Five 2020 Releases I’m Excited For

Hi everybody!

The quest to get my tbr down isn’t going to be an easy task in 2020 because there’s so many releases I’m eager to pick up! I’m going to be sharing five books in particular I’m excited for because while I have a goodreads shelf with around 50 books on it for just 2020 releases, (I just realized that that’s already so many books…) I wanted to share a few that have really stood out to me.

  1. We Used to be Friends by Amy Spalding

Something I have wanted to see featured in YA for some time is the complexity friendship has. I enjoy seeing characters getting into romantic relationships and how that can grow throughout a story don’t get me wrong, but friendships can be just as impactful (in my opinion!) on someone as they’re growing up and that’s not something you often see highlighted within stories. So, you can probably imagine my excitement when I read the synopsis for We Used to be Friends:

Told in dual timelines—half of the chapters moving forward in time and half moving backward—We Used to Be Friends explores the most traumatic breakup of all: that of childhood besties. At the start of their senior year in high school, James (a girl with a boy’s name) and Kat are inseparable, but by graduation, they’re no longer friends. James prepares to head off to college as she reflects on the dissolution of her friendship with Kat while, in alternating chapters, Kat thinks about being newly in love with her first girlfriend and having a future that feels wide open. Over the course of senior year, Kat wants nothing more than James to continue to be her steady rock, as James worries that everything she believes about love and her future is a lie when her high-school sweetheart parents announce they’re getting a divorce. Funny, honest, and full of heart, We Used to Be Friends tells of the pains of growing up and growing apart.

This book was released on January 7th of 2020 and I’m honestly so stoked to get to this one!

2. Infinity Son by Adam Silvera

I’ve known about Adam Silvera ever since I started my bookstagram and have been very interested in picking up his books, but I have yet to do so! (I don’t know why, but that’s something I’d like to change this year!) Why Infinity Son stands out to me in particular is due to how this story deals with abilities of some kind and the fact that I’m a sucker for the Chosen One trope and I’m intrigued by what Adam’s take on it will be like. This is another early 2020 release (January 14th to be exact!) and I’m really excited to get to it. (which will hopefully be soon!)

3. Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega

This will be Claribel’s debut novel and ever since I started following her on Twitter and listening to Write or Die (a podcast she hosts alongside Kat Cho, author of Wicked Fox), I’ve been very interested in picking this book up. Here is the synopsis for Ghost Squad:

Shortly before Halloween, Lucely and her best friend, Syd, cast a spell that accidentally awakens malicious spirits, wreaking havoc throughout St. Augustine. Together, they must join forces with Syd’s witch grandmother, Babette, and her tubby tabby, Chunk, to fight the haunting head-on and reverse the curse to save the town and Lucely’s firefly spirits before it’s too late.

With the family dynamics of Coco and action-packed adventure of Ghostbusters, Claribel A. Ortega delivers both a thrillingly spooky and delightfully sweet debut novel.

I don’t read middle grade stories very often, but I’ve had my eye on this particular book for quite some time and I can’t wait to read Claribel’s writing and see what my thoughts are going to be. Ghost Squad will be released on April 7th of this year and I’ll hopefully get the chance to pick up a copy for myself when the release date comes around.

4. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

This is an own voices novel for trans representation and I’ve been really interested in this book for a while. It has to do with the main character Yadriel and when his traditional Latinx family has problems with accepting his gender, he’s willing to go to great lengths to prove that he’s a real brujo. Even if that includes a ritual that goes wrong. I’m going to be eagerly awaiting Cemetery Boys release seeing as that will be on June 9th of this year and I honestly can’t wait to have this story in my hands!

5. Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

I loved Rachel’s 2019 release (Our Year of Maybe) when I read it so when I found out about this upcoming book of hers on Goodreads, I was stoked. I’m interested in how she’ll take on the enemies to lovers trope and how there’s a possibility for discussions surrounding senior year of high school (which the main characters have just finished? Are almost finished with?) and fears of the unknown that can arise with the future. This is going to be a June release so there’s a bit of time before I’ll be able to pick up a copy, but I’m willing to wait because I loved Rachel’s writing in the book she released last year and I’m excited to see how her writing continues to grow.

I am honestly really looking forward to when all of these books will be out into the world for readers like you and me to enjoy. Are there any 2020 releases you’re especially interested to pick up as soon as they hit shelves? Let me know in the comments!

My Goals for 2020

Hi everyone!

First off, happy new year! I hope 2020 is filled with wonderful things for all of you. I only truly started setting goals for myself come around the new year in 2019 and honestly, I chose not to share them with you all because I wasn’t sure how well I would do with accomplishing them. Why I wanted to make this blog post for 2020 is for two reasons:

  • I want something I’ll be able to look back on and see where my mindset was and how it could change as the year progresses.
  • In a way, I want this post to be here to hold me accountable. I want to be able to remember that this post was made throughout 2020 and (hopefully!) have that reminder serve as motivation to get what I’d like to do that much closer to being done.

So…What are My Goals Exactly?

I”m going to be dividing my goals for 2020 into three categories: ones relating to reading, my blog, and just general personal goals I have for myself this year.

Reading Goals

Something I took notice of in 2019 is how I don’t read very consistently. There are times where I can finish a book in the matter of days and I’ve had occasions where it’s taken me the span of almost a month to get through the entirety of a story. It’s with this in mind that I chose to maintain the same reading challenge I set in 2019 with it coming to a total of 30 books read for the year. Why? Well, that ties in to my next reading goal for 2020.

I want to be mindful of the fact that reading is meant to be fun and I’m allowed to take my time with it. Yes, this might sound a bit silly, but there were times throughout last year that I put pressure on myself to just finish a book. Don’t get me wrong, I was geuninely enjoying what I picked up a majority of the time, but how long it’d taken me to get through it just seemed a bit much compared to how my reading had been in 2018 (where I had read a total of 62 books, while in 2019 I read a total of 47).

Blog Goals

I want to try and post more often on this blog in 2020. In 2019, I was doing well to have a post up once a month, and while I know I did the best I could to write content I enjoyed and wanted to share with you all, I’d like to have blog posts up more frequently for you all to enjoy. With that being said, I’m not going to have a strict number in mind because I want to create posts that I genuinely enjoy putting together because that’s one of the reasons I created this space in the first place: to have somewhere where I could share things to my heart’s desire (within reason of course!). I have a few ideas in mind for future content that I’m really excited about, so hopefully this goal will be fulfilled by the end of 2020.

My Power in Words series are some of my favorite blog posts I’ve made for you all, so I’m setting a goal to add on to this series in the next year. When this was just an idea in my mind, I knew I wanted to include works of my own in it and discuss the meanings I have personally behind what I’d chosen to share and I finally showcased a poem I wrote in honor of World Mental Health Day in 2019 called Downpour in the Power of Words series. I was beyond proud of how that blog post came out and I can’t wait to share more work of my own with you all!

Personal Goals

This is the category I have the most goals in mind for and I honestly think that’s a very fair thing. In the past two years I’d say I feel as if I’ve grown quite a lot as a person and while I didn’t have particular intentions for this time frame in my life, I’d like to try and continue to grow to become even more of my authentic self.

I feel like something we all try to do as kids is keep a diary. While I honestly never truly kept up with it as I was growing up, I wanted to give myself a genuine chance to journal. In this last year, I’ve found that it has really helped me come to terms with feelings I’ve had as time has gone by and it’s given me the opportunity to truly reflect on things I otherwise really wouldn’t be able to recall off the top of my head. This is something I’d like to continue in 2020 and see how much my thoughts and feelings can change as time passes by.

One of my favorite things I would do while I was in high school was taking pictures. Sure, I’ve only had my phone as a tool to take photos (what I mean by this is that I’ve never owned a professional camera, I appreciate the quality of the pictures I’ve been able to take on my phone!) but it’s something I found joy in doing. As I was looking back on 2019, I realized that I lost those feelings around photography and I became self conscious about how things would turn out (or them not being absolutely perfect) or what people would think. While I didn’t immediately work towards finding the joy in taking photos as soon as I came to this realization, it’s something I’d like to give my best shot in 2020. It’s something that’s meant to be enjoyable and I’m allowed to just do something that will make me happy.

I shared a little about how I found myself wanting to write again in 2019, and this is something I’d like to continue to do this year as well. I am the type of person where as soon as I recognize I’m not putting my time to the absolute best use towards things I’d like to do (such as putting work towards my work in progress), I put a lot of pressure on myself and I tend to become my own worst critic. I’m going to do my best to not be so tough on myself when I realize this, and remember that writing is meant to be fun. Another aspect I need to be reminded of is while I would love to become a published author one day, my work in progress is something that doesn’t have to shared on social media right away. I am the only one who’s going to see what I write or what ideas I have right now and it’s okay if I take my time and it’s not picture perfect.

My last personal goal is to be kind to myself. As I’ve mentioned in this post, I can become my own worst enemy a lot of the time and that’s not fair to me. No human on Earth is perfect and while it’s honestly really hard for me to remember that sometimes, it’s 100% okay. I know that I do the best I can on the given day and that’s more than enough.

I hope you all enjoyed getting to see what particular goals I’m hoping to accomplish in 2020. Do we have any goals for the year in common? Let me know in the comments! Thank you all so much for reading and I hope you’re all doing well.

Ten of My Favorite Reads in 2019

Hello everyone!

Wow, I honestly can’t believe 2019 is almost over. It’s been a whirlwind of a year that’s for sure, and I found so many stories that I adored throughout it. At the time of writing this post, I’ve read a total of 46 books this year and while it’s lower than the amount of stories I picked up last year, I’m really proud of myself for accomplishing that. While this wasn’t an easy list to compile, it was really fun to have a look back on the books I picked up throughout 2019!

(By the way, this list isn’t in any particular order and links to each book’s Goodreads page are included if you’re interested in learning more about them!)

I read this book early on in the year and it’s one I’ve thought about long after I finished the last page. I really appreciate Nina’s approach to storytelling; she focuses more on the quiet moments between her characters and it was something I hadn’t expected to see but absolutely admired and loved as the story was unfolding.

I absolutely adored Vicious when I read it earlier this year. The characters are complex and the approach to how powers can be developed in this story I found to be really clever. I also just really enjoy Victoria Schwab’s writing style as a whole and it was nice to be able to read her work again in 2019.

This will be a book I believe I’ll hold close to my heart for quite some time. I just really loved the main character Annalise and how the author depicted her feelings of anxiety because I could relate to her so much. If you’re interested in reading some of my more in depth thoughts surrounding this lovely story, here is where you can read a review I posted earlier in the year.

I read this book recently and it reminded me a lot of my younger self. Something I haven’t shared with you all is that I used to write fanfiction when I was younger. (Maybe I’ll share where you could find them someday…) I had forgotten how much that had been a creative outlet for me until I read this book, and I really liked having that sense of nostalgia come through as I was reading. The characters were really well written and dynamic in my opinion, and I would absolutely recommend this book if it sounds like one you’d be interested in picking up!

What I’ve always admired about Angie Thomas’s writing is how grounded I get within the story. The characters (in my opinion!) are well written and I usually doesn’t take long for me to begin to feel as if they’re real people. There tends to be this moment where I can recognize that the characters Angie Thomas writes are just as human as I am because they’re flawed and I don’t know the exact reason why, but that moment is when the book as a whole really grabs my attention and I can’t wait to keep reading.

I don’t want to say too much about the exact reasons I loved this book (because it’s not going to be officially released until next year and spoilers aren’t fun to stumble upon!) so what I will say about this story is that it truly was a reading experience I’ve never had before and the characters and plot kept me hooked from the very beginning (though I feel the need to share a content warning for this book does have discussion of sexual assault!)

One of my favorite things that can be included in media of any kind is when people are capable of having superpowers/extraordinary abilities. With this book though, there’s a bit of a twist: while there’s an adventure happening as the story unfolds, you get to know characters are aren’t involved in the action. I really enjoyed this book because it was something you typically wouldn’t expect to be highlighted when there’s this other grand part (an event following a Chosen One if you will!) happening. It’s interesting to see how characters that you wouldn’t normally follow within a story like this can be impacted by what’s happening around them and I just really enjoyed the book as a whole.

My first read of 2019 and it’s one I still find myself thinking about. Jude (the main character) in particular stood out to me because I felt really understood while reading through his perspective. With that said, I thought all the characters were beautifully written and I am so glad I found RoAnna’s writing this year (as I have read more of her work and have continued to enjoy it!).

Yet another book I read in 2019 where there are abilities of some sort are involved (I told you it was something I really enjoy seeing in media!) In The Infinite Noise, Caleb can feel other people’s emotions and it causes him some trouble when they become strong enough to where he can’t keep himself together. I don’t want to say much more (mostly because I feel like I won’t do the story justice!) but this was hands down such a joy to read. Caleb and Adam (another character whose point of view you get to read from!) are so interesting to read about and I just loved the overall plot this book has. If you’re looking for another place where you can learn about them, their story is originally from a podcast called The Bright Sessions which I discovered this year (and how I found out the creator of the podcast was releasing a book involving their story!) and I truly can’t recommend it enough!

(Content warning: this book does cover suicide and I will be talking a bit about it in this next part of this blog post; please put your well-being first and feel free to skip to the end of this post ((the paragraph that begins with Thank you)) if you wish to not read about it!)

I loved this book. While it did take some time for me to get really into the story due to the heavy subject matter it covers right from the beginning (I knew going in it was going to be a heavier read, but I hadn’t been prepared for it to be shared so soon!) I thought the discussion of Leigh’s mother’s suicide was done well. I also enjoyed getting to see how much art means to Leigh and her relationship with her best friend Axel as well as both her parents. This is a story I believe I’ll hold close to my heart for a long time and I can’t wait to read future works from Emily X.R. Pan.

Thank you so much for reading about ten books I loved throughout 2019. Did we have any favorites in common? Let me know in the comments if you feel comfortable sharing!

Dawnfall by RoAnna Sylver

Hi everyone!

Today’s post is a really exciting one! RoAnna Sylver is an author I discovered through Twitter this year and have thoroughly enjoyed their work so much (such as my first read for 2019 Stake Sauce and another story of theirs I read later on this year Chameleon Moon) and when I heard they were going to be releasing an interactive fiction game/story, I was honestly stoked! Here is the synopsis for Dawnfall:

Find true love and family with a pirate crew at the ends of the universe, where aliens, ghosts, and portals open the space between worlds…and your heart. You are a Navigator, one who creates and guards portals from one dimension to another, wary of the liminal sea between them.

Your universe is made of two worlds: one contains the magic-infused world of Zephyria, and the other, the dystopian space station Eclipse. The worlds are balanced, until one day, an explosive disaster, a deadly energy storm, and an infamous pirate—the Ghost Queen—upend your life and plunge you into a race to save both worlds.
Dawnfall is a 235,000-word interactive romance novel by RoAnna Sylver, where your choices control the story. It’s entirely text-based, without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power or your imagination.
So what happens when you find there’s not just two dimensions to save, but three? Is saving two worlds worth sacrificing one? Will you find love with the crew of the Dawnfall, or will you bring these pirates to justice? Are connections between universes, people, and lives meant to be forged and protected, or severed for the greater good?

• Play as male, female, nonbinary, or agender; gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, or aromantic

• Play as monogamous or polyamorous–romancing up to 5 crewmates at the same time!

• Live your best life as a star-covered space elf, or as a feathered, magical bird-person

• Face off against infamous pirate known as the Ghost Queen, or join her rebellious quest

• Save not one, but three whole worlds; one built on magic, one on technology, and one on something entirely unknown…

• Explore an ever-shifting, magical pirate ship

• Open portals between dimensions with magic, technology, or the power of rock n’roll

Navigate your heart’s own course, and hope you can weather the storms.

Here are the links to where you can access Dawnfall as well as information surrounding the interactive game/story:

https://www.choiceofgames.com/hearts-choice/dawnfall/ (play Dawnfall now)
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42624633 (Add Dawnfall on Goodreads)
https://www.facebook.com/DawnfallGame (Dawnfall on Facebook)
https://store.steampowered.com/app/1183300/Dawnfall/ (Dawnfall on Steam, releases Dec. 4th)
Heartschoice.com (the romance imprint)
Choiceofgames.com (the parent company)

I played through the first four chapters the other day (which are available now!) and I was almost immediately sucked into the story and getting to know the characters so when I reached the end of chapter four, I was a little sad I couldn’t keep going. I’m eager to see how things will play out for the rest of the game/story and think you all will enjoy the storytelling as well.

Dawnfall in its entirety will be available tomorrow (December 2nd, 2019!) and I’m really excited to see how everything will unfold!

About the Author:

RoAnna Sylver is a writer of really cool, queer, weird books (Chameleon MoonStake Sauce), and interactive fiction games (DawnfallDate the LizardThe Three-Body Problem). A chronically ill Portland, OR-based artist and musician, RoAnna also probably spends too much time playing videogames (it’s research!) and would really like a nap.

Four Books I Want to Read Before the End of 2019

Hi everybody!

How is 2019 almost over? This year has gone by so fast and while I’ve surpassed my reading goal, (Yay!) there’s still so many books I’d like to get to before 2020 comes around. Seeing as there’s only so much time left, I wanted to share four books I’m hoping to have the chance to read before this year is over.

1. Archenemies by Marissa Meyer

I know what you’re probably thinking. Supernova (the last book in this trilogy) was just released, shouldn’t that be what you put on this list? Well, if I had picked up a copy of Archenemies before now then yes that would be the case. However that’s just not what happened! (Good news though: I got the e-book a little while ago for $2.99!)

Anyways, I’ve been meaning to continue on with the Renegades series (I don’t know if that’s the correct phrasing or not… please politely correct me in the comments if it’s not!) because I absolutely loved the first book when I picked it up last year.

(Little side note: I’ll probably be rereading Renegades before I dive into Archenemies because as it’s been a year since I read the first book, I’m in need of a little reminder of everything that went down!)

2. Children of Blood and Bone by Toni Adeyemi

This book. I honestly think it’s one I’ve owned the longest without having actually started it yet. I was thinking about why this was the other day (because you know, why not spend time you could be reading on thinking about unread books?) and I figured it out. Avatar: The last Airbender is one of my all time favorite TV shows and when I initially heard about Children of Blood and Bone, that was something this story was compared to.

I’m afraid this story won’t meet the expectations I’ve set upon it (which I know probably sounds silly, but it’s the truth). It’s with this realization that I want to try my very best to actually read it and just see what happens.

3. The Glided Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

I’ve had this book in my possession for quite some time and honestly, I don’t know what I’m getting myself into as I’ve seen there are mixed reviews for it. (which is fair; books are subjective and aren’t going to be everyone’s favorite!) What I will say is that I really enjoyed the episode of First Draft with Sarah Enni that Roshani was featured on (which I’ve linked here) and I’m hopeful this book will be an enjoyable one for me!

4. Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for this book to be released, yet I still haven’t picked up. I’ve gone this long with spoilers (Thank goodness; I was nervous for a while that I’d accidentally stumble upon one on Twitter!) and I’m just eager to learn how the story continues! I’ll be rereading Carry On first, but I’m going to try my hardest to have this book read before 2019 is over!

Alright, those are the four books I’m hoping to get to before 2020. I’m thinking about writing a blog post before the end of this year letting you all know if I accomplish this goal or not and including mini reviews of the books I actually get to; would this be something you’d be interested in? Let me know in the comments! I hope you are all doing well and thank you so much for reading!

(The cover photos for Archenemies and The Glided Wolves were taken from Goodreads; the pictures used for Children of Blood and Bone and Wayward Son are my own!)

Five of My Favorite Book Covers

Hello everybody!

For today’s post, I thought it’d be fun to put together and share with you all five of my favorite book covers (out of the books I own in some way; this way I’m less overwhelmed by the amount of choice lol) This list is in no particular order just so you’re all aware!

  1. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

I think why this cover really stands out for me in terms of being a favorite is because I love the colors used. It honestly reminds me so much of fall (which is my favorite season!) and on a completely different note, the sparkle throughout reminds me of stars and I just think it’s really pretty. I remember audibly getting so excited at how awesome I thought the cover was when I got it in a subscription box and my sister didn’t understand my joy over it at all. (reading isn’t really her thing; it was nothing against me personally I promise!)

2. Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

One of the main reasons I adore this cover is because while it’s simplistic, the details put into it make it really special. It’s actually funny, I didn’t realize there was a swan on the cover until I seen where someone pointed it out on Twitter! It could’ve been the fact that I was so excited when I found a copy that I knew I had to purchase the book that it clouded the thought to actually really have a closer look at the cover. I also really like the font used for the title; it’s something that I don’t think I’ve seen on other books and I find it to be eye-catching.

3. We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

This book means a lot to me personally as a whole. As for why I love this cover, it’s the fact that I’ve been the type of person who always will look out the car window at night to see the night sky, and this cover in a way makes me think I’ll always have that some way even when it’s not night time. Am I putting too much thought into this post? Probably; but it’s fine!

4. Little Do We Know by Tamara Ireland Stone

I personally really appreciate the creativity and thought put into this cover; the houses are showcased for a reason and I love the intricacy of the design. (Which was done by papering curling artist Sabeena Karnik!)

5. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I find the lettering for the title to be really pretty and the brush strokes used for the sun so fitting alongside it. I’m not sure if this is with every edition of this book, but there’s splashes of this brush stroke texture used for words (at times, not the entire text!) and just for the overall look for this story and I just really enjoyed seeing a difference in how a book was put together and how well it fit for the story as a whole.

I hope you all enjoyed getting to see five of my favorite book covers. This was by no means any easy list to compile, (because there’s so many covers of books I own that I absolutely adore!) but this blog post was really fun to put together!

What are some of your favorite book covers? Do we have any in common? I’d love to know in the comments!

The Power in Words: Downpour (A Poem for World Mental Health Day 2019)

Hi everyone!

When I created the Power in Words series, something I wanted it to include was writing of my own. (whether that be through poetry or snippets surrounding works in progress that I found myself proud of!) In all honesty, I kind of let this series take a back seat because I wasn’t sure what of what I’d written I wanted to share. Today, I’m finally fixing that.

I knew I wanted to post something in honor of World Mental Health Day, but it took me some time to determine what exactly that was going to be. I had my light bulb moment when I was looking through my journal and found something I’d written reflecting on feelings I’d had surrounding my anxiety and how I wondered what life would’ve been like if I’d known about it sooner. While that’s not what I’ll be sharing today, it did give me inspiration; this is Downpour.

Its presence was a sudden downpour.

When we come face to face, the air would turn heavy and a mere slip of contact between us would engulf my body with traces of static, every sense now on high alert and ready for a lightning strike.

Sometimes, all it would greet me with was a sprinkle you would bask in after a long, hot summer. They made themselves known, but let off enough to where you didn’t leave with your clothes soaked through.

Others would leave me cold to my very bone, the strikes of white passing through my mind as they boomed with all their might.

I could never find the meaning of these storms because I never stayed long enough for the finale.

When I’m patient enough, I get to meet the rainbow. It reminds me that there’s something to gain from every time these storms and I collide.

The vibrant colors are proof that while they’re not fun to endure, the bursts of gray eventually do fade away.

For me, this poem depicts how I’d see my anxiety/panic attacks and how I’ve grown to understand them. It was a process for me and while I don’t always have the greatest headspace when it comes to my mental health, I’ve grown to accept it and I try to not be too hard on myself when things don’t work out like I’d like them to (such as me having a particularly bad panic attack and needing space to calm myself down).

I hope you all enjoyed this addition to my Power in Words series. Let me know if you’d be interested in me sharing some older poetry on here and explaining the meanings I had behind them at the time. (I’m pretty sure I have some saved on an old Tumblr account!) Thank you all so much for reading!

Review | Six Goodbyes We Never Said by Candace Ganger

Hi everyone!

When Dana from Wednesday Books reached out to me about Six Goodbyes We Never Said by Candace Ganger (which is going to be released in September 2019), I was honestly thrilled! Before I go on further, I want to share with you all the trigger warnings that were showcased at the start of the arc in an author’s note: mental illness is the main aspect of this story the author highlights in wanting her readers to take caution in before diving in to the book. Some of these mental illnesses include social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Like with picking up a copy of Six Goodbyes We Never Said when the novel is released, please put your well-being first before reading this review.

Synopsis:

Two teens meet after tragedy and learn about love, loss, and letting go

Naima Rodriguez doesn’t want your patronizing sympathy as she grieves her father, her hero—a fallen Marine. She’ll hate you forever if you ask her to open up and remember him “as he was,” though that’s all her loving family wants her to do in order to manage her complex OCD and GAD. She’d rather everyone back the-eff off while she separates her Lucky Charms marshmallows into six, always six, Ziploc bags, while she avoids friends and people and living the life her father so desperately wanted for her. 

Dew respectfully requests a little more time to process the sudden loss of his parents. It’s causing an avalanche of secret anxieties, so he counts on his trusty voice recorder to convey the things he can’t otherwise say aloud. He could really use a friend to navigate a life swimming with pain and loss and all the lovely moments in between. And then he meets Naima and everything’s changed—just not in the way he, or she, expects. 

Candace Ganger’s Six Goodbyes We Never Said is no love story. If you ask Naima, it’s not even a like story. But it is a story about love and fear and how sometimes you need a little help to be brave enough to say goodbye.

I truly appreciated the message this novel gave. Naima and Dew as characters reminded me of myself in different ways and I found them (and really all the characters throughout the book!) to be dynamic and interesting to learn more about as the story unfolded. What ultimately drew me to wanting to give Six Goodbyes We Never Said a read was to see how the mental illness representation was done; as someone who has experienced anxiety and panic attacks, this is a subject matter I hold close to my heart and really enjoy seeing how it’s something being showcased in YA for readers to hopefully find comfort in if they’re having similar experiences. Though I personally can’t speak for how the other mental illnesses were written (which from my understanding, this novel is own voices for all the mental illnesses written in the trigger warning!), I related to the author’s depiction and appreciated how it was okay to be discussing therapy (which both main characters have taken part in for their mental health issues!) and medication to help (Naima in particular) with her mental well-being. I’m sure if this book had been around when I was in high school, I would’ve been over the moon to see that I wasn’t alone in what I was feeling (for at that time in my life, I had little to no understanding of what anxiety or panic attacks were and how they could come about).

I also value the discussion of grief throughout this book. This is something everyone can relate to in some form (myself definitely included!) and I personally found how Naima and Dew both react to it to be well done. As I was reading Six Goodbyes We Never Said, I was reminded of a time where I had a tough time with my mental health due to a death in my family and reading this gave me a much needed reminder that I’m not alone in how I reacted (my anxiety had gotten bad at this point) and it was absolutely okay.

In terms of issues I had with this novel, I had three things come to mind:

  • I realize this could be changed come the time final copies of the novel are released, but I really didn’t like how repetitive Naima uses god damn in her dialogue (which is abbreviated by simply having GD any time the word is used). I found the abbreviation to be a bit off putting for me personally and I don’t know how well it would come across to readers in the future.
  • The format in which Naima and Dew’s perspectives are split up confused me when I first starting reading the book. However, this was completely a me thing. Naima’s name is simply put above where her chapters begin, while Dew’s chapters are showcased in a format you’d see from a voice recording (showing a play button, fast forward, the time in which Dew would record himself speaking, etc.) and my eyes had completely skipped over where Dew’s perspective was introduced after I read the first chapter and I ended up reading two pages from his perspective (without realizing the point of view had changed!) and had to go back and see why things weren’t adding up all of a sudden! (When I finally figured out why things weren’t making sense, I definitely had laughed at myself!) I actually found this method of dividing the characters’ perspective to be quite creative and I enjoyed it a lot!
  • This could completely be something that’s just my personal opinion, but I really enjoyed Dew and Violet’s friendship (Violet is a co-worker of Dew’s at the town’s local coffee shop) and would’ve liked to see more of that within the book. However, I understand that there can only be so much covered within a story. (Slight Spoiler: I didn’t really like how Dew and Violet end up becoming a couple; their relationship doesn’t seem to be talked about very much and they decide to break up towards the end anyway? Sure their break up is mutual and they end up staying friends, but I personally didn’t see the romantic spark between them.)

Another aspect of this book I found enjoyable was how the family dynamics were done. You can tell that each member of the Rodriguez and Brickman families are trying to comfort the main characters through their grief (while some are trying to process their own as well) and I appreciated how you can see everyone is simply trying their best, are by no means perfect, and you can see their growth as people occur gradually in this story.

Overall, I’m really glad I was given the opportunity to read this novel before it’s officially released because I found my reading experience to be quite an enjoyable one. If this sounds like a book that’s up your alley, I can’t recommend picking up a copy when you get the chance once it’s out in September!

July 2019 Wrap-Up

Hi everybody!

For the past few months, I’ve been struggling with a bit of a reading slump. While I’ve enjoyed the books I read, I haven’t had the same motivation to actually pick up books and read them that I had at the start of 2019. In hopes of changing that, I decided to challenge myself by setting a TBR (because I’m typically a mood reader!) and seeing what happened. Now that July is coming to an end, it’s time I let you all know how things went!

I’ve read a total of five books (which is the most I’ve read in a month’s time since February!) and out of the three I set myself the goal of picking up in July, I finished two of them.

The first book I finished reading was actually an anthology that I’d been wanting to check out for what seems like forever. When I found it on sale for $1.99 on Kindle, (this was during Pride Month, I’m not sure if it’s still being sold for that price!) I considered it fate and bought All Out: The No-Longer Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages which is edited by Saundra Mitchell.

I really enjoyed this collection of short stories and if you’re curious as to what some of my favorite ones were in particular, here is my Goodreads review where I share my top four.

Next was probably my favorite book I read in July, On The Come Up by Angie Thomas (which was one of the three books I set on my TBR for this month).

Angie Thomas’s way of depicting her characters to where you can see how truly human they are really shines in this story. I remembered just how much I enjoyed her writing style in The Hate U Give as I was reading this and I truly can’t wait to see what she is going to release next.

It’s Not Like it’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura was another book I decided to read during July and while I enjoyed the story, it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. Going in, I assumed this was going to be more of a fluffy, contemporary story and that just wasn’t quite the case. Misa discusses racism (which as I’m white it’s not my place to discuss it; if you could please let me know of some own voices reviews, I’d love to share them in this blog post!), cheating, and coming out. I found this book to be well written and I’m curious to see what she’ll release in the future.

The Way We Bared Our Souls by Willa Straythorn is a book I bought earlier this year because the title and cover caught my eye and by the time I finished reading this, I couldn’t help but feeling like I wanted more. You only get to see the story unfold from one character’s point of view (Lo) and I couldn’t help but wish I could’ve seen the situation this group of characters were going through from multiple perspectives. Without giving spoilers, the beginning of this story is very confusing and once I reached the point where I understood the intention for the start of the book, I found it made the overall reading experience less impactful.

The last book I finished reading in July was an e-arc I received from NetGalley for There You Are by Mathea Morais, which is set to be released in October of this year. This story hit me in ways I honestly wasn’t expecting. There were discussions of race, anxiety (which I, as someone with anxiety, really appreciated!), grief, and so much more. I found the characters to be written in such an honest way that I ended up having to reread some parts to ensure that what was being said truly sunk in; they’re flawed, real, and I really appreciated getting to see them grow as people while mistakes were made along the way. I also loved how music was incorporated into this story. By the end of my reading experience, I realized just how much power music has in bringing people together.

Overall, I had a great reading month with books I genuinely enjoyed and I’m excited to see how much reading I’ll accomplish come August.

How many books did you read in July? Let me know if you found any new favorite reads or if there’s a particular book I should add to my endless TBR pile!

5 Books I Loved at Age 21

Hi everybody!

In honor of my 22nd birthday tomorrow, (which is on July 18th in case you are reading this after it’s past) I thought I’d reflect on some of the books I’ve read in the past year that I’ve loved. In terms of how I composed this list, I wanted to touch on books that I’ve found myself thinking about long after I finished reading them (not necessarily on star rating!). There’s no particular order for the books I chose and while it wasn’t easy for me to narrow down my list to five (because there’s quite a few books I’ve enjoyed immensely while I’ve been 21), it was really fun to put this blog post together.

  1. Vicious by V.E. Schwab

While this wasn’t the first story by Victoria Schwab that I’ve read, I think it’s safe to say it’s the one I think about the most often. There was something so interesting in my reading experience with this book; the characters are complex and it’s done in a way that you’re unsure of what is going to be revealed next (seeing as they’re morally gray) and I was wondering throughout the story what I would’ve done if I was in a similar situation.

2. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I’ve noticed that in some of stories I’ve particularly really enjoyed is that if there’s some kind of sibling dynamic involved, I become really invested in seeing them grow not only as individuals, but in their relationship with one another as well. This absolutely shines through in my reading experience with I’ll Give You the Sun. Jude and Noah are two characters I adored as I was reading their story, and honestly, typing this is making me really want to reread this book!

3. The Past and Other Things that Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson

Shaun David Hutchinson is one of my all time favorite authors so when I came up with the idea for this blog post, I kind of figured this book was going to be included. I actually listened to the audiobook for this story, and I remember how honest and real it felt to me as I was listening. Two things that particularly stood out to me (because I related to them quite a bit) were how complicated the friendship between Dino and July is (which I personally found to be really well done!) as well as how Dino isn’t sure what exactly he wants to do with his life. I just love Shaun’s writing style and how he creates characters that feel so authentic blows me away every time!

4. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

This book stands out to me because it made me realize that quiet stories can be told and Nina LaCour does a phenomenal job with achieving this. I don’t think I’ve read another story that shines such a light on the simple things in life and I found this to be very eye opening. I’m eager to read more from Nina and see what I think of her other works, because I also appreciated her attention to her characters and her writing style as a whole.

5. Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon

I’ve discussed this book on my blog before (in a review you can read here) but I couldn’t not include Our Year of Maybe on this list! This was my first time reading a story written by Rachel Lynn Solomon and I’m positive it won’t be my last because my experience in reading this book took me on an emotional roller coaster ride. Rachel’s writing style is wonderful and it was how honest and raw this story felt as I was reading that made the experience particularly stand out in my eyes.

Honestly, I don’t feel like today is my last day being 21. I’ve realized it’s been quite the year as I’ve been reflecting on things these past few days and I’m excited to see what being 22 has in store for me!