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What happens when you like a series

I recently bought V1 of Heartstopper by Alice Oseman with some store credit I had, having never heard of it before but thinking it looked cute after checking out the first chapter or so. I read that first one and was so excited for more!

Then a few days ago I learned there was a webcomic, that had more to read! So I started diving in there. 🙂

…And THEN in one of the comics, there was a little author note at the end that mentioned they had FOUR BOOKS PUBLISHED WTF? I thought there was only one! So of course I checked the digital library and took a copy of the next book.

Read it.

Got a copy of the third.

Read that too.

Got a copy of the fourth.

Read most of that…

…then finished it later that day.

So…. here’s what that looks like. xD

My chart numbers are going to be ridiculous for this month when 250 is the lowest number to measure by. Those days where it’s like 20 are looking pretty silly right about now. 🤣

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Review: The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore
Recommended: yep
For a heartbreaking but beautiful story and way of writing, for revelations that constantly hurt more

Summary

When two teens discover that they were both sexually assaulted at the same party, they develop a cautious friendship through her family’s possibly magical pastelería, his secret forest of otherworldly trees, and the swallows returning to their hometown, in Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Mirror Season

Graciela Cristales’s whole world changes after she and a boy she barely knows are assaulted at the same party. She loses her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. Neighborhood trees vanish overnight, while mirrored glass appears, bringing reckless magic with it. And Ciela is haunted by what happened to her, and what happened to the boy whose name she never learned.

But when the boy, Lock, shows up at Ciela’s school, he has no memory of that night, and no clue that a single piece of mirrored glass is taking his life apart. Ciela decides to help him, which means hiding the truth about that night. Because Ciela knows who assaulted her, and him. And she knows that her survival, and his, depend on no one finding out what really happened.

Thoughts

This book took me a long time to actually read because I knew it would be difficult. How could a book about a girl who was sexually assaulted, at the same time as a boy was as well at the same party, be anything but? There’s some magical realism in here that helps, mercifully, to distance and navigate the the pain. It does so much more than that, but for me it was extremely helpful in that way too.

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Review: Zara Hossain is Here by Sabina Khan

Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Khan
Recommended: yep!
for a story of fighting abuse and inequality, for a story that will piss you right the fuck off and make you want to fight alongside them

Summary

Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.

But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.

From the author of the “heart-wrenching yet hopeful” (Samira Ahmed) novel, The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali, comes a timely, intimate look at what it means to be an immigrant in America today, and the endurance of hope and faith in the face of hate.

Thoughts

This is one of those books that I’ve really wanted to read for a while, but also knew that it would not be an easy read emotionally for me because of it’s topic. Zara and her family are getting harassed at school and in the town and as it gets worse, the family struggles with how to handle it. I would recommend this for classrooms, but only ones led by a teacher who can teach to the empathy required to have this story matter and make an impact.

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ARC Review: The Year Without a Summer by Arlene Mark

The Year Without a Summer by Arlene Mark
Expected publication: August 9, 2022!

Recommended: yes!
Middle school classrooms (and even young high school) would be EXCELLENT, for a look at accessible youth activism, for a lot of fascinating learning about the bad AND the good of natural disasters, for two other “serious” storylines for the MCs that handle really difficult situations, for a book that has really mature students which was a breath of fresh air (having been one of those and not the partiers, it was nice to see a book acknowledge I existed as more than a lame side character foil of boringness)

Summary

Explosive volcanic eruptions are cool, really, cool. They inject ash into the stratosphere and deflect the sun’s rays. When eighth grader Jamie Fulton learns that snow fell in June in his hometown because of an eruption on the other side of the world, he’s psyched! He could have snowboarded if he’d lived back in 1815 during the year without a summer.

Clara Montalvo, who recently arrived at Jamie’s school after surviving Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, has a different take all this. She is astounded–and disturbed–by Jamie’s frenzied enthusiasm for what she considers an obvious disaster. The teens’ battling arguments cause science class disruption and create academic trouble: Jamie’s headed for a failing grade in science, and may not even graduate from eighth grade; Clara’s scholarship hopes are dashed.

And school isn’t the only place where Jamie and Clara are facing hardship: as they quarrel whether natural disasters can be beneficial, their home lives are also unraveling. Uncertainty about Jamie’s wounded brother returning from Afghanistan and Clara’s unreachable father back in Puerto Rico forces the two vulnerable teens to share their worries and sadness. As their focus shifts from natural disasters to personal calamities to man-made climate changes, the teens take surprising steps that astonish them. Ultimately, through hard work and growing empathy for each other, as well as for their classmates’ distress over the climate change affecting their lives, Jamie and Clara empower themselves and the people they touch.

Thoughts

If you don’t already know about the year without a summer where the entire world’s climate was drastically changed after a volcanic eruption, you’re in for a treat because this dives into a lot of it in a really accessible way. I had coincidentally just learned and read about it a bit before starting this book, so it was fun to see what new and familiar details there were about it. There were scientific descriptions of what happened, but at a fairly high level rather than the detail I’d read in the adult nonfiction book on the topic (makes sense).

My teacher side was going NUTS at how excellent this book would be for students. I intended to put this at the end of the review, but I’m just too excited to mention it. It’s a wonderful book for many reasons that I’ll get into, but seriously: get this book in schools. Science class, history class, social studies, activism clubs, English class…. EVERYWHERE! And what makes it truly special is having characters and story and emotion amidst all the “info” and teaching / learning moments.

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ARC Review: You’re Invited by Amanda Jayatissa (8/9/22)

You’re Invited by Amanda Jayatissa
Expected Release Date: August 9, 2022

HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO BOY! This was WAYY better than I expected. Kudos. What a ton of fun this was to read!

Recommended: yep
For a flashback timeline mystery, for a tricky narrator, for a mystery where everyone has motive

Summary

When Amaya is invited to Kaavi’s over-the-top wedding in Sri Lanka, she is surprised and a little hurt to hear from her former best friend after so many years of radio silence. But when Amaya learns that the groom is her very own ex-boyfriend, she is consumed by a single thought: She must stop the wedding from happening, no matter the cost.

But as the weeklong wedding celebrations begin and rumors about Amaya’s past begin to swirl, she can’t help but feel like she also has a target on her back. When Kaavi goes missing and is presumed dead, all evidence points to Amaya.

However, nothing is as it seems as Jayatissa expertly unravels that each wedding guest has their own dark secret and agenda, and Amaya may not be the only one with a plan to keep the bride from getting her happily ever after…

Thoughts

The book is almost entirely set in Sri Lanka besides a few portions of current day and flashback that are set in the United States with Amaya. An important note right there: the story does have a good number of flashbacks. You could in fact argue that almost the whole thing is a flashback, as it starts with Amaya being detained and picks up at that point late in the book after establishing how everyone got there. It also intersperses narrated chapters with interview transcripts of people in the story, usually one seen in the previous narrated chapter. I loved this, as I find some variation in the type of text gives the story a lot more texture (texture 😁).

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Review: A March of Kings by Morgan Rice

A March of Kings by Morgan Rice

Recommended: sure
For people who liked the first one, for an adventurous escalation of the story now that the world and premise are set

Summary

After he escapes from the dungeon, Thor is horrified to learn of another assassination attempt on King MacGil. When MacGil dies, the kingdom is set into turmoil. As everyone vies for the throne, King’s Court is more rife than ever with its family dramas, power struggles, ambitions, jealousy, violence and betrayal. An heir must be chosen from among the children, and the ancient Dynasty Sword, the source of all their power, will have a chance to be wielded by someone new. But all this might be upended: the murder weapon is recovered, and the noose tightens on finding the assassin. Simultaneously, the MacGils face a new threat by the McClouds, who are set to attack again from within the Ring.

Thor fights to win back Gwendolyn’s love, but there may not be time: he is told to pack up, to prepare with his brothers in arms for The Hundred, a hundred grueling days of hell that all Legion members must survive. The Legion will have to cross the Canyon, beyond the protection of the Ring, into the Wilds, and set sail across the Tartuvian Sea for the Isle of Mist, said to be patrolled by a dragon, for their initiation into manhood.

Will they make it back? Will the Ring survive in their absence? And will Thor finally learn the secret of his destiny?

Thoughts

I liked the first book, but this one was maybe more exciting! Now that all the characters and various dangers of the world are in place, it was easier to move forward into the depths of the story and really get into the drama.

The classic style is still in effect, where things have a bit of a trope-y path they follow, but still in a surprisingly wonderful way. It’s like reading a modern classic, if that makes sense? Even though the vibe is very traditional knight’s adventure, I can’t predict what’s going to happen and I’m SO excited for it. The ending of this one by the way? Be sure to have book 3 ready to go when you finish. xD

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books in past TBRs that I still haven’t read 😅

Hey y’all! Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish question idea that was originally created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, from way back in June 2010! Since January 2018, Top Ten Tuesday has been hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Thanks for taking it over! The idea is to make a list of ten books or bookish things on different topics each week. Check out her site for details on how to join and what the upcoming prompts are. 😊 You can also see all the posts from other bloggers linked on each weekly post on their main site.

Today’s prompt (submitted by Dedra at A Book Wanderer) is books from past seasonal TBRs that I still haven’t read. I don’t really do seasonal TBRs, though, so I’m just pulling from my monthly ones that I typically do. I definitely have some that got shoved out for a month, then two, then three, then quietly dropped off the list and back onto the shelves. xD

The Books

The Reasoning

I do have some ideas as to why these books get pushed, at least in some cases. Others are just an inexplicable shrug. 🤷‍♀️ But some of the reasons are:

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Review: If You Ask Me by Libby Hubscher

If You Ask Me by Libby Hubscher

Recommended: sure
For a character who goes truly off the rails and has some GENUINE work to fix, for some really satisfying moments of rage, love, forgiveness… all of the emotions!, for side characters who matter

Summary

Violet Covington pens Dear Sweetie, the most popular advice column in the state of North Carolina. She has an answer for how to politely handle any difficult situation…until she discovers her husband, Sam, has been cheating on her. Furious and out of sensible solutions, Violet leaves her filter at the door and turns to her column to air her own frustrations. The new, brutally honest Dear Sweetie goes viral, sending more shock waves through Violet’s life. When she burns Sam’s belongings in a front-yard, late-night bonfire, a smoking-hot firefighter named Dez shows up to douse the flames, and an unexpected fling quickly shows potential to become something longer lasting.

A lot of people want to see the old polished Violet return—including her boss, who finds her unpredictability hard to manage, and Sam, who’s begging for another chance. But Dez appreciates Violet just the way she is—in fact, he can’t get enough of her. The right answers don’t come easily when Violet finds herself at her own personal crossroads. But maybe, by getting real, Violet can write her own happy ending.

Thoughts

This is one of those books where I struggled with the initial meeting setup because of how extremely creepy it would be if the MC wasn’t attracted to the romantic interest. Think of it: someone who provides a service to your house — let’s say, an Uber driver, or delivery person, or a frickin plumber — comes and does that service as requested. THEN a day later, they show back up to your house uninvited. Y’all, I would not be opening that door and would be calling their company to report some extremely not OK behaviour. Maybe that’s my own trust issues, but daaaang does that seem just CREEPY to me. But as often happens, because he’s attractive, it’s fine. 🙄

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Review: The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

Recommended: not for me but maybe for you?
If you like suuuuper sweet Hallmark-style moments, too-good-to-be-true characters, and sex where he calls her “baby” a lot

Summary

Catalina Martín desperately needs a date to her sister’s wedding. Especially since her little white lie about her American boyfriend has spiralled out of control. Now everyone she knows—including her ex and his fiancée—will be there and eager to meet him.

She only has four weeks to find someone willing to cross the Atlantic and aid in her deception. New York to Spain is no short flight and her raucous family won’t be easy to fool.

Enter Aaron Blackford—her tall, handsome, condescending colleague—who surprisingly offers to step in. She’d rather refuse; never has there been a more aggravating, blood-boiling, and insufferable man.

But Catalina is desperate, and as the wedding draws nearer, Aaron looks like her best option. And she begins to realize he might not be as terrible in the real world as he is at the office.

Thoughts

There was so much about this book I didn’t like, from start to finish, but I kept reading it. I assumed the sex scenes would be good and I was kind of right? Certainly generous in length of time and vivid description, but filled with — for me — total turnoffs that ruined it entirely. The excessive amount of calling her “baby,” for example. Always a weird one to me. And things that are a mix of insulting and concerning to me like “I finally have you were I want you. At my mercy.” For me that’s not sexy, just an uncomfortable power issue. Anyway. Meh.

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