of identity, a fascinating examination of our struggles to exist in our bodies, and an excruciatingly beautiful story of two humans aching for connection.

Rep: gay MC

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REVIEW #68 | NOW I RISE by Kiersten White (The Conqueror’s Saga #2) (Mini Review)

Now I Rise (And I Darken Series, #2)

Title: Now I Rise

Author: Kiersten White

Series or Standalone?: The Conqueror’s Saga #2

Pub. Date: 27 June 2017

Synopsis (Goodreads):

She has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself.

After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada Dracul is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won…and souls will be lost.

Trigger/Content warnings:

  • I don’t…know all of them because I forgot to keep track, lmao
  • character death
  • blood and gore
  • sexism

Representation:

  • sapphic side characters
  • men loving men characters
  • Muslim characters
  • characters of color

⭐⭐⭐⭐
4/5 stars

  • Now I Rise takes place shortly after the events of And I Darken. Radu is ordered by Mehmed to live in Constantinople as a spy, and Lada is working on gaining support in order to take back Wallachia
  • Listen, going in, I didn’t think I would be rooting for Radu so much, but here we are. I love him, Nazira, and Cyprian, and I would probably die for all three of them
  • Lada’s development and story are super intriguing, and I can’t wait to see what the third book will bring for her
  • This was such a fun read for me — I have to get the third book ASAP!

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REVIEW #67 | STORM FRONT by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files #1) (Mini Review)

Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1)

Title: Storm Front

Author: Jim Butcher

Series or Standalone?: The Dresden Files #1

Pub. Date: 1 April 2000

Synopsis (Goodreads):

Harry Dresden — Wizard

Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations.
Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or
Other Entertainment.

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things — and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a — well, whatever.

There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get… interesting.

Magic. It can get a guy killed.

Trigger/Content warnings:

  • I…can’t remember all of them.
  • blood
  • gore
  • dead bodies
  • misogyny/sexism

Representation:

  • …literally nothing, lmao

⭐⭐
2/5 stars

  • Storm Front follows a wizard named Harry Dresden, who hires himself out as a private investigator/consultant. As a string of murders comes to light, all clues pointing to Harry, he has to find out quickly who’s framing him
  • Yes, hi, hello, I uhh really hated this book
  • I do not like Harry as a character. Like. At all. He’s so misogynistic, and he hits me as the “m’lady” type
  • Literally none of the woman characters (like…three??? maybe???) are written well at all. They’re all flat caricatures. I mean, tbh, all the characters are pretty flat, but it was really obvious with the characters who were women
  • This is definitely a personal thing, and not an objectively bad thing, but I found the plot boring because it was one of those police procedural-type books. I love them as TV shows, but not as books; I just find them as boring
  • On top of that, I felt like the world-building was a bit lackluster
  • The two stars go entirely to the talking skull
  • I know that some of these problems would probably be resolved the longer the series goes, but uhhh, I’m not giving my time and effort to a book series with over 15 books and not knowing if the payback is worth it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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DISCUSSION #12 | Book Twitter, Book “Purity”, and Why So Many of Y’all Need to Just Chill Out

Hi everyone, and welcome back to my blog! Today, I’m doing my first discussion post in…over a year? I think? The topic is probably going to ruffle some feathers, which I love. I’ve been wanting to talk about it for a while, but I haven’t because of my hiatus, and then the pandemic, and then my other hiatus…you get the deal. Anyway, it’s about the bookish community and the idea that some of us have over what I’m going to call “book purity”. Enter generic disclaimer: not here to “come for” specific people, blah blah blah, whatever, y’all know the drill by now.

So, basically, I’ve been on book Twitter for over a year (possibly two?), and I have noticed overarching ideas/themes that many people on book Twitter seem to support and/or adhere to. Many of these come around, like, every month or so, such as that of audiobooks counting as reading for example. One thing I specifically notice from time to time is how many readers think of books as sacred items that should be cherished. And hey, I get that. A lot of us have a lot of love for books, whether we own them or not. There is no problem in that.

What I tend to notice, though, is a good number of people take this to the extreme, especially when the discussion of annotating is brought up. I’ll say it: some of y’all need to chill. I see a lot of people talking about how horrible annotating is and saying stuff like, “But how could you POSSIBLY write in your books? The audacity!!!” (obviously, this is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point).

These sorts of statements are quite often the embodiment of pearl-clutching, and I can’t help but laugh and shake my head sometimes whenever I see them. Lots of people say that we should all respect each others’ opinions in the book community, but then turn around and go after annotating in one’s own books as if it were the Antichrist (and, well, go after plenty other things that has me rolling my eyes, but I digress). I don’t have a screenshot or anything, but I even specifically remember someone on Twitter say that they would rather cut their own hand off than write in and “deface” a book.

Uh.

Y’all.

What the fuck.

Bit over the top, dontcha think? I mean, do whatever you want with your books — keep them immaculate, for all I care — but why is it so hard to fathom that people write (and enjoy writing!) in their own books? Why does that make some of you so uncomfortable that you say you would cause bodily harm to yourself before ever doing it? It just seems a bit ridiculous to me.

Going back to the fact that the community tends to have the “respect others’ opinions!!!” debate every other week, it seems pretty hypocritical to be so up in other people’s faces about…something that literally has no effect on others. Why is it that whenever the subject of annotating comes up, some people have to barge in with how they think it’s defacing a book? Especially if it’s someone who wants to start annotating or isn’t sure how to do it. To me, it’s just becoming rude at this point. We have the “””let people enjoy whatever they want to enjoy””” conversation every two hours, but so many of you are suddenly Jared (age 19), convienently forget about that conversation, and then barge into someone’s mentions, talking about how you absolutely loathe annotating.

Obviously, if someone is asking for opinions, talk about your personal feelings about it. But maybe reflect on why you have the urge to go off in someone else’s mentions when they’re just wondering on how to annotate, not people’s opinions on whether annotating books should be done in general.

Anyway, this quickly turned into a rambling mess (let’s be honest, it was a mess this whole time), so let me just stop here. Again, I’m not “””coming for””” specific people. I just observe certain themes a lot of people on Book Twitter talk about. I’m saying that it might be helpful to reflect on your feelings and why you feel the need to tell others your (usually unsolicited) opinion.

But yeah, that’s that, hope y’all enjoyed this mess of a discussion!

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REVIEW #66 | LABYRINTH LOST by Zoraida Córdova (Brooklyn Brujas #1)

Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas, #1)

Title: Labyrinth Lost

Author: Zoraida Córdova

Series or Standalone?: Brookly Brujas #1

Publishing Date: 1 August 2017

Synopsis (Goodreads):

“I was chosen by the Deos. Even gods make mistakes.

“Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo she can’t trust, but who may be Alex’s only chance at saving her family.”

Trigger/Content warnings:

  • blood/gore
  • genre-typical violence
  • kidnapped family
  • [Note: there’s probably more, but I didn’t write down the list as I was reading, and…it’s been a couple months]

Representation:

  • bi Afro-Latinx girl MC
  • Latinx side character
  • sapphic Indian side character
  • [Note: …look back to the first note, lmao]

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
5/5 stars

All you need to know about this book is that, outside of Rashani Chokshi, Zoraida Córdova is the only author I found so far that can make a real good love triangle. Anyways, that means I love it.

Labyrinth Lost is the first book in a YA urban fantasy/supernatural series about a young Afro-Latinx girl, Alex, who is also a bruja (a witch). Alex doesn’t see the good in magic, and perceives it as something inherently bad.

So, on her Deathday (where her friends and family come together to celebrate her emerging powers), she attempts a spell in order to get rid of her powers. But instead, her family disappears.

In order to find them, Alex must team up with her friend Rishi and Nova, another brujo. Cue the epic adventure!

I said this at the beginning of the review, but holy fucking shit, this love triangle, y’all. It didn’t feel forced, it didn’t feel like the two love interests are competing for Alex as if she were simply a “prize.” It just felt…good. Depending on how the rest of the books go, I can definitely see myself shipping these characters as a polyam trio. Please, Mx. Córdova, give us the polyam trio we deserve. 😌

Also, I just really love these characters! Alex is such an interesting protagonist for me: she loves her family to bits, but she also hates her magic, which is so important to her family — how can she reconcile these two things? It was really interesting for me to see her struggle with this internally throughout the novel, and I can’t wait to see how this continues throughout the series.

And Rishi and Nova?? They are perfect, too, and they can do no wrong. Seriously, Rishi is such a good friend to Alex, and Nova made me like the “bad boy” trope, which is a feat. I usually hate that trope. Look at what Zoraida is doing, she’s making me like tropes I normally hate. That right there? Pure, unadulterated skill. We love to see it.

Honestly, though, this was such a fun book for me to read! The focus on family was amazing, the love triangle was *chef’s kiss*, Alex’s character development is so good, and! This is just a little thing, but any non-English words that pop up? Aren’t italicized! It’s small, but it makes me smile. So, yeah, overall? This was a wonderful urban fantasy/supernatural book, and I can’t wait to pick up the series when I get a chance!

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LIST #16 | 32 Queer/LGBTQ+ March 2020 Releases

I’m a bit late (a whole month) with this, but I still wanted to get it out to you all! March was a very busy month: I have a whole 32 books for you, and that is just what I could personally fine and what others have recommeded me. I am sure there are a lot more.

Read on for 30+ more queer books to add to your TBR. 🙂

The Winter Duke

The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett

Pub. Date: 3 March 2020

Synopsis:

An enchanted tale of intrigue where a duke’s daughter is the only survivor of a magical curse.

When Ekata’s brother is finally named heir, there will be nothing to keep her at home in Kylma Above with her murderous family. Not her books or science experiments, not her family’s icy castle atop a frozen lake, not even the tantalizingly close Kylma Below, a mesmerizing underwater kingdom that provides her family with magic. But just as escape is within reach, her parents and twelve siblings fall under a strange sleeping sickness.

In the space of a single night, Ekata inherits the title of duke, her brother’s warrior bride, and ever-encroaching challengers from without—and within—her own ministry. Nothing has prepared Ekata for diplomacy, for war, for love…or for a crown she has never wanted. If Kylma Above is to survive, Ekata must seize her family’s power. And if Ekata is to survive, she must quickly decide how she will wield it.

Part Sleeping Beauty, part Anastasia, with a thrilling political mystery, The Winter Duke is a spellbinding story about choosing what’s right in the face of danger.

Rep: f/f relationship; sapphic characters

Credit: Rho @ReaderofHonoku

The House in the Cerulean Sea

House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

Pub. Date: 17 March 2020

Synopsis:

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

Rep: mlm (#OwnVoices); m/m relationship

Credit: Laura @QueerlyAsexual

Docile

Docile by K.M. Szpara

Pub. Date: 3 March 2020

Synopsis:

There is no consent under capitalism

Docile is a science fiction parable about love and sex, wealth and debt, abuse and power, a challenging tour de force that at turns seduces and startles.

To be a Docile is to be kept, body and soul, for the uses of the owner of your contract. To be a Docile is to forget, to disappear, to hide inside your body from the horrors of your service. To be a Docile is to sell yourself to pay your parents’ debts and buy your children’s future.

Elisha Wilder’s family has been ruined by debt, handed down to them from previous generations. His mother never recovered from the Dociline she took during her term as a Docile, so when Elisha decides to try and erase the family’s debt himself, he swears he will never take the drug that took his mother from him. Too bad his contract has been purchased by Alexander Bishop III, whose ultra-rich family is the brains (and money) behind Dociline and the entire Office of Debt Resolution. When Elisha refuses Dociline, Alex refuses to believe that his family’s crowning achievement could have any negative side effects—and is determined to turn Elisha into the perfect Docile without it.

Rep: mlm (#OwnVoices); trans author

Credit: Laura @QueerlyAsexual

Note: Please take note of the trigger/content warnings for this novel

Queerleaders

Queerleaders by M.B. Guel

Pub. Date: 15 March 2020

Synopsis:

Mackenzie is used to being different from other kids―and to being bullied for not fitting into the rigid social expectations of her Catholic High School. Luckily, Mack’s best friend Lila has her back so school isn’t the total hell it could be. But it’s pretty damn close.

Until something very mysterious happens―Mack becomes a cheerleader magnet. Even she has a hard time believing it. And Lila is not too happy about her friend’s sudden popularity with the cool kids.

Is Mack being set up for an epic fail? Or is she finally headed for acceptance–and maybe even romance…

Rep: wlw; lesbian character; f/f relationship

Credit: Laura @QueerlyAsexual

The Electric Heir (Feverwake #2)

Electric Heir by Victoria Lee

Pub. Date: 17 March 2020

Synopsis:

In the sequel to The Fever King, Noam Álvaro seeks to end tyranny before he becomes a tyrant himself.

Six months after Noam Álvaro helped overthrow the despotic government of Carolinia, the Atlantians have gained citizenship, and Lehrer is chancellor. But despite Lehrer’s image as a progressive humanitarian leader, Noam has finally remembered the truth that Lehrer forced him to forget—that Lehrer is responsible for the deadly magic infection that ravaged Carolinia.

Now that Noam remembers the full extent of Lehrer’s crimes, he’s determined to use his influence with Lehrer to bring him down for good. If Lehrer realizes Noam has evaded his control—and that Noam is plotting against him—Noam’s dead. So he must keep playing the role of Lehrer’s protégé until he can steal enough vaccine to stop the virus.

Meanwhile Dara Shirazi returns to Carolinia, his magic stripped by the same vaccine that saved his life. But Dara’s attempts to ally himself with Noam prove that their methods for defeating Lehrer are violently misaligned. Dara fears Noam has only gotten himself more deeply entangled in Lehrer’s web. Sooner or later, playing double agent might cost Noam his life.

Rep: bi MC; gay MC

Credit: Laura @QueerlyAsexual

American Sweethearts (Dreamers, #4)

American Sweethearts by Adriana Herrera

Pub. Date: 30 March 2020

Synopsis:

Juan Pablo Campos doesn’t do regrets. He’s living the dream as a physical therapist with his beloved New York Yankees. He has the best friends and family in the world and simply no time to dwell on what could’ve been.

Except when it comes to Priscilla, the childhood friend he’s loved for what seems like forever.

New York City police detective Priscilla Gutierrez has never been afraid to go after what she wants. Second guessing herself isn’t a thing she does. But lately, the once-clear vision she had for herself—her career, her relationships, her life—is no longer what she wants.

What she especially doesn’t want is to be stuck on a private jet to the Dominican Republic with JuanPa, the one person who knows her better than anyone else.

By the end of a single week in paradise, the love/hate thing JuanPa and Pris have been doing for sixteen years has risen to epic proportions. No one can argue their connection is still there. And they can both finally admit—if only to themselves—they’ve always been a perfect match. The future they dreamed of together is still within reach…if they can just accept each other as they are.

Rep: bi MCs

Credit: Laura @QueerlyAsexual

Witches of Ash and Ruin

Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer

Pub. Date: 3 March 2020

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Dayna Walsh is struggling to cope with her somatic OCD; the aftermath of being outed as bisexual in her conservative Irish town; and the return of her long-absent mother, who barely seems like a parent. But all that really matters to her is ascending and finally, finally becoming a full witch-plans that are complicated when another coven, rumored to have a sordid history with black magic, arrives in town with premonitions of death. Dayna immediately finds herself at odds with the bewitchingly frustrating Meiner King, the granddaughter of their coven leader.

And then a witch turns up murdered at a local sacred site, along with the blood symbol of the Butcher of Manchester-an infamous serial killer whose trail has long gone cold. The killer’s motives are enmeshed in a complex web of witches and gods, and Dayna and Meiner soon find themselves at the center of it all. If they don’t stop the Butcher, one of them will be next.

With razor-sharp prose and achingly real characters, E. Latimer crafts a sweeping, mesmerizing story of dark magic and brutal mythology set against a backdrop of contemporary Ireland that’s impossible to put down.

Rep: bi MC; wlw; f/f relationship

Credit: Laura @QueerlyAsexual

The Animals at Lockwood Manor

Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey

Pub. Date: 10 March 2020

Synopsis:

A debut novel for fans of Sarah Perry and Kate Morton: when a young woman is tasked with safeguarding a natural history collection as it is spirited out of London during World War II, she discovers her new manor home is a place of secrets and terror instead of protection.

In August 1939, thirty-year-old Hetty Cartwright arrives at Lockwood Manor to oversee a natural history museum collection, whose contents have been taken out of London for safekeeping. She is unprepared for the scale of protecting her charges from party guests, wild animals, the elements, the tyrannical Major Lockwood and Luftwaffe bombs. Most of all, she is unprepared for the beautiful and haunted Lucy Lockwood.

For Lucy, who has spent much of her life cloistered at Lockwood suffering from bad nerves, the arrival of the museum brings with it new freedoms. But it also resurfaces memories of her late mother, and nightmares in which Lucy roams Lockwood hunting for something she has lost.

When the animals appear to move of their own accord, and exhibits go missing, they begin to wonder what exactly it is that they might need protection from. And as the disasters mount up, it is not only Hetty’s future employment that is in danger, but her own sanity too. There’s something, or someone, in the house. Someone stalking her through its darkened corridors . . .

Rep: sapphic characters

Credit: Rach @rh_aitken

Hex

Hex by Rebecca Dinerstein Knight

Pub. Date: 31 March 2020

Synopsis:

Nell Barber, an expelled PhD candidate in biological science, is exploring the fine line between poison and antidote, working alone to set a speed record for the detoxification of poisonous plants. Her mentor, Dr. Joan Kallas, is the hero of Nell’s heart. Nell frequently finds herself standing in the doorway to Joan’s office despite herself, mesmerized by Joan’s elegance, success, and spiritual force.

Surrounded by Nell’s ex, her best friend, her best friend’s boyfriend, and Joan’s buffoonish husband, the two scientists are tangled together at the center of a web of illicit relationships, grudges, and obsessions. All six are burdened by desire and ambition, and as they collide on the university campus, their attractions set in motion a domino effect of affairs and heartbreak.

Meanwhile, Nell slowly fills her empty apartment with poisonous plants to study, and she begins to keep a series of notebooks, all dedicated to Joan. She logs her research and how she spends her days, but the notebooks ultimately become a painstaking map of love.

Rep: sapphic characters

Credit: Rach @rh_aitken

The Love Hypothesis

The Love Hypothesis by Laura Steven

Pub. Date: 5 March 2020

Synopsis:

Physics genius Caro Kerber-Murphy knows she’s smart. With straight As and a college scholarship already in the bag, she’s meeting her two dads’ colossal expectations and then some. But there’s one test she’s never quite been able to ace: love. And when, in a particularly desperate moment, Caro discovers a (definitely questionable) scientific breakthrough that promises to make you irresistible to everyone around you, she wonders if this could be the key. What happens next will change everything Caro thought she knew chemistry – in the lab and in love.

Is her long-time crush Haruki with her of his own free will? Are her feelings for her best girl friend some sort of side-effect? Will her dog, Sirius, ever stop humping her leg?

Rep: bi rep (#OwnVoices)

Credit: Rach (@rh_aitken)

We Are Totally Normal

We Are Totally Normal by Rahul Kanakia

Pub. Date: 31 March 2020

Synopsis:

Nandan’s got a plan to make his junior year perfect. He’s going to make sure all the parties are chill, he’s going to smooth things over with his ex, and he’s going to help his friend Dave get into the popular crowd—whether Dave wants to or not. The high school social scene might be complicated, but Nandan is sure he’s cracked the code.

Then, one night after a party, Dave and Nandan hook up, which was not part of the plan—especially because Nandan has never been into guys. Still, Dave’s cool, and Nandan’s willing to give it a shot, even if that means everyone starts to see him differently.

But while Dave takes to their new relationship with ease, Nandan’s completely out of his depth. And the more his anxiety grows about what his sexuality means for himself, his friends, and his social life, the more he wonders whether he can just take it all back. But is breaking up with the only person who’s ever really gotten him worth feeling “normal” again?

From Rahul Kanakia comes a raw and deeply felt story about rejecting labels, seeking connection, and finding yourself.

Rep: questioning MC; m/m relationship

Credit: Rach @rh_aitken

The Midnight Lie (The Midnight Lie, #1)

The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

Pub. Date: 3 March 2020

Synopsis:

Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences.

Nirrim keeps her head down and a dangerous secret close to her chest.

But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away who whispers rumors that the High Caste possesses magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.

Set in the world of the New York Times–bestselling Winner’s Trilogy, beloved author Marie Rutkoski returns with an epic LGBTQ romantic fantasy about learning to free ourselves from the lies others tell us—and the lies we tell ourselves.

Rep: f/f relationship

Credit: Rach @rh_aitken

We Were Promised Spotlights

We Were Promised Spotlights by Lindsay Sproul

Pub. Date: 24 March 2020

Synopsis:

The Miseducation of Cameron Post meets Everything Leads to You in this queer young adult novel.

Taylor Garland’s good looks have earned her the admiration of everyone in her small town. She’s homecoming queen, the life of every party, and she’s on every boy’s most-wanted list.

People think Taylor is living the dream, and assume she’ll stay in town and have kids with the homecoming king–maybe even be a dental hygienist if she’s super ambitious. But Taylor is actually desperate to leave home, and she hates the smell of dentists’ offices. Also? She’s completely in love with her best friend, Susan.

Senior year is almost over, and everything seems perfect. Now Taylor just has to figure out how to throw it all away.

Lindsay Sproul’s debut is full of compelling introspection and painfully honest commentary on what it’s like to be harnessed to a destiny you never wanted.

Rep: lesbian MC and SCs; bi SCs

Enter the Aardvark

Enter the Aardvark by Jessica Anthony

Pub. Date: 24 March 2020

Synopsis:

A young congressman discovers a mysterious stuffed aardvark on his doorstep and sets out on a rip-roaring journey to find out what it means.

It’s early one morning on a hot day in August, and millennial congressman Alexander Paine Wilson (R), planning his first reelection campaign and in deep denial about his sexuality, receives a mysterious, over-sized FedEx delivery on his front stoop. Inside is a gigantic taxidermied aardvark.

This outrageous, edge-of-your-seat novel hurtles between contemporary Washington, D.C., where Wilson tries to get rid of the unsightly beast before it destroys his career, and Victorian England–where we meet Titus Downing, the taxidermist who stuffed the aardvark, and Richard Ostlet, the naturalist who hunted her. Our present world, we begin to see, has been shaped in profound and disturbing ways by the secret that binds these men.

Rep: questioning/queer MC

Credit: Rach @rh_aitken

Don't You Know I Love You

Don’t You Know I Love You by Laura Bogart

Pub. Date: 10 March 2020

Synopsis:

The last place Angelina Moltisanti ever wants to go is home. She barely escaped life under the roof, and the thumb, of her violent but charismatic father, Jack. Yet home is exactly where she ends up after an SUV plows into her car just weeks after she graduates from college, fracturing her wrist and her hopes to start a career as an artist.

Angelina finds herself smothered in a plaster cast, in Jack’s obsessive urge to get her a giant accident settlement, in her mother Marie’s desperation to have a second chance, and in her own stifled creativity – until she meets Janet, another young artist who inspires her to push herself into making the dynamic, unsettling work that tells the story of her scars, inside and out. But excavating this damage, as relations with her father become increasingly tense, will push Angelina into making a hard choice: will she embrace her father’s all-consuming and empowering rage, or find another kind of strength?

Rep: queer MC

Credit: Rach @rh_aitken

Note: Please take note that this book includes domestic violence

The Empress of Salt and Fortune

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

Pub. Date: 24 March 2020

Synopsis:

With the heart of an Atwood tale and the visuals of a classic Asian period drama The Empress of Salt and Fortune is a tightly and lushly written narrative about empire, storytelling, and the anger of women.

A young royal from the far north is sent south for a political marriage. Alone and sometimes reviled, she has only her servants on her side. This evocative debut chronicles her rise to power through the eyes of her handmaiden, at once feminist high fantasy and a thrilling indictment of monarchy.

Rep: non-binary MC

Credit: Rach @rh_aitken

The City We Became (Great Cities #1)

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

Pub. Date: 24 March 2020

Synopsis:

Five New Yorkers must come together in order to defend their city in the first book of a stunning new series by Hugo award-winning and NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin.

Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got five.

But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.

Rep: bi character; trans character

Credit: Rach @rh_aitken

Music from Another World

Music From Another World by Robin Talley

Pub. Date: 31 March 2020

Synopsis:

It’s summer 1977 and closeted lesbian Tammy Larson can’t be herself anywhere. Not at her strict Christian high school, not at her conservative Orange County church and certainly not at home, where her ultrareligious aunt relentlessly organizes antigay political campaigns. Tammy’s only outlet is writing secret letters in her diary to gay civil rights activist Harvey Milk…until she’s matched with a real-life pen pal who changes everything.

Sharon Hawkins bonds with Tammy over punk music and carefully shared secrets, and soon their letters become the one place she can be honest. The rest of her life in San Francisco is full of lies. The kind she tells for others–like helping her gay brother hide the truth from their mom–and the kind she tells herself. But as antigay fervor in America reaches a frightening new pitch, Sharon and Tammy must rely on their long-distance friendship to discover their deeply personal truths, what they’ll stand for…and who they’ll rise against.

A master of award-winning queer historical fiction, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley once again brings to life with heart and vivid detail an emotionally captivating story about the lives of two teen girls living in an age when just being yourself was an incredible act of bravery.

Rep: lesbian MC; gay SC; questioning gay MC

Credit: Harker @hermitlibrarian

Livingston Girls

Livingston Girls by Briana Morgan

Pub. Date: 24 March 2020

Synopsis:

“I see something in you, Miss Abbott, something I recognize. The potential for greatness, for channeling magic. For bending the world to your will.”

After an affair with her teacher, Rose’s parents ship her off to Livingston Academy, a stuffy all-girls’ boarding school. Ashamed of her past and herself, sixteen-year-old Rose just wants to chill, pass her classes, and make friends. The last thing on her mind is becoming a witch…

Until the enigmatic headmistress gives her the chance to join a coven secret from the rest of the school. Desperate to prove herself and looking for a purpose, the headmistress’s offer seems too perfect to pass up.

Rose puts on her metaphorical pointy hat and becomes a Livingston witch. She quickly discovers that the other witches don’t want her in their group—especially because she’s filling their dead friend’s space—but if they can’t band together, the witch-hunting headmaster of the boys’ school will kill them.

Meanwhile, Rose struggles to understand her growing feelings for her roommate, who may or may not hate her guts.

You know, typical boarding school stuff.

Rep: bi character (#OwnVoices); lesbian character; f/f relationship

Credit: Coryl @corylwrites

Silver Beasts

Silver Beasts by Emma Sterner-Radley

Pub. Date: 5 March 2020

Synopsis:

A dying world.
An academy to train seafaring heroes.
Four eighteen-year-olds trying to survive it all.

Silver beasts, lack of provisions, royal intrigue, and cloaked threats plague this realm. Four young people are chosen to attend the Hall of Explorers academy to train their minds, bodies, and magic, to sail and find their people a new world.
Representing the Lakelands, Eleksander, the sensitive boy with a shrouded past. From the North, Sabina, the rational warrior with her snowtiger. On behalf of the Woodlands, Hale, the fearless orphan with something to prove. From the Peaks, Avelynne, the insecure countess with a shameful secret.

Before they brave the unknown seas, they must complete their training. Not to mention getting to know each other and become a tight-knit team. Disturbing and bloody incidents soon make that even harder than it should be. Not knowing who to trust makes it worse.

They will have to face their individual issues and overcome them together if they’re to avoid becoming puppets in a game where they don’t understand the rules. Or worse, die before even finishing their training.

Rep: wlw characters; mlm characters

When We Were Magic

When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey

Pub. Date: 3 March 2020

Synopsis:

A moving, darkly funny novel about six teens whose magic goes wildly awry from Magic for Liars author Sarah Gailey, who Chuck Wendig calls an “author to watch.”

Keeping your magic a secret is hard. Being in love with your best friend is harder.

Alexis has always been able to rely on two things: her best friends, and the magic powers they all share. Their secret is what brought them together, and their love for each other is unshakeable—even when that love is complicated. Complicated by problems like jealousy, or insecurity, or lust. Or love.

That unshakeable, complicated love is one of the only things that doesn’t change on prom night.

When accidental magic goes sideways and a boy winds up dead, Alexis and her friends come together to try to right a terrible wrong. Their first attempt fails—and their second attempt fails even harder. Left with the remains of their failed spells and more consequences than anyone could have predicted, each of them must find a way to live with their part of the story.

Rep: wlw; f/f relationship

Rust Belt Femme

Rust Belt Femme by Raechel Anne Jolie

Pub. Date: 10 March 2020

Synopsis:

Raechel Anne Jolie’s early life in a working-class Cleveland exurb was full of race cars, Budweiser-drinking men covered in car grease, and the women who loved them. After her father came home from his third-shift job, took the garbage out to the curb and was hit by a drunk driver, her life changed.

Raechel and her mother struggled for money: they were evicted, went days without utilities, and took their trauma out on one another. Raechel escaped to the progressive suburbs of Cleveland Heights, leaving the tractors and ranch-style homes home in favor of a city with vintage marquees, music clubs, and people who talked about big ideas. It was the early 90s, full of Nirvana songs and chokers, flannel shirts and cut-off jean shorts, lesbian witches and local coffee shops.

Rust Belt Femme is the story of how these twin foundations—rural Ohio poverty and alternative 90s culture—made Raechel into who she is today: a queer femme with PTSD and a deep love of the Midwest.

Rep: queer non-fiction

The Mixtape to My Life

The Mixtape to My Life by Jake Martinez

Pub. Date: 27 March 2020

Synopsis:

Justin Ortega might as well be starring in his very own coming-of-age 80s movie. If only he could find his dream boy to pull up in front of his house in a red convertible and sweep him off his feet, already! At seventeen years young, he isn’t quite Mexican enough for his South Texas town; isn’t manly enough for his father; can sometimes be too much of a smart mouth for his mother; and as for the other kids at school—let’s just say he’d be cast as the quiet nerd with a heart of gold…and an ear for music.

The one solace Justin has is his love of 80s hair metal bands, which he listens to on his beloved Sony Walkman. The songs, lyrics, and melody keep him just sane enough to escape the pressures of school and help navigate the hurdles life brings. Especially with the doozy this year is shaping up to be. Not only does he have to try out for a captain position which is rightfully his, but his best friend has found a new girlfriend, leaving Justin to fend for himself in a school where he’s mostly known as simply Coconut.

Enter Dominic Mendoza. Sweet, funny, and a blast from his past, the hunky football player has moved in next door. Justin could never forget how Dominic protected him in the eighth grade, nor the way Dominic made him feel, then…and now.

Except, this isn’t a movie. Confusion, friendship, and love won’t guarantee a happy ending unless Justin can learn to accept himself for who he truly is. Hair bands and all.

Rep: m/m relationship

Super Adjacent

Super Adjacent by Crystal Cestari

Pub. Date: 17 March

Synopsis:

Claire has always wanted to work with superheroes, from collecting Warrior Nation cards as a kid to drafting “What to Say to a Hero” speeches in her diary. Now that she’s landed a coveted internship with the Chicago branch of Warrior Nation, Claire is ready to prove she belongs, super or not. But complicating plans is the newest WarNat hero, Girl Power (aka Joy), who happens to be egotistical and self-important . . . and pretty adorable.

Bridgette, meanwhile, wants out of WarNat. After years of dating the famous Vaporizer (aka Matt), she’s sick of playing second, or third, or five-hundredth fiddle to all the people-in-peril in the city of Chicago. Of course, once Bridgette meets Claire-who’s clearly in need of a mentor and wingman-giving up WarNat becomes slightly more complicated. It becomes a lot more complicated when Joy, Matt, and the rest of the heroes go missing, leaving only Claire and Bridgette to save the day.

In this fresh and funny take on the world of supers, author Crystal Cestari spotlights what it’s like to be the seemingly non-super half of a dynamic duo with banter-filled romance and bold rescues perfect for readers seeking a great escape.

Rep: f/f relationship; sapphic characters

Only Mostly Devastated

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

Pub. Date: 3 March

Synopsis:

SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA meets CLUELESS in this boy-meets-boy spin on Grease

Summer love…gone so fast.

Will Tavares is the dream summer fling―he’s fun, affectionate, kind―but just when Ollie thinks he’s found his Happily Ever After, summer vacation ends and Will stops texting Ollie back. Now Ollie is one prince short of his fairy tale ending, and to complicate the fairy tale further, a family emergency sees Ollie uprooted and enrolled at a new school across the country. Which he minds a little less when he realizes it’s the same school Will goes to…except Ollie finds that the sweet, comfortably queer guy he knew from summer isn’t the same one attending Collinswood High. This Will is a class clown, closeted―and, to be honest, a bit of a jerk.

Ollie has no intention of pining after a guy who clearly isn’t ready for a relationship, especially since this new, bro-y jock version of Will seems to go from hot to cold every other week. But then Will starts “coincidentally” popping up in every area of Ollie’s life, from music class to the lunch table, and Ollie finds his resolve weakening.

The last time he gave Will his heart, Will handed it back to him trampled and battered. Ollie would have to be an idiot to trust him with it again.

Right? Right.

Rep: gay MC; bi LI; bi SC

Look

Look by Zan Romanoff

Pub. Date: 31 March 2020

Synopsis:

Things Lulu Shapiro’s 10,000 Flash followers don’t know about her:
* That the video of her with another girl was never supposed to go public.
* That Owen definitely wasn’t supposed to break up with her because of it.
* That behind the carefully crafted selfies and scenes Lulu projects onto people’s screens, her life feels like a terrible, uncertain mess.

Then Lulu meets Cass. Cass isn’t interested in looking at Lulu’s life, only in living in it. And The Hotel—a gorgeous space with an intriguing, Old Hollywood history and a trust-fund kid to restore it—seems like the perfect, secret place for them to get to know each other. But just because Lulu has stepped out of the spotlight doesn’t mean it’ll stop following her every move.

It’s a story about what you present vs. who you really are, about real intimacy and manufactured intimacy and the blurring of that line. It’s a deceptively glamorous, feminist, emotionally complex, utterly compelling, queer coming-of-age novel about falling in love and taking ownership of your own self—your whole self—in the age of social media.

Rep: f/f relationship; bi MC

Wicked As You Wish (A Hundred Names for Magic, #1)

Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco

Pub. Date: 3 March 2020

Synopsis:

Many years ago, the magical Kingdom of Avalon was left desolate and encased in ice when the evil Snow Queen waged war on the powerful country. Its former citizens are now refugees in a world mostly devoid of magic. Which is why the crown prince and his protectors are stuck in…Arizona.
Prince Alexei, the sole survivor of the Avalon royal family, is in hiding in a town so boring, magic doesn’t even work there. Few know his secret identity, but his friend Tala is one of them. Tala doesn’t mind—she has secrets of her own. Namely, that she’s a spellbreaker, someone who negates magic.
Then hope for their abandoned homeland reignites when a famous creature of legend, and Avalon’s most powerful weapon, the Firebird, appears for the first time in decades. Alex and Tala unite with a ragtag group of new friends to journey back to Avalon for a showdown that will change the world as they know it.

Rep: gay MC; non-binary MC; queer SCs

Havenfall (Havenfall, #1)

Havenfall by Sarah Holland

Pub. Date: 3 March 2020

Synopsis:

A safe haven between four realms. The girl sworn to protect it — at any cost.

Hidden deep in the mountains of Colorado lies the Inn at Havenfall, a sanctuary that connects ancient worlds — each with their own magic — together. For generations, the inn has protected all who seek refuge within its walls, and any who disrupt the peace can never return.

For Maddie Morrow, summers at the inn are more than a chance to experience this magic first-hand. Havenfall is an escape from reality, where her mother sits on death row accused of murdering Maddie’s brother. It’s where Maddie fell in love with handsome Fiorden soldier Brekken. And it’s where one day she hopes to inherit the role of Innkeeper from her beloved uncle.

But this summer, the impossible happens–a dead body is found, shattering everything the inn stands for. With Brekken missing, her uncle gravely injured, and a dangerous creature on the loose, Maddie suddenly finds herself responsible for the safety of everyone in Havenfall. She’ll do anything to uncover the truth, even if it means working together with an alluring new staffer Taya, who seems to know more than she’s letting on. As dark secrets are revealed about the inn itself, one thing becomes clear to Maddie–no one can be trusted, and no one is safe…

Rep: bi MC

Fiebre Tropical

Fiebre Tropical by Juliana Delgado Lopera

Pub. Date: 1 March 2020

Synopsis:

In this novel told in Spanglish, fifteen-year-old Francisca is uprooted from her life in Bogota, Colombia, and moves with her family to Miami, Florida, where she is ushered into an evangelical church and falls in love with the pastor’s daughter.

Rep: lesbian MC; f/f relationship

Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health

Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health by Adrian Shanker

Pub. Date: 1 March 2020

Synopsis:

LGBT people pervasively experience health disparities, yet many are still grappling to understand the health care challenges leaving LGBT people to experience worsened health outcomes. Bodies and Barriers informs health care professionals, students in health professions, policymakers, and fellow activists about these challenges, providing insights and a road map for action that could improve queer health. Through artfully articulated, data-informed essays by twenty-six well-known and emerging queer activists, Bodies and Barriers illuminates the ubiquitous health challenges LGBT people experience and challenges conventional wisdom about health care delivery. It probes deeply into the roots of these disparities and empowers activists with crucial information to fight for health equity through clinical, behavioral, and policy changes. The activist contributors in Bodies and Barriers look for tangible improvements, drawing lessons from the history of HIV/AIDS in America and from struggles against health care bias and discrimination.

Rep: queer non-fiction

This Town Sleeps

This Town Sleeps by Dennis E. Staples

Pub. Date: 3 March 2020

Synopsis:

On an Ojibwe reservation called Languille Lake, within the small town of Geshig at the hub of the rez, two men enter into a secret romance. Marion Lafournier, a midtwenties gay Ojibwe man, begins a relationship with his former classmate Shannon, a heavily closeted white man obsessed with his image as a northern Minnesotan. While Marion is far more open about his sexuality, neither is immune to the realities of the lives of gay men in small towns and closed societies.
One night, while roaming the dark streets of Geshig, Marion unknowingly brings to life a dog from beneath the elementary school playground. The mysterious revenant leads him to the grave of Kayden Kelliher, an Ojibwe basketball star who was murdered at the young age of seventeen and whose presence still lingers in the memories of the townsfolk. While investigating the fallen hero’s death, Marion discovers family connections and an old Ojibwe legend that may be the secret to unraveling the mystery he has found himself in.

Meanwhile, Marion’s mother, Hazel, must come to terms not only with her role in her son’s haunting but also with a mummified jawbone she uncovers at her grandmother’s burial site and the possible curse it has cast on the Lafournier family.

Set on a reservation in far northern Minnesota, This Town Sleeps explores the many ways history, culture, landscape, and lineage shape our lives, our understanding of the world we inhabit, and the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of it all.

Rep: mlm characters; m/m relationship

The First 7 (The Last 8, #2)

The First 7 by Laura Pohl

Pub. Date: 3 March 2020

Synopsis:

Welcome home. Someone’s been waiting.

Clover Martinez and The Last Teenagers on Earth are busy exploring the galaxy after leaving earth behind…even if they can’t help but be a little homesick.

So when their ship receives a distress signal from their former planet, they hope against hope that it means other survivors. But as soon as they arrive, they realize something’s deeply wrong: strange crystal formations have popped up everywhere and there’s some sort of barrier keeping them from leaving.

Seeking the origin of the formations and the reason for the barrier, the group discovers a colony of survivors hidden in the mountains. But the survivors aren’t who they seem…

Rep: bi aro MC; queer SCs

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MONTHLY WRAP-UP #14 | February 2020

So I know I usually only do books for monthly wrap-ups, but I figured it would be fun to do all the media I’m consuming instead! So this includes books I finished/DNF’d, books I started but have yet to complete/DNF, music albums I listened too, movies and TV shows I watched, and video games I’ve played. I figured this would add a bit of something extra to my wrap-ups. I hope y’all enjoy!

(P.S. if I already wrote a review for the book, all you have to do is click the title/author in order to read the review!)

BOOKS COMPLETED/DNF’D

The Black Veins by Ashia Monet

  • THE HUMOR IN THIS BOOK OMG it’s authentic™️ millenial humor, and I love it
  • if you love found family, you’ll love this book
  • it was just…a ton of fun, and I can’t wait for the second book in the series to come out
  • 4/5 ⭐

Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

  • f/f! dragons! magic!
  • there’s multiple POVs, which is fun, too
  • absolutely loved it
  • 5/5 ⭐

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

  • about the Dresden bombing during World War II by Allied forces
  • always love some anti-war books
  • also had a sci-fi element with aliens and abduction
  • short and sweet
  • 4/5 ⭐

Prodigy by Marie Lu

  • DNF @ 61/371 pages
  • I forsaw a love triangle, and I got out of there real fast
  • also, the fact that Day is suddenly so jealous and possessive of June made me cringe
  • the plot wasn’t holding up for me, which made the writing all the more annoying
  • 2/5 ⭐

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

  • review to come
  • the only valid love triangle in the history of love triangles
  • the story was a lot of fun, and I flew through it
  • can’t wait for book 2!
  • 5/5 ⭐

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

  • lol, I hated this book
  • I get that it was written 20 years ago, but it definitely did not hold up
  • none of the characters appealed to me, and they were all caricatures; they didn’t have any depth
  • the treatment of Artemis’ mother made me so annoyed
  • 1/5 ⭐

Storm Front by Jim Butcher

  • review to come
  • eyyy, I hated this book, too
  • I know y’all say that it gets better later in the series, but I absolutely loathe Harry
  • also? the writing? wasn’t engaging at all
  • 2/5 ⭐

Now I Rise by Kiersten White

  • review to come
  • I was reminded of why I love Radu and Lada
  • fuck Mehmed, though, I hate him
  • let’s see if Lada, like, takes over the world or something next book; that would be rad
  • 4/5 ⭐

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

  • DNF @ 25%
  • I might come back to this later with my physical copy — I listened to an audiobook via Overdrive, and the narrator was….bad
  • super bored from what I listened to
  • I just want to read about gay guys from the 1800s, is that too much to ask for?
  • 2.5/5 ⭐

The Assorted Works of H.G. Wells

  • DNF @ 146/511 pages
  • I got halfway done with War of the Worlds and was really bored
  • also, it was set in Englad, and Wells name-dropped a bunch of cities/towns I know nothing about (I live in the U.S.)
  • might come back to it later
  • 2.5/5 ⭐

BOOKS STARTED BUT NOT YET COMPLETED OR DNF’D

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

  • 179/499 pages (as of writing this post)
  • I’m always down for a heist novel
  • a heist novel that also goes back and forth between the “present” and the background of the protagonist? even better
  • I need the whole series now

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

  • 80/688 pages (as of writing this post)
  • I read chapters out of this for APUSH six years ago or so, and I’ve been meaning to read the whole thing
  • so far, I’m really enjoying it
  • can’t wait to read more throughout the month

On the Edge by Lois Duncan

  • 95/210 pages (as of writing this post)
  • a collection of YA short stories with the theme of being “on the edge”
  • it was early 2000s YA, so not that spectacular
  • still pretty okay, though

TV SHOWS/MOVIES WATCHED

Bob’s Burgers, season 1

  • there were some sketchy jokes that I missed in the beginning of this show, ngl
  • however, it was still a lot of fun, and I love re-watching it
  • Gene and Louise are my favorite, but Linda is amazing, too

Chernobyl, 2/5 episodes

  • this was a lot more intense than I was thinking it was going to be
  • had to stop after the second episode in order to take care of myself
  • going to wait to watch the last three because I heard the third episode is the harshest
  • still really good, though

Spider-Man: Homecoming

  • I was able to watch this at work because we were so slow, and it was on one of the TVs
  • missed bits and pieces due to having to bus tables and answer the phone, but what I watched was really good
  • want to re-watch it in one sitting now

MUSIC LISTENED TO

We Are Not Your Kind by Slipknot

  • watch me listen to this album every month until the day I die
  • seriously, though, it’s so good
  • they’re all bangers, but especially “Orphan”; “Not Long For This World”; and “Nero Forte”

Feathers and Flesh by Avatar

  • I forgot that Avatar kinda existed, so I was pumped to see them in one of my Spotify playlists
  • I used to listen to this album all the time during my first year of college, especially walking around campus
  • just??? the sound of it??? is so nice??? I don’t know what it is

Badlands by Halsey

  • another album I haven’t listened to in a while
  • very good, definitely recommend
  • had to add this album to my new playlist immediately

hopeless fountain kingdom by Halsey

  • yet another album I forgot about!
  • every single song is amazing
  • also added to my new playlist

VIDEO GAMES PLAYED

Pokemon Let’s Go! Pikachu

  • I finally have a Switch to play it on!
  • just finished Misty’s gym, and now I’m working on getting to Lt. Surge
  • I’m actually a bit under-leveled???
  • catching everything is a ton of fun, though

Untitled Goose Game

  • my broyfriend gave this to me as a gift for Christmas, and it is adorable
  • oh to be a goose that steals absolutely everything in order to solve puzzles
  • you can honk at everyone, and it’s amazing

Octopath Traveler

  • I’m only on the first character, in the first dungeon, but it’s fun so far
  • kinda like an old-fashioned Final Fantasy game, which is pretty cool
  • taking my time, so it’ll really take a while to complete it
  • interested to see where it goes

Pokemon Moon

  • I’m taking this oppurtunity to do a Wonderlocke
  • so far (before the first “gym”) I have a Ponyta, Growlithe, Combee, Ghastly, Grubbin, and…Alolan Grimer, I think?
  • let’s see how far I get before I die

And there we are! Let me know if you ever read/watched/listened to/played any of these! I’d love to chat 🙂

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NON-BOOKISH ADVENTURES #5 | 10 Favorite Grass-Type Pokemon

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to my blog! Or if you’re new, then welcome, thank you for visiting! Today, partially in honor of National Pokemon Day, I wanted to make a quick list of my favorite grass-type Pokemon. These aren’t at all ranked or anything — just a few of my favorite grass Pokes!

Bulbasaur

Image result for bulbasaur

Look at this adorable onion dinosaur. I love him. He’s the best.

Alolan Exeggutor

Image result for alolan exeggutor pokemon db

When this boy was announced before Sun and Moon came out, I was so happy. Look at how long he is, it’s awesome.

Chikorita

Image result for chikorita pokemon db

The best Johto starter, and you can’t tell me otherwise. Look at that big ol’ leaf. I don’t care if she isn’t that good in-game, I still choose her.

Shroomish

Image result for shroomish pokemon db

This lil mushroom is one of my favorite grass types from Hoenn! I think it’s because he’s available so early in the game and knows the different Powder moves. Also evolves into one of the only Grass/Fighting types, which is a rad type combination!

Appletun

Image result for appletun pokemon db

APPLE PIE DRAGON! APPLE PIE DRAGON!! I cannot wait to get my hands on Sword and/or Shield because look at this good boi. He’s absolutely adorable.

Grovyle

Image result for grovyle pokemon db

When I was younger, I fell in love with Treecko’s evolution line, but especially Grovyle. I really liked this design — it’s all angular and green. Also, Leaf Blade is *chef’s kiss*.

Celebi

Image result for celebi pokemon db

Look at this sweet onion child, too pure for this world.

Leafeon

Image result for leafeon pokemon db

I’m Eevee trash, what did y’all expect? Leafeon (and Glaceon, let’s be honest) was one of my fav ‘mons from Gen 4!

Pumpkaboo

Image result for pumpkaboo pokemon db

Spooky grass jack-o’-lantern! I never used ’em in-game before, but I love the design. Very cute!

Gogoat

Image result for gogoat pokemon db

I also never used Gogoat in a game. I just like it because of this song.

And there are ten of my favorite grass-type Pokemon! I hope you all enjoyed this cute lil list, and let me know: do you love any of these Pokemon? Or other Grass types? Let me know!

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REVIEW #65 | THE BLACK VEINS by Ashia Monet (eARC) (Dead Magic #1)

Title: The Black Veins

Author: Ashia Monet

Series or Standalone?: Dead Magic #1

Publishing Date: 17 July 2019

Synopsis (Goodreads):

“In a world where magic thrives in secret city corners, a group of magicians embark on a road trip—and it’s the “no-love-interest”, found family adventure you’ve been searching for.

“Sixteen-year-old Blythe is one of seven Guardians: magicians powerful enough to cause worldwide panic with a snap of their fingers. But Blythe spends her days pouring latte art at her family’s coffee shop, so why should she care about having apocalyptic abilities?

“She’s given a reason when magician anarchists crash into said coffee shop and kidnap her family.

“Heartbroken but determined, Blythe knows she can’t save them alone. A war is brewing between two magician governments and tensions are too high. So, she packs up her family’s bright yellow Volkswagen, puts on a playlist, and embarks on a road trip across the United States to enlist the help of six strangers whose abilities are unparalleled—the other Guardians.”

Trigger/Content warnings (copy and pasted directly from the novel) [Note: they usually aren’t this specific with chapters, but like I said, I’m taking it directly from the book’s content warning section]:

  • discussion of deceased parents and siblings; potential parent/family death
  • description of mild bloodshed in violent scenes
  • mention of drugs/drug use (specifically marijuana)
  • gun use
  • supernatural horror in the form of monsters, primarily found in Chapters 6, 12, and 25
  • car accident in chapter 19
  • discussion of anxiety disorders/panic disorders, primarily found in Chapters 22, 23, and 25
  • racial n-word slur, ending in -a, found in Chapter 21
  • mild anxiety attack in Chapter 25

Representation (drawn from the author’s handy-dandy Twitter thread):

  • Black bisexual girl protagonist with anxiety
  • Chinese/British mixed girl side character who will (eventually) identify as questioning (she identifies as straight in The Black Veins)
  • Puerto Rican boy side character that will (eventually) come to identify as demisexual, demiromantic, and only attracted to boys
  • Black straight girl side character
  • Black bisexual boy side character
  • white ace trans boy side character
  • white non-binary/agender side character that uses they/them pronouns

⭐⭐⭐⭐
4/5 stars

*I received an eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review*

(We’ll just…ignore the fact that I’m a half a year late with this review. Ha…haha…)

I didn’t know I needed this wild, magical road trip book until I was done with it. Y’all, it was so good!!

The Black Veins follows Blythe, a Black bisexual girl who is also, coincidentally, a Guardian, a person who has control over one of the several different branches of magic. When her family is kidnapped and her family-owned coffeeshop is destroyed, Blythe is heartbroken. She decides, however, to follow them across the country in order to get them back. But she can’t do this alone. She has to go on a road trip to find the other Guardians in order to be strong enough to take on the people who kidnapped her family.

So, like. I don’t really read a lot of urban fantasy now. Most of the ones I know about are those adult urban fantasy series that are basically police procedurals with magic/magical creatures and sex, and they never caught my eye. But The Black Veins??? Was so much fun???

Seriously, I think one of the best parts about this novel was how fun it was. You have seven teens (or, well, mostly teens since Dan’s, like, twelve) that are eventually all travelling together. They are wildly different from one another, but they just seem to click, ya know? There were so many lines and jokes throughout the story that had me laughing outloud because the humor is just so spot-on. Ashia Monet, being a millenial (or Gen Z? I dunno, around that age range, lol) herself, does our kind of humor so well, and it worked. There were also some serious moments for sure, and they were given their time to be serious, which I appreciated. But, man, that humor… I was honestly not expecting that.

Also, damn, those characters??? Those characters!! I literally loved all of them. First of all, just look at that representation list. Five out of seven of the main cast are characters of color, and all but two are part of the LGBTQ+ community. That alone makes me so happy because their existence is never questioned. They’re bi? Cool. They’re trans and/or non-binary? Dope. They find out that they’re questioning later on? Awesome. In the end (definitely not in the beginning for all of them, lol), they support one another no matter what, and I that found family trope is just…so wonderful. I love it so much, and I think Ashia does an amazing job of creating and building these relationships in such an organic way. To me, it is definitely one of her strengths.

I’m just going to go right down the line and give a quick description of the seven of them because if I go even more in-depth, this review will take ages. So, without further ado…

  • Blythe: the protagonist; super determined to get her family back, but anxious about how to do it/what’s happening to them
  • Cordelia: doesn’t take anyone’s shit; literally a hacker what the fuck; under that cold exterior, she really does care for everyone
  • Daniel: *ahem* I WILL PROTECT HIM WITH MY LIFE; just a sheltered boy who likes plants and nature and shit, and has a ~secret~
  • Antonio: sunny surfer boy is, actually, my son; just a happy dude who likes to bake and make everyone feel good
  • Storm: probably the funniest out of the seven of them (literally made me laugh out loud so many times); makes me want to know more about her
  • Caspian: listen…this boy…can I just say that I love his character development (and Daniel’s!)
  • Jay: flirty bi king we all need; I need to see more of him in the next book because his and Antonio’s interactions are something else entirely

Overall? I felt connected to the characters even with the plot being as fast as it was. While there were a few parts I was confused by or I thought were just a tad too coincidental, I thought this was a wonderful debut, and I can’t wait to see what Ashia has in store for us in the future.

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