Currently, my best friend Alejandra and I are sitting in my living room after spending a whole lot of store credit at our local bookstore. So just for funsies, we thought we’d both take a crack at this book tag I scraped up from BookTube. The questions are themed by the letters of the alphabet (obviously) so we each went down and both answered the questions.
When I was an actual teenager and not an adult obsessed with reading books made for teenagers, I wasn’t really a big part of the reading ‘community’. In fact, when I was in junior high and high school, there wasn’t nearly as big of a community as there is now. There were no BookTubers, no GoodReads, or if there was, they were still babies. I know, how old is this bitch, right? But I digress.
My point is, I didn’t have those resources to have books recommended to me, so I literally went to my public library, started with A, and went down the shelf reading at least the first chapter of everything there, until I found something interesting and stuck to it. Some of the stuff I read is talked about a lot, or was back then at least, but the real gems were hidden. And yeah, a lot of these I’ve seen recommended, but they aren’t talked about nearly as much as other YA books; even some oldies still get a lot of attention (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, for example). But I’m about to dig out the ones that I haven’t heard many people talk about. And I noticed that when I was making my list, a lot of them start with S. Which is irrelevant, but a fun fact all the same.
So here’s what we’re gonna talk about today:
- Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves
- Wide Awake by David Levithan
- Sweetblood by Pete Hautman
- Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klaus
- Sisters in Sanity by Gayle Forman
- The Curse Workers series by Holly Black
- Side Effects by Amy Goldman Koss
This is the second time in my entire life in which I’ve actually gotten up off my ass and bought a book the day it came out, and oh god, am I glad I did. If this had been a library book I was reading, I would have finished it and immediately bolted to Barnes and Noble to own it. Most of us who make a habit of reading YA know Becky Albertalli from Simon and the Homo-Sapiens Agenda, but this is, dare I say it, even better. This is a story that I, a mentally ill, bisexual, fat, young adult girl desperately needed, and I’m so grateful that I managed to get a copy as soon as I did.
The Upside of Unrequited is centered around a girl named Molly and her sister Cassie. Cassie is a force to be reckoned with, a fiercely confident lesbian with more than a little sexual experience under her belt, while Molly is a much more reserved, creative soul who pines after the affection her sister so easily receives. When Cassie finds the perfect girlfriend, a half-Korean girl named Mina, the two of them are determined to set Molly up with Mina’s best friend Will. But Molly’s met someone else: her cute, chubby, nerdy coworker Reid, who she feels she can be herself around. But a relationship with Will means less chance of growing apart from Cassie, and a relationship with Reid points to a future Molly isn’t sure of.
Hey guys! So, I finished The Upside of Unrequited Thursday night and will be getting my review of that up this weekend at some point (probably tonight or tomorrow morning), but I had to pause to have several mild heart attacks over the Last Jedi trailer. One day I’ll read some Star Wars books and review them here. One day.
Anyway, for the sake of getting a new blog post up and not leaving the blog high and dry, I’m gonna conveniently steal a challenge from BookTube, called the Would-You-Rather Challenge! The title pretty much explains it all, but I’m gonna try to go a little more in depth in my answers than a simple either-or.
And I think that everyone should take this as a testament to how much I love blogging. I stopped watching the trailer for a hot minute to write this.
So. You’re welcome.
Anyway, here we go!
I’m an extremely picky reader. It’s not a secret. There are more than a few tropes I’ll outright refuse to read, and even het romance in general usually turns me off unless the relationship is untraditional in some way or another. Fantasy is another genre I’m quite picky about, since fantasy uses many of the same tropes over and over again without apology, and for some people, these tropes work and are enjoyable. Some people do genuinely like reading 15 different books about a main character who is Different Than The Rest and falls in love with another character who is Attractive But Brooding, and together they fight the White Queercoded Villain, and it usually takes three books to do it. And the last book is usually made into two movies. Sound familiar? It is.
I’m also notoriously averse to series, especially long ones. Trilogies I can sometimes swallow down if I like the plot enough, but I much prefer standalones. My reasoning has to do with variety; I don’t even like reading the same genre two books in a row, let alone hang out in the same world. Even if the characters are ones I love (like the cast of The Raven Cycle) I still need to take a break or I’ll just stop reading altogether.
So here I want to talk about books that I think I probably aught to read, for one reason or another, but that I’m hesitant to, for reasons that will be explained in more detail individually. This list in no way indicates that I don’t want to read them, it just means they’re far outside my comfort zone and I might need an extra push. If you see some of your favorites here, please don’t hesitate to let me know how much you love them and why! Inspire me to overcome my hesitation!
(AKA, A Review of a Heterosexual Romance Novel By Someone Who Hates Heterosexual Romance Novels)
Okay, first of all, to some people, the title of this review is almost a spoiler for the book. But I justify the use of it by my estimation that the middle of the Venn diagram that sits between ‘people who have seen Repo! The Genetic Opera‘ and ‘people who enjoy YA romance novels’ does not have very many people in it. Certainly, I’m still not really in it, even though I read them and enjoy them about once every 100 years. My enjoyment of any given heterosexual romance novel is like a lunar eclipse: rare, dark, and slightly unnerving.
A lot of people in my life were surprised that I read this book, and I will admit, it’s absolutely not something I would pick up with no outside encouragement. The encouragement here was the movie (I love Amandla Stenberg and would give her an Oscar for folding laundry), so I ultimately did decide to pick up the book even though every particle of my heterosexual romance hating brain was begging me to put it back down. But I’m fairly glad that I didn’t.
(For the purpose of this review, every time I use the phrase ‘romance novel’, assume I’m talking about traditional, cisgender, heterosexual romance novels. Alright. Carry on.)
The most dangerous place in the (sort of) great state of Idaho isn’t anywhere in the woods, nor the mountains, nor the uncomfortably high waters of the river, but the warehouse across the street from the library during their spring booksale. It isn’t exactly a monetary danger; I got seven books today for a little over a dollar. No, this is rapidly becoming a spatial issue, as well as a timing and attention span issue. Am I going to run the risk of letting my shelves grow unorganized and crammed once again? Yes. Am I going to want to read all of these new books immediately and at the same time? Also yes.
But, of course, I’m not going to stop any time soon. So, without further ado, let’s see what I hauled home in my bag today.
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
- Diary by Chuck Palahniuk
- Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
- The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
- The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent
- Choke by Chuck Palahniuk
- Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
(And here’s the real miracle: every single one of these were either books on my reading list or books I already love but didn’t own!)
Okay. Join me in a flashback for a second. I was with my friend Sam at Barnes and Noble about a year ago, trying to dip my toe back into the YA genre after reading a slew of dull adult contemporary that left my spirit shriveled up and dead. I was perusing the section while she went to look through some poetry books, when, as usual, an employee came up and asked me if I needed any help.
I’m not shy, but I am independent in stores to a weird degree, so I very rarely swallow my pride and ask for help when I can’t find something. But there was no way I was going to swallow down all the sickly heterosexual side romance that I could practically smell oozing from the shelves, so I asked if she knew any good LGBT young adult reads. And she was so excited when she pointed me to We Are the Ants.
WARNING! This review is free of plot spoilers, but there are what I guess you could call sort of mood spoilers (as in, whether the ending is happy or sad). So if even those kinds of spoilers turn you off, maybe find a vaguer review).
So, a few weeks ago my friend Murron and I were cleaning up my room and found a jar on the window sill full of loose change that i had been using to save up for cosplay. That was ages ago, cause I haven’t cosplayed in a long, long time. So I dumped all that change in a lunchbox and went to the nearest Coinstar machine to see how much I could rustle up. Turns out I was sitting on $137 dollars worth of spare change. So after indulging in some Starbucks, a new drawing eraser, and a cherry sucker, I did what any rational adult would do. I spent the rest of it on a Barnes and Noble gift card.
As it turns out, buying these six books left me with about 20 bucks left on the gift card, which means another book is in my future (and since I have little to no self control, a part two book haul may be in order). Meanwhile, though, I have my hands full with these:
- Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
- Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall
- Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
- At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson
- History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
- We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson