Review: History is All You Left Me

30626556>You’re still alive in alternate universes, Theo, but I live in the real world where this morning you’re having an open casket funeral. I know you’re out there, listening. And you should know I’m really pissed because you swore you would never die and yet here we are. It hurts even more because this isn’t the first promise you’ve broken.

OCD-afflicted seventeen-year-old, Griffin, has just lost his first love – his best friend, ex-boyfriend and the boy he believed to be his ultimate life partner – in a drowning accident. In a desperate attempt to hold onto every last piece of the past, a broken Griffin forges a friendship with Theo’s new college boyfriend, Jackson. And Griffin will stop at nothing to learn every detail of Theo’s new college life, and ultimate death. But as the grieving pair grows closer, readers will question Griffin’s own version of the truth – both in terms of what he’s willing to hide, and what true love ultimately means…

Reviewing this book is difficult because I have a lot of conflicting feelings about it. Overall, I liked it and it’s definitely a good story, but there were a few things here and there that didn’t sit quite right for me.

It took me a while to get into the story and become fully invested in what happens to the characters. That was partially my fault, since I’m in a bit of a reading slump, but it is also incredibly difficult to get readers to care about a character’s death right at the outset. That said, though, by the time I was halfway through the book, I was fully committed. Adam Silvera made me care. A lot.

If I hadn’t been in a house full of sleeping people at the time, I probably would’ve screamed a little bit around the 3/4 mark because oh my god what the HELL. As it is, I had to take a moment to flail around and became the actual personification of that gritted teeth emoji. My Goodreads status updates for that section include: “Oh lordy,” “GRIFFIN NO” and “OH MY GOD.” It takes some real talent to piss me off that much without making me hate the book itself. So kudos to Adam for that.

However, I had some issues with biphobia in the text. The first time was right after the gay MC found out a character was bi and said some ignorant stuff about it, which annoyed me but I got over it and moved on. The second notable occasion happened near the end of the book when another character who was possibly bi got into that “no labels” stuff that is really frustrating to read because it’s so easy for authors to learn not to do that. That same character was later assumed to be gay by someone else even though it was never confirmed whether he preferred gay or bi or any label at all. It didn’t ruin the book for me, but it was annoying and soured my temperament towards it a little.

On the upside, it’s nice to see a mentally ill character ultimately receive the treatment he needs. I also really liked Jackson and got a strong feel for Theo through the nonlinear narrative. It’s not my favourite take on this kind of posthumous characterisation (that honour goes to FAR FROM YOU), but it’s certainly effective. The whole thing with Wade could’ve been better developed but Griffin was being an unreliable narrator at that point so I can understand why that part was shown the way it was. The last part of the book felt rushed, like it could have benefited from a little extra development, but the ending itself certainly packed the emotional punch I was hoping for.

Overall, HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME is a solid read, with a few issues that will hopefully not appear again in Adam Silvera’s writing. Even if he’s not exactly an auto-buy author for me, I certainly haven’t been turned off reading his other works. But, by God, I hope he refrains from writing biphobia into his books in the future because I really want to like his writing.

#CampNaNoWriMo and #WIPjoy Roundup Part 2

Hello again. Ready for another epic-length blog post? See Part 1 here.

To recap: I wrote 18.1k for Camp NaNoWriMo, surpassing my goal of 15k.

My novel is an f/f Snow White/Sleeping Beauty retelling where Snow White (Eira) is a princess of thieves and Sleeping Beauty (Tesana) is an actual princess living a hundred years prior, right before the collapse of her kingdom. I posted an excerpt from one of the protagonists, Eira, and posted through to day 15 of WIPjoy responses, plus a few additions that weren’t initially possible with Twitter’s 140 character limit.

So let’s get cracking, with a reminder of the #WIPjoy prompts.

Continue reading

#CampNaNoWriMo and #WIPjoy Roundup Part 1

camp-2017-winner-twitter-header

So I finished Camp NaNoWriMo with a wordcount of 18.1k, which is higher than my set goal of 15k. So I won! Yay!! I wrote five full chapters of my Snow White/Sleeping Beauty retelling and have a better idea of where I’m going with this. I’m hoping to keep writing at least 15k per month until I’ve got the draft finished. I’m guessing it’ll take me roughly six months at that rate, given I’m hoping it won’t be much longer than 90k. But, then again, the first novel I ever drafted came in at 147k so there’s always a possibility I’ll create another monster. I honestly hope not, though. One of those was enough, at least for now.

I’ll share an excerpt at the end, since the next thing I’m talking about will cover the basic information about my WIP again anyway, so we may as well get that out of the way first.

I also participated in the 30-day hashtag game #WIPjoy, hosted by Bethany A. Jennings (@simmeringmind) on Twitter. This went hand-in-hand with Camp NaNoWriMo since it’s all about celebrating what we and other people are writing.

The basic idea of #WIPjoy is that you respond to a daily prompt to talk about your writing. I’ll post the gorgeous graphic Bethany made below and then I’ll start posting my responses, along with links to my original tweets. In some cases, I will go into more detail than Twitter’s 140-character limit would allow at the time.

I’m going to put the rest of this post under a cut since it’s about to get long, folks. Because it’s so long, I’m actually going to split it into two parts. So I’ll do up to day 15 of WIPjoy (inclusive) and post an excerpt. Then I’ll do another post with the second half of WIPjoy and another excerpt.

Anyway, moving on:

Continue reading

Diversity Spotlight Thursday (May 4)

Sorry this one is a little late (for my time zone anyway). I’m a little tired, so apologies if that translates into my writing here.

Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme created by Aimal at Bookshelves and Paperbacks that focuses on highlighting diverse books. The rules are simple. You need to pick three books to post about, one for each of the below categories, in Aimal’s words:

  1. A diverse book you have read and enjoyed
  2. A diverse book that has already been released but you have not read
  3. A diverse book that has not yet been released

So without further ado: diverse-spotlight1

Diverse Book I’ve Read

6363322I read this as part of Julia Ember’s retelling challenge in December 2016. I have the worst memory right now but I wrote a review about it when I read it here. It’s a really good take on the Cinderella fairytale, with f/f!

In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love—and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

Diverse Book on my TBR

22521951I’m reading this one for my contemporary arranged marriage square in the Diversity Bingo. It’s been on my TBR since forever ago. In order to balance things out and have a positive arranged marriage story as well, I’m also reading WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI for the Indian MC square.

This heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila’s fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?

Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.

Diverse Book Releasing Soon

31123249We need more novels with hijabi MCs. If I’d known about this one earlier in the year, I would’ve added it to my bingo from the outset. As it is, I’ve rejigged my bingo TBR to put it on since I had to rearrange things anyway to account for my many mistakes. Oops. On the upside, I get to read this! Check out the excerpt here.

Saints and Misfits is an unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.

How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?

Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box.

And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.

While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster…one who happens to be parading around as a saint…Will she be the one to call him out on it? What will people in her tightknit Muslim community think of her then?

Diversity Spotlight Thursday (April 27)

Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme created by Aimal at Bookshelves and Paperbacks that focuses on highlighting diverse books. The rules are simple. You need to pick three books to post about, one for each of the below categories, in Aimal’s words:

  1. A diverse book you have read and enjoyed
  2. A diverse book that has already been released but you have not read
  3. A diverse book that has not yet been released

So without further ado: diverse-spotlight1

A Diverse Book I Have Read

ashala-wolfTHE INTERROGATION OF ASHALA WOLF is a dystopian novel with an Indigenous Australian protagonist, written by an Indigenous author. The story’s incredibly confusing at first, but I stuck with it and discovered there was a very good reason for that. Nothing is what it seems and that made it a compelling read. The use of terms that have very loaded meanings in contemporary Australia add additional layers to the worldbuilding. And the m/f  couple didn’t tick me off, which is always a bonus since I can barely stand m/f most of the time.

Here’s my review. And the blurb:

“There will come a day when a thousand Illegals descend on your detention centres. Boomers will breach the walls. Skychangers will send lightning to strike you all down from above, and Rumblers will open the earth to swallow you up from below. . . . And when that day comes, Justin Connor, think of me.”

Ashala Wolf has been captured by Chief Administrator Neville Rose. A man who is intent on destroying Ashala’s Tribe — the runaway Illegals hiding in the Firstwood. Injured and vulnerable and with her Sleepwalker ability blocked, Ashala is forced to succumb to the machine that will pull secrets from her mind.

And right beside her is Justin Connor, her betrayer, watching her every move.

Will the Tribe survive the interrogation of Ashala Wolf?

A Diverse Book On My TBR

7507944AKATA WITCH is a fantasy set in Nigeria, written by an author whose parents are Nigerian. A sequel is coming out later this year and Okorafor also wrote the science fiction novella BINTI, which I’m also planning to read at some point. I need more diverse SFF in my life and this one sounds like it’ll be an exiting journey.

Here’s the blurb:

Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?

A Diverse Book Releasing Soon

28458598WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI is a romantic comedy with Indian-American protagonists that stems from an arranged marriage. It’s gotten great early reviews so I’ve got high hopes that it’s going to be a good read when I finally get my hands on it.

Indian-American protagonists? A positive contemporary arranged marriage? Girls in tech? It all sounds great. These reviews in particular make it sound amazing. It releases at the end of May.

And now here’s the blurb:

A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

 

My Favourite Bisexual Books

I think a lot of bloggers and Twitter-users are in the process of doing features on bi books at the moment, so my picks will likely be similar to theirs. But, hey, more posts means more exposure for these great novels.

I only started reading diversely last year so there’s always more to find. This is only a snapshot of the great books out there. I will undeniably look back at this down the road and find the list has expanded.

Fave Bi Books I've Read

Far From You by Tess Sharpe (review) – This was my first bi book. Bi MC with chronic pain and recovering from an Oxy addiction, lesbian love interest, nonlinear past and present narratives, and a murder mystery. This one is a tragic story but the rest on this list aren’t.

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate (review) – This was my first Netgalley ARC. Bi, Chinese-American MC from an impoverished family, masquerading as a boy to join an all-male a capella group at her performing arts school, discovering her bisexuality over the course of the book. Some readers have found parts of it to be heteronormative, though that was not my interpretation personally. However, there are some concerns about the lack of trans characters considering the kind of narrative this is, so tread carefully. I still really like it, but it’s not going to work for everyone.

How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake (review) – I got a Netgalley ARC for this recently and fell in love with the book. A bisexual pianist with an incompetent mother falls in love with a lesbian ballet dancer whose mother has just died. Full of pain and happiness, with a great romance and other great character relationships including friends and family.

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova (review) – The author is straight, but she seems to be one of a small group of authors able to write bisexuality respectfully even without sharing the identity. Latinx witch families, a bi MC with male and female potential love interests and a great adventure all shape up for a great read.

With the exception of Labyrinth Lost, all these books use the word “bisexual” on the page. That’s important. There’s a lot of half-assed rep out there that aims for diversity cookies while being too afraid to actually use the word. Not everyone needs a label, but for a long time this “labels are for soup cans” rhetoric was far more prominent than characters who openly identified as bisexual. That is incredibly harmful to bisexuals who just want to see themselves represented on the page. We still see that kind of thing happen sometimes but at least we’re getting more on the page rep to balance it out.

Now, for bi books I’m looking forward to reading:

Bi Books on my tbr

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst – Apparently this one is in stock at my library network, so hopefully I can get my hands on it soon. Queer princesses? Hell, yes.

27 Hours by Tristina Wright – A cool science fiction plot with a queer ensemble cast. Also, I love Tristina as a person so I’m excited to get my hands on this when it comes out.

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee – I’ve been meaning to read this one forever but something always gets in the way. I’m going to get my hands on it one of these days. I mean, a Chinese-Vietnamese bisexual protagonist with a trans supporting character who’s getting his own book? Nice.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde – Another one I keep meaning to read. A celebration of geek culture with an autistic MC and a Chinese-Australian bi MC.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee – I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but this one piqued my interest. The badly-behaved bi MC might have had something to do with that. Also, this excerpt. To be honest, the first thing that grabbed me was the fact this book clearly shares source material with a musical called The Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.


Ava’s twitter thread has a couple more bisexual books as well, and it was this thread that reminded me I’ve been meaning to read Gentleman’s Guide.

What bisexual books, or books that rep a marginalisation you share, are your favourites? What ones are you looking forward to reading?

Diversity Spotlight Thursday (April 20)

Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme created by Aimal at Bookshelves and Paperbacks that focuses on highlighting diverse books. The rules are simple. You need to pick three books to post about, one for each of the below categories, in Aimal’s words:

  1. A diverse book you have read and enjoyed
  2. A diverse book that has already been released but you have not read
  3. A diverse book that has not yet been released

So without further ado:

diverse-spotlight1

A Diverse Book I Have Read

20517739

It’s been a while since I read this one and it was one of the first diverse books I reviewed on this blog. Sophie is a bisexual girl with chronic pain and is a recovering painkiller addict. This book is part character study and part murder mystery with a narrative that shifts between the past and present. I loved the slow reveals pertaining to the deceased Mina and watching Sophie heal.

This was the first book with an on-the-page bisexual protagonist that I read, so it holds a special place in my heart.

Here’s my review and the blurb.

Nine months. Two weeks. Six days.

That’s how long recovering addict Sophie’s been drug-free. Four months ago her best friend, Mina, died in what everyone believes was a drug deal gone wrong – a deal they think Sophie set up. Only Sophie knows the truth. She and Mina shared a secret, but there was no drug deal. Mina was deliberately murdered.

Forced into rehab for an addiction she’d already beaten, Sophie’s finally out and on the trail of the killer—but can she track them down before they come for her?

A Diverse Book On My TBR

32497120

ANOTHER WORD FOR HAPPY is waiting on my Kindle app for me to read it. I saw someone rec it (on Twitter?) a while back so I picked it up for only a few dollars. A gay Filipino character written by a Filipina author? Sweet. I also love pianist characters, so yes please.

What does it take to come out of the closet?

Since he was thirteen, Caleb has always known he’s gay. Now a college freshman, he falls in love for the first time. If it’s true that love conquers all, then will Caleb finally find the courage to reveal his secret?

In this tale about family, friendship and self-discovery, find out how Caleb discovers the path to the freedom he’s always longed for. Here’s a hint: it involves doing things outside his comfort zone, such as joining a spoken word group!

A Diverse Book Releasing Soon

26626118

I read an e-ARC of HOW TO MAKE A WISH recently and fell in love. It’s a gorgeous little story about a bisexual girl who has to parent her own spiralling mother and a biracial lesbian grieving for the loss of her own. You know what else? One of them’s a pianist and the other’s a ballet dancer. As a performer who used to play the piano, I love seeing characters with musical inclinations.

It’s adorable and releases May 2.

Here’s my review. And the blurb:

All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn’t have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid. Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.

Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace’s mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on.

Camp NaNoWriMo Mid-Month Update

I probably should’ve done this at the actual mid-point of the month, but I didn’t start properly until a few days in anyway so let’s just pretend I’m far more punctual than I actually am.

Last time I wrote about Camp NaNoWriMo, I was quite far behind. I caught up literally the day after posting that and am now currently ahead a couple days, sitting on 10.2k out of my 15k goal. 50k just was not gonna happen this month.

I’m starting to get into the swing of the story. Some ideas about worldbuilding are starting to take shape in a way they couldn’t while I was just in the planning stage. The worldbuilding I’m attempting is quite ambitious for my standards and the research is going to kill me. I have a conquering empire that bears some similarities to the Romans, but I’m currently listening to a podcast about that so at least I have some basic working knowledge while I work out what specifically I need to research. I’m toying with having a more distant empire on more amiable terms with my protagonists’ homeland but I’m… not completely sure about that. I might change that in rewrites.

I’ve got to sort out my magic system and religions. The magic is gradually getting there but the religion isn’t really there all that much aside from the fact I want something to exist in opposition to traditional fairy beliefs held by the characters living in the land in which most of the story is set.

I’m trying an alternating dual POV when I’ve only ever written single-POV stories before. Additionally, because I like to torture myself, one is written in past tense and the other in present tense, but they’re both currently in first person. The alternating thing is kind of working for the moment, but will likely become a problem later so I’m considering that I might separate these two POVs into a Part 1 and Part 2 of the book since they occur in different time periods anyway. And then I might pick one of their POVs to be the dominant one in Part 3. I have time to flesh out that idea since I’m not touching it for this draft anyway.

Anyway, setting that aside…

I’m getting a much better sense of who my protagonists are. I’m not used to going into a project with next to no idea what my characters are like since often character ideas come roughly at the same time as the story idea. This is a special case, since my first thought was “Snow White/Sleeping Beauty f/f retelling” which I fleshed out from there. Typically my first ideas are a little more character-based than that. Of my two protagonists, my Sleeping Beauty character, Tesana, was the least fleshed-out but I’m starting to get a better idea of who she is. In a word? Stubborn.

I also think I might have an aroace character? I’m not sure yet, but I like the idea since I’m going with a “there are many types of love and not all of them revolve around romance” angle in terms of what True Love’s Kiss could potentially mean. Gotta stew on that a little bit more.

So things are coming together. I’m gonna have to be careful with the stepmother character since I could easily slip into internalised misogyny there, but overall I’m okay with how it’s all progressing. I’m definitely going to do more research on empires, the origins of the fairytales I’m retelling, and other miscellany I probably won’t realise I need until I’m halfway through another draft.

I’m not wholly comfortable sharing excerpts at the moment so I’ll just post the one that I’ve put on my Camp NaNoWriMo page anyway.

The sound of the boardwalk markets hits me before anything else, quickly followed by the smell. Hundreds of people crammed in a tight space, yelling and sweating all over each other. Fresh fish cooking over open fires, crackling and spreading their tendrils of mouthwatering scent into clothes and wood and embedding permanently into my nostrils. The tang of spices brought from across the seas. The sea salt and damp wood.

Sure, this place is a corrupt, rancid little pond. But it’s my corrupt, rancid little pond. You won’t get fresher fish anywhere this side of the old kingdom borders. Even the imperials from both empires can’t resist it.

My mouth is watering, but I need to get some business done first. I need time to savour it every time I get to eat a fresh-caught meal up here. I don’t trust people who rush their way through the best meal they’re probably going to get for days.

I’ve got a long way to go, but at least I’ve started something. It’s been a long time since I’ve started completely from scratch with an idea I haven’t at least toyed with a little bit in the past. So, go team!

 

Review: How to Make a Wish

26626118All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn’t have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid. Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.

Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace’s mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on.

I received an e-ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book is incredible for so many reasons. I don’t even know where to begin, so I guess I’ll start with the rep. Grace, the protagonist, is bisexual and falls in love with Eva, a biracial lesbian grieving for the loss of her mother. Eva and Grace, especially Eva, both talk about the issues they face in these identities. The fetishisation of mixed-race people is torn down and Eva also touches on the racism in ballet that she and her mother have faced all their lives. It’s also always great to see the word “bisexual” used on the page and see Grace offer her perspective on what that means for her.

Grace’s mother, Maggie, is an alcoholic who refuses to recognise she has a problem as well as being an inattentive and incompetent parent, and Grace has been forced to grow up very quickly to keep the both of them safe. This upbringing has a constant impact on Grace’s life as she is forced to move all over on her mother’s whims and protect her from situations no child should have to deal with.

As a result, Grace struggles with forming relationships with people. She’s prickly and often closed-off and this is the cause of many problems with her burgeoning relationship with Eva. The girls are lovely together and should be offered stock in Jif for the amount of peanut butter they collectively consume. Their scenes together are phenomenally-written, especially the kissing. This book also normalises female masturbation, which is super important given it’s often swept under the rug.

The best thing about this book is that it made me care–and care deeply–about these two girls. I just wanted them to be happy and safe in an environment where they could heal from their respective traumas: Eva’s grief over her recently-deceased mother and Grace from a life of squashing down her own needs and wants in order to parent her own mother. There’s such a strong thread of wishing–yearning–for what could have been and what should be. Both girls wish so deeply and that made me wish for them in return.

Ashley Herring Blake writes beautiful description and gripping characters. I was rooting for them the whole time–for Grace to get out of her situation, for Eva to heal, for Maggie to get the help she needed. I sometimes find contemporary novel plots to be very random and disjointed, but I didn’t have an issue here because those overarching themes were so strong.

Basically, I adore this book. The romance cleansed my soul, I swear. It’s very sad and very heavy at times, but it’s an amazing read and I highly recommend it.

Diversity Spotlight Thursday (April 13)

I’ve seen this around a few times, so I’m finally jumping on the bandwagon. Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme (but let’s be honest; I’m too slack to do this every week) hosted by Aimal at Bookshelves and Paperbacks. The rules are pretty simple: come up with three diverse books, one you’ve read, one on your TBR and one that’s releasing soon. See Aimal’s linked post for more details.

So, without further ado:

diverse-spotlight1

A Diverse Book I Have Read

unicorn-tracks

I can’t believe it took me so long to read Unicorn Tracks by Julia Ember, but I finally got around to it earlier this year. While it could have benefited from being a little longer, Julia creates a vivid fantasy world with enchanting characters and a gripping storyline with an f/f romance.

Here’s my review. And the blurb:

After a savage attack drives her from her home, sixteen-year-old Mnemba finds a place in her cousin Tumelo’s successful safari business, where she quickly excels as a guide. Surrounding herself with nature and the mystical animals inhabiting the savannah not only allows Mnemba’s tracking skills to shine, it helps her to hide from the terrible memories that haunt her.

Mnemba is employed to guide Mr. Harving and his daughter, Kara, through the wilderness as they study unicorns. The young women are drawn to each other, despite that fact that Kara is betrothed. During their research, they discover a conspiracy by a group of poachers to capture the Unicorns and exploit their supernatural strength to build a railway. Together, they must find a way to protect the creatures Kara adores while resisting the love they know they can never indulge.

A Diverse Book on my TBR

30626556

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera is literally sitting on my bedside table, waiting for me to pick it up. I’m a real angst monster, so there was no question that I needed to get my hands on this book. I’m not a huge crier when reading (except during Dumbledore’s funeral in HBP but that was an exception, not the rule), but this book looks like a solid candidate to crack my cold, black heart. By all accounts, this book has great ownvoices OCD rep as well as the queer rep and the sheer heart-shattering sadness waiting to prey on the unaware.

You’re still alive in alternate universes, Theo, but I live in the real world where this morning you’re having an open casket funeral. I know you’re out there, listening. And you should know I’m really pissed because you swore you would never die and yet here we are. It hurts even more because this isn’t the first promise you’ve broken.

OCD-afflicted seventeen-year-old, Griffin, has just lost his first love – his best friend, ex-boyfriend and the boy he believed to be his ultimate life partner – in a drowning accident. In a desperate attempt to hold onto every last piece of the past, a broken Griffin forges a friendship with Theo’s new college boyfriend, Jackson. And Griffin will stop at nothing to learn every detail of Theo’s new college life, and ultimate death. But as the grieving pair grows closer, readers will question Griffin’s own version of the truth – both in terms of what he’s willing to hide, and what true love ultimately means…

A Diverse Book Releasing Soon

31447601

I read the e-ARC of Noteworthy by Riley Redgate a little while ago and I still love it. An impoverished, bi, Chinese-American MC at a performing arts school? Um, heck yes.

I related to Jordan’s coming to terms with her bisexuality and with the general struggles of being a performing arts student. It also touches on racial, gender and class issues. And it has a non-irritating m/f pairing, which is an achievement since I regularly get sick of reading m/f.

This book is releasing on May 2nd, so get on it. Here’s my review. And the blurb:

It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight.

Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped … revered … all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.