💘 Blogs to Love This Valentine’s Day 💘

Happy Valentine’s Day! To celebrate I decided to share some blogs I love with you 💘 Of course there are many more blogs that I love, some of which I’ve already talked about in my Merry Christmas Ya Beautiful Bloggers series in 2017, so it’s impossible to cover every blog I love in one post. There is no order to this list: every one of these bloggers is so lovely and deserves the world, starting with your follow if you don’t follow them yet 😜

Merry Christmas Ya Beautiful Bloggers Part I // Part II // Part III // Part IV

CW @ The Quiet Pond

The cutest blog?? The Quiet Pond is so much more than a book blog: it’s a magical world with the CUTEST inhabitants (I would die for all of them) and it’s so easy to get lost in. Say goodbye to whatever you had planned for today, you will be scrolling through The Quiet Pond.

All of CW’s post are so well-written and she’s a huge advocate for diverse books. There’s a good chance you’re TBR will be a lot bigger after visiting her blog.

Some of my favourite posts:
💛 Meet the Inhabitants of the Quiet Pond
💛 It’s a Corgi Christmas at Gen’s Art Garden!
💛 BLOG TOUR: The Weight Of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf – A Malay Teen Searches For Her Mother During the Malaysian 1969 Riots (Book Review & Author Interview)
💛 The Pond Gets Loud: 8 Book Bloggers Share Their Experiences of Balancing Blogging and Life – Part I

Julianna @ Paper Blots 

Julianna already deserves all the love for making me want to read Ace of Shades (thank you!!) but obviously there are many more reasons why she deserves a shout-out. I just love her writing voice, the topics she comes up with for her posts and she always cracks me up.

Some of my favourite posts: 
💛 Fairytales/Myths/Folklore That Should Be In Young Adult Retellings More
💛 Writing Updates [3] 10 Things About My New WIP
💛 The Rising Author Tag // My (Nonexistent) Writing & Aesthetics (!!) & Awkward Snippets
💛 Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody [review] (This was amazing?? One of my favs??)

Ilsa @ A Whisper of Ink

Ilsa recently got a new design which is so cute and colourful, but her ice cream linebreakers also make me very hungry* Ilsa is just so honest like when she exposed herself for saying she loved certain hyped books when she didn’t?? Iconic

* I just remembered I have ice cream in the freezer… hmm……..

Some of my favourite posts: 
💛 My Favourite Romantic Relationships in YA (I will go down with these ships!!)
💛 Do people think I’m genuine in my reviews? // a discussion
💛 Books I lied about loving because of the hype // I feel guilty but I’m exposing myself so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
💛 The Rising Author Tag // crafting my characters, why i love writing + snippets!!

Lu @ It’s Lu Again

Lu is just so funny and lovely, they always manage to put a smile on my face. They also had a great coming out series in which they discussed LGBT+ topics in YA which I can’t recommend enough. Read them!! And the rest of their blog obviosuly

Some of my favourite posts: 
💛 Screaming About My WIP To Motivate Myself For NaNo! (With Actual Snippets)
💛 7 Fantasy Expectations That I’ll Pine Over |Diversity, Stabbing, Characters, and More. E.g Me Handing My Heart Over To The Dark Side (#No Regrets)
💛 Coming-Out-Series (P4): Is LGBTQIA+ Rep In YA Books Varied Enough? Ft. Pride Month Screamings(!!)
💛 ARC Discussion: Pressure To Read And Pressure To Like // Why I’m No Longer Reading ARCs (Controversial??)

Olivia @ Purely Olivia

Olivia’s blog is just so soft, which captures her and her blog so well. She has great contemporary recs and such thoughtful discussion posts with unique topics. She’s also a huge Potterhead and has written some great posts on Harry Potter that are worth checking out.

Some of my favourite posts: 
💛 Insta-Love vs. Slow Burn Romances // Which Makes For a Better Love Story in YA Contemporary
💛 Review: A List of Cages // My New Favorite Book & A Must-Read
💛 What Does It Take For Me to Cry Over Books? // + Books I’ve Shed Tears Over
💛 5 YA Contemporaries You Should Be Reading // Mini Reviews!

Madeline @ Caffeine and Writing Dreams

Madeline’s blog is every writer’s dream, or at least it’s MY dream. All of her posts are just so helpful, inspiring and motivating. She really reminded me of my I love writing in the first place. Her blog is so easy to get lost in – one day I will have read all of her posts ever published.

Some of my favourite posts: 
💛 How I Finally Stopped Comparing Myself to Other Writers
💛 3 Easy Steps to Creating Awesome Character Arcs That Hit Ya in the Feels
💛 How to Cut Adverbs for Stronger Writing // & When It’s Okay to Use Them
💛 An In-Depth Look at My Color-Coded 3-Level Revision Process

Kat @ Novels and Waffles

You might want to avoid Kat’s blog if you’re hungry, because… LOOK AT IT. She takes her blog name very seriously which I respect. Her graphics are just so good and cute and unique and?? Speaking of graphics: she also recently started a new feature in which she interviews the artists behind book covers, giving these people the love they deserve.

Some of my favourite posts: 
💛 20(ish) Books For Readers Who are 20(ish) // A List of NA Books Written in the YA Style
💛 Going Undercover // An Interview With Book Cover Illustrator, Maike Plenzke
💛 A Fiction Feast // The Five Best Books I Devoured in 2018
💛 Why I Still Read YA Fiction in My Mid-20s: A Call To Action Regarding New Adult Books

Vicky @ Vicky Who Reads

I haven’t been following Vicky that long yet, but I’m already in love with her blog. From her nice, soft design to recs of books I had never heard of before to her Writer Wednesday feature, in which she puts 2019 authors in the spotlight.

Some of my favourite posts: 
💛 Writer Wednesday: Ask Hannah, an Advice Column for The Dead Queens Club (+ INTL Giveaway!)
💛 If You Liked #12: Mental Health Awareness Edition!
💛 What NOT to Do When Describing Race in Novels
💛 Fantasci Book Recs: Books In Between Science Fiction and Fantasy!

GO CHECK ALL OF THEM OUT!! I hope I did them a bit justice, since I suck at putting into words why I love something, because they’re all amazing and deserve your love

Do you follow any of these blogs? What are some of your favourite blogs? Let me know in the comments!

Six of My All Time Favourite YA Couples Ft. Aesthetics!!

In the four years I’ve been blogging, I don’t think I ever did a Valentine’s post? I did do Kat’s Valentine’s Day Write Tag last year, but that was about my own WIP, I never did a post in which I talked about my favourite couples for this time of the year? Which is weird because I have many ships that I love to rave about! I decided that for this post I’d talk about some couples I fell in love with in more recent years and ones I don’t really talk much about, so no Percabeth or Simon and Blue even though I love them to pieces.

also I realise it’s not Valentine’s yet but I actually have more than one Valentine’s related post planned + I have one I want to get up on Valentine’s itself and it’s not this one

Magnus and Alex – Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan

If you read part two of my favourite books of 2018, you may remember me comparing Alex’ aesthetic to Cosmo and Wanda from Fairy Odd Parents and guess what I’m not getting that out of my head now!! Anyway, soft sunshine boy who turns into a blushing mess around sarcastic Alex?? Yes please. I wish we had seen more of them as a couple but their slow-burn and banter was a lot of fun to read. Also if you haven’t read Magnus Chase yet and didn’t know: Magnus is pansexual and Alex genderfluid, so that in itself is already reason enough to pick this series up. If you need more reasons, I’ll direct you to this post

Add to Goodreads

Lennon’s moms – Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennet

Lennon’s moms aren’t that prominent in the book but they’re absolute goals? They’re just so cute and I loved their banter and pop culture bets and just djsghd We don’t see much of their relationship, but honestly it was enough to make me fall in love with them

Add to Goodreads 

Charlie and Alyssa – Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

QUEENS of my heart* Honestly I love these two so much?? Like imagine going to a con and running into your (internet) celebrity crush and?? They feel the same way?? ICONIC. Just like their first date. Thank you Charlie and Alyssa for raising my expectations to the roof for first dates. I too would like an emtpy arcade and food please. Though to be fair that doesn’t even need to be a date just leave me there by myself (and with the food) and I’ll be ok

Anyway they’re just?? So cute?? Read Queens of Geek please. I’ll definitely be rereading it soon, not because of Valentine’s Day because eh I don’t really care for it but this post made me realise I haven’t yet?? Even though I claim it to be one of my favourite books?? #fakefan

* See what I did there ok I’ll let myself out
** Okay as I was linking my review I found out I ALREADY MADE THIS PUN IN MY REVIEW TITLE? I’m not original nsdmgd

Add to Goodreads
Read my review

Seelie and Alyssa – My Whole Truth by Mischa Thrace

Another YA Sapphic Queen™ called Alyssa?

Going into My Whole Truth I didn’t even know Seelie was wlw let alone that there’d be a cute f/f romance so that already gave them a special place in my heart but THEN IT’S A NICE, HEALTHY, SUPPORTING AND HAPPY RELATIONSHIP? Thank you Mischa Thrace for blessing me.

Seelie and Alyssa’s relationship is soft and beautiful. Both of them would already go through hell for their other friends, but their relationship is still set apart. They just melt around each other and kndfdgjj How do I even describe their relationship? I don’t I’m so sorry

Add to Goodreads
Read my review

Lara Jean and Peter K – To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

I’m just?? So soft for these two?? I’m already a sucker for fake dating stories but these two?? They’re just so cute and soft and I love their banter and just sdbfh They’re not perfect, nor is their relationship, but they work through it because they love each other. They accept each other for who they are, don’t try to change each other and bring out the best in each other.

Add to Goodreads

Tanner and Sebastian – Autoboyography Christina Lauren

Why did I choose this ship when I already have such a hard time describing my feelings for this book??? Honestly is this entire post even slightly coherent I feel like I’m mostly just going ‘dsngbh I love them’ and that’s it

Just,, they

Add to Goodreads

Me at the start of this post: wow I wonder why I’ve never done a post like this for Valentine’s I have many ships I love to talk about!!

Me now after realising words are hard and even harder when talking about why I love a certain ships especially when it’s been a while since I read most of these books:

Let’s just leave it at this: all of these ships left me with warm, fuzzy feelings and all of them are healthy!! That’s the most important thing right?

What are some of your all time favourite ships? What do you think makes a good ship? Let me know in the comments!

The Monthly Hufflepuff December and January // Imagine A Catchy Title Please I Have No Inspiration

So I never got around to wrapping up December, and as January came to a close I just decided to wrap it up together with January. At least now I’m all caught up! This might get a bit long and for that I apologise, but I feel so much better knowing I’m not behind now

December and January were pretty okay reading months! I read quite a bit, especially considering how exhausted I am and most of them I enjoyed! I don’t remember much about my December reads, but I shall do my best

🐝 December 🐝

💛 From Twinkle With Love by Sandhya Menon ⭐⭐⭐ – This one was okay? I don’t remember much, except being a bit frustrated with the main character. She was so obsessed with popularity and a lot of her thoughts were about that? At some point I get it Twinkle, you don’t have to keep repeating yourself. It was interesting to see how she actually got a LOT worse before the actual growth happened, but I don’t think it was explored enough and the growth felt a bit rushed. Nonetheless it was a cute and fun read, and I do recommend it!

💛 Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2) by Neal Shusterman ⭐⭐⭐ – So for me this was definitely a case of second book syndrome. I had trouble putting down the first one because I just had to know what would happen next, but I actually skimmed parts of this one. It also didn’t help that it was so long? Also I’m still not sold on the romance #sorrynotsorry It feels so forced to me and that they only get together because they’re a boy and a girl. But there are some fantastic plot twists that kept me on my toes and the cliffhanger left me wanting more, so I will read the next one

💛 Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan ⭐⭐⭐ – A fun read, but I personally prefer the movie. The writing wasn’t that great and there were a lot of characters to keep track of, some of them disappearing for a long time before they suddenly popped up again and by then my Swiss cheese brain had already forgotten about them.

💛 Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – This is going to sound odd since it’s a four-star rating but, I’m a bit disappointed? Thing is I was way too hyped to read this since I loved Bennett’s Alex, Approximately, even being one of my favourite reads of 2018. I just missed the spark and the meaning of that one, but nonetheless it was a fun, refreshing read and can Lennon’s moms adopt me??

💛 Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – I already talked about this one in my favourite books of 2018 post but hey let’s gush some more! Firstly I forgot to mention in that post that Rumi realises throughout the book that she’s aroace and the conversation she has about this with one of her friends is so beautiful and heartwarming. The cast is incredibly diverse (all of them POC, I think most of them biracial if I remember correctly? And some other LGBTQ+ rep too) and it feels so realistic how Rumi slowly gets to know them and lets them into her life. I also loved how Rumi found solace in her elderly neighbour and how he taught her how to deal with her grief. If you want to know more about how I felt I recommend reading my favourite books post I linked earlier

💛 Forever Geek Girl (Geek Girl #6) by Holly Smale ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Oh what a bittersweet ending to such a comforting, fun, heartwarming series. While I’m sad that Geek Girl has come to an end as it meant so much to me last year while in Manchester, I’m very satisfied with the way it ended. Harriet has come a long way since we first met her and I couldn’t be more proud.

💛 American Panda by Gloria Chao ⭐⭐⭐ – Uhhhhh I don’t really remember much? Except that the beginning was a bit messy and I was a bit confused with the way chapters transitioned (I think?? don’t quote my Swiss cheese brain on this) and I wasn’t too fond of the writing style (don’t ask me why I don’t remember) but it was a cute read!

🐝 January 🐝

💛 The School for Good and Evil #1 – #3 by Soman Chainani (reread) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Been meaning to reread this trilogy for a very long time now, especially when I got Quest for Glory last year because it’s been years since I read this and I wanted to actually remember things when reading the new one. Rereading was SUCH a blast. I knew how much I loved my girls but I had kinda forgotten how much? I’d die for Agatha and Sophie, their growth and their love for each other. Also for my favourite coven of witches, my dumbass disaster bi* royal son and of course Hort. I reviewed the first one once upon a time but hahaha I ain’t linking to that if you really want to read it I’m sure you can find it but boy oh boy do I find it cringey. I’m planning on writing a post on the series sometime soon (possibly around the time the fifth one comes out?) but we’ll see

* mostly a headcanon, he does almost kiss what he thinks is a boy but it’s never explored apart from that so don’t get your hopes up too much

💛 Quest for Glory (The School for Good and Evil #4) by Soman Chainani ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – While I love the original trilogy, I was a bit worried going in, since back when The Last Ever After came out I declared it a perfect ending, and upon rereading I still agreed with that. I was especially worried if Sophie’s character development would be undone but thankfully that wasn’t the case. I loved reading about my kids again and meeting new kids. Also?? Are Heather and Anadil?? Dating?? Soman please confirm that my lesbian witches are canon lesbian witches and in love with each other please

Despite having guessed some of the bigger plot twists, it was still hard to put down and I couldn’t wait what would happen next. I’m so glad I don’t have to wait that long until book five haha

💛 We Are Here To Stay by Susan Kuklin ⭐⭐⭐ – To quote my review on Goodreads because I’m lazyWe Are Here To Stay is emotional, gripping and a very important read that should be mandatory reading for everyone. This book could open so many eyes and make people more sympathetic. The writing itself didn’t blow me away, but in this case that didn’t matter. It took me a while to read, but that’s because of the heavy subject matter and my mindset right now, thus why it was sometimes difficult to pick it up again. Definitely not the book’s fault!

💛 The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale ⭐ – Many years ago I read Hale’s Princess Academy and fell in love, thus I told myself I’d read all of her books. Over the years I kinda lost interest and that never happened, but when I saw The Goose Girl in my library’s ebook catalogue I decided to give it a go. What did I have to lose? My time, apparently, as I was bored to tears. I skimmed most of it instead of just dropping it since I was curious to see the ending, but

I’m?? So disappointed?? I was a bit worried I might not end up loving it since I was pretty young when I read Princess Academy, but I did not expect this. It was such a slow read, the main character felt flat, there were so many characters to keep track of that I did not care for… Yeah, not a fan

💛 The War Blog by Glen Sobey  – WELP SO THIS ONE WAS A MESS. The War Blog claims to be feminist and take on rape culture but um yeah no. I don’t even know where to start so if you want to know more read my review. Also if you want some recs of books that actually ARE feminist and/or take on rape culture, I included some in the review

COMICS: Young Justice Outsiders #1 and #2

Oh boy what did I do these past two months? If you’re new here or haven’t been here in a while (hi!) you probably don’t know this, but last month I realised I had a burn-out and that I wasn’t doing so well. I thus decided to take a break from school and just try to get some rest. So that’s what I’ve been doing. Apart from working a few times a week to keep my mind off of things and to combat the restless feeling I’ve been struggling with, I’ve mostly been reading (both books and webtoons), playing video games and watching things on Netflix (it’s been a very long time since I wrote a post on tv shows I’m watching, should I do one again?), but I have done some other stuff too! So here’s a list of some highlights:

💛 My best friend and I went to an indoor trampoline park and it was so much fun. 10/10 would recommend but definitely try to go on a day where kids are at school. We were there on a Friday afternoon wgjdfg At first we felt a bit awkward and old but?? who cares??

💛 My mom actually beat me a few times at Mario Kart???? What sorcery is this????

💛 Sometime last year Duolingo added Indonesian and while I immediately started the course since I’ve been waiting forever I was so exhausted before with everything that I had going on, that I was very inconsistent. I’m really working at it now and can speak and understand it a little bit, which is really cool! I may not know any of my Indonesian relatives because yay colonialism but it still feels like I’m getting a bit closer to my heritage

💛 I got a new bathrobe!! Yes this is a highlight as it’s very cute, soft and sdfjbghd so warm I’m just so happy with it as it’s been so cold. The hood is Winnie the Pooh’s head and the pockets look like honey jars.

💛 My mom and I went to the Hortus Botanicus, a botanical garden, which had a special event called ‘Hortus by Night’, which meant the garden was lit up with pretty lights and there was a campfire where you could get some warm drinks. It was really nice and definitely recommend going if they do this again next Winter!

💛 We had a Christmas party at work and I actually went?? And I had fun and didn’t feel awkward the entire night?? I mean there were parts where I felt awkward and a bit uncomfortable but still! Progress! I’m very grateful that there are quite a few colleagues that I like and feel comfortable with, or I definitely wouldn’t have considered going and come up with a lame excuse sdngdkjs

Mostly I’ve been thinking about my WIP, reading about writing, pinning on Pinterest… It still counts right? I’ve had some important realisations about things I need to fix, came up with some great new plot points and created two new kids for the sequel* and I can’t wait for you to meet them?? I’m still thinking about what kind of post I could introduce them in. I’ve also written a few scenes for this sequel** that have been on my mind and needed to get off my chest, so yay I wrote something!

* Help I’ve spent too much time thinking about this sequel asjsdgknj
** Like I said h e l p

🐝 The Writing Hufflepuff 🐝

💛 I talked about what I’d been up to since the Summer 
💛 I explained why I had kinda gone on another hiatus (spoiler it’s the burn-out)
💛 I discussed the books I read in August, September, October and November
💛 I reviewed The Enchanted Sonata, a cute retelling of The Nutcracker and The Pied Piper
💛 I talked about my favourite books of 20Gayteen
💛 Which didn’t fit in one post so here’s part two
💛 I reviewed The War Blog which pretends it’s feminist but it’s really not

📷 Aesthetically Dreaming 📷

Remember my other blog? Yeah I’m very inconsistent when it comes to that one! (rip) Managing two blogs was already hard* but with this burn-out? Um yeah not going so well. I posted once (1) which I guess is already an achievement considering how little I post on there. I decided to rewrite my old Orlando travel posts from this blog on there, because yikes are they cringey to read and I want to slowly move all my travel posts to that blog. I won’t delete my old travel posts because I don’t want to lose your comments, but I might make them private.

* It’s about travel, art and photography!
** Seriously what was I thinking

📸 Orlando Part I // The Wizarding World

What have you been up to this month? Favourite reads? Have you ever been to an indoor trampoline park? How’s your writing going? Let me know in the comments!

Goodbye 20Gayteen, Hello 20Biteen / 20Prideteen // My Favourite Books of 2018 Part II

It’s time for part two of my favourite books of 2018! And look, it’s still January, meaning even with two posts, I’m still faster than last year when I posted my favourite reads of 2017 in February. Go me! As I said in part one, this is in chronological order.

The Ship of the Dead – Rick Riordan

The perfect ending to the Magnus Chase trilogy, even though I did not want it to end at all. Despite not immediately falling in love with the series during the first book, I fell hard during the second and now I’m so sad to see it ended. But who knows, there might be a sequel series at some point. There’s definitely enough Norse mythology left to explore. I just really miss my kids?? Give me my sunshine pansexual son, my genderfluid – oh my god as I was thinking of a description for Alex I realised,,, green and pink, is her aesthetic, just like,,

I’ll see myself out

We all know Alex would DEFINITELY kill me if he saw this sdjghd

Anyway give me my kids back Rick Riordan

I Was Born for This – Alice Oseman

So I still have no words to describe and explain my love for I Was Born For This? There is just something so profound about Alice’s writing that is so hard to put into words, especially when trying to do it justice. I already said it before, but IWBFT should be a classic as it portrays teenagers in such a realistic way, deals with gender, sexuality, the internet, fame, fandom culture, mental health and so much more. IWBFT touched me in a way I just can’t explain.

Alex, Approximately – Jenn Bennett

Probably my surprise of the year, as I thought it would be a cute, fun, light Summer read. Which it was, but it was also so much more. Great father-daughter relationship, best friends, banter, working at a weird museum, silly adventures, enemies-to-friends-to-lovers and so much more. But best of all, is how both Bailey and Porter had their own trauma to deal with and found comfort in each other. Yet neither of them was magically healed. Read my review here

Ace of Shades – Amanda Foody

So?? Underrated?? There was some hype back when it was released, which is how I found out about it, but?? Where’s the hype now?? Ace of Shades is so intense?? And so good?? And the main characters are a black bi boy who pretends to be a ruthless gang leader but in actuality is Very Soft™ and a seemingly naieve, posh, nice girl who uhhh, is actually more ruthless? And kick-ass? The worldbuilding is so intriguing and I just want to know more?? Please read it??

The Brightsiders – Jen Wilde

SO!! QUEER!! God thinking of The Brightsiders just makes me tear up because I felt so loved, supported, embraced and empowered. I loved how The Brightsiders is such an iconic queer band, looking out for their young queer fans and writing songs for them and just making them feel loved. Meanwhile it also tackled so many other issues, like abusive relationships, abusive parents, addiction, and so much more. I especially appreciated seeing an abusive relationship portrayed as unhealthy and toxic, as it’s still often not just normalised, but even romanticised (stop romanticising the stalker in Netflix’ You!! It ain’t romantic folks!!) Jen Wilde is such an icon and I can’t wait for her next book.

Sadie – Courtney Summers

*awkwardly laughs as she brings up Sadie again* I mean, I know I bring Sadie up a lot (even in my latest review) but how could I not mention it in my favourite books of 2018 post? It’s been a few months since I read Sadie, but it made such an impact that I’m still not over it. It’s an incredibly important read so if it’s not triggering for you I definitely recommend you pick it up. It’s gruesome and chilling, but not because it’s graphic*, but because it’s true. I’ve been yelling about Sadie so much lately, I don’t even know what to say anymore without repeating myself, so instead I’ll just refer you to my review.

* Because it’s not!

A Thousand Perfect Notes – C.G. Drews

A Thousand Perfect Notes felt like reading Beck’s real, raw thoughts, as if he had been pouring them on the page instead of Cait. While Beck’s situation is a lot worse than my childhood ever was, I still related to him a lot, giving this book a close place to my heart.

My Whole Truth – Mischa Trace

Oh boy where do I even start. My Whole Truth was awful, heartbreaking, gripping, yet also warmed my heart, seeing how Seelie’s friends stuck by her through thick and thin, never doubting her, always standing by her side, willing to do everything for her. Of course they had their ups and downs, but their friendship persisted. There’s also a very cute f/f slowburn. The friendship and romance definitely helped getting through My Whole Truth. Although it is incredibly well-written and it’s hard to put down as you want to know what happens next, it’s still a heavy subject. Read my review here

Summer Bird Blue – Akemi Dawn Bowman

Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I was going to love this one when I first started reading it. I found it quite repetitive and wasn’t really enjoying it much. But at some point there was a switch, and now I can say Akemi Dawn Bowman has done it again. While I loved Starfish more, Summer Bird Blue is a very real, gritty and raw take on grief. Maybe that’s the reason I didn’t immediately like it that much, as it was a bit too real? I don’t like dealing with my grief. I’d rather ignore it and distract myself, so I guess it just got a little bit too close? I’m glad I kept reading though, because Summer Bird Blue is beautiful, touching and really gives you hope that you’ll be okay despite your grief.

Special mentions: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu, All American Boys by Jason Reynolds, A Step from Heaven by An Na, Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

I hate that I never made any aesthetics for the last few books because now the end of the post looks so empty and boring but I have no inspiration and energy to make them now rip

Have you read any of these? Are they among your favourites as well? What were your favourites of 2018? Let me know in the comments!

The War Blog Pretends To Be A Feminist Book But,, It’s Really Not

Author: Glen Sobey
Genre: Contemporary // YA
Goodreads rating: 3.35
My rating: ⭐

Crystal Rose, a 17-year-old high school junior, and her younger brother were abandoned by their drug-addicted mother fifteen years ago in an Alaskan Native village, an event which Crystal resented for years. However, when she learns that her mother was raped in high school, Crystal declares war against a society which reduces girls to their looks, forcing them to feel worthless without the approval of guys.

While living in a small Alaskan town, she starts The War Blog website, along with her best friend and crush Kato—a brilliant Native boy—attacking everything promoting female objectification and offering ways to fight back, all supplemented by her original songs. Crystal rises from nothing in the wilds of Alaska to become a champion for change, risking her life against men who would force her to keep silent. She faces her parents’ abusive past and fights for a better world.

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review

Well this was a big yikes

When requesting The War Blog I didn’t know this was written by a man, I kinda assumed it was a woman when I started, but when I found out it was written by a man I had a lightbulb moment because um yeah that explains a lot. Not saying that a man can’t write a good feminist book! They can! But this guy can’t!

I have a lot of thoughts and my mind is all over the place, so let’s turn this into a list review.

💛 First of all, the writing was really bad. I wasn’t surprised to find out the author had never written a book before, because that was pretty obvious. The War Blog needs an incredible amount of editing, especially when it comes to the pacing, which honestly gave me whiplash. Everything was happening all at once and so very fast it was hard to keep track. Conversation topics changed within seconds and were brought up unnaturally, characters showed up out of nowhere… Actually, pretty much everything came out of nowhere. It’s not funny how many notes my ARC has saying ‘??? WHERE DID THIS COME FROM’ There are no natural transitions anywhere. I often also found myself quite lost and wondering if I had missed something? The fact that there are so many characters also didn’t help. I could barely keep up with who was who, and I read most of this in a day.

💛 The dialogue was so cringeworthy and unnatural. For example:

”You are staying tonight?”
”Yeah. My usual spot in the guest bedroom, where I’ve slept more than half my life.”

??? Crystal knows that?? She was there?? It’s her house?? This is all just for the benefit of the reader but it felt so forced. Who talks like that? Why would you mention that? I wrote like this when I was nine y’all

💛 Events were also just,, summed up a lot? Making the writing very dry (which it already was tbh) and there was no emotion in the writing at all. I honestly didn’t care what happened.

💛 Crystal’s grandmother hugs Kato and that’s the exact moment Crystal decides to describe her grandmother’s past beauty?? Like what??

💛 This!! Is!! Not!! A!! Feminist!! Book!! Crystal slutshames and bodyshames and there’s emphasis on girls and women’s bodies, especially their breasts which felt very odd to me (there’s a scene where a girl puts two erases in her shirt on her nipples?? And it’s supposed to be funny??) until I found out it was written by a man

💛 When Crystal’s grandmother tells her Crystal’s mom had many boyfriends, the first thing Crystal says is ‘so Mom was a slut?’ like jfc

💛 There’s also this wonderful quote: ”Maybe she fought her childhood trauma by acting the tough girl. So why did she choose pink underwear to flaunt?’‘ (earlier she bent down which revealed her thong) Like are you kidding me? She also shamed another girl for wearing thight leggings and her little sister for wearing a tank top. Crystal doesn’t support other girls at all, unless they fit a certain image.

💛 Crystal’s grandmother also says that ‘there’s no getting through this’ about sexual assault and rape, and this is never addressed. Personally I really don’t find this a good message to send to young girls. I get where she’s coming from and why she says this, but at no point is this message debunked and is it shown that you can get through an awful, traumatic event like sexual assault and/or rape, that you can get better.

💛 Crystal tells Kato that her fighting back against rape culture is ‘different than advocating for Natives. This will be an attack on what most people consider normal’ – um, I’m pretty sure racists think the way they treat Natives is normal? It just really rubbed me the wrong way, as if Crystal’s fight is harder than Kato’s.

💛 A lot of the women in this novel are in abusive relationships, which Crystal doesn’t understand. I quote: ”I could never understand why battered women stayed with their abusers. Maybe Angie had no sense of worth apart from her man. I felt very sorry for her.” Like fuck off? I can’t even express the anger I felt when reading this.

💛 Crystal also kept on outing her best friend which she’s never called out for

💛 Crystal’s brother tells her she could never be a cheerleader because she’s too skinny and NO ONE calls him out for that?

💛 It was also very uncomfortable to read how Crystal, a white girl, decided to criticise sexism in Native culture and I just don’t think it was called out enough? To me it reeked of White Saviour Syndrome. I can’t speak for Natives of course, but I did want to mention it in my review.

Some actually feminist books that The War Blog wishes it was and to read instead:

💛 My Whole Truth by Mischa Trace – Powerful, gripping, heartbreaking. Seelie Stanton is arrested for murdering the boy who attacked and raped her, showing how messed up our world is as she gets bullied, shamed and attacked for saving herself. Read my review here
💛 Sadie by Courtney Summers Sadie follows the titular character as she goes after the man responsible for her sister’s dead, and West McCray, who’s trying to figure out what happened to Sadie. Sadie is not a happy story, but it’s an important one. It’s not just the story of Sadie and Mattie; it’s the story of all the girls in the world who end up dead or missing simply because they’re girls. Read my review here
💛 Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu – The War Blog’s blurb actually reminded me a bit of Moxie, but boy does it wishes it was like Moxie. Vivian also decides to fight back, but it’s actually done well because you know,, Vivian doesn’t look down on and shames other girls. I loved seeing Vivian starting a revolution at her school and no longer taking shit
💛 Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali – Saints and Misfit has a perfect balance between heavy and light moments. Despite dealing with attempted sexual assault and fighting back, it was still overall a fun and light read.
💛 The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed – I didn’t really connect with this one as the writing style wasn’t my cup of tea, making it hard to connect with the characters, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s a powerful story about rape culture. Despite what to me felt as a passive writing style, I still got chills while reading this one

What is your favourite feminist book? Let me know in the comments!

Goodbye 20Gayteen, Hello 20Biteen / 20Prideteen // My Favourite Books of 2018 Part I

January is almost over, so naturally it’s time to look at my favourite reads of last year*. Last year I read so many amazing books, that I was unable to narrow it down to 10, so I’ll be splitting this post into two parts. Apart from the first two (which are in a tied first place) this is all in chronological order.

* I’m actually earlier than last year! Last year I didn’t get around to it until February so yay progress

2018 was a very odd year. I almost immediately left for Manchester for almost four months, got a new job, finished an amazing internship, went to my first Pride, met and hugged Hayley Kiyoko (and saw her perform), saw Janelle Monáe, grew and learned a lot, became more comfortable with my sexuality, but also had so much stress and anxiety that I now have a burn-out. Like I said, an odd year. I honestly can’t say whether 2018 was a good year for me or not. But hey at least it was a good reading year! I read 134 books while my goal was 100*, the majority of them being 3-star reads or higher. So here’s hoping 2019 will be just as good.

* please ignore my widget in the sidebar, I haven’t updated it in forever adgknsdj If only it updated automatically *sigh* I’ll probably delete it soon instead of replacing it with the 2019 one

Anger is a Gift – Mark Oshiro

Are you all tired of me yelling about Anger is a Gift yet? If so, too bad because I’m going to continue to yell about it in 2019. Probably in 2020 too, if people keep sleeping on it. Please please read Anger is a Gift (unless it might be too triggering for you, as it’s quite graphic). It’s such an important look on police brutality and political corruption, plus it’s super queer!! Despite things getting worse and worse, in the end it still leaves you with hope that one day the world will be a better place. Read my review here

Starfish – Akemi Dawn Bowman

The best anxiety rep I’ve seen so far. I honestly never felt so represented when it comes to my anxiety then when reading Starfish. This one touched me in ways I don’t think any book dealing with anxiety will, at least any time soon. Starfish gave me hope that I too can learn to live with my anxiety and that things will get easier, and for that I will be eternally grateful. Read my review here

It Only Happens in the Movies – Holly Bourne

My first read of the year! And I’m very glad for it, as my year started out very stressful and chaotic – at least I also started it with a good book! Because things were so chaotic I never ended up reviewing it, but but I’m very grateful to this book for helping me through it. It Only Happens in the Movies slams down cliché and often harmful romantic tropes, making it both refreshing and a must-read.

The Geek Girl Series (books 3 to 6) – Holly Smale

I read the first two Geek Girl books a few years ago, but for some reason never ended up picking up the rest of the series. While not feeling so great mentally during my second week in Manchester, I bought the next three books in the series as there was a sale going on and I knew these books could cheer me up. And they definitely did. Harriet is such a fun and relatable protagonist, as I hardly ever see a realistic clumsy girl in YA. Harriet’s clumsiness spoke to my soul and while it made me cringe at times, it’s nice to see her clumsiness not being reduced to a lovable, quirky trait. Plus: cute friendships, cutest family, cute romance – just warm feelings all around!

Flight Season – Marie Marquardt

Flight Season deserves so much more love, as it deals with grief, moving on and the American immigration system. But my favourite thing is how all three characters are dealing with their own grief and trauma and find comfort in each other. The friendship between these three is one of my favourites and still makes me tear up. They just love each other so much and they’d do anything for each other. Flight Season is one of those quiet books that manages to blow you away without even fully realising it. A year later I’m still not over it. Read my review here

Cinderella Boy – Kristina Meister

A very cute and empowering read. If you’re looking for a queer fairytale retelling look no further. Cinderella Boy follows a genderfluid Cinderella, his queer prince and a bunch of other queer kids, all fighting for their rights. Despite its slow beginning, I love Cinderella Boy with all my heart and would recommend it to you in a heartbeat. Read my review here

Autoboyography – Christina Lauren

Yes hi this book broke me?? Autoboyography is just so emotional and raw and everything?? I never ended up reviewing it (CAUSE HOW) and look I’m still not gonna be coherent in this post either. So lemme just quote myself from an earlier post in which I mentioned Autoboyography*: ‘I think Autoboyography could really help a lot of LGBTQIAP+ religious kids, while it also has great bi rep. While it can get pretty intense it’s also just beautiful, fun and cute’

* Because why try to write some new, original thoughts down amiright

Are any of these on your favourites list? What were your favourites last year? Let me know in the comments!

The Enchanted Sonata // The Nutcracker vs The Pied Piper

Author: Heather Dixon Wallwork
Genre: Fairytale retelling // Fantasy // YA
Goodreads rating: 4.08
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

 

Clara Stahlbaum has her future perfectly planned: to marry the handsome pianist, Johann Kahler (ah!) and settle down to a life full of music. But all that changes on Christmas Eve, when Clara receives a mysterious and magical nutcracker.

Whisked away to his world—an enchanted empire of beautiful palaces, fickle fairies, enormous rats, and a prince—Clara must face a magician who uses music as spells…and the future she thought she wanted.

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review. Also apologies that this is a bit late

The Enchanted Sonata is a retelling of both The Nutcracker and The Pied Piper of Hamelin. While I don’t remember too much about The Nutcracker, it’s a story I always loved (most likely because of that one Barbie movie. I’m pretty sure I watched it over and over again. I also had the dolls. I LOVED it) so I was excited to read a retelling for it, especially since I don’t often see one? Despite it being a popular ballet? And then combined with The Pied Piper? Sign me up!

I have to admit I was a bit bored at times, especially because the story isn’t just told from Clara’s POV, but also other supporting/minor characters. At some point we even get the villain’s POV. This all just took away some of the surprise, plus I didn’t really care for the minor characters? I’d much rather follow Clara and the Nutcracker, who’s dynamic I loved. I’m weak for cute banter okay? Their romance definitely put a smile on my face.

As for the worldbuilding, I was a bit confused. It felt like the story relied too much on the reader knowing the original fairytale of The Nutcracker without explaining why there are giant rats attacking the kingdom? The rats are also kind of an afterthought, as the real villain is The Pied Piper. 

I was also disappointed in how they found out how to defeat The Pied Piper. Clara is whisked away to The Nutcracker’s world through a fairy book, which tells the story of The Nutcracker. Once she’s all caught up to the present, there’s nothing there for her to read anymore, as she’s now part of the story. But then the book updates, and literally tells her how she will defeat The Pied Piper. It felt so cheap and easy, whereas Clara figuring it out herself would’ve been so much more powerful, especially because in the beginning she’s very motivated by impressing the pianist Johann. Speaking of Johann, I do love how Clara realises that she barely even knows him and that she was more in love with the idea of him than with him.

That said, The Enchanted Sonata is a fun and cute retelling, that I definitely do recommend! I loved the atmosphere and the relationship between Clara and The Nutcracker. Maybe it was a bit insta-love-y (I don’t remember it that well) but in this case I didn’t mind.

Have you read The Enchanted Sonata? Do you know any YA retellings of The Nutcracker or The Pied Piper? What’s your favourite retelling? Let me know in the comments!